OVRLD: The Only Album You Need Right Now is BLXPLTN’s New York Fascist Week

In the two years since BLXPLTN released their debut Black Cop Down, the strife and division the band openly fought has only grown stronger, spilling out of communities white America does its best to isolate and ignore and straight into the White House, where we as a people have just placed our first white supremacist approved president. That president is actively pilloried all throughout the band’s exceptional follow-up album New York Fascist Week, starting with the cover art that has Trump sniffing the blood of his enemies, and while the band has been fighting hard against Trump since day one (complete with rolls of Trump stamped toilet paper thrown to crowds at shows), the album sounds less like a protest and more like a dire warning of the future we now face.

That’s partially because New York Fascist Week‘s long gestation has allowed the band to eschew specific topicality in favor of the larger truths about the culture we live in. If Black Cop Down was half revolutionary rhetoric and half uplifting exploration of the struggles of everyday life, New York Fascist Week is a complete manual for living under the New World Order, with explorations of federal failures we need to learn from (“FEMA”), blunt predictions of our eagerness to accept fascism (“Auf Wiedersehen”) and the growing militarization of operatives of the state (“Blood on the Sand,” “Gun Range”). That’s not to say the band has dropped their talent for hooks in order to make all out dirge music, it’s just that now they’ve found a way to replicate the equilibrium of still fresh classic “Start Fires” for the length of an entire album.

Credit is also due to producers Autry Fulbright and Elliott Frazier who have added a lot more color and room to this album than we heard on Black Cop Down. The primal scream and unorthodox guitar playing of former member Khattie Q is certainly missed, but Fulbright and Frazier have helped TasZ and Jonathan Horstmannmake some of their more ambitious sonic dreams come true, with far more punch and vibrancy than the sometimes flat engineering of Black Cop Down allowed. “I’m Still Waiting,” for instance, splits the difference between the momentum and melody of “Gates of Steel” era Devo and Fugazi aggression, with a perfect balance of overdriven bass and filtered vocals.

“I’m Still Waiting” also happens to be sandwiched between two of the most unique sonic moments on the album. “FEMA” is perhaps the album’s strongest moment, showing off immense potential for BLXPLTN’s hybridization of sounds, mixing together elements of hip hop, avant electronica and industrial swagger. You can usually spot the influences BLXPLTN is painting with, but “FEMA” feels totally alien, a sound that literally could only have come from this band at this time. Likewise, “Gun Range” is brave new ground for the band, more fragile and somber, its closest kin being TV on the Radio, but even that’s not quite right. The haunting, spectral sounds filling out its chorus moments give it a cinematic vibe that gets flipped when the expected drop of the second chorus is excised in favor of a simple, unexpected steel drum synth line. The end result is one of BLXPLTN’s most somber and effective songs, proof that they’ve matured and evolved in innumerable ways since their start.

For all of its emotional strength, Black Cop Down was still a work of catharsis, an immediately understandable blast of non-verbal screams, simple hooks and aggro beats. But New York Fascist Week is pain in all its forms– physical and emotional punches to the gut, howling bursts of grief, broken fingers still reaching out to aggressors in one last attempt at understanding and unity. It says a lot that the album’s most brutal, heartwrenching moment doesn’t even come from one of its more ambitiously mixed and constructed numbers but from the simple electro-pop of “How Many Shots,” which conveys so much more with the combination of its frank title and repeated declaration that “You are not alone” than any number of essay length protest songs.

Though that song specifically details the aftermath of a phone call with the news of a gunned down loved one, its central sentiment, that no matter what happens now you won’t be without people who love you, is both the most important and most prophetic moment of an album that seemed fully aware of what the end of this year would bring despite its development beginning two years ago. BLXPLTN still know the value of righteous fury, though, so we’re gifted with the melodic singalong anthem “Auf Wiedersehen” and the burn it all down energy of “New York Fascist Week,” both instant classics.

Sophomore efforts from beloved, promising bands are always tricky so New York Fascist Week deserves no shortage of adoration for not only overcoming those expectations but far surpassing them and the debut album that preceded it. But beyond that, New York Fascist Week deserves attention for being a vital and reassuring release at an exceptionally dark and troubling time. If you’re looking for solace, for hope, for catharsis, for righteous fury, for love, respect, dignity, New York Fascist Week is the only album you need.

AFROPUNK: New York Fascist Week, the new politically charged punk/industrial masterpiece from Austin punks BLXPLTN

We're now just one week away from finding out whether Americans inability to distinguish Reality TV from actual reality will usher in a new era of American fascism. With that in mind, Austin punks BLXPLTN bring out a stream of their latest full-length New York Fascist Week. It's a no holds barred approach to dismantling the jingoism, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny that has formed the backbone of a certain New York real estate mogul's presidential campaign. The album sacrifices some of the band's earlier puckish mischiefism in favor of righteous anger resulting in 10 songs of lean tense aggressive social criticism.

New York Fascist Week kicks off with the anti-jingoist anthem “Blood On The Sand.” It's a powerful reminder right out the gate that yes, Trump would likely increase the bloodfall in the Middle East by staggering proportions, we've been spilling blood on the sand far longer than he's even been a contender for political office. Amid the Marine's chant “What makes the grass grow? Blood blood blood,” TaSzlin Muerte, and Jonathan "Javelin" Horstmann remind us that whoever is elected president, there will be blood on our hands. “Gun Range,” “How Many Shots,” and “Auf Wiedersehen” all place their focus firmly on racist police violence ranging from existential dread to exhaustion to fury. On New York Fascist Week, BLXPLTN succeeds at creating aggressive that's aggressively anti-aggression. It's one of the most brilliant tricks they have up their sleeve, that they've created an album full of tracks that stir up your blood to end violence. Few bands in punk history have truly succeeded in walking that line, though many have tried. This album couldn't have come at a more perfect time.


AUSTIN CHRONICLE: BLXPLTN Streams New York Fascist Week

Austin’s most politically compelling act, now comprised of vocalist/bassist/guitarist Jonathan Hortsmannand vocalist/percussionist Taszlin Muerte, lit an audio Molotov in 2015 with their debut album Black Cop Down, a collision of street punk and industrial sounds fueled by anger, aggression, and paranoia. Today, the electro-punk duo returns to the scene of the crime with New York Fascist Week, a 10-track LP raging against racism, environmental abuse, militarism, and gun violence.

“We have a history of our songs being timely, but it’d be nice if they weren’t,” sighs Hortsmann. “If only they could be tributes to a time passed.”

“Yeah, we don’t take pride in our music being relevant,” adds Muerte. “It’s hard to put into song something that hurts us so much, share that with everyone, and be so vulnerable. Then you feel like you were at a goddamn funeral every time you play a show because of the shit we’re talking about.

“But in my opinion, if you’re an artist – especially people of color – and you’re not making at least one song talking about what’s going on, then you’re a fucking coward and I don’t want to listen to your shit.”

New York Fascist Week, produced by ...Trail of Dead bassist Autry Fulbright and Ringo Deathstarrsinger/guitarist Elliott Frazier, diversifies Blxpltn’s stylistic profile. “How Many Shots” spins an electro-addled pop serenade, while the title cut and “FEMA” employ a hip-hop delivery, the twosome sounding like angry, apocalyptic versions of the Beastie Boys and Death Grips, respectfully. Although Muerte’s a hip-hop head, the idea to include rap elements nevertheless proved a hard sell.

“I wasn’t interested in rapping in this band, to tell you the truth,” he reveals. “I’m still trying to get respect as a rock & roll person, but Autry was like, ‘I didn’t know you could rap! You should do more of that!’ So I was like, ‘Fuck it, if they think it’s something I should do, I’ll do it.’”

“We still show up to gigs sometimes and people will say, ‘Oh man, I’m so excited that there’s some hip-hop tonight,’ just making an assumption because we’re two people of color,” says Hortsmann. “I think that’s the reason we were trying stay away from it – to break that mold. But what Autry brought up was that there’s no reason to let the racism of it limit ourselves as songwriters and what our sound can be. We can incorporate all of it.”

New York Fascist Week arrives today on Austin’s Wolfshield Records. You can stream the entire LP.