New Music | Friday Roll Out: BEANS, Gouge Away


Spending time doing one thing incessantly could be classified as an addiction but is it the same for music? The reason the question is posed circles around releases that seem to constantly take over one’s life the minute they’re released. Why? Well, it could be the unbridled passion in song after song, or maybe it’s the need to explain why you shouldn’t listen to something. It’s a coin toss which could sometimes go either way.

But today we’re focused on Gouge Away, that quintet out of Fort Lauderdale, FL that formed back in 2012 and spends its time now in the D.C. area. Through the span of its career and a couple of album releases, the band has seen some membership changes before solidifying itself with guitarists Dylan Downey and Mick Ford, Tyler Forsythe on bass, drummer Thomas Cantwell, and vocalist Christina Michelle. The band has just released its 3rd full-length offering with Deep Sage (Deathwish, Inc.), and that “unbridled passion” I was referring to, yeah, that’s what generates the new release. From the start, “Stuck In A Dream is an explosion of percussion with dissonance clouding around it. The band breaks free quickly with a wall of guitars accentuating Cantwell’s smothering drums that never let up, but nor would we want them to before Michelle rages and howls before feeling you’re right alongside her stuck in the dream she’s wandering within. It’s not always like that and this is the appeal of the band as it leaps into “Maybe Blue,” following a catchy melody, swarming it with more dizzying guitars, bass, and well-fitted drum play that’s set to hook you in. Michelle chooses to fit her voice around the song much like David Yow would at times but her delivery is audible and engaging.

There are moments when you have to question Gouge Away and ask if it doesn’t give a fuck or are no fucks given. There’s a difference. If the band didn’t give a fuck, the songs would find direction on their own, and with no fucks given, the band grabs the bull by the horns and lets it know who the fuck is in control. The deeper you get into Deep Sage, the more you realize, the band has kicked that bull into submission. The album’s title track offers the best of what the band is able to do; it can wring out clever melodic progressions while still offering a constructive cacophony underlying it all. The band plays with dissonant notes that briefly make their way to the surface as Michelle storms through it with a sometimes malevolent vocal delivery. The more subdued “A Welcome Change,” has her twisting vocal melodies like Thurston Moore would and the sparseness of its backdrop around her is welcomed. The band has no need to overblow its instruments on the track and even allows the notes of a piano to dig in as the track closes. But just when I may have spoken a bit too soon, “Overwatering” immediately attacks with furious guitar rhythms propelled by thundering drums. Michelle speaks/sings over it and screams when it suits her, and listening to “Spaced Out,” the band moves at just about the same speed never relinquishing its power and savagery through the song as Michelle screams for “space,” backed by Haley Butters (Pale Green), Meghan O’Neal (Punch, Super Unison) and Jasmine Watson (Torso, Ceremony) on this short banger of a track. Now, through the closing “Dallas,” which clocks in just over the six-minute mark, the band challenges itself through its atmospheric use of guitars, manipulating the song into another aspect of the group’s identity. The song is airy, and sweet, and changes more than halfway through into another direction which allows it to change into another track altogether. It’s still the same song but we get two for the price of one.

Through Deep Sage, Gouge Away seems to have capitalized on a number of different aspects of its sound to create something familiar but quite unique. This album is what we’ve all been waiting for this year, it’s one of the first steps taken into this new year that’s refreshing and leaves no stone unturned.


The history of music goes back far and wide, and Hip-Hop, well, it’s the baby of genres. Like rock though, there have been subgenres that have formed and reformed under the banner, and this has allowed for a natural metamorphosis. There have been those who have taken the style and experimented with it, moving sound through a musical blender, giving way to imaginative musical landscapes of sound & fury.

As part of Antipop Consortium, BEANS – aka Mr. Ballbeam, Rob-Ski – has honed his lyrical skills and his knack for creating musical backdrops that may seem over-indulgent absurdity, but there is always a method to his madness. According to the press release included, BEANS hasn’t released a proper album since 2017’s Wolves of the World, but come on, we have to count the number of releases in between, although they’re not listed as “official” releases. With what seems to be his 200th full-length album but may actually be his 19th(?), 20th(?) – I’ve lost count – but it’s ZWAARD (Tygr Rawwk) that seems to continue to throw conventionality right out the window, crashing right through it without hesitation. This time around BEANS works with Finnish musician Sasu Ripatti whose compositions seem to be ragged & disjointed and as you might have guessed, suits BEANS without issue because well, he’s derivative unto himself and has the ability to create around just about any form of music. I may be getting ahead of myself but it’s what he does, without hesitation.

‘Zwaard’ is the “Dutch noun for a heavy-bladed weapon, a sword possibly and each song is named the same with only numbers to distinguish any differences. “ZWAARD 1” is possibly the most unconventional, as Ripatti’s glitchy production makes way for a variety of percussion. While it may not seem to make sense, as a whole, it honestly does. BEANS waxes poetic with braggadocio that is clear which yes, we can understand but it’s also about self-reflection with colorful disses all around. Things start coming together and with “ZWAARD 2,” Ripatti keeps the layers thinner as they aren’t as thick. Ballbeam comes to grips with age here, “In the summer turning 50/my hairline is receding trying to shake hands with my neck/that’s when I knew I was about to be/one of the flyest emcees on AARP,” while also dealing with the past and his relationships. It’s established as the first line of the song, “In the past is the life of a ghost that roams restless,” which sets the tone of the song itself. The rhythm surrounding “ZWAARD 5” is deliberate in its non-linear motion. It’s an instrument that again layers sounds but still leaves space to breathe it all in. “ZWAARD 6” though, slows things down considerably and we seem to get a BEANS of old, rocking with a familiar cadence on the beat. Again, we have the sparseness or space in between the kick & snare before it chillingly directs into cacophony around the steady rhythm. We’re hit later with that unassuming “ZWAARD_OVER” where familiar voices make their way through, beginning with HPRIZM, the High Priest, the HP who’s never at a loss for words, spitting with a diamond-cut tongue, “I’m a jeweler/shine like a crown with many gems…me and my team for the win.” Also, sharing space with BEANS is that elusive M. Sayyid, making things everything right. It’s the APC connection, with all three together as if there’s never been a pause in activity. Hell yes.

While it isn’t surprising to find BEANS’ words revolving around rhythms, tones, and sounds that we wouldn’t expect him to work on, yeah, it’s still surprising. The darkly hued “ZWAARD 12” is spacey but he makes it his own as his words are venomous for those that are being addressed and even when he spits, “Need somebody to love? Invest in a mirror” we get a two-pronged attack. It could cut like a knife as well as offer clear advice. BEANS closes with “ZWAARD 14,” with Ripatti’s slight glitch providing the rhythm. Oh, this is so odd it’s magnificent. It’s literally one of the more powerful tracks on the album without the need of creating a constant wall of sound.

There’s no way to avoid it but yes, when it comes to BEANS I’m obviously biased when it comes to his solo work and that of APC. He’s proven he can be a force to be reckoned with and now as ZWAARD makes its way to an unexpected audience, he’s done that again. The proof is in the substance that fills this release.