REVIEWS WINTER 2016-17
Key: (RK: Rich K.)(NG: Nick Goode)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(RR: Russ M.)
Acrylics s/r 12"
One-sided 12" from Acrylics, a remastered vinyl pressing of a recent cassette releases. I like some things about this (lots of feedback/squeal) and I dislike some things. Duh. But you know, I'm a guy who just likes loud and feedbacky guitar as a rule of thumb. But placing such a sound in the context of good songs is another matter. I just don't feel like I'm getting that here - it's choppy sure, that's on purpose, I know, I know. I get what they're doing, and I get an idea of a Peni-type thing, maybe a bit similar to NSU with less complexity. Paranoiac, compressed movement, reverb riding bursts of voltage. I've listened to this a bunch of times, but every time it's over I dont feel the need to listen to it again. Nothing sticks. So I give it another listen just for the hell of it, because I feel like there's something to like here. And I get the same result. Nothing memorable. An example of a band that gets sort of a "now" sound that seems appealing on a very surface level, but in the end there are zero songs. I don't mean to single them out, but this is one of those bands that sounds current and fills the gaps, but in the end they're just white noise out there in the air. And that "Rock A Bye Baby" guitar line in there is a real eye-roller.(RK)
(Neck Chop // www.neckchoprecords.com)
Talbot Adams "Community/Recession Era" LP
Pound-for-pound, Mr. Talbot Adams is one of the elite punchers in today's songwriting biz. This LP combines the previously released (digitally though, so that doesn't really count) 'Community' EP on one side backed with the all-new 'Recession Era' set of tunes. A-Side is just Adams as his guitar, inspiring Southern gentleman rock indebted to Chilton, Bell, etc... a very fine lyricist as well, the uptempo jangle of "Acceptance" is his stride at its finest, yet the rest of the LP has some wistful remiscences on life/love that never gets weepy or sad, but possesses a sort of understated joyfulness. Posi-vibes only here, honest and personal stuff. B-Side gets rock-and-rolling more often, or is at least a bit louder, and has some drums/percussion filling things out. "Chips Cashed In" a slow strummer about the damage that life sometimes brings is possibly the best cut here, the title track chugs like a slo-mo train, "Love Goes Round and Round" could possibly sound trite to some, but it's a nice 50's style nice-guy rocker that sneaks in a twangy little guitar part and some lovely back-ups and "Have A Little Fun" is almost garage-punk (shit, he evens drops an F-bomb! Talbot!) for a peppy lo-fi little mover and shaker that sends us all home happy with a splendid drum shuffle and guitar run. Crickets-esque even. Suposedly Talbot recorded some of this on his iPhone?! Talk about modern day DIY...(RK)
(Secret Identity Records // www.secretidentityrecords.com)
Airship "Get Out. Take Your Mother With You" 7"
Lets break this one down. 1979. UK. Released on Decca. Band pic: two wearing ties knotted at mid-chest (one with collared shirt and jacket, the other just a deep v-neck), one pair of overalls, one white tux jacket, one beard. Nifty hand drawn band logo. 1979 and definitely not punk, it's more like too late for glam, too late for pub rock (well, is it ever to late for pub rock?), almost on time for New Wave, too rock to be powerpop. It's pretty amazing how much they defy everything, this band just makes no sense. "Get Out..." is hilarious - it's basically an anti-mother-in-law song! Certainly appealing to everyman at the pub, but then what gives with the outfits? A bit too poncey for the local. It's a catchy bit of slick borerline radio-friendly AOR, almost bland but so bland it sort of transcends. For some reason I feel like this would make more sense if they were from London, Ontario. B-Side is "Gimme A Can of Spray Paint", of which the lyrics are of the "I'm so bored, gimme a can of spray paint" turn.....now, I can see this making sense if it was a song poking fun at punk...perhaps it is? Im unsure. Or is it the worst attempt at a cash-in punk song ever recorded? Faux-faux-punk? Mind boggling. This one almost choogles for a second or two. Something here reminds me of Thundermug? This one could almost be powerpop, that guitar sound is straight cheese, but it's got the hook and all. A record you just want to hate so bad that it somehow becomes befuddingly likeable. Leave it to the Mean Bean to reissue another one that has me vexed, which is a good thing - this guy could be reissuing the same old punk/KBD stuff everyone goes for, but he digs deep into the gray areas to release stuff that you shouldn't think twice about, and then makes you think twice about. Again, I can not tell you if I actually like this record or not, but I've been so consumed by listening and trying to figure it out that whether I "like" it doesn't really matter anymore. Well played sir. Already sold out I believe (sorry for the delay) but I'd grab one if you see a distro copy just to be safe and begin your own internal debate about Airship.(RK)
(Mean Bean // meanbeanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Alpha Hopper “Last Chance Power Drive” LP
Debut long player from a Buffalo group paying homage to the music underground of the first Bush era - this evokes turn of the 90s, post HC days of yore. Heavy but clean rock. Alpha Hopper doesn't have the sonic aggression of, say, Jesus Lizard or quirky originality of Brainiac, but would fit on a bill opening for either. This album isn't pushing any boundaries but is a fair slab of genre rock for super fans. Irene's vocals kind of remind me of KAG from Priests at times and are a strong point of the record. I bet the band is a notch or two better live, as the recording doesn't quite pop for me but still sounds full of energy. (DH)
(Radical Empathy // )
Andy California "Church Of The Black Snake" 7"
One time Tunnel Of Lover Andy McBain has been laying some serious tracks as of late and I've been a lazy-loo, barely bothering to keep up. Sometimes he's going the garbage glam-pop route and at other moments he's headed back into the broom closet, hashing out his well worn trash-blues shuffle. That second option has always been my favorite place to find him and this here single lands squarely on that turf. The title track is exactly what I needed/hoped for - a warped, semi-fuggerdly takes on the Bo Diddley riff that comes off like a wine pickled, less spooky Haunted George or a Hasil Adkins tune playing off tempo. A simple, grimy treat for those who await Norton's newest excavation of some lost hillbilly swill. "Railroad Bill" features some sharp finger pickin' and a muffled bullfrog croak. If only this came wrapped in a stinky screen-printed Bongout© sleeve, the Euro-turkeys out there would see this as the second coming of Christ. Worthy of trading a potato or two. (RSF)
(Can't Stand Ya & Macchio Records // www.cantstandyarecords.com)
Aquarian Blood "Warlock Cock" 7"
Second 7" from Memphis noise addicts Aquarian Blood. Internet tells me they're a duo, but from that Goner 7" I always assumed there were like eight people in this band. I dunno. On this one they do some more Memphis-like rocking on the A-Side, reminds me of something Alicja would've had on Contaminated, lots of guitar freeking but mated to a more traditonal song structure than the craziness I remember from that earlier record. B-Side "Acid Fascist" brings some more of that unhinged feel, soundns like the girl singing is racing to keep up with the tune, there's a bountiful selection of guitar effects and synth wheeze and they work in the phrase "Warlock cock" at the end. Not bad, not great...very decent? LP is out now on Goner, I imagine they come off better with more inches to spread out on.(RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
Bad Mojos "Punks Faggots Freaks" 7"
Bland as all-get-out pop punk from some Swedes who dress up like the Rip Offs - yet sound as though their vocalists were recorded a pitch too low. Some say they come off like The Spits, but I'm just hearing Morrissey with his tongue gored out by the root or Danzig dealing with severe wet brain issues. Croon-along choruses that fume of a failed Naked Raygun. One more whoah-oh and I'm out of here. This is no Baddat For Trubbel. It's strange that No Front Teeth spat this out. Seems more akin to Masked Intruder than the usual Stitches worship they tend to stick too. (RSF)
(No Front Teeth // www.nofrontteeth.co.uk)
Bad Noids "It's A Doggie Bag World" 7" EP
"Into the Future" is the best Bad Noids song ever, so that immediately warrants purchase and reinforces my idea that they're better when they play it slow, but these kids (can I still call them kids anymore?) have such ADD they just can't, so it's pretty much an accident when they do grind it out like this. Grade A XXL top shelf punk riff over and over, Mike yammers, and someone jizzes a solo for the entire song. Perfect Bad Noids. When it's green it's gold! I'm gonna blow my nose?! To hear him squeal "fewchaaaaaa" multiple times is a real treat. Great video too. "12 Years Old" is Mike nyaaaahhhhhhing his way to fame for sixty seconds or so - "I hate water/it gets me wet" might be the smartest thing ever said on a hardcore record. He has a point. "My Friend Greg" ("Graaaayyyyagggg") packs a fast riff that is so swift Mike struggles to keep up with this inside-joke Cleveland killer. The only dumb thing about this record is how short it is. Scum stats: classy full color pocket sleeve on that textured stock Sweet Rot used to always use.(RK)
(Feel It // www.feelitrecordshop.com)
Bad Stroke "Dirty Hole" 7"
One of the two records in my review stack this time around with nut sacks printed on 'em. The new boobs, it would seem. Gruff street punk with mild grrr-age touches and possibly a nod or more towards the first few Discord sniggles. Shout, shout, shout. It includes some good bass gallop and there's slowcore intro odditude abound, but it still reeks of traditional hardcore to me. Perhaps if I was 14, had never heard a Bo Diddley beat or drank Bartles & James in a mall parking lot - I might actually give a shit. Right now I'm more interested in figuring out if the sleeve illustration is supposed to be the Ultimate Warrior or Trump crying his mascara off. Whatevz. (RSF)
(Halshugga Records // www.halshuggarecords.com)
Jef Elise Barbera "Sexe Machine/Sex Machine" 7"
A change of pace from the typical trash that gets coverage in these pages. Jef Elise Barbara's single gets us out of the garage and into the disco. Though your humble reviewer is stuck back in the 9th grade scratching 'Sid Rules' and 'Minor Treat' (sic) into desks so this is way out of my league. I'll try my best to provide a competent review nonetheless. J.E.B. dishes out a pair of funk tracks that sound as if they were discovered crate digging in the basement of a record shop that's older than me. They're not mapping genres here or mining the sound to turn into something else the way No Wave and Disco Rap did - these are designed for the dance floor. "Sexe Machine / Sex Machine" is the better of the tracks. The flip is a ballad that I can't really get into. (DH)
(Fixture Records // fixture-records.com)
Barricaded Suspects "Trick Question" 7"
Named after a comp on Toxic Shock and vibing heavy to sound like a band from that era. This doses out 7 tracks of throwback 'core. It ain't original or mind-blowing but they didn't name themselves Cleanse The Bacteria, either, so at least they were up front about it. Limited to 109 copies. (DH)
(Closet Landscapes // try Sorry State )
Beasteater s/t LP
Stardate 2006: Aaron Adduci asks my old band for a Blowtops cover to put on their upcoming 10th anniversary single. Jokingly (not really) I offer that we do "Hey Bartendress" - an old Bantam Rooster tune they'd recently recorded. Sadly, the response wasn't met with all the laughs I'd hoped for. But really, what wasn't a better match in those days? Bantam Rooster being the Midwest-monster I worshiped throughout the 90's and The Blowtops were so high on my then recent fave list it was an unfuckwithable pairing to my eyes. To look back on this exchange, it seems downright prophetic now. Flash forward ten years and Beasteater has arrived. The unholy pairing of head Rooster Tom Potter teaming up with half the remains of The Blowtops (see also: two-thirds of the Fatal Figures), plus a goddamn member of The Dirtys on board. I'll try not to dry-hump my keyboard while I write this. What does this Rustbelt summit meeting sound like? Eardrum splitting caterwaul - like one would hope. The hostile side of garage spews forth pairing up Potter's volatile blues riffs along with the hog-slaughter squelch and noise rock leanings of Adduci. Nick Lloyd keeps things hammering along this violent trajectory as only one who dealt with a heaping mess like The Dirtys could. "Scum Of The Earth" and "Taste The Floor" showcase the best beasts of all worlds, blasting out a rump-shaking trash that'll have you thinking Crypt Records drunkenly went and ok'd the release of an Unsane LP. Or maybe it's as if AmRep let loose a Beguiled reunion? If this isn't Ned Haydon's record of the year, I'm ready to throw in the Termbo towel. "The Night Air" and "Candy And Fireworks" bring about a very Bantam vibe - due to Tom's desperate wail and rubbery leads - only slather it all with corroded buzzsaw blasts and the sort of patented scum once found exclusively on the Lower East Side. Traci Volker grabs hold of the reins, steering the shimmy-centric "Ovary Action" and the world's first (and probably only) ever True Sons Of Thunder cover - "Wood Shampoo". Traci's importance here cannot be denied, as her bass backbone is the tethered chain that holds these dueling goons from foolishly flinging themselves into a spastic fit. A fast and furious LP that should satiate the elders around the board who feel other like minded stupor-groups such as The New Memphis Legs haven't gotten the respect recently they so richly deserve. I'd call this the surprise hit of the season - and released near my birthday, no less - but I knew what was on deck and pretty much in love with it long before I even cracked the cellophane. SCUM STATS: Scum is what you want, scum is what you get. Some are green. Mine is. I hear this is selling quite well (thank God). Bart Hart is glad. He's finally beginning to see his breezeway floor again. (RSF)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Beatniks s/t 7"
Andy Jordan (famously known for being in every damn band in the Bay since 2000) has teamed up with Violent Change members (famously known for being in every damn band in the Bay since 2010) to bring you this steamy slab of whirling, jabbing agit-pop. Less spaced out or Devo-ish than the other recent Andy Human projects, but there's still some keyboard squiggle and synthetic grotesqueness frolicking in these tracks. The three originals on hand should scratch any 70's Bloodstain-punk itch, reveling in a mud-fi Suicide Commandos meets Notekillers vibe with enough art edge to rustle up the Vox Pop fan feathers out there. They close up shop to a fast and loose Leaves cover - "Too Many People" - given the Wire treatment and featuring a legitimately ROCK and unhinged three second solo. I stand by the sentiment kids. (RSF)
(Goodbye Boozy // firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beef Jerk "Tragic" LP
I first heard Beef Jerk on that 'Inhalation Compilation' tape comp of the Sydney scene and put them on my list of well-named Aussie bands I need to hear more of after what I seem to recall being a real aces yobbo-rock cut there. I have a feeling I either got the tracklisting wrong, or that track was an anomaly. What we have here is some more of that sort of emotional indie-garage jingle-jangle thing coming from Australia, that Dick Diver are the fucking kings of (and I mean that in a good way) and includes stuff like Woollen Kits and Bitch Prefect and many many more - a genre that has earned the tag "dolewave". You know, on thee dole, songs about boring day-to-day bullshit, mundanity, boredom, angst, moping. Beef Jerk sound like just another bunch of blokes having a hard time dealing with real life. They do a lot of those types of songs that soud like a bummer but really aren't, because at base they're just bummed about life being a drag sometimes...know what I mean? I'm just generalizing here, but it's the vibe I get. They throw some sax on a couple tracks (not played by Al Montfort) at least. Not bad I guess, but could this style be on it's way to becoming the modern yacht rock? Par for the course. Middle of the road.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Beta Boys "Real Rockers" 7"
Beta Boys "After Dark" 7"
Beta Boys "Oh Wow!! Hard Rock Music! I love It" 7"
OK, over the course of the year Beta Boys, who were originally from KC (I think they were all in Nuke Cult too) and then relocated to Olympia, released 3 7"es. The first one, aided and abetted by Lumpy Records, put Darby right on the cover (a bold Poison Idea tribute perhaps), and sounds like it was recorded in a tin shack - six songs that slip and flop all over, singer is good at his job but the recording is so thin it hurts - yet "Slip Back" and "Kreep City Strut" keep me interested as does the inscription in the dead wax on the A-Side: "we still like Culo" and the drummer being named Icehead. Still, a debut that left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. Then came the Neck Chop 7" (with a song called "Puzzled Panther") - that has more artwork that looks like they puked up the drawings - where they add another thin veneer to the recording making it slightly louder (but still missing something), this one seems a bit darker in overall tone and it also seems like the music here is merely a delivery mechanism for the singer to do his thing - they get a better "sound" this time but it's still a bit mushy overall. Now we get the Goodbye Boozy platter, a label not known for its fidelity, but this one sounds brawny and beefy (still the same vomited up scribble artwork, but I'm starting to like it at this point), they sound as punk as they look this time around, and the B-Side, "Return of Snakeman", finally gives me a song I can love - vicious and gnarly, drooling and knuckle dragging. Someone mentioned that it would be great to get to go one of those young punk fests like that Oklahoma thing to see which of these new bands really give it up - and I get the feeling that Beta Boys are one of those types, a prowling punk panther that is difficult to cage within seven inches of vinyl. The GB 7" is the one where they come closest to the punk perfection that was Darby (no that doesn't mean I think they sound like Germs, but they seem to like Darb a lot so I'm using that as a reference point). You should start there from what I know, then get the Lumpy platter - or grab your balls and go to a gig. Oh yeah, their bandcamp page is betaboys69.bandcamp.com - I gotta say, I really do like these kids.(RK)
(Lumpy Records // spottedrace.bigcartel.com)
(Neck Chop Records // www.neckchoprecords.com)
(Goodbye Boozy // email@example.com)
Birds of Paradise "Syrup" 7"
Man, 2016 and SSLD has a website (and a bandcamp page!) and is doing singles with color covers that look like a designer actually put them together - and color labels too?! What is going on here...color vinyl?! Say it aint so Mr. Z Freddy Fred! At least he's still willing to put out anything Roy Vucino records. I've been a fan of previous Birds of Paradise records, as Roy's collaboration with Hannah Lewis has provided some really beautiful stuff thus far. "Syrup" is a Stones-y acoustic rocker that dips into the blues, folk and psych for a real trippy multi-layered dream. Roy's lyrics are pretty great on this one too ("In a castle made of jelly"!) and the double-tracked vocals create a truly psychedelic effect, the horns are a beaut and Hannah drops in with some really soulful harmonizing on the chorus. "Sweet Spot" continues the acoustic-psych adventure, this one with a blues-country angle, some great slide playing, Roy sings into a megaphone with Hannah shadowing him in echo, it's just them and an acoustic for the first few minutes and then the slide and drums kick it up to rocker levels, a little theremin zing, and other odds and ends fill out the palette. The drums are just slightly offbeat to make it even more weird. Love the 'Exile' vibe he's got going here. Fantastique. Yout can have Red Mass, give me more Birds of Paradise. Scum stats: you know, SSLD might be the reason I started scum stats. Ill forever be in Mr. Z's debt for that, and he stuck to formula somehwat here: 300 copies total; 150 with Roy artwork, 50 of which are on colored vinyl; another 150 with Elzo Durt artwork (preferred edition, pcitured here) with 50 of those on color as well.(RK)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll // ssldrecords.com)
Bleeding Gums "II" 7" EP
First 7" from Bleeding Gums after a cassette or two. Garage-punk from somewhere around Chicago that everyone seems to be describing as "hardcore", but it's really not (at least not by my definition) - it's fast and tight rock'n'roll sure, but these guys wouldn't have been out of place playing the Blackout back in 2002. This stuff is closer in sound to New Bomb Turks or Dwarves than they are to what I believe most of us think of when the word hardcore is mentioned - and this is not a big deal either, as genre line are nearly non-existent these days anyway, but what I am saying is don't go into this expecting riff-based ragers - this is more like hooky punk. Plus the guitars are pretty clean (as is the whole recording), and no distortion is certainly not acceptable from a hardcore band these days. So now that I've beat that point to death, Bleeding Gums do give you eight tracks of energetic rock-n-rolla, the singer is actually a little bit of a crooner and it's all over so fast you don't have much of a chance to dislike anything. I'm not exactly dying for more, but I enjoyed it for a few spins - the singer definitely carries things, to his credit. Lyric sheet is included, and I will say this guy writes lyrics like he's in a hardcore band though.(RK)
(Neck Chop // www.neckchoprecords.com)
The Blind Shake "Celebrate Your Worth" LP
My favorite Blind Shake moments thus far: those LPs they did with Yonkers, that year they had the theme song for King of the Road and the 7" on Sweet Rot. I also liked their first LP on Goner quite a bit ('Breakfast of Failures') and 'Celebrate Your Worth' finds them back on Goner after doing some work with Slovenly, Castleface and Swami. Recorded in Sacramento with Woodhouse, this LP isn't going to knock any of those favorite things I listed in the first sentence out of contention, although it's still a dependable record from a dependable band on a dependable label. "Demox" for some reason reminds me of Wipers nicking a Tom Petty song - I like it, and it also throws some of the most guitar shrapnel around. The song I want them to sound like. Seems like there's a lot of filler though, and a lot of ideas that sound like leftovers from a roster of 90s bands no one wants to be compared to in 2017. The quirkly little MoaM touches are the most acceptable of those. It's never bad, but there are maybe two out of ten tracks here. Fans of this band will tend to disagee, but they're one of those hit-or-miss outfit for me, and this one is mostly miss.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Bloody Show "Root Nerve" 12" EP
Bloody Show are certainly out to make a statement here...along with the visuals, the opening line of "Magic Negro" is "Go get your fucking shinebox...". OK, I get it. Whoever CC is, he does a fine job handling guitar duties here, but not even he can save a pedestrian cover of 'Non Alignment Pact" - I suppose the inclusion of such is more of an homage than trying to reinvent the song anyway. The vox sound like they're delivered through a walkie-talkie, musically it's heavy and plodding garage that occasionally chugs with some tenacity but lacks a higher gear needed to make it as uh...interesting as its aesthetic in-your-facedness might require. "American Pimp" comes closest to being the complete package, with some searing guitar, and "Back on the Trac" has nice classic rock licks. Just not really that exciting overall musically...forgettable when it shouldn't be and that cover image begs for something more. Paste-on sleeves and hand-stamped labels are a nice look though.(RK)
(Heel Turn // heelturnrecords.com)
Brando's Island "Duplicaat" 7"
Third 7" from this Aussie outfit that does not feature Al Montford. "Duplicaat" is a strange one, stacking the vibraphone up against some turgid analaog synth with really obnoxious vocals and live drums that falls into a strange jaunty pop-like pace at some point then bounces back to aggressive new wave. It's a lot to take in, I'm not sure if it works, but I'm still listening, so there's that. Flipper is "Natural Order" that keeps up the vibes, the agressive new wave and the somewhat antagonistic approach (no surprise there are members of Zingers here), and I'm not saying the vibraphone was ever intended to be their gimmick...but it's starting to sound like a gimmick now. Annoying in an arty way, if these songs were people you'd probably be avoiding having to converse with them. Your call.(RK)
(Million Dollar Record // available in the US via Feel It...)
The Busymen "Under Attack Of..." 10"
That's one ugly looking sleeve ya' got here, yabbos (er, Hobos)! I suggest you - dear reader - overlook this minor Magic Marker misstep, 'cuz what's inside is way better than it would seem. A glorious shitblown guitar fry and Voxx organ phuzz phest is on deck, waiting to prick the ears of those who really, really miss The Morlocks - or any of the other anti-Fuzztones pounders that ate the late eighties whole. Imagine if those freak fucks from The Original Sins had gobbled even more drugs and ran with it, well into this decade? This here cuts pretty close, I'd say. There's also some solid cover choices in their setlist (The Wailers "Hang Up" and The Sparkles "No Friend Of Mine") and the vocalist tends to go sideways, slurring behind the beat now and again - but I find it all perfectly lovable. Alas, this isn't 1988 and there's a whole "new breed" out there who'd rather pull out a Bay City Rollers LP or take in an Echo And The Bunnymen tribute act and call it garage, so when something comes my way like this little nugget, I get as giddy as a gradeschooler with a jumbo bag of Pixy Sticks. The Busymen ain't reinventing the wheel, but at least they're bothering to keep the damn tire shiny with a thick sheen of Armor-all. Give 'em a shot, especially if you've been holding onto a huge stockpile of like-minded Estrus and Sympathy 10"ers already. (RSF)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // www.swashbucklinghobo.com)
Carl Sagan's Skate Shoes s/t LP
Sounds like Shellac if they were an emo band. Is the bigger surprise here that the gatefold LP contains a complimentary slipmat or that most reviews I've seen of this band seem to think they're angry? (RK)
(Super Secret // www.supersecretrecords.com)
CC Dust "Shinkansen No. 1/New Ways" 7"
Two new ones from CC Dust, fresh off of an excellent 12". The A-side is a total and complete hit that would have absolutely charted in the mid-80s. It's the most articulated vision of what they're going for - sullen, somber vocals on top of a hyperactive, extremely New Order-derivative song with typical instrumentation. Really strong vocal delivery and lyricism . "Meaning dies, it needs replacing." Something about this one just offends me that someone could craft it so seemingly easily. Also, not sure if the bells at the beginning are an allusion to Deux, but big up if so. B-Side is slower but mostly of the same caliber - the vocalist croons a bit on this one, and it totally works. Highly recommended. (NG)
(Night School // nightschoolrecords.com)
Celebrity Handshake s/t CD
Devotees of this site are aware that in the landscape of the marginal, fucked up music that helps us navigate this shitty world, there is a line in the sand. On one side stand A.M. Haines and Will Berdan II and on the other everyone else. Some good stuff on that other side, but let’s not fool ourselves, y’know? It is a small miracle that those two found each other up in Maine - kindred spirits who would go on to spend the next 20(+?) years making noise together. They first crossed my path with Jumpin' Beans & The Moustaches, who released a series of singles playing monumentally great shit-fi covers of r'n'r hits (and some originals that shoulda topped charts). Upon the dissolution of JBATM the duo formed Family Pet, inspired by free jazz and formless noise. And then there was a long lull in the output during recent years, a terrible void… Until this CD showed up unexpectedly over the summer. Joined by Jose Moreno, and finding a middle ground between JBATM and FP, Celebrity Handshake has not mellowed in any sense. For the most part, the six tracks here follow traditional rock form: Bo Diddley drum beats, keyboards, some guitar riffs that you could probably play along to if you tried. That's the starting point, anyway. Haines shouts his lyrics like a preacher gone mad, delivering poetry before yelling in tongues. All of the players here diverge from the expected and into the wild. That element of chaos that prevailed with Family Pet starts to show. "Hit Me Where it Hurts," which closes this out, could have appeared on a Nuggets comp in another form, in another world where the feedback wasn't so vicious and the music so radical. This is obviously brilliant and essential. (DH)
(Eastern Prawn Records // celebrityhandshake.bandcamp.com)
Choke Chains s/t 7"
Tom Potter tweaks what seems to be a Devo backbone into a seriously pissed theme song, complete with his trademark walloping leads and frantic screech. Maybe the time spent Beasteating, snuggled up to those Blowtops remains has warped him permanently? This lone song is like a rolling boulder of hate, coming off with a stronger attitude than all the Bantam Rooster outings combined. Hard to believe, I know - but it's true. "Mayan Starship" is a slow burn, space groove that coulda' fit right into the Dirtbombs B-side catalog with ease - or even a Chrome live set for that matter. My only beef is the flip should really take flight, soaring off in a flurry of ace guitar pyrotechnics - but it opts out instead, just grinding the riff into the soil. That barn burner on the top is so worthy alone, I'm not gonna' complain. Honestly, if both songs were that fevered, I'd be crying like a simp. The strongest of the recent SSLD batch, wrapped in most classic looking SSLD sleeve as well. (RSF)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records // www.ssldrecords.bandcamp.com)
Chook Race "Around The House" LP
Writing this review at the end of the worst week of the year, which itself is in contention for worst year in recent memory. Throwing this on for the first time and the upbeat, happy pop hooks kind of rushing through me. Oh, I can smile still? The songs are so familiar - I saw Chook Race play on their recent US tour back in September and they specialize in the type of tune to bore itself into your memory at first pass. (In addition to their great set, they ended with a fun cover of "Ex Lion Tamer" and the drummer had a sick Victims "Television Addict" shirt.) So hearing many of these tunes for the second time and I might as well have thrown on a well worn mix tape of classics from my youth. Sneakily good, and remarkably well written stuff that immediately brings to mind The Clean, aforementioned Wire, etc. (DH)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Stefan Christensen "Open Day" 7"
Five song EP from Stefan on an obscure Euro imprint (which I believe is the label of the guy who does the excellent Fordamning zine) that further expands his ventures into the home-taper zone. Reminds me very much of early Sebadoh at least in theory - a mix of tape/recording experiments and songs, an overall dour mood offset by moments of spirit-lifting songwriting. In summary: "Open Day" acts as intro with acoustic guitar and gentle vox with backing rising up from tape hiss and what could be a toy piano, leading into the heavy vibes of the Columbus-esque "Brass City Dilemma" which give way to the hopeful guitar/vox of "Silent Deluge" a bedroom pop/rock number that wouldn't be out of place on 'Freed Man'. Side B begins with a return to gray via "Cole" a lengthy dirge of guitar scraps, tape manipulation and some tasteful organ drone which is offset by "Braille", an all-too brief (but perhaps appropriately so) mid-tempo tune that straddles the fine line between melancholy and optimism with its dry vocals playing off the emotive guitar. One of my favorite Stefan releases yet (and I like em all). Scum stats: 200 copies only with stamped labels, insert and paste-on postcard sleeve. A perfect storm of US-DIY.(RK)
(I Dischi Del Barone // available in US via csiterecordings.storenvy.com)
Chrome Reverse "You Say You Love Me" 7"
Another 7" of throwback garage-rock from Lili Z., Iwan and co. (including that guy with the great Brian Jones hair). Think about this - Lili has been at the forefront of Punk Rock Francais since the Splash Four were one of the best garage-punk bands in the world, when No-Talents were dishing out the KBD-dum-dum hits before most, when she was home-recording her own DIY records, when Volt were leading the Glue Wave charge - and now she's gone back to the roots of rock'n'roll when being a garage-turkey is most unfashionable to most. Might not sound like punk, but that sure is punk aint it? And Iwan, man, that stoic presence - he's like the French punk Charlie Watts (if Charlie played bass, that is), right there with the No-Talents, Operation S, Les Terribles and the sorely underappreciated Les Teckels. You get the wild wild title track with twang by the bucket and Lili ripping on the mic, one slinky neo-surf instrumental, and the Wanda Jackson-esque bad girl "Sinner Not A Saint". If you think you're too cool for this, you're not.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Circle K "My Mask is Mine" 7"
Noisy garage core from Nashville. Six tracks that go by in a messy blur. Like Taz ran through the shed and left your tools strewn about. Was that a bucket of nails I heard come crashing down? Who knows. Over in a blink and compelling enough that you'll want a second listen if only to see if you can make out the guitar from the noise. (DH)
(Glad Fact // www.gladfact.com)
Color Buk "Dethkill" 7"
From the school of Drunks With Guns/Groinoids, dare I invoke the mighty Church Police? Very interesting and somewhat mysterious release - 'Dethkill' embodies the classic trick of 4 songs on side A b/w one long bit of mayhem sludge on the flip. "Slumlord" - a drugged and tense ode to the super. 'Scogs credits this single to the band Colour Bük (demos reviewed above) although that name does not appear anywhere on the release so who knows? Good for a fix of torturous and heavy HC grinders. (DH)
(Wir Wollen Wulle // wirwollenrecords.blogspot.com)
Combomatix "Chinese Songs For Bad Boys" LP
The French ain't gonna let go of their 2-piece garage-blues roots obsession any time soon, is they? The school of Childish/land of Chatham is further pilfered and that ole' barnyard stomp n' holler is in full effect. Reverb'd guitar that'd fit nicely somewhere between the Magnetix weirdness and some Kroha inspired strum. Nothing really makes me wanna' move them to the front of the play heap, though. I do dig the oddball organ or synth atmospherics of "Never Cut The Wire" and the slow burn closer "I'll Make You Mad" wallops real good - so there's that. A fine background time killer, but a single might have done the trick. (RSF)
(Howlin' Banana & Retard Records // www.howlinbananarecords.com)
Concealed Blade s/t LP
There's not much I can say about Concealed Blade's 12" other than if you like your hardcore loud and pummelling and of the meathead variety, you need to own this record. And when I say meathead, I mean no disrespect. Total mosh here, vocals so gruff they border on ridiculous, metal guitar riff-chug up yr ass, more than your money's worth in divebombs and squeals, huge recording sound, the perfect soundtrack for sitting down to a healthy serving of pit beef. Look elsewhere for posi-vibes, this is knuckle drag HC with lyrics/aesthetics to match (plenty of skulls and song titles along the lines of "Fuck to Survive") and while by no means my genre of choice, there's a place in my head where 18-year-old me needs to hear something like this every so often. If the 7"/demo was a solid haymaker, this 12" is the full-on asskicking. So many mosh parts. And judging by the intro these guys thankfully don't take themselves too seriously either (at least that's what I'm hoping...).(RK)
(Beach Impediment // beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Os Courettes "Introducing the Selvagem Os Courettes" 7"
This two piece ensemble beats out some real wild r'n'r. Just a guitar, wicked fuzzbox, + a slim drumkit. This is all high end, in the red stuff with Flavioa trading wicked yells with a bit of raw melody. Recorded at Toe Rag who, y’know, really knows how this shit should sound. I don’t know that any of the songs here are spectacular but this really has a great aesthetic and is worth a few spins at least. (DH)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Couteau Latex "Hostile Environment" 7"
Useless Eater Seth Sutton combines forces with Swiss miss Lise Sutter for two tracks of hard-edged synth-punking that traverses similar terrain to where Volt were treading years ago (and a quick fact check reminds me that first Volt 12" came out almost 15 years ago - what the fuck?!) and do a perfectly fine job of it. It's angry and rough sounding, all synth/digital, in the Metal Urbain mold and not of the New Wave cornball persuasion (a la Epoxies/Dirtnap style) . which is always welcome, as is Lise's accent on the vocals, as this sort of stuff always plays better with that exotic Euro angle to it, doesn't it? For whatever reason (probably because I never really liked Useless Eaters...), I'm surprised by how good this is...(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
Crown Court “Capital Offense” LP
Crown Court are the latest ambassadors to the New Wave of the New Wave of British Heavy Oi, and here they give us 13 cleanly recorded, well constructed, and generally full-of-oi missives. The songs that lean in the direction that “Hated But Rated” does are a bit too pub-friendly for me to handle, but “Thames Sake” is a pretty admirable attempt at Runnin’ Riot-era Cock Sparrer. Also, “What Are You Going to Do?” mentions a “gang of mimes”, which is a particularly odd image I’ve been unable to shake ever since first hearing this record. This also goes for “Disco Skins”, a very 86 Mentality-esque ode to false, fashionable skinheads. Solid album, though I think the low fidelity of their previous recordings sounded a lot better, more unique. Obviously a mandatory purchase for anyone who owns any Lonsdale parody merchandise, but definitely worth listening to for fans of Australian rock-heavy punk, or really anyone who wants to like a Cock Sparrer revivalist band made of guys that aren’t shitheads. (NG)
(Katorga Works // katorgaworks.bandcamp.com)
Walter Daniels "Almost Hit By A Truck" 7"
Roots from Big Walter himself, covering D. Johnston on the A-Side turning the accordion pumper into what could have been an old blues standard - Walter is on vox here, accompanied by none other than Kid Congo on guitar for a deep echo time traveller with percussion by "tambourine duct-taped to foot"! "My Mind Got Bad" on the flip is an actual blues/country oldie from Yank Rachell with Walter on harmonica/vox and a three piece of mandolin, fiddle, banjo and guitar behind him for one of those love gone bad haunters.Shoulda put this one on a 78. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)
Danny & The Darleans "Bug Out"LP
Dan Kroha goes all "serious rocker" on us here and gets some not surprisingly incredible results. Half covers, half originals (six of each) and all imbued with the spirit of rock'n'roll that can only be summoned by a seasoned veteran such as Dan, one of the planet earth's foremost living Detroit rockers and a man who most certainly has the soul of real rock'n'roll in him. For me, this record was a much needed reminder that sometimes a really good album of loud and raw garage rock is just what is needed. The original songs here are truly exciting, and Dan gives us 100% on both the guitar and vox, a really commanding presence in his own right when he's not sharing the stage with big personalities like Mick Collins or Margaret Dollrod. I mean, I've always know he had "it" but it's real cool to hear him blowing his voice out like this. "Soul on Ice", "Bug Out Bag", "Outta My Way" - all variations on true rock'n'roll that absolutey burn. The covers are of course well executed, the choices somehwat odd/common - "Little Black Egg', The Kegg's classic "Girl", "Leavin' Here", "Let's Stomp" - but I suppose your average White Stripes fan will (hopefully) have their mind blown and go seek out some Nuggets or BFTG records after hearing this. There's a couple duds buried here, but just hearing Danny go all out on these tunes is inspiring, and there's a good five originals here that I wish were just lined-up back-to-back. Plus his guitar playing on this is absolutely wicked on all tracks. A good and wild garage throwdown that I'm not ashamed to turkey along with. Scum Stats: mailorder version on marbled vinyl.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Der Stab s/e 7"
Der Stab. One of my favorite band names, seen only on flyers (to me) until these tracks appeared on KBD #13. Here they are on vinyl, closing another chapter on unreleased punk recordings that should be on vinyl (as one person mentioned, leaving Castration Squad as one of the last big ones left). Der Stab have an interesting story personnel-wise: Keith Walsh's band (pre-Christian Death/Primal Danse) with pre-TSOL Joe Wood on guitar (the guy who replaced Grisham on vox and went on to take control of the TSOL name throughout the 80s-90s, touring with no original members), two other guys who were never in another band supposedly, with Wood and one of the other guys replaced by the Agnew brothers for this recording, which was produced by Mike Patton at Casbah. Got that? Anyway, "Tracers" is as good as OC punk gets for 1982. I regard it that highly. "It's Grey" is a marching proto-death punker that suffers a bit from muddier recording, but is one of those moody numbers that were becoming de rigueur then. It's a shame there isn't more. "Tracers" is a top shelfer for me. Scum Stats: 700 copies on black, with 100 of these in a brown paper sleeved variant. All sleeves screened. Plus 5 test presses. A collaborative effort between NJ and EA, which should bear some further and very interesting fruit should their alliance hold.(RK)
(Negative Jazz/Elective Affinities // negativejazz.bigcartel.com)
Desgraciados "Humanidad En La Obscuridad" 7"
This is sick! Four tracks of frantic and desperate Spanish language HC from the west coast of Canada. Sprinkled with enough time changes and dizzying drum rolls to keep this totally interesting throughout. 4 tracks of well written HC, maybe not out of place with some of the stuff LVEUM has been putting out lately. Last track here, "Enemigos Callejeros," should please the air guitarists and circle pitters alike.(DH)
(Deranged // )
Diamond Hens s/t 12" EP
Six song maxi-EP from Uncle Jimbo and friends (some of his cohorts from Druid Perfume and some names I don't recognize) and it turns out to not be what it seems at first glance (big surpirse huh) - th cover makes it look like some C&W outfit that are gonna do some poultry themed twangers, maybe a Hasil Adkins cover....but it's really pretty dank and swampy stuff, with Jenny Price on vocals really shining, and altough there is some slide guitar and Fender Rhodes action, it's sort of a jazzy almost post-punk sounding thing, but NOT going all-out Zappa like Jimbo does at times. Things stay pretty structured, with a metered bass throb keeeping time throughout in a slippery and rubbery fashion, but there's some anchor here. Some "free" percussion going on along with the drummer, Uncle Jimbo chips in on keyboards/tape machine/sound FX (and lyrics and art), there's one point where they start to sound like CCR getting real dark and mushroomy. A real cool deal, and if you thought something like Moonhairy was getting too far out, this one is reeled in enough for you. Price's vocals are strong and really seal the deal here, and the music goes to some interesting corners - A++ will listen to again. Not sure where to get one though, try the facebook page - (RK)
(self-released // facebook.com/diamondhens)
Disco Lepers "Open Sores" 7"
More slop-pop snot from the band that still worships at The Stitches altar. Not as good as the related Gaggers stuff, since its planted a smidge too firmly in the pop punker scatagory for my personal liking. It does take an abrasive turn ala' Bits Of Shit now and again, caking on punchy spikes of guitar and some batty vocals - though it seems to be a case of too little too late. You could do worse. Very Razorcake-able, but I'm more of a Forced Exposure guy. Scum stats are probably off the hook since this is on No Front Teeth, but I'm far too fat and lazy to put in the proper Google sleuthing. (RSF)
(No Front Teeth // www.nofrontteeth.co.uk)
The Double "Dawn of the Double" 12"
There's not a whole lot you can say about this. It's fucking great. Alan Licht's liner notes make me want to stop right here (they're that good), but lets just say this record is at once the simplest and most complex idea committed to vinyl in some time. It took balls to try this, and even bigger balls to pull it off. It's fucking Jim White on drums for one thing. I've had crackpot ideas in the past where I thought it would be a fantastic idea to hear a Jim White solo drum record (or make a mixtape isolating his drum parts from my favorite songs), and I guess this is some kind of consolation. The next best thing to tripping on a VU record. I have no idea who Emmett Kelly is - he's not the famous clown, but does play in a band with Ty Segall - but thanks to him as well for being part of this. A concept record? Or just the pure distillation of rock'n'roll? No brains, all libido. Or the other way around? Who knows man. But this is some fantastic dope here.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Downtown Boys s/t 12”
This is a vinyl re-issue of Downtown Boys’ debut effort, evidently four years old now. I’m not terribly clued in to what they’ve been doing beyond taking notice that they appared on Democracy Now (and got Amy Goodman to discuss punk - big up). This material oscillates between pretty average quasi-street punk riffs and pretty average mid-80s Dischord riffs, made distinct by saxophones and charmingly forceful, Martin Sorrendeguy-esqe vocals. “Maldito” is probably the best effort on here (a cover of Jessy Bulbo), as the sax players and the vocalist lean in pretty hard - some top level skronk at the beginning. They also cover Pekinška Patka on this album (quite well), which is slightly mystifying... It’s a very youthful and energetic document, a bit overly youthful, but one that has left me intrigued and curious to hear their later output. (NG)
(One Percent Press // onepercentpress.com)
Duchess Says "Science Nouvelles" LP
Red Mass member/collaborators grinding out the edgier side of dance-punk-goth in this synth fueled fuck-all. Some of the songs are trolling the remaining Missing Persons or Berlin fans of the record world - "I Repeat Myself" especially - and they do an honest job of mimicking the real eighties and not just some Stranger Things hipness or wispy Chromatics cheese. Other tracks are leaning in the aggro Lost Sounds direction or even the post skronk stylings of The Vanishing. Have we got any secret fans of SSQ out there? Well, giver' a go. Elsewhere there's clank n' clatter instrumentals that'd wedge themselves perfectly into the more experimental Red Mass cassette universe, plus the obligatory French language groovers. Not my everyday thing, but much better than most of the wilted garbage I've been handed as of late. (RSF)
(Slovenly Recordings // www.slovenly.com)
Joni Ekman s/t LP
Solo LP from the man behind The Achtungs and many other bands with Finnish names I can not pronuounce (or apparently type). And speaking of speaking Finnish all songs herein are in Finnish which isn't as much of a deal breaker here for me as it usually is. I can't say I'm 100% up-to-date on the Achtungs discography, but I'm fairly sure the feel good power-pop-glam antics here are a few steps removed from that band's Total Punkitude. It's not all saccharine-sweet jams (although there are a few that fit in the Nobunny mold), there's some super tough rock'n'roll numbers (on the B-Side in particular - tracks 7 and 9, you spell out the titles) where he adds some major fuzz to the guitars and they actuall come off sounding like soe classic Sixties rock jammers - good'n heavy with a primo riff and just a great sense of rock'n'roll. A-Side begins with a few that sound like various Bay Area glam-rock jobbers (handclaps by the barrel, ramalama choruses, falsetto-ing up the vox, that kind of schtick, lots Groovies rips) but at least he's doing from another continent and without wearing a costume. There's a song or four that recall Jay Reatard at his gentlest (Side B opener in particular, one of many with acoustic guitar mixed in), and as I type that I think is it lazy to reference Jay - or has Jay had that much of an impact on the current crop of "underground" songwriters? I believe the latter. Jay's "career arc" is a template that many seek to follow these days and rightfully so - he wasn't the first to prove you can be both the punkest guy in the room and write pop songs as well, but he's the one who perhaps did it best. Anyway, this is a decent solo record if you're an Achtungs fan, Ekman has some writing chops, and if you dig the poppier side of things this might float ya - it helps to know what he might be singing about, or does it? Scum stats: 300 copies only.(RK)
(Blast of Silence // www.blastofsilence.org)
Es "Object Relations" 12"
New band with some of the personnel from the great Primetime - four bleak, expertly haunted songs. The vocals are an abrasive, monotonous yell that perfectly fits the rest of the instrumentation - somewhat minimal drumming, theremin-esque synthesizer, and bass with a tone that is (and riffs that are) completely Death Church. It's a bizarre and intriguing mix of sounds and ideas. I'm a huge fan of every track here... the cynicism conveyed on "Everything is Fine" is perfectly dulled, "Seagulls" is just dismally dredging and replete with somewhat heavy metaphor mixed with dumb observations ("Hold on tight or you just might... lose your fries to the demons in the skies"), "Dienstag" douses the only major, uplifting sounding riff with negative imagery and crescendo, but "Resuscitate" is the clear prodigy / total hit on here. More upbeat, with a great, bizarre, ethereal synth line kind of hovering over everything else. Wildly interesting, and is totally worth the many repeated listens its brevity encourages. (NG)
(La Vida es un Mus // www.lavidaesunmus.com/)
Exequals "5 Walls" LP
First vinyl release after a buncha tapes/demos from this Central PA garage-punk outfit is apparently a one-man affair besides some drums. I'm fairly sure one of them is a graphic designer, as they love the packaging - even the tapes had deluxe art - booklets, and wacky stuff like screws through the packaging and whatnot. I give them a lot of credit for this package here - big old foldout lyric booklet that is entirely screened - every page -, an obi strip, screened sleeve, clear vinyl. This guy likes the science too (see the x= logo) as there's plenty of geometry and angles and shit in the design. Musically, there's nothing to write about really. Rudimentary punk rock with some hardcore and garage elements, almost rawky, some awkward singing and lyrics. Just not real good. I just felt obligated to say something about a record that is obviously a labor of love. Scum stats: limited to 100, which seems about right. Maybe a little over. (RK)
(self-released // exequals.bandcamp.com)
Extra Foxx "Goodbye Insanity, Hello Humanity" LP
A jangling, itchy Mary Chain-style pop that has scraped away most of the feedback from under its nails to dwell in a clearer - yet still very downer - sound. It's all a little too shaky and hazed for the average radio friendly, alt listening ear. At points it drags the guitars kicking and screaming through the Circle Pit pedal board and then shakes rust loose as if feedtime was working out a 4AD contract. Imagine J Mascis forgetting his searing leads in an overnight carry-on duffle somewhere near the Brisbane airport, then opting to snort back a few poppers and just say "fuck it, lets punk". The choruses tend to repeat like Sonic Boom on the nod and as the platter rolls onward the wah-wah attack screeches into the foreground. "Caravan Trailer" is straight up fucking GRUNGE, before the world got a whiff of it (but don't you worry, I'll never tell). Whatever you wanna call it, it still sounds very Australian. They are a miserable lot, ain't they? (RSF)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // www.swashbucklinghobo.com)
Eyes Ninety s/t LP
So here's where the Chinese Burns folks ended up! "I Don't Wanna' Live In Your World Anymore" kicks this shit into high gear, kinda' like GOD falling apart, getting all rama-lama-fa-fa-fa with dueling trainwreck leads cutting in and out the mix. Damn. You had me at caterwauling front-drunk, boys. Hot stuff from there on out as well, clap-trappin' along with all sorts of hairy-tongued jammers. "Fancy Ending" retches up the very early/really soused Rocket 455 or something else equally as inebriated. "Ants" is their ECSR anti-hit, strung along by a dire key pulse and messing all over itself. Elsewhere their theme "Eyes Ninety" and "Windmill" show traces of a rotted out Jazz Destroyers rattle - I mean it's probably just a stab at the Modern Lovers, but we're talking shit-punk right now and these cats are parking their ute in that wheelhouse. I prefer it as such. A pleasant surprise. Like seriously. A helluva' surprise. Let's make this fucker OOP before Trump's 'murica kick good livin' to the curb. (RSF)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // www.swashbucklinghobo.com)
Fake Surfers "Cheap Meat" 12" EP
I just only now considered that these guys might have named themselves after an Intelligence record. Hey, if it's good enough for Lars....but anyway, I really liked the tapes(s) these guys had out on Flesh Wave (which is like the Detroit AAA ballteam), that split single they did with Eroders was pretty nifty, and now they're stepping up to AA ball by joining the X! Records roster, where they surely belong. It's tough to pull off the two-piece thing these days, but if you didn't know going in you might not even realize on this 12", which is 11 songs in about 18 minutes. They are not here to waste your time. It's Detroit-y garage-punk, meaning a little left-of-center, maybe in an angular way here. Adam gets a pretty gnarly guitar tone, alternating some beefy riffs and solos and his vox are perfect - just a slight bit of Reatard-esque sneer, but not to the point where it's indistinguishable - he's pissed enough enough to still be heard. Drummer moves swiftly, sounding like he's double-timing it on a bunch of these tracks. Title track is a ripper, "Staring At You" is what I wished Sick Thoughts songs sounded like, and tunes like "Agoraphobia" and "Jumper" have a darker/deeper side that show off a more complex dynamic range (like a minimal Hunches perhaps) than just garage-core punk. Well worth some spins, and a one-sdied 12" seems perfect right now, even if the blank side had me shaking my head at first. It was the right move.(RK)
(X! Records // x-recs.com)
Finished "Cum Inside Me Bro" LP
Shit rock of the highest order from Load Records, who have been doing this longer than most of you have been listening to records (creeping up on 25 years now, holy shit...). Finished are from the label's hometown of Providence, which explains why they are like they are. How are they? Well they're an outstanding noise rock band, doing it like it should be done - fast, agressive, powerful, and for whatever sleaze, sex and drug references they throw in your face via the cover/title are more than backed up here. See, where most if not all bands who try to do this fail is that they overcompensate so hard in the imagery/lyrics department to cover up the fact that they have zero chops, aside from doing bad powerviolence schtick and nicking some Brainbombs riffs. Finished write songs, and deliver them with the authority of a band allowed to do whatever they want aesthetically. Recalls the best of the 90s power movers (Scratch Acid, Big Black, the upper echelon of AmRep acts), the Fort Thunder strain of weird shit, and contemporaries such as FNU Ronnies, Tropical Trash, CCR Headcleaner and others peddling authentic power rock. They slug it out on some crushers "("Secret Scum") and give it gas on plenty as well ("Winning Boy" really screeches right out of the gate). Easy or hard, rock and roll, this is how it's done no matter how ugly and dumb that cover is (I almost wish the back cover was the front). The fact that Load just put all new bands phoning in their "agressive" and envelope pushing aesthetics to bed early with no dinner makes me smile and shake my head equally. A very enjoyable record for those who know what they want.
Punishing in the best sense of the word.(RK)
(Load Records // www.loadrecords.com)
Frustrations “Transmissions From The Ether" LP
Frustrations are a challenging band - no real singalong crowd pleasers, opting instead for jarring instrumental passages and unorthodox structures. The leadoff track has a chorus of “life’s a sham life’s a scam” accompanied by nails on chalkboard guitar sound. It’s not a feel good toe-tapper in any sense but it certainly hits on a very real emotional level. This is Frustrations' 3rd album and follows up on the release of a split LP with Estrogen Highs, so the somewhat dark approach of this Detroit band should be familiar by now. Eerie psych garage in the way that Peni is eerie psych hc. (DH)
(X! Records // x-recs.com)
Fur Helmet s/t 12" EP
Latest mix-and-match band from the Nuke York scene, this time a four piece eschewing the hardcore punk and going for the bluesrock. Somewhere between Cheena and the second Hank Wood LP (and at last one Hammerhead is playing here), it's a more Hollywood-style thing (definite Gun Club moves) than it is Australian swampland. It lacks the primordial ooze of yer Scientists, a little too sophisticated for that, but there's perhaps some Birthday Party aesthetic in the goth tinges/deathtrip. A bit on the romantic side instead of the primal tribal thumpery. Side A starts with "Ether" that actually reminds me of Destruction Unit MK.2 more than anything, but more boozy than druggy. "Void Trip" is all riff and echo, maybe not even that far off from Monoshock/Puffys playing nice. "Curse" to end the side is slow and tingly and full of dramatic turns. Side B opens with "Lunar Tomb" which has the most energy of the tunes and again is similar to DU without the multi-guitar bombast. "Soaked Skull" is a lengthy dirge thang that crawls along the floor for a slow build, culminating in an organ blasted finale. Deep trip. This isn't bad at all - I remember wanting to like Ukiah Drag and hoped they sounded some like this. A tough genre to operate within, but it seems to be the thing to do these days - the one thing I can say is that it doesn't sound Australian (which is good, cuz thats a game you won't win), and although I do not think there's a single track here that stands out, as a whole I dig the vibe (which is often the case with recent DU releases as well). The singer isnt too wacky to overpower the tunes - on the other hand he isn't wacky enough to totally carry em either, but I think they're on the right side of that equation. Anyway, this one gets by just fine and for what it's worth is better than all the Cheena Ive heard. Oh yeah, members of Hammerheads, JJ Doll, Barbed Wire and thirty other bands. Scum stats: 300 copies, screened sleeves, insert/poster.(RK)
(self-released // available via shop.heavenstreetrecords.com)
The Geros "Sexual Bitch" 7"
Osaka punkers debut 7" taking two tracks froom their demo and adding a new one. "Sexual Bitch" is not going to win them any female fans, but I'm more agreeable to overlooking these things when we're dealing with ESL punk bands - and for as punk as they're trying to be on this one it pales in comparison to the B-Side - this one kind of plunks along with garage-y tempo even if they chop it up a little punk-style. It at least lets us know this Angel kid is a hot guitar slinger as well as lead singer. B-Side bring the beef though. "Genocide or Suicide" has the rhythm section doling out some punishment here, scratchy guitar meshes perfect, solo vs. the bassline is serious business, like an almost punker version of Terminal Boredom-era Registrators (if that is even possible). "Toxic" is the new one - sinister guitar line, fucking great solo, fast bassline, perfect FTP-KBD storm. Get one of these. Scum Stats: 333 copies.(RK)
(Killer Boy Records // via secretmissionrecords.com)
Glam Fail "Cyclone Rodney" 7"
Put this one on and it feels like I've wandered into the practice room in the shed out back where the folks have been jamming on a riff for a bit and I come in right when they figure out how to turn it into a nice tune. The lyrics if not the musical vibe have me thinking this is an OZ group but there's no solid info on the record to prove me right. But I've been relistening to the title track and enjoying it as a subtle, lofi pop track. The flip feels like a throwaway - perhaps I should have given them a bit more time to find the hook before I barged in on the shed. I'll take the blame, and will keep this around for the A-side. (DH)
(ever/never // evernever.bigcartel.com)
The Goodtime Aussie Bogalars "A Slab of Liquid Cunt" LP
An overdose of piss-dirt and donkey-fuck buffoonery, dressed up in a blasting metallic grind and coming across like a thrash mad Cosmic Psychos melded to The Mentors mentality. This could be Man Is The Bastard - if they were a gaggle of 60 year old punters, living on tainted roo meat and hellbent on 'Stralia Day celebrations. Or maybe this is the just the rejected down under chapter of the Anal Cunt fan club throwing a hissyfit? Whatever the case, these dipshits aren't winning any friends over at MRR. From their song titles to the foul mouthed froth within and the words scrawled alongside the photocopied scrote featured on the sleeve - there's enough "blue" language on this LP to make the screenwriter of Chopper blush. Dumb stuff that may not be great, but it's still better than that Sleaford Mods prick or his funny haircut. It really just depends on how sloshed you are. (RSF)
(self-released // www.goodtimeaussiebogalars.bandcamp.com)
Greymouth s/t 12"
Power duo of New Zealanders living in Japan, and if that combo of geographies doesn't make up some interesting sound combinations in your own head, then you need to get out more. Greymouth have existed for some time already on tape and in the real world, with Quemada being the label bold enough to give them their first vinyl release. Good call, I say. This is some real music, not the sort of art-wank I sometimes sneer at or fart in the general direction of (BDTD, xNOBBQX, etc..). Why is this stuff real? RIFFS. That's all that really matters, right? It's a guitars/drums duo (with some obligatory side-effect noise/feedback), and get this: they're both named Mark! But when guitar Mark gets into a riff, he gets into it - sometimes it shatters into pieces, sometimes he bites down hard on it, but they're there, sometimes in an abstract way, but mostly it's genuine rock'n'roll riffage (somuchso a few of these are so good they had me feverishly thinking about where he stole them from...). And it's not all experimental rocking, there's some smart-ass stuff too that I might say reminds me of a Shadow Ring sort of thing with more of a focus on rock song structure. Drum Mark gets a great sound, and I don't know if these guys are truly amateurs or dumbing-it-down-artistes, but when he starts pounding you get that really likeable style where the drums are just a hair (or three) off but the feel seems right - or at least tries to be right. And don't get me wrong, this is far from face-melting riff/bash onlaught I might be making it sound like, but the A-Side is rife for those adventuresome guitar fans out there - this might not be out of place on the Richie roster. The B-Side gets a bit more tricky, but there's still a lot to like - poorly tuned instruments, the semblance of a song you know is there, your mind perhaps patching bits together in error, then realizing these guys know what they're doing (it takes halfway through some of these tunes before they start making sense), it all comes out very nice and "Rubbish Truck Guy" turns out to be a rocker. Not sure which Mark sings, but he gets the right mix of untrained talking/loudly speaking where you can make out 75% or less of what he's saying, which seems to be the right ratio for this sort of pie making. A Side is the rockers, B Side is the DIY-ers. Someone compared these cats to Mad Nanna, and while I think I've come to love the Nanna in some way, Greymouth are nowhere near as loose/farcical/absolutely infuriating as those fellas. This is really music, or attempts at such in a manner with some structural integrity. If you had played me this when I was 20 years old and thought the New Bomb Turks were the greatest band on the planet I would have shoved it up your ass. 2017 me thinks this is the sort of thing I really need in my life right now. Highly recommended. (RK)
(Quemada // quemadarecords.blogspot.com)
Happy Times "It's Psychological" LP
Happy Times transport us back to the sounds of mid-Nineties Australia on their first longplayer - the motor-charged riffing and wah-pedal abuse of bands like Onyas and Asteroid B-612 and even the mighty Cosmic Psychos. These are the guys who do the nautical themed schtick, it's not apparent in the art this time, but they go for it on tunes like "Depthcharge Dilemma", "Conning Tower Party" and such. It's a well executed genre exercise, played by blokes you can trust with credentials (there's a Chinese Burn here, and partners in crime with Mad Macka himself on his solo ventures), huge riffs, non-stop gas pedal, and Sol can really knockem dead on the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah solos. Recorded super loud too, none of that lo-fi junk here. High octane. If this is the brand of rock you're looking for, you win. This will slot in perfectly between a listen of 'Ass Cobra' and maybe a 'Drunk on Rock' comp.(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // swashbucklinghobo.bigcartel.com)
Heaven’s Gate “Woman at Night” 12”
Second album from Brooklyn’s Heaven’s Gate - disaffected, repetitive art punk with huge, shoegazey guitar parts piped in every once in a while. “Amanda Berry” is a pretty massive song musically, only made heavier by its subject matter - most of these songs end up creepy and kind of wild. The atmosphere that PC Worship has cultivated is definitely surrounding Heaven’s Gate as well. “Would” is the best tune on here, folding in on itself several times before kicking into full on MBV-mode to close it out. Bleak and desolate, with wonderfully appropriate art direction to accompany the music. (NG)
(Dull Tools // dulltools.bandcamp.com)
Heavy Times "Dancer" 7"
I must admit that I have not kept up with Heavy Times over the years. I recall their debut single on Hozac was alright - a dreamy garage single w/ heavy reverb and a hypnotic feel. And I guess that was the last time I checked in until now. On "Dancer" they've traded any hints of garage and psychedelia for dawn-of-MTV era synth pop. Maybe they've been on this trip for years but I had to check multiple times that it was the same band. Indeed, same folks, different vibe. If you're looking for new tunes for an 80's dance party, this could be the lost 'breakout hit of 84' to freshen things up. B-side has a pair of vacant indie rock tracks that drag on. (DH)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.bigcartel.com)
The Hecks s/t LP
Deadpanny, pseudo-alien vocals atop some clean and scratchy guitars. Jangly at times, Verlainey at others, interspersed with experimental hums. Each time it settles in a groove, it sounds like This Heat on a very subduing medication. It’s executed well, but feels like they only really achieve what they’re going for on “Trust and Order” - a long song with movements that aren’t predicated on dynamics as much as momentum. They end up making something far better on “Favor”, a song that would fit well on either a Whatever Brains or Spray Paint record… the vocal style really fits in with and draws power from the more hostile sounding songs. If you blew this record out and put it out in 2008, it would probably receive an even warmer response. Neat Richard Nickel picture of Chicagoan scaffolding is a bonus. (NG)
(Trouble in Mind Records // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Hollywood Killers "Goodbye Suicide" 7"
Reissue of the second HK's single originally released on Rollerball in '78. Main Killer Jim Penfold started the band in 1976 and kept it going in one incarnation or another (changing to The Speedos for a bit and later going by just The Killers) through the late Eighties at least (and even further), at times sharing/losing/borrowing members from The Boys, Sham 69 and even Be-Bop Deluxe and traversing the London punk scene throughout it all. Penfold's got quite a story worth looking into. "Goodbye Suicide" is a fast-moving glam-punker that's catchy enough to have been included on a Powerpearls comp, and rightfully so. Tightly written and recorded as opposed to the DIY-punk taking over at the time. "The Tramp" is even more of a glammer, stompy/choppy rhythm, and plenty o' sax - solo included. A typically eclectic release from the Mighty Mouth branch of the AR empire. Scum stats: 500 copis in full color sleeves.(RK)
(Mighty Mouth // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Honey Radar "Blank Cartoon" LP
I've listened to this LP A LOT. Soundtrack to a good portion of the summmer. First Honey Radar I'd heard, and I guess I wasn't the only one thinking it was like all the cool Sic Alps stuff/styles done really well without all the Sic Alps stuff I didnt like. Honey Radar is Jason Henn, an Indiana guy relocated now to Philly, but who was deeply into the hip scenes - Dayton. Columbus. Cleveland. Ground zero for everything good. And there's no doubting the GBV influence, the Columbus DIY feel, the Midwest warmth. Lo-fi DIY pop songs with typewritten lyrics aand cryptic names, some backwards tape of course, it really doesn't get much better. The entire LP is a delight, with varied instrumentation and recording fidelities and techniques, warm summer pop, weird home taper tracks, atmospheric stuff, a vague accent on the vocals, harmonies, lots of fragments building into a better whole, distorted guitars, tape splices. I love it all, Hinman was actually right about this one. Of course, being the dickhead I am I started working backwards and realized I missed all those fucking lathes. It keeps me up at night. (RK)
(Whats Your Rupture // whatsyourrupture.bigcartel.com)
Hypnotic Sleep "Füörm Hüölertnstruk Maut Mä´n Haut Afniemn" 7"
A band name as art concept, I assume, as both of these do invoke a hypnotic feel reliant on heavy repetitive instrumentation. The A-side sounds as if a Fugazi record hit a skip and repeated the same riff while your roommate hit play on some Casio drum loop. Plus some vocal chanting at the end. On the flip, an accordion track? It doesn't exactly induce a hypnotic sleep but it's an interesting experiment nonetheless. (DH)
(Hüüpnootsche Platen Un Kassetten // )
Paul Jacobs "Waiting For The Grave" 7"
The reverb'd whoop at the beginning had me nearly climbing the fence for safer pastures, 'cuz the last goddamn thing I need to hear in my life is yet another Oh Sees fart n' spew. Luckily, it moves towards a more stomping glam turf and a fuzzy Charlie-style (Albright? Moonhheart? Sadly not Tolnoy) grunge pop. It fares OK in the end. The flipside's two tracks are jacking off in the dreaded post Ty/Dwyer worship I started to fear up top - and needle lifted. I can't be bothered to complete the task at hand. A shame to ruin a good Gories riff like that. Friends don't let friends whoop in the studio. Thanks in advance. (RSF)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll // www.ssldrecords.bandcamp.com)
Jensen Serf Company "June in a Field of Flowers" LP
Never heard of these dudes, but I kinda like what they have going on here. Sometimes. From the Tampa/St. Pete region of Florida, not exactly a hotbed for good tunes, but they do a decent job. Sort of a compressed snare-out-of-the-can recording style, I think they're a trio (but maybe just a duo?) of b/g/d, grabbing at some late period AmRep stuff (I'm reminded of Chokebore perhaps....or is it Guzzard?) most likely unintentionally, they get some surf licks in there in a heavy way (maybe a little Blind Shake-y), there's a little math-type stuff...it's tough to get a read on them, which is good and bad. "Home on the Range" ends up sounding Sonic Youth-y somehow but the lyrics are just horrendous as is the delivery and now it just sounds like bad capital-A Alternative, "Breakdown" has a bit of Melvins bass-thuggery to it, "Serfitude" is a hot instrumental, then "For You" has some sort of pop-punk hook buried in it, "Wave #2" could have got them signed to Man's Ruin...there's something I feel like I'm missing though, a lot of time they're a short step away from terrible alt-rock and then I start thinking there's some Green Day sounding crap in here. And it now occurs to me that they might be going for a Helmet-type thing and missing the mark? Then I was starting to think they were a Christian outfit based on some (possibly misheard) lyrics. Then there's a horrible tune like "Rain on a Summer Day" that sounds like an awful pop-punk/alt-rock thing, and writing lyrics isn't their strength and the singer gets real annoying a third of the way in. But even if that's the case, this record is at the very least something different than the norm of what has been passing through the review pile. I dunno, maybe this isn't so good after all. This is what happens when you're awake at 4am listening to records you were sent for free out of some sense of skewed obligation to whomever sent them in. So bad it's become interesting? So tired I'm getting squirrely? Who knows. I'm just going to recommend you stay away and leave me in this weird purgatory by myself. Scum stats: 250 copies on tri-color marbled/splattered wax and artwork that looks like a parody of a Raspberry Bulbs record.(RK)
(self-released // jensenserfco.bandcamp.com)
Joust "Sprouting Seeds" 7"
The debut release by Joust who come into the world with a fully formed sound. Dirtnap style pop punk, guitars way up in the mix, melodies abound. This one kind of pops off the turntable - I’m not sure if this is my bag musically but it's quite well done. A+ execution. (DH)
(Fatal Seizure Records // www.fatalseizure.com)
Kommie Kilpatrick "KK" 7"
11 tracks spanning the years ’08-'13. They kinda progress through different styles over the years. Earliest stuff is HC, then some synth, followed by a more straight ahead 60's punk by the end of side 1. And then they jump straight into a Murder Junkies thing by side 2. None of it really clicks, and there’s no real thread to make the different styles feel like they're from the same band. (DH)
(Glad Fact // www.gladfact.com)
Lasters "Kind of Blew" LP
First long player from The Lasters after three limited-run singles. They recycle a few of the songs from those 7"es for the 19 songs offered here, in re-recorded versions as far as I can tell. I've never really pinpointed exactly who these guys are or where they hail from (although if I had to guess I'd say they are from the tri-state area and may have Mike Hunchback in their midst - or they could be from Austin) but that's a nonfactor anyway. I never really fell in love with any of the singles although they were adequate punkola, but when you're presented with the full-on Lasters experience here it's all very much more likeable. The first two cuts are fantastic right off the bat, "Ivory Tower of Beer" is particularly devastating buzzsaw punk with a certain understated sophistication to its dumbness (maybe a little RFTC-esque as well). Hot stuff. Other A-Side highlights include "What's Up My Ass?" and "Oracle in My Pants" and the whole thing has a bit of a Spits thing going on with less KBDamage and more concern for hooks and bad jokes. I think I've accused them of dipping a toe in the pop-punk pool in the past, and I can still smell the water here but not offensively so. B-Side highs are the shit-fi shred of "Bile Bandwagon" and "Pampers" (which I'm thinking might be about the band in one way or another) but most of the meat appears to be on the A. These guys get a good sound and are definitely dumbing it down, which I applaud, but they're too smart to not write really catchy hooks and whoa-whoa choruses. This is better than par for the course in a post-LFD world though. Scum stats: 260 copies only, all of which have hand made covers, which I give big time points for.(RK)
(Futilitarian Records/In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Leda "City" 7"
Housed in a plain white cardboard pocket sleeve with a color photo pasted on. An image taken through a window at night, presumably in Japan - dark outside, light inside which illuminates the interior wallpaper against the exterior billboards. This outfit is the solo work of Sofie Herner, one half of the Swedish band Neutral, performing very cool electronic experimental passages. "City" is a pounding slow march - keys slowly hammer for the duration of the song as we slowly approach doom. A heavy dose of melancholia. Voice and guitar cut across this with a buzz. B-side offers some levity in the form of a lighter ambient composition that hums until it is abruptly cut short. (DH)
(I Dischi Del Barone // www.iddb.se)
Life Stinks "Hanging from the Ceiling" 7"
While listening to this latest offering from Life Stinks I'm thinking they could be one of the most underrated bands out there - they've not made a bad record yet, and somehow each one twists what seems to be a simple formula into some new shape. These tunes were recorded at Gary Wrong's place (and he contributes some guitar on the title track) and they come out sounding like some sort of update on Dictators-esque hard punk rock on the A-Side (Chad's vox sound very Seventies NYC on this one if that makes any sense) with its hard roll and the B-Side reminds me of a garage-punk twist on latter day Black Flag (Chad's vox sound very Eighties California hardcore on this one...if that makes any sense....) with its seek and destroy riff thrust. Killer record, and Chad's lyrics should be mentioned (things have come a long way since the Outdoorsmen) as they seem to be getting more and more existential, giving added weight to the musical happenings - I mean, Life Stinks is a pretty deep name when you really start getting down to it, and this record might be their deepest yet.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Lost System "No Meaning No Culture" 7"
Synth-punk from Grand Rapids, MI with former members of Black Monuments (who had a 7" of their own) that reminds me of the stuff that Flesh Wave label puts out a ton of - meaning nothing groundbreaking, just average examples of the genre. These guys do two up-tempo ones on the A-Side then two slower ones on the B and utilize a decent array of different synth sounds. It all sounds very nice and crisp and a bit organic and the singer has a good deadpan delivery. Out of the four tracks "False Companion" is the really good one, a slower and creepier number with a snake-like drive, at least three different synth lines going on, live drums augmented with some slight electro-shock and the guy's vocal style works perfectly for this type of tune. The other three songs have some good instrumentation, but they fall flat on the lyric/conceptual front. I get the whole dystopian future-synth thing, but "Future Shock" should never be allowed as a song title ever and repeating catchphrases like "Consume! Consume!" as lyrics makes it sound more like a parody than a serious attempt - there are bands that have done this "schtick" extremely well (one with a very similar name) so they need to rethink their strategy here. Including a lyric sheet really isn't doing them any favors...I will give them credit though, that one song is really good (and it's also the only one with halfway decent lyrics), and musically they've got it down - they just need to work on aesthetics. And lyrics.(RK)
(Neck Chop Records // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
LSDogs "Creeps" 7"
Singer from Vatican Dagger, one of the Black Abba girls, Buck Biloxi and DD Owen all get toegther and understandably agreeable results ensue. "Creeps" is a lo-fi snot-punker. "Yr Done" is a good slice of lo-fi downer punk. Brief and okay enough I suppose. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Lord High Fixers "The Beginning of the End...The End of the Beginning!" 2XLP
Reissue of what was at the time the last gasp of The Lord High Fixers back in 2002, given the vinyl treatment some 14 years later. I hate to use the word supergroup (well, any band with Tim Kerr in it qualifies as a supergroup doesn't it?), but LHF combined the finest of 90s Austin - Jack'O'Fire (and the entire Kerr lineage), Poison 13, Big Foot Chester, Sugar Shack and even the fucking Party Owls! I myself have a had a real on/off experience with them. In retrospect, I now think the worst thing I can say about them is that they released too many 10" records. There were moments back then where I felt this whole Young Lions Conspiracy thing was getting hokey, but I was young and dumb and full of...I mean, think about it - I come from a city whose dearest hometown band, a band you would go to the mat for wrote a single called "I Hate Your Secret Club", perhaps not directly a retort to a certain LHF album title, but certainly relevant that it eventually came out on a label with it's very own Crust Club run by a guy with a pretty rigid stance on certain things who repeatedly turned them down beforehand. But regardless, perhaps unbenkownst to me, the YLC ethos was what I was striving to follow - "Stay open." I was certainly trying, and perhaps not always succeeding, but here we are now. Maybe I still think some of the whiteboy-soul stuff is jive (not in the good way), but to listen to the extended jam session with Ken Vandermark and Mike Buck (a member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds!) right now is perhaps the most righteous intersection of jazz and garage rock you're ever going to hear. I just wasn't ready. One thing to always be ready for is their absolute destruction of "One Way Ticket" that sounds like a fucking a-bomb and their "Mystery Train" ain't far behind. When Carroll sneers, he's really fucking good at it. I blew this one off at the time. It was CD only dammit! And while I still think it might fall down a few times, I realize now that was the point - Kerr & Co. were out there taking swings, they weren't preaching at me about how much soul they had, they weren't just some lame duck covers bands playing oldies. They were trying to get me to think. Maybe some of it rubbed off despite my efforts at dismissing it. They had an idea and they went out and did something about it. The 65% of this record that does work, works like it should (and to be honest at least 10% of the non-working 35% is the Guy Picciotto soundbite) - as an effort to open things up. And what is opened up? The particular genre of music they were operating in, the minds of their listeners, the "scene" as a whole perhaps. Were they successful? Jack'O'Fire did some of the heavy lifting, and I still think some of the stuff that came after this is not good (I still hate that Now Time Delegation record with a passion), but some of the moments here might be as close as Kerr came to hitting it on the head. Who thought I would ever want to hear garage-jazz? You don't get a lot of bands like this, and I think I still feel it's a bit corny - but if this came out today, whoa you better believe it would be called corny as FUCK ALL. No guts no glory though, eh? That I still feel passionate about discussing this 15 years later tells the story - they were doing something right. Maybe it's due to the fact that the Big Boys honestly changed me as a person - how could I not believe in something Tim Kerr was doing? I now see that even if I didn't dig some of the tunes, his message was still 100% correct (although that still doesn't explain Bad Mutha Goose & The Brothers Grimm...) - is it a coincidence that around the time this CD originally came out I was thinking about what I was doing to participate and began to really try and get involved in what was the long road to Termbo? Weird. Tim Kerr might not always be right, but he's always right. Get it? Endnotes: Sides 1-3 are the original CD broken into sides, Side 4 contains 4 bonus covers (of which the Circle Jerks is the best), the label got the jacket right (extra wide for the 2XLP, not some kinda overstuffed debacle) and Coley does the liners. I want to say I wish some kids would pick this up and think - but I'm afraid that's not gonna happen, and the ones who know what is right are on the good path already. (RK)
(Omentum // omenturecords.net)
Mallwalkers "Dial 'M' for..." LP
Mallwalkers are a Buffalo collective of anywhere from 7-10 members depending on what day of the week you run into them. I've seen em with two drummers, a pretty full horn section, at least two guitars and definitely two singers. I held them to a pretty high standard - I think in their earlier incarnations they were maybe more of a reflection of what I could hope a modern DIY outfit could be - indebted to No Wave, certain aspects of British DIY, the best of B-52s New Wave dance music, the good punk-funk hybrids (Big Boys), with a very local flavor and on the cusp of something bigger - charting new waters maybe or at least on a ship looking for them. Two songs into this new LP and I'm a bit let down to be honest - is "Dance Off" really based on the phrase "dance your pants off"? I mean, if there's anything more banal than that stop me now. They can do better. Not sure how much of this records different direction is marked by the departure of Jamie as Handsome Dan's female foil on the mic. "Red Horses" is a decent wavey punk tune, "Future Shock" the best song by a long mile, even if it's more of a straight rocker than anything else. The only No Wave I hear is imported via a Lounge Lizards cover. The J.Robbins production on these songs, while crisp and loud, makes them sound more like Rage Against the Machine than any sort of homespun or DIY venture in 2016. They too often fall back on corny funk moves ("Work It"? "All the Funky People Say"? This an Onion article writing itself) and there's not much here that's exciting at all. Maybe I had the wrong idea about them to begin with. Maybe they are just a regular old party-punk band instead of a band I once thought might be the most exciting venture in the city. I guess using the album title that they did should have been a clue...not real inventive. All I do know is that this record is average at best and it pains me to say that. I suppose there's a place for party "punk" like this out there in the world, but it's a place I want to be far away from.(RK)
(Peterwalkee Records // peterwalkeerecords.com)
James Arthur's Manhunt "Digital Clubbing" LP
It took a few years, but James Arthur finally got the sophomore Manhunt record done. "Digital Clubbing" was recorded by Stuart Sikes in Austin, Texas, and if you happen to live in Austin, and caught enough Manhunt shows, the album comes off as a greatest hits collection; I think I'd heard it live half a dozen times before I eventually got a copy. That's not a bad thing, it simply underlines how great it is to finally see the LP available. If you're familiar with Manhunt's self-titled LP, you've got a pretty good idea of what 'Digital Clubbing' sounds like. However, there are some differences: there's no incidental music on 'Digital Clubbing', and the new record's tracks are more defined. Fortunately, it includes a couple instrumentals (Savage Republic fan here), which are two of the best cuts on the album. "Blow Out" sounds like an aggressive "All World Cowboy Romance", its repetitive rhythms coupled with the deep-space sound of Hawkwind. No disrespect to Wall of Voodoo — Marc Moreland ranks right up there with Paul Cutler in terms of brilliance — but Manhunt gets closer to Ennio Morricone's soundtracks on "The Butcher" than they ever did. "Chain" is the other highlight of the record; the song's as relentless as a Mack truck driven by Kris Kristofferson. The thing about JA, it feels like he's starting to get the recognition he deserves. His track record is a mile long; he's an In the Red original and he's still here. His style has changed subtly over the years depending on the project, but the original mission statement remains the same. Do I even need to add that 'Digital Clubbing' is highly recommended? (RL)
(12XU // 12XU.net)
Meltaways "Friends First" 7"
Trio of Brooklyn ladies named after a cookie playing some spirited garage-indie style punk rock, four songs that are all more than decent, recording is just raw enough to not call it lo-fi yet still give it some edge. I like the singer's style, very straightforward and strong and her voice cracks just a bit in the most wonderful way. And the guitar player can go, riffs and solos are up to snuff and she uses a few different pedals/sounds here. "Flight" is the closer and the most powerful number, almost reminds me of Dasher with the lights on a little less grim. Lyric sheet makes me like them more. They're not going to knock Nots off the throne or anything, but I'd love to see these ladies opening for them instead of The Coathangers.(RK)
(Whats for Breakfast // www.wfbrecords.com)
Messrs s/t LP
Scrappiest release yet from this scrappy Columbus label. Messrs 7" on Savage Quality was a sleeper, but this LP sees them bloom like the beautiful flowers I'm sure they are. These guys have the pedigree, from Unholy Two, Guinea Worms, Necropolis, that Altered Snakes thing (which is an underrated LP in it's own right) and more recently Ipps (another fucking sleeper there, people) but I'd say this thing sounds a bit more Midwest than Ohioan, namely the Chicago/Twin Cities axis that was so fruitful in the Nineties. Powerful post-hardcore rocking, but stripped of all the gimmickry a lot of those Nineties heroes might have carried like unecessary baggage (I'm thinking Cows without all the bullshit - and I love me some Cows - or maybe a less blurry Unsane - or even Jesus Lizard if they picked up the pace a bit and had a guitar player who shredded instead of playing that prick(l)y Denison style). But hey, this is a real katzenjammer on all fronts, no stop, all go. "Lonesome Cowboy Bo" is my fave right now ("WHOOOO!"), but "Keep Scrappin'" knocks you down right from the giddyup as well. This sounds like the work of seasoned professionals who know their way around a tune. Side A is all blaze, Side B gets a bit dirtier, showing off a slight whiff of Australia (but nothing to be concerned about), maybe more Scratch Lizard-ish, the guitar shred on "Rolling Over" is the real deal and they better be paying that drummer time-and-a-half for working overtime. Would be a perfect triple threat with Unholy Two and OG line-up Puffys (Krauty/Dust version). Anway, this LP sinks in quickly and is a favorite around the house at the moment. No frills all thrills. Did I throw enough catchphrases in there? Scum stats: 45rpm 12" limited to 300 copies, which seems like not enough if there's any justice.(RK)
(Heel Turn // heelturnrecords.com)
Midnight Mines "If You Can't Find A PArtner Use A Wooden Chair" LP
Midnight Mines are Baron Saturday and Private Sorrow (formerly of Black Time under other aliases) an this is their first record after three tapes, all of which you should own. Similar to Black Time in aesthetic (mostly home recorded in the lo-fi spectrum in black and white, British) yet drifting further into DIY/experimental forms than BT's garage-punk Crime(s), I personally see no reasonn why the BT fan would not enjoy MM. This record comes cranking out of the tape deck immediately, echo and static bouncing amidst feedback whilst the BAron begins his work and words, "Baptist Gardens" is nearly/close to MES (acoustic and electric guitar/bass/various tapes/sounds), "Artificial Light" could be a BT leftover with some lively organ and garage/pop breaking the spell of the static cloud for a song, then "Accattone" begins, the most impressive and essential contribution on the record - just massive, ten minutes? twenty? Five? Dub construction, a looped drum beat, synth pulse, the Baron doing some spoken bits over top - almost BBC/Dr Who wormhole, PiL perhaps? It could go on forever I wouldnt mind. Circuits crackle and sequence ouit, guitar soloing from the next dimension/room over. Side B begins with "After Dark" a truly punk sounding cut with ive drums and aggrovated demeanor (slow stomp echo guitar like a NY emulator). "Walking Down A Street Called Hate" is another winning experiment, an obtuse electro-cut with feedback that sounds like a guitar being drilled out or something, a chant/chorus/hook or semblance thereof, a very "hip hop" beat. "Brain Police" contineus the exciting forays, this time a nearly TG-like drone with some industrial clank and a real drum beat that seems to be constantly falling apart and propped up by echo-laser that appears and more drone/agressive effects and Swell Maps shards. "Hollow Sky" is more Mapsy, DIY construction with parts picked up off the floor of other tunes, a drum roll, some guitar pluck, what could be a train, a bass drum knock, distant voices from a wind tunnel, slowed up tapes which come to an abrupt stop or crossfade(?) and then breaks in and out of consciousness/noise - an intermittent signal that starts and stops, the sounds of dimension travel. "Waiting in the Mist" closes on a hopeful note after that Frankenstein's monster of a tune just destroyed the lab, a heavily blurred acoustic guitar with unintelligible vocal/chant/ohm which gets some pluck from another guitar that sounds pleasant, gently cleaving a path thrgh the echo. A nice return to earth after all of that. An LP that pushes the limits of the listener, that continues to go deeper and get better as it unfolds. I feel like I took a trip here, and came out alive and better for it.
Scum stats: 200 copies, with insert/manifesto and paste-on wraparound sleeve.(RK)
(Mystery Plane // midnightmines.bandcamp.com)
Monogamy "Semi-Floral" 7" EP
Monogamy is the project of a fella named Donald Alfred Lyons III out of Ann Arbbor, who does 95% of everything here, getting a vocal assist from someone named Toni Wang and a couple other minor credits. It's zany weird-pop, lots of Casio presets, drum machine in abundance, various synthesizers for the most parts, then a sax here and a glockenspiel to add some texture. Too kooky for me. Mayb a litte like that Uzi Rash related stuff, where it's just so kooked-out it rubs you the wrong way. About half synth-poppers and a couple of slower moody tunes that recall Blank Diggity Dogs. Scum stats: 200 copies on three different labels with different covers it seems, the one I have was made using ink/dye created from spinach that smells like a hippie. With six page lyric/art zine.(RK)
(a bunch of labels // monogamy.bandcamp.com)
Mosquito Ego "Glomb" LP
Here's a weird one. The five piece Mosquito Ego have ties to Cluster Bomb Unit and Metabolismus and sound like neither. "Poke" opens as a time-space warped organ and synth squealer with shared vocals that sounds like B-52s on ludes. "Local Zero" turns into agressive post-hardcore pounding with a powerful bassline that changes to synth, almost like two songs spliced together, with some zany vox and needly guitar. "Bad Medication" sounds Japanese to me. I dont know why, but it's dirgey and broken and seems to decompose midway while the vox pan and slide all over and then it rejoins its parts into some slippery funk. "Onion Face" is the freak-rock opus, "Seizure" is a low rent sci-fi zinger. "Stew" mixes it up real good between rock and zany, closer "Witch Hunt" somehow sticks a fist-pumping chorus into latter day AmRep shred. There are some electronic interludes ("Glomb I - IV") that buffer things and all these weird parts congeal to make for a unique sounding LP. It's definitely something you need to be in the mood for, but it's certainly always interesting in a way that only non-Americans can be. (RK)
(Ever/Never // evernever.bigcartel.com)
Giorgio Murderer "Holographic Vietnam War" LP
Just the highlights here folks (and there's a lot of them here on what is the first Murderer full length): to begin, the audio trickery of "I Aint Doing So Hot" immediatley reminds you he's a genius. It's one song that is actually two when you think about it (and you will). And it's a real good one, one of the four or five that will become GM/BB canon off this LP. "Theme from..." is a genuinely killer instro of the lo-fi kind. "Get Murdered By A Robot" is this record's "Not Gettin Stabbed". Winner. "Theme from Bill and Ted..." adds the sort of cosmic bleep-bloop necessary to keep us on track in this sci-fi movie. I had to give the massive amount of space at the end of the side a quick check with the needle just to make sure there wasnt a track hidden there. Nope. Just EAT SHIT carved in the dead wax. "Electronic Lighter" is very practical. "Games" is actually one of my faves musically here, reminds me of a retarded BBC sound studio track (Diptheria Derbyshire is credited here). But really the entire side is prelude to "Beat Up The West Coast", which has GM executing some guitar wizardry (master of the downstroke) and throwing down the gauntlet for real. GM did the deal here, it's just the right length to hit and run, slip you some hits annd vanish into the matrix. On the GM/NBB scale, this one is much better than the last Biloxi LP. Best band member name: Kenny Logarithms. And as a side note, the pictures and paraphenalia used in the art are actually from the artist's father's service oveerseas. Or Im being lied to and this is some time travel horseshit. (RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // pelicanpowwowrecords.bigcartel.com)
Musk "Musk 2: The Second Skumming" LP
'Musk 2' is a really solid record. I missed out on the band's debut and that's looking to be my loss. The Scientists are a clear influence (think "Weird Love"), but there's also a mid-'80s West Berlin feel to the record; it's discordant and loaded with dynamics. This is aided by — and bear in mind I'm no Mutt Lange — an excellent recording and mixing job by Chris Woodhouse. Guitarist Chris Owen, ex-Killer's Kiss and (alongside James Arthur) head of defunct Hook or Crook records, really comes through on the record, as does the rest of the band. Fans of the Gordons and some of the lesser-known/abrasive-sounding Flying Nun bands will be into this. One of the better albums I've heard this year. (RL)
(12XU // 12XU.net)
Nag "False Anxiety" 7"
Debut 7" from Atlanta's Nag after a pretty decent demo tape last year, and if you haven't been keeping score they're the latest band of Brannon Green of Frantic, Beat Beat Beat, GHB, Predator and numerous others. The guy has impeccabble credentials if you must know. "False Anxiety" is a legit A-Side, sharp and dark punk rock of the variety ATL churns out consistently - and yes, it does sound anxious in an OCD-like fit of angular precision. GG King is the yardstick by which all ATL-punk will forever be measured, and "imsosmall" on the flip is going to make your mind go in that direction with its blastbeat-like drum outbursts, the added evil on the echoed-out vocals and needly metal-influenced riff. No one is as much a master of the dark arts as Mr. King, but Nag come as close as you can. The only complaint I could possibly muster here is that this is too short.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Narcoestado s/t 7"
A welcome US domestic vinyl pressing of Narcoestado's demo tape. This outfit from Mexico City has put together a very solid collection of tracks. I suspect that the Narcoestado folks grew up on a copy of "Welcome to 1984" and were divided as to whether Kidnap or RIP were better so they split the difference and cranked out these gems. The five songs have got some hooks, heavy vocal melodies, plenty of space to sing along. A great companion for your Nuclear Spring or Rixe records for sure. (DH)
(Going Underground // goingunderground.storenvy.com)
Narcosatanicos "Body Cults" LP
Narcosatanicos are a phenomenal noise-rock group/collective based out of Denmark. This is the third 12" I've heard, and they really must be heard to be believed, and this is definitely their finest hour to date. Noise rock as a term does not do them justice. These six gentleman are superior musicians, using the standard bass/guitar/drum foundation then adding sax, synths, piano, violin, organ and much more to come up with a massive wall of sound that is as explosive as it is elegant. At different times on this record they fluctuate from Melvins-like sludge, to Brainbombs-esque Stooges based riffology, to Hawkind space rock, to a rugged Australian sound that reminds me of Venom P. Stinger or the later Fungus Brains line-up, to krautrock audobahn cruising, to mellow psychedelic rock. Lengthy instrumental passages are alternated with more trad verse/chorus numbers, some have a bit of a lo-fi tint to them, other times they have a huge and fittingly produced sound. So much better than the connotations "noise rock" will raise, these guys could very well be one of the most skilled bands on the planet. Heavy, intense moments of anger release interspersed with emotive headtrip jams. Seven tracks, all of which are crazy good. If you can't appreciate this, you're already dead. And how the hell did this end up on Bad Afro?!?!(RK)
(Bad Afro // badafro.dk)
The Nods "Chromatic Recollections" 7"
Let's start with side two on this single from SLC. "Public Eye" is a solid punker, in classic Goner Records style, perhaps. Drumming on this one actually reminds me of Nots, a band they are so, so close to alphabetically. A totally solid number. I can't get into the A-side at all mostly because the guitar riff sounds eerily similar to Bush's "Machinehead" or some similar buzz-bin classic of yore and it's a hard block to my enjoyment. It might just be my poor memory, though, and this is otherwise a cool release. (DH)
(Hail Atlantis // hailatlantis1.bandcamp.com)
Nones "XOXOXO Sue" LP
Chicago's Nones have broken-up as of this writing. Which is a shame as I liked some of the records, but it also might be right as they seemed to have blown their load anyway. One of those Chicago bands that seemed to be lurking in the shadows weirdly while shit like Heavy Times got all the critical mass. Their self-released 7" turned out to have been their best record in retrospect, followed closely by their Hozac 7". The first LP left me cold, and frankly this one does as well. Nones managed to get less weird as their discography progressed somehow (at least musically - lyrically they kept it up). Ten tracks here, they sound more lonely and desolate than ever, lots of dark clouds lingering. No saxophone that I can recall (but I started drifing a bit there...), none of that weird sci-fi shit as on the earlier records. At best they sound like major label Butthole Surfers at their least weird here. I'll tell you what though, that first 7" is gonna end up on the KBD version of Glue Wave of Hozac-core or whatever comp comes out in 2025.(RK)
(self-released // noneschicago.bandcamp.com)
Nopes “Never Heard of It” 12”
Somewhat mathy, post-am. reptile punk rock from California with a high-pitched, very distinct and weird vocal style. The guitar work is impressive and the guy is constantly doing some heavy shredding, but most of these songs try to get aggressive and heavy in a way that seems perpendicular to everything else that’s happening. Definitely unique, but feels like an assemblage of stray pieces with no clear intended use. The cover art is perplexing as well, why are pies the most important element? Is this man covered in pie innards? Perhaps these questions have no answers. (NG)
(Magnetic Eye Records // magneticeyerecords.com)
Nurse s/t 7" EP
Daaaark hardcore punk from the ATL with membership from Slugga, Dasher, Manic and more. Seld-described "funeral punk" that isn't as gothy as that tag sounds - it's just real aggro and fucking black. Shades of RP in the guitar sounds, singer can really let those vocals bleed (he has one of the better "aaargh" s Ive heard in a while and him singing a song called "Blood Breath" makes absolute sense) with sandpapered rage, tempos are punishing but not PV/blastbeat which keeps them sounding mean instead of dumb, and this is one of th few exceptions where I'll say a decent recording job makes them sound more raw/powerful. "I Can See You" is my pick, tightly wound and left free to unspool with wicked velocity. Now we just need a Uniform (ATL) record and I'll be happy.(RK)
(Scavenger of Death // scavengerofdeath.storenvy.com)
OBN III's "Rich Old White Men" 7"
Oh wow - this rocks way too much for me but Nashville Pussy and Tight Bros fans fear not! Two cuts o' tight, polished rocknroll mayhem. OBN III's seem to be everywhere the last few years (you could feel their ubiquity) but I live in a cave and somehow have missed out on actually hearing them until now, so I apologize for the old news. But any takedown of rich old white men is a positive in this world and this should satisfy those who are seeking out revved up rock. Tomorrow's classic rock today! (DH)
(12XU // www.12u.net)
Omegas "Power to Exist" LP
Montreal's Omegas have been one of the more entertaining hardcore acts of the last few years, at least for me. I don't want to say they're a goof band, because I'm sure they're very serious about this, but something about them always struck me as funny - no, not funny, "entertaining" is a better word for it. They have personality, which isn't always the case with HC of today - instead of being mysterious, or super serious heavy dudes, they have names like Hoagie and Spoiler and mug it up for the band pics, and write songs called "Drug Zoo" and "Dog By Day". They remind me a bit of The Spits aesthetically, in that they're having some apparent fun, but are still writing killer tunes that are dangerously good. The other thing I like about them is they take NYHC and break off the simple and dumb parts (the best parts, you know, like the dunderhead riffs and tough guy vox) and slip it into the weirdo Midwest HC template effectively chopping it up into something even dumber and somehow more cool. Which makes it smart, eh? I dunno, I lost myself on that equation. They do a lof of breakneck time changing, shifting gears like crazy, all adrenaline pumping and forward momentum and this is a record that really feels like it might be out of control - these guys are whiteknuckling it right along with you somehow. Just a powerful punk rock record with great sound, great guitars, slow burns, insane speedfreaking, tough vox. And of course a killer intro/opener. Boom Boom. If you've been passing these guys over as just another run-of-the-mill HC act, remedy that now because this is just great punk rock at its core. And as far as labels go, BI are batting like .900 according to my scorecard which is no joke either. Scum stats: 200 copies on red for all you freaks.(RK)
(Beach Impediment // www.beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)
Opposite Sex "Hamlet" LP
Firstly, I like this record a lot, and was fairly sure this was their first LP - but after looking at the label description discovered that this is their second LP - the first of which was released in 2011, which was six fucking years ago (and shit I might even be reviewing this a year late, but now we're splitting hairs), which is a long time between records (but maybe not for a Dunedin band I guess), but the point I'm trying to make here is that this record is so good I'm excited to know that they have a back catalog (albeit one record) to now delve into. So take that for what it's worth. So yeah, Dunedin band (i.e. they're more Xpressway than Flying Nun, more weird, less obviously punk), a trio who share vocal duties (and songwriting chores I'm guessing as well) over these eight tracks which showcase a wide varitey of talents and approaches to crafting a beautiful song. "Supermarket" has Lucy Hunter on vox (and bass and piano, which she wonderfully adds to half the tunes) which is a short heartbeat of a song that immediately makes an impression - sharp lyrics (and I love her rhyming of docile with L'Oreal), her quiet yet strong singing/talking, sturdy bass/drum rhythm, understated guitar swish (flamenco-y?) and her piano tinkles like loose change falling from her pocket as accent. "She Said" then breaks out on a more agressive path, with one of the gents taking on vox (Tim Player on drums, Reg Norris on guitar) and Lucy adding back-up, guitars going to noisier pitch, forming a swarm with some guest violin (that sounds angry, if you can believe that) and it's cool as ice postpunk/Aussie(?) that is certainly good enough to warrant yet another song with this title existing in the world. "Oh Ivy" is next (and I'm trying to believe they're doing a song called "She Said" followed by "Oh Ivy" intentionally, but maybe I'm reaching) and has Lucy back out front, Reg playing some slide - Lucy gets to yelling some here, her voice showing some wonderful cracking in this desert-ish slinky ode that references Opal and Gun Club sonically. "Complicity" ends the side with Lucy again, all piano and a whisper playing off the violin this time for a beautifully dark tune that builds up emotional heft and tension, her vocals increasing in volume and her piano moving from ivory-slide smooth to key hammering aggression and back. Side B starts on "Regicide" (with Reg on vox, natch) that is built on repetition and guitar noise (slide-fuzz-muck) and bass/drum run, sort of post-hardcore in its determination and Reg's distant vocal. "Vicarious Life" is another gorgeous Lucy track, again Opal-esque, slide guitar some crafty drumming, arid and sad but not defeated. "Tasman's Punk" is a Fall-in-a-hole shard of off-ness (that also has a bit of Sonic Youth in it) with spoken word vox croaked from Reg and some unstructured avant-guitar snippets bent around a crisp drum jaunt that all ends up disappearing. Closer is "Long Dead Night", glad to end with a Lucy vocal and more violin (which is the closest to sounding like "rock" that I've heard a violin be - credit to Motoko Kikkawa for her guest shots) - Lucy plays piano and sings her heart out here over/under layers of guitar twang, it's a fitting and theatrical closer with love-beaten and harrowing lyrics. For a rather brief LP (eight songs total, 20-25 minutes) they do more than enough - one of the more interesting and resonant LPs of recent vintage, give me a late pass. Best thing from NZ in a spell, at least according to my ears.(RK)
(Dull Tools/Melted Ice Cream // www.meltedicecream.co.nz)
Pagans "Dead End America" & "Not Now No Way" 7"es
Not much you can say about the Godlike power of these singles aside from the fact that they have been reissued in nice full color pocket sleeves faithful to the original presentation, and since I can't front and say I own originals of these for comparison, they sound loud and crisp enough to me. These were the Pagans' third and fourth 7"ers, the last of their legit Seventies singles before their music went on to become comped and repackaged in seemingly endless permutations (and I still say the best presentation to date is 'Everybody Hates You', one of the few CDs you really need to own) of which you and I both probably possess multiple variations of. I've never been foolhardy enough to dream of owning OGs of these, and never bothered with the Treehouse "reissues" sincce I had everything comped somewhere anyway, so these reissues fill a void in the 7" department that doesn't hurt my feelings at all. As always, Breakout does a great job and their 2017 release schedule looks killer: Mollestors, Daleks and Fast Cars.(RK)
(Breakout Records // www.purepunk.it)
Personal & The Pizzas s/t LP
Hard to believe there hasn't been a Personal record in almost five years. I feel like the 'Dead Meat' 7" is a slice from last night still warm enough to eat for breakfast, but it's been that long and I'll admit that I missed this guy. I know there are a lot of people who take themseves somewhat seriously and can't be bothered to acknowledge something as silly as a band called Personal & The Pizzas, and too bad for them. I for one have no qualms about enjoying this band and could care less what you think, smart guy (and by the way, this is not pop-punk). Personal and whatever line-up he has around him do punk rock in a way few others can pull off - sure he's ripping off The Ramones (and Stooges, and ....) but it's fucking brilliant. There's a formula here...or excuse me, a "recipe" here that works, but only in the hands of a songwriting genius as boldy crass and creative as Personal. Even if he's just blatantly stealing it's still great ("Joanie" just combines "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and "Swallow My Pride" into another fantastic tune). This LP is half comp of old songs and half new, and is a tale of two pies. Side A has the last three 7"es - the one on Oops Baby! that was pretty damn good and was kinda more Dollsy/Groovies with some real high energy rocking and guitar soloin' for two cuts and a nice lil' acoustic jammer in "Bored Out Of My Brains" - at the time it seemed like a growth record for P. Then there's the stone-killer 'Dead Meat' 7" from Total Punk and then the TiM 7", which wasn't their best, but does have "..Party Boy" on the B-Side which was a real Dee Dee-esque punker. Okay, in reality this is sort of the second best Personal material when compared to the first few singles, but it's still pretty good stuff. Then we get to the B-Side with the five new songs. Which aintso hotso. "Concentration Camp" might be the best of the batch, and it sort of sounds more like a Buck Biloxi song than anything. The other four tunes are just mediocre garage-punk with little to none of Personal's signature - no overt Ramones cops, no super fucking catchy choruses, hardly any whoa-ing and not even a good joke. It's a real bummer. If you already own the seven inces, this is non-essential. But what is essential is the sleeve - that cover pic smells like a grease trap (and is that fucking Mitch Cardwell!?) and the inner picture is the best tribute to the 'Tres Hombres' gatefold I've ever seen. It's too bad you couldn't put this sleeve with the 'Raw Pie' comp and make things right in the world...(RK)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
"Pinball Summer" soundtrack Jay Boivin & Germain Gauthier LP
Pinball Summer (also known as Pick-Up Summer) is a gem of the Eighties teenage hijinks/summer fun/boobs and jokes genre, one that was tough to see fifteeen yers or so ago when I was hipped to it by the fellas at Hozac, and I'm eternally grateful to Todd Killings for sending me a DVD rip of it way back when. Today, I think you can see the whole damn thing on Youtube, and you should go and do that right now. There's a book called Going All The Way coming out about all the great teen flicks like this one, and there are plenty more under-the-radar killers like Get Crazy, Joysticks, Up The Creek, The Wild Life and more to go alongside your Porkys. But anyway, the thing about Pinball Summer is the fact this soundtrack is just as good as the movie (which isn't always the case, aside from Get Crazy of course), put together by Canadian songwriting tandem Boivin and Gauthier, and which was released on LP in Canada on the Celsius label and was a tough find for awhile. It's packed with hits and hooks and this is one of the few of the recent trend of soundtrack reissues that deserves to exist - "Sally Joy" is an ode to the starlet of the film and will immediately become plastered on to the walls of your brain, and there's something to delight powerpoppers, soft rockers, Beach Boys summer fun fans and just plain old Eighties radio rock (heavy on the saxophone). I mean, the first three songs on this are "Summer Girls", "Summer Magic" and "Pinball Summer" - if that doesnt warm your soul, you might as well be dead. So go watch the movie first if you don't believe me, and then thank Mighty Mouth when you realize you need to own the soundtrack. (RK)
(Mighty Mouth Music // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Pleasure Gallows "Positivity +2" 7" EP
Debut single from "Oakland's most dangerous punk band!" and I totally believe. My man on the ground there has mumbled something to me between bites of Arbys about this band being a complete disaster/force of nature. Seems about right. "Positivity" is dumb KBD-style shit with two vocalists - is the fair voiced one the sounds of good vs. the gravel-gargle of the evil guy? who cares? - and is in the musical proximity of Crime listening to Bobby Soxx. It's beautiful and mean-spirited. B-Side has two more that sound different, "Beer" is almost a '77 punker that scratches along like some yob itching his nuts and throws down a hot shit solo too. "Find" is some kinda Stooges/Dolls sleazeballer with a one key piano line and is sloppy and primitive but so so effective at hitting its target, that all those other Bay Area bands wearing costumes should be totally jealous. These guys, Life Stinks, Musk, The World - shit, the Bay Area might actually have something going on there. There's been an Eddie Cockring or two in the past, but we wont tell this guy....Scum stats: 300 copies, with insert and great covert art that looks like Eric Stanton with a D&D fetish.(RK)
The band you love to hate is becoming the band you hate to love. Or something. Working in that Feederz/Crime/Eels axis of antagonism - the one that tends to make doughy, middle aged collector scum sweat soak their knickers - the Gallows have boxed themselves into a very sharp corner over the past few years. The sorta' corner you only get out of via band death, Whirr-style take down or hope of atonement through a tail-tucking twitter apology. So it's really a lose/lose situation for these men of action. Evidently they went and played nice for at least a few folks outside of the Bay, landing themselves a high fallutin' recording contract with the esteemed southern Pelican Pow Wow label. If the Peli-can handle Buck Biloxi, Manateees and the like, surely they can cattle-prod this herd of miscreants into submission as well. Knife fights, crooked crosses and cocaine mounds aside - this is really goddamn good. "Positivity" is played more than slightly off its nut, equally rooted in Nyquil based lunkhead-edness and a metallic growl. It's just fuckin' wrong, across the board. Vocals double up in a schizophrenic mumble and a throat roasted shriek. The guitar jerks about grossly, unsure if it should solo, tune or just plain stop. The rhythm section hobbles along like a drunken goth, hoping to sober up enough to stay in time (any time). The chorus' spurt forth and circle the drain, reminding me I still don't have that second Mentally Ill single. Fuck You, Pleasure Gallows. Weird Punk returns with a vengeance. The flip offers two more piles of chunder, more akin to a Gizmos or Chosen Few sound. Slight glam piano plink arrives, but I ain't afraid. Solid, proto-ugliness for all to enjoy. Bonus points for the Zap Comics looking sleeve art, as well. Grab a copy and do a couple Hail Mary's before bed. You'll sleep fine tonight. It's only rock and roll. (RSF)
(Pelican Pow Wow // pelicanpowwowrecords.bigcartel.com)
Poison Girls “Where’s the Pleasure?” LP
Spot-on reissue of Poison Girls’ third album, which is probably my favorite. A perfect mix of Crass-esque delivery and style with Vi’s distinct point of view and a bit new-wavier than most guitar/bass interplay, all blessed with overly competent musicianship and production. The fact that Vi Subversa was 46 years old when this was recorded is somewhat mind-blowing, but the maturity in the lyrical themes is what makes this record such a worthwhile document (and sadly, she passed just before this was released). They’re at their best when they get weird - things like the horn arrangements on “Fear of Freedom” are what pushes this band into their own unique niche. An obvious purchase for any discerning fan of English music. (NG)
(Water Wing Records // www.waterwingrecords.com)
Poor Lily “Dirt on Everyone” LP
It’s just a quick hike through Van Cortlandt Park from my homebase in Woodlawn to the North Bronx neighborhood where Poor Lily resides. It’s not a hotbed of underground culture up here, so it's cool to have this come across my path, a reminder that Brooklyn doesn't have a monopoly on folks playing political punk rock (tho I can say for certain that there ain't nothing going on in Staten Island). This is Poor Lily’s 2nd or 3rd full length, which proves to be a rather compelling release, a stylistic mashup of Minutemen/Fugazi/Dead Kennedys/Pogues into something of their own. This ain’t the hastily recorded raw sounding blissful mess that I am usually drawn to but this is cool. High pitched Biafra style vocals front a band that writes tricky melodies that are as likely to brood repetitively as they are to transition into thrash. In 'what’s old is new,' this is thematically about the NSA with lyrics inspired by and all artwork lifted directly out of Snowden’s leaked documents. It is paranoid and angry in the way that Reagan era HC could feel paranoid and angry but this is too damn current. Protest songs for today. Beautiful booklet with full color cut + paste collages. (DH)
(TV-Mayor Records // www.poorlily.com)
Puff "Living In The Party Zone" LP
More 80's synthoid slathered punk skronk - this time from Berlin. Imagine if Frustration learned to have a good time, if Red Mass sang in German or if Mark Mothersbaugh teamed up with lighter side of Rammstein. It's like a 8-Bit rockabilly, dance-metal nightmare up in this club. There's definitely some Devo florishes in the mix, but I gotta' say I prefer when things clank away in a more Metal Urbain/Screamers vibe, myself. I've never been into having too much fun. This puppy is art school across the board, folks. If anything, you can call Slovenly eclectic as hell these days. (RSF)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com )
Pure Disgust s/t LP
Politically activated and socially conscious hardcore from DC, that I think might be straight edge as well. This band is the perfect storm of what positive hardcore can be - a multi-ethnic band of kids, ranging in age from 17-23, from Washington fucking DC, the home of all that is good and righteous in hardcore-punk, they play an agressive yet catchy brand of oi influenced HC, and they are not fucking around with their message and lyrics, using the music to confront racism, poverty, police, misogyny, crime, shit they even get into public education on "Pipeline". Did I mention I'm pretty sure they're edgemen a well? You can't make this up. It's like the perfect DCHC band, a Frankenstein's Monster of positivity and integrity that even Dischord could not contain. If you got into hardcore punk to be a part of a positive scene and use the music to make a difference in the world, to try and educate people listening or at least challenge them to think, Pure Disgust could not be a more perfect band for you. I mean, I hope this is what the kids are doing these days, now more than ever. This is the kind of band that could be a life-changer for some 16 year old kid looking for the way. Plus, they sound pretty tough. I'm thrilled and almost amazed a band like this exists, even though I will never have the desire to listen to it again (I'm old and already a lost cause), but all you kids out there that aren't already jaded into submission....well, you're probably not reading this. Which is good. I hope youre at a Pure Disgust show right now.(RK)
(Katorga Works // shop.heavenstreetrecords.com)
Quaaludes "Are the Winner Always Losers?" 7"
Bay Area band of ladies whose previous record I quite enjoyed. This one might even be better. The do remind me of a less metal version of L7 (and keep in mind I think L7 were a really good band), more punk/garage maybe. The girl singing has that perfect sneer/scream, where it's not shrill and also sounds tough-punk. Four songs on this one, all really upstanding rockers with a desperate edge to them. "Control" sounds kinda paranoid/Dangehousey and she talk-sings about "local" stuff - being at the Hemlock tavern and shit. I like it a lot. "Call You Up" is almost Chones-esque, but in a far more mature manner. "Incoming Liberation" is a real rock'n'roller too, all balls. A real nice little record, I like where their heads are at, and glad Jonny Cat got himself a winner here! Scum stats: 350 copies.(RK)
(Jonny Cat // jonnycatrecords.bigcartel.com)
Quitter s/t 7"
Oddball synth punk from my second favorite city on the east coast, Baltimore, MD. Quitter's music is quirky and weird, falls apart in places that makes no sense, which makes this one real charming. Fitting that this is on an Ohio label as it reminds me of Sockeye or Kill The Hippies, marching to their own weird beat. (DH)
(Blow Blood // blowbloodrecords.bigcartel.com)
Radio Burns “Tea Bone" 7"
A Detroit super group with quite a pedigree, yet there's just a bland riff rock jumping offa' the plate and it ain't hooking my maw. At least the lead off "50 Eyes" flies by in a flurry of soloing and hip swagger - sorta' like a New Bomb Turks or even a Back Yard Babies. The flip fires off some more than competent Dwarves/Supersuckers mid-tempoing riding on the remains of RFTC's major label years. Another release for the elder Gearheads and greasers left trolling these forums. It's played with enough conviction and skill for me to appreciate its existence, but I'll honestly never pull this sucker out again. (RSF)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records // www.ssldrecords.bandcamp.com)
Rancid Hell Spawn "Eat My Cigarette" EP
Rancid Hell Spawn will never die. Charlie Chainsaw has been belting them out for nearly 20 years under the RHS moniker, and while perhaps not soaring to the heights of the Nineties glory days (if you missed those, get the 'Scalpel Party' CD collection) you can always depend on the RHS brand. Short sharp blasts of drum machine driven DIY punk rock with a healthy sense of humour and questionable artwork choices. Some of this stuff isn't too far from The Rebel when you get down to it, except without the Gameboy, more punk and velcocity and with a gutter sense of humor. As always upon dissection you'll find hooks in these tunes, even if Charlie sometimes whizzes them so fast they fly over yer head. Five of em here, not the place to start with this band, but then again RHS is the sort of thing where you just need to jump in the pool at some point. Charlie should not be overlooked when considering a list of authentic UK-DIY nutters, and also consider his track record with Wrench - a label started to fulfill his need to unleash RHS on the world that went on to work with Lil Bunnies, HFOS and Real Losers early on, released what at the time was the final Black Time record and was the first to reissue The Tronics. He's a good mate, he is.(RK)
(Wrench Records // www.wrench.org)
The Raydios "Craps" 7"
If you would've told me in 1998 that Fink would bring the Raydios back ten years later for an LP and at least a half-dozen more singles I wouldve told you to fuck off. But here we are with a new one, their second on Secret Mission, and Fink finds it really hard to write bad songs. "Craps" is hard-edge powerpop, seriously hot guitar, Fink's vox are wonderful here (as are the lyrics - "We roll!"), perhaps the most Teengenerate-like Raydios song I can remember. "Teacher's Pet" is a mid-tempo punk slugger somewhere between Ramones-esque junk-pop and Dictators-like street tough rock. 2015 and Fink is still delivering. Fuck.(RK)
(Secret Mission // www.secretmissionrecords.com)
Rays s/t LP
More good tunes from the Bay Area, this time via the self-titled debut from Rays, a quartet made up of parts from Life Stinks, Violent Change and The World. Billed as "next-wave", they sound pretty damn Australian to me. Somewhere in between UV Race's ramshackle garage-pop ("Attic" opens the record sounding almost exactly like that patented UV drum-n-keys thump) and Dickdiver's indie-pop shine with some stopoffs for ECSR-like jammers. The vocals are certainly a very big part of what makes this LP so endearing - Eva Hannan has a very likeable casual delivery (I want to say untrained and not make it sound like an insult) that's almost conversational, and this Stanley Martinez guy sounds more than a little bit like Holt Bodish when he gets the mic. I'm into most of the tunes here, but the best of them occur when they get up a head of steam - "Drop Dead" is all treble annd nervous energy with some well utilized piano and guitar feedback, "Back Downtown" is an up-n-downer (that sounds like Mordecai if they decided to write a NZ-style pop song), "Theatre of Lunacy" is a sharp guitar-popper than has a bit of a Bunnymen feel to me. There are a couple downers that get close to "dole-wave" mopery or whatever they're calling it, but they still keep it from sounding boring. They even pull some DIY/post-punk moves on "Dead Mans Curve" (TVPs feel) and "Made of Shadows" (a little Raincoats-like?). Solid debut and I'm glad to see that this current wave of bands from Oakland/SF have realized that wearing funny costumes and reenacting punk-past isn't the way to go - insted they're grabbing some pages from the history book and running forward with them. Recommended.(RK)
(Trouble In Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Royal Sitars "Eloise" 7"
I knew Royal Headache were getting pretty popular, and rightfully so - I mean, I don't love them as much as most, but it would be hard to not like them at all and they do what they do so well it's not unbelievable that they have some mass appeal. What I did not realize is that they are enough of a phenomenon that a mystery band of masked men recorded a 7" of two RH covers with SITAR. Yep. I'm listening to it right now. "Eloise" backed with "Distant and Vague". I have no use for this, but you're rabid RH fan might want to grab it. I feel like they slow the songs up a bit and it's not ALL sitar - the instrumental backing track is there and the sitar pretty much just "plays" Shogun's vocals. A novelty record for fans - I guess if someone recorded a 7" of Homostupids covers with a banjo or something I'd probably be pretty into it. Scum stats: 500 copies in plain black sleeve with some Indian-themed labels.(RK)
(Agitated // agitatedrecords.com)
Razz "Pleasantries" 7" EP
Oakland sooper groop = Dan Wood from Pets/Flathead (and more), Ray from Impediments/Glitz/Lenz, drummer from Airfix Kits, and Andy Jordan/Reptile of most good Bay Area bands from The Cuts, to Time Flys to The World. Wood is the main man here and we get four tracks of mild-mannered rock'n'roll and I do not mean that as a rib. It's very polite, but it's still rock'n'roll with a delicious pop turn on the best. I liked The Pets quite a bit, and I feel like this is a more Seventies powerpop version of that. Sure it's pretty soft, but if I'm gonna listen to soft rock its gonna be really catchy soft rock. Impeccable recording sounds like it's 1981, and there's actually some real tough guitar playing on "Wish You Well". A little Stamey, a little Twilley, but what this boils down to is four guys who really know how to play, playing songs that are well written, full of hooks without any saccharine. No bullshit which is the type of pop I can handle in my rock. Recommended.(RK)
(Warm Wet Records // razzoakland.com)
Red Mass s/t 7"
A strange a release as one would expect from Red Mass. This band polarizes my vote half the time - and I'm a card carrying fanboy. "Re-Mi-Si" dances about in 'lectroclash and a co-ed croon that rubs closer to the likes of Adult. or Nouvelle Vague than any CPC Gangbangs or whathaveyou. At least there's some wonky guitar f/x on hand to help gork out the Dire Straits sounding lead (!?!?). A bastardized My Sharona circles the ESG trap-clank and bass boogie of "Supersonic" before the Erase Errata jizz bubbles forth, throttling the awkwardness into submission. The aptly named "Space Rock & Roll" that kicks off the flip is more my speed, layering globs of Roy's sci-fi kanoodle over a rockabilly hiccup and jive. The closer - "Wish Me Luck" - is a crunchy alt/indie number that's at least a toe tapper, even though it doesn't stick to my ribs. Not the screwy side of the Mass I tend to get off on. They can't all be winners, right? Hell, there's always Red Mass release #651 coming down the pipeline, probably due out now. (RSF)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records // www.ssldrecords.bandcamp.com)
Rejecters s/t 7"
I believe this to be the third single in the ole' review stack to feature Daylight Lovers connections. 2016 is fuckin' weird. This one is similar to the Radio Burns R&R, but fares better overall. Sorta'/Kinda'. It depends on how many searing Hellacopters solos yer willing to hang with? These four songs bounce between Dictators and Devil Dogs swagger, but with enough crotch grabbing glam to get moderne fans of Apache, Glitz, etc on board. I do appreciate the James Williamson/Chuck Berry leads in "Hiroshima Hop", but I can't shake the feels that these older gents should know better than stooping to the Burger records shimmy. Easy to swallow, but not vying for my year end best-of attention, for damn sure. (RSF)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records // www.ssldrecords.bandcamp.com)
St. Vincent & The Grenadines "Look to See" 7"
"New" 7" from the Randstock imprint, whose last release was the incredible 'New Ist Zeit' compilation LP which documented the surprisingly prolific and wonderful music scene in Augsburg from 1979-1984. This 7" continues the local anthropology, as St. Vincent & The Grenadines were a group of kids who played around Augsburg from 2006-08 and then broke up. The label CEO tells me the story of seeing all of their live show at the time (about 15 of them) and that every one was different in a "Weird, fascinating way", which is even more interesting when told the fact that the kids weren't exacty "tuned in" to certain music scenes that they somehow sound very much like (i.e. supposedly never having heard any NZ/FN or C86 music and somehow coming up with this!) - it's one of those incredible little musical moments that many of us are priveleged to experience somehow - that local band no one will ever remember but you and the band themselves, having an impact on your own life in music. Anyway, the band broke up with out making a record, then in 2015 Mr. Randstock rang up a band member still local who came upon a demo they had recorded in 2007, and here we have the source of these two songs. "Look to See" is low-key yet powerful indie-rock with a fantasic fuzz guitar part, the singer sounds British somewhat , summoning the spirits of late Eighties indie-rock before it became the name of a genre - sounds a bit New England and a bit New Zealand at the same time. These kids were great musicians, writing a complex and hauntingly poppy and effervescent tune that rocks quietly. B-Side is the fragile/twee "Side of Life" with twinkling guitar and a craftly bassline and whispering keyboards that give it a bit of Ausburg/Euro feel. A truly DIY release that is most definitely a labor love, which are the best kind. For really obscure references how about Midget Submarines or Bimbo Shrineheads? Scum stats: 150 copies.(RK)
(Randstock // try Fusetron maybe?)
The Scabs "Amory Building" EP
Authorized reissue of the Scabs sole release from 1979 on the Clubland label (the in-house imprint of a recording studio who offered package recording/record pressing deals) tracks of which made the rounds on KBD volumes and in particular the 'Neighbour Annoyer' comp along with The Visitors, Voice of the Puppets, Pink Section and Puncture (all of which have seen reissue in the past few years as well). A solid second-tier punk rock combo with the typical charmed story - buncha kids meet at school, lives are changed when punk hits in '77, they start a band, cut a record they sell to friends, tour the country, try and record another record and get a deal with a label, fail, break up, leave behind a good looking corpse/7". Right up there with say, Nosebleeds, Schoolgirl Bitch, Headache, etc..., those great one-offs everyone has a favorite of. Two definite hits on the A-Side, the hooky anti-school rant of "Amory Building" all frantic panic punk (with some cute oooh-oooh back-ups) and "Leave Me Alone" with it's punk stance and organ wheeze. Beautifully punk of the time: fuck off and leave me alone. It doest get more pure than that. B-Side has a poppy mod-style number ("Dont Just Sit There") and "U.R.E." which does the half-slow/half-doubletimed thing. Very quaint and British. Hosehead reproduces the original fold out enevelope style sleeve faithfully, label repro with namechange (which I always like to see done properly) with two postcard sized inserts with band pics and liner notes from singer James Young which tell the whole story in six paragraphs. A reissue you should be proud to own.(RK)
(Hosehead Records // hoseheadrecords.ca)
Science Fiction "Terrible Lizards" 12"
Science Fiction "Secret Agent Man" 7"
Reissue of obscure private pressers Science Fiction a husband and wife (?) duo from Monterey who released these records in 1980. Avant tape-loopers, the 12" is comprised of two sidelong tracks - the A-Side is a meditaitive lo-fi tape loop with that flows in a New Age-y relaxation style, the sort of thing I'd imagine hearing in my head in an isolation chamber, muffled sounds straining to be heard from the outside while a cooling aquatic vibe washes over you. Calming at the very least for a good part of a half-hour. "....city of god" on the other face has among its parts a young woman saying "Nature has entirely disappeared, we find ourselves in the city of god", a loop of waves played at half speed, a recreation of the buoys clanking in Monterey Bay, and improv instrumentation: a mournful electric guitar solo with some fuzz on it and a slowly moving piano line. Hypnotic and perhaps neo-hippie, but something of it is reminiscent of Eno at his most depressing. It deconstructs itself in the end in a most interesting fashion. The 7" centers on a California-ed out version of the Rivers classic, with the verses alternated by male/female voices - the girl has a lovely dragged/drugged echo-drawl to it that sounds backwards and forwards at the same time, the refrain echoed by the dude, the solo goes backwards and overall the tune is a very nice example of home-recording tricks - haunted organ, programmed bassline, some shakers (or a suitable simulacrum), what sounds like a velvet bass drum and an effect that sounds like one of those kids toy microphone echoes. B-Side is an instrumental "Breathless" that does sound inspired by 'Another Green World' as suggested, with that environmental sounding synth beat and some warm keyboard lines - digital safari. Enjoyabe outside-the-box stuff here for those wanting to get mellow with the 12" or get all arty-DIY with the 7". Label has some other interesting items - in particular that Les Vampyrettes 12" on cassette. Scum stats: mine is lablled out of 539 copies, which is less than the initial run of the 12" which is estimated at 950 copies, the majority of which were given away/languished at Recycled Records for years before becoming a high-ticket eBay item amongst collectors. Huh.(RK)
(Stimulus Progression // www.stimulusprogression.com)
Scupper "Everything" 7"
"Dutch East India Trading has done it again" raves CMJ about this new single by Scupper. Well... The DNA for this was one formed back in the college radio days - guitar pop rock - one part late-era Huskers, one part Cheap Trick, remnants from a youthful punk/hc phase that wasn't doin' it for them no more (think things sound better slow). The folks in Scupper have been mining this style for years now in other bands and it shows - fairly well crafted stuff that nails the sound - but there's no real edge or inventiveness that would make me pull this one out over Belreve or Volcano Suns or whatever bands of yesteryear were doing this kind of stuff and are already ingrained into the jukebox in my brain. (DH)
(ever/never // evernever.bigcartel.com)
Shantih Shantih "Winter in September" LP
Atlanta four-piece playing melodic garage-pop with a slight country twang at times, centered around Anna Barattin's singing (formerly the voice of Vermillion Sands) and Anna Kramer's tasteful guitar playing. The vocal harmonizing is sweet but not off-puttingly saccharine, guitars glisten with surf/western twang, combined with girl-group pop sensibility and the demeanor is a good mix of pleasant and moody. Clean recording, and much like I enjoyed Vermillion Sands, it's just enough of the combined influences that create perhaps a predictable sound for a record titled 'Winter in September', but it's that comfort that becomes appealing. A pleasant record for those moments when you need it. Not quite a world-beater but a good salve for those times when the world's beating you. I mean, I can't just listen to Stickmen With Rayguns constantly, can I? Doesn't sound they're trying too hard to do anything but be a good group. And the artwork is certainly something to like, ripped from the pages of the Fiend Folio. Reminsicent of Georgina Starlington as well, if that's a selling point for you.(RK)
(Dusty Medical Records // www.dustymedical.com)
The Shrewms "God Hates FAQs" LP
Catchy meat & potatoes rawk from the swashbucklers down Aussie way. The Shrewms feature a Stiv Bators worshiping, snot-nosed vocalist riding on top a sugar-frosted riffage like the Hard-Ons play. The production qualities on hand got me thinkin' about Bob Mould capturing cult kiddos GOD (referenced twice in one review pile! A pretty good year!) for an unreleased Twin Tone LP back in the day. That's right, I'm coming clean and saying some of this reminds me of early Soul Asylum and I'm totally cool with that. If you happen to have a fat stack of catchy Citadel records in yer racks or a yearning to hear the Celibate Rifles get good n' dirty, this should take you back to the glory daze of mulletted show goers. (RSF)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // www.swashbucklinghobo.com)
Sick Thoughts "18 and Free" 7"
Total Punk finally allows a Sick Thoughts 7" to slip through quality control. "18 & Free" is a good ol punker, something in it reminds me of King Louie's punk years but I'm not sure what. "Choose Death" on the flip is some real deadbeat punk, great riff, great descending feel, solo rip, even a catchy chorus. Glad he saved a good one for Total Punk. Is this the last Sick Thoughts record? (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Sleeping Beauties s/t LP
I'm a firm believer in this record being brilliant. Post-Hunches Hart delves back into rock'n'roll while post-Hunches Gunn goes off the deep end into avant-rock. Two sides of the same coin, both equally interesting, both with old pals from Eat Skull and Hospitals helping. The only thing this LP is lacking is a lyric sheet. If you recall from the Termbo interview with Gunn (the one thing I'd probably save along with GG if the place burnt down) the impetus for the "FUCK YOU DICK LLOYD!" story was the fact that Hart just wanted to meet his long time idol Craig Bell, which is realized via a a very Cleveland-esque approach here - RFTT, Eels, Mirrors. Does this sound like The Hunches? A lil bit I suppose. As much as The Hunches were Hart splling the beans on his life. Songs about drugs, songs about rock'n'roll, all given up with a great sense of humor and self-awareness. Hart spends a good portion of the record singing so you can actualy hear what he's saying, only giving us that wonderfully terrible croak in scattered moments and pulls out the Lou Reed for a song or two. This isn't a straight garage record really, it's a punk record, and it's plenty weird in its own way. The Rod vs Rob guitar skirmishes get far out, but it has the spirit of rock'n'roll throughut, which is what is most important. You can feel this record, which is it's greatest similarity to The Hunches. Raw meat is more tender, right?(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Slow Death "1985 Demo" EP
Slow Death were Prince Edward Island's first punk band (for those unaware, it's the smallest province in Canada on the far east coast - for a US equivalent think of it as if there was a sparsely populated island state off the coast Maine) and their demo cassette reissued here is something I actually had to check that Shit-Fi.com didn't write an article about at some point. It's straight edge (before edge was big) skate-punk thrash that is recorded horribly - you can somewhat hear the singer barking, drums played as fast as possible at a rudimentary skill level, bass in the background somehwere, and a really nasty distorted guitar sound that sits on top of the mix. Incredibly primitive boombox quality stuff. Even the songs have you scratching your head at times. My favorite part is whatever kid is trying to sing back-ups on "You Give Me a Headache", where he's just sort of going whooooaoahahoh randomly. "I'd Rather Burn than Bail" is a skatepunk classic I'm glad to have heard and "The Truck" and the line "Get out of that truck/you redneck fuck" also goes to show these weren't a bunch of kids who were runnning for cover everytime some hillbilly yelled "Hey Devo!" at them. They're quite fast for '85, covering topics typical for the era ("Redneck Assholes", "Scene Violence", "Stage Dive") but it's just remarkable to think of these guys playing teeen clubs in PEI in '85, probably a true case of being the only punks in the middle of nowhere. Punk rock can be magic. I think that's Tim Yo's review in the booklet that says "MDC meeets Half Japanese"! A beautiful package (color foldout insert reproducing the origial tape plus some live shots from a show in someone's living room) from a label destined to pluck at my heartstrings by releasing obscure Maritimes rockers. (RK)
(Unknown Coast // unknowncoastrecords.bigcartel.com)
Son of a Gun “Co-Pay” 7"
Four Cuts outta Chicago - decent Nuggets-influenced rock. Hell, I thought one of the tracks was a cover of “Gloria” for a sec. This holds pretty true to the 60s bands or at least neo-60s bands as the points of reference - very little sonically to connect to punk or even the early 70s oddball rock/proto punk stuff. New bands playing in this style always sound a lil’ old-timey to my ears, even moreso than the stuff that influenced them in the first place. (DH)
(Lo-Fi Supply // lofisupply.bigcartel.com)
Spike & The Sweet Spots "Strange Breed" LP
In a world awash with bullshit powerpop and fake garage I feel like Randy Records is a safe haven for me to get my fix of some actual "garage-pop" that doesnt make my skin crawl or have a Burger Records stank all over it (ok, maybe it gets a little close sometimes, but I always feel like Randy Records artists have something a little bit "off" about them that makes me think they're okay). It helps that a lot of the action revolves around the Yolks and their memebrship (as does this LP), but bands like Uh Bones make me overlook The Memories, and Dead Ghosts did enough good work for Randy and others that I can overlook their bite of the Burger. Not that it's a big concern over here at tough guy punk rock HQ anyway, but I admit I can take some garage-pop when it doesn't sound phony. But anyway, Spike hiimself has been in the Yolks all along, but this here outfit (not a great name by any means, but let's not split hairs), shows he can do more than just write party-pumpers and souled-up garagers. Spike seems like he digs Lortz's work with DATD as much as the Fums oevure. There's some acoustic sadsack folk-rock stuff, there's some soulful garage numbers, some Cartwrightian hooked-up garage rockers, some Fifties group sounds, even a little Crickets kinda stuff. He gets some girl to harmonize with him on a few tracks (which offsets his nasally tone well), there's organ on a few others, some prairie rockers similar to those Dead Ghosts (who are now dead), "Heartbreak" is one the girl sings on her own and she wails on it (and packs more whoas into a song than I thought you could), title cut is like a killer First Base number - he switches from upbeat, to bummer, from acoustic to rock, from 50s to 60s to 00s, it all worsk and never gets boring and there's little if any chaff here. A lovely little record for those who feel comfortable in this zip code. (RK)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Stick Men with Rayguns "Property of Jesus Christ" LP
12XU had the good sense to release Stick Men with Rayguns’ 'Property of Jesus Christ', one of the band’s two live albums released simultaneously by the imprint. Active throughout the early-to-late ‘80s, Stick Men with Rayguns never released a record during their lifetime, making 'Property of Jesus Christ' something of an archival gem. Contemporaries of the Butthole Surfers and Scratch Acid, SMWRG trumped all in terms of raw offensiveness. Frontman Bobby Soxx’s lyrics were dark and disturbing—and unfortunately Bobby, slightly older and more self-destructive than the average post-hardcore frontman (and that’s saying something), passed away in 2000.
Musically more interesting than many of their contemporaries, SMWRG were big on dynamics, buttressing Bobby Soxx’s rants, and guitarist Clarke Blacker treated noise and notes with equal reverence. Luckily, the ’84 set Property of Jesus Christ captures was recorded and preserved incredibly well.
Proper placement in a scene’s musical history is never assured, especially if you don’t release records (see Phoenix/Los Angeles’ The Consumers for more). 'Property of Jesus Christ' helps correct the record. It’s a rare glimpse into the band’s live set only those in the know and living in Texas got to witness during the dreaded ascent of Reaganism. (RL)
(12XU // 12xu.net)
Straight Crimes "Windows Have Feelings" LP
Oakland basement punker duo cut from the same cloth as - say - The Pyramids (aka: Love Tan), The Intelligence and the like, only less robotic edges and catchier pop leanings. The vocals fight through bedroom fuzzbombs like Mac from Superchunk, or maybe it's Mark Mothersbaugh duking it out in front of a recent Andy Human project? "Animals" is the undeniable hit within, a gem for those who use to stand close to the stage at Unnatural Helpers or early Double Fudge gigs (like me). Perfect slop rock, herk & jerk for a night of downing sip sacks fulla' bugjuice in a moldy garage space. That said, a recent line up change (a big deal in a two-piece) has sent these sounds into a tailspin. I was shocked - but not chagrined - at how much more art-abrasive Straight Crimes has become in a live setting. There's a bushel of sonic exploration ala' mid-to-late period Hospitals and some terrifying Throbbing Gristle grime in their future. Drum machined and table-loads of f/x have them shooing away those jarring and pesky pop sensibilities. Some songs on the flipside - like "Hurting Hurt" and "Taste Like Pesticides" hint at this uglier skronk to come. I do dig most of this, but I really wanna' hear that gnarly live show I took in. Tape or wax, hopefully soon. (RSF)
(self-released // www.straightcrimes.bandcamp.com)
Strul s/t 7" EP
When I saw this I swore they ripped off the cover from an old Swinehood record on Ken Rock - maybe the same artist or something, but I'm in the right ballpark as Strul are from Sweden on a label named after a Liket Lever song and are 100% punk rock. I can stand by anyone whose motto is "lo-fi hardcore for lo-fi people". These dudes certainly rip it up, they sing in Swedish (which is usually a no-no for my All American Punk/No Foreign Junk policy) but it's such a likeable and fast-blasting seven songs I don't have time to hate on that. They don't necessarily sound like HFOS, but have that spirit of just blazing through a set of tunes. Recorded pretty lo-fi and a bit sloppy and loud - singer sounds like Totalitar guy or maybe one of those bands with Svart in their name - its not just totalhardcore/dbeat, but more like super fast punk'n'roll with that real brash Swedish swagger - the gene pool where Motorhead are the first DNA strand. And hey, they thank Ken Rock in the insert! (RK)
(Levande Begravd // levande-begravd.blogspot.com)
Study Hall "Jackleen" 7"
Kinda standard post-No Bunny/Burger Recs garage. Melodic enough to nod along to but nothing as instantly memorable as any M.Melton penned tune. But your Spotify algorithm might recommend these guys based on your prior likes and you might as well give 'em a shot. (DH)
(Outside the Circle/Glad Fact // www.gladfact.com)
Thing s/t LP
Rich Crook fronted outfit that blends warbly Ramone chords with other KBD knucklehead influences. Chunks of it sounds like a full-spectrum, big room Nobunny production - if his duct taped 8-track had all its functioning channels and the urine soaked panties were kept to a minimum. Maximum accessibility, is what I speak of. It's perfectly fine background spin-time for keggers and denim demon meet ups, but after paying close attention to more than a few of the same-same-samey cuts on hand, it becomes clear this LP is about as dangerous as a vape enthusiast at a Pork Army BBQ (translation: not at all). The last tune lets loose some roller rink synth-play and a smidge of Greg Kihn rubber-legging, though it's safe to say those folks with the ELO belt-buckles have already left the building. (RSF)
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records // www.ssldrecords.bandcamp.com)
Tough Shits "Action Breeze" 7"
Slop budget pop that should fill the void for anyone who was hoping a label like Burger was gonna' let some dudes take a stab at Sheer Mag sounds. "Adult Fantasy" on the other side fares a tad better with the singers' scrappy shout yanking the grooves up out of the powerpop ghetto and lending it bit of Home Blitz, off kilter edge. That's fine. Inoffensive. I don't need it, but at least they weren't a hardcore band before going this route (or so I think). The members involved probably have more Romance Novels or Perfect Fits 45's in their accumulative collection than Sex Vid records or the like. Scum stats, you say? I've seen red ones and blue ones and green ones and..."She comes in colors - she's a rainbow...." (RSF)
(Oops Baby! // www.oopsbabyrecords.bandcamp.com)
The Toxics s/t 10"
Finish fuckers throwing out more time tested and true, screeching, primal garage bangers. The Toxics come at you, waving a fifty foot banner with their influences emblazoned in iridescent spray paint - and they ain't hiding shit. "New Skin" and the more obvious, aptly titled "Black Holes" are totally busy, hocking a three pound Oblivians/Reigning Sounds loogie in the listeners' face. The singer is so close to hyperventilating, trying to pull off his Cartwright pipes, he's damn lucky this is just a ten inch. Some solid chunks o' rock up in here, even if they aren't the most original. It's like a return of Scat Rag Boosters, The Konks or sumthin' equally out of vogue with the young'ins, but right up Little Steven's poop chute. I ain't complaining. It's not a bad waste of twelve minutes. Pleasantly fun n' dumb. I'd go post about it at the Garage Punk forum but I seem to have forgotten my password. HALP! KOPPER!! (RSF)
(Kizmiaz Records // www.kizmiazrecords.bandcamp.com)
Trans FX "The Clearing" LP
I think I missed a Trans FX LP here, the one where they started going by Trans FX instead of Transfix, and they seem to have settled into their niche a bit more comfortably since that first LP which was more on the death-rock side, to the rather lush and beautiful brit-pop-shoegazey thing they have going on here. Sounds super British if you ask me, but that's not a complaint. 'The Clearing' is a concept record if I'm getting it right, a narrative broken into four "acts" with each side separated by a piano "interlude" that has to deal with some kind of relationship and/or journey gone bad/to drugs/to jail. I'd be remiss if I did not mention JAMC in some way in this review, and although that must be mentioned they don't really sound like late-80s cosplayers or anything. I mean, they're from Olympia, they're fucking weirdos. The whole thing has sad/depressing vibes that are unavoidable, but its offset by the rich sounds they get - shimmering synths and guitars, lots of piano, mellow drum drive, definitely a deep studio trip. McDonell's vox are slightly detached, but not disinterested - maybe just pretty far out on the edge of the razor in this story. For all the heavy vibes on this record it's surprisingly not difficult to listen to. Sort of like the violet tint to the cover, super dreamy and druggy. The studio line-up is pretty much a whos-who of Olympia punk - members of Milk Music, GAG, Sex/Vid, Nudity and more, and you fucking know Captain Tripps Ballsington recorded this thing. Want to know where their heads are at? Look at the inner sleeve, and the guy playing these exceptionally beautiful piano parts is wearing a YDI shirt. That's the type of stuff I can dig. An exceptional piece of music, this is fucking art. Art on a lot of drugs, but art. Punk. Like when smart people do drugs and it makes them smarter for a little while. What? I'm wondering why this is not on Perennial and/or did they get "dropped" by K? (RK)
(Sister Cylinder // sistercylinder.bigcartel.com)
Turquoise Feeling s/t LP
"January Sisters In Drag" summons the sort melancholic garage feeling that you want (which was the title of a previous cassette release) out of a Columbus band. Several of the other tunes are attempts at climbing that same hill with varying results. "Deardful Things Done By Girls" is a speedier tempo jaunt that succeeds. The majority of the B-Side are lesser executions of the form. If just Side 1 existed, this 12" would score much higher. Includes various members of bands that never did much for me: Day Creeper, Outer Spacist, Night of Pleasure...but here they come together to do a bit more. Scum stats: 300 copies, which seems right.(RK)
(Heel Turn // heelturnrecords.com)
TVTV "I'm Trouble" 7"
Not be confused with Flipside Records recording artists TVTV$, TVTV are a punk trio from Osaka and this is their first record. They have an interesting formula on the title track which is based upon a simple needling guitar line repeated continuously, that sounds as if it's overdubbed on top of the recording with the song underneath - which itself it sort of a heavy post-punky thudder with another slippery guitar underneath that, the cant miss chorus of "I'm trouble, la lah lah lah" in supremely snotty Japanese-accented English, it all comes together as a real ballbuster - no pop (power- or -punk) in evidence, which I dig, and kind of dark. "Black and White" on the flip has another special guitar tone, this time it comes off like a real sustained laser thing (think of "The Wait"), the tune is a bit more uptempo but still on the darkside, post-punky thud gloom. Japan finally goes weird punk.(RK)
(Episode Sounds // www.episodesounds.net)
Vaaska "Futuro Primitivo" 7"
US pressing of a recent Japan tour EP from these long-running ATX thrashers. For this style HC - burly and straight ahead pummel-core - Beach Impediment Recs is clearly the standard bearer with Vaaska at the head of the flock. Fairly relentless from the get-go, a thick, full sound that bowls you over by never easing up a bit. Even when the prodigious solos drop in from hell below the rhythm pounds on. To be honest, this style is overdone but there are a few bands - Vaaska, Warthog - that stand out from the rest and continue to destroy. (DH)
(Beach Impediment Records // beachimpedimentrecords.com)
Vanilla Poppers "Lurking in the Corner of Cleveland Ohio" 7"
Six-song debut EP from Cleveland steamers, recording is outstanding and as grimy as the cover would make you believe. Distortion on high. Bass/guitar/drums sound like they're all glued together. Powerful female vocal presence offsets the low-end din well. It's all a blur until a guitar solo pokes your eye out on "Rock Bottom". "It's Love" blasts off the B-Side with a rustbelt riff that careens to a screeching halt. "Axe Wound" is yet another example of Japanese hardcore filtered through the Lake Erie sieve. Fantastic.(RK)
(Negative Jazz // negativejazz.bigcartel.com)
Vanity "Don’t Be Shy" LP
It has been said in other reviews, but goddamn this record sounds so much like they were forced to listen to Oasis for a month straight before writing it - it works, I think, or it works at least enough to keep me from laughing immediately. The vocal delivery, once you get past the heavy air of Gallagher, is pretty repetitive throughout the album. When the vocalist breaks out of his habitual cadence or goes a little high, it really adds to what they’re doin’ - “Don’t Be Shy” is probably the best and poppiest example. Then again, “Stay of Execution” is almost comedic in how much it sounds like music that has already been made. Glammy, more hypnotic tracks like “You’ll Never Matter Much to Them” are where they’re the most effective (and at the peak of their ability). It’s an airtight record, just far too full of most of the things I don’t want from rock music. (NG)
(Katorga Works // katorgaworks.bandcamp.com)
V/A Bad Indians/Milk Dick split 7"
Bad Indians: I think maybe we ought to have a moratorium on naming bands after groups of people. Especially if we aren't those people. No shortage of band name options and I haven't seen any that fall into this category that are just too clever that we can't live without. Two tracks on this one, the first is decent garage with hints of psych, a lil' tambourine, even a nice Manzarek organ solo on the first track. Second song has a vocalist trade off, and has more of a Black Lips feel.
Milk Dick: Not into this band name, either. Very different than their counterparts on this split… This side would fit in on What's Your Rupture? or something. Sparse Olympia/K sounding pop. They crank up the guitar on a solo that closes out their side but, all in all, 3 tracks of inoffensive loft pop that would play well at a gallery opening. (DH)
(Glad Fact // www.gladfact.com)
V/A Frustrations/Gazer split 7"
Frustrations: Just one track from the long running and always cool Frustrations. Seems like this band always manages to make the most of their releases and here adds intrigue in the form of an extended breakdown with sax accompaniment.
Gazer: Couple heavy noise rock jammerz from Cincy of all places. Feeling the overwhelming influence of Amrep/T&G or at least that sort of thing that’s come in the wake of those labels. Pretty powerful and effective stuff. (DH)
(Glad Fact // www.gladfact.com)
V/A Growwing Pains/Fox Fun split 7"
Growwing Pains: Fear not - note that double-w for SEO, an indispensable feature of the Pitchfork aspirational. The three tracks from WW’s fall somewhere in the Goner—>Matador continuum of indie/garage. They cut loose a couple of cool solos along the way with an assist from a choice pedal. I dig that crunchy sound they got on the solo in ‘Zoo.’ Third track is a real short Tyvek sounding stomper…shoulda done that for all three.
Fox Fun: Two tracks, Burger meets alt-country. I don’t dig it but it kinda stands out from most stuff of this type. Maybe for fans of the band Happy Birthday? (DH)
(Glad Fact // www.gladfact.com)
V/A Hallelujah!/Holiday Inn split 7"
Split 7" from a couple of Italian outfits with artwork that is of course in poor taste. Hallelujah! are noise-rockers who summon a pretty nails-on-chalkboard guitar scream for "Terror at rhe Post Office" which is what you would expect bands on AmRep today to possibly sound like with its punishing drive, "You are the Champion" wallows around in the muck and sounds okay and all but is more show than go I feel. All flash and little substance. Holiday Inn (I do like that name) are a two-piece who contribute a five minute track of synth drone and drum machine and yelling that's real wacky. Far out, guys. I'm sure it's a real hoot live and all but I'll take a pass on listening this one again. Scum stats: 300 copies, screened sleeves with stamps.(RK)
(Maple Death // www.mapledeathrecords.com)
V/A "Killed by Meth" LP
Now here's a compilation theme that is close to my heart, a chronicle of the "now sound" of the Rust Belt, a region I have lived within for my entire life. These tracks are all supposed to be demos/unreleased material from up and cumming young talents, which explains the absence of many current heavy hitters of the region, and they extend the geography out to Milwaukee and up to Toronto, but I suppose that's allowed depending on who you ask. I feel this is an important undertaking though - the best music ever created has hailed from the area covered here (Cleveland and Columbus in particular, then Detroit, and of course I love WNY) and this is important art to be documenting. Let's get on with it, shall we? SIDE 1: PUBERTY: are the latest Rotcore outfit, with members from Beastman, Flip Shit and others (and the one time I did see them actually had Bret from Bad Taste on guitar) and it's more in the vein of goofy punkola with zany vocals and lyrics and "cheese whistle" but what do you expect when you have a guy named Beefus in the band? I'll tell you what, I want more rock and less jokes out of my Rotcore. REAL REGUAR: one of the best of the new breed in Clevo (alongside Bad Noids, Perverts Again and Rubbermate) and this one fits their M.O. to date - big ol rubbery bass/drum skulk, some unexpected jew's harp and "Buff" showing some restaint on the vox. Winner. NO BAILS: Kalamazoo's hardest working rockers (meaning I can see all these guys doing 9 to 5's and then using band practice to keep them from going insane) give us some heavy garage rock, the lyrics are the best part. It's garbage day, working man. SENOR CITIZEN & THE BORDER PATROL: a pretty unfortunate name, I'll say that, but it's also ex-Feelers so I really want to like it, but ehh....PERVERTS AGAIN: Clevo is keeping this comp afloat, and PA do the meaty big beat and monotone it up, sounding as if Devo actually were a bunch of dummies and not college students. ORNERYS: best band in Wisconsin these days by a long shot. I'm glad The Tonys is out from under that Drugs Dragons thing. It was just too much of the same old shit. Here he goees back to the beginning, and plays drums and sings in a true shit-fi garage-punk basher band. Where he belongs. Great cut. KLAZO: from London, ON, they do some scratchy 1-2 garage-punk that is nothing to write home about. BSHC: are from fucking Guelph of all places! Shit yeah, go Storm! I like what they lay down here, really shit fi and staticky banging that reminds me a lot of early Blowtops with more of a punk edge. Likey. SIDE 2: RADIATION RISKS: Buffalo's best act right now. Their tapes have been steadily been killing more and more, but I feel like they tossed one off here. Not their best cut, but maybe they had to dig deep for something they haven't put out yet. CHATTERING CLASS: I think this band from TO might already be over and done, which is a shame because it's a good tune that has me thinking they've heard a Drags record or two. EVERYDAY OBJECTS: from Cinci, four piece, they do some weird breakdown zaniness that gets real tired real fast. PLASMALAB: the Big Smoke with another winner! This might be the best cut here - shit-fi rumble under some great vox that remind me of LA punk in the best ways. CHEETAHS: from Detroit doing some super watered down Motor City Rock, this might as well be a Woven Bones song or something. MUD CITY MANGLERS: okay, here's a ringer in the line-up. MCM have been around forever and sound pretty much the same as they always have - buzzsaw garage punk with ragged vocals. Still snotty, they do this 90s brand as well as anyone. HEMINGERS: Ben Lyon's shit-fi shitshow outta Coldwater, MI that's always fun and always sloppy and always welcome. NOBLE SAVAGES: these Hamilton rawkers end the comp with a whimper, a totally useless rawk'n'roll number called "Rock Bottom Tonight" that's about as inventive as that song title makes you think. What's the verdict here? Well, I wish it was better, but I still got to hear great stuff from some bands I've never heard before - Plasmalab and BSHC were the real highlights of this comp, and both happen to be Canadian. The Cleveland bands do what they can. And then the vets like Ornerys, Hemingers and MCM hold it down. The WNY offering were a bit disappointing, but what can ya do. I still say this is worth a pick-up, and I hope to see them perfect the formula a bit more on a Volume 2.(RK)
(Its Trash Records // itstrahrecords.bandcamp.com)
V/A Urochromes/Wizzard Sleeve "Two Mens - Live at WFMU" split 12"
A tale of two bands, both made up of two men, both of whom ended up at WFMU, the world's greatest radio station. Western MA's Urochromes set was recorded in 2015, by the drum machine version of the band. Jackie Boy and Dirk Diggler rip through seven, including soon-to-be classics such as "Country Joe", "Ugly", "Two Men", "I Dont Wanna Be Like Me" and more. The pro gear at WFMU almost makes this sound better than the tape/demo versions of the tunes, and the duo don't miss a step. The only thing missing is seeing Jackie Boy mug it up live, which was a highly entertaining part of their live set. One of the upper echelon of current acts, in particular considering their locale. Wizzard Sleeve, two man version of Gary Wrong and Benny Devine (who plays more instruments himself than most bands in total) recorded their set six years previous in 2009 (before Gary Wrong Group "existed") right around when the Hozac LP just came out and they run throgh their hits thus far - "Alabama's Doomed", "Pteradactyl Meltdown" and three more (including one called "Rotten Hole"" which I can't place) and sound like a full band - I'm imagining you have Bennny playing drums and keys simultaneously and GW on guitar, vox and probably fiddling with a synth himself. As much of a mess these guys sometimes seem like, you should never underestimate the talents of these two Southern gentlemen. I've seen them completely destroy as a duo, and that's with a bunch of substances coursing through them on top of it. Obviously good sound from the WFMU engineers, and isn't the WFMU session the equivalent of a Peel Session these days? Two men, two bands, so similar and so different and so beautiful maaaan. But really, this is a worthwhile purchase if you're a fan of either ot both or neither come to think of it. Seems a bit of an odd pairing, but I think this could do some good cross-pollination getting elder statesmen WS to the kids digging Urochromes, and vice versa. Screened and stamped sleeves, with insert.(RK)
(Jeth-Row // jethrowrecords-at-yahoo.com)
V/A Watery Love/Sadahiro Yamada split 7”
Great new split from Selection Records. Watery Love’s track is a fairly faithful — which is to say solid — live version of “Leave Me Alone” off Lou Reed’s seminal punk-era 'Street Hassle' album. Tokyo-based Sadahiro Yamada’s two tracks sound different than the ones found on his previous Selection LP — which I recall being more psychedelic/Hawkwind-esque. Yamada has gone more New York Dolls/Allen Page (“Dateless Night”) on this one with vocals in Japanese. Well worth the price of admission. (RL)
(Selection Records // www.selectionrecords.com)
Vincas "Deep In The Well” LP
I have a type, don’t I? And here I thought only thought NYC was allowed to sound like this. Spook blues psyche with gutbucket swagger from deepest Georgia, who I liked to some degree the first time around (via Douchemaster). More of the same is on hand, creaking back and forth between the Inca Babies cave paintings, Gallon Drunk's drunktank and the bourgeois fumes of the Bellmer Dolls (who?). The more I listen to this, the more I wanna' listen to it again. Opener "Black Out" and "Black Rose" are what happens when you let Kim Salmon gun his way through Depeche Mode's darkest catalog. The slide during tunes like "Not Home" picks up the Gun Club fumble Cheena left behind for glitter rock and runs with it for a touchdown. "Lowborn" and "Lost Spectre" kicks up the Aussie thug flurry, ripening to quite a Blacksnakes-meets-B-Day Party of a peach. If anything, it reminds me of how awesome it was to ride the coattails of that Woman reunion over the summer. "Love Noose" rests upon a torqued Scientist frame as well - and they're fully aware, rest assured. Mature, black suited scree for ex-punks and ex-cons. Nowhere near as scary as others in the "murder-blues-churn" genre, but it'll do in a pinch for a date night with a steak knife. For fans of Musk (PLUG). (RSF)
(Learning Curve Records // www.learningcurverecords.com)
Violence Creeps "The Gift Of Music" 12"
I've been watching this strange fruit come to full bloom over the last few years and now that baby's all grown up, it fills me with glee that a heaping chunk of you came along for the ride. Like all the best nutbags running rampant throughout the basement circuit as of late (NSU, Coltranes and Acrylics come to mind) VC learned quickly that the modern (yawn) hardcore blueprint and spazz-punk trappings can be tiresome - and responded by taking a backwards dive down that rickety staircase, spoiling the shows for the lesser, boring lemmings. Y'no, those who can't deal with things as awesome as jazz flutes, flaming Amboy Dukes guitar solos, Soft Cell covers or the sourest bass notes this side of a rotten fish pate. Fuck'em. Bores.
The Total Punk moguls caught a whiff of something special and whipped out their lino block knives early, carving out the best Creeps plate to date. A collection of fresh kills, recorded in a matter of moments and shining in their immediacy. Chaotic one-take wonders like "Windowshopper" roughs things up straight away in crunchy slowcore gallop, spring loaded back beats and that always oddball bass throwing about sideways funk runs that batter and wedge the listener into claustrophobic crannies. "The Future's Rigged" shoves a so-clean-it-sparkles guitar strum into your grill, fighting off the urge to slack grunge about (is that Pavement? Weezer?) derailing soon enough within an epic fuzzed n' phasered demon battle ending. "Scent" and "Back And To The Left" are probably the most centered punk tunes in the mix, but both are riddled in pedal f/x shrapnel, leaping like a lysergic toad from tone to tone. Amber does her best Deborah Iyall, chewing a hole through the punkest of numbers, leading up to that flanged, fuckered rendition of "Sex Dwarf". Screw loose - and complete with electronic dog barking - this cover should keep the average collegiate lettered, straight-edgers in a deserved panic. "Everybody Says Fuck You" wraps up this majesty, drowning in a molasses grooved Flipper minimal/nihilism. Self defeating and dying on its own terms; any satisfying closure is rendered useless as the tape runs short during the pivotal six minute mark - and no one involved seemed to care. Brilliant. By the time you read this, their "Soul Narc" full length will be peppered throughout your local Peaches or Warehouse music chain bins as well. Why not go full meal deal and gorge away on the Creeps this holiday? Tis the season. The title says all. (RSF)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Visitors "Poet's End" LP
The complete Visitors compilation, including their three singles plus four unreleased tracks all recorded via BBC/Peel assistance. A John Peel post-punk favorite, they've been on the fringes of the comp game (fitting in perfectly on 'Neighbour Annoyer' and of course a Messthetics appearance), most recently popping up on 'Cease & Desist' with "Electric Heat" (which is their best and most aggro tune) and they certainly deserve this collection, in particular when considering the UKDIY subgenre is the new KBD. Even though these Scots onlly lasted a few years, that's a good run considering, plus three singles is not a bad track record. They had quite a variety of sounnds too - "Visitors" is very Fall, "Compatability" is nearly GoF like, "Electric Heat" is a driving stab of synth-driven punk rock, there's probably a reason why "Distance" was never released though, "Exploiting the Masters" isn't the only one that is Wire-y, "Compatabilty" is PiL with added dramatics. Short and sweet, an even dozen from a band who had a brief stint on the marquee. The unreleased cuts don't add much, but as a singles comp it's effective and worthwhile. (RK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)
Warm Bodies "Domo" 7"
Mr. Neck Chop here with another case of putting a cassette release to vinyl - and this time I definitely see why. Kansas City's Warm Bodies are fully formed, past the demo stage and ready to rock. Six songs, all killers and most importantly, 100% punk rock. Not pop, not garage, not post-whatever, no gimmick, they just do what they're supposed to - sound like today, not 1977 or 1997. Like any good punk band, the foundation is the strong rhythm setion, these are the guys who have to come to work everyday and be good at their job and make no mistakes. Tight enough that you might not even realize they're there, the underappreciated engine of the whole thing. This guitar player is pretty hot shit too, playing with, at and around them - riffing in tandem at times and then at others as if he's playing opposite them, attacking the beat. A smart player for sure, sneaking in hot licks between hard riffs. Song structure is choppy at times, but never awkward, swinging momentum, and again like the good ones always on point - the energy never wanes, they're constantly swinging. Very tasteful use of gutar effects as well - used for exclamation or emphasis when needed, not as the basis for the band's entire sound. Olivia Gibb's vocal presence ties the whole thing together, a perfect punk singer whether sneering, speaking or yelling - I'm pretty tough on girls on the mic, but she's good - a bit of echo, a little bit of voice cracking/shrillness on the high/elevated notes which is just perfect, a commanding performance. For a modern comparison lets say Mystic Inane but with more Ginn than Baiza and less downer vibes - these aren't exactly uppers either, but they're more weird than dark - or say a heavier CCTV without the goofiness. Neither comparison is fair though as Warm Bodies have carved out a pretty unique sound of their own - it's as if they're careening out of control and are in complete control simultaneously. As I've already said, every song is a hit here, I can't even pick a favorite - maybe "Crybaby" because they somehow wedged the hardest riff into it - I hate to say it's a flawless record, but I think it's true. Perfectly put together, not a weak link in the chain - I was gonna say the artwork was bad, but after listening to this record about 25 times it actually makes sense. Go and buy this immediately and preorder their next one on Thrilling Living. Definitley some A-grade meat here.(RK)
(Neck Chop Records // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com )
The Wead "By the Whey" 7"
Archival release of unissued '66 tracks from Clevo. Two cuts of spunky, jangly, edgy rock that was on the wild side for its time. This is probably just a bit shy of meeting BFTG standards but certainly good enough for Teenage Shutdown or some similar comp. Very good stuff here. (DH)
(Slovenly Recordings // www.slovenly.com)
Whitney Houston's Crypt s/t 7"
Terribly named (just slightly worse than Danny Whitten's Veins but a little better than King Tears Mortuary) Australian band rise above that handicap and play an interesting variation of that death-rock thing popular with the kids these days. The band is calling it dark wave or swamp no-wave, and at least they're upfront about it. "Twosomes Threesomes" is the winner here right from the open, it's your typical bass/drum lock into a sediment groove (Birthday Party hats are on) with guitar whammying all over, andd the singer sort of makes it stand out how she just yells hoarsely instead of "singing". It's a deep groove. "Hatoful Boyfriend" (sic) really deaths it up, with scaling guitar line, drum pound and a real gross bass sound/clunk that works and throat rending yelling again which comes up just short of too much. "Michael Hotchips" on Side B gets the no wave thing where they have this out of tune guitar and bass tone going that sort of lopes along with the drumming - musically, it does remind me of Scratch Acid a bit, not gothy but that darkly lysergic thing. The vocals continue the yelling which seems more fitting for a grindcore act at this point. I like it quite a bit musically, it's old tricks, but it's a good sound and they're doing a thing or two most other magicians arent doing. That Side B plunk really sounds like it's melting when it goes up the scale then down and creates some seasickness. The vox I'm not thrilled about but in the context I guess it almost has to work. At least its not another new wave dance band of ex-punks or another Cosmic PSychos clone or that awful mope-rock shit where every band souds the fucking same. I could actually pick these guys out of a line-up, which says something. Vacant Valley are usually pretty good about releaseing the weirder end of things, so here you go...(RK)
(Vacant Valley // vacantvalley.bandcamp.com)
Wilful Boys "Rough As Guts" LP
Another of E/N records Aussies-living-in-NYC projects, and it's par for the course on that front. I hate to say I've had more than enough Aussie rock, but I think I have, at least in this particular vein. It's by no means a bad record, but one I feel I've heard more than enough times over the past few years. Solid, agressive, forceful rock'n'roll a la Cuntz, Sewers, Bits of Shit, Shovels, Gentlemen, etc.... Completely serviceable for the "genre" but nothing different here either. Sorry mates. Love the artwork though! (RK)
(Ever/Never // evernever.bigcartel.com)
Woodboot "Krang Gang" LP
First release from Neck Chop Records, who've burst into existence seemingly overnight with a huge investment in a giant-sized punk distro that is getting everything you want (right up there with Floridas Dying and Sorry State) in stock immediately and a six or seven record deep label-side already in motion. Dude definitely put his money where his mouth is here, and that's a good thing - we need more risk-takers and movers. 'Krang Gang' is a vinyl pressing of Woodbot's 2014 demo tape - the demo to vinyl thing doesnt always make sense to me. Woodbot released an actual LP after the demo, and while it doesn't repeat any songs (at least as far as I can tell), it seems a bit odd to me. Quality-wise, their TP 7" is the high water mark, and these tunes are not on that level nor are they on par with the 'Crime Time' LP. Somehow that actual LP sounds rawer than this demo. A bonehead Aussied-up version of The Spits perhaps - it's stripped and simple 1-2 punk, with a defintite catchiness/poppiness, this recording is cleaned up pretty well, and for a band with such brutal artwork they're actually not that sloppy or stupid. Could call em Rip Off style even. "Mutant Eye" is probably the dumbest song here, and therefore my favorite. I dont love these guys, but I do like em I suppose. This demo LP finds them fumbling around a bit (which is the point of a demo), but the 'Crime Time' LP shows off a more finished product: less pop/catchy, more agression, which is ho they sound best. (RK)
(Neck Chop Records // neckchoprecords.com)
XL-Fits "The Hakata Slasher" 7"
Straight up TOTAL KBD DESTRUCTION on the A-Side, reminiscent of Child Molestors or Dogs, deep bottomed low end chug with a wobbly bass line and off balance drumming, guitar is either chugging down a bonehead riff or a dumbed-down Ginn sort of solo, vox are in the vein of Screaming Mad George. Unexpectedly shambloic Japanese take on things, very successful. B-Side adds a savage basher ("Human Being") and a weirdo repeat-o-roller (with some funny "HO HO HO" backing vox) that sounds like two or three different songs spliced together. Neither masters the form as well as the A-Side, but this is still one of the best Flat Tire Punk records to cross these shores in some time. Exceptional.(RK)
(Episode Sounds // www.episodesounds.net)
Yuri Gagarin "Sea of Dust" 7' EP
Yuri Gagarin could be huge in Sweden for all I know. They should be. They're an impessive space rock five-piece who are the modern equivalent to an instrumental Scandanavian Hawkwind. Interstallar synth power propels them through the universe on two epics that push the boundaries of the seven-inch format. Wandering guitar solos. That perpetual WHOOSH of outer sppace synth. Proton-driven rhythm section. Pretty massive stuff that should apeal to grizzly sci-fi rock heads and fans of the stoner rock equally these days. Gatefold seven inch with fitting artwork.(RK)
(Ultraljud Records // www.ultraljudrecords.se)
Zoomers "From the Planet Moon" 7"
Mighty Mouth is doing god's work in continuing to crank out replica reissues from the American underground. This 1981 single from Baton Rouge's Zoomers was totally unknown to me. How I missed a single of DIY punk/pop from the Gulf Coast that was issued in a hand-painted sleeve will be the topic of many sessions with my therapist going forward. But for everyone else, this'll do... To an extent you can hear some similar melodies to the Shit Dogs' pop stuff or maybe Wayward Youth, as refracted through a broken, psychedelic lens. Pop melodies fall apart, deconstructed and taped back together, and are much more interesting for it. This is pretty essential. (DH)
(Mighty Mouth Music // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Richie Records Summer Series
We'll start with the Watery Love 7" with two variations on the recurring dreamcatcher theme. "Ned's Dreamcatcher" has one the most crisp Watery Love guitar solos to date on it, and they hit a real summer time groove here even if Richie's lyrics deal with ("a bird will shit on your face/youll fall down a hole") the myriad ways a person can come leave this mortal coil. It WILL happen to you, that's for sure. Still, it's pretty upbeat. The flip is "Meg's Dreamcatcher", re-recorded from its orinal version which appeared on that split with Vile that came out via Pitchfork that no one has. It's a fucking heavy riff and shows that these guys love NYHC as much as the next guy, shit there's almost a breakdown/mosh part in this song and the duelling solos get so tangled it's fucked and for some reason this song reminded me they have a bass player in this band. Small hole 7" here. Mordecai get the big hole treatment and start their platter with "Want to Be" which is some of their free-est jamming in a bit, and I think they actually play it twice here or just stop and start again, pretty folky, recorded live I'm sure and the rhythm gets into a good and relaxed little pocket there while Holt wanders around lyrically and guitarically - on some listens I think the first half is a dream and the second half is reality. Either way it's the kind of song where you think everything sounds perfect and then someone who listens to "normal" music will hear it and say "what the fuck are you listening to, thats awful" and it will remind you that you've at least done a few things right in your life. "Pictures of Her w/Them" on Side B has the fellas getting even more hippie with that percussion and making a guitar sound like a sitar, but then I sometimes think it also sounds like them doing the VU thing, and again they sneak like two songs into one here, opening it up for some rocking in the second suite that sounds real Columbussy to me and then it just fades out. I've heard a rockier version of this tune at some point (dated 2014) and it fascinates mme that they've been playing around with this one for a few years now. Man, these kids are good. American Guitar Rock from the source. Homostupids record is obviously phenomenal, but I'm saving that rant for the print edition. Scum stats: available only as a package deal (which is only right), 250 copies each, Steve Peffer artwork on 'em all. If you didn't buy these already I'm afraid that's a lapse in judgment I cannot forgive. No excuses.(RK)
(Richie Records // testostertunes.bigcartel.com)