RECORD REVIEWS SUMMER 2014
Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(NG: Nick Goode) (EEK: Erick Elrick)
A.D. Skinner s/t 7"
Melbourne punkers debut 7" with a name that I'm guessing is an X-Files reference. I think "hardcore-garage" is the term for this one, perhaps a more trebly and kinder take on Bits of Shit, but only kind in comparison to those jean-vested Aussie heavies. Sausage Skinner still has a quite yobby sounding voice and yammers and shouts very well in his own right. Four tunes here, "On the Nod" being the catchiest with a careening velocity and good riff. "Sex Pest" is faster and punker and has the best yammering, probably my fave of the batch. "Nobody Knows" is a downward lurching riffer, this time maybe a really tough sounding Chinese Burns for another geographically apt comparison. "Loose Ends" sounds like an ECSR tune played at double time, and ties into the fact that this is another Mikey Young recording job and the band does have Danny Current in the line-up as well. (RK)
(3XReaper Records // easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
The Abandos "Stiff" 7" EP
Post-FNU Ronnies action from Street Kyle and some other Philly skulls (Mick Shrimpton RIP!), it appears they also have an 8" lathe cut out (?!) plus a tape as well, if you need to play catch up. Which you probably should, as this pretty primo scree. Still maintains the frantic and compact punkness of the Ronnies, but sounding a bit more organized and less chaotic. Streamlined. "Stiff" really sounds like an early punk-waver sped up, reverbed and with the treble turned up to 12. As good as a real deal punk tune as we can hope for in 2014. "Cruise Control" reminds me of a street level Tyvek, sort of hookily post-punk in the same ways but rawer and less artsy. "Missing Chromosome" elicits the same feelings, but even adds some DIY-ier touches, built around a sturdy and contagious bassline with slashy and chirpy guitar happenings and some yappy vox that I like quite a bit. This is the one that really got me hooked. I guess FNU Jim took some of the scuzz with him when he left Philly, but Street Kyle is doing just fine with Abandos here. Scum stats: you can order from the band direct via facebook, I'm thinking there aren't too many of them though. With lyric insert and has great Prison Pit/Super Jail style artwork.(RK)
(self-released // www.facebook.com/TheAbandos)
The Achtungs "I'm Not The One" 7" EP
Domestic repress of the debut 7" from this Finnish outfit that I had no idea existed until now, and I feel like a jerk for snoozing. I'm a dickhead who sometimes ignores what might look like a lame Scando/Euro garage hamboner on the surface, but The Achtungs bring the punk enough to be a fitting piece of the Total Punk stable. I'd say this sounds a bit like a Reatard-ized version of the vintage Europunk sound (Raxola/Pack/Ivy Green/etc) with some dumbo KBD moves but not so much where it sounds like they're trying too hard to achieve TOTAL KBD DESTRUCTION. Good punk hooks throughout bolstered by a lo-fi recording - bass burbles, guitar trebles, drums sound like crap (in the best way) and the vox are really good here - not some slobbery bullshit or going for the Jay Reatard screech but a traditional kind of punk singing in pretty convincing english. A-Side is a three pack of smokers, "I'm Not the One" throws a nice wah-solo into the mix, "In Your Head" is the perfect ratio of Bloddstains-to-BFTG, and "Suicide" is a big Euro-punker with a solo of the ear-piercing variety this time. Just those three would've made for a good 7" themselves. B-Side gets a bit garagier, but they wedge "I'm Achin" in between them, which is a nice teenage hater. Solid stuff and good enough to get them on Total Punk, and I don't think there's a better seal of approval than that. Scum stats: 300 on black + 100 on pink = 400 total.(RK)
(Going Underground // www.goingundergroundrecords.net)
The Achtungs "Full of Hate" 7"
The Achtungs were wise to hang onto their best songs for their Total Punk platter. "Full of Hate" is an inspired Reatards-styled garage-punk ripper - semi-raw vox, simple yet effective hook'n'riff, squealy leads. It's perfect, really. "I Don't Wanna Talk About" is more of the same, if you slipped this on 'Bedroom Disasters' you'd probably fool a few people. Chuck Berry lick deconstruction/destruction, upscale hook and swing, production blown just enough. This guy can write some good ones, I have to admit, which makes the Reatards comparison more palatable becuase this Finn is actually writing above average songs in the style and adding his own flourishes, not just ripping it off. Great stuff.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Anasazi "Sex with E.T." flexi
NYC goth-punk division with a jokey flexi release. Sounds good for flimsy plastic, I think they managed to get a lock groove on this, or it just skips, who knows. Synthola with fittingly cheesy sounding Eighties-disco sound effects. "This song is our way of saying we don't give a fuck, we do not discriminate..." Agreed on all accounts. E.T. as dominatrix artwork and fold out poster included, the funniest thing about it is someone wearing a leather jacket with "Never Trust A Friend" painted on the back, with Alf hanging E.T.! Actually, it's honestly a bit disturbing. For completists only, I give credit for making this a flexi and not an actual record though, as the medium fits the material nicely here. Scum stats: 250 copies.(RK)
(Lexi's Flexis // lexisflexis.bigcartel.com)
Talbot Adams s/t LP
Full length LP from the nicest guy in rock'n'roll, Talbot Adams, a former Dutchmaster, Jenny Jean, Preacher's Kid, Royal Pendleton and more as well as leader of the now defunct Black and Whites. I felt that Talbot really did his thing right with his last 7", also on Spacecase (and neither song is on this LP, so you should go grab that first and decide if you want more perhaps...), and he continues in the same Southern-style garage/pop tradition here. I certainly would not call this power pop (perhaps maybe in the Elvis Costello sense, but not in the hyper stripey shirt sense), more like pop'n'roll maybe. Echoes of Nick Lowe, the already mentioned Costello, a little bit of popsike in the New Zealand sense (Chills maybe?) and a very gentlemanly Memphis/Mississippi songwriting appeal. Recorded crisp and clean, sometimes acoustic, Talbot does uptempo hookery and slow broodery about equally here. "Chelsea" adds some blues licks to the pop drawl, "Same Old Things" is Ramones-like AM-radio confection, "Disconnect" ventures into classy UK-inflected rock-pop (Stiff even), "Hill" is one of a handful of tunes that get into popsike territory. A very accomplished record by a very capable songwriter and a record that I think (and hope) could have some very wide appeal in its skillful blend of pop hooks and adult tunesmithery (and I don't mean that in any sort of disparaging "old guy music" sense). Just real classy stuff. Perfect Sunday driving and lounging tunes that have emotional depth, uplifting hooks and meaningful melancholy in them. (RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)
Aktion s/t LP
Last update we received some Alien Snatch records as a blast from the no-so-distant past, this time around it's Italy's Hate Records reminding us they're still alive and kicking. Aktion are a new Italian synth-punk duo, a supposed brother and sister tandem utilizing a variety of analog synths, drum machines, guitars and tape decks to make some creepy tunes - not campy or horrorflick creepy, but weird sex and violence creepy. Very indebted to Throbbing Gristle from their logo to Gustav's very Genesis-like vocal approach to the actual proto-industrial tunes. I feel like this guy sounds German though. Anyway, Gustav and Mary Jane do some call and response, with Gustav the main voice and MJ chirping in to add the sexy. Lots of lyrics about masters, flesh, blood, men, punching, etc... You get the idea. Gustav also gets into some Suicide-like screaming at you over synth styled confrontations, but for the most part it's very slinky and rhythmic mid-to-slow tempo'ed stuff. They utilize a wide variety of sounds and instrumentation, lots of speeding up and delaying tape, zero evidence of any sort of corny synth sounds, their machines all sound alive and organic. Gustav's vocals are perfectly echoed, MJ has a very breathy European voice. The only moment that is a little bit too contrived are the simulated sex noises on "Ben Better Than Ten Men", but the other seven songs are rather remarkable - again, it's a real TG lovefest here, but I'm ok with it. "Origami Master" and "I'm Waiting for Your Phone Call" are the standouts. Nothing "New Wave" here and this is synth-punk by genre pigeonholing only - really more industrial than anything, but very organic and the four track recordings sound rich and warm. The lyrics and concept are what they are - if you can get past that, this is a very well done record musically speaking. Scum stats: 350 copies only, with a very nice insert. (RK)
(Hate Records // www.haterecords.com)
Ama-Dots s/t LP
Ama-Dots were a legendary (locally at least) post-punk group from Milwaukee, running from 1979-83 who made an impact early on via extensive touring, a well regarded self-released 7" in 1980 and for being one a few bands at the time with a predominantly female line-up that were serious musicians and not an eye candy gimmick. They signed a deal with Chiago's Autistic Records (home of the Mentally Ill) and recorded an LP with Iain Burgess (creator of the "Chicago sound" - Big Black, Naked Raygun, etc..) that ended up being shelved after the label's implosion. This archival release includes those sessions (which would have made up a 12" EP), the 7" songs and a few odds and ends (and thankfully not padded out with a ton of live filler). I admit to being more familiar with their contemporaries the Oil Tasters and Couch Flambeau going into this, and the Burgess sessions are far darker than the band that made the "Hit Girls" 7", which is nearly New Wave pop with a weird and agressive attitude. Boolah Hayes' vocals often sound like a man singing (and please don't take that as an insult), as she has a rather deep voice, especially in comparison to Lisa Wicklund's back-ups. "The Cease is Increase" on the flip of the single hints at what they were becoming, a charged post-punk outfit taking cues from Pere Ubu, No Wave and UK post-punkers like Killing Joke. The five songs that would have been the 12" are full of Hayes' tortured vocals, as she growls, squawks, howls and uses her throaty delivery as a tool of agression, often just resorting to panting and making guttural noises. It's a mixed bag of sounds - "Luxury with Her" sounds nearly industrial with its hard mechanical rhythm, "Stay" flirts with Gang of Four-ish funk, "Love Slug" approaches Scratch Acid-esque post-hardcore with more art, "So What" is almost danceable in an aggro Killing Joke style and "Samizdat" ends with dour and somehwat gothic bleakness via experimental instrumentation. A completely different band than the earlier material showcased on the B-Side. Your entire listening experience hinges on your taste for Hayes' vox. The band itself is quite adept at making rhythmic weirdness work and Gary Strasburg's guitar style is quite interesting. Aside from the singles cuts, Side B has some nice surprises. "Dobermans" from a 1979 session sounds like a rowdier Slits, "Strange Brute" (recorded by Dennis Flemion of Frogs fame) is a real savage punker with rhythm and quirky dueling vocals, "Silver Crawlers (Night Fish)" could pass for a burlier Au Pairs and "Fit As A Fiddle" (recorded from a 1983 cable access TV show) is proof they must have been an absolutely visceral and blistering live band when they were in their prime. I liked this one the more that I listened, as Hayes' vox grow on you once you get past the initial shock value and Ama-Dots occupy an interesting space in US punkdom, those weird years when punk was out and hardcore was arriving, straddling the post-punk fence and taking influences from anywhere they pleased. Rerun again goes the extra mile with packaging: great artwork, "gold marble" vinyl and a huge fold out poster with ephemerea and plenty of liner notes. (RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)
Apache "Civil Disobedience" 7"
I did not realize Apache were still around, but I stopped paying attention after the third record or so, because they never seemed to live up to how great that debut 7" was ("Boys Life" is still a hit after all these years) and then that Sir Lord Von Raven LP took a giant dump on my turntable and really turned me off. "Civil Disobedience" is a very competent glam-metal-rocker that isn't far off from 'Apocalypse Dudes'-era Turbonegro with police siren effects, a pretty ripping tempo and legit hook. It's a perfect example of the form, if that's the form you're into. "Motorcycle Madness" on the flip is some pubbed-up Groovies-styled ramalamadingdonger with guest vox from Daddy Long Legs (part of the modern Norton Recs roster for point of reference) - the harmonica solo rips at least, saving it from total corndoggery. Just barely. A little too Shanana for me. Scum stats: 100 on red.(RK)
(Grazer Records // grazerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Ar-Kaics "Why Should I?" 7"
Proper garage rock from Richmond's Ar-Kaics, with members of Shirks (ok!) and Chain and the Gang (no!). Sounds more Chain than Shirk here. These folks are going hard for the authentic-retro thing, it's just classic stuff maaaaan. "Why Should I?" has a bit of a Gories feel until they get to the poppy chorus. Vox have that testifying "attitude". "Slave To Her Lies" is in the downer-about-a-girl vein. Recorded crisply with all the right reverb and twang. As I said about their first record, if you're looking for carbon copy Sixties garage of the congenial kind, this is all you. If you're looking for something wild, you're in the wrong place. I feel like Ian Svenonius heartily approves of this platter.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
Ar-Kaics "Sick and Tired" 7"
"Sick and Tired" is the best Ar-Kaics song by a long mile, as it actually sounds a little wild! Downtrodden Animals-like garage with a darker and more real (as in not a photocopy) feel than anything they've done before. The vocals have some emotion for a change, the recording is a bit rougher, the drummer sounds like he really means it this time, all qualities making for a song that actually manages to replicate the passion of a Sixties song instead of just going the through the musical motions. "Cut Me Down" goes for the slow burn with an Elevators-esque psych-out 101 thing, even if the vox leave me flaccid they at least sound like a real-life band here instead of a limp retro act. Scum stats: 300 copies in a nicely screened factory sleeve.(RK)
(Hidden Volume // www.hiddenvolume.com)
Ausmuteants "Felix Tried To Kill Himself" 7"
"Felix Tried To Kill Himself" is the kind of song that is going to make Ausmuteants the next big thing as far Aussie imports go, following ECSR's footsteps into the Goner camp as their American benefactors. Nervously poppy and still having some static crackle so we know they aren't American softies, it's a worldbeater of a tune that's going to stick to your brain after first listen. Don't say I didn't warn you. "15 Frames per Second" sounds like the title of a Wire song, and does the sort of aggro guitar vs. synth workout that made Lost Sounds the best in the world in their heyday. Short and sharp. Perhaps due to the brevity of this one-sided single they don't have time to make any missteps, this is by far their best record going into the US release of their first official full length (not counting the 'Split Personalities'tape). If I were you I would pay out for this one now, as you're not going to have a chance at it once things break open. Which they will. The fact that neither of these songs appears on the LP should get you moving faster. Gabrielle has a knack for getting in on the ground floor of good things and this is a fine example of his acumen. Scum stats: 250 copies, three different sleeves, distro by Anti-Fade in Oz. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy-at-tin.it)
Ausmuteants "Amusements" LP
Goner comes through with the domestic release of Ausmuteants 2013 debut "Amusements", originally on Aussie label Aarght Records (who could be called Goner's AAA affiliate Down Under, although Aarght are certainly not minor league either...please excuse all the baseball digressions this update...). The tempting thing to say is that Ausmuteants are going to fill the void left by the now apparently defunct ECSR, or at least follow a similar trajectory. Ausmuteants certainly prove themselves musically on this record - it is honestly packed with hooks and hits, not even a lunkhead like me can deny that. They're certainly younger and snottier than ECSR, and lack the everyman quality of that band. Songs about stepping in shit and pissing your pants are a bit different than cool ice cream and colour televsion, but I don't think the lyrical content should dissuade anyone from listening unless they're some kind of crotchety old garage turkey. And speaking of turkeys, there's a whole lot of synth here, which might be a dealbreaker for some. So it comes back to the songs, there's an even dozen, and I would risk saying that all of them except one is worthwhile (since you asked, it's the slow jam "Hate This Town" that's a bummer, which is funny because I kind of think this was their version of the ECSR style tune...). It's a bit unnerving how dialed-in these kids are. I haven't heard synths handled this well in a rock setting since Lost Sounds, and Ausmuteants use them in a far different way as well. I think Devo is the one namedrop that still sticks (though they apparently think they sound more like Chrome or the Screamers now according to reviews/press releases, which I don't buy into...maybe Human League...), as there's a fun yet legitimately rocking wallop to the synth-rockers here, a bit jerky but not harshly angular and sped-up but still crazily pop-inflected. And whereas the synth abundance might turn some garagesters off, the more Eighties sounding tunes will turn on as many fans ("Pissing.." or "Flushing Problems"). There are some wonderful KBD-via-Ramones shredders for all the punkers too, and a few songs of darkside vibes to offset the hooks. A truly fantastic record that I'm sure will at least merit inclusion on a lot of Best of the Year lists for good reason. You don't find synth-punk songs with hooks this keen everyday. If ECSR are the senior class, then UV Race would be the juvie delinquents hanging out smoking cigs on the corner and Ausmuteants would be the band geek/art department weirdos. Something like that. Recommended.(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
Ausmuteants "Stale White Boys Playing Stale Black Music" 7"
"Who's the Narc" is the work of an extremely creative bunch, that's for sure. From the beginning voice and bongos (!) intro you almost get the sense you're in for a lark (and working the word "ostentatious" into your lyrics says something on its own), but somehow after a few bars the band kicks in with anthemic synth lines bounced around a danceable bassline torn from the John Taylor playbook and you're left wondering how they turned this into what might be their most accomplished moment yet. When a band can seemingly turn it on at will like this makes for an exciting prospect, you just know the band is in their prime. The B-Side flips things around again, "Dying From the Inside Out" is a guitar-driven racer with a synth-line for a chorus that sounds like a perfectly-timed engine firing at maximum horsepower. "Stomach Contents" is almost obnoxiously poppy, with some more of the bizarre lyrics that keep them edgy ("...he used to watch me masturbate...") and a nice surprise for those who will buy into the hooks wholesale and only later realize the meaning of the song. The A-Side is all majesty, the B-Side all punk, making this single the perfect delivery mechanism for their subersive talents, Clapton and Simpsons sleeve references duly noted.(RK)
(Easter Bilby // easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Axemen "Derry Legend" LP
I'll admit to what might be considered sacrilege by some, but I'm not the biggest of Axemen fans. I enjoy their work and all, but there's plenty of other NZ acts I dig on far more and I hardly ever go out of my way to listen to them. That being said, and I'm not just using this to be lazy, 'Derry Legend' is by far my go-to Axemen record. There are still the standard goofy-as-shit Axemen moments that make me cringe throughout, but some of their best goofballing ever (in a rap stylee) occurs on "The Tragic Tale of the Rock'n'Roll Legend", "Ferris Wheel" sounds like a Damned song from another dimension's carnival, "Disc to Disk" one their better and straighter numbers. I always thought "That's Finland Dear" reminded me of a Kiwi Panther Burns. "The Wharf with No Name" is the classic here I suppose, and it's a good 'un, but the littler numbers like "Mourning of Youth" make the difference (and a tune that reminds me very much of some Harrisburg players). "Human Hot Dogs" is a real piss take on Kiwi-pop by some Kiwis. As much as I don't go for, say "Big Cheap Motel" (and I thought that new "Sac Tap Nut Jam" thing was not good), "Derry Legend" proves again and again to be one of the high water marks of New Zealand rock'n'roll. Kurt Cobain was right about some stuff. Highly recommended, both for quality of tunes and for exceptional reissue packaging that comes with two huge newsprint fold outs, thick sleeves and vinyl and even an obi strip. Remastered and comes with a download as well. Distro through Light in the Attic. (RK)
(Luxury Products // luxuryproductsusa.com)
Bad American "American Dream" LP
Muscle flexing hardcore-punk from Bethlehem, PA in the heart of the Lehigh Valley. There's some weird shit that happens down there (Brother JT notwithstanding), just ask a few touring bands about shows in Allentown and you'll hear some messed up stories. Bad American had another LP out before this that I have not heard, but on "American Dream" (not a Dusty reference) they sound like Void-worship on AmRep, and it's muscular and tightly wound rock. There are apparently older scene vet dudes, which makes sense, as there's little bullshit flash here, it's all business. Vox get a little bit too Sam Kinison to me, but the huge bottom end and rhythm section lockdown carries the record. There's a couple slower tunes that recall Pissed Jeans (alos somehwat related to the area), but for the most part is full speed ahead. This one could be called the Double Negative of PA, but not quite as good. It's weird that this is on a French label though. Scum stats: 500 copies. (RK)
(Shogun Records // burnoutzine.net/shogun)
Bad Coyotes "It's Time for Sex Positions with..." 7"
Gunk punk garage action from Oakland. Beefed-up Rip Off stylings with shades of The Infections, maybe some Humpers and a little of that Junk Records magic. Good example of the form, guitar is loud and blown-out, pretty beefy style mid-fi, no treble to be found. Scotty Jizz on the skins ladies and gentlemen! They do a decent "Ex Lion Tamer", reminiscent of NBT doing "Mr. Suit". Hey, this is by no means innovative, but they do what they do pretty damn good. As I always like to say, this would've been huge around the turn of the century. "Rat Breeders" would've got them a two single deal on Mortville or some similar label.(RK)
(Resurrection Records // getressurected.com)
Balcanes "Plataforma" 7"
Spanish sludge rock. "Plataforma" pulses with some kind of massive bass distortion unit that moves like a black force, some very simple surgical guitar feedback, drums sound like a pneumatic press firing off and the Spaniard chants some Satanic stuff that might be driving him mad in a Cthulhu-like way. Sludgy. "Autopista" sounds like the intro to a Melvins song. Massive low-end generator hums like a tractor beam, with varieties of feedback sacrificed into the gaping maw of dark basstones. There are some ritual vocals barely audible in the background while the drummer somehow slows time down. Sludgier. Pretty impressive "sounds" at the very least. I feel like they might be working some sort of Brainbombs via Unsane misanthropy angle with the B&W car crash scene picture sleeve, which by the way, is printed on some beautifully textured stock. Very intriguing.(RK)
(Discos Humeantes // www.discoshumeantes.com)
Blood Pressure s/t 7”
Manic, relentless platter - a true honing of Pittsburgh’s intelligent retardation. The glorious return of hardcorepunk wunderkind Ed Steck on vocals, who you should remember from the legendary Brain Handle. Snotty yelps have turned a bit guttural over time, and the supporting riffs are not unlike those in previous PGH outings. This is a record that aims to be a great punk in that vein, though - it’s a wonderful thing to sound similar. “Poison Bugs” is the most slamworthy song on the EP - shades of Direct Control in huskier jeans. Great record from start to finish, absolutely blazing - only complaint is the lack of an insert, as it’s always been a fine day when I read the rantings of this man. Scum stats: 100 on blue. Also, whoever mastered this record is a fucking genius. (NG)
(Beach Impediment Records // beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Bone "For Want of Feeling" LP
Bleak and uncompromising, Bone pull off the weight of their intention. Any band who uses scenes from one of the most fucked movies ever filmed (‘Begotten’) is not dicking around for shits n’ giggles and nuthin’ but a good time. Bone is originally from Perth, with Cuntz drummer Mike on bass, but neither of those bits of knowledge prepare you for the desolate sound of math-rock stripped of all equations, post-punk stripped of any hope, replaced with a steel exoskeleton. A song like “Pedestal” is a perfect fusion of the choked hopelessness of early Swans and the right-angled grooves of the best Shellac. The construction of these songs sneaks into your head when you’re not listening, and when you do listen, they reveal themselves to have all sorts of memorable passages embedded. There is a similar path being trod as Drose, although less metal, more wire-y. Over the course of steady listens for the past half year or so, For Want of Feeling has maintained itself as a compelling listen.(EEK)
(Tenzenmen // tenzenmen.com)
Brain F≠ "Empty Set" LP
Long-in-the-works sophomore LP that I was a bit worried wouldn't happen, with the membership of the band now scattered throughout the South and most of them playing in other outfits as well (Joint D≠, Meat Group, Wymyns Prysyn, Kid AIDS). Thankfully it all worked out, as Brain F≠ are (I'm again hoping here that I shouldn't be using were) one of the upper shelf bands from below the Mason-Dixon (and really the whole of the country) and perhaps the band I think best exemplifies the crossover of garage-punk and hardcore. Musically, it's as informed by high energy rockers like Teengenerate or Carbonas as it is the hardcore foundation of LA punk (Flag, Dangerhouse, Germs) or East Coast hardcore (DC before it went emo). Of course the real hook here is the dual vocals of Nick Goode and Elise Anderson, which made all previous releases exceptional, but reaches new heights here - Elise's deadpan somehow more thrillingly disaffected, Nick's delivery providing the force for it to bounce off. The call-and-response style is pulled off better here than anyone these days, but it's the moments when they're echoing each other, vox intertwining but never fighting, that's where they're most impressive and unique. I'm sure it's been done before, but it's on songs like "Sicks" and "Salior Swim" where you're taken aback by the interplay and the perfect timing with which they execute. And speaking of timing, this is obviously as tight as the band could possibly be without snapping - it feels like they get more and more tensely wound song-by-song and by the time (about ten minutes) they get to "Fulcrum" ending Side A they sound like a hurricane blowing you back - sheer velocity and impeccable timing. "Empty Set" starts Side B with the LP's longest track, a blisteringly choppy two-and-a-half-minutes and a perfect example of their formula. It's now that I'm realizing that this record is just about 20 minutes long, five tracks and about ten minutes per side, but it seems like so much more. The density of ideas, riffs and vocals warping time and spitting out more raw power than seemingly possible. By the time they finish (strongly) with "Don't Tell Me" (that somehow crams a killer hook into everything) you're ready to dive right back in. An aesthetically perfect construction, no fat or filler anywhere on this, and crammed with music that will make you jittery, and not even in an uncomfortable way, but in a completely enervating and enthralling way. As an "old guy", I couldn't be happier if this is what all the kids of today think punk rock is. If this turns out to be the band's swan song, they should be proud of what they have wrought.(RK)
(Sorry State // www.sorrystaterecords.com)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Brown Sugar "Chocolate City" flexi
The dying breath of the mighty Brown Sugar, recorded way back in 2012 when they were one of the brightest ascending stars in the wide American rock'n'roll sky, a star that would soon implode upon itself, scattering its remnants across New York state. "Chocolate City" is a song about Buffalo, full of bitterness, rage and scorn directed at the place of the band's birth and death. I'll admit, I'm still a little sore that they split up and split town, but once things stop being fun, the ride's over for everyone. "Chocolate City" deserves to stand alone, its invective perhaps not the back-breaking straw, but exemplary of the frustration that first feeds the flames and then eventually snuffs them out. Musically, it stands alongside the sound on the 'Luvly' EP, a smart riff that charges ahead then pauses for breath, while Eddie sings himself out of breath, two-speed galloping drums and bass, a front section that builds to an ending with what sounds like a theremin joining them. They made their last one a good one, that's for sure. The best and most interesting hardcore bands tend to burn brightly and briefly, the Shug being no exception to the rule, and I'm happy I often had the pleasure of basking in the glow of the blaze their brand of punk rock stoked. They certainly made the city I love a lot more exciting during their run. Current whereabouts of bandmembers: Ivy, Utah Jazz, Tapehead, The Punks, a restaurant somehwere in Upstate New York, and Buffalo acts Sleeptalker, Newish Star, Aaron & The Burrs and Blobs. Scum stats: probably not enough. Best liner notes I've read since Lemmy Caution's Black Time screeds.(RK)
(Media Schlitz // mediaschlitz.bigcartel.com)
The Bugs "The Right Time" LP
Fourth Bugs LP and at least the second or third Bugs record I've reviewed. I'm not really a fan. I'm sure they are beloved in Portland, having been around since 1998, but their nice and quirky brand of simple garage doesn't hold much interest for me. Goofy stuff that sometimes borders on pop-punk, mostly mid-tempo guitar and drum strum with the bass appearing and disappearing, mid-fi recording...lots of middling here. I could make a Portlandia joke, but these guys are at least better than that. Just really innocuous stuff, one of those groups that are just fine for a local band and probably have a bit of a hometown following, but don't really need to heard outside their city limits. (RK)
(Wantage USA/X-Mist // www.wantageusa.com)
Casanovas in Heat "Belvidere" 7"
Power pop band from Boston made up of hardcore dudes (Male Nurses, Bloodkrow Butcher, etc.) and released on NYC hardcore label. I give them credit for not sounding like Exploding Hearts, which is what I thought when I saw the cover of this. "Belvidere" has some weird Eighties production that I like (even though it makes the guitars sound bad), but the vox are lacking (I can't tell if he's putting on a Brit accent or he has a Boston accent that's really coming through) and it's a bit too sluggish to make that hook work. "Destiny Street" is a big improvement (and not a Richard Hell cover) and works out a lot better due to some frantic Buzzcocks-esque songwriting and delivery. Vocals are more subtle, guitar playing is faster and the hook works far better (and the guitar solo helps a lot too). This one would have been pulled for inclusion on Powerpearls has this been released 20 years ago and the A-Side would be long forgotten. All power pop turds might wanna get a peek at "Destiny Street" though. (RK)
(Katorga Works // www.katorgaworks.com)
Cheater Slicks "Live Vol. 3" LP
I'm a little bit saddened that the third volume of CDR's Slicks live series has arrived, because that means the end of the road...although I certainly wouldn't mind them releasing further installments for the indefinite future, but that seems unlikely with the rumor that Columbus Discount is calling it quits as a label. But, it does mean that this summer I will finally get to bring this idea to fruition: drag the stereo out to the garage on a warm summer night, get a bottle of whiskey and a case of beer, invite my attorney Dave Anchovies over and as soon as dusk hits listen to all three volumes back to back as many times as it takes to drink all the booze. It's no stretch to say that this volume might be the best of the three on the basis of the A-Side version of "Thinkin' Some More" alone. This version was recorded in 1992 at Khyber Pass in Philly, a show whose attendance apparently consisted of Tom Lax, Jon Spencer and about five other people. Think about this now: first, this was 1992! I was still in fucking high school and hadn't even heard of the Slicks yet, yet there they were a state away plugging away at this glorious monster of a song to an audience of basically no one. I'm listening to this recording over 20 goddamn years later and my jaw is on the floor, my soul is on fire and my head is spinning at what they're doing here - this might be the most definitive Cheater Slicks recording of them all. That they went so far out on a limb (and the song was still in it's infancy here - it didn't appear on record until 1993's 'Whiskey' LP) for no one but themselves really, that they created something so far ahead of it's time (or maybe just so timeless) out of the same parts that everyone in the world has access too, I mean, that's the driving idea behind the whole thing right? They've done more with less than anyone, soldiered on through good and bad, and will hopefully never, ever go away. The B-Side was recorded 17 years later in Columbus, another nearly 30 minute excursion, this time a run through "Sister Ray" that slashes and burns its way across your synapses. Hearing them interpret this song and reduce it to a pile of unidentifiable rubble and throbbing feedback yet maintaining the spirit of the original the entire time is the sort of miracle that only truly great bands can pull off. This time the crowd is far larger and far more appreciative and the band is firing at 100% just as they were for the handful that heard them do "Thinkin'..." in '92. The Slicks have thankfully seen their appreciation society grow as they've become older, yet the band have changed little as evidenced here. It was always all or nothing, all the way back to the Boston days, and I imagine it will continue to be that way until they decide to stop playing, which will hopefully be never.(RK)
(Columbus Discount // www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
Chemical Peel "Bike Thief" 7"
South Carolina trio plying their indie-rock trade with some interesting variations. "Born to Kill" (not sure if anyone should be recycling this song title though) works a dark lo-fi surf-twang angle with male vox, then "New Paradigm" turns over the vocals to a young lady doing a kool Kim Gordon-esque deadpan (interspersed with a Lunch-y scream) and the build/release isn't unlike a punked up Sonic Youth track. B-Side gets weird, with some frantic jazz-spazz and more alive vocals from the gal on "Chance" which is the EP's best tune, shoehorning more twangy guitar runs and and a crushing "breakdown" in. "Bike Thief" gets all rubbery and punky with some f-bomb dropping even, a true tale of bicycle robbery that isn't quite as good as the godfathers of bike-punk, Los Huevos, however. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Ride the Snake // www.ridethesnakerecords.com)
Cocktails "Friday" 7"
Jangle-pop from Oaktown that I feel has borderline modern city rock moves, "Friday" is the classic working-for-the-weekend styled harmonizer with organ and guitar riding the same bus to hooksville. "Let It Come Down" has some Feelies vibes and "Panda Eyes" reminds me of Twilley or Seymour, I forget which. A little too rocking to be straight-up power-pop, it's more like wimpy rock'n'roll if that makes sense. Scum stats: 250 copies sonly. (RK)
(Grazer Records // grazerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Code BMUS "Strike Now, There is No Cover" 12" EP
Legit reissue of the sole Code BMUS release, 1981's "Strike Now" 12", from NYC's Ever/Never imprint. A weighty four song EP from a band first conceived in 1978, right around the dawn of post-punk in the UK, it's full of artsy musical concepts and political lyrics, taking big cues from Pere Ubu, PiL, This Heat (with whom they shared a recording space) and Crass. Their exotic/tribal percussion/rhythm ideas, built largely around Indian tablas and wired up scraps of metal and drum kit remainders, always made me think of them as a sort of UK version of Savage Republic at times. Guitars were deconstructed, played with bows and bottles and sound as shard-like as you can get. The bass seems to be the only thing "normal" most of the time, giving a foundation to build the experiments upon. "Broken Arrow" is art students gone tribal, a hypnotic bassline accented by sheet metal and tin can drums, free range guitar slashing with agitated vocals spewing "propaganda" one minute and then devolving into primitive whooping and hollering the next. Repetitively brilliant. "We See No Reason" goes away from the tribal and deep into the art-punk darkness, the bassline again providing the skeleton upon which hang the detuned, plucked and strummed guitar which works up to a feverish Andy Gill-like slash, a chillingly subliminal synth(?) whistle haunts the background. Vox are again those of a mad at the world sermonizer ("you know there's something better than this..."). "Line is Fine" has the most anarcho-punk influenced lyrics, featured sounds are what seems to be a homemade xylophone, more sheet metal (or some steel drums made from scrap iron), the most rubbery of the basslines, the occasional one string guitar ring, maybe an actual bass drum providing some extra propulsion, the most "minimal" sounding of their pieces and showing a bit of dub influence as well. "Allied Leaders" is the masterstroke, obviously the most overtly politically charged number and the most disturbing sonically. Death knell tempo, the sounds of dying horns, the bassline, which up until now had been very alive is slowed to almost no tempo, slide guitar played high up the neck that shoots down the spine, the vocals remain theatric, but seem the most legitimately demented here, some sheet metal clang from the next room over and some more percussion (perhaps a cardboard box being kicked next to a live mic), this is the song you're buying this for. Like any good art-punk gang, the accompanying materials are half of the thrill here, and the insert from the original record is fascinating, with lyrics on one side, and a detailed "10 Steps to Heaven" on the other, which is a DIY primer on how to record and release your own record, from the studio (in this case This Heat's 8 track studio Cold Storage), to editing and mixing down, cutting a lacquer, metal mastering (just because it's DIY doesn't mean you should cut corners with your art, kids!) to covers/labels and finally distribution. Then there's "The Business Side" (form your own label or Ltd. Co., try to avoid taxes, copyright protection, royalites, "Keep All Receipts!") with the fineprint of "What has all this got to do with punk rock? - said the Russellian Obect" proving they were as smart and self-aware as you would hope. There's also an additonal reissue insert with great liners from a band member with photos and fliers as well. Silk screened covers look fantastic, capping off an extremely well done package. Highly recommended as both a piece of art and a challenging and intriguing piece of music made by a band that existed during an important time, yet left only this one document for six years worth of work, which speaks to the level of intensity involved here. This is the kind of record you listen to and start thinking about what you've done with your life. (RK)
(Ever/Never Records // evernever.bigcartel.com)
C.O.M.A. "Clinik Organik Musak Anatomik" LP
Reissue of this short-lived pre-Charles De Goal project from 1979 Paris, COMA played one show and made this one record, with the members moving on to other influential positions within the French punk scene. The music is rather stunningly innovative for the time - the liners admit an amateur/DIY approach, that they really might not have known what they were doing and maybe weren't ready for this recording, but they forged ahead anyway. On the surface it appears to very much be a cold wave record, but there's a lot of instrumentation happening making it so much more...just great punk maybe? Sometimes there's a complete lack of synth as on the sharp-punk of "Hypnose". At other times there's a pre-industrial Throbbing Gristle feel, some Devo-wave, some Suicide harshness. The song "Coma" itself sound like someone miked up a breathing machine and a heart monitor and played some piano over it - fucking creepy. "Parking Nord" is an exceptional bit of aggro, with an ambulance-like synth and some distorted keyboard/guitar lines over a military beat with gonzo French vox - and the vox are all French and all crazed, and it works great. "Tete De Gomme" could be some kind of mutated cyborg fronting an Eno compostion. "Assaut" is right there with Metal Urbain for killer punk, and the last three song selection even veers off into No Wave territory. A really exceptional find here, a really cutting edge record for '79 and I'll be hyperbolic (but very serious) when I say this is right up there with the best of French punk rock. Beautiful packaging with printed inner sleeve.(RK)
(Danger Records // dangerrecords.bandcamp.com)
Contingent "Homme Sauvage" 7"
Never-released second 7" from Belgium's Contingent, recorded in 1981 with Daniel Leon and shelved until now (rumor has it these songs are from an entire LP's worth of material recorded at the time). Featuring ex-members of X-Pulsion and Chainsaw (one of my favorite European KBD 7"ers), their first EP from 1980 is rather underrated but still thought of highly enough for inclusion on the Bloodstains installments. The Belgian KBD sweepstakes is a tough race to win, but they're at the top of the second tier at the very least. Both songs have an exceptional crisp recording that helps this type of pop-inflected punk greatly, "Homme Sauvage" has a big time hook and sharp guitar playing propelled by the rock'n'roll drive typical of Belgian punk. "Vivons Tres Vite" might be the cut I prefer (but "Homme Sauvage" is definitely more of a "hit"), pretty weird for the time/area, vocals get some echo slapped on, has a choppier and nastier build and more American-style guitar slash. A very solid single from one of the richest regions of European punk, not quite the mind blower that Loose Heart was, but still keeping Danger Records in the win column. I look forward to seeing what else they unleash from the vaults soon...Scum stats: limited to 500, nice and thick full color pocket sleeves.(RK)
(Danger Records // dangerrecords.bandcamp.com)
Dancer "Bitchin' Heat" 7"
Bay Area power pop division of the Apache/Glitz/Lenz/Time Flys crew that I always get the band members mixed up on and have to consult Mitch Cardwell for clarification. "Bitchin' Heat" might not be the best play on words, but it's got a certain Heartbreakers sleaziness to it that makes the power pop not sound too wimpy. B-Side tacks on two more, one with piano and great guitar tone ("Heart Failure") and more tough-pop moves and one with Dictators fast food flavor ("Eat & Run"). Vocals have a good nasal sneer and Andy Jordan makes this guitar sound great. If you have to play power-pop at least make it sleazy sounding, which Dancer succeed at here. Scum stats: 250 copie sonly. (RK)
(Grazer Records // grazerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Dasher "Go Rambo" 7"
Exceptional 7" from an ATL band you might have heard on the Droppings cassette/zine or caught on their recent East Coast tour. "Go Rambo" is tense punk rock with a catchy and shadowy hook, goes by swiftly and with plenty of reverb on the vox and guitar, but still sharp. Kylee Kimbrough's vocals are raspy and forceful, not your typical delivery for a girl (and I had to double check this was actually a girl singing...), and that she's also the drummer of this trio makes her performance even more exceptional. "Time Flies" (or "Time Flys" on the labels) is the better of two very good songs, Kylee's vox are full of snarl here giving the tune an agressive punch matching the heavier guitar presence, plus the solo goes off into insect-swarm pedal effects and the dark vibes are even weightier here. Impressive stuff, and a band that is a great example to make people realize that not every band from Atlanta sounds like The Carbonas (not that that's a bad thing either). Also a good reminder that Die Slaughterhaus has been plugging along quietly all this time...check the catalog, they even have sleeves available for the VCR 7" now (a record everyone should own...).(RK)
(Die Slaughterhaus // www.dieslaughterhausrecords.com)
Day Creeper "Hell Is Real" LP
My take thus far: this band was really boring until that last 7" they self-released which I thought was a very nice little garage-popper in the lower-fi realm that showed some personality that made me want to listen more. This, their debut LP, falls somehwere in between those two points. It's quirky stuff with a noticeable songwriting voice, but I feel like the guy's style isn't well suited for an LP as everything starts to sound the same. Might be the recording job, which while pretty tidy makes them sound a little flat, and makes me think this would sound better if it sounded worse, if you know what I mean. It's music fan music from a music fan town (Columbus) that references some homestate heroes like Pollard and Petkovic and begs to be compared to Jonanthan Richman as well. A little more indie-rock than garage this time. "Neutralized" has a noticeably lower fidelity that I like and "Online Presents" reminds me of TJSA/House in spirit at least. I want to like this more, but I have trouble getting through more than a full side before itching to move on.(RK)
(Tic Tac Totally // www.tictactotally.com)
DIE s/t 7”
Already been lauded in many places, but completely worthy - an undeniable, vicious debut from some of the quay dudes in London’s hardcorepunk league of gentlemen (and Hector from Sudor). They borrow some backbeats and guitar whines from your Penis Rudimentary, with an intensity distinctly reminiscent of the midwestern US - but the negative vocals are far too anthemic to bear any real resemblance to something existent. Warbling, violent guitars are the real deal-sealer, every riff sounds fuckin’ mean, they’re doing something that just makes it sound off in the best possible way. The fact that this reminds me of the Deadline 12” (an absolute top three DC hardcore record) cannot be left unsaid, though fortunately Die didn’t give us three shitty fuckin’ songs on a comp beforehand. Extra points for having cover artwork reminiscent of someone’s prison shoulder tattoo. “No god can save you, religion’s a lie. There is only one truth, we’re all going to die.” Again, undeniable.(NG)
(Sonic Terror Discs // try Sorry State or Feral Ward...)
Die Rotzz "You're Black and Blue" LP
First full length from a band I thought was broken up, which has been 10 years in the making?! These NOLA punkers have four singles and a few splits behind them, and have shared members with most of King Louie's bands at one point or another. Fast and agressive garage-punk in the Southern-trash style, at times it reminds me of the noisiest part of the Crypt roster (Dirtys, Los Assdraggers) with goofier vocals. I always tried to like these dudes, and I thought they made two really good records (the "I Got My Bandana" 7" is their best followed by the split with Scripts if you ask me) and the rest were forgettable. 11 songs on this LP, at least 5 of which were from the singles (but none of the ones I dig the most!), it blazes by and is recorded well with plenty of low end, but doesn't leave much to remember it by when it's over. Might be of more interest to Louisiana natives than to a Northerner like myself.(RK)
(Race! Records // available via www.pelicanpowwowrecords.com)
Diesel Dudes "The Hercules Initiative" 7" EP
Oakland duo released on Aussie label Detonic, run by Dik from mnttaB (that's not a typo). Diesel Dudes run hard with their gimmick, which is a combo of mysterious guy imagery, possible homoeroticism, getting stoned and lifting weights. Musically, I'm pretty sure it qualifies as EBM or industrial dance music, genres I'm in no way knowledgable to quantify, but that's what I'm guessing. KMFDM or Ministry or some other Wax Trax band would be my only comparisons. All sequencers/drum machine/synth stuff that sounds pretty well done to an uneducated sort like myself. I'll admit that "Spot Me While I Lift" is a pretty funny gag, both musically and lyrically ("You, Me, Bros, Bench, Bong, Rip, Lift, Breath"!) and probably will get stuck in your head for awhile if you're not careful. "East Bay Rats" is a synth crusher, "Snake Man" a cool little Tangerine Dream-like instro and "Muscle Memories" an industrial banger that's a bit of a mess, telling a tale of the Dude's journey as young lifters that I'm not sure is a gag or not. "Spot Me..." is at least funny for a few reps and I wish the instrumental was longer, the other two tunes, meh.(RK)
(Detonic Recordings // www.detonicrecordings.com)
Dinos Boys "Last Ones" LP
First full length from ATL-based Dinos Boys after a 7" and comp track on Die Slaughterhaus and Oops Baby. I feel the need to mention that Ryan Dinosaur is not involved with Dinos Boys, even though the both have similarly prehistoric names and live in the same town. Yes, this is important information. Dinos Boys are dudes from Predator, Beat Beat Beat, Heartattacks and Gringo Starr (yeah, I have no idea on that last one either...), which is a pretty decent pedigree. 11 tracks that will make them very popular with the Razorcake crowd I imagine. Slightly garage-y '77 style punkers that veer a little bit into pop-punk territory. Recording is decent but kind of thin for their anthemic style, but the energy is there regardless. If these guys keep it up they could be appearing in skate videos and get on Fat or TKO, and there's nothing wrong with that I suppose.(RK)
(Oops Baby/Die Slaughterhaus // oopsbabyrecords.com)
Dollar Bar "Paddington Workers Club" LP
"Bogan pop" from Dollar Bar, a Brisbane indie rock band who've been at it since the early '00s. The club of the title was an actual working class establishment that the band use as a hook to hang their downtrodden worldview on - and they've been down for some time, as this is the follow up to their debut LP released in 2004. It actually sounds like it should have been released in '94, as this is a dead ringer for the GBV-styled indie-pop popular around then. The three songwriters (each singing their own tunes) thing certainly inspires a Sebadoh thought ot two, and Dale Peachey's tunes sound like the least weird (or tamest) songs Lowenstein or Barlow wrote (not even interestingly wimpy/crybaby Lou-ish). The rest sounds like a tribute to Archers of Loaf or Afghan Whigs, tying up "dark" thoughts in precious little indie-pop packages. "My Fleas Have Dog" and "Hipster Mental Ward" hint at being clever, but a tune like "Everyone's Everyone's" erases any good work they could have possibly done. One of those records that wasn't a terrible listen, but just makes you think of other bands that did it first and better. The cover pic could have been ripped from an Internet K-Hole post though...(RK)
(Mere Noise Records // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Drunk Elk "Oceanus Procellarum" LP
I was never much a fan of Mad Nanna, whome Drunk Elk draw comparisons to, but for some reason Drunk Elk do it for me where Nanna do not. There's certainly more form to Drunk Elk's music, but they're still far from regularly structured forms. "Oceanus..." isn't as dark as their first LP, this one sounds a bit more energetic, albeit in an uncomfortably agitated way. Very crude rock music that is similar to the Shadow Ring at their most together, Alistair Galbraith, and the lo-fi psych-garage of Jim Shepherd. Often percussionless, lots of words (and a lyric sheet wouldn't hurt fellas), most songs are built on a simple bassline with primitive one-chord guitar playing setting the moods. There's a little bit of synth stuff on this one (at least on "Out of the Blue") and the vocals could be called untrained or amelodic, but I'll just call them everyman-style laments and statements. A genuinely fascinating record that seems really strange until you remember Drunk Elk are from Tasmania. Then it just becomes slightly weird. My favorite Aussie "art" band of the season, and one that sounds much more Xpressway/New Zealand than Australian. Scum stats: 150 copies. Act fast!(RK)
(Wormwood Grasshopper // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Dutch Masters "All In The Wires" LP
I LOVED the Dutch Masters 7" on release (#5 on the Top Ten Singles of 2005, plus artwork of the year award...), thought they were fantastic live at The Blackout and couldn't be more stoked on this LP right now obviously. I had no idea they hung around for seven years (2003-2010 according to the bio), but it's not as if these guys were busy with other stuff - I hesitate to call the band a side project, but I wouldn't call them full time either. Eric Oblivian, Talbot Adams, Scott Rogers and a man known as Punk Rock Pat is a rather formidable line-up with some decent credentials. I was fearful that this LP might be packed with not-ready-for-primetime demos and live stuff, but much like the AAAA New Memphis Legs LP (another kind-of-a-side-project band, or at least a band that had a brief lifespan), it's almost criminal that some of this material wasn't released while the band was active. Many people will be happy to hear that this is heavy on Friedl material (9 out 14 tracks are his), which includes two of the songs from the 7" (which had three killers on it for the record, along with the Rogers-penned "Radioactive"), "Submarine Captain" which is a real tough cut of garage meat (where this LP also cribs its title from), a fantastic punker called "Ain't No Saint", "8 Ball Deluxe" (from a Multiball comp), and a live version of "Fire Detector" (which became an Oblivians song) which is a medley with "First Time" (the best cover of this song since The Fingers did it), and another live cut called "Back at the Bucc" which is entertaingly dumb (and I swear ended up somewhere else...). Scott Rogers contributes some rockers as well, with "I Want Your Name, I Want Your Number" being one of the best here, a really ballsy stomper with some dangerous guitar sounds/solos and maracas(!), they do a hot cover of "Doin' It Too Hard" (not quite as boiling as the New Memphis Legs version, but still pretty firey) and in another of my favorite moments on the LP, a raw version of Talbot Adams' "Multiple Girls", which later became a Black & Whites tune. All the "studio" stuff here was recorded on 4 track by none other than Jackie O, and the two live cuts are quality Rocket Science Audio jobs. An excellent, excellent record that I should have expected to be this good. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)
Earth Girls "Wrong Side of History" 7" EP
Mid-tempo power-pop/girl-garagey moves from Chicago's Earth Girls. Semi-punky and plucky guitar moves, this Liz gal sounds very Debbie Harry-esque, but the lack of any synth prevents me from making an overt Blondie comparison, although the spirit is there. A little bit of Nikki Corvette in here too, four songs with the expected hooks and solid playing throughout. Not a huge hit here, but they're certainly trying hard enough, and since this is their debut I can't fault them and what's not to like about this girl's vox.(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Espectrostatic s/t LP
Horror movies soundtracks are all the rage these days. You can't walk down the street without getting hit in the head with a 180 gram reissue of the score from some 80s slasher or exploitation flick with horribly "reimagined" cover art and a gatefold tip-on sleeve. There are also a few bands creating "original" music in the vein of these soundtracks out there as well, some (Umberto, Night Terrors) are pretty damn good at it. Add Espectrostatic to that list, and send them right to the top. Alex Cuervo is Espectrostatic, he of some killer bands like Blacktop and A Feast of Snakes, and also of cornball garage "horror" band Hex Dispensers as well. This LP is good enough to make me forget all the cheesy shit he's done with Hex Dispensers, and might be better than the Umberto LPs that I hold as the pinnacle of this style right now. This LP relies less on Goblin/Frizzi giallo stuff (although it is there in tasteful portions) and goes for more of a Carpenter/Tangerine Dream style of synthscaping. He also goes for less of a vintage sounding approach it seems, as this sounds like something brand new, not an attempt to purposefully make something that sounds like it was recorded in 1983. Sounds sort of timeless is what I'm saying, which often adds to the creeping sense of dread. Moody and nearly ambient synth lines setting the tension and an overhelming feeling of cosmic horror on a lot of these songs that hang in the room while you listen. There are some Carpenter-inspired stalker themes as well as a couple tunes that are uptempo and synthetic enough the could have scored a film like Drive ("Phantom Swarm" in particular). I even like the quirky xylophone work on "Searching the Museum" as it makes total sense theatrically (as does the church organ on "The Procession"). Other favorite song title: "Consulting the Necronauts". I'd highly recommened this one if you want that horror soundtrack feel without having to spend $30 for the soundtrack to a movie that wasn't that hot to begin with with even less hot artwork. This one touches all the bases and has killer art to boot. Alex Cuervo, you are back in my good graces with this, although I'm sure you could care less.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Farang s/t 12"
One-sided 12" from Toronto's latest and greatest, featuring members of School Jerks, Kremlin (RIP!) and Endless Blockade. Seven songs that use hardcore as a starting point, but go off into some punky Minutemennish nearly jazzy parts and some stuff that could be called post-hardcore in a latter day Touch & Go style perhaps. There are a couple of moments that remind me of Brain F≠, as the girl singing has a great voice for punk and knows how to use it, similar to Elise at times but without the call/response dueling. Ivan's drumming is a big feature, just as it was on Kremlin records, one of the best timekeepers/blasters in sport today. Guitars are trebly and not all that blown out, recording was done live and sounds great. Interesting time changes/tempo variations and creative and sharp guitar playing all make for a variety of tunes that are all also 100% punk no matter what directions they veer in. The intensity stays at peak mode for all seven songs (including one that cribs lyrics from Leonard Cohen) and all of them are exceptional. I think I have finally found a band that might replace the hole left in my heart by Kremlin. Cool DJ sleeve packaging (a la the Urban Blight 12") and full color insert.(RK)
(Bad Vibrations // badvibrationsrecords.bigcartel.com)
Flesh World "Planned Obsolescence" 7" EP
Posthumous vinyl release of Flesh World's demo cassette from 2011. Locals say the band led a brief and brutal existence, with members scattering to outfits as diverse as Lakes, Zingers, Teargas, Ratsak and others. For me, this record is a dream situation - a blistering hardcore record with the production values of the first Baseball Furies 7". The intro is all devstatingly shitty sounding bass and drums and earbleeding guitar, and it's usually a good rule of thumb that when a HC record starts off with a ballsy intro, it's the real deal. The EP is seven songs deep of super aggressive Kreuzen/Void/MID-USHC bluster, and the people saying that this record/band had a huge influence on Aussie hardcore of the years following are not exaggerating. The pretext for the recent Cool Death-related bands (Gutter Gods, Dribble, Leather Lickers, etc..) that are so great is all here - furious music that gets so wound up and pissed that it falls apart under the weight of its own futile anger and scattershot pessimism. The guitar moves are particularly inspiring, like listening to someone purposefully untuning at times, riffs that turn into solo runs that fall apart into shards of out-of-tune slash. "Scab My Fists" sets the tone right from the start - hyperactive riff molestation that stops for a nauseous time change slug-out, with semi-inept soloing and half-barked/half-drooled vocals that sound legitimately violent instead of stereotypical hardcore-cartoon bluster. The worldview here is still echoing through the bands of Oz today, and always has I suppose, as pessimism, misanthropy and anger being projected via hardcore is nothing new, but there's a distinction in certain lyrics and phrases that seem particularly relevant to this strain - "Fuck Time" (not as in time to fuck, but just fuck time - past, present and future), "this reality is fucking shit", annihilation = happiness, and the outrage expressed that anyone should think their disdain for this mortal coil isn't righteous ("how dare you suggest my life is better than this?"). The shoddy production values end up lending this EP a certain raw power - the crackling, static-laden mess making the already on the edge of catstrophe throttling that much more vitriloic and precarious. When not blazing along like the blur of Japanese or Euro speed-mongers they're mired in filthy breakdowns punctuated by the fantastically out-of-tune guitar parts that sometimes border on straight noise, sometimes just dropping notes at random, the tunelessness somehow becomes the tune as best exemplified on "Fuck Time" where it becomes nearly anthemic in a post-hardcore style. "Modern Day Pleasures" seems to accidentally replicate the scale-like repetition and inherent ennui of a Flipper song via a hardcore template and then flips into a string-shredding race to the finish, where the winner gets eaten by the tape deck. This one has it all - shit fidelity, raw and energetically inspired "sloppy" playing punctuating the I-dont-give-a-fuck aesthetic, speed, power, genius, brutality, riffs and riffs, bad vibes and bad recording. Very recommended. No Patience records always have great design/packaging, and this is no exception - red and black color scheme, down to the red vinyl and black innersleeve, damaged type for the damaged lyrics, simple yet effective cover. (Not to be confused with the current Flesh World from SF.)(RK)
(No Patience // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Flesh Wounds "Bitter Boy" 7"
Three piece garage band outta Chapel Hill/Carrboro, NC playing rough-enough-for-Merge two guitar stomp'n'roll. Nothing too exciting as far as songs here but they have plenty of youthful enthusiasm over their three cuts. Oblivians-based garage-punk (hey, the new Reigning Sound LP is on Merge too..) but too clean cut for true Goner-dom. Honestly, this kid sounds like a big Greg Cartwright fan. Nothing wrong with that. A good opening act for whatever Third Man-related band is touring through town. (RK)
(Merge Records // www.mergerecords.com)
Frowning Clouds "Beetle Bird" 7"
Geelong's answer to Thee OhSees, "Beetle Bird" sounds like Dwyer doing a riff on the Beatles (these Geelong kids really love the wordplay). Lazy bassline replicates the haze of SF "garage psych", sunshine pop accents, some choppy guitar bits, echo-vox, some cute flourishes (bells, some backwards tape manipulation) - gotta say it's at least all done very well and it's certainly catchy. B-Side is a remix of "Beetle Bird" ("Beatle Byrd" or "Emily at the Top of the Stairs") done by the guys from The Horrors (UK) which is a good get, I suppose. The remix runs the tune through a filter adding some static/dirt, doubling/tripling/reverbing the drums, adding on lots of bells (doorbells, pinball machines, etc..), more reverb, more backwards tape, etc...the sort of thing B-Sides are made for, it doesn't really improve on the song, just make a mess of it. It did make me appreciate the dub thing they were going for on the A-Side a bit more though. Scum stats: 250 copies, three different sleeves, distro by Anti-Fade in Oz. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy-at-tin.it)
The Fuzz s/t LP
Full length release from these Memphis vets, still not to be confused with young Ty Segall's similarly named Fuzz. This is certainly a showcase for some Harlan T. Bobo songwriting, and I think we can all admit the guy writes some good ones. With a grizzled band of exceptional musicians in their own right (members have played in Porch Ghouls, Big Ass Truck, Action Family, '68 Comeback, TJSA and numerous others) behind him, minus Jack Yarber this time around, which doesn't seem to slow them down at all. I know this may sound like the kiss of death, but this is an exceptional "old guy" record - meaning, this is mature, well-written but still 100% rock'n'roll, free of all the gimmicks and posturing that young bucks like to lay on thick. These guys have nothing to prove, they've already done it all, but they still lay down a mean LP here of honky-tonk/garage/country styled rocking that reeks of Memphis. This is what I would love to go out and hear playing in some bar down there, not some SRV bullshit. This is music that has heart and soul, listen to "When I Die", "Teen Rex" or "Cold Stares" and tell me otherwise. "Somebody Like You" competes with the best of the new breed of garage-punkers, "Inarticulate Rage" is as good an Oblivians' tune as almost anything on 'Desperation' and they re-interpret Fred Cole via Greg Cartwright on their version of "Sorrow's Forecast". If you want to do some drugs and bottom out, go buy the Gutter Gods LP - if you want to drink some beers and do some grilling on the patio this summer, buy this Fuzz LP. Both have their own merits.(RK)
(Munster Records // www.munster-records.com)
Gas Rag "Beats Off" 12" MLP
I've spent some time listening to this bands demo and 7" (and demo on 7") and thought an LP (actually a mini LP) might be overkill, but 11 songs in about as many minutes doesn't give you much time to think about much of anything. Midwestern hardcore filtered through Scando d-beat done about as well as anyone in the US right now. Chicago covers a lot of hardcore bases these days, the shit-core of Culo, The Repos/Ropes and various other Youth Attack related doings, and Gas Rag fall in line closer to the Culo camp (I see plenty of leather and fingerless gloves here) aesthetically I suppose, they're certainly raw, while keeping in the classic d-beat tradition of songs about bombs, bomb shelters, war and more bombs, mixing in some leather fetish, drugs and actual humor. Not the weirdest or the strangest, but one of the most raw. Stay on board the train if you've gone this far. (RK)
(Beach Impediment // beachimpedimentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Ghetto Ghouls "Plastic Violence" 7"
I really wanted to hear this band after seeing some low-key mentions from discerning tastes, and I do dig the name (and the film it is lifted from). I tempered expectations of course, as they are from Austin (a city whose overwhelming music scene makes it difficult to root for sometimes), and I wasn't buying the Bobby Soxx name drops (I mean, that's not a realistic comparison for any band, ever) and I think every band with a guitar gets likened to The Fall these days, but I'm trying to be fair here. "Plastic Violence" starts out promising, almost CPC Gangbangs-ish for a few moments until they turn hard into the hook, not quite as nasty as I want them to be, but it turns out okay. "Things" sounds like a really overwrought interpretation of the Nineties Touch & Go post-hardcore dynamic (like around the time where things started getting a little more "mathy" than Jesus Lizard-y) that works up a good amount of tension and shows a little of the negative vibing I was hoping for. I surely wasn't expecting snarling punk rock here, and they surely didn't deliver any, but I like what they're doing here enough that I'll listen to some more - I guess the question posed on the press sheet is very valid - are these throwaways from the LP session or the "hits" that would traditionally be placed on a single - the answer to this query would say a lot. (RK)
(12XU // 12XU.net)
Glitter "Self-Titled Mini-LP" 12"
Brawny punk crushing from Calgary's Glitter, reprising most of the "Spinning Ballerina" cassingle that I liked very very much and adding a few more tasty bits. Mid-tempo chunks of meaty basslines and flayed guitar riffs, with a canine barking out the lyrics. At their best Glitter are the closest thing to the Cool Death bands (Dribble, Gutter Gods, Soma Coma, etc...) that we might have in North America, and although nothing can really touch what's going on in Aussie hardcore right now (musically or aesthetically), these guys do a good job at a cleaner sounding and less chaotic version of such music (and I'm quite sure they're not emulating that sound intentionally). Downward spirals of bottom crawling lurch like "Wine & Linen", "Behind the Velvet Curtain" and "Spinning Ballerina" work out wonderfully, not sounding like forced dementia (they're certainly not polite either, but you never get the sense they're trying too hard to be craaaazy), not overly reliant on effects (they're very tasteful with the reverb/echo), not overly sludgy (this stuff is greasy, but not mired in Flipper/Fang emulation, and they like throwing some tempo shifts in there), self-recording job is full sounding and just raw enough to blur the lines slightly. I always tend to think of Canadians as nice folk, and although I know these guys probably aren't real loonies (get it?!), they at least have me guessing. They're even subtle in their madness, which might be the best kind. Best Canadian punk record not from Ontario so far this year (and the best band in Alberta by a longshot), a perfect blend of heavyweight grunt and hardcore spirit making for some savory (or perhaps unsavory...) all-dressed punk rock action. Recommended. Nice artwork and insert too.(RK)
(Pee Blood // peeblood.bigcartel.com)
Glitz "It's Glitz" LP
Boilerplate Bay Area "street glam" with members of The Cuts, Wild Thing, Apache and Personal & The Pizzas which would be notable if it weren't for the fact that I think every band in the Bay Area has an ex-member of The Cuts or one-time Pizza at this point. Glammed-up traditonal garage-rock stuff, that seems to alternate between 'Blood Brothers' era Dictators vibes and Groovies styled rock-n-rollling with mandatory Dolls swaggering. Their best attribute is that they're not as corny/affected as many of their peers (I'm picturing that these dudes aren't dressed up like pirates or whatever the look Apache has now is), giving a song like "Unconditionally" a bit of legitimacy...wait, there's a song called "Punktual Punk" that might erase whatever I just said in that previous sentence. "(She) Don't Listen to Music" is the one song on this I wanted to listen to a few more times. The rest can go in a heap with most other Bay Area retro-rock of the past few years. It's good that there's a ton of bands to go see live in SF I guess, and I'm sure all the locals have their favorites, but to an outsider this scene of bands all seem pretty samey at this point. I'd rather hear a new Personal & The Pizzas record. Scum stats: 500 total with 100 on "ice cream splatter".(RK)
(Grazer Records // grazerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Glow God "House of Distractions" LP
Heavy duty rocking out of Oklahoma City with Denton expatriate Payton Green along for the ride (Wiccans, Wax Museums, Video, etc...), these guys slug and slam their way across all varieties of heaviness and metal stylings whilst keeping some punkitude as well. There are musical references to Kyuss (and first - and maybe second - LP era Queens of the Stone Age), Screaming Trees and the early Soundgarden SST days, definite Fu Mancu 'Action Is Go' a coupla times, plenty of grunge (a bit of Tad, the aforementioned 'garden, some Nirvana and I swear a little bit of AIC for a moment or two), some Melvins sludgefesting and even a hardcore tune. They do some slow burn rockers as well, and the vocals often have that Josh Homme/QOTSA vibe to them. This LP will fulfill your USDA daily requirement for fuzz after the first couple of songs. No thrash/death or any really traditonal metal, but plenty of stoner, grunge and a little bit of doom. If this were about 15 years ago, Glow God would have been the heroes of the Man's Ruin roster. (RK)
(Play Pinball! // playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com)
Golden Pelicans "Burn Everything" 7"
You know when you can tell a band is great? When they open up a fest in their hometown (the usual slot for locals), completely destroy and leave the crowd whipped into a fervor that is not matched by any other bands for the rest night, headliners included. Golden Pelicans have gone beyond being America's greatest party rockers and are now just some of the best rockers in the entire world. This single is a bit more punk and sophisticated than their previous Total Punk platters - more rocking and less partying I guess. "Burn Everything" has a great vocal performance from King G (and lyrics too) and has a good poppy hook (not wimpy powerpop though - more like a Stiv solo thing maybe) with some raw-n-rough guitar playing holding the edge. Not their catchiest but one of their toughest, it really shows some chops. "Hell's Bucket" continues the no-bullshit rocking, maybe a bit more attitudical than the A-Side (the lyrics are certainly heavier). I hate to admit this isn't their best, but it shows there's a lot more to come from these guys, and even the Golden Pelicans 3rd best single is better than 75% of the other stuff reviewed here. Scum stats: only 300 copies! That should scare you into buying one right now...(RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
Good Throb “Fuck off” LP
At long last, we have London’s most recent answer to anything at all you can fucking throw at it, an inhumanly hostile assault of danceable, utterly brilliant punk. Thee total package. “Jealousy” is a serious gunner for top track of 2014, breaking the glass on the Darby alarm over a theme vaguely suggesting espionage is in play, and the phrase “masturbate to your photograph” can never be sung enough. The gimmick with Good Throb at first was that everyone was new to their respective positions, they all seem in complete and total control at this point. Guitars too raw for human consumption, bass lines and ramshackle drumlines colluding and then fighting every other bar. Ellie’s vocals are absolutely vicious - a level of intimidation that underscores how honest these songs are. Anthems of alienation, hate, questioning self-image, anti-societal disgust, penises turned to dog food. The true sounds of London. Louis Harding’s career of dissonant color schemes and vulgar collage continues unabated. (NG)
(White Denim // www.whitedenim.com)
Goosebumps "Scared To See A Doctor" 7"
I wasn't a big fan of the first Goosebumps 7" (musically that is, the artwork was top notch though), but this EP is far superior in both recording and music. The Ground Zero/Toxic State crew (or whatever you want to refer the current NYC hardcore scene as) is most definitely one of the most interesting things happening today, and Goosebumps have members of Hank Wood & The Hammerheads (or at least did when I saw them live) and a half-dozen other bands from the city as well (someone needs to draw me a family tree of all these bands). This EP is still a hardcore record, but gets weirder and slower and even more fucked up in general. "Join Our Gang" is a hell of a fistpumper/rallying cry. Vox are raw dawg throughout, guitar(s?) are all squealy leads and overdriven riffing and the recording on this in general is fantastic, it's still ugly and crackling at all time but captured well enough that it loses none of it's obnoxious slop. "Sun Dog" has a real Fang-y stomp and squeal to it as does "Grease Boy" with added vocal dementia effects. "Best Friend" is a killer with some rhythmic twists and turns and the apex here might be "Shoot Up" which fits the reoccurring needles theme with a hell of a riff bleeding into "Beanie Baby" which has sick echo effects, best solo and the most generally dunderheaded feel of the bunch. This is what I wanted this band to sound like on the debut single. A must-have if you're staying current with NYC action.(RK)
(Katorga Works // katorgaworks.bigcartel.com)
The Gotobeds "New York's Alright" 7"
Second single from Pittsburgh's Gotobeds (ex-Kim Phuc), and while I appreciated the Mind Cure Single of the Month release for what it was, this is where you should really start getting involved. Full of pop exuberance, and showing off the songwriter's fondness for the UK/NZ vein of 80s/90s indie-pop confections, especially those with a serrated edge. The title track is a big song with a big hook and big lyrics, with complex and clever songwriting. There's some great guitar interplay on the break, and perfect sampling of some NYC-entric voicemails that doesn't come off like a forced gimmick but adds to their aesthetic case here. Guitar-popping done very very well and it's already ready for the big leagues. "Prisoner of Love" is a brawnier tune, heavier on the UK vibes (a tough Cure song maybe?), relentless drum drive and fantastic guitar tone, and the song is again built quite cleverly, enough so that it lulls you into not realizing the seriously dark lyrics creating a cloud over your head. Spectacular effort here that bodes well for the upcoming full length on 12XU. Scum stats: move fast, it seems like 400-500 only of this one, and if I'm plotting their trajectory correctly, you better get it now.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
Gutter Gods "Innersense" LP
Before the arrival of the Watery Love LP at HQ I had anointed 'Innersense' as the best LP of the year. It took an album as exceptional 'Decorative Feeding' to make me think otherwise, although it's still a brutal fight between the two in my mind. Gutter Gods can only be described as the sickest hardcore band in the world right now. They're from Australia and related to the like-minded psychopaths in Dribble, they're the big apes in the latest wave of Aussie hardcore that also includes band like Gruel, Oily Boys, Simfuckers, Leather Lickers, Soma Coma and more I have no clue about I'm sure - and I think just by band names alone you can see that hardcore in Australia these days is getting pretty disturbing. Luckily we get to watch from afar. I lack the proper words to do this whole thing justice. The singer (Meatdog, who I know from chasing copies of his Groin Gravy zine - still looking too if they're out there...) sounds closer to Bruiser Brody than any other singer I can think of - he even starts the musical part of the record with some sort of huss-like chanting. There's a science fiction aesthetic permeating the record, from the space rock guitar feedback sound that connects the songs and lifts the solos and riffs into some sort of interdimensional pocket at times. Reality, consciousness, possible dimensional travel are some recurring themes all delivered with the blow of an electric hammer. Add to this some weird porn imagery - a la Cafe Flesh - and some serious anti-society issues. The scariest part is how fucking catchy "Chosen Few" is - it actually has a hanclappable chorus and anthemic lyrics all of which distract you from the fact that this song (and band as a whole) seem to have the sole purpose of ruining you. I can't fathom what seeing them live might be like. In the most recent Distort, DX talks to a member of this band about taking a lot of psychedelic drugs and a love for YDI's 'Black Dust', which is a terrifying combination when you think about it. The A-Side I would say has the more fast-paced hardcore stuff, and "Community" and "Chosen Few" are the two songs you will immediately be drawn to. Side B however up things a notch, with longer and more bluntly violent riffing, a bit further into the sludge. I don't know what that sound is at the beginning of "Mind Corruption" - it sounds like a dead harmonica or the fast train to hell. "Rut" is disturbingly good before the finale of "Streetwalker" which bulldozes everything into a mass grave. Absolutely savage, and makes me feel bad for ever using that word to describe any band before this. The zine that accompanies this record will give you plenty to think about on its own. A truly bizarre and frightening aesthetic especially when you consider there really isn't any kidding around here. I can't imagine what seeing this band live would be like. Get a copy of this by any means necessary, or you will certainly be regretting it, and I can't imagine that this band will last long. One of the most inventive and singular pieces of work I've had the pleasure(?) of hearing in some time, a frightening and intelligent record from some passionate brutes. Renders just about any other punk record you bought this year obsolete. (RK)
(Cool Death // cooldeathrecords.blogspot.com - in the US buy from Feel It distro - *8/23 update/disclaimer: this was also available via Video Disease in the US [now also sold out - which is where I actually got my copy] so it looks like you might have to order direct from Cool Death or Hardware Records in Europe if they even have any left, but I again urge you to get this at any import cost or you will be sorry)
Happy Times "Hey Biscay" 7"
The Swashbucking Hobo label has really made some progress of late, going from a below average Aussie rawk label, to releasing some unexpectedly great and odd Aussie records from bands live Gravel Samwidge, The Wrong Man and more. The first Happy Times single was just not good, let's admit it. Bad rawk with a bad gimmick. I did not have hopes for this one. "Hey Biscay" shows promise, as it breaks from the generic r'n'r mold and doesn't rely on the sailors gimmick, it's actually a moody and almost post-punky rock'n'droner with a little synth on it and a pretty good chorus/hook. Surprisingly good song. Side B is a straight action rocker called "Croatian Drunk" which is average but not corny and "Herr Wriggler" which is a decent garage-punker that reminds me some of the Onyas. By no means a great record, but a marked improvement from their debut, which at least says something.(RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // www.swashbucklinghobo.com)
Hierophants "Nothing Neu" 7"
Ausmuteants side project (and sharing members with Frowning Clouds) with an actual two-sider from Goodbye Boozy here. Neu Wave on the A-Side (zoinks!) that you'll be able to pass off as an Ausmteants tune - as poppy as the repeat-o-tron bassline/drum rigidity will allow, with an interesting static undercurrent and really slashy/sharp guitars. B-Side goes off on a Devo tangent (with some post-punk iciness ruining the fun) and has a pretty good synth vs. guitar workout to end. Scum stats: 250 copies, four different sleeves (none of which appear to have the band name or any sort of info on them), distro by Anti-Fade in Oz. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy-at-tin.it)
Hoodlum "H" 12"
This record is like three years old already, but I'll play along. Fuzz-garage from Bordeuax France, heavy on the wyld fuzzzzz. Very Seeds/Pebbles, pretty classic sounding moves, a bit more psych than punk. They get some good guitar runs going, the organ is placed tastefully in the mix, vox are of the nutty Frenchman variety. They do some raving up and freaking out and it's all very nice. Really, it's pretty decent, far better then I thought. Guitar player utilizes a variety of tones/effects for good measure and they do some good jam-out things. Recorded pretty well, not lo-fi in the slightest. Far wilder than most things Third Man (or even Bomp) is releasing these days, the artwork is stupendous at the very least. (RK)
(Killed By An Axe // killedbyanaxe.bandcamp.com)
I Get Mynze s/t 7"
Moronic music from the home of dum-dum punk, Kalamazoo, MI (because the Spits are originally from there, right?) from members of Legendary Wings (and maybe No Bails too? A Menthol perhaps?). "Big Wup" (nobody cares) is dumb-pop with some great lyrical one-liners ("My cousin met the guy from The Hangover" and the heroin deserves a laugh) and the worst shotgun sound effect in history, this reminds me of First Base, but funny and shittier sounding. "Spend" jarringly interrupts "Big Wup" (like it just drops in, no segue) with dumber lyrics, cool solo and blantant echo abuse. These songs are hissy-sounding as fuck, reminds me off those Indiana bands a little (Eric & His Romance Novels or whatever) but louder and funnier and not cute. Flipside allows the blown out bass sound to drown out the cymbal hiss somewhat on "I Tunes" which is Spits-like (and repeats the same solo from "Spend" I believe - which is just basically the guy just hitting the strings as fast as he can) and ends with the shittiest-fi and best tune of the record, "Stuff", which is brief yet great KBD-knockoff in a sort of Gizmos demeanor. Tim Allen mugshot artwork from the time he got busted with like two pounds of blow at the K-Zoo airport. Kalamazoo has it's own airport?!(RK) [8/23 update: this was a split release with Red Lounge Records, who had some fancy editions on color vinyl with silk screened covers limited to 60 copies]
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwowrecords.com)
(Red Lounge Records // www.redloungerecords.com)
The Indoors s/t 12" EP
Reno? Well, at least they have some rock bands there, I had no idea. This is The Indoors first release, and it's pretty likeable. Reminds me some of what Jay Reatard was doing solo right after/during Lost Sounds/Angry Angles before he let the pop take over and was still working in darker areas, adding some 90s indie-touches (Unwound) and plenty of echo. Most will tag this as post-punk, and I guess it has some of the prominent basslines and jagged rhythms of the genre. Vox are tortured/paranoid, guitars are also paranoid and needly, drummer is pretty busy, but can definitley go. Has some modern Goth touches as well, aesthetically and lyrically, which should score them some points with the youth. I give them credit for not overdoing and even incorporating some surf guitar licks on the B-Side. Music that's not really about hooks/hits as it is setting a mood, which they succeed at. Still needs some work, but they're certainly doing well...especially for a band from Reno. Whoever sent me this record is a really good at drawing as well.(RK)
(Carbonated Records // carbonatedrecords.bandcamp.com)
The Invisible Hands s/t 2xLP/CD
Following the dissolution of the long-running esoterrorist art collective Sun City Girls (feels disingenuous and pedestrian to call them a “band”), Alan Bishop found himself in post-Tahrir Square Cairo with a fistful of songs and a need to make sense of the chaos around him. With the help of a few skilled Egyptian musicians, Bishop was able to complete this excellent self-titled album. The Invisible Hands conjures a somber and elegiac mood; the bitter, biting humor of songs like “Hitman Boy” and “Nice On Ice” is pitch-black, nearly suffocating in its hopelessness. “Soma” brings sha-la-las and bright, nearly Beatles-esque accompaniment to an aching plea for “freedom from the slaughter.” Despite its carefully orchestrated and masterfully executed musical framework, violence seems to stalk every step of The Invisible Hands’ existence. “Black Blood” finds Bishop channeling Leonard Cohen; a lament for fallen friends, abducted and tortured by secret police. “Death Zoo” closes the album with a shuddering finality. Fortunately, Bishop is able to balance his fatalistic gallows humor with meticulous sonic detail and deft playing from his cohorts. And this really comes in handy for part two of The Invisible Hands, which shows that Bishop is no mere dilettante cautiously dipping his toes into exotic waters. On this companion album, the same songs are performed (with slightly different mixes), but here they are given voice by Aya Hemeda and guitarist Cherif El-Masri. This is protest music, and it needs to be heard by everyone. Apparently a documentary is in the works, so stay tuned.(EEK)
(Abduction // www.suncitygirls.com/abduction/)
J.C. Satan "Italian Summer" 7"
French garage-psychers singing about Italy. These guys have a few records out on Slovenly already and this single is the first I've heard since their debut LP. A-Side works some West Coast neo-psych moves with a flair for the dramatic, a pretty solid rock'n'roll song in the vein of a straighter Demon's Claws or less saucy Movie Star Junkies. B-Side sounds a bit more like Le Oh Sees with more garage-punk and less neo-psych aside from a portion that reminds me of The Doors (?!). Not too shabby for some Frenchmen, far more palatable than I remember them being and a band that pefectly suits TIM's straddling of international psych and modern garage. Scum stats: 500 copies on mixed vinyl with some spifft new Trouble in Mind company sleeves. (RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Juvie "Chugga Bang Bang" 7"
Just the fact that this is Travis Ramin's new band will get many dudes with moptop haricuts buying this on sight. Personally, I was more excited to see an Andy Gortler songwriting credit on "Chugga Bang Bang"! I don't think the Fabulous one is actually playing on this though (I could be wrong - but I think it's mostly the band Skipper backing up Travis), but it's a rock solid hunk of hard-glam with a little Fifties leather jacket r'n'r edge. The flip has two, of which Ramin's "You Did It Again" is the more exceptional, as it has some fiery Jerry Lee piano and some real rock'n'roll strut - not that far off from a Roller Kings vibe. Two good cuts out of three here, bad artwork, an Andy G connection, lots of Fifties vibes might put off the more sensitive powerpoppers out there, but hey, it's played flawlessly.(RK)
(Surfin Ki Records // surfinkirecords.bigcartel.com)
Killer Bees "Buzz'n The Town" 7"
Before there was Dischord, there was Limp Records, the DC punk home of Slickee Boys, Black Market Baby, Shirkers, the seminal regional comp ":30 Over DC" and notably having a hand in early Minor Threat ("In My Eyes" was a split with Limp) and Bad Brains (the 'Best of Limp...' comp) appearances. In my eyes (oof), I'll add that Limp should also be given credit for having one of the only non-Doodley Squat appearances of White Boy (and I'll use this as platform to plead for someone to release the definitive White Boy reissue/collection). So, Killer Bees released this in 1979 and sounds real similar to Slickees, very Motor City influenced rock'n'roll swagger that's borderline punk/garage. "TV Violence" (as heard on KBD #19) fits the punk bill by virtue of a smokin' tempo and solo for the time, it's cathode ray theme and "tough" vocals from Joe Schmidt ("Switch it off!"). "Rock and Roll Hangover" is a Chuck Berry inspired rocker with some slightly fuzzy guitar. On the same playing field as say, Gizmos or Penetrators but without as much personality. Still, not a bad relic and kind of funny when you think about what was about to happen to DC a short time after this...apparently Windian has stock copies of the original 7" (with new sleeves) if you're looking to keep it real.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
King Tears Mortuary "Asleep at the Wheel of Fortune" 7"
Four piece pop outfit from Sydney, packing six numbers on seven inches with artwork apparently created during a heated Sim City session. Happy-go-lucky indie-pop with guy and gal vocalists, pleasant and upeat stuff reminiscent of a less quirky B-52s or some other friendly Athens action on the guy's songs. The gals get a little K Records and Slumberland, very swell harmonizing and "False Pregnancy" has some interesting guitar action setting fire to the playground a bit. "Flippers" has a rollicking nearly C86 slant to it. Well executed by the band, sounding like a popper Living Eyes perhaps. Why they are named after an Austin funeral home is anyone's guess. Tack another credit on to Mikey Young's resume as well...(RK)
(Vacant Valley // vacantvalley.bigcartel.com)
Klaus Johann Grobe "Traumhaft" 7"
The evolution of Trouble in Mind from a predominantly garage-oriented label to the worldwide modern psych/exotica emporium it now is has been something to behold. Not that they're exclusively releasing world-psych like this 7" these days, but I find it weird and cool how diverse the label has turned since its inception. KJG is actually a duo from Switzerland, and this 7" is a repress of a Euro single they did on Sunstone Records that is now OOP. Using my limited tools of perception I will call this mellow-psych or soft-kraut. It's easy listening that is in the same end of the pool as Moon Duo with a more continental flair. A-Side is dreamy pop-psych built on a solid bassline over which they layer a few synths and plenty of echoed out/up effects with some distant sounding vocals. Pleasant enough. B-Side is a similar construction over a friendly motorik beat and organ line with another five gallon drum of echo. Sunny day stuff that I imagines plays better over a longer playing time as well. Scum stats: 500 copies on mixed vinyl with some spiffy new Trouble in Mind company sleeves. (RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Life Stinks "Portraits" 7"
I really feel like I haven't given Life Stinks their due. Sometimes I just fuck up and let things slip through the cracks via the erratic reviewing and scattershot publishing schedule of Termbo, but Life Stinks are one of the best punk bands out there. And they're from SF of all places, home to numerous costumed garage bands, flaccid "garage-psych" and imitation budget rock outfits, but Life Stinks are the opposite of all that. Nothing but shitty vibes here, and I love it. "Portraits" lumbers about like some sort of zombie Flipper song, or a catatonic Seeds cover or the VU on lots and lots of quaaludes. "Sweep It Under The Rug" somehow manages an anthemic chorus amidst the wonderful lethargy. I'm thrilled that Chud has a post-Outdoorsmen outlet for his misanthropy, and his vox on these records are really fitting. I give them bonus points for riding the dumb two-drummers gimmick like a cheap pony - and the primitive thud backbeat actually makes the most of it.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Livefastdie "Hit Stains" LP
Singles and stuff compilation from the band that brought NYC out of the Dark Ages and ushered in the Age of Camero Werewolf. From 2005-08 (and right up to today apparently) LFD were one the top garage-punk acts in the nation, using a clever proprietary blend of guitar shredding, sarcasm and KBD-aesthetics. I'm sure most of you have all the singles, but there's some obscure comp action you might be missing (songs from the Magnetic Division comp tape and some UK tape I didn't even know existed). If you were too slow (or too dumb or too young) first time around, this is a satisfying catch all and plays well alongside 'Bandana Thrash Record'. There are a few things missing (tracks from the split with Lover, the 'Wild About Jenkem' comp and 'Bandana Thrash Bloopers'), leaving the door open for a sequel. You could call this LFD: The Early Years if you wanted to. All the hits are here ("Not A Dog", "Pissing on the Mainframe", "Dawn of the VHS", "Forged in Flames"...) for easy access. One of the high water marks of the early oughts, and a band that could outplay and outjoke just about any of their peers. Shit, just buy it for the liner notes. And yes, the cover is real. Scum stats: first 100 on shit colored wax, plus a test press edition of an undisclosed amount that were sold at shows.(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
Lonely Wholesome "Vanity" 7"
Firstly, let me just say this is a wonderful looking little DIY record - it's a testament to what you can do with some plain white sleeves and labels and rubber stamps galore. Very minimal and cool looking, and including the plastic adapter was a nice touch. Lonely Wholesome is the latest (maybe not chronologically, as these tracks were recorded in 2008/2011) release from Jonah Falco, he of Fucked Up drumming fame, Career Suicide legend, Smart Boys, Mad Men, hardest working man in Canadian punk, etc...there's not much Jonah has done that I haven't liked so far. Breaking from hardcore here, LW might best be described as DIY-pop...maybe? "Vanity" sounds a bit like a pop-inflected Wire, sort of British sounding with some post-punky elements - a rather unique blend. Vocal harmonies multi-tracked over a somewhat minimal sounding but very rich musical backing - Jonah playing everything, some gentle yet needly shards of guitar, maybe an acoustic rhythm guitar, subtle yet sturdy bass/drum drive, it attains an almost psych/kraut level of rhythmic hypnosis, dreamy and hazy but pretty sharply recorded for a DIY job (with assistance from the second busiest guy in Canadian punk, Ben Cook/Young Guv). Side 2 is "Lethargy" which turns even more mellow, a very wispy sounding almost folk-pop thing, the guitars are gently plucked, the vocals whispered a little more dreamily, ends up very indie-rock sounding, maybe even a kinder/gentler variation on some of the mellower Uranium Orchard tracks. I like "Vanity" very much, "Lethargy" is a bit too light for me, but it's interesting nonetheless. Scum stats: 400 copies with "a few" on color vinyl. The insert in this (also with multiple stamps) is on amazingly thin paper, another cool yet subtle touch.(RK)
(Wild Animals Records // wildanimalsrecords.blogspot.com.au)
Loose Heart "Paris - 1976" 7"
There are a few heavy qualifiers in the promotional blurb "The most violent French '76 punk band ever!" but I have to hand it to the label, this really is quite violent for 1976, France or not. The pre-/post lineage of the band includes Stinky Toys (one of the better or worse French New Wave bands depending on who you're asking), Mathematiques Modernes("Disco Rough"!), Angel Face and Strike Up, covering most if not all bases in regards to Punk Francais. The three tracks here were recorded in '76 and never released and thought lost until now, and it's thankfully yet another record that proves that we really haven't heard everything. "Alone" is a perfect A-Side, recalling the machinegun punk of Australia's Victims - beautifully simple execution, relentless tempo, a sharp drum sound (and this guy slips a couple neat moves in there), bass sound that literally throbs and borders on blown out and the real attraction in some purely savage guitar playing including an off the rails solo. This thing flies right into your face so fast it's amazing that they can just stop it on a dime like they do for a fittingly abprupt ending. Such a good cut it will definitely inspire binge listening. Face B contains "Hot as the Gun" which continues the guitar assault with a wah-workout and a deathy Stoogoid vibe and proto-mover "1000 Dreams" which careens out of the speakers with off balance riffing and over the top tenacity. The raw recording and loose playing really lends a hand here, with the guitar playing taking center stage and running wild, a fine example of Detroit influenced moves that are kill city all the way. One of the most exciting reissues of the year thus far and an incredible find. For fans of loud guitars. One of the records that will restore your faith (at least temporarily) in the virtues of digging even deeper into the KBD closet and has hopes riding high for future Danger Records projects like this comp and whatever the hell this soundtrack is.(RK)
(Danger Records // dangerrecords.bandcamp.com)
Low Life "Dogging" LP
I've been dreading writing anything about this LP. It's almost too good to talk about. Whilst Gutter Gods and Watery Love satisfy my tastes for the loud, Low Life might have made a better record than either of them, perhaps not as loud but maybe unsettlingly more visceral. This is a record that I feel a constant urge to listen to, but almost don't want to hear, as it plumbs depths in my psyche that I don't really like to go to. I haven't felt that way about a record since The Hunches' 'Exit Dreams'. This is an LP that has taken its time in coming and has supposedly been finished for longer than that, originally slated for release on NGL (and this is a Brendon record/band all the way, and the dedication of the record to BA is touching), and the finished product is quite different than what I was expecting after the nastiness exhibited on 'Sydney Darbs'. It's almost slick, but that slickness has a disturbingly greasy sheen when looked at closely. The sleeve is a perfect example of the moral depravity as an underlying theme - at a brief glance you might not even realize what's going on. Much like 'Exit Dreams', there's nothing I can say to make you realize how great this LP is, you have to experience it yourself and see what happens. Talking about is just going to ruin it. Sometimes beautiful and generally easily accessible music about every day filth and degenerate behavior. Dark punk, street level New Wave, real-life goth, I can make up a million descriptions, none of which really do it justice. An absolutely brilliant musical endeavor filled with raw beauty. As reported in Distort, Low Life apparently have another LP already finished, that sits perched as my most anticipated forthcoming release, but I get the impression it's going to be another long wait. If you buy only one record from this entire reviews section, this is it.(RK)
(RIP Society // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Lubricants "Activated Energy" 7"
Reissue of one of the best Milwaukee/WI punk singles of the KBD era, good enough to have both sides comped, even if they didn't make the roster until volumes 12 and 18 (but hey, both of those are pretty strong All American comps). Rerun continues their trend of super classy packaging: pocket sleeves, crisp art repro, insert with liners/photos/clippings and a solid remaster job (by Chuck Warner this time even). Even the full LP Rave Up did was pretty decent overall (good enough to have lasted through three cullings of the full run to this point) and it was all studio cuts, which always helps in such things. Lubricants staying power is due to some of the better guitar playing you'll hear from a KBD band and I always felt the drumming on both songs elevated them another level. Yet another well done repro for your DJ night pile. Scum stats: 500 copies. (RK)
(Rerun Records // rerunrecordsstl.com)
Lumpy & The Dumpers "Gnats in the Pissa" 7"
I read someone say that this was a step down in quality from the last few Lumpy songs and I want to punch that person in the face. "Gnats in the Pissa" is a contender for best Lumpy cut, driven over the top by a guest sax solo from Boots Randolph, straight Yakety Sax style. It's not only the fact that Lumpy's songs address important social issues (in this case, bathroom sanitation and the heartbreak that is halitosis) but the fact that these songs, which some will categorize as total trash, are done with real talent (and I'm not kidding about that part). Any two-bit punk can write a dumb song that rehashes the same '77 Ramones riff over and over, but Lumpy invests these tunes with some actual creative songwriting that I don't really know the technical terms for (time changes? bridges? cool parts?) and coats them with his slimy aesthetic that makes this band one of the most exciting players in sport today, captivating hardcores and garages equally. A true crossover star. And now that they have a viral Youtube video, who knows what could happen. Buy all copies of this you can get your hands on, I believe it's blown through two pressings already. Scum stats: this one actually has two different sleeve versions (squished and non-squished) plus a there's a mispressed labels variant that makes for a fake split single with Manateees.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Lumpy & The Dumpers "Bat" 7"
Not much I can say about this other than "Bat" is one of, if not theee acest of all Lumpy cuts. A lumbering bassline that any punk mother should love smothered in generous portions of slimy guitar special sauce. A sweet treat. Flipside is a cover of "X-Rod", a band from 1979 Belleville (and go get the Max Load LP on Rerun already, you dork) recorded in Belleville 2012. Geographic punk stars aligning. For the unaware, this is a vinylization of the Lumpy edition of the Lumpy Records Halloween cassingle series (of which the Trauma Harness edition should get waxed as well). Lumpy is one of the shining lights of what punk rock is, can and should be in 2014, and along with the Toxic State roster/scene, should make us all happy that there are kids out there who get it and who could also give a fuck what me or any other retard who likes to talk about records the internet believes. Thanks to Rich Aroma for stepping up to the plate and pressing this one up, no-brainer or not. Now someone just needs to press up "I Was A Teenage Bozo" on a one-sided 7" or something dumb. Rumors are also circulating of a Lumpy singles comp LP currently being worked on by some overseas geniuses. Hey, remember when a lot of dummies thought Jay Reatard was a terrible kid making annoying punk music and was going to ruin "punk"? Scum stats: this one sold out form the label in like ten minutes, repress on the way, but I'm sure you could snag one by trolling a few discerning distros.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
The Man s/t 7" EP
Chicago's The Man are not one man but at least a trio from what I can tell, have another 7" out on Hozac and probably have dudes from other bands we know of but they're keeping the bio info a secret. Mysterious guy garage! It's actually pretty beefy sounding punk-n-rock, "Sick" is a crusher with some cool guitar effects and a not-insane Necessary Evils feel. On "Take", the guy singing is doing a good Michael Gerald impression and it has a bit of a Touch & Go aroma to it. "Commercial" sounds a bit Australian in its burliness, has some good freak-out/breakdown digressions and really ends up sounding quite like the Midwest version of the Lamps and/or Steve Pallow bands. "Warm Body" breaks character for a short, loud and fast hardcore-punker which is surprisingly effective. Pretty good stuff that your dedicated In the Red Records fan should dig, wonder who these guys are?(RK)
(Tall Pat Records // tallpatrecords.bigcartel.com)
Manateees "Seek Help" 7"
Not sure what comes first chronologically, but I feel like this one came later than the "Earworm" EP? "Hate on Parade" has wonderful shit-fi dimensional sound, and reminds one of a scorching Texan KBD-blast combined with the rawnchiest of true Nineties garage punk. Cool sound effects too. Banger. This almost sounds like a different yet equally killer band than the the Ken Rock record. "Struggle" is predominantly punk again, there's a really fast bassline buried under there that the guitar just buries (no prob though), but speaks to the fact that these three are a fast moving and tight unit, and they jam the shit out of the ending too. Scum stats: there's a mispressed edition of this and the Lumpy 7" that have one of each label switched (but the right tunes in the grooves) that you might want if you're a real scumbag (yes I am).(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Manateees "Earworm" 7"
Theeee Manateees keep improving with each single, honing in on a sound that's somehwere in the realm of garage-t(h)rash, rough and shreddy guitar playing (and the long-hair look helps) being the focal point and on "Earworm" things really take off - various treble-charged solos of varying speed and shred-level really tear some ass while the rhythm section keeps this thing gnashed in their teeth and chomped down. Sick tune. "Stupifier" might actually be the best tune here, all balls heavy punk shouter with a fast-n-quick riff-n-run. Killer solo and screams. "Your Girl" tacks on a Southern trasher to round out the EP which is some sort of devolved version of the Nineties garage-punk nastiness. Spray painted sleeves add to the budget feel nicely. They should really record an LP.(RK)
(Ken Rock // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com)
Mane "Bloodstone" 7" EP
I feel like these ladies must be pals with Pang. Aside from having a concise name, they play similar (yet not too similar) styles of throwback post-whatever. Mane are a bit darker and a bit more punk and less C86 sounding...not as much harmonizing, more of a Siouxsie lead-singer situation here. Deep basslines to wade in, jangled-guitar and even a bit of Slash Records LA-styled tough stuff. Gothier by extension as well, some strong singing here in a more traditional style, very direct approach no cutting/angularity, a bit more literary in their aesthetic and a bit less post-punk. "Lucifer's Baby" destroys and crackles. Full of confidence and heavy enough to remind me of Nineties indie-rock heavies too. Tough stuff with plenty of finesse. I've seen a lot of people digging on Pang, and they should all check this out as well.(RK)
(Cut Rate Records // cutraterecords.bigcartel.com)
Martin Savage Gang "In Memphis" 7"
I was going to say I was surprised Blahhl are still at it, but then I rembered they did that Wild Emotions 7" I liked from last year (recommended for fans of girls in the garage). The label that made The Eunuchs famous goes back to the roots with the latest from Martin Savage and Co., recorded in Memphis when he and his gang played Gonerfest last year. This one finds Martin in garage-pop mode, similar to latter day Louie stuff with Loose Diamonds/Missing Monuments. "Hole in My Heart" is sort of Buzzcocky-via-Memphis, not bad but also not unlike a million other songs. "Hold On" is slower with some gals harmonizing on the chorus, and again, perfectly serviceable but also a pretty standard tune you've heard dozens of times, right down to the predictable lyrics. Meh. Scum stats: limited amount on clear red vinyl.(RK)
(Blahll! Records // www.blahhlrecs.com)
Mercy Killings s/t 7”
The timelessly disaffected sounds of SE Virginia hardcorepunk have finally made a comeback - with one of their finest frontmen leading the charge, to boot. Heavy duty sounds to chain mosh to, courtesy of the riff prophet behind Wasted Time and Socialcide. Tastefully applied shredding by the North Carolina wunderkind last seen in Stripmines - the contrast between his lead style and the (perfectly simple) guitar meows on the WT records is enough to make this its own project and not a reshuffling of members, though it is a pretty all-star cast of RVA/NC freaks. Mark’s lyrics have always been excellent, he has such a strong handle on channelling depth and insight into just the right amount of sloganeering. Keeps it up here, big time. “Closed Door” is the biggest hit on here - the riff in this song is brutal - and “Force of Fusion” makes the transition from their previous incarnation as Violent Outburst (excellent tape, by the way), though Mark definitely makes the song his own. Richmond is hardcore, again.(NG)
(Beach Impediment Records // beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)
Michael O. "Face the Facts" 7"
Michael O. = Michael Olivares, front-man from Termbo faves The Mantles, combining forces with Edmund Xavier (Der TPK, Horrid Red) for some folsky psych-pop tunes. Mike's vox are backed by acoustic guitar strum, some organ and minimal percussion, coming off like Lou Reed if he was a hippie instead of a punk. Confident yet laid back vocals, the wheezy little organ part on the title track makes it a perfect fit for say, a grassy field in the spring time. I like it. "Fear of Balance" sounds like a not-weird Syd Barrett track, where it sounds like Syd is just talking lyrics directly into the mic and whoever from the Floyd that was helping him with that session trys to keep up musically. Again, pretty cool. Even cooler is the B-Side, which is The Scorpions "Speedy's Coming" given a folked-out hippie jam take, this one actually sounds like a band with Mike giving another just-interested-enough vocal to make it work brilliantly. I'm surprised I like this so much (maybe not, remembering how much I love(d) The Mantles), it's not overwrought or cute, but quite relaxed and intensely cool as well. This is what I was hoping Mike Donovan's solo record would sound like. Recommended.(RK)
(Fruits & Flowers // fruitsandflowers.bandcamp.com)
M.O.B. s/t LP
Sydney synth duo that is one half Whores and one half Oily Boys. Eight tracks of mid-tempo drive and drone with ominous and dark overtones, more industrial sounding than any sort of synthpunk. Mostly instrumental with occasional distorted vocals, veers into both Throbbing Gristle noise at times and also Carpenter-ian movie score moods. I feel some Chrome-like moves as well. "Maniac Capture" might be a cover, is my fave track and wavers and wobbles with an eerie ghost-like presence and sick synth sound. An exceptional zone-out/4:oo am record, recorded well enough but still having a rough hewn edge and avoids the slickness of much synth music. A lot of Aussie rockers hitting the synth hard these days, this one should be a good place holder until the NUN LP makes it's way over here.(RK)
(RIP Society // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Multiple Man "Guilt Culture" 7"
From the same label as the Diesel Dudes 7" comes the second single from Brisbane's Multiple Man, who I like to mentally picture as the brothers from Dead Ringers after that first record. "Guilt Culture" is a bit more minimal than before, full of deep throated vocal commands and an unnerving slow cooked Eighties drug/drag synth-beater. Dark dancefloor vibes for gothing it up in front of the mirrored walls. "Boiling Down" is the instrumental flipside, would make for a good score for the opening credits of a Eighties crime/heist flick. I'm thinking a neon-lit coke deal with some action shots from the drivers perspective through late night LA traffic. A keeper if you're all-in on the Aussie synth wave. (RK)
(Detonic Recordings // www.detonicrecordings.com)
Giorgio Murderer "Primitive World" 7"
Giorgio Murderer made quite an impact on the scene last year, and here we have his first vinyl outing of 2014 hot on the heels of his "Live At Uncle Lou's" cassette. A-Side has "studio versions" of two songs from the live tape - "Primitive World" is a new wave banger that out-Spits the Spits, "Nobody Likes You" is hate-wave from a future where keyboard technology has somehow taken numerous evolutionary steps backwards. Sounds great! B Side shenanigans include "Studio Time" (an interpretation of a Three Six Mafia skit) and "Crust Nest", which is kind of a toss off from an artist this obviously talented. Both A-Side cuts are that good stuff though. Scum stats: limited copies on clear vinyl.(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
Mystery Date "You and Your Sister" 7"
Three songs from the Mystery Date demo, mastered and pressed on seven inches. Good song selection, but I feel like "Lightspeed Romance" is the biggest hit here and should be the A-Side. A minor complaint. "You and Your Sister" is still some of the best of the modern power-pop you can buy, loose and honest sounding in that Midwestern way and only slightly wimpy. I like the simple less-is-more guitar solo/build, vocals have a very friendly feel that isn't fey or affected at all - it's just an average dude just like you and me! "Lightspeed Romance" is a massive hit/hook, with a Buzzcockian franticity, some great background effects and harmonies, needle sharp solo and the rhythm section really moves on this one. "The One That You Really Want" reminds me of their MN brethren in Real Numbers and Boys Club a bit, sort of a UK inflected pop-tune via Japanese reinterpretation (First Alert) with a no nonsense directness. You can't ask for anything more out of a modern power pop record - they don't wear costumes, no gimmicks, no wimps, just really good songwrting. Scum stats: looks like each sleeve is hand-colored!(RK)
(Pinata Records // pinatarecords.blogspot.com)
Nearly Dead s/t LP
Probably the worst Brainbombs influenced music I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot). Yes, I get it, it's like a goof tribute to the band with lyrics about old people and colostomy bags and pissing yourself. It's just insulting to everyone. The Brainbombs, the listener, the band themselves. They didn't even bother to write good riffs, the singer sounds ridiculous (and not in a good way), lyrics/song titles are barely even funny. And really, the most insulting part is, the Brainbombs are nothing to fucking joke about, man. Limp dick shit, which they apparently admit via the inner sleeve photo. Scum stats: limited to 108 copies, which seems to be about 104 too many (I'm guessing there are 4 guys in this band). (RK)
(Geriatric Records // nearlydead.bandcamp.com)
Night Birds "Monstersurf" 7"
I've become a believer in the Night Birds. I was skeptical at first, feeling like they veered a bit too close to pop-punk at times early on, but seeing a few live shows and hearing the records as they came out made me put some faith in them, at least as far as being a "bridge" band that will hopefully guide some kids down the right path to punk righteousness. They go all instrumental on this one. "Unavoidable Filth" is a surf-punk ripper reminiscent of Man of Astroman had they been infatuated with Famous Monsters instead of Popular Science. Has a really weird sax "break" on it too. "Agent Zero" is obviously the spy-theme with a nice ascending/descending run o'twang. B-Side has two more, including an Asiatic theme and a very creative and well deserved tribute to Mel Brooks, doing a surfed-out cover of "Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst", the very sort of thing that assures me these guys' hearts are int he right place. Well played, sirs. Scum stats: 1000 copies that I'm sure will fly quick. I would imagine at least one of these songs is already on a surf or skate video (or video game) already.(RK)
(Wallride Records // www.wallriderecords.com)
Night Stalkers "Don't Tale To Me" 7"
The ever dependable Ken Rock Records has been delivering the trash for over a decade now, and this Night Stalkers 7" is a fine example of the label's specialty: offensive non-PC hardcore punk garbage with a sense of humor. Night Stalkers are from France, and even though I find it hard to believe a hardcore band this good is actually from that country, it's apparently true, as it's some of the same weirdos involved in the awesome Sex Before Suicide zine (which I'd love to see a new issue of soon). If you've had the pleasure of seeing a copy of the zine, you already have a good idea of the aesthetics: sleaze, horror movies, sex, senseless violence, more sex, drugs, satan...they've got it all covered. Think of them as sort of a French version of The Grabbies, but faster and a bit more adept at playing actual music a la HFOS. Six songs total, beefy yet trashy recording job done in a basement, tough classic USHC (with some Italo-HC lunacy in there) crossed with modern slopsters like Culo or Manic. Great vocals too, this guy sounds raw but not overblown and shows no signs of an accent. Lots of misogyny on this one, so the ladies and BCO posters might want to stay away. Way better than I thought this was going to be, best French hardcore I've heard in at least a decade maybe. Not like I was paying attention to the French 'core scene though. Comes with insert (great use of English on the lyrics) and movie soundbites between tracks.(RK)
(Ken Rock // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com)
The Night Terrors "Spiral Vortex" LP
With old soundtracks being repressed on vinyl at an alarming clip these days it's no wonder a band or two has popped up playing "originals" in this vein. Night Terrors pay reverence to the 80's synth-heavy scores of later John Carpenter films, Giorgio Moroder and others. If you're looking for giallo-influenced stuff, go look up Umberto I guess. I didn't hear their first LP "Back to Zero", but Rob mentioned some proggy/Floyd moves, and those are all still here. This one goes for a sciece fiction theme ("Lasers for Eyes", "Space Sickness", "Galaxia", etc..) and the instellar vibes are there. Some tunes actually border on upbeat pop confection, but extended synth jammers with Vangelis vibes like "The Devil Played Backwards" bring it back to earth (or Mars or wherever). Somehow they saved the best tune for last (I guess you need a good one to roll over the end credits) as "Force Field" is the ultimate Carpenter vs. Moroder battle. Recorded and played with the utmost skill, the packaging is quite remarkable as well - glossy gatefold, heavy printed inner sleeves and 180 gram vinyl. A nice package for those interested. (RK)
(Homeless Records // homelessrecords.bancamp.com)
No Bails "Epyx Shredder" LP
Kalamazoo's #1 rock'n'roll outfit finally step out onto the long playing format via the Dirty South's Pelican Pow Wow, forming a modern day North/South Connection. No Bails are the middle american everyband, much like Livefastdie represent NYC or Cosmic Psychos are Australia or the Oblivians are Memphis (three bands that I think No Bails find some middle ground betwixt). They sing about all the important things in life, to average joes like myself: skating, wrestling, punk, outdated video game platforms and your mother. They open with a heavy testicled instrumental workout/muscle flex and segue right into "Goofy Foot", a tune that addresses some important issues and just continue to blaze thereafter. I think they peak right around "My NES Is Fucking With Me" an LFD-esque spit(s)-take and then crush your skull with the side ender "These Fucking Roads" which is thee hit on the LP and the most epic of the epyx. Very Psychos-esque in it's head-down and balls-out determination to work one riff over and over before taking a solo break, much like Flair would work the leg before slapping the figure four on. After recovering from that, they throw "The Shockmaster" as the opener for Side B which is the second best tune on the record (and I hope Tugboat is getting some royalties here), a real dumb number done just the way I like it. They flex the riffs a bit more on the flip ("Nubber 10" is total riffola), breaking for a Rokker cover ("Who's A Punk, Your Mother") and get real deep on "Black Hole", which is the third best (maybe second) and most existential tune here. A state of the art garage-punk record for 2014, no posers allowed. Drop in if you dare. (RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
Nots "Fix" 7"
Second 7" from the Memphis-based Nots, bring the sounds of UK-DIY gal-punk to the Southern US. Natalie from Ex-Cult (or ex-Ex-Cult?) on guitar, Laurel from Moving Finger on drums and Charlotte Watson on bass (aka Charms Manateee and some time Buck Biloxi band member) makes for a solid line-up card and I think they've stepped up the tunes a bit on this one as well. "Fix" has a nifty little drum drive with chippy uptempo jangle-n-riff, a little freak-out part and gang-vox that are just gangy enough. Slits-ian pop. "Modern" is bit more arty, with a post-punky verse and a chorus that gets dreamy/gazy. Gal punk is a go all over the place, and it's a good thing - when there are a bunch of great "girl bands" in Buffalo (Sexist, Hot Tip, Fleshy Mounds, Utah Jazz/Mayday, etc..) you know things are moving, since we're about a year behind the curve here. Quite excited for the Easley-recorded LP. Scum stats: limited version on green vinyl to match the sleeves available direct from Goner only.(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
Jeffrey Novak "Lemon Kid" LP
Jeff's third solo LP has me in the usual mindset when hearing his latest record - it's more refined than the last, his best work, a further distillation and pefection of his ideas, etc...When the question arises of who is going to be the next big thing, Jeff's name is the one that immediately springs to mind, always. Was he already the next big thing? I mean, he's gone as far as Matador already, which is sort of the break through point of rising to the top of the underground and into the level of Spin coverage and being released into the mainstream waters. He's there, but I always feel like he's not getting his due - the underground has moved on perhaps, and I can't say that I'm qualified to know how the mainstream feels about him - a google search shows Spin reviews and talk on a zillion review blogs catering to your casual music listener who thinks they're onto the hippest of sounds. I dunno, is he as "big" as Ty Segall? He should be. At the very least I would hope he's living off his music at this point. Cheap Time seem to be touring relentlessly (and the new line-up is my favorite since the "Spoiled Brat" days) and he releases what seems to be at least one solo record a year now along with Cheap Time full length. 'Lemon Kid' is full of all the required checkmarks - lyrically and musically smart, the right blend of pop hooks and his penchant for weird glam moves, the UK influence of Kinks, Ayers, Bolan and more Eno than before coupled with his roots in Southern garage-rock. Ten tracks, at least three or four big hits and the usual solid bunch surrounding them, a little less piano this time and lots more guitar, some of his best psych-pop moves to date as well. Top shelf material and his most accomplished (and "adult") sounding record yet. Maybe the move from ITR to TIM breaks him into a bit of a different audience and gets him over with more of the international crowd? Shit, it came out last year, why isn't he on top of the world by now?(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Obliteration “War is Our Destiny” 7”
By now you know what you’re getting - the Painkiller dudes rocking late-stage Cimex, fellas who know how to write hooks with deep death knell vocals, gratuitous soloing. The sounds of bullet belts with the appropriate level of wear and tear, or 80s hair metal bands scoring They Live. Super clean and loud guitars, a bit like World Burns to Death if they were forced to cut down on the cheese. Lacks the subtlety of their neighbors in Bloodkrow Butcher, but if you’re into wailing this one has it in spades. “Where Do We Go” is the anti-punk anthem we need in 2014, but the answer is: to shows that this band isn’t playing, unfortunately. Shades of early Inepsy that overflow on the last track, a gentlemanly re-working of Saint Vitus’s song by the same name (and titling your record after a cover is always a good thing in my book). Really dig the artwork this time around, too.(NG)
(Beach Impediment Records // beachimpedimentrecords.blogspot.com)
Obnox "Used Kids" 7"
Another Obnox record, jesus christ...I kid, I kid. My favorite domestic locale for music is not New York (either my section of WNY or the Big Apple), not California, not Texas, but the greatest place for rock'n'roll the world over, the state of Ohio, specifically the cities of Cleveland (#1 rock city ever) and Columbus. Bim does a beautiful thing here (and it's not just for this record, this guy has lived it for his entire life I'm sure) and wonderfully pays tribute and bridges the two cities that have brought me (and you) some of the greatest rock music ever recorded in the history of mankind. Bim's overflowing bag of clever ideas, tributary wordplay and graphic choices have reached some sort of aesthetic apex here. I think we all know Used Kids as the long-standing and legendary record store that could be considered the focal point of Columbus underground music, a place where you could have bought a Cheater Slicks record from Ron House at some point in time. I think looking at the credits of this thing says a lot: recorded at The Black Eye (a long standing Clevo punk house), by Paul Maccarone (who has recorded a good portion of legendary Clevo modern rock and sound guy at Now That's Class, itself the heart of current Cleveland punk and greatest bar in the universe), mixed at Musicol in Columbus (a long standing record plant that has probably pressed some of the better records in your collection) and engineered by Adam Smith (of Columbus Discount Records/Recordings and a member of Unholy Two, Necropolis and more). I just spent a lot of time breaking down some words on the back of a record sleeve, but I think to appreciate a lot of what Bim is doing via Obnox you need to think about his appreciation of his own influences, the scenes that supported him and that he supported as a fan himself, both the older guard who gave him guidance and inspiration and his peers today. His reverance and respect for these things is something that comes through in his music, and what I think makes this massive run of releases worthwhile - it's not often that an artist will attempt to be as heartfelt and honest with his work. It's risky in a way, especially in a time when things like this might be labelled hokey or corny due to the prevalent jadedness often exhibited in today's underground music culture (something I'll admit to being guilty of in my weaker moments). Bim puts it out there. Listen to the lyrics. I'll even say that sometimes I can't help but feel he's cringingly bared a little too much soul, but the fact he's holding nothing back is what makes things exceptional. This deluge of releases is like he's clearing out every possible reference and tribute to a life spent in music before it's too late, perhaps making up for lost time (like we all wish we could). I can't speak to his exact emotion, but I feel like I'm listening to his autobiography as a series of records (which is something I suppose many artists are doing, but perhaps not as overtly). This comes through loud and clear on all his recordings, this one in particular. I mean shit, the guy's putting his baby pictures on the sleeve, make what you will of it, but he's out there on a limb, baring his soul without fear. I'll tell you what, sometimes I feel like he goes a little too far, maybe a little too heavy handed, but I've done a shit ton of embarrassing things in my life, but I didn't have the guts to make a record about it (not that's there's anything to be embarrassed by here anyway, but I hope you get my point). There's more creative spark and real emotion in the worst Obnox record than there is in probably more than half of what is reviewed on Termbo. Musically, the only way this could be improved on is if it were a one-sided 12" without having to jump sides. A massive free-psych skronk-out with a backing band firing on all cylinders that lovingly reeks of Lake Erie, record stores, punk house basements and forty years spent digging through the crates of music-as-life. (RK)
(12XU // 12xu.net)
Obnox “Louder Space” LP & “Used Kids” 7”
After spitting up umpteen home recordings in a very short smattering of time (months? weeks?), Lamont “Bim” Thomas was finally coaxed out of his green hazed bedroom set up and situated into a highfalutin studio. The results lie within these two releases…and as one could imagine, they’re pretty darn stellar. 'Louder Space' may still be as blown out as the rest of his back catalog, but there’s clarity to it all, beefing up the intensity thrice-fold. I’d recommend sitting in one of those 5.1 surround egg shaped stereo chairs, but we ain’t all so lucky. This long play is a serious party platter that runs the gamut from fried Puffy Areolas-style violence, dank gutter soul and a blunt fuzz/muffed hip hop that rides over spliced beats and carved up guitar. Imagine that old school Public Enemy hostility bumping against some of Mudhoney’s most gluey riffage, and you’d be getting close. Close, but not exact. I may not be a pro when it comes to all things rap-tastic, but I do have a few titles in my stacks (Wu Tang & Ghetto Boys like every other motherfucker) and I gotta’ say Bim’s rollin’ out the chops and rhymes just fine. Dare I say “dope”? In every sense. So much dope in fact I’m feeling like a 2am Taco Bell run after every spin. This record is screaming serious crossover potential, if given a chance. If only we could erase the damage of that goddamned Judgment Night soundtrack and the 20 years of reparation due. Had Obnox been called in to score that flick, Rap/Rock relations wouldn’t have such a horrible rep. Way to blow it again, Hollywood.
The companion single 'Used Kids' is a slow burn, two part rumbler that sounds like Human Eye psych under Bim’s tales of space, time and Ohio record stores. Dude...saxophone. That gets me every time. The second side continues with this crush, then peels apart real nice like. Feedback builds, vocals layer and horns rocket off. Hawkwind played at Wattstax, correct? Sure they did, right after Funkadelic. You must’ve been too high to remember. Anyhow,12XU is on a roll. Grab it. (RSF)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
1-800 Band "Diver Blue" 12"
Whoever is doing the remake of Fast Times At Ridgemont High better get the Almost Ready CEO on the horn ASAP and get 1-800-Band on the soundtrack, as few bands can replicate Eighties schmaltz-rock as convincingly as these guys (no disrespect to the cast of the original Fast Times... - great film). I'll admit "Diver Blue" has a pretty punchy mid-tempo hook, and even if it is not invested with any real emotion in the delivery, some people are definitely going to bite. "Make A Comeback" is Cars-lite, "Here Comes Summer" has about one-tenth the energy of an Atlantic Thrills song and "Many Happy Returns" is the real low point, a slow number that far overstays its welcome. I do not like this band's music, but I at least hope they get on an AT&T commercial or something so the guy that runs Almost Ready can buy bloody marys for the rest of his life and put out more World's Lousy comps. It's like rooting for your rival team in hockey because you know they have to beat another team to get you into the playoffs. The best thing about this record is Arturo Medrano's cover collage, an abstract riff on Van Halen I'm imagining...Scum stats: you bet there's a blue vinyl edition!(RK)
(Almost Ready // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
The Ones s/t 7"+CD set
Exceptional reissue package of one of the earliest and rarest Milwaukee punk records. "Tightrope" was unearthed on 'Staring Down the Barrel' and is a hot 1980 punker with hectic pacing and playing and what I'm going to call a really lo-fi Stooges sound. "Short Dress" on the A-Side is a proto-crusher that has some big rock moves and killer drumming. An exceptional example of early punkers still putting together the puzzle pieces of Sixties heavies and first wave pun as it happened. Band pic looks killer in a Gizmos/Samoans style. Serious liner notes tell the full story very well, plus there's a CD included in the package deal with 18 tracks of vintage demos/rehersals/live stuff. Rerun goes the extra mile as always with tight design/packaging, and the inclusion of the CD option is interesting and probably the right move - it's good stuff, but probably not worth sinking an LP budget into - whereas some of our European friends might have just put the LP out and left a killer single bogged down with the rest of the tracks. In a clever (or diabolical?) move, you have to buy the CD to get the single. Not a bad strategy, considering for $12 you get the 7", CD, a pair of buttons and the CD has a big foldout with tons of pics. Scum stats: 500 only for the 7".(RK)
(Rerun Records // www.rerunrecordsstl.com)
Overnight Lows "Erste Deutsche Original Aufnahme" 7"
I think this American-bands-singing-in-German series is pretty dumb, but Mr. Red Lounge can do whatever he wants after releasing stone killers like the Buck Biloxi LP. I'll tell you what, the title track (sung in German) is the most interesting Overnight Lows song I've ever heard. Suunds like it could have been a sleazy German girl-fronted band on one of the later KBD installments."Gluebag" is a passable Rip Off punk tune. "Life is Gross" takes up the B-Side with a decent but uneventful mid-tempo garage track. Meh. (RK)
(Red Lounge // www.redloungerecords.com)
Pang "Young Professionals" 7" EP
All-gals post-punk quartet out of Oakland with their sophomore EP, and the songwriting shows definite improvement. "Young Professionals" is not a Black Time cover, but an Eighties throwback that's gritty and rhythmic and full of tenacity and clever construction. "Relax" is all out panic-punk with a very British guitar sound. My fave slice here. They run through three quick ones on the B-Side that really flex their skillset, with some jerky post-punking, a bit of a Fall-styled creep and hypnotizing harmonies over the angular beats. A very dialed-in effort that mixxes C86 DIY aesthetics with nearly New Wave vocalizing and some nasty No Wave-ish side effects as well. These gals are getting it done and have a metric shit-tonne of potential. A refreshing Bay Area effort that exists outside the costumes/retro scene and Castle Face family, these gals look backwards but are running forward with the ball and adding some of their own backspin. Not that I don't think some of those other outfits (get it?!) take themselves seriously, but I'm very positive these girls do, and it looks good on them. Scum stats: 250 copies only. (RK)
(Grazer Records // grazerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Party Plates s/t 7" EP
Stunning fact I just realized: Non Commerical Records has been active for over 20 years now, as that first Cider 7" came out waaay the fuck back in 1994! Holy shit. Another fun fact: 20 years and this is NON-014! While perhaps not the most prolific label ever, they are one of the few labels to bat 1.000 for their entire catalog. A name you can certainly trust. Party Plates' wax debut does nothing to tarnish the label's rep, as it's 100% Clevo-o-crunch, a galloping mix of the classic hardcore the city is known for and some thrash metal riffage that they also seem to have in abundance down there. Consider the band's credentials: Inmates, Cider, Boulder, Puncture Wound, State Execution, No Peace and more..."Kidnapping Quatro" combines Midnight and GSMF, "Disforeplay" (?!) is the thrashiest riffer, they pull the old lead-off-side-B with the "Intro" trick, and it's a bulldozer of a riff. They save the best for last; "Galloping Ghost" is pretty gnarly, almost gets into Gary Wrong Group level weirdness/darkness/heaviness. I get the impression some people think this a goof band with a name like Party Plates, but make no mistake, this is all balls. Good luck finding a copy!(RK)
(Non Commercial Records // ntc11213-at-gmail.com)
Spike Penetrator "Yeah! Yeah!...Baby!" LP
Solo material from Spike Penetrator supposedly recorded while he was in high school from 1972-74. Obviously really stupid stuff, but that's why you're here anyway right? Has some of the same vibes as the early Rep/Jay 'Grim-o Comix' LP via the retardizing of Velvets moves ("Bastards") and Zappa weirdness appropriation (there was a time when Frank was probably the weirdest dude in the world to many...and maybe he really was?), along with some teenaged gags (a novelty tune about "The Girl With The Big Ones" that has some wonderfully bad echo). Recordings vary in fidelity, but are mostly sounding like 4-track mid-to-lo-fi with Spike playing everything except on two songs. It gets a little tiring towards the end of Side Two, but the A-Side is semi-incompetent, fully stupid and far more entertaining than any of Spike's other solo outings. No Penetrators songs on this either, which is appreciated. This is a limited domestic pressing of the Rave Up version that came out last year and a good companion to the Penetrators reissues on Windian. Scum stats: US pressing limited to 100 copies with liner notes insert.(RK)
(Feral Kid Records // www.feral-kidrecords.com)
The Penetrators "Shopping Bag" 7"
It's tempting to say this 7" is unecessary since it's two LP cuts, but but how could you not want to have "Shopping Bag" on 7"? Much like just about every song on the LP, this is one of the tunes that is your favorite at some point. Best chorus. So dumb. I'll vomit. In it. Killer groove too, someone could sample the shit out of this drumbeat. "Everybody Needs Lovin'" might be one of the more underappreciated tunes on the LP, but hey, it's still good and has a "ripper" of a solo. The cool thing here is that this single was really supposed to come out on Fred back in the day but Spike spent the budget on a video for MTV instead, which was of course never aired. A copy of the supposed rejection letter is included as insert....Anyway, there's really no reason for any respectable Penetrators fan not to own this.(RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
People Problem "Maximum Perversion" 7"EP
Perth powerviolence that I have little business talking about, but I can offer the following meandering thoughts on. This guys vox are pretty good for a PV outfit, they put eight songs on this which seems like just enough (meaning they give the riffs some room to breathe), I think they're more into power than speed here, it blazes by but they don't just blastbeat their way through everything. I'd say something like "sounds like Crossed Out or No Comment" which is probably the equivalent of saying some garage band sounds like The Sonics, and I don't want to sound any dumber than I already have. The only way I can quantify this is to say that I thought this was pretty good and I know jack shit about PV - it has moments of sheer asskicking that any fan of AmRep records could even enjoy. (RK)
(Coffincut Records // heltaskeltarecords.blogspot.com)
Personnel s/t 7”
I’m an unabashed fan of the Shitty Limits, and with the same main songwriters returning to the fold, this hits all the right spots. Where the Love Triangle spiraled off into a new trajectory with a similar momentum, this shirks almost everything they shared with the Limits. Everything is much brighter, with more subdued rhythms, a more refined intensity, and the first instance of “Sex Pistols” in a chorus that I can get behind. Four songs leaning more towards Desperate Bicycles or TVPs, but with a cohesion and attitude much more honed-in and tight than the other bands mining this territory lately. If Hygiene were a bit perfectionist and in cheery moods, or something like that. Extremely addictive, great and wildly memorable songs. Evokes Wire without sounding like ‘em. The refrain “Youtube clips - hysteria, racist tweets - hysteria, pc pleb - hysteria, Sex Pistols - hysteria!” is a certain (my favorite) type of genius, spewed by the most likable frontperson I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, and you can hear his shit-eating grin - it’s a record that instills happiness. Highest possible recommendation.(NG)
(Double Dot Dash // www.doubledotdash.org)
Joel RL Phelps & the Downer Trio "Gala" LP
The people love Silkworm, as well they should, but the best Silkworm stuff is early-mid 90s when they were a four-piece, and this cat, Joel Phelps, played second guitar and wrote/sang about a third of their songs. After he split following ‘Libertine,’ the band was still good, but diminished without his idiosyncratic voice, both literal and writing. His physical voice is a weedy but strikingly powerful presence, and it enhances songs of naked emotion and a sort of existential clutching -- for others, for meaning, for something, for anything. Phelps’ trio of songs from personal S’worm high point Into the West, still send shivers racing down my spine. Even now, I’m still slightly unnerved by the time I saw this line-up and Phelps played the entire set sitting in a chair with his back facing the crowd, periodically and reluctantly stepping up to the mic, and letting loose with a caterwaul that sounded exactly as his contorted body looked. And that’s pretty much where I’ve kept Phelps all these years, trapped in my own little memory box. But, with his Downer Trio, he went on making records every few years. I never really checked in, which was stupid, cuz the guy is talented, and he’s not so far removed from those twenty year-old songs. ‘Gala’ is the first new one in nine years, and opens with two meticulously-recorded (you can hear every inch of that drumkit, in a warm, non-clinical way) songs -- sparse, yet tense, full of feints, parries and surges. And it continues apace, stopping for the occasional murder ballad (“Exiting the Garden”). ‘Gala’ is an excellent record of minimalist rock music played with a subtle grandiosity that compliments its blatant honesty.(EEK)
(12XU // www.12xu.bigcartel.com)
Pizzoar "AR 3000" 7" EP
Another Swede KBD-era unearthing from Ken "Re-Ken" Records, this time Pizzoar's 1979 EP, the title track of which appeared on one of the Swedish Bloodstains. Not as good as the TBC 7" reviewed below (which is a real dick-kicker that you must check out), this one is a bit less exciting and certainly not as enjoyably rocking. Title track gets over for that crackling guitar solo more than anything, underneath it's a traditional anthemic Euro-punker, not as poppy as the Belgians or as brutal as the Italians though and the vox are nothing to get excited about. The other A-Side tune is better than "AR 3000" if you ask me, the best chorus here (with handclaps) and the most energy. Side B has one tune that's sort of New Wave-y but too fast to get cheesy, which might be the second best track, and the closer is more like a Euro folk tune than anything. Go get that TBC 7" ASAP! Scum stats: pink or white vinyl, 328 copies. Comes with a nice 8 page booklet in Swedish.(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com)
Powerblessings "Quick Guide to Heart Attacks" LP
Heavy indie-rocking that reminds me of the following: Hot Snakes, RFTC punk songs, John Reis, Jawbox, Fugazi, DC post-hardcore, the way Damian's vocals seem not to fit in with Fucked Up songs sometimes, emo music, "clever" song titles with "poetic" lyrics. Good musicians, the singing just kills this dead.(RK)
(Manhattan Chemical & Electric // manhattanchemicalandelectric.bigcartel.com)
Predator "The Complete Earth" LP
I feel like this LP was forced into existence by people other than the band itself who just felt it was so good it needed to be released. Mike and Brannon have been at it with Predator (and GHB and Acid Freaks and...) for some time, and their debut LP on Douchemaster was great, but seemingly never clicked with some people. They now have GG King himself on drums, and this LP (songs for which I've heard have been around for some time - and including five from last year's demo cassette on SOD) finally has life, and it's a better record than their debut. Darker, sparser, more immediate and intense, the instrumentation seems minimal but has a serious weight to it (great recording jobs can do such things, kids - and I don't mean expensive ones either). The title track is a masterpiece of modern Southen punk-core, off-kilter solo and an intensely marching pace Atlanta hasn't seen since General Sherman was in town. They do the fast ones well too - "Skate Slime" is like the anti-Spits, "Need to Breed" is one of many tunes to make maximum use of the totally punk deadpan vocal style here - this guy just sound so fucking bored it's incredibly effective. The instrumental "Pica" into "Personas" is a killer transition leading into the last three tracks, which at first I thought was the weaker part of the record, but somehow "The Point" and its upbeat riff is the one that keeps getting stuck in my head, I don't know if it's because it's really good or just really dumb yet though (either is fine with me). It's great that this LP exists after hearing rumors about it for so long and I think it came out really well - the A-Side is 100% blaze (including a Peter Popoff takedown song!) and the B-Side reaches at least 75%, which is an outstanding ratio. My only beef is didn't Dry-Rot use the bleach thing already? (RK)
(Scavenger of Death/State Laughter // scavengerofdeath.storenvy.com)
Radioactivity s/t LP
As I mentioned in a review of the Radioactivity 7" last time around, the first Marked Men LP stands tall above the rest of the band's output and all post-MM projects in my head. The Marked Men have achieved acclaim far beyond I thought they could (and which they rightly deserve), appealing to everyone from pop-punkers, garage rockers and even filtering into the hardcore crowd somehow (at least the less militantly genre-specific parts of the scene in the South especially) with their shows being instant sellouts wherever they go. Not bad for a band that I'm not even sure if officially still together at this point. Anyway, I'll just come out and say that this Radioactivity LP is the best thing the parties involved (i.e. Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan) have made since that first LP on Rip Off over a decade ago. Jeff sings and writes everything here, which seems to make a big difference to me now. He's joined by Mark on bass and Greg from Video/Bad Sports/more on drums(wasn't TV's Daniel in this band at one point or did I just hallucinate that?) making for a great past and present Denton connection. Thirteen tracks of semi-tough garage-punk-pop perfection that is a bit front-loaded (you could probably go without the last three songs) that has a built in audience already, but if you gave up on or forgot about these guys for a few years as I did this is definitely the time to check back in. The A-Side alone is worth the price of admission and this is certainly the right time of year to have tunes like this in the deck. Scum stats: first 300 on gold vinyl.(RK)
(Dirtnap // www.dirtnaprecs.com)
Rajayttajat "Tulee Taas" 7"
I've heard a couple of these guys' records previously, and while I think they're pretty decent Euro-punk, I did not get why some people were freaking out about how great they are (I'm still not totally on board with Baddat for Trubbel either). I was also confused that White Denim put this out, but the A-Side is weird enough that it makes sense. It starts with a surf intro that gets hijacked and turned into a hard-rockin' tune that sounds a bit like Jet, or maybe Hellacopters covering Motorhead to make a somewhat kinder comparison, but it definitely has a catchy riff, a little bit of a glam/pub stomp, completely unintelligible foreign language lyrics, an overall goofballin' kind of feel (I think they throw in a verse of "California Girls" somehwere along the way) and it all has a palpably murky/hazy production feel. The fact is that I have no idea what the fuck these songs are about, and the weird collage artwork adds to the confusing dada element. The B-Side does some more weird shit, this time kidnapping a Stooges riff and giving it a Pink Fairies/Deviants-like pseudo-hippie jam out session trip...is this about Texas? Again, no idea what the fuck is going on except from interpreting the imagery on the sleeve, and these tunes sound as much like collages as the sleeve looks. Weird stuff that I approve of, perhaps these guys are Scandanavia's answer to the Butthole Surfers? Foldout sleeve is rather impressive and contains both tits and dick, making for equal opportunity exploitation I suppose. The most interesting record I've heard from these guys (and Baddat and any other new Scando band) by a longshot. (RK)
(White Denim // www.whitedenim.com)
Rat Columns "Leaf" LP
Rat Columns is the pop vehicle of Perth native David West, perhaps better known for his work with Total Control and Lace Curtain. "Leaf" is the second RC LP, recorded in the Bay Area (where West was living at the time) by the super team-up of Mikey Young and Kelly Stoltz. If you're hoping for anything close to the aggro of the other recent RIP Society releases like MOB or Low Life (or even similar to the related Rank/Xerox or Burning Sensation) you are going to be very disappointed. This is a supremely lightweight pop-oriented affair with evan the melancholic moments somehow sounding airy, or at least lacking some conviction. The whispered vox don't change throughout the record and have little emotion of any sort behind them. The music is a strange hybrid of Eighties keyboard schmaltz, Nineties indie (GBV, SY and Dino Jr. at the least), plus there are some seemingly out of place disco moves on a few of the songs (the tile track in particular). The best moments occur when the songs get some downward momentum and/or bummer vibes and the disco parts are actually cool once you get used to them, but overall the LP could use some variance, some bigger hooks and a bit more personality. As it is, it just washes over you like a gray cloud that is easily forgotten afterward.(RK)
(RIP Society // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Roachclip "Calmer In This Town" 7"
Third record from Detroit's Roachclip, who have been quietly percolating while Protomartyr get all the attention, following their debut single and last year's LP. "Masters Den" is typical of their bizarro premise - some sort of dada basement-junk, adrift in the seas of DIY and weird New Zealand and Screaming Mee Mees, sort of sing-songy monotone delivery with garagey/punky guitar backing and predominant organ whining. It ends with some lo-fi psychedelic drain circling until all the instruments are flushed out. I saw someone made a Doors reference in regards to them which is hilarious yet somehow makes a bit of sense. "Cast of Clowns" really reminds me a bit of Mordecai, a DIY rock'n'roll song, similar vocal treatment and a certain bit of anthemic sonics that the organ playing tries it's hardest to undo. Primitive psychedelica of the DIY kind, with moldy basement vibes that I always condone.(RK)
(Quemada // quemadarecords.blogspot.com)
Nathan Roche "Watch it Wharf" LP
Intriguing solo LP from one of the Camperdown & Out guys, a self-described "slacker" from Sydney. Roche's voice aqnd songwrting borrows heavily from both Johnathan Richman and Lou Reed, and modelling your "band" after the VU or Modern Lovers isn't a bad idea if you can pull it off. How wrong could it go? There's also some NZ/Chris Knox reverance in the background, but not too weird though - but the whistly pipes and weird percussion at times reminds of the milder Tall Dwarfs moments. "When I Come Around" is a great tune, the lazed and stoned slacker delivery does work, and there's something poppy and friendly to a lot of the tunes. "Nowhere You'll Know" has a less gross Bay Area vibe to it, and the A-Side is all pretty happening stuff - strained pop, a little silly but done too well to be annoying. He does a couple slow jams at the end of the record that I didn't think worked, but this is a really solid outing for the other eight tracks or so. Surprisingly good songwriting and he shows just enough personality under the lazy veneer to make you root for him. Mild-fi production mastered by Owen Penglis of Straight Arrows gives it a real warm feel. Good stuff. (RK)
(FPR // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Savage Amused "s/t" LP
For a great example of a local store turning into a local label and pridefully churning out some great modern and reissue product look no further than Pittsburgh's Mind Cure Records. Between their singles series and reissues of classic Pitt-core tapes - the Real Enemy LP from last year and this, a full on reissue of the 1985 demo from Savage Amused - along with just being one of the best record stores in the East, Mike Seamans and his support team are doing what every town in the US should wish they had going for them. So, if you want to watch a great short doc/video about Savage Amused from guys who actually know what they're talking about, go here. My brief synopsis: Savage Amused only existed for 8 months, but are still revered in Pittsburgh, one of those early hardcore bands that burned fast and hard enough to make a lasting impact in a short yet important span of time. I think most cities have that legendary "demo only" band that never got their due, and Mind Cure are correcting that injustice for their local constituency. Musically, SA will recall Dead Kennedys and Naked Raygun, but the best description is 80s Midwest hardcore with a really really good guitar player (actually playerS, as the Bendik brothers switched between guitars and drums). There are moments that are very DRI-esque, a couple tunes almost sound like Really Red, sometimes there are steps towards a Germs/Samoans punk-style approach. The guitar playing definitely veers into unconventional (for the time) territory, with a technical/fast style that would later be typical of Japanese punk bands, in a solo-all-the-time sort of way. Vocally, Bill Morris looked like a younger (and more svelte) Jerry A and has a bit of a Jello-like warble. Bass player Alan Peters would later play in Agnostic Front and Absolution. "Tell Me Why" is the 100% punk hit, and there's plenty more to be excited about: "Death in SUburbia", "Whole World", "Let Me Be" and more would definitely be comp-able. Your liking of this depends on your vicinity to Pittsburgh and your penchant for post-KBD hardcore punk - if you're East Coast and and even slightly into the genre, this is all you. The packaging sells itself: another great looking blow-up of the actual tape art, and a huge fold-out newsprint insert with in-depth liner notes and photos/flyers. Impeccably done.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
Sex Scheme s/t 7" EP
I know nothing about this band, but including a copy of the Craigslist ad they posted stating: "shit band looking for beginner guitarist" of course has me interested. Positives: "just make the guitar sound like somebody dying". "No pedals please". Possible negative: Sex Scheme are apparently from Brooklyn and have a tumblr.. From the sound of things, I want to say this has something to do with Mountain Cult. Very very loose NYC-blues-scum rock with slurred-to-the-max vocals that are drunkenly howled at times as well. "Dog Slut" shows that they did apparently find a guitar player from the ad, and there are no pedals in evidence. A Gories-like beat, a bass player who can actually play, a harmonica break, random bits of guitar, with the vocals smeared all over it. I think the harmonica part signifies the beginning of "Feel Me", which ends abruptly. "Eat It" repeats the drumbeat from "Dog Slut" I think, but with a more sinister bassline, some very nice unlearned (or never learned) guitar playing and the most subtle vocal (which means it's like an 11 on a scale of 10, compared to the 15 score I would give the A-Side vox) and starts getting very much likeable. "Mexico City" is scum-jazz or jizz-blues or something else degenerate sounding with more hobo-vocals and another cut-off ending. Musically, I like where their heads are at, but your enjoyment of this hinges entirely on how much of the vocals you can take (and I'm not sure how much I'm in yet). It's pretty hamfisted stuff to go along with the imagery and bondage themes, which don't bother me, but I'm sure will raise the hackles of many bloggers out there. They do more with it than any mysterious guy hardcore band ever did at the least.(RK)
(Puppet Combo Records // sexscheme.bandcamp.com)
Sick Thoughts "I Got Hands" 7"
I've heard a few of this kid's records before, and I will give him all the credit in the world for being as dialed-in to cool shit as he is for a high school kid, getting records out, playing shows on non-school nights and all that. I understand this all, and hey, I love teenage punk junk more than most. Jay Reatard gave Goner/Eric his first demo when he was probably around the same age (maybe even younger), which is the go-to comparison for Sick Thoughts - I guess maybe the difference is Jay was doing wild degenerated garage-punk he came up with from hearing Oblivians and punk tapes he bought at the mall. Drew Owen is playing Reatards-infused punk informed by the wealth of info the internet bestows upon us. And actual Reatards records. There's something less magical about that, and I felt like the kid just aping Jay's moves too much on what I've heard previous (again, it's great a youngun is even doing this in the first place, I totally agree), right down to art and even his poses in pictures and shit. I'll stop riding this kid now, but he wasn't even doing the 'tard-style better than the Useless Eaters guy! I'm a dick, I know, this kid could and should care less what I think. This two-songer is better than most of his tracks I've already heard and are pretty well recorded in comparison, maybe sounds a bit like older solo Jay here but retaining the "Your So Lewd"-style lyrical content (beating off, blowjobs, hate). It's decent but nothing I'd say you need to hear yet. I'm sure this kid is gonna knock one out of the park someday, just not on this one. It doesn't help that he keeps putting records out on Deadbeat (I'm sure he'll figure that one out soon), but at least this one is on some other label. Scum Stats: 150 on orange, 100 on pink. I remember when pink vinyl used to make me immediately dislike the record. My thoughts haven't changed much.(RK)
(Hidden Volume // www.hiddenvolume.com)
Sick Thoughts "Hate You So" 7"
Both A-Side tracks seems to have been pulled from sort of Reatards song generator engine that this kid must have created. 100% tribute act, right down to aping Jay's vocal delivery. "You Just Lie" is more "Grown Up, Fucked Up" and the better cut, and "Hate You So" is 'Teenage Hate' gone bad (not in a good way). B-Side is Necros cover (should've done The Embarrassment instead, probably a better song for the style) and "Let Myself Think" is the best song on this, that combines both eras of The Reatards into one song (it's got a blues-derived TH verse and poppier GUFU chorus). Still not on board with this. I do give him credit for being a cool kid, etc, etc...Scum stats: 300 blue, 100 red.(RK)
(Zaxxon Records // zaxxon.ca)
Sick Thoughts "I'm Gonna Be Your Dog" 7"
One more from Drew Owen, and yes it's a cover/rework of The Stooges song via the Reatards. At least he changes it up a little bit, if you can call channeling Jay changing something up. Luckily, other than that stinker, this is probably his best record, as it sounds the least like Reatards. The other Side 1 tune ("What Can I Say?") is degenerated teenage Southern Rock, maybe the trashiest Skynyrd tribute ever. Side 2 has a pair of tunes where his vocals are way up front in the mix, which is loud and blown anyway, but it at least gives it something texturally unique. "Something For You" is a jerky punker with a good sense of pop construction underneath the trashcan lid. "Saw You In The Street" is THEE song though, with a really weird off-balance rhythm, going a bit in a Gary Wrong direction, with some shit-fi keyboard action, split personality vocals and a really obnoxious and almost carnival-like delivery of the hook. I like the NA-NA-NA-NA lazy lyrics too. Finally, I get say some good things about this kid's music...Scum stats: clear and black vinyl versions, 300 total copies, two different sleeves, one of which seems like it might have been designed in hopes of being put on a Total Punk stamper...(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com)
Sulphur Lights "Cowboy" 7"
Sophomore release from Brisbane's Sulphur Lights. "Cowboy" might be a bit obvious with its twang and stomp garage-punk hoedowning that owes a bit to the Childish school of songwriting - yammering vox, rough-n-tumble playing. The B-Side has more to offer than the A-Side gimmick, with "Nothing" being a bit of wildman punk mudhole-stomping that seems to fit them better and "Beat You Up" bringing the theme of many Rip Off Records (a la the Loli & The Chones template of songs about either hating you or beating you up) into modern day Australia - the NGL aesthetic meets budget rock or something of that ilk - a song so haphazardly constructed it breaks down halfway through where only an inspired "1-2-3-4!" can get it back on track. More inspiring than their debut, and the B-Side being more inspiring than the A.(RK)
(self-released // distro in the US via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
TBC "Musik I Plast" 7" EP
Reissue of an obscure 1978 Swedish punk EP from Mr. Ken Rock, one of the longest-running peddlers of the finest trash I know of. This guy's been at it since the mid-Nineties and has always been one of the most reliable sources of real deal punk/rock/garage, not just from Sweden (which he does specialize in) but from all over the world. He's been dabbling in the reissue game recently (as just about everyone else has...) as RE-Ken Records, and I had never heard of TBC until this review copy came in. It's super cool 1978 punk-ola with some rock'n'roll spirit still alive in it. The missing link between the Groovies, Little Bob Story, The Pack and PF Commando. All the lyrics are in Swedish, but I like this record enough that I did some lazy translation - title cut ("Music In Plastic") is 100% KBD-worthy, with smokin' harmonica throughout, maybe like a rockier Filth (the Plurex band) or the Belgian Chainsaw. Super hot solo action and the simple and slightly rough attack just pushes it over the edge into greatness. This track is so good it has to have been comped somewhere, right? B-Side has two more of almost equal quality. One is of course about a chick (something about a "boring girl"), and it again has killer harmonica wail for the duration (this guy might be the finest punk harmonica player of all time), drummer really steps out on this one (with a cymbal solo of sorts as well) and it's quite pub rocky overall. The closer is "Logn Logn Logn" (which might be a curse word?) and it's the sleaziest of the tracks - something a bit Stones-y, but also really punky too, probably the breakup/down chorus part, and I'll say it one last time: this guy is one of the best rock harmonica players ever, right up there with Magic Dick. A really great KBD-era reissue here, so good that I'll overlook my usual No Foreign Junk stance. Scum stats: white and black vinyl versions, Mr. Ken Rock was very vague with the scum stats this time around, which probably means there's less than you think.(RK)
(Ken Rock Records // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com)
Terrible Twos "Horror Vacui" LP
Coming from a scene as rich as Detroit's is both a blessing and a curse. Having a great group of bands and labels to associate with always helps, and the Twos have released records on X!, Cass, Italy and Urinal Cake and toured with numerous motor city brethren/labelmates. The bad part is, I feel like they've always had to play second fiddle to Human Eye (and whatever else Timmy is doing), post-Piranhas Jimbo Easter bands, now Protomartyr, etc...Not that its stopped Chris Campbell and Craig Brown (who does double duty in Liqour Store as well, which means countless blogs/etc refer to TT's as his "other band") from releasing records at a steady pace since 2005. I've seen this band play their hearts out on opening slots of fests to sparse crowds and blow headliners out of the water, with the caveat being it was me and ten other people watching while everyone else showed up on punk time and/or sat at the bar. I feel like if these guys were from any other town, odds are pretty damn good they'd be the best band in that burg and probably get a bit more deserved attention in the big fish/little pond sense. Regardless, this is only their second LP (I had to fact check that - I felt like this was the third) over almost ten years as a band, wedged amongst at least 7-8 singles (which were comped on a cassette semi-recently, and which I think stands as their best release). I realizied they hadn't really released much over the past few years (some splits, the tape comp) which goes back to my previous point - I felt like they had released more stuff recently, but I guess I was just taking it for granted they were there. They do frantic synth-punk as well as anyone and tracks like "A Special Time" distill the past decade of underground sounds concisely - dark edged yet still hooky, lightning fast playing and corner turning, synth-punk with the emphasis on punk. I've described them as a lot of things over numerous reviews - "You Can't Have My Chips" is an extension of the sound Lost Sounds gave the world, a perfect blend of guitars and synth, both side openers incorporate the space-rock/sci-fi of Human Eye, sometimes they come across as the heirs to early Pirnahas chop-chop punk, sometimes the full-on splatter-punk of Clone Defects. This is a solid record from a solid band, a consistently good band who sometime flirt with greatness. I find myself wishing there were a few tracks shaved off (but I think that about most LPs, to be fair...), but a band as fast as this needs to pad out the run time a bit I suppose. I always feel like the best TT's experience is live, but this is pretty close. And go snag that singles comp tape if you haven't yet.(RK)
(Urinal Cake // www.urinalcakerecords.com)
The Terrorists "Crazy Life" 7"
Band authorized reissue of The Terrorists, a virtually unknown '82 KBD punker from the same Bakersfield, CA scene as The Lizerds. The story: band pressed 110 copies of the record, sold a dozen, gave a few more away then destroyed the rest. It's never been comped and the last copy sold online went for $700+, so if you consider rarity an important factor, this one's a real winner on that front. The fella at Going Underground is obviously a big fan (and he did the wise thing and waited until he had an OG before reissuing it) and I can't blame him for rooting for the home team. "Crazy Life" fits all the criteria for a good KBD tune - unhinged lyrics, inept playing, shitty guitar sound, shittier drum machine sound. I agree with saying it sounds similar to the Endtables (musically not vocally) and is certainly more on the wavey/proto side of the punk fence. Like a less artastic Ohio band (Devo, Ubu, Huey) maybe. Instead of the original B-Side ("Cry Girl Cry" supposedly a totally shitty New Wave number) GU put a live version of "Crazy Life" on the flip instead. It's no too different from the studio version, sounds great for a live recording, but it's not that energetic for a live cut from a band in their prime. At least the banter proves the fact that the single actually existed. Now I really want to hear how bad "Cry Girl Cry" is...Scum stats: 300 on black, 100 on red.(RL)
(Going Underground // www.goingundergroundrecords.net)
Trio Banana "Colors in the Black" 7"
Man, Italy has just not been a real hotbed of great modern bands in the slightest. Not sure what it is, but shit, if it weren't for The Grabbies I'd call the past decade almost a total wash. Trio Banana have saddled themselves with a bad name, bad pseudonymns (Doctor Dead?!) but try to make a go of it by playing some psyched-up garage rock. The recording is pretty rough, which helps their cause, but both the B-Side tunes are reverb-soaked Black Lips/Demon's Claws retreads - the playing is ok, but the vox are not. "Colors in the Black" is a side-long plodder that I think has them trying some sort of indie-rock SY or Spacemen 3 inflected thing? Or is it supposed to sound like grunge? Not sure. You can probably pass on this one. Scum stats: 250 copies. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy-at-tin.it)
The Tunes "Love Uncool" LP
The Tunes 7" is a record that powerpop fiends (Midwest chapter particularly) have paid $100+ for, which means they absolutely deserve to have a collection LP released right? Well, I guess so if you're into the absolute wimpiest of pop-wimpdom. With organ. Not my genre of choice. In all fairness, I do think "Crowded Heart" and "Too Proud" from the single are fine examples of the genre ("prairie pop"?) and it turns out the unreleased 4 track recordings aren't half bad either. Better than not-half-bad actually, of course I'm attracted to the lower-fi and looser sound on these cuts, and the vocals are less annoying here. Shit, "New Freedom" might actually classify as a little bit punk and "I Don't Wanna See" uses handclaps, gang shout and a mighty fine guitar solo to great effect. I'd also like to bring up that these "demos" thankfully omit the organ as far as I can tell. I definitely had a lot of prejudices going into this: my dislike of power-pop wimpery, my dislike of organ playing, I think "Elevator" is just a bad song (which I guess is their "hit", but the vocals make me want to kill someone) and I think the artwork is again an issue here (the slicked up Tunes logo from the 7" looked a lot cooler in it's original form). Coming out of multiple spins, I have to admit the six unreleased cuts are very worthy of release (and I'm not enough of a powerpop fan to know better, so I will uneducatedly say they are better than the 7" tracks) and I do like their Mersey-influenced/Titan Records-esque sounds as much as my black heart will allow me. Not bad for Topeka in 1982. Very brief liners on the back sleeve (which might just be a plus here, as there can't be too much to say about these guys) and the vintage snapshots and press clippings in the background might have made for a nice printed inner sleeve, but I'm just armchair record designing like a dickhead here. Scum stats: 500 copies, 100 on yellow and comes with a Tunes bumper sticker. (RK)
(Cheap Rewards // www.cheaprewardsrecords.com)
TV Freaks "Two" LP
Second LP from Welland's finest export released on the always classy Schizophrenic Records ("Inspiration Krumins" warms my heart every time I see it on one of their releases) out of Steeltown, Canada (aka The Hammer!). As much as I like talking Canadian geography, I like talking Canadian punk more. It's been a pleasure to hear these kids evolve from the teenage Rip Offery of Rocket Reducers (yet another band felled by the Deadbeat Records kiss of death) to where they are with TV Freaks now a few years and a few records into their run. "Two" shows a marked improvement in the songwriting department, adopting some of the TO-style hardcore-punk moves of Career Suicide (and a little bit of early Fucked Up as well), adding some Texas-styled Midwest hardcore appropriation of Wiccans and Video and a bit of the weird Detroit of Terrible Twos/X Records sans the keys. "Game" is an absolute punk crusher, "Pusher" does good with bad vibes and the closing triplet of tunes has them sounding as savage as I've ever heard them and shows they can stand tall with their American peers. Everything has improved here, from the vocals (and delivery) to the guitar playing, the best recording job I've heard from them and even aesthetically they get it very right - this collage stuff is the best looking of all their releases, the insert looks beautiful (linocut?) and it all has an effective simplicity (including all one word song titles) that gives their entire aesthetic some maturity on this outing. I felt like none of their previous records were all the way there, but this is one where people should start getting on the bus. Well done. Scum stats: 1000 copies (! - a confident number though, I hope it works) with a special edition of 100 on clear with silkscreened sleeves I'm looking for...(RK)
(Schizophrenic Records // schizophrenicrex.com)
The Unholy Two “Talk About Hardcore” LP
A few years back, everyone around this board was riding high on the noise-over-punk trip. You had the Mayyors, the Puffys, the Drunk Drivers, those Pigeon Religion rascals, Sir Francis Harold and even a Brainbombs restart. There were hundreds of lesser quality acts as well, and that’s not even counting the bumper crop of hardcore ne’er-do-wells who purged their shitty Revelation records and start collecting Broken Flag stuff instead. I gladly went along with this shrill ride for quite some time, but when the end of the day came ah-callin’ most of these new releases blurred into an unidentifiable froth that my tinnitus damaged ears found nearly indistinguishable. A nice palette cleanse for all the saccharine soured tunesmiths that were also sprouting up, true…but most of these wacky scree-filled recordings found themselves tossed into the “to sell” pile.
After the blood puddles were mopped and the dried puke had been scrapped away, one true warrior tribe cut a path through this dense field of attempted sonic hostility: The Unholy Two. A mutant spew machine that could give fuck-all about serious technique. The Two hammered out damage with an unbridled ferocity that most listeners couldn’t/won’t understand. Their bare bones, battering ram and slop-slinging approach won me over immediately (evidently Tom Shannon as well) and to this day '$kum Of The Earth' has been my go-to, room clearing pick for when shit gets to be unbearable. As quickly as they rose to the top of the heap, they retreated just as fast. I can only imagine the members having to lie low after the ruckus stirred locally, and all involved went back to working boring day jobs (roadside accident clean up? hazmat removal?) instead. So here they are, after two years in exile due to their crimes against the squares…and good golly, do The Two deliver. 'Talk About Hardcore' is wrassle-rock perfection, served up in a tightly wound stream of conscious pummel, crumpled feedback and the scrape of worn strings along failing gear. Ugly notes birth unrelenting solos. Gutter perversion leads to whammy wankery, exposing itself at the most inappropriate times. Think of it as a piece of aural hate mail, served up in an unsealed anthrax riddled/angel dusted envelope and thrown abruptly into your rosy, unsuspecting (undeserving) face. “Redskins” gorillas about as if Monty Buckles fired up dueling Lamps combos and sent their guitars squawking about like geese in heat. “OKC1995” and “Corrupt” are the sound of Ondras-era Unsane coming dangerously unglued. Not a spacey free-jazz, but a deep middle earth ooze. These tracks aren’t just a threatening act, but ones that jump off the ropes and gnaw the naysayer’s nose flesh to the bone. When they do allow things to slow down (like “Muta Scale”) it becomes a lurching, sickly creep that’s way more terrifying than anything those new black metal jokesters could muster. Cake icing comes in the form of a Non cover. Their “Total War” take, filled with dive bombing tone warp and industrial ping would pair nicely with that Walls SPK cover a few years back. (Now that’s a record store day split single I’d stand in line for!) Thank you, Ohio for once again sharing your warmth. The Unholy Two is a gift that keeps on giving. Granted, this gift is like a soiled shipping carton full of hog offal and the severed heads of dead rodents…but I accept with gratitude every time. (RSF)
(12XU // www.12xu.net)
UV Race "Demos Bootleg" 7"
Bootreg of early UV material, according to the band it's stuff they were "fuckin' around with" before the first LP. I don't recall hearing this anywhere before, it's not on the early cassette they self-released...who knows how the Carpet Doctor got his hands on it. Inside job? I think it's great, but this is one of my favorite modern bands. And it literally is them "Fuckin' Around" as the lyrics Marcus' seems to be ad-libbing to the song of that name go, which is actually a killer tune - super loose DIY vibes, sliding guitars, harmonica jammin' - it's a real driver. "6 Is the Sun" is a freewheeling practice space guitar jam, "Where We Will Go" is a broken tune they seems to have a little trouble working out, "It Feels Like A Dagger" sounds quite British to me, like a mangled TVPs song. Warts and all stuff that I enjoy to hear from my favorites, but might not like so much if I didn't love these kids already...but I think anyone into sloppy punk will dig "Fuckin' Around". This could have been the first UV Race record without Big Poppa's liner notes, but Carpet Doc slipped a little insert in with Marcus' take on bootlegging...Scum stats: who knows?! I'd just buy copies on sight if I was you. Once their next film blows the critics away at Cannes, you'll be sitting on a goldmine... (RK)
(Carpet Doctor Records // try Goner?!)
Uzi Rash “Coreless Roll Can-Liner” 12”
Ubu and the Fall meet in a parade-filled alley, hallucinatory marching-line punk from the state of California. Frantic and trebly, with the occasional childrens’ synthesizer, it sounds vaguely French, in a way. Reminiscient of Le Shok at times, in a fairly obtuse way. On this record in particular, the Rash sound like they’d be at home with the skronk-friendly Scottish waves of the late 90s. “Clogged Drains” was stuck in my head for five hours after first play. Favorite work I’ve heard from UR so far, and a hot bonus for rampant use of Helvetica and rogue asterisk on the layout. The trash can collage is great stuff, and bizarrely fitting. (NG)
(1-2-3-4 Go! Records // www.1234gorecords.com)
V/A Guinea Worms/The In Out split 7"
"The Credit Cards Lied" (preferably named "The Credit Card Slide" on the labels) is a tune that has me remembering when the Guinea Worms were a legendary band among us here in Buffalo due to some CDRs brought back from a road trip to Columbus by the Blowtops and tales of incredible live shows which made us call them the best band without a recos out...). Some great singles followed and then some LPs that I never got comfortable with. I don't know why, but hey, could just be me being a fickle cocksucker. Anyway, this song rips, a jaunty rocker of Ohioan garage-punk with a catchy nearly sing-song lyric slide and beat with plenty of static and shredded guitar. Maybe I only like them in small bursts? I dunno, but now I feel like trying those LPs on again and will pull the total dickmove of saying I wish this song wasn't buried on a split single. The In Out are from Boston, and do an American post-punk-garage thing. Not a bad tune, I think it sounds like The Intelligence (I feel like I say that about a lot of bands, which either means I listen to The Intelligence too much or Lars is really covering a lot of bases).(RK)
(Botulism Music // willfosterhaze-at-gmail.com)
V/A "Neu Ist Zeit - Augsburg 1979-84" compilation LP
There are obscure punk rock reissues, and then there's this LP which documents the scene from Augsburg, Germany (Bavaria) from the years of 1979 to 1984. It's always thrilling to see labors of love such as this come to fruition, the sort of record that is essentially willed into existence by the dedication of one person and their love of the music contained on it. Four years in the making, "Neu Ist Zeit" (Time is new? Now is the time?) is 14 tracks from 8 different bands often sharing some of the same member lineage, and showing the progression of an isolated scene from the beginning of punk to all the things it would then become. Most of this is essentially unreleased, with some tracks having appeared on obscure and limited regional cassettes at the time, some on (perhaps unofficial) CD-R reissues a decade ago, with the one exception being Pervers, a DIY girl-punk outfit who were the only band in the region to release a 7" (which was good enough to be hyped by The Kuge on his DIY list), which is also of course hurtfully rare. Side 1 is the birth of the Ausburg punk, with Stalinorgel who began in 1976, and their two live tracks (of good sound quality) from a concert in a gymnasium (and they even sound a little Velvets-y!) are excellent Euro-punk for the time a la Big Balls or Ivy Green. Ameisensaure pop up for a brief track recorded in 1980 ("Nazipack") which is the rawest and most aggro bit, sitting between KBD and anarcho-punk. They morphed into Kalt, whose proto-industrial sound (bass, scrap metal and cheap synth) from a demo recorded in 1981 is pretty bleak sounding for the time. Two songs from the Pervers 7" are included, which are the original mixes (as the studio engineers added to reverb to the songs on the 7" that the band did not approve of) of "Asozial" (a tribal clanger in a Slits-esque mold) and their hit "Kostenpreis 1.50" which is a wonderful slice of DIY-post-punk from '84, with a completely blown sounding organ/feedback hum and a locked-in bass/drum rhythm. I wouldn't mind seeing a reissue of their 7", as the story one of the girls tells in the liners of how difficult it was to be a female punk in a small village at the time is certainly inspirational. Der Zustand bridge sides 1 and 2, the evolution of Kalt into experimental art-rock in 1983 where things start getting very interesting. One track is Code BMUS-like percussion cling-clang, another is an excellent No Wave vs. free jazz jam out that is rubbery and reverbed to hell with loose sax playing and one cut of synth-punk that veers towards Devo territory. The remainder of the record is from 1982-84, six tracks from three bands: Fog who were part of the Kalt family tree, and whose two tracks show they were beginning to get releases from labels like Subterranean and Ralph Records ("Vier Reiter" is a Moroder-esque triumph); the minimal synth of Schatten Unter Eis (who sing in English); and one track from Kurzschluss, also in English, and some sort of bizarre hybrid of New Wave, Industrial and the Doctor Who theme song. Absolutely fascinating, and notable that the post-punk stuff is the most remarkable music here (although the Stalinorgel stuff is great too), this one should appeal to all the weirdos out there, dumb punks need not apply. It's almost eerie to hear the evolution of such a small scene - all these guys were the only punks in town, doing the only punk zine, playing shows in school halls and small villages, maybe releasing a tape, with the bands often never even leaving the practice space. The booklet has fantastic liner notes from the "curator" of the release and some band members, with photos, fliers and ephemera as well (also included on the back cover). Wonderfully obsucre and the biographical story it tells is thrilling to experience. It's releases like this that restore my faith in the world. Scum stats: 200 copies, paste-on DIY jackets have one of nine different photos on the painted front covers.(RK)
(Randstock // topatsch-at-yahoo.de)
V/A Nice Guys/Miami Doritos split 7"
I was going to throw this in the Garbage Can pile until I realized none other than THE KLYAM himself was involved in this.
Not sure if he's even in one of these bands. I'm not even sure if the Klyam is one person anymore but a collective soul force. Miami Doritos are actually pretty good, lo-fi scratchy garage-punk that's better than you think. "Price 2 Pay" is better than a song using a number instead of a word has any right being, not a mind blower mind you, but they seem to have the right idea. Real squealy guitar and some good rocking parts. "Rush Hour/Piss Take" comes off like a semi-blownout and less proficient Ty Segall tune, the "Piss Take" part has a good low-end hum, the vox get a little wacky and they start losing things towards the end which kind of helps. Fucking Miami Doritos, jesus that name is so terrible I kinda like it. Nice Guys have the same lo-fi recording and squealy guitar parts, I swear to god it kind of sounds like a super lo-fi Queens of the Stone Age for a moment or two, maybe a little Moonhearts-esque too. They really bang it out though, nice almost surf guitar runout. This might be the same band for all I know. "Medical Envy" is the closest to the Black Lips this record gets, it's got a big riff intro and then turns into a dum-dum punker with lotso fuzzing and frying. Holy shit, I can not believe I like this, but we all know The Klyam works in mysterious ways. Scum stats: 250 copies.(RK)
(Klyam Records // klyam.bigcartel.com)
V/A "Philadelphia Cock'n'Roll Showcase" LP
How can you have a cock'n'roll showcase in Philly without Watery Love? I kid. At least you have the Pussy Dogs here, who are the one band out of the four I'm familiar with. Here, the P-Dogs do more of their semi-incompetent Devil Dogs-via-Rip Off Records rockin' that actually comes across as a kinder and gentler Spider Babies a bit. "Baby (Baby Baby Baby)" is a blabbermouthed punker and "Come On Over" might be the most charmingly inept of their four tunes. Tight Spots share this side, a two-piece guy-girl combo playing the same style of garage-punk, the girl's a really good drummer, but the tunes are fairly run of the mill stuff, with "Night of Puke and Fire" being the best song title. The Eeries are the most competent band on this record, a three-piece playing some quite decent traditional garage-beat with Fifties overtones- the only thing I don't get is this has to be a girl singing some of these songs, but the line-up card states it's three dudes. Who knows. "Only One Thing" is the kind of song that would've got them a single on Get Hip fifteen years ago and "I Won't Ask" is a teenbeat hit. The Shakes seem to be going for the rock'n'soul thing with a some testifying gal vox and a terrible Wurlitzer organ sound on "Brightly". Seriously, that organ is awful. Then they do a garage-punker, a gal-beat pumper and bring that shit organ back for the last tune. A surprising lack of cock rock in any form here, I was expecting some really raunchy rawk or at least some offensive material - in reality this is just offensively dull.(RK)
(Piss Drink Records // www.pissdrinkrecords.com)
V/A Sashcloth & Axes / Terminal A split 7"
I thought the last S&A 7" had some potential in a neo-goth kinda way (even if the googly eyes glued on the sleeve ruined the effect). "Girls in Black" is New Wave with a dark edge, with some keyboard schmaltz and a pretty good digital beat, vox are a bit overwrought at times. Reminds me a bit of a less self-conscious Pink Noise, and this tune is a bit more impressive knowing it's the work of one guy. Still not sold totally, but it's got potential. Terminal A I've never heard before, but I like their artwork a lot going in...it's more New Wave goth, but these guys (a duo) take a more interesting direction on their side. Clicky digital beat, some really compressed sounding ringing guitar that rubs up against a minimal synth line, there's some weird bongo/percussion elements that pop up occassionally and are mixed in weirder/louder - good nod-out/breakdown part and the vox on this one are just emotive enough where it doesn't sound too contrived - just a very enjoyably melodramatic goth performance that adds emotion without detracting from the coolness. I dig this track a lot. Scum stats: there's a 60 copy limited edition in pleather(!) slipcases that sound interesting, plus 240 regular copies, with insert and a mini-poster/band portrait that I would have rather not seen. These guys look too normal.(RK)
(Kiss Kiss Records // deathbyboredumb.bigcartel.com)
V/A "Bloodstains Across Buffalo" LP
You know I'm geographically inclined to be all in on this LP, but I think this comp has a lot to offer for even non-WNY natives. Also, being the first city-specific Bloodstains installment, it's pretty strong and hopefully kicks off some similar action in other cities where the next generation are getting into the KBD phenomenon. As much as I'm sure many think the "genre" is tired, I'll be a sucker for 78-83 obscurities for life. The stuff here some of you might have heard: Jumpers, Enemies (an LP cut), Fems, Vores, New Toys, Secret Savior, Aunt Helen (and sure some of these have been comped before, but what would a Buffalo punk comp be without 'em..). The stuff you haven't heard that you need to hear: The Stains (yes, I believe every city was required to have a band called The Stains) which is a good girl-waver (featuring pre-10,000 Maniacs members!), Mickey Mamp (not my personal fave, but a real obscure weird popper for those inclined), Parousia (which is basically a fake punk song made by a prog rock band, including hambone title "Miss Ogyny"), Electro-Man (which it pains me to say is a real ripper, because this guy released a shitload of garbage during his time, but this one stands tall as a 1980 weird-punker even if it's a bit fruity) and The Good (Bernard Kugel of Big Star zine fame fronting one of the cities finest powerpop/garage outfits). The best song is saved for last, the song I think might be the single best punk tune to come from first wave Buffalo punk, "The TV Made Me Do It (Blame it on the Quasar)". Lip Service were a punk cover band who had a residency at the local "New Wave" club and were regarded as one of city's tightest bands of the era. This is their sole original, here in its only recorded version from a practice tape (which sounds great) and it's perfect 1979 punkola. A song so good The Enemies bought the rights to it for a future record that never was to be. A well rounded comp of punk and powerpop that I'm thrilled exists, and like I said - here's hoping some more regional efforts are inspired by this one.(RK)
(Extra Evidence Productions // check your local distros)
V/A Curtis Seals/Christian D'Orbit split 7"
I have to admit the second I opened a box and saw this record was the best moment of that week. "The Scandalizer" should need no introduction for Penetrators fans. Curtis Seals' fantastic 50's soul blaster is one of the high points from the "Kings of Basement Rock', a record that is full of high points and quite possibly the best party record ever. I honestly wish there was an entire Curtis Seals LP. "Drive Me Crazy" is nearly as essential, supposedly The Penetrators with a gal singing and one of the best singalong choruses on the LP - Yeeeeeeeeah Yeaaaaaaaah Yeeeaaaaaah - superbly snotty and slightly obnoxious and completely endearing. This was the only "non-Penetrators" release on Fred Records and even though these tracks are included on the LP, I say this is a must have regardless. Totally essential party platter. (RK)
(Windian Records // www.windianrecords.com)
V/A "Stuffs Vol. 2" LP
The compilation game is a tough one these days. It takes a lot of effort to make a good one for often very little return. CMA out of Norway made a pretty good one in "Stuffs Vol. 1", but the fact is that not many probably heard it and that I haven't spun my copy since reviewing it says a lot. Admirably, they're back again with Vol. 2, which has a wonderful line-up of international weird punkers, many of whom have some name recognition (Dan Melchior, Sunny & The Sunsets, Cosmonauts, Bazooka) mixed in with a few unkowns. I'll go over the highlights instead of a tiring track-by-track analysis (even though I love doing that shit...the sacrifices I make). The Pierre & Bastien song that opens the comp is a stone killer, De Hoje Haele do a good weird-pop number and The Cosmonauts track isn't too shabby for West Coast neo-psych. Side B has the bulk of the meat though, Soupcans open with a real good rubbery beater, the Kraesj Normal track is outtasite and sounds like a girl-fronted Cheveu almost (is this just Crash Normal?), Plasto Beton do a good yet brief synth-blaster, NASA Space Universe contribute "ACBC" and live up to their rep as one of the best bands in hardcore right now and the Offonoff track to end is a pretty decent noisescape. The only thing messing up side B is a duff cut from Bazooka (go figure) and Side A is all choice except for a real dopey Sunny & The Sunsets tune. As good a comp as you're gonna get these days, and the French really kill it on this one. Classy packaging as well.(RK)
(Compost Modern Art // cmarecordings.com)
Vexx s/t 12" EP
Holy shit is this an impressive debut. A ballsy move going right to 12" with no single or even a demo tape preceding it, but Vexx pull it off. They're from Olympia, ex-members of HPP, two dudes on the stringed instruments and two gals on drums and vox. Maryjane is the singer's name, and she is not fucking around. The band itself is very good-n-tight musically, but her performance really takes it a few rungs up the ladder. Super tough but still feminine and she belts it out with some actual singing, not the old screech-n-scream approach many take. Sometimes Olympia bands come off a little too weird-for-weird's sake for me, but there's no nonsense here, and yet they still have enough of the Olympian vibe to leave a mark - the Captain Tripps recording and classy looking hand drawn sleeve/insert are certainly regionally identifiable. So, let me start trying to describe this band - I'll tell you right now they are far better than whatever I'm going to come up with. First and foremost they are a rock'n'roll band, with some Los Angeles punk vibes a la Avengers and the darkest/rockest of early X, with a dose of PacNW guitar drive and wander ala Sage/Wipers (with a stop in the later SST catalog) and add to this pretty reverent influence of Sixties/Seventies hard rock. "Strength" is a fucking show stopper, mid-tempo biker rock death with a tough as nails vocal performance and guitar solo. So sick. "Don't Talk About It" is female-fronted Flag, "Spirit/Constraint" is Rollins Band with a sexier singer, "Stress" will get them over even more with the hardcore crowd, "Clairvoyant" burns dark...eight songs, six of which absolute killers. They end with a minute and a half of facemelt called "Roky, Take Me Home" the title of which alone wins me over. I should add the lyrics are pretty good here as well. An unexpected killer. This and the Pang 7" are the two Grazer releases to get. Scum stats: 500 total with 100 on "milky clear".(RK)
(Grazer Records // grazerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Watery Love "Sick People" 7"
Teaser single for the hotly anticipated Watery Love LP on ITR. I'm a fan of cover records in general, but I feel like the ladies and gents in Watery Love go above and beyond here. Where many bands feel like they need to cover some obscure band to flex their record collection or do ironic versions of pop songs, WL just do what should be done in these cases: cover bands/songs that actually mean something to you and your band. There's nothing cute here, just stone cold version of two stone cold classics: Breakdown's "Sick People" and The Ramones' "I Don't Care", two songs that seem to succinctly sum up the form and purpose of this band to date. For those of you out there who don't own a copy of 'New York Hardcore: The Way It Is' (shame on you) the motivational message of "Sick People" is basically the couplet "I've gotta rid myself of liars and cheaters - and anyone in my way is gonna get bashed". Words to live by. WL distill the original's rage into a cement chunk of a riff and a succint drum beat. "I Don't Care" is even better, and if it's possible to boil a Ramones song down to its basic elements (even moreso than The Ramones themselves), WL do it and I don't think I've ever heard anyone mutter the words "I Don't Care" with more conviction than Richie Charles does on this record. Scum stats: first 200 on green splatter. (RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Watery Love "Decorative Feeding" LP
Was anyone actually worried that this LP would be anything less than exceptional guitar rock from one of the few true Skull Music bands left? I'll admit, after playing the shit out of their "Debut EP" years ago, I might not have envisioned this band being where they are now - I thought it might be a one and done affair, maybe stretching a second EP out of it. But somehow the band instead became stronger with each release (three of them previous to this, four if you include the single released in conjunction with this LP), and maybe that first record wasn't so much a lark as it was the beginning of a deliberate course of action more thought out than outsiders might have guessed. I'm doing too much theorizing about this already - Watery Love is a band of action, of primal instinct. Like all of the greatest rock bands (Sex Pistols, Stooges, Brainbombs) the base building block is a reverence for the riff. And something should be said of the fact this record is on In the Red - not where I'd imagined them heading at the beginning either, but in their current state they have more to do with catalog mates like Cheater Slicks or Lamps than anyone else. I was thinking about the drums on this record - so simple yet so effective, much like the band as a whole. They're simply banged as hard as possible, but not in a can't-play Peg from the Gories style, but in a brutally succint manner - who needs fancy rolls or fills - the bass playing lurks like a shadow - you know it's there, doing it's job just like the drums, adding a necessary part ot the whole without taking too much focus either. That focus is reserved for the twin guitar offensive mounted by Richie Charles and Max Milgram, the duo serving up the riffs and rhythm with brutal honesty. Honesty that makes the Cheater Slicks comparison ring true - explorations of the human condition via six-string emotiveness. Charles' vocal style is innovative, a combination of conversational tone and berating shout. Self-deprecating at times, judgemental at others, it's a fearless and disguise-free face to the skull. They revisit "I'm A Skull", giving it a good shave to make the cleaner cut, with an extended riff section before the solo adding more tension. "Piece of Piss" will haunt your dreams. "Dose the Host" feels like the Brainbombs love of the riff and the Cheater Slicks flair for extended jamming fused together into one supreme misanthropic being. "Face the Door" closes as an audacious statement and reflection on death and dying in the modern world. This song is all you'll need as the darkness smothers you. A beautiful and inspiring record all around. (RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
The Wet s/t 7" EP
I gotta admit, I kinda like these guys. Doing absolutely nothing new and adopting cornball nicknames (Mae Day, Kid Vicious, etc...), I'm not sure how much of this is a goof, or if any of it at all is, but "Let's Get Wet" is an entertaining female fronted Cramps pisstake - at least entertaining in its so-bad-it's-good intentions? Maybe I'm enjoying for the wrong reason, who knows. If it's supposed to be ridiculous, it succeeds. Mae Day has a great voice, and "Bad Habit" is the kind of female fronted Nineties garage-punk that Long Gone John adored. "Miss You" is a slow burner, that again, I enjoy because it seems like a parody of the form with clunkily obvious lyrics that Day delivers with plenty of "sass". Not sure if I'm interpreting their intentions correctly or not (is this sort of a goof or are they playing it straight? Have I just insulted them or am I picking up what they're putting down?), but either way this was fun for a few spins. I like the sleeve design and I think The Wet is a pretty funny name too.(RK)
(Tall Pat Records // tallpatrecords.bigcartel.com)
Wet Blankets "Deiter Caught My Bus" 7"
More from Geelong, with everyone on the bus - members of Ausmuteants, Living Eyes and Frowning Clouds. Two tunes packed on one side for maximum punkage. "Deiter..." is a pointed jab of garage-punk, rolling drums and bass whip up a good wake for the sharp guitar to play in - good twang and some frothy riffing too. Not bad at all, has sort of an aloofness that makes it endearing. "TV Suicide" utilizes rock riff 1B (the one from "Next Big Thing", "Get It On", etc..) but chops it up pretty good, removing some of the cock(iness) and adding some snottier punkness to it and they really run away from it at the outro. A promising outing, they have all the parts and just need to add the personality. Scum stats: 250 copies, three different sleeves, distro by Anti-Fade in Oz. (RK)
(Goodbye Boozy // goodbyeboozy-at-tin.it)
White Murder s/t LP
Los Angeles/Long Beach group with a few unremarkable singles under their belt already step to the 12" plate via the combined forces of Razorcake and Recess, two names that I'm sure will not impress many Termbo readers. I forget what other bands these guys were in (which says a bit about a band I've already reviewed a couple of times). Their gimmick is that they have two girls singing in unison and who are apparently the crazy-types who get all in-your-face in the live setting. It sounds good on a purely surface level, they both have the voice for it. The problem here is that the band itself doesn't have much as far as songs go. It's mostly plodding mid-tempo punk with some garage/beach styling, they're trotting out plenty of Dangerhouse/X ("double the Exene") namedrops and going for a real dark post-something style - I'd say post-punk but that's not even close. It's most interesting when they're going over moves PJ Harvey did (very well) twenty years ago, which isn't very interesting at all. I'm shocked by the realization that 'Dry' came out over twenty years ago, holy shit. Now that's a great record. This LP is entirely forgettable, although I bet they really pack 'em in on the SoCal live circuit. (RK)
(Razorcake/Recess // www.razorcake.org)
White Pages "Bam Bam EP" 7"
Latest EP from Cambridge's White Pages, fellow lovers of the squared circle who play agile hopped-up-on-goofballs garage-punk. Four tunes onone side of vinyl (which is a fine idea for short blasters like this), by far their most accomplished outing. Could be Estrogen Highs on copious amounts of speed, sometimes reminds me of a nicer and more proficient Loli & The Chones. Good mid-fi recording, the distressed vocals add some personality (sounds like a non-stop panic attack) as do the gal back-ups, bass playing is top notch and the thing you really latch on to. "No Hair No Flair" is their best song to date, a perfect garage-punk banger with a sick solo. Hey, I love Terry Gordy too guys!(RK)
(Cant Stand Ya! // cantstandya.storenvy.com)
The Wrong Man s/t 7"
Guitar and drums duo from Brisbane going after it pretty hard on this EP. Five songs that are all grit and shadow. The baritone vocals add some desperation/western kinda motif. "Atomic" is jittery and scratchy and prone to outbursts of noise, "Lay For Me" has a deadly riff he switches off and on perfectly and a one finger piano line, "Vindictimized" (yes I spelled it right) is straight up PG homage of sorts, super sleazy and swamped out blooze, but for a two piece they really nail it to the fucking wall. B-Side tacks on two more, very much in a blood on the tracks style, but this drummer is really hot shit, the guitar is just crafty enough where the riffs have just enough new blood pumped in them that they don't sound like they're just ripping it off - the vox might be a bit overly dramatic for some, but on the B-Side especially the tunes go well with the hamboning. There's a bit of 80s NYC sleaze to it all too, real throwback shit. Again, Swashbuckling Hobo releases a record better than they've been known for, which means their track record is improving enough that I'm not thinking of "Action Rawk" everytime I see their label now. Good on em. (RK)
(Swashbuckling Hobo // US distro via easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Yes Mistress "Drunk Again" 7"
Shoot It Up were one of my favorite bands of the 00's and without a doubt one of the most entertaining live spectacles of their time. To find out they called it quits (scuttling the release of their LP as well - which someone should still put out) really bummed me out. It was good to hear Joe was starting up a new band, but I'm still unsure what to make of Yes Mistress. That first 7" was not good and sounded more like US Bombs than anything. Thankfully, this one is a lot weirder (leave it to Ken Rock to get the goods out of him). "Drunk Again" might have you thinking otherwise at first, as it could almost pass for a Kid Rock tune, but I'm hoping the trumpet and terrible lyrics push it into parody. I dunno, maybe just skip that song. "Can't Make Me" is a buzzsaw punker that sounds like a way cleaner/tighter SIU. It's a very promising 90 seconds. B-Side starts with "Big Boy Pants" that has a good riff and some well placed synth/sound effects that reminds me some of his collaborations with Mr. California. It's a good tune, but I'm wishing it wasn't recorded as well as it is - some rough edges would go along way here. "Clothes Pins" is another punker - great guitar playing, some gang vox on the refrain, the best lyrics/concept of all the tunes here. There's some weird shit on here that I'm not sure are supposed to be weird or are just misfires, but the punkest parts are fitting of the kid who was in one of the punkest bands of the past decade. I'm actually looking forward to another record if it continues this improvement. Scum stats: 350 copies.(RK)
(Ken Rock // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com)
The Yolks "Kings of Awesome"LP
Five years after their debut LP The Yolks return with their sophomore full length, and it's a far better record on all fronts. Side A is all garage-poppers with a touch of soul, some swell slower numbers that are reminiscent of Ramones radio-pop simplicity, "Best Friend" is an acoustic popper that has a bit of a Dutchess & The Duke air about it, "I'm Going Down" is a great up-tempo number that would be even better if the lyrical innuendo wasn't a bit cornball - still fun stuff though. The Yolks switch instruments for the B-Side which is a nearly all-instrumental blues/soul/frat-rock blowout, heavy on the Booker T & The MGs vibes, Hammond by the truckload, copious amounts of handclapping, and a pretty intense version of "What'd I Say" that isn't far off spiritually from The Mummies doing Wailers covers - they're a good enough band that they actually make covering a standard sound good. Still killing me that I won't be able to see them live on their current tour, as I feel like seeing them in the flesh would be the ultimate Yolks experience. I'd let these guys play my party anytime. Scum stats: 100 on white vinyl - I dig the hand painted sign-style graphics too.(RK)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.bigcartel.com)
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