July Singles Round-Up
by Kevin J. Elliott

With sweltering heat, rampant storms, blackouts and droughts warping the landscape of the Midwest and other points abroad, I can honestly attest that the heavier, more decrepit and sinister the music the better I feel in among the ruins. For July, I invested myself in some of the heaviest singles to come across the desk. They aren’t uniform in that they are nascent of some revolutionary pendulum swing towards metal and hardcore (see the huge gap between Call of the Wild and ET Habit), but they are indicative of the nihilist methods bands are using to exorcise their demons—or perhaps just their jollies.

Call of the Wild, “The Call” b/w “Tightrope” (Jackshack!)
Brooklyn’s Jackshack! Label has been busy of late, releasing a series of singles and LPs that have defined the new vortex of hardcore, nihilistic punk, and metal that has converged in the city. Call of the Wild, as opposed to the excellent Foster Care and Pampers, is the apex of this melting pot. There are elements of all three at work on “The Call,” which is one of those defining anthems that tends to spell out everything you need to know about a band. Call of the Wild deal in speed, ripping solos, fist-raising chants, and pummeling rhythms. It appears the city always has a cycle that returns to heavy-heady ideals. Years back it was Early Man poised to break a hipster metal revival into new territory, but alas, they fizzled out before getting started. Let’s hope the same doesn’t occur for Call of the Wild, as they don’t just pull from one slot. Sure they set up as if they were the displaced spawn of Motörhead, but there’s also slivers of Thin Lizzy in twin leads (which could only be accomplished on record, not live), shards of Megadeth (not early Metallica as I was informed) in the melodic underbelly of those leads, and a whole lot of hirsute boogie that spreads from Uli John Roth all the way to Zen Guerilla. These are certainly elements that bode well for any band destined to travel resin roads and tour through America’s smoky dive bars (they’ll never die off). “Tightrope” channels that road, buzzing with wanderlust. But again, are we in a cycle or are tropes this easy to pick off never out of fashion? Hopefully Call of the Wild are making use of the manna and getting this all bottled up in one definitive record before the time expires. This is punishing, ecstatic music for sure. Perhaps my favorite single so far this year, but I can only flip this over so many times.

Martyr Privates, “Bless” b/w “Native Son” (Bon Voyage)
Living in a post-NGL universe (surely a few more releases will trickle out with the Annesly-stamp attached), there’s has been little to no governor present to stem the steady flow of releases from Australia. With that lack of a buffer, there’s also little in the way of a metric with which to accept or reject the multitude. To say much of the brutal, scaled-skin, junk-blues has lost its luster and allure is an understatement. Really, there’s so much that it’s a bit unnerving. Maybe it’s a wrong place at the wrong time scenario for Martyr Privates. You can obviously tell that the trio’s hearts are poured into the recordings, but there is an overwhelming sense that we’ve been through this before. “Bless” has an irrefutable riff that has been Xeroxed a million times from the proto-punks on the Nuggets compilations and to the bands of today that refer to themselves as “garage.” When the song’s over, the only thing still reverberating is the riff in question, and it’s a riff they simply don’t own. Though “Native Son,” sheds some light on their ability to write a tune, it suffers for being a boorish electrification of a blues stomper, not all that memorable, but executed with some vision. That said, it reminds me of a line from The Jerk. When Navin Johnson is asked by his mother if he’d like to join the family to play some blues, he replies, “But that music always depresses me.” I’m getting the same feeling.

ET Habit, “Venomous” b/w “Starside Devastation” (Hozac)
Last month I got to worrying about the downward spiral TV Ghost exhibited on their latest single. Once feverishly creepy post-punks bent on sci-fi and dark passages, they’ve kind of lapsed into a vacuum of their own doing, going for broke through effects and chromatic hues only to come up hollow and empty. Luckily the cosmos are still a thing of awe for ET Habit. This Chicago quartet has a precise ear pointed directly at the proto-mutants who crawled and clawed out of ’70s Detroit, Clevo, and the Bay Area. The glory is these heads know how to throw it all together and come out of the wreckage even more fucked than the sum of their parts, which include Killer-era Alice, Aliens-era Roky, and a healthy dose of Chrome. That is a beast if you’re keeping count. Still, this is a little single with epic potential, and one could not imagine what ET Habit might do in the long form considering what they accomplish and the journey they take on both “Venomous” and “Starside Devastation.” The group is downright prog-bitten on the B-side, throwing in flanged metal soloing and an exotic conga breakdown, all protruding out of production levels that have them transmitting like they are playing the basement of some ’78 space-time continuum club. Put them in the same regard of guys like JT IV and Dwarr—out-there amateurs who had big ambitious ideas and concepts and splayed them to the best of their ability over the small capacities of four-track recording. Were King Crimson glue-sniffing cretins and not snobbish theory nerds, they might have sounded like ET Habit. A man can dream.