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Strange Ranger - Remembering the Rockets Music Album Reviews

The best album of the Philadelphia band’s deep and underappreciated catalog dares to ask what comes after indie rock.
For Strange Ranger, indie rock isn’t just a genre; it’s an actual lifestyle, the prism through which every aspect of adulthood can be projected and understood. The 2016 album Rot Forever, by an earlier incarnation of the band, started its 72 minutes of Up Records fanfic with the line “She played rock guitar” and peaked with “Won’t you come see Pile with me?” Going by the name Sioux Falls at the time, core members Isaac Eiger and Fred Nixon were kids in Bozeman, Montana, who were prone to let one or two ideas stretch out for six minutes because that’s what their heroes Built to Spill and Modest Mouse would do. They moved to Portland for the followup, Daymoon, and it felt like a higher education, going deeper into the Pac NW canon and local scene politics (key song: “House Show”). They’re now in Philadelphia, and Remembering the Rockets is everything one might expect from…





Candy - Good to Feel Music Album Reviews

Extending Richmond’s legacy of heavy weirdness, these upstarts flood hardcore with metal and noise references—all charged by a sense of revolutionary urgency.

Richmond has long held the hard-earned reputation as one of the East Coast’s premier extreme music hotbeds. The capital city’s bands regularly steamroll their competition, even making the heavy musicians of a metropolis like New York City look over their shoulders each time another crew of youngbloods comes charging from the South. We saw it with Southern riff-rock via Alabama Thunderpussy. We saw it with the thrash of Municipal Waste and Gwar. We’ve seen it in extreme metal with Inter Arma and Occultist. And, once again, we see it with punk—this time, with the hardcore band Candy.

Candy collect former and current members of several RVA contemporaries. The upstarts came crashing into view last year with an aggressive self-titled demo that foretold their stylistic elasticity. And now, on their debut LP, Good to Feel, Candy tap a deep knowledge of hardcore’s past while staking a claim on the genre’s future. Good to Feel marries the baroque, shred-happy ecstasy of Japan’s Burning Spirits school of hardcore with New York’s furrowed-brow brand of pummeling and D-beat mania. They have a healthy appreciation for hardcore’s inveterate genre-smashers, Integrity. This is a primal scream from the most maladjusted branch of the punk family tree, flirting with umpteen other genres but refusing to commit to anything except pure upheaval.

The title track immediately charges ahead, with bare-knuckle swagger ripped straight off a rehearsal demo from a Japanese hardcore band like Death Side. Candy don’t let up until the brief record ends. Good to Feel is structured so as to maximize impact, with varying song lengths and sonic deviations staving off listener fatigue, the most common hardcore pitfall. Candy keep it moving, morphing, and confronting. The caveman stomp of “Lust for Destruction” and hyper-distorted two-step of “Systematic Death” bleed into a freewheeling guitar solo. “Panic Is On” may as well have come crawling out of a Lower East Side sewer in 1985, down to the anti-authoritarian message: “Polluted minds, illusion of threats/Exploiting the masses until death.” “Burning Water” pits malevolent grind against unhinged vocals, while groovy 1990s throwback “Distorted Dreams” indulges murky, headbang-ready riffs, dragging the listener’s neck toward hell.

Candy’s spiritual connection with heavy metal leaves ghostly fingerprints all over Good to Feel. The bruising “Human Target” comes with screaming speed-metal riffs, anchored by a grimy Hellhammer impression that’s complete with a spot-on Tom G. Warrior grunt. The song skewers ongoing police brutality, singling out killer cops—“Cleansing civilians, starting from scratch/Infliction of evil on the masses/Crucify, march in line/Won’t hesitate until they die.” It’s a soundtrack for burning down the police state, which Zak Quiram repeatedly rails against. That’s why this record matters—a lyrical missile, it’s loaded with the kind of revolutionary trappings that make you want to hit the streets running.

At an efficient 17 minutes, Good to Feel may make you reach for the ‘Play’ button over and over. And repeated listens do reveal clever moments and interesting stylistic choices, like the murderous homage to Entombed’s HM2-powered death crunch that anchors “Human Target.” To that end, Candy close with “Bigger Than Yours,” a surreal tapestry of droning shoegaze and punch-drunk guitar pop that fades into a bubbling wash of harsh noise. The move may seem surprising if Candy hadn’t spent the proceeding quarter-hour establishing how little regard they have for genre conventions and orthodoxy of any sort.

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