All three of Sunday Drive's new releases (the other two coming from Money and The Arrival Note) are pretty damn slick, but this four-song EP from North Carolina's Dull Mourning is my personal fav of the bunch. I had already pre-ordered a tape when I saw the label hype it on Twitter with, "Take a listen if you're a fan of early-'00s emo/post-hardcore on Equal Vision and Vagrant," but that's dead-on. These songs totally remind me of that specific era when there were essentially catchy emo bands whose material was surprisingly punchy and heavy guitar-driven. In this case, the vocals also creep into shouting/screaming territory at times, which not only sounds great and is effective for communicating feeling, but really stands out as a highlight amidst the current climate where so many "singers" are choosing to phone it in with a lazy, half-sung monotone that lacks any oomph. That opening track is just so damn good!
Starkweather just posted Heavy Meta on Facebook the other day, catching my eye by mentioning a lineup connection to Black Harvest (apparently there are also lineup ties to In Human Form, another interesting project that I'm unfamiliar with). Within a few seconds of checking out the first track, I felt confused. Like, I must have checked out this band in the past, right? But, if so, why don't I remember? Why did I not already count myself as a fan? 'Cause this is some seriously hyperactive, mathy prog metal—rhythmic and chunky, but also very fuckin' ambulatory, and with atypically unhinged vocal sneers to boot. One of those collectives that's kinda all over the place in terms of constant runs from riff to riff to riff and maybe-but-not-necessarily back again, and not without purpose. They're not entirely off-roading it, there is a sense of control, and the delivery isn't obnoxious. I'll do that thing I do and request of the reader to imagine if Ephel Duath were more Mastodon than jazz, perhaps.
Mana Regmata's not officially out until next month, but half the album is already streaming on Bandcamp, where you can also pre-order on the world's finest musical format: the compact disc!
If you missed me yakking about Trondheim, Norway's Onsloow a few times last year, pay attention, 'cause the four-piece just released their debut full-length earlier this month—through Friend Club Records (U.S.), How is Annie Records (Norway), Slow Down Records (Norway), and Motorpool Records (Japan)—and it's quite a fantastic half-hour of poppy emo/indie goodness. Uncomfortable with anything deemed "poppy"? Well, don't be a goof! There's nothing wrong with catchy songs with memorable choruses, especially when the delivery's not overly-polished and retains the rugged warmth of the "underground." This is shaping up to be the sleeper hit of the year for me. Every time I spin the album, about midway through it hits me that, "Damn, this is better than 'good': this is fuckin' great!" I've been seeing a lot of love for this one on social media, so hopefully I'm slightly mistaken and people are already wakin' up for Onsloow as-is.
For some reason, the full album's not streaming on Bandcamp yet (which means you'll need to head elsewhere to hear some of its best songs), but you can still purchase mp3s there—as well as pre-order vinyl, which I didn't even know existed until several days after the release date!? By the time you read this, the splatter variant will probably be sold out, but check Friend Club directly, just in case. If you hate art and think invisible music is just swell, you can use Spotify.
P.S. Also check out the band's Alanis Morissette-inspired video for "Unstoppable," which is pretty awesome. One of my favorite tunes from the album, too!
The mind-bendingly prolific Ryan Allen (also of Extra Arms) released another nice solo EP of jangly indie-pop last week, stated to be "inspired by R.E.M., The Smiths, Sarah Records, and reverb." I'm not really hearing a ton of R.E.M. or The Smiths—and am only semi-familiar with, like, two bands from the Sarah Records roster—but can discern somewhat of a "British" vibe, specific sources be damned! Expect lightly fuzzy distortion, roving basslines, loads of layering, and superbly strong chorus hooks. By the time "Cut Your Teeth" rolls around, I definitely find myself reminded of Oasis, but... well... I said "specific sources be damned," so... I'll leave that train of thought alone. Otherwise, I do have to say, for being home-recorded, these tunes sound pretty damn killer. Shit, I'll even go so far as to say that the production values are basically perfect for the niche that this EP was aiming for. Job well done, sir!
I'm Not Mean is a digital-only release through Bandcamp. I can't seem to find it on Spotify thus far, but streaming sucks anyway, so throw the dude $4, will ya?
It pains me to consider that social media algorithms might have me pegged, but Instagram recently served me a clip of Wave Types guitarist, Alex Cooke, doing a playthrough of an older (but still amazing) song that had that agile and quirky type of Intervals-esque, djent-y prog metal vibe—or whatever "the kids" call this stuff. I'm not in-the-loop on too much of this style, but now and then some of it catches my ear, and this is definitely one such case. In some ways, Wave Types' tactics come across as a little more stripped down (but still polished), but the stellar melodic sensibilities are undeniable, and there's even an occasional bluesiness to some of the soloing, which is very cool. Gotta give a nod to their strong visual aesthetic as well. I'll be looking forward to hearing more, and would love to see something released in physical form, being the stubborn, stream-hating old-timer that I am!
West of Neptune
West of Neptune reached out to me a few weeks ago, and as soon as the email mentioned that their vocalist, Alona, used to be in an awesome nu-metal-type band called Red Pill Down that I've been a fan of for almost 20 years, I had to bump this album to the top of my ever-expanding "on deck" list. The Boston-based outfit explores a somewhat experimental form of alt.-metal or some such—rhythmically dense and heavy, yet melodic, and also at times bordering on chaotic. This is gonna sound ridiculous—again, it's what I do—but it's almost like Candiria, Alien Ant Farm, and Mr. Bungle in a blender, but with artfully socio-political lyrics. The nine songs/40-plus minutes provide a lot to digest, and I consume so much music so often that I'm probably still in-progress on this one, but... there's no denying that it's an interesting journey. I dig it!