New Music | Friday Roll Out: The Dirty Nil, Live Skull, Miranda And The Beat, AJJ

We all know AJJ right? If you don’t, maybe you should because the Arizona outfit – once known as Andrew Jackson Jihad – writes heady pop songs filled with harmonies and melodies that are catchy AF. No one needs to take my word for it, just listening to the band’s Disposable Everything (Hopeless Records) we get a sense that the rest of the world is finally catching up to the group. Heady lyricism is found throughout, swirling around catchy jangly guitars on “Dissonance.” At just 2 minutes long, it’s all too brief. But it’s through “White Ghosts” where AJJ’s use of strings and other instrumentation and clever words walk the line between melancholy and humor. It’s a beautiful composition that’s haunting and deliberate. The sheer and utter joy of “The Baby Panda” is juxtaposed with oddly dark lyricism here but makes no difference, you’ll still be bouncing around through the band’s harmonies. I don’t know, maybe the world still hasn’t caught up with AJJ but we’re here, enjoying what the members have to offer and it’s fucking amazing!


I can be the first to admit that an image can speak volumes and in this case, with the self-titled (Ernest Jenning Recordings) debut by New York by way of California’s Miranda and the Beat, offers up a plethora of distinctive sounds from across the ages to make them its own. That’s not something that’s as easy to do in this day and age, but it seems for Miranda and the Beat, yeah, it actually is.

There are moments here when the band’s garage-driven musicality is at times nostalgic while also remaining firmly footed in the 21st century. “Sweat” drips with darkly-tinged sexuality, wrapped around reverb-drenched guitars and organs that have punched through a wormhole of space and time. But the frenetic “Concrete” changes things up somewhat as the band leads through unpolished punk glory and it’s refreshing with howling vocals and unrestrained instruments. It’s no time before the band returns to the garage with “I’m Not Your Baby” with semblances of spaghetti western influences permeating within. When singer Mirana Zipse sings “You can’t escape,” you might imagine Clint Eastwood riding on a horse or locked up in the hoosegow. Either way the journey is fascinating. And then we’re hit with “Not My Guy,” a yearning love song, with 60s-like backing harmonies and love-lorned crooning. The song is beautiful in its simplicity and undoubtedly showcases the band’s ability to do more with less.

Throughout the album there’s so much to take in as the band shakes and shivers in a multitude of ways but continues to hit with an identity that remains its own. The punked up fervor of “ODR” leads into “When Are You Coming Home,” filled with more of the nostalgia the band has perfected as cooing background vocals are captivating amongst the clamoring rhythm and haunting Farfisa. This could easily be a favorite.

One thing Miranda and the Beat is able to accomplish with its self-titled is to offer an insight into how multifaceted it can be. We get a theme here as well, a make-up to a final break-up filled with emotion. Miranda and the Beat isn’t just one thing either, as the musicality from track to track showcases a variety of tones giving us one powerful debut.


The 80s were a creative time for many. In an age without social media and a quick-paced need for recognition, artists had to rely on word-of-mouth and random scribe walking into seedy, damp bars for acknowledgment. That is if they were any good. It would usually be followed by releases on indie labels that were at the forefront of discovery which is why so many artists were able to thrive creatively, flourishing, which would resonate within the music released.

In 2023, life is so much different, as Tik Tok stars are born into million-dollar deals. Things are drastically different. A group like Live Skull was renowned for its creativity back in the late 80s releasing a handful of albums before packing it in, only to resurface 30 years later releasing 2019’s Saturday Night Massacre, 2020’s Dangerous Visions, and the new Party Zero (Bronson Recordings). Guitarist Marc C and drummer Richard Hutchins are the remaining members of the group but with Kent Heine on bass and guitarist Dave Hollinghurst, it seems the group still remains a force to be reckoned with. But that’s not to say its music doesn’t come without any problems.

Live Skull is methodical in its delivery and you can see/hear it on “Magic Consciousness” where members are in sync with one another as dissonant notes trail off into the sunset but you have to wonder if the group has moved forward in its own evolution. Then “Mad Kingship” drops and the band lets everyone know and understand why it’s been able to stand the test of time. The instrumentation opening the song itself, repetitive in nature, but far from repetitious, is a painting of sonic textures painting a musical canvas that’s intriguing and inviting although you might be left on the fence with Mark C.’s half-spoken half-sung vocal delivery. But it still intrigues.

We shouldn’t miss the post-punk flirtations either and that’s all in Heine’s silky bass groove here on “Tales of the Echo Chamber.” The group continues to captivate following its continuous pattern here but it works in the band’s favor as guitars seem to engage in a dueling match. There are moments when Live Skull turns into a slow-moving monster, much like on the “Turn Up the Static,” cloaked in mystery with slight dynamic changes which will leave listeners clamoring for much more of the same.

I think I was on the fence early on with Party Zero, this being my first interaction Live Skull since ’89’s Positraction and sans Thalia Zedek, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What we do get here is a straight shooter of an album that doesn’t let down.


Occasionally, lines are blurred. There’s a space between punk and hard rock that may sometimes cause confusion. Some groups may straddle that space with confidence while others move across it back and forth in constant motion, consistently in search of its true identity. Then there are some that start off as punk outfits but the draw and call of hard & heavy riffing with cascading melodies is much too strong to be avoided.

Canada’s The Dirty Nil, we’ve witnessed the band’s progression throughout the years, since its full-length debut offering, Higher Power. The band was raw and abrasive with a shit ton of melodies everyone could sing along to. The band returns with its fourth LP, Free Rein To Passions (Dine Alone Records), and while there is the sheen of experience, much of the release is set to overdrive. You won’t find any punk rhythms here but what you will find is heavy-handed riffery set to 11, wrapped around cathartic vocal deliveries and bludgeoning percussion. This probably gives a clear definition of the opening “Celebration.” But it’s “Nicer Guy” where we get a clear view of The Dirty Nil and its prowess on its instruments as it smothers the song with well-defined vocal melodies, while guitars are the lightning to Kyle Fisher’s thunderous drumming.

Throughout the years, the band has become ever increasingly fond of sweet melodies circling heavy instrumentation and it seems things always fall right into place for the trio because the album is rife with it. Listening to “Land Of Clover,” it’s clear the band stormed the studio with purpose in hand: raise the levels to raise the roof. There are brief moments where guitars make themselves scarce but when it hits, it hits without remorse. Even when the band pauses to move in a different direction with its disdain for “Stupid Jobs” there’s nary a misstep as it leaves room for open space until the track howls and offers blood-curdling screams through its instrumentation. While different in scope, it still remains The Dirty Nil. The nostalgia the band looks through in “1990” has the band moving within its own status quo albeit with slight changes as is the band’s title track, with a much more poignant attack in its delivery. What we get is something that’s sharp with blunt edges before the band’s closing and softer title track. Seems the last couple of years took a lot out of the band and you can feel it here as a touch of melancholia permeates through it.

And so, what do we think? Well, The Dirty Nil is about rocking out but also tossing monkey wrenches within the mix. It’s understandable and The Light The Void and Everything showcases that. It’s a good record and of course, fans will be pleased with it.