It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring no STAR WARS references and instead Die Spitz’s violent and visceral TEETH and HalfPace’s exciting post-punk revelation THE SAME PLACE YOU’VE ALWAYS KNOWN!
Die Spitz – TEETH
Favorite Tracks: “Monkey Song,” “Chug”
Die Spitz want to hurt you. It’s there in the name—“the pointed.” As in, “this Austin quartet wield punk rock like a pointed spear for brutalizing.” Sure, our mammalian brains are capable of considering pain as pleasure (and vice versa). But what’s it mean when a band’s entire shtick is no carrot, all stick—be it to injure, agitate, inspire (through fear), or generally attack your sensibilities? It’s the album TEETH—a case study in assault as a form of entertainment, and how confrontation is as effective as love and optimism. As you’d likely expect, the band goes full tilt all 23 minutes, and if they decelerate, it’s only to foster a false reprieve. The endless kinetic approach generally works—the sprint from “Grip” to “Hair of Dog” is a dizzying masterclass in brash and menacing punk rock. “Slater” shows that even half-speed remains ever ferocious given their commitment to the gimmick.
Yet the ceaseless pace doesn’t offer heaps of gradation—everything feels like one extended street mugging. But that’s sorta the goal; TEETH tests your endurance and tenacity by thrashing listeners with endless dissonance and wailing. Still, careful listeners will find contextual pockets through past genre studies—the skater-y vibes of “Groping Dogs Gushing Blood” are markedly different from the bolder hardcore pretext of “Monkey Song.” If there’s an area where context and textures blur, it’s the lyrics anchored with similar ideas and configurations. Be it “Feed me peas / And bend my knees in two” from “Chug,” or “I’m putrid feeling / I chew my own” in “Marrow Bone,” it’s the same barrage of sex, violence, stunted emotions, and us-against-the-world-ism. Don’t get me wrong—it’s a skull-melting experience, and indicative of how Die Spitz regard most listeners like a fleshy, willing punching bag. The issue, then, is it can feel constrictive given their already tight M.O.
This is primarily music as a sledgehammer to the sternum, and maybe even more subtext or variety might add a little more oomph. (Especially given that the band’s hugely self-aware and skillfully draw on big ideas/influences.) But then, that would mean the band would consider what we think, and they can’t have that. Not that they don’t want us entertained—they’re professionals at ringing elemental magic from these bloody stones. Ultimately, it’s like this line in “Monkey Song”—“Pay your way in pain / And be granted with life.” More than sick hooks, angsty lyrics, snarling vocals, and attitude galore, they equate life to suffering, like some deranged Buddhist monks. Only, as TEETH fully demonstrates, there’s something to this idea that pure, visceral suffering marries the artist and audience together in some sick, life-affirming struggle. That we’re all exposed to this sickness as one, and journeying into the dark together is a most powerful experience. As uneven as it ocassionally may be, the final experience is what matters—23 minutes to inflict pain and sorrow as if trauma and its relentless spread are the ultimate form of transcendence. And it’s a deeply glorious hurt, y’all. Listen to it now over on Bandcamp. [Chris Coplan]
HalfPace – THE SAME PLACE YOU’VE ALWAYS KNOWN
Favorite Tracks: “Pond Hockey,” “Walking into Trains”
The word cinematic is often (mis)applied to instrumental projects. It’s an easy way to talk about music without vocals, as though its main purpose is to soundtrack big moments of someone else’s life rather than convey feelings on its own. With their debut LP THE SAME PLACE YOU’VE ALWAYS KNOWN, Florida two-piece post-rockers HalfPace push back against that narrative. These are songs that swell and crest, tense enough on their own to carry a scene.
The duo is clearly well-versed in the genre’s big names over the past two decades or so; they indulge a bit in Explosions in the Sky’s kaleidoscopic dynamic shifts, try their hand at This Will Destroy You-style ambient pieces (“Counterbalancing,” “2-5-6”), and even occasionally toy with the harder, more aggressive end of the spectrum. In a style so often marked by its beauty and use of space, THE SAME PLACE often settles most comfortably into its own skin when the band gets heavy. The post-metal leanings of “Walking into Trains” play out in fits and starts, six minutes of winding decrescendos and jump scare overdrive; the first half of lead single “Ive Got Home” is all twinkle and chime, the second is blister and bite, water into whiskey. It’s a remarkably self-assured first effort for the band, demonstrating their chameleonic capability to swim in any of the various streams of post-rock without issue. Dive in on Bandcamp. [Zac Djamoos]