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Issue 173 Recording Reviews

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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. So sit back, enjoy the read and - until the next issue, here are some recordings that just might interest you. - Boone

ALPHA HOPPER - Alpha Hex Index LP

I was looking around online when I found out that Alpha Hopper had a new album so, after finding a link for it, I decided to stream it. The latest from this quartet is a sonic journey into the off kilter. Driving guitars and eerie electronics blend (and sometimes collide) to make a surreal underground rock sound that draws from electronic no wave as much as from vintage punk/post punk in this exploration of dehumanization and need for contact. The vibe here is occasionally obtuse but has something here that comes from left field and takes you by surprise as the album continues. Alpha Hopper's blend of organics and electronics is a bit atypical and can be off-putting for those expecting run of the mill punk rock. Adventurous listeners will find something here that seems out of left field but will be more familiar than you think if given a chance. Will give this another listen somewhere down the road. (BOONE)
(alphahopper.bandcamp.com)

DEAD ENDING - American Virus EP

I'd been curious about this band for a little while now but hadn't had the time to hear them so when I found out about this EP coming out I decided to take the time and give it a spin. Dead Ending tear through the speakers with three songs of high octane hardcore leaning punk rock blending crunchy power chords and tight medium-fast beats with social commentary about the world around us. Whether exploring nationalism and how its dangers fail all of us, fascism, or the aftermath of the COVID 19 pandemic (and the Mad Fuhrer of Mar-A-Lago's minions mishandling of it) the songs are short sharp blasts to aim to kill and refuse to let up in these high energy bashers. The overall effect draws from early hardcore (likely inevitable given the history of at least one of the band members) but freshens it up and delivers it like the world is about to end right away. Dead Ending is one of those bands that will polarize people on both lyrical and musical grounds. Readers willing to investigate will find a band making punk and HC unapologetic and vital again. And, given how the last year or so went down, don't we all need some of that anger and fire right now? (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. USA. alternativetentacles.com)

THE ELEANORS - Plz Yourself download album

I've been wondering when this would finally be available so when it was available online I decided to give it a listen. The Eleanors' debut album is filled to the brim with catchy as hell poppy punk carved out of tons of hooks and often tongue in cheek lyrics. Mostly personal songs about getting the last laugh, boredom, feeling inadequate and assholes who attack people online, among other things. While they are exploring common subject matter the band's rough around the edges sound gives this a more immediate feel than a lot of pop punk has had over the past decade and a half or so. There is a vibe here that's sometimes irreverent, sometimes just vicious, but is driven by tight songwriting and a feel that's captures punk's more melodic moments while keeping the raw serrated edge this type of music needs. Plz Yourself won't reinvent pop-punk as we know it but The Eleanors have made a solid batch of catchy punk stew that will be more than filling for those amongst us who are into the more poppy side of punk rock. (BOONE)
(theeleanors.bandcamp.com)

NEGATIVLAND - The World Will Decide double album

In the midst of a long rough year it only seems fitting that Negativland would come out of left field with a new album as 2020 dragged to a close. This time around the work is their mirror image to their previous album True False, exploring the roles of technology in our lives and its impact on things ranging from mental health to jobs to the right to privacy. Taking a darker denser approach to their sonic collages, Negativland unleashes tracks that are unnerving yet sometimes have a catchiness to them that comes from left field in their critiques on technology and its aftermath on the world. With a blend of brand new (or new to us) and older samples and clips used this album is a more aggressive sonic journey than the last album in some ways but it's also one that seems ironically more organic in some ways. The World Will Decide is a work that's both obtuse yet offers much to draw in those curious about what's under the surface. Give it a listen and make up your own mind on it. (BOONE)
(Seeland Records)

THE SWEATERS - The Sweaters CD

I was wondering when this band was finally going to release a full-length so when news broke of its release I decided to take a chance and stream it. The Sweaters play some catchy indie pop rock that can go from dreamy to a moderate crunch on a moment's notice. Tight rhythms and a guitar that can be reverb wet almost to lushness at some points and full of overdrive at others power songs with more hooks than a wildlife superstore. The songs walk the line between introspection and edge with a bittersweet vibe that burns throughout these melodies. While the band is still very young they have a confidence that comes from experience, incorporating elements of indie pop, roots rock, and folk into their overall mix. There's always been something about The Sweaters' ability to dangerously tiptoe near indie pop while remaining on the rock side that's interested me but this album shows them taking it to another level. Hopefully, after the pandemic finally ends, I'll get a chance to see them live and see how this compares but even without that to compare to this album made the end of 2020 a lot less bleak. Check it out. (BOONE)
(thesweaterscomo.bandcamp.com)

TSUNAMI BOMB - Still Standing EP

Learning about Tsunami Bomb releasing a new seven inch had piqued my curiosity so when I had a chance to listen to it I jumped at the opportunity. Side A is ripping punk rock with a remolded version of "Irish Boys" to how it was envisioned as written with a tight riff and some keyboards at points leading into the darker more ominous "El Diablo." On the vinyl version, side B's songs are live versions of "Take The Reins" and "Lemonade" recorded by a fan [yes, as a bootleg] and given to the band a while back. What emerges here is a gift to their fans touching upon some of their older material with fresh ears or the live rawness of the flip side. It's a fun little listen that should keep fans attention (though it being a 33RPM seven-inch with the live songs has caused some controversy with the AT 7" club) as we struggle through the pandemic keeping us from shows et a things like this become necessary. Even if you've never heard this band before check this out (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. USA. alternativetentacles.com)





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