Urochromes: Night Bully 7"

Wharf Cat Records


Urochromes continue an amazing run with the release of their first fully realized extended player, Night Bully. The A-Side is comprised of 3 full throttle and perfectly condensed punk songs, while the B-Side charts new territory for the group. Searing opener “My Dickies” is a playground for Dick Riddick, one of contemporary punk’s stand-out guitarists and a true master of tone. Here he shoots for the rafters with an ascending line that serves as the track’s central hook. The creepy whispered vocals and banging electronic drums of “My Disposition” introduce one of Jackieboy’s doomed characters swimming in self-doubt. “Confront Ya” explores adoration with a promise of continued indifference (“They love you in West Mass…Ahhhhhhh”).

The B-Side opener “Night Bully” codifies Urochromes’ love of industrial punks, Chrome with an arrangement as mechanical as it is maniacal. Dick Riddick creates a constantly changing wave of texture over pulsing electronics. The whispered vocal style introduced in “Confront Ya” is back, this time asking “So you think I have a funny face?” Another of Jackieboy’s jealous, wounded characters this time baiting the affirmative response.

The ender is a remix of “Night Bully” by electronic gloom masters, Boy Harsher. This track reimagines the song as a lost noir-wave classic while still retaining the menace of the original. The inclusion of this remix shows Urochromes’ disdain for “the rules” but also reminds us that the drum machine was there from the start – this has always been a punk band with one foot in electronic noise.

Our take: New EP from this Western Mass band with a wholly original sound. Listening to Urochromes it strikes me how totally conservative most hardcore bands are these days. Urochromes manage to sound fresh and forward-thinking, particularly on this new EP, which finds the band fine-tuning their sound and pushing it in a lot of new and interesting directions. The trademarks of Urochromes' sound are still the drum machine and Jackie's heavily mannered, Fred Schneider-style vocals, but on Night Bully those identifiers feel less like gimmicks and more integrated into the overall aesthetic. The two songs on the a-side are the hardcore bangers, with everything pushed very far into the red to the point where sometimes you can barely hear the vocals. Still, a lot of interesting touches do emerge, like the killer little melodic lead on "My Dickies." While I don't think anyone would say these two songs are anything but hardcore, they sound like hardcore updated for 2017... whereas nearly every hardcore record I listen to nowadays sounds retro in some fashion or another, Urochromes manage to sound like pioneers breaking new ground, even within the context of a genre that seems to have calcified almost completely. Then there's the b-side, on which Urochromes branch out even further. "Night Bully" places a pulsing synth at the center of the mix and ends up with more of a Big Black-type of feel than Urochromes' previous stuff. "Night Bully" is followed by a remix of the same track by electronic group Boy Harsher. Boy Harsher turn the track into a full-on synth-based song that reminds me of some of the tracks on Total Control's Typical System record (though without the grand pop sensibility). This remix of "Night Bully" would be wholly unlike from anything I've heard from Urochromes before if it weren't for a killer, dissonant guitar solo in the middle of the song. That was a lot of description, but there's a lot to describe here! Night Bully is a record that, despite its brevity, is bursting with ideas. If you're a traditionalist then don't bother--Urochromes aren't for you--but if you want to hear hardcore like you've never heard it before this is highly recommended.
Tags: 10s hardcore punk recommended weird yoobl