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Issue 185 Spring 2023 Recording Reviews

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For over 30 years 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 an actual 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 CD-Rs 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

THE DARTS - Snake Oil LP
I was curious about this album since I heard it was coming out so I pre-ordered it and put it on the first chance I had. On their new album The Darts (a/k/a: The Darts U.S.) throws down some rough and ready garage rock meets punk fueled by a blend of raw yet ready to go twangy to fuzzy guitar licks and a stay on course rhythm section and tasty Farfisa organ that crawls up and grabs the listener. Exploring everything from love songs to breaking up with someone to an ode to a spy girl the songs ride the hooks for all they're worth amongst the organ and guitar interplay, kicking out the jams tenfold in the process. The Darts (U.S.) once again show that vintage flavored garage rock can be a diving board to place your own sonic spin on. (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. USA. alternativetentacles.com)

DARTZ - The Band From Wellington, New Zealand LP
I first learned of this band when looking around online so I gave their album a listen. Dartz (not to be confused with The Darts (U.S.)) offer up some sarcastic punk full of snotty guitar parts, catchy melodies, and a ton of attitude where tongues are often in cheek but there's more than one expects. Often taking on partying themes such as drinking, bad drug experiences, and getting high at the beach they also find themselves tackling living conditions ("paying rent on the set of Trainspotting 3"), colonialism and who supposedly "discovered" Aoteraroa (a/k/a: New Zealand), and go after a controversial NZ based evangelist as well. Quick, hook laden and hard driving music, Dartz kicks out the jams and makes a killer debut album. There are only 4 copies left of the vinyl version (if that as of this posting) but CDs and downloads are still available. (BOONE)
(Flying Nun Records. flyingnunrecords.co.nz. flyingnun.bandcamp.com)

FAKE NAMES - Expendables LP
I'd heard of this band but had never gotten a chance to check them out until recently so I decided to stream their latest album and see what they're about. Fake Names deals out tight melodic medium tempo punk flavored underground rock with a simmering intensity that burns throughout. Crunchy yet warm guitars and in the pocket rhythms drive these songs about frustration, feeling like you're expendable, dealing with personal fallout, being caught in between scenarios and the like. What emerges is a band walking the punk meets medium tempo hard driving rock gray area with a relaxed attitude that can still cut like a knife when it has to. Fake Names are a band that, while fairly new, has a long legacy behind the individual members and they live up to that and then some on Expendables. Check this record out. (BOONE)
(Epitaph Records)

GNAT - Coquette Scum download EP
I was hoping to get to this earlier but the wall I hit last winter meant we couldn't get an issue out so it got pushed back until now. The latest EP from Gnat finds them moving from hyper pop to a more punk rock direction. Short sharp songs full of raw rhythm guitar and rhythms that go from vintage punk straight for the gut and occasional hardcore rampaging is on the sonic menu. Lyrically tackling issues such as abuse, body image, social expectations, and OCD this EP delivers punk rock as a medium for personal commentary rather than some of the more apathetic attitudes emerging in some of today's punk. It's a brief ride but the songs explode out the speakers with a rawness and power that needs to be heard. I'm not sure what Gnat has been up to since this was released but I’m curious about what they’ll do next. (BOONE)
(gnat666.bandcamp.com)

HAPLOID - Cope CD
I picked this up when I last saw them live a few months back but circumstances that screwed up the publication routine meant it got pushed back until now. The latest full-length from Haploid takes the band's fusion of synth atmospherics, indie rock, and noise into some different directions. The songs cover a range of both personal topics over a bed of layered synths, a powerful rhythm section, and sometimes intricate guitar parts that finds the band heading towards art/progressive rock territory within their indie/art rock framework. The sonic left turns seem a little surprising but come off as natural, fitting the music comfortably in the process. It's a sonic adventure that may alienate some people but the band's willingness to avoid being lumped in with typical indie bands again shows why Haploid will remain one of the more interesting bands to come out of Des Moines these days. Also available on cassette. (BOONE)
(5cmrecordings.bandcamp.com)

ALLEGRA HERNANDEZ - Gift Exchange CD
I picked this up back at the review release show in mid to late November and had it in the pipeline for the issue that was going to come out around February. Since burnout and exhaustion meant an issue didn't get done then it got pushed to now. The debut full-length from Allegra Hernandez and their band dashes out the gate with catchy melodic alt rock that draws heavily from the grunge era. These songs thrive on crunchy wall of distortion rhythm guitar and a tight rhythm section as their foundation though they sometimes venture into acoustic guitars or mellower and slower tempos. Whether singing about using the right pronouns or love songs or a story of witnessing a dumpster fire and watching the fire trucks pass by it several times these songs are built on well built hooks and melodies, letting them breathe as the album continues. Admittedly the 90s alt rock feel is worn on their sleeves here but Allegra Hernandez and company actually made an alt rock album that leans towards some of the more mainstream side of alt but actually rocks along the way. (BOONE)
(allegrahernandez.com)

NO MEANS NO - Dad/Revenge 7" re-issue
One of the big surprises of the holiday season last year was learning this mid 80s single from No Means No would be re0ssiued for the first time in decades. "Dad" is a blast of hardcore punk whose lyrics detail a harrowing tale of family violence over a sonic bed of loud fast rules power chord guitar and in your face drumming. The flip side ("Revenge") is more in the line of the progressive leaning blend of hardcore punk, jazz, and hints of prog rock that would become the band's sonic trademark. While the two songs tackle seemingly opposite sides of the punk spectrum, they meld together easier than expected. Long time readers know how we feel about No Means No over the years and this single reminds us how incendiary the band's sound remains just as it did when we first learned of them in the mid to late 1980s. I think the purple vinyl version may be sold out but this single is still worth getting. Wish I could've gotten to this sooner but life got in the way. (BOONE)
(Alternative Tentacles Records. P.O. Box 419092. San Francisco, CA 94141-9092. USA. alternativetentacles.com)

ROTARY CLUB - American Tower/ Planet 67
I came across this online while putting this issue together and I was curious so I gave it a listen. Rotary Club's music tears through the clouds with a melodic hybrid of garage punk with a slight hint of hardcore. "American Tower" is a joyous rave-up blending bittersweet guitar hooks and catchy rhythms with occasional blasts of hardcore power chord crunch. "Planet 67" is an energetic blasts of punk where a driving go for it chorus goes against a semi Bo Diddley style shuffle on overdrive. These songs about radio tower transmissions/radiation and a sci-fi tale of aliens from an erased planet come out of left field but remain firmly rooted in punk as it is now. Hadn't heard of this band before I'm definitely curious to see what Rotary Club might come up to down the road. Unfortunately the seven-inch is sold out but the download is still available. Check this out if reading this review made you even a bit curious. (BOONE)
(Iron Lung Records. ironlungrecords.bandcamp.com)

THE STONETHROWERS - The StoneThrownomicon download album
This had been out for a while but a combination of being busy at work and wanting to find out if you can at least buy a download of it meant it got pushed back to now. The third album from The Stonethrowers finds them in power trio mode, temporarily jettisoning the keyboards (though there might be some guitar synth at one point) to create a sonic blend of power pop and hard rock with some progressive rock elements at moments. Songs can range from feeling someone's out of your league to cries against workplace drone mentalities, and environmental destruction to an epic tale at the gates of Valhalla along the way. All of this to songs that can go from crunchy power pop hooks to prog rock riffs and back again. The Stonethrowers won't be everyone's can of real brew but their current lineup has shown them going down a path that's more polarizing but adds something unexpected. What happens with this band is anyone's guess but they're going to do things their way regardless. (BOONE)
(thestonethrowers.bandcamp.com)

SUPERCHUNK - Everything Hurts/ Making a Break
The early part of 2023 had been busy so imagine my surprise when I found out about this new single from Superchunk featuring two tracks that didn't fit the theme of their Wild Loneliness album form last year. "Everything Hurts" is a medium tempo introspective blend of folk and indie rock blending acoustic and electric guitars that examines the toll of personal pain and a the need to power through it sometimes. "Making A Break" is more upbeat bust still midtempo with a breeziness that's fleshed out with a synth fill on occasion and a feeling that change can happen for the better. Both have a more simmering vibe than some of the band's work (in part probably due to being recorded at home during the pandemic) but also have something that draws the listener in and makes them interested. Wish I had known about this single before but it's good to hear it at a time like this. (BOONE)
(Merge Records)

All content this page 2023, Boone Stigall/The Trouble With Normal