Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alcohol Party / Tropical Trash
split cassette

This cassette is not innovative, but it is solid. The genre of "punk" (in lack of a better word to describe the music) is not progressed by these bands, but both acts impersonate the heroes of punk past extremely well. Like baking a layer cake, they also know how to converge their influences in interesting ways, although I was left wanting a few more ingredients.

On side A is Alcohol Party who bring two songs to the table: 1. Spider Milk and 2. Highly Suckable. You can hear post-hardcore influences loud and clear; the songs are on the long side and remind me of "Drive like Jehu" or even a more frantic and mathy "Birthday Party". There are disconcerting, repetitive minor note changes in the bass, yelled lyrics that are impossible to make out (and frankly sort of feel like an afterthought) and endless drum rolls. Let me elaborate on the drums here; the drums are great. They never take a backseat. The drums never phone it in with basic 4/4 beats. I really liked the drums.

Alcohol Party also incorporate influences from noise. Halfway through Spider Milk an oscillator makes sounds that are like an UFO landing. But their noise doesn't surprise me; it meshes with the general feel of the anxious, abrasive song.

Noise meshing isn't necessarily good. Noise, at its best, can be unsettling. Here noise is introduced but then just goes away before it can transform. There is only ONE oscillation in Spider Milk, it comes and goes and feels tamed like a lion at the circus, put on display momentary only to be quickly snatched away from the lime light.

"Highly Suckable" also introduces a synth for a second, but again, it is a device to showcase a sonic range, not something that transforms or pushes the boundaries of synths. Still, I need to call a spade a spade; these guys really do bring the rock, are tight, together and know how to play their instruments.

Alcohol Party's goal feels like they are interested in impressing the audience with quick chord changes and non traditional song set ups. That's fine, even impressive and commendable, but punk is out to ruin your evening. I'd like to see Alcohol Party go all the way and just give in to nihilistic noise. That, or maybe take a que from Pissed Jeans and really focus on their lyrics. Have them be understandable, relatable and ... whatever, maybe darkly humorous. Or they can be earnestly serious. It doesn't matter, they just need to be considered more.

Tropical Trash are slightly heavier and their guitars are a little more rounded as if they were coming from seventies tube amps. Their vibe is akin to a more masculine late 1980ties Sonic Youth that never becomes dire and completely out of control like the piercing, feedback drenched breakdown in "Silver Rocket". Frankly, this sounds so much like Daydream Nation it makes me nostalgic. Again, like Alcohol Party, Tropical Trash are very talented and know how to balance chaos and control. But that range needs to be exploited more here. Tropical Trash get closer to this, especially at the end of their second song "Leisure Expose". A single chord is held out for an extended amount of time. The song becomes quiet; hints of a crescendo are given through amplifier feedback that sound like humpback whale calls. Tropical Trash's lead singer then leans in like a young Steve Albani before the song goes back into full throttle.

There are moments of brilliance on this cassette. I really want to know what happens to both of these bands and I really want them to continue. I'd love to see where they go from here. Both bands have done their homework and put some real TLC into the cassette (I forgot to mention that the production and mixing on this cassette is FANTASTIC). I just want the envelope to be pushed a little more with the structure. I want the noise to be more piercing, I want the lyrics to be unavoidable (even just a lyric sheet in the liner notes I'll settle for) and for both bands to try producing their own personal "bohemian rhapsody". I bet all of this can be accomplished on full length releases.

Overall, this tape is a great pick up for fans of post-hardcore and punks bored of the Ramones but still haters of high school.


--Jack Turnbull www.jackturnbull.com

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