The magic number of years between active artists’ album cycles seems to be about two, which means we’re about due for a new one from Bristol’s favorite power-electro duo, Fuck Buttons. They last left us in awe with 2013’s Slow Focus, but there’s been nary a word from their camp with regard to a new LP. Fortunately, Dumb Flesh, the new LP from the duo’s Benjamin John Power (out this past Tuesday via Sacred Bones) admirably fills the void. This is actually the second release from Power’s Blanck Mass project, the first being the more ambient self-titled LP from 2011. Dumb Flesh is the closest thing to straight techno anyone from Fuck Buttons has released to date. That’s not to say it strays too far from the Fuck Buttons skygazing sonic template, but where there were once black metal cum-Fischer Price scrowls, you’ll find nicely tuned vocal sample loops. There’s fuzzy, distorted synths, but they chug forward a percussion section of handclaps and high hats. The cathartic, apocalyptic moments are there, but you’ll want to bob your head most of the time. It’s a refreshing detraction that should still satisfy old FB fans while letting more folks into the tent.
[bandcamp width=350 height=470 album=1997430415 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false]
NEEDS is a hardcore band from Vancouver British Columbia that doubles as a baking collective. Their words, not mine. These days, most post-hardcore (post-post-hardcore?) bands are equal parts aggression and ironic self-awareness. NEEDS, with tracks like “We Don’t Know Why We Are Protesting is Why We Are Protesting” and “Walk, Cycle or Take Transit Like Jehu” seem to be of the same ilk, but they’re also weirdos who have been around the block a couple of times and throw down Michael Yonkers covers. They’ve got a couple of EPs under their belt already, The Accursed Share and Rare Earths and their self-titled full length just dropped a couple of days ago via File Under: Music. It fucking rips. Most of what you’ll hear channels the aforementioned (aforereferenced?) Drive Like Jehu or At the Drive-In at their purest (but with a sense of humor.) If they ever split, I hope they drop a tongue-in-cheek prog-metal concept album about the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Okay, so speaking of tongue-in-cheek prog-metal, SELF SPILLER’s totally off the fucking wall Worms In The Keys full-length is getting the reissue treatment next month via Varia Records. If you missed it the first time around (I know I did), here’s a quick primer: the band is led by Agalloch bassist Jason Walton who hand-picked fourteen people from all over the US, Japan, Norway and Canada to contribute to this completely confusing, but incredibly interesting trainwreck of an album that sounds like a bunch of iPod playlists playing simultaneously in a room. It’s basically what you’d expect from a record that was inspired by the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this thing… it sounds like Agalloch, John Zorn’s Naked City, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Aphex Twin, Ratatat, Cursive, Depeche Mode and puroseau entrance theme songs from the mid-90s, ALL AT ONCE. The original was released back in 2012 on a limited edition CD, but the reissue has been remastered for vinyl by James Plotkin (OLD, Scorn.) I’m still trying to figure out if it’s pure genius or a giant load of schizophrenic garbage. Reactions like that are rare, so there’s definitely some value here.
It’s easy to be cynical about a band like Downtown Boys. They’re a political punk band in 2015. They’re wildly idealistic. They have a horn section. Their new record is called “Full Communism.” On paper, they sound like the exact kind of band that NEEDS, Sick Feeling and United Nations are poking fun at. But there’s something hopelessly endearing and genuine about their political party punk jams, which are capable of rallying even the most jaded old hardcore kid to their causes. The last forty years of American politics and the commercialization of punk rock have left almost all of us nihilists, but that’s precisely why an earnest band like Downtown Boys are so vital. Their music is humorless, their topics serious; but they skirt the archetype by being a lot of fun. Their shows are communal and uplifting like a political protest, but not in the militant sense – rather through dance and pure expression.
They’re up in NYC this Friday for their record release show at Palisades with In School and The Homewreckers. Tickets are still available.