Although he’ll be best known to most people as an ex-member of Throwing Muses and Belly, singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Fred Abong has carved out a solo career exploring some interesting lo-fi sounds. On the ‘Homeless’ and ‘Pulsing’ EPs, he introduced audiences to his minimal approach to arrangement, and with just voice and electric guitar, the best material contrasted angular noises and introspective lyrics on tunes that sometimes felt like audio sketches. Although strong on record, these tunes really sprung to life in the live setting, but every artist needs to move forward, and by the time of 2022’s ‘Yellowthroat’, his recordings had expanded to include mellotron, piano extra vocals and felt altogether warmer without losing focus of his lo-fi signature sound.
In May 2023, Al Pacinos Sister released a three track EP entitled ‘Trevor’. For those who’d followed the band’s progress to date, its material shared a trio of brilliant punky tunes. ‘Impossible’ applied an unexpected layer of synth noises, but this didn’t dilute the anger in any way. The pointed way in which the synths added to the APS sound merely confirmed any feelings that these anonymous, faceless musicians were among Britain’s best underground noise makers.
When confronted with a cartoon of a burning turd on a release’s artwork, there’s a hint that you might be about to encounter something with a lack of subtlety. When it comes to Brighton’s Lambrini Girls, “a lack of subtlety” only really scratches the surface when it comes to describing a fantastic musical assault. On their 2023 EP ‘You’re Welcome’, their mix of anger, social commentary and musical punch is so needed that such absolute directness is vital.
Released towards the end of a troubled 2020, at a time when the Coronovirus global pandemic appeared to be at its height, Fred Abong’s first full length album ‘Our Mother of Perpetual Help’ was a suitably moody affair. Comprised of songs largely played from an oddly tuned acoustic guitar and featuring lyrics that captured a genuine emotional fragility, its lo-fi charms felt like a step up from his earlier, hastily recorded EPs.
When a punk release gets likened to classic Circle Jerks and early Black Flag, it’s almost certainly worth checking out. There’s something timeless about those early American hardcore records, and bands that take influence from them often manage to be thrilling, no matter how many years pass since the release of works like ‘Group Sex’, Germs’ ‘GI’, and the Adolescents’ debut.