Random Roundup: February, 2024

Almost Heaven

North Carolina's Almost Heaven features members of The Burning Wind, Dwell, Ends of Sanity, Invoke, and A Knife in the Dark (only a few of which I've actually heard before). I recently bought their debut four-song EP on a whim because I was ordering something else from the label, and seemed to recall having heard a snippet that let me know this was decent enough. When I threw it in the stereo, though, I was like, "Holy shit! What is this!?" Churning metalcore that immediately hits with far more power than most, offering a modern interpretation of that Turmoil-esque vein. Scathing yells, chugging rhythms, well-honed compositions... they just lean more toward crushing grooves with guttural secondary vocals than that '90s brand of semi-chaotic dissonance. One hell of an incredibly promising introduction, I must say. Looking forward to hearing more!

This self-titled affair is available on disc—a.k.a. the finest format—through Bitter Melody, or cassette via Death Farm. If you'd rather stream, look to Spotify or Apple Music, and be prepared to uncontrollably destroy your listening device of choice...

Flight Mode

If there's a higher-quality emo scene than what's been happening in Norway as of late, I'd have to challenge you to prove it. Featuring lineup ties to Monzano, Ben Leiper, and Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson (amongst others), Flight Mode issued their third fantastic EP of reflective and heartfelt emo, Tøyen, '13, at the start of the month. This time out, a noticeable twang of "country" seeps in a bit (especially the pedal steel of opener "Thirtysomething"), but there's still enough overall energy and grit to avoid things feeling overly "sappy," which—at least in my opinion—can sometimes be a bit of a detraction when it comes to emo/indie niches. These four tracks, however, are able to explore the most beloved aspects of the genre while simultaneously (and reasonably) pushing boundaries. It feels fair to say that all Flight Mode fans have worried from the start if each release might be the project's last, so I can only continue to hope that the consistent caliber of their output combined with an enthusiastic response from listeners will sustain some gas in the tank, so to speak...

Tøyen, '13 is out now in a limited edition of 100 cassettes, or compiled into The Three Times as a cassette box set (limited to 50) or LP of all three EPs (200 on clear, 300 on black). Cassettes are through Sound as Language, the vinyl via Tiny Engines. Those who stream, utilize Spotify or Apple Music or something.

Hubert Selby Jr. Infants

About a year ago, I referred to the debut from Dublin's Hubert Selby Jr. Infants as "a rather interesting style of alternative rock that's a little bit fuzzy, a little bit boisterous, and at times melodic and memorable." And, well, that statement holds just as true for their latest four-song EP. In fact, funny enough, listening to it right now in the mix with the J. Robbins album below, I actually hear some similarities between the two that I probably wouldn't have connected otherwise. The Infants do tend to wade into slightly noisier territory, though, and arguably could've been at home on the less acerbic side of the late-'90s/early-2000s Hydra Head roster. Interesting band that deserves more attention.

Have You Ever Been a Crow... or an Eel? is out now as a 12" EP through Scene Report Records, limited to 300—"some black, some marbled." If you're in Ireland or Europe, the band has a few left, too. Hopefully StickFigure will provide copies in the U.S. at some point. If you favor the intangible, Spotify and Apple Music are ready for you.

J. Robbins

Also early in the month came the latest solo full-length from the great J. Robbins. I'm often a bit stubborn about "solo" outings, and only first became excited about Robbins' such work with 2021's superb split 7" with Her Head's on Fire, which proved me—once again—to have been an ass for having ignored a few years' worth of quite strong material. The highlights of Basilisk are equally impressive in their display of perfectly-recorded alt.-rock that's equal parts catchy and angular, as subtly mathy rhythmic twists give way to slightly more straightforward polish, occasionally wandering out into atmospheres of the more laidback and lush variety. An obviously impeccable fit for Jawbox fans, and without sounding exactly like Jawbox. Killer.

As far as I can tell, Basilisk has been issued on straightforward black vinyl at the fairest price in the land of about $24 shipped in the U.S.—perhaps no surprise, as Dischord remains the D.I.Y. gold standard. Grab a copy through Bandcamp or the Dischord store. If you prefer streaming, find it on Spotify, Apple Music, and so on.


Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada's Meantime dropped 10-song LP Living in the Meantime back in December through Indecision Records, and I'm shocked that I hadn't heard a single peep about this fact until I saw a mid-January Instagram post touting the album as bringing back that 2000s Rivalry Records sound. That immediately piqued my interest, and was a dead-on assessment. I make it no secret that I'm rarely interested in more traditional forms of hardcore, but when done right, I'm down, and Meantime absolutely nails it on every level. Take a driving, mid-paced to fast, old school type of foundation and add just enough melody and hard-hitting breaks to land in the sweet spot. Not as melodic/adventurous as Go it Alone, but not as one-sided and strictly ​​conventional as The First Step, for example. Also huge for me is that any encouraging undercurrents to the lyrics are coming from a perspective of anger and frustration, sans any hollow platitudes of positivity. This had to have been one of the best pure hardcore releases of 2023, and seemingly one of the most underrated as well. Excellent. Completely mandatory for adherents of the genre's most archetypal sounds.

Living in the Meantime is available digitally or on LP (150 on clear with blue splatter, 350 on baby blue) via Bandcamp or direct from Indecision. Stream through Spotify, Apple Music, etc.


Following last summer's full-length debut, Richmond, VA duo Roseneath returns with a jaw-dropping stylistic shift on new single, "Bleed for You," which only retains the vaguest remnants of their former "grungegaze" direction. It more or less sounds like Depeche Mode with a "rock" tinge to the percussion and faint shimmers of guitar in the distance. Vocalist Jason Roberts of course retains his identifiable sound, however, and anyone disappointed by this dramatic transformation might be recommended to check out the latest EP from Roberts' primary band, Breaths, which is coincidentally starting to lean more in the direction of Roseneath's initial approach. I'm super curious to hear where this is going to lead, though—this is the kind of near-total reinvention that you just don't encounter very often. A courageous move, indeed!

"Bleed for You" isn't on Bandcamp at the moment, so stream via Spotify or Apple Music or whatever service you prefer...