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Issue 164 (27th Anniversary Issue) Recording Reviews
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For 27 years we here at The Trouble With Normal have been interested in hearing some of the music that you have been making and recording. 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 CD-Rs also.) to our cramped but we call it home P.O. Box so we can possibly review it. If your release is only available as a download send us a link and we'll check it out as well (as with CD-Rs and tapes please make a cover for 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. Boone

ARNOCORPS - Welcome to the Gym single.

This took us by surprise when we heard it was coming out so we decided to give it a listen. Once again Arnocorps throws down a couple driving blasts of modern punk tinged with hints of metal and themed around Arnold Schwarzenegger somehow. "Scavenger Hunt" takes the A side welcoming listeners to "the gym" and giving an overall sonic approach of its services and what they supposedly offer. On the flip side "Dead Lift" is a medium fast rager that carries on a loose theme somehow related to Arnold's Pumping Iron and Stay Hungry film era. Both songs keep things moving with an energy level that could get people pumped in an actual gym almost as much as it could get a pit moving. While the lyrics do have a tongue in cheek vibe throughout, the music carries on modern punk in all seriousness. Good to see this finally coming out as a seven inch after a while as a digital only release. (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. USA. alternativetentacles.com)

BLEACHED - Don't You Think You've Had Enough? LP

I know this had been out for a bit but it slipped through the cracks when the last issue was being put together so I didn't have time to really give it a listen until now. The new album from Bleached finds them taking their melodic blend of pop hooks and punk rock edge as a springboard for their songs tackling life, love, loss, and experience. While the songs are still fueled with crunchy guitar hooks and driving rhythms the band also expands their sonic palette to filter in elements of funk/dance music and straight up pop rock along the way and a modern production feel. The overall vibe finds them tip toeing between modern pop and underground rock with enough panache to avoid clichés or becoming a shitty ballet in the process. Bleached has come a long way since their first album a few years back but the band's music remains an interesting listen if one is willing to approach the sounds with an open mind. Readers into poppier punk or who may have some indie leaning tastes will find something here worth checking out. (BOONE)
(Dead Oceans)

DUMP HIM - Dykes to Watch Out For LP

Sometimes something comes your way that makes you curious to hear more. This was one of those instances so when a chance to hear it came along I took the plunge. On their latest tape Dump Him tear through the speakers with some medium fast hardcore punk that walks a fine line between mid tempo ferocity and melodic song craft. Heavy guitar and breezy yet driving rhythms take the listener down an aural journey that takes on religion, gender issues, scene tension, interconnectedness between the personal and political and more. The energy here snares you from the start with an intense manner and hearts on full display that's almost matches the power of the songs themselves as you listen. Dump Him have unleashed a simple yet mindblowing album that readers will definitely dig listening to while possibly learning a thing or two along the way. (BOONE)
(Cassette available from: Get Better Records. P.O. Box 19267. Philadelphia, PA 19143. getbetterrecords.bandcamp.com. Vinyl and/or CD available from Muscial Fanzine Records: dumphim.bandcamp.com)

THE GROANS - Earth Dweller CDEP

I came across this by accident while putting this issue together so I gave it a listen. On the second album The Groans dish out some straightforward low key poppy punk with raw guitars and a slightly shambolic feel that hints at chaos but stays with the hooks throughout. Along the way they tackle topics ranging from right wing internet troll entitlement to environmental destruction to police brutality to the struggles trans people face et al. Stripped of all slickness the music matches the raw emotion of the lyrics for a powerful matching of the personal and the political. The Groans don't necessarily reinvent a wheel so much as take it over, get rid of what isn't needed, and carve their own niche with it sonically. In the process they've created a jaw dropping disc that lures the listener in with their earnestness and energy and won't let go until you get the point. Wonder what this band is like live. (BOONE)
(CD available [at this time] from: the groans.bandcamp.com. Download available either from the band or from Get Better Records [getbetterrecords.bandcamp.com])

PURPLE PILGRIMS - Perfumed Earth LP

I came across this by accident while looking for something to listen to while working on an article for this issue. The second album from Purple Pilgrims is a moody slice of pop music that borders on the ethereal. Clear, almost angelic vocals lilt over minimal instrumentation for a relaxing sound that feels ambient at times but also remains aware of pop song conventions throughout. Their songs use both space and arrangement to lure the listener into an otherworldly aural experience that may polarize some and enrapture others but remains in its own space. Sometimes trippy, sometimes romantic this album glides along the ear canal and takes you to someplace you may not expect along the way. It's hard to describe Purple Pilgrims' sound as it can easily fits as well alongside something like the Cocteau Twins as it could along some of Scott Walker's more experimental works. Regardless, this New Zealand based duo created an album that should draw in readers seeking something a bit more experimental but also oddly comforting as well. Check it out and make up your own mind. (BOONE)
(Flying Nun Records. PO Box 68194, Wellesley Stret, Auckland, New Zealand, 1010. flyingnun.co.nz Available in the USA via Omnium Music Group. omnianmusicgroup.com)

SACRED REICH - Awakening LP

One of the big surprises of the past year or so was news that Sacred Reich was working on a new album so when I got the chance I had to listen. On their comeback album they throw down a batch of tight aggressive thrash metal that occasionally hints at bluesy groove driven hard rock and classic metal on occasion with wall of saturation dual guitars and a rhythm section that walks a thin line between the rampaging and tight groove pocket Lyrically, they draw from both the personal and the political tackling things ranging from divide and conquer tactics in our society to looking inward and creating the change you want to see to the costs of war and the like. Whether riding a swaggering groove or going full on sonic assault, the band keeps things moving forward with a raw fury that demands a reaction. In eight songs the band realizes the power of stepping up, sonically making their case and using the time to their advantage, creating one of 2019's best albums in the process. It's great to see Sacred Reich back in action again. (BOONE)
(Metal Blade Records)

SLEATER-KINNEY - The Center Won't Hold LP

Mid to late August 2019 has been an interesting one for TTWN with a few albums we'd been long awaiting being released in roughly a week, including this one. On their latest Sleater-Kinney takes their music down into a different path of sorts, merging their style of dynamically diverse and often driving underground rock with electronic textures and a slicker vibe at times. Dealing with more personal subject matter, these songs lean sonically toward more danceable music with electronic sounding beats and a different aural flavor than usual for this trio's guitar fueled attack. Admittedly the result was offsetting at first (didn't feel like Sleater-Kinney imho) but grew on me in repeat listens as more layers are uncovered and you hear what's underneath. While this isn't instantly recognizable for a lot of S-K fans it's still an interesting listen and one that will compel you back to confront your expectations. (BOONE)
(Mom+Pop)

VERSUS - Ex Voto LP

I came across news of a new album from Versus by accident while looking around online so I knew I wanted to give it a spin. On their new album, the band continues their brand of often simmering guitar fueled indie rock with semi introspective lyrics, semi bittersweet guitar tones, and a mood that lingers but doesn't stay too languid. While the basic vibe of the band's heyday of 1990s and 2000s era guitar rock remains they expand on it with keyboards and assorted textures when necessary. There emerges a dynamic tension in the eight songs here that can explode sonically while still not losing a personal intimate vibe in the process. Versus' first album in a long time is a sonic ride that will be familiar to their fans but may seem a little obtuse for the uninitiated; though that might not be a bad thing. Good to see this band putting out music again after a long hiatus. Wonder if they're going on the road with this disc. (BOONE)
(Ernest Jenning Record Company)








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