In the Fall of 2023 two of the most interesting and exciting bands in hardcore music are hitting the road together: Santa Cruz,CA’s Scowl and Los Angeles, CA Militarie Gun. Both bands have also put out two of the best releases of the year in Scowl’s Psychic Dance Routine (Flatspot Record) and Miitarie Gun’s Way of the Gun (Loma Vista Recordings). We will be taking a deep look into each of these releases. This is Part Two.
Release Title: Psychic Dance Routine
Release Date: April 7th, 2023
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Digital Price: $5 via Flatspot Records Bandcamp
Length: 10 minutes, 22 second
Written by Joshua Greenbaum
When it comes to punk bands from Santa Cruz, CA, a few of the names that come to mind are the classic SST Records band B’last, as well as Good Riddance and Swingin Utters, two bands affiliated with the melodic punk label Fat Wreck Chords
Now another name can be added to the list.
Scowl formed in 2019, soon releasing two EPs titled Scowl and Reality After Reality respectively . Each one contains five songs of loud blistering hardcore/punk with singer Kat Moss’s growling leading the way. The track “Retail Hell” off Reality After Reality being particularly relatable to this music writer.
In 2021 the band released their first full length How Flowers Grown on Flatspot Records. On it were nine more fuller sounding hardcore punk numbers. But there was one a little different in “Seed to Grow” at Track 5.
In this song we get to hear Kat’s actual singing voice, instead of her usual yowl. This may have been just a little hint of the direction the band was about to go in.
There is even a saxophone heard throughout the song.
In April of this year Scowl returned once again with the 5 song Ep Psychic Dance Routine, again on Flatspot Records.
Right off the bat on the lead off Track “Shot Down” we hear singer Kat Moss’ yowl but it quickly turns into a melodic sung vocal for the chorus of:
“Walk out, wanna walk out on you
I wanna freak out
Don’t wanna let down
I wanna impress, impressive sound
I’m getting shot down, shot down with you”,Scowl – Shot Down
recalling 90’s alternative rockers like Veruca Salt, before returning to the yowl for the second verse.
Kat and band continue with their more melodic alternative rock sound on the slow moving “Psychic Dance Routine” at Track 2. The song also is reminiscent of Ceremony, another modern hardcore band who recently moved into a new alternative rock sound.
On “Wired” at Track 3 Scowl go back to their hardcore sound. The song contains a really good old style creepy crawl chorus with Kat growling”
“Staring at a screen instead of talking to me
Don’t want a wasted life
There’s really no way out
Staring at a screen instead of talking to me
Don’t want a wasted life
There’s really no way out”Scowl – Wired
“Opening Night” at Track 4, a song the listener may recognize from a recent Taco Bell advertisement, is another awesome Veruca Salt or Babes In Toyland (another with a singer named Kat) influenced song.
Along with the commercial Scowl actually appeared live in Taco Bell’s “Feed the Beat ” Unofficial World Cup HalfTime Show, where they performed four songs off Psychic Dance Routine.
Before the EP ends Scowl reminds us that they are still a hardcore band with the fast and frightening “Sold Out” with Kat’s growling vocals leading the way. There is even a nice danceable hardcore breakdown towards the end of the song.
I recently read that Scowl only released an EP instead of a full length because they felt that is where the were at as a band.
This may be true but I have a feeling this may have also possibly been a contract filler before Scowl moves on to a much bigger, and well deserved label. Just like the aforementioned Ceremony did when they released their last EP on Bridge Nine Records before jumping to the much bigger Matador Records label.
Either way, try to go see them live on this upcoming tour (with the earlier reviewed Militarie Gun) because next time they come around they will be playing much bigger venues.
Listen to the full album: