Vacation at Johnny Brenda's
I love going to see a band that I've seen before but they're even better than I remember. It's like discovering them a second time.
Vacation (the Cincinnati one) are probably not a punk band but they're reeeeal close. They have the energy but it doesn't seem like they're all that angry. Some of their best songs are really more self-reflective than anything, and in a thoughtful way, not a whiny one. Then on other songs they're sarcastic as hell like the Dead Kennedys so there's definitely a little punk in there. They call themselves "Grit Pop" on Bandcamp. I'm sure the Garage Rock people want to claim them too. They're just entertaining and fun and thought-provoking at time. Nice stage presence too, they actually seem like they enjoy being on stage, perhaps aside from the people throwing empty beer cans at them. As far as I know they are not The Giraffes (one of them was in Tweens though).
Jon Spencer and the HITmakers at Johnny Brenda's
THE Jon Spencer and THE HITmakers sound pretty much exactly how you'd expect if you've heard any of Jon Spencer's many other bands. I really don't want to call them "Blues" Rock, that doesn't quite feel right. THEY have some of the superficial trappings of the Blues but their music isn't all that blues-y, at least not in the classic sense of being emotional and heartfelt. It's Garage Rock, first and foremost, with a little a bit of blues and funk mixed into their sound, plus whatever it is when there's a guy playing trash cans with a hammer but it's not industrial or artsy experimental music.
My personal favorite song on their latest album is "Death Ray", which is about an alien attack! A sexy alien attack (ooooh). Which is to say that it's hinting at themes from cheezy B-movies from the 50s and 60s. Perhaps the guy playing the trash cans is emulating the kinds of no-budget sound effects they used back then. I also notice that the album title is a drug reference. Yeah, it's the usual Garage Rock stuff. It's fun and I still like it but I've heard this before.
Kilynn Lunsford at Johnny Brenda's
You might recognize Kilynn Lunsford even if you can't spell her name like I can't. She has been in a few bands over the years including the garage-influenced Little Claw and more recently the aggresive noise of Taiwan Housing Project. As for her current band (The Custodians?), well, they are clearly not just a re-creation of her last band. Thinking about what has changed I am reminded of a review I read of Fugazi's album "The Argument" which basically said that it's still punk but has actual melodies you could sing along to this time. I personally do not plan to sit around at home singing "BABIES BABIES BABIES BABIES" but I could, which is interesting.
That said, the live versions would be easier to sing along to. On her debut solo album "Custodians Of Human Succession" the vocals are heavily modified. Clearly there is a lot of electronic processing of the sounds on the album, which is normal nowadays and gives the album more of a mesmerising effect. Even with all that production, though, you can tell that she's shout-singing some songs such as the opener "Reality Testing". Well, when performing live she shout-sings many of the songs. Live she's more punk, and I think I like that.
Kilynn Lunsford's (Website Not Found), Music.
Carnivorous Bells at Johnny Brenda's
Carnivorous Bells are loud and have a lead singer who sings hard. I would imagine that they have played at least a few gigs with hardcore and metal bands. That said they aren't quite either of those.
At first they reminded me of Buck Gooter. The thing is, Buck Gooter tend to build songs on top of a single hook or loop which I suppose puts the focus on the lyrics. Carnivorous Bells keep changing things up. There are all sorts of things going on musically here: metal riffs, Middle Eastern sounding guitars, tin can clanking sounds, and obviously there's that saxophone. I have no clue about their lyrics, which are exactly as indecipherable to me as many a hardcore bands' lyrics. On their Bandcamp they call themselves "Cave Prog". Is Prog Rock known for its lyricism? I suspect the overall impact of the music matters more than intelligibility.
Carnivorous Bells's Website, Music.
Mesh at Johnny Brenda's
Mesh is a new (I think) band out of Philly playing jangle rock about weird shit. There's "CIA Mind Control", which is a paranoid little song about messing with one's brain. Then there is "Potato Head" which is a song about a... regular potato, with no mustache or anything. For fans of Dark Web, for what are probably obvious reasons: Same lead singer, at least some thematic overlap, and also working hard to make Philly a little bit weirder.
Tropical Fuck Storm at Johnny Brenda's
I barely even need to write up a band with a name like that. Odds are you're already binging them to see whether I made them up. Yeah, they're from Australia, so maybe it means something different there?
If you're still reading this webpage instead of Bing then stop doing that and check out this video first. The video for Braindrops is how I discovered this band during COVID. It captured my sense of malaise better than anything else I heard in 2020. I also loved the cheap and insane DIY aesthetic. It reminds me of the video for Loser by Beck (a personal fave from college).
So now I finally had the chance to see them live on their first US tour (delayed due to the suck-C). If you're into crazy poetry you might like them. Think Protomartyr but more down to Earth... usually... The Future of History excepted. They didn't play that one but they did cover Ann by The Stooges. "Punk but Poetic" is perhaps apropros.
You may notice that I took another break from photography. Although I have been going out I just wasn't all that inspired to photograph anything. I basically saw a bunch of good bands I had seen and photographed before. Concert photography already feels like doing the same thing over and over, at least the band or venue or something should be new. The results are in my opinion a bit on the weak side since I'm out of practice but like I said I don't really need to write up or market this band at all because they're called Tropical Fuck Storm and you're either curious or you're not.