Archive for ‘The Midweekly’

April 20, 2022

The Midweekly – Junglepussy

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

In the rap game Junglepussy has never been afraid to push boundaries beyond the conventional. This Brooklyn queen keeps doing exactly that with JP5000, her latest EP. Even though it’s split into five tracks, it feels more like one, long composition. Each beat segues into the next seamlessly, and though these tracks are linked like a continuous thread, the music itself staggers and stutters with odd rhythm. You might be surprised to know four different producers helped accomplish the sound on this 11 minute record. JP keeps the vocals low in tone, somewhat subdued, though the dominance of her lyrics still remain. Verses about confidence in the face of criticism, an industry and culture that pits artists against other through jealousy, and the solidarity to fight back. A couple of times she dips into the realm of relationships. First, reminiscing on foolish youth and heartbreak, then back to the present and a blossoming new love. With no choruses it feels more like a stream of consciousness, although no line is frivolous, everything is poignant. Let’s just leave it in her own words: “I’m on top of the mountain, meditating topless, I transcend.”

April 13, 2022

The Midweekly – PLOSIVS

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Never really understood the term “supergroup.” Sure, it’s a bunch of musicians from separate, established bands who have now formed a new band. But couldn’t you also consider those bands they came from “supergroups” already? Anyway, here’s PLOSIVS, a new group who are indeed super. All veterans of the San Diego scene. Rob Crowe (Pinback) and John Reis (Rocket From The Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes) are strumming the jangly chords and plucking the tinny licks, Atom Willard (Rocket From The Crypt, Angels & Airwaves, Against Me!) found time outside his hundred drumming jobs to lay down a flurry of mean beats, and Jordan Clark rounds out the crew with the low end. Their self-titled debut is packed with punk rock energy and hooks that barely let’s it’s foot off the gas, despite the irony of the opening track, and lead off single being called “Hit The Brakes.” Crowe’s upper register vocals cut through the frenzied noise with melodic excellence. PLOSIVS just finished up their first tour, and from what I read these old hats brought it like their younger rocker selves. Light the fuse and press play. This one is supergood.

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April 6, 2022

The Midweekly – Mitski

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

A few years ago Mitski thought she was done with music for good. The multiplying complexities of new stardom in an often disillusioning industry became a bit too overwhelming for the Nashville based singer. But much to her fans’ glee, Mitski wasn’t done. And navigating this dilemma of celebrity only inspired new ideas, many of which are definitely the focus of her latest release, Laurel Hell. The tunes are simple in structure. Many forgo a typical refrain for just back to back verses. Lyrics about escape and abandonment, to and from the people and the career she struggles to maintain. Resentment weighs heavy in some of these themes, like a hardening of the soul, but in these words Mitski also finds a way to cope, to continue loving what she does. The music pushes the synth to the front of the production, swaying between sweet and sad electro pop, with big build ups to some really epic melodies. And of course an album like this wouldn’t be complete without a few 80s style bangers about heartbreak, made specifically for you to dance those feels out. These tracks are where the chorus’ have been hiding. The title comes from a term used when one is stuck in a tangle of laurels. Likely the figurative situation Mitski was in before approaching this record. Hopefully it helped untangle them a bit.

March 30, 2022

The Midweekly – Hurray For The Riff Raff

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Snapshots and clips of detailed close-ups and wide angles, like a montage of moments, with or without context, set to some fine tunes. That’s Life On Earth, the obvious yet appropriate title of the latest record from Hurray For The Riff Raff, a New Orleans based group led by singer-songwriter Alynda Segarra, with an adventurous background that involves hobos, freight trains, and Puerto Rico. LOE is also the title track that sits in the middle of the album like a center of gravity for the rest. The minimalism of its piano and horn combo is graceful in itself, but also allows Segarra’s terrific voice and words to be prominent. This minimal production style is a theme on many songs, but on others like the big percussion, indie rock guitars, and even a bit of dark pop keeps the montage from getting repetitive. From that center there are feelings of joy and appreciation in the lyrics, but throughout the track list there is also fear, like on the opener “Wolves,” passion in “Jupiter’s Dance,” and sadness in “Precious Cargo,” a take on the struggles of immigrants. HFTRR has put together a really good one here that finds something beautiful not just in the words and notes but the spaces in between them, too.

March 23, 2022

The Midweekly – Dog Fashion Disco

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Sometimes it’s a haunted house, or a freakshow. Could be a kinky burlesque, or a twisted carnival act. No matter the flavor of this variety show the house band will always be Dog Fashion Disco. Close to 25 years ago this experimental hard rock group oozed out of Maryland, and after a few lineup changes and a hiatus, they are still creeping and crawling. Cult Classic is the latest album from DFD. It’s nine tracks of metal riffs, circus organs, and ska horns, with complex structures and infectious hooks. Todd Smith, singer and the only member who’s been a constant in the band, whispers, roars, and croons out images from horror, sci fi, and other dark corners of pop culture, with some of the cleverest writing found in this genre. In these tunes there’s a lot of smirking, and poking fun at the way we view the macabre. Long time fans might notice this record lacking a bit of the more exploratory elements from DFD’s past releases, but they haven’t lost their edge. As long as the reptile woman is still strip teasing for the pagan ghosts, DFD will provide the soundtrack.

March 16, 2022

The Midweekly – Rolo Tomassi

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

There are two souls in one body here in the band Rolo Tomassi. Sometimes in harmony with each other, and sometimes in conflict. The metal group from Sheffield, England know how to use both dynamics to their advantage on their recent release, Where Myth Becomes Memory. The first soul comes in the form of a dream pop ballad, with a beautiful, angelic voice from singer, and founding member, Eva Korman. Right alongside those vocals are the keys, both piano and synth, from other founding member, backing vox, and brother, James Spence. The keys are at the forefront during these parts, and together Korman and Spence create some lovely melodies. Now for the other side of things. That voice has now become a blood curdling scream, and with it comes a barrage of heavy guitar riffs and drums, both produced and stylized with mechanical precision. Dizzying time signatures give way to epic half time breakdowns, and vice versa. Lyrics about existential dread, and the search for enlightenment. It’s a fine slice of emo metal that RoTo has been perfecting for a decade and a half with their own DIY approach, and this new record presents great results. Maybe these two musical souls inside this band are really just one, but sometimes on this album it sounds like a legion. 

March 9, 2022

The Midweekly – Death Valley Girls

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

As if the high winds of the desert have blown through the windows of filthy lube shop, grit and grease have found their own way into every crevice of this record. Aptly titled Street Venom by the aptly named Death Valley Girls, this is the 2021 deluxe re-release of their debut from seven years ago. With scorching intensity DVG grind out a garage rock sound that harkens back to the days of the genre’s origin, but with a harder, more modern punk engine driving the writing style. For a few moments on the record the whirlwind settles down a bit into psychedelic tinged slow jams. It all conjures images of a hot rod burning down the straight away stretch of an arid landscape, or a scorpion crawling up your leg. Fuzzed up riffs and hammered out beats coming from one direction. Parched vocals from another. Wailing verses of paranoia, and self-loathing, satirical choruses about female submission, or the longing for being locked up. This southern California group will kick sand in your face, put a stinger up your ass, and have a good time doing it.

March 2, 2022

The Midweekly – The Poison Arrows

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Somewhere between the tension of a bow string, and the intoxication of a freshly dipped arrow head you will find War Regards. It’s the newest, and long-awaited LP from The Poison Arrows. This trio from Chicago have been working off and on for over a decade, with long breaks between releases. And since we all have just taken a mandatory break it seems like a great time for TPA to put another out. War Regards is post-punk in sound and attitude. The lo-fi production puts you right there in that alley bar, basement party, jam room, or whatever concrete walled, hardwood floor venue of the scene one might frequent. Bass lines chug along with discordant melodies from the guitar. The beats shift into different gears throughout, depending on which projectile a track is laced with. Could be a heavy, wired bounce from the opening title track, and it’s follow up tune, or could be a slower, trippy shuffle near the end of the record. Each one led by foaming-at-the-mouth yelling, or slurred-speech moans from the vocals. These handful of rock concoctions are boiled down to their purest essence. No matter the poison, be it mood swings, medication, or coffee, this midwest outfit has plenty. And who knows, it may be the antidote in disguise. 

February 23, 2022

The Midweekly – Factor Chandelier

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

The first thing that really stands out are the drums, and when it comes to hip-hop and electronic music that shouldn’t be a surprise. But we’re not talking about your typical 808 or any other such synth. It’s got more of an organic feel, that dryness of a tightened snare, ringing off the studio walls. And it comes in the style of a marching band, shuffling it’s way toward you. That’s the foundation of “Sleep Upside Down,” the new single from producer Factor Chandelier, featuring one of the wittiest lyricists working today, Open Mike Eagle. The collaboration between this Canadian beat-maker and LA/Chicago rapper comes marching up from the underground in a short, but beautiful way that will lift your head up with confidence. After that initial opening it only gets better. The bass drum kicks in like a shot of endorphins, while a minimal melody floats above it, until a horn section is let loose to crash through the final build up. It’s all very orchestral. All the while OME delivers his signature word play of wisdom. Been a fan of Eagle for a long time, and I just might be a new fan of Factor as well. 

February 16, 2022

The Midweekly – Zeal & Ardor

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Take an old sound from a young country, and a new sound from an old country. Build a bridge between them inspired by an ancestry from both. That’s what avant-garde metal heads Zeal & Ardor are all about, and what they continue to do on their latest self-titled release. That ancestry lives inside the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Manuel Gagneux. The child of African-American and Swiss parents, both musicians themselves, Gagneux embraces the differing cultures, and transforms them into something new. Metal being the genre he grew up loving the most, it takes the front seat in Z&A, but almost every track has elements of blues, and old spirituals. A stomping, rhythmic beat, accompanied by hand claps and a woeful chant, reminding you of the American south, easily segues into lightning double kick drums, shredding guitar riffs, and monstrous shrieking out of the Nordic hinterlands. To give it all an extra touch of atmosphere, synths, piano, and even distorted horns play a key part in the production. The album’s lyrics for the most part are what you might expect from the genre. Reflections on the worst parts of humanity, controversial and otherwise. There are a few takes that get into the question of faith, or American hegemony, as well. All delivered through the dueling vocal ranges of either a soul singer, a grindcore screamer, or an amalgamation of both. Even bridging the languages of English and German. At the risk of becoming outliers, dismissed by the black metal scene, or scoffed at by blues aficionados, Zeal & Ardor forge ahead, taking their style of metal to new, and surprising places.

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