Saturday 18 January 2020

Turning Round On the Turntable : Frustration, Eerie Family, Disco Junk, ZAC

FRUSTRATION - So Cold Streams - LP - BORN BAD Records - 2019

Born Bad Records x released the fifth Frustration’s album x last summer. The Parisian label has ever had a consistent approach on it multi-faced choices and set up an extensive selection of records. Kind of a modern New Rose Records, the compulsory 80’s French label… As usual, Shut Up And Play the Music, arrives monthes after the fair. Indian Ocean remains sometimes such a far away area...

Half a year before the release of this album, the band had announced a huge evolution in its sounding and its universe. The kind of announcement that usually sounds pretty scary when made by a beloved band. But regarding the background, the guaranteed tastes and the musical gift of the five guys involved, no deep worries to have on that. So,what’s on with this new album ? Deep evolution or a few remainings of the good old Frustration ?

An evidence comes from the very first listening ! A strong indus sound reoccurs throughout the whole album : heavily-marked drum-machine beats alongside the usual drums tempo, piercing electro sounding and/or low tones larsens on the keyboards, freaky plays on harmonics and two-notes gimmicks turning over and over on the guitar... Those little noises all seem to come straight from a never-resting factory.
Evolution of the sounding too with a few marvelous incursions into some classy 1979 post-punk sonorities with additional experimental attempts : the quiet Lil’White Sister and its blowing final blast ; or the moving mid-tempo Slave Markets with its Arabic oud interlude that calmly back-ups a poetic but aggressive - fuck you cunt !, belched with a strong British-suburbs accent - slam of the Sleaford Mods’ singer, who was invited to sing on this song.
Last, but not least, the deep dive into an eerie world of madness… A coherent sequence in fact, as the band left us with the foolish Drawback self-released single on Blind Records last year and opens now the album with the Insane song : tireless vocals shouting, stressful choirs, harrowing repetitive riffs on guitar and keyboards, same kind of insane lyrics. This weighing dark wave atmosphere also stands on Brume, which lyrics are written in French - a noticeable novelty too.

Yet, the good old Frustration distinctive markers lay everywhere : onward bass, distinctive guitar play, heady synthetic organs’ layers, striking beats on the drums, the Baldo’s artwork on the cover, the sincere friendship (the hommage to Baptiste, the deceased singer in Pierre & Bastien, one of the most significant French punk band in the mid-teenies) and above all, the highly recognizable, deep voice of the singer, which travels into high and low tones with such an incredible ease.
A more traditional sound also reconnects us to their previous releases : cold wave on Some Friends; nervy punk tunes with violent guitar outbursts on Pepper Spray and Pulse ; high-tempo electro/post-punk one When Does a Banknote Start To Burn?; and as usual, a timeless technoid closing track : Le Grand Soir (with French lyrics too).

I have closely followed this band since its beginnings, I’m so glad that Frustration has concomitantly managed to go forward and to keep its own identity, all that without taking huge advantages of its well-established notoriety. A notoriety that was wisely and properly used during the recent events linked to the place Les Mains d’Oeuvres, when the city council of Saint Ouen, a city located in the Paris’ nearby suburbs, tried to close this independant, cultural and underground center.


Two major punk bands from Austin blew up the power-pop/garage-punk scenes in the late-noughties : the Marked Men and the Hex Dispensers. The Alex Cuervo’s band left us back in 2015 with the awesome III LP on Alien Snatch Records x. This whole powered punk album, driven by the warm, intense voice of the singer, was fully counterbalanced at the end by a very last track, Hypersleep, with some beautifully melodious female vocals on a haunting, slightly grungy dark wave sound, that was potentially announcing a different musical orientation of the Hex Dispensers’ members.

It is huge delight to find these two distinctive voices back on a new duo band : Eerie Family x. Alex Cuervo plays loud gothic organs, extending this way his synth-punk/ electro-space-rock Espectrostatic solo project, while Alyse Mervosh is on the drums.
The simultaneous vocals successfully mingle with one another, the lyrics seem quite eerie, every doomed musical note or minimalist riff deeply resonates with the body, the weighing darkness of the electro-pop sound offsets the relaxing tempo on the drums and the clear sonority of the whole thing (the Marked Men Mark Ryan’s touch on the mixing/mastering?). This outer-space post-punk / no wave atmosphere is strengthened by the gloomy, weird front cover of the Lp.
A really moving immersion into a depressive, dead-end world and a sound close to the Joy Division’s and Blank Dogs’quietest stuffs, the Kavinsky’ s soundtrack of the Drive movie, the Kaka Kids Records blast, or even the PixiesWave of Mutilation song, this one being transcendly covered on the final track of the album.

The German label, Alien Snatch Records, mostly involved in efficient garage punk/ power-pop bands, offered us lately last year an unusual release. The label is scheduling a European tour in August 2020. You now know how to spend your leisure time next summer !

DISCO JUNK - Underage Punk ep - HOZAC Records - 2019

My girlfriend lately seemed fairly fed up with all those too serious dark wave/synth-punk stuff and depressive cold/post-punk craps. Since her garage-addicts’ friends get her ears into that band - Disco Junk x, the daily apero sessions have ever broken up in wild jump-dancings, violent head-bangings and piercing screamings from the whole family, kids included…

The two (three?) guys in the band are indecently young (16 years’old!), go to school in Sydney, Australia, seem cheeky (the hilarous sentence on the back cover : Mastered by Mikey Young, so you know it’s hip !), hassle-free (except for a few understandable bad trips that they had on the bands’ facebook and linked to climate changes and burning lands) and they know what in-yar-face punk means ! A band to put alongside the Aussie - too - Chats and Wet Blankets.
They introduce themselves with an addictive 7inch and four wild lo-fi garage/old school hxc tunes. Sharp 3-chords guitar play and 5-seconds-lasting guitar solo, binary fast tempo, teenagers’ nervy voices : the songs are packaged in less than 80 seconds. A Dischord Records’ atmosphere surrounds the whole thing and the hip-hop touch on the breaks of the outstanding Defenestration reminds the Beastie BoysPolly Wog Stew ep.

Since 2006, the refined Chicago diggers in HoZac Records x have ever been looking after golden punk bands and 70’s unknown jewels and they released this records last summer. Can’t you hear that call  coming up from the mine ? HoZac ! HoZac ! HoZac ! Ho ! ZAC ?

ZAC - I Got Something In My Mind/The King Is Dead Sp - DAMAGED GOOD Rec. - 2019

Sincere apologizes for the hazardous transition above and the stupid wordplay… The present record of the Italian band ZAC x has of course nothing to do with the label previously mentioned, even if it could factually have featured on it.
Damaged Goods Records x, the famous London-based label specialized in the Medways’ scene, moved out from its usual path when it released this single, a 7inch full of happiness, freshness and strongly looking back towards the late 60’s/early 70’s.

The A-side tune, I Got Something In My Mind x, has that sweety taste of Bubblegum Pop (Ohio Express, the Archies…) while the B-side, The King Is Dead x, with its devastating 70’s guitar riff and its marked mid-tempo, gives a freak glam-rock nugget with a sound close to the ZAC’s Italian 72’s fellow Richi Heinen, the prevaling NYC hits’ machine Brower or Hunx & His Punx for the camp voice.
Lorenzo Moretti, guitar hero in the compulsory bands Taxi and Giuda, keeps on digging the vast world of glam-rock with this new band, and the single steps further on back to the very early 70’s. An immersion highly strengthened by the minimalist rainbow and a Saint-Etienne-team faded green color of the front cover. A Lp was released lately last year on the same label.
A remarkable work and thanx to Juvenile Delinquent Records for the awesome discovery !

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