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Issue 152-153_ Records that Escaped Reviewing

Here at The Trouble With Normal we remain interested in hearing some of the music that you have been making and recording - and have been since the fall of 1992. Feel free to send your vinyl, CDs or tapes ("for sale" only or at least take the effort to make a cover for them. This goes for CDR's also.) to our cramped but we call it home P.O. Box so we can possibly review it. It may take us a while to get to them (we do have obligations in our lives not related to this zine) but we will review them in time and guarantee an honest review Until the next issue, here are some recordings that just might interest you. Please feel free to read on, get interested, and hope you find something you like. Hope to hear your music soon. Boone

CONTAKTA - Bodyheat download EP

After seeing this band play live I was curious about what their EP was like so I searched for it and checked out a stream of it. On their debut, this trio creates some ambitious indie leaning synth pop that creates a gray area between the ethereal and the danceable, the technological and the earthy. Lush and layered synthesizers glide over moving beats and live bass lines to make songs of love and longing that are as groove laden as they can be atmospheric, almost daring you not to react as you listen. Melodic and club friendly, Contakta may have created a debut recording that can possibly appeal to both indie kids and those with more mainstream dance pop leanings, Whether you go for the print with the download code or just download or stream it readers who have curiosity about synth leaning pop meets dance music might find something here they like. (BOONE)
(contakta.bandcamp.com)

THE DARTS - I Like You but Not Like That LP

I recently found out about this band and they piqued my curiosity so when I found out about their new album I had to give it a listen. This time around The Darts offer up more of the slinky garage rock/punk hybrid where simmering to crunch guitar meets airy combo organ and tight in
the pocket rhythms that's pretty much become their calling card. Moody and a bit in your face, the music here takes personal themes and offers up a mix of the joyful and the bittersweet, tackling ups and downs unapologetically and energetically. It's slightly crude at times but there's a power here sonically that bursts through even the smallest speakers and takes the listener back to the age of garage rock while showing that it can still feel fresh. The Darts know their strengths and play to them to dish out some great garage/punk have the same feeling in 2019 as it would've if it came out in 1966. I Like You but Not Like That remains totally jaw dropping album, to say the least. (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. alternativetentacles.com)

ARRINGTON DE DIONYSO'S MALAIKAT DAN SINGA - Honey and Poison CD

This has been out for a while but somehow seemed to slip through the crack when we were trying to get reviews taken care of so we couldn't get to it until now. The album finds Arrington and company combines garage rock with free jazz improvisation, experimental music and elements from several different cultures to create a sound that can be jarring at times, almost hook laden at others between the obtuse lyrics. Blending bittersweet guitar parts with almost trance like drumming, raw vocals, and jagged experimental leads on guitar, saxophone, or both, the songs come out of left field to entrance some and enrage others. Honey and Poison won't be everybody's cup of tea but there's something here that should appeal to readers seeking to hear something a little bit different. Feel free to listen to Arrington De Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa's latest and decide for yourself. (BOONE)
(arrington.bandcamp.com)

EMPATH - Active Listening: Night on Earth LP

I had heard a lot about this band through the digital grapevine so when their new album was finally available I knew I had to at least stream it and see what everything was about. On their debut full-length Empath delivers a sonic blend incorporating elements of punk, pop, art rock, and ambient for something that's at once relaxing yet seeming a little off kilter, taking you by surprise as the album continues. With a mix of somewhat raw guitars and drums and sometimes ethereal keyboards, the songs walk the line between indie, pop, and punk with an in your face
confidence that appears vulnerable at times but has something lurking underneath for those who dare to pay attention. While this band's music may appear languid at times it's far from easy listening and is perfectly willing to lure the listener in only to get more confrontational (and almost dissonant) on a moment's notice. Empath have created an album that won't be everyone's bottle of flavor enhanced and vitamin fortified water but those willing to pay attention and give it a thorough listen will definitely be rewarded. Note to self, remember to buy a copy when you get the chance. (BOONE)
(Get Better Records. P.O. Box 19267. Philadelphia, PA 19143. getbetterrecords.bandcamp.com)

FILTHY FRIENDS - Emerald Valley LP

This is a group that I've been curious about for a while and have heard a song or two a while back so when I learned they had an album coming out I decided to give it a listen. On their full-length debut, Filthy Friends peels off some simmering rock songs that lay in languid yet driving grooves ladled over with overdriven guitar to move. These songs reference a blend of personal such as love and loss and social topics such as migrant labor, children being separated from their families at the border, and suburban sprawl among others. Their sound is a relatively breezy listen whose catchiness only hints that the songs are audio commentaries on the culture around us. Filthy Friends have made an album of catchy rock music can that holds a sonic mirror and might make you think and you sing along. (BOONE)
(Kill Rock Stars)

FIJI-13 - MBMC download single

This is one of those tracks that details the temper of the times so well. With this track Minneapolis' Fiji-13 have thrown down a short direct slab of thick sounding garage rock that tackles the current war on those who can get pregnant by Repub politicians in state legislators and their governors. Raw distorted guitar and a straight up rock rhythm deliver a raw and feral sonic attack that attacks the issue by going for the jugular. Add to this a rather unique comparison and you have a must listen songs that readers need to hear. All proceeds go to the National Network of Abortion Funds, an organization that needs out support now more than ever. In just two and a half minutes Fiji-13 delivers the goods unadorned and with no apologies given or needed. Get this track. (BOONE)
(fiji-13.bandcamp.com)

MICHAEL FRANTI AND SPEARHEAD - Stay Human Vol. II double LP

I didn't even know about this album until I was looking through a record store and suddenly came across it. On his latest Franti and company delivery a relatively laid back yet upbeat blend of pop and funk that also infuses reggae, rap, dance music, and even a full on blues song within these tracks. Mostly love songs this time around but there are a couple of moments that address the current situation and the need to not give up on it. Whether singing about summertime or living in the moment there's an upbeat feel to this album that, while it dips its toes into the current pop soundscape, seems to stand apart from the mainstream music environment with an organic natural flow throughout the disc. I know this won't be a lot of readers' bottle of iced coffee but those with an occasional hankering for something along the more pop side of things will find something to enjoy here. (BOONE)
(Boo Boo Wax/Thirty Tigers)

GURR - She Says EP

I first heard this band when I saw them opening up for Priests at the end of April and they piqued my curiosity enough to grab a cassette of this EP after the show ended. The latest from this German band lays down catchy garage rock that melds to the point rhythms with driving often reverb laced guitar work to make some ferociously catchy songs. Dreamy yet somewhat street rooted, these songs explore life, consumerism, working, loss, struggles, and the like with a feel that comforts the listener while revealing the truth beneath what's expected. With lyrics in both English and German, the music on this EP keeps your attention and would be as good for a listen while relaxing as it would be for driving in the rain. While the EP seems slightly more subdued than the band's live show the music still rocks and has you bopping your head along, if not moving your feet to it. Gurr's music sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise, making this EP something you should at least take a chance on. (BOONE)
(gurrband.com)

L7 - Scatter the Rats LP

The return of L7 a couple years back for some reunion shows had sparked a lot of curiosity about what lie ahead as the band announced plans for new material; thus making it something we had to check out when news broke of its release. On their first [post reunion] album (after a couple of comeback singles) the legendary band dishes out a driving blend of alt meets hard rock with hints of proto metal with an updated vibe throughout. Their near trademark wall of distortion guitar chunk continues, delivering a mix of songs with breezy hooks that have leanings of blues, classic rock, and even elements of pop at moments. While some of the more modern elements slightly distract (especially the electro or treated drum beats on a couple of songs), the band has re-emerged with a solid rock album that can fit into the landscape of current rock radio without giving too much away in return. Wonder how these songs come off live. (BOONE)
(Blackheart Records)

LVVMAKING - Tru Lvv CD

I picked this up at their show but hadn't had the time to really listen to this until putting this issue together so here goes. The debut full-length from Lvvmaking finds the Des Moines based collective veering into a spacey mix of electronic meets alt rock where outer world synthesizer textures collide with driving rock guitar and drums in these tales that seems to join together personal themes within what appears to be a science fiction framework. Delivered with a modern vibe where slick hooks meet in your face beats, the songs also stand apart from a lot of current "modern rock" by actually rocking and going for the throat when necessary, as well as heading to poppier and more sedate sonic moods when called for. While band leader Ryan mentioned the actual CD ended up getting mastered slightly quieter than they planned I still encourage grabbing one and making up your own mind. This is an interesting debut from probably one of the more inventive bands to come out of the DSM area. (BOONE)
(lvvmaking.bandcamp.com)

PRIESTS - The Seduction of Kansas LP

I picked this up when I saw the band play live a month or so back and was definitely curious about it. The latest from Priests kicks out the jams with some anthemic underground rock that can be dissonant, danceable, and oddly compelling. Bittersweet toned often delay washed guitars and rhythm grooves that almost demand that you move lock together to make a sound somewhere between the ethereal and the street level in these aural commentaries on life around us. Referenced in the lyrics are the landscape of middle America (both in business and people), social media celebrities, those haunted by war, dealing with having others’ ideas projected upon you, the growth of the Lone Star state and the like woven in multiple layers along the way. Sonically, the ride is moody but remains both comfortable and eclectic as the band paints its own
vision of danceable rock that sets it apart from the current indie/alt rock world in a number of ways. This album shows Priests carving its own pathway into what rock music can be and showing it can play a part in making a difference. (BOONE)
(Sister Polygon Records)


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