Rapid Fire Reviews: Beach Slang, Preoccupations, & Strange Ranger

Posted: by Steven Lalonde


Beach Slang – ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’

Even though I really enjoyed Beach Slang’s 2015 release, The Things We Do To Find The People Who Feel Like Us, the last thing I probably expected was to release a second full album in the following year. Guess I was wrong, because Beach Slang came right back and did what they do best, that is, they put out another fucking Beach Slang record. Released through Polyvinyl Records, A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings follows up the 2015 release with the same spunk, energy and heart-on-your-sleeve angsty attitude that we’ve come to expect at this point. Could they have changed their sound? Of course. Could they have taken a different approach to writing? Absolutely. But did they? Hell no, and I’m glad they didn’t. Through and through, Beach Slang kept true to themselves and made another astonishing teen punk record that oozes with confidence and emotion. Lyrically, it’s easy to realize that the album is not complex or woven with deep construed meaning; it’s fast, loud and to the point. I mean, one just has to look at the song titles such as “Punks in a Disco Bar” or “Hot Tramps” to know what this album is all about. Backed by the scuzzy vocals of James Alex, the music is reminiscent of a basement show at a house party. Crashing drums, rhythmic guitar and bass lines, Beach Slang want you to be aware that they’re very good at what they do. I’m not saying this record is life changing, or breaking any moulds. What I am saying is that Beach Slang are masters of their craft, and are ready to break that wall and take it to the next level. All I have to say is, I can’t wait for what’s in store.

Favorite Tracks: “Wasted Daze Of Youth”, “Warpaint”

Score: 8/10



Preoccupations – ‘Preoccupations’

It hasn’t been an easy time to be Preoccupations. Formerly known as Viet Cong, an ill chosen name that offended many, the band underwent scrutiny and turmoil and was forced to change their name. All this and they even managed to release arguably one of the best albums of 2015 Viet Cong. Despite all the uncertainty and bad publicity, the band has come roaring back and picked up where Viet Cong left off. The anxious post-punk, experimentalist quartet from Calgary, Alberta, have taken their complexity to a whole other level with their latest eponymous release Preoccupations via JagJaguwar records. Still somewhat themed around an obsessiveness with death, but have almost crystallized their sound in a sense, giving it a gloomier sense of urgency. Lead vocalist Flegel sings in a ghostly, dark desperation. Though haunting at times and loaded with tension, Flegel sings and pleads about internal stresses and the relelntless darkness associated with them; ‘spinning like a vacuum’, ‘falling into mania’. I’m telling you this record is complex. At times there’s an aura of pathological obsession with the music, with a pulsating rhythmic orchestration that combines a bass driven sound with post-punk synths and shimmering guitar tunes to craft something that’s draws comparisons to The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen.

As dark and ominous as this record is, it’s masterfully formulated to send chills up your spine while listening. It is a lot to digest and I would suggest first taking a look at their 2015 release to get a better sense of how this band started out. There may still be a lot to uncover meaning-wise, but listening to it, you’ll realize why they’ve become one of Canada’s most prominent, up and coming post-punk bands.

Favourite Tracks: “Memory”, “Stimulation”

Score: 9/10


Strange Ranger – ‘Sunbeams Through Your Head’ EP

Fresh off their monumental, ambitious LP released ealier this year Rot Forever, the band formerly known as Sioux Falls, are back (already!) with a new name, Strange Ranger, and a new 6 song EP Sunbeams Through Your Head. Their previous EP Lights Off For Danger was a condensed prelude to Rot Forever. This time around however, the band demonstrates that they’re ready to push the boundaries of their musical writing abilities. What’s noticeable about the EP is the lack of rock and roll/ punk aesthetic that was prevalent in their previous releases. Instead, the collection of songs has a more, beautiful, airy feel, which invokes a “less is more” dynamic. The opening song gets right to the point, as it miserably swoons “you hate all your friends, they already know,” a sentiment that flows, almost completely instrumentally, through the remainder of the EP. It paces nicely with fuzzy, slow guitar chords and the well timed tranquil harmonies , and it gives the impression that the band is playing so as to not wake anybody up or disturb anyone, which may sound odd, but it works. It’s on the last track ‘Oh Oh Oh Oh,’ that the band breaks back out and does a 180 by letting loose vocally again, as the EP comes full circle in a positive way. If you enjoyed Rot Forever, an AOTY contender for me I might add, you’ll enjoy what the Portland band has concocted on this EP.

Favourite Tracks: “Dolph”, “Sunbeams Through Your Head”

Score: 8.5/10

– Steven Lalonde –