Post-Punk

REVIEW: Lingua Nada - Snuff

Raquel Dalarossa

Lingua Nada are a hard band to pin down. They’ve been described as everything and anything, from progressive pop to math rock, and their own Bandcamp page’s tags run the gamut from shoegaze to emo. It has to be impossible for a band to truly embody all these genres, right?

That’s one assumption that quickly goes out the window after a listen to the band’s full-length debut, Snuff. Indeed, despite the inclusion of just ten tracks, the material here covers a hell of a lot of ground. It’s an astonishingly well-integrated mishmash of sound, practically bursting at the seams with a live wire energy that drives the band’s ecstatic experimentation.

Though it’s formally considered their debut, it’s easy to tell that Snuff is no amateur release. For the four-piece—led by Adam Lenox Jr. on vocals and guitar (as well as on recording and production duties), with Michael Geyer on second guitar, Arvid Sobek on bass, and Valentin Tornow on percussion and trumpet—this has been a long time coming. Based in Leipzig, Germany, Lingua Nada has gained some traction in the European indie world, having spent the past two years touring rather relentlessly to support a couple of EP releases. Even as far back as 2014 the band were already recording together under the name “Goodbye Ally Airships,” though their only LP with that moniker exhibits more straight up emo and post-hardcore tendencies. It’s clear they’ve done a fair amount of maturing their sound since then.

Snuff deftly incorporates the band’s obvious love for hard-driving punk and noise-rock with lighter moments of shoegaze and pop-rock. Opening track “Svrf Party” pretty much gives you a taste of all of these pieces upfront, nearly causing auditory whiplash right out of the gate. With a penchant for near-operatic drama and frenzied, guitar-driven tempos recalling thrash metal, it can take a lot of energy just to listen to this stuff, but it’s always rewarding.

“A Netflix Original,” for example, starts off with a barrage on all your senses, but quickly evolves into math rock-leaning arpeggios, with string instruments and synths adorning a buildup to a joyous post-punk jam. Other highlights include “Cyanide Soda,” an almost danceable track with some of the catchiest riffs on the album, as well as “Shapeshifted,” at once moody, brooding, and soaring.

Lingua Nada's Snuff is a wild ride without a doubt, but it's one you won't regret taking. Just be sure to buckle up. 

REVIEW: Exploded View - Summer Came Early

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Phillipe Roberts

“And then the rain came, and then the birds fell, and then the deserts dried…”

With the icy resolve of an oracle, British/German chanteuse Anika Henderson doesn’t so much sing as prophesize. Her voice, an alluring grayscale mystery, tunnels into the present from a distant past, a blend of Nico’s calculated grit and the trance-speak wisdom of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan—a perfect companion to the ambitious art-rock noir backing provided by her bandmates in Exploded View.

Their first record, a compilation of direct-to-tape jams, was pure flashbulb memory. Intended to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry of those early encounters with her San Rafael, Mexico collaborators, the naked electricity present in those sessions captivated on its own terms, but traded an overarching narrative thrust for eye-of-the-storm ferocity. Now, on their second offering, Summer Came Early, Exploded View sharpen that jagged formula to a fine point, making the leap from imitative gestures to something fresh and tantalizingly futuristic.

Save for the glittering grooves of single “Orlando,” Exploded View’s strength lies in its apocalyptic charm; slathered in a healthy dose of atmospheric noise, the specter of death, decay, and devolution seemed to lurk at every turn, giving the impression that these sounds, this world, might come to an end at any moment—a nod to the off-the-cuff, improvisational nature of the sessions that produced the record. With the lineup now solidified into a cohesive working unit, Exploded View sounds entrenched, dug-in for the long haul. If their self-titled LP was a mad rush towards doomsday, Summer Came Early is a post-apocalyptic communiqué from the other side of the mushroom cloud.

Lyrically, Anika obsesses over a half-remembered past, painting a vision of a naive society on the brink of destruction on the standout title track. “We watched the trees blossom / We didn’t question a thing,” she sings, her parched voice choking on the dusty rattle of a tambourine, nodding towards a world ravaged by climate change with the repetition of the lines “The summer came early that year / But we sat on our porches and didn’t question anything.” It’s not quite protest rock, but the scorching emptiness conjured up by the band, embodying humanity’s rattle with lumbering bass and dry drums, drives the point home with stark efficiency.

From here, Exploded View slides into “Forever Free,” a graceful cinematic interlude that wraps sputtering percussive samples in a cocoon of heavenly synthesizers. It’s a blissful dream that’s cut short by the nightmarish fever stomp of “Mirror of the Madman,” the closest living relative to their first record. The dub echoes on Anika’s voice stack over broken tom-tom fills; she’s dissolving faster than she can speak, chasing after a ghostly presence that slips through her fingers: “I saw the exit door / And there she was.” The band rises and falls with her frustrations, building to a crashing high tide before powering down like a broken machine at the close.

The raga-rock Velvetisms of “You Got a Problem Son” close out the record, warping a fuzzy squawk of a guitar solo to its limits as Anika slips into the distance for a final time, locked in a hypnotic, chanting fugue state, reveling in retrograde sonics while stretching towards a decaying future. Prophets of a dying world, Exploded View prove they aren’t content with being a space-age oddity.

REVIEW: Omni - Multi-task

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Phillipe Roberts

Multi-task is an odd title for this sophomore release from Omni. Rather than attempting to juggle any new sonic weight, the Atlanta trio trim down their already lean and lively sound into something more streamlined and economical. Only a year out from Deluxe, their debut, Omni move up a weight class, taking their scrappy yet explosive production to a bigger soundstage. With more room to breathe, and the band churning out frighteningly efficient melodies with clockwork ease, the blows hit noticeably harder but don’t quite land the knockout.

Despite a recent lineup switch that brought Warehouse’s Doug Bleichner on board to translate their sophisticated post-punk swing to a live environment, core duo Philip Frobos and Frankie Broyles play every instrument on Multi-task. Since the days of Deluxe, their sixth-sense connection has only sharpened, and it shows on the enhanced clarity in the trademark siamese riffing that left us spellbound last time around. These songs are tightly wound, nimbly darting between pitch-perfect nuggets of nervous fretwork with tremendous focus. The interplay between drums, bass, and guitar feels conversational, a series of chemical reactions where every stab of rhythm from one sets off unexpected, exciting, and tastefully dissonant transformations in the others. Cymbals splash into fluorescent needles of guitar and back again on “Southbound Station,” cool ripples of bass evaporate into steamy staccato funk chording as “Calling Direct” builds to a strutting climax. This is calculated chaos, and Omni do their homework.

Guitarist Frankie Broyles remains Omni’s immovable axis, guiding and providing structure to the dense tangle of their post-punk attack. And while he still turns in plenty of Television-inspired noodling and pays welcome homage to Pylon and the B52s’ tick-tock catchiness, he picks up a few new tricks to round out the bunch. “After Dinner” finds him indulging in a bit of Velvet Underground blues sputtering, slashing white hot chords into the finale with abandon. When the dust starts to settle on “Tuxedo Blues,” it’s his slick, Strokes-esque call-and-response that brings the curtain down. His contributions ride high in the mix, as they should: there’s a clear leader to the pack and his skills are flexed more than ever here.

Those who were dazzled by their retro-rock antics from Deluxe will feel vindicated in every second of Multi-task. The ferocious touring behind that album has done little to blunt Frobos and Broyles’ enthusiasm for their particular kind of eighth-note gymnastics; the focus here is on mastering and refining it into purer product. On this count they succeed in spades. “Choke” spreads the versatility of Deluxe tracks like “Wire” even further, marrying a tense, stop-start groove in the chorus to a verse that crackles with tight, punchy snare rolls and crashes it all into a soft cushion of gentle piano for the climax. And paired with the DEVO style herky-jerk yelp of “You can’t afford it / You know you’re worth it,” the four-note synth melody in the final chorus of “Equestrian” feels pinched from some mythical unreleased New Order tape. But ultimately, Multi-task is a record for the crate-digging faithful. Omni takes a red pen to their established sound, crafting a more scenic route from A to B without redrawing the map.

REVIEW: Fake Palms - Pure Mind

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Phillipe Roberts

Mining a vein similar to the one explored by fellow Canadian gloom-punk outfit Preoccupations, Fake Palms hit the motherlode on Pure Mind, an LP that forges their formidable instrumental chops into a searing collection of nocturnal anthems, putting anxiety under the knife for a makeshift dissection.

When we last checked in with the Palms on “Snowblind,” the scathing closer from the Heavy Paranoia EP, they were peeling apart the tension they’d maintained in that collection, building up a towering inferno of distortion and cascading drums. The otherworldly screech they left behind is the bedrock of Pure Mind opener “Fear,” an open wound hissing with anticipation before their signature swirl of thorny guitars shoots out in all directions. Guitarists Patrick Marshall and Michael Le Riche weave a disorienting tapestry of notes together, climbing over one another in a frantic tightrope race to the finish line. It helps that the muscular rhythm section, led by returning drummer Simone TB and assisted by the sinister bounce of newcomer bassist Lane Halley, never bats an eyelash at the guitarists' melodic provocations. TB is particularly stunning across the record. Good drums provide a backbone, but her hyper-aware playing, from the rolling-thunder tom flourishes on the aforementioned “Fear” to the confident, tastefully melodic 7/4 strut of “Glass Walls,” forms the whole damn skeleton.

The atmosphere of Pure Mind is deliriously psychedelic and manic; it never settles into a groove long enough for the listener to rest easy. With so many elements lurching out at every corner, the overall effect is that of a kaleidoscope drained of its color, tunneling around your eye in grayscale horror. It’s here that Le Riche’s vocals enter the mix. Gliding through the turbulence and dripping with reverb, he provides the lone island of calm—a kindred spirit with a ghostly tune to guide you out of the rubble. On smoother patches of sonic terrain, where the claustrophobic clamor of the band dies down to a simmer, Le Riche takes on a confident croon. Swaying in front of a minimal bass and piano figure, his voice paints imagery like “Little silver bells / Falling out of me” with a haunting, ethereal coolness that calls Grizzly Bear or Broadcast to mind.

While these moments of respite are welcome, they never feel necessary. Whether in the form of the dance floor-ready shimmy of “Heaven Scent” or the soaring, arena-sized chorus of “Can’t Erase,” Fake Palms are happy to deliver round after round of moody post-punk that’s rich in texture and taste. Arriving later on the album, “Holograms” feels like a summation of all of their best elements: liquid guitars, arrhythmic no-wave breakdowns, and a jagged, powerhouse rhythm section to make sense of it all. In the video for the song, wireframed digital models tumble, writhe, and dissolve as they’re hurled through rapidly disintegrating landscapes. The pain howling within quite literally breaks and stretches their mesh bodies to the limits of recognizability. Similarly, on their quest for purer minds, Fake Palms have emerged almost unrecognizable from the noisy wreckage of yesteryear, brighter and better for it.

REVIEW: Beliefs - Habitat

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Kelly Kirwan

Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody have created a parallel dimension—one that resurrects the heyday of '90s rock bands that fell under the post-punk umbrella. It’s a world that isn’t starkly different from the one we live in, but has a flair from two decades past, as if they had bottled it up and set it free to float around in the present. The Toronto-based duo, known by their musical moniker Beliefs, certainly have their own style, but it—and the coming together of the two in the first place—was certainly sparked by an appreciation for acts like The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive. Now, on their freshly-minted album Habitat, a nod to that era stands with their single, "1994," and its accompanying video.

The song features Jesse Crowe’s steadfast, even-toned vocals, lulling you into a somewhat eerie trance. It’s by no means a flimsy voice, but it has a certain ethereal nature to it, like a sort of preternatural croon. Crowe is featured in the foreground throughout the song's music video, as Korody plays guitar a few feet farther away from the camera, a dark blue screen as their backdrop. The film flickers and cuts into tiny, pixelated streaks of distortion, reminiscent of a VHS tape getting its reels caught in the gears of the VCR. "1994" is a groovy, moody wash of melody cascading over surreal undertones, and the two of them bop to the beat as Crowe offers tiny dance movements with gloved hands. Even in these seemingly innocuous movements, they imbue it with an uncanny feeling of the in-between space they inhabit.

Later in the album, "Half Empty" opens with a strong, percussive pattering of drums and a clash of cymbals, reminiscent of jazz openings or a trip-hop beat. “Don’t know how to tell you / But I just can’t keep my mouth shut,” Crowe sings, her voice twisting into higher octaves, once again commanding the room with her every utterance. Guitar lines are warped as they unfold across the melody, intermingling with the darker palette of electronica with which Beliefs seem to enjoy experimenting. In fact, throughout Habitat's 11 tracks, there's a noticeable trend of pared down guitars making room for a new electronic leaning, possibly nodding to Korody’s other musical pursuits where modular synths increasingly abound.

On "All Things Considered," the duo make good use of contrast. Fuzz and feedback open up the track, paired with vocals that are slower, more languid, and backed by a foreboding setting. But then it picks up the pace in the chorus as the beat becomes danceable and light on its feet. Moving back into the verse feels like switching the TV channel to a snowy wall of white noise.

With moves like these, Habitat is an album that’s hard to ignore. It's a compilation that leaves the world a little tilted—and for that, it’s an addicting terrain to explore.