Hot Track Alert

Stake: Pray for Death

It's been a while since we've posted a Hot Track Alert... my apologies! I can't think of a better track to get back into the game with than this barn-burner from Richmond, Virginia's Stake. On the one hand, this track pulls together a lot of different little threads of music that I like: the jittery, drum-machine-driven sound of Race Car and SBF, the big choruses of the Marked Men and Radioactivity, and the dark atmosphere of the best recent goth-tinged punk. But on the other hand it sounds like absolutely nothing else... this could have come from Calgary or Stockholm or Houston just as easily as Richmond. It seems to exist outside of our space-time continuum, evidence that there's a better world out there where all the songs rule and the punks like to dance.

Kaleidoscope: Cloud Control I

WARNING: Forgive the animal metaphors.  The burst of energy at the beginning of this track is slightly misleading.  Where the main riff of the song starts as a gallop, our proverbial horse takes a left turn for a sudden drop-out where the bass slows the gallop to more of a slither.  The cycle of "Cloud Control I" is somewhat orbital, like a snake chasing its tail and adding subtle yet powerful variations in the guitar along the way.  There are sudden breaks in the tension filled by samples of transistor radio static, almost to flicker away from whatever strange imagery is being conjured lyrically and musically.  The lyrics describe a unique environment, and for some reason the pace and atmosphere of the music brings to mind the landscapes from disturbing vintage cartoons like Fantastic Planet.  My own imagination aside, while snakes wouldn't be able to do so, the groove of this song will have you shaking those shoulders.

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Long Knife: The Tower

For many, the knee-jerk description for a band like Long Knife would be to dub them a "Poison Idea Jr." of sorts.  But a song like "The Tower" on this new EP demonstrates that this band clearly has so much more to their sound.  As a collection of tracks, Sewers of Babylon has quite a few slower numbers, but you get the most bang for your buck on this track. Opening with some surfy sounding guitar, the creepy monotone verses make you feel almost at ease, only to make the punchy drums, snarling vocals, and ripping guitar leads more impactful later on. If all of that seemed unexpected, you would've never seen an anthemic organ solo a la The Dickies' "I've Got A Splitting Hedachi" to complete the perfect picture, would ya?  So killer. #moreorgansolosinpunk

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Natterers: And No Birds Sing

I missed when Natterers demo originally came out and even when we got in the flexi version it wasn't on my radar yet.  I feel bad thinking I could have been . I love the punchiness of the whole thing.  This doesn't sound like a band just getting their feet wet and trying to figure out their sound.  Natterers feel like a well worn machine of destruction, ready to plow through all the bullshit. And No Birds Sing starts out at 100%, no count in, no time to prepare for the intensity about to hit.  This song has somewhat of a west coast punk kind of feel, especially with the tasty little solo part, but turned up to 11. I really love how perfect the mix is on this demo too, everything seems to sit perfect.  I am pretty much done writing this and have listened to this song like 5 more times because it is so good.  If this is where Natterers are starting then I'm super excited to hear what's next.


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Exit Order: Still Water

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There now seems to be a necessary undertaking when hardcore bands make the move from the 7" format to a full-length 12" to create some slower tunes to fill up the space.  After the full-bore, mostly up-tempo assault on their 8-song EP, "Still Water" is a noticeable change of pace from Boston's Exit Order.  The song starts at a crawl and builds momentum to a stomp, just before bursting into musical territory most Exit Order fans are more familiar with. This track not only introduces a variation of speed, but also a new melodic sensibility, particularly in the vocals, that foreshadow other tracks on the LP that seem to draw from a more goth/peace-punk influence.  While we could be comfortable with another batch well-written, riff-oriented pogo punk numbers, it's nice to hear Exit Order taking their sound to different places.

Trümmerfrauen: Kaputt

While y'all were grabbing those SS lps like they were free money (I mean it kind of is) this one flew under a couple of radars.  People will probably be quick to compare this to Kleenex or The Raincoats which I think sells this short.  While there are similarities this definitely stands on it's own merits without the "FFO" tagline.  The guitars have this KBD out of tune quality to them that I kind of love.  It makes everything feel just slightly off, especially in the intro of this song.  Mix this feeling of discomfort with some of the most venom filled vocals this side of Good Throb and you have a lovely minute and a half of KBD poison.  The simplicity (especially the punchy bass lines) makes this song get stuck in my head on the regular. To quote the Fed Ex driver who came in while I was listening to this song "I would kill myself if I had to listen to this all day".  Truly part of the soundtrack for the trü freaks. 

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Pisse: Fahradsattel

Pisse are nice enough to provide lyrics translated into English in the liner notes.  Those have not brought me any closer to understanding what this song is about.  All I know is that synth line gives me chills in a good way every time it comes in.  Mixing vocals very reminiscent of Dean Dirg (the delivery is very similar, trust me it's not just because it's in German) with synth parts that remind me of Juanita Y Los Feos, in a way of being super melodic and catchy with a hint of spooky, make this feel frantic yet dark.  It's like being manic and depressed simultaneously. Who knew a song about bike seats could contain so much feeling. Definitely for all of the weirdos who still like a catchy tune. Definitely will be jamming this one for a while.

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Elix-R: So Much Fun

MORE ELIX-R! YES!  Hey look I picked the song with the breakdown instead of the fastest one!  I was a big fan of their demo cassette so obviously had high hopes when popping this cassette in for the first time.  Super blazing, high in the mix guitars, tight af drums, a bass that's a little too buried but comes through when needed and super inventive and shrill vocals. The vocals on this one feel so fun and bouncy in comparison to the overall toughness of the rest of the band making a good contrast. I would be totally fine with this tape being 6 hours long because it is wall to wall bangers (including the 3 minute opus Higher). Buy now before it sells out and you regret it.

Housewives: 62426


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Housewives don't strike me as a particularly strong candidate for a Hot Track Alert because this 12" EP works so well taken as an entire statement, but since this is quickly becoming one of my favorite records in recent memory I decided I would rather pull out a track for emphasis so that it's featured here. I chose the closing track, "62426," for no particular reason. I suppose that it's a pretty good indication of what you're getting into with the rest of the EP, though all of the songs are super different from one another. However, it does display two of my favorite aspects of Housewives' sound on this EP: the strange, left-of-center rhythms and the interesting variation in noisy sonic textures. I suppose "62426" is Housewives at their most Swans-esque, and while I've never been a huge Swans fan I can't seem to get enough of this record. 

Obstruction: Pressure Breaks

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Sometimes, I want my punk to be complex or challenging, and maybe take some effort to dig in and get into.  On the other hand, you have bands like Obstruction, where only 10 seconds in and I know I like it, no questions asked.  "Pressure Breaks", the opening track, just has everything going for it.  It begins with a dance-y, mid-paced intro that has a total rock-out attitude, but not too over the top.  Upon first listen, I thought this band was going to sound like Judas Priest or something, but everything starts to ramp up in intensity. The bass shreds some hi-notes as the drums slowly increase in tempo just before launching into a total assault.  The rhythm is obviously d-beat inspired, but doesn't bring to mind the crusty end of the spectrum.  The vocals in particular give the band a more classic US hardcore feel.  Much like some of their motörcharged Texan peers (Impalers for example), the songwriting is just strong, riding each riff for the right amount of time and just delivering it with so much power and intensity.  Teeth-gritting, fist-clenching, to the point.  Can't wait to see what comes next from this band.

Rashōmon: 死体症候群(Corpse Syndrome)

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"Corpse Syndrome" is perhaps the black sheep among the other ragers on the new cassette from DC's Rashomon.  Deviating away from the fist-pumping d-beat stylings of the other tracks, this song is a slower number with the drums pulsing underneath the focal point of the song, which is heavy reliance on groovy, single-note guitar lines.  The guitars don't come across as particularly shred-ish or indulgent, but they do stand out as carrying the song.  But still, the guitars are toppled by the Gauze-esque ranting vocals, all of which are sang in Japanese.  And just when you would think the track is drawing to its close, it's almost as if the band decided they couldn't stray away for too long as they launch into a raging fast conclusion, literally within the last 5 seconds of the song.

Nurse: Foreign Object

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Wow, what an opening track!  I mean it in the nicest possible way when I say that Atlanta's Nurse have evolved from the noisy pogo punk style band that started out.  On this new EP, they've created a sound with just as much snarl and rage, but with leaner, more complex songs and interesting contradictions in the guitar work.  I can't tell if this is a product of faction between the current members of the band, but the result is intriguing.  "Foreign Object" makes strong use of weaving between a simple but effective riff and a creepy single-note melody.  The song feels chaotic and claustrophobic, careening into a lot of unexpected turns, -- instruments dropping out, tempo changes, etc. -- but the structure still comes across as intentional and memorable.  When looking for something left-of-center, this is what I want out of my weirdo hardcore.