New Music: Friday Roll Out! With Ageist, Tunic, Be Forest, Get A Life

I think things have fallen back into a normal pace here. Aside from the partial federal shutdown being reinstated for a couple of weeks, things have seemingly reverted back to normalcy. Or as normal as it can get anyway. I’ve been living out in the southwest for some time now and there isn’t much difference here from living in an urban city, aside from being able to find anything to eat just within a few blocks reach at 3am. Radio playlists seem to be on track with the same nonsense too. The more you try for change the more they stay the same. People do seem to march at the beat of their own drum though, which is always interesting. We simply need more of that.
Now I wasn’t sure why I was initially attracted to Get A Life but I think I realized what it is now. Chase DeMaster is the creative force behind the project and while Our Band Could Be Your Life Or Debt sports 9 tracks, I keep circling back to the opening title track. Why? Well, it’s pretty catchy albeit lacking a bit of originality, although probably through no fault of DeMaster’s himself. I have other tracks that share a familiarity and didn’t need to go far to find it. When he sings “I’m going nowhere fast,” I could easily replace it with the chorus “I go crazy when I think of you,” off Flesh For Lulu’s one hit that’s stuck in my head now. Aside from that, the track itself carries a lo-fi punchiness that’s quite addictive.
It’s not as if DeMaster is unsure of what he’s creating here though, taking full control of his lo-fidelity recording with wild abandon at moments, not unlike on “What You Deserve.” Levels are seemingly topped off at 11 as guitars blister around melodies, while drums are also enraptured around overpowering feedback. He’s a singer/songwriter that allows his skills to rise to the surface, that much is clear. Even when he’s playing along with standard guitar chords and notes on “All Fun No Gum” and “Here Comes The Fun,” there’s a cleverness in his delivery. But with Get A Life, DeMaster isn’t averse to experimenting a bit. “Slow Me Down” has some odd percussive timing, which doesn’t give an idea of which direction he’s going in until the track passes the 40 sec mark. When we get to “2 Plus 2 Equals 5” it’s pretty much the same thing but eschews opening with guitars, opting instead for keys. There’s a lot going on in DeMaster’s head for Our Band Could Be Your Life Or Debt, and he holds on tightly to every idea. Guess what? We’re all the better for it.

Would anyone consider Ageist something of a supergroup? By normal standards probably not but then again, I’m far from normalcy as anyone can get so I’d have to toss an emphatic “Hell yes!” out there. Members Eric Odness, Frank Bevan, Arty Shepherd and Tucker Rule are obviously familiar with one another and have done stints, previously and concurrently, with Thursday Primitive Weapons, Error Type:11, God Fires Man, Freedom Fighters and more so yeah, at some point recording an album together was a no brainer.
Babyface (Arctic Rodeo Recordings) is the group’s debut, recorded by J Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) at his studio Magpie Cage, which also seems like an easy fit. Ageist itself sounds nothing like any of the groups the members have played in, finding its own identity within the confines of this album. A carefree abandon is what fans and all listeners alike are likely to encounter here, with instruments coalescing seamlessly with post-punk enthusiasm.
The album’s opener, “Lead Legs” starts with a good amount of feedback allowing one to prepare with what’s to follow: a monolithic barrage of sound. Guitars and that rhythm section draw out an unrelenting cacophonic bombast but never letting go of the melodies underneath it all. The band draws on glorious repetition, pounding non-stop, only to take a breather during the last minute of interplay between the musicians. Don’t get me wrong though, they continue reaping the whirlwind until the end. No sooner does one track end that we’re hit with the anthemic “May 35th,” which is infectious almost immediately. There’s some breathing room where the band allows vocals to rise above the surface but never having to compromise any instrumentation.
It’s so easy to fall in love with Ageist’s “Breathe In,” as they utilize “la la” lyricism within the track as differently as anyone could while never relinquishing the sheer bombast of the track and the juxtaposition of the lyrics. “The Pastor” fuzzed, bass heavy delivery gives way to sonic bliss as the crescendo escalates into beast of a song. I feel fortunate here to witness the birth of Ageist because Babyface is one of the first records of the year to top my list.  

Dear mother of God, where should I possibly begin here. I’m not above using quotes but this right here is like that sludge from New York and New Jersey. But somehow it’s made its way from Canada hellbent on making it across the Midwest all the way to the west coast. Obviously soaked and raised on the noise of the late 80s and 90s, Tunic comes across as if they’ve always been here. Over the past 4 years, this trio of misfits has honed its skill through multiple recordings and incessant touring. Make no mistake, the band’s new album Complexion (Self Sabotage Records / Super Secret Records) isn’t for the faint of heart.
Comparisons are cheap, but then again so are the crack whores who I’m sure the band has seen a lot of, right by the seedy bars and rooms they’ve played in. But this isn’t really about comparisons. They’ve been shown to link influences like Unsane, early Sonic Youth, Dazzling Killmen and the like but I’d like to take it further and deeper going into experimentation not unlike Truman’s Water and even the Cows (Yeah, I always revert back to the Cows.)
There’s a relentless use of frenetic guitars throughout, from the opening “Nothing Nothing” to each track here, the band doesn’t give anyone enough time to breathe in as angles are cut at almost 90 degrees through each song, slamming you from one direction to the other. Hell yes! You can’t go wrong with Tunic’s Complexion because no fucks are given. Either you love them, or you hate them, there’s no in between. And if you hate them? Well, that’s your loss there.

I’m never quick in my attempt to pigeonhole a band when they do it themselves. That’s what happened here with Italy’s Be Forest but I can only assume it’s to grab the quick attention to it. This isn’t the band’s first go around, but it’s been years since they’ve released any new material as Be Forest‘s last release Earthbeat came in 2014. Now with Knocturne (We Were Never Being Boring) comes yet another release of moody, sweet darkness that’ll remind you, yes, it’s 2019 not 1995.
If I sound bitter, I apologize because that was never my intention. I was almost going to place Be Forest in the forgotten pile of artists attempting to mimic a style of play nearly erased from memory of so many, but I may have been too quick for my own good. The band opens with the prerequisite notion of having a shoegaze aesthetic with both “Atto I” and “Empty Space,” so this is where I hedged. Beautifully distorted instrument effects abound washed in delay, volleying back and forth while steady rhythms never meander. And this is what I expect to get throughout. For the most part, that’s what’s found but there are small changes the band makes to identify itself. “Fragment” has an energy to it although it’s bathed in the same effects, but its charm is undeniable as it cascades like a lonely waterfall where few have ever walked even closely to. “Bengala” marches to repetitive notes that circle around vocals, hovering like hungry vultures with its melancholy feel.  
Now Be Forest’s Knocturne isn’t a bad recording but it’s also not going to change the world because it’s been done before. Let’s see how the group handles things going forward.