Hey now. Hope you’re well. I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what the hell is going with Termbo. So have I. While I (Rich K./The Editor) have never been known for my timely site updates, this has been the longest gap in the 14+ years I’ve been doing this. Why? There are a few dozen reasons, but I’ll try and not bore you to tears with explanations. Lets just say I haven’t been living my best life (is that the phrase?) over the past six months or so. But I feel a lot better now. This review section (and the Power Rankings) has been a long time in the making, and I know it’s nowhere close to the point where I should be. It’s going to be tough to dig out of this hole, but I’m going to keep swinging. There will be more to come soon, apologies to everyone as always. I won’t try and explain the plan I have to get caught up with all the tapes, records and zines piling up here – I do have a plan though, I swear. Some of this stuff is carryover from last year even (and extra thanks to the staff for not murdering me for sitting on it forever), some of it is from last week. It’s what I have ready for now, or else we’ll be waiting another year until I feel like I’m caught up. I just had to rip this band-aid off and get something out there for you, even if it is less than ideal. More to come soon – there’s a reviews section to peruse here, more blabbering from me below, the latest list joined in progress:
22) SPECIAL INTEREST “DISCO II”
True story, I watched/listened to this video at least 30 times in one night while working in the shop after I saw it once (via recommendation from Rich at Total Punk, that guy knows his shit) and it earwormed me. I had never even heard of Special Interests before that (and by the way, I’m 99.5% sure it’s Special InterestS per the LP cover after referring to them in the singular for awhile based on the video credits). It’s weird to think that there are times when Youtube is my first exposure to bands these days, but I’ve had it happen more than a few times recently. I hope videos are making a comeback (what better way to be introduced to a band?), but not many bands make the effort, and I’m often just listening to a rip of a record with a still picture of the sleeve as the “video”. But when it works out like Special Interests , it’s a fantastic experience. You’re completely immersed in their world after watching this once. And how did no one use the TRUST NO WAVE slogan yet? It’s perfect. So this song, exactly what I want from a band claiming No Wave in 2018 – catchy as hell, simple anthemic lyrics, danceable, hard edge synth, submarine bassline, intense (bad) attitude and aesthetic. It’s a total killer as both a punk tune and a club jam. This thing was born for 12” 45 maxi-EP with a remix or two. Did I mention Quintron recorded this yet? Dancefloor destroyer of the year. Frontwoman Alli has a powerful presence, great delivery and she also made this video. I guess New Orleans makes sense to birth a band like this. I feel like “No Wave” has generally been the domain of “arty” types with more than enough pretense to go around, and Special Interest bring it to street level where it should be in 2018 – fearless, sexy, intimidating. Anyway, I think this is an incredible song with a great video, and is something I wish more bands would do. They have a 12” out now called “Spiraling” that I also love, and it gets even harder into the post-punk grind and moves away from the dancefloor – there’s not another dance hit like “Disco II” on it, but how could there be? Listen to “Young, Gifted, Black, in Leather” for a hard slap to the face from possibly the most truly punk band in sport right now. Word on the street is that they murder live as well. Bandcamp it.
20) MAYHEM “Give Up” 7″– I feel bad reviewing this, because I have no idea where you can even get a copy, but I have to say something. Yet another victory for the sleuth behind Break My Face, It Never Ends and so much more, our hero RR this time manages to track down the parties responsible for probably the finest moment of television punksploitation ever, the ‘Next Stop, Nowhere’ episode of Quincy, M.E. that featured the “band” Mayhem as the scapegoat punk outfit bringing ruination to the local youth. I won’t rehash the story of how this was made, who was behind it or how RR managed to put all the pieces together over many years. You know it’s a good one. And speaking of good ones, for fake punk both of these tunes are pretty solid rockers for 1982-83 (I will add that according to the liners, Fear and Germs LPs were used as reference materials), they sound great here with bonus crowd noise and lines from the episode itself (“It gets pretty radical out there…”). But would you expect any less than a spectacular and 100% quality product from the person responsible? And about that person, probably the most important archivist/scholar of the seedy underbelly of the obscure punk rock we love so much, how will we ever thank him for all he has done for us (aside from maybe dropping some change over at the Rodeo or making a donation via Circulation Zero? I think the answer is to keep fighting the good fight with him, to dig deeper and deeper still into the distant past of the 90s and 00s much like he’s done with the 70s and 80s. I get the feeling many of us believe that with all the technology available and the overcrowded information superhighway that every rock has already been turned over, that there are no more mysteries that can’t be solved via discogs and google – I know this isn’t true and so should you. We just have to learn to not be lazy and dig deeper and cast the net wider. There are still cases out there to crack.
007) CONTROL TEST “Verdadero Criminal” 7” – synth-punk how it should be done: pure in yr face aggro, with the synths on the ominous/evil settings and the songwriting more concerned with boring a hole in your head instead of getting you to dance. This is very likely what the Screamers would have come up with had they formed today. Or maybe what Lost Sounds might’ve sounded like had Jay been obsessed with hardcore instead of the Oblivians. Synth-PUNK informed by hardcore and unhinged rock’n’rolling – even more remarkable is that this is from the PacNW, home to Dirtnap Records and the day-glo lame-oh spawn of The Epoxies and all other poseur “new wave” atrocities. Not surprising is that this is some of the cats from Lysol/Freak Vibe (including the Phil Lynott-looking dude, I believe) as those bands both have/had the necessary outsider vibes and dangerous chops. Four tunes here that practically leap off the platter and grab you by the collar, the vox are screaming at you somuchso that you should probably close the cover on that turntable lest some spit fly off the record at you, instrumentation is all synths and real drums – did I mention the vocals are in espanol yet? Because it’s not a deal breaker at all and actually adds some killer-ness to things. Icing on the cake is Capt. Tripps recording and Iron Lung’s stamp of approval (if there’s one no-bullshit label left in the world It might be these guys) – covers look sick too with various multi-colored dye jobs on thick pocket sleeves (that also have an interesting die-cut where the little finger-grip slot is…). Total package here, grip it and rip it.
12) JOCK TALK – The Tribe are in the midst of a middling yet still Central-Division-leading season, but @thetribehole on Instagram have made it 100% more entertaining.
17) FRED GALL BOBSHIRT INTERVIEW. WATCH IT! I’ve claimed many favorite skaters over the years, but Fred Gall….you just want to hang with him as much as you want to watch him rip. Gnarly skater and all-around sick dude.
3) TABLE SUGAR “Collected Acknowledgements” 12″ (and everything else) – my current obsession. Sure, there are other bands perhaps mining the same sound, but I don’t think there are any doing it quite like this. Ramshackle DIY played by a bunch of ladies is a very generic overview, but there’s something magic happening here. Something real. Simply played with passionate feelings highly evident, innocent yet savvy, very punk at heart, catchy songs, off kilter songs, hard rhythms and soft voices, otherworldly moments and moments rooted right here on earth. Could this band have come from anywhere other than Olympia? I feel like there might be some magic portal these girls and their music stepped out of somewhere in those PacNW woods. Music that soothes me as much as it interests me, it’s as if you can pick apart each component of a song and marvel at how they put it all together. It all just sounds right, and there’s nothing much else I feel like listening to at the moment. There is some overlap song-wise with the Chapel of Crimes tape, the live tape just adds another layer of fascination and I still need a physical copy of the ‘Introductory Material’ tape if anyone is holding. It’s all just perfect. Do yourself a real favor and go get a copy.
77) SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION – there’s nothing worse. So I’m going for it. BROWN SUGAR were a band that existed in my homeburg of Buffalo, NY for a brief period between 2007 and 2010 or so. You might have heard of them. This LP I am pleased to have been part of releasing is available via the Loki Label webstore along with our latest cassette release from CRAZY DOBERMAN and some new distro items as well (jazz, Ice 9 zine, spoken word, Sex Scheme LP). I never had much of an interest in putting out “records” – seemed like waaaay too much work (and it is). Brown Sugar made me ignore that policy – I feel that strongly about them and the difference they made in the brief time they walked among us. There was a period during 2009-10 where I’m quite convinced they might have been the best active band in the world at the moment. Of course, that’s right around when they all decided to split town and break up. Anyway, “Long Strange Drip” is finally here, get your very own copy now.
999) KALEIDOSCOPE “2017” EP – I was a bit surprised, but then pleased that some people were inexplicably bummed out by the ‘Volume 3’ 12” from last year – most beef seemed to stem from unmet expectations – a lot of people seemed to want it be more weird and/or less rock. I get it. This band is amazing, good enough that they might be able to carry hardcore to its next peak or be the igniter for the next genre shift. I’m with you guys on that. Sure those first few releases were peppered with Chrome and psychedelic modernism grafted into the hardcore design – to think they’re going to continue to get more “out” and less hardcore/punk/rock is unnatural. To crib someone else’s line, they’re not a hardcore band, they’re THE hardcore band right now. And it’s by maintaining that stable/rock footing they will excel and inspire – sure get as weird as you can, but keep those feet on the ground thumping and thundering and riffing. Songs like “Scorched Earth” are made to burn. Music for the people has to keep them moving, not zoning on some upside down shit. I know people who like almost NONE of the new music they hear these days and people who seemingly like everything. Kaleidoscope is where those two extremes overlap. Everyone digs it. Look out for a split VHS with Nosferatu coming soon?! Go to the lab.
12) WARM BODIES LP – one look at this thing and I want to hate it so bad. But it’s too good to hate. I’ve said a lot of good things about this band already, but that’s based solely off of their two records thus far. I’ve never seen them live, I honestly haven’t even heard all of the tapes (though I imagine all of the songs overlap with the vinyl at this point, maybe?), I don’t know any of the members and haven’t even seen an interview with them. So it’s sort of a blind opinion in a way, but that’s the way it should be right? If the music is good, who cares, right? Yes, yes I agree….but all of that extracurricular stuff does give you a bit more insight into things: who these people are, why they’re making the music in the first place, it just helps you wrap your head around their whole aesthetic better, which is important too. There have been bands whose music I’ve really enjoyed a lot that I can’t listen to anymore once I found out they were shitty humans or saw them suck hard live or realized they were poseurs or scene hoppers not in it for the right things. Why am I saying all of this? Well, I still love Warm Bodies, but this LP seems like almost a different band to me – even if they replay some of the songs from earlier releases. I think I don’t remember them being this goofy before, and I’m just now realizing that Olivia Gibb really is the female Lumpy. It all makes sense now. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention to the lyrics. I had them pegged as more of a serious affair, or at least semi-serious – and musically they certainly are all business, but seeing the lyrics and this art, well they’re obviously a lot more fun and juvenile than I thought. Anyway, blah blah blah. Natural Man and the band whip through these songs, sounding way less “jazzy” here and way more Cali-punk. Guitar work is still excellent and has a unique signature for sure. Lyrics have Olivia channeling her inner child on some songs, on others it’s just a gross out gag, but it all works. One of the more entertaining frontpeople in the game for me. She has the ability to ride that line of almost annoying with her shrieks and pitch but somehow never crosses it – its a delicate balancing act I enjoy hearing, she’s just right there on the edge the whole time. And the band is powerful and can swing. Hot stuff here, just hide that LP sleeve so you don’t have to look at it. Feelin’ eggy?
2) EVERYTHING BY RIK & THE PIGS – well, let’s just say Rikky and his boys stormed into 2018 with a vengeance and dragged me with them, reaffirming my belief in rock’n’roll and that it still can be saved (and can still save lives). Riding the momentum from the best 7” of 2017 via the late in the year release of “Blue Jean Queen” (smart and strategic move by the Feel It Records marketing department) – which by the way contains not only two new hits, but the definitive version of “TV Bloopers”, my fave jam from that first demo from over three years ago now and that had been promised for some time, and it says something about how serious Rik takes this shit: i.e. he reworked that song for years trying to mold it into its best possible form, and that is something that other outfits could and should take note of – listen to the raw snotpunk demo and then bask in what a sophisticated rock’n’roll jammer (with horns!) it became. That’s how you do it, instead of just sticking your demo on a 7″. Back on track though, this three song salvo carried them into 2018 and the early January release of ‘A Child’s Gator” (which might be a long 12” EP or a short LP, depending on who you ask) which set the bar so high for the rest of the year it might be impossible to follow. I’ve spilled a ton of words about this record already (most of which will never be seen, unless I get the gumption to translate the 12 pages of drunken screed I penned for Rich at Total Punk when he asked me to write a short blurb to use for the LP, a task I failed at immensely) and have told everyone and their mother they should get a copy in their home immediately. I feel that strongly about this record, this band, this songwriter and what they have done here. I rarely get to hear an album that celebrates rock’n’roll to this extent, that takes all that is good about this thing we love and amplifies it and fires it back in our faces with style, substance, chops, hooks, you name it. It’s an album that will make you feel good to be alive, that will make you thankful for that first punk record you heard so many years ago that sent you down this path. I hear Cheetah’s guitar, Shernoff’s songwriting, the Dolls’ swagger, Dart’s squeak, the Asheton’s balls…An album that will make you think that maybe everything will be alright after all, and an album that will scorch your dumb haircut with hot licks, tough riffs and huge hooks. Sometimes a band will hit that zone, that spot where they get totally dialed in with the perfect sound, the perfect amount of looking backwards to the trailblazers that came before them and the perfect amount of now sound, where they actually start channeling the spirit of rock’n’roll itself = Rik & The Pigs are sitting in that spot right here. I’ve heard bands do it before, sometimes they can exist there for years, sometimes it lasts for just one record, sometimes even just one song. But the fact they’re there gives me hope and should give all of you hope as well. Rock’n’roll is not dead. The kids don’t all suck. Things might actually be okay after all. America might still have a chance! Repressed just for you.
77-83) SEVEN INCH REISSUES – 2017 was a rough year for punk reissues of the 7” variety (at least in my opinion), a format that usually sees a good dozen or more quality repros from labels like Last Laugh, Ugly Pop, Mean Bean, Breakout and others that seemed to be lacking. But we’re only three months into 2018 and I have a solid stack of choice reissues already. To wit:
– TRASH MONKEYS “Trash Monkey Universe” EP – this one is a real mindblower, that I of course had no idea even existed until Almost Ready hipped me. 1986 Miami punker from a pre-Harry Pussy Bill Orcutt and Mark Feehan (post-Broken Talent) along with a guy who was in The Eat and other locals associated with Kreamy Lectric Santa, Stun Guns and more. Four song weirdo blaster, with the hammerpunk of “Hitchhiking for Housewives” and the pop-quirk of the Half Japanese-esque “Clairvoyant Housewife” being my favorites, but the other two songs are weird as fuck too. This one should turn some heads.
– TEENAGE DEPRESSION “Skank or Die” EP – Jason Rerun to the rescue on this platter, one of New Jersey’s finest to not bear the Mutha imprint, there’s just so much to like about this record. Great cover photo. The nine songs giving you lotsa bang for your buck (about $150 less bucks than an OG too). The youthful exuberance/stupidity/incompetence. Just the title “Skank or Die” itself. The guitar player went on to play with GG. The fact “False Jesii, Part 1” is a poem about Henry Rollins, and also had a sequel recorded 25 years later by Pissed Jeans (which itself was then covered by Sauna Youth four years later for a real Six Degrees of Matt Korvette situation). As always quality repro packaging from this label, with liners and the oh so truthful realization by drummer Kazumi Umeda that “…it turns out there’s no difference between a hardcore parody and the real thing.” Now that’s what we call REAL TALK. A must-have.
– CHEMOTHERAPY 7” EP – one of the most shit-fi high school kid punk records ever. 1983 – Carmel, Indiana – Chemotherapy form to play a talent show/battle of the bands and of course get the plug pulled. Rightfully so, because they are beyond inept. They make Psycho Sin sound tight. Absolutely ridiculous flailing on instruments, going so fast they trip over their own shoelaces. A dozen songs over two sides, possibly inspired by the ‘Dirty Rotten EP’, but probably just a product of some hyperactive teenage minds. Must be heard to be believed – and this has been “remastered” by Paul Mahern even. Timechange Records really blew it on the presentation though – I guess the typo riddled “liner notes” fit the aesthetic and all, but they even changed up the sleeve, adding the band name to the front for some reason, when the cartoon alone looked so cool and totally messing with the back (no song titles, they fucked up the guitar players “name” and even pixelated the fuck out of the band logo, and then added a bunch of dumb shit to make it look even worse), they got the B-Side label right but added their logo to the A-Side where the fucking band name should be, and what about the fucking insert? Seriously? Is there some sort of poetic justice in an apparently incompetent label reissuing one of the most incompetent punk records of the 80s? Not really, since the band at least has the excuse that they were in fucking high school when they put it out the first time. As shitty as this thing looks, at least it sounds right – I guess, it’s not like I’ve ever heard an OG.
– CHILD MOLESTORS “(I’m the) Hilllside Strangler” 7” – undoubtedly one of the upper echelon of the KBD bunch, this thing has it all: outrageous band name, song exploiting a gory and topical headline, borderline incompetent playing and no-fi production, brilliantly dumb lyrics….an undeniable hit. Glad to have a reissue of this tasty platter. The really funny thing about it is, this record has a sketchy history of bootlegging/reissuing already via Ace himself that it only seems right that a label named “Meathouse Productions” should reissue it. And these things actually look good too.
– JACK & THE RIPPERS “No Desire” 7” – I think this might have crept out at the tail of 2017, but it seems to have just got off the boat for US customers more recently. Perhaps the finest Swiss punker of them all gets the reissue treatment once again, and if you don’t already have one in your home, now is the time. For some reason the fact a German label reissued this slightly disturbs me, but thank you anyways. By the way, you can get most all of these via our buddy at Feel It Records…..
– INSINUATIONS “Prompt Critical” 7″ – I deep dive into the RVA punk scene for this obsurity from 1980, which actually sounds older than that if you ask me – Id say it has more of a proto-punk vibe, but the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster them definitely dates it to ’79-80. Sort of a Penetrators/Gizmos gooftime rock’n’rolla feel to it, and catchy to boot. Pairs well with a Landlords LP.
4) ISS – I have one question, and that is: Why the fuck are people not freaking out over this shit as much as I think they should be? First, I made a mistake and placed ‘Endless Pussyfooting’ far lower than it should have been in the Year End Top Ten at #6 – it should have been in the Top 3 and could’ve been at the 1 spot. A staggering piece of work, yet at the moment I was writing that list (and this proves how arbitrary those things really are, I just enjoy doing them at the time) I was down deep in a rock’n’roll hole – not that ISS isn’t rock’n’roll – it is – but what they are doing to it is so innovative it can sometimes get bewildering. Writing a best-of-list is a time for looking backwards, and ISS are definitely a band looking forward. Remember when hip hop really got some mainstream steam and people started realizing it was more than a fad (actually, you probably don’t, I’m just old) – and how critics and the rock press legitimized it by making a big fuss over sampling old records and rediscovering and recycling old jazz/soul/funk via DJs and producers and what a mindblower it was? Well, is that not what ISS is doing to our old punk and hardcore (and rap and more) records right in front of us once again? Are people not as impressed as I am by their ability to sample everything from Reatards to Pavement to Gauze to a drumbeat from the fucking Creep demo tape? And to be able to do so with razor sharp wit and seamless production precision? It’s exciting listening to this stuff, a feeling that I rarely get to experience these days now that I’m an old fucking man that thinks he’s heard it all. And instead of yelling at you to get off my lawn, I’m screaming at you damn kids to pay attention to ISS – we could all learn something. As far as records go, while I’m very proud to have been a part of the first full length (which is now rightfully on vinyl as we speak…), I think ‘Endless Pussyfooting’ is a masterpiece – and I’ll tell you another thing, I really fell in love with this while listening to the cassette version. I’m not going to try and convince you that cassettes are some great format (but in reality they are) you need to get into – for me they work on both a nostalgic level (I spent years growing up in the pre-CD era where the tape had supplanted the LP as the format of choice) and a level of necessity and ease (I spend a lot of time working in a space where a record player would not be a feasible option and I loathe listening to music via shitty computer speakers) – but by all means go buy the LP version (and then download it to your iTunes or whatever the fuck it is you do) and get down. The new 7” on Sorry State advances the cause even further, dipping into the catalogs of Cabaret Voltaire and Albert Camus (among many others) for raw materials to spin into gold for us fools. Punks jump up…
13) HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS self-titled LP – well well well. Hank and tha Hammers returned, and absolutely made my life 100% better for with the release of their third LP (for real, I was at a real low point when this LP hit and listening to it every morning helped me face the day or at least stoked me up enough to get through it). I knew this record was coming eventually and I think we all had some mixed feelings about what it would be like – we wanted it, yes, but there’s no one that will say ‘Stay Home!!!’ was anywhere near what our unrealistic expectations for it were. “Go Home!” set the bar so impossibly high (I reckon it might be the best LP of the past ten years or so) that they essentially had to have a sophomore slump. And that’s okay. I knew it was coming. I’ll confess to having barely paid attention to it. It was like a free pass or something, we all knew it would pale in comparison to the first one, and I think the best case scenario we were hoping for was to get it out of the way, to create some distance from ‘Go Home!’ so we could enjoy them again without the spectre of how incredible that LP was looming over them. I mean, that first record was THAT good. My only concern was that they might not make it to a third LP, but they thankfully did. And with that distance we can actually appreciate this record on its own merits, and I’m going all in on it. The band has seemingly adjusted as well, and I feel like they have fulfilled some sort of vision here, or at least feel confident about it. It’s the right blend of the over-the-top bluster of that first record and the sort of peckerwood hardcore thing they were fishing for on the second record. I was so stoked on this after first listen that I had to download it while I waited for the LP to arrive. For the first time ever I exceeded bandcamp listens for a release – I didn’t even know that was possible! I also heartily agree with ending on “Whisper” as well, with Henry sounding more wounded by that damn baby of his than I’ve heard him before. I mean, that’s a HUGE part of what makes this record and this band so great – Mr. Wood’s lyrics and his unique delivery of them. I’ve never heard a better UNH or OWW and how he uses them as punctuation (or doesn’t) is something really special. And I think all their records, and their finest moments rely on Henry battling his feelings for a girl, or being hurt by one – never have I heard a man treated worse by the fairer sex. What if all of these songs are really about one woman? What a relationship! And there we break down to the simplest level of this – they’re almost all essentially about loving or dying in one way or another. Well done, boys, and I should also mention that the guitar playing on this record might actually exceed the first. Consider it this way: ‘Go Home!’ is their “Go Girl Crazy!”, ‘Stay Home!!!’ their ‘Manifest Destiny’, and this is of course their ‘Blood brothers’. Is “I Can’t Stay” not just the modern update of “Stay With Me”? And we all know that for as much as we love the punkitude of that first one, when you get down to it “Bloodbrothers’ is their best, most complex and yet also most simple at heart. And I’ll let (DH) handle the review for the video of the year that accompanied this LP:
Hank Wood And The Hammerheads “You Wanna Die” music video
Somer’s animated video for The Hammerheads “You Wanna Die” joins “Thriller” and “Institutionalized” atop the list of history’s best and most innovative music videos. Really. Paper cut-outs brought to life, death, and life again in stop-motion. It is beautiful and mesmerizing, a pinnacle of artistic expression for the art form of the music video. The song ain’t bad, either. (DH)
01) SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION #2 – The Loki Label is celebrating some kind of anniverary with our third LOKIFEST next month, in our favorite city this time around, at the world’s best bar, the legendary NOW THAT’S CLASS. Come on down on JULY 21st to see our friends: COUNTER INTUITS (we will be negotiating the contract for the long-awaited Ron House spoken word LP at the afterparty) — THE COWBOY (local Clevo boys we will be trying to sign) — CEMENT SHOES (members of Brown Sugar, Fried Egg, Utah Jazz, Haircut and more will also be celebrating the release of their debut 7″ on Feel It Records) — TROPICAL TRASH (Louisville heroes head east) — STORKS (Richie Charles of Watery Love/Fully Glazed with a crack squad of Philly bats in the line-up) — the Loki Label mobile distro unit with new/exclusive merch will be on site and Sam from Feel It will bring the merch pain as well, and we have some other surprises in store – hope to see you all there –