Reviews

Handstand

Casual Burn Mean Thing LP

Frantic, intense lo-fi punk from New Orleans with a lot of reverb and a heavy retro vibe. The overall sound is refreshingly original and free. It sounds like it could have come from the ’80s, before punk knew exactly what it was supposed to sound like. A lot of the individuality is owed to singer Monet Mallof’s charismatic, confident, powerful, and freaky vocal style, which is backed by a perfect complement of brooding, driving riffs that are catchy and dissonant and gross all at the same time.

Kissed by an Animal Kissed by an Animal LP

Driving rock music from Brooklyn. I guess I understand why people like these kinds of reassuring sounds—not everyone wants ELECTRIC EELS or ALBERT AYLER or DISCLOSE or whatever—but this is the most bland possible NPR-core. Reminds me of a pop-punk YO LA TENGO for dads who golf? But YO LA TENGO is light years better/more interesting than this boredom! Something about this record makes me think of that goofy pop-punk/emo collision that happened in the late ’90s/early ’00s, when people were ready to tie their DIY dreams to a package tour featuring a bunch of bands who exist only on Warped Tours.

LMI Excess Subconscious LP

LMI, or LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS (from the BAD RELIGION lyric), play spiraling spats of obtuse post-hardcore. There is a constant discord between the three members that through repetition slowly overwhelms. I really want the bass to be brought up a few levels, like molasses coating this jagged pill. Most vocals are screamed monotone with minimal guttural death metal vocals sprinkled in. This occurs mostly on “Ghost Teeth” where the low-end growl takes the mic. The drums are along for the ride and carry this unique presentation through like a cosmic tour guide. LMI is sort of SWING KIDS, HOT SNAKES, CAVE IN. The playing style is so tense, I prefer the tracks that loosen up and groove a bit, such as on “Concrete Illusions” and “Tomorrow Midnight,” because LMI still lays it on harsh. I’m not going to soothsay land this review down on any runway, because LMI didn’t do that for me. Sort of leave it hanging and awkward, but in a bewildered and good way. These LAZY MIDDLE-CLASS INTELLECTUALS might just be way above my head.

Mutant Scum Mutant Scum LP

Ambient tribal drums start this LP off, before breaking into galloping, hard rock rhythms that channel HIGH ON FIRE, DAMAD, early COC, and Connecticut crust-core slayers REACT, with a fine combination of southern blues guitar and death metal. The vocals are grimacing, strained, and well in key. A mid-paced guttural banger that, from aesthetics, I expected to be way more goregrind thrash. This LP has catchy diminutive chords, straightforward punk-tinged heavy metal, and excellent dense production. I’m quite impressed. Songs about wizards, sewers, creatively metaphoric environmental messages, and our subsequent mutations from its demise. Cool ’80s toxic horror cover art—this version of the vinyl is green, but like opaque Ninja Turtle green, a vinyl color I had yet to see.