Featured Release Roundup: September 5, 2019
Taiwan Housing Project: Sub-Language Trustees 12” (Ever/Never) Second album from this group from Philadelphia. I heard their previous one a few times, but I’m excited to sit down with Sub-Language Trustees, particularly since THP has made the jump to Ever/Never Records. I’ve been following Ever/Never for a few years now, and they are adept at finding bands who sit in the sweet spot on the continuum between weird / experimental and more straightforward and pop-oriented. Taiwan Housing Project is a perfect fit for the label as they have elements that remind me of musical experimenters of yore (Butthole Surfers in particular), but seem determined to push forward and make something their own. Sub-Language Trustees opens with “Charitable Fiend,” the record’s most avant-garde moment. The pounding, headache-inducing groove (if one can even call it that) is like early Swans with caterwauling vocals and skronking sax spewing ecstatic noise over top. A full album this abrasive would be an interesting (albeit tiring) experience, but by the third track, “Buy Buy Buy,” things are downright accessible. The track is bluesy with its wah-wah guitar, in-the-pocket rhythm, and Janis Joplin-like vocals, but like Fun House-era Stooges, this is dark, psychedelic blues, the music stretched to its breaking point. The rest of Sub-Language Trustees is full of surprises, and for all the out-there sounds and experimentation, there’s memorable music at the core, not unlike early Royal Trux in that respect. Recommended if you’re looking for something that challenges your brain while still gratifying your baser impulses.
Violent Party: Signals from Outer Space 12” (self-released) Latest record from this Portland noise-punk band who has been releasing records since 2011. Violent Party don’t seem to have much connection to the more well-known crust / hardcore scene in Portland despite having a lot in common with some of those bands, particularly Lebenden Toten, who push at the edges of the noise-punk style in similar ways. Rather than injecting noise-punk with psychedelic space rock like LT’s most recent record, though, Violent Party seem to be moving in a noise / power electronics direction, jettisoning the guitar for this recording. While that sounds like a radical decision for a noise-punk band, it doesn’t make a ton of difference to their sound, as they still follow the standard noise-punk format of having 3/4 of the band (drums, bass, and vocals) sound like a ripping hardcore band while the remaining 1/4 makes screeching, high-pitched noise over top. The noises here feel more interesting, presumably because they’re made with more appropriate tools than a guitar. I hear some feedback-drenched samples and what sounds like manual manipulation of phaser effects, which gives Signals from Outer Space more texture than your typical noise-punk record. It’s still a “deep heads only” type of thing, though it's worth checking out if you are more progressive and open minded rather than a purist.
Brain Tourniquet: S/T 7” (Painkiller) Debut 7” from this DC project featuring some familiar faces from that prolific scene, notably Connor and Robin from Protester (and a ton of other bands). This EP’s layout nods to the Crossed Out 7”, and if you come to Brain Tourniquet expecting tight (but not triggered or mechanical) blast beats, short songs, and unexpected and dramatic tempo changes you won’t be disappointed. However, this is far from a tribute record. In particular, I hear the members’ deep knowledge of hardcore coming through in subtle but unique ways, like the Cro-Mags vibes on “No Solution” or the Dwid-esque vocals on “Fate.” I think I saw the word “grind” mentioned in a description of this record, but Brain Tourniquet is pure hardcore to me, though like Heresy or Ripcord Brain Tourniquet pushes the tempos to the limit. I also love the clear but organic recording courtesy of CC. I don’t follow contemporary power violence, but this is worth a listen even for a dabbler like me.
Blood Loss: S/T 7” (Convulse Records) Debut 7” from this band out of Denver. I hear elements of SSD’s powerful and crunchy, Discharge-influenced sound, a little NYHC, and some Blazing Eye-esque pogo hardcore on one track (“Double Life”), all wrapped up in a bleak and gritty aesthetic. Blood Loss is hardly reinventing the wheel, but they have some memorable parts, particularly on the closing “Spineless / Relentless,” on which they work in some cool Negative Approach-style stops and starts and a burst of lead guitar. A ripping EP for those of you who love fast and tough, no-nonsense hardcore.
Heavy Discipline: S/T 7” (Painkiller) Demo-on-vinyl from this Pittsburgh group featuring a bunch of familiar faces. You might think Heavy Discipline was from Boston, though, as they sound like an all-star jam session with Negative FX, SS Decontrol, and DYS. They have SSD’s crushing sound down pat, the catchy Choke-style vocals nailed, and DYS’s earworm riffs locked down. While some tracks hew pretty closely to their source material, I don’t see any reason Heavy Discipline shouldn’t wear their influences on their sleeve. Great songs, explosive performances, and a gritty recording from the Braddock Hit Factory.