Matthew James and the Rust Belt Union “Impromptu Musicals for the Skeptic” Review + Album Stream…

MATTHEW JAMES
AND THE
RUST BELT UNION

Impromptu Musicals For The Skeptic – Vinyl // DD

Sump Pump Records – released September 14, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Formed:
January 11, 2016

Hometown:
Rust Belt, USA (roughly in a garage, somewhere on the east side of Des Moines, IA)

Genre:
self-described ‘Midwest Junk Soul’

Band Members:
Wrex – Drums.
Larry – Upright Bass
Nathan – Pedal Steel
Brad – Guitar
Matthew – Acoustic / vocal.

Previous Release:
“Live From The Loft” (2016)

 

 

Review:
When I hear the term ‘rust-belt’, I am immediately in mind of that region of the country that begins in western New York and traverses west through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, ending in northern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southeastern Wisconsin. Previously known as the industrial heartland of America, Industry has been declining in this region since the mid-20th century, leading to the unofficial labeling as the ‘Rust Belt’.

Including Detroit MI in it’s ‘snare’ that has served as home for Matthew,  a singer songwriter originally hailing from the ‘dirty mitten’, aka Michigan. He has been howling in microphones since 2000 and recording hand made lo-fi junk since 2006 with the formation of The Back Home in Michigan Band. He spent a few years touring with Rickett Pass, rambling around the country before settling in Des Moines Iowa. This album is singer Matthew James’ story of moving to Des Moines from his home of Detroit for a girl and leaving everything behind including music with his nationally touring string bands. The single “Goodbye” was written on that drive as heard in the lyrics. Matthew James & The Rust Belt Union refer to their brand of music as ‘Midwest Junk Soul’ and that description could not be more accurate.

Ten tracks that clock in at around 44 minutes.  Musically, what we are presented with here is a collection of compositions that fly up and down the proverbial scale of ‘type’ where we get everything from the elements of folk, gypsy, jazz, be-bop, country, bluegrass, blues, swing and rock to deliver what can only be described as a hybrid that could be described only as Midwest-junk-soul as they have aptly classified themselves.

Band Pic

Filled from the get-go, opener ‘Goodbye’ has each element described above in full force from the raspy vocals flavored with battery-acid, jangly acoustic in tow, great swing beat setting the pace as a soulful wail of lap-steel flows in and out of focus giving the body of this, and each track here a flavor typically kept in the background. Much as Primus brought ‘eh bass guitar to a new level having it out from the shadows, MJ&TRBU have brought this obscure-to-rock instrument to the forefront as well and it is amazing!!

‘Little Light In The Big Rust’ opens with a surf-slide tone over that acoustic guitar and slams right into the body of a song that makes you move!  Like it or not as the beat is infectiously hypnotic and keeps you in hold as Matthew sings of a “child crying and a mother trying” on top of a band that is as tight as any and doesn’t drop a note among the slyly-placed time shifts keep you wanting more. ‘Enthusiastic Apathetic’ opens with a slower, bluesy cadence as MJ’s vocal paints his picture over the band behind him and this pace fits this oratory like a glove, where ‘Left Foot Fail’ is country to the core complete with an upbeat ‘two-step’ rhythm line that pulls your boots to tap at the least along in response.

Shifting gears again with ‘Dying Dogs In South Carolina’, we are given another diatribe of wondering ‘why’, and when ‘Holidays’ kicks in with it’s faster upbeat tempo, it is right on time and lifts the mood again, even as Matthew slides forth with what must be an introspective perspective of what I can only guess to be a typical holiday for as he states that he said “We’re all going to Hell”…

Band Pic 2

The final four tracks represent what I would hope would a block of songs played in this particular order and could very well be the perfect ‘end-piece’ for their live set. From the soft acoustic opening of ‘600 Miles’ with it’s “Cold-moon sinking” into the ‘So broke” exclamation of ‘Tough’ through the advice of ‘It’s The Kind Of Place’ that could very well be describing a day in the life and by the time closing track ‘And We Went Drinking With Ed Love!’ hits, it is the perfect wrap-up of one HELL of a story an I found myself hitting play again after the frenetic ending section to savor it all again.

If you are looking for something that is meaty and satisfying at the same time, cured with the purity of music for the sake of music and masterful storytelling hidden behind a vocal style that will make you listen harder to catch each word, THIS is the record for you. Support them live if they come to a garage / tavern / library / or any other venue near you, play it to death for everyone you know and keep it LOUD!!

Band Logo


Traffic Death “Dead End” Album Review + Stream…

TRAFFIC DEATH

Dead End – Vinyl // Digital Download

Sump Pump Records – Released – Dec 10, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

Line Up:
Nate “Fetus” Phillips – Vocals
Andrew Smeltzer – Bass
Brian Greenfield – Drums
Garan Drozd – Guitars

Review:
Traffic Death is certainly an interesting band name. I figured I’d dig into this bad boy while I was stuck in the passenger seat of a large suburban-type vehicle on a long road trip as I tilted my seat back for a nap. Don’t let my nap fool you, this album is heavy as fuck – I just happen to sleep incredibly well with loud abrasive music in my ears. What I can’t sleep through is shit music. It wasn’t long before I nodded off and found myself in a very non-vanilla sex dream about Miley Cyrus that unfortunately ended too soon. Whether Traffic Death’s lullabies inspired my sweet images of leather and chains and Miley, I can’t say.

So now that I’m fully awake I’m giving Dead End a more serious listen. Traffic Death describe themselves as a “high speed, violent crossover 4 piece”. I see no reason to re-invent the wheel here as they’ve nailed their sound in six words though I will elaborate later. Near as I can tell, Dead End is their 3rd exclusive release but they also have a split release with The Lurking Corpses… whoever they are (I’m going to check them out for sure).

Dead End starts out with “Spontaneous Decomposition/Nothing to See Here” which reminds me a lot of M.O.D. and Billy Milano. I hear aggressive, thrashy, unapologetic hardcore with a touch of dark humor. However, it’s not long into this ingeniously titled tune before it steps up a notch, both musically and with the vocals leaving my comparison behind moving to a more Converge-cult sound.

Promo Shot

“Mandatory Sentence” opens with some seriously fun speed metal guitar work from Garan Drozd that I just was not expecting after hearing its predecessor. What comes next, though, caught me completely off guard. Nate Phillips rips a speed metal scream reminiscent of early Tom Araya. The rest of the track goes somewhere else but the change in direction is completely fluid.

I’m not going to track-by-track this album because the rest of it is more of the same. Clever and darkly comedic song titles perhaps over-use the “/” to translate multiple concepts. There’s a merge of, or shift into and out of, several styles. It seems to be random but if you go onto the band’s (hyperlinked) Facebook about page and read their influences and you know even half the bands, it all makes perfect sense.

My biggest complaint about Dead End is the fact that it’s only 24 minutes long. So even in waking, Dead End is a would-be wet dream cut entirely too short.

Additional Links:
https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end

https://www.facebook.com/TrafficDeath/

Trafficdeath.bandcamp.com

 

Band Logo

Zuul “Zuul” Album Review + Tour Schedule + Stream…

ZUUL

Zuul  – Vinyl // CD-R // DD

Sump Pump Records – Release Date: September 8th, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Location:
Iowa City, Iowa

Lineup:
JL BOLINGER – GUITAR/VOCALS
IAN KOEHLER – GUITAR
DENNY RICHARDS – BASS
ALEX WATTS – DRUMS

Review:
Was sent this record to review, never heard of the band, had heard of the Tyrannosaurid Theropod Dinosaur that had been found in 2014 in Montana and had only recently been named and described this year, and by looking at the cover art, I gathered the name was probably more akin to the demon and demi-god Zuul the Gatekeeper of Gozer, from the Ghostbusters movie that, coincidentally enough, was a facet in the name of the aforementioned wicked lizard.

 

 

Eight songs making up this 32 minute romp of all things rage/punk/screamo complete with surf-punk kitsch in the guitar lines and an hyper-fuzzed bass line, enough cymbal crash to simulate roaring waves and a sneer-filled growling vocal line to rival even the fiercest on delivery.

ZUUL’s debut on vinyl for the first time, includes poster of the album artwork, lyric poster and an additional live album on the download code (w/vinyl version only).

From opener ‘747’ to ‘Punk Funk’, any pretense is wasted as these are full speed ahead through ‘What If’. ‘Middle Child’ is a slower tempo’d rocker that even the purest would have to appreciate in it’s heavy handed arrangement to keep your head moving. And then there’s ‘I Don’t Drive’ that comes out of the gate with a soft-touched clean guitar that breaks into over distorted squeals at the chorus break where the plush returns to envelop the ardent among before the clean returns to circle again.

‘Jimmy Buffet Killed Iowa City’ has a staggered intro that takes a hold as the winding guitar returns weaving circles around from all directions leading to the demanding vocal line that forces you to listen in a riotous cadence that shifts on a dime and again and again to almost a dizzying proportion that flows perfectly into ‘Greg Hall’ with it’s Spaghetti Western intro before full on shrieking rage comes back through the mic.

Live Band Shot

 

Final track ‘untitled’, may be the one that doesn’t seem to fit until you listen to the lyric that flows with a voice that is almost impossible to believe is the same guy that you have just spent 7 previous songs with. Even the first guitar notes are clean and slightly warbled, showing a completely different side for this band on what I have to assume is a first release from as I could not find anything online besides the album listing and release party info on their labels webpage. This song shows ability typically not associated with a band that is seemingly pissed off all the time to deliver on any level imaginable.

Great outing from the Midwest and shows great promise in MY opinion. I have a feeling that in a live format they could rip your face off or get you pumped up and screaming at the very least. Get the album, play it to no end and share it to any set of ears you can, catch them live if they come anywhere close and keep it LOUD!!


Fetal Pig “Autopia” Album Review + Stream + “In Case…Episode 2”

“In Case You Missed It” Series – Episode 2

FETAL PIG 

Autopia – Vinyl // DD

Sump Pump Records – released October 14, 2011

Album Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

FORMED1991

LocationDes Moines, Iowa

Spring 1991 found brothers Dan Hutchison (g/v) and Jeff Hutchison (d) forming the band and after gigging around trying to find the right line-up and they released a 4-track EP in 1995 on cassette, before disbanding. Fast forward 15 years to July 2010 wherein the brothers returned , ready to go with Charles Hoffman (b/v) in tow to round out the lineup and they headed into the studio soon after to record their first full length release “Autopia”.

Consisting of 10 tracks making up this 45 minute slab of prog-punk that the band tries to underplay, describing themselves as quote “a pathologically eclectic old-school punk sort of power trio, or alternately, just 3 more kinda yelly white dudes, if a little on the middle-aged side, and FETAL PIG’s music (and lyrics) are fun, sarcastic and paranoid, combining the ferocity of punk with the angular guitar dissonance of post-hardcore noise rock, and the compositional ambition of prog rock” enquote.

Pro Band Pic

What is actually delivered is a slab of attitude and angst reflecting all of the vocal tendencies of punk heavyweights like JELLO BIAFRA and The DEAD KENNEDYS, the time-shift madness of THE MINUTEMEN basslines hammered hard-enough to knock you down and drumlines that seem perfectly accentuated by the twisted guitar meanderings that surround these tracks with all of the precision and seeming madness.  There is no denying that these guys have their mission and this is it.

Tracks like ‘Meaningless’ / ‘Concerns’ / ‘Identity Crisis’ and ‘Inside The Pyramid’ all have that punk-ish edge and a vocal line screaming of rage, discordant misplacement and anger while not giving a fuck that comes with the territory of our post-hardcore world, where ‘Power Slide’ shows an even more aggro-fast side.

‘The Piano Movers’ opens with this ultra precise bass line that kicks in with the rest and takes you on this almost dizzying ride of stop/start/shift tempo that pulls you along with an urgency to take it all in for the just over two minutes of mastery of their craft, not like the “middle-aged, yelly” guys they portray themselves to be and this proves it, while ‘New Apostles’ is as fast and frenetic as could be with dual-vocals and all, screams intact as the guitar-bee zips and zigs and zags all around, showing that progressive flavored-post-punk tag is indeed suiting.

Two tracks in particular stand out to ME on this and those are opener ‘The Dawning Of Autopia’ and closer ‘FP Vs. Mecha-Godzilla’ and if I get the chance to see these guys onstage, it would be utter perfection for them to play these two one after the other as the ultimate prog-punk jam song and would melt the crowd’s collective consciousness by the end of the combination. Each member shows off their individual musicianship and integrity during EACH of these instrumental offerings as well as a combined unit working in complete syncopation.

This album still sounds ‘new’ with each listen and is one you need to add to your library and share with ALL, if you haven’t done so already. Let’s hope the “NEXT” is in the works, to be released sooner than later… keep it LOUD!!

Live Band Pic


Broken Ones “Self Titled” EP Review + Stream…

BROKEN ONES

Self Titled 7 Inch – Vinyl // DD

Sump Pump Records – released June 3, 2017

Album Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Location : Des Moines, Iowa USA

That’s about the extent of any info about this three piece other than they include members of the bands The Jitz, Traffic Death, and The band Rob Ogg, and have several upper Midwest shows running through July 2017. This being the first offering from, and released by Sump Pump Records.  It contains four tracks totaling 6+ minutes of pure punk rage including a ‘sliced and diced to perfection‘ cover of 80’s legend Greg Khin’s track ‘The Breakup Song’ that is ‘instant movement‘ for the entire 1:42 as you scream along with these guys.

Band Pic

 

The other three original tracks are full-on sneer inducing pure punk, each a quick burst of machine gun drum-lines, road-rage spewing and an almost love song to start things off. This is one of those maxi-singles that leaves one question in your mouth… “Where the fuck is the REST??” No real “New ground” broken other than the brilliant reworking of  Khin cover, but it hits hard from beginning to end and will force you to hear it over and over… get it now, shove it down the throats of your closest friends and all of their enemies too, support them live and keep it LOUD!!

 


New Album Review – Telekinetic Yeti “Abominable”

TELEKINETIC YETI

Abominable – Vinyl / CD / DD

Sump Pump Records – Release Date: March 17, 2017

 

Push play, lean back, fade in feedback, growing louder until the enormity of the music hits you HARD between the ears, and the assault is upon you, no turning back. Dubuque, Iowa is the base of operations for this two man powerhouse band that classifies themselves as a stoner/doom band. Wielding a drop-tuned seven string guitar and a five-piece drum kit, Anthony Dreyer and Alex Baumann have come together from the wasteland of cornfields and snowstorms to give us their first offering “Abominable” and have released two videos in support before the March 2017 release date as well. Eight songs tie together forty one minutes of some of the richest and flat-out HUGE sounding songs to come from two guys in my memory!!

 

Live Band Pic

 

Lead-off and title track ‘Abominable’ starts off just as described and let’s you know from the beginning that these two are serious and they are not fucking around either. ‘Electronaut’ continues in this same vein, the missing bass player not even looked for with the low end rumble of that drop-tuned seven string more than making up in complexity of progressions and outboard gear, creating a sense of multiple players. ‘Stoned And Feathered’ is even more brutal, hammering with a might and power that looms unstoppable until the last minute when there is a shift to a softer tone that becomes the intro to ‘Colossus’ and has a more staggered pace with power riffs and ultra time shifts and shows them flexing the doom/stoner hybrid colors with a mastery that is seemingly rare for a first recorded outing and this almost nine-minute instrumental shows the muscle behind.

 

Album Cover_Landscape

 

Not a lot of info available about this band beyond their Facebook presence but as tight as they are together on this record, it would seem apparent they have been perfecting this for some time. ‘Lightbearer’ starts off with the traditional four-clicks of the sticks before this ‘running’ guitar line slips behind and pushes you down he road before you know what just hit you. Halfway through we enter the psychedelic portion of our program filled with the mystical that fades off into the  intro to ‘Apophis’, a section that lets the doom feel come back in full force, lumbering along for less than two minutes before ‘Beneath The Black Sun’ takes hold with a complex weaving of loopy guitar and drum-line flying together, leading down yet another path of musical prowess shimmering with the power and might that lofts off into another fade off that ties ‘Himalayan Hymn’ completing what is a seemingly endless four part jaunt with no words necessary to convey the story, using only an insane complexity in time and structure to create this journey into the world they have created and taken us into the heart of. Suddenly, the music stops and just as you are thinking you have reached the end, there is a subtle spinning sound fading off and then it is indeed done. This forty one minute offering has reached it’s end and the ride has come to a close. This last four piece section in particular tells me that seeing these two live would be the ultimate medium to experience this melding of minds in to get the complete effect and I encourage you to do just that!!

Links:

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr


New Video / Single – Telekinetic Yeti ‘Stoned and Feathered’

New Single by Iowa’s Telekinetic Yeti – ‘Stoned and Feathered’ from their forthcoming debut album “Abominable” to be released March 17th, 2017 on Sump Pump Records.   Available on Vinyl / DD.

Pre-Order your copy now!!  http://sumppumprecords.com/albums/vinyl/telekinetic-yeti-abominable

All songs written by Telekinetic Yeti

Telekinetic yeti is:
Alex Baumann – guitar/vocals
Anthony Dreyer – drums

Recorded at flat black studios in iowa in 2016.
Mixed by luke tweedy
Mastered by carl saff.
Album artwork by headbang design