Reviews

Debt Offensive

Night Court Nervous Birds! One cassette

Thirteen-song, long-playing debut cassette release, which appears to be the first half of the bands “nervous birds duology,” so there is presumably a Nervous Birds! Two cassette coming at some point. Upbeat indie pop, not quite gritty enough to affix the often thrown-around “punk” attachment to their “pop” genre. People who dig the pop stylings of MARKED MEN or JAWBREAKER would likely find enjoyment in this Vancouver-based band.

Night Court Nervous Birds! Too cassette

NIGHT COURT plays smart jangly, just weird enough lo-fi punk—which is still harmonic at heart—that draws both from late ’70s power pop and ’90s college radio. It’s the kind of release that would stand strong on the Recess Records or Dirtnap rosters. There’s a complex interplay between the reflective lyrics, fuzzed bass riffs, power guitar chords, and clangorous drums, that while being deftly executed, comes off like it was just an “aw shucks” accident. Extra bonus is that this is the second album in the band’s debut duology, and the first album is just as good.

Pillars of a Twisted City Pillars of a Twisted City cassette

Mind-fuckery in eleven movements—this Vancouver outfit eschews convention and offers a complete contribution that is best consumed as a sum of parts. Instrumental campfire interludes, low-fidelity dance goth, harsh black metal—I don’t mean to imply that there are elements of each found herein, I mean that “Suffocation Dance” is a brilliantly haunting, primitive, dark synth piece, “Of Furious Death” is 66 seconds of raw and furious blackened thrash, and “Moonlight Cerveza” is the soundtrack a dusty campfire at full moon. The real winners are the tracks that draw a little from each path, though I wonder how many more releases this formula could successfully produce. Here though, it works—the beauty of solo recording projects in the Time ov COVID perhaps, but I’ll take it.

Supercrush Never Let You Drift Away

Oh, what a pretty bunch of songs. This has all the sensibilities of a fuzzed-out dream pop record that I was surprised that the main songwriter comes from a hardcore and metal background. Mark Palm is the guitarist and vocalist here, but he also was in BLACK BREATH (RIP Elijah Nelson, love and miss you) for the last five years, along with a handful of straightedge hardcore groups, including GO IT ALONE. A band that was on Southern Lord and had major clout in the metal scene internationally has produced a musician who can pull a 180 and put out a collection of sleepy pop jams in SUPERCRUSH. Not that the metal band is what allowed him to make such drastically different music, just laying some foundation to why I’m more impressed with this band than others in this style. This record is a collection of their first singles and unreleased songs while they’re hard at work on a proper full-length. Had I not read that on the internet, I would never have known. There’s nothing about these ten tracks that feels disjointed or separate. They sound part of a bigger whole, and bleed into one another seamlessly. On the last song there’s some spoken vocal samples that sound like they were lifted off a landline telephone’s voicemail machine. Little touches like that, as well as the layered distortion and sleepy vocals, thrust their sound back to the late ’90s alternative scene. They’re soft and quiet like as if TEENAGE FANCLUB toned down MY BLOODY VALENTINE, yet still nail that wall of sound. I couldn’t tell you what the songs are about, but mostly because I was lulled into a dreamy sense of calm while listening, and the only shock was when the record ended. Glad to know this band exists in Seattle so maybe I can go see them when this new hell freezes over.