Seven Weeks, Seven Records
by Steven Spoerl
In a very short (and recent) stretch Freddy Beach, Spencer Tweedy, Chase Allen, Super Paradise, and Sallow have all unveiled strong records. Those records served as the tip of a mountain that had been building over the past two months. Below are seven of the absolute strongest records to have found release in the past seven weeks. Strong debuts, mesmerizing EP’s, and releases that reaffirm great bands’ solid reputations, there’s a little something for every corner.
Hellrazor – Satan Smile
Barbed basement pop will always be celebrated on Heartbreaking Bravery and it’s no mistake that Hellrazor is a name that’s been printed in these confines multiple times. That said, the Michael Falcone-led project has never sounded sharper than they do on Satan Smile, a blistering tour de force that fully commits to an overwhelmingly aggressive nature to spectacular effect. Dirtied up, deeply felt, and intelligently crafted, the 14 tracks that comprise Satan Smile never waver in their tenacity and elevate the record to one o the year’s best.
Phyllis Ophelia – Analemma I
For several years, Phyllis Ophelia has been releasing extraordinary, albeit relatively unassuming, material. 2016 saw Ophelia hit a new high with Catbus’ incredible “Fracas” and complements that career highlight to an exhilarating degree with the Analemma I EP. Each one of the four tracks on Analemma I is a breathtaking highlight, marking Ophelia as one of today’s stronger emerging songwriters. It’s a relatively relaxed listen but it still packs several punches and provides just as many thrills. Make sure to give it the attention it deserves.
Holy Tunics – Hot to Trot
An upstart band with a serious pedigree (two of the members are perennial site favorite Davey Jones, the mastermind behind Lost Boy ?, and Ana Becker of Fruit & Flowers), Holy Tunics come charging out of the gate with Hot to Trot. One of 2016’s more peppy EP’s also proves to be one of its more memorable. Aided in part by the behind the boards work of Big Ups‘ seemingly tireless Amar Lal, Hot to Trot has a vibrancy that breathes an enormous amount of life into the proceedings. Alternately breezy and pointed, it’s a significant debut outing for a band who will be worth watching as they forge a path into the future.
Saintseneca – Mallwalker
Very few bands ever attain the kind of ridiculous consistency that’s been present in Saintseneca‘s work since their earliest outings. Every single one of the band’s releases has been a viable year-end contender and their surprise holiday-leaning compilation EP, Mallwalker, is no exception. The band’s take on Appalachian folk remains lively, innovative, and ridiculously compelling. Zac Little’s lyrics continue to surpass those of many of his peers and the band’s grasp on structure and composition catapult them into a class of their own. Mallwalker — a collection of the band’s Christmas-referencing songs and one mesmerizing new entry — is an absolute joy and earns its spot in the band’s discography, which is a compliment all on its own.
Chemtrails – Love In Toxic Wasteland
A surging burst of punk-inflected basement pop, Chemtrails’ Love In Toxic Wasteland confidently stands as one of this year’s most unexpected delights. Coming from seemingly out of nowhere, Chemtrails arrive fully-formed, with incredibly sharp hooks in tow. From the EP’s opening number, the explosive “Aeons”, it quickly becomes clear that this band doesn’t have time for petty trifles; this is the type of basement pop that goes straight for the jugular. Immediate and immediately memorable, Chemtrails have crafted something that’ll make people remember their name.
Hung Toys – Welcome to Repayment
Losing Geronimo! was a tough blow to endure but the band’s core songwriting duo has remained active — possibly even hyper-active — in the wake of the band’s departure. Geronimo!’s guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson, recently unleashed the seething behemoth that is Welcome to Repayment on the world, which features much of what made Geronimo! such a singular act, only with a renewed emphasis on hardcore underpinnings. 10 tracks of unrelenting post-punk (including a particularly spiky Blur cover), Welcome to Repayment acts not only as a great standalone record but a relieving assurance: Geronimo! may be dead but Johnson isn’t leaving anytime soon.
Horsecops – Annie
Once in a while, a band that’s received praise on here in the past will point me towards an act that’s been grabbing their attention and that recommendation will lead to an exhilarating discovery. In that respect, many thanks are due to Blue Smiley for providing a pathway to Horsecops and their jaw-dropping full-length debut, Annie. An eclectic mix of shoegaze, post-punk, basement punk, noise, powerpop, and just about every other genre or sub-genre that receives regular coverage here, Horsecops manage to evoke the best of like-minded contemporaries while finding a way to firmly establish their own identity. Annie is a remarkable release from a young band capable of crafting material that’s genuinely unforgettable.