Open City - City of Ash [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Open City

City of Ash [7-inch] (2017)


Hot on the heels of their excellent full length, Open City follow up unexpectedly with a two song 7-inch. Already, the band is evolving to a darker realm. (Though, one does wonder if this material is the release guitarist Dan Yemin hinted at way back in January 2015). Never the less, while their self-titled debut found the band trekking into aggressive, but ultimately bright sounding recordings, City of Ash is suitably grimier.

Perhaps taking a page from the crust-punk guidebook, the band pulls back on the tempo just a hair, so that it sounds like both songs are continually champing at the bit, trying to rip forward while the band does their best to hold back the rage- thanks, in part, to drummer Chris Wilson agitated thump-thwack-thump. B-side, “A condition worth a mention,” is the real crusher here. While Yemin and bassist Andy Nelson grind forward with echoes of Tragedy and even thee holee titans Amebix, vocalist Rachel Rubino pulls deep from her stomach and growls in that classic, 80s erupting style. Yet, whereas many of the Amebix/Antisect progeny devolved into route recitation, Rubino pulls more from Dali than Daventry.

Take a look at the title track. Rubino howls out, “I want to tell you what we’ve done to get here on top of nothing/ king to a city of ash!” So, you say, “oh, she’s commenting on Trump and the wasting of brotherly love.” But then, later in the song, “I guess you don’t need this any more than me/ I bet I won’t want this any more than you/ I hope she won’t have it any harder than me ‘ I guess we don’t need this any more than you.” Dropped across any other song, those lyrics sound as classic breakup lines. And maybe this is where Rubino is at her most clever. She’s constructing shadows of images that are deliberately clouded, allowing you to apply the drip to desperate contexts. Is this a political attack? Is it a lovey dovey jam? Is it both? Is that the statement of the song- that is, everything’s political, even if you don’t want it to be?

Listen, some bands blast down the room with a direct, simple, profound line. Rudimentary Peni were the kings of this. Some bands are a bit more sneaky, dropping bits here and there until a shifting skeleton is made up from parts without any instructions. Open City, are taking the backbone from the fantastic punk and hardcore crushers and are welding the artiste’s brain to the beast. This is music that rips the listener up to its level.