Discontinuous Innovation Inc.

Juicebumps ‘Hello Pinky!’

Before the millennials came of age, nostalgia looked like film. The brief moments of colour in Scorsese’s black and white opus Raging Bull depict La Motta’s facade of cosy domesticity in intimate 16mm, the very grain of each frame in the celluloid reel prodding the wistful sentimentality of prior generations. For kids of the 90s, warm reminiscence is a rather noisy media buzz of worn VHS’s, queasy DV digital grit and crowded Geocities World Wide Web clamour. Could the video horrorshow of The Memory Hole have ever gained traction outside the distorted humour and inexplicable acerbity of the 2010s?

Irreverent and idiosyncratic penchants for the crude aesthetics of tawdry infomercials and ‘edutainment’ dross ooze all over San Francisco spank rockers Juicebumps. Audio clips of slasher turkey Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, dated internet demonstrations and the like saturate debut album Hello Pinky!, a record that feels perpetually tuning itself between differing stations. Recruiting Spencer Owings for synth duties, Juicebumps advance from the jerky garage rock of prior EP Jelly and delve deeper into their eccentric art-punk playfulness.

The sticky yolk of eggpunk secretes all over their self-described ‘spookwave’ yet avoids the genres characteristic lo-fi style in favour of a bright and confident production, each riff and beat striding with satisfying clarity. This skewed radiance is deftly exemplified on the catchy as hell ‘Hairy World’, a feverish indie number with echoes of Devo, frontman Parker Richard exploring the pungent world for a ‘hairy friend’ while jumping between frantic gusto and angular, nasal whine. Second track but first proper song ‘Wet Leather’ infuses their brash virtuosity with a steady dose of motorik beat that paces alongside offbeat keys and explosive guitar attacks and smattered with garbled audiotape effects, parading their dexterous handling of keen musicianship and avant-garde proclivities.

The expanded palette of sounds yielded by producer Spencer Hartling’s studio expertise shine on the warped synthpop of ‘c0mput3r_p30pl3’, a disorienting stew of fizzy drum machines and atonal guitar scoring the themes of societies hopeless tie to technology expertly, the line “people work, computers think” bristling with particular pertinence. Subtle rockabilly twangs on the contorted ‘Wet Boi’, while the arrangement and tempo of ‘Trash Crimes’ point to ELO at their pomp. Album closer ‘Asphalt Kiss’ is all groove, a nimble swagger of strutting bass wading through a marsh of muggy synths and preset sounding percussion, the gurgling electronics finally enveloping as you sink completely in its analogue murk.

Imbued with the best of their San Fran art-punk predecessors, Juicebumps delivers an urgent debut that takes intriguing mixtures of disparate styles and unexpected detours in composition, demanding constant attention throughout its 36 minutes. Hello Pinky! firmly places the band as one of the most exciting acts in California right now.

Dummy ‘Comedy Rock!’

If you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Us 20/30 something’s are a stretched, inside-out bunch, pulled apart by unending labour extraction, fascist ascendancy and certain environmental catastrophe, we’ve developed an uncanny ability to have a good time in the face of such nihilism. Throw an unprecedented, global viral pandemic in the mix and our last recourse is to usher in the new wave of weird, warped and slimy egg punk for the topsy-turvy end times.

Comedy Rock! is the second release from Dummy, being one of the many projects of Minnesotan Sean Albert including Belly Jelly, QQQL and Skull Cult. Taking lo-fi DIY to its nth degree, primitive drum machines, atonal keyboards and fuzzy guitars are all handled by Albert himself, all buzzing together in a fizzy bottle rocket of corrupted energy.

Fervent punk vigour is firmly established on first track ‘Personal Panopticon’, riff attacks hack and slice then switch to jerky picking all saturated with a goop of unintelligible vocal gunge. This fungal fusion of punk urgency and psych effects course throughout the tape but Albert’s musical dexterity allows for other flavours to keep things from being one note. ‘Nights’ is a gloriously upbeat number, tinny rock infected with poppy synth melodies sound like a Cars or Cheap Trick song were it desecrated beyond recognition. Alien slacker warbles and squeals on the distorted ‘Insulated’, D.C. hardcore pummels in the fog of loops and trickery straight out of the more aggressive end of Locust Abortion Technician.

Bent, broken, and crooked, Comedy Rock! is the perfect soundtrack to our collective navigation of a world growing more farcical every day, channeling the pervading confusion in its pulverised compositions and offering a streak of cathartic verve deep within the sputtering pulp.