This week’s Pressing Concerns looks at new albums from Camp Trash, Flamingo Rodeo, and Hurry Up, and a new EP from Careen. Good records!
Camp Trash – The Long Way, The Slow Way
Release date: July 1st
Record label: Count Your Lucky Stars
Genre: Power pop, emo, pop punk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull track: Weird Florida
Camp Trash and Rosy Overdrive are effectively the same age. The first person to ever contact the blog about submitting new music to it was Keith Latinen of Count Your Lucky Stars regarding the group’s debut EP, January 2021’s Downtiming. It feels like some kind of milestone to now be talking about the Florida four-piece band’s first full-length album, The Long Way, The Slow Way—one that would be basically ruined if the record wasn’t any good, but thankfully it echoes and expands on the promise that Downtiming showed. The sound that’s most recognizably Camp Trash is here—you know, the end-of-the-20th-century pop rock that pulls from both the 90s underground and 00s pop culture. Last year’s “Weird Florida” graces The Long Way, The Slow Way with its sugary harmonies—on the album, it’s part of a power pop opening trio that also includes the nervous earnestness of “Mind Yr Own” and “Pursuit”.
Not that the rest of The Long Way, The Slow Way isn’t full of emo/pop punk-tinged power pop, either—the second half of the record features the bouncy, economical, Oso Oso-evoking “Lake Erie Boys” and the 90s alt-rock loud guitar pop of “Let It Ride”. Camp Trash do take advantage of having a full dozen tracks to work with in order to explore a bit in the middle of the album, however: the fuzz-drone, LVL UP-ish “Another Harsh Toyotathon” is the one that immediately comes to mind, but there’s also a power ballad center of the record in “Poured Out” and “Enough Explaining”. The Long Way, The Slow Way is more of a “band” record than Downtiming, but like that EP, it’s still clear-sounding pop music. The vocals are front and center, and each song has at least one line that benefits from this positioning (from the insistence of “I’m not sad, I’m quiet sometimes” in “Enough Explaining” to “When I’m not making noise, I feel small” in “Church Bells”), and it’s stubbornly timeless-sounding for evoking such a specific era of guitar music. (Bandcamp link)
Flamingo Rodeo – Pontoon
Release date: June 30th
Record label: Shuga
Genre: Folk rock, alt-country
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Mexico
Chicago’s Mikey Wells first became known to me as a guitarist for the now-defunct NE-HI, a band whose coiled-up garage rock energy still makes them stand out as under-appreciated and singular. Flamingo Rodeo has a little more in common with Wells’ post-NE-HI group, the chiller and lightly psychedelic Spun Out, but Pontoon occupies a different space than either of those bands. The project’s second record finds Wells fully embracing twang, hopping from tender folk rock to boisterous Midwestern alt-country over the course of ten tracks. Opening track “Tooth and Nail” is laid-back but driven, sliding through easygoing verses to get to a pumped-up chorus, establishing a country rock side to Flamingo Rodeo that shines throughout the record—namely, in the toe-tapping “Bacalar”, the woozy singalong “Sweet Serene”, and the rousing send-off of “Homily”.
The guitar effects, cosmic lyrics, and haphazardly-applied traditional elements of “Null Eternity” make it a great twisted country tune that harkens back to some of the more “out there” elements of Wells’ past bands. As attention-grabbing as that song is, though, there is notable growth in the sheer number of subtler moments scattered throughout Pontoon. The harmonica-aided “Sorrowflown” anchors the center of the record in thoughtful Americana, while plenty of the second half of the record drifts off like the boat in the record title—the spoken-word piano-led “El Nuevo”, the soundscape of the title track, and the pastoral folk of “Mexico”. Some of the information regarding Pontoon seems to imply that Mikey Wells will be focusing on other bands and projects rather than Flamingo Rodeo following its release; whether or not the country embrace of this record finds its way into Wells’ other music, Pontoon is a sturdy trip on its own. (Bandcamp link)
Hurry Up – Dismal Nitch
Release date: June 24th
Record label: Comedy Minus One
Genre: Punk rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Days of Our Love
Hurry Up is a fierce Pacific Northwest punk rock trio made up of guitarist Westin Glass, drummer Kathy Foster (both formerly of The Thermals), and bassist Maggie Vail (Bangs). Dismal Nitch, the band’s sophomore record, is the first full-length by the band in seven years, and it appears to have been in the works for quite a while (“You Just Wait” showed up as a single back in 2018), but the record sounds anything but “over-labored”. The band play together deftly but not showily, ripping through thirteen tracks that evoke the spirit of West Coast garage punk—recalling everything from X to vintage Kill Rock Stars groups to Dead Moon (whose “Fire in the Western World” gets a scorching cover on Dismal Nitch).
The gleeful middle fingers of “No!” and “Oh Screw It” tear right into the more fun moments of 90s riot grrl, and tracks like opener “American Weirdos” and “Invasive Species” are just runaway trains of fuzzy pop songs. Dismal Nitch consistently sounds like a blast, which helps keep some of the heavier and less immediate moments from sticking out too much in the context of the album. The sharp-edged “Death Puberty” features dart-and-dash guitar playing and a dynamic vocal performance, while the blistering “You Just Wait” with its “you’ll get yours” message to an unnamed powerful individual (I wonder who it could be—there are so many possibilities) hits with a full-on assault. Dismal Nitch can be serious without being exhausting about it, and the three band members all make the most of their turns at frontperson without ever tipping the balance of an equal-on-all-sides trio. (Bandcamp link)
Careen – Careen Love Health
Release date: June 24th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Post-hardcore, post-punk, noise rock
Pull track: Spit Choke
Bellingham, Washington’s Careen make an insular, noisy brand of post-hardcore and indie rock that evokes enigmatic 90s underground groups like Unwound and Polvo. The group—which recently expanded to a four-piece, adding drummer Neto Alvarado and guitarist Aiden Blau in addition to bassist Bryan Foster and guitarist/vocalist Desi Valdez—has released four EPs counting June’s Careen Love Health; although at 28 minutes, it’s a nearly full-length statement.
Half of Careen Love Health’s length is made up of its two bookend tracks—the six-minute opener “In the Light Of” and eight-minute closing track “Longest Piss” are both noise rock odysseys, veering from tense post-punk to feedback-and-hollering rave-ups on multiple occasions. Those two towering tracks are the immediate attention-grabbers, but the middle of Careen Love Health is where the group explore the edges of their sound a bit—particularly in the noise piece “Swallow”, but they also turn in the swirling instrumental “Slacker” and the slowcore/Slint-esque exercise in restraint that is “Unalloyed”. Not that bands like Careen are overly committed to “friendliness” in their music, but if you’re looking for a squall, Careen Love Health is a fairly rewarding one. (Bandcamp link)