Category Archives: Punk

“Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”

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Thee Oh Sees
Floating Coffin, 2013

When I decided on Thee Oh Sees for today’s tune, “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster” was the first song that came to mind. It was also the last song I wanted to use, not because it isn’t deserving, but because it’s the one track anyone even remotely familiar with the work of John Dwyer is guaranteed to have heard. In fact, it became something of a mini-hit upon its 2013 release — as much of a hit as Thee Oh Sees have had and likely ever will. There’s no denying the charming, smart/dumb hook at the center, and gun-to-head, this is probably the track I’d pick for uninitiated listeners looking for a quick fix. Today I’m gonna assume that’s you. Do you like a little sweet with your sour, some candy with your crush? Does that kaleidoscopic cover art freak you the fuck out while simultaneously piquing your interest? Does it conjure mental images of jawbreakers, sweet teeth, cavities and bloody fingers scraping bass guitar strings? Are you interested, at all, in well-recorded, overdriven garage rock played by experienced professional musicians who know the genre inside and out? Have you given up on chasing trends, chasing lost youth, chasing money or career, chasing anything but the elusive self-conception of whoever and whatever you truly are? Well then, well then. Have Thee Oh Sees got a song for you …

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/02%20Toe%20Cutter%20-%20Thumb%20Buster.mp3]

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“Maidenhead”

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Protomartyr
Under Color of Official Right, 2014

You’re gonna swear you’ve heard Protomartyr before, and you won’t exactly be wrong. Punk like Detroit, post-punk like Wire, Ian Curtis like Ian Curtis (that’s Joe Casey on vocals), Under Color of Official Right successfully amalgamates a hand-picked assortment of rock flavors you’ve come to know and love. They’re not the first band to try this kind of thing and they won’t be the last, but the success-to-failure ratio is admirably high. You’re getting the sweet without the sour on “Maidenhead,” even with lines like “Shit goes up, shit goes down/What am I, a dead moose?” Bitter comes after and never quits: dedicated punk on “Want Remover,” modern resignation on “I Stare at Floors,” culture-baiting fight song “Tarpeian Rock.” The band’s willingness to bend angry to just the right shape is admirable, even when it’s a shape we’ve seen before. In some fields, dedication is prized above invention.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/01%20Maidenhead.m4a]

iTunes/Amazon

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“Honey Joy”

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Royal Headache
Royal Headache, 2012

Australia’s Royal Headache make scuzzy rock that’s most notable for its determination to break away from the genre. While there are no shortage of garage bands in this world willing to flaunt their love of Motown, very few sport a lead vocalist who sounds like he could’ve been a soul-music star in a parallel universe. Shogun (he goes by first name only) is that outlier, and the band’s biggest virtue: whatever soul is — and I’m not sure I’m qualified to speculate on the particulars, or that I’d even want to — it’s clear he has it in spades. Sometimes the music catches up to him and follows suit; sometimes it stands still in predictable punk fashion. Both ways, it works.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/11%20Honey%20Joy.m4a]

iTunes/Amazon

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“Braintrust”

hot snakes
Hot Snakes
Audit in Progress, 2004

When Hot Snakes shed a drummer to make way for Off! clubber Mario Rubalcaba on 2004’s career-capping Audit in Progress, they sacrificed garage grit for a polished precision that cannot be discounted. The album that emerged was leaner and more ruthless than anything Drive Like Jehu alums John Reis and Rick Froberg had attempted before. “Braintrust” is liquid energy, relentless and vital, one of the best rock openers I can name. “Your disposition will only make you fail,” Froberg taunts. Not for one second do you question his authority.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/01%20Braintrust.mp3 ]

iTunes/Amazon

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