Redd Kross "Neurotica (35th Anniversary Reissue)"
Redd Kross’ 1987 album Neurotica is getting a 35th anniversary reissue. It’s set to arrive on June 24 via Merge. The reissue features a series of recently unearthed unreleased demos from that era. The original album is now available on streaming platforms; listen below. The band’s last album was 2019’s Beyond the Door.
Neurotica’s 2xLP gatefold vinyl reissue comes in two different colors: translucent turquoise for the original album and translucent orange for the demos. It was remastered by JJ Golden.
Grumpster "Fever Dream"
For decades, musicians have relocated to big cities like New York, London, and Nashville for their internationally renowned music scenes and histories, but Grumpster vocalist/bassist Donnie Walsh (originally from Salem, Massachusetts) moved to the Bay Area to chase the melodic punk sounds that were bred at the DIY venue 924 Gilman. It was there that he met guitarist Lalo Gonzalez Deetz and drummer Noel Agtane, formed Grumpster, and put out a few early singles and a split before quickly catching the attention of the iconic Asian Man Records, whose founder Mike Park grew up going to shows at Gilman and has said Grumpster brings him right back to the classic Lookout! Records sound. They released their debut LP Underwhelmed with Asian Man in 2019, before signing to Pure Noise for its followup, Fever Dream, out today.
The album was produced by Anti-Flag bassist Chris #2, who told the band he wanted to work with them after they did a livestream with Anti-Flag during lockdown, and it picks right up where Underwhelmed left off, but finds the band sounding even sharper, tighter, and catchier. Like the debut, Fever Dream sits nicely next to early Green Day and Operation Ivy and The Mr. T Experience and others of that ilk, but it also has a fresh indie-punk vibe in the vein of more modern bands like Lemuria, Tigers Jaw, and Joyce Manor. It’s a no-frills, hook-filled record, and if you like punk songs with good melodies, you should give this record a spin.
Harkin "Honeymoon Suite (Rough Trade Publishing)"
From fronting Sky Larkin to performing backing vocals for Dua Lipa on Saturday Night Live via touring as a live member of Sleater-Kinney and in Courtney Barnett’s band, Katie Harkin has become a master collaborator over the past decade and a half. The pandemic changed all that. Cooped up in the titular one bedroom flat above a pub, her second solo album was pieced together with scant contributors sending snippets over the internet. This new process has led to a new palette of sounds. Gone is the slacker indie of her self-titled debut – the electronics that punctuated it are now front and centre. Opener ‘Body Clock’ combines math rock bass with Four Tet-style arpeggios, while ‘Matchless Lighting’ builds from a minimalist synth to a tremolo crescendo, and ‘Listening Out’ throbs with a dubstep-style wobble. Guitars haven’t disappeared completely though, and ‘(Give Me) The Streets Of Leeds’ and ‘A New Day’ are a reminder of why Katie has become one of the most sought-after touring musicians. The final 11 minutes of the album are the most striking of all: ‘Driving Down A Flight Of Stairs’ is a droning synth soundscape that crackles and glitches as it sways between beauty and dread. It’s a captivating palette cleanser. After years of collaborating, Katie Harkin is proving she has plenty to say on her own terms.
Bobby Oroza "Get on the Otherside"
Bobby Oroza puts his desire for the profound on wax with his sophomore album Get On The Otherside. Musically, he has updated the formula we were introduced to on the first record. But lyrically, songs are bravely rooted in the more complicated, ubiquitous inner tangles of life like self-examination and coming to terms with the vastness of the human experience.
With the Coronavirus bringing the world to a halt, Bobby—a father and husband—had to do something. No tours to play or studio time to fill, Bobby found himself back in the construction yard, doing blue-collar work to provide for his family. “I was super grateful for the work—a lot of my colleagues didn’t have an option like that,” Bobby admits. More than a few personal hardships forced him to acknowledge and work through some brutal truths. And what came of it? Well, for one, this new record Get On The Otherside which pretty well describes what Bobby’s been through: He had to demolish his ego, his old ways of thinking, and his tried approaches to anchor into a refreshed perspective with new understandings.
As Bobby tells it, “I had to do some real self-searching, come to terms with what was wrong, and how much of it I was responsible for.” So how does this translate to the new album? Moments of clarity as to where the real value in life lies on “I Got Love”, encouraging numbers like the title track “The Otherside,” and declarations of self actualization on “My Place, My Time.” Even the more straightforward love songs are outside the box lyrically like “Sweet Agony” and “Loving Body.” If you have never had the pleasure of catching one of Bobby’s live shows you may have no idea that he is a maverick on the guitar. He lets us in on a little of that on “Passing Things” with a solo that possesses the same restrained and space that his lyrics do.
As we’d expect, the songwriting still has that raw, direct edge to it. But an evolution has taken place. There are new points of view on familiar territory which in Bobby’s words “For me to love, I needed to take a bigger view of love. One with less ego and more empathy” really hold true. The result is a record with Bobby’s new found humility on full display and a message of encouragement to anyone who is struggling and can’t see a way out.
It still may be hard to nail down and define Bobby and his sound. He’s no one thing more than the other. But what he’s showing us now, on Get On The Otherside, is that we can also label him a soulful, philosophical optimist. Someone who can say a lot with a little, and who wants us all to know that it’s us that has to do the hard lifting to truly live a life in love—both with the world and with yourself.