It’s just another manic Mon….no, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. On this 3-day weekend most people will be satisfied to not have to go to their mundane 9-5 while others, like myself, will be steadfast working. Seems my work never ends but I take a moment to sit back and reflect on the ones we’ve lost. That’s why it’s called “Memorial” Day. I have a profound respect for all those who’ve served, even if they’re the most obnoxious c*nt on the planet. With a little downtime this week I’ve taken a listen to a couple of artists that I’m sure not many would give a second look to, those that still have that DIY attitude and push forward. I have no clever quips to add to this so I’ll just get to it.
Who are the Medical Maps? Well, they’re a band from Boston made up of various local players, cutting their teeth in short-lived groups and just released its debut player Soft On Crime. Critiques on self-sustained groups are a bit more subjective for me but that’s because they need to work harder than others so it’s not any different for this band. It’s not difficult to decipher the music. From the band itself, claims of diversity ranging from prog, indie, post and folk rock manifest itself into the group’s finalized sound which may hold some truth to it but one thing is pretty clear here: Medical Maps writes some clever songs. The group shifts gears from song to song but they unmistakably keep the identity of the band intact hold together a singular sound. The opening “Contract Rider” begins sweetly enough, slide guitars leading the way, jangling with unabashed conviction just short of the 3-minute mark. It doesn’t set the tone for the album but will undoubtedly keep your interest to hear what’s to follow. And that’s a collective of tracks that have a pop sensibility. The quiet storm of “Music Rings On” creeps in and never lets go but it’s “All God’s Children Got Guns” that volleys from having you think it tongue-in-cheek to just a clever juxtaposition of lyrics. The band plays with dynamics, jangling and then turning the volume up but then they’ll switch modes. This is where the band’s own self-description comes to play as they float through their indie sensibilities on “50 Years” and “Tape Loop.” They play a bit with dissonance and we’re all the better for it. But closing out with “Studio 54” is their coup de grace, closing things out with a perfect song that encapsulates everything they say they are. There should be more bands like Medical Maps that aren’t afraid to show the varied influences and multiple personalities so long as it’s made cohesive like their Soft On Crime.
Across the other side of the States we find Spider, the Long Beach, CA band that’s pummeling you into submission. The 4-man act released its Best Of EP today (Cpyrt Cntrl Records) and it’s unrelenting SoCal hardcore that has more to offer than what most would probably assume. Sure the band has that full-frontal assault tactic made popular by countless others who have been influential on the band but when you play that “PCE,” all those elements come into play with shouted lyrics and that repetitive rhythm that never sounds repetitious. But it’s “New Junk II,” clocking in at just 1:38 that’s just so abrasive and welcoming. The rest of the songs pretty much follow the same patterns, sculpting those loud sonics but “Shooting Stars/Get Caught” that varies from the rest of the songs. It’s a lengthy number, clocking in at just under 5-minutes and slowing things down somewhat before rampaging through amplifiers. It’s difficult to get a complete idea of what a band truly has to offer with just an EP’s worth of work but with Spider, I’m ok with it. Just get in the pit and get loose. They’ll show you a good time.