Friday, June 12, 2015


Nothing is more claustrophobic than having just enough or not enough money to take up residence in someone else’s room, couch, or even their walk-in closet. Anywhere you can throw yourself or an inflatable mattress down. Hoping that the current wherever-you-are has some kind of secret exit door leading to something with at least a month guarantee, but that mirage seems to disappear as quickly as it dimly shows itself. Your head ruminating into the night while dreading the grind of the next day’s anxious disappointments. Creativity festers and blooms in these spaces of the unknown future, as it should. Stripped raw of stability with old wounds begging for life, the true emotions of reality appear. The façade of a responsible existence and its fictitious happiness becomes irritating and irrelevant. Vexx vocalist, Maryjane Dunphe angrily croons, “Sleeping in the attic again but I gotta find a new place to live” with an ultra-nervous conviction, that freezes you in that uncertain moment on the blistering track “Sleeping in the Attic” from their new 7” EP Give and Take released by Brooklyn’s Katorga Works.

Disenfranchised, loud, and relevant, this four song mid-decade masterpiece caresses your inner sociopathic child while gently kicking in all of your teeth. An unnerving mixture of Legal Weapon’s Your Weapon and Babes in Toyland’s Fontanelle creates the baseline for the unique punk sounds of this Olympia, Washington anti-rock band. The impeccable guitar playing of Mike Liebman carries the symphonic gutter bang that creates a perfect flow throughout this quick and essential listening experience. Bringing to mind the guitar and rhythmic interplay of Naked Raygun’s cult classic Throb Throb. Crude but sophisticated blue notes slide the sections of each song into an uneasy roar that hastily shows off the band’s uncanny songwriting ability.

The lead track “Black/White” comes booming in with a disheveled anthemic quality. Rock n roll firmly intact with late 70s punk sensibility, angst ridden melody is complemented with subtle pop nuances buried beneath the aggressive art scratched roar. “Sleeping in the Attic” follows soon after with beyond-cool delivery and diabolical catchiness. “Walking in the Rain” captures a mood of desperation and gloom. Starting with a goth-tinged intro, it erupts into an energetic build-up of searing guitar lines and a vocal that runs like mania-induced poetry creating imperfect perfection. The vocal harmonies blindside you with their clever placement. Layers of guitar and sleek soul-hardcore vocalizing elevate this composition to a genre of its own. Ending this addictive listen is the mind blowing “Flattened Scenes”. The rolling and bouncy grooves of this punker than punk track, take a slight rockabilly feel and overtly infuses it with a lethal amount of moody sewer glamour. Cranked to eleven and catchier than Ebola, “Flattened Scenes” will flatten your senses. In fact, Give and Take will give you more than you think you need and you’ll still be spinning in its cyclone of modern punk mastery.


-Kevin McGovern
Fear and Loathing in Long Beach