Before I delved into the confrontational world of avant garde music via Captain Beefheart, John Zorn and Nurse with Wound, I would have told you that hardcore punk was the polar opposite to the world of mainstream pop music. This makes sense because, for every Rihanna and Miley Cyrus that is discovered and promoted to ubiquitous extremes by corporate labels, there will always be an aggressive DIY band that is created on its own volition to provide solace for angst-ridden, hormonal kids who don’t buy into the pop aesthetic. Flamingo Nosebleed fit right into this hardcore category, and seeing them live in action fortifies this notion. While 20-somethings have the privilege of seeing them live in venues like the Brass Rail, the younger crowd will have to thrash around in their bedrooms to their sophomore effort, Blood on the Basement Floor. While thinking about approaches to critiquing this album, comparing Blood on the Basement Floor to Green Day’s Dookie was tempting. The most obvious comparison lies within the artwork which has the hand drawn quality that reflects the DIY aesthetic of most punk rock. Another comparison is more subtle: the presence of some pop characteristics – namely, how vocal harmonies are used and how emotional frustrations and unrequited love hold precedence over radical politics, among other horrors of the real world. In their desire to keep things relatively simple, Flamingo Nosebleed wisely stay in their topical comfort zone so as to not alienate their listeners with pretentious platforms.
This isn’t entirely different terrain from what they explored on their previous album, 2011’s Headbangers, but Blood conveys a certain amount of accessibility that shows they want to reach out to more people. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean they’ve made sonic sacrifices. Jake Emission’s guitar is still harried and claustrophobic, Phil Nieswender keeps up with a supportive low end and Mike Singleton provides enough oompa to sell me on the band’s notoriety for unrestrained force. All three members collide together on the instrumental opener, “Blackout on Broadway,” and for the next 25 minutes it’s a blur of good ol’ fashioned hardcore material.
As static as most hardcore punk is, I can give Flamingo Nosebleed a mulligan here, especially considering how I can sympathize with Jake’s inclination to deal with heavy emotions by pounding on guitar strings. Dealing with heartbreak by having metaphorical sex with wrecking balls and sledgehammers just doesn’t cut it for me. But there may be some part of Flamingo Nosebleed that embraces that other end of the genre spectrum.
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July 21 • Sweetwater Performace Pavilion