Trash Talk - No Peace

People don’t talk about Trash Talk’s music. We talk about Trash Talk as an avenging force, or as a torch-bearing institution dedicated to reminding us of the days when you could get your fucking head kicked in at a punk rock show. The first time I saw Trash Talk live, I’m not sure I even processed the music — or, perhaps more accurately, I’m not sure I heard the music as anything more than once piece of a transfixingly brutal spectacle. Trash Talk shows are the stuff of instant legend, erratic and unstable and violent before the band so much as plays a note, the music seeming to emanate naturally from frontman Lee Spielman’s prowling-panther charisma and the band’s all-over-the-place crazy-as-fuck energy. When we talk about Trash Talk, the live show is the first thing anyone talks about, and the music — fireballs of grimy old-school basement-hardcore intensity — seems to exist almost simply as a soundtrack for mayhem. Trash Talk’s early records are remarkable in their primal radiating-in-all-directions ferocity and in their jarring brevity. (2012′s 119, their last album, was by far their longest at not quite 22 minutes, at least until today.) Those records seemed to function, more or less, as souvenirs or previews of the live show, as audio mementos that brought back the feeling of a sweaty elbow mushing up against your temple. And so the band’s new album No Peace stands out because its songs function as songs and because it’s the first Trash Talk record that creates its own context, independent of the band’s live show.

The first sounds we hear on No Peace are a quantized drum-roll, a heaving distorto-guitar note, a faraway flute-whistle. Those are elements on “Amnesiatic,” the instrumental intro track, which the band recorded with veteran rap producer the Alchemist. “Amnesiatic” is really just a clipped little groove, a minute-long piece of interstitial music, a plate-setting. But it’s also a fascinating piece of music. I don’t know how many other bands are capable of the tone we hear on that guitar — dark, sludgy, bursting with implied violence. But I do know that no other bands would think to use that guitar tone as a plaything for a stoned rap visionary. And that guitar sounds great in this context, the track’s staggering breakbeat and its tingling psychedelic sound effects adding up to a deeply evocative little sludge-droplet. The album proper ends with another minute-long Alchemist-produced track, “Reprieve,” that’s even better: A Godzilla-stomp guitar riff pressed into service of tumbling programmed drums and smoked-out drift. No Peace is a hardcore record through and through, and those two tracks are anomalies. But they’re telling anomalies, anomalies that reveals new sides to what this band can do, what worlds it can span.

Those two Alchemist-produced tracks are not without precedent, not entirely. Trash Talk are, at least on some level, rap guys. They’ve toured with rappers. They’re signed to Odd Future Records. Tyler, The Creator and Hodgy Beats rapped on one 119 song. Ever since they started to break out of the hardcore scene, they’ve existed at some sort of rap/punk skateboard-culture locus that reveres Mobb Deep just as much as the Cro-Mags. But even when they’ve had actual rappers on a song, they’ve never let that influence creep into their music the way they do on No Peace. Other than the Alchemist-produced tracks, rap only appears in subtle shades on No Peace. The drums are slower, recorded with more neck-snap precision. The basslines roll almost as much as they growl. There are grooves here, not just blurry blurts. The band recorded the album in New York, far from their Sacramento origins and their L.A. home base, and the change in scenery has the rare-for-New York effect of opening up their music, finding a bit more space in it, giving just a modicum of room to breathe. It’s half an hour long — basically a triple-gatefold Yes album by this band’s spartan standards. It has choruses and verses. There’s one bonus track “Stakin Skins,” where two outside vocalists, King Krule and Ratking rapper Wiki, try (without much success) to deliver lyrics on a Trash Talk song without bellowing like demons. It’s an album of chances taken and fusions attempted, and it’s easily and immediately the most impressive and approachable thing Trash Talk have ever done.

But No Peace is not a compromise move. It’s grimy and jarring, and listening to it feels like being swatted with 12 different wiffle ball bats at once. If anything, the new interest in space and dynamics makes the album more cathartic, its thunder louder. You won’t confuse this for the work of another band; the meat of the album is still in the fiery roils of effects-pedal burn and throat-shredding roar that rarely last longer than two minutes. But there’s a new sense of tension-and-release at work, and that’s a powerful thing when it’s executed as forcefully and mercilessly as it is here. Trash Talk were always a dangerous band. Now, they’ve become a dangerous band whose songs you can sometimes remember when you’re not listening to them. This makes them a more dangerous band.

No Peace is out now on Trash Talk Collective/Odd Future Records.

Other albums of note out this week:

• Robyn and Röyksopp huge-sounding collaborative mini-album Do It Again.
• Sharon Van Etten’s sweeping, beautifully sung Are We There.
• Owen Pallett’s ambitious orchestral pop record In Conflict.
• Hercules And Love Affair’s emotive, hard-thumping old-school house revival The Feast Of The Broken Heart.
• Ben Frost’s pounding noise opus A U R O R A.
• Hundred Waters’ glimmering, impressionist The Moon Rang Like A Bell.
• Dum Dum Girls/Crocodiles side project Haunted Hearts’ debut Initiation.
• Meyhem Lauren & Buckwild’s boom-bap collaboration Silk Pyramids.
• Eyehategod’s brutal, dirt-blasted self-titled comeback album.
• Black Anvil’s old-school thrash-metal crossover record Hail Death.
• Rush Midnight’s smooth, rippling debut Fix Me Up.
• Enabler’s grand scuzz-punk attack La Fin Absolute Du Monde.
• Ifing’s epic, mythic black metal roil Against The Weald.
• Popstrangers’ textured indie popper Fortuna.
• My Morning Jacket side project Spanish Gold’s debut South Of Nowhere.
• Three Man Cannon’s fuzzed-out ’90s-indie exercise Pretty Many People.
• Serpentine Path’s ugly, hulking doom debut Emanations.
• Former Black Swans frontman Jerry David DeCicca’s solo debut Understanding Land.
• Museum Mouth’s missed-connections concept record Alex I Am Nothing.
• Atmospheric trap producer Napolian’s solo debut Incursio.
• Emptiness’s ethereal black metaller Nothing But The Whole.
• LOST BOY ?’s Wasted EP.

Comments (17)
  1. Would it be so far fetched to say this one of their most difficult albums as well? I’ve given it a few spins and am now just beginning to wrap my head around the weird nuances that make it good. Either way, this is a cool surprise for AOTW. I really thought it was going to go to Ben Frost, Roby-sokk or Sharon Van Etten.

    Related side note: When did CD prices even for new releases get so insane on Amazon? I had No Peace on pre-order at fully expected the $17.61 it was priced at to drop to the usual $9.99. Nope! That thing shipped out at that price due to have a Prime trial, and luckily Best Buy’s price of $12.99 allowed me to make a price match.

    But still. Here is what some of this week’s more popular new indie release CDs cost at Amazon and it’s troubling sign of maybe the final nail in the format, in a “If you want them, we’ll make you pay way too much for them”:

    Ben Frost – $15.32
    Royksopp & Robyn – $15.99
    Hercules & Love Affair – $24.78
    Hundred Waters – $12.39

    • Why the hell would you buy a CD anyway?

      • Well, I bought the new Swans double CD when it came out a couple weeks ago.

        I normally buy vinyl, but I’m in no rush to purchase a 3xLP that cuts the longer songs into two parts as Gira was forced to do with “The Seer”. I bought “The Seer” on vinyl and hardly ever played it because it was easier to just pop in either Disc 1 or 2.

        I guess your comment implies, “Why don’t you download an album and put it on your phone or mp3 player? Or hell, just use Spotify.” Fair point. To the first, I don’t need a 2 hour Swans album on my phone taking up space. Especially since I don’t have an aux cord in my car, only CD player. I guess I should’ve led with that fact…

        The CD packaging for “To Be Kind” is quite nice by the way. The cardboard background is much nicer (kinder?) than the mustard yellow in the jpegs blogs have been using to promote the album.

        Overall, I’ll buy a CD if it’s something I really want to hear but it’s not out on vinyl yet.

        • I have the opposite gameplan (Vinyl only if it’s not available on CD) but pretty much invest in the old fashioned compact disc for the same reasons: car portability and a dislike for music taking up space on my phone (and not to mention to have to always carry around a charger, because the iPhone is certainly not very long last when it comes to battery life.) The boring answer is also that they take up much more space (hence the name) and, until today’s harsh realization, they are / were? more affordable. I just figure that there’s no point in paying for downloads or streaming services when I can just have the physical copy always with me and rip the album onto my computer or listening device if need be.

      • CDs are much better than downloads because you have a permanent physical artefact which can be ripped to any digital format. I’m using Flac and MP3 320 at the moment, but should something awesome come along soon then all my CD music will sound better than my downloaded music. Not to mention the fact downloads typically come in at 256, or iTunes which gives you M4As (I don’t want a third format, my music is supposed to be uniform goddamit!).

        It’s nice to have a physical collection, even though vinyl is sexier. I can’t afford all my favourite new albums on vinyl though, because that really IS expensive. I can usually get a CD from the current year for ~£6; if I want vinyl it is AT LEAST £13 and most are more like £16+. I missed the last Janelle record on vinyl because it was a whopping £25!

        Also, and I’m about to get into potentially dodgy territory here, if I pay for as download I’m not getting any more than I would for pirating it. Heck, if I torrent it I will usually get a choice of formats – even better! Whilst I love to support artists and I frequently do by buying music and tickets, I’m not exactly the richest man so if I’m going to pay for something it has got to be a substantial improvement on the free alternative. That goes for everything in life to be honest.

        To me the whole phone storage problem is solved by getting a phone which has a Micro SD slot; those can go up to 128gb now. I guess the SD-less iPhone has crazy market penetration in the US so I don’t think a lot of people realise that is a option though. I’ll admit I’m struggling with the mere 32gb onboard storage on my L920, although my next Lumia has an SD slot so I’m happy enough to live with it.

        • My eyes went O_O when I read the bit about Micro SD cards. I’ve had the same iPhone since 2010 but you just gave me a reason to switch off of it for good. Really just waiting til it breaks to replace it.

          It still blows my mind 128gb is available in something the size of a fingernail. I used to think my 20GB hard drive was boss!

          • See, somehow they aren’t in public knowledge. They have been around for donkeys, I had one in my first smartphone way back in ’06. 128gb is a bit expensive still because it is quite new but 64gb Micro SDs are cheap. Most devices have slots, for some reason Apple has never offered any type of expandable iPhone storage though.

    • Gotta say I’ve noticed the same, I actually put off preordering Banks’s new record because both the vinyl and CD are rather expensive. The CD actually costs more than what I paid to see her play live!

  2. Great write-up. It’s far too easy to bypass discussing their music to focus on their balancing act between the hardcore & rap scenes. The first time I heard their Awake EP I was absolutely floored. That 5 song collection is some of the most pure, kick-a-hole-in-the-ceiling hardcore I’ve ever listened to. Psyched to hear the new stuff. F.E.B.N.

  3. You guys clearly aren’t there.

  4. My choice is the new Hundred Waters. After a few listens, it’s definitely showing itself to be a pretty nice piece of work. And the production/engineering are top-notch so it sounds amazing.

  5. A U R O R A

    • Yes! Been listening to it ALL DAY. And on a day that SO many good, new releases have come out… that certainly says something. Excited to listen to No Peace once I get around to it though… as well as Hercules & Love Affair and Haunted Hearts.

  6. I think “ambitious” is the most common descriptor I’ve come across for Owen Pallett’s music, and is probably least true for In Conflict. It’s AOTW for me, partially under the strength of his live show.

  7. pArEnTaL aDvIsOrY

  8. Sorry, I’m sure it’s great and all, but there is not enough time to listen between Sharon Van Etten (this didn’t even get a premature evaluation?), Royksopp/Robyn, Ben Frost, Owen Pallet, Hercules and Love Affair and Hundred Waters.

    So many good releases this week…

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