JOVM celebrates what would have been Joey Ramones 70th birthday.
Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink covering the Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ. And as you may recall,. the act’s fourth album, Atlas Vending was released last week through their longtime label home Sub Pop Records.
Their previously released material found the band thriving on an abrasive relentlessness but before they set to work on Atlas Vending, the Canadian punk trio set a goal for themselves and for the album — that they were going to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating mosh-pit friendly bludgeonings. Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, the album finds the band crafting music for the long haul, with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant as they (and the listener) navigated life’s trials and tribulations.
The end result is an album’s worth of material that retains the massive sound that has won them attention and hearts across the world — but while arguably being their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their growing catalog. Thematically, the album covers disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia and the restless urge to just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind. Much like its immediate predecessor, Altas Vending offers a snapshot of the the modern condition as they see it; however, each of the album’s ten songs were written to form a musical and narrative whole — with the album’s song sequencing following a cradle-to-grave trajectory.
Naturally, the album’s material runs through the gamut of emotions — from the most rudimentary and simplistic sensations of childhood to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. And in some way, the album finds the band tackling the inevitable — getting older, especially in an industry seemingly suspended in perpetual youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.”
I’ve written about three of the album’s singles so far: the album’s first single, album closing track “A Boat to Drown In,” one of the most expansive and oceanic tracks of their catalog; “Hail Taxi,” an explosive and deceptively prototypical METZ track that’s centered around a deeply adult sense of regret, as the song features a narrator, who desperately attempts to reconcile who they once were with what they’ve become; and “Blind Industrial Park,” a rapturous and euphoric METZ-styled ripper that’s actually an ode to the naivete of youth and the blissful freedom of being unbranded by the world surrounding you.
To celebrate the release of Atlas Vending METZ played a special livestream at The Opera House in Toronto. Last night’s set found them playing Atlas Vending in its entirely with an encore that featured fan favorites ‘Negative Space” and “Wet Blanket” off their self-titled, full=length debut.. The band released a frenetically shot live footage of pummeling new ripper “Parasite.”
You can still get tickets for the live stream of night 2 at The Opera House, which will air at 3PM ET, Noon PT, 8PM BST, 9PM CEST, 8PM AEST. Tickets available here: tickets.
Strangelight — Nat Coghlan (vocals, guitar), Tony Teixeira (guitar, vocals), Ian Miller (bass) and Julia Lancer (drums) — is a Bay Area-based punk All-Star band featuring members of Transistor Transistor, Kowloon Walled City and a slew of other notable local bands.
And although the band is relatively new, the band’s origins can trace its origins back to the early ’00s: New Hampshire-born Nat Coghlan met The New Trust’s Julia Lancer while touring California in the early ’00s and the duo bashed out a handful of demos together. About fifteen years later, they reconnected in Oakland, unearthed those early demos and recruited their friends Tony Teixeira, who has played with Swingin’ Utters, Cobra Skulls and Western Addiction — and Ian Miller, who has played with Kowloon Walled City and Less Art to flesh out the demos.
The end result is the quartet’s full-length debut Adult Themes, which was recorded in three days at Shark Bite Srudios by Kowloon Walled City’s Scott Evans, the week that the local and national governments began locking things down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing in the reputation of the individual band member’s previous work, Adult Themes’ 10 songs rage — and rage hard; but with the world-weariness, disappointment and discontent of 40 somethings, who have had lengthy careers. “The album is called Adult Themes because the lyrics deal with the monotonous aspects of life as an adult,” Coghlan says in press notes. ” “I don’t pretend to have any great insight into the human condition. There are songs about mortgages, there are songs about retirement plans. And since it was all written and recorded before the pandemic, it’s kind of a weird snapshot of life as it was, for better or worse.”
Adult Theme’s first single “Walks into a Bar” is a furious and pummeling aural assault, centered around Coghlan’s howled vocals. fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming and mosh pit friendly hooks, the song evokes the frustration of life — whether personal or professional — at a standstill. In some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that “Walks into a Bar” sonically brings JOVM mainstays Hot Snakes to mind. “I distinctly remember being in high school, driving to band practice, and hearing Hot Snakes’ Automatic Midnight for the first time,” Nat Coghlan recalls in press notes. “I was floored. In some way or another, I’ve been doing my best approximation of Hot Snakes and Rocket from the Crypt ever since.”
The recently released video for “Walks into a Bar’ features artwork by the band’s Tony Teixiera.
The Bobby Lees — Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Kendall Wind (bass), Nick Casa (lead guitar), and Macky Bowman (drums) — are a rapidly rising, Woodstock, NY-based garage punk act have received attention for a feral and frenzied sound and and an unpredictable, high-energy live show. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for The Black Lips, Murphy’s Law, Boss Hog, Future Islands, Daddy Long Legs, The Chats, and Shannon & The Clams.
The Woodstock-based JOVM mainstays’ Jon Spencer-produced full-length album Skin Suit has been pushed back to July 17, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic —but as you may recall, the album finds the band crafting forceful and self-assured material centered around some of the most blistering and dexterous guitar work I’ve heard this year. So far, the band has released a handful of singles off the album including the breakneck “GutterMilk,” a feral and gender-bending over of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,”‘ that nods at George Thorogood, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-like “Move,” the gritty, garage punk ripper “Drive,” and a grudgy and feral cover of Richard Hell & The Voidoids‘ “Blank Generation.”
“Wendy,” Skin Suit’s sixth and latest single is a garage rock track full of sneering, old-school punk attitude and sultry come-ons that will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting grungy and feral rock.
Deriving their name as a commentary on society’s objectification of women, the London-based punk rock trio and JOVM mainstays Dream Wife — Icelandic-born, London-based Rakel Mjöll (vocals), Alice Go (guitar, vocals) and Bella Podapec (bass, vocals) — can trace their origins to when the trio met and started the band back in 2015 as part of an art project conceptualized around the idea of a band born out of one girl’s memories of growing up in Canada during the 1990s.
2018 saw the band release their self-titled, full-length debut to critical acclaim. And as a result, the band built up a profile as a must-see live act, playing at SXSW, opening for Garbage, The Kills and Sleigh Bells, which they followed up with sold-out headlining tours across the European Union and the US — including a stop at Rough Trade with New York-based genre-defying artist Sabri. Adding to a growing profile, the band had their music appear in the Netflix hit series Orange is The New Black. But at the core of all of that is the trio’s mission to lift up other womxn and non-binary creatives with empowering messages and a “girls to the front” ethos.
Slated for a July 3, 2020 release through Lucky Number Music, the London-based trio’s Marta Salogni-produced So When You Gonna . . . may arguably be the most urgent and direct call to the action of the rising act’s growing catalog. Thematically touching upon some of the most important and sobering themes of our sociopolitical moment including abortion, miscarriage and gender equality, the album is centered by an “it’s a now or never” immediacy in which the listener is directly encouraged to stop waiting, get off your ass and start doing something. The album’s title also plays on its central idea. “It’s an invitation, a challenge, a call to action,” the band’s Rakel Mjöll says in press notes.
So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles: the bombastic, maximalist, tongue-in-check “Sports!,” which recalled Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!and Freedom of Thought-era DEVO, Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Entertainment-era Gang of Four with an exuberant, zero fucks given air — and the achingly nostalgia “Hasta La Vista,” a mid-tempo track that focused on the tight familial bond the band has developed through a shared experience of life on the road, the aching nostalgia for the people, places and things from home you miss while away, and the odd feeling that things have changed in some way that you can’t quite put a finger on when you get back.
So When You Gonna . . .’s third and latest single, the infectious and anthemic album title track “So When You Gonna . . .” is a most pit friendly ripper featuring bursts of angular guitar chords and punchily delivered lyrics. Proudly continuing their girls and womxn to the front ethos, their latest offering is sultry, in-your-face challenge in which its narrator displays her bodily autonomy and desires with a bold self-assuredness that says “Well, what are you waiting for? We both know what we want. Let’s get to it!”
“It’s a dare, an invitation, a challenge. It’s about communicating your desires, wholehearted consent and the point where talking is no longer enough,” the members of Dream Wife explain. “It promotes body autonomy and self empowerment through grabbing the moment. The breakdown details the rules of attraction in a play by play ‘commentator’ style, inspired by Meat Loaf’s ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”
Directed by Aidan Zamiri, the recently released video for “When You Gonna . . .” is shot from the first person POV perspective of the inside of someone’s very hungry mouth. The viewer follows the mouth as it attends a sweaty and raucous Dream Wife show that captures the energy of their live show — and most important, the excitement of strangers suddenly bonding over their love of their favorite band. And like a lot of shows, our protagonist meets and kisses a bunch of attractive new friends, and interacts directly with their favorite band. Seeing your favorite band at some dark, sweaty, booze soaked shithole is a profound experience that simply can’t be manufactured or replicated and for me, the video for “When You Gonna . . .” reminds me of the things I desperately miss.
“For the video we worked with our favourite elf prince Aidan Zamiri who filmed around a free sweaty, sexy, gig we did for our fans back in January – shot as a first person POV from the inside of a mouth,” the band says of the new video. “Performing live is the beating heart of this band and we miss it, so please take this video as a little love letter to the rock show.”
Formed back in 2015, Toronto-based punk act PUP — Stefan Babcock, Nestor Chumak, Zack Mykula and Steve Sladowski — quickly became punk scene darlings with their first two albums, which received critical applause from The New York Times, Pitchfork, NPR, Rolling Stone and a long list of others.
The band’s third and latest album, last year’s Morbid Stuff found the band maturing and further honing the approach and sound that won them international attention — by doubling down on the gang’s-all-here vocals, big power chord-driven choruses and lyrics about death. And as a result, the album’s material teeters between gleeful chaos and bleak oblivion while delving into Stefan Babcock’s struggles with depression. In some way, admitting his depression allowed him to take some control — and to laugh in its face. The album was released to critical applause, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, the band wound up making their late-night television debut on Late Night with Seth Meyers. They also supported the album with a largely sold-out world tour that found them on the road for most of the year.
The band’s latest single, the breakneck “Anaphylaxis” is the first batch of new material from the band this year and the single which features shouted, “the gang’s-all-in” vocals, rousing hooks, enormous power chords and thunderous drumming is the sort of song that’s simultaneously a mosh-pit friendly ripper and the “raise-a-beer-with-your-buddies-and-shout-along” anthem, centered around lyrics that balance sincerity with heavily winking irony. Everything is falling apart all around us — and holy shit, ain’t it kind of funny that it is?
“I got the idea for the song when I was at my partner’s cottage and her cousin got stung by a bee and his whole head started to swell up,” says singer Stefan Babcock. “His wife, although she was concerned, also thought it was pretty hilarious and started making fun of him even as they were headed to the hospital. He ended up being totally fine, but it was just funny to watch him freaking out and her just lighting him up at the same time. It reminded me of all the times I’ve started panicking for whatever reason and was convinced I was dying and the world was ending and no one would take me seriously. In retrospect, I always find those overreactions pretty funny. So we wrote a goofy song about being a hypochondriac and tried to make our guitars sound like bees at the beginning of it.”
Directed by Callum Scott-Dyson, the recently released claymation video for “Anaphylaxis” features a hero — or perhaps an anti-hero — whose paranoia has him envision a world in which the bees are out to get revenge. Of course, the bees do get him. And the subsequent allergic reaction causes him to freak out and imagine the very worse.
Over much of the almost 8 year history of this site, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstays Bambara, comprised of founding, core trio twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and their childhood friend William Brookshire, and as you may recall the trio’s soon-to-be released Andy Chugg-produced third, full-length album Shadow on Everything is their first for Wharf Cat Records, and it reportedly represents a decisive step forward with the band moving from the early noise rock and post-punk that inspired their first two albums with the new album being a Western Gothic concept album. And while the musical center remains the trio’s tight and forceful rhythm section featuring Blaze Bateh’s frenzied yet incredibly metronomic drumming and Brookshire’s propulsive bass lines, which manage to be roomy enough for for Reid Bateh’s howled vocals and squalling, feedback heavy guitar.
Unlike their previously recorded output in which Reid Bateh’s vocals were deeply buried in the mix, Shadow on Everything finds the band placing Reid Bateh’s vocals at the forefront, symbolically placing the damaged characters and seedy locales of his lyrics at center stage — and while the overall sound is cleaner, as you’ll hear on “Jose Tries to Leave,” the album’s first single, the band has retained the forceful and nightmarish dynamism that has won them attention; but interestingly enough, the album finds the band experimenting with their sound as some of the material features violin and cornet arrangements, as well as ambient noise loops distilled down from hours of manipulated vocal collages the band shifted through to find the perfect texture.
“Doe-Eyed Girl” Shadow on Everything‘s second and latest single continues in a similar vein as it features Spaghetti Western-like guitar work, explosive bursts of feedback and a punk rock-like propulsive rhythm section that gives the song a cinematic yet menacing quality paired with an unusually empathetic portrayal of the damaged characters and nightmarish scenarios that have long inhabited their material imbued with a sweaty and furious urgency, fueled by a desperate and manic obsession.
Permit is a Bloomington, IN-based indie rock/punk rock duo and with the release of their debut 7 inch, the duo’s sound was indebted to power pop, classic rock and early punk; however, with the release of their debut EP Vol. 1 the duo’s sound has increasingly taken on a frenetic post-punk vibe that makes their material sound as though it were indebted to Pink Flag-era Wire but as though it were a 33 rpm album played 45 rpm speed, as you’ll hear on Vol. 1’s latest single “Track #6.”
Currently comprised of Josh Hageman (vocals, guitar), Morgan Travis (guitar), Chris Costalupes (bass) and Gavin Tiemayer (drums), Seattle, WA-based (by way of Reno, NV) band Violent Human System or VHS have developed a reputation for a grainy, abrasive 80s leaning punk rock sound that’s been compared to the likes of early Killing Joke, Big Black, Christian Death and others — and for eschewing proper studio recordings for home-recorded cassette tapes.
Gift of Life, VHS’ long-awaited, full-length debut slated for a June 17 release derives its name from Hageman’s personal experience working on the periphery of the medical field. As Hageman explains in press notes the album title “came from some generic blood donation poster I saw in one of the hospitals. It said ‘give the gift of life’ with a photo of a happy family at a park on a sunny day with some pamphlets under it. It was a visual image that stood in stark contrast to the somber surrounding environment. Other songs on the album focus on addiction, the misery and tragedy within the sanitized walls of a modern Western hospital and more — or in other words, the material pulls back the curtain to reveal the rot and grime underneath everything. The album’s latest single “Public Act” is a tense and abrasive punk/post-punk song that conveys a creeping and uneasy paranoia thanks in part to slashing, angular guitar chords played through reverb and effects pedals, shouted lyrics, anthemic hooks and propulsive drumming.