Puff Pieces – Bland in DC

puffpieces

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Puff Pieces are anything but what their band name might lead you to believe. They’ve compiled 11 songs for their latest release, Bland in DC, with each providing listeners with a message. You needn’t look further than some of the titles like “March of the Idiots” or “Money” to see where they take aim. But, in order for the record and the message to completely endear itself to the audience, the band has to supply the musicality to make it last…and boy do they.

“Wanna No” kicks off the album in a jittery, proto-punk fashion while the vocals are drawn out across the tune, seemingly working against the heart of the track. Emphasis is given by backing vocals sporadically shouted from the distance. Staying long isn’t the band’s cup of tea on Bland in DC, as they bounce right into the next track, and so on and so forth until the end. At times, it almost feels like you’re falling off the tracks or racing towards the finish line, such as on tracks like “Wondrous Flowers;” it’s remarkable how quickly and flawlessly the rhythm section moves throughout.

Yet while the group definitely has a signature sound they’re pushing, they also open up the chords for a more traditional approach on tracks like “Pointless People,” which again takes on a furious pace that would likely have normal humans rushing to catch their breath.

I think my favorite track is “Goths and Vandals;” there seems to be a dark sense of humor that lurks in the track, if not a slight bit of sarcasm. My favorite lyric comes via “Y” where the band proclaims “the future’s like a big locked door.”

All in all, I found the record really enjoyable, but I can see detractors proclaiming that it’s too one-note. On the surface, sure, but those of you looking for energetic, yet artful, punk with a message will find a happy home with Puff Pieces.

Hard Left Has a New EP

hardleftYe with timid ears should look the other way, as Hard Left isn’t here to play any games. They open their brand new Economy EP with the pummeling title track, offering up stuttering licks while Comrade M growls atop; a little emphatic backing vocals doesn’t hurt the tune either. They follow it up with a slightly gentler call-and-response piece of catchy mod rock. You can flip the 7″ over and get to hear the band backing their friend and poet Tim Wells. Oh, and every song has a message, so you’ll likely leave your listening feeling smarter, angrier and focused on the world.

Hey There, Flat Worms

flatwormsWhile people reading the press release for Flat Worms will gravitate towards “members of Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall,” the reason I caught onto this was that it features Will of Dream Boys. It’s always interesting to see how people that can play wonderful jangling pop songs can turn on a knife’s edge with some pummeling punk, like Flat Worms. It sort of sounds a little bit like a murkier version of the Spits, in my eyes, so that gets an additional nod in my book. The new project will release the Red Hot Sand 7″ on April 29th via Volar.

Proto Punk from Puff Pieces

puffOff kilter chords matched with a propulsive rhythm section capture your ear almost immediately on this new tune from Puff Pieces. The vocals almost set the whole song off the rails, seeming to work in an odd way against the song’s structure. But, soon the song’s over, and you’re left thinking “what the fuck was that,” and “was it as good as I thought?” It was my friends, which is why the group’s new album, Bland in DC should be on your radar, not only for it’s musicality, but also for the political bent it’s proposing in both album and song titles; it’s out via Lovitt Records on March 25th.

New Music from Surfin’ Mutants Pizza Party

deathThis new tune from Surfin Mutants Pizza Party came in the mailbox yesterday, and I really thought it would be a good ditty to share with you midweek.  It’s quick and to the point, but even more remarkable is that the entire project’s been done by one man, Julien Maltais.  To create music alone that’s so well structured (tight even) while working alone is quite a feat, especially considering you don’t have anyone else’s ears to bounce the tune’s off when writing.  It’s the first track off his new album, The Death of Cool, which will be released on May 19th by Fleeting Youth Records.  Fans of punk rock in the vein of Social D will definitely find themselves loving this tune.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/06-Brain-Avenue.mp3]

Download: Surfin Mutant’s Pizza Party- Brain Avenue [MP3]

You Never Get Tired of Wire

1521775_665148380190715_237386686_nThe punk history books always look towards the Ramones or The Clash, but the one group I always gravitated towards was Wire.  Sure, Joe Strummer brought in some Jamaican influences, but I always felt that Wire were the one group that really pushed the boundaries.  30 years and more later, they’re still crafting music we can find vital to our daily listening lives.  This new single has the band working with their anxious angular guitar cuts, but the vocals provide a softness that offers the song a strength that very few, if any, bands can master.  It’s a tune from their forthcoming self-titled album, which is slated for a April 13th release…and just another reason why music nerds will look to the band as one of the best constants in history.

Austin Spotlight: Xetas Break Out

XetasHonestly, there wasn’t an Austin label that kicked as much ass in 2014 as 12XU…they had three of our Top 10 Austin LPs.  So, anytime the label offers something you’ve gotta take note, especially when it comes to local act Xetas.  If you’ve caught their live set then you’ve probably been warned, but this single from their upcoming The Redeemer LP is one of those tracks that manages to capture the band’s live fury, whilst still boasting of solid production value. It’s a track with a  breakneck pace, with slaughtering guitar riffs that cut through your speakers. I figure there’s only a matter of time before a band with such tenacity and killer licks breaks into the consciousness beyond Austin. Look for the LP in stores at the end of February.

Did You Buy the New Milk Dick Cassette?

dickmilkYesterday was new release day, and before the hellacious Tuesday of next week, things were slim-pickings.  So, if you’re a nerdy record store regular (I hope you are), you should have picked up this new cassette from Milk Dick.  They’re standout track on the release begins as sort of a folk song: gentle strum and vocals.  But, then they get sloppy fun, offering good times in a fashion that seems to blend modern rock tropes with Violent Femmes.  It’s a blast, so I hope you either grabbed it already, or pick it up from Infinity Cat.

Pop Punk From Spaceships

225Spaceships is an L.A. based band who create some interesting power pop melodies with a hint of punk/grunge rock to give their music more of an edge.  Below you’ll find new single “Good Gradez” to give you an example of what their music sounds like.  It’s easy to like music and I’m sure you’ll be singing along in no time.

Spaceships have a self-titled EP due out November 4th via New Professor Music.

Austin Spotlight: Basketball Shorts

10449943_776955792327118_3148740025931230137_nLocal label Fleeting Youth has been blowing our minds lately with all of the stellar bands they’ve been picking up on their roster.  Today the label has a new track for us from already somewhat well known Austin band Basketball Shorts.  Our new jam is called “Candy Boys” and you can expect a short, fast, in your face sort of pop-punk tune.  It’s a promising track for one of Austin’s fastest up and comers at the moment.

The aforementioned Fleeting Youth Records will be releasing a split cassette featuring more tracks from Basketball Shorts and several others from Canadian based Surfin’ Mutants Pizza Party.  Pre-order that one now and expect a ship date of July 22nd.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/02-Candy-Boys.mp3]

Download: Basketball Shorts – Candy Boys [MP3]

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