BUY IT, BURN IT, SKIP IT: Zero Boys, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Iran

Zero Boys Group

By Aaron Richter

As we all know by now, new releases hit record-store shelves and digital-download services each Tuesday. That’s why self-titled presents the following every week: a new release you’d be stupid not to own (Buy It), one worth checking out if you’re the curious type (Burn It) and something you might have heard about but probably should avoid (Skip It). Simple, ain’t it?

zero boys

Buy It
Zero Boys: Vicious Circle/History Of (Secretly Canadian)

These early-’80s reissues from overlooked Indianapolis punk troupe Zero Boys are relentless, bustling with Midwestern scuzziness. It’s hardcore punk that knows it didn’t invent wheel but will damn sure try its best to rock harder, faster, stronger, snottier than its founding gutter dwellers. With one foot nestled in power pop (notice the bright chirp in the vocals) and another planted firmly in a pit poser’s skull, these record’s snap with buoyant propulsion and swiping guitars that buzz and curdle like they might slice your dome from ear to ear, spit in the wound and then ask for some change for bus fare (read: a pack of smokes).  


“Civilization’s Dying” 


Burn It
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland) 

Your friends won’t shut up about the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and you’ve heard ’em go on and on about the Brooklyn group. We know. The Pains are your buddy’s, your co-worker’s, your bagel guy’s, your mail lady’s, your step-father’s, your weird uncle’s and your favorite blogger’s favorite new favorite band. Again, we know. But we just can’t say no, despite our best instincts as contrarian cynics, to dreamy Pastels pop this bright and sticky sweet. The Pains coo delicate boy/girl harmonies that take extra umph from a hard-driven rhythm section and swollen shoegazer guitars, balancing the jangle of a proud Morrissey and Marr fetish. Take just a few spins through “Come Saturday” and “Young Adult Friction” and we’ll wager that everyone’s favorite new favorite band might just become yours as well. 


“Come Saturday” 

Iran cover

Skip It
Iran: Dissolver (Narnack)

What do you get when you cross TV on the Radio and Pavement? Nothing good. Or in this case, a band called Iran, whose wandering, disjointed third record shifts nervously like Malkmus on jitter-caps and leaves a sour aftertaste of rubbed-raw nerves and half-baked ideas. A super-group of sorts composed of Aaron Altes, Kyp Malone (TVOTR), Peter Hoffman (The Mendoza Line) and Aaron Romanello (founder of Say Hey Records), the band enlisted David Andrew Sitek (also TVOTR) to produce, but he isn’t pulling any Scar Jo-sings-Waits miracles here (sometimes you just can’t polish a turd). The record’s best tracks such as “Can I Feel What?” are good only in as much as they sound like TV on the Radio b-sides. But these songs are far gone from the rest of the album and seem to treat such rehashing an obligatory opportunism. Because, shit, man, Kyp’s in the group and Sitek’s on the boards, so it would be an awful shame to waste ’em, right? Wrong.