Direct Effect – Sunburn Album Review
What we have here is a gloriously scuzzed out record with manic vocals and a solid hardcore punk sound, which is not too crushing, thanks to a noise rock edge. Direct Effect are compared, (on the press info), to Fucked Up and The Jesus Lizard, and you can hear why, but they also had me thinking of more recent examples like Iceage and oddly, Cloud Nothings in their more raucous moments – this actually might have more to do with the youthful punk attitude rather than the riffage though.
This is not a catchy, melody driven romp as such, but it does have some tuneful riffs, listen no further than the fantastic [ ] and album opener Permanent Vacation, which is a real foot stomper with a nicely nasty, crunchy guitar sound and a confident, slightly bratty vocal bark. The album as a whole tends towards meaty riffs and measured beats but at times it does pick up the pace and the guitars whine their feedback at you in a scuzzy way.
This isn’t the kind of record with hooks that stick with you, so individualy the tunes don’t leave you wanting more, however for sheer energy and riffage it had me dancing in my chair whilst writing the review and it’s the attitude and feel of the record that will make you come back for more. Not instant record of the year material, but a slow burner which you will rediscover many times. Released early March 2014 through Tiny Engines, listen and buy here.
Cayetana – Hot Dad Calendar 7″ single review
Cayetana continue their run as one of my new favourite bands and if they carry on making awesomely catchy fuzzy-punky-pop tunes like this they will stay in my good books for some time to come. Following on from their fantastic demo last year, this single consists of the punchy and melodic Hot Dad Calendar and the laid back and fuzzy Ella.
The former has a simple yet bouncy tune – one of Cayetana’s strengths is in their ability to mix melody with raw vocals and a lo-fi scuzzy overlay, and you really hear that in this track. It starts strong and has you hooked until the last note, thanks to sing along vocals and a lovely, high in the mix bass, rounding out the sound. Track two, Ella, is nicely muzzy with a more laid back feel; richly fuzzy guitars and another great vocal line bringing it all together.
If you’re still not familiar with this all girl trio then I urge you to get on board now.
Pariso, Consanguinity album review
Pariso’s new album has had a low-key release with no hype or build up to speak of, this review copy for instance only arriving in the inbox after the release date, so basically, if you weren’t in the know, you probably still aren’t.
When I saw Pariso at Swn festival in Cardiff back in 2012 I was impressed with how heavy duty they were. Just how loud and aggressive they sounded in that small space is hard to describe but my ears weren’t the same afterwards even with ear plugs in and I was sold on their sound immediately.
The new record, 9 track album Consanguinity, also follows through on the aggression that hits you at their live shows. It feels raw and urgent for the most part; tracks like Equivocation are a snarl of fast drums and riffs with pissed off vocals shouting at you through them and it leaves you feeling dirty but somehow energised too.
The album is never just nasty however, right from the start you have the finesse of the slow, doomy (and dare I say melodic) sections of The Separation to lead you in to the sound of the record and many of the other tracks are peppered with interest; (darkly) groovy moments, techy little riffs, snatches of weighty yet dreamy doom like the brilliant Tower Of Genus which introduces lighter female vocals to counteract the darkness to great effect.
Certainly worthy of your time and gets better with repeated listens but probably only for those with a sturdy constitution. Consanguinity was released on 12″ through Tangled Talk Records on 1st July 2013. Find out more and buy or download the album for free at the bands website.
Dowsing, I Don’t Even Care Any More, Album Review
Having enjoyed Dowsing’s last full length It’s Still Pretty Terrible I was interested to take a listen when their latest album turned up in my inbox last week. The verdict? Well the first impression is that this new record isn’t as instantly memorable; on an initial playthrough a couple of really catchy tracks stand out but many of the others blur into a Dowsing flavoured mush. So perhaps this is more of a grower?
In essential’s Dowsing’s sound hasn’t changed really; the melodies remain strong and the overall tone still has a slighly downbeat edge. It feels like they’ve buffed their mid-paced emo jangles to a smooth even tone here, but I’m not sure that’s the best thing for their sound because for me the record is missing something – perhaps it’s because in ironing out their sound they’ve taken off the raw edges that kept the tunes from being too sweet and sentimental.
The opening couple of tunes, If I Fall Asleep The Cats Will Find Me and Get Weird are catchy little pop tunes and overall the album has plenty of those but further in things do start sounding a touch familiar – I think it’s because without the raw sounding production and more emotive vocals and choruses of tracks like Get Dead! and What Did You Ever Do? from It’s Still Pretty Terrible this album lacks bite.
That said, I’m still rocking many of the tunes on offer No Offense To The Fun for example comes later in the record and it’s brilliant, serving to pull me back into the album with it’s more heavy duty riffs and super catchy sing along chorus. So yes, it may have a more polished, evened out tone but there are enough cracking little melodies working their way out of the melancholic twinkling to keep you hooked in. Dowsing really do know how to pen a sweet and poppy emo tune and this album is worth checking out if that’s your thing.
Nobody, Ever – This Wall Is Dedicated To Liam And His Mates EP
I recently reviewed Leicester (UK) emo-punk-rock four piece Nobody, Ever’s previous EP for Roomthirteen and this new offering (again an EP) is also very charming and doused in an American sound which doesn’t hurt them one bit.
The opener When Your Hearts Already Left is a great way to start the record, slightly melancholic but with a fantastic melody which grabs you straight away, you’ll find yourself bopping along by the end of the first chorus, great stuff. Straight away this record seems more polished than Everyone Stood By The Side Of The Road but still nicely rough around the edges luckily which is the way punk-rock should be.
Delete That is a touch more downbeat and not as memorable, it still has a nice little tune though. The gruffness from their previous ep seems more toned down on this record with The Last Good Thing seeming more straight forwardly rocky rather than emo or punk-rock, in fact it’s a little too poppy for my taste. Room 505 has more a emotive vocal approach with some cracking and almost-screams which adds a nice touch and pulls the track back from the pop-brink just in time. The closer We Sang “So Long…” is a real gem and possibly my favourite tine here, just the right mix of melody and riffs with some nice gang vocals, nicely done.
Check Nobody, Ever out on Facebook and Bandcamp.
Back in January I was rather taken with Springtime’s demo and wrote a short blurb for this blog, now in August we have the band’s debut 7″ EP South Hill and it doesn’t disappoint. That old school sound is still present, sitting somewhere between Fugazi and Texas is the Reason (and as if to back this up the EP even includes a cover of Fugazi’s Great Cop). South Hill and Here Now in particular are real winners – fast but structured and melodic with sing along vocal lines.
The EP has bags of barely contained energy, riffs are snappy and powerful, gruff vocals are barked out in short bursts and all the while some great melodic moments surface, hooking you in and getting you moving along with them immediately.
Even though this is a band featuring members of previous bands Family Cat, Tiger Tail and Cheyenne, it’s a tall order to start again, and this feels like an assured release from a band only playing together since 2011; they’ve clearly found their sound.
A roundup of releases I’ve reviewed over the last few months for Roomthirteen, links to the full reviews can be found under each snippet.
Drug Church – Paul Walker
Seriously loving this album, and you should too if heavy duty yet melodic punk-rock is your thing. Paul Walker is the debut full length from Albany (NY) punks Drug Church (released via No Sleep Records) and it’s a corker.
Nobody, Ever – Everyone Stood By The Side Of The Road (EP)
There is something very charming about Nobody Ever’s emo-tinged punk-rock tunes, minimal in style but with a gruff-edged vocal delivery, nice (high in the mix) bass lines and some cracking melodies; there’s nothing here not to like.
Ovlov – Am
Connecticut indie-rock band Ovlov’s debut full length for Exploding In Sound Records, is stylistically heavily 90s influenced and drenched in layers of scuzzy goodness a la Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine – their sound is dubbed popgaze in the press info which actually seems rather fitting.
Two Inch Astronaut – Bad Brother
Two Inch Astronaut have a strong 90s rock sound at times, bringing to mind bands like Pixies, Pavement and Shudder To Think but they don’t wallow in nostalgia – mixing in little touches that make sure you know they are living in the here and now; heady, heavy duty moments, great melodies and playful riffage amongst them.
Degenerate #11 arrived this week in the post – It’s the kind of zine that makes you want to go out and make your own zine, unfortunately you know it would never be this good. Aesthetically Mr. Lefebvre nails it again with a beautiful cut and paste look and striking cover layout which is oh so inviting – this issue even has a flexi disc of Musk – I haven’t seen one of those for years. I’m sure I mentioned this with the last issue but I’ll say it again, it’s not all style over content, the writing is really solid with a mix of academic musing about punk/post-punk and band interviews (with some interesting questions posed). I’ve said ‘academic’ but that doesn’t mean the style is dry, quite the opposite – it actually brings to mind a kind of modernist stream of consciousness at times in that you really get a feel for the writer’s thought processes and the emotional impact the music has on him.
I love to read this kind of writing, it’s the kind of thing you rarely, if ever, find in mainstream music press and is why I turned to zines in the first place – a bit of passion and intensity without all the corporate bullshit and the need to sell anything – honestly, after 6 or 7 years of music writing myself I am still striving unsuccessfully to reach this plateau. Anyway, you get the point, it’s inspiring stuff and I urge you to get hold of a copy of this zine.