Boston noisy indie rockers Black Helicopter are back with their first new release in a few years, and it's a self-recorded live set that aired on WMBR's Pipeline! radio show back in September of 2020. The setlist consists of three new tracks, a Bee Gees cover, and "Army Pup Tent" from the group's excellent debut album back in 2004. Honestly, this could practically pass for a studio EP, especially considering that the bulk of the tunes are—for now—exclusive to this release. The production and performances are slightly raw, but totally effective—mammoth bass tone/presence; warm, robust percussion; vocals right in the heart of the instruments; etc.—there's just a little extra grit. "Young Jerks" is the mega hit, in my opinion. That one really connected with me right away—perhaps in fact because I was indeed a young jerk!? Seriously, though, the verse is basically a chorus with quick lead breaks in between, plus a subtly dissonant bridge in the middle. Excellent. A+.
Live on Pipeline! @ Home looks to be Bandcamp-only at the moment, where you can grab a coke bottle vinyl 10" (limited to 250)—extra goodies optional—or a digital download. Tragically, Pipeline! host Jeff Breeze passed away just two months after this recording aired, so Black Helicopter will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this EP to WMBR in his name.
Feeble Little Horse
Next month, Crafted Sounds will be reissuing the debut EP from Feeble Little Horse—a quirky, rugged indie-pop unit out of Pittsburgh, PA. I had never heard this band before, but they strike me as a little bit mopey, slightly shimmery, a little bit jangly, but still rough 'n' noisy, thus bringing in a wide assortment of "alternative" types of influences. In that regard, they're not unlike their Crafted Sounds labelmates Gaadge, who coincidentally appear herein with a B-side cover of Feeble Little Horse's "Tricks" (while Feeble Little Horse returns the favor with a cover of Gaadge's "Murphy's Law"). I dig it. Now I'll need to check out last year's Hayday album as well!
Hard copies of Modern Tourism are gonna have some other extra goodies on the B-side, so grab a cassette (limited to just 65 copies) via Bandcamp while supplies last. Streamer people, load up Spotify or whatever.
Fittingly, next up is a self-released (I think?) split between two more Pittsburgh acts, the aforementioned Gaadge and Ex Pilots, offering up 15 minutes of material apiece. Gaadge landed on my list of 2021 year-end favorites, so I've been looking forward to some new material from 'em. Herein, they do not disappoint with five tracks of amalgamated lo-fi indie rock with a bit of an experimental bent. Some tunes are a little more streamlined and somberly poppy; with the warped, driving rhythms of "Bridge Spliffs" being the most in line with the standouts from Yeah? (perhaps because it's a reworking of an early composition from 2016).
This split marks my first exposure to Ex Pilots, and right off the bat they're a great pairing with Gaadge. Their seven contributions possess a similar style and production value, but tend to venture into slightly "heavier" territory on occasion; as well as leaning on faster tempos that give this half of the release a slightly different vibe. Very cool. Great songwriting. I'll definitely need to investigate their prior material, too. What a fantastic split!
It looks like cassette pre-orders have been selling quickly, so they might be gone by the time you're reading this. Check both Bandcamp pages (here and here) to try your luck, or settle for downloads. Bandcamp got an early jump on this split, so it's not on Spotify as I type this, but hopefully will be later today.
I think I was exposed to Madrid, Spain's Inerth about a month ago when Decibel premiered a track, and whoa, their debut full-length rules! They aptly describe their music as "death sludge metal with doomed and industrial beats," and to my ears conjure visions of distilling the more mid-paced and plodding aspects of Napalm Death's Utopia Banished into an entire album. Toss in some Mindrot for good measure, and who wouldn't love that!? My assessment comes in part due to the powerful vocals that even rival the mighty Barney Greenway, but also thanks to the discordant textures and atmospheric undercurrents that really add to the overall aesthetic and impact of the material. Simply put: this shit totally destroys, and Void is a serious year-end favorite contender. I can't recommend this highly enough! Skull-crushing excellence all over the place here...
Thank You Driver
They Taught Us How to Read in 'Nam is a nice step up in quality for Langley, British Columbia's Thank You Driver. While their debut EP offered a raw screamo style, this new three-song effort is more akin to what I used to call "crazy go nuts" metalcore: hyper aggressive, tighter, and certainly more intense. I was pretty critical of this niche back in the day, but have opened up to it over time, and these tracks are undeniably well-executed. As you'd expect, there are loads of dizzying changes, but the running times are compact, so the zaniness doesn't get too overbearing. "Rich in Bootstraps" in particular hangs onto dashes of the melody from their earlier work, and I'd love to hear future outings dive into some of those flourishes as well. For fans of what now-legends like The Dillinger Escape Plan were doing back in the late-'90s/early-'00s, this will hit the spot for sure. Pretty damn impressive, really.
W T L N D S
I indirectly came across W T L N D S (Toronto, Ontario) through a YouTube video by the project's creator, "The Bunn," a month or two back. I can't recall how I stumbled onto the clip, but maybe an algorithm finally did some good for once!? Whatever the case, the video was intriguing and he seemed like a nice and compelling individual, so I explored his Bandcamp page—which houses tons of demos and rough mixes—and have been following his progress as updates are posted to the 'Tube. (You can also follow in greater detail via Patreon, if you're so inclined.) W T L N D S (formerly Wetlands) issued its first official five-song EP last month, and it's a head-bobbingly swingin' dose of dissonant, sludgy math metal that's texturally different than what you'd expect from said styles. The production lends it more of a modern feel that tends toward descriptors like "djent," but this ain't that. Expect an onslaught of warped, chug-churning rhythms and droning melodies packed into dense-as-fuck, extremely well-produced two-ish-minute compositions. You'll 100% be surprised to find yourself humming some of these riffs in the back of your mind hours after listening, trust me.