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Beyoncé Reigns, Rock Dies: Coachella 2018 Festival Review


Photography by Natalie Somekh

Beyond the Gates: Each year, tens of thousands of eager festivalgoers descend on Coachella Valley for three days of music and free-spirited fun. While Weekend Two usually hosts a more laid-back crowd of festival veterans and music lovers, Weekend One tends to lure the endlessly self-indulgent masses of social media influencers and other 21st century caricatures. Given this year’s lineup — with headliners The Weeknd, Beyoncé, and Eminem headlining the event and pop figures like Migos, Cardi B, and Post Malone occupying its second lines — the crowd was slated to be Coachella’s most sybaritic showing yet. Coachella’s prevailing “selfie culture” is predicated on its focus on shock value, on capturing the moment. Walk through the festival’s daytime crowds, and you’re bound to interrupt a number of attempted picturesque moments, catching the vexed stare of 20-somethings adorned head to toe in the latest fashions.

Best Bites: If you’re willing to fork over $18 for something a little less than a full meal, Coachella’s Main Lobster rolls or Lobster Mac N’ Cheese might suite your fancy. Or, for something succulent but more budget friendly, perhaps Seabird’s avocado tacos are more your flavor. There was no shortage of ice cream at this year’s festival, either, with a variety of desserts such as Sweet Rolled Ice Cream Tacos, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, and a plethora of sweet Ice Cream Truck pop-ups scattered throughout the festival’s grounds. Coachella’s food prices are anything but a bargain, though, with most meals ranging anywhere from $13-22. A $6 order of fries might get you a sparse amount of potatoes that looks more like a bag of chips. You might want to bring a granola bar or two next year.

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Festival Fashionista: Tyler, The Creator sported a medley hairdo of brown and blonde patches. The outfit was complete with a neon green traffic vest, matching shorts, and a white t-shirt that read “no violence.” The fit was the ultimate supplement to Tyler’s volatile stage presence. Beyoncé wore a whopping five outfits during her iconic performance, including the theme-fitting jean shorts and hoodie, risque black leather, and the regal, diamond-studded “Queen” outfit. St. Vincent sported a white PVC suit and played multiple fluorescent guitars that beamed out to the crowd like beacons in the dark.

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Desert Redemption: BROCKHAMPTON arrived 15 minutes late to their Coachella debut (there were issues with mics), but America’s favorite boy-band came out swinging with a palpable verve when they finally hit the stage. Backed by a flock of expert violinists, all dressed in blue masks, each member of the hip-hop collective dressed in what looked like a bullet proof vest, each lettered with a bold statement: Kevin Abstract’s read “Faggot”, “Ameer Vann’s read “Nigger”; others read words like “Wakanda”, “Maestro”, “Fiend”. The group has been compared to hip-hop supergroups of hip-hop’s past: Wu-Tang Clan, Odd Future, Beastie Boys, the list goes on. The fact of the matter, though, is that BROCKHAMPTON are the hip-hop collective of the current period, and their live showing certainly solidified that. No comparisons needed.

St. Vincent, photo by Natalie Somekh

Best Set for the Smallest Crowd: St. Vincent’s brooding, symphonic builds and captivating art house visuals proved to make for one of the weekend’s best sets. The only issue? Despite her (wink) mass appeal, St. Vincent’s crowd was abysmal, not undue to Coachella’s primary demographic flocking to Kygo in drones. The set proved to be welcomed programming for festival veterans looking for a thoughtful counter to Kygo’s brand of Urban Outfitters EDM. In what Annie Clark self-described as a “blistering, disturbing rock show,” St. Vincent’s alt pop spectacle featured visuals that sometimes erred on the side of the grotesque, but always veered towards the thought provoking. Clark’s guitar frenzies mesmerized those who stuck around to see her, performing a powerful trio of tracks to close the set with “Rattlesnake” and “Fear the Future”, before finally moving into “Slow Disco”, purple and blue hues setting on the sparse crowd as the bust and gyrate.

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Chained to the Rhythm: Jamiroquai’s first set in the US since 2005 was welcomed with open arms by both festival vets and party goers looking for a thoughtful alternative to The Weeknd’s main stage madness. The band filled the Mojave tent to the brim when they brought out LA icon Snoop Dogg for a “Dr. Buzz” rendition. The entire set was spilling over with funk, and the crowd certainly reciprocated their energy.

Adorned in metallic gold dressings, Kali Uchis ushered fans into Day One of the festival with some of the most mesmerizing dance moves the weekend had to offer. As the sun’s heat beamed down on the Outdoor Theatre crowd, Uchis enraptured her audience with movements that were both methodical and quicksilver, gyrating and contorting her body all while somehow maintaining the velvety nature of her lush alto.

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“What the Hell Did I Just Watch?” Post Malone’s showing in Coachella’s Sahara Tent was by all means intriguing. “Rest in peace Lil Peep, rest in peace A$AP Yams” shouted Posty as he came out singing “I don’t wanna die too young”. The showing felt like a contemporary spectacle, with wide eyed 20-somethings flooding the tent in drones, but make no mistake: it was no Beyonce. Post Malone’s energy would soon dissipate, largely due to his gawky acoustic rendition of “I Fall Apart”. For a crowd anticipating the carnal amusement provided by the Sahara Tent’s massive sound system, such a display stifled any momentum he may have built with his dramatic entrance. Post Malone should probably stick to what he knows best, and that’s hyping the crowd with thickly layered bass and traditional hip hop stage antics.

Best Way to Dance Away the Heat: Nile Rodgers took the stage with his band, Chic, for a showing of pure disco delight on Saturday afternoon. The set began with a piece of wisdom from Rodgers. “We just came from Australia, where a journalist called Chic the ‘greatest cover band ever,’” he said, noting that the “journalist” at hand was thrilled they had performed covers of Dianna Ross, Duran Duran, David Bowie, and more. Rodgers paused for a bit before continuing, “I don’t want to offend anyone, but, motherfucker, we wrote those songs in the first place!” The group proceeded to bust into a dense set of hits, including “I’m Coming Out”, which fused straight into “Upside Down”, “We Are Family”, “Like a Virgin”, “Get Lucky”, “Let’s Dance”, “Le Freak”, “Good Times”, and finally concluding with “Rapper’s Delight”.

Rodgers even had a moment of personal revelation during the set when he told the crowd he was cancer free. “My doctors didn’t know what the outcome would be,” he said, describing his cancer diagnosis eight year ago. “So they told me to go home and get my affairs in order. So I thought to myself, If I’m going to contemplate getting my affairs in order, what exactly would that mean to me? So, I decided I was gonna write more songs than I’ve ever written in my life, I was gonna do more collaborations than I’ve ever done in my life, and I was gonna do more live shows than I’ve ever done in my life.”

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Catching Nerves: SZA arrived to the party 10 minutes late to her slot as sub-headliner to The Weeknd. Offering a dose of anecdotal wisdom to her fans (like the time she smoked an ounce of weed to herself after being stood up by her date at a party), the pop ascendant’s performance felt a bit lackluster considering the massive acclaim of her debut studio album CTRL. The set featured mainstays like opening track “Supermodel”, “Drew Barrymore”, and “Love Galore”, as well as a cover of Rihanna’s “Consideration”. Once again, hip-hop’s biggest force in Kendrick Lamar came to join SZA for “Doves In the Wind” and the duo’s Black Panther collaboration “All The Stars”. Opening for The Weeknd is no simple task, and SZA took it on with precision, but we’re waiting for next weekend to see if she comes fully into her stride.

That One Act: As I woke up from a dehydrated, heat-induced stupor inside the car I slept in during Coachella, I checked out the headlines from the night before. CNN: Beyoncé makes history with Coachella performance (she was the first black woman to ever headline the festival); The New York Times: Beyoncé is bigger than Coachella. Jon Caramanica’s New York Times piece starts by saying, “There’s not likely to be a more meaningful, absorbing, forceful, and radical performance by an American musician this year, or any year soon, than Beyoncé’s headlining set at [Coachella] Saturday night.” It’s almost impossible to describe the level of spectacle induced by the Queen herself, but by the grace of pop glory, it’s a damn near obligation to do so.

As I arrived to the main stage early Saturday afternoon to catch Nile Rodgers and Chic, the pit area was already filled to the brim with Beyoncé’s eager fans (the Bey Hive, as they call themselves). On more than one occasion, I witnessed mothers waiting anxiously with their children. Some of them couldn’t be more than seven or eight, and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly inspired by the fact that these mothers likely took expensive flights, rented cars, booked lodgings, and, most daunting of all, braved the Coachella heat for hours upon hours to allow their kids the opportunity to watch pop music’s most prominent icon.

By the time Beyoncé took the stage, the crowd stretched back as far as the eye could see, the most attended Coachella performance to date by most estimates. “Ladies and gentlemen,” proclaimed a rogue announcer, the crowd erupting in a roar at this point, “Welcome to Beyoncé Homecoming 2018!” The 36-year-old star proceeded to enthrall the crowd with expertly choreographed movements, pyrotechnics, a full HBCU marching band, and over 100 live dancers. There was the Jay-Z appearance for “Déjà vu”; the unthinkable Destiny’s Child reunion with bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joining the stage; and Solange’s appearance for “Get Me Bodied”, in which the two sisters danced with an innocence that only family could embody.

The raw beauty, though, lay heavily with Beyoncé’s stringent attention to detail, incorporating songs by Master P, Crucial Conflict, Juvenille, C-Murder, and Fast Life Yungstaz into her set, not to mention paying homage to Fela Kuti and Nina Simone. Within a festival landscape that continues to offer up homogeneity, Beyoncé’s performance was, in the words of David Byrne, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. As DJ Khaled proclaimed halfway through the set, “Coachella gotta rename Coachella the Beychella”; the crowd went into a full frenzy. “NEW NAME ALERT!” The set wasn’t just the best performance of the weekend; it was a performance marking the winds of change in American musical and cultural history.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Migos’ set on Sunday night had the potential to be the weekend’s most compelling hip-hop show. After all, the festival’s EDM/Hip-Hop mega — the Sahara tent — underwent massive renovations this year. Its daunting sound system was primed for a thunderous performance by one of hip hop’s biggest cultural mainstays. Well, after horrendous sound issues that plagued their set for the first half-hour, the group never was able to find their footing. As the DJ attempted to hype the crowd with his intro, the sound was barely recognizable, prompting a massive round of boos from the crowd. Perhaps next weekend the group will find their footing.

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Not So Hot Take? Rock Music Is Dead. What do David Byrne, St. Vincent, The War on Drugs, A Perfect Circle, and X Japan all have in common? Abysmal crowd sizes at this year’s Coachella. In what marked a massive turn of the tides, this year’s programming felt almost exclusively geared towards pop music, with rock getting tucked away in the festival’s back pocket.

Best of the Tiny Fonts: One of the most exciting parts of attending a festival, especially one as large as Coachella, is the aspect of discovery. Each day has the potential to unearth your next favorite band. Los Angeles surf punk band The Regrettes ushered a pop-punk party into the festival’s Sonora Tent on Friday, as did San Francisco garage rock icons Oh Sees on Saturday. Westside Gunn + Conway brought their ’90s-inspired hip-hop rhythms to a small crowd of about 50 people in the Gobi tent during the midday heat. Despite the small crowd, the performance was one of the best the weekend had to offer.

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Noname and Japanese Breakfast both had some of the more sizable crowds of any performers on the festival’s undercard. The crowd sang happily along to Noname’s poetic rhymes as she danced onstage while Japanese Breakfast concluded their set in high-energy fashion with “Everybody Wants to Love You”. Kolsch’s melodic techno builds provided a surefire escape from the heat on Sunday, and Fidlar’s beer ballads incited some of the festival’s biggest moshes. Rex Orange County performed as a late add on Saturday afternoon, much to the delight of his newfound fanbase.

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Why Can’t We Be Friends: Cardi B brought a flock of guests for her Coachella debut. After spending more than 300,000 on production for the set, it was certain that Cardi was gunning for the crown on Sunday, and she needed some star power to help make her point. Throughout her 35-minute set, Cardi B brought out G-Eazy for “It Ain’t Safe”, YG for “She Bad”, Chance the Rapper for “Best Life”, Kehlani for “Ring”, and 21 Savage for “Bartier Cardi”. Cardi finally closed the set with “Bodak Yellow” in what was one of the best-attended, highly profiled sets of Weekend One.

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Phones Up: As Vince Staples lurked onto the stage and broke into “Get the Fuck Off My Dick”, an ominous gaze set out across the crowd. The main stage projectors fragmented into dozens of videos, including (but not limited to): a hand putting a condom onto a dildo, a woman twerking on someone’s grave, a glitch edit of the main stage crowd, various clips from ESPN, and more than a few YouTube and WorldStar clips that I likely missed the reference to. As he concluded his poignant first track, “I’m the God in this/ Fuck up off my dick,” the entire tone of the performance had been set.

Though he didn’t quite receive the level of energy he sought, Staples demanded the crowd’s attention. Peppering his set with fierce quips — “None of y’all look like me, but y’all look good Coachella” — his presence is hilarious and effortlessly charismatic. For all the set’s mastery, most attendees will remember the show for Kendrick Lamar’s guest appearance on final track “Yeah Right”, which cause hundreds of idle bodies to lurch toward the stage. The appearance was a poignant collaboration between hip-hop’s avant-garde auteur and the genre’s unequivocal king.


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Coming Home: Coachella’s position in pop culture as the ultimate pop spectacle is predicated on the performances of impossible reunions and larger-than-life bookings. Oasis, Prince, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, ACDC, Daft Punk. There is seemingly no limit to what the festival can pull off. This year’s programming was largely overshadowed by Beyoncé’s globe-shaking performance, a showing that rocked the global pop music sphere to its core. Most would agree that the year would be worth remembering for her performance alone. However, the festival’s sweeping lineup resides at the intersection of Super Bowl halftime show, global rave massive, Studio 54, underground warehouse party, and CBGB-era punk outing. You get the chance to see just about everything at Coachella.

Outside of the Queen’s appearance, the festival was a balancing act of pop music flavors and a sign of the times. One track can be the equalizer in today’s murky festival market, bumping artists like Portugal. the Man and Cardi B to back-to-back slots on the festival’s main stage, the former with a slow and methodical ascent to the Coachella stage, the later earning her stripes in a much more jarring fashion. Coachella is both a statement about the current state of pop music and a message about what’s to come out of the current musical zeitgeist. As digital streaming continues to redefine the nature of the music industry, Coachella will likely continue to evolve and set the pace for American music festivals, despite its various hiccups.





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L7 announce first new album in 20 years, PledgeMusic campaign*


Last summer saw grunge outfit L7 release their first new song in 18 years, an anti-Trump anthem called “Dispatch from Mar-a-Lago”. They then followed it up with “I Came Back To Bitch” back in February along with the promise of more new music to come. Now, the band, which reunited its core lineup back in 2015, has announced its first new album in 20 years. Untitled as of now, the album is slated for a February 2019 release.

The long wait may have something to do with securing funding for the effort. L7 has started a PledgeMusic campaign where you can pre-order the in-the-works album. Early pledgers get access to rewards that include singer Donita Sparks’ personal recording microphone, a signed turntable used in 1994’s “Andres” video, and plenty of vinyl. Find a trailer for the new album below.

Tomorrow, L7 kick off an international tour that finds the band hopping from the East Coast and Midwest to countries like Spain, France, and Switzerland. See the full tour itinerary below.

L7 2018 Tour Dates:
04/10 – Jersey City, NJ @ White Eagle Hall
04/11 – Boston, MA @ Paradise
04/12 – New York, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
04/13 – Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
04/15 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
04/16 – Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Club
04/18 – Indianapolis, IN @ Vogue
04/19 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
04/20 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
04/21  Detroit, MI @ El Club (A John Waters Birthday w. L7 & John Waters)
05/27 – Las Vegas, NV @ Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival
06/09 – Leicestershire, UK @ Download Festival UK
06/29-30 – Madrid, SP @ Download Madrid
06/13 – Paris, FR @ La Cigale
06/15 – Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg Amsterdam
06/17 – Berlin, DE @ SO36
06/21-24 – Dessel, BE @ Graspop Metal Meeting
06/27 – Zürich, CH @ Dynamo Zürich (offiziell)
06/28 – Segrate, IT @ Circolo Magnolia, Punk In Drublic
07/23 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
07/24 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
07/25 – Toronto, ON  @ The Danforth Music Hall
07/27 – Montreal, QB @ 77 Festival
10/06 – Glasgow, UK @ Garage
12/06 – London, UK @ Electric Ballroom



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Melvins share video for raucous new single “Embrace the Rub”: Watch


Melvins will return with the fury of double bassists when Pinkus Abortion Technician drops on April 20th via Ipecac Recordings. The album is their first with two bass players: Steven McDonald (OFF!) and Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers). Our first taste of what this low-end heavy formation sounds like came with “Stop Moving to Florida”, a mashup medley of Butthole Surfers’ “Moving to Florida” and James Gang’s “Stop”. Now we get to hear what the expanded alternative metal outfit does with fresh material thanks to their newest single, “Embrace the Rub”.

The track opens with a voice calling out, “Yeah, dumbass!”, which sets the mood just about as well as anything. It’s a furious, somewhat lo-fi bit of speedy metal that has a subtle wacky undertone thanks to some pounded piano keys. “’Embrace The Rub’ is a Steven McDonald penned, punker tune throwback to his days as a young Hawthorne, CA punk hanging out with Black Flag,” Dale Crover explained in a press release. “For some reason, I decided that this tune really needed a piano part.”

Take a listen via the Mackie Osborne-directed video below.

Pre-orders for Pinkus Abortion Technician are going on here. You can also catch Melvins supporting the release on tour beginning next month; their full itinerary is available here.



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Jack White Gets Joyfully Weird on Boarding House Reach | Album Reviews


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The Lowdown: Weird. If there’s one word that’s been used to describe Jack White’s latest record, Boarding House Reach, by critics and fans alike, “weird” is it. But White himself has never been normal, and at this point in his career, this audacious hodgepodge isn’t entirely unexpected. It feels like a natural evolution for the singer/songwriter/guitar-master who’s made a career out of channeling bluesy bombast with punk rock-style urgency. This time he just added more funky freak-outs.

The Good: Like Funkadelic’s wondrously cosmic jamfests, Free Your Mind… And Your Ass Will Follow and especially Maggotbrain, Boarding House Reach has some dark layers. But dark doesn’t have to mean drab or hopeless. White is still having fun and sparking joy, and by incorporating new sounds — new wave synths, pizazz-y organ parts, and spoken word, which some have called an attempt at “rap” — he’s re-invigorating his style. The catchiest track, “Over and Over and Over”, brings to mind early Rage Against the Machine, driven by relentless rhythms and rants, both of which feel right for a performer like White making music in these troubled times. It feels right for us listeners, too.

The Bad: Some might find him blustery and his delivery over-dramatic, but White is clearly trying to capture the soulful feeling of his live shows on Reach. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it works until it doesn’t, such as on the singles “Connected by Love” and “Corporation”, which take the classic White sound and tweak it, sometimes too much. But the question remains: Is there ever such a thing as “too much” for a rock and roll provocateur like White? Some will listen and say, yes.

The Verdict: It seems everyone has something to say about Boarding House Reach, and for White, that is ultimately a good thing. The essence of experimentation is taking chances. As we get older, it’s how we shake things up. The key to pulling off something new without looking like you’re trying too hard (or selling out) is maintaining the essence of who we are when doing so. White’s reverence for classic music of the past is still a big part of who is he here; he’s just shifting focus with a more manic and multi-faceted approach. That’s not weird. That’s smart.

Essential Tracks: “Over and Over and Over”, “Connected by Love”, and “Corporation”



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Live Review: Jack White Celebrates Boarding House Reach at Brooklyn’s Warsaw (3/23)


Setting the Stage: Friday saw Jack White release his third solo album, Boarding House ReachAlready the record is somewhat polarizing, with some praising its experimental reaches and others bashing it as the work of an erstwhile genius striving so hard for something new that he no longer sounds fun. The truth is probably somewhere in between, as it’s arguably White’s most uneven effort ever, yet even the most off-form composition of contemporary music’s “last” great guitar hero is worthy of some regard.

Besides, White’s music has always lived a different life on stage. There are songs on Boarding House that you knew instantly would fit right into his setlists (“Connected by Love”, “Over and Over and Over”). Others, like “Get in the Mind Shaft” and “Ice Station Zebra”, are so damn strange you feared what they’d become in a live setting. For many, Friday’s intimate show at Brooklyn’s 1,000-capacity Warsaw was mainly a chance to see White play a massive undersell venue. But even the most diehard fans had to wonder on some level whether the man who just made his weirdest record to date would remain as powerful a performer as he’d always been.

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Taking the Stage: New Jack, same as the old Jack. Is there any more impressive sight in rock than watching White call out a setlist on the fly as his handpicked band pulls it off with nary a flaw? Any concerns that he’d somehow lost his joy was ripped away from the first shreds of opener “Over and Over and Over”. In fact, White seemed freer than ever, a looseness in his swagger in place of over-applauded conceit. I can’t recall seeing him smile or play with the crowd more, beckoning them to “woo” during The White Stripes’ “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” and letting them take the final words as he closed the main set with The Raconteurs’ “Carolina Drama”.

After tossing the cork into the crowd, he stood at his mic stand holding a bottle of champagne, a blue St. Vincent Signature Ernie Ball Music Man guitar slung behind him, belting “Ice Station Zebra” into an effects mic; everything about the moment screamed “New Jack”, all that tall confidence behind one of the wackiest songs on Boarding House. And yet even the less effective moments from the new LP, like the wannabe Daft Punk electronics of “Get in the Mind Shaft” or the halfhearted dirge of “Why Walk a Dog?”, still rang out singularly, unmistakably White from the stage. The yells of “Who’s with me?!” during “Corporation” may be the corniest line he’s ever penned, but the synth vamping and guitar frenzy that came with it confirmed that no amount of studio experimenting can sap Jack White of his unquestionable live prowess.

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But Where’s the Insta Story?: A quick note on the whole no cellphones thin: There was something absolutely pure about having your phone locked away in a little green pouch. Not only were screens not corrupting your view of the show, but you were forced to just forget about your own device. Plus, the whole bagging and unlocking process was a complete breeze that didn’t slow entry or exit one bit. Long live Yondr.

That One Song: Man, does this feel like a hampering chore given the wild 26-song setlist. The deconstructed take on “Blunderbuss”, complete with a capella final verse, was arrestingly gorgeous. There was a revelatory sensation of openness watching him shred that St. Vincent guitar for the first time on “Connected by Love”. But it was when he tore into the instrument again on “Hello Operator” that takes the prize. He blasted the clapping crowd with a wall of noise rock blues so furious you’d think the stage itself would crumble. At the same time, he held complete control over his band, cuing them with a nod or the tilt of his guitar whenver he found himself deep in a jam.

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Let Me Introduce the Band: With no theremins or peddle steels on stage, this is the most forthright rock incarnation we’ve seen of White in years: two synth players, a bassist, and a drummer. That and the lean of the new material is probably why keyboardist Neal Evans stood out the most. The Soulive member seemed the most willing to go his own way even as he followed the lead, vamping on “Just One Drink” and “Missing Pieces” in ways that didn’t shroud White’s guitar craziness. That was just the balance needed to make sure all that fresh electronic dabbling didn’t wash away White’s classic sound.

Quoteworthy: “Upstairs they’re giving polka lessons, downstairs they’re serving pierogies. Do you know how much this place speaks to me? How come nobody every told me about this place?” — Jack White, during one of his many references to his Polish heritage.

Setlist:
Over and Over and Over
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (The White Stripes song)
Corporation
Lazaretto
Cannon (The White Stripes song)
Why Walk a Dog?
Connected by Love
I Cut Like a Buffalo (The Dead Weather song)
Respect Commander
Get in the Mind Shaft (Live debut)
I’m Slowing Turning Into You (The White Stripes song)
Blunderbuss
Missing Pieces
Ice Station Zebra
Hello Operator (The White Stripes song)
Just One Drink
What’s Done is Done
We’re Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes song)
Carolina Drama (The Raconteurs song)
Encore
Battle Cry
Black Math (The White Stripes song)
That Black Bat Licorice
Would You Fight for My Love?
Blue Moon of Kentucky (Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys song)
Sixteen Saltines
Ball and Biscuit (The White Stripes song)



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Jack White in 10 Songs


Ever felt overwhelmed by an artist’s extensive back catalog? Been meaning to check out a band, but you just don’t know where to begin? In 10 Songs is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into the daunting discographies of iconic artists of all genres. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.

Jack White is one of contemporary rock music’s great personalities. A genius, a virtuoso, a short fuse, an excavator, a revelator. His career, from the first four-track White Stripes recordings to his most recent solo effort, the intricate and elaborate Boarding House Reach, has morphed and shifted as he has revealed more and more of his idiosyncratic self and pushed the boundaries of his musicianship in new directions. A list five times as long as this one would still struggle to encapsulate all of the many faces and voices of Jack White. But here are 10 of them.

–Kayleigh Hughes
Contributing Writer

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Jack, Meg, and Raw Freedom in the Garage

Song: “Cannon” from The White Stripes’ The White Stripes (1999)

In 1999, when The White Stripes released their lo-fi, high-energy self-titled debut, the national rock charts were decorated by the likes of Bush, Everlast, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And The White Stripes didn’t change that much at all. It would be a few years before Jack and Meg galvanized the music world with White Blood Cells (Pitchfork didn’t review the Stripes’ first two records until a 2002 re-release). But in the dark, sweaty corners of garages and basements throughout Detroit, wailing like a banshee about John the Revelator and with Meg by his side bashing out the raw powerful heartbeat of the song, White didn’t sound like he cared about the outside world at all. “Cannon” is a perfect example of early White Stripes. Slow, reverb-heavy guitar ramps up fast but stays crunchy as White settles into grooves and moods. The song pulls directly from a powerful early gospel blues song originally recorded by Blind Willie Johnson, and the Stripes use parts of iconic blues musician Son House’s a capella version. Meg’s bass drum kicks you in the heart while her cymbals crackle and spark. Sounding like a haunting but riotous death march, “Cannon” leaves you feeling more alive than you maybe ever have, indicating that right from the start, Jack and Meg were able to create something very special together. –Kayleigh Hughes

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Jack the Bluesman

Song: “Death Letter” from The White Stripes’ De Stijl (2000)

Rock music has always been stylistically rooted in the dense musical soil of black Southern blues. The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the list goes on and on. As the modern rock paradigm shifts from decade to decade, contemporary fascination with the blues remains a prominent stylistic influence. Jack White is perhaps one of the genre’s most prominent purveyors in the modern guitar music era. White’s undying adulation for the blues legends knows no end, with him even going so far as to call legendary Delta Blues artist Son House’s track “Grinnin’ in Your Face” his favorite song of all time. An homage to one of his biggest artistic influences, “Death Letter” — originally recorded by House himself in 1965 — is one of the most pointed examples of White’s infatuation with blues music. It’s an outright proclamation tracing White’s roots back decades. Utilizing madman guitar wizardry and a deep knowledge of blues cadences, his reinvention of House’s Southern twang into his own invigorating thrash is doubly an homage to his musical influences and an argument for the reinvention of the blues in a modern sense. –John Flynn

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Jack the Punk

Song: “Fell in Love with a Girl” from The White Stripes’ White Blood Cells (2001)

One of Jack White’s most beloved musical creations relies on the most classic punk rock song structure of all time: the power chord. “Fell in Love with a Girl” is fast, rude, and electrifying; it’s a study in raw simplicity. White shrieks maniacally. Meg smashes the shit out of the drum kit, leaving indelible fingerprints with every motion. It’s one minute and fifty seconds of fury and joy, panting and tingling. And in true punk rock fashion, the song relies on a short and sweet vocabulary to get you where you need to be. “She turns and says, ‘Are you alright?’/ I say, ‘I must be fine because my heart’s still beating.’” Thump.“Fell in Love with a Girl” is arguably the pinnacle of what a Jack and Meg collaboration could be. Of all the musicians who have covered the song over years, none has ever made “Fell in Love with a Girl” sound and feel the way it does when The White Stripes play it. –Kayleigh Hughes

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Jack the Demon Boy

Song: “Black Math” from The White Stripes’ Elephant (2003)

On one hand, tracks like “Hotel Yorba” and “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” are an exsposé into White’s sensitivities, but it’s tracks like “Black Math” that cause us to stop and ponder, “Maybe Jack White is some sort of demonic alien sent to us from another planet to subvert the garage rock genre altogether.” His persona certainly aligns with such a theory. Claims that The White Stripes began on Bastille Day, the self-constructed rumor that he and Meg are siblings, his vampiric physical appearance … let’s admit it: Jack White the “thrash king” is a bit of a demon. Yes, there are probably valid explanations for White’s peculiar behavior, but have you ever seen him and the gremlins in the same room together? There’s a certain air of mystery ingrained into his core being, and nothing musically emulates such a persona quite like “Black Math”. As White boldly screams out “I’m writing down things that I don’t understand,” his guitar cadence kicks into overdrive, shifting tempos to bolster its chaotic screech. With the “go fuck yourself” touchstones of Iggy Pop and blues riff sensibilities of Jimmy Rogers, White seems to be from another planet, his inner demon released once and for all in what is one of his catalog’s most invigorating solos. One can’t help but feel like he must have dropped dead after recording the track or at least hopped back into his UFO. –John Flynn

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Jack the Vulnerable

Song: “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” from The White Stripes’ Elephant (2003)

Translating feelings into words is hard. Often, the burning flame of emotion doesn’t seem to carry the same luminous glare on paper as it does in one’s heart. Broadcasting those emotions to the entirety of the music world for them to be analyzed under a microscope? The thought is enough to induce a panic attack. Perhaps such anxieties help explain our keenness to listen to such ballads, though. It’s why we get together at weddings and scream “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of our lungs, not fully stopping to consider its rather despondent subject matter. After all, there’s something reassuring about hearing someone expose their deepest vulnerabilities via song. Musical confirmation that, yes, even famous musicians are just as fucked up as we are. “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket” sheds light on White’s fragility within his dissolving relationship with an unnamed party (presumably Meg White, given its release date). Keeping her “in his pocket” is White’s effort to protect and shield her from the world. But the relationship is toxic in nature. The sentiment is equal parts fatherly and possessive, exposing White’s convoluted paternal desire to possess another human being. “But now you’re scared, you think she’s running away,” he croons, desperate in his efforts to get her to stay. It’s an admittance of emotional defeat in which White reconciles the toxic side of his feelings and grapples with the pain of letting go of his beloved. For a guitarist who’s known for making bold proclamations and busting out vivacious solos, the track is one of the most candid glimpses into White’s “softer side.” –John Flynn

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The Chats – Get This In Ya!!


Band: The Chats
EP: Get This In Ya!!
Label: Burger Records
Release date: July 2017
Sounds like: ??? I’m on smoko, so leave me alone. 

At the risk of letting this pass without acknowledging it, I feel the internet and everyone involved needs to know more about the sheer brilliance of The Chats. Their name comes  from Chatswood, in Sydney and the word chat is also a derogatory term according to urban dictionary and basically means, “shit” so the band are called The Shits?! Yeah? Yeah.

Why should we care about them? Well, for the simple reason they’re bloody great, mate. The simplicity of their pop-punk, is edged with this scuzzy, Sub Pop-90s sound, courtesy of the belching bass guitar of singer Eamon Sandwith and the trash-punk drumming of Matthew Boggis, plus the guitars of Josh Price and Tremayne McCarthy which alter between a low-fi punk scrape to a thrashing mash up of stupid gurgling riffs.

A lot of their songs seem to be about having nothing to do. Smoko, for example, is a 3 minute pop-rock banger about taking a smoke break and it’s absolutely excellent, right down to the infectious opening bass riff, to the video that was probably made for about $5 after a night on a lot of beers. The brilliantly unnervingly funny ending features singer Eamon, seeing someone needing lifeguard assistance, but he’s  “on smoko, so leave me alone.” If anything, the video is going to make you want a sausage roll.

Other tracks are just as amusing, such as Nambored (which is about Nambour, and being bored there). a two minute tuneful blast of only having 7 bucks, and not being able to take the boredom and frustration anymore (but at least you can walk to a Macca’s). The bro-anthem of How Many Do You Do is an absolute killer, (thanks to that bass line) and is all about hanging out with The Chats crew, smoking a few darts and generally having a great time!

They say write about what you know, and The Chats seem to do that – Bus Money is all about spending all your cash on six packs, shitty pills and scratch cards (sounds good to me) all delivered in this wonderful Australian drawl. “I spent my bus money on a sausage roll, I’d have more money if I wasn’t on the dole!” sneers Sandwith on Bus Money, ending with the pleading chant of “ALL I NEED IS A BUCK OR TWO!” a sure fire live favourite right there.

Thing get a bit more serious (only just) on the anti-security guard spit of Nazi March – NOFX song in disguise and a full middle finger to fascist bullshit, something which The Chats don’t have time for and the tongue-in-cheek chant of “left-right, left-right” only adds to their cutting venom.

Struggling with a illness is the subject matter of Temperature, with the words of “have you got a fever? Will you let me feel ya?” from Sandwith on this gritty post-punk slab of noise, completed by some great snarling backing vocals and snotty, brackish Shitty Limits-esque fury.

So, let your hair grow out into a fashionable mullet, grab your surf rescue top and a packet of darts and rock the fuck out with The Chats, the greatest band ever in this small time frame until the next one comes along. Also, I cannot stress how much these guys need to come over to the UK and smash up one of our tiny venues.

You can stream/buy/get the beers in and enjoy The Chats below or buy it on a fucking tape from Burger Records, yeah? Get ready to pay about £100 postage.

 

Links

The Chats
The Chats Soundcloud
Burger Records

Lizard Hips

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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American Nightmare – S/T | KEEP IT FAST, Progressive, Comedy, Hardcore, Thrash, Punk, News, Reviews and Latest Tracks


Band: American Nightmare
Album: S/T
Label: Rise Records
Release date: 16 February
Sounds like: Love American. Hearts. Death.

Hell is hot but I’m keeping cool” intones vocalist Wes Eisold, his nonchalant swagger is apparent on the savage The World Is Blue, the first explosive track from American Nightmares new album, their first in 15 years. This is a massive deal in hardcore circles, as the Boston crew have been through the ringer with name changes, legal disputes, break ups and a revolving door of band members. Thankfully, 2018 means a rebirth if you like, with frontman and creator, Eisold, guitarist Brian Masek, bassist Josh Holden and drummer Alex Garcia-Rivera, who all played on 2003’s We’re Down ‘Til We’re Underground.

Throughout Wes Eisold’s work, the theme of love burns a huge scorching hole in the landscape and never lets up for one moment. His lyrics have always dwelled in the realms of loss, despair, fear and melancholy – however, there’s one emotion that never backs down – the aforementioned love. It bleeds heavily, seeping into all the nooks and cracks within American Nightmare, during its brief running time and it’s enough to make a statement about their world and their resurrection.

American Nightmare contains some of Eisold’s best singing to date – his voice sounds huge, powerful and edged with emotional uncertainty and cutting sarcasm…

I do love how immediate and raging the opening track, The World Is Blue is – full force, no bullshit, jaw ripped from your face and flung into the ocean. Eisold’s scream of “Salvation! Salvation!” like some fanatical preacher (hey Megachurch, get sampling) only adds to the boisterous, enlightening zeal, whilst the gurgling-bass led section of “I see the sun shining down on me” is a brilliant and exhausting final 15 seconds of madness, ending with the crushing lament that “we are nowhere.

It’s like a chase and you’ve got to keep running if you want to stay ahead of the game and second track, Flowers Under Siege, seems to end before it even begins – half the track is a made up of feedback, whilst the mid-20 seconds are a short, sharp, electrifying blast of stripped-back punk rock delivered with spitting, venomous gusto and acerbic, chaotic lust.

Rage builds and builds on the hate-filled American Death; the opening line begins with the spitting “fuck everyone I’ve ever known/spineless bastard slithers home” and only continues to get more wrought and furious. The gang-vocal chants of “days upon” and the end line, in the form of the caustic and oddly humorous “I hope you live forever/cause your life’s worse than death” is a sardonic and withering “fuck you”. A venting, ranting attack to the senses, drenched in raw, bleeding emotion. There’s more to follow with scream of “Don’t forget that the world’s against us/there’s no place I would rather be” on the cutting salvo of War, a track edged with subtle conflict and cries of togetherness and abject dissolution. Props to the rhythm section of Garcia-Rivera and Holden, who thump out an impressive and sturdy hardcore backbone to this pulverising chunk of bludgeoning and scathing torment.

The criminally short running time of some of these tracks makes the whole experience one big tease in places. See the breakneck first minute of Lower Than Life – led by Garcia-Rivera’s euphoric percussion, it clatters through with a thrash-punk attack, before switching up to a swaggering, mic-swinging blast of anthemic gang-vocal glory. The repeated roars of “Deeper than hell/lower than life” cement this as a sure live favourite but tantalisingly finish far too soon.

Interestingly, you can see where a number of Eisold’s past and current projects have had an influence too – from the short sharp burst of 36 second scraping hardcore bile of Dream, (hello Some Girls) completed by a ridiculously short guitar solo to the dramatic goth-rock Colder Than Death – with the overlapping backing vocals, drenched in Eisold’s melancholy gloom, that grinding bass opening rumble and the spaced out, post-hardcore guitar wails, giving it a harder-edged Cold Cave feel.

Another thing to note, the production on American Nightmare is beautiful – credit to drummer Alex Garcia-Rivera for his work on this and the mastering was by Bob Weston? DUDES. Nice one. Also, easily some of Eisold’s best singing to date – his voice sounds huge, powerful and edged with emotional uncertainty and cutting sarcasm.

American Nightmare have created a document that is 9 tales of brutally honest, impassioned, chaotic, diverse and gut-wrenching rock, sealed with a heart to the world of hardcore. Open it and absorb its twisted poetry and noise.

Who cares when forever ends.”

Top tracks: Lower Than Life, Flowers Under Siege, War, The World Is Blue

Links

American Nightmare
Cold Cave
Rise Records

Lizard Hips

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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Tiny Moving Parts – Swell


a2334147848_10Band: Tiny Moving Parts
Album: Swell
Label: Big Scary Monsters
Release date: January 2018
Sounds like: Sending applause to your heartstrings. A rapid detachment.

“Scan an open road, distort the traffic/Never getting used to these second guesses…”

Due to mishearing lyrics, I thought that on Malfunction, track 8 from the new Tiny Moving Parts album, Swell, vocalist Dylan Mattheisen said “I got dizzy right before the vapid detachments.” I thought “hell, that’s a terrific band name, The Vapid Detachments*!” However, I’m reliably informed that the word is rapid, which is still decent, if not better? Probably?

Tiny Moving Parts then, completed by the brothers Chevalier (Matt on bass, Billy on drums) are back with the follow up to 2016’s Celebrate and their second release through the Big Scary Monsters imprint. It’s quite an impressive move by BSM main man, Kevin to sign these dudes a few years back – they tick a lot of boxes and overlap into several others. Twiddly-math-emo styles? Check. Huge punk rock choruses that feel like a bone-crunching hug of joy? You betcha. An impassioned and earnest vocal lead that makes your heart…er…swell? Thumbs up.

Opening track Applause, asks for veritable ovation be sent to your heartstrings. There’s an edge of darkness in this though, whilst the twinkling guitars, math-punk riffs, scattered percussion and plethora of tambourines litter this, Mattheisen’s cries of “I want to give up” and the line “struggle with every single breath” seem to hold some desire to overcome and breakthrough a period of sadness. Luckily, the cry of “applause my lungs still breathing” on every single one of this song’s damn hook-laden choruses makes the glass seem half-full.

Building bridges is the topic of the soaring Smooth It Out – a track that seems to be about improving a relationship, talk of missteps and “smoke breaks” (taking time out) and offering to be the “weight on your shoulders” hey, it’s about love everyone! Aw. Mattheisen and the Chevalier boys carve out a crackling slab of spirited up-tempo heartland rock, which bursts with even more vigour thanks to the rising background strings/(keys?) and subtle gang-vocal melodies.

The jagged, punchy guitars on the aggravated Feel Alive, give the track a crisp, yet busy feel, whilst Mattheisen’s breathless and erratic vocals compliment the title incredibly well (fella really does want to feel alive it seems). Bloody love the underused additional vocals from Kelc Galluzzo and her call-and-response of “I still miss you.” Kind of makes me think of the additional vocals on High Speed from the Single Mothers album from last year; i.e. not used enough – more of this please.

Caution could well be your favourite single of 2018 and we’ve not even made it through February yet! That mathy-guitar 40 seconds in will do it, or even the massive chorus hook of “I’m still waiting…FOR A SLIGHT BREAK!” or maybe it’s the brilliant video? Whatever it is, this is indeed, love.

Someday we’re all going to die…but not tonight!” shouts Matthesien on the discordant but emo-rock-tastic Wildlife, showcasing how Tiny Moving Parts are striving to create huge fucking slogans to be shouted during their live shows, and all power to them for it. There’s a jagged urgency to the stumbling and frantic Whale Watching, whilst the riff-laden scuzz of Malfunction sets a more aggressive tone, especially the lyrics, with cries of frost filling Matthesien’s head and the repeated scream of “it’s a message” which you can see hordes of fans at their shows bellowing back at the band – superb. Warm Hand Splash starts with an apology and launches headfirst into regret. Should we be happy? It asks for forgiveness, and brims with venting and rending gusto and some lush horn sections adding to the punchy and flamboyant emotional conclusion. The Hotelier are probably taking notes.

Tiny Moving Parts couldn’t have picked a better title for this collection of songs really. These 10 tracks on Swell are fit to burst with impassioned beauty, melancholy, tales of loss and re-connection; from their erratic time changes to the heady blasts of breakneck punk rock and contemplative, brooding lyrical couplets. Sure, it might be cheesy in places, but sometimes that’s what you need in order to feel and care a little too much.

You can purchase Swell by absolute top lads Tiny Moving Parts from Big Scary Monsters. Or stream below.

 

Top tracks: Swell It Out, Caution, Malfunction, Warm Hand Splash

Links

Tiny Moving Parts
Tiny Moving Parts Webstore
Big Scary Monsters

*Also, The Vapid/Rapid Detachments will be releasing their debut album in 2020.

Lizard Hips

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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Tiny Moving Parts – Swell


Band: Tiny Moving Parts
Album: Swell
Label: Big Scary Monsters
Release date: January 2018
Sounds like: Sending applause to your heartstrings. A rapid detachment.

“Scan an open road, distort the traffic/Never getting used to these second guesses…”

Due to mishearing lyrics, I thought that on Malfunction, track 8 from the new Tiny Moving Parts album, Swell, vocalist Dylan Mattheisen said “I got dizzy right before the vapid detachments.” I thought “hell, that’s a terrific band name, The Vapid Detachments*!” However, I’m reliably informed that the word is rapid, which is still decent, if not better? Probably?

Tiny Moving Parts then, completed by the brothers Chevalier (Matt on bass, Billy on drums) are back with the follow up to 2016’s Celebrate and their second release through the Big Scary Monsters imprint. It’s quite an impressive move by BSM main man, Kevin to sign these dudes a few years back – they tick a lot of boxes and overlap into several others. Twiddly-math-emo styles? Check. Huge punk rock choruses that feel like a bone-crunching hug of joy? You betcha. An impassioned and earnest vocal lead that makes your heart…er…swell? Thumbs up.

Opening track Applause, asks for veritable ovation be sent to your heartstrings. There’s an edge of darkness in this though, whilst the twinkling guitars, math-punk riffs, scattered percussion and plethora of tambourines litter this, Mattheisen’s cries of “I want to give up” and the line “struggle with every single breath” seem to hold some desire to overcome and breakthrough a period of sadness. Luckily, the cry of “applause my lungs still breathing” on every single one of this song’s damn hook-laden choruses makes the glass seem half-full.

Building bridges is the topic of the soaring Smooth It Out – a track that seems to be about improving a relationship, talk of missteps and “smoke breaks” (taking time out) and offering to be the “weight on your shoulders” hey, it’s about love everyone! Aw. Mattheisen and the Chevalier boys carve out a crackling slab of spirited up-tempo heartland rock, which bursts with even more vigour thanks to the rising background strings/(keys?) and subtle gang-vocal melodies.

The jagged, punchy guitars on the aggravated Feel Alive, give the track a crisp, yet busy feel, whilst Mattheisen’s breathless and erratic vocals compliment the title incredibly well (fella really does want to feel alive it seems). Bloody love the underused additional vocals from Kelc Galluzzo and her call-and-response of “I still miss you.” Kind of makes me think of the additional vocals on High Speed from the Single Mothers album from last year; i.e. not used enough – more of this please.

Caution could well be your favourite single of 2018 and we’ve not even made it through February yet! That mathy-guitar 40 seconds in will do it, or even the massive chorus hook of “I’m still waiting…FOR A SLIGHT BREAK!” or maybe it’s the brilliant video? Whatever it is, this is indeed, love.

Someday we’re all going to die…but not tonight!” shouts Matthesien on the discordant but emo-rock-tastic Wildlife, showcasing how Tiny Moving Parts are striving to create huge fucking slogans to be shouted during their live shows, and all power to them for it. There’s a jagged urgency to the stumbling and frantic Whale Watching, whilst the riff-laden scuzz of Malfunction sets a more aggressive tone, especially the lyrics, with cries of frost filling Matthesien’s head and the repeated scream of “it’s a message” which you can see hordes of fans at their shows bellowing back at the band – superb. Warm Hand Splash starts with an apology and launches headfirst into regret. Should we be happy? It asks for forgiveness, and brims with venting and rending gusto and some lush horn sections adding to the punchy and flamboyant emotional conclusion. The Hotelier are probably taking notes.

Tiny Moving Parts couldn’t have picked a better title for this collection of songs really. These 10 tracks on Swell are fit to burst with impassioned beauty, melancholy, tales of loss and re-connection; from their erratic time changes to the heady blasts of breakneck punk rock and contemplative, brooding lyrical couplets. Sure, it might be cheesy in places, but sometimes that’s what you need in order to feel and care a little too much.

You can purchase Swell by absolute top lads Tiny Moving Parts from Big Scary Monsters. Or stream below.

 

Top tracks: Swell It Out, Caution, Malfunction, Warm Hand Splash

Links

Tiny Moving Parts
Tiny Moving Parts Webstore
Big Scary Monsters

*Also, The Vapid/Rapid Detachments will be releasing their debut album in 2020.

Lizard Hips

Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

More PostsWebsite

Follow Me:
TwitterYouTube





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