Right now, the world does in fact, seem like a vampire. Whether it’s the death toll that rises or the political grip on this country that’s politically driven, the blood keeps pouring out. I wonder if we’d be able to get what we need out of music or if it’s simply a pipe dream. Music alone isn’t going to help or save us all, we need more.
The greatest trick the devil ever played was making the world believe he didn’t exist. But here we have no sinners but musical saints. Once again, we hear the drummer get wicked…this time it’s actually Chuck D gettin’ it. Well, with the help of Flava Flav. April 1st proved to be the day they psyched out everyone, controlling the false narrative, utilizing it as a ploy to lure listeners into Enemy Radio and the full-length Loud Is Not Enough debut. The group, Chuck D, debuted back in 2019 and Chuck came up with the idea to use the hoax to illustrate how the media disproportionately covers bad news over good news when it comes to Hip Hop. The group, made up of Chuck, DJ Lord, and MC Jahi drop that definitive boom-bap throughout the release, save for the album’s first single “Food As A Machine Gun,” tilted with much more Caribbean flavoring. The track itself could easily translate into a Lee “Scratch” Perry joint.
I’m inclined to believe that I sometimes know next to nothing about nothing. Then along comes a little band from Long Beach called The Lice to put its stamp of approval on my own revelation. But then again, what do I know? After a couple of EP released in 2019, and two more in 2018, the band finally drops its full-length release with Hoarder House UFO, which is appropriately titled given the times we’re living in. We have very little information to go on but Matthew Gray shared that the album was started after the death of his father and finished shortly before the death of his mother, and is filled with themes of isolation, again mirroring the world we’re living in.
I’m never quick to dive into self-descriptions but it’s almost fitting here with 23 tracks in just 29 minutes, Robert Pollard would be proud of the group’s ability to capture so much melody within its tracks. Given, the music created here takes its lead from late ’70s to early ’80s Factory Records influences and is distinctly original in delivery. Let’s just go ahead and play this ad nauseam.
Reeling through 2018’s Quit The Curse, I didn’t know what to really make of Anna Burch, avoiding comparisons to that of her own contemporaries and attempting to focus on the positive aspects of her music. Don’t get me wrong, that album was quite good and her new If You’re Dreaming (Polyvinyl) finds the songstress upping her own game.
There’s a process to Burch’s recording process here that sounds remarkably like that of lesser-known acts only a few like myself, hold fond memories of. But they’ve all but vanished off the face of the earth so there’s no comparison to make, although… the guitar strumming of the opener “Can’t Sleep” has those memories cascading although Burch’s beautiful cooing makes the track all her own. Which is is of course. But it’s “Jacket” that I’m enamored with in every which way as the soft guitar along with effected bass notes and keys float away above Burch’s voice and when she sings “You’ve been sleeping through it,” you might find it difficult to keep your own eyes as she lulls you to slumber like a siren’s call.
There’s a sweetness and beauty to her music here like on the instrumental “Keep It Warm,” where we find an array of instruments fluttering through over a simple guitar picking which levitates and soon dissipates. But Burch has been allowed the time to evolve from one release to the next as heard on “Go It Alone,” the perfectly penned number revolving around addictive notes and melodies. She follows that with the keyboard-driven “Tell Me What’s True,” possibly the best song Richard Carpenter never wrote. It’s unabashed beauty with Burch’s voice on the brink of dissolution but always returning to the fray. My favorite and possibly you’re to come as well.
I’m not sure how but with If You’re Dreaming Burch has made a believer out of me. We can all get sucked in with that tender vocal deliver of hers. Just listen to “Not So Bad” and tell me if I’m lying. If you call me a liar I’ll give you my home address and we can talk about it face to face. We’ll see if I don’t make a believer out of you as well.
There are a number of groups that blatantly wear the proverbial influences on sleeves. You have to wonder though if a group is ok with leaving nothing to the imagination to allow lazy scribes like me to cheaply reference those influences, saving us all the time it would take to attempt wit or clever innuendos. Well, along comes Fire In The Radio with its third full-length release Monuments (Wednesday Records). The Philly band tosses around a hodgepodge of names that have influenced its sound throughout the years. Said influences are obvious in the band’s explosive sound and guess what? It really doesn’t matter because the band probably doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it because the members of the band are looking to satisfy their own urges to rock. Fire In The Radio does it with punchy pop melodies, a punk aesthetic, and catchy songs all throughout.
The band opens with the electro-pop punk of “Let’s Get To The Start” which finds the band maneuvering through melodies that are catchy AF, radiating strong guitar chords punching through every possible moment and yes, you do hear the band’s love of melody as Bob Mould would direct his Sugar or even Hüsker Dü but fuck man, I’m in! There’s so much energy here alone and you can feel it over and over again. But the band isn’t made out of just one song.
“Gravity” is riveting, and moves at a frenetic pace, obviously capturing the band’s live essence. The band pushes together explosive chords, harmonies and catchy melodies here and while we can all expect the verses, choruses, and hooks, they’re just placed together really well. When I believe I know where the group is heading, “This Is My Document” throws me off here. It opens with just a guitar and vocals as the rest of the band slowly builds around it before the loud dynamic shift. Yeah, I saw that coming but I didn’t expect the group to open it the way they did.
To say Fire In The Radio is clever post-punk would be an understatement. The band showcases a staunch love of melody, churning out heavily fired numbers on Monuments. The band breathes life into its music.