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ISSUE 172 RECORDING REVIEWS
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Issue 152-153_ Records that Escaped Reviewing

For over 28 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, especially if it's a cassette or CD-R.) 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. It may take us a while to get to them but we will review them in time and guarantee an honest review

In previous years end issues we separated the new records from the records that evaded reviewing. Due to the pandemic and the fact that a lot of things fall through the cracks this wasn't possible so a big section was made. So sit back, enjoy the read and - until the next issue, here are some recordings that just might interest you.

Boone



JELLO BIAFRA AND THE GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE - Tea Party Revenge Porn LP
News of this album was a real surprise when it hit last summer amidst the chaos of the pandemic and the election news piquing my curiosity. Thus, when I learned that, even though physical formats wouldn't be out until 2021, that you could download or stream it before the election I took the plunge. On their latest album Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine does a sonic deep dive into underground rock where a blend of hardcore punk, noise, early hard rock as a springboard into an aural commentary on the world around us. Singing of topics such as [soon to be former] electoral vote winner Donny, the effect of conspiracy theories on our culture, people's obsession with selfies, the pro forced childbirth movement's fascination with violence and christian nationalism among others, the songs are driving and powerful with some twists the listener might not expect at times. Add to this lyrical commentary that combines anger, humor, and a need for change and this is one of those albums that grabs you by your collar (whether sta-prest or not) and demands a reaction. It was a real shock to learn of this record but I guarantee that the wait since their last album, 2013's White People and the Damage Done, was more than worth it. At the very least you should search for it and give it a listen but I highly encourage you to get a physical copy afterwards. (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. USA. alternativetentacles.com)

CORIKY - LP
This was an album I hoped to really check out as soon as it came out but life, the pandemic, and obligations related to the paying job caused it to fall through the cracks with me unable to listen until finally getting some time near the year's end. Coriky's self-titled album lays down a sparse moody blend of underground rock with bittersweet guitar that walks the line between clean and overdriven guiding a rhythm section that leaves plenty of room to breathe throughout. Their songs are moody observations on the world around them, both small and big picture lyrically. While there are hints of free jazz and noise drawn into the mix the songs remain melodic with a simmering vibe that often lets the tension build until ready to explode yet remains in control throughout. Yes, with current and former members of the Evens and the Messthetics as well as one of the most pioneering groups in punk rock whose name you probably already have guessed by now there's a legacy hanging over this band but the music acknowledges that without fully trying to repeat the past or be a nostalgia act. Coriky's debut may bring about a number of reactions but those willing to listen with an open ear and open mind will find something here that's hopefully the start of an interesting sonic journey. Now I'm just kicking myself for not getting around to listening to this earlier. (BOONE)
(Dischord Records. 3819 Beecher St. NW. Washington, DC 20007 USA. dischord.com)

DEAD SISTER - download EP
This came our way just around the time of the 28th anniversary issue hit the stands so I had to wait for some free time amidst the six day weeks I was scheduled at the paying job to truly check this out. The debut from Dead Sister lays down semi short sharp blasts of noise pop that at times touched on post punk and early 80s death rock. Reverb ladled vocals slide over sonic slabs of noise built on distorted guitar, dissonant leaning effects, and for the jugular rhythms that seem to lie in a gray zone between live drums and a drum machine create songs that take the listener on a surreal journey These songs are personal yet come off obtuse and a little unsettling at moments walking the thin line between hooks and noise along the way. With a rough around the edges production approach, the songs have an edge to them that calls the punk/early death rock (what people now call goth) ethos but use a modern sensibility to put their own spin on the sound in this five song aural calling card. For a band that seemed to come from nowhere they have created something that should pique interests for punks and fans of death rock alike. Wonder if they'll play live down the road once COVID is under control. (BOONE)
(deadsister.bandcamp.com)

RAE FITZGERALD -Lonely Listener cassette EP
I was hoping to check this out a couple of months back but the schedule at the paying job kept me busy so I wasn't able to listen to this until now. Rae Fitzgerald's latest EP is a small batch of personal songs about loneliness and longing that draw heavily on indie and touches of folk but also venture into experimental textures at moments. With Rae's vocals and electric guitar as the main focus sonic beds emerge under each track that range from minimal with tons of breathing room to aural space journeys and back, create an aural picture underneath that doesn't distract from the vocals. It's an airy sonic ride that gently takes the listener into a different space and lets them come along for the ride. While Lonely Listener is a bit different sonic ride but preserves the essence of Rae Fitzgerald as an artist and takes it down another path. (BOONE)
(Cassette available from: Tell Em. Tapes. P.O. Box 10223. Columbia, MO 65025. tellemtapes.com. Download [and second printing of cassettes if Tell Em is sold out] available from: raefitzgerald.bandcamp.com)

JACK GRELLE - If Not Forever LP
I'd been meaning to listen to this for a while but was hoping the pandemic would be over in just a few months so I could pick it up at a show. Since that didn't happen I took the plunge and listened to it on a stream online before snagging a copy. On his latest Jack takes things down a sonic journey that's often more mid-tempo and simmering than his earlier work (though there are some points where he heads to straight-up rock'n'roll) with acoustic guitar returning to prominence and in some point horns. This time around the songs are a bit personal taking on owning up to mistakes, failed relationships, the limits and delusions of upward mobility along with larger picture topics such as class/white flight in the St. Louis metro area and homelessness. Jack's blend of folk, country, blues, and rock elements builds a sonic background that calls to mind the late 60s/turn of the 70s country that hints at progressive country with a songwriter's attitude rather than an eye for what's on country radio these days. While several of these songs have been live staples for a couple of years much of the music here shows Jack adding new textures and nuances to his art and leading the listener along with him. It's been out for a while (and momentum for Jack, like most artists, was put on hold due to the pandemic) but readers into roots and country music will still find a lot to appreciate and like when they give this album a listen. (BOONE)
(jackgrelle.com)

MR. AND THE MRS. - Seaside with Mr. and the Mrs. EP
I know this came out a while back but I hadn't had a chance to fully check this out until recently when I got a copy of the seven-inch. "Heavy Debbie" kicks this off with a stripped down slab of garage rock built on primitive drumming and an overdriven melody riff that carries it. On the flip side "Look What Just Washed Up On The Shore" is an ominous instrumental that puts a surf rock melody under the waves with crunchy chords and some reverb to create a sense of danger just beneath the surface. Add to this separate bonus tracks on the 7" and cassette version (a cover of the Rolling Stones' Nanker Phelge penned track "Stoned" on the vinyl and the original full force punk rock sonic battle cry "Fuck Cops" on the cassette) and this EP becomes a rough snarling piece of music that mirrors that hints unintentionally at the summer of discontent that was to come while not breaking the theme of the record. By once taking fuzzy garage rock to its roughest roots and slapping some punk attitude onto it Mr. and the Mrs. create a record that's part soundtrack to an unreleased drive-in B movie (the 7" I received has a 3-D cover - with the red and blue lensed cardboard glasses included) and part modern reaction to rock music and the apathy it seems to exhibit from both a musical and cultural standpoint. Glad I finally got to hear this in time for the year-end issue and see what's up. (BOONE)
(Vinyl and download version available from: mrandthemrs.bandcamp.com. Limited edition cassette (run of 25) available from Tinker Tapes and Records. tinkertapes.bandcamp.com)

NAPALM DEATH - Throes of Joy In The Jaws of Defeatism LP
As summer ventured into fall news of this album would be one of the more interesting spots in a time where most people were still trapped due to COVID-19 and a lot of life as we know it was curtailed. On their new album Napalm Death scorch through the speakers with some incendiary grindcore mixed with just the right amount of extreme metal and noise elements. Relentless rhythms and heavy (though occasionally clean when it can be weaponized) guitars that meld into a ferocious aural attack that refuses to let up. This is the sonic backdrop for the band's attacks on misinformation, greed, manipulation, and the weaponizing and exploitation of people's fear among other issues in the world around us. While the band does occasionally take an unexpected detour with different guitar dynamics or an unexpected texture in a song here or there they generally go full throttle and refuse to let up as the album progresses. Add to this a couple of bonus tracks (including a cover of Sonic Youth's "White Kross" which was a B-side to the "Logic Ravaged By Brute Force" single earlier this year) and it's an overall unstoppable juggernaut. Napalm Death again manages to carve its way into the sonic consciousness with a sense of sonic power and lyrical awareness. In a truly just world they would be a moderate rotation rock radio staple but, for now, they remain proof that the truly hard and ferocious music needs to be sought out. This band remains one of grindcore's standard bearers and will continue to shock those who think the stuff on action rock radio is the heavy stuff. (BOONE)
(Century Media)

SOULSIDE - "This Ship"/"Madeline Said"
One of the bigger surprises of the past few years is the reunion of DC punk band Soulside with news of them touring Europe so when I learned off this single I had to listen. On this seven inch Soulside re-emerges with some simmering underground rock with driving rhythms and medium fast heavy guitars."This Ship" starts off with seemingly uncontrolled feedback and evolves into an assured sonic commentary on the violence, hate, and nationalism in the world around us. "Madeline Said" on the flip side is a slightly more mid-tempo as it focuses on a person's struggle to get by and mistakes made. The included download has a bonus track that carried on the band's simmering take on punk rock. Soulside doesn't pick up as if nothing happened but comes off here as a band that lets what they've learned in the past 30 or so years and harnesses it to created an assured muscular punk audio experience. Good to see Soulside back and playing music again after way too long. (BOONE)
(Dischord Records. 3819 Beecher St. NW. Washington, DC 20007 USA. dischord.com)

WAR ON WOMEN - Wonderful Hell LP
As the chaos, fear, and anxiety that was 2020 winds down to its inevitable end a number of albums have come out that piqued our curiosity, including this one that came to our radar just after we put out the last issue. On their latest War on Women tear through some blasts of melodic hardcore punk driven by crunchy guitars and hooks energetic enough to power a small city. Taking on misogyny, colonialism and its aftermath, police brutality, the needs to take action sooner rather than later et al these songs create battle cries that exist within a prism of intersectionality and the need for social justice throughout. With powerful song craft and an ability to walk the thin line between melodic punk and hardcore without diluting their core sound, War on Women's punk vision is one that's as heavy sonically as it is lyrically, demanding a reaction from the listener in the process. This band has long put out great records and this album carries on this tradition. (BOONE)
(Bridge 9 Records. 119R Foster St. Building 4. Floor 3. Peabody, MA 01960. bridge9.com )





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