S/T LP on Dirt Cult records
I Buy Way Too Many Records
Every years that I get older, I'm a little more leery of the fact that I'm not quite as tuned in to new records as I used to be. I try hard to keep up with everything, and I think as evident from this website, I do a pretty decent job and certainly buy my fair share of records. That being said, last year I blew it with the new Blank Pages record. Hardware records in Germany put this album for sale last year with different artwork and a limited to 100 colored vinyl variant. I completely missed it.
By the time I had figured out that it had even come out, Dirtcult had announced their version. Even though there's something to be said about owning the limited, first press, colored vinyl, German import; there's also something to be said with being able to pick this up for 11 bucks with domestic shipping. Obviously I went that route.
Sure, I'll probably want to find the other version at some point, but only because Blank Pages are just so damn great. Rising from the remains of the equally incredible Idle Hands; Blank Pages pretty much pick off where that band had left off. Wipers/Red Dons style, downstroke heavy, dark but fast & catchy punk rock. They're one of the current masters of the genre. If The Estranged were writing songs with bigger hooks, you'd be closer to the sound of Blank Pages.
It's absolutely an essential album to pick up, especially since Dirtcult made it so easy to pick up. Do you have any idea how much I spend on those German Idle Hands records? A lot, that's for sure. The only problem I have now is not knowing if I can include this record on a top 10 list of 2014. It's certainly amazing enough to be a no brainer, but the fact that it came out last year in Germany first makes me unsure if it counts. Thoughts?
Blank Pages is the new-ish band from Andreas Robbes, vocalist from my favorite (now-defunct) gang of German rascals, Idle Hands. Andi’s vocal style and melodic sense is rather unique, so parallels between Blank Pages and Idle Hands are inevitable. However, musically, there are plenty of differences to set them apart. Blank Pages takes a cleaner approach tone-wise, but there’s also an overarching darkness that wasn’t always present in IH. The musicianship is tight and vicious (members also spend/spent time in Modern Pets, Dramamine, and Lies Feed The Machine), and the hooks are instantly memorable. A great record from terrific guys and released on the always-terrific Hardware Records. Solid. –Dave Williams
Maximum Rock and Roll
Wow! It's always great to drop the needle on a band you've never heard before and get blown away. BLANK PAGES are four punks from Berlin who crank out a catchy meldoic combo of the OBSERVERS/RED DONS and the MARKED MEN. High praise I know, but I'm serious- this is that good. The songwriting, vocols and chiming guitar interplay are all near perfect. They've done a couple of seven inches prior to this debut LP, and I'll be seeking them out. Brilliant stuff (AM)
Hardware records gehört zu dem kleinen und erlauchten Kreis der Plattenlabels deren releases man stets bedenkenlos kaufen kann. So auch die erste LP der BLANK PAGES, die nach zwei sehr guten 7"s nun endlich eine ganze Platte aus der Hüfte schütteln, die ganz unverkrampft dezent sehr frühe WIPERS und 77er-Punk mit vielen feinen, melancholisch-wunderschönen Melodien mischen. Wer sich bei einigen dieser Kleinode nicht schon beim ersten Hören beim Mitwippen ertappt, der sollte vielleicht meinmal einen Besuch bei einem Ohrenarzt in Erwägung ziehen oder darüber nachdenken ob er nicht doch einfach einen scheiß Musikgeschmack hat. Letzteres ist leider nicht heilbar, auch nicht mit einer Ohrspülung. "All in due time" hören, sich in die Band verlieben oder für immer dumm und einsam sterben, so einfach ist das. (9)
Oliver Arditi (www.oliverarditi.com)
LPs look and feel superb. I don’t know if they looked and felt so great when they were the standard format for album length releases; I mean I remember loving them, for their artwork, the music they contained, the convenience of their spliff-making surfaces, but given that they were all there was (other than the sad, sad second-best of the pre-recorded cassette), I think I appreciate them a lot more now than I ever did before. When this one landed on my doormat (or next to the garden fence to be more accurate), it was a moment of great excitement and sensual fetishism; somehow the size, the prominent packaging and the sheer materiality of the medium promise that whatever sounds have been encoded on it, they must be worth the effort. Of course that’s not necessarily true, and as much truly terrible music has been released on vinyl as good stuff, but the rituality of playback, and the tangible electro-acousticity of the sound (over and above the warm subliminal distortions of the signal path) predispose the listener to attend carefully and respectfully to the music. The affordances of vinyl extend beyond the audition of recorded music into a realm of active engagement related, but not identical to, the attendance of a live performance, or even to the act of performance itself. Blank Pages comes in a beautiful matt gatefold, with the lyrics printed inside, conveniently accessible while listening in a way that those printed in a CD booklet never are (not least because the text is several times larger!) This is one of the principal changes for me, from LP to CD: I was far more likely to allocate a significant proportion of the time I spent listening to a record, each time I listened to it, to examining the packaging. All these reflections and musings, and not a single reference to the sound of the music! But this is exactly the point I’m making. Twelve inches of artfully packaged black vinyl set the scene far more dramatically than a CD ever will.
The scene being set, assuming you buy the LP rather than the download, Blank Pages’ music will reward the attention the physical medium suggests you pay it. That’s not to say that this is an album properly experienced via reverent close listening on headphones with your eyes shut; it’s visceral music this, energetic and melodic punk tunes with an old school sound and production that somehow invite a more committed engagement than the over-compressed, super-heavy crunch that passes for pop-punk texture nowadays. Blank Pages is a short record, and the range of the music it contains is relatively constrained; that’s no criticism, as the band has by no means exhausted the possibilities of its creative practice by the time it comes to a close. In fact, my first instinct is usually to flip it back to side A and listen again. Some tunes are faster, some are slower, but none are frantic, and none are slow. The most reflective moment on the album is probably an instrumental passage, the intro to ‘Drained’, which is very atmospheric, and taken at a measured tempo, but the body of the song kicks up a gear into the mid-tempo that represents Blank Pages’ apparent minimum. The style of the music is very much that of the punk rock I grew up with; it’s a lot more catchy and melodic than much of the underground punk and hardcore I hear nowadays, and while it’s raw, its distortions are not the sort that obscure the constituent voices of the guitar chords. At times there are hints of surf-twang, for example in the guitar melodies of the opener and closer, ‘Shelter’ and ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ respectively, and the sound overall is entertaining and infectious; the melodies swoop around dramatically while the simple, triadic chord sequences journey and yearn, just as they usually do in pop-punk.
All this musical positivity is a bit of a sham however, or a subterfuge at least; the lyrics pack something of a sucker-punch. The perspective they express is considerably darker than the inchoate frustration and youthful optimism of much comparably melodic and kinetic punk music. Almost every song examines, with a compelling combination of critical distance and empathy, the negative effects of society on its constituent individuals; the characters in these songs are damaged and alienated, from the alcoholic in ‘From The Outside’ to the exhausted wage-slave in ‘All In Due Time’, or the lost and unfulfilled protagonist of ‘Do Not Resuscitate’. For all the evils that are identified there are no cures prescribed, but that’s all to the good; music like this enacts a positive response, an act of creative and autonomous resistance. It leads by example, and avoids the inevitable hubris of offering singular answers to problems that are as complex as they are various. The tone of the lyrics is not optimistic, but the music is so energetic, and so melodically uplifting that the meanings of the songs are far from depressing or resigned. Only in ‘Open Wounds’ is there anything resembling a call to arms, an explicit exhortation to resist, or at least to face the future with strength or pride; but the whole album is alight with the same anger that animated the first wave of politically motivated punk music in the 1970s, the same cry of rage still pouring forth from the same collective open mouth, its demands unsatisfied but far from forgotten. Blank Pages’ aims are as simple and as pressing as those of their many illustrious predecessors, another generation finding in music a place where they can exercise the liberty, agency and creativity that the hierarchies of capitalist society deny to all but the wealthy. Simple aims are well served by straightforward musical materials, but simple does not equate to unsophisticated, and the music on this album is informed by an unusually apt ear for a good tune and a driving groove; the performances are exactly right, and the songs are finely honed instruments of critical resistance, disguised as sing-along pop music. It’s that sing-along quality that makes them so powerful, building community, at least for the duration of a gig or a side of an LP, in the face of the forces that seek to atomise and alienate. This is a superb, rabble-rousing record, as coherent as it is exciting.
Blind faith 7" on Hardware records
2nd single from the great Blank Pages, a band formed from the ashes of the dearly missed Idle Hands. Though there are absolutely similarities between the 2 bands, on this new single, Blank Pages take a turn to the darker side of the Wiper catalog. The A-Side is a energetic, downstroke heavy song, with something of a sinister overtone. The B-side is more upbeat, with a punchy anthem of a chorus. Though I still miss Idle Hands, the more I hear from Blank Pages, the more I eagerly await a full length record from them.
Maximum Rock and Roll
Aha, it continues to happen: all things dark have infiltrated punk scene and everyone is revisiting their post-punk influences. This is catchy, sinister, guitar-driven post-punk from Berlin. It also brings to mind ´80s outfits like JOY DIVISION or the FALL (mainly on guitars and vocals) and more recent guitar references would obviously be the WIPERS and the RED DONS. Now, I know some people find this exciting right now because they never listened to this sound when they were growing up, but I still find this sound exciting, percisely because I love (dancing to) it all when I was young. So, now that I'm older, I'm more than happy to continue listening (and dancing) to this sound, this time reinvented by new blood. An infectious single I will play on many a rainy day. (LA)
OX # 106
Ach, scheiße, ich beiß ich mich immer noch in den Hintern, dass es beim Gastspiel der ex-IDLE HANDS in Karlsruhe kleine Welpen geschneit hat und wir wegen der katastrophalen Verkehrslage von einer Fahrt abgesehen haben.Großartiger, melodischer Punkrock mit einem Händchen für coole Hits, von denen es hier gleich zwei gibt. Minimale WIPERS-Spuren, kleine, aber feine Chöre, im Geiste frühen US-HC-Punks, die Band spielt mit DRAMANINE, MODERN PETS in einer Liga. Mindestens so essentiell wie die erste EP.
s/t 7" on Taken by surprise records
Maximum Rock and Roll Mai 2012
This band is from Berlin but if you told me they were from Milwaukee, I would believe you. They play crisp, clear, melodic, thoughtful punk along the lines of RED DONS and the OBSERVERS. There's something about it that reminds me of a more punk SMOKING POPES as well, which is not a bad thing. Bands like these can be a dime in a dozen, but BLANK PAGES gives it something extra and stands out from the pack. Maybe it's their knack for a pop hook, their superior songwriting skills or the badass drum fills (I'm a drummer - I live for these things). I don't know. What I do know is that there are four songs on here and they all fuckin' rule. Get it. (GH)
One of the best records I bought in 2009 was the debut LP by a band from Germany called Idle Hands. Sadly, that band has broken up, so I'll never see a follow-up. But, a new band has risen from Idle Hands' ashes and that band is Blank Pages. They're definitely going down the same path that Idle Hands were and are playing downstroke heavy Wipers tinged punk rock with killer hooks. To me, the main difference between the bands is that Blank Pages are working in a slightly slower tempo, and I can say I actually think it's an improvement. The songs have a bit more time and everything doesn't just fly by, it has time to sink in. This is a fantastic debut 7" and I eagerly await more rock from this band.
OX #100 (Februar/März 2012)
Die Besetzung liest sich wie ein Who's Who und steht der Liste musikalisch in nichts nach. Vier Hits mit Melodie, gut abgehangen, obwohl sie klingen, als wären sie locker aus der Hüfte geschossen worden (so muss es sein).
Leichter 77er-Touch mit etwas Wipers-Feeling trifft auf frühen California-Hardcore und im Abgang einen Hauch von Sherry. Ähnliches hohes Hitpotential wie die erste SEDATIVES-7".
Plastic Bomb #75 (Februar 2012)
Eine weitere Single auf dem Qualitätslabel TAKEN BY SURPRISE RECORDS. Die BLANK PAGES stehen für leicht euphorischen Powerpop meets 77er-Punkrock meets Gitarrenpunk. Coole Melodien, lässige Rhythmen, schnodderige Aggressivität... Es ist diese Lockerheit ist hier triumphiert. Alles wirkt so leicht und lässig. So unverkrampft und einfach. Die Band spielt sich bei einem Song wie dem grandiosen "Crossroads" fast in einen Rausch und bleibt dennoch immer vollkommen entspannt. Die Band transportiert gute Laune und besitzt eine positive Ausstrahlung. Auch ein OBSERVERS-, IDLE HANDS- und RED DONS-Einschlag ist hier nicht zu leugnen. Warum auch auch? Das sind gute Referenzen. Auf der EP befinden sich vier astreine, wirklich gute Songs.