Smarts + Morwan LPs announced / new Feel It tees+totes!
Hello again! It's been an insane few weeks since our last update. The Sweeping Promises LP has been getting all kinds of great reviews, mentions, airplay, and playlist selections. We actually pre-sold the entire second pressing, but the fine folks at Blue Sprocket Pressing are going the extra mile to run a third pressing (all black vinyl with new dark green center labels) at the same time as the second pressing - so yes, you can still preorder the LP on our site or Bandcamp. We should also note that this is the final week that we'll be offering preorders for Sweeping Promises and Zits shirts. Finally, I want to share an incredible interview with Lira of Sweeping Promises over at Gimme Gimme Gimme Zine, which sheds a lot of light on the band and their creative process.
As promised, we have two great new LPs to announce today! Up first is the debut album from Melbourne, Australia's Smarts, cleverly titledWho Needs Smarts, Anyway? This 13 track album is Smarts' first record after a demo tape on Anti Fade (who are handling the Australian pressing of the LP as well). Smarts play a vibrant brand of punk rock with early 80's LA flavor (think Suburban Lawns/Geza X), adding tasteful sax/synth/xylophone, and executing with the reckless abandon of the contemporary Midwestern "egg" style (think if CCTV actually made an LP). Members of Ausmuteants, Alien Nosejob, and Parsnip for those keeping score.
We are also thrilled to announce the first vinyl pressing of Zola-Zemlya from Kiev, Ukraine's Morwan. This album has been one of my favorite discoveries from the amazing Harakiri Diat YouTube channel ever since its release in July. Morwan is the solo project of Alex Ashtaui, brilliantly mixing driving post-punk with traditional Arabic-Slavic sounds of his mixed ethnicity. Very futuristic sounding stuff!
Smarts are a relatively new Australian band who began playing shows around Melbourne and surrounds towards the end of 2018. Combining frantic, yet taut and rapidly-paced rhythms amidst playful, almost child-like riffs and melodies that just about make you want to pull your hair out, Smarts are a sound of their own. The band stemmed out of a bedroom demo that was recorded for fun a year earlier by Billy Gardner (bass, vocals) and Mitch Campleman (guitar) in Geelong. After letting it collect dust for 12 months, they assembled a band to perform the songs live featuring Jake Robertson on drums and Sally Buckley on synth; and released the four-song demo cassette, “Smart World”. Stella Rennex later joined the band, largely filling out the sound with her eccentric saxophone parts. “Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?” was recorded by the band themselves over a weekend slumber in Geelong at the DIY studio setup; The Barracks, with finishing coats added in Melbourne before sending off to mix-master-Mikey Young in Rye. There’s a feeling throughout as if the whole thing could collapse into pieces at any moment, and just when you think it’s about to, Smarts weave their way out and into a new direction. Points of reference could be compared to the quirkiness of LA’s Suburban Lawns or Geza X, as well as citing influence from modern sounds like Japanese band Vodovo and the ever-evolving Midwest American punk scene. It could even be viewed as a refreshing and original extension of the so-called “egg punk” genre.
The North American pressing of "Who Needs Smarts, Anyway?", limited to 400 copies, comes packaged with a double-sided risograph insert and download code. The mighty Anti Fade Records will be handling the Australian pressing.
Peep some fantastic live-in-the-studio Smarts footage fromButton Pusher!
The flourishing Eastern European post-punk scene has given way to a boom of dark, rhythmic, and powerful new activity. One of the most original and captivating artists to recently emerge from this scene is Kiev, Ukraine's Morwan. The solo project of Alex Ashtaui, Morwan evolved from an earlier post-punk project, 563 (Pyat'shest'tri). Searching for a new direction, Ashtaui circled back to his half-Ukrainian, half-Arab roots, arriving at the perfect crossroads - a sonic aesthetic informed by both ethic tradition and the familiar territory of dark, driving post-punk. Ashtaui cites additional influence from contemporary Russian groups Utro and Shortparis, as well as the industrial/experimental sounds of Swans. Zola-Zemlya, Morwan's second release, is an exceptionally original piece of work. It is an album that reaches to the furthest corners of post-punk, further revealing a deep connection to the ethnic sounds of both Arabic and Slavic tradition. There is a profound reverence for nature in Morwan's lyrics - as Ashtaui best explains, "The nature in songs acts as a fundamental force, a given from which you cannot escape. With the help of metaphors associated specifically with nature I tell about some of my personal experiences and stories." Zola-Zemlya is equal parts primitive and contemporary, as traditional Middle Eastern instrumentation and structures are woven through driving, modern post-punk rhythms. Morwan's genius shines across all five tracks, a sound both genre-expansive and futuristic.
I asked my friend Christina P in Melbourne for a new Feel It design and she absolutely killed it! Excited to offer these tees and totes for preorder. Estimated to ship mid-October with the Smarts and Morwan releases. As always, any order over $100 (before shipping) qualifies for a FREE tote.
I'm well aware that this is starting to read like an endless sales pitch, but let me not leave you without mentioning some top notch new arrivals in the distro, which include a trio of killer new HoZac archival issues of rare first wave punk, pre-Gun Club powerpop brilliance from Jeffrey Lee Pierce's Red Lights, the latest Crazy Doberman LP (featuring an appearance from Feel It alum Hector Castro of Slump!), a collection cassette of 2020 material from our favorite Clevo group, The Cowboy, and a restock on one of the year's best rock albums from Advertisement.
On that note, I'm signing off for now. Hope these new releases are the kick of good news to make your day just a little better. Even more exciting new stuff to announce in October. -Sam.