I think it’s pretty safe to say that the members of Austin band Easy Prey are pissed off. At least that’s the vibe I get while listening to their debut LP Unrest (which I have been listening to almost non-stop for the past few days). If my frustrations and anxieties about all the BS going on around all of us – every day – were a band, I think it would sound a lot like Easy Prey.
Unrest was written during the lockdowns of 2020 and “heavily influenced by the circumstances of 2020 – experiencing mass unemployment and civil strife while the ruling class thrived.”
Unrest is a masterclass on what makes a great post-hardcore album — it’s heavy, it’s loud, it’s punishing and it doesn’t let up — ever — during its 10 song, 30 minute span. Check out “Other People” below for a taste.
For me listening to Unrest has been a bit of a cathartic experience, where for 30 minutes these guys are pissed off for me, which provides a small — but much needed — sense of relief. Thanks for that Easy Prey!
Melbourne trio CLAMM, are taking no prisoners with their pummeling brand of heavy-ass punk rock on their new album Care. Just give “Scheme” and “Bit Much” a spin (below) to see what I mean.
From the album PR, CLAMM are “explore(ing) the confusion of what it is to be a young person trying to live an honourable life in this fucked up world. Their songs are about trying to navigate systems of power and oppression while retaining a healthy sense of self and mental health. Community, creativity, and catharsis are what they hope to achieve through their music.” Is there a better reason to make music in this stupid world than that?
With their second album, Excess, Automatic has proved that they are adept at both timing and rhythmic composition, as each song builds eagerly and each accompanying instrumental layer is carefully interwoven. While the lyrics reflect the presence of excess in a capitalistic sense, there is no excess present in Automatic’s musical arrangements. Everything is meticulously crafted, and the production on this album is outstanding. Most of the songs on the album begin with electrifying, charged introductions comprised of just bass and drums, with the exception of “Teen Beat,” in which isolated vocals precede any instruments. Each song swiftly transitions into synth-doused verses that, while reminiscent of the 1980’s, feel fresh rather than recycled.
The lyrics in Excess delve into the grotesque nature of corporate culture and, as a whole, provide an overarching critique of capitalism in general. In “Skyscraper,” a personal favorite of mine, the lyrics are “Up here where the sun has a beautiful shine / To light up perverted American minds / The white hand of luxury, so cool and refined / No trace of the miserable people outside.” Automatic effectively riffs about the inefficacy of a system where climbing the ladder distances one from the brutal reality that exists around them- that a win, essentially, is always someone else’s loss. The somewhat impersonal nature of the lyrics reflects the lack of compassion in a culture that values personal success at the expense of others. But the thing about Excess is that one doesn’t need a complete understanding of the lyrics to appreciate the album; it is as danceable as it is clever.
In many ways, this album reminds me of LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, if LCD Soundsystem was a female-fronted band from Los Angeles. Excess channels Sound of Silver in its lyrical richness, production, quippiness, and dance-punk style that feels New Order-esque. Automatic’s vocal and instrumental approach is more subdued than James Murphy’s in Sound of Silver, but it works well, as it compliments the album’s commentary on the hollow pursuit of consumerism (like in “NRG”, which has the refrain “You don’t have a choice, so your body is a product / Was any of it real, all the things that you wanted?”).
Automatic has opened for IDLES, Parquet Courts, Tame Impala, and, come September, is set to open for Osees, but this album has proved that they have what it takes to climb a ladder that’s all their own, which, hopefully, will take them into the upper-echelons of the alternative scene where they can get the recognition they deserve. Excess is out now via Stones Throw Records and is currently available on vinyl at 3hive Record Lounge. In addition to “Skyscraper,” be sure to give both “NRG” and “Venus Hour” a listen.
Provo UT’s UPHERE! Records are releasing their new label comp filled with previously unreleased nuggets from bands like Backhand, Nicole Canaan, The Plastic Cherries and Homephone to name a few. All the profits go to help refugees in Ukraine, 50% to Save The Children and 50% to The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. This is a KILLER compilation and it’s for a VERY good cause.
In an attempt to separate themselves a bit from the lazily used descriptor “post-punk”, New York’s BODEGA drew inspiration for their new album – Broken Equipment – from the likes of hip hop, indie-pop and classic rock. They achieved their goal, Broken Equipment is packed with thumping beats, jangly guitars and plenty of vocal melodies, along with the heavy punch to the gut BODEGA fans expect from a BODEGA record. Check out “Thrown”, “Doers” and “Pillar On The Bridge of You” below for a sample. Broken Equipment is solid from start to finish, I highly recommend it.
Washington State’s Datura will remind any 80’s head of bands like Joy Division (a little New Order too) and The Cure (list any other great 80’s post-punk band here), but their wall of sound guitar and relentless pounding/chugging rhythm section really make them stand out on their own. Whether or not you classify them “post-punk” or “post-post-punk” or “dark wave” or “neu wave” or my new favorite (NOT) “post-punk revival” they smash the mark on their new album Arcano Chemical.
“Is this new All Girl Summer Fun Band?” my wife asked during my first spin of Artsick’s debut album Fingers Crossed. That is one of the highest compliments any band can receive from her – she loves AGSFB. The only higher compliment from her would be “is this new Dance Hall Crashers?” Neither of Annie’s favorite bands have released anything new, but this Oakland 3-piece does share some musical similarities – female-fronted, guitar-driven, jangle-punk with bright vocals and vocal harmonies.
Fingers Crossed is a stunner and another solid release from Slumberland. It comes and goes quickly, clocking in at just around 28 minutes, but it demands a re-spin the second it’s over. Check out “Ghost of Myself” and “Fiction” below for a taste. Fingers Crossed is out now on Slumberland Records. You can snag it on all formats via their Bandcamp page. We will also have it available on vinyl in our store. Enjoy.
I will never forget when I heard Chicago’s Heavy Seas for the first time. I was listening to a 2021 releases playlist (that I add interesting looking albums to over the year) while driving home from work and their song “Everything Breaks” started playing. I immediately reached for my phone (bad form, I know) to see what I was listening to and I’ve been hooked ever since. In fact, this is my most listened to album in the last two months – yes, I do keep track of that stuff.
Heavy Seas recorded their new album Everything Breaks with J. Robbins (!!!) and it sounds every bit like a J. Robbins produced album. The heavy, driving rhythm section, alongside howling guitars reminds me so much of early Sense Field and other bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Jets To Brazil, it’s almost like being transported back to the mid 90’s / early 00’s.
Backhand have been shredding ear drums and tearing up the stages of Salt Lake and Utah Counties for a little over a year now, they have also released 4 EP’s in that span, including their newest (and strongest) titled Danger, Thy Calling.
Danger, Thy Calling conjures the spirits of bands like Minutemen and early Replacements with bits of added craziness like Idles in there too. I am pretty certain Mr. Owens is channeling the late D. Boon during several moments on this EP.
Give the equally menacing “Everywhere Men” and “Think! Think! Think!” spins below, then get yourself to their Bandcamp page and give these hard working fellas some of your hard earned money. You won’t regret it, I promise.