by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Welcome to FUZZY MEADOWS, your home away from home where we recap the past week in music. We're sharing our top ten favorite releases of the week in the form of albums, singles, and music videos along with the "further listening" section of new and notable releases from around the web. The number rankings are fairly arbitrary and we sincerely recommend checking out all the music included in this feature. There's a lot of great music being released. Support the bands you love. Spread the word and buy some new music. *Disclaimer: We are making a conscious effort not to include any one artist in the top ten on back-to-back weeks in order to diversify the feature, so be sure to check the "further listening" as well.
1. JACKAL ONASIS | "The New Ron"
Jackal Onasis began as a cross country recording project with Alex Molini and Jordyn Blakely passing files from coast to coast in the interest of making something for the sheer love of playing music with friends. They drew influences from bands like Deftones and Autolux and a love for TV, particularly the cult-hit Party Down. Enough said... we're sold, but wait, there's more. Molini moved to the East Coast and Jackal Onasis graduated from "project" to "band," rounded out by Ghoul Man on bass. The trio reworked and remixed their songs and with the help of engineer Steve Bone, and their debut is nothing short of spectacular.
There's a very loose Party Down theme that revolves around the record, but Jackal Onasis' appeal lies in tones and structure. There's an obvious attention to detail in Molini and Blakely's songwriting as they drag conventional structures through their fuzzy noise pop splendor. Lead single "The New Ron" is the perfect introduction to the band’s spaced out attack, opening with Blakely’s heavenly soft vocals before teetering into the unknown as the band twist and turn through dense rhythms and searing guitar riffs. it’s as heavy as it is pretty as the song develops with an inescapable melody and futuristic groove.
"Here lies Ronald Wayne Donald. Repeated first grade because he couldn’t figure out scissors."
2. THE MELVINS | "I Want To Tell You"
As far as I'm concerned, there is no greater inspiration than the Melvins. For about thirty three years now the band has been making their own way, doing what they want without concern, and seemingly having a good time doing it. They make a living by extensive touring and while they've never had a "hit" in the sense a band like Nirvana had, they have persevered without a stale moment over three consistently productive decades. The band's line-up has steadily shifted over the past twenty years with Buzz Osborne (vocals/guitar) and Dale Crover (drums) the band's permanent creative core, joined by a revolving door of bassists that have included (but not limited to): Kevin Rutmanis (Cows), Jared Warren (Big Business), JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers) and most recently Steven McDonald (OFF! & Red Kross).
To celebrate (and possibly poke fun at) the ever growing list of Melvins bassist alumni, the band are set to release Basses Loaded, a record that finds the band playing with six different bassists. As with most Melvins releases, their latest is a mix of crushing sludge punk dirges and screwball humor. The band's mood shifts with each song but it's undoubtably the Melvins as only they can be. The band have never shied away from covers (they have an entire covers album as well as an enormous catalog of live covers) and "I Want To Tell You," their rendition of The Beatles' deep cut is a welcome addition to their repertoire. The trio (with McDonald on bass) knock it out of park with an upbeat whimsy, balancing big sludge with pure jangle-pop focus and a hint of glam adoration. It's still kind of menacing, but that's the charm... The Melvins have made it their own, warped, weird and undeniably infectious.
The eclecticism of Basses Loaded shouldn't work, and in the hand of most bands, it wouldn't, but the Melvins have never been most bands. They've spent the better part of the past ten years creating records full of split personality punk, crushing one moment and goofing off the next, and despite all odds, the band's sludge gumbo remains as vital as ever. Just wait until you hear the jamboree that is the Krist Novoselic assisted "Maybe I Am Amused," a swampy Melvins boogie like you've never heard before. And yeah... maybe we're amused too.
3. BORIS | "Are You Ready?"
Boris write a lot of music. They've proven themselves unafraid to try just about anything (to mixed results) but as far as we're concerned, Pink remains the band's finest work to date. The album rips with nuance at every turn, shifting from the crushing metal and sludge of earlier releases, Pink provided an opportunity for the band to sprawl out in divergent directions, sprinkling in elements of garage punk, ambient shoegaze, doom pop, psych, and discordant noise. It's pretty much a masterpiece of indie sludge and experimental metal and Sargent House are reissuing the record in honor of its 10th anniversary this month (the band are also playing the album in full on tour this summer). As we mentioned though... Boris write a lot of music, and lucky for us, the reissue comes together with Forbidden Songs, an entire LP of unreleased music recording around the same time.
The band are sharing "Are You Ready?," a crushing blast of vicious noise punk that sounds something like the two-headed stepchild of Jane's Addiction at their most primal and Boris' one time split release pals Torche. It's bright and upbeat with guitars that continuously shred both over and around the melody. It rips with harsh punk earworms and a breezy aggression and damn... we can't wait to hear what else they have in store on the likely treasure trove that is Forbidden Songs.
4. BIG HEET | "Demo" EP
Long live Tallahassee's Ex-Breathers, one of the finest punk bands of the past five years. Call them hardcore, post-punk, post-hardcore... whatever you want... the trio released three aggressive and infinitely repeatable records in Collision, Exbx, and their all too soon swansong, Past Tense. Recently the band announced it would be taking an extended hiatus, and while we hold on to hope of their eventual return (confirmation of The Fest in October is a good start), the trio are moving onward, with new opportunities, new life experiences, and yes... new bands. Guitarist/vocalist David Settle is wasting no time. In addition to his collection of already active bands (Ignu, Whateverer, Sleeper Key, etc), Settle is picking up some of the Ex-Breathers' fury (perhaps one third of it) with Big Heet.
Big Heet is raw and heavy punk with ambitious post-punk tendencies. There's still a loose Minutemen-influenced attack, but the elastic riffs remind me more of Mission of Burma than anything else. The songs are frantic and loud but there's an artsy intelligence to them. Simply put, Big Heet's demo rip. There's an unbridled creativity to them. They sound fresh and fully realized, even if in their earliest stages... and this is truly just the beginning. Our love for Ex-Breathers will never fade, but Big Heet is certainly helping to ease our minds... in the most cathartic of ways. The future remains bright, punk will never die.
5. PETITE LEAGUE | "Hiccups"
Its been about a month since Petite League shared "Annie," the first single from the duo's upcoming sophomore album, No Hitter. This week they premiered "Hiccups" featuring some guest vocals from Jamie Brooks on GoldFlakePaint (one of our favorite sites for in depth premieres and interviews). Much like the first single, "Hiccups" is pure fuzz pop bliss. The song is full of devotion in a heartbreaking sort of way ("Hiccups stuck in my throat but I could die if you wanted me to") and Brooks and Lorenzo Gillis Cook's voices blend wonderfully together over the syrupy guitar squalls. Petite League make the sort of shimmering garage pop that could make the coldest of days feel like summer... and summer is coming. Hot damn, things are starting to heat up already.
6. TURNIP KING | "Metonymy"
In full disclosure, Turnip King's latest single "Metonymy" was actually released nearly a year ago... last July to be specific. So why write about it now? Is it because the band are making some of the best shoegaze of the year? Not entirely, though they probably are... as this year will finally see the release of Turnip King's long awaited new album Laika (out this August on Fire Talk). To celebrate that announcement, the band are sharing a new and improved remaster of "Metonymy" and with that what was once "old" is new again, and "Metonymy" makes a strong case for the magic of a simple remaster. The single is once again accompanied by the same grainy VHS video as before, but there's a new life to it, a new clarity of sound amongst the noise and the visual distortion. The fuzz and static of the song's peaceful sprawl matches the glitches and warps of their home video manipulation, it's beautiful in it's imperfections. While the so-called "shoegaze revival" has offered a great deal of all too cautious bands and sparkling clean production, Turnip King aren't afraid to make some noise. Let their swarm of guitars wash over everything, it's time to put a bit of recklessness back into shoegaze and Laika can't come soon enough.
7. THEE OH SEES | "Web" (live)
It has been said that Thee Oh Sees are one of the best live bands in the country. No arguments here. Their energy is unmatched as the band buzz and shake through their own signature hard-coiled freakouts of psych punk, garage rock, and acid folk from the moment their set begins to the generally riotous ending. How do they do it? Cocaine? Untamed adrenaline? Sheer will? Who cares... they do it for you (the audience) and it's always a sight to be seen. After releasing thirteen albums over the past decade (not to mention EPs, splits, and single collections), Thee Oh Sees will release their first live album since 2008's Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion. Live in San Francisco, the latest edition of Castle Face Records' exceptional series of the same name, marks the ongoing series' first double LP, fitting for a band with a tendency to sprawl out as the grooves lock in and spiral onward.
Much like Thee Oh Sees' endless wave of energy, John Dwyer's Castle Face has built one of the strongest catalogs in psych punk and beyond since it's inception and the Live in San Francisco series in no exception, with stand-outs and must-own records including The Blind Shake, The Ty Segall Band, Useless Eaters, Fuzz, Destruction Unit and more. It's high time Thee Oh Sees joined the series and they're pulling out all the stops. Recorded over a three night stay at The Chapel, the album will be accompanied by a DVD of the performance and a track list that plays primarily from the band's last few records with a few classics thrown in for good measure. If "Web" is anything to go by, the Live in San Francisco series has captured an essential performance from the band's latest iteration... who remain as revved up as ever.
8. SPEEDY ORTIZ | "Death Note"
Foiled Again is the latest from the East Coast's Speedy Ortiz (hometown unknown)... a pair of outtakes and remixes from last year's envelope pushing Foil Deer. "Death Note," the first single from the effort starts with some glorious noise and feedback... but dare I say it, there's a dingy disco punk vibe going on underneath the distortion. It's poetic, both in lyrics and layering, the guitars have a slow burning intensity, leaving a ruthless path in their wake. Mixed to perfection, "Death Note" keeps the caterwauling grit locked in while achieving melodic clarity, everything in its place, ringing in pop squalor. It's rare a "scrapped song" sounds this good... but every now and then you find "trashcan gold".
"These kids grow so fast," just don't call it a "stop-gap".
9. HEAD WOUND CITY | "A New Wave of Violence" LP
Good Grief. Head Wound City's self titled debut EP was a harsh and chaotic seven songs in just under ten minutes running time. On A New Wave of Violence, the triumphant follow up, the band have expanded their reckless destruction with some seasoned patience. There's still chaos! There's still an unbridled insanity! There's still harsh hardcore carnage for the whole family to enjoy! This time around the hardcore "supergroup" (which features members of The Locust, Retox, The Blood Brothers, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs) stretch out a lean ten songs over the course of nearly twenty five minutes, shifting the average song length from under a minute and a half to damn near a leisurely two and a half minutes... expansion, progress, depth... the new Head Wound City. Truth be told, it's not all that different than the old Head Wound City. There's most certainly more nuance and more dynamic heft to their menace, but we're still in the same gloriously gritty "City" we've been waiting to return too.
After ten years away, the band that seemed destined to be on a "one and done" footnote of modern hardcore, but it's like they say... you can't predict the unpredictable, and Head Wound City are that if nothing else. Their reemergence is welcome and their venomous bite remains razor sharp, more focused than ever. The pummeling rhythms and stinging guitars sound like the first coming of the apocalypse, all hell is breaking loose but as they put it, "we were born to burn"... so what the hell. Get wild.
10. SUPERMOON | "Fast Fashion"
Vancouver's Supermoon are getting ready to release their sophomore record Playland this week (May 20th), a mix of tight post-punk and surf pop in a similar vein as La Luz, though decidedly more angular and with a touch less reverb. The melodies are sweet but their is an ominous undercurrent to Supermoon's sound, it's disenfranchised pop that their press release describes as "part hot fudge sundae, part film noir". Breezy and haunting, "Fast Fashion" pairs doubled vocals with razor thin guitar lines set against the rhythm. The knotted tension opens up for a brief respite before the band lock back into the hypnotic post-punk jangle.
THE NUMERATORS "Strange" LP | MRS. MAGICIAN "Eyes All Over Town" | EAGULLS "Ullages" LP | THE MOVING PICTURES "Genet's Rose" | CULTURE ABUSE "Punks In Vegas Session" | ELVIS DEPRESSEDLY "Angel Cum Clean" | GARDEN CENTRE "Riding" | LUNGFISH "To Whom You Were Born" (remastered) | HOODED FANG "Venus On Edge" LP | CAT BE DAMNED "Drown" | PSYCHIC TEENS "NERVE" LP | TIERGARTEN "Aeons (Infinity Glow)" | PARLOR WALLS "Sofar Sounds Session" | GREYS "Exclaim TV Session" | YUCKY DUSTER "Friend Zone" | MAIL THE HORSE "Backlash" | WHAT MOON THINGS "17" | CADET KELLY "Throttle You" | IGGY POP "Sunday" | PORCHES "Out Of Town Films Session" | NAPS / YIKES "The Most Beautiful Place on Earth / Commercial Music" LP | THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM “Cricket & The Genie (Movement I, The Delirium)” | YEESH "End Results" | ALL PEOPLE "All People" LP | BOYFRNDZ "Gone" | BOYFRNDZ "High and Tight" | BOYFRNDZ "Little Secret" | BOYFRNDZ "Silhouette" | THE CULT OF DOM KELLER "Broken Arm of God" | LASER BACKGROUND "Correct" LP | JOURNALISM "Watching & Waiting" | THE STONE ROSES "All For One" | MUDCRUTCH "2" LP