Friday, May 18, 2012

Mikey Erg/Alex Kerns 7''

By Jason Duarte
Release date: 2012
7'': Asian Man Records
Rating: 4/5

I love it when two members of two of my favorite bands go head-to-head on a split. In this case, it's Mikey Erg (The Ergs!) and Alex Kerns (Lemuria) joining forces with Asian Man Records, and they created one of the most cohesive splits I've ever heard. Plus, both tracks by both dudes are full-band, by the way, so it's not any of that hippie-dippy, namby-pamby flower business (just kidding, hippies (not really)).
On his side, Mikey Erg first re-recorded "Song Against Ian Raymond" in an electric, full-band fashion. It's much more well-rounded-sounding than the original recording (off 42,069 Seconds With...Ergquist by Ergquist). He told me the song is about three years old, so I'm super glad it's seeing the light of day in a shiny, new way. Mikey Erg also covered "Flower Tattoo" by Down By Law. That's Down By Law's best song in my opinion, and his homage is quite enjoyable. He sings and plays all the instruments on his half, which clocks in at just over three and a half minutes.
Alex Kerns contributes two originals; "Responsibility of the Doll" and "Criminal To Be Alone." I dig Kerns' unconventional-yet-strangely-catchy songwriting technique. The intro to "Responsibility of the Doll" is just over a minute long and then suddenly it switches into the song. As a big fan of Kerns' past solo material, this 7'' shows how he's progressed on his own since the release of his demo his self-released Art of the Underground 7''. "Criminal To Be Alone" is faster and sounds more like a Lemuria track than a solo one.
Both songs by both guys are fun ones. This is a great release, and I think it'll be especially enjoyed if you're already an Ergs! or Lemuria fan.

Monday, May 14, 2012

'Gates of Home' by Sick Sick Birds

By Jason Duarte
Rating: 4/5

If you're reading this, chances are you're familiar with the annual Insubordination Fest in Baltimore and if you've been, you've probably eaten Sick Sick Burgers in the alley at some point. My hungry, wandering belly was how I first heard about these guys, and now they grace my turntable with their second full-length, Gates of Home.
"Pick and Choose" is a strong opener. Immediately, there's recognizable influence by Joe Strummer. The song is particularly catchy, and sticks out like a sore thumb on the album as one of its best tracks.
A little deeper into the album, "Marietta" speeds its vibe. It's reminiscent of early Cure songs (as is the bass line of "New Shoe Leather"), particularly when it comes to the clean bass and vocal tracks.
Sick Sick Birds take the melancholy, slightly-gothy and progressive characteristics of bands like The Cure and The Smiths and add a punk rock/garage touch, making something new.
The songs on this album tease the listener a bit, keeping the vibe steady and bringing it up in the chorus with catchy leads, but they don't let it go on too long, thus creating an awesome ebb and flow effect.
This is a strong album that brings new stuff to the scene, and I can feel it's already rooting itself into "Best of 2012" lists.

Stream Gates of Home: