Review Roundup: Kremlin, Semper Eadem, The Mites, and Anasazi
If it wasn’t already evident with the Will You Feed Me? 7”, Kremlin can really do no wrong. Their LP features mostly new tracks, in addition to re-recordings of “Duped” and “Kremlin” from their demo. I’m not really sure that those needed to be re-recorded, but I can’t really complain since they’re good companions to these newer songs.
This review is necessary because I feel like a lot of people don’t yet realize what a top-tier punk band Toronto has with d-beat fiends Kremlin. Anyone I know who has seen this band play for the first time has been blown away, and I’ve got to say that I’m still blown away every time I see them. They have energy, they play just long enough, and it doesn’t hurt that they’ve written few things that are short of great for their style. “Fanatics” into “No Hope For You” is simply one of the best things I’ve heard a punk band do in ages, and I find it really difficult not to bang my head for every crash hit while listening. This album is generally a lot cleaner than both the demos and the 7”, and sees more of a return to what the demo material was like. As I mentioned earlier, the two demo songs included are “good companions to these newer songs”, as you can hear a marked difference from the speed of Will You Feed Me? and the LP material, and more of a focus on changes, little fills, and leads. Where the 7” was a lot more harsh and urgent, they really seem to take their time with things on the LP.
They still haven’t topped the 7” for me, as I much prefer the speed and rawness. but Drunk In the Gulag shows Kremlin at some of their best moments. It’s definitely a must in terms of punk records to purchase in 2013. I’m not sure if any other distros carry it, but you don’t really have to look any further than the Hardware Records webstore (yeah, shipping sucks…but this record is worth it).
Lots of heads were raised when DC’s 86 Mentality announced a reunion, earlier this year. Punks these days are pretty much suckers for anything Oi!-related, but in the case of 86 Mentality, it’s hard to blame them. So, where does Semper Eadem come in here, you might ask? Well, it’s another Oi!-influenced band with Steve from 86 Mentality playing most of the instruments on it (and I’ll wager that he’s doing most of the writing too), and it pretty much sounds like a new 86 Mentality demo.
The great thing is that it doesn’t disappoint either, as it definitely compares to some of their strongest material. I mean, you’re not going to get another “Intro/Life Trap”, but you should be glad that you’re getting anything close to what that band was in some form. “Righteous Violence” is probably the highlight, with its driving guitar riffs and a nice little lead part to finish it off. The only thing I can really complain about is that it’s not quite fast enough, but it’s also kind of cool to see 86 Mentality playing slower Oi! jams.
I’m not really sure where it’s possible to purchase this physically, at the moment. If you want to support the band, however, there’s always the option of paying for the demo on their bandcamp!
I’m always on the lookout for good shoegaze-influenced bands, and luckily I chanced upon San Antonio’s The Mites. This cassette is both one of the most overlooked and best things I’ve listened to this year, as there honestly isn’t a weak track on it (maybe some stronger ones).
Naturally, you’ve got a slew of 90s influences to pick up on, but they stand out most to me as a combination of The Breeders and Ride. Most of the shoegaze-influenced things I hear these days are way too overproduced for the way that style should function, so the minimal work on that aspect with The Mites is a definite plus. That’s not to say that it’s raw, but rather it’s very tastefully produced – it’s got work on it in all the right spots, and they don’t get flashy. That modesty in sound extends to the writing itself too, as they don’t over-saturate the songs with effects but rather use them where they’re appropriate, and draw the listener with catchy hooks rather than weirdness or complexity. Shiners like “Marjorie’s Injury” really show that Breeders influence, albeit with a hook that goes super psychy in a few seconds. The closer, “Soma Holiday”, also has that cool no wave-y close to it, ensuring that even though there is a lot of sweetness to The Mites, they can definitely get gritty too.
In short, I’d really recommend picking this cassette up. They pressed something like fifty of them, but I doubt anyone’s jumped on it, so maybe shoot a message to the e-mail linked to their bandcamp page about the tapes. Either way, Spur Of Summer is up there for me, as far as 2013 goes.
For a band that’s enjoyed much praise from punk communities all around, it seems like this tape really fell under the radar. I actually had no idea Anasazi had anything new myself, but I chanced upon this while browsing the Burn Books online shop and naturally I had to have it. Then again, this is a demo and it’s self-released, so that could have something to do with it.
Anyway, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the I Saw The Witch Cry/Nuclear Paradise 7”, so I was skeptical as to what this would sound like. It was still a great record mind you, but I think Attic Noise kind of changed the game for Anasazi. I Saw The Witch Cry/Nuclear Paradise had a much more anarcho-punk feel to it, which the first demo had its moments of as well, but Attic Noise was just plain mystical. The Nuke York tape has instances of both, so this new demo isn’t much different from the first in one sense, as it has aspects of both their more punk side and then the gothier deathrock of Attic Noise. However, Anasazi’s punk side has definitely gotten more interesting as tracks like “Mausoleum”, “Myra’s Tears”, and the title track, exhibit more of that side of their style than anything, and these tracks are some of the best on the tape. The second side is pretty much just as good, and what it lacks in terms of being memorable is made up for by how damn creative those riffs are. The only exception is the last track, which I sort of hope is a joke and doesn’t actually make it’s way into Anasazi’s sound somehow.
They definitely have their fair share of T.S.O.L. influence and Keegan’s riffing just bleeds of Agnew, but when it comes down to it, Anasazi are probably more unique than any other band involved in this post-punk/goth rock/deathrock revival. I still place Attic Noise as their crowning achievement, but Nuke York demonstrates that this band refuses to submit to a simple “deathrock” label, as they’re just as much of a punk band. This tape is a must if you’re into any of the styles used to describe them in the review, as they’re probably the best you’ll get for it in 2013. I don’t think Burn Books have any more of these tapes, but keep an eye out because the band will be on tour soon and might hit your city.