As someone who has lived in Austin for 3 years now I fully understand that while September may officially herald the end of summer, we’ve still got a few terribly hot weeks ahead of us. The New Englander in me still sees summer winding down despite the heat however. Now it could just be the inherent climate confusion at play in my mind, but Markov’s recently released The Flatlands EP feels like the perfect album at the perfect time and in the perfect place. The band’s sophomore effort features six tracks of post-punk grit and aggression, baked in the heat of the Texas summer sun, but anticipatory of milder days to come and I can’t stop hitting “repeat” when I hear it.
I think my only real criticism of Markov’s 2010 full-length debut This Quiet, was that I felt they displayed their influences a little too obviously. While scorchingly executed, This Quiet didn’t shy away from sonically referencing more-recent punk legends like Hot Snakes and Refused. Often imitation is no easy feat however and Markov proved not only that they had what it took to emulate those sounds, but to bend them to their own will as well. On The Flatlands EP I no longer hear those snippets of other bands as blatantly, those sounds having been folded and forged into something wholly Markov.
The Flatlands is an EP on a mission and doesn’t waste any time with introductions as it jumps right into the fray with what I think is one of the album’s strongest tracks: “Years/Weeks.” Markov’s guitars get right to work laying down an anxious, driving rhythm built on a foundation poured with the stripped-down sounds of garage punk, but with scratches and squeals and turned up to 11, giving it a much harder edge. The call and response of the track’s dual vocals amp up the energy, slingshotting the listener between chorus and verse in a manner that’s sure to see pumping fists and pointing fingers when played live.
As the album continues, Markov settle into a familiar, but effective stance of “quiet-loud-quiet” song structuring. Songs like “Left Handed” and “The Flatlands” seem almost tame one moment, as the dull thud of brooding drums, slightly wet, voluptuous bass lines, and the resigned apathy of half-whispered vocals lull the listener into a false sense of security before they explode in a sonic assault of frenetic guitars. The end result is a definite evolution for this band as they continue to develop their sound in ways that are sure to make their mark on the post-punk and hardcore landscape. I, for one, am happy to be along for the ride as Markov have quickly become a band that I want my punk-loving friends here and in other parts of the country to get acquainted with.
You can grab Markov’s 2010 debut as well as the recently released The Flatlands EP on their bandcamp page right now!