White Lung
Paradise

Domino Recording Co.
Street: 05.06
White Lung = Hole + The Wipers

White Lung’s fourth album, Paradise, is a trip into sunny Shangri-La. With bright riffs and vibrant vocals, this album diverges from the punk grit of previous albums to adopt a cleaner and further-developed musicianship. The exuberant style of Paradise may be attributed to vocalist Mish Barber-Way’s natural progression of songwriting and a maturing band.

The Vancouver DIY unit released their first two albums on Deranged Records, a Canadian hardcore punk label that has worked with bands like Fucked Up and Career Suicide. For their most recent two records, White Lung signed with Domino, a label generally associated with indie acts like Animal Collective and Neutral Milk Hotel—a stark contrast to the preferences of Deranged. White Lung appealed to Domino because, as Ned Russin of Title Fight said on Amoeba Musics What’s In My Bag?: White Lung “mix it up from your typical format of what you would expect from a band on Deranged.”

White Lung stick with the same lineup from their 2014 album, Deep Fantasy, for Paradise. Barber-Way remains on vocals while Kenneth William is on guitar and Anne-Marie Vassiliou, formally of The Riff Randells, is on drums. The band chose Lars Stalfors, a producer who would push the band forward, to take charge of recording and mixing the album. Stalfors is known for his work with a diverse range of acts, from Matt and Kim to Cold War Kids to Chelsea Wolfe.

Paradise opens with synth-like riffs in “Dead Weight” as William and Vassiliou grasp the frantic sound that is so fundamental to White Lung. Although the band has evolved in their style, fans are reminded that this is still the same White Lung as Barber-Way channels the boldness of her hero Courtney Love in her belting of abstract declarations that challenge the societal pressures placed on women.

Barber-Way told Annie Clark of St. Vincent in an interview that the third track on the album, “Below,” was based on a quote by social critic Camille Paglia that addresses the transience of beauty and its place in feminist thought. The lyrics of “Below” lament a woman’s loss of value with her loss of beauty, as Barber-Way sings, “You know this means nothing if you go die alone. They’ll bury your beauty, transient living stone.”

The previously released single “Hungry” highlights White Lung’s step into pop territory with toned-down vocals softened by the use of harmony and instrumental breaks characterized by bouncy riffs. This track is yet another song that addresses the plight of women. Its message doesn’t stop with the lyrics but translates into the music video, starring actress Amber Tamblyn, who has made her mark in films like The Ring, 127 Hours and Django Unchained. The music video chronicles a model on a can of condensed milk as she attempts to cling to her youth and beauty. The video also features a cameo of George Clarke of Deafheaven.

Paradise is aptly named for its soaked-in-sunshine melodies. Nonetheless, White Lung do well not to let the pop flair overshadow their punk roots. Paradise is an optimistic progression in a practically flawless discography. –Emily Anderson

MyManMike
I’m Pregnant

Self-Released
Street: 08.28.14
MyManMike = Charles Bronson + Coke Bust

Although you might not actually anticipate a child from this multinational trio, listeners can expect the same thrashing powerviolence heard on MyManMike’s last album, Will You Marry Me? The band taps on the brake for I’m Pregnant, reducing their pace but still engaging fans in a high-speed chase. MyManMike pay tribute to the hardcore punk roots of powerviolence by integrating a heavier sound in their most recent endeavor. The band, based out of Seoul, features South Korean bassist and vocalist Sunwoon, U.S. guitarist and vocalist Mathew and drummer JP from France. 

After coming together in 2011, the group began performing covers of bands like Punch, Victims and Tragedy. They didn’t release their own work until 2013, when they dropped their first album. After their second album, I’m Pregnant, the DIY unit has proven that hardcore translates across cultures. MyManMike recorded the tracks at Union Studio and Bubblegum Sound in South Korea, then shipped the product to be refined by Benoït Courribet at Cylens Mastering in France.

I’m Pregnant opens with the chaotically quick drumming of JP and moves into the alternating bellows and wails of Mathew and Sunwoon in the song “Pigeon King.”  MyManMike seem to continue in the lyrical vein of Will You Marry Me?, criticizing the political leaders and elite of each band member’s respective country. However, this song departs from national and international affairs to comment on scene politics. “You are the king of the mountain,” says Mathew. Sunwoon clarifies the statement by saying, “Lord of shit and everything depraved.” Accompanied by a swift bass and guitar, the message gives the song an air of intensity. Mathew closes the song by growling, “God of shit and ecstasy.”

Clint Eastwood introduces the fourth track with a line from Dirty Harry. MyManMike stomp in during Harry Callahan’s discourse to rough up listeners with violent vocals and raging riffs. The musicianship in this track delivers punches that make it difficult for anyone within hearing range to keep their head upright. 

MyManMike use their two vocalists to create unique lyrical situations. In the seventh track, “2 Choices,” Mathew sings in English while Sunwoon sings in Korean. While this song demonstrates lingual differences, another features the vocalists enacting two different points of view surrounding an abusive relationship. In “Baby, I Only Do That Because I Love You,” Sunwoon poses as an abusive partner while Mathew encourages the abused to take revenge and expose Sunwoon’s character.

The album ends with, “Follow the Herd.” It begins with all instruments playing quick sections of rhythm in unison, each separated by feedback. The lyrics, as the title suggests, discuss the status quo and society’s tendency to adhere to it, no matter the consequences.

Some of the tracks off of I’m Pregnant were used in splits with the bands Seized from Indonesia, Prisoner639 from the U.K. and Belgium, Acid Shark from the U.K., and Share Your Needles from Belgium.  After five years together, the fastcore unit just finished a tour of Southeast Asia and will embark on a European tour this summer.

MyManMike are an international powerhouse. Listening to I’m Pregnant will jolt awake anyone who is sleeping on hardcore scenes outside the US. —Emily Anderson

Weekend Nachos
Apology

Relapse Records
Street: 05.20
Weekend Nachos = Nails + Dropdead

The original jock powerviolence band is responding to fans mourning the New Years’ Day announcement of Weekend Nachos’ dissolution with their final album, Apology. Hailing from DeKalb, Illinois, Weekend Nachos channel the grit of hometown powerviolence great Charles Bronson in their new album. The lineup on the final album of the grindcore/powerviolence mash-up unit features original members John Hoffman of Spine and Harms Way on vocals and Andy Nelson on guitar, as well as Drew Brown on bass and Brian Laude on the drums. To compose Apology, Weekend Nachos pulled in several guest musicians, including some from genres outside hardcore.

Weekend Nachos take a heavier approach to powerviolence than the average band—and it works. Having formulated a unique sound, the band felt a lot of pressure to produce the excellent final album. “I was nervous the whole time we were writing it, because it was like, ‘This is it … This is our swansong. I hope we aren’t scraping the bottom of the barrel here,’” Hoffman said of Apology in the album press release. “Truth is, we did scrape the bottom of the barrel, and it was the very last of the great material we’re capable of.”

The album opens with “2015,” a track that begins with quick, pulsing drums smothered in noisy feedback. In addition to Hoffman’s bellows, Matt Barnum and Matt Izzi of Homewrecker join in on the track to echo Hoffman and contribute repulsive screams. The nearly six-minute song slows to emphasize a heavy bass as it marches into obliteration.

Dylan Walker of Full of Hell throws his vocals into the ring with piercing wails on “Dust.” In this song, as well as throughout this album, Weekend Nachos continue with their pattern of commenting on scene politics with lyrics like, “Meanest and toughest guys around / Kicking me on the ground.” The band also seems to address their opinion on larger politics and how they play into the scene with the songs “Fake Political Song,” “All,” “Dog Shit Slave” and “World Genocide.” Weekend Nachos step off their soap box to say a word of farewell to their fans in the song “Eulogy.” Hoffman roars loyally over militant drums, “My dear friends, our time is done / Time to move on, did we have our fun.”

Apology closes with the harrowing title track. The song features an instrument rarely heard in powerviolence, or even hardcore: the piano. The pianist on “Apology” is Mike Kinsella of emo band American Football and solo project Owen. “Apology” is the longest song on the album, haunting listeners for nearly 10 minutes. The ghost of Weekend Nachos is woven into the chord progressions played in a minor key as Kinsella pays tribute with his fluttering fingers. At about six minutes, the volume rises drastically and Weekend Nachos go out with a bang, or rather, with Nelson and Brown serving the band’s traditional punishing chords.

Weekend Nachos are currently on their final tour. The band’s closest stop is on May 26 at Rainfest in Tacoma, Washington. In the album notes, the unit writes, “Don’t cry for us, we’re already dead.”

After over 10 years as a band, Weekend Nachos have produced the perfect final installment to a robust discography. With its raw vocals and flawlessly dissonant composition, Apology is sizing up to be the hardest powerviolence album of 2016. —Emily Anderson