REVIEWS SUMMER 2017
Key: (RK: Rich K.)(NG: Nick Goode)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(RR: Russ M.)(EH: Enrique Hilfiger)
Abjects "Gone" 12"
Four song 12" EP here, so they get the "What is the best format?" question correct right off the bat. Abjects are a trio, with feet in both London and Barcelona according to promo materials, with all three ladies sharing vocal duties. Title track is straight mid-tempo garage with a good guitar tone and some force behind it, the harmonies on the chorus add the desired dreaminess. "Love Hate" is a slow burn with all the vocals achieving dreamy status this time and there's plenty of twang on the guitar, although the song itself goes down so smooth it might lull you into a nap. I think that's good in this instance though. "Ratrace" starts off the B-Side on a real punky number (sounds a bit Medway via Rip Off all cleaned up) with lyrics in Spanish (leave it to the Spanish girl to bring the punk) and they end with "Mine" which is basically a Holly Golightly song - that sort of pretty garage-rock with a slight country twang that she wrote the book on. A fine record, far from earth shattering, but not unpleasant at all. Scum stats: first press of 300 on blue (sold out, yo) with a repress on pink. (RK)
(Stolen Body // stolenbodyrecords.co.uk)
Aerkenbrand "Earthen Head" LP
Denmark's Mastermind Records are the most underappreciated label in the world. Fact. Aside from their assistance in getting some essential Clev-o sounds released (we're talking Folded Shirt and Flying T-Bones 12"es), which alone gives them massive points, they've been steadily putting out some of the best records by some of the most unknown and talented bands in the world as well. I've already gone on at length about Narcosatanicos and how incredible they are, there's also Angkor Wrack, Melting Walkmen and of course Aerkenbrand. A Danish duo, Aerkenbrand have released a few tapes and an excellent 12" EP (also on Mastermind), and this full length furthers their development as experimental folk/rock titans. Over these eight tracks they hone in on the darkest vibes and eeriest soundscapes they've pursued yet, masterfully played and composed. Based around acoustic guitars, which gives them a tenuous "folk" sound, they flesh things out with layers and layers of other instruments, drums and other percussion, multiple guitar tracks, tasteful amounts of synth and baritone vocals and chanting when needed (not to mention some howls/yells/etc..). Everything comes together as some sort of viking folk-rock with mythological overtones, touches of industrial, a slight black metal influence in tone, things move along from mid-tempo hymns to glacial drones and chants. The best part is that you can easily relate though, as it's very much rock music ("Mirror" even has a big time riff) with folk underpinnings and plenty of experimentation going on. That it's all very legitimately frightening yet not overly melodramatic (as much "pagan folk" can be) is incredible - they've crafted some deep and complex music here that really does create some unmistakably mystical vibes. Aesthetically pleasing and not lacking in guts, talent or power. Scum stats: 300 copies only.(RK)
(Mastermind Records // mastermindrec.bandcamp.com)
Ahoe-Ahoea "True Love Never Dies" LP
First time reissue of this Dutch DIY band's cassette only full length from 1983. The name is a riff on Tarzan's yell (like the whoop you would let outwhile pounding your chest before swinging on a rope) and they utilize said sound (does this count as onomatopoeia?!) on the first track titled after said sound and we get to realizing right off the bat they're one of those zany outfits who have the tendency to run at two speeds: completely annoying goofy songs and pretty damn good weird-punk songs. But seriously, first track got under my skin enough to where I was wondering if I had the fortitude for the whole thing...and it's pretty long song. Second cut is a fast needle jab that has the dude doing a John Cooper Clarke kinda spiel, and this guy pretty much holds the keys to the car for the whole recor - when he's good he's good, when he's being an annoying shit, it's notso good. On "baseballgame" his vocal affectation of choice is doing a Count von Count "AH AH AH" at the end of a bunch of lines, sort of MES-like actually. Of course the rhythm section runs like a machine, those Dutch can really bite down hard on a beat. "I Fell Tower" is him doing a lot of laughing. Then the last track of the side kicks in, and it's the first killer cut of the record. Guess what it's called? "TERMINAL BOREDOM", I shit you not. Rife for sampling for the theme song to the podcast I've been planning for the past ten years. Coming soon. Right. It's a good and stark crawling bassline and drum ratatat, some guitar lightly sprinkled on, and it sort of has a good hook. Again, built in a Fall-ish template. B-Side has a couple more winners - "the 2nd 100 year" has both a human drummer and a drum machine ticking along steadily and it's a very quaint almost pop number with some synth flourish in the second half, the guy manages to control himself on vox thankfully. "Fixer Uppers" gets into some JD moves (Joy Division not juvie delinquent...), very stern. "icebusiness" continues with a more friendly attitude, and they do the drumbox/human thing again which I like a lot, a pretty triumphant number that I might even suggest is their best. If youre a Messthetics type, you'll dig this more than a guy like myself who has a low tolerance for schticky-DIY, but really from the last track of Side A on it's very very nice. And hey, "Terminal Boredom", right? Fantastic package as usual from Bunkerpop (and do yourself a favor and get that Null & Void record if you dont have it already).(RK)
(Bunkerpop // bunkerpop.bandcamp.com)
Atom Mouth Gimlies "Music On Quills" LP
Every now and then (though rarely) something arrives in my mailbag -sounds unheard - and knocks me sideways. The early Atom Mouth Gimlies cassettes I received moons ago were some of those things. To this day those tapes are as cherished by me as baby photos to others. Glad to see they're still trudging through the waters/forests of Finland. From the looks and sounds of this 45RPM "full length", I'd say it was recorded live in whatever shack or bait shop is pictured on the sleeve. After a couple detours through clearer, nearly-produced pastures in recent years, the Gimlies have knuckle dragged their sound back down into the ol' septic tank. The opening duo of "Creator" and "Hermit" show these gents relish performing through a turbines worth of overdriven whoosh, feedback blur and tinnitus ring. It's so damn noisy the vocals tend to get lost, clawing as best they can to keep ahead/on top of the scree. Most would turn down their gear and try to re-record. Bless these brave souls. Lord knows I'm lost just sitting here listening. The dust settles a tad as "Get Back Into This World" and "This Train" battle it out for most-likely-to-bend-the-ears of whoever ran the Nasty Product label, but both tunes just give up wherever a wicked lead should sprout up or pesky chorus would arrive to give listeners something to gnaw on. I wouldn't be surprised if most of this was made up on the spot. Certainly the Gimlies have spent less time honing these tracks than even the Bad Times LP. "Pink Flies" follows suit, but adds f/x garble and a warbled guit-fit to the shenanigans, vibing like the first Horrors LP. Don't start to think they went proper, though. The vocals are still coming from some poor sap, out drowning in a bog. More "songs" flail from the plate on the flip, scattering various shards of detritus to and fro - but the final track ("Into A Better World") gives up on challenging fidelity entirely and just lets the amplifier hum obliterate any instrumental separation. The grooves may have melted together in the long overseas transit for all I know, but I fear they actually wanted it to sound this way. Shit-mess of a trainwreck or not, I'm still smiling when it all comes to an end - and that doesn't happen nearly enough in these grim review times. Keep em coming you Finnish freaky-deakies! (RSF)
(Jumatsuga // www.jumatsuga.blogspot.com)
Beatniks s/t 7"
Second 7" from these Bay Area hepcats after a release on Goodbye Boozy that I did not hear. Members of all those Bay bands people love - The World (hey, I love them too), Life Stinks (how can you not love them?), Violent Change (meh), Andy Human and/or a Reptoid (I'm nonplussed by that whole thing really). So this band is probably a bit more than half good based on that math. And how right I am. A-Side is stunning - super simple but ultra-grooved out and hypnotic garage-punk. "Beatnik Theme" is really a killer (think maybe a less existential Life Stinks), a real mid-tempo burner with an infectious riff, a little dumb, vox are perfectly shouted. Was not expecting a song that good. "New Religion" ups the tempo like one click for a shorter but still effective number that has a nice little solo/breakout section I dig a lot. I'm excited for a good record after that side, forgetting that that only half this record is going to be good according to my calculations. Which I am reminded of forthwith. "Broken Ear Obvious" (or whatever the title is) is some half-ass garage turkey jive, "Egg Song" is murky punk rock that just goes right through you. Eh, I was right though. A-Side of this is highly recommended. Then skip the B-Side and just go listen to a Life Stinks record. And there's something to think about here - most of the people in this band are in like 2 or 3 other bands as well - when you spread yourself around like that, maybe the songwriting sometimes gets a little thin. It's always good to realize who the "A" bands are for those involved and stick with them. Also, I'm deducting points because they do not use the gimmick of all dressing up like Maynard G. Krebs.(RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Borzoi "Surrender The Farm" 7"
Austin burl-churners that have me thumbing through the ol' Blackjack mailorder catalog, trying to hunt down some like-minded kooks to lazily compare 'em against. Borzoi caters to those full blown shite-rock freaks who relish in infinite Aussie-esque rubbery bass snaps and rotted muffler guitar groans. I imagine heading out on a Noiseville sponsored hunting weekend and dragging David Yow along as your sherpa would compare nicely to this. "Surrender The Farm" offers up four aggro bowl-you-over scree spoutings of the recent Pampers or Spray Paint caliber. 'Round track three - "Desert Rose" - the pedal board overload lets up a smidge, allowing the band to cut loose some sorta' danceable jig that should satiate those wishing Arab On Radar or Six Finger Satellite would return for more than the occasional festival gig. Lots of stress up in here and not much relief, kiddos. Well worth the dime and time if you suffer from smoothed-over knuckle scarring or a penchant for chewing tablecloth linen. I - luckily - happen to fall in both of those categories. (RSF)
(12XU // www.12xu.bigcartel.com)
Brain Bagz "God Hates Bagz" 7"
A three song banger by some current SLC faves of mine. "No Taste For Thriller" lurks in a Kim Salmon-style swamp scuzz, Brainbombing minds with noir-ish saxophone bleats as it creaks onward. "Eyes Of Night" stumbles along like a deranged off-tempt at The Cramps "Can't Find My Mind", but crumbling within a choked spew akin to those early Blowtops sounds. Also: more fuckin' saxophone! The final chapter - "Static Static" - creaks upon a rusty sawblade swing, splitting itself at the halfway point and dragging the tracks remains through some Alice Cooper creepycrawl or some other likeminded grotesqueries. A simple, effective and surly swagger that has me pleased as punch to see pressed up on vinylz. A band to watch with bloodshots peeled. Bring on the Bagz! (RSF)
(Sex Tape Records // www.sextaperecords.com)
Buck Biloxi "Hollow Earth" EP
Latest and greatest from Buck Biloxi (no Fucks this time), following the "Obama Is A Cyborg" 7" released in Euroland. Back to basics here, Charms (Nots) on drums and Mark David Batman on everything else (guitar, bass and there's a synthy thing on one song) and that's it, and I like it. Sounds like the first coupla seven inches, all treble and downstroke, simple bassline and Charms keeping it moving. We are left to our own devices to title these tunes, my tracklist turned out thusly: A1: "Hollow Earth" (duh) A2: "I'm Fat" (not a Weird Al cover, but my fave tune on here and it kinda rips off the guitar part from "Holodeck Survivor"), B1: "Something (That Rhymes With Hype or Type)" (this one is good too, and you can make out most of the lyrics except the one I want to be the title - it sounds like he's really got something to say on this one though), B2: "In & Out of Shit". It's tempting to say this guy just does not give a shit anymore - couldn't be bothered with a tracklisting, is basically playing the same variation of one or two songs over and over, didn't even make up more than one pseudonym - but I know this is not true. This record would not be as good as it is if the guy gave no fucks. Exquisite shit-fi sound on this one, it's records like this that make me want to go on living.(RK)
(Holotrash Records // soundcloud.com/holotrash)
Buck Gooter "100 Bells" LP
The B-Goots are a mystical two headed beast thats been busy spreading their metallic/freak/industrial chunder for nearly a decade now and it seems that certain tastemakers (like that muscly one with the salt & pepper hair and the Black Flag bars tattooed) are finally catching up. A Virginia bred, mechanized hate and clangor that one would assume is being played into a void - unless Godflesh or Burnt Skull were to make a wrong turn on tour. Luckily for me, they trudged across the land this past spring to blow the glass doors and basket weavings off a coffee house wall here in Oakland. I assumed they'd be good - hell, even quirky. I didn't expect the punishingly loud, concrete force of sound that battered me about their half hour set. Brutally loud, industrial strength noise that nearly became trance inducing through a suitcase full of bells (literally) and whistles (figuratively). This LP reflects said show, quite well. Earlier platters made me think of likeminded yokels Slicing Grandpa or maybe even the folks behind that Black Velvet Fuckre label - but nowadays they could take on either the combat booted, trench-coated mafiosoes or a crew of cargo shorted 90's noise-rockers with ease. Electro-grunt funk folk fulla' of drum machine crunch and the scattered clatter of dubious origins. The title track or the theremin-laced "Curl" would feel right at home on that old Mesomorph Enduro or Devil's Jukebox comps. When guiterrorist Terry Turtle takes the helm during tunes like "Goats Are Cool" and "Hey Lou", his warbled vocals add Michael Yonkers outsider flutter to its off-kilter hobo-blues. "Pray To God" and "One War" rollick in that WaxTrax gone to rust in the marshlands that I dig so very much. A solid listen throughout. No bullshit and zero pretension. Just warped outsider aggression. It's not for everyone, but if you like folk art tribalism, serial killer vibes and secretly hope Harmony Korine's rolling out a sequel to Gummo soon, there's enjoyment to be had in this toolshed. (RSF)
(Ramp Local // www.ramplocal.bandcamp.com)
Bulsch "Tartington" EP
A concept band so ridiculous it could only come from Cleveland. Three singers in matching red turtlenecks sing in a made up language over some sloppy and semi-inept punk. Kinda stomping and simple dumb punk (not surprisingly) that gets sort of catchy (very surprisingly) over four tracks. I suppose you need to see this live to get the full effect, but it's actually pretty good on record. Lo-fi stupidity gets me every time though. A "side project" from members of Perverts Again, Cruelster, Vanilla Poppers, Prison Moan and more - and honestly better than records by some of those bands (well, not Perverts Again, but Cruelster definitely), and certainly owes some debt to Sockeye and that whole spectrum of absurdity (technically from Kent, but beloved in Clevo). Scum stats: there was a limited Horriblefest edition of this one (with equally awful artwork), and I believe the total press is 300. Comes with lyric insert so you can sing along.(RK)
(Blow Blood // blowbloodrecords.bigcartel.com)
Greg Cartwright "Tin Ten" 7"
Congrats to Dusty Medical on hitting the 50 release milestone, and congrats as well for it being a Greg Cartwright 7", an artist that I know the label CEO is particularly fond of. With that out of the way, this 7" is two songs of high class acoustic singer/songwriter-ing for adults who still like rock'n'roll. A-Side ("Come A Little Closer") is the rougher of the pair, a little dark perhaps. Flipside is a slow jam weeper about loving a girl. Greg Oblivian (I'll use his real name now) has written a LOT of songs about girls over the years. These are two more of them. (RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
Cavemen "Dog On A Chain" 7"
Not to be confused with our heroic Cavemen from Boston, these Cavemen are the London-via-NZ version of the name. They're not bad if you want to hear the sounds of mid-Nineties Estrus today (and I'll admit, sometimes I do). They do a beefy version of the latter day Makers sound or a heavy Cynics, even closer to the Coyotemen thing - whomping basslines and overamped fuzz guitar carrying the tunes. Thematically, it's a cornucopia of garage turkey cliches, right down to screaming "rock'n'roll!" at one point. "Dog on A Chain" has guest backing vox from a femme fatale, it's all high energy and crazeeee vox and leopard print, not the freshest sound out there, but they're competent players who have studied the form and execute it with gusto. Next.(RK)
(Slovenly // www.slovenly.com)
Celebrity Handshake “Also Starring Celebrity Handshake As Celebrity Handshake” CD
The quintessential Celebrity Handshake moment on this kicks in about halfway through “Television Lips” when they throw out the riff and go into a straight pound for the duration of the track. Yells intensify alongside the hammering of percussion and organ until the song falls apart with a crash at the 2:57 mark as if they’d melt if they passed the 3 minutes. And then on the next track, I literally think they do melt.The track sounds like a fucked up cassette shifting around and just ends with an abrupt snap at 3:07. “Also Starring” is the follow-up EP to last year’s debut, which itself was more of a rebirth and christening of this latest incarnation of a decades’ long mission to create abrasive, inventive rock. Celebrity Handshake being the latest group to feature A.M. Haines and Willie Berdan, previously of Family Pet, Jumpin’ Beans & The Moustaches, et al. With two discs under their belt, Celebrity Handshake should be a household name among fans of agitated clatter. (DH)
(Eastern Prawn Records // email@example.com)
C.H.E.W. s/t 7" EP
Another demo to vinyl treatment from Neck Chop, this time from Chicago's C.H.E.W. (nee Chew), which stands for nothing or "Cocaine Heroin Ecstasy Weed" depending on which interweb page you stumble upon. Chew are at least a genuine hardcore punk band, not "garage-core" or weird-punk. Rumbling in your face speed trials with some grooved out jam/mosh parts, with the significant factor being Doris Jeane's SCREECHING vocals. She sounds absolutely crazed, best example is ""Black Sheep" that has some creative lyrics as well. "Split Tongue" into "Askin For It" on the flip is a real workout too. If you need a real whiplash inducing whiteknuckler of a punk record, this is the one. (RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Chrome Reverse "They Wanna Fight!" LP
First longplayer from Chrome Reverse after a handful of singles. I have to keep repeating myself every time they send me a record though - I mean, it's absolutely great 50's inspired rock'n'rollabilly twang with a little hotrod/surf, like the entire Norton Records catalog compressed into one (French) band. And that band includes Lili Zeller, who is amongst the punkest ladies of all time. A baker's dozen here, two instrumentals, five pretty obscure covers (in Cramps-ian fashion) and all are delivered with skill and class by Lili and her band of gentlemen. This could be the alternate soundtrack to Crybaby. Like I've said before, this is probably the most punk move Lili has made yet, going back to roots rock when it is decidedly unfashionable, but she's always been far ahead of the curve. Nicely painted artwork, which shows Lili being menaced by and then beating up her own band for some reason. Recommended for fans of Kicks, Norton Records, Songs the Cramps Taught Us, Ronnie Hawkins, and such things....(RK)
(Mag Wheels Records // chromereverse.bandcamp.com)
Citizen Blast Kane "Straight To Videodisc" LP
Dumb punk droolers spewing tunes about lunch meat, sweatpants and other topical Fox-worthy news trends.This platter should bring relief to knuckleheads who find Buck Biloxi's slop a tad too intellectual or those with a penchant to proudly ingest Supernova's near-forgotten brat anthems still to this day. Their baby-faced singer - America Baabaataa - looks like the denim clad offspring of Greg Lowry and GG Allin, both of which come through in these tunes as well. I can guarantee these jerk-offs will land a Troma film soundtrack deal in the near future. For me to take in this full LP seems a bit of an overstretch, but if I'm ever stumbling through New Jersey - totaled on Coors Banquet - I'd be at least willing stop by their loft/landfill and at least take in a song or two. Scum stats: 400 on black and 100 on yellow wrapped up in a Mike Hunchback approved sleeve. I pray that their label jokes when they say "vinyls" in the press jargon. (RSF)
(Eradicator Records // www.eradicatorrecords.bigcartel.com)
Citric Dummies "Tearing Out My Nails" LP
Minneapolis hasn't had a band this goood since The Sleaze called it quits or they heyday of The Kegstands. Sixteen spitballs, of a sort of nervous garage-hardcore quality, with a very pronounced vocal style (actually, they all sing, which makes it even stranger) - whoever sings "Kill Everyone Who Drives" has a real Danzig-sorta croon that adds a certain something. The artwork is from Nathan Ward who does a lot of Cleveland band stuff, and if that prompts your brain to make some sort of connection, that's okay. There's a certain shared inanity with newer Clevo bands, like Perverts Again in particular. I mean "Hooked on Pie" might seem like a real joke of a song, but it's pretty fucking good anyway. Go for it. Word just in - this is most of the dudes from Brain Tumors and possibly a member of Fucking, but this band is better than all of that shit combined. (RK)
(Fashionable Idiots // fashionableidiots.blogspot.com)
Clever "Kewdi Udi" LP
Deep from the recesses of Brisbane, a group of young gents have stepped into the light, after moons of honing in their 1990 noiserock perfection. Whatever ball was dropped when Circus Lupus called it quits, Clever slid in and scooped it. They mirror that bygone eras Touch & Go/Dischord post-core pummel with ease - and damn - that dude sure can snarl like Chris Thompson. There are Psy-Ants folks involved here, and that was a pretty garish mess of feedback and grind that had me by the sack a few years back. 'Kewdi Udi' is nowhere near as seasick or fetid as that, but the instrumentation is as precise as any average Scratch Acid, Lizard or aforementioned Lupus worshiper could ask for. There's also some Wipers buzz coming through as well - and I'm probably a tad bonkers (I've been listening to far too much metal these days) - but I'm also picking up hints of Voivod in the chorus deliveries. Totally by accident, I'd imagine. Not a bad thing to these floundering ear canals. Scum stats: 400 hundred exist, 100 on pee. (RSF)
(Homeless Records // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Coordinated Suicides "False Pleasure" 7"
Crushing, doomy noise with a willingness to flat out rock. These tunes straddle the ground between Neurosis sloth and Born Against speed, only there's a yodeling goon being transmitted in from an adjacent corridor. By the time "Tachycardia" cranks up at the end, the band finally allows this poor sap a chance at clarity by letting him enter the studio - yet I still can't make out why he's so gol'dern upset. The fucker's feeling it though, whatever it may be. A pretty good take on the Midwest Rustbelt rot if you had a thing for Slices and Condominium a few years back. (RSF)
(Ashton Velvet Rock Club Recording Co. // www.avrcrc.blogspot.com)
Crooked Bangs "II" LP
Austin combo laying down thick, thick - really thick - fuzz fueled gothic downers that shifts gears from English to French language in a quick tick. Less Misfits punk than their earlier outings, but there's still a dark cloud hanging above it all and that smoky croon is still clogging the cannon. I can't mention the guitar fuzz enough. It sounds like a weedwacker crackling, bogging down in dense patches of peat moss. Surprised the riffs make it out alive, if at all. The mix somehow comes away un-fucked, with the rhythm section and vocals shoved to the front, not fighting to cut through all that six string muck. I'd be willing to throw a Screaming Females comparison at y'all as well - mostly due to the fluttering vocals and skillful playing, not song structures. This is darker, heavier and far from sinking its hooks into a metal base. It's like a grime-fueld Crass family outing off channeling Fuzzbox (And they sure as hell know how to use it). A good bit of crunchy gloom for the rain season we've been having outside the office. (RSF)
(Nervous Intent // www.nervousintentrecords.blogspot.com)
The Dacios "Beyond The Bottom Hour" LP
Probably not a bunch of heads around these parts clamoring for a follow up and/or reunion of this band - but selling 300 copies of their reissue worldwide was enough to get them up off those Melbourne barstools and back on those dive bar stages. The Dacios are still threshing about in some noisy string clangor, though it seems the rustic cowboy swagger of "Monkey's Blood" has been booted to the curb in favor of a more cerebral thought-punk style - along the lines of Patti Smith, Mecca Normal (now featuring a rhythm section!) or even Come. Its a change of outfit that they wear well. Tracks drone and bowl more than rock and roll this time around. The new guitarist (Bonnie Mercer) adds quite a bit o' ugly texture to the mix, sorta' like Nels Cline did to the Geraldine Fibbers. "Exactness Of Desire" rides a very Aussie backbeat swing and rockers like "Tiger's Mouth" would fit right in on records by the nearly forgotten Twenty Second sect. "All Of Your Body" earns a sultry hashtag, featuring organ grooves and a smoky noir lull until the guitar squeals off like a over-boiled teapot. "Horse Attacks" is a full punk blowout that rides along a Pussy Galore riff - and y'all know I can get behind those sorta' things. Rethinking that "less rock and roll" statement I spouted off prematurely - because the last third of this LP kicks pretty darn hard. The coda "Champion" wraps everything up in a poet Patti motif once again. Nifty. At least I'm here to say, welcome back. (RSF)
(Homeless Records // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Daleks "OK" 7"
First time reissue of this one as far as I know, complete with fold-out poster-style sleeve that's chock-fulla pics and info. Daleks made cameo appearances in the Teenage Treats and England Belongs To Me series' (later in the game), and their working man's punk circa 1980 is a bit plain (as it should be I suppose) and gray and probably depicts being a punk after the dream was already starting to die fairly accurately. Slightly melodic, a little bit sloppy, it's not quite taking the war to the terraces but is perhaps a bit post-punky now that I'm really thinking about. It's almost mellow, definitely melancholy, but the B-Side does have some energy and maybe a slight tinge of streetpunk/Oi coming on. This 7" doesn't get much chatter about it - it's their only record, and it's definitely relegated to second tier - but there's something undeniably charming about it all. The sleeve really helps that feeling along, pics of the band at work and at play with friends, plus they pull the always charming DIY move of printing out the costs of everything from the studio time to the labels, plus lyrics and a thank you list amongst other ephemera. In the end I'm taking away from this that it's a record that is very good if you let it be - truly grows on you, just from the sheer naivete. Not to be confused with Dalek I Love You or "I Am A Dalek" or the Cybermen for that matter. Definitely worth a pick-up if UK punk is your thing and Breakout does an exceptional job with the packaging and look - I mean it's not exactly Chelsea, but there's only one Gene October, right? Wait, what?(RK)
(Breakout Records // facebook.com/breakoutrecs)
DANA s/t LP
A record from an act called DANA from Columbus that turns out to not be a Dana Hatch solo LP or even just a tribute to Dana is going to be a disappointment to me in some way no matter what happens. I was really apprehensive after the first coupla tracks which are real warbly and somewhat grating spastic synth-punk (or theremin-punk to be accurate), but then around the third track they settle down and actually get something interesting happening. Real slinky and dark, not outright sleazy sounding, but definitely grimy and strange. "Shadow of A Self-Doubt" is sort of a minor league PJ Harvey swipe if you think about it. The B-Side continues the highs and lows, when Madeline (no one named Dana here, sorry) is left to her own devices they come out sounding how I think they want to - sort of a 90s post-hardcore heavy-type thing (and with a girl singing, you're left to conjure up Hole, Babes in Toyland, Boss Hog) mated onto the Ohioan weird-rock template (Ubu, Craig Bell bands, even Devo a bit) when they're pulling out horns, circuit bending electronics and that theremin is always peeking its head in the room. The slower they take it the better it seems, the vocal dramatics get a bit overpowering at times, then they slip a straight up garage turkey in there ("Bastard Child") and covering "Street Waves" does them no favors, even though they do a good job at it, but it sort of points out the shortcomings of their own songs. But on a tune like "BIGHT" I feel like they hit a good spot, even if it that spot would've been a bigger target in 1997. With all the attention they've paid to the background effects and putting "weird" touches in via Alternative (that's a capital A on purpose there) instrumentation, it seems to me the actual songs themselves get shorted, leaving the vocals the only thing to grab onto, and depending how in sync they are with the rhythm and the level of drama at the moment - I dunno, just seems like they're wandering around with an idea of what they want to be and not getting there. There are parts of songs I like, but rarely a whole. Now who wants to hear a Dana Hatch solo LP? Or maybe some Four Letter Words? (RK)
(Heel Turn // heelturnrecords.com)
Davidians “City Trends” LP
Not only does “City Trends” mark Davidians movement up to the world of large format vinyl, but their graphic design team leaps into uncharted territory, at least as far as the DIY HC visual underground is concerned. All text is printed in a glossy laminate instead of ink, which looks cool but also jarringly slick for this particular release. Keep ‘em off their guard and upset expectations! Davidians caught me by surprise on their earlier Sorry State single and I’ve been a fan since. On this 12”, they belt out 8 cuts. Off-kilter hardcore that zigs when you expect a zag and turns the flanger up when you were content with distortion alone. A modern HC gem that pays its dues and tips the hat to the artier wing of the HC Hall Of Fame (Sac Trust/Wire/Bone-Air oddities/COC/etc). If you’re counting, one member was in Voight Kampf and 3 were in Double Negative, but I prefer Davidians to any members’ priors. (DH)
(Sorry State // sorrystaterecords.com)
Daytime Drugs “It Don’t Come Easy” CD
Daytime Drugs “Waitin’ For the UFO” CD
“Dedicated to the memory of Paul McCartney (1942-1966)”
There was a second before I hit play when I wondered if this one would be readymade for radio airplay. And then I read the dedication and realized that would not be the case. “It Don’t Come Easy” is a tribute to the Beatles featuring destructive interpretations of ten Liverpool hits. Incidentally, this ain’t the first time Hot Dog Haines has paid tribute to the mop tops, having already covered “The White Album” in its entirety with Jumpin’ Beans and the Moustaches (which we are *still* hoping will see a vinyl release at some point). In any event, Daytime Drugs is a new iteration of the Gardiner->Portland, ME underground, featuring 2/3 of Celebrity Handshake and sounding a whole lot alike. I am hoping that both groups coexist and that I can catch a shared bill at some point in the future. “Waitin’ For The UFO”, their second full length disc of the year, offers six originals that prove a song need not have been a number one hit to be savaged by the Daytime Drugs. Solid stuff all around and I cannot recommend highly enough that you write to Eastern Prawn asking for ‘one of everything, ya Maineiacs’. (DH)
(Eastern Prawn Records // firstname.lastname@example.org)
Erik Nervous "Ice Cream" 7"
2016's Rookie of the Year steps up to the big leagues with a 7" on Total Punk - and just for the record he's still not on Lumpy Records or from NWI. "Ice Cream" is one of the shortest A-Sides on a TP platter to date, a quick shouter with a pop hook and cornball synth sound. Not bad, but the B-Side's better. A little bit. You know who he does sound like? Liquids! I'm sure that's gonna irk him. Maybe a less compressed Liquids, but still the same compact style on this one, busy bassline always helps, as does a decent riff, then they do a squiggled little bridge part - it's a pretty good song, not bullshitting. His style is another variation on the current punk "sound", nothing wrong with that - I mean, I could definitley pick him out in a line-up of NWI/Lumpy bands, so he's still managing to make his own mark. But yeah, this one is okay, but let's just say he hit a safe single here when I was expecting at least an extra base hit for his debut on the top label in the land. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Exterminators "Product of America" LP
Ehhhhh. What could have been. Exterminators were a Phoenix punk band who formed in 1977 after seeing the Consumers, with our hero Don Bolles on drums, soon to be joined by Rob Graves on bass alongside the Clark brothers (who would later go on to Mighty Sphincter and The Feederz) rounding things out. They practiced a bunch and played a few gigs and were going to record until Don and Rob split for LA, and we all know what happened after that...So like I said, Exterminators never recorded...until NOW. Bolles reformed the band in 2016 and they recorded the songs from their practice sessions back in '77, with Cris Kirkwood replacing Graves on bass and producing. According to Don they were already playing "Destruction Unit", "Just Like Your Mom", "Bionic Girl" and more, as he had written them for his band The Liars before joining Exterminators. So says his liner notes, which are the best thing about this LP. It sounds just like you might expect - sort of an alt-metal/punk fusion, overproduced with gratuitous guitar solos and some double bass pedal drumming. The history "lesson" from Bolles was interesting enough to be forced to sit through this for a few spins I suppose. No vintage band pics aside from a handful of fliers for shows with Consumers, and the artwork is of course awful. But the real question that lingers is, what if they had actually recorded in 1977 - would it have been any good then? Side note: on a recent episode of this season of King of the Road they're skating in Phoenix to the sounds of "Anti Anti Anti" - good job, someone. (RK)
(Slope Records // sloperecords.com)
Fast Cars "The Kids Just Wanna Dance" 7"
At least the third time around for this one to be reissued (1977, Last Years Youth, and maybe a boot at some point...) but "The Kids Just Wanna Dance" is exceptional enough for it to come around again. Anthemic 1979 punk going pop, unbeatable chorus, smash-up ending, it's one that's hard to beat. Any self-respecting "punk DJ" shoud have a copy of this in their quiver. B-Side that no one can probably remember is "You're So Funny" and it's cut from the same cloth, adding a guitar solo. Not quite so memorable (obviously), but these Manchester lads were quite adept at their thing, enough so that labels like Detour and 1977 sought fit to give them a second life ten years or so ago when every power-pop band worth a lick was getting their unreleased vault material issued. Whether you want to go deeper than this 7" is on you, but this is a must-have A-Side. Bang up job as usual by Breakout, who are the unsung heroes of the 7" reissue game over the past few years.(RK)
(Breakout Records // facebook.com/breakoutrecs)
Feederz "WWHD: What Would Hitler Do?" 7"
Frank Discussion is back, dragging DH Peligro with him again as well as original Feeder Dan Clark, plus there's Cris Kirkwood as producer (as if being involved with the Exterminators LP wasn't soiling his reputation enough). Yes, it has Trump as Hitler on the cover, yes "Stealing" is some sort of ska/surf hybrid about looting, and yes the B-Side has Frank singing half the song in Spanish and yes it sounds like the runners-up at a high school talent show. So, so bad, but that's exactly what you were expecting. I'm going to come clean here and state that I always felt Feederz were overrated to begin with. Controversial, I know but aside from Frank's politics and attention-grabbing schtick there wasnt much there song-wise, amirite? JFA, now that was a good music group...(RK)
(Slope Records // sloperecords.com)
Mark Feehan “MF” LP
I assume it is either a joke or mistake that this ended up in my review pile but I’ll take it. Released in 2012, “MF” is the debut solo outing from this elder statesman in outsider guitar rock. Currently playing in the utterly brilliant Taiwan Housing Project, formerly of the utterly stupid and equally brilliant BrokenTalent, with stints in Harry Pussy, Stun Guns and more or less any other decent band outta Miami or Philly in the last few decades, abrasive rock noise has been Mark’s trade for the duration of my life. This is awesome and should’ve been in your collection five years ago…if you slept on it, like I did, perhaps it’ll end up in your review pile, too? In short: Mark’s debut album, recorded after his move to PA, showcases a dive into the full spectrum of guitar rock. Shit is subtle, shit is loud - they taught us about dynamics in sixth grade but suddenly it makes sense! I can’t recommend highly enough the full Marky Awesome experience: “My God Can Beat Up Your God”; “Ride A Dove” (did he play on that?!), “Bullet In The Head” (def didn’t play on that), “MF”, “Venlen Death Mask”. It’s all great, but for what it’s worth, the newest shit is tops. (DH)(Ed: this is what happens when the editor is not paying attention when sending out records to staff for review and instead of sending DH the new Feehan "II" LP on Richie Records he grabs the copy of the first LP from five years ago he just got instead. Fuuuck...)
(Siltbreeze // www.siltbreeze.com)
F.I.T.S. "Feeding Illness to Society" 7"
Sounds to me like what you would expect a band with an acronym for a name and poorly drawn artwork to sound like. Fast and tenacious hardcore with a yammering lead singer, six songs worth. Interesting that they're from Montreal to me, a city I either associate with the garage/Sexareenos scene or crust punkers. I suppose now that Playboy have released what might be the record of the year and Omegas are one of the more entetaining HC acts out there my perceptions need to be updated. F.I.T.S. are not as good as either of those bands to these ears, but this stuff wouldn't be out of place in Clevo (where the label has roots) as it has a similar commitment to agression and bleak outlook as some of that city's finest. And for some reason the song title "These Walls Are Made of Shit" strikes me as pretty funny at the moment, although they're pretty serious about it. Technically proficient, but not that exciting for this guy, but we'll throw the old "bet they're great live" and "hardcore is a young man's game anyway" caveats out there for good measure. I will say they're no S.H.I.T. though as far as the Canadiacronym genre I just made up goes. Scum stats: there's a yellow sleeve variant limited to 60 copies.(RK)
(Blow Blood // blowbloodrecords.bandcamp.com)
Fried Egg "Back and Forth" 7" EP
The Egg step forth with a new platter on what could be the best hardcore label in the country, Beach Impediment, a match made in heaven (or just Richmond). The band sounds burlier than before on this one, maybe a little extra yamma on those yammering vox, the band biting down a bit harder on those riffs. "Easy Way" is the real ballbuster here. In my opinion, the culmination and best in the line of Richmond bands that includes Slugz, Cretins, Southside Stranglers, and to their benefit they sort of straddle the line between "serious" hardcore and the fringe lunacy of your Clevo or Lumpy rosters. Solid. Featuring members of Cement Shoes.(RK)
(Beach Impediment // beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Gary Wrong Group s/t 2xLP
I'm not gonna' stare at my record shelves for the next ten minutes just trying to figure it out, but I'm fairly certain this double pack collects GWG's three 12" EPs (sans a Persuaders cover) plus a few choice singles cuts. The rarest of raers up in here would be the cassette only "Loupgarou 2" and the "Floods Of Fire"/"Knights Of Misery" duo which are - mysteriously - absent from the records of those exact callings. Quite a collection/convenience for you newbies (or posers) who have recently (smartly) latched on to the works of Chad Booth - the father of all modern Boglin Rock©. This set features the finest corroded cyberpunk that you can get your grubby hands on. Now, I'm aware that we here at TBHQ have fanatically frothed about 90% of these recordings already, so there's no reason to flog these robotic war-ponies yet again. That said, I'll just spout an overzealous sentence or three: Gary Wrong Group is the grotesque, synth-patched psychedelia for those gremlin minds who clutter their loft-space/padded cells with moldy Beta tapes and Charlie Band films. Gary Wrong Group is the voodoo glue-blues of a broken mind, crackling with a fevered death-pulse and fueled by hysteric carny violence. Gary Wrong Group is the final soundtrack one hears before plummeting down an 8-Bit rendition of Bosch's "Last Judgement" - the ColecoVisions of hell. Don't even ask. IT'S THAT GOOD. (RSF)
(12XU // 12xu.bigcartel.com)
Gerbils "Dead Detroit: Lost 1982 Recordings" LP
These guys are waaay better than a band called The Gerbils has any right to be. Short story: early Eighties Detroit high school puners, played The Freezer a few times, recorded these 17 tracks in '82 which sat on a shelf until now, released a demo Tim Yo gave a great review and had Ron Sakowski on bass who went on to Necros/NA/Laughing Hyenas/Easy Action and most of the other guys formed Shock Therapy. This LP is right from the masters so it sounds damn good, and I did not set my expectations high - first track is called "Phoney Baloney" fer chrissakes - but believe it or not, it's really good. Almost all of this is B+ pre-crossover HC punk, some of it might even wander into A-, "No One Loves Me" could even go A+. "Itchy" Mccormick (RIP) has a great teenage shout/growl, and the band is wild enough but not really sloppy. You could have swapped a Gerbils track in for Youth Patrol on 'Process of Elimination' and be better off for it. They really hate cops ("I Don't Like Cops" and "I Hate The Law") and really hate you ("What Don't I Hate?", "Kill Everyone", "I Dont Need No Friends", "I Hate Everyone"). They slip some synth into a couple tracks and I dont think it really helps (Tim Yo seemed to think it did) but it was the thing to do at the that time. "Dead Detroit" is the one synth-only cut, almost sounds like a fake Goth song, but I get the impression they were serious, probably in an attempt to ride the New Wave. But hey, they were in high school. To reiterate, a surprisingly good LP without any live filler, this is a winner of a reissue in particular if Detroit or MI is your geographic locale of choice. If they had pulled a good 7" out of these songs (which could be done) they'd have been all over some KBD volumes. (RK)
(Lysergic Sound Distributors // www.lsdsounds.com)
Geros "Razor Dog" 7"
The latest from one of the better (best?) Flat Tire Punk acts in current operation. "Razor Dog" is lean and mean, but not scratchy or real lo-fi it's sort of a ripped up '79-style KBD slasher, with a girl and a guy yelling vox at each other and a rather piercing solo. Jagged like The Mad, but tough like The Dogs. A winning combo. "Don't Call Me" on the flip has real Cali-punk vibes, I dare you to say that bassline doesnt reek of Agent Orange (or The Faction), there's some Skulls/Eyes thing going on as well maybe a little Agnew too. Not quite as intense as their first 7", but still quite good for FTP 2017, A-Side has enough KBD-ing to keep me invested. Scum stats: 500 copies total, 200 to be sold in the US, saving you a BASE order...(RK)
(Secret Mission Records // secretmissionrecords.com)
Hot LZ's "Aggravate My Mind" LP
Northwest US garage-punk: a microcosm unto itself. Aside from all the obvious stuff (Estrus, Mudhoney/Super Electro, Dead Moon, Empty Records, etc..) there are layers and layers to peel away, from the vital Rat City/Regal Select catalog, to Bag of Hammers and all that entails (a G.O.A.T. sez me), the entire underrated career of Rob Vazquez, Spider Babies, Flathead...shit, you coud spend a week just listening to Kent 3 and Sinister Six records (something I'm sure not many people outside of Bellingham have ever done). And then you have the entire Boom Boom of Renton scene, Jonny Cat, all those weirdos in Olympia (which is another book right there). And beyond that slightly obscure stuff, you have a guy like Mark Death, who has been at it since the late 90s garage-punk boom with The Halfways, then Moneychangers (who had ties to everyone from Alkaline Trio to 10-4 Backdoor) and currently runs with the Hot LZ's (sic) who had a nifty glow-in-the-dark single a while back and have now released their first LP, and the formula has changed little since The Halfways days. Somehow Death's vocals still sound like a teenager, and he nasally sneers out a dozen tracks of trad garage-punk that are actually good for the form; hard-edged riffs, a little Thunders on the guitars, obviously indebted to the Samoans-Rip Off trajectory ("Dont Wanna See You", "Baby You Aint Shit") as well as the classic budget rock sound ("Moron Magnet"), and tons of blistering guitar solos. Look, I still have a soft spot for this stuff in my heart, it's a style of music that greatly influenced my younger self. And I'm pleased there's a pocket up there in Portland where time has seemingly stood still. You already know if this is at all for you, and there's probably not many left who lived through it and feel like revisiting it, but this one was a pleasure to listen to a few times. But in the end, even I am going to file it in a box marked "Reviews 2017" and go on with my life. But I'll take pleaure in knowing the Hot LZ's might be out there playing their hearts out like it's 1998 as I type this. Tune in next time for my in depth recollection of the Felony Fidelity label.(RK)
(Hate Street // thehotlzs.bandcamp.com)
IPPS “Life’s A Mess” LP
Columbus, Ohio! Home of Used Kids, Ron House, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Craig Calcaterra! I once got a ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street outside of Legion Of Doom. And yet, my feelings remain strong - it is a glorious town. IPPS is the latest group from the folks who brought your Necropolis (among others) and they bring a batch of ramshackle punk in the Columbus Discount tradition. (Oh, CDR, please come back! I miss you, so!). I can’t shake thoughts of Times New Viking while listening to this. Perhaps it is unfair. TNV had a pretty unique vision, but it’s just too hard to resist comparing bands from the same sound that had some of the same features (jangly pop, m/f vocals, an overall OH/NZ aesthetic). This ain’t no 'Dig Yourself' but is a fine album nonetheless. (DH)
(Superdreamer Records // superdreamerrecords.com)
Isolierband "Kontrolle +" LP
Long lost demos of a experimental electronik/icy punk outfit that falls in the realm between Warsaw and those non-abrassio Gristle recordings. It's a pretty good listen overall. If you were lucky enough to snatch up their re-issue 45 a year or so back, there's plenty more of that ilk on display for you to chew on. Not sure why Red Lounge insists on these high end glossy gatefold sleeves, though. It seems excessive and just bloats those already shaky import prices. I'm cool with a two sided insert, my friend. Scum stats: 100 pressed up on red. (RSF)
(Red Lounge Records // www.redloungerecords.com)
Jumpin’ Beans And The Moustaches “King’s Medley” c/w “Three Beer Blues” CD
Intended for release on Ball Records way back in ’99, this single somehow never made it to production during that label’s great string of Jumpin’ Beans singles. It would’ve fit in well, stripping the polish away to show a tense and wiry mess of hits by The King on the A-side. The Moustaches get to the essence of a Sun Records collection in 165 seconds without sacrificing a thing. The flip, “Three Beer Blues”, feels like an improvisation, the sort of messaround ‘blues’ that the band might jam on before cracking their fourth Modelo. The note that I got with this added that this is on CD because they didn’t have the money to get vinyl pressed and limited to a run of ten because CD singles are “too ridiculous to contemplate”. So if someone wanted to step up and bankroll some Eastern Prawn vinyl I think the opportunity is there. (DH)
(Eastern Prawn Records // email@example.com)
Jumpin’ Beans And Willie “Milwaukee Sessions” CD
'Milwaukee Sessions' was originally released in a microdose of 100 vinyl copies sometime in the early 00’s and was a departure from any previous Jumpin’ Beans & (Willie/The Moustaches) releases. Scrapping the crutch of songs, perhaps already taking influence from free jazz - and if not, it is clear why these fellows would become attracted to the genre - 'Milwaukee Sessions' was recorded in 3 hours with no planned tunes. Milwaukee’s Best and improvised guitar riffs both flowed freely during the session. This is fast and loose, somewhere between Chuck Berry and Jandek and can be a challenging yet rewarding listen. I know the band had issues with the sound of the vinyl release (copies were supposed to come with a CD-r of the original direct to digital mix although my copy did not have this) so I’m glad they got this mix back out into the world. (DH)
(Eastern Prawn Records // firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kaleidoscope "Volume 3" 12"
The disturbing thing here is that I've read more than a couple of reviews (from people whose opionions I both do and do not respect) that are dogging this record - saying it's "too garage" or "too hardcore" or just not up to snuff/expectations. Look, I'm in love with this band as much as anyone, and the sounds they've laid down on tape and vinyl thus far is some of the most exciting music of the past year or two that they've been a functioning unit. I love this record - perhaps it's not as "out" as previous explorations, but it also shows a focus and intensity not fully apparent on past releases either. I mean, this doesn't sound like Agnostic Front or something, nor does it really sound like garage-rock to me. But then again, I like to think I'm a person who knows what actual garage-rock sounds like, not the bastardized version we get today. Kaleidosope are a punk band, and a weird enough one at that. They still have that outer (or inner) space vibration, some kind of insular aesthetic that sounds sealed off from the rest of the world. Some of the ideas here are extensions of material from the 'Zone Explorers' tape taken into a subterranean bunker, recorded in a time machine by morlocks. This does sound like the most primal version of the band yet, and yes the most "rock", but is it evolution or devolution? Depends on what sort of expectations you've laid on them. I didn't expect anything but another great record, and that's what I got. "Simulator" is opressively stunning, the "Cloud Control" and "Satellite" suite on Side B is some of their best work yet - science fiction punk rock. Some people like to make it hard for themselves to enjoy modern music - holding every new release from a recent band up to the standards of whatever your foundation is (whether it be The Stooges or Pere Ubu or Blitz or some other life-changing monolithic punk legend) is only going to leave you disappointed. Shit, I want every 7" I put on to sound like Bobby Soxx, but I'm not disappointed in the band when it doesn't. There's nothing wrong with high standards as long as they're realistic (and I know my standards might be considered low by many, but they're MY standards), but at this point if Shiva doesn't write the sonic equivalent of Blade Runner or some shit for their next release it sounds like a lot of people won't be happy. Me, I'm just pleased to be along for the ride - and as it stands, this is most definitely one of the best records released thus far in 2017. (RK)
(Feel It // www.feelitrecordshop.com)
Klimperei & Eric Chabert sing John B Cornaway “Dealings” LP
Aw, this album sure was a doozy for this reviewer. I’d like to think that I’m an open-minded fellow, ready to embrace even the weirdest sounds to come. And, honestly, I think I was. Yet, I was oblivious to the backstory here - Kimperei has been a music collective in France since the mid-80s that has embraced the music of broken instruments, toy instruments, children’s instruments. It’s a fascinating experiment, even if it did remind me at times of The Doors “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)”. (I read “No One Gets Ot Of Here Alive” in the eighth grade, so I can hang.) With lyrics sung in English by Eric Chabert adapting the poems of John Cornaway, there are layers upon layers to explore here. Outsider music that goes down smooth. I’d recommend pairing this with a cointreau, perhaps a crepe (just read that West Country Girl closed and I could cry!). Post punk carnival music for the brave or artsy. (DH)
(Bruit Direct Disques // bruit-direct.org)
Kool 100s "Skulls, Blood, Pussy and Violence..." 7"
Kool 100s "We Buy Gold" 7"
I've been impressed with Kool 100s thus far, and I like where their heads are at. From KC, and I really hope there's a Fag Cop connection - but if not I've come to learn that one of the guys is Mosquito Bandito (who you probably don't remember, but it was one of the few quality OMB things of the past decade) and another is Sam from True Sons of Thunder (and if you don't remember them, I will murder you on sight). So their credentials check out. They play what I like to think is REAL garage-punk, a rarity these days. Lo-fi punkrock'n'rolling shit, in the vein of first LP Black Lips or another of my unheralded favorites, Spread Eagles - and I'll digress here and say that whole axis of Brimstone Howl/Shanks/Spread Eagles/Fag Cop/Boom Chick Records bands of Midwest garagers was a little niche I really enjoyed and should be reassesed by those eager to know what garage-punk used to mean. Back to the Kools, their Goodbye Boozy platter is a real throwback, sounds desperate, guitars jangle with a bit of menace, drums are smashed with abandon, great singer - raw, punk and catchy. Wild and sloppy just like the Dirtys used to make em for Crypt Records. I mean they even go so far as to put naked girls on the cover, which in this day and age pretty much relegates you to asshole status within the "scene". I'll always have some sort of appreciation for not giving a fuck. PS - the full title seems to be "Skulls, Blood, Pussy and Violence Axes. Daggers. Upside Down Crosses." and it comes with a sticker that calls "Scott Pike" a sefish cunt. These guys do not want to have any friends, and I again appreciate the sentiment. They pack four songs on this one, which is remarkabe for a GB platter. The "We Buy Gold" EP came first and shows an even rawer and even more lo-fi sounding band, recorded in a tin shitbox that they are trying to shoot their way out of over six songs of blaze that reminds me some of the first coupla Baseball Furies 7"es in their tenacity ("ATM" in particular). This sounds EXACTLY what 1998 Tim Warren was looking for in a band, and that's pretty much still the standard for garage-punk in my mind. Buy em all. Scum Stats: "Skulls..." comes with black/green and black/white variants, both in editions of 150. Green is preferred. "...Gold" is limited to 500 with a beefy chipboard sleeve with silkscreened art. See, they even do scum stats right.(RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // email@example.com)
(Garbage Shop // soundcloud.com/kool-100s)
Les Crotales s/t 10"
This act is from the from the land of The Fatals and their blown-out brethren - and they're touting those influences with pride. Frantic and barreling, gravel throat-ed hostility with some pretty sweet guitar fx tangents being chucked about. They never stray too far from this template, just foot thru the floor punkers, flingin' roasted spittle from beginning to end. Faves would be the magically named "Asshole Loop Infinity" with its evil Venom-goes-garage vibe and the very strained, slurred slide work of "Upside Mind". "Whats Wrong Today" and "You Fucked Up My Life" even sound like late period Reatards violence. If you have a soft spot for the Nasty Product output or a chubby for 2003 Hozac Zine filler, this plate would fit just fine in your cupboards. A worthy review-able that will at least stick around my house until I need cash for a prostate exam. (RSF)
(Killed By An Axe Records // www.killedbyanaxe.bandcamp.com)
Lonely Hearts "Dead On The Wire" 7"
Nope. No, no. No sir. Nuh-uh. I can't put thoughts into words. I can't even be bothered to touch a keyboard after hearing this. Some serious Punk Rock Bowling warm-up act shit. No Front Teeth: stick to sending us Stitches rip-offs and those ten variant Gaggers pressings, please. (RSF)
(No Front Teeth // www.nofrontteeth.co.uk)
Lung Letters "Passing Days" 7" EP
Another new band from Austin, grrreaat...veterans of A Giant Dog (ehhh), Nazi Gold (mediocre band chooses controversial name, news at 11...), Flesh Lights (oof) and OBNIIIs and Total Abuse, two bands I think everyone in Austin has been a member of some point. Lung Letter aspire to Scratch Acid and Flipper comparisons, but all they're getting out of me is maybe Pissed Jeans covering Foo Fighters. Title cut of this EP reminds me of the days when bands like Janitor Joe were a dime a dozen, and I'm not insinuating Janitor Joe were a bad band, but I am saying that they dont sound even half as good in 2017...I was also comtemplating an "Unsane if they were an emo band" approach here, but that's not really correct in this case.(RK)
(Super Secret // supersecretrecords.bigcartel.com)
Make-Overs "Try Me" LP
South African 2-piece sends us their ninth (!?!) full legnth for review - yet this is the first time I've heard 'em. There was a Hozac single a few years back, but that escaped my ears as well. I was expecting the usual garage bangers ala' Magnetix or even early White Stripes apings, but instead I'm steamrollered straight out of the gate with something more akin to "Psalm 69"- era Ministry recorded for the Gonerfest sect. I mean, the drums blast like an unrelenting Killing Joke motherfucker up in the first few tunes. Sounds chill out a tad during the Zamrock infused near-strumentals such as "Don't Call Us" and "Internal Logic" and they do deliver Magnetix style groover's like "You Wish" - but it all kicks back into high gear hauling soon enough, ripping about like a scrappy femme-fronted Wipers chucked into the thrashbasket. "Take Out" brings a Obnox-style blare & pummel to its doped haze and "Get Lost" features a gnarly riff that should bruise on contact. They then wrap it all up in some kraut throb called "Not as Advertised". A no frills, overdriven guitar attack that pokes at you like an agitated tween, beginning to end. A fun listen throughout, though some guitar tone variations mighta' made my night when looking back on it all. Still not gonna' complain. Give it a shot. Nine studio albums!? Damn. (RSF)
(Heel Turn Records // www.heelturnrecords.com)
Manateees "Superman Dam Fool" LP
The inevitable Manateees singles comp, released on the label that connects the band to TSOT. I was split on Manateees for the most part - I thought it was a little corny at times ("Cat Food", "Your Girl") but they also had some absolute rippers in the Memphis-trash tradition like "Stupifier" (still the best Manateees tune) and "Under the Gun". Supposedly most or all of these recordings are just Abe and Charms, and this compiles all the singles up to but not includng the Total Punk 7", all remastered and sequenced in the original order in which they were recorded. Which I guess makes sense, but that means that they coincidentally recorded these songs in the exact order of running time, so you get 10 short blasts on the A-side and four crunchers on the B-Side. Those longer players, like "Wolf Creek" and "Witch" (second best Manateees tune?) are some of my faves though. And that's that. Tracklist is all fucked up, but the liner notes explain that. Not much more to say, somehow I own all of these singles so someones gotta go. If you want to get caught up on the Abe White discography fast, this is your joint. When I saw them as a three piece live they were fantastic (and they all had the same long haircut, which looked pretty cool I'll admit), but I'll also admit I don't flip these records on much. Still, this is solid material for 2010s garage-punk. And Abe was in TSOT, so that's gonna be tough to live down/up to.(RK)
(Blak Skul // blakskul.bigcartel.com)
Marbled Eye "EP II" EP
I had these guys pegged as a rager hardcore band before listening to this one, but lo and behold I was wrong and we have another band operating in the "post-punk" genre for lack of a better and less gross term. "EP II" is a four-songer, propelled by some savvy basslines stitched through with piercing guitar and some dour monotone vox. It's executed at a high skill level, and I'm told they sound like Parquet Courts (which I can not confirm) and Total Control (whch is a loose fitting comparison if you ask me). At this point I'm beginning to connect the genre dots and I think this what we used to call "indie rock" years ago, sort of the boilerplate sound of the time (i.e. this pissy post-punk thing being the current rage). Again, executed nearly flawlessly (vocals don't get much more monotone than this), a bit too sullen for my tastes, and in reality reminds me of that good Geisha Girls 12" from like 15 years ago.(RK)
(Melters/Digital Regress // melters.storenvy.com)
Mazozma's Fatufairfe s/t 12"
What the fuck is up with that name? Serious kling-klang shit right there, and a warning sign this is gonna be some artsy shinola most likely. But I'm glad I was wrong on that, even if it is some jammy "barn-rock" that might actually be appealing to Deadheads and Phans. Backstory: short-lived jam band of Kentucky scenesters featuring members of Warmer Milks, Teal Grapefruit, R.Stevie Moore's band and more I've never heard of that played a few shows and recorded this handful of songs for posterity. Four long-ish tunes, two per side that I can't say "jam" enough to describe. It's more of a classic rock sound than anything punk or garage, very much a la the aforementioned fansbase's obsessions, maybe even some Allman Bros moves. It has its moments of clarity, and "I Promise" is actually sort of dank in a good way. Good time rural hippie rocking that some of you might dig on. That name though... Scum stats: 100 copies only, housed in a resealable silkscreened envelope.(RK)
(Sophomore Lounge // sophomorrelounge.co)
Men With Chips "Attention Spent" LP
I get to bring the "ramshackle" tag back to my reviews! HOT DAMN. I was starting to feel lost without it. This here is some threadbare/barely-there and bordering on collapse hog squalor that runs off 'Waste Sausage' buffoonery and 3-Toed Sloth string scrape. It's a breezy listen, (don't expect any long lasting infections) as tunes sputter and stall usually close to the two minute mark. Sax-attacked, shook'd loose phlegm for Cows and Cuntz fans alike. The recipe begins with bass rattle and a drummer rumble - stumbling to lock in as either the guitar or horn or both fight to catch up, learning as they go. Repeat while baked for nearly a half hour. Serve it up in a dirty pint glass filled with stubbed ciggy butts. The vocalist seems to have shit to say, though I just barely speak the language. Hell, I'm still sitting here laughing, thinking that their name means Fry Guys. Scum stats: 400 or so? 100 on bone colored vinyl. Worthy. (RSF)
(Homeless Records // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Midnite Snaxxx "Chew on This" LP
The world still needs REAL garage-punk bands. While the kids are out there taking the genre and making it weird (aka progression) and the old dudes are out there refusing to acknowledge that the world's tastes have changed since the 90s (aka civil war re-enacting), you need a baseline to keep good and evil in balance. A band like Midnite Snaxxx, a band that can play within the form and sound timeless. The Snaxxx do have a pedigree - you got the head Loudmouth, a member of Loli & The Chones (Loli's brother no less!), the gal from Bad Daddies (not a great band name, I know, but look beyond that) and the drummer from Barbary Coasters/Ogres (those band names were cool enough to make up for Bad Daddies) - that touches a lot of bases: a Rip Off pedigree, a Hillsdale/Johnny Bartlett angle, a connection to the new Bay Area scene, and perhaps the best frontwoman of the 90s garage boom (and if you do some math, members have appeared on records with everyone from Turbonegro to Dayglo Abortions). Now, I know I mentioned reenacting back there, but understand that just because there's some vets of the scene here doesn't mean that's what is going on, no no - like I said some people refuse to update/adapt and end up cranking out a parody of themselves that wouldn't even have cut the mustard in 1998 (and I hate to say it but even though I love Greg Lowery and all he stands/stood for, that Control Freaks LP is a real tough listen for me), Dulcinea and the Snaxxx manage to adapt without giving up the core attributes and do the smart thing by essentially following the Ramones template. Playing to their strengths, they do some lean and mean punkers ("Quit Being a Dick" in particular), some real crisp garage-pop ("Found A Way..."), work the vocal melodies hard in a Ramones-esque fashion ("Sad to See You Go") and do a legit power-pop tune or two ("Why Do I?")- all with zero pop-punk stylings and also without sounding like a retread. I don't want to say the recording is slick, but it's fittingly medium-well and easy to listen to. They sound current but not modern, does that even make sense? Not trying too hard, not trendy, not cutting edge (and that's not a slight) just sounding like a rock'n'roll band should in any year. Certainly not reinventing the wheel, but they are keeping that wheel spinning which is more than I can say for a lot bands out there. I'm totally so far up my ass right now, but this is as good as proper garage-punk can be right now is what I'm saying. So, I'm far enough behind that this is on the Pelican Pow Wow label which, in a moral move, decided that a logo of a pelican wearing a headdress is "appropriative and offensive" (and I believe people actually told them that) and are now known as Space Taker Sounds. So, I have no problem with the old logo, but I am neither a pelican nor a native American. I respect their decision however and am dismayed that they were put in such a position - but hey, I guess all this Pelican Pow Wow logo stuff is gonna be a goldmine someday now...(RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.spacetakersounds.com)
Moss Lime "Zoo du Quebec" 10"
Well, let's see here...you might know Moss Lime from the recent 'Typical Girls' comps, and this is what will probably have been their last record as it appears they are no more. The tape on Fixture was just swell, and this one is seven tracks that showed them coming together a bit more. A little more complex in arrangement (while still being pretty loose in playing), some improved songwriting, better recording. Oh well. Some other trio of girls who move between Montreal and Paris will have to pick up the slack and write more captivating tunes that sound like The Slits on tons of quaaludes or Kleenex if they were French ladies who drank that lean like it was red wine. And yes, "Rock, Paper Sizzurp" is a very close to being as good as the song title suggests. I am absolutely loath to recommend that anyone buy a 10", but if I absolutely had to....(RK)
(Telephone Explosion // www.telephoneexplosion.com)
Mutual Jerk s/t 7"
Debut on vinyl from Mutual Jerk outta the ATL after a tape (or two?). Coming from that NC lineage where Brain F= members migrated further south to Atlanta, Mutual Jerk take the blackened punk sound that Scavenger of Death has cornered the market on and mix it with the left-of-center post-punk sort of thing that has given us bands like ISS or Patois Counselors and while not sounding much like either of those, this push gives us a new angle on that ATL-punk sound. Three songs with the prevailing factor being the vocal style which is that of being harangued by an angry stranger, "He's Harmless" is the A-Side for a reason - unbeatable rhythmic thrust iced with guitar, sneakily catchy. B-Side has one that leans more punk (""Parking Lot") and one that reminds me some of Mystic Inane's Sac Trust update. A perfect release for the State Laughter label's aesthetic, which I believe will pair well with the upcoming Uniform LP.(RK)
(State Laughter // statelaughter.storenvy.com)
Nag "No Flag" 7"
With the 3-letter band name and cover doodle I assumed I'd be chomping into a midwestern sunglassesed flippant-nihilism Rock band. Lucky for us, I'm not! Nag is dark synthy reverby bladerunning praying mantis Punk from Atlanta and sounds like if Whatever Brains were more stripped down, blown out and confrontational and less affetectadly weird. Good stuff.(EH)
(Spacetaker Sounds // www.spacetakersounds.com)
No Sister s/t LP
Very pleasing debut LP from Melbourne's No Sister. I was seriously expecting another death-goth punk thing, or even worse some dolewave or synthy post-punk. But it is none of any of that. What they really do is recreate the sound of Sonic Youth, 'Sister'-era in particular (my favorite SY record), taking it to some heavier/crunchier guitar places and maybe adding a bit more No Wave when they get real zoney and spicing it up with sounds that get me reminiscing about other 90s heroes as well. Vocals are split between a gal and a guy pretty evenly, both utilizing a dry talking approach which fits the music well enough. Not exactly disinterested, but more like a firm talking to. They're adept at bending strings in weird ways, striking a rhythm with off key guitar accents, and really getting a good multiple guitar churn going. The closer "Passing the Divide" is an epic sprawl of 'Daydream Nation' proportions and provide the most ethereal minutes on this thing. It really gets that melancholy guitar sound where they go from fragile plucking to shafts of bright light. Well played. My other faves were "Fixing Broken Windows" which is sort of dancey in a DNA-like way, with the guy giving up a good rap while a huge bassline hums underneath and the guitars get sawed with violin bows. "Overpass" is another killer, maybe their heaviest, creating a tunnel of guitar noise that a high-hat tap rides through. Gal vox on this one and she's confident and direct to yr skull. Shadowy and ominous vibes, very NYC. "Portrait in a Rearview Mirror" goes in a nearly Dinosaur-esque grunge direction. Eight songs total on this, never a dull moment, perhaps I like this so much because they didn't give me what most other bands are. It might not be perfect (the lyrics could use some work) but it's exciting to hear a new band play in this style and do a very good job at it. The musicianship is top notch making the extended instrumental sections a positive element. They' be a good fit on Homestead and/or Blast First. Comes with lyric booklet/zine. Go get it.(RK)
(self-released // nosister.bandcamp.com)
The Normals "Demented Breakdown" EP
What could have been the follow-up to the seminal 'Almost Ready' 7" here from Last Laugh as part of their campaign to immortalize The Normals entire catalog on vinyl. It certainly makes sense and the Normals are certainly one of the few KBD-era bands who had more than a coupla tracks up their sleeves. All three of these songscould only be heard via those CD comps from the late Nineties ('Your Punk Heritage' and that 1978 recordings comp Nat Records in Japan released) before this, and all are part of that first batch of songs recorded in 1978 that birthed what would become one of the all time tastiest treats of the KBD era. The title track is not in that upbeat punk rock like their big hit, but has a more downer rocker vibe - this one actually reminds me a bit of a more proficient Testors - solo is damn smokin' and the main riff is gutsy as all hell. B-Side has a couple of quick ones - "Sex & Violence" is a dum-dum punker that The Normals are much smarter than, but they still rattle it out, including a rather metallic solo. "No Cigars" is another highlight, with a bit of a Buzzcocks vibe going on and having that hard-rock with a pop-hook thing the Normals were so good at - making sound both catchy and tough. No power pop wimps here buddy. Well worth being reissued, add this to your DJ night pile, punker.(RK)
(Last Laugh // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Nurse "II" 7"
A ballsy record from a band ballsy enough to call themselves Nurse, even though the Japanese band pretty much locked down that name (in my head there's a loose rule where you can re-use a band name if the previous band sucked, which the female Nurse certainly did not) and they go one step further and sorta cop them twice by loosely titling this record "II". But the world is always full of surprises, and Atlanta flip the world upside down here. This is Nurse's second 7" platter (and I just discovered there's a lathe version of the first 7" that I now need) and they make some sort of progress here - if progress means continuing an unrelenting assault on their listening public. Two rippers per side, super intense vox that work perfectly with the hardcore-death-crust-rock these guys fire at you with no mercy. Crafty guitar playing is hard not to notice, with the downer riffs melding with prickly leads that lend that sort of emotive feel a la RP or the absolute hardest of deathrockers. There is no daylight to be seen here, it's all darkness and driving headfirst into it headlights off and eyes closed. The lineage of this band extends back to Manic (who were great, and merely hinted at the power of Nurse), Slugga (who I didn't necessarily care for, but is perhaps the source of some primal rage here) and Dasher (also great - and great enough to have me wondering what happened to them - and perhaps the source of the death rock vibes). If you're into hardcore that makes you realize life is futile so you might as well destroy someone in the pit, you've come to the right place. The artwork here needs to be mentioned as well - it's as if the Total Punk aesthetic has been co-opted by an evil maniac - barely legible and cryptic in a visually pleasing way and I get the idea some madman hand stamped all of these labels with silver ink.(RK)
(Scavenger of Death // scavengerofdeath.storenvy.com)
Old Head s/t LP
Long timers from Pittsburgh who evidently sprouted up out of the Modey Lemon remains. Doin' their take on heavy desert sessions and stoner jams - from an area of the country that has no desert as far as the eye can see. Makes for an interesting ride. Is this grass valley rock? The tunes included sound a bit like Mark Arm workin' his way through the Meat Puppets southern back catalog and it all fares OK. The Neil Young imprint is thick here, only gnarled up a tad with a modern fuzz buzz. Like I said - it fares OK - especially if you hang with the early Man's Ruin-era Queens Of The Stoneage releases and their offshoots. I tend to like my froth a little more furry when it comes to this sorta' roots-y groove. (RSF)
(Omentum Records // www.omentumrecords.net)
Original Pranksta "Off the Hook" LP
Almost Ready enters the prank phone call genre with this release from Original Pranksta, a crank caller from somewhere in Ohio. His calls are very much in the 'Great Phone Calls' style with some Jerky Boys style character work (and attitude) as well, far from the bizarre style of Longmont Potion Castle, but no one is as good as that guy. OP does quite a few "I want to be in your band" calls, the best of which are made vs. a Burzum fan (which is apparently his most infamous call referred to as "Black Metal") and another made to a hapless Hawkwind fan. I'm leaving out punchlines/gags on purpose here. Although the line "The TVs run on blood?!" has been stuck in my head lately (part of a plasma TV/blood donor mix-up gag). The guy has a bunch of voices/characters he uses, doesnt get too nasty (super mean calls are always lame, and he doesnt go there thankfully) and is pretty good at rattling his victims to just the right degree to make the call work. A good one to add to the pile for when prank call records are best utilized - on long road trips.(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Orion s/t LP
The membership of Sydney's Orion includes parts of Oily Boys, Whores and M.O.B. (who all released good records, mostly on RIP Society) and I believe vocalist Yuta was (or is) a member of Low Life at some point. And Low Life is the thing I seem to weighing this debut LP against - there are a couple of tracks where they manage to put you at unease much like LL could at the height of their powers ("Last" in particular), to sort of soothe you in a creepy way. On many of the other tracks they sound more like a kinder Low Life, operating with the same logistical make up for most - drum machine backing guitars and lush synth. Reimagining New Order, The Cure and even a bit of The Smiths ("Sexy Alien" and "Execution" have Yuta appropriating a bit of a Mozza-like delivery). Ending on "Crash Course" and its ultra-rich synth/drum combo give them a grandiose exit. Each song sounds a bit different (and I think they use two different drum machines) and none sound very much the same - which is great for those who need variety, but it also robs Orion a bit of their identity. I'm not sure what they really sound like at the end of this. That being said, it's a lovely record and will lift your mood and salve your wounds (or at least keep you even keel) if that's what you need out of your music today. Absolutely stunning packaging as well - foil embossed sleeves and a fold out band poster must've cost a few quid to make.(RK)
(Cool Death // in the US via feelitrecordshop.com)
Party Plates "Eye to Eye" 7"
Second 7" from this Clevo powerhouse, a veritable murderer's row of musicians = Wedge on the the kit, Paul on gaytar, Skeletor on bass and some guy from a grindcore band on vox. What I really want to say here, is do not underestimate this band - it's easy to hear the name Party Plates and be all, yeah they must sing about pizza and shit or something. Stop right there partner. PP are a real deal metal band, and "1000 Lifetimes" is a thrashpunk scorcher - Pauly gets the riff a chuggin and Wedge has the drums a gallopin' and it's off to the moshpit races brothers and sisters. Really, it's a knockout tune. "Short Bedroom Performance" is another jammer of note, both a funny and deadly riffer with great lyrics. Not quite as great as Midnight (but who really is) but Paul Mac tried to make them sound like royalty. This is also a split with Noncommercial Records, so you have to buy it to keep your NCR section complete.(RK)
(Saucepan Records // saucepanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Perverts Again "My Accident" 7"
I couldn't be happier to see Total Punk (greatest label in the world) strike up a friendship with the new wave of Clevo bands (greatest music city in the world) like Rubbermate and Perverts Again, whose single right here is making me slot them up at the top of the heap of the current crop. These kids are all members of Cruelster from what I've heard, and this stuff is light years beyond anything that band has done. I mean, it's so good that Paul E. Wog revived Noncommercial Records to release their LP (which was just repressed in a limited quantity as well). Now that's an endorsement! Perverts Again have created a nice little aesthetic for themselves, with the cartoon mascot guys, it's weird and a bit playful at the same time, but not too much of either. Not that they sound at all like them, but they do have sort of a Happy Flowers vibe. "My Accident" depicts a visit to the doctor, narrated in monotone with some dum-dum back-ups (and some double tracked vocal lines) when emphasis is needed (presumably the voices of those little pervert guys), musically they have a nice and rubber-gluey jog, not sludgey or outright knuckle dragging, but weird and sort of skulking a bit. Like I said, they strike a perfect line betwixt creepy and funny. "My Embarrassment" ups the tempo just ever so slightly, lyrically it's an existential inner debate. "Underneath your clothes you're not naked" might be the smartest/dumbest line since the last Bad Noids 7", and the lyric sheet is greatly appreciated. This one also has more squiggly vocal touches and is actually quite catchy. Now that I've had time to focus on this for a bit, I like the LP even more. Cleveland wins again.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Pezband "Women & Politics" 12" EP
Back in the Nineties/early 00s you couldn't throw a rock in a thrift store and not hit a Pezband record. I remember having at leat a half dozen copies of the first LP sitting in a crate at one point. They pressed a lot of records - probably too many, as by 1980 after three LPs and a bunch of singles Pezband had been chewed up and spit out by the major label machine. Back to playing bars after they failed to become the next Romantics or Cheap Trick. That of course did not stop the peppy little act known as Pezband, who soldiered on as a trio and scraped some cash and favors together to record this four song EP at the Record Plant in 1982. Alas, it made no difference and the band broke up after finding no label daring enough to release a mediocre 12" by a washed-up power pop band. So it goes.(RK)
(Frodis Records // www.frodisrecords.com)
Phantom Head s/t LP
Holy hell, Blak Skul Records might be saving garage-punk from going down the shitter right now, or are at least going above and beyond trying to do their part from letting it swirl away. I knew nothing of Phantom Head previous to this. My hopes were not high. The cover reminded me of that Dreamdecay LP - mysterious clearing in the woods, oooh scary - then you look closer and see a rubber snake and some sunglasses and other paraphenelia around the site (and I have a theory about this cover I will continue on at some point. Lets just say I think they are legitimately trying to exorcise some bad juju from the spirit of rocknroll via the totems in this photo). So, back to the record, PH are former members of Burial Teens, Chasm (never heard of either of 'em) and American Hate (sorta remember them). Two guitars/bass/drums and one guitar guy sings 80% of the time and the bass girl sings the other 20% - actually about hafway through the record she pops up on vox and startled me, wasn't expecting it. So, Phantom Head are a great group, did I mention that? They're a band that gets really hypnotic on you, because they're so locked in. Let me say this, Rob Vertigo should be pissed I didn't send this to him for review. Because he's gonna love it. 11 tunes of mid-tempo evil with memorable riffs and a real swing - a bit of Aussie balls, a bit of American sludge, they really drive spikes into your brain. Hammer, hammer. Guitars get slippery and all, but never too gimmicky, just enough fuzz/reverb to keep it dark. The guy is a good singer too, reminds me of Brannon's vox in Nag some, and the gal, she's a real belter too. She sounds mean, which is great. These guys remind me of the better ATL cats, there's some of the dark heaviness of GG King, the aforementioned Nag (and GHB), and just their general knack for being heavy but not losing the rhythmic base. I feel thy might be at home on a bill with Gary Wrong, they have the same predeliction for gnarly jams and talking about witchcraft and black magic and other bad stuff. They swing as hard as Lysol, hit harder than any of the similar NYC bands (I'm talkig yer Fur Helmet, Pop 1280, Foster Care and such), could go toe to toe with CCR Headcleaner for sure. I have little more I can say. This is what garage rock could be in 2017 if you let it - the lineage of the DNA from the early In the Red roster (Necessary Evils, Beguiled, etc...) mutated into today. The very best thing from Blak Skul thus far.(RK)
(Blak Skul // blakskul.bigcartel.com)
Plastic Idols "I.U.D." 7"
Plastic Idols "Einstein Experience" 7"
Both Plastic Idols 7"es via Rerun Records, a label that always does the reissues right - original art and labels reproduced faithfully and sharply in classy pocket sleeves. Released in '79 and '80 on Vision (which I always assumed was their own label) the "I.U.D." b/w "Sophistication" 7" is a stone killer of Texas punk, and were it from any other state not as totally stacked with classic punk it would probably be regarded even more highly. At this point I think I prefer "Sophistication" out of the two tunes, while many regard "I.U.D." as their "hit", but I think "Sophistication"s snottier attitude/delivery appeals to me more - both top shelf anyway. The "Einstein..." EP is a slight step down - mainly because the title track is kind of a bummer with that organ grind and a more pop-oriented direction. "Uncircumcised Twin" ("he's got a little extra") makes up for it in sheer stupidity, plus the organ doesn't bother me as much on this one, and the handclaps help. "Siamese Lust" (not "Siamese Love") is a weird little soundscape that seems out of place, but is cool.(RK)
(Rerun Records // rerunrecordsstl.com)
Puke Spit and Guts "Eat Hot Lead" LP
Long overdue reissue of the Puke Spit and Guts LP, a record I've wanted an original of since I became aware of it's existence. Originally released on Important Records (the only release on the label along with the Erratic "I Wrecked Myself" 7" - another one you probably need to hear if you haven't) in 1980, it's one of the more ridiculous records of all time. I'll admit I probably haven't listened to these songs in a few years until this reissue showed up, and I forgot how absolutely juvenile it is. I always thought of it as what the Gizmos could have sounded like had they been bikers instead of zine writers - in that space in-between bar rock and proto-punk/early punk. PS&G really give GG himsef a run for his money lyrically as well - sodomy, sadism, beastiality, kidnapping little girls, cartoon ultra-violence, playground level gay jokes, heavy duty misogyny (from the girl in the group too!) - it's unreal now that I've actually sat down with a lyric sheet. The tunes are pretty much inept garage-rock (Gizmos without the "talent", Penetrators-esque maybe), when Marie Manslaughter sings it's honestly like nails on a chalkboard, I prefer Captain Worm's vocals to Donny Death's as far as the guys go (overall favorite member is Dick Head though, who looks remarkaby like a real life version of the biker from Raising Arizona) - when they're just raving about killing everyone and everything is when they're best ("Kill for Kicks", "I Aint Scared") and maybe the weirdest tune is actually "Spider Pasture Now" a sort of slow jammer about laying black widow eggs in a host. Weird. The artwork here is a real bonus, the hand lettered cover is what drew me right in the first time I spied a pic, and the band pics and the posed shots where they actually assault a child, a handicapped gentleman (before The Meatmen did it!), what I assume is a teacher, a suited businessman type, a pregnant woman and possibly a dog, are just ridiculous. This one's going to appeal to fans of GG-type bad taste punk (or Dwarves) as well as those who have a taste for inept and ridiculous rock'n'roll, but the lyrics will be a deal-breaker for some, in today's climate especially. This could actually be what the Angry Samoans might have turned out like had they not been geniuses. Not for the squeamish.(RK)
(Black Gladiator // www.slovenly.com)
Pustostany "2012" 12"
Noise-punk of the highest order from Pustostany via this 12" that has existed as a tape-ony release since....2012. The band itself is a side project (their words) of The Kurws, whom you might remember from the record that Bat Shit put out some time ago (and althought it's a shame that label flamed out like it did, they had a pretty good run and were quite adelpt at finding out of the way noise), and to make a sweeping generalization I liken them to being the Polish equivalent of the French gluewave scene/Les Triple Alliance. Constructed on a very aggro version of the post-punk template, rhythm is the key here - they tunnel into some great grooves and then break them off at right angles in most of the songs, or at least slow them down or stop completely. It's that disregard for comfort that keeps you alert - instead of lulling you into submission, they're more content with breaking a song. This is synth-heavy, but not completely synth driven (that rhythm section really puts in some work), and whatever machine they're using seems to have been ripped out of an old Eighties stand-up video game console. I can just imagine "GAME OVER" scrolling across the screen when they hit some of these effects, and they manage to use it in a way that doesn't sound cute. And what I think really keeps it from being cute (aside from the aforementioned aggro) are the vocals, as this guy barks at you in Polish for the duration. The 1-2 punch that really got me here is "Only You" ("Tylko Ty") which is their magnum opus, starting a bit minimal with a martial beat (and in a clever twist using the guitar as the tick-tock timepiece instead of the drums) before erupting into a full blown sound replete with a massive array of synth zips and zaps until it loses complete control of the timing and just goes haywire - the second punch being "Szczecin", most definitely the heaviest number here, all riff and feedback over that 1/2 lurch, which they wind up and let loose and out of control before reeling it in at the end. Perhaps remiscent of the harshest stuff from the Crash Normal-related bands, I'll put forth Cheeraks at their wildest with all the garage sucked out.(RK)
(Sweet Rot // www.sweetrotrecords.com)
Race Car "Build Your Own Go Kart" 7" EP
Go Kart themed EP from a one man studio band via California somewhere (LA or its surroundings I assume), name of Raymond Schmidt. This is actually a demo cassette released on vinyl, a recurring Neck Chop theme, and the way the subunderground farm system should probably work. Only one of the songs seems to be about actual go karts, the others run in the vein of semi-current events with an odd fixation on terror attacks. Musically it's par for the track (groan), trebly drum machine and guitars with some reverbed-up vocals and sound effects. Somewhere between pop-punk and the garage, not quite of a quality where I feel like listening to it in my free time (aka the time I spend listening to records I want to hear instead of reviewing them). People are carrying on about Lumpy, NWI and Urochromes while discussing this, and it is not nearly as inventive, smart-dumb or catchy as any of that stuff. But this is the sound of "today" I suppose, and the world needs opening acts and 7" bin filler. He must be doing something right though, as he has another band called SBF who have a Goodbye Boozy platter coming up and one out already on Drunken Sailor, who seem to be shedding their UK version of Burger Records vision and are now releasing some "punk" records. Too bad this guy was born too late to actually be on Go Kart Records.(RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Radiation Risks "Goodbye Money" 7"
If you like your hardcore punk decked out with surfy guitar tones, smooth saxophone, bleeps, bloops, bells, and whistles - which you do not - you will like Radiation Risks. It's flashy and theatrical and the singer is doing an oogely slam poetry thing about all these different colors I've never heard of (given I'm not an interior decorator): "Mauve? Magenta? Pistachio? Rosewood or a Vegas gold? Alabama crimson? Russian green? Lime? Hey." So to be clear, the singer is yelling these lyrics over loud fast music. There is electronic keyboard and saxophone stuff going on too, and they had a laser light show behind them when they recorded. Somewhere between Tractor Sex Fatality style neon BBQ sauce and the goofier moments of '80s LA punk. But really, the sax being so smooth does give it a circus-y Ska type feel. I don't get it. Perhaps the happiest punk record I've ever heard.(EH)
(Lumpy Records // spottedrace.bigcartel.com)
Rathaus "Rathaus Rathaus Rathaus" 12"
One-sided 12" EP from these NYC noisers, whose thing seems to run/comingle with the Pampers/Foster Care waters a bit, and I didn't realize the girl singing is also behind the Brainplan label and moonlights as/with Dr. Evilletown, Car Phyte and others whose cassettes I've crossed paths with. Five tunes that all run at two minutes or under of sonic assault, with the icing on this being vocals from ECMO (aforementioned female singer, also shredder of guitar) which tempers the raw steel a bit, keeps it from running too far off into leftfield maybe. It's an immediate assault, the drummer launching and playing that 1-2 as fast as he can while the other two Rats hammer strings. When ECMO is not vocalizing, bass rat guy throws down some gravel vocal tones, they trade off on a few tracks, with his most impressive moment being the croak he lets out that makes up a kind of chorus on "Tool Time". Somewhere between Pampers garage-noise and Sex Scheme's complete lunacy perhaps (and yes, I'm going to use this as another excuse to plead for someone to get me a Sex Scheme LP if such a thing exists). The masterpiece is of course the last cut "6669" that has them calming down for just about two minutes and creating some real taut moments that build to a cathartic release, instead of the constant ejaculations of the other four tunes (which ain't bad either). Just about the right amount of time on this one, any more than this would be too much, but at the five song point you're right at the sweet spot where you think Rathaus are probably really killer live and perhaps better than most of the peers I compared them to earlier. Sheeit. Scum Stats: 300 copies only in a silkscreened jacket.(RK)
(A Wicked Company // awickedcompanyrecords.bandcamp.com)
Reptile Ranch s/t LP
This is the type of record made for me to love. Firstly, a great story - one that I won't repeat, as to allow you to discover it on your own - of a band that willed themselves into existence from the drudgery of Wales' Ebbw Valley (think of the UK version of a WV coal mining town) into forming their own label, releasing their own records and then taking it a step further by recording other bands and releasing scene comps (including their pals Young Marble Giants) all with a little instruction (and one of the most wonderful coincidences, so good I wonder if it's really true) from Scritti Politti. Secondly, this is the sort of packaging I wish I would've done - hand stamped jackets, paste-on photographs, six page booklet/insert, all done in minimal and tasteful fashion, fitting and deserving of the band. And thirdly, incredible music. This compiles both of their singles (which you have heard some of via Messthetics), a comp track and adds four unreleased tracks (two live/two studio of which "The Fire Is Burning" is the remarkable bit of UK oddballness) and it's all top tier UK-DIY post-punkola. I slightly prefer the rawness of the first single, "Lifeguard" in particular with its wheezy organ and flute, something of it reminds me of a collison with Swell Maps, Twink and Desperate Bicycles. Thats' not to say the second 7" is inferior, and I enjoy its path down The Fall/Wire avenues almost as much (and most consider it their best) and "Saying Goodbye" is probably my second favorite RR tune. But regardless, it's all highly valuable stuff here and I feel enriched having experienced it all - especially when you discover you just listened to a bunch of tracks without drums and didn't realize it. Top stuff. Scum Stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(C/Site Recordings // www.csiterecordings.com)
Rubber Mate "Rub 'em All" 7" EP
The only Rubber Mate you can get on vinyl until that Total Punk platter hits your mailbox (and let's just say I'm allready a big fan of "Cha Boi") and this has a different set of songs than the 'Hell Bent for Rubber' tape too - so catch up. Rubber Mate and Perverts Again are leading the new Clevo charge (Bad Noids are now the senior members of the scene with Real Regular somewhere in between) and it's sludgier and weirder than ever. All fine with me. Lotsa feedback gunking up the bass/drum creepy crawl, whoever is singing is doing his best Doc Dart. "Stupid Thug" is a monster that almost rips off a riff and then really beats you down before you can figure out where they nicked it from. "Car Crash" is actually super fast and brings the fucking mosh. I like this one a ton, and that TP platter is gonna be even better...(RK)
(Saucepan Records // saucepanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Savage Beliefs "Big Big Sky: A Recorded History of Savage Beliefs" LP
Savage Beliefs released a 7" EP in 1983 on Wasteland Records (also home of Articles of Faith) which takes up the A-Side of this LP. It's average Chicago-punk at best, pretty wimpy for the most part even with the gang choruses, a little bit funky, and a bit of early emo via DC punk is evident. "Big Big Sky" is their best tune by a long mile, and even I'm forced to admit that it's pretty catchy. Look, I'll confess here, I do not like Chicago punk (at least until Big Black show up and post-hardcore begins, then Chicago is A-ok), I was never a Naked Raygun fan, I can't stand Vic Bondi, The Effigies are the best of the bunch, and there's only a handful of Effigies tracks I even like. Now that I have that off my chest, side B contains a couple of tracks that appeared on 'The Middle of America Compilation' and four more from that session. Not good. Awkward, wimpy, unfunny. Footnotes: singer Brian Gay was the original bass player of Government Issue before moving to Chicago, and bass player Dave Riley was the guy who replaced Pezzati in Big Black (talk about a promotion), both facts that are more interesting than this LP. (RK)
(Alona's Dream // www.alonasdreamrecords.com)
Saylavees "Crimson Rose" EP
For all the crap I've given Brooklyn for their music "scene", they one thing they seem able to always come through with is a great girl group every now and then - Vivian Girls were certainly good at the onset, I feel like I loved Girls at Dawn more than many, and most recently Meltaways had a sharp little single. Next in that lineage are Saylavees. Three girls (and one is an ex-Girl at Dawn!) plus a token male drummer create shimmering rock'n'roll with psych/surf/punk touches which makes for a stellar debut. Title track opens the record with a timeless sounding slow burner, deep with vocal harmonies that wash over you, a major hook and a bit of garage-punk edge. "Morning Glow" is transmitted from a dream, these vocals will seriously soothe your soul (if it needs it, and I'm pretty sure it does), guitars here cover all the needed bases: jangle, twang and some mean fuzz at the end. B-Side is filled by nearly five minutes of "Too Far Gone" which effectively takes everything they did well on the A-Side and combines it all into a sweeping garage-rocker carried by the echo of guitar blending with the angelic harmonies - so pretty it distracts you enough where the uptempo push on the chorus gets some real drama behind it. Whichever lady is singing lead on the chorus has a rather tough Holly Golightly-like delivery when shes not whispering. Super reverbed guitar solo/whammy in the second half shows these misses have some guts to go along with the sweeter side. Very recommended, I cannot imagine someone not liking this - really, you probably have some real issues if this one doesnt win you over. And go get those Girls at Dawn records as well if you didnt listen to me the first time around...Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Ugly Pop // uglypop.bigcartel.com)
Schatten Unter Eis "We Might As Well Be Dead" LP
More deep excavation of the Augsburg music scene from Randstock, a label that is the true definition of a labor of love. Shadows Under Ice is the the translated name of this DIY-synth project, and these songs were home-recorded in 1982-83 and sound fantastic. Utilizing a wide array of machines (pictures of which appear on the insert), we get a wide range of Casio, Korg and Roland sounds augmented with some guitar and bass over these ten tracks. There are a few extremely icy cold minimal synth numbers that will legitimately give you chills that are offset by stranger somewhat wavy pop attempts that are really more like the synthetic version of UK-DIY constructions - somewhat quirky and charming, but without the amateurish playing - these guys are well versed players who know their way around these machines (the main guy was a computer programmer by day). There are some New Order-esque gloom bringers, but without all the melodrama - these songs are concise and free of gimmickry or overacting. They're not called Shadows Under Ice for no reason. There is very real emotion here, but it's delivered starkly and cuts at you raw, the execution is razor sharp. All lyrics are in English, giving something like "We Might As Well Be Dead" an even more chilling emphasis - it almost has a pop feel to it, but those lyrics betray that very quickly. It's a bit frightening really and I honestly stepped away from this a couple of times because it was getting to my head - I can't think of a better endorsement that that. This is real heavy stuff aesthetically even if the music itself appears almost friendly at times. They do an interpretaion of "Assault and Battery" that you absolutely have to hear and every song on this is a real masterpiece. Another stunning release from Randstock, bringing you an exceptional piece of art from a truly obscure source. This record makes most miminal synth I've heard in the past seem like a hollow gesture. Highly recommended for serious music listeners. Scum stats: 200 copies with 2 inserts.(RK)
(Randstock // try Fusetron)
Schizophonics "Ooga Booga" 10"
Somewhere around six or seven years or so ago I made a vow to myself that I would never again buy a 10" record, and I've managed to stay true to it. Not that it was really hard, and I also failed in my vow to then sell all existing 10"es I owned - but hey, I'm trying. If anyone wants to make an offer on every decent garage-punk 10" released from around 1995-2010, shoot me an e-mail. But anyway, people keep making these damn things - I can't even begin to imagine why. Schizophonics are a trio from San Diego doing the garage-turkey gobble. The first song is called "Ooga Booga Boogaloo" - I shit you not. The funny thing is there are parts of it that are pretty good in a Cynics/latter day Makers style, but that all goes away when he utters those words. Fuzz solo is pretty squanchy, and it boogies decent. But that title is a deal breaker. Other A-Side cut is straight MC5 mockery. B-Side goes like this: one Black Keys-alike tune, one Dirtbombs-alike tune, and they end with another MC5iver with a side order of Stooges. It actually sounds decent, even if it is bereft of much if any originality. This could've been a rager on Get Hip in '99.(RK)
(Pig Baby Records // www.pigbabyrecords.com)
Schizos "Fuck Iggy Pop" 7"
Yeah, I'm sure everyone's been anxious for my hot take on this one. What do I think if dissing the Ig? I mean, c'mon it's just dumb. You've immediately identified yourself as marks. Whether the reasoning is you're being funny (which they're not) or being serious and giving the finger to the establishment and/or killing your idols, which I suppose you could say Iggy is in both capacities, again, it's just D-U-M-B. The big thing is, when making such a bold statement, you need to have some real good tunes to back it up. And I'm not quite sure they do. Paint-by-numbers "dumb" "synth-punk" (yes, I'm being real free with quotes here) with obnoxious vocals. PS - no one needs to ever cover Urinals again unless Jay Reatard returns from the grave (and again, I get being humorous or irreverent by covering sacred cows and/or trying to slow it down to be cute - just don't) and covering an Oblivians songs is also never a good look. I love how aggro this Neck Chop guy is going at the record/distro game, but dude, slow it down a little if you have to. You don't HAVE to release four records at a time every other month. Plus, Mongoloid did this artwork better last year. I did see some live footage of these guys that appeared to be a total trainwreck, so that's a good sign. Sometimes no talent is charming, sometimes it's a bore. And you know, now that I've listened to this a bunch of times and have dug myself in as to how bad it is, I'm starting to think it's getting so bad it's good. I love painting myself into corners. Fuck it, just figure it out yourself...and leave Iggy out of it.(RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
The Skids s/t 7"
Debut 7" from Melbourne KBD-grillfat punkers The Skids. Four medium tempo grunters, "Crooked Cop" is in a Cosmic Psychos direct-driven style if they were more concerned with punk than agriculture, and Zeke's vox are as gravelly as the road. "So What" has a sneering '77 style guitar line punctuated with a searing solo at the end and this one is Zeke's finest moment on the record. Flipside has "On the Edge" which is a perfectly cooked bit of desolation rock and they close with a surprisingly upbeat Chuck Berry riff that willl send 'em home with a smile on their face. I've said it a million times already, Australians do the meat-n-potatoes punk thing better than anyone, and The Skids provide further proof. Scum stats: 300 total, 200 with pink cover, 100 with blue.(RK)
(Shipping Steel // shippingstell.bigcartel.com)
S.L.I.P. “Slippy When Wet” LP
“Slip It In” would’ve been the more appropriate mid-80s pun-centric album title for these Yinzers to reference but they did go with a Pettibon-esque drawing of a punk hand holding a quartet of pills in near perfect BARS pattern, so maybe that’d be overkill? S.L.I.P. swipe the general essence of (and a couple of actual riffs from) late period Flag and that’s pretty much all you need to know to assess where you’ll stand on this record. If that’s something you need in your life, you should already be wound up and on your way to the Sorry State superstore to grab yourself a copy. (DH)
(Sorry State // sorrystaterecords.com)
Sparrow Steeple "Steeple II" LP
Sparrow Steeple could be called a Strapping Fieldhands side-project, as it seems to be at least 4/5 members here backing Barry Goldberg (no, not the Electric Flag guy) on a similar trip. Not sure if SF are still active at this point, so I guess you'll have to decide for yourself what category this slots into, but minutiae notwithstanding I'm one of those who didn't necessarily love the Fieldhands. I liked a few things well enough and apppreciate their fondness for the lo-fi, but the whole British folk/skiffle thing was just too much for me. Luckily, this SS LP is close to what I would want a Fieldhands record to sound like, and it appearswhat I want them to sound like is Tommy Jay, in a loose roundabout way. Instead of put-on accents and Appalachian lore, with Goldberg at the helm we get sort of a talked vocal prescence that dives into sometimes awkward singing and a predeliction for songs about food ("Shrimp Rolls To Go" might be the album's best, "Hamlet Egg Sandwich" is clever and "Chocolate Memories" is probably their worst song, but at least they tagged it on the end) - and there's still some folk to go around, Malloy himself plays some flute and numbers like "Domino Mary" have a bit of Barrett-like whimsy to them. These are offset by things like "Tuscany" that has a wandering drive that is almost Cheater Slicks-like (or Slicks covering the VU-like) and they're not above stealing a classic rock riff for the free-rocking "Caspar's Robe". Hey, I'm as surprised as you that I really like most of this. The lighter side of American Guitar Rock from the always reliable Richie Records.(RK)
(Richie Records // testostertunes.com)
Spodee Boy "Sterile World" 7" EP
Are you in a state of depression regarding the fact that Coneheads have seemingly broken up along with CCTV, Big Zit, Ooze and all the other incredible NWI bands? Can't wait for the next Lumpy Records update and need to buy a record now? Well here's the Spodee Boy EP for all you mindless consumers, Nashville's entry into the one man studio punk band bedroom sweepstakes. Is it as good as the worst Coneheads song? Does it make Liquids sound like The Stooges in comparison? Is it even slighty as weird as The Wad? The answers to all of these questions are obvious, but it sorta kinda sounds like a facsimile of said things. Treble and reverb knobs are turned way up, someone's got a drum machine and a snarky psuedonymn that is kinda sorta a twice removed Devo reference (spuds, spodee, am I reaching on this one?). Hey, I'm the idiot who actually paid for this thing so I can say what I want. (RK)
(Designer Medium // designermedium.bandcamp.com)
Static Eyes "The Thaw" 7"
Screeching punk for the Midwest minded who really miss outfits like The Krunchies, The Feelers and the faster/blaster side of the Shit Sandwich or Criminal IQ catalogs. "The Thaw" and "Blood Moon" feel a helluva lot like Lost Sounds outtakes that were scrapped because they forgot to plug in the synthesizers. "Blank Tapes" is the obligatory garage tune that should really speak to me, since it's not too far removed from the late 90's Big Neck catalog - Blowtops & Baseball Furies - though I'm not feeling anything overwhelming here besides nostalgia. Probably a hoot live, but this ain't Blank Generation. It's not even The Hit List. It's a serviceable punk that'd be fine background for a barroom bender. Even still, if this had dropped 15 years ago, I'd fear Jesse Knowcrap would still be sitting on a box of 'em. Sad. (RSF)
(Kitschy Manitou // www.kitschymanitou.com)
Street Eaters "The Envoy" LP
Long time road warriors and Eastbay couple-punx have gone for the gold, this time 'round. "The Envoy" - based on the text of fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin - is stylistically pretty hard to pin down. Tossing about phrases like "concept record" or "science fiction author" in a band's press release tend to be met with groans by those who refuse listening to anything other than whatever Steven Blush might suggest, but I've got plenty of Rush and Hawkwind platters in my stacks - so bring it! This LP is far removed from the woodland Ren-faire yarns of Neil Peart (or the topography of a Yes gatefold), though one can hear dystopian Brock & Calvert styled futurisms woven to their collaged interludes. When this sucker full on punks, it's dressed up in a Euro garb along the lines of Terrible Feelings, Gorilla Angreb, etc. There's also hints of Greg Sage in their buzzing darkness and during the "To The Ice", it would seem label mates Crooked Bangs might have rubbed off on 'em a tad as well. "Paralyzed" waves a flag in the listeners face, emblazoned with Karp worship and it tickles me greatly. The bubbling depth-charge of "Homeostatic" leads to another personal fave - "Take What I Don't Need" - mixing overdriven amp fry, shook loose strings, dubbed out time shifts and some very Kim Deal-esque vocal cadence that makes for a heady listen. Elsewhere you can find Sonic Youth touchstones or even nods to Mission Of Burma through the waves of shimmering feedback and tribal percussion, but they're swinging it with half as much of a band. If that ain't enough, the whole shebang wraps up with "Davenant" - a two part string bender and r&r burnout that's like one of the punkest tone bending odysseys since Dischord failed to release that Fugazi/King Crimson/Terry Riley collaboration. Good stuffs, Bezerkeley. (RSF)
(Nervous Intent // www.nervousintentrecords.blogspot.com)
Stromboli "Volume Uno"LP
Hey, guess where Stromboli are from? No really, guess...did you just say Italy? Yer right! Can't wait for their split EP with Calzone. Sorry. But I have dibs on the name Stuffed Shells for a future garage-punk outfit. My real dream is that this is a Blank Dogs-esque side project from Personal. OK, that's enough. I just feel like it's a bad name for a guy who made a pretty good record here. 'Volume Uno' is all one man playing instrumental noisescapes. This promo sheet really goes overboard on the namedrops, but Stromboli was definitely listening to the 'Thief' soundtrack when thinking about the first couple of songs, I will agree, and it's inevitable that TG are sonically referenced along the way - Stromboli just makes everything sound far more modern and industrial. Most of this is just loop after loop (and it's a big deal that he's using the same type of machine Fripp/Eno used I'm told), a lot of throbbing and pulsing and power surging, what it lacks in personality it makes up for in heavy electrostatic vibes, not of the bummer variety, and not quite evil either - it's more of a chaotic neutral vibe maybe. Cloudy (and you know I want to make a chance of meatballs joke so fucking bad right now) and overcast, propulsive but not explosive, crackling with energy but the current just flows around in these loops. He sets a good table and this was easy to listen to for essentially being noise. Some Lynchian vibes here, but maybe that's just because I'm knee-deep in the new series right now. Scum stats: 300 copies, thick vinyl/sleeves.(RK)
(Maple Death // www.mapledeathrecords.com)
Sun Bather s/t 12" EP
The first two Sun Bather singles set my world on fire for a few months back in 2015, and then the band fell off the radar. Apparently they were a bit busy, as this four song 12" is pretty choice stuff, continuing on the path of the 7"es: the K-Town sound taken to California. This time they tread further away from the Masque and more towards the beach, but "Shouldn't Have Done It" is definitely the requisite punker on the record. A tough mid-tempo cruiser that fits around Bonneman's gruff vox like a glove - maybe a less rootsy X or less goth/more beach-punk Christian Death even...something Agnew-esque to it. There's a simple synth line that pops up and actually makes it sound darker. "My Dreams" continues the theme, with a bigger chorus (plus handclaps) and becomes like G-Angreb with more rock'n'roll and less hardcore, especially when that one finger piano line drops. Excellent and clean guitar tone thus far as well. "Faret Vild" is the lone noon-English track - it's the weakest cut not because f this, but it's sort of stuck in second gear the whole time - it revs up and the handclaps kick in, the vox are anthemic, but I feel like it was two minutes of waiting for something else to happen. They do a version of "Shady Grove" to close that's like a beach-western - definitely stepping into Gun Club/Flesheaters turf, I feel like theey sneak a fiddle into the background at the end too. When Peter Bonneman is in a band it's always worth your time, and he has a solid crew here (including Tommas from APA/GA as well) - I'm looking forward to a full length and hope they stretch it even further into Jeffrey Lee territory and I find it impressivie that they've managed to sound wholly Californian without resorting to surf licks on this one. To repeat, I'm ready for the LP gents, and please get a US distro some copies of that new PJ 7" - thanks! Scum stats: 300 copies. Ouch.(RK)
(Hjernespind // hjernespindrecords.tictail.com)
Thigh Master "B.B.C." 7"
Guitars sound like someone plucking on a spider's web, vocals sound slightly hungover but ready to get back on the horse again, backbeat is poppy in the Australian sense (meaning slightly jaunty and rugged) and it's all very pleasant and somehwat minimal but also very life affirming. B-Side has a more rambling vocal approach, that sounds like maybe he's had a few by now, guitars still twinkle some and the pop is very Flying Nun in a ragged way. Just lovely.(RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.bigcartel.com)
The Thingz "Vault Of Tomorrow" LP
Long running Long Beach combo that's straddles that white line, straight down center between Danny Dollrod riffage and stuff like The Fall Outs. A stripped bare shimmy and jerk, featuring the obligatory Childish ape, Cramps cover, Bo Diddley beat, and so on. As well played as one would hope for, being these folks have been at it for more than a decade. A fine patio party band I'd imagine, though there's nothing here that ain't been done before. Fun but somewhat "stock", if you know what I mean (Sorry. Lame Some Kind Of Monster reference). I believe this to be a husband and wife combo and maybe it's all that marital bliss shining through that hinders the enjoyment for me. They just seem so damn happy. Quirky. Nerdy. I like my garage monsters fueled more on debt, drink and bitter divorce. (RSF)
(self-released // www.thethingz.bandcamp.com)
Tin Foil s/t LP
A few factoids I've been able to sleuth about Tin Foil - they're from Hamtramck, MI. I think one or two these guys are also in the Craig Brown Band. That's the extent of the file. Musically speaking, they fall into that certain range of artists Almost Ready has been positioning for greatness, garage bands who have some upside to them. I'm just waiting for the right band to get lucky (and this is not to say that I think that the AR CEO doesn't believe in these artist's talents, because I know he does) and sneak into that upper echelon of bands who sniff a mainstream hit...it could be Liquor Store, it could be Ravi Shavi, could be Atlantic Thrills, it could be 1-800 Band (please don't let it be them...), all it takes is the right video on Vice, the right commercial, the right appearance on TV and BAM you're the next Black Lips. Bands that could be contenders and I hope one of them does catch that break. Anyway, these guys are real likeable. Singer has a very personable twang to his voice, a little vulnerability is there behind the outward confidence and musically they can play across genres - country twang, psych-folk, straight garage punk, some pop-rock, surfy beaters. They're most like the A-Thrills out of the current AR roster, maybe a little more serious/adult, although "Shapes of Savannah" is a real feel-good twanger that the Thrills should steal. These cats bust out some motor city oil-n-grease on "Give A Try" which also has a subliminal T.Rex-y monster hook in it. This one could be the hit. Then they do a tune that sounds like a less fuzzy Mudhoney that's total kill city (and the singer does sound a bit like Mark Arm at times) and the B-side ends with a big time rock anthem with psych-out touches, actually reminding me of The Go at this point (and I do like The Go, believe it nor not). And I just realized I'm working this record backwards. But this A-Side is packed with gems as well - "Cant Stay Here" is a comely glam ballad with piano moves and a UK-popsike feel that's how you wish post-Cheap Time Jeff Novak bands sounded and "She's An Automaton" rides the same wave to good effect. There's no good reason why these cats couldn't be a big deal. They have the chops. Even I like this very very much, and I'm generally a curmudgeon when it comes to possible radio-friendly garage-rock. And regardless of their prospects, in the end we all just want to enjoy listening to some good tunes, and this one more than accomplishes that goal. Scum stats: the band hand-painted a bunch of copies for their record release shows (maybe 50 or less?) that all look damn cool.(RK)
(Almost Ready Records // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Trampoline Team "Drug Culture" 7"
Trampoline Team may very well be the best band currently playing in the classic Rip Off Records style of garage-punk on the planet right now. For real. Sounds like a dubious distinction, but it's a real compliment as far as I'm concerned. They're the Loli & The Chones of today. And it's not just rote imitation - I mean I can't say they're modernizing the sound necessarily, but they play it like it's their own and don't sound or look like civil war re-enactors. This is genuine garage-punk, not whatever the term has been bastardized into these days. Fast, loud, agressive, just a bit of lo-fi slop, it's perfect. "Drug Culture" pokes fun at dopers with gang vox, a non-stop riff and a blistering solo. "I Don't Play Games" is in the grand tradition of "fuck you" songs with Shelby tackling the vox alone, plenty of cursing, simple-yet-effective chorus ("...that shit is lame!"), solo is of the screeching variety here. A perfect two-songs-and-out single, right down the B&W artwork. Pretty much everything that is good about this style done up perfectly. Go get one now.(RK)
(Space Taker Sounds // www.spacetakersounds.com/store)
USA/Mexico "Laredo" LP
Debut banger from USA/Mexico (no, that's their name, they're from Austin) whose line-up features King fucking Coffey! Sign me up. Also has the main guy from Shit and Shine (who I never listened to because of that name, for real) and I think the King actually played on some S&S records of late as well. So, this thing is a total meat grinder, I had to verify I didn't clown myself and just listen to it at the wrong speed, but it clearly states on the label this thing is meant for 33rpms, so let's blast off. They start burying you alive right off the bat with "Possum Trot", a very 90s song title that shovels dirt on you with menacing bass play and guitars with what I imagine are some baller ass effects pedals - Crover-esque dirge-a-long drumming aids the feeling of interment, the robot vox are the wreath on your headstone. They've won me over already. The rest of the side plays out much the same, the closest I've heard to this of late might be the FNU Clone, they have a similar penchant for creating a buzzing mass of static that seems to have some sort of synthetic mind of its own. They also favor the classic Drunk With Guns approach, given a bit of a technological kick-in-the-ass, it's still all feedback and screech but just played via newer effects pedals and filters. They throw their influences on their sleeves on side B anyway, covering a song called "Bullets for Pussy" which I'm taking is some sort of homage/medley to the post-DWG Mike Doskocil vehicle of the same name - as I dont remember there ever being a song by that title by either band? Either way it's a (pointed) stick in the eye. The also do a Brix-era Fall tune ("L.A.") that I'm still trying to figure out. I give this LP four thumbs up out of three, it fulfills your RDA for both static and sludge, and I feel is a balanced meal providing both sonic sustenance and some delicious feedback flavors. I can feel the arty-side of the Shit and Shine guy(s) trying to peek in, but thankfully their powers are used for evil riff mongering instead of some kling klang horseshit. Did I mention King Coffey!? So, are 12XU just trying to pick up the slack left by Load Records or are they now the new Trance Syndicate? Euro edition licensed to/from Riot Season.(RK)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
Van Buren Wheels s/t 10"
Full six song 10" from one of the bands offa that 'We're Loud" comp LP that I'm still not 100% sure wasn't a pile of bullshit. Some of those songs were cool, but I have serious doubts that it's BFTG/KBD "lost bands" from the vaults all by/with this Jaime Paul Lamb dude - I dont necessarily dispute the fact he recorded it all, but it seems like a Killed by Death #11 situation more than anything. Nothing wrong with that though, and hey I could be wrong. Regardless of authenticity, what we have here is a six song EP of lower-fidelity frat-rock monkey shake, a Kinks rip, a coupla blow-out garage punkers, one slow jam. All very competently played (and possibly dumbed down) and done by the book so much so it sounds suspicious. Mysterious garage punk turkey. Slovenly did the 10" with a big hole thing like that Eyes 10" had, which I guess looks kinda cool until you realize it's still a fucking 10", and 10" records suuuuuuuck.(RK)
(Slovenly // www.slovenly.com)
V/A "Bloodstains Across Virginia" LP
Back when some enterprising young bucks put out the 'Bloodstains Across Buffalo' LP a couple of years ago, I mentioned hoping it would energize some other like-minded punk collectors of this newer generation to show some local pride and comp their region. Well, it took a year or two, but here's a new one from the Mother of States, Virginia. An oft overlooked region, the only bands I was truly familiar with were Prevaricators (a band I've long championed - and I don't think the 'Detente' LP honks that bad, fellas) and Beex (who have one of my favorite 7" covers - and I do agree the 12" kinda blows) so I've also learned some things here. The Zits provide the comp's dose of high-school moronity with both sides of their 7" ("Beat Your Face" sounds like a rewrite of "Can't Explain"), Lamour were a pre-Beex band who play handclappy power-pop, Noys bring the nasal-vox for a sharp tin-can popper, Barriers sound like bar rockers, Insinuations could be the monster here with a coupla doses of exceptional weirdo art-punk, Naros are needly and punky, Raticals track is killer tough punk, Next of Kin are the only demo-only band on the LP and it's a good inclusion - shitty recording suits them well and the guitar playig is pretty wild. Ricky & The White Boys (no relation to White Boy that I know of) seems to be the rarest record here - recorded live and released posthumously for some reason, "I'm Stupid" is real dumb and real good. Of more historical significance are Chumps, a band that included most members of Half Japanese who didn't have the last name Fair and none other than future Workdog Rob K - it's an exemplary punker with ridiculous amounts of saxophone. Then there's Don Fleming's punk outfit Citizen 23 (with some other future Velvet Monkeys) who do a number called "Janie Has A Black Eye" which is super tight and catchy punk with killer female vox. A very worthwhile entry here, of course it's not Texas or California, but at least 75% is quality punk rock, which is a real nice batting average in the compilation game. Recommended for KBD fans worldwide. So who and where is next? I'd like to see entries from New England (non-Boston bands though, not that I dislike Boston, but I'd like to hear from other cities/states in the region), maybe a Deep South edition, or a really deep-diving Ohio collection.(RK)
(Prompt Critic Productions // avaialabe via feelitrecordshop.com)
Warm Bodies "My Burning Love" 7" EP
Firstly, the 'Domo' EP/demo is one of the best records of recent vintage to come across the desk, one I've become fond of to the point of obsession. So go get a copy of that before reading any further. Warm Bodies are in the very upper echelon of new young talents, with Mystic Inane possibly being the only close comparison/competition. I put them very high in the power rankings. A lot of it has to do with Olivia's vocals - very confident, very punk and seasoned with the right amount of reverb. They also write truly interesting songs with seemingly complex arrangements - the songs have "parts" (look at me getting all technical here) and are not just verse/chorus/verse dum/dum/dum constructs doing the same thing over and over (although that can be done well too, I know). Warm Bodies' songs weave in and out, change tempos and speeds and angles and brush upon touches of jazz, post-hardcore and post-punk. The guitar playing has some real spark and talent, whether shredding, plucking, riffing, or squealing and their rhythm section is exceptional, capable of precise speed changes and making you pay attention to what the bass is doing instead of it just fading in the background. All four songs here are imaginative and genuinely exciting - "I'm A Snake" could be their loose attempt at a pop-hook corkscrew, "Stinky" is some sort of skate rock jammer - it's sometimes difficult to tell where things start and end, you think they're rambling way out on a tangent they can't come back from, and then they whip right back into the first riff from three minutes ago and tie it all up. "I'm Gonna Getcha" hits multiple grooves and executes one of the smoothest crescendos I've ever heard in a punk song. Just fantastic all around, including the between song tape noise that sounds like Olivia's caught in the television from Poltergeist. Very into this, a record that I actually look forward to playing again and again, to sink into the nooks and niches of each song, to bask in the latter-day SST-ness of it all. Best band, best record, buy or die. Scum stats: 100 copies on red. Still not sure if I love their art aesthetic, but the important thing is that they actually have one and are not outsourcing.(RK)
(Thrilling Living // thrillingliving.com)
Wishgift s/t LP
Spazzy prog infused clatter from Chicago that features members of Xiu Xiu (heard of 'em), Cairo Gang (heard of 'em) and Slow Horse (who?). This would feel right at home on the Skin Graft roster or supporting a Victims Family reunion tour. Professionally constructed and over rehearsed, jazzy math-punk jizz that sounds somehow even more dated than the extremely dated shit I tend to love. If you listen closely you can actually hear the sounds of Greg Ginn shuffling about for pocket change, just so he can hop on the next Northeast bound Greyhound and meet up with these cats for a "jam" solo or two. Also, zero points given for the twenty plus minutes I spent trying to decipher the band name from the sleeve. I had this record listed as "Nightshift" for the first couple review drafts. Pass. (RSF)
(Sophomore Lounge Records // www.sophomoreloungerecords.com)
Witch Jail "Slimewave, USA!" 7"
I'll be honest, I put this on just to see how bad it was. And the joke's on me, because it's actually not all that bad, maybe in a bad-enough-it's-good way. Perhaps I was just entertained by this guy's vocal performance and the fact his name is....wait...Guy Slimey! "Slimewave USA!" is not slimy at all, but just a trad voodoobilly cut wth all the whoops and twang. The guy is just so over the top it's fun. B-Side is an Alien Sex Fiend cover ("My Brain is in the Cupboard...") that they simplify into a pretty primitive tune and Guy sort of goes David Yow (Scratch Acid-era) on this one. But again, waay over the top. I gotta admit I was entertained, and the ASF cover is pretty good for what it is.(RK)
(Too Much Rock // toomuchrock.com)
Wood Chickens "Skunk Ape" 7"
First things first - I really did love the Dead Milkmen during my formative High School years. The title track on this rubs that Milkmen vibe, pretty damn close. As for the other two tracks, they rollick through the hillbilly fields, skipping about like Mojo Nixon on a harder hooch. Not really anything I'm needing to hear again. They're well versed in their cowpunkerbilly roots - hell, they've all but mastered it - but who in the fuck is looking for a cover of "Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms" in 2017 that isn't collecting AARP benefits at this point? This is the group my Flatt & Scruggs loving family members wished I'd started. That skunk ape art on the sleeve would make a pretty sweet cut out mask for my dog. There's that, at least. (RSF)
(Kitschy Manitou // www.kitschymanitou.com)
Zerodent "Soul Mender" 7"
Three song EP from the Australian contingent of Almost Ready's newest batch of up and comers. Straight outta Perth (home of The Victims and Scientists and perhaps the greatest city for Aussie rock based on just birthing those two bands), they had an LP out on Alien Snatch last year that I seem to have missed out on, but this three song EP has them sounding like a lean and mean garage-punk outfit, wth some definite capital "P" punk in there. "Soul Mender" is a mid-tempo number reminiscent of ECSR in it's workman-like simplicity and hard hook without really sounding poppy. B-Side has two faster and louder crushers that are delivered like bricks through your window, maybe like a meaner Chinese Burns. A hot little item who want their Aussie rock post-goth-death-dole-wave free. Members of Sovier Valves, Rat Columns, Bamodi and others, with Zerodent being the name they should now push to the top of their resumes. (RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Zoom "Sweet Desperation" LP
Zoom released a single 45 in 1977, which some say was Toronto's first punk record - even though it was the first wave of TO punk bands that popped up in the months afterwards that rendered Zoom's proto-punk rocking almost obsolete. Main members (John Hamilton and Chris Haight) were already vets of the bar scene, formed Zoom to avoid playing covers and then ran smack into the punk revolution, going on to greater/more "punk" acclaim with the Diodes and Viletones. Even though those bands helped cement what would become Canadian punk, the pair continued to record songs they had written as Zoom when time allowed, using various studios and friends (members of The Curse, The Ugly, B-Girls) to compile the recordings here, which were lost to time until Hamilton resurrected the tapes a couple of years ago. Both single cuts are here - "Massacre at Central High" is almost Gizmos-like, "Sweet Desperation" is more of a glam-rocker (and was the A-Side). The rest of the tunes run a varied gauntlet of sounds - proto-metal stomp ("Nowheresville"), no-fi Velvets worship that reminds me of a Canadian 'Grim-O Comix Sequence' ("My Baby's Got No Brains"), Groovies-like boogie ("Slowdown"), Modern Lovers styled rockers and some near power-pop tunes. A good document of the weird little sweet spot where proto-punk would end and punk itself would start to take shape, leaving bands to explore any direction they thought punk could take - and Zoom certainly tried various approaches. Liner notes are exceptional on this one, like reading an Ugly Things article. (RK)
(Ugly Pop // uglypop.bigcartel.com)