I encountered PDX four-piece Amusement on Instagram toward the end of last year, and was following 'em for a few months before I noticed that they had actually released two two-song 7"s back in November. I also had no idea at the time that some of the members had previously been involved with Deathreat, From Ashes Rise, Signal Løst, and many others—which is especially unexpected because Amusement falls on a much more melodic side of the punk spectrum. They seem to have drawn a few comparisons to Dinosaur Jr. and Leatherface, which is not inaccurate but should also not be taken too literally. Some of the quirkier moments remind me of a gruffer Sea Lilies, and though few will know who I'm talking about, I lost my fuckin' mind over the Sea Lilies, so that's a serious compliment. I love this on so many levels, 'cause as someone who listens to all kinds of music, it's awesome to hear that pissed off D-beat maniacs can lighten up and rock out with the best of 'em. Sometimes I stumble onto a band like this where it feels like it could be a mild insult to refer to 'em as "alternative rock" or—if you dare—a most respectable form of "pop-punk," but... just calling it "punk" isn't enough, you know? However, as always, I'm wasting time. None of that shit matters. Great songs matter. I'll be crossing my fingers for an eventual full-length, but if Amusement drops nothin' but two-song 7"s, I'll take it! This stuff rules.
The second album from Kansas City, MO outfit Flooding had been on my radar pre-release, but somehow slipped past me and I was late to realize that it came out way back in September!? I see the group referred to as "slowcore," which to my ears translates to something like "post-screamo doom noise." Jangly and shimmery and churning and skronked all at once, with anguished vocals that effortlessly transition from half-spoken murmurs to oddly soothing singing to terrifyingly scathing screams/shrieks. Most of the compositions plod along at a slow and steady pace with rise-and-fall dynamics aplenty, at their most powerful hitting like a wrecking ball to the chest—breathtaking and atmospherically excellent all around. This is an exciting band that really seems to have their entire aesthetic on point. I'm bummed that I fucked up and missed the street date, 'cause if I'd had more time to sit with this, it might've been one of my favorites last year. Extremely recommended.
Pick up Silhouette Machine on CD-R or tape through the band at Static Hold Records. The Ghost is Clear has you covered for vinyl (300 copies on black). Digital = Bandcamp (band/label). Stream through Spotify, Apple Music, etc. if you must.
San Diego, CA trio Holy Tears debuts with 10 beefy instrumental jams that kinda cross in and out of assorted post-inflected genres—be they metal, rock, or 'core—without any of the annoyances that said styles often carry; plus dashes of noise rock and grunge for good measure. The weight of certain rhythms brings to mind a less steamroller-y Eisenvater or perhaps a bit of Knut-ishness—with both of whom Holy Tears also shares a penchant for one-word song titles—and that's never a bad thing. When it comes to instrumental projects, I can't help but tend to find myself wondering, "What would this sound like with vocals?" But, while that's also true here, I have no complaints. The writing is efficient 'n' effective, with nothing too short nor too long, neither one-sided nor over-diversified. And as a hard-hitting three-piece, you know the bass is prominent in the mix, which I'm always enthusiastic about! Very cool. It'll be interesting to hear what they'll put forth in the future.
Salt Lake City, UT's Nadezhda somehow crossed my path on Instagram and seemed curious, so I followed in anticipation of their debut EP, which just hit the streets last week. It's quite a mixed bag of fuzzed-out and rugged yet melodic punk that leans toward varying degrees of a rockin' edge, with a little more of a grungy undercurrent as well as some darker, noisier fare. The title track opens with a sinewy noise rock feel that builds into some aggressive vocal yells, but there's a drastic shift as "Waste" is super energetic and damn near hits the level of that classic Man's Ruin Records type of vibe; with "Youth Slips" later exploring more of a mid-paced Seattle take on this "rock" angle. "Curbside" eases back and offers more breathing room, which is expanded upon in nine-minute closer "Good Side," which is darker and more openly melodic—you could argue that there's an "emo" side to it. This is intriguing in that I kinda feel like I'm not sure what Nadezhda's "true" sound is, nor where they're gonna go next. But this all fits. It surprises you without feeling jarring or out of place. Can't say that every day!
Battery is digital-only at the moment, but this is another band that has one hell of a nailed-down visual aesthetic, so it'd be nice to see something physical materialize in the future. For now, hop over to Bandcamp, or stream through Spotify or Apple Music or whatever.
I recently saw a local musician post about Richmond, VA's Producer and—being unfamiliar—decided to look 'em up 'cause the logo was promising, ha! They just released their second EP, and I believe there are lineup ties to Government Warning, Dayspring, and most comparably Alabama Thunderpussy (and probably like 47 other bands over the course of the past three decades). Excellent "stoner rock" that's not at all generic. They certainly touch on the staple characteristics (one can discern bits and pieces of everything from AC/DC to Skynyrd, and of course any number of heavier, more "modern" artists), but there are also some very Richmond-type quirks to portions of the riffing, which help steer the already solid songwriting into more unique territory that'll still totally hit the spot for diehard fans of this niche. Great vocals, rippin' solos, the works. Some label like Ripple Music ought to get on this shit pronto. Damn well done. Fuck yeah.
I've been exposed to Finnish solo act Shedfromthebody at least once—if not multiple times—via Rennie from Starkweather. The project has amassed quite a discography since surfacing in 2020, but third full-length Amare has been the first that has finally secured me as an official fan. It's sort of like "grungegaze goes doom," countering a downtuned and sinister churn with emotive melodic passages at times reminiscent of fellow Finns Rapture. The vocals are generally a not-quite-monotone singing that can hint toward the more haunting side of contemporary pop, with sparse moments that touch on the ethereal quality of the Cocteau Twins or at times escalate to a vicious doom/death snarl. It appears that Shedfromthebody has garnered a decent following, so I'm surprised they haven't hooked up with a label and received even wider attention (granted, I'm so out of touch that maybe younger musicians feel that's an unnecessary move). Whatever the case, this is quite a strong album, and I'll now be paying closer attention to what the future holds...