The evening of November 8, 2016 sparked a lot of anxiety and uncertainty amongst the artist community as a result of the US election. However, drastic change brings extreme reactions and the consensus going forward is there will be exciting knee-jerk modes of expression occurring with the outcome, hardcore punk music included.
One of these modes is a unit called The Lungs. Three Los Angeles based working-class men: the Howard siblings (Trevor – guitar/vocals, Dylan – drums) who have been joined at the hip in their musical ventures together extensively and local musician, Billy Goldstein (bass/vocals). Their latest EP, Bodysnatchers, is a catch-all follow up to their debut EP (see review here) and is a midway point leading up to a full length currently near completion. The content of Bodysnatchers is four short, spit-fire burst tracks which channel the abrasiveness of the mid-80s hardcore movement of Southern California with the atmospheric sweep of the 90s post-hardcore era, caustic in delivery yet melodic in feel. Collective systemic frustration and personal demons round out the subject matter of the songwriting with highly personal imagery and issues members still battle within efforts of achieving overall betterment for themselves psychologically and spiritually.
Trevor (Howard) acknowledges these aspects in a short e-mail exchange: “With the first EP, we were bringing together the intricacies of groups we love together. How can a Black Flag song sound like something Refused would put out, catch my drift? We’re still pushing ourselves in that direction, but with this EP, which was a spur of the moment release, the decision was to make this as personable as it can get, to the point of being uncomfortable talking about these things. Uncomfortable because these are situations our families didn’t know was happening with us at the time and honestly, didn’t need to know. However, it feels good talking about it and being open.”
With that sentiment and the feel the EP evokes, a description they can bank on is maximum volume and speed yield maximum therapeutic results. The racing anxiety of “Candy Gap” brought on by the breakneck riffing pace and claustrophobic-like POV lyrics is Trevor’s method of recreating the feeling he was under while on a work call that resulted in a DEA raid and getting intimate with multiple assault rifle barrels staring down at him. The frantic tempo and metal-scraping-pavement instrumentation of “Post Nasal” has Goldstein on lead throat where he dives into his past substance abuse issues and the psychological after-effects he’s overcome. “Hot Car Death”‘, is a searing number that recreates the 1980s Venice Beach hardcore sound with tongue in cheek lyrics about the state of the country, and daily life struggle of living in a densely populated town with a system skewed against the majority. Finally addressing the blatant lack of privacy, brought on by corporate conglomeration and unchecked government oversight, is the jack hammering tempo and bludgeoning riffs of the title track.
The Lungs find a productive balance between melody and aggression with this release and step their game up considerably with this release. Now’s the time to start paying attention these guys, people.