Big Neck

Dumb Vision Modern Things LP

I remember DUMB VISION being poppier the last time I heard them, and those poppy elements are still there, but the band also seems darker and more focused. DUMB VISION is coming from a garage punk background, and layers that with the slightest bit of psych, and they do an awesome job of building their songs into a frenzy. My favorite example of that is the closer, “Don’t Die,” which builds on a riff and is fairly repetitive, but is able to build tension and acts as a perfect ending for the LP. The whole thing is a rager from start to finish.

Facility Men It’s Fun to Disappear LP

Twelve songs of WIPERS-style punk, or you could call it hardcore garage music. It’s mostly up-tempo, with vocals that sound like they are yelling at you in particular, and guitars that lean a little too heavily on classic rock’n’roll riffs (and solos). A couple songs in and it starts to sound a little stale. It’s unfortunate that you have to get halfway through the second side for the record to be broken up by the mid-tempo, not so yell-y “Morning Business” that will have you bobbing your head in no time. More of that please.

Fatal Figures X Minus One LP

Each time I listen to this record, I like it more. The vocals seem to be flying at 100 MPH backed by sped-up, slightly rockabilly-ish, noisy-as-hell garage punk. These days of staying at home and doing nothing don’t really require this type of angst, but I’ll take it anyway. That random, out of place, high-pitched note of feedback half way through “You Hardly Ever Crawl” makes me smile each time it catches me off guard. The inclusion of an UNWOUND cover and a BEGUILED cover poses an interesting insight into the band’s philosophy, and I approve.

Gino and the Goons Off the Rails LP

Sweat-stained, malt-liquor-swilling deadbeat ’70s-style punk’n’roll from a gang of sunburnt Florida beach trash with a rusted-out El Camino and a tank running low on cheap gas. Coming on like Tampa’s answer to the DICTATORS, these guys never met a blues riff they couldn’t rehash into a two-chord thug stomp. They redline the tach for most of this ten-song album, but they manage to slow down and get a little romantic on the track “She Can Take It.” Probably worth seeing live—I imagine it’s a high energy good time.

Lost Sounds Memphis Is Dead LP

Remastered reissue of LOST SOUNDS’ game-changer debut album from 2001. It’s pretty hard to overstate the impact they had on my taste— they just blew my brain apart. Having already thoroughly flipped for the REATARDS, LOST SOUNDS took that completely raw, blood-dripping punk sound and augmented it with synths to craft something far darker and often more dangerous than the teenage tantrum punk that was expected. This was entirely more musical, moodier, strange, and a lot more deviant. At this early stage, they had yet to submerge themselves in their march toward Black Wave, and you can still detect (gasp!) garage roots in their attack. See especially “Inside My Head” and their great reworking of the LOLLIPOP SHOPPE’s “You Must Be a Witch” for the proof. And it simply must be stated: the presence and power of ALICJA TROUT here can’t be ignored. Her songs here are totally revelatory—take a listen to “Memphis 99” or “Satan Bought Me,” and bow down—truly one of the most dynamic and underrated ladies in all of punk. LOST SOUNDS didn’t make many false moves in their lifespan, but the beginning is a mighty fine place to start. If you haven’t heard this already, what the fuck could you possibly be waiting for?

Richard Vain Night Jammer LP

Big, full-sounding indie jams here from this Chicago trio that includes an ex-PONY. The first track builds up from a brooding, proggy intro into a fuzzed- out krautrock jam that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Bleeding shards of guitar keen around organ-driven melodies atop a relentless drum boogie. The vocals drip with slacker ennui that falls somewhere between THEE OH SEES and DINOSAUR. The opening track and “Punks Inbred” are the standout tracks for me, but overall this is a strong, cohesive album.

Science Man Science Man II LP+flexi

I thought I’d listened to SCIENCE MAN before. But I think I was conflating NATURAL MAN BAND and some of the more overtly sci-fi denizens of the egg-punk world, like POWERPLANT or RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION. To be honest, that impression isn’t too far off. While SCIENCE MAN (one-man project of John Toohill from RADIATION RISKS and other Buffalo bands) may be more indebted to the NEW BOMB TURKS and less to DEVO than any of those bands, he’s still employing the services of a drum machine to make some “out there” music. This is pretty much lightning-fast garage punk laid atop an incessant, driving industrial track with some metal and prog flourishes thrown in (as I’m writing this out, I’m realizing that’s quite the odd set of genre bedfellows, but it works). Although there are nine separate tracks (the physical release also includes a flexi with an additional track), II functions more as a continuous 20-minute mix—once it gets going, it never lets up. This is all really impressive stuff, but I want to highlight this vocal performance. It’s like Greg Cartwright turned up to eleven. Definitely worth checking out.

Fire Heads / Sex Scenes split 12″

Whoa. FIRE HEADS are blisteringly fast and aggressive, yet carry an anxious melody throughout. I instantly loved their side of the split. It’s parts sloppy, meandering, and gripping. It’s also all parts a punch to the face. The singer screams along with driving beats, while symbols constantly crash around them, and quick riffs are pummeled through the guitars. At times there’s a fuzzy distortion on the vocals that makes them seem ever more out of control. Though their main appeal is their ability to manage the ever-present chaos, which slows down for brief measures just to allow a tiny bit of breathing room among the wonderful noise they’re making. The SEX SCENES side is some pretty straightforward tough guy hardcore with songs about Elder Gods. I appreciate their horror-inspired lyrics, just don’t care one way or the other for the songs.

Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Fake Nature LP

I reviewed their first album Noun when it came out many moons ago, and then proceeded to wear that shit out. I still love that record. Similarly, this one comes out of the gate throwing punches, just driving right at you. It’s relentless. There’s a piercing quality in the strings, and the drums carry the energy. It’s rough. And the vocals (female and male) aren’t pretty, but they’re strong and not at all unpleasant. There’s nothing cute about this. At the same time, it seriously is catchy as hell. It’s got a poppiness to it. I love bands that can pull that off. And, as with most any record that takes it to the next level, there’s an undeniable sense of urgency here. They even slow things down a little on the last track. This is worth searching for.

Sweet J.A.P. By My Venus LP

To be honest, with this moniker, and ridiculous album cover art which falls somewhere betwixt a long lost LOVERBOY record and maybe the “least memorable emo band from the next town over’s third LP from 1997,” I did not have high hopes. It’s pretty damn killer, though. At first, this just seemed like somewhat likeable, dirty-yet-probably-hot rocker dude styled HELLACOPTERS-by-way-of-Minneapolis heroin type of bullshit, but this shit is fucking great on repeat. Innernettes research says this band broke up in 2004, and these are outtakes from their sixteen- year-old album, but it’s remarkably fresh and urgent, energetic as hell, basement bound rock’n’roll. The kind of rock’n’roll you pay attention to. It looks like I missed the boat on this band, and I am a lesser person because of that. I’m sorry I’ve let you down, Dad.

Sweet Knives I Don’t Wanna Die 2×7″

Very much in my wheelhouse, this ‘un: a double-dose of SWEET KNIVES (Rich and Alicja—LOST SOUNDS brain-trust, thrusting anew) housed in a gatefold satchel adorned with TIMMY VULGAR art-stuffs. Do we even need to fuckin’ play it? It’s a guaranteed stunner. The title track is an extraordinary earworm, a bit friendlier than their former savagery, but epic and unshakeable in that familiar Black Wave way. The accompanying tunes all follow suit, with “Some People” being far and away the most ominous of the lot. Nice slice times two!

Werewolf Jones Premium LP

We always hear that Detroit bands incorporate the sounds of their surroundings into their music. If that is true, WEREWOLF JONES must be living next to a construction site where a piledriver is operating 24-7. The vocals react to that nuisance by spitting the lyrics at it. The music is repetitive and dirgelike. It gets you in a mood.

Football / White Savage Split LP

A double dose of ol’ Jimmy Hollywood, noted heavy from classic bands like the TYRADES and BASEBALL FURIES, most recently of GALLERY NIGHT. WHITE SAVAGE and FOOTBALL both land somewhere in the middle of all this, though the quality of each is uniformly quite high. While the bands have their own distinctions— FOOTBALL prefers direct thud, WHITE SAVAGE is more spastic and exploratory—there’s this simplistic and hard-charging drive that runs through all of Hollywood’s material: a primal and powerful use of punk energy that’s always been highly impressive to these ears. It can be heard throughout this split (which functions far better than it has any real right to!): artful and manic in equal measure, always careening, always inspiring. Great stuff.

Wood Chickens Well Done LP

I seem to recall the last record I reviewed from these goofy chaps as being a hokey, countryfied, fake-ass punk hoedown that I surprisingly totally loved the absolute shit out of. Although it seems like they have hit the acid pretty hard since we last met, I still love it, even though I realize that it makes no sense that I do. Opening your record with an instrumental surf number, throwing around lazer noises all willynilly, monosyllabic wailing, with album art that looks like a modern take on Rip Off Press (but from space). Cowboy-hat-wearing, reverb-drenched country punk is something that I would absolutely adore to make fun of, but just like their earlier output, this is surprisingly fun as fucking hell. This comparison might only affect about twenty five readers, and they would most certainly all be as old and as Southern as I am, but try and imagine a modern take on early DASH RIP ROCK, but punk enough that you wouldn’t be ashamed of it, or have to explain your adoration of it to your kids. Sorry, but this is good.