You'd think I'd have learned by now that it's easier to write about an individual band or two each week than waiting until the last few days of the month to cram in six—and probably better, too, because most artists seem less enthusiastic about being featured alongside a group. But... I'm a stubborn ass and I enjoy these roundup pieces. I still want to believe that the cross-pollination provides a mild benefit to all, even if I'm lying to myself. So, here we are, once again...
Minneapolis, MN four-piece Cult Sequence debuted seemingly outta nowhere this month. I think I saw something mentioned about 'em on Twitter weeks back, and was quickly impressed by their uncommon take on post-punk. It's dark and moody, sure, and of course pulsing basslines and keyboard melodies are central to their work, but the vocals possess far more brightness and emphasis than most in this realm. Likewise, the guitars combine shimmery traces with subtle chug and an almost grungy energy. Solid songwriting, too: catchy, but not over-polished, and without abandoning its core atmosphere. Very cool. There's a lot of promise here, and I'm looking forward to hearing more.
Vesta is limited to just 50 cassettes, and they look awesome. The J-card uses metallic gold foil and everything. Grab one on Bandcamp. If you're an intangible monster, I suppose you can enjoy the tunes on Spotify and the like.
The Darling Fire
Another super impressive offering from Iodine Recordings, Distortions finds Florida's The Darling Fire taking a significant step forward into darker, heavier territory. The group has lineup ties to The Rocking Horse Winner, As Friends Rust, and Further Seems Forever—to name but a few—but their debut, Dark Celebration, felt more like an amalgamation of emo/indie/alternative with a touch of post-hardcore. That is to say: it just barely hinted at the magnificence to come. This new material carries more of a metallic oomph that even brings to mind mid-'90s Paradise Lost at times—musically, that is. Huge production, just phenomenal—dense yet clear, and the vocals just soar above (without overpowering the instrumentation). I'm extremely excited about this one. I honestly haven't had enough time to truly digest it yet, but it was clear from the start that The Darling Fire have created something special here.
Find Distortions on three different gorgeous vinyl variants—all of which are still available, which perhaps speaks to the band's underrated status—or pro CD-R over at Deathwish. Bandcamp's got your digital, and there's always Spotify, too.
This two-song EP is my first exposure to Pittsburgh noise rockers Mirakler, whose take on the genre gets more literally noisy than most. We're talkin' the supreme skronk of hard-hitting bass and drums beneath frenzied distorted vocals and guitars that almost sound like they're caving in at times. The riffs surge 'n' slice and slip 'n' slide and—despite being, well, weird—somehow come across with an intriguing sense of energy that avoids obnoxiousness. With only about six minutes of music, there's not a lot to go on, but certainly enough to pique my interest. I'm on board.
You might recall Nobody's Perfect as a cult, demo-only metallic hardcore unit from Brooklyn, NY. You might also, then, be stunned to discover that the band is back in action with their first new material since... 1992!? And I must say, the result—a six-song EP called Arrival—is pretty damn consistent with where they left off a whopping 30 years ago. Expect chunky metallic hardcore with plenty of groove and smatterings of melody, not to mention the occasional nod to the old school or quick hit of thrash. Good stuff.
I'm not encountering a ton of information about The Phrenic—from Halden, Norway—but the group recently released a new full-length of quite nice emo/indie sounds. There's a good deal of impressive emo coming out of Norway these days, and Zero One is another keeper, exploring a heartfelt and sincere niche that manages to balance a dash of hooky punch with textural nuance, subtle post-rock atmospherics, and even some folksy twists. I appreciate that The Phrenic is able to expand their base approach into some directions that I can tend to find slightly bland or irritating, but not here. The care and quality are undeniable. I'd imagine this should really hit the spot with Midwest emo aficionados.
Montreal, Québec trio Spite House issued their debut full-length through the always impressive New Morality Zine last month. They've got one of those tough-to-classify styles that's not exactly "alternative rock," nor "melodic hardcore," though it would be fair to throw such terms around when discussing their music. Similarly, while Samiam, Jawbreaker, and Seaweed have been cited as influences—which makes sense—such sounds are not so obviously reflected in the result. For more contemporary reference points, think perhaps Fiddlehead meets Drug Church, granted that's still too limiting a one-liner to encompass all that Spite House has to offer. A great album with a number of standout tracks, from a band that's sure to gain more attention moving forward.