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ISSUE 168 RECORDING REVIEWS
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For over 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 CDRs 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

ANVIL - Legal At Last LP

I've been curious about what Anvil has been up to for a while now (ever since I got the surprise of learning they were still around via their documentary) so when I learned they were putting out a new album I decided to give it a listen. The new album from Anvil continues the trio's heavy metal journey full of crunchy wall of heft guitars and driving rhythms that have kept the band going for over 40 years. This time around they take on the current state of marijuana laws both good and uneven, environmental pollution, stupid people in power, surveillance and the loss of privacy among other things. Sonically, the band's blend of 80s era power metal with a touch of proto thrash woven in creates an energy that mails the listener to the wall and won't let up. Fans of vintage (and vintage style) heavy metal will find a lot to dig in Anvil's latest, whether they've been into the band since the 80s or not. Need to get a physical copy of this once this damn pandemic is over. (BOONE)
(AFM Records)

BACCHAE - Pleasure Vision LP

I had heard some good things about this band so when I heard they were doing a new album I decided to wait on the online streaming singles and listen to the whole album when it came out. The latest album from Bacchae is a catchy melodic blend of raw-ish punk, tight pop leaning rock and introspective yet energetic hooks that simmer into driving songs where personal themes hint at bigger meanings when once searches beneath the surface. Lyrics discuss a mix of love, loss, hurt, and survival within these tracks. The overall effect is low key at times but goes for the throat when necessary while never losing track of the song. This is an album more people should check out and make up their own minds about. Note to self: need to get myself a physical copy of this. (BOONE)

(Get Better Records. P.O. Box 19267. Philadelphia, PA 19143. getbetterrecords.com for links to mail order. Downloads available at: getbetterrecords.bandcamp.com)



KELLY BETZ - Kelly Betz And His Imaginary Friends download album

One of the unexpected bright sides of all the fallout from the COVID-19 response is a chance to sit down and hear more music to review in between the paying job and the like. On the latest official release Kelly has created a one person band dishing out some catchy though occasionally off kilter indie rock largely built on edgy song hooks, and unexpected instrumentation here and there. While much of it is acoustic guitar driven he also takes detours along the way (including a punk rock middle part in a piano driven track) that underlie these personal tales of struggle, alienation and the like as they float through the speakers. This is an album fueled by upheaval and the need to overcome personal issues as well as the need to face it. Kelly Betz' music has taken its share of twists over the years (he's worked in punk, indie, and hip hop over the years - and this download shows him making a pit stop in indie rock and showing his total comfort there. He also has a secret album and is working on more music so who knows where he'll go next musically. (BOONE)

(kellybetz.bandcamp.com)



FUMES - In My Skin download EP

I know this had been out for a few months but it slipped under the radar and I hadn't had a chance to listen to this until now. The latest EP from Lou Nevins and company is a laid back batch of languid introspective rock that can live in indie circles but has moody overtones that draw from folk and vintage 70s rock at points. Male and female vocals interplay on songs detailing the ups and downs of love, loss, and the like. With a organic vibe and a straightforward approach, this music creates an artistic bittersweet statement on the end of a relationship and its aftermath. It’s moody, a little somber even, but there's something in the space that breathes within these songs and will appeal to those dealing with frustration, anger, and the like (I have a feeling a lot of people have those feelings right now). In My Skin takes the listener on a journey that's melancholic, a bit somber, but somehow holds on through the ups and downs and makes you want to listen again in the process. (BOONE)

(thefumes.bandcamp.com)



GYMSHORTS - 90 MPH single

I had no idea this was coming out until I saw it online when I was looking for something to stream rather than look through the music selection for a CD to hear. On their new seven inch, Gymshorts throws down some rip your face off garage rock meets punk. "I'm the Jeff Gordan of My Generation" is a driving song about driving fast (and multitasking while doing so - such as eating burgers and sending an e-mail) that seems slightly medium tempo but has the energy and feeling of early Stooges. "0 Thanks Given" is a slab of loud fast punk about that November holiday where one wants to avoid family but eat for free full of breezy power chords and a snide attitude throughout. Both songs aim almost to break down the sonic wall and refuse to let up until the end - in true Gymshorts fashion. This band has had their share of ups and downs over the years but it's good to see them still at it. (BOONE)

(Greenway Records. P.O. Box 380434. Brooklyn, NY 11238. greenwayrecords.com)



IGNORADO COMEDIANTES - Roy LP

This band came to my attention recently and piqued my curiosity so when I heard the new album was finally out I decided to stream it and see what was up. On their latest, Ignorado Comediantes delivers short fast blasts of punk rock that draws in elements of vintage pop punk and early HC into the mix. Buzzy guitar chords and medium in your face rhythms carry these Spanish languages songs that mix of the personal and the socially aware. Confident and energetic, the band goes for the throat and keeps your interest throughout and overcoming any possible language barriers in the lyrics along the way. While this band doesn't reinvent pop punk, they tackle the sound in front of them and make their own mark on it. This is one of those albums that knows what it wants and won't let up until they get it. I wonder how these tracks come across live. (BOONE)

(Head2Wall Records. head2wallrecords.com)



PEARS - LP

I'd been interested in this band ever since seeing them open for the Homeless Gospel Choir a few years back so when I learned about this album I wanted to give it a listen. The self-titled new album from Pears finds them carrying on their knack for catchy punk rock that walks the thin line between the melodic punk and hardcore. Medium fast rhythms and driving crunchy guitars power these songs that detail personal themes such as anger, growing up, life during the era of dial up internet, growing up and the like. The songs are tight with harmony laden choruses and an almost corrosive edge to the vocals as the tales unfold up to a mid-tempo near ballad near the end. The album is an overview of growing up as much as being cynical in the current climate as it blasts through the speakers. Fans of straight ahead punk or hardcore's more melodic leanings will find a lot to appreciate and enjoy in the new album by Pears, (BOONE)

(Fat Wreck Chords)



TESTAMENT - Titans of Creation LP

Learned this was ready to go the night before it was released when most people with sense were staying home to try and flatten the curve of the damn pandemic so I decided to stream it when I had a chance to do so. This time around the Bay Area thrash legends come out firing on all cylinders with some straight up in your face metal anthems built of tight rampaging rhythms, dual saturated (yet not totally scooped death tone) guitars, and a go for the throat and don't let up vibe throughout. Whether singing about escaping one's current state, World War III, 80s serial killer the Night Stalker's effect on LA in the 80s, false prophets or the need to heal the planet, among others, the band keeps all cylinders firing from start to finish. Testament has long walked the thin line between pure aggression and sonic tightness and manages once again to pull it off with relative ease. If you have an interest in metal you should check this disc out. (BOONE)

(Nuclear Blast)

VARIOUS ARTISTS - “A Lordz Work” A Cafe Berlin Compilation” download album
An extremely unfortunate aftereffect of the COVID-19 related shutdowns is the closing of concert venues ranging from arena to DIY venues and house shows. As artists are forced to cancel tours and people who worked at clubs and bars get laid off, the question of whether these venues will survive this is valid to ask. In the wake some venues are holding fundraisers and benefits to help counter the loss of income this crisis has created.
A Lordz Work is a download album meant to benefit Cafe Berlin, a concert club and brunch restaurant in this zine’s original homebase of Columbia, MO. Put together shortly after much of Columbia (including Berlin) decided to close down in response to the coming pandemic, it’s a wide ranging sonic document of artists who have played the venue over the years. Musical styles on this comp range form experimental (M.Crook and Oxherder, Maxito Lindo, Telepathy Club) to black metal (Acid Leather) to classic rock meets power pop (It’s Me: Ross) to rootsy blues and country (Jack Grelle, Dav id Dearnley, Athony Wuilkerson) to hip hop tinged jazz/soul hybrids (Loose Loose) to punk (GORBZA, Mirror Mirror) to indie (em Downing, Rae Fitzgerald) and a whole lot more (I guarantee that what I just described skims the surface) for a full picture of what’s gone down on their stage over the years.
Overall it's an expansive sonic palette with stuff you’ll likely enjoy and some things you never experiences. Regardless, it’s for a place that totally deserves support and has done a lot to expose local, regional, and touring acts to people. While I can't guarantee everything on here will be your bottle of bourbun, Open minded readers and those wanting to check out sounds they’re unfamiliar with (both in terms of bands and musical styles) will find something in here more than worth their time. I have a feeling this could be a great aural playlist on its own for potential roadtrips if we ever get out from under this pandemic shutdown.
- Boone

(cafeberlin.bandcamp.com)

All contents this page 2020, Boone Stigall/The Trouble With Normal