Funeral Sounds is a music blog/record label/podcast/quarterly webzine that focuses on post-hardcore, emo and punk influenced genres but we do a bit of everything.

The Menzingers – Rented World (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Who It Is: The Menzingers – Rented World; Epitaph Records (2014)

Who It Sounds Like: the Replacements, the Lawrence Arms, Hot Water Music

Review:

If 2013 was a landmark year for today’s punk and hardcore scene, 2014 seems to be the year for straightforward follow-ups. I don’t mean that in any negative sense; it just seems as though several bands have released albums that pass more-so as collections of songs rather than full blown concepts, some surpassing their past efforts (La Dispute, Fireworks) and others reaching for stylistic change (Manchester Orchestra). When the Menzingers first announced that they were following up 2012’s monumental On the Impossible Past, many questions were raised regarding the Pinkerton-esque guitar riffs of first single “In Remission,” Rented World’s questionable album art, and whether or not this could possibly lead to Epitaph pairing the band with internet sensation Ronnie Radke for an upcoming tour. Unfortunately for the Menzingers but luckily for everyone else, Rented World leaked nearly a month advance, providing us with the answers we were all searching for and a great sigh of relief.

Let me first address something important: those of you who worship On the Impossible Past (as I do), let it go, because you will undoubtedly be disappointed upon first listens. Throw that mindset aside, and the Menzingers have still released one of the best punk records of the year, expanding upon the softer moments they’ve been building towards as of late as well as writing several of the biggest foot-stomping hooks you’ll hear this summer. “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” gladly takes its place as a career highlight, opening the record almost perfectly with aggressive guitars, plenty of “Whoa’s” and introverted lines like “Always making a mess and stumbling through the door/I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore” and “You’re the only lover I’ve ever missed/and I’ve been hopelessly in love with/Look at this tangle of thorns/I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore.”

The initial shock of Rented World’s potential fails to fade quickly, presenting the listener with two more album highlights, “Bad Things” and “Rodent”. While the former is a downbeat reference to OITP’s “Good Things” and “Nice Things”, the latter expands on its ideas, implementing the same amount of gang vocals but translating the band’s notable live presence into the studio. From here, Rented World’s midsection becomes far spottier than most fans will like to admit; the standout songs are just as strong as anything the band has written to date, but unfortunately, several of the midtempo alt-rock songs here feel thin, flimsy and oddly forgettable in comparison to almost anything from the band’s impressive catalog, a weakness only worsened by Rented World’s muddled production. Each individual listen is a little more forgiving, but while the instrumentals and lyricism are admirable, nothing about songs like “Where Your Heartache Exists” or bloated “Transient Love” find themselves interesting in comparison to the raging anthem that follows, “The Talk”.

Among the album’s second half is what I feel confident calling the band’s magnum opus; “Nothing Feels Good Anymore” takes every element we know the Menzingers for, from soft leads to menacing transitions and melodies, all wrapped up into what is guaranteed to be one of (if not) the best punk tracks of 2014. From this point forward, Rented World is nothing if not incredibly solid, with the impressively wordy “In Remission” showing off one of the band’s crunchiest riffs yet and ending the record on a thoughtful note with the acoustic, Dylan-esque “When You Died”- a dark, existential track that needs to breathe over several listens in order to be appreciated, personal and incomparable to OITP’s “Freedom Bridge” (“Where do people go when they die?/How do you keep them alive?/How do you make sure this never, ever happens again?/Not to any other friend”).

It could be argued that thematic experience that is Rented World is, in almost every way, as ambitious as its predecessor, even if more likely to please fans of Chamberlain Waits. While it may not go down as their definitive effort, I beg to ask another question from both a fan and a critic’s perspective: why does it need to be? With high points like “Nothing Feels Good Anymore” and “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore,” the band has already proven themselves the heavyweight, beer-soaked champions of modern punk rock. If they continue to have it their way, we may find that every year the Menzingers release a new album is a landmark year for the genre.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Facebook

Website

- Aaron Mook

Donovan Wolfington - Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Who It Is: Donovan Wolfington – Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark; Topshelf Records (2014) 

What It Sounds Like: Posture & The Grizzly, Tigers Jaw, Sorority Noise

Review:

A friend of mine saw Donovan Wolfington live in Brooklyn recently and told me he saw some of one member’s relatives at the show. Apparently after the show one relative said something along the lines of “That was great, but I didn’t understand a word you said.” Yes, that’s a very “family” thing to say of them, but they were onto something. Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark is an impressive follow-up record to their 2013 debut Stop Breathing, but, there’s something I don’t quite understand about it.

A lot of their stylistic choices are similar to what bands like Tigers Jaw, Posture & The Grizzly, Sorority Noise, and Modern Baseball among many others are all doing. The excessive grit on tongue-in-cheek catchy songs about hating oneself is a style that works phenomenally well on younger crowds who are only discovering emo music. But something sets them apart.

Their angry, fuzz ridden guitar tones and odd-yet-accessible vocal melodies that are accompanied by yelling beckon to older acts like Hum, Sunny Day Real Estate, Mineral, even Joan of Arc and Blink-182 at times (Boy, never thought we’d see those last two in a sentence together, huh). It’s their ability to combine sounds of the old and the current that separates Donovan Wolfington from other bands.

So maybe that’s why it’s hard to pinpoint the defining characteristic on Scary Stories You Tell In The Dark. They’re the sum of all the parts that make them whole. Nothing is necessarily crystal clear about them, but nothing is really supposed to be. Unlike the one member’s relative who couldn’t understand the words they were saying, my problem is I just can’t understand them. And I think that sole fact makes them all-together more enjoyable and worth listening to, again, and again.

Favorite Track(s): SLEEPING, QUITTING, HEY ALEX 

Overall Rating: 7.1/10

Facebook

Bandcamp 

- Jorge Velez

Last Place Finishers - PUMPED. (Pocatello, Idaho)

Who It Is: Last Place Finishers - PUMPED.; Self-Released (2014)

What It Sounds Like: Experimental garage punk

Review:

This is hot soup. You know when you make your soup and you’re so excited because it’s finally done that you take a really big spoonful of what apparently is now lava and shove it in your unsuspecting mouth? And now you’re pretty sure you’ve burned your taste buds off for good and you think the top of your mouth is falling apart and caving in, but really all you did was burn yourself for a little while. The most unfortunate part, though, is now you’re at that point where you know you’re eating something, but it tastes like burnt mouth no matter what it is. And then you wait about three minutes, figure “hey I’m not tasting it anyway, it can’t get worse!” and do it again. Eventually the soup gets bearable and you stop burning your mouth and you’re left with a strange taste of sort-of-soup, but at least you ate and you’re pretty okay with the turn out.

That’s what PUMPED. feels like. The very first track starts off with what sounds like a Brand New influenced intro, but takes a turn for a very different direction. Instead of the aggressive pop-punk type, it heads down a path that leads right into someone’s garage where a group of guys are messing around with all the instruments they could find in the neighborhood. The first track, titled “Imaginary Friends” is fast, but not half as aggressive as expected. Matt Morris’ vocals are more like speaking than singing, which takes this from what could be pop punk or alternative to garage punk. As it went, it got more and more enjoyable; by about the 5th track it went from a confused mish-mosh to something comprehensive and experimental.

The way this was recorded was the most distracting. It was recorded at a place called The Vole Hole, which I can assume is in fact someone’s garage or at least an area with a similar structure. Around the fifth song, it actually became almost charming. The main issue was, however, that it sounds like it was recorded underwater. Sometimes phones, headphones, and computers do that weird speaker thing if you have some water damage that messes with how everything sounds or the headphones aren’t in all the way. That’s how this ends up sounding. It’s difficult to accurately say if vocals were on point or not because of how muffled everything seemed to be, but from what I could piece together that fit the genre. The vocals and instrumentals were authentic for what they were trying to convey. Of course to keep the authenticity of the garage recording, there’s only so much cleaning up that can happen, however a little more would’ve made it less like you’re listening through a bubble.

Another issue at hand is the length. This album is fourteen songs long, most songs averaging at about 2:50-3:00 minutes long. That’s a lot for this genre. It does keep moving, so it doesn’t feel stretched out until the end, but it could be cut down. It is absolutely experimental and tries out a bunch of different instruments here and there over similar sounding tracks and that definitely keeps it from becoming too monotonous. It does hit that plateau, though, around the 9th track when it loses prominence and fades to background noise. Cutting it down might make it less daunting looking and get rid of that hot soup effect and make it more of a ready-to-eat situation.

Final Thoughts: It was interesting. I haven’t heard all that much new-age garage punk, but after some time I liked this. I just wish it were shorter. Much shorter. Like 10 tracks max. And that it were recorded differently. I get the garage “we recorded this in an open room with a phone” thing usually I love that, but this was different and it felt like I was listening from a room or two away at points. All in all, it was a very interesting thing to listen to for the most part; kept me engaged for the bulk.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Facebook

Bandcamp

- Sarah Waxberg

Half Goon - Terrorizer (Long Beach, California)

Who It Is: Half Goon – Terrorizer; Self-Released (2013) 

What It Sounds Like: Sludge/thrash 

Angry bands are a dime a dozen these days. Almost any average group of musicians can record some fast, noisy guitars; beat the ever-living shit out of a drum kit in time along with it, and scream the first things that come to their minds into a microphone. Right?

Well…yeah. Pretty much. There are a lot of bands out there that are going for a certain vibe and failing miserably by simply doing what I listed above and nothing more. Despite this, though, a good amount that are going above and beyond – that is, adding their own unique touch to something that’s been done a thousand times before. In doing so, they gain the power to transcend sounds, genres, and even the word “angry” itself.

On their 2013 debut Terrorizer, Californians Half Goon prove themselves to be the latter type of band. Sludgy guitars, ear-melting bass, and pounding drums hit you right in the face from the get go. One might expect the sound to knock you right off your chair, rendering you unable to recover for the duration of the record, but in reality it acts as more of an energizing force. The music isn’t out to get you here, rather, it aims to build you up and make it hard to sit still. In short, these guys play music that makes you wanna break stuff.

The vocalist, though, is the true star of the show on Terrorizer. His performance can be likened to that of the rest of the band – it doesn’t scare the listener off with how powerful it is, rather, it serves to give the listener a sense of power and energy. An equal balance of control and chaos, it’s hard to imagine him not completely bouncing off the walls on faster cuts like the title track, and slowly losing his mind on more drawn out songs, such as the absolutely pummeling “Firework”.

There’s not too much more to be said about Terrorizer. It’s not an especially lyrically or thematically deep record, and it doesn’t exactly push many boundaries. However, it’s without a doubt an extremely well done “angry” album, one that tends to work more in tandem with your emotions than scare them off. Half Goon is a band that would rather you leave your seat than be glued to the edge of it, and I sincerely mean it when I say that it was difficult to resist the temptation to punch a hole in the wall after a few full listens. Simply put, if you want something to get mad to, Terrorizer definitely fits the bill.

Overall Rating: 7.2/10

Facebook

Bandcamp

- Eli Shively

The Please & Thank Yous - The Please & Thank Yous (Chicago, Illinois)

Who It Is: The Please & Thank Yous - The Please & Thank Yous; Self-Released (2014)

What It Sounds Like: Knapsack, Your City/State, (THE) Dowsing

Review:

The Please & Thank Yous [henceforth referred to as TPATY, partially because everyone who knows them calls them tee-patty and by virtue of the above Bandcamp player, you know them now] are veterans of the Chicago indie punk scene by now. They formed in 2006 and died in 2010 and came back in 2012 and re-came back, well, now. TPATY are self-releasing a new EP on the 20th. The EP is six songs long. One of the songs was on 2010’s At Your Merci. Five of the songs are new. They’re some of the best songs TPATY have released to date.

Despite the constant presence of drummer Marcus Nuccio [Mountains for Clouds, Pet Symmetry, ex-Dowsing], TPATY have never really been musically tied to the emo scene. At Your Merci, their most recent release, was a punk album through and through. Like, the thing never slowed down. The vocals were raw, the guitars were trebly and distorted, and the drums stayed firmly in their fast 4/4 pattern.

What’s different this time around? Geoff Schott’s vocal delivery, while still slightly nasally, sounds more comfortable than before. The bass tone is warmer and more well-rounded, especially in the powerful, atmospheric end of ‘Naan Sequitur.’ The guitars, while still fast at times, don’t feel rushed. And, Nuccio’s drumming is more flexible here than on previous TPATY releases.

Actually, the band in general is just more flexible. They still provide solid, catchy pop-punk songs in ‘The Advil Smoking Blues’ and ‘If There’s Dancing At This Party I’m Leaving.’ But, TPATY also show real strength in the slower and more contemplative ‘Naan Sequitur’ and ‘Wasted On You.’ ‘Wasted On You’ is a particularly good example; the coda is chaotically noisy, and Schott is almost screaming at points, but the bass, drums, and rhythm guitar keep everything tied together with a new level of sophistication.

In all, The Please & Thank Yous, despite being just an EP, is probably the most complete TPATY release yet.

Overall Rating: 7.9/10

Facebook

Bandcamp

Tumblr

- Ben Curttright

GutterRat - Scum (Houston, Texas)

Who It Is: GutterRat – Scum; Self-Released (2014)

What It Sounds Like: Black Flag, hardcore

Review:

Put two old school hardcore ‘kids’ from the late 80s or early 90s in a room and tell them to listen to this release called Scum by Houston hardcore act GutterRat, and a couple things will happen: the first is that they both will almost definitely tell you they miss the early days of hardcore, and that those of us under 30 don’t know shit about what it used to be like, how the scene was once a Darwinian hell. Granted.

But this band recalls some older sounds. Those who experienced it will almost definitely recognize it with some level of fondness, because for the most part, guys who were around back in the 90s or even 80s have no time for pretentious nitpicking about an album’s production or how closely they are pulling it off. This style of noisy, fucked up hardcore is not something to be critiqued with a sharp ear for particular guitar tones or whatever. Those things do not matter. The only thing that matters is to be loud, pissed, and coming with a ferocity that cannot be denied. GutterRat fits the criteria.

The second possibility is up for debate, depending on how bitterly pretentious the pair of hypothetical hardcore heads are, but they may or may not agree that GutterRat turned in an honest effort to bring back the sort of old school sound that’s gone out of vogue in recent decades. At least in the 90s, there were traces, but of late it’s all but the scant streaks of blood of punks-turned-lawyers across a dance floor, and into the hustle and bustle of Wall Street and the like.

But there’s a third possibility. They may disagree completely between each other about how good this band is, not the sound itself but the band itself in comparison to the genre. I for one couldn’t tell the bad the good, because I fucking love this style no matter how they play it. As long as they’ve listened to Nervous Breakdown, they can probably pull this sound off in a reasonable manner, and I will probably never know the difference between a good or bad version of it.

Lastly, bands from the seedier underbelly of the hardcore scene today have been taking cues from noise acts like Full of Hell, Iron Lung, and Column of Heaven. The last track on Scum begins and ends in a similar fashion. Although, throughout, it’s more like a rendering of a transistor radio fed through various pedals, so not strictly perfectly within the noise genre, it does recall the later days of Black Flag. Either way, these guys are pissed, fast, straightforward hardcore that’s perfect for anyone who digs hardcore. Not much more to say there.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Facebook

Bandcamp

- Will Alarie

Panucci’s Pizza / Bonjour Machines / Personality Disorders / Important Things - 4 WAY SPLIT (A lot of places)

Who It Is: Panucci’s Pizza / Bonjour Machines / Personality Disorders / Important Things – 4 WAY SPLIT; Little League Records // Sorry Girls Records (2014)

What It Sounds Like: A surprisingly consistent collection of twinkling DIY emo

Review:

Putting together a split of four bands is a daunting task, but writing for one must be even more intimidating. Each of these bands was given two tracks, or an average of nine minutes, to strut their stuff. Which act will reign supreme? Read more to find out.

Panucci’s Pizza (long live Futurama) kicks off this split with “I Killed Arbor Day for You.” This track pushes six minutes, running the entire gambit of hooky choruses, emotive one-liners, and acrobatic guitar lines. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this song will serve as Panucci’s Pizza’s opener at shows to come. There is a tangible honesty and desperation in Matt Diamond’s voice, which is inviting in its candor. “Dibs on the Bubble Slice” comes across initially as a Prawn influenced track. All familiarity is tossed aside about halfway through as Panucci’s Pizza dives into pounding snares and bright chords. After a brief stay in uncharted territory, everything returns to normal and Panucci’s Pizza steps offstage. An act that will be very hard to beat.

Bonjour Machines wastes no time with the limited of space they have: “Logan Reese” is a danceable track that very much encapsulates a DIY indie rock vibe. The final minute of the song is an unpredictable instrumental breakdown, which perfectly sets the stage for “Hometown Homerun.” The track is interesting to say the least, with an exotic sounding guitar, trumpet, and distorted bass. The squealing guitar solo is a strange addition to the split, giving the song a ‘classic rock’ vibe. A solid effort by the Tel Aviv natives, largely continuing in the style of their 2013 release Level Up!

Important Things, hailing from Norwich, represents the UK on this split. “Claremont” howls with trumpets and nostalgia: “Remember when we used to walk / along Claremont Pier / we could get it back again / if we tried.” There is a sense of urgency on these tracks that is absence on the rest of the songs. Daniel’s strong vocal soars across the track with every word. His voice is forceful, but smooth and calming. Important Things follows up with an acoustic rendition of “Shit Luck, Steve” which I have nominated as my favorite track on the split. It’s got handclaps, a bright acoustic guitar, and a wonderful living room atmosphere. “Shit Luck, Steve” is bouncy, and has all the makings of a mind-blowing live performance. Important Things really brought the heat all the way from across the pond on this split.

Personality Disorders rounds out the split, and boy is this an interesting one to talk about. “loveryrface” begins with static and a soft reverb-tinged guitar; it’s DIY bedroom at its finest. The production of the song stands out the most, as Personality Disorders experiments at lot with noise and stereo. There are random phases, tones, and squeals that sporadically alternate between the right and left. It is genuinely a painful experience at times, but it really forces a close ear (it probably hurts less over speakers than headphones). There is a moment of soothing subliminal transcendence at the end of “loveyrface,” however, with a tape looped guitar line. “istillthinkaboutyou” is a pretty heartbreaking track, beginning with the sounds of people at a party or other social gathering. The song has a lullaby melody over the static, which is accentuated by a wandering guitar line looped in reverse. Personality Disorders describes his music as “songs to fall asleep to;” a description that could not possibly be more fitting.

Cover to cover, side to side, groove to groove, this split is great. Check it out and throw down a couple bucks to snag it on cassette. These are four bands that have been and will continue to be making noise well into the future. Support them and enjoy sweet tunes from these mega-babes in the process.

Overall Rating: 7.9/10

Facebook (Panucci’s Pizza)

Facebook (Bonjour Machines)

Facebook (Personality Disorders)

Facebook (Important Things)

Bandcamp (Panucci’s Pizza)

Bandcamp (Bonjour Machines)

Bandcamp (Personality Disorders)

Bandcamp (Important Things)

- Nick Benevenia

Reblogged from ohnoimlateforschool  32 notes

ohnoimlateforschool:

Alex G - “Cards”

All the videos from the Orchid Tapes Showcase have been uploaded and are now public! The lineup was Home Alone, R.L. Kelly, Four Visions, Ricky Eat Acid, Alex G and Elvis Depressedly. It was such an incredible show and I’m glad that we were able to capture this night and share it with anyone who couldn’t make it or anyone who wants to revisit it a million times.

Watch it all Here