Chicago post / noise-punk rockers Melkbelly (James Wetzel – drums, Bart Winters – guitar, Liam Winters – bass, Miranda Winters – guitar and vocals) are in no mood to take prisoners on their new full-length album Nothing Valley.
“Off the Lot” opens the album with a rapid-fire attack of Wetzel’s drums and angry guitar chords. “Kid Kreative” brings to mind some of the Breeders‘ heavier tracks with Miranda Winters’ voice mixing post-punk attitude and garage rock urgency.
I don’t know what “R.O.R.O.B.” means, but I do know that it’s almost a goth rock classic. Liam Winters’ bass line is one I’m sure Front 242 would love to have in their back pocket, and the rest of the band brings in a slightly creepy vibe you can’t ignore. “Greedy Gull” has more angles to it than a 20-sided die. The guitars are restless, but Wetzel’s drumming and Miranda Winters’ vocals keep the song rooted.
“Petrified” might indeed petrify you with its building wall of distorted sound. By contrast, “Middle Of” will flatten you as it charges like an out of control steamroller. “Twin Lookin’ Motherfucker” has great jagged guitar riffs throughout it. “RUNXRN” chugs so hard it’s almost doom metal. It abruptly ends, making the chaotic drums of “R2PCM” even more jarring. At first, “Cawthra” sounds like a warped record (in a good way) and is an unexpected and welcome psychedelic diversion before it turns into a rock blitz. I don’t know if “Helloween” is named after the German metal band, but the track is far more post-punk than metal (although some of the distortion in it would please any metal fan). It’s also the longest track on the album at over five minutes. This gives Melkbelly time to stretch their vocal and instrumental muscles in different directions, even dipping their toes into the goth pool for a couple moments.
This is one of my favorite rock records of the year. I’ve been on a post-punk kick and Nothing Valley is a great addition to my collection. It would be to yours as well.
Keep your mind open.
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