Pressing Concerns: Fire Man, Megadose, Spice World, The Primitives

Welcome to the second Pressing Concerns of 2023! Today, we look at new albums from Fire Man, Megadose, and Spice World, and a new EP from The Primitives.

If you’re looking for more new music, you can visit the site directory to see what else we’ve written about lately. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.

Fire Man – Yerself Is Fire

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Noise rock, punk, experimental rock, post-hardcore
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Death Drive with Julie

Fire Man is the solo project of Caio Brentar, who also plays in the post-hardcore band Died and seems to be a decently popular music critic under the handle “Punk Revolution Now!”. Following a couple of EPs and a compilation of early material, Yerself Is Fire is the debut Fire Man full-length, and it’s a blast. It’s an exciting noise rock record, both heavy and playful in a way that recalls a host of 80s underground bands and labels (Touch and Go, SST, Alternative Tentacles…), and it’s too excitable to sound like some kind of dull past imitation. Caio sends most of these songs into post-hardcore howling tailspins at some point, but Yerself Is Fire has its share of humor, fun, and even pop hooks as well. The band’s bio cites Nomeansno, a band that walked this particular tightrope well; I also hear no small amount of Alice Donut in Caio’s vocals and lyrics.

At seven songs, Yerself Is Fire doesn’t exactly have any breather or filler tracks; all of these songs are heavy hitters, unless you count the pin-drop, almost-slowcore first three minutes of “Just Around the Corner…” before it explodes into a full-throated post-hardcore scorcher at its end. The rest of the record’s songs similarly have multiple sections, covering a range of genres– “Gun Cures Brain” lurches and tiptoes its way to a big, lumbering riff-rock chorus, and “I Feel Like Dying” and “Machine” both veer from lean punk rock into heavier finishes. Some of the best moments on Yerself Is Fire are the most overtly pop ones; “Death Drive with Julie” is a “car song” for people with their knuckles gripped ghost-white to the steering wheel, and, against all odds, “Twenty-Five” ends with a big old (albeit depressing) singalong. Yerself Is Fire doesn’t really differentiate between the noisy and poppy “sides”; they’re all smashed together here. (Bandcamp link)

Megadose – Heating Up

Release date: January 20th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Power pop, pop rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Tahuya Cruisin’

Seattle indie pop quartet Megadose have their roots in Anacortes, where frontman Stephen Steen and guitarist Mikey Ferrairo grew up, and were rounded out by rhythm section Laura Seniow (bass) and James Kasinger (drums) when they formed in late 2019. Their debut full-length, Heating Up, is a slick-sounding record that is colored with 80s new wave, reverb-y dreaminess, but Megadose make things clear enough for these songs’ pop hooks and Steen’s vocals to shine front and center. Heating Up is a leisurely record, “slacker rock” at its most ornate. The triumphant jangle pop of opening track “Silver Cup” and the rippling sophisti-pop of “Rock Yer Head” have huge pop choruses, but neither are particularly showy about it, and both of those tracks are less meandering than single “Hey 911” one song later.

Heating Up gets a little peppier with the appropriately-titled “Tahuya Cruisin’”, where Steen’s vocals ground the song even as it zips along, and “Jackie’s Gotta Run”, in which Megadose indulge in a little bit of rootsiness and in one big finish. Steen’s delivery of “I need a second to think!” in “Pig” demonstrates that he can push himself out of his vocal comfort zone to rewarding results, and the second half of Heating Up as a whole feels a bit more exploratory. The atmospheric turns of “Minor Groove” and “Fade In” showcase some of the band’s more overt dream pop leanings, and “Mote of Reflection” does this a bit too before it gives way to the loudest, noisiest song on the record. Nevertheless, everything resolves with the pristine chamber pop of “The Voyeur” to close out a pleasant, warm listen of an album. (Bandcamp link)

Spice World – There’s No I in Spice World

Release date: January 20th
Record label: Meritorio/Tenth Court
Genre: Jangle pop, lo-fi pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Dying to Go

If Megadose are on the slick and shiny end of the guitar pop spectrum, Australia’s Spice World have staked out on a position among the “loose and ragged” side of the genre. The five-piece band formed in Fremantle, Western Australia in 2021, and their full-length debut There’s No I in Spice World is ten songs of meandering, unhurried pop rock that’s equally likely to sound laid-back and content or wistful and melancholic. Spice World (whose name, they prove by quoting “Spice Up Your Life” in “Dying to Go”, does not coincidentally share a name with the Spice Girls’ 1997 film) sound economical, not cluttered, on their first album–voices drop in and out, and not infrequently, there’s only one instrument playing at any given moment.

Opening track “What a Pity What a Shame” sets the mood with its easy-out-of-the-gate stops and starts–it captures the feeling of halfheartedness while still sounding full itself.  “Useless Feeling” and “Decorated Boy Scout” kick the energy up in the record’s first half without being true changes of pace–from that point on, Spice World save their most upbeat moments for the shortest (the sub-minute-jangle of “Time Time Turn Around”) and last (the “oh, oh, oh”-chorused “Dying to Go”) tracks on the record. There’s No I in Spice World is a rolling album, and while the more brisk tracks are the “peaks” in terms of tempo, they aren’t always the clearest highlights–Spice World is a band that works very well with sparseness and emptiness as well. (Bandcamp link)

The Primitives – Don’t Know Where to Start

Release date: January 20th
Record label: HHBTM
Genre: Indie pop, power pop, jangle pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Don’t Know Where to Start

Like a lot of people, I’m mainly familiar with The Primitives via their excellent college rock-era indie pop hit “Crash”, but over the past decade or so, the band has put together a substantial second act, releasing a couple albums and EPs since their reunion in 2009. The latest of these is the four-song Don’t Know Where to Start EP, headlined by the record’s title track and featuring a few more pieces of indie pop. Don’t Know Where to Start is brief and only features two all-new songs, but what is there makes the most of its short time. 

Among the two new tracks, “Don’t Know Where to Start” is the obvious “single”, with singer Tracy Tracy leading an incredibly catchy, 60s girl-group-inspired song that feels particularly timeless. The bass-led, Paul Cort-sung “Till I’m Alive” is still catchy, although here the Primitives’ pop is shot through with a bit of post-punk obscurity. The other two songs on Don’t Know Where to Start are a live version of “Panic” (an actual 60s girl group song originally by Reparata and the Delrons and covered by the band on their 2012 album Echoes and Rhymes) and an acoustic version of “Don’t Know Where to Start”–the former in particular finds the band paying tribute to their influences with an infectious energy that puts it on the same level as the Primitives originals. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable: 

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