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Issue 177 - 28th Anniversary Issue Record Reviews
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Issue 152-153_ Records that Escaped Reviewing

For 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 CDRs and tapes please make 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

KELLY BETZ - I Just Hope Mark Hoppus Is Okay download album

A change of seasons has been in the air with longer nights and a more back to business attitude compared though a sense of curiosity remains – and mine was piqued when I learned about this album. On his latest Kelly Betz goes headlong into pop punk songs with a medium tempo feel, a tendency for melodic simplicity, and a bit of a rough edge (and not just because there’s a hardcore song thrown in for good measure). Blending crunchy rhythm guitars with overdriven yet somewhat clear guitar hooks and an in the pocket drum approach, the songs explore teenage tension, wanting to break away, alienation, the end of a relationship and the like. Sonically there’s a back to basics vibe her, stripping the arrangements down to the bare essentials as it progresses. I Just Hope Mark Hoppus Is Okay mines the gray area between pop punk’s mainstream commercial side and the more rougher equivalent to the subgenre that percolated then and now in the underground. Kelly Betz might not reinvent pop punk here but he has put out a good album that holds up well along the diversity of much of his work over the years. (BOONE)
(kellybetz.bandcamp.com)

GINA BIRCH - Feminist Song single

This literally came to our attention so far under the radar I knew nothing about it until I came across it online looking for other things. On her first solo single Gina Birch discusses the issue of being asked about feminism, anger and happiness and what those things mean in our society over an blend of minimalist electronic versus and post punk choruses that call her time in the Raincoats to mind (in full disclosure her Raincoats band member Ana da Silva does play monotron on the track) that explores the tensions on an individual level and how this is shaped by the surroundings. The flip side is an ambient mix of the song that adds a more ominous feel to the song, tweaking the darker elements and adding a new layer to this. I had no idea this was out there but I have to say this is very interesting and worth checking out. (BOONE)
(Third Man Records)

CHERYM - Hey Tori EP

This came across my radar when I was looking around online to check out some music and bands I might not be aware of and saw this so I decided to stream it. The debut EP from Cherym is power pop laced with a blend of sweet gooey hooks and an infusion of punk rock energy. Driving overdriven power chord guitars and a breezily fast rhythm section builds the sonic beds for these personal songs of life, love, heartbreak full of airy harmonies that glide over the music. Tight and to the point, their songs manage to mine the gray area between punk, alternative, and pop to make something that feels familiar yet has you wondering a little what will happen next. I listened to this on a whim and found it very entertaining. This is on vinyl (all songs on both sides) but supplies are limited (see ordering information below and pay attention if you’re interested in buying it this way. Never heard of Cherym before and now I wonder what lies ahead for this band. (BOONE)
(Outside of Ireland: Alcopop Records. ilovealcopop.co.uk In Ireland: alcopop.bandcamp.com)

GULLY BOYS - Favorite Son cassette EP

I was online looking around to see what new music was out there when this caught my attention so I decided to give them a listen. On their Gully Boys create a collection of moody personal indie rock where catchy guitar parts and tight beats meet a sense of modern atmospheric sheen to create a sound that's edgy yet can appeal to those with leanings towards what's often played on modern rock radio. These five songs draw upon dynamics in their tales of interpersonal relations, emerging with a tape that draws the listener in and lulls them in before rocking things to the ground. The cassette version is sold out so if what I described piqued your attention then you may want to download this and make up your own mind. Never heard of Gully Boys before this and I'm curious to what their earlier work sounds like. (BOONE)
(Cassette on: Get Better Records. P.O. Box 19267. Philadelphia, PA 19143. gettbetterrecords.com. Download available at: gullyboys.bandcamp.com)

LOWEST LIFE - Highest Death 3 download

I saw this band mentioned on a bill for a show I wasn’t able to go to but I was curious so when I found some of their music online I took the plunge and gave it a listen. The latest EP from Lowest Life is a blast of full on hardcore punk mixed with sludge. Rough crude wall of saturation guitar and tight beats meld to forge short (most of them come in at a little over a minute) medium fast tempo songs that explore the Ozarks, feelings of anger, and being dragged down. It’s a bit rough production-wise but that adds to the rough and raw feel of the music as it burst through the speakers. At under ten minutes Lowest Life’s latest busts through, makes its case and gets out before causing too much sonic trouble. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to see what this band is like live somewhere down the raggedy road. (BOONE)
(lowestlife.bandcamp.com)


NEGATIVLAND - No Brain EP

This came as a surprise when I found out this EP was coming out and I knew I’d had to check it out so I preordered it. On this seven-inch EP Negativland creates an electronic multimedia sonic bed as their backdrop for their commentary on issues such as how the loudest voice, how technology affects your sense of privacy and perception and similar issues. Built upon somewhat minimalist sonic beds, the tracks here continue the group’s tendency to create multilayered commentaries on our lives. In true Negativland fashion it’s a sometimes surreal journey where things may not always be what they seem and questions get raised more often than not. No Brain is an aural journey that’s part audio collage, part commentary on how social media and technology has affected who gets the most attention in a way that’s unsettling at times, thought provoking at others – but worth a listen for those looking for something off the beaten path and curious about how these topics can be handled in art. Get this. (BOONE)
(Seeland Records)

SPITBOY - Body Of Work: (1990-1995” double LP
Once in a while something comes seemingly out of nowhere to surprise you and makes you wonder what’s ahead – like this for example. This double album features the complete recorded work of legendary feminist punk band Spitboy over their five year career. Drawing from an anarcho punk/hardcore sound the band unleashed a series of songs commenting on misogyny, oppression, society and the various ways these things interact (sexism, racism, et al) amidst the wall of cranked amp power chord guitar and a rhythm section that often went for the throat as they decried the problems they saw around them. While the band only lasted a short while hearing them again remainds me why they were so vital at the time – as well as why their music and lyrics remain relevant in today’s environment. This is one of those albums that everyone who claims to be into punk and hardcore needs to listen to, in my opinion anyway. 100% of the proceeds goes to the National Women’s Law Center, making it another reason this is worthy of picking up. (BOONE)
(Don Giovanni Records. P.O. Box 628. Kingston, NJ 08528. Online at: dongiovannirecords.com)


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