This month we swing through Turnstile, Boss Keloid, Spielbergs, Frigs, Future Lives and Kamikaze Girls.
Hits from the ’pit with the Maryland moshers
Baltimore’s Turnstile are one of those bands that ooze energy and vitality. Influenced by old-school hardcore, but taking in slabs of nu-metal, melodic punk and some killer shred leads along the way, their second album Time And Space is as diverse as it is powerful.
“All of my guitar heroes are diverse within their style,” says lead player Brady Ebert, who cites Bad Brains’ Dr Know and Leeway’s AJ Novello as influences. “To me they have an originality in the sound of the riffs and they’re combining stuff that wouldn’t usually combine. What they don’t do is pigeonhole themselves.”
You can hear it in a song like Generator, which warps riffs from the Madball playbook into a phased, dare we say Korn-like, dreamy middle eight, back to palm-muted punk and then promptly napalms the entire scenario with a short, but sweet shred solo.
“If it’s too shreddy it does seem like guitar masturbation,” comments Brady. “So with Turnstile, it needs to sound like a melody as much as a solo.”
The record has been produced by Will Yip, who has previously had a hand in records by Nothing, Code Orange, Title Fight and basically everything interesting on punk’s broad spectrum in the last five years.
“I think it’s really easy for him to make someone else feel what he’s feeling,” comments Brady. “I’ve never really had anyone analyse what I was playing so hard and give me direction in the way that he did. It really made me focus.”
Whatever the secret, Time And Space is garnering a lot of attention and we can see why: it’s the most innovative, exciting hardcore record this year, possibly this decade.
“I’m real proud of it,” concludes Brady. “We were trying to make something that felt true to us individually and represented us a whole - I think we accomplished that.”
- For fans of: Madball, PUP
- Gear: Ibanez RG Series, Peavey 5150, Boss Chorus, Boss Delay
Wigan wanderers taking metal to new territory
On third album, Melted On The Inch, Wigan’s Boss Keloid have created something of a weird metal masterpiece. A mind-warping maelstrom of psychedelic Eastern scales, tonal dynamism and riffs that could support the walls of Valhalla.
“I tend to use a lot of strange accents, off-beat rhythms and timings,” says guitarist Paul Swarbrick of his playing. “I’m always wanting to bring the groove and weirdness, first and foremost.”
The band’s songwriting process encompasses years of refinement, but Paul says parts can be still be dropped “at the last minute” if a more exciting idea presents itself. All of which helps to explain why tracks like recent single Chronosiam have more turns than a Byrds convention. “There is no line,” says Paul. “If what we create interests our ears, then we shall play it.”
- For fans of: Conjurer, Kyuss
- Gear: 1983 Gibson Les Paul Custom, Matamp GT2 and GT150
Life and death (mostly the former) in punk rock
We are all going to die. Or so say Norwegian power punk trio Spielbergs. Their new EP Distant Sun dances a euphoric line between happy and sad that makes you feel alive, invigorated and breakable.
“I like to contrast melody and harmony against noise, energy and lyrics” says frontman/guitarist Mads Baklien. “We Are All Going To Die is a song where I really think we manage to do that. It’s happy and desperately unhappy at the same time.”
Spielbergs’ sound is a sort of widescreen Superchunk, wrestling glassy, reverberating tones into surprising forms (eg the enthralling, eight-minute Ghost Boy) via a pick ’n’ mix of sweet choruses. Life and death feels like appropriate fodder for writing of this scale. So what will Spielbergs’ epitaph read? Mads ponders the question: “We all did, eventually, die.”
- For fans of: Superchunk, Japandroids
- Gear: Fender Jazzmaster, Orange AD140, EHX Holy Grail, Roland Space Echo
- Who: Toronto guitarists Bria Salmena and Duncan Hay Jennings
- Sounds like: Stark, post-punk beats and grating, hollowed-out guitar lines that compete with Bria’s alternately airy and enraged vocal.
- Gear: Fender Tele, Musicman 210-65
- For fans of: Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey
- Hear: Solid State
- Who: Ross Smithwick of Lonely The Brave
- Sounds like: Bold indie rock - a darker, more immediate hit than the slow build epics of Smithwick’s main gig
- Gear: Manson MA Classic, Gretsch Duo Jet, Marshall JTM 45
- For fans of: Fatherson, Bellevue Days
- Hear: This Is Living
- Who: Leeds guitarist Lucinda Livingstone
- Sounds like: Chorus-laden, fuzz-washed punk catharsis with a righteous, burning anger at its core
- Gear: Gretsch Electromatic Jet with Bigsby, 1960’s Carlsbro head, Fatboy cab
- For fans of: Cassels, Muncie Girls
- Hear: Berlin