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Issue 174 175 Recording Reviews

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For almost 29 years [yes, it's been that long] we here at The Trouble With Normal have been interested in hearing 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-R's 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 CDR's and tapes please make a cover [or the download version equivalent of a cover] for it). It may take us a while to get to them (we do have other obligations in our lives) 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

AWAKENING FORCE - The Darkness download album
I've heard quite a bit about this band from a variety of sources that caused me to check them out a couple years ago so when I heard they finally released an album I decided to take the plunge and check it out. On The Darkness Awakening Force delivers a collection of hard rock/metal songs with a modern feel to them. Built on layered hard edged (but sometimes processed) guitars and a solid yet aggressive rhythm section and some modern electronic tweaks the songs cut through the air with a feel made for modern rock radio. Lyrically the songs seem to have a personal to observation take on issues like perception, life, and survival. I don't know if there are any physical copies of this album but it is fairly easy to find a place to stream it, if not buy a download for it. Readers into more modern hard rock and metal should at least give this album a stream and make up their own minds. (BOONE)
(Force Records)

KELLY BETZ - LOST Everywhere I Go download album
This emerged about a week after the last issue came out but I couldn't get to it until now due to my work schedule and other obligations diverting me from zine work et al. On the first of his two most recent albums Kelly gives us a collection of straight to the point lo-fi blend of punk rock, indie, and elements of folk music. The songs detail life on the road/traveling through issues such as train hopping, traveling, poverty and seeking a sense of home, both in the literal and metaphorical sense with a mid tempo beat and a mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Emerging in the wake of this is a personal commentary that appears to hint of issues such as homelessness, seeming lost, and the various issues related to them among others. All set to songs that seem sparse and dark but actually seem to be damn catchy. I have a feeling this may be part of a larger story but it can also stand on its own. Kelly's music has always been willing to go down paths he's familiar with but people don't expect and this carries on in that tradition. Check it out. (BOONE)

KELLY BETZ - FOUND No Sense of Home download album
Kelly's creativity has been on a roll the last few years with this new album coming out almost the same time as Lost (released a month later). This album continues the simmering punk rock with indie and folk elements of LOST musically with a more punk vibe coming through at points. Lyrically this appears to be a continuation of the longing of the previous album but on a more personal scale with breaking up and the fallout from addiction added to the lyrical themes here. The result is a little darker in tone with harder guitars and at times some more aggressive shifts in the songs. While Lost looks at the search for something, Found is the realization that home isn't just merely a physical location but a personal and emotional state. While harder edged and at times more in your face Found makes a perfect companion album (as well as another vantage point) to the scenarios Kelly sang about on Lost. Recommend checking both albums out actually. (BOONE)
(Download both LOST and FOUND at: kellybetz.bandcamp.com)

THE CHILLS - Scatterbrain LP
I had learned about this album coming out when I bought a ticket to see the band's premiere stream of a live show so I was curious and gave it a stream when I could. The new album from New Zealand music vets the Chills finds Martin Phillips and company traveling a medium tempo path blending indie rock and more somber ballads with a slower rhythms and a more introspective approach. The songs are moodier than some of their previous work built often built on a blend of guitar, keyboards, and a rhythm section that stays on point they make the song the focus and let the addition instruments (occasional horns, accordion, and synthesizer) add to the core rather than overtake the songs. The Chills have always been kind of easy to pin as "alternative" or "indie" but in fact harder to pin down and more eclectic than one thinks and Scatterbrain's self examination continues in that tradition. Listen and decide for yourself. (BOONE)
(Fire Records. Also available from: thechillsmusic.bandcamp.com)

LITTERED WITH ARROWS - Demo 2021 download EP
The pandemic has created a scenario that has hindered many artists as quarantines have made it difficult to impossible for a lot of people to play so when I heard that this band suddenly emerged with an EP almost out of nowhere in the midst of all the chaos I decided to give them a listen. Littered With Arrows arises from the Columbia scene with a medium paced blend of hardcore punk meets thrash metal with a hint of doom. Their songs harness wall of distortion guitar over steady medium tempo beats to create short sharp sonic blasts that appear to come from nowhere and demand you pay attention. Opting for a quick and direct approach the band throws down its music in a high energetic but efficient way that sidesteps a lot of excess, focusing often on the song rather than blast beats or solos to make something fully formed from the start. I don't know what lies ahead but this band is off to a pretty good start. (BOONE)
(litteredwitharrows.bandcamp.com)

MANNEQUIN PUSSY - Control EP
I was looking at something else online when it came to my attention that Mannequin Pussy had some new music out; thus it seemed like a good time to give it a spin. On their latest EP the Philadelphia based trio tears into a sonic journey that's rooted in punk rock but is as likely to have poppy rock elements as it does hardcore bashers. Lyrically the band mixes longing and anger to create songs that reference love, loss, alienation, and frustration (among other things) to make an EP that seems to both lull the listener in and grab them by the throat. A blend of melodic sheen and in your face rawness means this band walks the line between these two fields and manages to create an EP that can inhabit both areas with little difficulty. In roughly 15 minutes Mannequin Pussy takes the listener on a sonic journey that piques attention and makes you curious to hear more. I'm merely listing it as an EP though I don't know if there are or will be physical copies [vinyl and/or CDs] available for this record yet. I hope that happens soon so I won't say it's strictly streaming or download only just in case. (BOONE)
(Epitaph Records)

SCREAMERS - Screamers Demo Hollywood 1977 EP
As spring of 2021 arose news came seemingly out of nowhere that Screamers were releasing their 1977 demos as an official release for the first time. On this EP the most legendary "unrecorded" band (there are bootlegs released of them in the past) shows off a small collection of punk rock using only synthesizers and drums to these artsy (and occasionally obtuse) lyrical commentaries. Here there's a minimalist feel that seems cleaner than the distorted synth sounds of their later incarnations but the basic vibe of the band shines in this form. A bit sonically on edge and off kilter at the same time the Screamers took their muse down a different road and made something that still seems a bit unusual. The vinyl is sold out but there are a couple of places you can buy downloads of this or stream it. This remains apart from the pack of punk then or now but yet somehow fits into the relatively wide open sonic window that early punk rock was 45 or so years ago. Check them out. (BOONE)
(Superior Viaduct)

SUZIE TRUE - Saddest Girl at the Party cassette
This came out a while ago but somehow managed to slide under the radar until we put together this issue so we're checking this out now. On their debut full-length Suzie True blazes out low key yet driving underground rock with simmering medium tempos and a clean/crunchy guitar tone contrast that draws from indie, punk, and power pop with equal ease and attitude. Their songs are stories of love, loss, working and the like that charms the listener yet has an underlying feeling that there's a heaviness to the overall music than a casual listen would indicate. What can be ascertained is these songs rock and have the ability to draw in listeners from multiple sides of the underground with an overall feel that somehow puts a smile on my face. In other words - this rocks. Suzie True's debut full length is one of those listens that's irreverent and fun but somehow will be taken seriously. I realize now I needed to hear this sooner so track this down and give it a listen. (BOONE)
(Cassette available from: Get Better Records. P.O. Box 19267. Philadelphia, PA 19143/. Gettbetterrecords.com. Download available at: suzietrue.bandcamp.com)




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