Every day Andy makes his way down the creaking staircase, bringing some breadcrusts plus another brick or two with which to further wall me in. I don’t complain; he was very upfront about it from the get-go. He said “Fortunato, you shall die slowly by immurement, but there will be a great deal of music along the way” and I thought “Fair trade, really.” It’s what I deserve, plus his wi-fi is very fast. Anyway, this week down here in the wine cellar I’ve been enjoying a trio of shorter records that I wanted to tell you about. They’re quite warming, holding at bay the chill that’s begun to creep through the chateau’s exterior wall.
Typical Hunks – ‘Snakebit/Unravelling’ single
On their new single, out now from the aggressively artistic Buzzhowl Records, the Reading-based duo Typical Hunks explore the overlap between early industrial and late new wave, with relatively clean and repetitive guitar droning melodically over lightly distorted bass and a drum machine set to relentless. The vocals are talk-sung, sounding cold and distant, highly in control but tightly wound. The singer sounds like he has strongly held opinions about art films and grinds his teeth in his sleep. On these songs, Typical Hunks sound like Big Black on downers – slower but no less angry, and even more tense, with no cathartic release ever taking place, and perhaps less able to experience actual human connection. I liked it so much that I bought the ten inch on vinyl (if you do the same the proceeds go to a charity that works on ending homelessness – clearly these cold musicians have warm hearts). It’s a good dark record for increasingly dark days.
Dead Kaczynski – ‘Yakuza Attack Dog’ EP
It’s good that Dead Kaczynski have found a musical outlet for their antisocial rage – or, for their understandable bile at a society ruled by sociopaths – instead of just bottling it up or lashing out. Hopefully they’ll channel this anger into a full length soon, and ideally on vinyl: this is music worth paying for. The Kent-based trio begin ‘Yakuza Attack Dog’, their debut EP, with about a minute of rhythmless drums and muffled shrieking that breaks up into a sample looped too much or stretched out. It’s hardly a pleased-to-meet-you sort of beginning. The fifth and final track starts with a kazoo, some unpleasant warbling guitar fading in, then more chaotic drums and what sounds like someone shouting in a cavernous empty warehouse. That goes on almost three minutes before breaking up into feedback and amps that sound like the cones have been kicked in. If the record is a visit to what I’m sure is the band’s debris-strewn wreck of a house, they did not welcome your arrival and did their best to make you leave.
Between those two ugly – I mean that in the best way – book ends sit three proper songs that are the kind of noise rock I like best. (That means it’s really good; tastes are objective, don’t make me tell you again.) There’s a yappy and screechy vocalist slightly distorted, screechy and cutting guitar moderately distorted, and huge bass guitar massively distorted. They’re all multicoloured shards of glass, sparkling, ready to cut you. They would break apart at any moment if they weren’t cemented together by the hardest rock drumming: think ‘Nevermind’-era Dave Grohl drums, giving those skins just a full on pounding.
While they’re a new band, they’re mature enough musicians to know not to careen at full speed the whole time. They pause and slow down sometimes to build tension. There’s some weird hooks as well, fuzzed out guitar bending notes with the vocals doing similar, again reminding me of bits of Nirvana. There are some creative flourishes with the production as well, with the drums and vocals sometimes sounding more distant. It gives the sound some nice variation and makes the other fuller parts of the EP hit all the harder. In the best moments, the band cut loose all at once, flailing with dissonant and high energy abandon. The EP’s really good, you should listen to it.
Kopper – ‘Fading Fires’ EP
(Cans Lyf Records)
Kopper play energetic rock songs with a mix of sad and anthemic, sweetened with a healthy dose of melody. The guitars have elements of two kinds of wall of sound – Bob Mould’s colossus of power pop and Kevin Shields’ shimmering atmospheric blur – along with some softer parts that sound sadder and more vulnerable. The band offer standout guitar hooks played in each of those three kinds of sound. The drums similarly move between full throttle rock on the one hand and more reserved and moody on the other. The singing similarly manages a wide range from a sad and tired mutter to punk shouting to fist in the air big rock chorus energy to pop oohs and falsetto. The band go to some dark and sombre places but they always come back strong and, ultimately, uplifting.
Do what you want, it’s your life obviously, but I found these three EPs, especially played in this particular order, to add up to even more than the sum of their excellent parts. Taken together, Typical Hunks, Dead Kaczynski, and Kopper bring listeners through frustration and denial to anger to acceptance – the three stages constituting the entire range of human emotion. Give them all a listen. Feel something for once, you deserve it.