These days, so many bands sound just like past acts. Only a couple groups can successfully take nostalgia and judo-move it into something original. This week, releases from Head Wound City, Fruit Bats, and Eagulls remind us of the past while saying something about the present.
Head Wound City's first full-length release for Three One G records, "A New Wave of Violence," is the perfect mix of old-school hardcore with modern lyrics. HWC is a supergroup drawn from two members of The Blood Brothers, Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and a pair of musicians from The Locust. A bit of Bad Brians, a little G.L.O.S.S., Head Wound City starts "A New Wave of Violence" with the track "Old Age Takes Too Long," a two-minute scorcher that will ignite the rage inside you. The record sounds like the early days of hardcore: gang vocals, ripping guitars, frantic drums and explosions of pure noise.
At 24 minutes, "A New Wave of Violence" has 10 tracks of OG punk fury. "Scraper," track six, screams the soapbox attitude you'd expect from MDC with lines like "every day we rise/ it's a cold life to a warm grave" cushioned by fuzzed-out killswitch guitar work. "I Wanna Be Your Original Sin" is a torrent of mathy blastbeat drums that says more in 54 seconds than most bands say in an entire record. If you're looking for a great new record that sounds like the golden days of hardcore, look no further.
Fruit Bats' sixth LP, "Absolute Loser," marks a return to form for songwriter Eric Johnson. When Fruit Bats first hit the Chicago scene in 2001, they were noted for their extremely personal lyrics, Americana hooks and graceful folk instrumentation. Johnson had been playing guitar with The Shins and I Rowboat, but released the debut "Echolocation" through Califone's Perishable Records. Since then, Fruit Bats have played with a revolving door of musicians.
Fans of The Mountain Goats, Bill Callahan and Wilco will feel right at home with "Absolute Loser." The LP is perfect summer music — it feels like rocking chairs, pickup trucks and sunsets on the porch. If you've been following Fruit Bats, you'll love how "Absolute Loser" returns to the timeless formula Johnson has demonstrated over the past 15 years. The title track is lush and enchanting, inviting you to dive into Fruit Bats' alt-Americana dreamland. Also check out "From a Soon-to-Be Ghost Town," "Humbug Mountain Song" and "None of Us" by tuning into AM1190 this week.
"Ullages" from Eagulls hits the spot if you're looking for awesome neo-new wave. Singer George Mitchell sounds like a modern Robert Smith, and the rest of the band feels like the perfect combo of Echo & The Bunnymen and Joy Division. If you're listening to "Ullages," make sure to play it loud on a great speaker system; the layers of guitar reverb will have you swimming in Johnny Marr's private ocean. The track "Velvet" is carried by a driving bassline that lovingly cradles the vocals and snare hits. Eagulls are from Leeds and started in 2010. So many kids in Boulder and Denver are listening to post-punk and new wave these days, but no band is doing exactly what Eagulls are doing on their newest release. If you are loving Viet Cong and Ought but want something a little bit closer to the Cure, listen to Eagulls on Radio 1190.
Jarocki is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists.