Two picks again this week–and two albums I loved more than just about every other one this year. Together, they show the outer boundaries of modern punk.
First, Dogleg, which is punk in the tradition of early Dirty Nil and Beach Slang. Merciless hooks. Power chords. Screamed lyrics. A studio recording that sounds live. A half-hour long, no filler. A most excellent debut.
My second pick for the week is the third album by England’s Melt Yourself Down, whose experimental jazzrock protest album 100% Yes also has a strong punk ethic. But where Dogleg relies on passion, angst, and ferocity, Melt Yourself Down relies on musicianship and timing along with precision-based songwriting and arrangements. The band knows when to blast in Fishbone-style horns and when to suddenly insert silence, giving the stop/start, slow-fast feel of a Pixies song. Dogleg is simple and powerful. MYD, on the other hand, is complicated and provocative.
Just look at the choice of single: Crocodile. There are much “easier” songs on this album, but they went with an anti-drug song. It’s based on Krokodil, a synthetic injectable opiate so named because it makes a user’s skin rough and scaly–like a crocodile.
This is punk for today, owing and borrowing little from what came before.