Pop punk definitely has a home in Austin, but it seems we’ve inherited a great bit of that from our friends up in the DFW/Denton area, especially if you give a listen to this brand new Drakulas track. The band is brandishing a blend of gritty pop punk akin to Texas vets Marked Men or Radioactivity…and this is not entirely a bad thing, as I’m clearly a fan of that sound. Their album, Raw Wave, hits stores on November 18th, and it’s shaping up to be something quite special. In what seems like a banner year for Austin music, it looks like we have another hit on our hands; look for the release from Dirtnap Records.
It doesn’t seem like Mark Ryan ever quits writing songs, and his work with Mind Spiders is always high on my list. They just tossed out this brand new song from their fourth album, Prosthesis, and it’s showing the continued progression from the band. Ryan’s voice has this haunting delivery on the track, while the guitars race you towards some evil late night crash scene, swerving in and out of your speakers. I love the fact that listening to this band feels so familiar, yet there’s always something refreshing and new from them in the way the songs come to a head. The new effort hits on March 12th via Dirtnap.
Listening to Radioactivity is never bad for the soul. It’s fast, filled with great guitar licks and a touch of the hooks. You can blast it while your running, while you’re angry or just to get yourself in a great mood, so it’s great to hear all of that in the band’s latest single, the first for their sophomore LP. Their new effort is titled Silent Kill, and it’ll be released by Dirtnap Records on June 30th, but for now, you’ll just have to turn your stereo up a little louder, blow out and rockaway with this impressive first blast of rock n’ roll from the Texas natives.
Earlier this fall we caught a quite exceptional set from Lemuria over at Mohawk, and I’ve been thirsting to hear more music from the band ever since that night. Luckily, this track popped up just the other day, and it’s worth sharing with you all. I really love the approach the band takes on this tune, revealing a classic alternative rock sound, which was produced by Mark Ryan of Marked Men. Plus, if you pick this up (December 16th), as you should, then you’ll get a 40 page comic book alongside your purchase…so you’ve got to appreciate a little differentiation on the sales side…that and this song’s great. They’ll also be back in Austin at the end of November.
Just last week I was tossing one of the great new songs from Radioactivity your way, and less than a few days later, the band have unleashed another kicking tune for your ears. I love the gritty sound of this tune, even though it still has this underlying pop sensibility to it; you wouldn’t expect anything less from two ex-Marked Men memebers would you? Not only does this capture the sound that I’ve been enthralled with (again) over the last few years, but we can get a big Texas shout out going here. Their self-titled LP comes out next week via Dirtnap Records…and rumor has it that another one is right around the corner.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/04-Locked-in-My-Head.mp3]
Download: Radioactivity – Locked in My Head [MP3]
Inhumanistic is the third LP by Mark Ryan’s Mind Spiders, and it’s the one that I think sounds the most like what you would expect from the former Marked Men leader. It’s still punk rock, with a tinge of power-pop tossed in for good measure, and it includes a dark bent on both the world and music.
After a brief prelude track, Mind Spiders blast off doing what they do best on “Inside You, utilizing driving guitars and speedy drumming to build towards the release of tension, which always comes with a bit of pop enthusiasm. Then you’re thrust into “Suicide,” which, despite its lyrical content, is probably one of my favorite tracks on the record. The chugging guitars are accompanied by a synthesizer, and although there’s a dark tint, it serves the song well, allowing for the inherent hook in the chorus to shine perfectly.
What I didn’t expect from Inhumanistic was a gem like “City Stuff.” It’s a track that surely was formed on an acoustic guitar, leaving a wonderfully hidden melody. But, instead of going with the easy acoustic ballad, the melody’s been replaced by synth work, using the guitar only to enhance to song where necessary. It goes right back into the rock n roll with “Electric Things,” though at this point in the record things start to become formulaic for the group. Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it; I like every track on here individually, but as a whole piece, there’s only two instances when things don’t go as expected. I mentioned one above, and the other comes in the sonically haunting “I Want You.” Again, this is a song that’s relaxed in essence, though the accents try their best to make more out of it. And it all leads up to the record’s pinnacle single.
As long as I’ve been following Mind Spiders, I’ve loved their ability to edgy riffs with catchy hooks, and no track to date has done such an exceptional job as “Make Make Make Make.” This song is a fast paced jam from the get-go, with the chorus providing the ultimate emotional release. This track was built for maximum crowd participation in the live setting, and even at home, you’ll have a hard time not screaming “make make make make” as you’re mopping the kitchen floors.
In the end, Inhumanistic is another solid release from Mind Spiders, but there were a few things that changed the easy 4.5 stars to 3.5. After three records, you notice some shifts in the band’s overall sound, but this record seems to be really predictable in some areas. Those areas that aren’t are incredible, and appreciated, but I’m wondering if I’m ultimately going to get worn down songs that seem too similar. For now, the answer is no; I love the songs here, just looking for a little more variety. Perhaps next go round.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/MakeMakeMakeMake.mp3]
Download: Mind Spiders – Make Make Make Make [MP3]
I know I’m struggling here on Friday, so I definitely needed an energetic pick up, which is lucky for me since I just got this great Low Culture tune. There’s no pretense here, it’s just fast paced rock, in the vein of what I’ve deemed power punk. It’s filled with hooks, especially in the chorus, yet there’s just a hint of gritty anger that blows your hair back. They’ll be releasing their album, Screens, on my favorite Dirtnap Records on January 9th of next year. You need energy and fun? You get Low Culture.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/01-Screens.mp3]
Download:Low Culture – Screens [MP3]
You’ve got to be all about High Tension Wires if you’re a Texas, especially an Austinite or Dentonian! The band is comprised of some our best punk/power-pop/garage bands around, namely Marked Men and Riverboat Gamblers, so you have to know it’s going to be a good time all around. The band’s got an album coming out on Dirtnap Records around March 15th titled Welcome New Machine. If you base it off this first single, it’s everything that you need in a good power-pop album. It’s got some catchy hooks, no-nonsense drumming, and even a bit of backing vocals. It’s all positive energy, and there’s not a thing wrong with that in my book.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/backbone.mp3]
Download: High Tension Wires – Backbone [MP3]
From the instant you press play on your stereo, to the moment in which its final notes resound, Mind Spiders refuse to stop. In that miniscule pregnant pause before the guttural guitar resounds through your speakers, take a breather, because you’ll need all your strength to keep up with their punk pace.
“Go!” is the album opener and does exactly what its title exclaims. It’s an almost two minute scramble of garage rock and gang vocals that pack a hell of a punch into a tiny slice of time. Before you know it, the first track is gone and the second is about to pass you by. On “Don’t Let Her Go,” it is easy to see a similar sound to that of the late and great Jay Reatard. The muddy vocals and frantic jamming guitar along with the shortness of the number all are reminiscent of Jay’s work on Watch Me Fall, namely “It Ain’t Gonna Save Me.”
However, this album is not simply a copy cat of other’s work, but rather, a culmination of tastes from a variety of genres; a little bit of 60’s pop here, some lo-fi there, and a dash of some all out punk. For instance, on “Read Your Mind,” the group starts out slow, with slightly clearer vocals and soft waves of “ooohs,” that occupy the first minute and twenty or so seconds. It’s almost as if the band wants you to relax a bit after the first three songs before they jump right back into their ferocity. The vocals become muddier as the song morphs from slow-mover into punk once more.
The next super stand out track is “No Romance,” which is sadly the shortest song on the album. It continues the quick pace, but not without grabbing your attention through a sea of compact jams. Following this is a lo-fied nod to Little Richard on “Slippin’ and Slidin.’” On this track, the overall distorted sound contributes to enticing quality; the more I listen to this song, the more I like it.
What this album has working for it in addition to its stellar beats is that Mind Spiders know their limits. While only four out of twelve of the songs last longer than three minutes apiece, it works for such a fast paced album. If every song were to last for slightly longer than it does, this album could have derailed from its hasty tracks. Instead, it was a toe tapper from start to finish.
So you as you look at the stereo in disbelief that track twelve is becoming track once again, do nothing. Allow this album to permeate the surrounding air like a gust of cold air into a stuffy room, waking you up like an icy shower —lather, rinse, repeat Mind Spiders.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/No_Romance.mp3]
Download: Mind Spiders – No Romance [MP3]