Red Dons, LI, Spectres

Three new releases are scheduled to arrive at H/Q next week.  Pretty excited about these.  Lots in the cooker for summer.

L.I. on the corner LP (DY284) 
“How often do we witness punk bands that seem to rebirth effortless clones of themselves when their previous projects disband? It seems unfamiliar to catch a band that challenge, and progress with their sound. The now expired Freak Vibe has reformed with their new vocalist, Gabe Gutierrez as L.I. (aka Lysol).  Gabe’s earnest vocals are a breathe of fresh air from a sound that was beginning to be pastiche of a signature Australian howl that once co-existed within the band. The swampy, reverb drenched guitar of Chad Bucklew are still accompanied by the pummeling and driving rhythm section of Xtine Lundberg and Anthony Gaviria who keep locked as Gabe expels his words, and give Chad room to displace his breaking fuzzed out tone. The sound still take odes to the 60’s and 70’s, but now with bottled intensity of the early 80’s. The soundtrack of overtly caffeinated, chain smoking freaks. “

SPECTRES utopia LP (DY269) 
Utopia is an 8-song offering of gloomy and compelling gothy postpunk that shows the five piece evolving further along the road to more complex melodies, guitar lines, and singer Brian Gustavson pushing his vocals into higher ranges, adding a more dynamic cast to the overall song selections here. Put bluntly, Utopia is a magical postpunk masterpiece: while the Spectres’ earliest EPs and songs had a gritty Warsaw/Crisis feel, Utopia is a lush and shimmering document of doomy greatness, one of the crowning albums of the current postpunk and deathrock revival. It’s more firmly in the ballpark of bands like The Sound or the early 4AD “lush” postpunk bands of the early 1980s than the band’s earlier material.
Utopia is the band’s 3rd LP and was recorded in 2015, but has been delayed for various reasons. It showcases an evolution towards a more nuanced sound – the vocals are more echoey, the guitars feel more atmospheric and shimmery, and Nathan Szilagyi’s driving bass provides a firm underpinning for each track. On tracks like the penultimate “Strange Weather” – which was originally supposed to be the title of their last LP – Mitch Allen’s drumming chops shine through brilliantly. 
From Oliver Sheppard via CVLTnation.com

RED DONS dead hand of tradition LP (DY275)
Five years after their seminal “Fake Meets Failure” LP, Red Dons return with their junior album “The Dead Hand of Tradition”.
A lot has happened in those five years.
Two of the band’s core members Douglas Burns and Hajji Husayn left their hometown Portland, Oregon behind, for Chicago and London. They recorded and released a slew of singles on labels like Grave Mistake and Dirtnap (including a collaboration with TV Smith of UK punk legends The Adverts). Despite the distance between them, they’ve managed to tour regularly in North America and Europe.
In January 2015, they reconvened in Portland to record “The Dead Hand of Tradition” at Buzz Or Howl Studios, the same establishment where they recorded the album’s predecessor. “The Dead Hand of Tradition” features ten new tracks of their signature dark, driving, melodic punk rock sound. The formula of their distinctive songwriting hasn’t changed, but has matured as a result of having five more nomadic years under their belts. These new experiences have only added to the themes of alienation, emigration, and loss, present in their music.

Punknews review:
Distance is something Red Dons know all about. With members spread across the globe, even simple things like getting together to record a few songs can become complicated exercises in coordination. That probably explains why we’ve waited more than five years for a new Red Dons full-length, though the band hasn’t exactly stayed silent during the period between records. Last year saw Red Dons team up with TV Smith for the A Vote For the Unknown 7-inch, while the previous year saw the release of the excellent Notes on the Underground 7-inch.

The first thing that’s clear on The Dead Hand of Tradition is that the band’s formula hasn’t changed. And frankly, there’s no reason it should. Red Dons have perfected a recipe that combines post-punk gloom with the driving beat of classic punk rock and the melodic leanings of bands far poppier. While the model is the same, there’s a key addition that amps things up, and that addition is guitarist Ruby Sparks. She brings a crunch that adds a new layer to the band’s sound, and it’s particularly noticeable on tracks like album opener “The Good Disciple,” as well as the record’s title track. Both songs are instantly recognizable as Red Dons tracks, but the added power of Sparks’ guitar gives them even more of an edge than before.

Thematically speaking, the record treads similar territory to the band’s previous output, but the subject matter never feels tired. While one could categorize the tone as melancholy, it’s a different kind of melancholy than that which is often associated with modern punk. It’s certainly not the emo-tinged gruff punk rock that’s so popular today. It’s much more a timeless melancholy, like a veil of darkness spurred by a feeling of disconnection from the people, places and things one cares about. Singer/guitarist Douglas Burns isn’t just projecting his problems, he’s singing about the thoughts and feelings we all have, and he’s doing it with an urgency that we can all relate to.

When a band is more used to putting out 7-inches than albums, there’s always a worry that the full-length can fail to capture the same energy of a shorter release. Thankfully the sequencing of the album prevents that from happening, as every time it seems like the energy level begins to dip, something exciting happens and raises it back up again. Red Dons prove on The Dead Hand of Tradition that they can keep pace over the long haul. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait so long to hear them do it again.