♫♪  New War - Coin

Bank it: Melbourne’s New War has returned with Coin, an album about ancient drives and fresh hells following up their appropriately martial self-titled debut from a few years back.

The sound on Coin blends rough-edged protest rock with shambolic, danceable dub, a feature of New War’s earlier work that is even more dialed in here. True to form, the band coheres in a propulsive alloy of groove & grit, a distinctively artful approach to tackling the pressing social and political typhoons of the minute (/millisecond). Vocalist Chris Pugmire continues to refine his signature, parallax lyrical style, tossing out lines like “I’ll forgive you my opinions - they have not done much good / My deed leaves dry desire, damp calls & unburnt wood” with the economy of a poet running out of candlelight.

Though New War is straightforward in its alignments (Coin’s liner notes describe the sounds within as “open-bordered punk”), its product is still art, not argument. The band staggers across this tightrope successfully, even as its paints a frantic landscape of the choppy, sloppy, jagged earth that’s formed in the ~2 years that have passed since the small-flat-world order got nuked. “If things get weird, then the world gets wide…”

Via the people who mixed and mastered it, Coin shares DNA with Aussie greats past and present (Nick Cave, The Church, Total Control), and while it’s usually best to avoid the reductive tendency of pinning a sound to a place, there is something about the band’s location in Melbourne and roots in the US (Pugmire and bassist Melissa Lock cut their teeth in the radical-political arm of the early-’00s PNW punk scene) that provides a vital, antipodal spin on the West’s current political horizon.

Check the music video for “Bluebeard FLA” for a taste. Like the album as a whole — the world it describes and the world it creates — the moves here are barely contained explosion, nauseous clarity, sketchy maps drawn in bleeding lines.

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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