New Music: Friday Roll Out! Last Sons, Low Life, The Faint

My hesitancy usually freezes me in my tracks whenever I’m hit with emcees that I’m unfamiliar with. But, when it’s co-signed by some of those I am familiar with, it puts me a bit more at ease. Sometimes it may cause issue though because it’s happened in the past. I’m left with a double-edged sword and I can either hate or enjoy it coming in blind. But it’s always the cynic arising in me when it should be the critic.

With all that said, the Last Sons dropped a new album in Chekhov’s Gun (Uncommon Records), and my hesitancy probably got the best of me when it shouldn’t have. This is an international affair with the UK’s Last Sons, made up of emcee Duke01 and DMC Battle-ready DJ Furious P, meld their talent with the production wizardry of Uncommon Nasa, helming this project from beginning to end. With Chekhov’s Gun, all have jelled together seamlessly allowing the artistry to develop naturally while completely ripping things apart with the musical backdrop that’s provided. When things seem as if they’re going to fall apart, it never does. Instead, the beat and drive of each track take on a life all their own, remaining unique but as a whole, completely singular with a concise idea that conjoins them all.

While different and holding an identity of his own, Duke01’s delivery is reminiscent to that of Rodney Smith, possibly one of the more well-known artists to come out of the UK who goes by Roots Manuva. Duke though, has a style his own and utilizes his quick-tongued verbiage on “Technicolor Terror.” When he opens on this magnetizing opus with “Technicolor terror but they filter the spectrum…” you know there’s something interesting building here, of course there is! Last Sons dig into something much deeper than much that’s the norm in 2019, and as Nasa had mentioned, Chekhov’s Gun is “a heavy-handed dystopian nightmare.” I couldn’t be in any more agreement with him her. The title track itself and its scared-straight version of a militant-inspired craze, following blindly into an abyss. All this with a darkened hazy bassline and keyboard tinkling, utilizing Vincent D’Onofrio’s famous lines in Full Metal Jacket. It works with chilling effect.

But there isn’t a track that strikes home more than “Welcome To Corporatonia,” which delivers lyricism of corporate greed with the monotony of living for the weekend. But then it’s Monday and we’re there to repeat the same cycle again and again. But it’s the larger than life beat that forces all to march along as if in Orwell’s 1984. The tone throughout the album is just one that’s so fucking depressing but it works! It challenges the thought process. But Nasa goes further in as well, on the winning “Champions” along with Short Fuze as the two transform themselves into Guillotine Crowns, and Barrie McLaine providing the hook, and then later on “Morphine” as well where pain meds are ripped to shreds. That beat though… it’s there thoroughly to entice and hypnotize.

There’s so much to take in with this 11 track debut but it’s worth continual listen. What does that mean? Just hit the repeat again and again and you’ll be happy you did. You’ll find something new, something different with every subsequent listen. Shit’s just dope.

Where does one begin with Sidney, Australia’s Low Life? Well, I’m sure Australian punk has never been the same since the band’s inception back in 2014…although we shouldn’t forget the band’s 2011 Sydney Barbs 7″ EP because although the levels were drastically wanting, Low Life did show much promise there. But this isn’t a book report or a history lesson, it’s about the band’s latest effort, Downer EDN (Goner Records).

To say I’m more than enthusiastic about this album doesn’t really do my excitement any justice because there’s more to the group than just being a “punk” band. Originally a three piece, the band swelled its ranks to five to fill out the wall of guitars, as well as to allow Mitch Tolman to play his front man duties. But it’s the music you’re most interested in I’m sure.

Now while the band doesn’t regress to keep things simple throughout the album, with punk hollering and riffing, they’re challenging us all to take a deeper look here. Sure “Lad Life” has that punk ethos ringing through with straight-ahead riffage but the sound is complimented, or accentuated, by the sonic scream of instruments that create a never-ending pulse throughout the track. Even tracks like “The Pitts” and “92,” holding steady to a classic sound, echo with variation. With “Rave Slave” though, I can’t help but think this is what the Sex Pistols would sound like if they grew up within a Shoegazing culture. It’s a bit cheeky but inviting at the same time. But it seems the band has grown into some new skin, allowing for more experimentation.

Whether you’re driving or sitting at a desk in a stuffy office, “Lust Forevermore” has a slinky bassline that’ll hypnotize like Biggie did, and the washes of guitar subtly shred everything in its path. This is the perfect storm in a song. One of the band’s obvious influences rises to the surface on “Glamour” as guitars circle around a melody that could easily have been recorded by Lee Ranaldo himself and Tolman’s spoken/sung delivery adds to that effect perfectly. And then there’s “Gabertron” which sounds like Jah Wobble has been grooming the band to be the next big thing with a vocal modulating auto tune surround Tolman. There’s an interesting and inviting fuckery going on here and I’m all in!

There are a number of acts crashing on U.S. shores (the band’s “Crash” is no joke either) but only the select few are as refreshingly delectable as Low Life and its Downer EDN. With this kind of mystical magic, the group is sure to turn the world upside down.

I’ve never been a huge fan of The Faint. In fact, we can keep it real here, I thought they were cheesy. Sure they were lauded by fans and scribes everywhere, both of which I can claim I wasn’t, until now that is. Egowerk is the band’s first release in five years and the group’s delivery here is on point here. Now I’m not going to say the band’s effort gives the original pattern for electronic dance grooves but it shouldn’t be dismissed.

At times the band seems like a Atari Teenage Riot being molested by Erasure, all the while stabbing nails into Nitzer Ebb, which makes things interesting but when The Faint steps away from it like on “Life’s A Joke,” there’s new life breathed in. Propelled by a straight  forward rhythm and stormy instrumental play, the group captures its punk influences within the electronic bombast it creates. It’s no secret with electronic music, the possibilities in finding potholes filled with pigeons is easily accomplished. At times it’s difficult to distinguish “Alien Angel” with Real Life’s “Send Me An Angel.” Purposefully done? Maybe. I know comparisons are cheap but here it’s required because the similarities are something others just might acknowledge as well.

I’m left at a crossroads here with Egowerk. Maybe I’ve never been cool enough to understand The Faint because I think I may have been too quick to say I was a fan. No, I’m not. There seems to be way too much going on within the group’s music that we’ve all heard before. There are songs that win here though, like “Own My Eyes” and the aforementioned “Life’s A Joke” but unfortunately it’s not enough to keep me coming back to them.