Tag Archives: Hardcore

Terminal Consumption: The Best Punk on Bandcamp, May 2017

Terminal Consumption

In this installment of Terminal Consumption, our monthly reviews column focused on the margins of punk and hardcore, Sam Lefebvre considers Kaleidoscope’s lovely hostility and Anxiety’s anticipated sophomore release, plus new releases by Leisure World, Marbled Eye, and Mutual Jerk.

Kaleidoscope, Volume 3 CS/12” [D4MT Labs/Feel It]

Shiva Addanki’s visual art often involves streaks and splotches of black ink, textured by crude reproduction, which is a good accompaniment to the trippy-yet-mean music of his band, Kaleidoscope. The New York trio, which Addanki leads on guitar, is workmanlike and consistent: they’ve issued several lengthy cassettes since 2015, mostly self-released, all of which boast an unfussy, production line title-scheme (Volume One, Volume Two, Vol. 2 No. 2, etc.). The members play in other bands, live together in Brooklyn, and record in the basement. And the recordings, fraught with errant noise, reliably convey menace and amorphous sounds alike—call it “thuggish psych.”

It’s become common lately for punk and hardcore groups to invoke psychedelia, perhaps finding it a good catchall—now that “post-punk” elicits groans—for newfound formal ambition or electronic predilections. Volume 3 is full of generous echo and burbling flourishes, which sometimes overtake the riffs, evoking the 13th Floor Elevators’ electric jug by way of Chrome’s proto-industrial clank. But the group’s strength is still careening wildness; what produces the most disorienting effect is that, like so much rousing punk, the players probe the threshold of order without splintering apart.

A frantic, galloping rhythm, on “Cloud Control” gives way to a trudging mid-tempo passage where the vocalist’s halting, marble-mouthed syllables sound wonderfully hostile. And the fragments of forbidding guitar that begin “Simulator” typify Addanki’s moodily dynamic playing, which veers between frenetic riffing and frosty melodies, not unlike the style of Link Wray. This tension—between an apparent wish to muddle the music, and players too feisty for that to really occur—charges the whole of Kaleidoscope’s expanding catalogue.

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Honolulu’s Honest, Diverse DIY Scene

The Bougies

The Bougies.

It’s a warm Friday night in Honolulu’s Chinatown, and local punk band Smoke Free Armstrong are playing their final show to a packed crowd at the Downbeat Lounge, a venue that, in recent years, has been ground zero for the city’s DIY punk scene. Between songs, guitarist and singer Steve Tanji grabs the mic to offer a sincere tribute. “I just want to thank you guys, from the bottom of my heart, for letting us play for you,” he says. The crowd of kids gathered in front of the stage cheer in response. “We’ve been playing for two years, and I want to thank you all for coming out and supporting the scene.”

There is a certain poignancy to Tanji’s words. By the usual musical standards, two years isn’t a long time for a band to exist—but, in Honolulu, it’s rare to find bands who last more than a few months, let alone years. Being a punk band in Honolulu is a lot more challenging than it would be on the mainland. First of all, there’s the location—“literally in the middle of nowhere,” says longtime promoter Jason Miller, who has been booking shows in Honolulu since the mid ’90s, and currently books under the name 808shows/Hawaii Express. “It’s so much [money] up front just to get somewhere for exposure. People can go on tours, but they’re not able to do it every summer, or during spring break. They can’t just jump in the van.”

Other problems: Hawaii is by nature a transient place. People come and go from the islands constantly, making it difficult to sustain a musical project for a long period of time. The state has an extraordinarily high cost of living, on par with that of the Bay Area or New York City, but with a far smaller population, and musicians need to hold down two or three jobs just to scrape by. Instruments and amps are more expensive because everything is imported—and forget about PA systems. Nobody owns property and basements are non-existent, so practice spaces are difficult to find and pricey to rent.

As far as places to play, there are currently no DIY venues on the island, and even if there were, the owners would still have to contend with the strange-but-true fact that sound travels farther in moist air than in dry air, making noise complaints inevitable, and house shows nearly impossible in Hawaii’s tropical climate. Generator shows in skate parks and on the beaches occasionally happen, but they can be stressful to execute—especially when it suddenly starts to rain, as it often does in Hawaii. To say nothing of the fact that the laid-back nature of Hawaiian culture isn’t exactly the most amenable to punk rock.

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Terminal Consumption: The Best Punk on Bandcamp, April 2017

Terminal Consumption
In this installment of Terminal Consumption, our monthly reviews column focused on the margins of punk and hardcore, Sam Lefebvre examines the latest inventive full-length by Los Angeles trio Behavior, plus new releases by Housewives and Exit Order.

Behavior, Bitter Bitter LP [Iron Lung]

Bitter Bitter is the work of three sensitive, clever players with an irreverent take on punk convention. The second album by Los Angeles trio Behavior, Bitter Bitter follows last year’s 375 Images of Angels. A spirit of possibility animates both records, but where Behavior’s debut reconfigures punk and hardcore tropes so that they sound alien, this one jettisons them almost entirely; if it’s post-punk, it’s post-punk not as a twist on punk, but as a challenge to its musical conservatism.

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Actress, Ulver, Braxton Cook & More

Seven Essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Pissed Jeans’ Matt Korvette & Author Lindsay Hunter On Sexism & “Guy Bands“

Pissed Jeans

Pissed Jeans by Ebru Yildiz

The latest album from Pissed Jeans, Why Love Now, sports a cover that is all pastel pinks and blues, with a photograph of the boys in suburban cookout-style collared shirts. Most of the band members are sporting smiles. Vocalist Matt Korvette even has his shirt casually unbuttoned. It’s only the deadpan stare from drummer Sean McGuinness that hints that the band might have more up its collective sleeve than well-groomed appearances would suggest.

On Why Love Now, Pissed Jeans serve up a collection of harshly humorous looks into the straight white male psyche. The lead single, “The Bar Is Low,” is the band’s most polished and accessible number—with an almost-ZZ-Top bar bounce, though male deprecation is classic Pissed Jeans. The hammering noise-rock showcased on their previous albums is on full display here as well, with Randy Huth’s rumbling bass anchoring barn-burners like “It’s Your Knees,” and “Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst.” Huth and guitarist Brad Fry operate as twin battering rams for most of the album, making the moments when Fry steps out with a solo particularly effective. This record is Korvette’s most varied performance yet, as he ranges from almost tuneful singing to the hoarse barks utilized on earlier albums. It’s an album filled with self-absorbed characters—from the target of “Not Even Married,” a recently dumped friend partying away the “trauma” of a “squeaky clean break,” to the aforementioned financial analyst who watches the “ice caps melt away,” but is only brought to tears by an accounting error.

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