In the summer of 2018, singer-songwriter Fred Abong released his ‘Homeless’ EP, effectively returning him to the world of recording and live performance. In support of the disc, Fred made extensive appearances across the UK with Kristin Hersh, including a very memorable show at Ramsgate Music Hall on a very hot Sunday night.
Unleashed into the wild on the eve of a second UK tour with Kristin, ‘Pulsing’ in many ways, is a logical continuation of ‘Homeless’. While half the EP takes an electric stance, fans of Abong’s previous release will find an immediate kinship in its deliberately introspective vibe.
Andy K. Leland first came to the world’s attention as one third of Italian/Icelandic alternative rock band My Cruel Goro. Disbanding after just two (excellent) EP releases, the band decided that having members so widespread wasn’t geographically viable and Andy embarked on a solo career. The first fruits of his solo work are minimal. Fans should not expect the full volume Ash-meets-S*M*A*S*H riffage of his previous band. Instead, ‘Happy Daze’ presents Leland with an acoustic guitar and a few microphones in a lo-fi, introspective set up.
Chicago’s Speed Babes have released several DIY records since 2015 – two full lengths and a staggering five EPs, to be precise – very much taking the Robert Pollard inspired route of capturing the moment. Sometimes the energy of a performance can be more important than perfection.
Three years on from ‘Snake Oil Superscience’, Brooklyn’s Mad Doctors mean business on their second full length ‘No Waves, Just Sharks’. On this album, the band truly exploit their b-movie and pulp fiction interests, not only in the artwork, but also by enlisting various friends to drop various spoken word passages between the tracks, giving the impression they’ve mined the vaults for unknown media samples. In some ways, this is better than using actual samples, in that the clips are tailor made and – perhaps, rather more importantly in this case – it also saves the band and label time and money on clearance rights. Fans of bands within the King Pizza stable might even recognise a few of the voices as belonging to Laura Gwynn and Riley Zeisig (Sirs&Madams) and the whole of label-mates The Rizzos.
In the run up to the release of this cassette, Bleeders had been steadily building a following on the live circuit on their home turf of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. That sort of makes sense since they have a sound that would surely work much better live; on record, their no-frills, no-wave, distorted, zero budget approach is hellishly ugly. So much so, that it makes label mates The Meltaways seem like a manufactured, multi-million dollar, radio groomed pop rock trio by direct comparison. The recording of ‘Gash’ is so raw and unrelentingly grotesque, it borders on being unlistenable. Looking at it another way, it’s so hard going, that’s an achievement in itself.