Chicago’s Horizontal Action might have begun as a tried and true punk label, but lately they’ve been veering out into weirdo action that is neither here nor here. At a consistent clip (with a consistent zine), Hozac possess the type of punctuality with which you’d wish every one of your favorite labels operated. They rule here in mid-August with three singles that keep spinning (along with a handful of A-sides from 2008 that keep spinning as well).
Miami’s Jacuzzi Boys keep the beach-blanket scene alive, countering the Electric Bunnies’ fried future-punk with a hurricance ‘n’ sweat approximation of Goner garage. “Island Ave.” is exaggerated head sways and eyes closed, channeling the Elevators by the pool in reverse— completely built on anthem and surf repetition. It’s like they keep on crossing a line in the sand and back again, a loud and confident breeze cool enough to separate them from their obvious bananas-peers. “Dream Lion Pt. I” heartbeats even more in slack and marbled house of the baking sun, complete with a “get down” and red-eyed psych guitar trails. Very righteous.
Black Orphan’s Video Kids 7-inch is (yes) another worthy, if flimsy, addition to the bedroom nth-wave court; calling it a Blank Dogs copycat with a smirk is just as legit. I’d rather play dumb. I welcome another spicule of introverted circuitry butter-knifed by a dude from Wisconsin, Michigan or Qatar, playing post-glam rave-up in the mirror or, on the title track, directly into his only friend: the four-track. All chords/cords go forth into over-blast and the only available holes. There are no needles on a tape recorder, just wires and loneliness. “Mass Effect,” with its thrift-store pre-sets, drowsy/paranoid demeanor and moldy grey sonic muffle, triggers the alternate sensors. Black Orphan might just be the “real” anti-bourgeoisie introvert. A Midwest Ariel Pink with Eno envy?
Too bad the Dutchess and the Duke had to come last in this triumvirate. These days I’ve been drowning in “authentic” folk heroes. The concept is grand, with guy and girl moping in the rain (definite wood rotting in the background), and they sound fairly competent in fulfilling those rootsy arpeggios, with the harmonies shining through the drizzle. Ultimately this is drizzle. A bone from their better produced debut is still a bone. That said, I can’t deny the charm of beards and acoustic instruments.
As far as releases in the Beach (that is Columbus, Agit-Base), there’s been a seasonal drought. It’s a wonder and surprise that the new Night of Pleasure/DayCreeper split 7-inch came accompanied by full-mini-LP CDRs by both, exposing the actual depth of both bands and giving an accented punch to this time-centric piece of noise. Why not release a no-label, black ‘n’ white, on-the-cheap document of what this still-going summer of ‘08 has felt like (frustration, stasis, random face-melting spurts)? Did he say pink skull?
Day Creeper is the latest on the turf, but my how each and every step they make is not to burn the flesh. This duo has a chemistry that belies their rookie status. There’s Spartan punctuation at each simple turn of these big riffs and melodies. That synergy is especially prevalent on “My Blue Screen,” the big organ and twinkle choogler that ultimately wins out. The untitled disc that came earlier in the week shows much more range (find “The Problem at Hand”) by cramming some discernable lyrics into the angular twists the guitarist’s Richman-esque charisma exudes.
Night of Pleasure thumb their noses to any hierarchy in this town, and that’s a refreshing gesture on this flipside. In the lacquer, they’re becoming Columbus’ grimiest—yet literal—punk group. I always come back for Dave Treneff’s abrasive and equally smart guitar gnash. Sonically they’ve grown by gathering more moss, and on “Spasm Chasm,” and more pointedly “Hipster Downgrade,” they’ve muscled Turks-ish testosterone (dig the drum fills) into bummy quarters. One can’t argue that “Hipster Downgrade” isn’t one of this year’s catchiest barbs.
Die Stasi have wrecked havoc all year, only the Frustrations Exploding Mind 7-inch on the label was lost in my pile. Too much TV Ghost and Zola Jesus around these parts, so it was easy to overlook this Detroit band I’ve never seen or heard of. Good thing the Butthole Surfers are back together, and they’re crustier than ever. Oh, excuse me, “Exploding Mind” gives me the perfect excuse to not download Suicidal Tendencies and Nothing’s Shocking in one sitting. Frustrations tend to do it all, like going in and out of a late-teen nitrous hit with cultural respectability intact. And to boot they do a cover of Devo’s “Freedom of Choice” without traipsing on the toes of that stoner band that did it years earlier. Almost lost, soiled gold for the archives—thankfully this one didn’t get shuffled away.
Kevin J. Elliott