Album Review: Viagra Boys – Welfare Jazz

Artist: Viagra Boys

Album: Welfare Jazz

Genre: Post-Punk/Jazz/Blues/Synth-Pop

Label: YEAR0001

Rating: 7/10

 It’s been clear from the start that Swedish Post-Punk outfit “Viagra Boys” don’t take themselves too seriously. I mean, just their name alone is an indication of that, but that isn’t to say their music doesn’t have its place in contemporary Rock. Ah yes, “Rock.” What does that name mean anymore? It’s a vague term indeed. In this day and age where fusions and genre bending are commonplace, there’s enough proof for me that this is the most exciting time for music, and contrary to popular belief, I feel that “Rock” music and its countless sub genres are doing something exciting spawning younger bands drifting further and further away from traditionalism and music elitism. The spirit of “Punk” resides in “Hip Hop” in this day and age, the days of pristine and clean pop stars are fading away and now we’ve reached a more realistic “Pop” world that isn’t afraid to celebrate sexuality in its many forms, and just about anyone can produce their own music in the comfort of their own home. How is that not exciting? “Viagra Boys” in spirit are a celebration of modern music. However, I highly doubt the band see themselves as that. The band that once was considered the resurgence of “Punk” are so “Punk” that they don’t give a flying fuck about “Punk.” They just want to make noise, and making noise is what they do best, so that’s why it’s no surprise that they explore new territory on their new album Welfare Jazz, combining their signature rough and raw dive bar Art Punk with elements of “Jazz,” “Electronic” music, and “Country.” This album truly represents the idea of genre bending. Their uncompromising “Post-Punk” is still present, but the band cleverly incorporate elements of “Jazz” with woodwind instruments, dominating bass grooves that are both bluesy and funky, and southern twang that surprisingly fits quite well in the chaos, even going as far as covering John Prine’s “In Spite of Ourselves” with Amy Taylor of “Amyl and the Sniffers.” This album can even be considered the band’s most mature effort yet. Lead singer Sebastian Murphy gets a little more personal lyrically, jumping into self-realization and working out the flaws of someone who recognizes his wrongdoings. “I’d  stop drinking and gambling to earn back your love,” laments Murphy on “Into the Sun,” and following this up with the synth-heavy “Creatures” is a moment that perfectly sums up this album. Likening his old self to a creature, he views himself as someone who’s at the bottom of the barrel. It takes courage to be completely honest about yourself like that. I don’t know the man personally, but whether or not he really was this person, or if he’s just singing from the point of view of a character he’s created, it’s impactful either way. As mature as this album is, well, whatever “mature” means in “Viagra Boys” world, this album is still fun from beginning to end, because at the end of the day, we do need to frequently work on ourselves yes, but we can’t forget to have fun. I think the band even knows that when they reach a point where they take themselves too seriously, that’s when it’s time to call it quits.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

E.P. Review: Artxdekko – Things I Can’t Control

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Artist: Artxdekko

EP: Things I Can’t Control

Genre: Alternative/Industrial Metal/Punk Rock

Label: Self-released

Rating: 8/10

There’s just something about pure unadulterated rage in music that either turns you off, or completely enthralls you. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure, you definitely feel it whether you hate it or love it. Los Angeles based artist “Artxdekko” delves deep into the uncompromising feeling of directed rage on his self-produced debut E.P. Things I Can’t Control. Drawing clear influences from ’90s “Alt Rock,” and at times sounding like a dead ringer for “Nine Inch Nails” or “Filter,” “Artxdekko” wears his influences on his sleeve, but never strays into imitation. Instead, he expands and opens up new possibilities for a recognizable sound that unfortunately feels forgotten in contemporary music. Being four tracks in length, this E.P. gets its point across with solid and straight-forward songwriting that combines a fast-paced “Punk Rock” edge with an affinity for blatant aggression. Are these songs about someone in particular, or are they about that general feeling we all feel from time to time when someone wrongs us? With very little background provided with these songs, that mystery seems intentional. Just let the music take you to an emotion you most likely try to repress. Anger is part of being human, and what better way to channel it in a non-violent way than through music? This E.P. will make you feel that rage even if you’re in the happiest of moods.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

 

METZ Announce New Album “Atlas Vending,” Share New Song “A Boat to Drown In”

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After three years Canadian trio “METZ” have returned with a brand new single titled “A Boat to Drown In,” which will appear on their upcoming album Atlas Vending which is slated to be released on October 9th via “Sub Pop.” Their new single “A Boat to Drown In” isn’t exactly a full-on departure from their previous work, but it shows a more melodic side of the band while maintaining their raucously grungy style we’ve come to know them for. About the track, the band have stated that it’s about “leaving a bad situation behind. About overcoming obstacles that once held you back, rising above, and looking to a better future. The title refers to immersing yourself fully into what you love and using it as a sanctuary from negativity and a catalyst for change.” You can watch the music video for “A Boat to Drown In” below:

IDLES Share New Song “A Hymn”

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“IDLES” are set to release their upcoming album Ultra Mono on September 25th via “Partisan Records,” and today the band have shared a a new track off the album titled “A Hymn,” which is a noticeable departure from their previous singles “Mr. Motivator” and “Grounds.” “A Hymn” is a slower track that features a steady and moody tone with reverbed guitars reminiscent of their early EPs and semi-Industrial atmospherics. Lead singer Joe Talbot sounds subdued but no less impactful as he sings words of self-reflection with a refrain of “I want to be loved. Everybody does.” You can watch the music video for “A Hymn” below:

PLAY DEAD Share New Song “Shaun”

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South London trio “PLAY DEAD” are just two singles in and they already show much promise. It’s safe to say we can add the band to the list of Post-Punk scholars who bring innovation to the beloved genre along with “IDLES,” “Shame,” “Hotel Lux,” etc. The band’s second single “Shaun” was released today, and it’s even more infectious than it’s predecessor “Whitstable,” raucously delivering a “Garage Rock” grunginess while the band sings about member Ollie Clarke’s nan’s boyfriend who is described by the band as “a gentle giant with a short fuse who got arrested for punching a man off his bike in Brixton. He enjoys pies, pints, and Coldplay.” Very few of us are lucky enough to get our own theme song, and Shaun now has the perfect one. You can listen to “Shaun” below:

Le Tigre’s Self-titled Debut Turns 20

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On this day in 1999 “Le Tigre” released their self-titled debut album. Following the disbandment of “Bikini Kill,” lead singer Kathleen Hanna formed Le Tigre with fellow musicians Johanna Fateman and Sadie Benning. Le Tigre were originally intended to be the live supporting band for Hanna’s solo project “Julie Ruin,” but the band took on a life of it’s own and they began writing their own original material. On their self-titled debut the band used organs, samplers, turntables, drum machines, and guitars to create music that was “Electronic” based but featured the feminist political lyrics Bikini Kill were known for, and Kathleen Hanna’s raucous vocals were as strong as ever. This album revolutionized both “Punk” and “Electronic” music, two genres that couldn’t be more opposite from each other. This album is proof that political music can also be catchy and melodic. Happy Anniversary.

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Gang of Four’s “Entertainment!” Turns 40

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On this day in 1979 “Gang of Four” released their iconic debut album Entertainment! This album went on to be one of the most essential releases in “Post-Punk” history, influencing a myriad of artists such as “Red Hot Chili Peppers,” Michael Stipe, and “Nirvana.” On this album the band delivered the anti-establishment ethos of “Punk Rock” with lead singer Jon King’s topical lyrical content of consumerism, feminism, sex, and alienation, and what separated the band from their peers was their heavy incorporation of genres such as “Funk” and “Dub” thanks to bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. Add Andy Gill’s angular guitars to the mix that added a chaotic but controlled flavor, and you’ve got a sound that’s uniquely their own. You can still hear their Funk-driven influence on “Post-Punk” and “Indie Rock” bands today. Considering how the genre of “Post-Punk” can be obscure to some, it’s impressive how the band’s sound has managed to remain relevant after 40 years. Happy 40th anniversary.

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Portrayal of Guilt and Soft Kill Release Split 7”

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On the heels of their fantastic new E.P. Suffering is a Gift, Punk band “Portrayal of Guilt” have released more music with the band “Soft Kill” on a new 7” via “Closed Casket Activities.” Portrayal of Guilt’s track “Sacrificial Rite” is a tumultuous howl of doom that blends elements of both Punk and Metal, whereas Soft Kill’s track “Tin Foil Drip” is a lush and melodic shoegazey tune. You can stream as well as purchase the new 7” below:

https://portrayalofguilt.com/album/portrayal-of-guilt-soft-kill-split

Amyl and the Sniffers Share New Song “Monsoon Rock”

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Australian “Punk Rock” band “Amyl and the Sniffers” are most definitely a band to watch. Their fierce, fun-loving, and noisy style will resonate with anyone who loves the aggressive spirit of “Punk Rock.” Today the band released a brand new single titled “Monsoon Rock,” which will appear on their upcoming debut album set to be released on May 24th. No other details about the album have been unveiled at this time. You can watch the music video for “Monsoon Rock” below:

 

Bikini Kill Reunite for 2019 Tour

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Legendary “Riot Grrrl” band “Bikini Kill” will reunite for a few shows in New York and L.A. this year, and it will be their first time performing since the band broke up in 1997. Original members Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, and Tobi Vail will be joined by Erica Dawn Lyle, who will be replacing guitarist Billy Karren. The dates and venues for the three shows have been announced, but there’s no word on whether or not the band will play even more shows after the upcoming tour dates. You can check out the tour dates below:

Bikini Kill Tour Dates:

04-25 Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium

05-31 Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel

06-01 New York, NY – Terminal 5