The newest noise for your listening pleasure!
A Walk Through Jackson County | Oct. 26 | Rise Records
RIYL: Performance anxiety. Hip-shakin’. Humming to yourself.
Rise’s latest excellent find exist at the nexus between a unique viewpoint and a hellacious good time. Arlington mix two decades of punkish indie rock—think The Strokes and Alabama Shakes—with hearty doses of Led Zeppelin’s bombastic soul and an offbeat progressive rock heart. The results are even better on record than paper, as their label debut triumphantly plows through a shockingly danceable style—with cowbell! A big part of the band’s success lies at the feet—and vocal cords—of vocalist and guitarist Tyler Benko, who spins homey, compelling yarns that almost hide the dexterous musical accompaniment. That earnest approach tracks through the, um, “Mud” of their lead single, which focuses on an under-discussed subject. “‘Mud’ is about being worried that you’re bad at sex and being afraid that rumors will spread about you,” Benko laughs. “I think it’s something that a lot of young people worry about, especially in, like, a college setting.” Like everything else on A Walk Through Jackson County, it’s unexpected, but it works so damn well.
Russian Rats | Sept. 14 | State Line Records
RIYL: Self-awareness. Accountability. Laughing at the man in the mirror.
One of my most significant memories of childhood is my father’s persistent chorus that I needed to be more aware of my surroundings. Awareness isn’t an innate quality, he’d remind me: it’s learned over a near-constant realization—and self-reflection—that the world doesn’t stop for us. It’s that inward-facing deliberation that fuels Art Thieves’ resounding, reflective, and remarkable new record. Russian Rats radiates the frustration, fury, and fucked-up nature of the world around us, with a keen awareness that maybe we aren’t as perfect as we wish we were. That realization is at the heart of Russian Rats. “The record comes out swinging with a lot of outwardly-directed vitriol, calling everything and everyone out for insincerity, along with hypocritical behavior and derivative ideas,” vocalist and guitarist Andrew says. “About halfway through, the facade starts to crack, and the blame starts turning inward.” Sure, all this talk of self-help sounds dreary, but every single second of Russian Rats is a musical joy. Art Thieves are here to steal your heart.
Start All Over Again | Oct. 26 | Help Yourself Records
RIYL: Life mulligans. Freedom. Drifting off into la-la land during road trips.
Matt Berry makes self-discovery sound absolutely enchanting on his solo debut, Start All Over Again. It’s the first record under his pseudonym The Berries, though he’s known for his work in other West Coast acts Happy Diving and Big Bite. His latest sonic collection takes cues from old-school country and Woodstock-era classic rock to create a perfect alt-country album for hippies. There’s an inescapable warmth to these songs that radiates a comfortable quality. It plays with the notion of looking at different ways we could and should live in our world, wrestling with frustrations in a constructive manner. It’s also really damn fun, eschewing notions of a boring lesson-filled record. “I’m starting all over again every second of every day, and the rules are different every time,” Berry notes. “There are a lot of things in this world that are out of my control, and I have to accept that.” Along for that ride, listeners can expect energetic, compassionate, and powerfully twangy rock ’n’ roll of the highest order.
All That Divides | Oct. 5 | Rise Records
RIYL: Empathy. Tearing down walls. Avalanches of meaty riffs.
Brighton’s brightest musical mountaineers offer up their most impressive musical trek yet on their Rise Records debut, All That Divides. Black Peaks’ progressive post-hardcore is built on what makes mountainous riff-craft trailblazers like Deftones, Muse, and The Mars Volta the peaks of their respective styles, all done without ever coming across as pompous. These are songs that make you think, feel, and headbang. Thematically, All That Divides airlifts in a mirror for society’s collective ills, but Black Peaks wisely steer clear of airing their grievances from the mountaintop. “We’re very careful not to come across as preachy,” vocalist Will Gardner notes. “The last thing we want is to tell people what they should think, vote, or believe in. If anything, the lyrical content of this album is just reactionary; we are just expressing how the events around us over the last three years have made us feel.” Given the powerful empathy displayed throughout the record, it’s a credit to the band that their music speaks just as loudly as their message. All That Divides will not divide fans of heady, beefy prog rock.
New Caledonia, South Pacific
You Must Die | Oct. 26 | Give Praise Records
RIYL: Geography 401. Heavy metal beach parties. Simmering misanthropy.
Don’t feel bad for not knowing where New Caledonia is on a map, because the country’s newest grind exports are here to illuminate that for you. “It needs to be understood that our country is a reggae territory stuck in the middle of South Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand,” Burst explain. “Because of this, doing extreme music is tough work, which makes the metal scene very united.” In a chicken or egg scenario, the band also note that New Caledonia has very good weed—more research should be done… for science—but its small size and distance from larger mainlands create frustrating barriers to making music and building a scene. That, and a greater violence the band feel from the outside world, seeps into You Must Die, a vitriolic, violent, and visceral expression of grindcore. Burst embody the hatred of humanity’s baser instincts and squeeze every ounce of frustration into their songs. It’s a minor miracle that You Must Die made it out of their homeland, and those looking for some of the purest, vilest forms of grindcore will eat up Burst’s latest.
Godcollider | Oct. 26 | Indecision Records
RIYL: Mental prison breaks. Moshing for a cure. Middle fingers.
While they sound like an imaginary weapon from a religious steampunk series, Godcollider are every bit as powerful as their name suggests. Featuring current and former members of Darkest Hour, The Hope Conspiracy, Suicide File, and Narrows, the group have weaponized everything that is, was, and ever shall be great about ’90s metallic hardcore on their self-titled EP. Of course, Godcollider is no mere rehash, and one can almost hear the collective vitriol that went into the record’s creation. Vocalist Todd Cooper explains, “These songs were written as Donald Trump was taking office, and there was a lot to be pissed about—that, combined with being raised as an evangelical Christian and having only seen my way out of that in the past decade. There was a lot I wanted to say about it. Even though it had been some time since I had quit believing in Christianity, I had never really had a chance to sort it out lyrically, and this was a chance to work through some of that.” This catharsis only strengthens the hold that Godcollider put on the listener, one that is hopefully a sign of even greater things to come.
Permanent Destitution | Oct. 26 | Profound Lore Records
RIYL: Everyday horrors. Metaphysical philosophy. “The Good Place.”
If there is a death metal philosophy, Seattle’s Hissing are out here asking the tough questions and solving The Trolley Problem one blood splatter at a time. Of course, the details are intentionally a bit fuzzy in their upcoming thesis on dissonant extreme metal. Sure, they went to school and trained with the best of them—Deathspell Omega, Portal, Ulcerate—but Permanent Destitution showcases a unique next-level take on existential audio horror. There’s enough care and flair put into the record that the results are quite beautiful, if you’re into riff-y blackened death that isn’t afraid to give you tinnitus. Hissing dwell on the macabre like the best of ’em, but their viewpoint shows a greater fear of dementia than of Dracula. “Our lyrics are materialist at heart. There is nothing extant but the world around us, and even that stops being verifiable as our minds degrade with age,” they say. “If death metal is supposed to embrace the horrifying, to me, the most horrifying things imaginable are everyday occurrences. [Permanent] Destitution refers to not only an economic condition but a spiritual condition as well: the whole of culture was created in absence of some greater interior purpose. The lyrics on the record explore different symptoms of this metaphysical poverty that defines every aspect of life, exploring the malignancy of human life on every level, from the historical to the social to the mental.”
On Loss | Sept. 14 | Sore Ear Collective
RIYL: Moving on up. Monochromatic neon. A good cry.
Actual catharsis is a tricky proposition. So often, a piece of art is purported to make the viewer or listener feel something, but those statements are often synonymous with a male cow’s feces. Denver goth-tinged post-punk act Lowfaith find that compelling balance between resonance and resounding fun that results in a record that radiates emotion without getting sappy. It certainly doesn’t hurt that On Loss has something to say thematically and musically. Lowfaith specialize in a shoegaze-y form of goth post-punk, one that borrows from the ’80s and ’90s in almost equal measure while sounding mighty fresh. Vocalist Cole Janzen takes listeners along on the emotional rollercoaster with aplomb, and his vocal inflections and melodies are ace. “The period of time leading up to On Loss was filled with a lot of big changes in all of our lives,” he shares, “some for the better, but a lot for the worse. I think the fog of all of those things began to lift for us as a band, collectively, at the same time, and we were able to translate all of those life experiences into songs that are on the sadder side of things but still carry the feeling of first breaths after healing from a deep hurt.”
In the Break | Sept. 14 | Mare Records
RIYL: The road. Punks with acoustic guitars. Passion projects.
There’s a saying in the punk community: “You either retire a hero or play long enough to see yourself become a singer-songwriter solo act.” While that is certainly the case for longtime scene drummer Justin Sullivan—of The Babies, Kevin Morby Band, Flat Worms, and formerly of Worriers—Night Shop translates that experience into excellent songs. So much of this project and its debut, In the Break, is the result of starting anew, yet what makes Sullivan’s latest work so successful is the easy familiarity and comfort this lovely record embraces. In the Break is a road record about the people you meet along the way and the weird and wonderful lives they lead, and there’s a keen empathetic touch that propels these songs. Sullivan notes that the spirit of this project isn’t far from his past. “I think, in a lot of ways, what I loved about punk is still very much embedded in this record,” he states. “I don’t really know how to properly play the guitar or sing, but the lesson I learned from punk and that community was that it didn’t really matter. You just have to play the song that’s in your heart, and if people come to it, then great, but if not, it still was the song you had to sing. Playing basement shows to a dozen people and having them be some of my favorite shows ever taught me that lesson.”
Realms of Eternal Decay | Oct. 12 | Relapse Records
RIYL: Invisible oranges. Finding beauty in the disgusting. Shrooms.
There’s been a subtle but significant evolution of death metal over the past few years, one in which the only intelligent design is courtesy of sacrifices made at the altar of the riff. Outer Heaven exemplify this sonic shift wonderfully with their Relapse debut, and they have drugs to thank—but not in the way on would expect. Realms of Eternal Decay centers around the “stoned ape” theory, which posits that magic mushrooms were a major catalyst for the evolution of Homo sapiens, with a gross—read: delightful—twist. “The record takes place through an entire life cycle of a planet,” vocalist Austin Haines notes, “eventually being taken over by slime mold creatures.” The resulting songs are a beautiful auditory representation of Realms of Eternal Decay’s grotesqueries. Outer Heaven specialize in Energizer-Bunny-propelled momentum, and their doom-soaked, hardcore-inflected sound is as vital as it is visceral. While the record embraces a dripping, oozing layer of filth, Outer Heaven are masters of the majestic and metallic. This is a record that is as impressive as it is expressive.
All Love Is True Love | Sept. 7 | Southern Lord Recordings
RIYL: Noisy amps. Feeling joy. Channeling rage.
The Primals are the antidote for a world that’s getting drearier by the minute, but the band’s most important impact may be a bit smaller than one might expect. The new act, featuring members of Darkest Hour, Dead To Fall, and The Explosion, do a whole host of things really damn well, but each listen to their debut puts the biggest, cheesiest fucking smile on my face. All Love Is True Love keeps the punk fury of the member’s shared musical DNA, but The Primals sound more like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and Torche: the riffs are gloriously amplified and the hooks are even bigger. The record doesn’t shy away from reality—there are bits of doom, gloom, and the morbid—but vocalist and guitarist John Henry’s focus is on that sweet release of dopamine. “I’ve been writing dark lyrics for [Darkest Hour] since I was a kid, and it’s honestly been one of the most therapeutic ways to overcome times of darkness and hopelessness for me,” he shares. “I think that’s so embedded in me that it’s hard for me to not ‘get it all out’ in the lyrics. This album, lyrically, is pretty much about navigating through life as an unwed, childless, aging man who’s had moderate success in the music business. The title came to me after a realization that the meaning of life is to experience and share love with others. So, for me at least, it rings true that all love is true love.” Ultimately, one listen to The Primals will fill even the grouchiest listener with joy.
Street Worms | Sept. 28 | YEAR0001
RIYL: Spam filters. Sportsball. Disguising emotions with jokes.
Much like the drug they’re named after, Viagra Boys are most effective about an hour after initial ingestion. The efficacy of their Nick Cave-inspired take on post-punk and garage rock is impressive. Vocalist Sebastian Murphy’s manic, mordant lyrics flow masterfully with the thumping music, and his Iggy Pop-ish voice gives the songs the quality of a sermon. However, it’s after the second or third listen that Viagra Boys really, uh, grow on you. Street Worms’ playfulness belies a shockingly earnest evisceration of what it means to be a man, and the wickedly fun sonic nuance digs into your cranium. It’s that disconnect that helps firm up—sorry!—the idea that they are one seriously incredible band. Guitarist Benjamin Vallé tackles the big question: what’s in a name? “Well, Viagra Boys is a name you will remember,” he says, “and it’s a mockery of the role that men have, the shame of not being able to be sexually active, which everything in society nowadays seems to be all about—well, it has always been about that, though,” he laughs. Clearly, Viagra Boys are rising to the occasion…