Pressing Concerns: Lynx, Mister Data, Unlettered, The National Honor Society

It’s the first Pressing Concerns of May! Today, we’re looking at new albums from Mister Data and The National Honor Society, an upcoming reissue from Lynx, and a new EP from Unlettered.

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.

Lynx – Lynx  (Reissue) / Human Speech

Release date: May 5th
Record label: Computer Students
Genre: Math rock, experimental rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Mrs. Lynx / Human Speech 

Lynx were an instrumental rock band from Boston who initially lasted for one self-titled album, originally released on CD in 2000. The band was comprised of guitarists Mike Hutchins and Dave Konopka, bassist Paul Joyce, and drummer Dale Connolly–Konopka later went on to play in beloved math rockers Battles for fifteen years as Lynx went dormant. Computer Students reissued a similarly overlooked record in French math rockers Cheval de Frise’s self-titled album last year, and they’ve now given the same treatment to Lynx. With this one, however, there’s an added bonus–the (first ever time on vinyl) reissue of Lynx comes with Human Speech, a three-track, fifteen-minute EP of songs written by the band during their initial run but recorded just two years ago, with the members of Lynx reuniting for the first time in over twenty years to capture these previously-unrecorded songs.

Twenty-three years from its outset, Lynx stills sounds like an excellent rock record, jagged around the edges but with all four members sounding in sync with each other. The record kicks off with “Look at That Table and Make It Spin in Your Head”, a thundering opening statement, and the punchy, spiked “Mrs. Lynx” one song later continues the record’s strong beginning. The record’s first side ends with two linked songs, the percussion-less, hovering “In Snow” which flows into “In Sand”, a dramatic-sounding tune that takes a while to develop into its galloping final form. The second half of Lynx is where the band stretch out a bit–see multi-part tracks like “Aries”, “Prynx”, and “Raisins”, which speeds its way to a big finish. The best thing I can say about Human Speech is that it sounds like an extension of the album, and doesn’t show any of the signs of dust one might fear based on the long gap. It sounds like it was recorded a little differently (a more…cavernous sound), but all three of these songs writhe and twist and explode like the best of Lynx. (Computer Students link)

Mister Data – Pleasure in a Fast Void

Release date: April 19th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Pop rock, power pop
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: I’m a Sensation

Hailing from Houston Texas, Mister Data is a five-piece guitar pop band that makes music that’s on the more laid-back side of the genre, but their debut full-length album, Pleasure in a Fast Void, is still full of both attention-grabbing hooks and musical surprises. The band is led by vocalists Austin Sepulvado (who also plays guitar) and Ellen Story (also a pianist), and is rounded out by Marshall Graves on guitar, drummer Gus Alvarado, and bassist Jack Gordon. I’ve seen a couple of New Pornographers comparisons for Mister Data, and while I think that their style is more casual and patient than that band’s frequently more hurried, chaotic attitude, I won’t deny that the vocal interplay between Sepulvado and Story in songs like “Bad Actors” give off just a bit of Neko Case/A.C. Newman energy.

“I’m a Sensation” opens Pleasure in a Fast Void with a pop classic that sets the tone for the record–it starts as standard, unassuming (but very good) indie rock, before veering into an out-of-nowhere big chorus. “Bad Actors” continues Pleasure in a Fast Void’s momentum with some churning, slick power pop, and the mid-tempo title track works its way up deliberately and rewardingly to its soaring chorus. Mister Data surprisingly reveal themselves as skilled in stretching their pop songs out a bit after the first few hits–the minimalist “The Measure of a Man”, the Lambchop-esque cavern country of “Odd Feelings”, and the layered “Bird in Hand” all stretch beyond five minutes and feel at home doing so. “Life Ordinary” pleasingly sniffs a little bit at 90s radio-ready alt-pop-rock, but by and large the eight shining guitar pop songs in Pleasure in a Fast Void feel unhooked from any specific time or place. (Bandcamp link)

Unlettered – New Egypt

Release date: April 18th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Post-punk, noise rock
Formats: Vinyl*, digital
Pull Track: Group of Compilers

If Mike Knowlton sounds particularly inspired by a specific strain of underground 90s indie rock, that’s probably because he’s from right in the thick of it. The Bandcamp page for his latest project, Unlettered, lists groups like Unwound, Sonic Youth, and Polvo as inspiration for his sound, but he also had his own 90s band–Gapeseed, a New York group that released two albums on Silver Girl Records in 1994 and 1997. Knowlton began making music as Unlettered in 2021, and New Egypt is the project’s third EP since its inception. On the latest EP, Knowlton explores a dark post-punk sound, with the record’s five songs trudging through some low-end-heavy explorations in a hypnotic and captivating way.

“Malfroid Archives” opens New Egypt with a slow, measured Unwound-esque echoing guitar line and downcast vocals, and it never quite shakes its eerie, crawling feeling. “Too Good to Be True” and “D>B>H” pick up the pace just a little bit, with the former’s bell-tolling-guitar-riff being accompanied by a more brisk drumbeat, and the latter cranking up the distortion over top of the song’s body. “Group of Compilers” (which, along with “Malfroid Archives”, makes up the 7” single that is the only physical release related to this EP) is something of a drain-circling singalong with its clearly-defined chorus. The shady “Sin Sip” closes New Egypt with a lyric “inspired by a recent trip to Atlantic City” per Bandcamp, and its grotesque, decaying Americana imagery proves Unlettered’s noise rock bona fides if nothing else had already. (Bandcamp link)

The National Honor Society – To All the Distance Between Us

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Subjangle/Discos de Kirlian/Shelflife
Genre: Jangle pop, indie pop, power pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: When the Lights Go Down

The National Honor Society are an indie pop four-piece from Seattle, Washington who take influence from 80s post-punk, new wave, and college rock groups, but don’t come off as merely trying to recreate a decade long past. Instead, the quartet (vocalist/guitarist Coulter Leslie, guitarist Jerry Peerson, bassist Andrew Gaskin, and drummer Will Hallauer) absorb lessons from these bands and incorporate them merely as one element of their shiny, wide-ranging power pop. Their second album, To All the Distance Between Us, features ten well-crafted guitar pop tunes that vary from wistful to peppy, from slow-building to immediate, and from straightforward to multifaceted.

To All the Distance Between Us’ first three songs all have massive hooks, but present them in different skins–opening track “As She Slips Away” is the tightly-constructed, almost baroque-classical pop tune, “Control” is the brisk, blooming “rocker”, “In Your Eyes” is the melancholic, jangly-college radio-esque one. The National Honor Society’s devotion to mining this area of pop music recalls The New Pornographers–most obviously on “Jacqueline”, which nails that band’s sound shockingly well, but A.C. Newman’s songwriting is evoked prominently on “Remember the Good Times” and “The Following”, among others. To All the Distance Between Us saves a few surprises towards the end–the Sloan-esque swaggering power pop of “The Trigger” and the light Andy Partridge touches of closing track “When the Lights Go Down”–but both of them are well in line with the overall world of The National Honor Society. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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