Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this record review of two local bands. Last year, Dominic also wrote about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll--click HERE to see that post again. If you're interested in guest blogging or having your local band written about, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.
Ultrasphinx/Bad Trouble Split 7" Review
by Dominic Caruso
The monumentally named Ultrasphinx will release a split 7-inch with Akron garage rockers Bad Trouble on Valentine’s Day. Having been lucky enough to have heard an advance recording, I’ve got to say it really is a love letter straight to your heart. Each group contributes 2 songs to the project.
|Photo: Jason M. Tarulli|
|Photo: Jeff Albers|
The Ultrasphinx cuts should please Party of Helicopters fans--both songs capture the buzz saw guitar sound with cascading hooks, pounding rhythm section, and dreamily dispassionate singing of vocalist/guitarist Joe Dennis’ former band. Admittedly, I don’t know enough about POH to make much of a comparison, but perhaps that’s for the best: Ultrasphinx stands on its own merits as an extravagant combination of sounds--somewhere between metal and shoegazer, relentless beats and sheets of guitar sound. The songs “Left Objects” and “Stoned Hearts” present enigmatic lyrics as well, mixing images of eyes and circuitry, and “madness without fear.” In “Stoned Hearts,” Dennis proclaims “stoned hearts / don’t care / that they’re broken” beneath whistling feedback and fiery guitar scraping. Suffice it to say that band members Aaron Rogers, Ian Cummins, and Dennis have created a dazzling, grotesque hybrid that packs abrasiveness as well as dreamily disorienting melody into its music. It’ll be great to see the songs performed live.
Bad Trouble is garage punk: sneering vocals with clamorous guitars, and sufficiently noisy enough to piss your parents off, assuming your parents aren’t punks themselves. Their Facebook motto is worth forming a punk band just to use: “Loud. And loose. But mostly loud. And loose.” And that’s it--I couldn’t sum up Bad Trouble’s contributions to the 7-inch any more elegantly. And yet here I go anyway, inelegantly. “Willis Reed” features Jeff Soper and Eric Blankenhorn’s particularly cool and scornful vocal call-and-response performance, with the added bonus of roaring guitars. “Man with the Grey Skin” includes a gleefully sloppy, near-psychobilly guitar solo. Loud and loose. One doesn’t need much more.
Catch Ultrasphinx and Bad Trouble together (with The Struttin Cocks) at Now That’s Class in Cleveland on Friday, February 22, and at Annabell’s in Akron on Saturday, February 23, and pick up a copy of the new split 7-inch, it’s well worth hearing.
Facebook page: Ultrasphinx
Bandcamp site: Ultrasphinx
Facebook page: Bad Trouble
link to Now That's Class concert--Feb. 22
link to Annabelle's concert--Feb. 23