On their new split release Death Takes a Holiday—out on October 29th via Exploding in Sound Records—kindred spirits Nyxy Nyx and Bad History Month offer 10 tracks of excellent autumnal indie-rock that rides the line between ambivalence and transcendence.
The first side of the split belongs to Philly’s own Nyxy Nyx. Coming off the heels of their lush and dreamlike eight-song split with Tadzio from this year Sierra, the band continues their prolific streak here with five songs that cling to your scalp like suction cups from a brain scan.
The lead single from their contribution to the split, “No Worries” announces itself with a slow guttural drum hit before launching into a guitar melody fit for Robert Fripp going through a Yo La Tengo phase. The song is a perfect hook-filled shot of post-summer come down bliss that doesn’t wring out its juices for too long, with the band ending it just after the two-minute mark with an abrupt tape slow down.
The song’s lyrics fit the lackadaisical feel of the music with singer Brian Reichart offering his lukewarm temperature check. “No worries. Breath easy,” he sings, “Someone might give a damn, but it’s not me.” The other four songs on the split maintain the easily devourable slowcore/’80s Rough Trade sound. A great appetizer before they hand off the baton.
Throughout their reign, Boston greats Bad History Month has occupied the space for all those who may have asked the question, “What if David Berman flirted with the idea of starting a noise rock band?” With this new batch of tunes from the one-man-band brainchild of Sean Sprecher occupying the B-side of the split, this thirst is quenched with a big gulp with the lead single and final track “Deep Bright Future.”
The preceding 5 songs build up to it with a slow boil—including the split’s title track—adding more to their arrangements until we hear the full band work out on this noisey, clanging closer. The narrative that Sprecher weaves tells the story of the first man to wake up from cryostasis to a new world. Years go by before he is contacted by a journalist to get his feelings on this unique and perplexing position. Once they link up for their conversation, he is now on his deathbed. The dethawed narrator feels somewhat perturbed that it took the media this long to, you know, give a shit.
“So I ask ‘Why now?’” he asks. To which she replies, “Face it life is short so we’re impatient. Only Last Words can elicit any sense of fascination. It’s a basic precondition of the living to be complacent with the past ‘til the future starts to threaten to erase it, and we notice something’s fading, and there’s nothing to replace it.”
Feeling even more annoyed with her desired outcome for this story, he decides to level her with a truthbomb. “I said, “Ok, here’s a quote: You’re all wrong. Life is long, that’s why we waste it,” Sprecher sings in drawn out notes as the song reaches it’s frenzied cacophonous conclusion.
Bad History Month & Nyxy Nyx Tour
10/15 – Boston, MA @ Arlington St Church w/ Nyxy Nyx 10/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Bar Freeda w/ Nyxy Nyx, Gorgeous, & Tiny Moon 10/17 – Meriden, CT @ The Superposition 10/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Khyber
A comfortable and familiar aura surrounds Ovlov's fuzzy, shoegaze-tinged indie rock, like meeting someone for the first time and feeling like you've known them your whole life. This sense of security is a bit ironic, considering the Connecticut crew led by Steve Harlett is known for constantly breaking up and getting back together. "Land of Steve-O," the first single from the group's forthcoming record Buds, marks the group's return; the title alone invokes the aforementioned divine déjà vu with the reintroduction of the endearing character Steve-O, who last appeared in 2017's Greatest Hits, Vol. II with "Strand of Steve-O."
"Land of Steve-O" utilizes one of the band's usual song formulas: steady verses followed by an explosive chorus with staticky riffs and Harlett's inviting intone: "Don't feel crazy / When you walk around your town / Just call your friend Steve-O," he sings. Intensifying at the end, the track transcends into an unhinged, euphoric catharsis before fading and forcing us back into reality.
Few things have taught society more about the essence of time than the global pandemic.
For some, it was an endless dragging of months spent waiting for the outside world to open its doors again. For many artists, it was a time for creation, innovation and introspection.
Maxshh is the creative solo project of Max Goldstein (Tundrastomper, Fred Cracklin, Omeed & The Natural Scene), who has a new album Bonus Flowers, set to release Sept. 24.
As said by Goldstein, this pandemic and “a compromise between a limited instrumental palette and an unkempt imagination” were the impetus behind the project. Armed with nothing but his guitar and computer, Goldstein was prepared for battle. To say he spent his time wisely would be a heavy understatement: Bonus Flowers will be his third album release in the past year.
The latest single released from the album, “Thanks for the Crabapples” is based on the well-known television show, Adventure Time. Goldstein puts an acoustic spin on his favorite episode to create the playful track. His voice takes on an ethereal nature that complements the simplicity of the song. The video, directed by Jim Warren, embraces the boundless creativity in the world of animation and provides an intimate glimpse into an individual’s innermost daydreams.
Goldstein conceived, birthed and allowed this album to mature during a time of pure isolation. Within the cycle of nature, everything is set to blossom, if given the right amount of time and patience. In this case, Bonus Flowers bloomed right before our eyes.
Max Goldstein likely needs no introduction for those of you who are denizens of Massachusetts’ DIY scene, but for anyone unfamiliar with his groups Tundrastomper, Fred Cracklin, and Omeed & the Natural Scene, the Western MA native creates a wide range of sounds—from shred-heavy, mathy pop to improv-y free jazz—held together by a common spasticity and lo-fi aesthetic. Yet his solo moniker Maxshh sees Goldstein going fully experimental, with the latest installment from the project arriving this fall via Exploding in Sound.
His quote-unquote acoustic album Bonus Flowers drops September 24, but for now we’re getting the first single, “The Stone and I and Everybody,” which stays true to that denomination with a gently strummed opening, subtly escalating into moody, chugging acoustic guitar reminiscent of Yellow House before getting totally off track with some feedback-heavy electric guitar riffs in a Pile-like catharsis. While you probably couldn’t say it’s any weirder than Goldstein’s previous work, it’s certainly more unpredictable of a journey.
Good post-punk should keep you on your toes, combining the unease of losing your balance on a tipped chair with the momentum of a packed dance floor. (Also, great bass tone.) It’s a tall order nearly 50 years into the subgenre’s lifespan, but Stuck—and their great bass tone—are up to it.
Content That Makes You Feel Good, the newest EP from the Chicago-based band and first on Brooklyn’s Exploding in Sound, finds them returning to their hometown’s Jamdek Studios, with guitarist/vocalist Greg Obis handling engineering and mixing in-house this time around. While it’s barely been 18 months since their last release, Change Is Bad, the band belies both that title and their own name on Content by sharpening the edges of their sound and expanding their lyrical center outward.
Change is Bad tracks like “Plank II” and “Wrong Question” nodded broadly at societal and systemic ills, but Content stays focused on those targets for its entirety, calling for action with the pointed titles and lyrics of “Serf the Web,” “City of Police,” and “Playpen of Dissent.” That conceit isn’t the only refinement of their already tightly-wound sound, though: Obis has backed away from wholly in-the-red vocals for a more measured, almost-drawl that’s at times not dissimilar to Nick Cave’s. This welcome wrinkle keeps the sincerity of the EP’s subject matter at something of a remove, balancing its earnestness with a shot of vinegar.
But what is even the most conceptually sound post-punk without lockstep guitars or the aforementioned bass tone? Bassist David Algrim’s tone has moved closer to Chicago forebears Shellac’s razor-Slinky sound on Content, but not at the expense of their jagged, precision-targeted guitar skronk, which still arrives at the welcome juncture of AmRep-style noise and Wire/Gang of Four geometry. (Obis and Donny Walsh’s guitars are panned consistently throughout, which helps distinguish them as they careen around.) Keyboards have also started appearing in the nooks and crannies of the songs as well, and Obis wisely uses subtle, lo-fi tones rather than, say, speaker-rattling Moog drops.
Content’s greatest strength, though, is its sense of contrasting space. Songs contract and expand like lungs, hurtling towards abrupt drops, with tightly-picked patterns giving way to airy chords. Closer “Playpen of Dissent” drones to a claustrophobic, thickly-textured finish, underlining the dread its optimistic-on-paper closing lines—”I have to talk to my neighbors/ I have to talk to my coworkers”—might entail after a year and change indoors.
The EP’s promo materials gamely acknowledge the challenge of keeping things fresh, but Obis and co. needn’t worry. By simultaneously tightening the contours of their sound and stretching out, Stuck at this point is anything but.