With the massive volume of bands in the Austin area, it’s impossible for us to keep up with them all. As a lover of punk music and a firm believer in the grassroots promotion thereof, I do however try to keep up with the comings and goings of existing and new punk and related acts that catch my ear. Sometimes I specifically go looking for stuff, sometimes bands contact me, and other times bands end up falling into my lap from other sources completely. The following three bands fall into the latter category, with each having had albums that came out in 2013, but due to time and circumstances I didn’t hear about or listen to until just recently. We like to stay current at OVRLD, but I’m not going to let these acts go unnoticed simply because I noticed them too late.
Appearing on the local scene virtually out of nowhere, I first heard about The Circle Curse by reading Brooklynite Dan Ozzi’s blog Jaded Punk. Immediately after listening to the band’s solo recording, the Glass City EP, I was impressed. The album starts off innocently enough with the opening chords of the song “Cartography” treading fairly stable hardcore punk ground. Less than a minute in, however, the song’s seemingly boilerplate facade is cracked by a brief, jazzy, Fugazi-esque breakdown that later gives way to a similarly jazzy bass and horn duet before returning to a 3-chord shred. The EP’s remaining four tracks follow a similar pattern, sounding like familiar hardcore one moment and then veering off into less traveled territory the next. Between the bursts of guitar noise, the jazzier elements, and the terse, shouted lyrics I’m most apt to compare The Circle Curse to the earlier works of influential 90’s Post-Hardcore, avante-noise smiths Unwound and speaking as a huge fan of that band, this is not praise to be taken lightly. Regardless of who they sound like, as a demo of what they can do, Glass City has me hooked to hear more from this group.
CRIATURAS are another band that I somehow didn’t hear about locally, but instead through Jaded Punk. A local Spanish language hardcore band, these guys (and girl) make a serious racket and pack one hell of a punch. The band’s latest LP, Espiritu de Libertad, is loud, heavy, and played with break neck speed, giving CRIATURAS a sound reminiscent of the heavier side of the early hardcore punk movement. Backed by accomplished hardcore guitar work and a pummeling rhythm section, CRIATURAS’ frontwoman (sorry, I can’t find the band member’s names anywhere) screams out lyrics peppered with sociopolitical sentiment in songs like “Libertad O Muerte”, “Anti Autoridad”, “Opresion”, and the titular “Espiritu de Libertad.” Raw though it may be, the production on this album is almost as tight as the playing, allowing you to hear every blistering riff, pounding beat, and soulful scream. While Espiritu de Libertad’s 10 tracks may only take 17 minutes to run their course, their contemporary approach to a classic hardcore sound has had me coming back to hit “play” many times over.
I’m pretty sure I first heard about Super Thief when fellow OVRLD writer Morgan Davis sent me an invite to a show they were on the bill for. While I didn’t end up going to the show I did (as is often the case) take a listen to tracks from all the bands who were going to be there and found this one to be to my liking. Super Thief’s a band of many talents and their 2013 LP Faded is an album wearing many masks. Opening with the somewhat bland, semi-hardcore offering “Two For No,” Faded quickly heads off in many different and more interesting directions, each more captivating and charming than the next. Like its namesake, “Gypsy Punk” indeed brings a lilting, Eastern European-flavored mystique, while “Wunga”’s guitar, sax, and scratching, carve out an almost Slint-like, jazz-punk space. “Louis Body” is probably the track I’ve come back to most often, however. Filling out over seven minutes the track has that minor key, down tempo, post punk style that so often grabs my attention. Tracks “MPGD” and “40 a.m.” follow in a similar fashion and outro “No Ghost” is suitably haunting. Overall, Faded is an album that defies being pigeonholed and that’s always in my wheelhouse. I feel like I can hear ten songs that sound vaguely similar from any band any day of the week, but when a band like Super Thief decides to run the gamut on a single album, I take notice and I’m more likely to listen to it again. If my many repeated listens so far are any indication, I’ll be paying attention to what Super Thief have in store.