2021 Albums/EPs: Week 1 (January 1 – 7)

I’ve settled on weekly roundups of releases as the future direction of this blog. January often tends to be fairly slow for albums, and the first Friday of 2021 happened to fall on New Year’s Day. Who in their right mind releases anything then?

Well, a few bands and artists did, thankfully, and I suppose a positive of the slow first week is that it leads me to dig out some stuff I would have ignored on a busier one. On this utterly rubbish first week of the year in the real world, here are three releases I’ve distracted myself with.

The Dirty Nil – Fuck Art (Dine Alone Records)

Canadians The Dirty Nil are one of those bands I think I’ve heard and enjoyed before, but I couldn’t remember what they sounded like. On this unpretentiously titled third album, the opening chugs of ‘Doom Boy’ might mislead you into thinking you’re in for heavy metal, but the vocals soon make it obvious this is pop-punk.

It’s decent pop-punk too, helped by several catchy choruses and Luke Bentham’s deeply honest and personal lyrics – especially on two of the best tracks ‘Done With Drugs’ and ‘To the Guy Who Stole My Bike’.

His words are likely to get you chuckling and nodding in agreement here and there, but despite some good moments, the album is a little polished and samey for my tastes, and although the maturity and resolve displayed in some tracks might lead some to call it a “sophomore” album, I still feel a bit old for it. One I would probably have liked a lot more 10-15 years ago.

In the Pines – Slow Blink (Soul Step Records)

Rather different is this interesting eight-track album from Cincinnati five-piece In the Pines. Released on Saturday (January 2) rather than Friday, I’m not too sure what to call it – probably psychedelia, but more of the languid, entrancing variety than the vibrant, hallucinatory type. Saying that, it does have its noisy and uptempo moments like ‘The Sun’ and closing track ‘Rapture’.

Large sections of it are instrumental, but when lyrics do appear they have a habit of piquing your attention, like “you have two holes in your head to hear the way you lie” on ‘Hullabaloo’. The track ‘Under Your Chin’ is the best moment, where post-punk guitars meet droning, psychedelic brass.

A classic example of a record I would never have listened to but for it being a quiet week, but I’m glad I did. An enjoyable and rewarding ride.

Fire Man – Overcoming the Cycle of Sun Collapse (Punk Revolution Records)

I neglected EPs completely last year, which is kind of a shame because that’s often how you truly discover new bands and anticipate debut full-length albums.

Fire Man is a solo project from Caio Brentar apparently, even if it sounds like a full band. It’s a terrific medley of math rock and post-hardcore, with shades of that frenzied whirring-the-microphone-around-your-head energy of At the Drive In.

There’s certainly a theme of heat going on, and seemingly climate change on the first two tracks. ‘Brazilian Fire Song’ appears to take aim at the South American country’s cockhead of a president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his deliberate destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

It’s the last two tracks I find myself returning to though. ‘Vacations’ is like something The Offspring would’ve written when they were good, and ‘Unscrew’ offers a rumbling, gritty verse ascending into a shout-along chorus.

Very nice EP and probably my pick of these three releases. I will look out for more from Fire Man.

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