Never a dull moment on Hill Haints’ new release, the ‘Carcinogen’ ep

There is never a dull moment on Hill Haints’ newest seamlessly ecclectic yet entirely original ep ‘Carcinogen’.

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Though it will probably never be labeled noise rock, it’s certainly firmly in the wonderful meta-tradition of the way that classical noise rock challenges you to wonder where the noise ends and rock begins. But fortunately it forgoes unfortunate traditional noise rock facets such as improvisations and unending ten + minute bouts of feedback or other uninteresting lengthy nonsensical ill-fitting passages.  Instead, every part of Carcinogen feels masterfully crafted and timed to perfection. Every instrument is firing on all cylinders at every moment you hear it. As soon as an instrument drops out, you can rest assured it’ll come back at exactly the precise moment it’s meant to in full force and get you going even further! It sounds as though the band has been working and reworking every part of this ep for years. Like I said, never a dull moment!

Honestly, you can’t really label it anything other than Hill Haints. While you can certainly hear the eclectic mix of influences (most strongly those of the Birthday Party and the Cramps), every collaborative piece of the total package on this recording is genuinely and originally the Hill Haints. Okay, for purposes which no current underground music act can escape they do refer to themselves as garage and no wave, but we think both of those labels are insufficient without at least something like ‘sludgebilly’ thrown into the description.

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And this is a recording that sharply highlights the contribution of every bandmember. Drummer Skip Piper begins the tracks with heralding intros that then strike head on into fast driving punk rock beats. Bassist Kat Celentano alternately brings the driving garage lines and/or fuses an extra layer of fuzz noise and/or leads a track; whatever’s appropriate for the composition at hand. Unfortunately, this reviewer is unable to distinguish between which guitarist plays which part, but the interplay of Jonathan Hanson and E.S. Cormac calls to mind the sickening twisted melodic spurts of Rowland S. Howard overlaid with effects laden accents reminscent of, dare I say, the Stone Roses(?!) Hell yeah, they even seamlessly incorporate elements of shoegaze into this melange of propulsive noise!

Cormac’s vocals certainly challenge the notion of traditional pop/rock singing. Words are spoken and garbled and shouted and preached and thrown through a series of effects; alternately resembling Lux Interior, Jim Heath, and even Johnny Cash but always distinctly E.S. Cormac.

If only we had the lyrics I’m sure we’d be able to enjoy it more, but we don’t want to insert our interpretations of words we may be hearing wrong and enjoying the way we already hear them. It’s also unclear from the bandcamp page (https://hillhaints.bandcamp.com/album/carcinogen) how, where, and by whom this recording was done, but it presses all the right buttons at all the right times so you can hear every instrument loud and clear over a background of constant yet subtle noise.

The end most fitting to this review is to alert this garage/no wave/sludgebilly band that we anxiously anticipate hearing their next recording and can only hope it’s longer so we have more to gush over!

Ape not Kill Ape kills

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The first thing you notice when listening to Ape not kill Ape’s new album Bushman is how loud it is. You can turn it up, turn it to your regular listening volume, down as low as the volume goes, but so long as you don’t turn it off, it’s still loud as fuck, and it still fucking rocks.

The vocalist, a bastard son of M. Gira and David Yow, competes with the guitar for bombastic shouting power to dominate the landscape, nay, your entire fucking ear canal and beyond. Passing likenesses to Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard are the best I can muster to describe a piece of the ecclectic and original cacophony that makes your ear drums bleed when you listen to Ape not Kill Ape.

Overbrimming with volume also typically comes off as overbrimming with self confidence, and the lyrical haphazardness furthers the impression. Graveyard dogs, ‘red room believers’, and a clerk named Wilson that cures blindness by jerking off into old ladies eyes are just some of the strange degenerates you’ll meet in the surreal hellscape that once again calls the lyrical prowess of David Yow to mind. Reverb laden gravelly speaking and unexpected spark start stop shouting alternate with a melody here and there while seeming randomly guitar brimming over with distortion, feedback, and delay screech along in the back, on the top, and spill out over the sides.

The bass anchors the project no matter where it goes, often describing the only semblance of melody you’ll get for an entire track. The drums either accompany the bass or blast along with the vocals and effects laden guitar spasms. The whole is an undeniably seamless frenetic energy ebb and flow that catches you off guard and rocks you off your ass until you cry ‘no more!… Alright. Play it again!’

This band kills.