Holograms – s/t

Rating: ★★★★☆

When you get a record from Captured Tracks, you sort of know what you’re getting into, but Holograms, one of the newest bands on the label, are here to change your preconceived notions.  Their self-titled debut is dark, but it’s definitely fueled by a punk sensibility that provides listeners with an angst ridden record you can throw on to lift your spirits.

“Monolith” is the second longest track on the record, and it comes with a great sense of foreboding. A bass line slowly moves in just before you get the swirl of the angry guitar sound.  Hollow vocals dictate a more industrial feeling, and then they blast forward.  Energy, distortion, brash youthfulness; it’s all there. But, then “Chase My Mind” comes into play, giving more of a traditional pop sensibility to Holograms. Light synthesizers and a steady drumbeat provide little bits of a propulsive hook.  It’s the sort of track that energizes you; it encourages you to appreciate the vibrance that underlies a great deal of punk rock.

One of the things that differentiates this self-titled affair is its reliance upon a tradition that encourages anthemic choruses, no matter how angry and bitter the music may sound. Take a track like “ABC City” and you immediately feel the bass growing in your speakers, and as the band jettisons off, you’re tossed back to an era when frivolous pogoing was popular.  Even the lyrics have a tendency to be screamed at the top of your lungs, though the Swedish accents make it a touch more difficult to perfect your sing-a-long. Holograms even seem to have captured the swagger that I adored in my punk rock heroes growing up, which is sometimes lacking in modern acts.  “Fever,” for instance, is a pretty straight forward punk rock tune, but the vocal delivery reeks of cockiness (or brattiness if you like) and as you listen you can feel the grin creeping upon your face. Still, the band’s not just content to revel in the past.

A great deal of the record also has that industrial post-punk sound, which honestly revolves a great deal around the way the vocals are recorded.  They seem distant on a track like “Memories of Sweat” where the swirling guitars and pounding drums do the body of the song’s work.  There’s a primal element to the track, giving it a raw emotion that makes it endearing to listeners. Some might find that the recording of such tracks weakens the effort, but I think it’s quite the contrary, allowing the band’s songwriting and vibrant energy to push beyond the limits of your speakers.

Holograms is a record that warms your heart as you listen, especially if you consider yourself voiced in the annals of punk rock.  What makes it thoroughly enjoyable though is that it goes beyond some of the typical stereotypes, adding a darker element that often goes missing in modern renditions of the style.  Still, Holograms have given you hooks too, which will make any listener swoon; it makes for a great record that you’ll soon learn to love.


Download:Holograms – Chasing My Mind [MP3]


Mind Spiders – Meltdown

Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s always good to know that a rocker never dies.  Mark Ryan’s one such dude, giving it his all in the past with the Marked Men; now he’s refueled his passion with Mind Spiders.  Meltdown is the group’s second album in less than a year, and their latest release for Dirtnap Records has them picking up precisely where they left off–and now with more drums!

On the first few listens, you might think that opener “You Are Dead” bares a strong resemblance to Jay Reatard, as there’s that scratchy vocal, not to mention the way the lyrics are displayed that lets you gravitate towards the notion. But, the usage of two drummers has captured the explosive capacity of the group as a whole, something the aforementioned singer never quite had.  And as Meltdown goes further with “Beat,” the chorus indicates that this is definitely a shout out to punk rock. Chugging guitars push you forward, but the chorus will bring the punk rock all the way home, even as the band steadily pounds onwards.

When you stumble upon “More Than You,” you might literally stumble, as it’s the first Mind Spiders track, on this effort at least, that’s not jagged and dirty.  Yes, there’s a bit of a haze coating the sound of the recording, but lurking beneath is a really nice bit of melody. Not to be a spoiler, but if you’re listening as you’re reading, you’re going to find that a lot more of the tracks on Meltdown resemble this number, as the latter half of the record takes a similar approach to this song. “Skull Eyed” takes on a similar pacing, but there’s definitely a haunting electronic element presence, which displays the risks that Mark Ryan’s willing to take with this group.  I’d be interested to see what this sounds like live, as there’s definitely space to pick up the pace in a forceful manner. “Meltdown” closes out the album with an almost carnival-esque electronic playfulness that continues Side B’s theme of musical exploration, only doing so in the instrumental manner; this all hints that Ryan might possibly be trying to figure things out for the future.

Taken as a whole, Meltdown‘s a solid record, though a little bit disjointed in its sonic construction.  It brings on full-frontal rock n’ roll ferocity from the get-go, giving you a hefty does of energy on Side A.  Side B, however, demonstrates that Mind Spiders are still working out some of the kinks as they continue to forge a path for themselves.  It actually makes for the perfect vinyl listen, giving you two side of a most excellent band. We’ll just have to wait and see which path the group takes as they bound off into the future, but let’s rest assured that even when they’re figuring things out, they’re writing tracks that are better than most of the bands out there.


Download: Mind Spiders – Wait For Us [MP3]

Noisy New Punk Jam from Mind Spiders

Last year I raved about the self-titled debut from Mind Spiders, so I was really excited when I found out the band would already be releasing their new album Meltdown almost less than a year later.  Said record is set to come out on February 21st via Dirtnap Records, and you’ll definitely find some differences this go around, at least if this first preview is any indicator.  Their last effort was pretty straight forward rock n’ roll, but here you’ll hear a little bit of a scuzzier performance from the band, reminiscent of Blank Dogs.  It’s coated in some sort of dingy wash, yet that’s not going to take away from the fact that the band still know how to kick out the jams.  For me, it’s Jay Reatard meets Mike Sniper, which equals awesomeness to the max!


Download: Mind Spiders – Wait For Us [MP3]

New Punk Single from The Energy

The Texas punk rock scene is alive and well, especially with the likes of Bad Sports, Video, Mind Spiders, etc making waves, in 2011.  But, there’s a well kept secret going on in Houston with the Energy, a band who recently released their album Get Split on Team Science Records.  While they’ve got a little bit in common with the likes of Black Flag, they have a steadier drumming section, and seem to have cooled on the ferocity, making their sound much more palpable for every day listeners.  It’s good to see Houston bringing on some rock, strengthening the punk rock in the great state of Texas.


Download: The Energy – I Can’t Stand Up [MP3]

New Punk Jam from The So So Glos

God, I just can’t get enough of this band!  Every time I hear something new, I immediately get excited.  The So So Glos are a little bit brash, but definitely energetic, which makes it easy to fall so hard for their hooks.  This new track hit the Internet just before Thanksgiving, and I’ve been jamming ever since then, eagerly awaiting news on their upcoming album.  These guys seem to just want to have a good time, and sometimes rock n’ roll needs that bit of fun, so here’s to these dudes just kicking out the proverbial jams.

[audio: https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/SonofanAmerican.mp3]

Download: The So So Glos – Son of an American [MP3]

Fresh Punk Rock from Throwing Up

Our good friend Kevin is legit.  Not only does he run What’s Your Rupture and Krazy Punx, but he always manages to send me these great tracks when I’m feeling like a sad bastard.  That’s not at all what he’s got on his plate when he releases a new 7″ titled Mother Knows Best by UK punks Throwing Up.  Immediately it’s brash and abrasive, banging away furiously at your ears.  All of a sudden, the vocals kick in, and you’re hooked on the female vocals, giving it a bit of jubilance along with lo-fi ferocity.  Turn it up and let it blast…then grab it from What’s Your Rupture on November 28th.


Download: Throwing Up – Mother Knows Best [MP3]

Weekend Punk Shows in Austin

We all know that I’m a lover of the punk rock, and I just wanted to share some excellent shows about town this weekend highlighting the good old fashioned rock n’ roll for you.  Below is a quick list of some shows worthy of your attention.

Friday: Curtis James & Grape Street @ Skinny’s Ballroom – FREE!!!

Saturday: Bad Sports, Act Rights – Matinne Show @ 1 PM @ Beerland

Mind Spiders, Birthday Suits, Shit Creek, @ Beerland

John Coleman, Rhett & Dean, Bang B. Theodores @ Frontier Bar

Just a quick list, but some killer shows you should check out.

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