CASUAL BURN • Mean Things 12″ EP

CASUAL BURN • Mean Thing 12″ EP, 9 songs

Handstand Records

Casual Burn
I was pretty stoked to get this Casual Burn 12inch. The cover alone was intriguing to me because it reminds me so much of the cover of the “Smashed Hits” comp of singles by Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. I thought that if this record heads down the same path as Red Lorry Yellow Lorry’s early singles then I am in for a treat. Besides, other than Lost System, I haven’t heard a good goth band in a while. I put this 12 inch on and it’s not a treat. Look, it’s actually really good but I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around it. If it weren’t for the distinct vocals of Monet Maloof, I would think that this was a compilation of bands or a compilation of all the bands that she’s been in. If you are a fan of Goner Records, Neck Chop Records, and some Emotional Response Records then this is definitely your tea bag. Sonically I’d say they sound mostly like they are influenced by the bands on those labels and Brain F≠ (Brain Flannel). In more detail, it’s a mix of garage and angular post punk. The vocals are hollowed and coated in reverb and there are some kinda hardcore parts, too. I can totally see why folks would love this but I just don’t have the ear for it today. What will most likely happen is that I’ll go to a friends house and they will be playing this EP. An exchange like this will happen:
Me – Wow, this is cool. What is it?
Friend – The Casual Burn 12″. I got it because of your succinct and honest review. I really like the way you did your best to not tie any emotion or disinterest in the music to the record and still managed to frame it in a way that made me want to find out more.
Me – I should dig this out again. I was probably having an off day.
Friend – Fair.
Check out more here.
https://handstandrecords.com/store/items/casual-burn-mean-thing-12-inch-lp/

(JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

NEUTRALS • Kebab Disco LP

NEUTRALS • Kebab Disco LP

Emotional Response

Neutrals_2_Jason_Hendardy
Neutrals, not Swiss! Photo by Jason Hendardy

The more I listen to Kebab Disco the more I think it’s a brilliant record, and one that will stand the test of time. The Neutrals (members from Airfix Kits, Terry Malts, Giant Haystacks, Magic Bullets, Razz, and Cocktails) play angular and jangly post punk drawing influences from the usual suspects and deftly manage to not be a knock off fan band. There’s a huge pop element in their sound that elevates them high above the crowd in a genre that can be too po’ faced, and ridiculously dour at times. This pop side emphasizes the herky jerky rhythms, and those herky jerky rhythms emphasize the pop side. I’m in the moment of absorbing these songs as I type up this review. You know how it is. You’re trying to do two things at once, but one is more interesting and appealing than the other. In this instance, it’s the music, and I’m listening while at the same time searching for the combination of words to convince you that this is a record you need run out and get. But songs like “Food Court”, “Swiss”, and “Half Knife” come on and I’m knocked prone because these are great songs, and I prefer to be in the moment listening and wishing it could go on for a couple minutes longer. The rhythm section is the balm to the jagged guitar, but what really stands out for me are the lyrics. Twelve short stories with clever turn of phrase, introspective without being self absorbed, at times nostalgic without being defeated. This album is somewhat of a concept album in the sense that these songs are Allan MacNaughton (vocals, guitar) relaying autobiographical stories about his youth in Scotland to his move to San Francisco on the mid 1990s, reflecting on the changes that come with time and age. The one constant theme is looking for one’s place in the world, whether it’s finding yourself among the structures and codes of youth culture, to the changes a city undergoes to be somewhat unrecognizable in comparison to its more interesting past. There’s an anger and resentment here, but these songs do not descend into the void of despair and defeat. Despite it all there’s this sense of the need to keep on going and carving out one’s niche no matter what else is happening around you.

If I were to keep a list of “the best of 2019” records without a doubt Kebab Disco would make that list, perhaps at the top. Many an evening has been spent listening to this over and over and over, and the songs have run through my minds in the following mornings. You will fully understand when you get this. Go on. (MA)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

ISOTOPE SOAP Monitored by Zu Tze 12″

ISOTOPE SOAP – Monitored By Zu Tze (17 track 12″, played at 45 nonetheless)

Compilation of two EPs and a 12″ EP

Available through Emotional Response Records

isotopesoap

I should start by saying that I pick up everything that Emotional Response Records puts out. Jen and Stew, in my opinion, have created a label that doesn’t follow a particular sound but rather a level of creativity and freshness. I blindly order everything they put out.  Sometimes it’s hardcore (Lögnhalsmottagningen), or twee (Ginnels), or an incredible comp (Typical Girls Vol 1-4) or even an odd recently discovered tape of some 70s punk bloke doing Beat poetry over a kazoo and a person making animal noises (not joking, I think I have a record like that they put out). The short of it is that they don’t get stuck in a genre so I know what comes inside the package is something that I won’t expect.  And, to be clear, I’m not grizzled, grumpy, jaded, etc., I buy new records by new bands almost weekly. However, it does take something unique to pique my ears and this Isotope Soap 12 inch does that perfectly. This record is frightening. It could as easily be aliens on meth or a Scandinavian teenage cult. It pulls on ropes of early Devo and then goes sideways into swirling keyboard mayhem. Everything about this is challenging in all the right ways. I’m continually fascinated with people that can create such oddball amazing things without sounding contrived but rather compelled to create this chaos.

When I put the needle down on side one, I jumped as the frantic pace of disjointed keyboards, and straight ahead fast drums hit me square in the face. Before I could flip the sleeve over to read the name of the song, “Pussy Riding Cowboy Buddhas”, it was over in 39 seconds.

Seventeen songs clocking in at under 22 minutes and ranging in length from 33 seconds to under 3 minutes.  

Six songs in, I was just getting used to their structure and direction, I thought I’d figured these guys out and then I’m hit with “Magnetic Abortion of a Black Hole”. I’m terrified once more. The vocals are working some creepy pitch shift machine and by the time the song was over I thought I was in a dark torture movie and was about to be kidnapped.

“The WOW! Signal”, track 9, would have to be the most familiar song but only because I’ve been listening to a lot of Tones on Tail lately and this could be an instrumental B-side on one of their 12 inches. But that is it.  Just a 2:48 long song sorta sounds like a dark post punk instrumental band from of the 80s and no other comparison. Oh, also the Feederz.  Something about this is Feederz-ish, maybe not so much in sound but for the call to chaos.

The people that are in this band have done a decent job of hiding their identity. I have searched and found that there is a connection with the mid 80s band Raped Teenagers, Pusrad and I’m sure a bunch of others. Here’s the thing, I don’t think they kept their names off it because they are embarrassed. I think they kept their names off of it because they don’t want to be named as a co-conspirator when world starts to crumble.

 Hit the link at the top to check it out or just grab one while you still can.

1.      Pussy Riding Cowboy Buddhas

2.      Frontal Disorder Post Mental Border

3.      Hate

4.      Fancy Inbred Humans

5.      Circle Jerk

6.      Magnetic Abortion Of A Black Hole

7.      Dad Attack

8.      High One Wildlife

9.      The Wow! Signal

10.  I Saved You From Jesus

11.  Reversed Big Bang

12.  The Roof

13.  Human Invasion

14.  Trump Des Willens

15.  Pinata Chaos

16.  Radiated Head

17.  Emdrive Thruster

 (JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA