Pressing Concerns: Soft on Crime, The Men, Rock Against Bush, Equipment Pointed Ankh

Welcome to the first Pressing Concerns of February! Today, we’re looking at new albums from Soft on Crime, The Men, and Equipment Pointed Ankh, as well as a split release featuring Wish Kit, New You, Mo Troper, and Gnawing. Rosy Overdrive’s January 2023 Playlist went up earlier this week, so check that out as well for a bunch more new music.

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.

Soft on Crime – New Suite

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Eats It
Genre: Jangle pop, power pop, psychedelic pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Telex Eyes

Soft on Crime waste no time establishing just what you’re in for with New Suite. The Dublin-based three piece band open their debut record (well, cassette tape) with the massive, triumphant jangly guitars that lead off “Telex Eyes”, a moment that recalls vintage power pop groups like The dB’s and The Soft Boys. It’s a fitting introduction to Soft on Crime’s eager exploration into guitar pop of several stripes–New Suite is catchy through and through, whether the trio are trending in the direction of retro psychedelia, fuzzy lo-fi indie rock, or starry-eyed college rock. The pitch-perfect “Telex Eyes” is the highlight on Side A of the cassette, but New Suite also offers up the nearly-as-catchy “Crying Swimming Pool” early on, which utilizes giddily melodic guitar leads for maximum effect, and the crunchy, almost-glam “Splendid Life”, which closes out the tape’s first half.

Side B of New Suite is a little more subtle–but only just. It contains the album’s straight-up prettiest moment (the gorgeous, sunny jangle-pop ballad “Conditioned Reaction”) and its clearest foray into garage rock (side opener “Posturing”), and the groovy power pop of songs like “I Know You Like Me” and “Born Astride the Rave” are as strong tracks as anything on the flipside. Soft on Crime jam these dozen songs with as many instrumental and vocals hooks as possible per track, even when they’re putting together numbers that reflect their less overtly poppy influences, like the jerky, Devo-ish “Pretty Purgatory”. If you read Rosy Overdrive regularly, you’re aware that the best pop music isn’t coming from the bands with the best numbers on streaming, or those getting the most blue checkmarks to argue about them online–New Suite is one of those belief-reaffirming records. (Bandcamp link)

The Men – New York City

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Fuzz Club
Genre: Garage rock, garage punk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: God Bless the USA

Brooklyn’s The Men are back with their ninth album since 2010 and their first for Fuzz Club Records. In a move embracing their un-Googleable name, they’ve simply christened this one New York City, and it’s good news for anyone who’d like the quartet to rip through another fiery garage rock record a la 2012’s landmark Open Your Heart. New York City was recorded live to 2” tape by Travis Harrison (Guided by Voices, Cub Scout Bowling Pins), who has recorded The Men’s last couple of records as well.  The Men’s most recent record, 2020’s Mercy, was an eclectic listen, putting epic swamp rock and quiet country-folk next to songs like “Breeze” that proved that the band could still indeed rock hard. New York City, then, is a record-length affirmation of their ability to find plenty of fertile ground in their good old garage rock roots. 

The album starts off with a full-on assault in “Hard Livin’’”, a grimy and gritty garage punk song, and doesn’t let up with the smoldering “Peace of Mind” following immediately after. “God Bless the USA” finds the band conjuring up their best Dead Moon impression (Fred Cole and Toody, now those are two real reasons to be proud to be an American). The mid-section of the record does have a bit of variation without abandoning New York City’s prime mission, throwing out the riff-rocking “Eye”, the subterranean “Eternal Recurrence”, and the swaggering “Round the Corner”. Album closer “River Flows” hints at some of The Men’s previously-explored rock excess with its six-minute length, but like the rest of the album, it shows how it can be done with maximum precision. (Bandcamp link)

Various – Rock Against Bush

Release date: January 31st
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Power pop, pop punk, alt-rock
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: Buhd

Who doesn’t love a good split release? The best releases of this nature give the listener a healthy dose of variety while also holding together due to some common thread between the various bands, and the four-song, four-artist Rock Against Bush split EP does exactly this. All four of these songs are brand-new, and all the offerings are from artists making some combination of power pop, 90s indie rock, and pop punk, leading to what’s effectively a collection of four massive hit singles. Three of the four contributors to Rock Against Bush have been reviewed on their own in Pressing Concerns, and these songs all feel on-par with the songs that made proper records–there’s no dumping of unwanted leftovers here.

The EP opens with “Buhd” by Wish Kit, the one group here that I haven’t written about before–and it just might be the best song on the whole thing. Its combination of fuzzy 90s power pop (check those “woo”s out in the chorus) and slacker rock energy is first-rate, and I’ll be keeping my eye on Wish Kit from here on out. New You’s “Hi-Wire” rivals it in terms of fizzy, catchy alt-rock energy, with the Blake Turner-led group wielding an all-out chorus that would’ve fit well on last year’s Candy EP. Mo Troper’s “Recipe for Loving” is the heart of Rock Against Bush–instead of conjuring up the fuzzier, louder moments of MTV and Dilettante to better “fit in” here, Troper instead embraces his acoustic, intricate Elliott Smith-inspired pop side. Richmond, Virginia’s Gnawing, meanwhile, close Rock Against Bush with a bang, a zippy piece of 90s-inspired alt-rock that’s somewhere between major-label Dinosaur Jr. and something off of Bleach. (Bandcamp link)

Equipment Pointed Ankh – From Inside the House

Release date: January 18th
Record label: Bruit Direct Disques
Genre: Experimental rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Rubber Slacks

Equipment Pointed Ankh is a Kentucky- and Indiana-based sextet featuring members of State Champion and Tropical Trash, among other bands. Like the group’s previous two records, their third, From Inside the House, probes more experimental grounds than some of the members’ other projects, with the album’s mostly-instrumental seven tracks featuring a whirlwind of percussion, clavinet, synths, and all kind of intriguing sounds on top of them. Particularly in the second half of From Inside the House, Equipment Pointed Ankh explore their atmospheric and their drone-heavier side. For the majority of the album, however,  From Inside the House is an experimental rock record that evokes the “rock” side of the descriptor as well as “experimental”, at least as a jumping-off point. 

Opening track “Rubber Slacks” is grounded with a steady drumbeat that holds as the clavinet and synths kick in, and the pounding backbeat to “Port of Indiana” one song later sits squarely in the middle of an even busier track featuring an arsenal of synths and some foghorn-evoking brass parts. The minimal brass and techno of “Belmont Hand Wash” gives way to “Late Night A.I.”, a hypnotic mix of underwater sounds, piano, and some of the more palpable Appalachian/folk influences on the record. Nearly half of From Inside the House is taken up by its two most unmoored songs, the title track (featuring spoken word vocals from Jenny Rose) and the ambient, scooped-out sound of “Paper Sink”. It’s a completely different road, but then Equipment Pointed Ankh end things with the industrial stomp of “Swords Against the Ritz”. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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