I sort of have to admit that hardcore has always sort of eluded me as a genre. I mean I do have soft spots for some early eighties hardcore like Bad Brains and Black Flag, but that’s like saying someone loves metal because they like a few Metallica songs. They don’t really have much beyond surface knowledge of the genre. It’s not that it’s too harsh for me, I listen to a lot of death metal and experimental music, so harshness is not something that turns me off. I don’t really know what it is. But Baltimore’s Turnstile have really appealed to me ever since I first heard them. Turnstile are fun. That’s the important thing here, I think. In a genre that’s full of macho-posturing and political activism, it’s nice to listen to a band with similar sonics but don’t take themselves so damn seriously.
The sound on this new EP Move Thru Me, at its very core, boils down to that simplistic eighties hardcore I mentioned above; it even takes a certain effort to emulate the distinctive muffled production sound of those records while still retaining its bite. The riffs are all power chords and the vocals are done in a wonderfully energetic shout. But what makes Turnstile rise above being simply a derivative hardcore band is their incorporation of unexpected musical influences that interrupt the the shouting and thrashing for a more eclectic bits (before returning to the thrashing and shouting, of course). My favorite example of that on this release is on the final track “Fuck Me Blind”, a track that in its first half is just as blunt as its title, sprinting its way through with a characteristic d-beat rhythm section. But about halfway through, a really catchy female vocal chorus erupts out of the chaos over some open picked chords and some ooh-ing vocal harmonies. It’s a really pretty, joyous moment when contrasted with the clanging musical content of the rest of the track. And then that disappears, never to be seen again, going right back into the aggressiveness of the first half, before abruptly ending. It may seem like an awkward song structure on paper, but it feels just right when listening.
That leads me to another point. I believe one of the main strengths of this EP is its brevity. Move Thru Me clocks in at under eight minutes, and that’s perfect for this type of music. It’s a similar approach Nails took with all of their albums, running from roughly 13 to 20 minutes each. Just like a lot of classic punk records, this EP gets in and out real quickly, and I think I’ve listened to it five times in a row so far. It gives you just enough to want more at the end, making you much likelier to go back and play it from the beginning over and over. There’s enough catchiness to make the songs memorable on the first listen, and enough weird detours to make all of them distinguishable, a problem that many hardcore bands struggle with. In a part of the year where not many interesting records are coming out, this has gotten me out of that rut I sometimes get in where I only listen to older music without checking out anything new.
-Fuck Me Blind
-Move Thru Me
Released on September 16th, 2016 via Pop Wig