Smile Politely

B-Sides: July 2015

The Dirt Poor — The Dirt Poor

For a band called The Dirt Poor, this local group sure has a flair for the dramatic. Their self-titled debut is packed with bold guitar licks and bluesey rhythms. In a way, they’re picking up where the Dirty Feathers left off (Hint hint, Feathers, make some new damn music!) as the leading local band playing garage music to rock to. However, between “The Punk Rock One,” which is true to its title in Ramones-style riff and length and “Fall in Five Sections,” which sounds like some of Nirvana’s quieter tracks, this band bares their influences on their sleeves a bit too much. It would be nice to see them carry that garage attitude into more original territory and pull together a distinctive sound they can call their own. Make Jack White proud. —Maddie Rehayem

Horrible Things — Everybody Else

These are truly the golden years of pop punk. It can be a polarizing genre, but nowadays, if a band’s still making pop punk and I’m enjoying it, I’d say they know what they’re doing. Such is the case with Tim Reynolds’ band Horrible Things. The band’s latest album Everybody Else reaffirms that it’s going strong with the self-critical lyricism juxtaposed with quick, jaunty pop punk melodies that got us hooked on 2012’s Dumb Days. —Maddie Rehayem

The Northbound — Life, It Whispers

In the music genre of folk, simplicity and truth dance together to create a pure sound that enlightens as well as evokes honest, emotional responses. In The Northbound’s debut album, Life, It Whispers, the band aspires to be “emotional, thoughtful, and heartfelt,” and gives listeners their interpretation of a cure to a life filled with misunderstandings with instrumental solos and spiritual lyrics. The power of each song lies in its instrumental breaks, such as in “I See This Blood Flowing Now,” and lyrical strength is shown in the album’s seventh track, “Men Like Dead Leaves” with an opening verse claiming: “Men like dead leaves/drifting with the wind/Soaked in the seas/life is near its end./The dried up earth is filling up with mirth/Life, it whispers; the winds they disperse.” Life, It Whispers’ spiritual message is carried through lead singer, Brian Johnson’s voice that ranges from earthy in “I Do What I Hate, And I Hate What I Do,” to molasses in “Our Song is Sung.” Collectively, the album is a testament to reevaluating life and finding faith in something while finding more of yourself along the way. —Aaliyah Gibson

Orator — III

Are you ready for some good ol’ slow-tempo’d sludge metal? Great, let Orator take you for a ride. III has a beautiful arc, from its placid beginning to bubbling rage fully exposed, only to sink back into the murky waters by the end of the record. While noise level is clearly this band’s priority, they’re technically able as well; they don’t neglect subtle details. Tacky breakdowns are left to the wayside. Voice is repurposed as another wash of sound to counter the powerful guitar. Heady, sludgy riffs and roars are interspersed with mystical ambience. All this, but nothing is employed to excess. —Maddie Rehayem

Single Player/Nectar — Split 7”

These two bands share almost all of their members, so a split 7” makes perfect sense. The Single Player tracks are good foils for one another—“Running Away From My Own” is some lo-fi sadness that reminds me of Alex G. Songwriter/frontman Sean Neumann mastered the slow jam with that one, where “Silver Dollar” is the upbeat fare we’re used to hearing from Single Player. The Nectar side of the 7” is three quick songs. My favorite is the quickest on of them, “Okay To Cry,” which at 44 seconds is sort of like a jingle or a mantra you can keep in your pocket as a reminder that emotions aren’t your enemy. —Maddie Rehayem

Table Talk — Table Talk EP

Table Talk EP by Talk Table is worth the discussion. Whether it’s the harmonious flow throughout the acoustic verses of “Moments” or the soft bell behind each string stroke in the four songs, somehow Table Talk adds up to be the soundtrack to that indie film with a boy and a girl you’ve been trying to see. “By Fire” sets the mood for the entirety of the EP by showcasing the raw, shakiness of the lead singer’s voice and the overall feeling it seems to be prescribing to the lovesick…or maybe someone searching for answers in their significant other. With lyrics like, “From the moment we met/you were hard to forget” in “More and More (Acoustic)” and “Thoughts of you and how we made it/the more we get, the lonelier we seem” in “Sinking In” Table Talk’s EP bell-filled love note. —Aaliyah Gibson

Teddy Bomber — Get Out of My House (demo)

The band formerly known as Los Assparados added another vocalist and now goes by Teddy Bomber.  Their demo was recorded at Thee DeathTower and sounds surprisingly good considering that. Live recording has a quality that works only for punk bands like this one and “bedroom recording artists,” although rather than a bandcamp stream, I’d like to see this demo come out on tape if it already hasn’t. I’d pick that shit up at Error Records. Regardless, their Bandcamp offers five songs of punk slop — and the promise of a full-length record out this summer. —Maddie Rehayem

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