It’s Bandcamp Friday! The most wonderful day, when the music industry is solved and I can whip out a newsletter without once engaging with any larger discourse. So, without further ado or worry, here’s some Bandcamp Friday recommendations!
Meat Wave Malign Hex
At this juncture, Meat Wave are, to my mind, the archetypal Chicago band (guitar dude category). Touch & Go ideation (without the post-rock noodling that people who look like me love so much but which puts me right to sleep), Pegboy burliness (but with more than just one great record), a sense of history–that holds nostalgia in contempt–that spills over with regret like a 30-part Steve Albini twitter thread, the barstool gravitas of Eleventh Dream Day cornering you in the bathroom line to recite their favorite passages from Charles Portis, and the heave-ho sad-rockin’ of a Cheap Trick which refuses to play anything but “Downed.”
OK that’s pretty much all I got for Chicago band references (Meat Wave, great as they are, bear little resemblance to either Howlin’ Wolf or Los Crudos, and I doubt their publicist is in the market for any observations regarding Meat Wave’s high melodic sensibilities and that of Screeching Weasel). So I’ll spare you (and the band) any attempts to frame a Mike Royko comparison as a compliment. The new Meat Wave is grumpily delightful, as always. One of the very few post-Drive Like Jehu bands to understand that what made that band memorable was that they wrote songs that were memorable.
YHWH No Midwife And I Wingflap
The worst thing about the Dime Square scene is that not a single person involved has even a lick of talent. Also all that other stuff. But the point is that there should be some sort of law that the term “downtown” is reserved for no wave spasmotorik dreamboats that love polyrhythm and Arthur Russell and the band Suicide and have messy hair. And, at this juncture, said “downtown” dreamboats should sound like they only visit the island of Manhattan once a year, to either visit their parents, renew their visas, or get their “Lucy Sante 4-Evah” tattoo touched up.
Fatboi Sharif & noface Preaching In Havana
See, this is what I wanted the Sandman TV show to be like.
Generación Suicida Regeneracion
When I saw that the always dependable Drunken Sailor was releasing Regeneracion, I almost didn’t buy it. Because I thought I already owned it. But apparently the album I had was a demo? And they re-recorded the whole thing? Kind of feel like that should be spelled out in larger print somewhere. Anyway, whatever is going on here, the tracklist is different and the songs do sound way fatter and more confident. I’m going to be so goddamn embarrassed if it turns out I misunderstood and it’s actually the same recording, just remixed or something. But I won’t be embarrassed about buying it twice. This shit is so good–slashing death rock ‘n’ roll, played like Warped Tour never happened, America was therefore somewhat less disappointing, and Generación Suicida are the headlining band at the Greg Sage inauguration, where his first acts as President are making Kimberly Martinez the chief drummer for the Supreme Court and declaring crime legal–that I’ll buy it a third time if anyone asks.
Wolfmanhattan Project Summer Forever and Ever
The album title, Summer Forever and Ever, is a nod to the climate crisis. So it’s apt that the record is played by this trio of end-time sock hoppers as half sunshine party jam and half subterranean get-real-goner fest. Kid Congo (Gun Club, Cramps, Bad Seeds, Pink Monkey Birds), Mick Collins (The Gories, The Dirtbombs), and Bob Bert (all the other bands, ever) have spent most of their careers of evil laughing in the face of death. If it’s going to explode anyway, why not set the rock ‘n’ roll controls to the heart of the sun. I bet the Big Bopper cockpit was a lot of laughs too, for a while.
The no wave guitars are probably not intended as a comment on any rising tide, but they sound real apocalyptic anyhow.
ALSO: Don’t forget to read my profile of Kid Congo Powers in The Washington Post.
Backxwash HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING
Nobody particularly enjoys me talking about rap, so I hope the reader will forgive me for focussing on the more industrial rock aspects of HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING, despite the record being very much a hip hop album. The line between Wax Trax and “noise rap” (whatever that means) has never been thinner, so may as well play to my strengths.
Anyway, it’s taken a while for an old man such as myself to acclimate to this new reality where industrial rock isn’t a complete drag. I haven’t much cared for the genre since Trent Reznor went from being a fun popping pimple to, like, a genius (ugh). I won’t insult Backxwash’s themes and trauma by claiming His Happiness… is “fun,” but it’s for sure not a drag.The record is a thrill ride; a charismatic (techno) animal full of high operatic drama; stabbing lurch-funk, and low, low bass bug-outs; tempered by some self-lacerating humor and the occasional jab at blackface Joni Mitchell.
Like a proper Pretty Hate Machine, backxwash’s lyrics are heavy with biblical imagery. The difference, of course, is that Backxwash’s use of the symbolism feels rooted in at least a lapsed faith, rather than how crucifixion is the handiest of metaphors. Also, as opposed to lil’ Reznor, she doesn’t use every song to blame some nameless heartbreaker from the suburbs of Cleveland for all her old testament pain.
Not sure where Ms. Mutinta’s relationship with God/Satan currently stands, but she’s for sure in touch with one strange power or another. HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING feels like what I love about religion; the boldness of acknowledging mystery, the working through the pain in the world, the paradox of using song to simultaneously be up above it, and down in it.
Everybody knows that Sheer Terror is my favorite hardcore band. Well, Paul Bearer finally put his excellent other band, Joe Coffee, up on Bandcamp. If you like what I like, especially the “bad man, but (somewhat) trying” subsection of what I like, you’ll like this. And if you’re a critic who only likes rock and roll made by (yes, anti-racist… obviously. sheesh) skinheads when they have English accents and are vetted by P4K, you’re morally obligated to buy this.
Big Joanie Back Home
I write a little bit about how much I love Big Joanie in the upcoming issue of Creem Magazine. SO YOU SHOULD SUBSCRIBE. https://www.creem.com
G.A.Z.E. Living the Life
None of the albums by another beloved-by-Abundant-Living hardcore band, Paintbox, are on streaming or available to even purchase digitally. So this band of Paintbox worshippers will have to do. And luckily this rules, and does real nicely.
Morbikon Ov Mournful Twilight
I’ve owed Dave Witte (and Co.) vocal demos for a new Publicist UK album for two years (I’m almost done!). If this bananas levels of sickness is what he’s been up to, I can’t imagine that he misses me that much. I’m both fishing for compliments and trying to express how fucking good this is.
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