Reviews of new local releases
For nostalgic listeners, the creativity and authenticity of the original grunge, pop punk and emo-core movements simply can’t be matched. Yet, while it might be blasphemous to suggest that a new generation of musicians could improve upon said genres, the progression of music depends on their revival. After 20-something years, the sickly-sweet, guitar-less production of popular music still creates a visceral reaction from younger bands like New Legs and Notches. The ’90s reemergence, like an avalanche, has picked up new influences and sounds along the way.
The five-song E.P., “Everyone Thinks I’m Just Alright,” finds New Legs deftly straddling the line between the rawness associated with their grunge forbearers and the stylized emo of the mid-1990s. This reconciliation is unsurprising — the band shares members with notable and diverse acts like Alcoa, KYOTY, and the Dead Generals. Ryan Stack at Format Recording produced the E.P. with a brilliance that most artists in years past couldn’t access, and it serves great purpose here.
On the stand-out opening track, “Now The Ghosts,” Blake Seale Jr.’s songwriting and lyrical prowess are immediately on display, leaving listeners wanting more than a two-minute song can give. His coherent but strained vocal delivery harkens back to a time when emotional output outweighed the sparkle of overproduction or perfectly hit notes. When the Nirvana-like riff of “Ignore Your Nature” gives way to the emotional bridge, Seale belts out, “I once stood where you stand now, and wondered how to get here.” With a solid debut record and a tour booked with well-known indie slackers Rick Rude, it’ll be captivating to watch where New Legs goes.
New Legs plays The Red Door, 107 State St., Portsmouth, on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. with Lady Bones, Rick Rude and Feral Jenny.
Born from the ashes of Seacoast pop-punk champions Billy Raygun, Notches have already made an indelible mark on the local scene. Zac Mayeux, who splits songwriting and vocal duties with Raygun bandmate Ezra Cohen, is quickly becoming one of the area’s more prolific punk writers. On the four-song “Huge,” their collective experience shows — building on a simple pop-punk foundation by including an introspective and dynamic throwback to the better moments of the mid-1990s emo-core movement.
The subtle contrast between Mayeux and Cohen’s vocal and songwriting styles adds another dimension to an already compelling record. On “Another Thing,” an effortless, Braid-influenced anthem, Cohen’s voice exudes an unaffected quality that becomes cleverly ironic when he declares, “You’ve got another thing coming if you think I’m aloof.” When the drums drop out to reveal a muted guitar line and Mayeux’s bass chimes in, their voices briefly harmonize before the final push: “I can save you, you’d be better off!” Notches don’t just get a pass for nostalgia’s sake — their nod to the past is the start of something for which all listeners will be better off.
Notches will be at The Red Door on Thursday, March 5 at 8 p.m. with Me In Capris, Idiot Genes and Black Norse.
While all musicians are in some way influenced by the sounds of the past, the New Trocaderos were formed, literally, to recreate it. The Seacoast all-star band that began as a favor to record the unrealized songs of Michael Chaney’s youth has become a vessel for the fledgling songwriter and producer. Chaney, now a lawyer in his 60s, has penned music for most of his life, despite his inability to perform it the way he envisioned. That’s where The Trocaderos came in. The Connection’s Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer and the illustrious Kurt Baker agreed to bring Chaney’s songs, some idle for over 35 years, to life. “Frenzy In the Hips” compiles their endeavors since 2013; it’s already garnered critical acclaim, including two “Coolest Songs in the World” nods on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” radio show.
Sonically, the Trocaderos’ recordings are an amalgam of mid-century rock ‘n’ roll that incites dancefloor riots rather than introspection. “Real Gone Kitty” kicks things into a ’50s overdrive on the back of Marino’s vocals and Kris Rodgers’ rapid-fire, Jerry Lee Lewis-esque piano leads. Not to be outdone, Baker channels Elvis Costello’s infectious energy on the music-as-savior hit, “The Kids.” Palmer’s rendition of the ’60s power-pop gem “Dream Girl” slows down the pace a bit, but not the hooks, as he rips through some of the best on the record.
“Frenzy in the Hips” is out now, and a new LP from The Connection is coming soon.