Posts Tagged ‘Character Stop’

Hex Records (USA) / Bigout Records (Europe) – 23rd October 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

For what is essentially a side-project for some of its members, USA Nails have sustained a remarkable output since their inception in 2014, with Character Stop being their fifth full-length release.

It is less full-on, less manic, and less of a messy blur than the bulk of their previous works, but the energy is still very much present, manifesting in a sound that’s more defined, more sharply focused. Which means, in short, it’s more like being attacked with a saw than a hammer. That said, there’s no shortage of blistering punk assaults: ‘I Am Posable’ is a furious flurry of slurry, and hits the spot hard.

We’ve already been given a flavour of the album with the short sharp shocks of ‘I Don’t Own Anything and the opening track ‘Revolution Worker’ both of which combine the growling bass rumble of Shellac with skewed guitars and a motoric beat, and consequently comes on like an early Fall outtake being covered by Tar, and it’s fair to say they’re wholly representative of the album as a whole. Well, don’t you just hate it when you buy an album because of a great single only to find the rest of the album is absolutely nothing like it, and it’s crap to boot? Maybe it happens less now in the digital age, but I used to find that a lot back in the 80s and 90s. Anyway, what this means is that if the prefatory releases appealed, then you’ll be happy to get lots more of the same, while conversely, if the singles didn’t do it for you, then you’re really going to find this a chore.

Recorded in just four days at Bear Bites Horse in London with producer Wayne Adams, Character Stop is urgent, immediate, and raw, and the songs are all brief and more angular than a great-stellated dodecahedron. And yet for that, it’s not math-rock, nor does it really belong to any specific genre, unless jolting, jarring, slightly discordant shit is a recognised genre now.

The album’s longest track, clocking in at four and a quarter minutes, ‘How Was Your Weekend?’ slows the pace and darkens the tone, with a stark, post-punk feel, a tone vocal paired with a thumping metronomic beat at tripwire tense guitars, and likewise the stark, jittery ‘Preference for Cold’. The bass shudders as it runs hither and thither, while the guitars crash in splintering shards. Elsewhere, if ‘No Pleasure’ filters The Stooges through Black Flag and slips its way through at a hundred miles an hour in a torrent of sweat and angst, it’s still got a vaguely post-punk tint to compliment its hardcore hue, and ‘Temporary Home’ is all about the motoric thud. It’s also got something that sounds like a chorus and a bit of melody, although it’s soon swallowed up in a scream of nail-scraping feedback and racketous riffage.

You wouldn’t exactly call Character Stop a minimalist work, but it is often stark, almost contemplative, going beyond all-out thunderous noise to explore dynamics and contrast. In short, it’s a cracking album.

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USA Nails release their fifth album “Character Stop” on October 23rd 2020 through Hex Records (USA) and Bigout Records (Europe).

The record was tracked live over 4 days at Bear Bites Horse in London with producer Wayne Adams. Though “Character Stop” still features the pummelling noise-punk that USA Nails have become renowned for, it’s balanced with more sober, downbeat moments. On it they explore identity – like the online personas of aggressive twitter users, influencers and vloggers, as well as more introspective takes on mental health, giving up on dreams, the joy (and despair) of being a part-timer, and contemplating who they would be if they decided to hang up their guitars for good. Guitarist Gareth Thomas comments,

"For me "Character Stop" is the best album USA Nails have ever made by miles. It’s more varied than anything we’ve ever done before and I think it’s stronger for it. I feel like it’s more fully realised, and more complete as a collection of songs. Everytime we get in a room together and write, the dynamic of our relationship as writers (and mates) develops a bit further, we get better at anticipating and complimenting each other. We’ve always tried to be efficient in our creativity, to do what feels natural and just let things flow. I’m obviously still really happy with all the music we’ve written up to this point, but on this record everything seemed to come together so sweetly. “

Frontman Steven Hodson describes first single ‘Revolution Worker’ as ‘about not knowing how long you have left at being in a band and life in general. My Dad died quite young and now I’m a father it’s something I think about quite a lot. It’s also about balancing time between family, work and band. All that grim stuff is wrapped up in a hell of a catchy riff, feedback and woodblocks.’

Ahead of the album, they’ve unveiled the video for ‘Revolution Worker’ . Watch it here:

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