Record Reviews

BARE MINUMUM, THE: Sink to the Top: CD

Fairly straightforward punk/hardcore with quite a bit of metal sensibilities pumped into the delivery. Musically proficient, and it doesn’t really offend the senses or anything, but ultimately nothing here manages to stick to the ribs. –Jimmy Alvarado (The Bare Minimum, thebareminimum.ca)

BASK: American Hollow: LP

No other band can weave Americana with psychedelia and stoner rock as cohesively as BASK. Hailing from the mountains of Asheville, N.C., the four-piece outfit has concocted a sound truly all its own. Each track is a progressive buildup that opens with simple acoustic chords, gradually adds heavier layers, and culminates in a monstrous, screaming finale. Not unlike the mountains themselves, BASK’s songs deliver rewarding summits that are well worth the long ascensions. The band was invited to open for stoner rock giants High On Fire across Europe last summer and came back from tour still humble enough to play the same small venues in which they accrued their first fans. Just listening to this record makes you feel like you’ve gotten some stuff off your chest, and the live show never fails to be a good time. ¬¬¬–Michelle Kirk (Self-Aware, selfawarerecords@gmail.com, selfawarerecords.com)

BEAR TRADE: Silent Unspeakable: LP

This, the second long player from Bear Trade, finds me in a position of straining every sinew of my being to remain objective. It’s not easy though, as I love this band. I love its sound, its songs, and its live experience. So, with that out of the way, here goes. This album is an out and out belter, and I promise that’s with my objective hat firmly on my head! The guitars resonate with a beautifully warm quality whilst the bass and drums add to that sense of being enveloped by a loved one. Silent Unspeakable is chock full of quality tunes featuring wry, reflective, and witty lyrics whilst sounding like a new old friend. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the excellent debut album Blood & Sand. Oof! –Rich Cocksedge (Everything Sucks, everythingsuckstc.com / Dead Broke, deadbrokerec@gmail.com, deadbrokerecords.com)

BELLICOSE MINDS, THE: The Creature: 12” LP

“Bellicose” means aggressive or hostile—and this three-piece delivers unromantic, expansive, political post-punk. Lyric themes cover drug addiction, oligarchy, and staring into the abyss, delivered with enough reverb to sound like it was recorded in a cavernous underground bunker. B-side track “A Likely Outcome” is about nuclear annihilation; you do the math. Looking forward to more pre-apocalyptic, anarcho-gothic cultural commentary for the next four years, especially if it sounds this good. –Cheyenne Neckmonster (Black Water)

BETTY MACHETE & THE ANGRY COUGARS: “Meetings” b/w “Pissed Again”: 7”

A hair too slick for me production-wise, but I have a soft spot for Columbus, OH and the songs on this 7” are fast ragers (total running time: maybe two minutes) and, frankly, I hate meetings, too. I appreciate full-time job angst in music. A decent Aggravators cover on the B side, as well. The handwritten note accompanying the record was written on the back of a copied, autographed photo of Christina Lindberg. I like this band. –Matt Werts (Dull-Fi, angrycougars.bandcamp.com)

BITTER GROUNDS: Hollowlands: CD

This debut album from Amsterdam’s Bitter Grounds is a catchy, highly produced release. They play streetpunk reminiscent of what was popular during the 1990s explosion of that subgenre. Its members have been in bands for over twenty years, so there’s an undeniable maturity to the lyrics. The singer has a unique expressiveness, which, coupled with his annunciation, makes for an excellent vocal track. This CD is potentially commercial, without lacking any integrity whatsoever. It’s definitely an album worth seeking out. Sometimes not reinventing the wheel strengthens the wheel, and Bitter Grounds gets that not so subtle point. –Art Ettinger (Nextpunk, nextpunk.com)

BIZNAGA: Sentido del Espectáculo: CD

I’m gonna call this ‘78 punk. It’s more muscular than breakneck, with confident melodies, punchy dynamics, and some encroaching post-punk darkness. Think Give ‘em Enough Rope instead of the self-titled Clash album. Biznaga really sells this sound with well-written songs, and an energy that makes the whole deal feel fresh. They are from Madrid, Spain, and their lyrics are in Spanish. Stick “Mediocridad y Confort” on a playlist between The Adverts and Something Fierce. –Chris Terry (slovenly.com)

BIZNAGA: Sentido del Espectáculo: LP

Punk rock outta Madrid that kicks like a mule and leaves an aftertaste like dulce de leche. They’re swinging for the fences throughout, with every song an anthem and peppered with simple, stunner guitar leads that bore into the brain and won’t let go. The result: a clear contender for this summer’s soundtrack. –Jimmy Alvarado (Slovenly, slovenly.com)

BLEEDING GUMS: II: 7” EP

Several short blasts of (mostly) mid-tempo punk rawkin’ that are aggressive, not too sloppy yet not too tight, and in no way polished. Longest tune is an epic minute-twenty-eight. Glorious. –Jimmy Alvarado (Neck Chop, facebook.com/NeckChopRecords)

BLOWINS: Self-titled: LP

Blowins from Poland take a page from the book of the Estranged, melding the darkest of melodies with punk-as-all-fuck viciousness and some great, snarling Jack Grisham-esque vocals. The lyrics are in their native Polish but have been graciously translated to English for us to understand just how fucking pissed they are. Rager=keeper. –Juan Espinosa (Pasazer)