“A wall is a wall / A wall is just a wall” is the idiom that Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys use to charge the nerves of their upcoming record Cost of Living. Fueled by political fury, they demolish the soundscape barriers that any may have assumed to be placed on them after signing to Sub Pop, bringing as much energy as they can physically handle. Their sound is ironically more expansive under such a recognized label, as if the operators gave them the tools and said simply, “Create fire.” And that’s just what they do on this single, burning through all societal expectations with the hopes that it makes you uncomfortable, makes you realize the times that we’re in. With that being said, you don’t have to be radical-minded or even leftist to enjoy what they’ve brought to the table. They’re not singling you out and declaring that you are responsible for the current state of affairs, instead focusing on an issue and tearing it apart to expose the ridiculousness inside, something that takes great care to pull off and not what you might expect from a punk rock group. Downtown Boys are keeping their sound visceral, fearless, and direct when needed, and we thank them for that.
“A Wall” opens with shoegaze chords that carry across the hypnotic rhythm of the bass, all being drenched in sweat from the energetic drumming. The strange burst of horns offer a brightness to the track that keeps it moving at an easy pace just before you’re met with a series of fuck it’s that are laid in the verse, almost like a chant being rung across 5th Ave in the most aggressive way possible. It’s their boldness that makes them important to listen to, besides being undeniably catchy through the genre-mashing that takes place. They stay true to the essence of punk with a loud and destructive force that cradles the almost post-punk melody, threatening to drop it on its head the whole while.
Cost of Living is due out on 08/11 from Sub Pop Records and is available for pre-order here.
As much as I enjoy a gritty and closeted produced release, something inside of me ignites when I come across a band that is able to harness those elements while allowing the sound to be distinct and sprawling. Hailing from the U.K., Mastiff is a five-piece sludge metal outfit that uses a steady hand to thread various fabrics of hardcore and doom into their music. The most impressive aspect is the intimacy that’s present while keeping the atmosphere coated in filth and distortion, achieved by their upcoming album Bork being recorded live and still sounding tight and cohesive. The first single that they have released, “Nil By Mouth”, is a pounding track that is drenched in sweat and frustration in the greatest way possible. Every riff and crash of the cymbals is like an onslaught of calculated violence while vocalist Jim Hodge screams down at you without the slightest hint of pity. This is unrelenting and unforgiving.
While “Nil By Mouth” is a furious single it is not without an immense layer of groove thrown on top. The main riff that carries through is infectious while the bass causes everything in the background to shake off its hinges. There’s also an eclectic mixture of vocal stylings here, keeping a range of high-pitched shrieks to the low crawling gutturals normally found in brutal death metal acts, which to me perform like a separate bass track that accompanies the main guitar and thickens the overall sound. And then before you realize it the song simply ends, bringing the four-and-a-half minute track to a screeching halt that will make you play it back to see what you might have missed.
Bork is due out on 08/31 and is available for pre-order here.
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