5 ON THE FLY: Five Weird Tuesday Mini Reviews In One Place
PSYCHOSOMATIC ITCH – Psychosomatic Itch EP
The term ‘post-punk’ may mistakenly give the impression that punk is over. It isn’t. At the very least, the punk attitude is alive and well. Psychosomatic Itch has that attitude in spades, but they take the punk rock platform and use it as a springboard into other musical realms. In the opening sludgy number (“Cold Call”) there are hints of acid psychedelia, and the obscure background voices in the grimy darkness are somewhat nightmarish but at the same time exemplify the band’s experimental playfulness. Yes, there are moments of almost pure punk (“Replica”, for example) but there are many more moments when the Itch touches on sounds as disparate as metal, shoegaze, and post-rock. By design, the production is muddy, with a DIY feel, but the band has no hesitation in using studio effects to generate electronic buzzes, spiraling guitars, and hazy layers of noise.
It’s one heady trip and a hell of an impressive debut.
FAMILY BAND – Family Band ’15
Family Band only partly lives up to its name – two of the members are siblings (Josh and Talia Boguski) but the other two are unrelated (Raff McMahan and Alex Lavoie). But, in any case, if you had in mind a conventional singalong around the kitchen table then you are in for a surprise. A pleasant one. The operative words here are ‘quirky’ and ‘unexpected’. The band throws us off track right off the mark with “If I Hadn’t Waited”. Eerie electronics lead into a church choir with classical instrumentation, but then some sinister-sounding acoustic guitar signals a switch to baroque pop vocals. Finally, a beat and rhythm come in very late in the song. That’s what this record is like – always something interesting going on to defy your expectations. It’s never boring. Some tracks are an exercise in contrasts between sweet harmonized vocals and discordant musical accompaniment (e.g. “Pomelo” and “Take Care”), while others are more consistent in tone but still strange (“Sua Beleza”).
Family Band are gifted musicians, composers and arrangers but they are not satisfied with playing it straight. They want to baffle you, and in doing so they are highly entertaining.
OTHER JESUS – Everything Is Problematic
That band with the doobie-smoking cat returns with their latest album. They continue on with a sound they’ve got down pat – a dominant heavy, murky bass, a mournfully screeching guitar high in the mix, and the nonchalant female lead vocals. One of the most intriguing aspects of Other Jesus’ sound is the contrast between the Le Tigre-like chant-singing and the Joy Division-like instrumentation, something that is probably best exemplified on the track “Bracist”. It’s a great formula, but a formula nevertheless, so it’s a treat when the band mixes things up on the “Eggs PT One/Spank Patriarchy/Eggs PT Two” sequence. “Eggs” is really one track – a cool instrumental (mainly, anyway) with a wildly squawking guitar – but it is split by the insertion of the more standard song “Spank Patriarchy”.
Overall, ‘Everything is Problematic’ does tend to suffer a little from ‘sameness’, even though each individual track is a treat.
ELECTROHOME – The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of
The one-man-band, Electrohome, provides perhaps the definitive interpretation of what folktronica is all about. The songs here have electronic music woven into the very fabric, resulting in a transformation into something odd but interesting — like a pleasant but vaguely unsettling dream. In “Podolski Rapture”, for example, there is beauty in the harmonized vocals but there is also a cold air of detachment, a feeling that is heightened by the eerie synthesizers. On “Ripple Tide” the processing of the vocals combined with electronic highlights warps the song into something akin to Radiohead. The album playlist is punctuated with a couple of gentle instrumentals, adding to the overall dream-like air.
‘The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of’ is a charmer despite the odd unsettling moment, or more likely precisely because of them.
FLESH CONTROL – Two Body Fridge Demo
Even by Weird Tuesday standards this one is out there. Flesh Control spews out a basement-recorded collection of terrifying hardcore. Stylistically, the music is primarily hard-driving punk, although “Beyond Death” is more metal and “Mold Folks Home” could be described as grindcore. There are two startling aspects to this album. First, there is the croaking devil-like vocal delivery, which is reminiscent of the demon voice in The Exorcist. Second, there is the truly disturbing subject matter, such as abuse in a seniors’ home and the disposal of a baby in a dumpster. Perhaps most chilling of all is “Naptime” in which the self-loathing narrator pours melted crayons on himself while the children in his care are asleep.
Definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you are up for it ‘Two Body Fridge’ is a thrill ride.