we love LOAD records

And we love them so much we’ll have to write two articles about them. Load Records (based in Providence, Rhode Island) started in 1993 (surprisingly, their first record was a garage band, Boss Fuel) but like many others I discovered this label in 2001 with a life-changing album, Lightning Bolt’s Ride The Skies.

Lightning Bolt – Ride The Skies

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Since then, I’ve been following obsessively all their releases. Coherent but not monomaniac, Load likes it weird and noisy but swallows a variety of things, from punk to noise, from metal to rock. This two-people operation (Load is just Ben Mc Osker and his wife Laura, and they both have other jobs) gathers and helps to shape a significant part of today’s adventurous music. The next part of this feature will dwell on Load’s whole history, but first we wanted to focus on their recent past, as ALL the records they published in the past twelve months are fantastic.

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Sex Church – Growing Over (October 2011)
Written by Kimberly (Gilded Gutter, Upset the Rythm, manager of The Pheromoans…)

 Sex Church is a three piece grounded in Vancouver, Canada made up of Caleb Bouey (Guitar), Levon Olsen (Guitar) and Nick Groessl (Bass).  Some may already be familiar with these fellas from playing in Ladies Night, Vapid, Defectors, Modern Creatures and Catholic Boys – and with this solid trash-punk background it’s not entirely surprising they’ve done something entirely different.  Thus far in the Sex Church cannon the outfit have released a handful of singles and EPs for Hozac, Sweet Rot and Convulsive and after two years of recording have arrived at their full-length debut for Load, Growing Over.  The album explores an emancipation of inner turmoil channeled through a love of Wipers, Rocky Erickson and Cheater Slicks.  Sex Church employs elements of shoe gaze, noise and kraut in their introverted style of songwriting challenging the most, raw punk bands around today.

 “Growing Over” as the title may suggest, is a record cloaked in an ever-expanding cloud of haze emanating from layers of reverb and fuzz.   Cacophonous guitars, forthright beats and a panting bass cut through the fog creating eleven stormy numbers that swirl and scramble through frequencies of dejection.   This is aptly shown on track “Treading Water”, embodying high levels of hitting rock bottom through sounding out discordant guitars, incoherent vocals and unrelenting, pounding beats. Another stand out track on the album for me is “Beneath The Bottom”, a menacing, urgent piece that howls, barks and charges from the darkest dirges of Sex Church’s psyche and as a result curiously creates something totally mesmerizing.   The manner in which Sex Church liberate these tremors of internal anguish result in pure and savage swills of punk that are beautiful and beastly in equal measure.

Sex Church – Beneath The Bottom (right click/save as)

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Sex Church – Dull Light

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Skoal Kodial – Kryptonym Bodliak  (October 2011)
Written by Carter Mullin of Olive Music.

Considering technological evolution, musicians have found mastery in recording and producing more tangible than ever. This is evident when glancing at the abundance of electronic music present today, and one could assume much of it to have been made on a laptop within a day or so. The electronic variety has also sprouted a cornucopia of subgenres both applicable and ill-defined, but each of which carrying artists who have found their own niche audience to cater for. Achieving stature has never been simpler.

Enter Minnesota trio Skoal Kodiak, the antithesis embodying the struggle to grasp definition. Like Mindflayer and Neon Hunk before them, Skoal Kodiak are electronic music for the Load Records listenership– a spirit lost somewhere between dysfunctional punk tumult and cocaine-inspired grooves. Their second album Kryptonym Bodliak is a massive assemblage of aggressive psychedelic whimsy. Even when attributing the band to the minuscule subset of noise-informed dance they’re abidingly one in a million.

Skoal Kodiak concisely shell seven blusterous boogies across 35 minutes, equipped with bass, drums, and paramount knob-twiddling. Opener “Teapot” exploits a funky drum lilt punctuated by slippery gadgetry and electro-damaged vocal yowls, and its successor “Hollidazzle” applies this configuration to a tune perceivably from the vault of the late and great Mayyors. As much as Kryptonym Bodliak is inherent in peculiarity, “Tomah Triangle” raises eyebrows by its aberrant tunefulness of a haunting keyboard refrain and harmonic chorus.

Each of Kryptonym Bodliak‘s tracks deserves its own helping of appraisal. With unfaltering kinetic force Skoal Kodiak explore every avenue of their dynamic; an undertaking justified for an outfit six years active. Unlike their aforementioned predecessors, they array a more congenial employment of riotous circuitry, fulfilling their shortage of patience at album’s length. In challenging the merits of most debuts, the band showcases an unmistakable and elastic design to their complexion while bearing little to no foibles.

Skoal Kodiak – Teapot (right click/save as)

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Skoal Kodiak – Hollidazzle

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Skoal Kodiak – Tomah Triangle video

Fnu Ronnies – Saddle Up (February 2012)

Jonathan of Built On A Weak Spot already reviewed this album here.  The sound on this weirdo noise punk record “is a murky tunnel of punked out alien frequencies with dirty vibes and ideas last talked about at NASA around the time of the last faked moon landing“.

FNU Ronnies – Ant People (right click/save as)

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FNU Ronnies – You Don’t Look So Good

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Jazz Mind (March 2012)
Written by Kimberly (Gilded Gutter, Upset the Rythm, manager of The Pheromoans…)

Ed Schrader and Delvin Rice make up Baltimore rock duo Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.   In its inception Ed worked solo on the project touring songs comprised of a drum accompanied by vocals.   3 years ago Delvin was invited to play alongside Ed for one gig at a rave in their hometown, the pair forged an unexpected chemistry on stage and Ed Schrader’s Music Beat acquired a permanent bassist.  Since then, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s released a well-received debut single for Load ‘Sermon/Rats’ which primed music nerds, freaks and lovers for the savage minimalistic rock offered up on their first full length Jazz Mind.

Opener ‘Sermon’ features volatile vocals, a belching bass and tribal rhythms executed with the air punching attitude of punk touched with industrial experimentalism.  Slamming on the breaks ‘Gem Asylum’ follows with eventide synthesizers and a meditative bass apace with reverb heavy vocals.   “I can’t stop eating sugar, see what it does, feel what it does, but it’s always in my face, and it’s always been the cause Tyrannosaurus Rex and it’s good damn claws”, confesses Ed in “Sugar”.  It’s this focus on immediately identifiable objects that give access to Ed’s musings, these little touches of reality threaded through ‘Jazz Mind’ act as an anchor as the songs drift in and out of abstraction.  These eleven tracks play a tug of war as they fluctuate between pummeling and placid, from chest beaters like “Gas Station Attendant” you get the polar opposite – and one of my favourite tracks “My Mind Is Broken By The Sound”.  This album wonderfully captures human experience in a pure and unmatched way; daily humdrum, boredom, love, paranoia are explored through a rock sound that carves away the gristle leaving all the meat, a really great debut. Jazz Mind is available now in Europe through Upset the Rhythm, as volunteer for UTR I can attest that we all couldn’t be more excited about supporting this project and look forward to some shows later in the year from Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.

Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Sermon (right click/save as)

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – My Mind Is Broken By The Sound

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White Suns – Sinews (April 2012)
written by Jonathan of Built On A Weak Spot

Last years debut from Brooklyn’s White Suns was an eye opener, no doubt. An album that successfully channeled much of New York City’s rich past of punk, no-wave, and willingness to experiment. Often lumped into the noise-rock genre, it’s probably fair to say that the band often works more heavily with straight noise rather than the whole “rock” part. That was evident from the bands very beginnings among the string of cassette and CD-R EP’s that predated their first full-length. Now firmly entrenched among New York’s greatly growing noise-rock scene, White Suns have since moved on from Weasel Walter’s ugEXPLODE label to release Sinews on Load Records, who I imagine are a much better fit for the band.

With Sinews White Suns again return to the bleak cold city landscape of scraping metal and decay, at times coming full force with punches of punk-ish blasts of noise and the maniacal screams of singer Kevin Barry to tag along. These moments are skillfully introduced with the prolonged usage of droning feedback and the screeching shambles of structures crumbling to the ground. There is a level of claustrophobia induced with this practice and the result makes the whirlwind of noise to come all that much more effective and overwhelming. Simply put, Sinews is relentless. Not a moment to breath, not an ounce of light shining through on this one. One of the most aurally exhaustive listens I’ve managed to hear in awhile. While White Suns may be part of a larger group of bands making an effort to keep the noise alive in NY, they are one of the few pushing it forward to a noticeable extent. For those that were fans of the bands debut, then Sinews is an absolute must purchase.

White Suns – Footprints Filled (right click/save as)

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White Suns – Oath

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White Load - Wayne’s World III/ The Godfather IV (February 2012. Yes, we don’t respect chronological order but this review is so long it HAD to be the last one)
written by L’ami of Don’t Buy records mailorder

The first time I came across this band was in the review section of Maximum Rock ‘n Roll. That must have been a few years ago. I remember the review immediately grabbed my attention, because of the bands White Load got compared to. Those were Street Trash, whose self titled EP was an awesome hardcore release even my friends who outgrew hardcore consider a modern day classic, and the Grabbies, who have always been unlistenable to me, but that’s the whole point. Comparisons are often off, but my interest had been peaked. I needed to hear this band that apparently considered it funny to name themselves after the product of male ejaculation.

It wasn’t long after reading about White Load that I coincidentally met their guitar player on the internet through Soulseek. We used to talk, something the guy wasn’t too fond of as one of the band’s songs subtly points out, but I was able to work out distribution with him despite his aversion of communication. A few weeks after our digital rendezvous, I had White Load’s first vinyl release in my mailorder. The thing was called ‘Talk’. It was the first release on Leather Bar Records, a label secretly ran by one of White Load’s members. Leather Bar has had a consistent aesthetic and approach to its releases from the very start. All of them look the same; a thin piece of paper with black and white artwork stapled to the record sleeve, which makes it impossible to take the vinyl out without removing two staples. Inside the sleeve is always a one-sided 7”. The whole idea behind this is to keep the records cheap, but at the same time the ethic testifies of minimalism if not downright nihilism.

The ‘Talk’ 7” contains three songs in just over four minutes. A common wisdom among sound engineers is that if a band plays like shit, there’s no way you can make them sound decent. Now White Load sure as hell can’t play and not even the lord himself could have made this band sound decent, but the band didn’t even try and you got to love them for that. Instead of covering up mistakes, the recording seems to be focused on enlarging each and every flaw and shortcoming. The snare sound is way too loud, the singer’s lyrics are indecipherable except for the occasional ‘FUCK!’ and the guitar sounds ugly as fuck. The riffs are simple but effective as is the drumming. White Load’s singer is probably what I like about the band most though. He sounds vicious and mean and makes it all the more believable that we’re dealing with three anti-social outsiders here.

After their debut the band released two 7”s on Sweden’s Ken Rock Records and they supplied one song, ‘Nothing’s Funny’, for the groundlessly underrated ‘Fresh Cuts and Cigarette Butts’ Compilation EP on Criminal IQ Records. All of these releases are pretty much in the same vein as their earlier stuff. As more people got wind of White Load, the band got listed among many other bands. Some of which flattering such as the ones mentioned above and others insulting such as Cult Ritual, a band they hated. The best reference for White Load’s music however remains Solger, whom the guitarist once listed as an important influence. White Load is every bit as inept and malicious as those Seattle misfits, whose EP is as mandatory as early Flag and the Germs in my opinion. Especially White Load’s loud, abrasive and stomping guitar playing is very reminiscent of Solger. It should go without saying that White Load’s music of choice lends itself best for the 7” format. The debate whether a hardcore band ever pulled off a decent full-length will probably never come to an end and yet White Load didn’t back down from recording an actual LP this year. And what would have been more fitting than have Load Records from Providence, the very same town this band calls home, release it? In return for their recordings the label supposedly paid the band with a fuzz pedal. Who ever said there was nothing to be made in punk? White Load is definitely among the more direct and hardcore band on the label. What you see is what you get. There’s no novelty or weirdness here. Just fast, dirty and pissed off hardcore. This record is not exactly a full length though. Both sides of this LP are separate recordings. The A-side is called ‘Wayne’s World III’ and the flip is titled ‘The Godfather IV’. Get it? As Murray Barrels pointed out in July’s Maximum Rock ‘n Roll the Hunches already claimed this joke with their ‘Home Alone 5’ compilation on In The Red Records, but either White Load never even heard of that band – the Hunches’ seem too sophisticated an ensemble for the damaged ears of this bunch – or they simply didn’t care and took pride in the fact that telling the same joke twice is never funny, just like pretty much everything else in life isn’t as they eloquently pointed out on their afore mentioned compilation track, which is also included on both sides of the LP.

Supposedly one side of the record is a studio recording and the other is a live set, but fuck if I know which is which. You can tell the recording is different as you flip the thing over, but rest assured neither side sounds polished. I guess ‘The Godfather IV’ is the live set, because there’s some banter included and I think a few songs actually get ruined unintentionally, which is all part of the game of playing live, right? The recording is shittier than the one on the flip. Not that the A-side sounds like a lot of thought was put into the recording, but on ‘The Godfather IV’ side the drums are by far the loudest to the point that they drown the guitar a bit. Whereas I remember the snare sounding sharp and shrill on the band’s earlier material, the thing just brings out a flat and muffling thump here. The singer has a hard time overshouting the drums, but he doesn’t let the snare bury him without a fight. Neither side of this record is for those who like it clean, but hell if you consider production values important this band isn’t for you to begin with. I know people like to rag on live records/recordings but personally I’ve always liked to hear bands I enjoy in a live setting even if I’m not actually present at the performance. In this particular case I think White Load raises the bar for ugliness on their live recording and it looks good on them. When listening to this record I feel like shit is happening and that’s really all I want from a hardcore band, not going through the motions as I’ve seen so many bands do on stage. Life is already so boring. I want punk not to be. To me punk and hardcore should be about destroying boredom at all costs. If nothing’s happening, you make shit happen. If the crowd isn’t moving, you shoot fireworks into their faces. I love how the singer keeps telling the crowd ‘you’re welcome’ in that clip turning the obligatory ‘thank you’ after a song upside down. I’m not sure whether I would have considered this show cool if I went home with one eye less than I arrived with, but the good thing about the ‘Godfather IV’ is that you can experience White Load live without the chance of losing eyesight. I can’t guarantee your ears will be the same after listening to this stuff on high volume – the only right way to listen to this record – though.

Wayne’s World III/ The Godfather IV’ contains twenty-five songs in total some of which the seasoned White Load fan already knows, but in this case I don’t mind. The tunes hardly make for ‘songs’ anyway.Even the studio recordings could have been a live set. The songs are delivered at breakneck pace without stops. You put this record on and make it waltz over you. In that sense it reminds me of ‘Landspeed Record’ by Hüsker Dü. White Load obviously doesn’t share their sense of melody – no melody here, boys and girls – or some would argue their talent, but this record has the same urgency, the same ready-set-go-mentality. Play fast, play loud, pack your things and go home. Most of these songs clock in under a minute which makes for a record with a total playtime of less than half an hour.

All in all, White Load delivers an ear shattering and relentless record. Those who’ve heard previous releases by this band will not be disappointed. White Load make being inept a quality. They carry their lack of talent with pride. These guys are no musicians and they give it their all to make this clear to the listener. Their ineptitude should be a reminder that punk is about not giving a shit and playing for the hell of it. Let this record be a wake up call to those who’ve lost their way and think punk means getting as close to sounding as the Wipers as possible. This is what hardcore should sound like, fuckface! Listening to White Load’s songs is like being spit in the face and kicked in the groin at the same time. This music is shit. This music is worthless. This music is like life itself. Another great record on Load Records.

Endnote: After speaking to the band’s guitar player recently; I was told that neither side of the record actually is a live recording. The entire record was recorded in one and the same room. The sides are both different takes with the main difference being the degree of intoxication of the band members.

White Load – Less Life (right click/save as)

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White Load – Nothing is Funny

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White Load – Prostitute

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