Silver Volt can be described as “music I don’t understand made up of sounds I absolutely love.” Lyrically sparse and sonically dense, the math/post-rock duo made up of Alex Woods (guitar) and Scott Balles (drums) spent the dark days of the pandemic really digging into the layers and scoring the complex arrangements of their debut EP.
At times majestically meticulous, while other times raw, gnarly and gross, the band worked in the studio with producer Chris Gilroy, where they really refined their sound, filling the sonic spectrum with live-loops, drum triggers, vocals, and effects pedals. Lead single “Ice Cream Man” probably veers closest to pop sensibility with a dope vocal line and sounds like a rad 8-bit Nintendo short-out just before you beat the boss.
But it’s the pile-driving ripper “Hot Shave” with its berserk overblown guitar riffs catching each and every crack of the drum snare, and the drunken fuzz stagger of “Perky Pat” that really grabbed my ear. Woods and Gilroy share a unique musical language of strange sounds, odd blips, and metallic clinks, and having played together in the equally mathy Reindeer Castle project, this is truly a product of couple of sound masters at work in the elements of their craft. I may not understand it, and definitely can’t count out the time signatures, but this old punk gives it two thumbs and four devil horns up.
Silver Volt is out now and available via Bandcamp and all major streamers.
Upon first bite, the barrage of percussive onslaught devouring itself from both ends of a sweet tooth, experimental noise-prog nerd punk duo, Gorgeous has a brand new record, and it’s sticky and gunky and jagged and perfectly broken. Out now via Sad Cactus Records, it deploys bigger, deeper distorted riffs this go-round, heavier bass elements with a more focused vocal intent than their previous releases. Graveled in its edges, it is visceral and organic in its execution without straying too far from the quirky charms and Helium-meets-Hella mathy swagger they do so well.
After two leading singles, the lumbering and ominous “Raindrop” (see our thoughts here) and “Elbow Stress Rash,” their ode to isolation-fueled anxiety and its physical manifestations, Dana Lipperman (guitar, vocals) and Judd Anderman (drums) have only begun to scratch the surface across the breadth and depths of this work. There’s an ebb and flow, a pulse throughout the album that inherently feels like a live performance. Parts of it are overblown and fuzzed out, while others slick and shiny.
Much of Saspucker is wonderfully dark clouds; an intense storm passing across the beautifully ravaged doom organ, often ZOIA-esque circuit in landscape. It’s chorus in the land of monsters. On “Big Hands,” Lipperman declares “Hold my hand. Lick my fingers” before the tape slowly unwinds and drops into a sub bass universe. This is no longer your kinder gentler Gorgeous, it’s anxious and it’s chaotic. For songs like “Lovebug” and “New Paltz Waltz,” she pits subtle acoustic guitars against hard gated riffs and Anderman’s staggered heartbeat like some sort of ASMR jangle. A rare call to order, on “Keep it Steady,” the pair does just that, allowing the drums and vocals to carve out a brief moment of brewing balance and calm between the phased feedback and confusion.
Not to make a glass onion of things, but while Sapsucker is one of those records that indeed floors you from the get, further listens open new sonic textures as the layers rub and tear and wash against one another. Lyrically confident, it makes no bones in exposing vulnerable anxiety. And while also frenzied and complex—almost contradictory at times—the mood which you bring to your listening heavily shapes and colors the experience. There are spots where you can easily get lost in the fantasy realm to which it belongs, often the door-knocking of the kick drum the only thing tethering you back to the world. It comes full circle as the end is the beginning is the end leaving you fairly confident that Anderman is the sweet and Lipperman is the tooth.
Sapsucker is out now via Sad Cactus Records and available on Bandcamp and all major streamers.
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard a full release from NYC’s Pink Mexico, but like most truly good things, it was worth the wait. We here at Full Time Aesthetic have been following all the noise trailing the band leading up to its release including the music video for the self-unassured “Dungeonhead” (which we premiered on FTA back in April), and follow up singles “Shame” and “Victimhead.”
For those familiar with Pink Mexico over the years, you may notice this is a slightly new direction for the band. Right away in “Hot Air” you can just feel the record opens up way more space in which the sound to exist. Written and performed almost entirely by frontman Robert Preston Collum, there’s a sleepy element here that works wonderfully with their heavy components that are still present, but buried just below the surface. A lot of the record deals with regret and fear, touching upon the absurdities of existence. Collum told New Noise Magazine in their track by track breakdown of the album, “I was in the process of dealing with, or actually finding excuses for some new realities in my life. Progressively ignoring the slow closing jaws of dependency, the fear of failure and the desire to continue on, all of which are overarching themes throughout Mirrorhead.”
My favorite parts here are the less obvious moments. For instance, “Muring Calm” pulls its sound in a little tighter, creating underlying tension against a loaded backdrop of smiles and contentment. “Fuck It I Quit” has such extremely satisfying melody splayed over the relatable feeling of complete and utter despair. Nowhere on Mirrorhead do you find an air of pretense. It’s just straight damn human condition, and that’s what makes this record so damn good. It simply touches upon what it feels like to be a person here on this planet, all wrapped up in a deep fuzzy hug that feels somehow reminiscent of both Smashing Pumpkins and Dandy Warhols but at the same time neither. But it’s that final track “Feeling Normal” where it sounds like the band literally dug out the ground from underneath them and somehow made the sky even go even higher. Mirrorhead feels so much bigger than space it occupies and yet hits like a bullet to your heart in an empty room.
Drowning in southern swagger and big city hooks, I’ve been a loooooong time fan of Night Spins. The “nice guys, mean music” quartet made up of Josh Brocki (vocals, guitar), Manquillian Minniefee (guitar, vocals), Jesse Star (bass, vocals), and Ace Jernigan (drums, vocals) just put out Woohoo, a punchy new three song EP that scratches all the right spots.
The title track brings with it some Mika vibes complete with a sing along party chorus that would have Grace Kelly herself bopping her head. “Pretending it’s a holiday all thru the storm,” Brocki has a sweet vulnerability and real soul when he sings “spend my time playing make believe. All the clouds fall places I can’t reach. And all my friends are just the best. We’re hanging til we’re black and blue like we never left.” It’s a song about sticking together alongside your friends and your heart through thick and thin, and the four Night Spins are about as true blue as they come.
“Cereal,” has Minniefee swapping lead vocals with Brocki on a simmering slower jam laid over an almost Jets to Brazilian guitar riff. It’s a slight departure and a step outside their usual sandbox, but it’s got a gentle earnestness in its sincerely. That, however contrasts with the far darker closer, “Big Black Book,” which feels far more sinister and nefarious in both lyric and tone. It lives in the same universe as previous songs like 2019 single “Pass the Salt,” and much like its predecessor, there’s remarkably controlled restraint in its execution, but when it punches, it really punches.
Woohoo comes at you quick, but the melodies will certainly live in your brain for days long after. Having been playing together for quite a while shows in the level of detail and theatrics the quartet brings to their artistry, not to mention the impressive energy captured in their live performances. At the end of the day, these are three songs by four guys who know how to swing wildly between silence and mayhem.
A true NYC band in many regards, Real Burn came together from all over elsewhere USA, and met at an Ovlov show in Brooklyn. A tale as old as time, lured by kismet and the energy of the Big Apple’s music scene, soon after they played their first show at the very same venue where they met. But this quartet, made up of Noah Swanson (vocals, guitar), Charlie Markowiak (guitar), Sumner Bright (bass), and Kota Young (drums), are more than just another NYC fairytale story.
Destiny Is Too Hard, their debut release, often feels like shoegazey Strokes. While quite full of rich guitar textures and low fuzzy vocals that in many ways transport the listener back to 2001 Bowery times, these songs also aren’t all about boozy rock n’roll tropes and drug-fueled bathroom meetups. The band explains that “Destiny Is Too Hard is a lament of youth as much as it is a Zoltar machine casting a future fortune of the unknown.”
From the opening track “Burner,” a catchy as hell mid tempo hit which is somehow both peppy and sleepy at the same time, there is an elevated artistic execution. But by the time you reach the simple yet killer main guitar riff on “Drip Dry,” you’re hooked for the whole ride. My favorite moments are where the band plays a bit more with space and frenetic tension as a counterbalance point, which is more apparent on songs like “CCX2” and “Sick Brain.”
Where DITH may not always soar quite as high and hit big budget production hooks, it doubles down on authenticity, carrying forward a universal voice of a wiser generation; one that sees the modern world as a rapidly deteriorating frightening place; one who can still find the fun in living, but knows it’s not always party time. I’m quite surprised Real Burn hasn’t already linked up with bands like Slow Fiction, O. Wake, and Church Crush, and started booking shows together all over the East Coast, because I think that there’s a collective sound there would command people from all over to stop and take notice of the young musicians occupying the stages of NYC.
Destiny Is Too Hard is out now and available on all major streamers.