Punk Album Reviews: HANNAHBAND + Bare Grillz + Schotel van de Dag + Mock Duck + X Is Y

Anyone who’s visited this site knows that punk rock holds a very dear, very special place in my heart. I’m pretty sure I listen to Black Flag at least once a day. It’s a really great way to wind down, honestly! Anyway, although the following bands aren’t going to be the next Black Flag, at least they’re all better than Green Day, post-Dookie era.

 

HANNAHBAND-Honey, I’m A Bad Singer

Honestly, I feel really bad that I haven’t put this review up earlier. This album is one of the best punk rock items to be bred into the consciousness of Sydney existence since I found out that Jonathan Boulet had a pretty great decent hardcore band (they’re called Snakeface, if you gave a shit). Anyway, this is the more brutal, slimy project that was formed in the remnants of the amazing Sweet Teeth. Although there’s nothing as intensely memorable as ‘I LIKE GIRLS, GIRLS WITH DADDY ISSUES’ on the debut HANNAHBAND record, the album does provide a more serious, focused project that works on an infinitely more measured and constantly enjoyable level than Sweet Teeth releases. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sweet Teeth, but its easier to tell that Nathan and Marnie are putting a lot more concentration and effort into this release, and it pays off in spades.

Whether or not that’s an actual phrase or not, ‘Honey, I’m A Bad Singer’ never loses its self-deprecating edge or snarling tone for even a second. With the explosive songs and growling hurt, it rings like Australian/Chinese punks Pairs if they were recorded by Steve Albini. The hoarse screams recall a time when emo wasn’t a frowned upon genre, and if Dischord was in its glory days, there is no doubt in my mind that HANNAHBAND would be at the top of the roster. Its too hard to pick a single standout song, but gun to my head, the slow-burning ‘Seven Day Quarrel Cycle’, which grinds like the best Fucked Up song never written, would be the frontrunner. ‘Long Distance Running’, which barrels forward like a strung-out Squirrel Bait crawling out of a toilet bowl and beginning a hunt of vengeance on the wankers that killed punk rock, is also an absolute shiner on an album of shiners. Overall, a fucking brilliant work of art, from start to fucking finish. I fucking ADORE this album.

 

Bare Grillz-Friends

Thank the Dethklok gods that Bare Grillz are back in action. I always thought that they had broken up, until I was pleasantly surprised by their furious display of screaming punk fury at Sound Summit. Now, after that hell of a performance, Bare Grillz rejected the status quo again by going and releasing this stellar record entitled ‘Friends’. More nihilistic than a Nietzsche convention, and more engaging than a personal performance from Nation of Ulysses. Why does Bare Grillz sound so good? Well, they sound like no one else, I actually find it hard to give a comparison. I’d liked to say that they’re a little Fugazi, but there’s not enough strong-willed anger and determination to change society. Same goes with a comparison to At the Drive-In. Instead, Bare Grillz are so purely Newcastle, with a sound that is so completely their own, and it could only have risen from being in such an isolated, close-knit environment. Whatever makes Bare Grillz tick, it allows them to spin between a million different ideas and musical styles, one minute floating on a tropical cloud, the next bashing our brains into oblivion, and a second later there’s only far away, lost vocals, math rock drums and a trembling bass. The amount of things Bare Grillz can balance on their plate, especially considering their status as a mild punk three-piece, they’re more like a Hydra of assorted punk tunes than any sort of traditional band. And that is a very, very good thing. Thank fuck Bare Grillz are back.

FUN FACT: Bare Grillz once did a split EP with Sweet Teeth, the aforementioned band that disbanded and led to the creation of HANNAHBAND. Shooting star, the more you know.

 

Schotel van de Dag-Vinger in de Pap

The press release for the Dutch band Schotel van de Dag was described as being Fugazi on crack, however listening to them, I was pleasantly surprised, or more aptly, fucking stoked, to hear an amalgamation of a bunch of my favourite hard punk anarchist punk bands. If Refused got together with the guys from Anti-Flag, and they were then locked in a room that played Pantera non-stop, then you’d have Schotel van de Dag. This band puts the brutal back in punk music, and they aren’t doing it half-heartedly. They throw themselves into every song like its a life or death situation, creating a maelstrom of sound that needs to be listened to. The thick, glistening slobs of bass that linger over the purely mental drums-its just a testament to oblivion via punk music.

Although the whole album is hard to find fault with, at least in my humble opinion, the opener of ‘Seventy Songs’ (possibly an allusion to Fugazi’s mind-shattering debut?) is the standout on the album. This is a song that should make Red Fang and Kvelertak quake in their boots, because there’s obviously another hard-working, hard-hitting punk/stoner/metal hybrid band that are all to ready to light the dynamite that will explode your expectations all over your living room. Reckless and endangered, Schotel van de Dag are the rare kind of band that makes you want to do something with your life, or at the very least, trade your testicles for tickets to their next show.

 

Mock Duck-Inner Infinities EP

And, now we’re over to Tokyo, Japan. I’ve said it before, the only really great bands I know from Japan are Guitar Wolf, The 5678’s and Boris, although I adore all these bands thoroughly. However, Mock Duck easily joins those ranks. If you’re any sort of fan of Kyuss, then you’d do fucking well to get on the free download offered of the ‘Inner Infitinies’ EP. This thing manages to be punk through the sheer fury of itself, but there’s also that slimy fuzz that coats it and brings it into stoner territory as well.

All six tracks (especially the weirdly-titled but intensely orgasmic ‘For A Few Minutes The World Smelled Like Pears’) on here kick tremendous amounts of ass. I mean that sincerely, in the way that Dozer kicks so much ass. The sludge is sped up like a 33 record was stuck onto 78. It blisters the mind and moults everything in its path. Basically, what I’m trying to say here, is that Mock Duck will blow your mind into a million fucking chunks in the space eighteen minutes. If you like your punk dripping wet in blazing gore and riff with solos, Mock Duck is brilliance incarnate.

 

X Is Y-Summer and Winter Warfare (Re-Issue)

And this one is from Shanghai. Fuck this article has been all over the fucking globe. Although not strictly punk, X Is Y adopt a math-rock attitude on their music, and they do a pretty badass job of it. If I’ve learnt anything from people older and wiser than me, its that punk rock doesn’t have to be brutal to be amazing. I actually had to lose the shit about don’t plagiarise from people and any semblance of social normalcy to make way for that brain nugget.

Anyway, X Is Y is like Tool, if all the bullshit got stripped away. You know, all that shit that Maynard James Keenan always blathers on about, like hookers with penises and prison sex. Without all that in the way, and the heaviness shaved back a bit, what you get is a complex and interesting view into music. I feel like I’m sitting in a classroom, and being taught how to read sheet music, only instead of being bored the fuck to death, the class is being taught by Steve Albini.

In summary, ‘Summer and Winter Warfare’ doesn’t have any spectacular moments, but that’s okay, because neither does any This Town Needs Guns or Polvo albums. Instead, you’ve simply got to let X Is Y spin its music all over your mind, like some sort of Shellac-meets-Underground Lovers spider creating a web. Overall, it’s hard to be disappointed in an album that is shifting so much, but always maintaining a direction of awesomeness.

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