Optic Nerve


Optic Nerve Angel Numbers LP

Impressive debut LP from this Sydney band that mixes elements of post-punk, deathrock, and classic country instrumentation into a great punk record. Songs like “Bird Bath,” “Gargoyle,” and “Bead Shop” pulse with energetic bass, stabbing guitars, and vocalist Gigi De Lacy’s poetically cut-up (and cavernously reverbed) lyrics. The record would be a worthy listen if it stopped there, but the band crosses into cowpunk-inspired lands with twangy, bent-note guitar lines and rolling, snare-led drum beats reminiscent of the GUN CLUB and ICEAGE that give the songs a rollicking “tight but loose” sound. “Tonic” surprises with acoustic strumming and blues riffs like country-fried deathrock. “Trap Door” adds heavy-distortion alt/rock vibes for an even thicker sound. Imagine Factory Records existing in the American South, and you get the idea. Always engaging with unexpected influences and diversions from genre expectations, OPTIC NERVE is a band to watch.

Optic Nerve In a Fast Car Waving Goodbye cassette

Sydney hardcore band that’s been kicking around for the past few years issues their second release, a four-track cassette put out by Urge Records, the Sydney/Los Angeles label who have a track record for putting out cool shit. The Bandcamp copy on this release mentions JFA and MINUTEMEN as comparisons. I’ll give them the former, particularly in the vocals, but the latter is a bit of a stretch. Yes, the guitar is very trebly, but these guys aren’t really pushing the boundaries of hardcore in the same way D. Boon and company were, nor are they aping their sound in any noticeable way. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! In fact, these tracks are pretty solid, and the guitar tone certainly adds an interesting dimension. But rather than the punk/funk I associate with MINUTEMEN, I’m hearing more of a ’60s influence. A couple of these tracks even have a bit of a LINK WRAY/”Ghost Riders in the Sky” vibe. It’s an odd pairing but an interesting take on a familiar sound.