Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Snowing - Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit (Demo)

Snowing are a Pennsylvania-area band that play math-tinged emo in the vein of Cap'n Jazz, placing emphasis on smooth melodies and whirling, instrumental chaos, replete with light, winding guitar riffs and pained, throat-scraping vocals. Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit is a 5-song demo which was released by the band earlier this year, and although a demo, it has an orchestrated passion to it that far more experienced outfits would be hard-pressed to match. From the impassioned euphony of opener "Sam Rudich", to the fiercely energetic "Important Thngs (Specter Magic)", to math-influenced closer "Methuselah Rookie Card" , the group showcases an intriguing collusion of technicality, melody and emotion, a blend that is as much already realized as it is brimming with potential.

This is a must-listen for anyone who's a fan of Tim Kinsella, or even just 90's indie/emo in general.

Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shorebirds - Shorebirds 7"

Pop-punk project featuring Matt Canino of Latterman on guitar and lead vocals and Chris Bauermeister of Jawbreaker on bass. Owing obvious sonic influences to both of the aforementioned groups, Shorebirds combine melody and passion into a powerful and occasionally uplifting package. This 7" is a lot rougher than their eventual full-length, It's Gonna Get Ugly, which was released last year, but it crackles with DIY enthusiasm and a vinyl hiss that adds to the roughness of the sound. Music for a restless night when you're trapped in the city with nothing to do.

Shorebirds 7"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Latterman - Turn Up the Punk, We'll Be Singing

“what we need round here is positive people”

Latterman is one of those bands that’s just a joy to listen to. The Long Island foursome play with an intense energy and passion for their music, their lyrics are unapologetically upbeat, and their music radiates with an undaunted positivity, as if to re-assure the listener that everything’s going to be alright. To use an analogy taken from Allmusic, Latterman “is like the musical equivalent of a friend patting you on the back and dragging you out for a cold beer after spending the day feeling a bit down”.

Turn Up the Punk, We’ll Be Singing is Latterman’s first full-length album. Originally released on Traffic Violation Records in 2002, it got a re-release on Deep Elm in 2005 thanks to the greater popularity that came with the release of their second album, No Matter Where We Go…! The album is rawer than much of what would come after it, yet still imbued with much better production values than anything the band had released previously. Turn Up the Punk is then something of a middle ground in the evolution of Latterman’s sound, caught between the rougher, basement band punk of their demo and early seven inches, and the cleaner, more varied and melodic band they would grow into on subsequent full-lengths. And yet, it is undeniably memorable because of those clashing directions.

Musically, the group creates what sounds like a combination of pop-punk and post-hardcore, mixing the airy, upbeat tones of the former with the heaviness and instrumental complexity of the latter. Whether strummed or picked, the guitars emit a melodic and joyous pitch that wonderfully emphasizes the optimism and positivity that reigns throughout not just Turn Up the Punk, but Latterman’s entire discography. The music crackles with a youthful vigour, one that signifies the passion of the people playing it.

And while there isn’t too much variety to speak of, the songs never sound recycled from one another, with distinctions coming both in the form of well-placed hooks and well-defined lyrical subject matter. The typical punk subjects of mid-20 something apathy are touched on (“My Dreams About Not Sleeping Until 3 p.m.”, “Too Many Emo Days”), but always in the sense of “Well, what can we do about this?” Latterman doesn’t just examine the problems surrounding their lives, but actively (and optimistically) looks at what they, and you, as individuals can do about it. Rather than wallow in self-pity, each song is its own anthem of empowerment, garnished with equally anthemic chants and rallying cries.

If you let your heart tell you who you need to be
You'll find a beautiful person in the mirror everyday

Even when Latterman engages in social criticism (“The Biggest Sausage Party Ever”), they still address it from a perspective of what can be done about it, as opposed to one of abject despondence. Consumer culture and gender inequalities are chief topics of criticism, with awareness, honesty and DIY being promoted as ways of combating these social ills from the standpoint of the individual.

On Turn Up the Punk, We’ll Be Singing, Latterman conceive their inimitable and passionate brand of punk rock with a bang, creating a style just as individual as the message they preach. This is not just energetic and anthemic pop-punk, delivered with an upbeat attitude and a strong sense of social morality, but a shining example of the level of originality still achievable in punk. Pick yourself up a cold beer and give it a listen.

remind ourselves ten years from now
just what we need

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nothington - One for the Road

Today's post continues this blog's current streak of me posting nothing but gruff, semi-melodic and all-too unheralded punk rock in bite-sized doses. May the streak never die.

Hailing from San Francisco comes Nothington, a punk band made of ex-Tsunami Bomb and Enemy You members that blends HWM-style punk with traditional Southern musical leanings. Nothington takes a bit of a detour from previous bands looked at, in that they noticeably veer off from conventional punk rock to the point where it sounds more like electrically charged, up-tempo country than anything else. The vocals conjure up images of a pissed-off Tom Waits, the singer's strained growl sounding like it was influenced by equal parts whiskey and cigarettes. Twangy guitars and low lying bass lines support, with the end result sounding as much bar band as it does punk rock.

This 7" was the group's debut, released a month before their 2007 full-length All In, and it features tracks from that album as well as some B-sides.

Recommended for Leatherface and American Steel fans.

One for the Road