Today’s Sounds: Merchandise

A record by Tampa post-punk revivalists Merchandise, a track by San Francisco’s the Soft Moon and a new single and video by Russian punk martyrs Pussy Riot.


Merchandise, Children of Desire (Katorga Works)

In music, like real estate, it’s all about location location location. If you were a third-rate band making music in Manchester in the ’80s or Seattle in the early ’90s, chances are you got a little more attention than you likely deserved.

For many, where you’re from should also say a great deal about the kind of music you make, or should be making. Conversely, if you’re not from a certain place, but make music that recalls a particular locale, it’s possible to be branded as a carpet-bagging phony. Merchandise sound like they’re British, and play a type of muscular, unhurried post-rock that in no way reveals that they are in fact punk and hardcore guys from Tampa, Florida, home of…well…no one really.

Their musical isolation in the Sunshine State might explain why Children of Desire is such a strange amalgam of almost exclusively dated musical styles. The album is buoyed by two 10-minute droning, fuzzing, plodding epics (in the true sense of the word) that in a way mash up the grime of good ’90s alternative with the hypnotic monotony of British industrial. Beyond guitars, organs and strings emerge and recede at the most unlikely of times, and frontman Carson Cox is an oddly emotive crooner for a guy with a deep voice — not quite an acolyte of Morrissey, but somewhat in that vein.

Their best melodic qualities (there’s one hook in particular that repeats itself twice on the record) are condensed into “Time,” but it’s the two free-for-all longer tunes that really show how adept they are at mixing beautiful chords with ferocious noise.

Children of Desire at once sounds very familiar but also unconventional. Perhaps it sounds simply like Tampa.

Merchandise play Pop Montreal at Il Motore on Friday, Sept. 21


The Soft Moon, “Die Life”

San Francisco’s Luis Vasquez will release his debut LP, Zeros, at the end of October, and play Pop Montreal at la Sala Rossa on Sept. 21. Here’s a taste of his brand of blackened mecha-pop.



Pussy Riot, “Putin Lights Up the Fires”

The renowned Russian agit-prop punks were sentenced to two years in jail today. They also released a new single. Hear it and see some of their unorthodox anti-Putin antics in this Guardian montage. (And if you’re pissed off, attend a local rally in their honour, tonight. Bring your balaclava.)

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