It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring a sublime debut from PACKS, out soon on Fire Talk, and Pardoner’s CAME DOWN DIFFERENT, out now on Bar/None!
PACKS – TAKE THE CAKE
Genre: Indie Rock, Bedroom Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Hangman,” “Clingfilm,” “Silvertongue,” “Blow By The Wind”
I love a good pun, so forgive me when I say Fire Talk is on fire as of late. The latest release from the Brooklyn imprint comes in the form of TAKE THE CAKE, the debut LP from PACKS. A vehicle for the songs of Madeline Link, the Toronto four-piece have made one of the best debuts these ears have heard in quite some time. If Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison stayed in her indie label bedroom, never venturing out to that major label world, PACKS would be in the room adjacent to hers. The ‘90s are alive and well on the instant-classic strutter “Blow By The Wind,” while “Silvertongue” evolves as a ramshackle barnburner where the drums try to outpace the rest of the production, yet keep the song from collapsing in on itself. The melodies are infectious, as entire songs just stay with you for days on end. Most of the tracks barely get to the 2:30 mark, yet manage to pack so much into so little time. After one listen to a tune like “Hangman,” you’ll be strolling down the sidewalks humming and singing along like yours truly has been for the last few days. It’s out tomorrow (5/21), and you can pre-order the record on Bandcamp. [Rusty Roberts]
Pardoner – CAME DOWN DIFFERENT
Favorite Tracks: “Donna Said,” “Broadway,” “Bunny’s Taxi,” “Fuck You!”
Pardoner are not a band whose musical trajectory was one I thought I’d ruminate on long after CAME DOWN DIFFERENT ended, but that’s exactly what’s stayed with me most. It’s only after listening to all their albums in chronological order that I appreciate the obvious sonic evolution on Pardoner’s latest, but even then the immediacy with which the San Francisco punks’ third album hit on that first playthrough is the thing that lingers with me—evolution, absolutely, but there is an unspoken understanding of their own strengths that separates this latest release from their previous records. Producer Jack Shirley’s approach to the band has only become cleaner and tighter as the records have gone on, and CAME DOWN DIFFERENTLY is hooky and accessible, a far cry from the dissonant haze of distant vocals and melodic grunge of their debut, UNCONTROLLABLE SALVATION. And yet even with a slight polish, Pardoner arguably punch harder on their latest than they ever have before—it’s a snarky, shitgrinning punch, to be sure, the kind that we’ve seen bands like Dumb or Parquet Courts land in recent memory, but it’s an effective one. The headbanging drive of “Spike,” the reckless speeding of “Totally Evil Powers,” the snarling tempo shift in highlight “Bunny’s Taxi,” there’s a fuck you attitude to COME DOWN DIFFERNETLY that is articulated better than on their previous albums. The album favors variety and quickness more than its predecessors, namely PLAYIN’ ON A CLOUD; the shorter songs here give Pardoner a muscular and memorable intensity that they lacked on longer songs, momentary moshed-out punk vigor filling out an album that lacks the longer up-and-down dirges of past records. In some ways, closer “Fuck You!” reads just as much like a middle finger to their past selves as it does to the rock heroes who unfortunately led them to making music in the first place. That piss and vinegar clearly fuels CAME DOWN DIFFERENT, and its drive-angry results have led to an impressive leveling up. It’s out on Bar/None now and you can grab a copy over on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]