California outfit Trash Talk has been flirting with disaster their whole careers spanning a deeply rooted stance in hardcore punk rock that borders on the intensity of a kerosene factory and the unity of a book of matches. When teaming up with the hip-hop genius Kenny Beats, the two collectively are able to stir the dance floor again with mosh pits and broken bones.
With their Self-Titled 2008 release being the first introduction to the group, the stage has been littered with upside-down peace signs and Jay Howell illustrations painting the group as bloodthirsty anarchists that thrive in disobedience. The youth can connect around this central point and cause destruction, now mixing that original bonfire with the progressive understanding and production of Kenny Beats. It is the collision of two closely knit, but unexpected worlds.
Squalor is the quickest eight minutes and 23 seconds that one could experience in 2020. Fast, catchy, but somehow begging to be spawned again; Trash Talk is this loyal servant of sound that at a moment’s notice can crank hell. Opening with “Point No Point,” the 56-second track is reminiscent of the early days of Trash Talk where the approach was to get inside, break everything around, then set the building ablaze. They continue the theme of this, but can formally integrate some adaptability to the mix that forms as if it was a digestible piece of hardcore heaven.
The opening strikes of the guitar from Garrett Stevenson and David Gagliardi collides with the frantic guttural shouts of Lee Spielman. The bass handled by Spencer Pollard is amplified here and pushed to become some of the main instrumentation that gets a stage presence alongside the percussion. Moving from the 2016 Tangle EP into Squalor has similarities, but the addition of Kenny Beats surprisingly creates more of an interactable space than before. Not to say that the band shied away from getting in the audience’s face, but now it is more of an understood precipice.
Lyrically, while difficult to understand at most fronts, they come through with a clear message of movement especially on “Kicking & Screaming.” This piece is the longest of all the previous on Squalor and is a dynamite bundle carefully disguised under instrumentation. The group describes, “Kicking, screaming…. Fighting every feeling, you’ll be back for more. Kicking, screaming… fighting every feeling,” as shouts are placed periodically through growls and grunts. The animosity here not only boosts the emotional bounce, but Trash Talk etches their emblem into the skull as a symbol of resistance in these dire times.
Thankful through sound, Squalor is a disguising gut punch from a band that has been primarily dormant musically for several years. Working on clothing companies, traveling, and preparing for the burning, Trash Talk strangles the listener and this time, with the help of a hip hop heavyweight.