Capturing a Jan. 25, 2014, show that billed Lenoir, North Carolina, as “the fifth most miserable city in the US,” the new Live at Dead Wax Records split 12″ from Lenoir Swingers Club and The Asound delivers on its promise. Two sides of raw drive — the A side more punk-fueled, the B side thicker toned — but the uniting factor is the unbridled nature of the delivery. Dead Wax Records has the split out as the second in a series of two thus far, and with a clear recording from Brian Caudle and a mastering job from Chad Davis (of The Sabbathian, Tasha-Yar, Hour of 13, and so on), the record manages to capture the energy behind both bands’ sets and present some sense of dynamic between them. The only thing missing is a 15-minute breakdown between the two. Well, maybe not “missing,” but you know what I mean.
Live at Dead Wax Records is pressed in limited numbers — a manufacturing problem seems to have made those numbers even more limited than originally intended — and included with the platter itself, a black paper sleeve, and the two covers is a two-sided liner, one sheet per band. For Lenoir Swingers Club, the manic collage of show flyers and photocopied look mirrors the classic punk of the band itself. A trio unsurprisingly native to Lenoir, they present five songs in a short-seeming burst — “Personal Space Invaders,” “People Under the Stairs” and “Student Driver” pushing out all the attitude and brashness one could ask of a three-piece so apparently keen on irreverence. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first person to compare them to Dead Kennedys, but “Summer of Bugs” slows down the proceedings somewhat to give a different edge, and the finale “Thing Sloth,” which was going out to Tom, in case you were wondering, wraps with an assault of feedback and noise its capstone thud. They’ve reportedly got a full-length in the works and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled it off with an undercurrent of diversity, since that seems to come through even in their bare-bones live sound.
Late last year, The Asound released a self-titled debut full-length on bassist Jon Cox‘s own Tsuguri Records imprint, and on Live at Dead Wax Records, they present four songs from it, beginning with the rush of album-closer “Slave to the Saints” and moving toward the furious percussive rush and mega-stoner riffing of “Joan,” with “Tater Hole Blues” and “The Baron” between. Both “Joan” and “The Baron” have been around for a bit — the latter having been featured on a 2011 split with Magma Rise (streamed here) and the former on an earlier 2010 self-titled EP (review here) and a 2010 split with punkers Flat Tires (review here) — but were certainly at their most realized on the full-length, and they sit well here alongside the Melvins-style thrust of the instrumental “Tater Hole Blues”and the high-gear “Slave to the Saints,” guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick tearing into a solo while Cox and drummer Michael Crump hold together the furious groove behind, the whole crude than on the studio offering, which winds its way into an Olde Growth-sort of punkish stoner melodicism, but satisfying in its own right, their set, like Lenoir Swingers Club, finishing with a suitably noisy payoff.
Two underground acts with a penchant for mean groove and underlying — or in the case of Lenoir Swingers Club, overlaid — fuckall, they might not seem on first listen to make for the best pairing, The Asound geared much more toward heavy riffing than their compatriots, but with their foundation likewise in punk, it works. I’m not sure who might be next in Dead Wax Records‘ series, but at least for one probably-cold-ass night in January, Lenoir’s misery got a riotous soundtrack. A 12″ in the tradition of punk 7″s, no surprise there’s more on offer here than it at first seems.