AdHoc Car Wash
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Destruction Unit are a band of trans-radical psychedelic desert dwellers, dug up from the sonic landfills of the cosmos, who have built a reputation for both mesmerizing and terrorizing crowds with their sheer power and intensity. Like running head first into a spinning wall of sound, they have been described by the press as "a band who felt more like a horror movie than a band … With guitars that were distorted beyond belief and acted more as auxiliary noise machines than instruments" (Transmission Entertainment)
and "Suicide-meets-Chrome-meets-Hawkwind-meets-Screamers-meets-the-killer-last-scene-reveals-in-all-the-alien-episodes-of-The Twilight Zone" (LA Weekly) or more simply put, "punk rock" (Austin Town Hall). However, Destruction Unit's brand of feedback worship and heavy psych does not sacrifice songwriting or catchiness; to the contrary, "it's their subtleties—distant bubbling murmurs of noise, faint guitar noodling—that make for the best hooks." (Chicago Reader) The current lineup features R. Rousseau (Reatards, The Wongs, Tokyo Electron) on Guitar and Vocals, brother Rusty Rousseau (Digital Leather) on bass, N. Nappa (Marshstepper, Nihilism) on Guitar, J. Aurelius (Pigeon Religion, Marshstepper, Avon Ladies) on Guitar and J. Keefer (Naive) on drums.
The band originated in the early 2000's and featured R. Rousseau with Jay Reatard (Reatards, Lost Sounds, angry angles) and Alicja Trout (Lost Sounds, Black Sunday). The three appeared together on the first release, 2000's My Disease 7", as well as the 2006 record Death To The New Flesh and Destruction Unit's debut LP, Self Destruction Of A Man. Destruction Unit were featured onThe Screamers tribute The Necessary Effect, Screamers Songs Interpreted.
When Aaron Maine looks back on his early work as Porches, he’s often struck by how sad and angry it can feel. “That music turned out a lot more pessimistic than I intended it to be,” he says. “But when I took a sad moment and turned it into a song, it was a cathartic, positive, and clean process. For me, those moments were victories. Feeling better,” he adds, “was making a song.”
As it turns out, Maine is very good at making songs. Over the last few years, the 27-year-old singer and songwriter has released a wealth of material on a number of influential labels, including singles on Terrible (2014’s Prism), Birdtapes (2013’s Townie Blunt Guts) and Seagreen (2014’s Leather), as well as a beautiful yet crushing full-length on Exploding in Sound (2013’s Slow Dance In The Cosmos). And in the process he’s become a magnetic live presence while playing out in New York, gaining the notice of discerning listeners and labels alike. February 2016 marks the much-anticipated release of Pool, his debut full-length for Domino and a major step forward for him—as an evolving singer/songwriter, and as a nascent producer. Written and recorded almost entirely in the Manhattan apartment he shares with his partner and frequent collaborator, Greta Kline a.k.a Frankie Cosmos, Pool is an elegantly drawn set of gorgeous, synth-driven pop songs that were influenced, in part, by settling in the city as an artist and a person. “I’m feeling like I’m in a more permanent situation than I’ve been in before,” he says. “There is something special about recording at home. It’s why it sounds the way it does. Being able to obsess over it on your own time and being in your own little cube knowing you’re surrounded by the city, being able to go so deep into it and to spend hours building it, loving it: all of that allowed me to reflect and focus on things a little closer.”
The album was recorded twice - the first time a crash-course in learning Logic and navigating his first synthesizers and drum machines, the second time starting from scratch with a better hold on the recording process - and eventually mixed by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grizzly Bear, Beach House, Tobias Jesso Jr.) in his Los Angeles studio. Sometime in 2014, Maine, a long-devoted Neil Young fan, began listening to house and electronic music and contemporary pop music more closely and frequently than he ever had before. What followed is a hypnotic and expansive re-articulation of the melancholy we’ve come to expect, from the pristine harmonies of “Hour” to the undulating R&B of “Underwater” to the Auto-tuned majesty of the title track. “I feel like the lyrics are like mood boards or collages of my experience in New York,” he says. “Rather than focusing on a particular incident or story like I have in the past, I wanted to be more abstract, in order to paint a very specific mood: ideas of lightness and darkness, water, air, movement, acceptance and security.” The result is a sophisticated and fully immersive listening experience, with Maine’s voice at its center. “I’m getting a little older and a little more in touch with my emotions,” he adds. “I just wanted to make this album more positive and to make sure that my message was coming across clearly this time. I never wanted my music to bum people out. I feel like I naturally gravitate towards the more melancholic experiences in life, but this time around I tried to dissect those moments and somehow extract what was so beautiful about them to me. With this record, I want people to feel something different, something subtler. I want people to feel dark, beautiful and strong when they hear this new record. I want people to put it on at a party and go wild, to put it on just walking or driving around. I want them to fall in love to this record.”
The United States’ myriad inequalities, hatreds and phobias are painfully evident in 2017, offering proof that the age-old dichotomy of “political bands” versus “apolitical bands” simply doesn’t exist. Either you are comfortable and unfazed by the current reigning power structures, or you choose (or have no choice but) to use your music as a vehicle for the dismantling of oppression and the creation of something better. No matter what your songs are about, you are choosing a side.
The position of Providence, RI’s Downtown Boys has been clear since they started storming through basements and DIY spaces with their radically-minded, indefatigable rock music: they are here to topple the white-cis-het hegemony and draft a new history. In the words of vocalist and lyricist Victoria Ruiz, they are “five unique and individual people who believe in the spectrum of people, experiences and emotions.” On their self-titled 2014 EP on Sister Polygon Records (run by their like-minded friends in Priests), they offered songs like “Slumlord Sal,” which strikes out against abusive landlords. Its accompanying video relays the idea that cops can be literally smacked out of their oppressive mindsets and into an exuberantly queer dance party. This is how Downtown Boys began, combining revolutionary ideals with boundless energy and contagious, inclusive fun, and their resolve has only strengthened as both their sound and audience have grown.
Cost of Living is their third full-length, following a self-released 2012 debut and 2015’s Full Communism on Don Giovanni Records. They recorded it with Guy Picciotto, one of indie-rock’s most mythological figures, in the producer’s chair. (Although best known for his ability to sing while dangling from a basketball hoop, he’s also produced pivotal albums by The Gossip and Blonde Redhead, among others.) “He very much enabled us to believe in what we were doing enough to get the record done, and get it done well,” says Joey La Neve DeFrancesco, Downtown Boys’ guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter. Picciotto fostered the band’s improvisational urges while also pulling the root of their music to the forefront: unflinching choruses, fearlessly confrontational vocals, and the sense that each song will incite the room into action, sending bodies into motion that were previously thought to have atrophied.
Downtown Boys are keenly aware of the increased visibility and credibility that comes with signing to a corporate-media conglomerate such as Sub Pop. They’re using this platform as a megaphone for their protest music, amplifying and centering Chicana, queer, and Latino voices in the far-too-whitewashed world of rock. Opener “A Wall” rides the feel-good power that drove so many tunes by The Clash and Wire as it calls out the idea that a wall could ever succeed in snuffing the humanity and spirit of those it’s designed to crush. “Promissory Note” is a bold self-introduction to the exclusive clubs that either ignore Downtown Boys’ existence, or possibly worse, feign appreciation: “So what’s the matter, you don’t like what you see? I can’t believe you’re even talking to me!” Ruiz shouts that she won’t light herself on fire to keep you warm, and, like underground rock pioneer Alice Bag’s vitriolic verse, it’s a claim you wouldn’t dare question. “Tonta,” one of the three songs written and sung primarily in Spanish, is an introspective and emotional portrait of anguish, and it calls to mind the mighty scrum of Huasipungo at an ABC No Rio matinee.
Compared to previous efforts, Downtown Boys have shifted from a once-meaty brass section to the subtler melodic accompaniment of keyboards and a saxophone, coloring their anthems with warm, bright tones while Ruiz spits out her frustrations, passions, and intents. Some might say it shows a sense of maturity, as Downtown Boys have undoubtedly smoothed down some of their earlier edges, but there is no compromise to their righteous assault and captivating presence. Like the socially conscious groups of years past, from Public Enemy to Rage Against the Machine, Downtown Boys harness powerful sloganeering, repetitive grooves, and earworm hooks to create one of the most necessary musical statements of the day. We should all do well to take notice!
Hailing from Ann Arbor, MI, Pity Sex specialize in foggy, lo-fi noise pop and fuzzed-out, blown-speaker walls of sound, all with their own midwestern emo subtleties. Situated somewhere at the convergence of Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth and Hum, the bands quietest moments are defeated reflections with plaintive instrumentals. It's loudest are desperate cries washed in searing, reverby overdrive.
Potty Mouth are Northampton, MA-based quartet Abby Weems (guitar, vocals), Ally Einbinder (bass), Phoebe Harris (lead guitar) and Victoria Mandanas (drums). Hailing from the home of Thurston Moore and Dinosaur Jr., and drawing from the fertile music community that is Western Massachusetts, Potty Mouth are all-parts smart-pop craftswomen, specializing in taut, infectious, C-86 influenced indie pop meets '77 punk perfection.
The band released their debut 12" vinyl EP, entitled Sun Damage, in July 2012 as a three-way spilt between Feeble Minds Records (Amherst, MA), Ride the Snake Records (Cambridge, MA) and Puzzle Pieces Records (Brooklyn, NY). Sun Damage garnered the attention of Pitchfork, who called the six-song EP an "an impressive, no-filler debut," as well as The Boston Globe, who named Potty Mouth one of the top five indie-rock bands to watch in 2013. In a review of a live performance by the band earlier this year, New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica called the EP "excellent."
The band has since recorded and mastered their forthcoming debut full-length album, releasing only the first single track, "Damage," to the public. Departing from the more angular shades of post-punk heard in their EP, "Damage" is marked by its significantly heavier production and melancholic hooks. Nonetheless, the track – much like the rest of the unreleased album – stays true to the confident, youthful punk aesthetic the band has cultivated for themselves.
A music video for their new single premiered earlier this year on VICE's Noisey and can be viewed here. All of Potty Mouth's previously released material can be found at their bandcamp page, with their latest news available on Tumblr.
In a city full of brilliant people with dead-end jobs and dampened by bitter-cold winters, playing music offers a cheap outlet. Protomartyr's taut, austere rock was incubated in a freezing Detroit warehouse littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and warmed, feebly, by space heaters. Short songs made for short practices, and the band learned quickly not to waste time. Despite the cold, Protomartyr emerged with a sound that is idiosyncratic but relatable, hooky but off-kilter.
There's a temptation to call it garage rock, but that doesn't quite fit. With respect to the local predecessors, this isn't the primitive stomp of The Dirtbombs or The Stooges' greasy roar. Punk works, kind of, even if it leaves the hardcore kids confused. Post-punk suggests something too retro; indie rock, something too precious. What Protomartyr is, is "stuck between the cracks." If that's the case, though, they aren't alone. Protomartyr's economical rock elicits comparisons to possible antecedents like Pere Ubu or The Fall as well as local contemporaries like Frustrations or Tyvek (whose frontman Kevin Boyer played bass in an early iteration of Protomartyr). Singer Joe Casey's dry declarative snarl serves as a reliable anchor, granting his bandmates — guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson — the opportunity to explore textures and reinforce the rhythm section. In other words, to "fuck around a little bit more."
Post-punk's biggest inspiration, it seems, was its eagerness to demolish punk's orthodoxy, to push against the arbitrary boundaries of genre — at least until it became one itself. For Protomartyr, inspiration usually arrives in the form of ideas or feelings, more than explicit musical references. By the time the band has shaped it to its needs, the source material is almost unrecognizable.
The mythos of Sheer Mag begins like so many other celebrated rock ‘n roll bands of yore: with two brothers. Following in the tradition of The Bee Gees, Oasis and The Allman Brothers, the brothers Seely conspired to create a rock ‘n roll band to end all rock bands. The sheer magnitude of the endeavor required the recruitment of a daring drummer, a fearless lyricist and a diva who could party good AND write the rent check. With the pantheon assembled, MAG quickly recorded and released their debut 7” to cosmic acclaim. The band now stands poised on the brink of world domination or complete destruction. Is it Punk? Is it Rock ‘n Roll? We’ll leave that to the music “critics.” But it is punk.
Secretly Canadian and Lead Riders have teamed up to present vital new music from exciting newcomers Whitney who are offering a first glimpse of what’s to come in 2016 with “No Woman.” In spite of its own lost soul whistfulness, there’s something immediately comforting and simple at the core of “No Woman,” the latest sonic missive from Chicago’s Whitney. It’s as soothing to your musical memory as the first two bars of The Chordette’s “Mr. Sandman.” It’s as unfettering and wind-through-your-hair of America’s “Pacific Coast Highway”—albeit here in an edible-induced cruise control. Drummer/vocalist Julien Ehrlich’s (ex-Unknown Mortal Orchestra) naked, soft-edged falsetto charmingly guides us through this breakup bender amid subdued strings and velveteen horn section bursts: “I left drinkin’ on the city train to spend some time on the road/Then one morning I woke up in LA, caught my breath on the coast/I’ve been going through a change/I might never be sure/I’m just walking in a haze/I’m not ready to turn.” With writing partnership of Ehrlich and Max Kakacek (guitar, ex-Smith Westerns), Whitney has given us an anthem for moseying on and forgiving yourself of your many fumbles. Julien explains, “‘No Woman’ started to take shape when I woke up on a friend’s floor one morning. He was taking a shower and the chorus popped into my head while I was grabbing my stuff to go home. Later on Max and I sat down and wrote the chords and song structure in our apartment. It’s about losing the love of your life and being thrown into an aimless journey because of it.” This is a feeling that pervades the collection of songs the band has written and recorded over the last year, and has prepped for later in 2016.
This is not a CMJ show.
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