October 17, 2011

Album Review: Trash Talk's Awake EP

Ever since last year's Eyes & Nines brought Trash Talk from the underground into the pages of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork's news feed and onto AwkwardSound's Best Albums and Best Breakthroughs of 2010, the cat has been let out of the bag about the latest torchbearers of hardcore. It doesn't surprise AS that for the release of their new EP, Awake, the Sacramento quartet is going for a higher profile release on True Panther Sounds. The label -- home to less harsh indie acts such as GIRLS and Glasser -- is an off-shoot of Matador Records, which in recent years has scooped up fellow young-blood punks, Fucked Up and Ceremony onto its roster. Based on the latest releases from the latter two, bigger sounds and poppier hooks are two notable prerequisites that draw this unlikely label to these bands, but in the case with Trash Talk, shaking off the caustic nature of their style may not be such an easy fete.

Awake is an expected leap forward in Trash Talk's brash powerviolence evolution. Like recent efforts from tourmates OFF! and Touché Amoré, simplified chord progressions culled from hardcore's golden era of the '80s are glued to the band's otherwise explosive, spastic wall of sound, resulting in five two-minute long songs. An eternity compared to past Trash Talk cuts that tended to be seamlessly attached, each has legs to stand on its own. The EP's title track "Awake" alongside "Burn Alive" are the strongest examples of this, with a bulk of the credit owed to the youth crew aesthetic driving them. Like many Americans during these uncertain times, Trash Talk is pissed about reckless irresponsibility and abuse of power, and so these songs become something more than just tear-shit-up anthems: They're full-throttle microcosms of an angry nation. It isn't just socio-politics they're sinking their hungry teeth into to, either. "Slander" and "Gimme Death" are their fuck-all to rebellious clichés where as Lee Spielman isn't really concerned about saying something that will change ideologies -- He just wants to life without rules.

And rule breaking is a habit Trash Talk continues to perfect with each subsequent recording. In just 10 minutes, Awake is able to say much more about Trash Talk than anything they have done so far (to compare, Eyes & Nines wasn't even twice as long,) and that's its greatest achievement. The Matador affiliation and lengthier listens may invite some backlash from their most aggressive fans, but it sounds like it's going to be difficult for anyone to turn a deaf ear to these Cali punks given the jarring raucous they're making. Trash Talk certainly isn't easing up on their appetite for heavy, loud hardcore and their sound remains razor-sharp despite some fine-tuning. Awake proves that they're more lucid than ever.

Trash Talk's Awake EP is available now on True Panther Sounds.

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