Calling Hours is the new band featuring Michael "Popeye" Vogelsang from the almighty Farside (Rigged should have gone platinum); while the other four members have all been in Don't Sleep, amongst others. Modest as he may be, any band that features Popeye on vocals is gonna damn well draw some well-deserved attention based on that fact alone, so of course this seven-song EP (six originals plus a cover of The Replacements' "Alex Chilton") impresses with its take on alternative/emo/indie sounds; but, really, it's just a great set of melodic rock tunes, you know? At times more toward the anthemic and catchy, others more somber and emotive; with enough quality and polish to have mainstream appeal, but tasteful and sincere enough to, you know, not carry any of the eye-rolling attributes that such "radio-friendliness" might imply. Any fan of Farside—or the strangely underrated Your Favorite Trainwreck, for that matter—should seek this out, as it falls into the same ballpark, but is absolutely not attempting to rehash the past. Excellent work all around—and hopefully not a one-off!
Pick up Say Less on blue with white splatter vinyl (limited to 200) or digital through Bandcamp. Direct from Revelation Records has the splatter or grey vinyl (limited to 600), and there are also 128 copies on orange with black smoke exclusive to retail stores (use Google and you can find some online). Streamin' types, use Spotify, Apple Music, blah, blah...
I was exposed to Cleveland's Laid Low through No Echo a while back. The group released their first single in February, then followed with this three-song EP in September. Expect hard-hitting post-hardcore with some of that extra heavy early-2000s type of emo, plus light dashes of atmospheric texture and a good bit of grungy catchiness, fronted by singing that effortlessly crosses over into hints of yelling/screaming (always a nice touch). This is really damn good. Hopefully they'll hook up with a label (Laid Low would fit quite nicely alongside a roster such as Sunday Drive Records, etc.) and release a full-length next year. A decent number of comparable acts are actively garnering wider attention right now, but Laid Low is doing a better job of meshing "in vogue" styles of the day with a sense of powerful dynamics and songwriting quality. Very promising, indeed.
Nuclae is the latest project from Aaron Melnick (here handling guitar and vocals)—and might also feature Leon Melnick and Rob Orr, but I haven't seen any official credits—delivering science fiction-inspired material that musically translates into something a little darker and different than his past efforts. That being said, the end result is still entirely recognizable with Aaron's legendarily iconic guitar work, complete with flurries of scorching leads packed with chaotic bends, fast-paced ascending/descending runs, melodic twists 'n' turns, and then some. Some of the intro passages can be reminiscent of tracks from Those Who Fear Tomorrow; whereas other areas bring to mind slower, rhythmically pounding work from In Cold Blood (or the seemingly forgotten Gazzan); and "Hell Hollow" even features guest vocals from Dwid. A small handful of the tracks are acoustic, too, so don't go expecting 30 minutes of compact metallic hardcore perfection or anything. There are certainly elements of such present, but the album is much more experimental and exploratory as a whole. It's always ridiculously exciting to hear Aaron put his stamp on anything, so I'll be curious to hear more when the time comes. There's also been talk of a sci-fi book as somewhat of a companion to the music...
Bringing Out the Beast is available on three different vinyl variants—100 silver swirl, 100 silver, or 300 black—from Rebirth Records. Hit Bandcamp for digital. Ye who stream, find it on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.
At four songs in just over 10 minutes, the Million Dollar Bill EP is still the most substantial Peroxide Blonde release in a couple of years. And long-awaited (by me, at least)! There's just no sense in even trying to compare them to other bands anymore, any resemblance that might make sense would only line up for maybe one passage of one song at best, if not one riff from one verse! They're just building from such an eccentric assortment of progressive and post-punked alternative rock influences in an unusual manner—and without sounding like some goofy, "wacky" band. Opener "Leaving You Tonight" is probably the "hit" of the EP with its anxious energy and layered guitar interplay with just enough panning to really show off how involved the writing is. "Million Dollar Bill" is slightly slower and more jangly, but once the chorus kicks in you're reminded that nothing's gonna be too straightforward for too long. "Someone Sold You a Dream" opens like a total post-punk track—especially the bass tone—but once the almost arpeggiated chord strums take over, the vibe shifts completely. And "End of the Line" is a reworking of a striking old demo cut from 2020 called "Thief in the Night," which I'm glad to see resurface. Several years later, Peroxide Blonde remains one of my favorite active bands, and I sincerely hope they continue to build the larger following they so deserve.
A reader sent me a link to the debut full-length from Salt Lake City's Rile (who have lineup ties to Cult Leader, a band that I never paid attention to for no specific reason) and I was quickly intrigued by their subtly mathy take on metal-infused noise rock. I suppose there is a degree of metalcore-ishness (in that '90s Hydra Head meets Converge way), but something about them being a trio—which always implies more breathing room—made noise rock the initial perception for me. Certainly abrasive and intense, but rhythmically interesting—especially since it's not super obvious. They're not fucking with you in ways like Confesssor or Meshuggah, you have to kind of pay attention to get a grip on how things are actually more angular and nonlinear than they seem. "Dead End" kicks things off with an acerbity that borders on the chaotic, but tracks like the sinewy seven-minute "Stone Tapes" are darker and more restrained—a superb example of the band's range. Awesome release all around.
Pessimist is available on CD, LP, or cassette through Church Road Records via Deathwish (U.S. or Europe), and you can also grab physical or digital on Bandcamp. If you prefer your music to "exist" in the ether, enjoy using Spotify or Apple Music or what have you.
The latest seven-song tape from Oslo, Norway's lo-fi experts The Uptights thankfully arrived without a decade-long wait such as that between the first two. Although, I Was Dreaming is noted to have been recorded between 2011 - 2019, and is said to "complete a trilogy," so... is there more to come, or has this experiment (successfully) ended here? Whatever the case, expect another dose of raw, mono expressions of dark, scraggly indie rock that don't at all sound like crap. At times things feel a bit noisy and improvisational, and can teeter on the edge of sounds that could be deemed chaotically agitating, but nothing ever actually goes that far. Prominent pulses of bass are encircled by an interesting blend of jangly "pop" shimmer and intentionally warped/dissonant phrasings—at times augmented by assists from organ, violin, or saxophone. The vocals can sway from post-punkish spoken or half-sung to abrasive art rock caterwauls. I don't know, there's just something special about The Uptights. Many other projects of a similar vein would probably get a "Nah, I'm good, fuck this..." type of response outta me, but The Uptights really achieve an interesting atmosphere that's both soothing and unsettling at the same time. Peculiar and cool.
The I Was Dreaming tapes look great, packaged with a two-sided black and white insert that includes art and lyrics, plus an o-card around the case. Purchase cassettes or digital through Bandcamp. You can also procure tapes through Tiger Records. I suppose you can also stream (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.), but you'd better at least pretend that you're listening to a dirty, unlabeled Maxell C30 that you found under your bed!