Hello friends, and welcome once again to The Listening Booth. This week’s dive into what I’ve been putting in my ears (via whatever the fuck is going on in my head) is all about new releases. It’s an interesting trio that, as far as I can tell, have nothing in common. While that’s not a problem, it does make it a bit harder to write a snappy into. Hm, guess we could just get on with it? Yes, lets.
I believe Return Of The Arsonist will be the first EP to enter The Listening Booth. It’s five tracks long (six if you buy it on vinyl) clocking in at around eleven minutes. That’s not a lot of music to work with.
Or, it wouldn’t be if anyone other than Blood Command had released it. For these Norwegian punks have never had a problem packing their music with ideas. The opener, ‘Don’t Strike A Match, Use The Lighter’ is the perfect example. It starts slowly, an electronic intro seeing you in before deciding to fuck that and go for it. Suddenly, you’ve got no choice but to grab on and hope for the best. This motherfucker is speeding towards the sunset, bouncing between frantic guitars, yelped vocals and a big hook-laden chorus as it goes — all of that in less than two minutes.
And that’s Blood Command. With three albums under their belt, they have nailed this whirlwind mix of pop, hardcore and whatever the fuck else they want to throw in. It’s like being slapped by a hundred palms of joy, and you come out the other side begging for more. You can’t argue with a band that writes the Paramore sized chorus on ‘S01E02.Return.Of.The.Arsonist.720p.HD’ which more than makes up for the somewhat convoluted title.
If you’re one of the lucky few who have never had the pleasure of Blood Command’s company, you’re in for a treat because this might be the perfect introduction. They have never sounded tighter than they do on this EP. It’s banger after banger from the two already mentioned to all 54 seconds of ‘Ritual Knife’ which is the heaviest thing on it. If you don’t like this, you might as well give up. Not just on Blood Command. On everything. You’re fucking broken and while the rest of us are having a bop to ‘Afraid of Water’ you’re going to be left wondering where the fuck you went wrong.
Fuzzrod are the latest band to have popped up on my Spotify out of nowhere. Why did I save their album? I have no idea. They are an American band with 135 likes on Facebook, so it seems unlikely that they’d wander onto my radar, but here we are. It can’t have come out that long ago! How have I already forgotten where I stumbled upon this?
Anyway, none of that is interesting. What’s interesting is Fuzzrod‘s self-titled debut which has a lovely fuzzy garage rock sound. ‘Baby’ kicks us off with swagger, loading up on the bluesy guitars and sex appeal. It’s the kind of song that slips into your mind, finds a quiet corner and decides to take up residence for the next few years.
Fuzzrod isn’t an album that sticks in one lane, though, and while that fuzziness is a recurring theme, there is more than one influence thrown into the pot with it. ‘Dum’ tosses a bit of early 90s alt-rock in there, bringing a Riot Grrrl vibe before ‘Fuck Work’ bounces its way into teenage rebellion. No-one is going to pinpoint it as a masterpiece of subtle song-writing, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun and deserves to be a punky live favourite for years to come.
It also plays into a youthful exuberance that sparkles on this album. There is a sneery rebellion to it that is captured perfectly. Fuzzrod understand that being young and pushing boundaries can be a laugh. It’s not all about brooding and hating the world, but about enjoying yourself and seeing what you can get away with. It’s breaking the rules for the sake of breaking the rules, and something is intoxicating about that.
The final element of Fuzzrod’s appeal comes to the fore on the second half of the album. ‘Radio On’ sees them let loose, embracing a psychedelic edge and incorporating elements of jazz into their songs. The hippie side of this band starts to flourish as everything gets a bit free form and they begin expanding beyond that garage rock framework. It perhaps hints at the potential for a more expansive future.
As I said, Fuzzrod are not a band I knew anything about. Even now my knowledge is limited to what you could find with a quick Google search. However, this is a cracking album. It’s less than thirty minutes long while nearly every song on it has something to recommend. From the straight-up fuzzy rock and rollers to the looseness of ‘Floating Eye’ there is something to this lot, and they deserve to show up in a lot more people’s headphone in the future.
The first time I listened to Dog Whistle I fucking hated it. ‘Camp Orchestra’ rubbed me the wrong way the second it came on. I’m all for abrasive, but its jarring sound turned me off, and while there was an energy there that I liked, it was wrapped up in a package that didn’t seem made for me.
However, having seen a few bits and pieces online praising them and bigging this album up, I began to doubt myself. Most records require at least two or three listens to get inside them, so I decided to go back and try again – to see whether there was something about Show Me The Body that I’d missed. And while I can’t claim that listen two turned it into my new favourite album, it was better than the first. So, I kept going.
And over time I have grown to appreciate Dog Whistle. I still have issues with it. I’m not a hip hop or rap fan (and I’m unqualified to talk about them), so the fact Julian Cashwan Pratt seems to take his cadence from those genres leaves his vocals feeling slightly off to my ear. It also lacks anything I’d describe as a great song, although ‘Madonna Rocket’ comes closest.
However, it does not lack great ideas. And wrapped up in the discordant bursts of throbbing noise that make up the bulk of this album, there is a lot of shit to like. Songs like ‘Badge Grabber’ are incendiary. You can hear the raw power in the music as this band write about the world they know. Dog Whistle is about the disintegration of New York, and every note of this album tells you that it’s a subject they take very seriously.
Honestly, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Dog Whistle. I certainly don’t hate it, but whether it’s something that will stick with me or fade into my past I don’t know. Yet, there is no getting away from the fact that this is an intriguing album. It’s dark and challenging, drawing from all sorts of genres while having no interest in dishing up what you’d think of as a traditionally good time. Whether I grow to love it or not, it’s pretty clear Show Me The Body have created something worthy of more than one look.