Author: Cody Kirkland

White Reaper
Self-Titled
Polyvinyl
Street: 06.24
White Reaper = Ty Segall + Lost Sounds
If 2010s punk has a cohesive sound, I’d say White Reaper sums it up. In this six-song, 16-minute debut EP, the Louisville, Ky., trio plays poppy garage rock like the best of their forbearers, but with more punk muscle. Imagine Jay Reatard’s precision and structure, but with more riotousness, plus Nobunny’s rollicking rock sensibility, minus the absurdity. Occasionally, singer/guitarist Tony Esposito’s vocals sound just like Ty Segall’s, who must be a big influence on White Reaper, but the overall psych impact is minimal. The twin-brother rhythm section, Nick (drums) and Sam (bass) Wilkerson, is super tight, and at times, this record sounds like Is This It sped up, but with more overdrive and yelling. An underlying spirit of ’77 is the album’s binding thread, and Lexi Drexelius’ keys add a little special something to the already-perfect garage-pop-punk-n’-roll mix. There are no standout tracks here—the entire EP is outstanding. –Cody Kirkland
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Airstrip
Willing
Holidays For Quince Records
Street: 02.05
Airstrip = Spinal Tap + Chad VanGaalen
Willing is the debut album of this Chapel Hill, N.C. outfit. It is primarily slow, rhythmic, guitar-driven rock with a few poppy, almost upbeat numbers thrown in. Sometimes Airstrip sounds kind of psychedelic and heavy (“Bitching Hour,” “Sleepy”), sometimes they sound like Jay Reatard (“I Hit A Wall”), and sometimes they go into weirder territory that I won’t try to describe (“Happenstance,” “So So”).  Aside from the first three songs mentioned, though, I can’t get into this album.  I need more of the psychedelic and heavy, and less of the annoying thing Airstrip does when the vocals and guitar follow the same notes at the same time. –Cody Kirkland

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Flesh Wounds

“Bitter Boy” b/w “Kennel Cough” and “Let Me Be Clear”

Merge Records

Street: 05.13

Flesh Wounds =
Johnny Thunders +
Condo Fucks

If you like “What Ever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song)” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, you’ll probably like Carrboro, N.C.’s Flesh Wounds. They play late-’70s-style garage rock, or proto-punk or whatever you want to call it, albeit much wilder and punkier than bands like BRMC. It’s similar to what bands like Thee Oh Sees are doing with garage psych, but Flesh Wounds take a rhythm and blues fork in the rock n’ roll road, rather than a psychedelic one. Steady, powerful drumming, loud dual guitars with classic, wailing riffs and snotty, unstable vocals make this three-song (and only six-minute) EP a short and satisfying dose of rock n’ roll—the kind you shoot instead of sip. –Cody Kirkland
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Bleached
Ride Your Heart
Dead Oceans
Street: 04.02
Bleached = Ramones + Go Go’s
They’re like Vivian Girls, but more polished and with better singing, like Best Coast, but punk rock. Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, formerly of the all-girl punk band Mika Miko, join with Jonathan Safley and Sara Jean Stevens to form LA’s Bleached. This is simple, three-chord garage-pop full of sunny vocal melodies and catchy hooks. Blonde hair, jean jackets and plastic sunglasses are required for listening—that’s kind of the band’s uniform, too. Though they’ve released a few 7”s on various labels, this is the first full-length from Bleached, and “Looking For A Fight” and “Waiting By The Telephone” stand out the most. There’s enough punk energy left over from Mika Miko to bolster the garage vibe, and, even though there’s a guy in the band, Bleached still keeps it plenty girly. –Cody Kirkland

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Young Widows
Easy Pain
Temporary Residence
Street: 05.13
Young Widows = Pissed Jeans + Death From Above 1979

The world is not a good place. Everything is fucked. Such pain, such confusion. Why must it be like this, “Godman”? I need to turn the bass down on this stereo. My girlfriend just left the house. The cat has fled to the back corner of the back room. It’s only the first song. “Cool Night” makes wallowing beautiful, almost ecstatic. Dissonance, soft/loud/soft, never stopping, “Kerosene Girl.” This is heavy rock. Such tone, such mastery, such torment. The massively overdriven bass engulfs all sounds like hot tar, rendering the trio an individual entity. They are one instrument, ringing out with an echoing hopelessness. Our history has damned us, our present is dissolving before us, our future will glide in blindly with a plastic scythe, saying, I told you so. Young Widows know this. This is their magnum opus. –Cody Kirkland

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Blank Realm

Go Easy

Fire Records

Street: 05.14

Blank Realm = (The Velvet Underground / Black Lips) + (Tame Impala – precision)

Judging by the opening bass line of the first track (“Acting Strange”), I thought Blank Realm was a Swedish hardcore band. But as the shrill, muted guitar and frantic vocals led into a wall of thrashing cymbals, I thought, “Wait, is this supposed to be the Liars?” When the druggy, nautical-sounding “Cleaning Up My Mess” began, though, I knew the album would be more Loaded than it was Liars. Much of the Brisbane four-piece’s shtick on this one sounds very familiar. From the thin, jangly guitars, to the repetitive percussion-and-yelp jam sessions, feedback screeches and sloppy, wailing vocals. Though Go Easy is far from groundbreaking, most of the songs are fun to listen to. Standouts are the aforementioned two, plus “Pendulum Swing,” which is like punk rock Bruce Springsteen—the grating, out-of-place synth buzz almost ruins it, though. Ultimately, I like this record—even if it sounds like I’ve heard it before. –Cody Kirkland

 
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Bleached
For The Feel
Dead Oceans
Street: 09.16
Bleached = Go-Go’s + Shannon and the Clams

When I recently revisited last year’s Ride Your Heart, Bleached’s first and only full-length, I couldn’t get all the way through. Half of the songs were too boring and unoriginal to keep me from skipping to the good ones. Luckily, three-song EP For The Feel comprises only good ones. The title track starts with the band’s typical beach-bum pop punk, with vocals that are cool enough not to sound sappy. Next is “Poison Ivy,” a surf-pop song with girl-group harmonies. Last, and best, is a cheerful, Bleached-blond version of “Born to Kill” by The Damned. It’s an unexpected move, but they pull it off with Joan Jett flair. For The Feel distills the fun of Ride Your Heart, but with more looseness—though it isn’t remarkable, it’s worth the investment just shy of a buck per song for digital or a buck per inch for vinyl. –Cody Kirkland

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Iggy and the Stooges
Ready To Die
Fat Possum
Street: 04.30
Iggy and the Stooges = MC5 + Dead Kennedys
I dreaded listening to this record. If 2007’s The Weirdness was any indication, the Stooges can’t be resurrected. They could have fallen back on their raw, stripped-down, live-in-’73 sound that bands today try to emulate. Instead of playing into this decade’s retromania and making a record that people would actually want to listen to, the Stooges put out a polished recording of underwhelming riffs and boring guitar solos that are devoid of the band’s original violence and energy. The title track should have been released in 1983 and “DD’s,” a lighthearted and sax-heavy song about giant boobs, could be an ’80s college movie theme song. The record’s best songs (“Unfriendly World,” “Beat That Guy” and “The Departed”) belong on an Iggy Pop solo album—they sound out of place with piano, slide guitar and are sentimentally reminiscent of recent Bob Dylan records. I wish Pop would have skipped the Stooges reunion, made a blues album, and re-released Raw Power again. –Cody Kirkland

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Sleepmakeswaves

Love of Cartography

Bird’s Robe Records

Street: 09.23

Sleepmakeswaves =
Explosions in the Sky +
Russian Circles + Dntel

I can’t think of any context in which I’d want to listen to this album again. Although instrumental post-rock isn’t my favorite music genre, I get it—expressing deep emotions without the confines of lyrics and traditional rock structures, jamming really hard for a really long time, etc. I can’t get into Love of Cartography, though. It’s too epic, too vast, too sweeping, too cheesily emotional—and I’m a sentimental guy. The song titles are as corny as the melodies: “How We Built The Ocean,” “Something Like Avalanches,” “Your Time Will Come Again.” Unlike the horn embellishments in their last album, … and so we destroyed everything, the little electronic bleeps and bloops punctuating the loud/delicate/loud motifs actually make Love of Cartography worse. “Emergent,” with theremin-like guitars and a heavy sequence reminiscent of Refused, is the one track I actually like. But with this release, even at its loudest, Sleepmakeswavesmakesmesleep. –Cody Kirkland
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Burnt Ones
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Burger Records
Street: 05.14
Burnt Ones = Ty Segall + Crocodiles
I pioneered a new rating system to evaluate this record: I drew plus signs next to songs I really liked, minus signs next to songs I disliked, and nothing next to songs that made me feel nothing. Despite sounding uncannily similar to their psych rock peers, the sexy, grimy reverb spiral of “Vision Forever” gets a plus sign, as does the mighty bubblegum fuzz of “Fountain of Youth” and “I Care – I Don’t Care.” The time-changing brain burner “Cloak” gets a plus sign, too. The only minus is “Hologram Dropouts”—the synchronized bass, guitar and vocal melody is dorky and annoying. The closer, “Move On,” sounds exactly (theoretically) like Ty Segall playing “Goodbye Bread”—the Hawaiian slide guitar, cool vocal reverb and gentle strumming make a sweet lullaby, and a final plus sign. That’s five pluses, five neutrals and one minus—burn one and give You’ll Never Walk Alone a few spins. –Cody Kirkland

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