RECORD REVIEWS WINTER 2014-15
Key: (LB: Lance Boyle)(SB: Young Steve)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RK: Rich K.)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(NG: Nick Goode)
Aaron & The Burrs "Release the Bats!" 7"
You'll be surprised to know that Buffalo, NY has a huge surf scene...no, not really, but the guys in this band have enough energy for an entire scene though. They're so far down the foxhole that they're onto obscure Japanese outfits at this point. There's all kinds out there...Anyway, despite the (intentional?) Birthday Party reference, skullbat cartoon sleeve and two songs with bat in the title, there's nothing creepy, gothy or horror-themed musically. Two straight surf numbers, as pop as surf can get. No secret-agent twang, no Man or Astroman sci-fi angle, just traditional and ripping surf music. And get this: it was really produced by Geza X, that's not a joke.(RK)
(Feral Kid/Ut Records // www.feralkidrecords.com/www.utrecords.com)
The American Jobs "Carne Levare" LP
Not at all what I was expecting, which shouldn't be surprising coming from Kevin Failure's Savage Quality imprint. It's certainly something that fits his aesthetic, I just wasn't expecting Amercan Jobs to be such smooth operators - I was going to guess it was going to be some kind of electronic music or some harsher noise, but these guys (and gals) are a real slinky and sexy and smoky little weirdly jazzy post-punk combo... or uh, Industrial post-psychedelia? A real genre bender. I have no idea who they are or where they come from, and I like it. I just cheated and looked, and they're from fucking Ohio, which makes it even better. The sort of art-rock record that it's a shame doesn't get made more often these days (and if it does, it's via bands or labels outside of my spectrum), really recalls Eighties NYC to me, but maybe it's just all that sweet saxophone, but it has some sort of streetwise poeticness, real and grounded but also ethereal at the same time. Depeche Mode fans and dummies like me should both be able to dig it. Some serious goth-bummer vibes and little signs of pop, and if there are hooks here, they're the kind that are trawling the bottom slowly. Beautifully damaged stuff, it washes over you so easily you dont realize you're caught in an undertow. "Jailhouse" is the song I'm singling out here - not pop but hauntingly catchy, alomost like watching someone on the nod, its opiated lethargy has a sort of syrupy life to it, the beautfilly soft crackle of the drum, the dreamily stretched synth line, Nathan Reynolds' monotone that softly commands your attention. "Carne Levare" is packed with moments of seemingly fragile but ultimately deep and cutting music that are certainly going to be unlike much else you hear this year. Low key theatrics keeep this from becoming some kind of goth-jive bullshit, just a really austere and artistic vision fulfilled. Seriously good. (RK)
(Savage Quality // www.savagequalityrecordings.com)
Ancient Filth "You're Nothing You're Everything" EP
A really well put together record. Great imagery, a 12 page lyric zine stapled into the sleeve (CD booklet sized, with graphics that overlap the larger inner sleeve design - cool idea), a huge foldout newsprint poster, a large sticker, plenty of soundbites and intelligent lyrics and smart song concepts. This is the second release from these Boston punks, ten songs worth of politically charged hardcore. A rather straightforward approach, reminiscent of something like Out Cold - thrashy sub-two minute blasts with short solos, shouted lyrics about power, corruption, greed and the 1973 Chilean coup. Like I said, it's all really well put together, but this isn't really my thing. If it's your thing, then this is a great package.(RK)
(self-released // ancientfilth.bigcartel.com)
Animal Lover "Guilt" 12"
It's hard to not mention Hammerhead when reviewing this band, but they're doing well at expanding on the Midwestern post-hardcore trio doing the Amreppy thing I pegged them as when I heard their first 7". Learning Curve is picking up on what really could be the current wave of AmRep acts, had Haze not turned the "label" into an art gallery for well-monied Melvins obsessives. Anyhow, this 12" EP opens with "Plasme", a lengthy sprawl that folds Shellac dynamics into a groove (and I swear I hear handclaps in there, which is disconcerting and cool) and sets the tone for the EP. Not quite sludgy, but a more metered time crunching thing. The title track bursts out of the blocks with a heavy jazz-fuzz and then does the deconstruction thing to it. "At the Pool With My Boys" sounds like a good old Melvins tune a bit, a little bit of a Sabbath riff without the wank. I swear to god "Fits of Protein" sounds like a halfspeed Helmet. "Neighbors" closes with a cool swinging-jazz gearjammer. Cool record, if only to hear what this particular strain of the American underground has evolved into if you haven't checked on it in a while. By all reports these guys murder live, and I've managed to miss them twice.(RK)
(Learning Curve // www.learningcurverecords.com)
The Ar-Kaics s/t LP
I have not been moved much by most of the Ar-Kaics singles thus far, but I will say the opener on this ("You'll Be Mine") is the best song I've heard thus far, the sort of garage track that has some slop and spit on it where it sounds like they actually mean it. There's one or two of those on here, but the rest of it sounds like painfully by-the-books Sixties garage-pop that really lacks any sort of vitality, but at the very least does achieve the "vintage" sound they seem to be trying very hard to create. From the recreations of BFTG-esque record labels on the back cover to the Budget Rock inspired cut-n-paste inner sleeve (pics of them and their gear, floating heads and of course a burger joint) they're really curating an aesthetic here, but much like the black and white cover image, it's a shabby carbon copy of what the Nineties garage scene was like before the Mummies and Supercharger energized it. Very careful and calculated attempts at Sixties garage leaving out the punk, snot and grime. I hate to make assumptions, but this is what a bunch of dudes who used to be in screamo bands would sound like if they decided they were going to start cosplaying as a garage band. On the other hand, when compared to some of the bullshit Burger Records and their ilk (see the New Swears review below) have done to the genre, this is by far the lesser of two evils.(RK)
(Windian // www.windianrecords.com)
Arndales "Dog Hobbies USA" 12"
Why more people aren't going apeshit over this, simply due to the fact it is ex-Country Teasers, is beyond me, but what can ya do? I'm actually more interested in the fact this band has an ex-member of Pregnant Neck! So I know you wanna know, how much does does it sound like the Teasers? Well, not much at all, mate. No Country at all, maybe a really muscular Fall vibe if you listen really hard. I guess some of it might sound a little bit like The Devil, but with a duller knife. A very fitting interpretation of the 2014 In the Red sound via some UK blokes, a dash of Lamps, a really healthy rhythm section, razor sharp wit and a flair for the absurd (at least lyrically). "Seven Dials for Several Villains" is indeed a bit MES-indebted, they sprinkle shards of guitar all over, some real post-hardcore dynamics - all rhythm-n-bump with guitar playing striking opposing angles. Deadpan vox are perfectly British and the organ adds some fitting dramatics to the arrangements. Six hearty tracks, I'm really surprised there wasn't more chatter around this - recording and the 12" format are great, this thing is smart and loud and kind of macho. Scum stats: first 200 on "beer" vinyl, which is sort of a yellow-ish coke bottle shade.(RK)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Ausmuteants "Fed Through A Tube" 7"
"Fed Through A Tube" has the 'muties bouncing about for a dum-dum punker that's all go, no slow. Super catchy and hyperactive, has some squirrely guitar leads too. Bonus punk points for working a line about chicken vindaloo into this one. "Arguments" goes Devo with some keyboard swipes and a nifty little tune that's catchy yet angular at the same time. These kids are in the zone where they're just not writing bad songs at all. Stay with them while they're firing away at will like this.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Ausmuteants "Order of Operation" LP
Ausmuteants have firmly settled into their role as Australia's hottest export, topping Best of 2014 lists, conquering our shores on their US tour, peeking their heads into the above-ground (yer Pitchforks, Vices/Noiseys, and such) while still remaining dear to the underground as well. They're doing it right, and I'm on board, as this LP is near perfect. ""Freedom of Information" is certainly a hit and the perfect distillation of the neo-Devo approach they often take, but there's more moments of punk snot, frantic synth, even some really poppy New Wave hits. They've retained some of the goofballing that a group of young men should be expected to spit out, but also dialed back a bit of the piss/shit jokes too (which I didn't mind anyay). I don't rally have much to say here, aside from this record is deserving of the praise and attention (my only beef being an inferior take of "Felix..." when compared to the 7" version) and every listen is a half hour well spent. Scum stats: Goner limited edition on white vinyl (100? copies) and if you're a real glutton, there's an Aussie press on Aarght that I imagine is exactly the same aside from the label logo.(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
Bad Axe "Coachmen" 7"
A couple of unreleased 1973 jambrowskis from Chicago's Bad Axe, unearthed by Permanent Recs, beating Numero and/or Rocakdelic to the punch. "Coachman" isn't quite as searing as you'd hope, but it's still an interesting document of some early Seventies dudes ditching the niceties of their teen scene past and laying some heavy groove down after dropping some acid and hearing some Nuggets. Extended jam-outro features fancy soloing and the abundance of acoustic guitar keeps from being say proto-metal, but it's also not far off from some Bonehead Crunching either I suppose. "Poor Man, Run" has a pretty funky bassline, a drum solo and could qualify sort of basement-prog perhaps. Maybe not quite dumb enough to be Bonehead, but what do I know. All you Wayfaring Strangers should dig. Scum stats: 300 copies only.(RK)
(Permanent Records // www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
Bad Daddies “You Ain't Right” 7”
Furthering their Bay Area takeover, the Bad Daddies deliver a leveling blow with this EP. The A-side’s lone track “You Ain’t Right” drops a chaotic crunch under the needle and features Camille’s best vocal delivery yet, with a banshee shriek that lands somewhere between a P.I.L. era Lydon and a feverish Seline Vigil. The sound shifts direction under the (even more than) usual splintering of feedback and disjointed lead work, no less than four times in three minutes. Never truly coming back around, stringing it along Black Flag bass lines and struggling to find closure. The whole thing blasts away in a speedy, skyrocketing clusterfuck. The B-side offers up three shorter songs, to remind you they ain’t prog. Keyboard is introduced, letting synth squiggle float weirdly over the minute long “Teenage Hell”. I don’t get a lot of time to think about it, but I liked it and it reminded me of Vexx. A sample of a Vexx song or the shortest one they ever wrote – cuz’ it just whips by. “I Don’t” is the brattiest of the brigade, sputtering within false starts and careening to and fro. True sinus clearing, hyper-punk. “Head On The Rail” follows suit, continuing the playful bass bounce for just a smidgen of time and letting Matt’s guitar solo flop about like a beached carp. Whew. I can take a second to breathe now. Truly a step up in the game for them; in packaging, recording, songwriting, weirdness, etc. The Daddies recorded these tracks themselves in their living room - and boy howdy – they found the sound and nailed it. Thicker, heavier and - dare I say - more mature. For some reason I imagine much hot chocolate being drank on a crisp spring morning as this happily married couple egg each other on, like a deranged Captain & Tennille or a less chain-smoked and weathered Dead Moon. My eyes are pooling up with saltwater just thinking of it. SCUM STATS: 200 were available as part of a singles club, wrapped in standard label sleeves. I believe these are long gone. The band had 40 numbered copies featuring a pretty intense and elaborate collage sleeve. I’d hit them up directly. (RSF)
(Negative Fun // www.negativefun.com)
Baddat For Trubbel “Live Pa Nobe 2012-12-30” LP
Perfectly fine club recording from the eve before New Years Eve (maybe they do things differently in Sweden?) that could be straight from the soundboard, but the crowd is still really audible and justifiably drunk. Not overpowering; but in the mix enough to add to the nights “electricity” or some other shitty adjective. A bazillion songs, spanning their complete discography are forcibly squished into these short sides. This is pretty bare bones, stripping away some of that Saints-like sheen of the first LP and bringing about more of a catchy street punk sound. Not to fear -there’s plenty of regurgitated R&R riffage to keep the greasers in line. I’ve always thought of them as the straight forward version of their once tour mates Rajayttajat, so no wonder Bat Shit went gaga for both. All my faves are featured: The A-side closer “Blaald Ingenting”, the organ fueled downer “Fakta Och Nostalgi”, the sax-worthy “Sant Are Livet” and thee ol’ Ken Rock single ripper “Snalla Snalla”. As good of document as I’m gonna’ get of a band I’ll probably never have a chance to see. SCUM STATS: 500 copies on black vinyl. All come housed in the simplest sleeve Bat Shit has ever done – b&w photocopies glued onto brown cardstock. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Bad Noids "Got Dayum!" 7"
Second single from Cleveland's clown princes of hardcore. Bad Noids have settled into the sweet spot somewhere between Homostupids and Folded Shirt. Short bursts of rock'n'roll devolution characerized by Mike's vocals, which he's perfected into what reminds one of the antagonistic nasal yammering of a teenage caveman. Musically, it's stripped down hardcore punk, a little fancier than F/S but the general conceit seems to be let the riff rip and see if the drums and bass catch up. And there's good riffs on this aplenty (and good yet still sloppy playing in general). The other type of song they play are the lumbering bassline-led slower ones where the guitar smears on top of it all. "Chews On Tape" is hilarious yet still rips with the little bass solo-thing. B-Side starts out with a country number (didn't they do some country sqauwking in the early days when Mike would wear the chicken feet?) and turns into some Foldie inane-chatter thing, but the riff crushes. Then they turn into the Mentors for a couple of tunes and the between song chattering starts to make you feel like someone's playing a prank on you. There's 6-8 songs on this depending on how you slice it, grip it and rip it. Scum stats: I've seen two sleeve variants so far that are equally asinine.(RK)
(Saucepan // saucepanrecords.bigcartel.com/)
Barreracudas "Promises" 7"
I've never thought this band were much to talk about, but I suppose Gentleman Jesse fans need something to listen to these days. Atlanta glam-pop division with bubblegum snap that will delight fans of the Nobunny. A-Side is sheer wimpitude, B-Side adds a little AM radio-friendly pop schmaltz (and piano). There's nothing sleazy or dirtbag here, despite what the press release tried to tell me. Completely sanitary stuff here. In my honest opinion the best thing about this record is the Avi Spivak drawing on the cover.(RK)
(Oops Baby // www.oopsbabyrecords.com)
Batman & Garagekid "I'm Not A Monkey..." 7"
Batman has a few singles under his belt already and has now ditched Robin and partnered with like-minded Euro OMB wacko Garagekid to form some sort of two man Justice League for this release. If anything, these singles have great artwork and work the formula well. This time it's well done VU parody (low hanging fruit, I know...) and the music is above avergae mid-fi garage trash (Euro style) following in the tradition of Budget Rock. The lyrics are completely ridiculous of course, but it's four songs of (in)competent trashola, the best of which is a loose revision of "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love". Solid shitcan drum sound and the vocals are perfectly obnoxious. There's worse things you could be listening to in 2014, this is sort of a less-pop Nobunny and they at least don't take themselves seriously. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
The Bats "Demo 5:26:84" 12"
Another Pittsburgh demo tape rescued from the vaults by Mike Mind Cure, and just to paraphrase things I've already said in reviews of Savage Amused and Real Enemy records (that need to be mentioned again) among others, I'm envious Pitt has a guy (and a store and a label) like this in their town, a true champion of the cause and most certainly one of the good guys. Now that I've got that out of the way we'll get the fact that Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon was the (sometime) singer of The Bats right out there, in case you haven't seen/heard it mentioned yet. I really had no idea (as I'm sure no one outside of Pittsburgh did either), and it would be easy to say this was nothing more than a great PR grab for Mind Cure if The Bats demo sucked, but this is the best in their series of demos-on-12" yet, easily. The fact that the label is getting some big time mainstream press out of this is well deserved. This a four song 12", but the songs are really long, stretching the playing time to a perfect length. The Bats are described as a punk band, and they're of the punk-turning-into indie-rock variety that was making college radio an exciting thing. I swear to god "Yesterday Does Not Rule" sounds like it was from Columbus. It's witty and anthemic and I would say Chabon is ripping Ron House off, but I have a feeling their paths might not have crossed in this timeframe. The band is surprisingly tight (accoring to bassist Lee Skirboll's great liner notes he wasn't even a bass player), but they apparently had the besst drummer in town as well as a boyfriend/girlfriend guitar tandem that had already paid some dues and earned their chops. The recording (done on a four track in a basement) is also of surprisingly quality, I'm shocked this wasn't done in an actual studio. Chabon's nasally vocals and stream-of-consciousness lyrics fit well with the rocking and sprawling tunes, the epic "What Time Is It?" beats with post-punk stoicness and is actually a real pounder with great guitar flash. The guy has nothing to be embarrassed about here, I mean sure, you can tell he's doing the "punk" sneer sometimes, but it's never bad (meanning he doesn't get to Jello-like levels of quirk). "Jet Away" is a real garage-rocker and the most punk of the four songs (watch out for the ripper of a solo too) and "Wild West" is his most sneering-est delivery and it's a darkly lit rocker with searing guitar work as well. I'm really floored by how good this is. Chabon recorded this demo and did one show with the band (which is availabe via download code as well) and left to wander Paris. They continued on without him, opening for Husker Du, Meat Puppets and whatever other SST band was touring, and I'm surprised they never ended up getting a record out of this, would've fit in perfectly on the Homestead roster. Highly recommended, and while some of the other Mind Cure releases were more a locals-only or deep hardcore demo fans affair, this is one that everyone should hear. Also, the best looking of the bunch so far, even if it doesn't have a twenty page newspaper with it. (RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
Battered Citizens "Police Brutality Demo" LP
A demo tape that was originally Mind Cure's sixth release back in the Mike Lavella days, resurrected here on vinyl by the label's current curator. BC were young Pittsburgh punks who eventually got a 7" out on Overkill Records (the future home Integrity) in 1989 after recording this demo. It sounds and looks like US hardcore circa '88 - shaved heads, graffitti-style tags/logo, drawings of cartoon skins and punks getting hassled by cops. Musically, it's hardcore with the metal edge seeping in - think post-'Crossov
er' DRI, Excel, Leeway, Token Entry. For fans of that time period, it's a passable demo with some pretty decent guitar playing. I think this one definitely falls into the locals only category though. Members of BC would go on to Caustic Christ, Submachine, metal band Killer of Sheep aand more, with one of the guys even ending up starting an "urban gear" store and cultivating the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene. Come with big old newsprint insert with liners fromm Pitt legends Lavella and Manny Theiner.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
BAUS “Idol Minds” cassette LP
(Pronounced “Boss”) Sharp n' skronky, punk-before-funk from this Oakland trio. Sounds firmly rooted in the ESG songbook, only more skill assured and aggressively No Wave. Danceable back beats with post-scrape guitars riding under a delirious Arto Lindsay vocal splatter. “Cheat Sheets” totally fucks with my equilibrium. I can't even comprehend how three people can pull off three individual sounds like that simultaneously and still stitch it together in the end, making for a stellar tune. The sputtering stop & go of “Don't Want It” and “Got3” should get the art party moodists a’ movin’. Folks with Liquid Sky hair-do's and a vast plastic bag wardrobe will pogo up a storm, like living in a lost Downtown ’81 outtakes reel. FUN FACTS: this features at least one G.Green member and a brief Lion King interlude. Not quite sure how many exist (or will, the bands tape duplicator busted) but the initial batch comes with a illustrated Michael Jackson-gone-vampire insert, straig
(self-released // baus.bandcamp.com)
Beekeepers s/t 7"
Seems like we haven't heard from X! in a bit, so here we are with this Beekeepers 7". I've heard that these guys actually play in beekeeper get-ups, but I can't verify that. Pretty sure this is dudes from Johnny Ill Band and Fontana (and maybe not) doing a weird-jazz thing with some punk spirit. "Pallet Stacking" has a great mood and some deadbeat sludge-jazz vibes, real molasses tempo with some tasteful free sax murmuring, a creepy crawly tape-loopy thing in the background, brushed drums and slo-mo bass line. The vox are just the guy deadpanning about pallets and weird shit. I actually worked at a pallet factory for a few years in my youth, so this one really hits home...Pretty cool tune/vibes. "Model Home Flag" has some kind of carnival organ theatrics happening, a boom box recording and some commentary on suburbia and consumerism if I'm reading it right. Kinda twee. "Parking Lots" reverts back to the A-Side formula, another jazz-crawler with some more theatrics and some rock dynamics. Has a different guy deadpanning, almost turns into a prog tune with keys/organ, but it's a bit more baroque-psych via a visit to the echo chamber. I liked this one too, strange in a kind of a square way (i.e. not like Jimbo Easter level strange), lyrics get a bit hammy but it's part of the appeal.(RK)
(X! Records // x-recs.com)
The Bilders "Utopians" 7"
I love some Bill Direen, don't get me wrong, but I'm also not one of those guys who has to have everything the guy has ever recorded in his life. Those people do exist, based on the sheer amount of Bilders/Direen records out there. I own my fair share, and probably return to the same two or three and leave the other half dozen feeling lonely. This latest installment is interesting in that each of the three tracks features a different Bilders line-up. Side A "The Utopians R Just Out Boozin'" is a real winner, I hear some female back-ups cooing with maybe a little vibraphone, there's a great synth line/hook, and it has a very nice West Coast driving-at-night-with-a-cool-breeze mid-tempo cruise to it. Sort of creepy and smart at the same time. One of the better Direen songs of late. On the flip, "Mardy" is more avant-garde with Bill doing a bit of spoken word jive between the choruses, slightly Beefheartian, and I swear the chorus might be lifted from a Chris Isaak song. Weird and good. Last tune is a live snippet from a European tour, and the Bilders here sound like a post-punk bar band. Two outta three aint bad. (RK)
(Smart Guy // www.smartguyrecords.com)
The Blind Shake "Breakfast of Failures" LP
I might be wrong, but I still think the Blind Shake are underrated. Even if they're on Goner now, which is the seal of approval that carries a lot of clout around here and they had an LP on Castle Face, which gives them some "hip" credentials as well. Their work with Yonkers was incredible stuff, and the highest I think they've soared yet, and they even had one the theme songs to this year's King of the Road. That's some decent attention, maybe I feel like I'm the one underrating them in the end. Their Minneapolis roots always give way to thoughts of the punk glory of labels like Twintone and Amrep, and they present a nice sense of what those labels peddled brought into the future. Yes, the future, futuristic is what I always want to call them, although at heart it's traditonally punk rock guitar workouts, they drive hard and tangle guitar lines. Forward-thinking stuff, a song like "Noobody Else" does good things with feedback that not everyone else is doing. "Pollen" is shredding and screeching sorcery. There's something of the instrumental guitar bands to them as well. I can't say this is their best LP, but it's still a good one and not a bad place to turn on to them either. They do that thing called sounding like themselves, not like everybody else...but bands that have been together for nearly 10 years and have at least a dozen records out tend to be the ones that "get it". They almost remind me of the Cheater Slicks in their headstrong dedication to their "thing", and kudos to them for getting on some more mainstream outlets including the John Reis collab LP forthcoming.(RK)
(Goner Records // www.goner-records.com)
Boys Order "Tomorro Dancing" 7"
Boys Order are a group of X Ray Spex cosplayers from Japan who remind me of what could happen if Banana Erectors were still around today. Wait, are Banana Erectors still around? "Tomorrow Dancing" has some great wah-guitar playing and is super tight musically (as most Japanese bands are) and the tune itself is slick New Wave pop with the energy typical to these sorts of outings. Chirpy girl vox are pretty good, she plays the bass too. "Danger! Danger!" is the better tune in my head, she does some weird pronunciation thing on the vox that gets your attention and it's sorta aggro for a neo-New Wave pop song. Young Steve and Count Drugula approved for all you Japanese fetishists out there. Guitar player's name is Oz Wild and he has a nice looking pair of vintage creepers for what that's worth.(RK)
(Secret Mission // www.secretmissionrecords.com)
Breakout "True Crime" 7"
This is Breakout's second single and the first I've heard. The name sounds like a youth crew band, but these kids are from Austin and not repping the edge or selling hoodies with their logo on them, at least that I know of. They come out of the gate with a killer title track, it's a fantastic bassline that they turn into a mid-tempo stompfest with sick vox and guitar edges that make the tune sound more like a Pissed Jeans or Clockcleaner than anything. Then "All's Quiet" is some sort of weird pop-hardcore thing that sounds like Hot Snakes somehow and the dude just has way too many lyrics going on. There's parts of the tune I like (the solo/bridge part) but the fast bassline/chorus shit sounds like some kinda pop-punk maneuver. The three B-Side tracks remind me of Wiccans-lite, rock-infused HC without the chops or standout vocals of that band. Last song sounds like later Fucked Up. This thing started out really good and dropped off the ledge.(RK)
(Grave Mistake // www.gravemistakerecords.com)
Buck Biloxi & The Fucks "Culture Demanufacturer" LP<
After completely destroying all competition last year, Buck Biloxi returns to us with his second LP, and all systems are go. The subtle brilliance is still there - band members this time around include Lindsay Fuckingham, Fuck Rogers and Scrooge McFuck. Star Trek spaceship diagram, full lyric sheet(s), brilliant cover art, over the top braggadocio. It's all there. But what aboout the songs? Well, I'll be honest, I thought we were in trouble for a minute there, but luckily Buck come through with some smokin' taters on the A-Side like "Tough Shit", "Butthole Bots" (best lyric on the album: "Pig men from the distant past use my face to wipe their ass") and "Sex Pills", seemingly re-writing the same song over and over again, but they're all different and they all hate you. Side B has the most shining monents, "Rock and Roll Sucks" has some fancy pants guitar solo on it, "I Got Kicked Out Of Shadowrun" and it's mouth-made sound effects make me happy, "The Neutral Zone" actually has a fucking hook and is my favorite tune on this one, at least until he covers The Queers' "I'm Useless"", which is better than the original and the best song on this record, which sucks because it's a cover, but whatever. I still like the first LP better, but 12 inches of Buck Biloxi's second best LP is better than 90% of what else is out there. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Cal & The Calories "My Calorie" 7"
Cal & The Calories might get footnoted as a Lumpy & The Dumpers side-project, but taken on its own it's a quite enjoyable piece of junk food - empty, inane calories, sure, but still better than most. Cal is Lumpy, and the Calories are whoever happens to be around at the time (I've heard the Coneheads have filled in once or twice), much like the Dumpers were before they became HUGE. Actually, I don't think there were any actual Dumpers until Lumpy realized he had to play live at some point...anyway, digressions aside, this is worth the cover charge just to have "Jackhamma" on vinyl. I think the premise of any Calories tune is to rip off a riff from another song, and this sped up version of "Sex Bomb" is all good by me. The voice used for Cal vocals is a super nasally whine, which turns into "Jeackhammah", there's a great breakdown part and it's all good and dumb fun. The B-Side has "My Calorie", which is a pop number (I'll let you figure where that riff is from), and "PHD" is a hard rocker with some of the most quotable lyrics of the year - "Everybody's sayin that I'm a bologna brain..." and "Put my head/between some bread/I got a head full of meat" pop into my head the most often and there's even more gold to be found in this one, just check the hand-scribbled lyric sheet. PHD IN DELI MEAT. Scum stats: dunno, but I think it's OOP from the source, so check some distros.(RK)
(Spud Boy Incorporated // spottedrace.bigcartel.com)
Can Can Heads “Butter Life” LP
A return to the review stack for this twenty year running, instro-jass-punx combo out of Finland.
Rhythmic and sometimes brutal thugskronk from the land that Raja built, “Butter Life” is a Boredoms style deterioration/amalgamation that distills five decades of music into one foul odor. Moments like the opener “Alive With Fiery Breath” seem to dollop Branca, Chatham, The Contortions and a fistful of other No Wavers on top, agitating the froth. Movements (not songs) tend to curb themselves around the minute mark, leaving listeners without a tolerance for Ipecac or Zorn style madness flinging into a tizzy. Shit like “Unarmed Opponent” is just begging for Beefheart to start babbling about all things bulbous and tapered. “Too Numb” is No Balls whoring themselves out to score Max Fleischer ‘toons. Wacked sax burners like “Piece Movement” make for a queasy listening, aiming at the ears of those certain folks who like to partake in the heavy yet outer-out sounds. Released between three different labels and limited to 300 copies. Not sure who’s holding in the US, but it seems like Forced Exposure or Aquarius is a safe bet. (RSF)
(Karkia Mistika Records/Verdura Records/Bottom Of The Pops // www.cancanheads.com)
The Chemicals "Out of My Mind" 7"
Release #2 from the Meanbean is another Eighties Montreal New Wave/powerpop obscurity, The Chemicals' only single from 1985. "Out of My Mind" is a pleasant little pop number with a bit of a Sixties "Secret Agent Man" like guitar twang, reducing the wimp factor a bit on this fine example of slick mid-Eighties pop that was surely marketed as New Wave at the time. "Run and Hide" on the flip has a serious Eighties synth line dominating the proceedings that makes me think this song would be a lot more cool if they could've just pulled the track with the keyboard part out, particularly on the schmaltzy "solo" they let the guy do. It's a simple yet effective low key pop number that sounds like it could've come out of the UK, and even reminds me a little bit of a lesser Sucide Commandos cut with it's sort of melancholic hook. The label does a fine job of creating a pic sleeve that looks suitably vintage for a record that didn't originally come with one. Definitely worth a look up for the legion of powerpop wimps out there. (RK)
(Meanbean Records // meanbeanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Chook Race "About Time" LP
An entire LP of strummy Australian garage-pop from Melbourne's Chook Race. Two types of tunes: fast strummy pop songs and slow strummy pop songs. They have the market cornered. The boy-girl harmonies, the gentle hooks, the bedroom pop moves, the melancholy...it' all very fomulaic, but they're good at it I suppose. An excellent LP for all you senstivie types.(RK)
(self-released // easterbilby.bigcartel.com)
Circles "Shadowgraph" LP
Low key garage-pop record from Midwest garage scene vets who count Radar Eyes, Cococoma, Ponys, Guilty Pleasures and their previous projects. A dozen tunes of poppy rocking, elevated when they let the guitars roar a bit, the songs that Melissa from Ponys sings are the better of the bunch, as this sort of nearly-twee NZ-influenced style just seems to fit a feminine voice better, and whenever the guy(s) sing it just sounds a little too wimpy. The Toy Love cover is really good ("Photographs of Naked Ladies" - sung by Melissa) and they repurpose the title "All My Friends Are Dead" for a real Kiwi-scented rocker to open. "Constant Party" makes good use of some organ, but like I mentioned, I keep going back to the girl-voxed tunes ("Little Moon" and "Back to One" would make a good dreamy little single). A very nice record, with all the connotations that phrase has. (RK)
(Diminished Arc // circleschicago.bandcamp.com)
Constant Mongrel "The Law" 7"
Killer three song 7" from Constant Mongrel which is actually their first small-sized release after two LPs on RIP Society and Siltbreeze. Not the way most bands do it, but they're doing something right. CM are a band that can change styles pretty effortlessly, which certainly works to their benefit and is the sort of evolutionary step that Australian bands need to take to stay on the top of the heap. "The Law" is a treble-charged punker that has a massive hoook behind it and a really perfectly slurred vocal (backed up by the pickslides), very compact stutterstep drumming, just an impeccable piece of rock'n'roll. "DCM" pulls out a heavier approach, more of a monotone vocal, drums are still stuttering, the thick synth line that moves things along almost sounds like an older and wiser Ausmuteants. "New Shapes" fills up the underside with some post-punk burbling, bass/guitar sounds underwater and it has a bit of wavey almost British sounding pop hook, but then they stop and return, and the song becomes sharp and military, really piling on the ice and a little synth that fits right in, and they just proceed to jam the whole thing down your throat. Spectacular. I always thought their LPs were a bit hit and miss, but they do absolutely nothing wrong on this record. Top shelf stuff all around, deeply recommended.(RK)
(RIP Society // easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Coitus Int. s/t LP
Bunkerpop reissues the first LP from Coitus Int., originally out in '81 on the band's own unnamed label. Reacting to the punk rock sound they felt had already become stale, Coitus Int took on the always admirable approach of slowing things down to a plod and created stark compositons that boil down to the tremendous slow-moving bass crawl. Jos De Groot's vocals are delivered in an all-knowing montone, the guitar is of the Andy Gill less-is-more scratch-n-slash school, the drumming solid and creative in its simplicity. Nine tracks of grim determination to task that will slowly grind their way into your skull, truly exceptional lyrics that wander from Kafka-esque poetics to European agitprop, telling tales of isolation and alienation. Incredibly effective music, stirring thought and creating great moments of unease, and a true clinic on how to create evocative music with a seeming minimum of instrumentation. Elements of Pere Ubu, Warsaw/Joy D, Gang of Four, and there's a long list of bands you could say took influence here (from Flipper to say A-Frames) if not from Coitus directly, from the overall "genre" they play to perfection here. Masters of rhythm and still capable of turnning things up from a crawl to a slow jog, perhaps even a trot, prodded on by the surgical guitar work. It's really de Groot's vox that act as catalyst the most, the somewhat militant delivery, the effective use of echo (or on "Birds" creating his own), very much a work that could have only come from natives of Europe. This is certaily not a happy record, but it's so pleasing to listen to and a harsh reminder that sometimes the new isn't always better. Still sounds chilling and energizing today. One of the best reissues you could buy this year, and quite a bit better than the 7" as well. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
Cola Boys s/t EP
International super group featuring members of Cola Freaks and Oily Boys...nah, just kidding, it's some two man band damage from Finland that's ready to blow your speakers. Recorded 100% blown out, "Inside/Outside" is just them playing as fast as they can and blurting out a few words, but I really like where they head with "I'm A Suicide", which makes the most out of whatever broken amp this guy is playing what I think is a bass through, a real gut churner that they give a sped up finish with an overdubbed guitar solo freakout, "No Fun" is not a Stooges cover, but does fly the flag in its thirty seconds of inanity. B-Side begins with another decent cut ("I Warned You"), again awash in fuzz bass froth that has some semblance of a hook, and they end on a high note with "Decapitated", a pretty monstrous chunk of fuzz and smash that reminds of thee best of that French scene that included The Fatals. Not a mindblower, but pretty serviceable garbage rock based solely on the fuzz abuse. Has one of the guys from Achtungs in it if you want to check credentials. "Sonic Youth Suck" is the only thing stamped on the labels for some reason, perhaps to show that they're liars as well as creeps. (RK)
(Fuck CD's // vapaapalokuntalainen-at-gmail.com)
Cruelster "Potatoe Boys" LP
More of the new wave of crazies stepping out from the crowd at Now That's Class and onto the stage. Cruelster are four miscreants furthering the Clevo-punk timeline via some mid-tempo punk rocking that's a bit more garage than hardcore in the musical sense, though the singer (named Yes-Yes) is of the hardcore shouter variety. They pack a shit-ton of tunes on this thing (at least 12 on the A-Side alone) to go along with the chaos depicted in the artwork - a tableau of cartoon rabbits, aliens and seemingly nonsensical phrases. I was reading what I thought was a lyrics insert included inside (which is equally clusterfucked) and realized these might not even be the lyrics to these songs (you try following along with no song titles) but just some sort of assemblage of non sequiturs. The A-Side burns faster than a book of matches stuck in someones shoe, recording is shit and gives the songs little variance in the "production" department, but it's all balls all the way, nothing too slick, but certainly not a disservice to Clevo. The radio soundbites are a bonus, in particular the opening bit on Side B, and I like the ballbusting tune that follows it (you tell me the song title, I have no fuckking clue) and that's about it for Side B, making this almost a one-sided 12". They're certainly not the first Cleveland punk band with a penchant for conspiracy theories and gonzo artwork, nor will they be the last. As with most bands from Lake Erie's armpit, the proof is usually in the live pudding and I'll be running that litmus test soon. Scum stats: no idea - sleeves are recycled dollar bin jackets turned inside out and silkscreened with a foldout 12X24 poster/insert inside. (RK)
(Phobiact Records // www.phobiactrecords.com)
Cuntz "Here Come the Real Boys..." LP
Live in the USA recordings documenting Cuntz rampage across American soil surrounding their Gonerfest appearance. Performances culled from their WFMU set with Terre T., Gonerfest, The Earl in Atlanta and NYC's dearly almost-departed Death By Audio. Favorite moments: the opening version of "Never Felt Better", an absolutely shredding take on "Bin Day", "Beef Week" just because I love hearing him yell "BEEF WEEK!", the pleasure of knowing that they pull off "Meth" sounding fucked live and a good run at "Hoonin'" to end. Obviously the sound quality varies (I'm a bit disappointed in the version of "Hammer" but fuck me), but that Mikey Young guy makes it all sound pretty nice. A good tour document of one of the better Aussie imports of what will go down as the Aussie Invasion of the Oughts in the history books. I certainly wouldn't pull this out before the studio albums, but it's rare that a live LP will do that in any case. Scum stats: 450 total, 50 on clear, 50 on red.(RK)
(Chunklet Industries // www.chunklet.com)
The Dacios “Monkey’s Blood” LP
Initially a 2009 CD release that didn’t make waves beyond their Tasmanian/Melbourne scenes, the archival branch of Homeless saw error in this and found fit to do a proper LP earlier this summer. Good on ya’ mate. “Monkey’s Blood” is female fronted, swagger punk that runs the gamut from Stoogeoid, New Christ reminiscent grooves to a noise slathered, Pylon post-ishness and even a southern fried alt country. Surprisingly, it’s the laid back country infused title track and “Girl In The Mirror” that actually do the most for my weathered cranium. I can’t help but think of the Geraldine Fibbers/Carla Bozulich axis when I here these tracks - and I’m a huge fucking Fibbers fan. These tunes are on constant repeat in my household. “Shoe Size” is like a really good Mazzy Star bummer that got lost in that nineties dope haze. All out punk pounders like “Monica” and the hard charging “Buzzards Hyde” are roughed up with some quality throat shred and a battering ram of a rhythm section that damn near brings X (the good one) to mind. That is something I fought against - reading the hype sticker during the first 100 or so spins - but you’re right. I kinda’ see it peeking up from the dust now. Sorry I doubted you, Homeless. One of my faves this year. SCUM STATS: Only 250 pressed and some of them even managed to make it stateside. Available through Revolver and the usual mail order suspects. (RSF)
(Homeless // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Dancer "Rootbeer Station" 7"
Dancer remain the one band out of the Bay City costume glam post-Time Flys "Budget Rock" whatever scene I can identify upon hearing and that I actually kinda like. This has something to do with the fact they are a pretty ugly band, the back cover is like a police line-up consisting of a city rocker, the understudy for Dr. Frank N Furter from a local Rocky Horror production, some lad who fancies himself a sharpie and the loser of a Sir Lord von Raven lookalike contest. Here's what they do right musically: they sound totally sleazy and take tons of cues from the Dictators and Dolls, thus investing their glam and powerpop hooks with plenty of balls and erasing the wimpitude usually involved. "Rootbeer Station" is pretty sick, total glam sleaze-o-rama with a legit solo, lots of inane hey-baby-do-do-do lyricizing, but they still have that greasy feel to them. Awesome tune. B-Side leads with the unfortunately spelled "Ma Babies Uh Monkee", but the killer chorus makes me want to let is slide - these guys really now how to drag these words out "Alrighhyiyiyiyiyght" - and it all has some Dolls lipstick smears. "Looking for Whatever" is a Dictators stomper featuring guys who are at least ten years past being teenagers singing about being teenagers. Includes smoking solo that he kind of fucks up (making it even better) and screamed meathead lyrics. I liked these guys before, but this record is so dumb it really endeared them to me. Seriously, these past couple of singles have been fire, even if I thought their first couple of seven inches were average at best. Well played. (RK)
(Chocolate Covered Records // www.chocolatecovererecords.com)
Dead Space “Faker” LP
This came with a press release that I promptly lost, but from what I can gather foraging about the web; these kids are from Texas and are tied in tight to the Flesh Lights/OBN IIIs scene. What they plunk down is a moody, bone cooling post-punk with a bit of that noisy Daniel Ash flare up here and there. Solid tribal thumps and repetitive bass drive the center line, letting the vocals and guitar skewer about in an echoed Bunnymen sorta’ wash. Not as blunt a sound as Protomartyr, but they seem to ride similar thought patterns - at least in recent recording style. “Master Forget” being the perfect culmination of all of the above elements - layering shards of white heat unto a Warsaw punker - making for a stand out track. The B-side kinda’ cracks the egg open with the somewhat violent “You’re Fake” leading off before settling back into the dark, clove smoke filled corridors of the old Factory records halls. Speaking of Protomartyr, remember that bunched skivvies’ article/rebuttal due to their Interpol comparisons? I could lazily throw that around here as well (Who me? A lazy reviewer? Pshaw), since there’s definitely potential for fan base cross pollination. I could also chuck out a nod to The Sound, but that would get ‘em substantially less internet hits, sadly. Check it out. SCUM STATS: Probably 500 of them pressed. 100 on Coke bottle clear vinyl. Why not Pepsi? (RSF)
(12xU // www.12xu.bigcartel.com)
Deaf Wish s/t LP
Re-reissue of the first Deaf Wish LP, recorded and issued on CD in 2007, pressed to vinyl by Radio Melbourne in a scant 250 copies right around the time 'Mercy' came out, and now pressed to vinyl again via Homeless in a more plentiful edition to support the band on their late 2014 US tour and coinciding with their single on Sub Pop. I'll be that guy and say I was lucky enough to get that CD version and was immediately impressed by the volume and the viciousness with which they attained that noise - not in a pack of wild dogs sense, but in a frighteningly cool and mannered hand around your neck sort of way. "Mum Gets Punched in the Face" is still one of my top ranking Deaf Wish cuts, along with the aching "I Traded You". "Freeze the Sound" is so haggard, but they get there via a twisted and aggro interpretation of Sonic Youth guitar cacophony instead of the usual Aussie swamp-grunt you might think is coming, still ending up in an equally raw and twisted landscape. I always thought "Nerve Damage" had something of a Cheater Slicks-like determination to it, and the between song nonsense/banter add to a Royal Trux twist. Deaf Wish are a top shelf Aussie outfit and most definitely deserve (and worked for) the Sub Pop rub. Smart, visceral, evocative, they do it all and maintain a good sense of humor throughout. Good on Homeless for getting this out there for the new fans the "St. Vincent's" 7" hopefully brings in.(RK)
(Homeless // www.homelessvinyl.com.au)
Degreaser "Rougher Squalor' LP
While I liked Degreaser on record pretty well, when I was fortunate enough to see them live they really blew me away. 100% of what I would hope for an Aussie band to sound like, all hair and wah pedal and in-the-zone rhythm section. 'Rougher Squalor' marks somehwat of a new direction for the band, less of a dirge-creep outfit and venturing into the line-up of Blue Cheer->Stooges->Cosmic Psychos guitar extravaganzas and fnding their place at the end of that evolutionary change. Right here I'll say that "Hole in My Head" is honestly one of my favorite songs this year, just perfect rock'n'roll power that has that downtrodden fuck-offness to it. Tim Evans is a powerful force, writing total aggro blasters like "You Said" alongside powerfully melancholic spirit-crushers like "Touch the Sides". Songs like "Hold Out Your Hand" and "Gone Astray" balance some bit of fragility in their mood, then crush it under the jackboot of wah pedal. I don't think I've given Evans the respect I feel he deserved in past reviews, but the guy is a fucking monster, both in the musical sense (I feel like he could even give Macka a run in the wah sweepstakes) and the physical (the guy is like seven feet tall!). His songwriting here is just phenomenal, and this is one of the most pulverizingly yet emotive records in some time - and something shared with all of the classic Aussie bands we hold as yardsticks. There are moments here when I almost wish the recording was better (this has to be a live-in-the-studio job), but then I realize that would take away from the ragged glory flying here. Eleven blasts and not a single dud. When you review a ton of records you sometimes get caught in moments where something might be good at the time and compared to whatever else you slogged through that month you might color it as a bit better than it really is comparitively. Then you hear a record like 'Rougher Squalor' and realize you need to get a grip on quality control again once you hear something this fantastic. No pretense, no showing off, no acting - just mainline rock'n'roll. I dunno, I mean, reviewing records is a fool's errand most of the time anyway, and all you can really hope to do sometimes is let people know when you really think something is great and hope they listen. This one's a worldbeater.(RK)
(Ever/Never // evernever.bigcartel.com)
The Dials "School Girl" 7"
A split release between Secret Mission and Mangrove, an international connection that I love to see happening. The CEO of Secret Mission has been a longtimme proponent of what we now call Flat Tire Punk, and I'm thrilled to see his years of hard work being acknowledged via this sort of shit. The Dials are a Japanese band I can get into, meaning they're an actual punk band and not one of the legion of powerpop worshippers over there (although that genre has its merits as well). "School Girl" is bass heavy with some serious forward motion and a real cool '78 style punk sound, a great handclap part and a tough guitar sound for a Japanese band without Fink in it. "Nervous" brings us more handclaps and more cool laidback punkings, sharp solo and unbeatable rhythm section, a nice modernization of the classic Japanese invasion sound of the Nineties. Recommended for those who still scour the Recordshop Base catalog on the regular.(RK)
(Secret Mission // www.secretmissionrecords.com)
Dreamsalon "Soft Stab" LP
Dreamsalon's second LP might be the best record in the "post-A-Frames" genre yet (not counting Intelligence records, since that band ran concurrenty with A-Frames), besting everything from Evening Meetings (whose LP is the former holder of this title), the first Dreamsalon LP, any AFCHT effort, Children's Hospital (woof), Rodent Plague (a contender once upon a time) and even that Universe Peoples stuff (which is pretty good). This is Factums + A-Frames equalling some good chemistry, the sounds are a bit skeletal but never sound thin. The sometimes sparse instrumentation always sounds big: basslines are alive with throbbing and repetitive energy, drummming is smooth and creative and never just a dull thud, vox are slathered in echo (which I'll admit I still love) and the guitar playing changes to fir the tunes - sharp, slidy, angular, wiry, twangy. 'Soft Stab' clocks in perfectly at nine songs deep, just the right amount of Dreamsalon, leaving you hungry for a bit more. "Don't Feel Like Walkin'" is the big hit here at HQ, very determined pacing that plunges through the night and "Skin" is sharp, smart and maybe the pop song here. Side B makes me think of Factums hairier stuff, but tempered with some more accesibility - but still, lots of alien landscapes, sound effects and subterranean moves/grooves. A-Side is the hits, B-Side gets weird, good set up. This is exactly what Dragnet Records should sound like in 2014, and this is what I think of when someone says "post-punk" band these days. Scum stats: 500 copies only, with great artwork to boot.(RK)
(Dragnet/Sweet Rot // www.weetrotrecords.com)
Dribble "Lovers" 7"
Split release from Cool Death, who had a hell of a year (Gutter Gods, Velvet Whip, Power, Leather Lickers), and the most recent catalog # from Distort. I seem to remember the Dribble cassette being more of a Gutter Gods mess of slobbering hardcore, but here they sound more like the snotty punk of a nastier Ghastly Spats which is just fine with me. "Girl of My Dreams" has a great nasal whine and insectoid guitar treble with a hook hiding beneath it all. "High Street Girl" is a stuttery punk rock bum-out with more guitar squealing the line of which carries right into "Cowboy" which has the refrain of "gimme gimme fun/I never have fun" which makes for a great Stooges death-trip update or reminds me of a time when Black Lips still sounded raw and dangerous. I heard a rumor that the Cool Death blokes had to form Dribble because all their other bands bands were banned from playing any venues in Melbourne outside of drainage ditches. Nice fold out poster sleeves too.(RK)
(Cool Death/Distort // easterbilby.bigcartel.com)
Drugs Dragons "II & I/II" LP
Tony Sagger is a dead-ringer for a young Hacksaw Jim Duggan in the pic on the one sheet for this (2X4 included!) and I'm of the opinion that Sags is one of the more underappreciated guitar slingers of modern times. His work on the Sagger singles is some of the best of the period, and I might be one of the few people outside of Wisconsin who liked some Night Terrors tunes. This is a case of a record that I really want to like a lot, but I only like a little. The vox on this thing (and whatever effects pedal they're running them through) ride over all the tunes and make them all sound very similar. You get some stand outs, like "Chew Toy" which has a trademark Tonys stop-n-go architecture to it, "Polcie Shadows" cuts through the muck with a wheezy siren wail, "Rabid Quasars" is an epic which stands out perhaps because it's the first tune before you hear on the entire record, but it's also a really good one and neatly exemplifies the sound of this entire LP, which is fun in small doses. "Sick Laugh" is good un too, with the old Sags repeat-o-riff trick set to stun. Even though I wish this record was better, it's still better than most bullshit being passed off as garage these days.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymmedical.com)
Energy Gown "Evening Molasses" LP
Firstly, I think 'Evening Molasses' is a hilarious name for a record, but in a good way. I seem to remember liking the psychy stuff Energy Gown put on a single not long ago, and the nicely screenrinted sleeve of this has my hopes high. "One Whig" is great opener, as it kinda sounds like Danny Elfman playing in a garage band. "Racing Snakes" has an early Floyd vibe, "Overflow..." is a heavy wig-out organ jam instrumental that I can get behind. They sort of drift through the last two tracks on the A, but come back good with "Pitch Drops on the Atmos Clock" to begin Side B. It has a real convincing basement-psych vibe to it that they do some Hawkwind-esque sci-fi rock moves along with. "Doc Silver's Hoop Laws" is more Floyd-ian acid testing, "Day Man" sounds like they smoked a little too much weed (seriously dudes, these lyrics are not good) and "Round House" again has some budget-sounding psych moves. Not a bad record at all, these guys aren't the sickest band in the world and stll need some work, but more than half of these tunes summon up some really entertaining budget-rock vibes, and at the very least they're actually playing psych-rock, not the bullshit warmed over 2014 version of the genre. There are moments where it's just fun watching them stumble as well, but I think they did a fine job here and are better than most other bands I've heard from Chicago recently. Keep smoking that herb fellas.(RK)
(Alona's Dream // alonasdreamrecords.com)
Erkenbrand "Barabtalo's Dream" 12"
So, like any normal human would, I had to google this shit - the closest I can come to figuring this out is that Barabtalo is/was a Nabokov scholar who did some work regarding the dreams of said guy. Sounds like as good a jumping off point as any, wheen combined wiith the Blinko-esque art and collage on the sleeve, provides a suitable back drop for Erkenbrand's theatrical jam-psych epic here. Supposedly these Danes are a two-piece, but I have to think there's a lot more than a duo performing this. Somehwere inbetween free-noise and maybe some pagan-neo-folk things (I like the term chamber-punk here) is heavy stuff, mostly doomy instrumentalism with some ominous vocals (and a possible Lord of the Rings reference), heavily echoed, lots of percussive elements, some tape manipulation, plenty of strings (mandolin, guitar, violin), very brooding and menacing, and honestly a real pleasure to listen to. I'm not the freakiest guy out there, but the mystical BS or whatever juju they're working here won me over. An impressive and massive piece of work. Scum stats: 150 copies only.(RK)
(Mastermind // www.mastermindrecs.com)
Estrogen Highs "Hear Me On the Number Station" LP
I was worried that Stefan had packed Estrogen Highs up after not hearing from the band for nearly two years, but the band still lives on as a four piece and have emerged from hiatus with their fourth LP. The title refers to the phenomena of shortwave radio transmissions often sent in code and coming from mysterious origins, a fitting reference to the low-key pop the band excels at and also fitting for a band that I feel you really have to sink into to appreciate. EH are one of those things that often seem like nothing special - and I don't mean that derogatively - but as the band has moved on from its earlier more garage-inflected early records to reveal Stefan's penchant for the sounds of NZ - both kinds, Xpressway and Flying Nun - writing understated lo-fi pop songs that don't necessarily jump out at you, but sort of settle into your brain. "Hear ME..." really reminds me of their New England brethren Sebadoh - a long list of songs jumping genres, some noisy interludes and tape manipulation, throwing in some punk rockers alongside plaintive and often melancholic folk inflected tunes, jaunty pop songs, acoustic asides and lo-fi indie turns. Lots of quiet rock songs, a lot of introspective lyrics as often about love as hate, often cloaking the more venmonous moments under the veneer of pop-rock. Smart stuff, and as always (and much like Sebadoh) there's a bit of chaff with the wheat, Stefan throwing everything in the bag, but it makes for the overall feel. Closer "Poverty of Human Words" (of course an instrumental) has what I can only describe as a New Zealand keyboard sound, "This Harsh Country" is the standout rocker that's almost jarring in its tempo (and showing off some hardcore roots), "Flashing Fireworks" reminds me of Richman, and then leads into the fuzz-out instrumental. The piano-only "Ungrateful" is the kind of home-recorded bitterness that really gets Barlow-ian. As much as everything says this is very NZ influenced (and it is) it reminds me just as much of New England and the lo-fi cassette underground of the Nineties. A record you don't have to try hard to like, but a record full of nuance you'll have to pay attention to. (RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Flesh Lights “Free Yourself” LP
After this springs trio of full-blown cacophony (Burnt Skull, Obnox & Unholy 2), things have settled down a bit at the 12xU stable. To lift you from that bone chilled, bummed gutter of goth delivered by Dead Space, you get the rough hewn pop of Flesh Lights. I’m not the first (or even twentieth) person to go about asking for recommendations on power pop, glam or the like - but I do love the hell out some Plimsouls and Cheap Trick. This scrappy Texan combo travels the grid between such mentioned acts as well as having a Real Kids street punch. Catchy yet ragged enough to bring me out of my usual shroud of hate and doom sounds and partake in a few rays of sunshine. That said - this ain’t some cutesy Burger barf friend-rock. Tracks like “Mandarin” totally leave the funboy territory behind in a road worn pummel and ripsnorting guitar screech that tears off like a great Carbonas punker. “German Discs” smacks of the Catholic Boys and the Impediments come to ear during “We Go Off”. That’s enough edge alone to make the platter worthy of repeat spins. Other pop driven moments rub me right like The Perfect Fits used to do, especially in their livewire, Goner Fest BBQ and beer bashed ways. Plus there’s fiery fretwork a plenty for the guitar magazine readers out there who need some technique and not just attack. The schizophrenic vibe of multiple song styles and switch singers makes the whole thing seem like an excellent new volume to those Casual Victims Pile compilations in one band. Scum Stats: 500 pressed, with 100 on Shiner Bock tainted urine yellow. (RSF)
(12xU // www.12xu.bigcartel.com)
Flesh Wounds s/t LP
I wasn't really into the 7" I heard by these North Carolina garage-punkers, but they fare better on the long playing format. The guy really fucking screams out those lyrics here, which at the least makes you pay attention. I feel like he's gonna puke at any second. At their best they remind me of a trebly Manateees, they keep the pacing frantic for the most part and whip up a nearly Bantam Rooster-ish sound at their highest plateaus (except it takes them two guitars to do the work of one Tom Potter), and there are some more garage flavored moments which shows they took the mandatory Oblivians 101 class with a focus on the Cartwright themes. While it's nothing we haven't heard before, I give them credit for playing actual garage-rock with a considerable amount of gusto.(RK)
(Snot Releases // ww.snotreleases.com)
Fogg "Death" LP
Debut LP from Forth Worth's Fogg, a backward gazing power trio heavily into Sabbath and Blue Cheer. They inject a bit of boogie into some of their riffs, and they've written a few decent ones here, the vocals have a really weird nasally reverb effect on them, it goves the vox some personality, I'm just not sure if I like it. Sort of thinner medium-fi production job, going for that garage sound, and it comes off sounding like somehwere between King Tuff and Ty Segall's Fuzz. Not a particularly heavy sounding record, which is odd, since their main theme is emulating one of the heaviest bands of all time. The riffs frizzle and fry a bit, but end up soudning sounding dry and almost brittle in the end, a lot of the noodling takes from that heaviness as well. It's perfectly listenable record, and at some point I start to dig that they're perhaps going for a lo-fi stoner sound, but in the end, there's not much to remember. Lots of bands flogging this stuff these days, and Fogg are decent at it I suppose, but you could always just go buy the latest Satan's Satyrs record and hear it done really well.(RK)
(Play Pinball // playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com)
Frau "Punk Is My Boyfriend" 7"
"Feminist punk" band Frau includes members of Good Throb, one of the hottest bands of 2014, and that alone should sell the 400 copies of this 7". Agressive and discordant punking with elements of anarcho-noise and the learn-as-you-go DIY. "Punk Is My Boyfriend" flails at the listener in bursts of slashed guitar and vocal caterwauling while a drum/bass beat hustles along behind. "Snakeskin" is a desperate sounding ninety second modern take on Crass Records slash and burn. "Orca" is the one I like best, as it builds up a goood head of steam, great guitar line where it sounds like she's playing some iteration of the Jaws theme as fast as she can, a bit of bass burble and the gal singer starts foaming at the mouth. I'm not as hot on this new wave of Brit-DIY as many, but the punk spirit in evidence here is still inspiring and the only bad thing I can really say about Frau is that they allowed Deadbeat to press their LP. Scum stats: 400 copies, and it's remarkable what something as simple as a rubber stamp can add to make a record look cool.(RK)
(Static Shock // staticshockrecords.bandcamp.com)
Gas Chamber "Hemorrhaging Light" LP
Every time I start thinking that the local Buffalo scene is the pits, I recall that at least we have Gas Chamber as a constant reminder of what we are capable of after all the other up-and-comers have broken up and split town. 'Hemorrhaging Light' is the first long player they've graced us with, preceded by some exceptional singles and their always devastating and thought provoking live performances. The A-Side is filled with rage and delivered with the precision of a band of exceptional musicians stretching out the boundaries of hardcore and powerviolence into what I would hesitantlly call progressive hardcore, but the band seems okay with description so I am too. "Prog" is sometimes seen as a bad word, as an egghead's excuse to shoehorn some instrumental wank into their music, but Gas Chamber incorporate their musicianship into the template of hardcore with style and skill, using it as an extension to create a sonic world of crushing humanity. As I said, the A-Side delivers the bulk of the LP's songs with blast furnace intensity, their steel glare tempered with a variety of noise interludes, instrumental passages, the brief appearance of a female vocalist on "My Warsaw", speeds varying from fast to blastbeat fast all the way down to the fragile acoustic that drifts off to end the side. Side B begins with the same intensity, then breaks up into a noise track that sounds like a steel mill and then the remainder is taken up by "Pigeon", reworked from an earlier 7" with an extended instrumental backend that might be the best thing they've ever done, equally harrowing and beautiful. A wonderful LP from one of hardcore's most innovative bands, fittigly released on Iron Lung, one of the few bands/labels I would consider their peers. As I always repeat in these reviews, Gas Chamber are so good they can take a style I almost never enjoy (the PV end of hardcore with the prog added in) and is way outside of my wheelhouse and make me love it. Scum stats: 500 copies, this first pressing also come with a flexi that contains a sci-fi styled noise track that is actually quite good. Excellent design with photos by Shephard documenting the industrial decay of our fair city on the lake.(RK)
(Iron Lung // ironlungrecords.bigcartel.com)
Germ House "Showing Symptoms" LP
Justin Hubbard is married to Tara from Mr. Airplane Man/Turpentine Bros and they also have another band called Far Corners, who released some singles I thought were pretty good and weird, and Germ House is mostly Justin with Tara playing some drums on the record (and live they add Joe Ayoub, which ties in the Marked Men reference on the promo). They got a great lo-fi recording sound for this, not real distorted or anything, but it sounds distant which gives the songs some additonal emotion. And Justin writes some pretty good songs here, it's garage-punky but having some nice pop flair, not in a goofy power-pop sing-songy style, but kind of in a more complex Kinks fashion or something along those lines. There aren't just simple 1-2 rockers, they're not too fancy either, just sort of taking some different and less trodden paths to find his hooks. The A-Side is all winners, and he drops a couple duffers on the B-Side but it also has some of the album's best, the ripping "Keep It On Your Good Side", the BFTG-ish "40 to Stay" and "Whoever Said This Should Be Fun" which is the album's one weird-psych tune. The whole LP has a really cool bedroom-rocker vibe, it's not perfect but that's essential to records that rely on personailty like this one, there have to be some warts. This record will probably be lost in a sea of releases by inferior bands (many of them from the Bay Area), but if you're looking for a jewel amongst the glass, this is it.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // troubleinmindrecs.com)
Gibbous "Mortal Crust" 7"
Lumpy Records appears to have some big plans for 2015, and this Gibbous 7" is the first salvo in Lumpy's broadside attack against punk rock jerkoffs. No info on this one man recording outfit, other than he is from STL and has probably been a Dumper or Calorie at some point. "Mortal Crust" is no-fi space-punk tale about a computer taking over the human rce (or whatever is left of it), built with no-fi synths, some circuit tweaking sounds, a crisp artificial drumbeat and Dalek vox. "No Elevators" is a cautionary tale regarding the dangers of elevator travel (including a real news soundbite) and is a fuzzed out punker that wins me over immediately with the sax (and it's sax playing, not just some cheap skronking), dum dum vocals and digidrums giving it a post-apocalyptic Spits-vibe. Topside is demented and the flip is an 'effin rocker. Get on it, Spotted Race 2015, Lumpy for Prez...Scum stats: not many. Hand stamped covers, with insert.(RK)
(Lumpy Records // spottedrce.bigcartel.com)
Golden Pelicans s/t 12"
I've been begging for a Golden Pelicans long player since the first 7" and the kings of Colonial Town finally deliver with an eight song 45rpm EP (or is it a mini-LP? Is that an actual format anymore? Was it ever?) that you need to hurry up and grab, since this thing already appears to be sold out from the label. It's a fact that the Pelicans are the only garage-punk band that matters in 2014. Shit, they might be the only actual true garage-punk band around anymore, as that genre name has been bastardized to an almost unsalvageable degree over the past few years. What are these guys doing right that evryone else is doing wrong? P-U-N-K. They remembered the fucking punk, punk. They sound tough, but not too tough to know how to have a good time. There's no posing, no costumes, no powerpop pussyfooting, no wannabe psychedelics, no Black Lips aping, no BBQ sauce blooze bullshit. Jeans and t-shirts rock'n'roll, no pretension, just chugging the hard stuff. Everything is how it's supposed to be. Loud and agressive guitar playing with solos that actually rip when they appear, thug drumming, a secret weapon of a bass player and one of the best frontmen in the biz. King G's voice has settled into the perfect tone of ragged rock vocal cords after years of perfecting it with booze and cigarettes. I feel like this is the toughest garage gang since Baseball Furies, and I do not make Furies mentions half-heartedly. The A-Side of this has the rollers, "Two Feathers" should be getting pumped through the PA at Rays games, "White On A Friday Night" and "Chad and Stacie" show these guys can write fucking songs too, not just beat you up. There's hooks there and not the bullshit pop whoa-whoa kind, I'm talking serious rock hooks. It's like the A-Side is the big fuckin' party where they're drinking beers with you and getting wild, then they turn it up even more on the B-Side, where they get mean and start stealing your beers and women. The segue of "Turquoise & Silver" into "New Jersey" is a masterstroke of rock genius. Talk about putting on a clinic..."Pissing In A Puddle of Puke" coulda been a chart-topper of an A-Side and "Hard To Swallow" hammers it home and leaves you scurrying to play this thing again. I hope this is a record that some kid buys because it looks cool, not knowing what he's getting into, takes it home and gets his head blown wide open and just trashes the place. It's that kind of record. Add to the equation that these guys completely destroy live, and you just might as well tell all the other garage-punk bands to step it up or just stay home. Scum stats: 500 pressed, screened covers with insert. There are some test press editions out there as well with a variety of sick alternate paste-on covers. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
The Gotobeds "Poor People Are Revolting" LP
A very smart record written by some very smart young men from Pittsburgh. On their debut LP Gotobeds are already halfway there, on the label I guess we could call Matador Jr., and I suppose "there" is the front of the indie-rock pack, a place where they deserve to be. Take the Pavement songs you actually liked and add a songwriter who has an affection for Swell Maps, The Fall, Wire (and Felt) and other post-punk touchstones and that's a start. Then figure in that they're from Steeltown and coming to this from a more working class angle instead of the art school pretense favored by NYC's finest (and their takedown of Big Apple livin' is a wonder to behold) all delivered with a very sharp wit and plenty of barbed lyrics. It's an interesting recipe that works more often than not, sometimes wearing their influences very prominently on their sleeves ("Rollin Benny" is a hell of a Fall tribute), and coming up with some vital sounding new permutations of the indie rock strain of DNA. Another case of a band that I truly wish college radio was still around in its glory days for, because they would rule those airwaves. I dont think Gotobeds are going to be the sort grizzled road dogs trying to break big by gigging non-stop, but I wish they were, because they could stir some shit up across the land. At times this really reminds me of the Ponys, another band who had a really good shot at becoming big(ger). Anyway, even when it gets a little too clever it's still likeable, as they invest their tunes with some piss poor punk attitude and the type of bullshit-calling that other bands should fear. I'm dancing around a lot here, trying to half-assedly describe a band that I like very much, so I should just say that this is what indie-rock should sound like in 2014. A stellar debut from a band you should be excited about, especially if you're young enough to not remember the times when indie-rock was actually the adventurous land of creative bands. Gotobeds (along with Protomartyr and some others) seem to be possibly making that happen again.(RK)
(12XU // 12xu.net)
Hierophants "I Don't Mind" 7"
Shit, this is the Hierophants fourth single already (along with a few tape releases too), and I don't think calling them Jake's "other band" when he's not doing Ausmuteants is being unfair. They're a perfectly good band in their own regard, but not quite as brilliant as the 'mutes, but not too many other bands are right now. "I Don't Mind" is an organ-grinding garage workout, with an exuberant hook and a neat little stutter-step drum pattern. The bottom side is "The 16th", a possibly clever sequel to Wire's "The 15th". It's an audacious idea at the very least and executed proficiently. I've been thinking about this one a bit, which is a good sign. The most memorable of the band's singles thus far, LP coming on Goner this year. Scum stats: limited version of this is on purple vinyl, a color I don' think Goner's done before.(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
The Instigation "No Way Out" EP
I've reviewed The Instigation before, and my take still sands: best punk band in China, even if I think only one of the members is actually Chinese. This stuff was recorded in 2011, as the band members have apparently all moved on. Three songs of completely passable and highly energetic Angry Samoans-inspired hardcore punk. Honestly, it's impeccably done for the style and I hope they played Skate Rock when Thrasher went to China. The only negative here is they do a lousy cover of "Degenerated", but it's more of a case that they tried to cover a song that should never be covered than their own musical shortcomings. I mean really, how are you going to try and do anything with the Reagan Youth guitar tone and not sound like a total dickhead?(RK)
(self-released /// theinstigation.bandcamp.com)
The Insults "Stiff Love" EP
Last Laugh thankfully returns to us after nearly a year of neglecting our KBD jones with The Insults' fantastic second single from '79. With a different vocalist this time out, the snot quotient still stays high, and "Stiff Love" might be one of the more offensive/graphic songs of the KBD canon (not an easy task, mind you) via a ribald tale of a gal who's really into wrapping her lips around...stiff. Love. Guitarist (and band leader) Richard Sikk really wails in the background on this one while the rest of the band hump it out double-time on this jaunty track. "Tax War" is a poppy little topical number with even more bounce. And for as great as "Stiff Love" is, I really think the meat on this potato is in "I'm Just A Doper" because it reaches a certain level of dunderheaded brilliance that only occurs when the KBD stars align just right. A raw guitar riff, flat out stupid lyrics delivered by a meathead, lyrical drug references (and I always love the part where he sneaks in spelling out D-O-P-E-R), a memorably dumb chorus...I dunno, it's just always been a favorite of mine. I ain't no dentist. Cut straight from the master tape as always, because Last Laugh = quality goods. A lewd and crude KBD must-have.(RK)
(Last Laugh // www.almostreadyrecords.com)
The Intended "Huguenot" 7"
The Intended is mostly guys who have been in Tyvek at some point (Kevin, Heath and Larry along with Glen Morren, whose name I can't place) playing as a more traditional four piece garage band. "Huguenot" has Kevin on shouty vox and it's a gooey sounding Sixties rocker with lots of wahhhhh-fuzzzz jamming on it, but still maintaining a real rock foundation. It has that Tyvek all-instruments-sound-glued-together sound to it ( I still say Swell Maps!), and some jam-out Detroit Rock Citiness. "The Alchemist" on the flip has the Glen fella on vox (he's also the second guitar on both tunes) and is more like a space-rock pop tune, some freak fuzz and strange tales vibes giiving a cosmic energy to its pop stroke. People should be all over this, and probably will be once they know it exists. Makes the wait for Tyvek's next move a bit more bearable.(RK)
(All Gone // allgone.bigcartel.com)
Ipps "Everything Is Real" LP
Columbus band of scene-lifers: Bo Davis (Unholy Two, Necropolis), his better haf Emily Davis (Necropolis) and the drummers (yes, two drummers) from Guinea Worms and El Jesus De Magico. Columbus is probably #2 or #3 on my all-time favorite USA Rock'n'Roll Cities list, and this is a very Columbus-centric record as the one sheet will tell you. Obviously I'm into it, and while it sounds more than enough like Times New Viking, there's also touches of skewed House-ian indie rock (GP/TJSA), some thick-n-punky Guinea Worming, some heavy Shepard-like moments and at times it even reminds of Royal Trux when they were a rock'n'roll band. I never think the two drummers idea is a good one (and again, it sounds like one guy like it always does), the Davises trade vocals pretty evenly, there's no bass player (which the Adam Smith recording masks in a thick treble-fi recording) and there's a weird organ/theremin sounding thing that pokes its head into most songs. "Dig Yr Brain" starts us off with a cool hard-rocker with hook included, ""Never Sleep" is frantically poppy and brings to mind World of Pooh perhaps. After about the fourth tune on the A-Side they run out of steam a bit, but the last tune ("Yr Thick") is a slo-mo popper that's a winner. I think Side B is the stronger stuff, "Return to Tapedek" is a crafty pop number that pays off at the end. "U Need to Bleed' Is a Ramones-rip at heart, but they pretty it up nicely. "Creeping Deth" is one of those Trux-like rocked-up moments (maybe the spelling thing too). "Goawa" is the last song, and fittingly the wildest, and maybe the one song where the two drummer thing pays off in stomp. You know what I like the best about this? It doesn't sound just like a GBV record...but seriously, this is a cool little weird-pop LP, the band maybe still needs some time to hone this stuff to a sharper point but the good stuff is really good, and hey...Columbus, right?(RK)
(Superdreamer // www.superdreamerrecords.com)
The Klitz "Sounds of Memphis, '78" EP
Honestly, this record has more merit historically speaking than it does actual listening pleasure. The fact that this is an all-girl punk band from 1978 Memphis recorded by Alex Chilton and Sam the Sham (?!) is remarkable. The Klitz sound on this is far more DIY-shamble than punk rock, simplistic drumming that could be deemed tribal by default, strummed guitars, bass player tries to keep up and Gail Elise Clifton's vox sound a bit like Exene's. Obviously the recording isn't the greatest, this was all done in a single three hour session and I would imagine were just meant to be raw practice tracks. Their take on "Hook or Crook" has the most import here for obvious reasons, and it's fun to hear them destroy the song in a good way. Not quite essential, but one of those things you still need to hear a few times. For Memphis completists and uberfans of girl-DIY. Scum stats: 500 copies, no repress.(RK)
(Spacecase Records // www.spacecaserecords.com)
Liminanas "I've Got Trouble In Mind" LP
"7" and rare stuff 2009-2014". This is actually pretty handy, because I do like Liminanas, but not to the point where I'm going to track down every single and comp appearance at this point (but I will confess to having most of the 7"es comped on this already...). You should know the drill with these two by now, a modern melange of pop-sike, yeye and garage done with French class. They employ "guest" vocalists at times, usually female, and Marie sings a fair share as well. I'll cop to not digging the songs the dude(s) sing so much, but this type of stuff really requires the feminine touch. This comp covers their Hozac single (and I'm still of the mind that "I'm Dead" is their best tune), most everything they've recorded for TiM that's not an LP and some oddball stuff I'd never heard before. A well done Brian Wilson cover from a Mojo comp (this band gets some press, yes), a cover of Jay Reatard's "An Ugly Death" that they also do something good with (from a French tribute CD), a lof-fi garage cover of "Christmas" and the closing instrumental (which was a promo from a comic from the guy who did the art for this LP) shows that Lionel has a good hand for that sort of stuff. A very pleasant band and record.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Liquid Diamonds "Aw Maw" 7"
I'll come right out and say (again) most records Sonny Vincent has made post-Testors are not worth your time or money. However, any record made pre-Testors is shockingly well worth your hard-earned cash. The Fury 7" is absolutely spectacular (and a must-own), and now this Liquid Diamonds material proves to be pretty killer as well. Sonny was playing his ass off in the pre-punk (and punk days) trying to make a go of it, and this 1973 outfit managed to lay down a couple tracks at some Upsate NY recording mansion that Sonny has been sitting on all these years. While not as lethal as the Fury material, this version of "Aw Maw" (at least three years before Testors laid it down) has a real MC5 feel in this incarnation, with solos laced all over it (including one segment I swear he swiped from The Nuge) and an extended jam out part. Sonny's voice is still one of the best in punk here, and his guitar sound is already fantastic and doesn't sound much diffrent than it did three years later - thick and nasty. B-Side is "Long Ago", a slow powerful jam of the type popular at the time, and it's heavy all right. Some sick soloing from Sonny and it's a superbly written tune, really tugs at the heartstrings, ya know...Sonny's vox are again intense and testifying. Both songs are live studio efforts and slightly thin, but not enough to bitch about. If you LOVE Testors like I love Testors, you should snatch this up. It's weird that's there's no liner notes/insert to this though. I hope Sonny has some more early tracks laying around somewhere...(RK)
(Hozac Records // www.hozacrecords.com)
Love Potion "Repaying Your Hospitality With Violence" LP
Live documentation of a 2011 show somewhere in Finland where Love Potion apparently bummed a lot of people out at a fest od somee sort judging from the insert info. Love Potion were a Danish hardcore band on the heavy/grind side and have shared labels with legends like Rupture...and Meat Shits....Sample song titles: "Ejaculate with Hate", "Piss Chalice"...I will say that the recording quality for a live hardcore gig is really good. From the sounds of things, it doesn't seems like they weren't getting over well with the crowd...either that or they cleared the room. For fans of Anal Cunt (who they cover here) and such. Bleargh. Scum stats: 150 copies.(RK)
(Mastermind Records // mastermindrec.tictail.com)
Lucha Eterna "Asceroso" 7" EP
The latest wave of Clevo punk kids (I'm sure there's a new bunch about to start sneaking into NTC any day) was led by Lucha Eterna (or at least they were the first of the newer breed I saw play), who were always highly entertaining in the live setting (even though I thought their recordings never captured that), a brilliant shitstorm of hardcore noise and yelling in Spanish from some teenaged punks. Those kids are getting older, old enough to break up their band and start doing other things (Bad Noids, Real Regular, Saucepan Records...) and this EP stands as the last gasp of Lucha. Terrible artwork aside, this is the best you're ever going to do if you want to know how great they were live. Side B rips especially hard, "Walter Mercado" into the Guns cover is particularly sick. The recording captures them pretty well, hyper-riffs, Richard yelling himself hoarse, blasty Wedge-inspired drumming, constant velocity. And when I say they were great live, I mean that often they killed, sometimes they were a total mess, but they always punged headfirst without abandon, which is what we've come to expect from Cleveland. I'm sad Lucha are done, but also glad to know these guys are still around doing other stuff. Clevo breeds lifers. The next best thing to seeing them at The Tower.(RK)
(Saucepan Records // saucepanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Luum s/t 7" EP
Debut EP from these SoCal kids, sorta hardcore, sorta metal, sorta bland. I mean, let's be honest, these kids are few steps away from sounding like Korn. At least they're playing really fast and there's no slap bass. Ah, I'm making it sound worse than it is. It's just fast metallic hardcore, except there's not too many mosh parts either. Last song is almost prog and I'm betting they've seen a few Tool videos. These have to be real youngsters based on the lyrics (including a musical companion piece to the Megan Fox vehicle 'Jennifer's Body'), the good news is they're proficient musicians from the sound of it, and they have a lot of years ahead of them to learn how to write some good songs. I will give them a couple of points for the cool packaging, nice design/art, and the tri-foldout sleeve was their best idea by far.(RK)
(self-released // luuuum.blogspot.com)
The Mad "Mask" 12"
Brain Transplant returns to the land of the living with a knockout release from recurring roster members The Mad. Three songs from an unreleased-until-now 1978 session, "Mask" I don't think we've heard before aside from a live version, and it's all riff and some gross Screaming Mad George lyrics. The version of "Eyeball" on this slays and the take on "Devil" (as in "I Wanna Be A...") really sizzles as well, that riff will make you bleed. Recording sound on this is fantastic, really full with just the right amount of rough edge. Scum stats: 500 pressed in four different designs (125 of each), two-color silkscreens on clear labeless 12" vinyl. And of course they look great. The insert on this has me excited about forthcomming BT vinyl from Crap Detectors and The Absentee Concept!?(RK)
(Brain Transplant // btxrex-at-gmail.com)
Manateees "Sit n Spin" LP
Let's just come right out and say this is likely the worst looking (and actually good) record of the year by far. I know that's probably what they were going for, and they really nailed it. Completely awful. Congrats guys. Musically, it deserves better! Manateees have steadily improved over the course of their singles, and they were one of the best bands I saw at Total Punk fest this year. So much hair, just take a look at the back cover (which looks just fine!), it makes for a good visual accompaniment. And the metal edge is what has made their improvement from the first singles on Goner, which I felt were kind of goofy (but good), but when they started rocking heavy on the Ken Rock and TP slabs, that's where it gets really good. Ten songs of Abe's buzzsaw guitar, songs that might give Buck Biloxi a run in the simple/dumb/fun sweepstakes, all power trio rip-n-rock rhythm section action. "Hot N Sour Soup" is a pretty bold rocker, I like that they start this thing out strutting all bad ass. "Shitwolf" sounds like a heavier LFD tune. "Just A Viking" really stood out to me on the first few spins, very metal-esque, but in a shit-fi manner and it has one of those riffs that sounds like it might just be an intro, but then it keeps it up for the whole tune. "Epoch of Enoch" sounds like they ripped a page out of the GG King playbook. There's a version of "Earworm" on here that sounds shitastic, but "Warlock" is the highlight of Side B which sounds surprisingly epic, a real cool extension of the Memphis garge-punk tradition that turns it totally nasty in a way I haven't heard since Jay Reatard, and the best part is Abe doing his own echo on the vox. "Stormcatcher" is almost as good, second best tune on here, again nails that epic feel, super slow in a un-fi metal style, Abe's lyrics getting all fantasy/D&D and shit. These last two songs are some special stuff, totally hammering down their whole aesthetic. With this LP they've carved their sound on some stone tablets and then dropped them straight on your head. (RK)
(Pelican Pow Wow // www.pelicanpowwow.com)
The Manges “Plan Honolulu” 7”
Quite possibly the saddest moment I’ve had reviewing - or even listening - to music this year. I got nothing. How did this escape the Garbage Can? It’s like a Me First & The Gimme Gimmes single just took a suicide dive off of my turntable. There are so many vivid Hawaiian shirts pictured on the sleeve, I’ve gone blind. Christ, if only I’d gone deaf. If you work for One Chord Wonders, please head directly to the Mighty Fevers / Morbeats review for a more positive yarn. Less said here about the Manges the better. I’d like to think this single does not exist, especially in my wigwam. (RSF)
(One Chord Wonders // www.ocwrecords.bandcamp.com)
The Mants "Destroyed By Fuzz" 7"
I'll reveal my Estrus garage turkey roots and tell you flat out I own (and think I still do) a couple Mants 7". I had a soft spot fot their gimmick and the records always tended to look great to someone enthralled by costumed garage rock. Right now though, I couldn't tell you what those records sounded like, but I'm going to guess they were pretty much like this one. Absolutely competent garage-rock circa 1993. "Destroyed By Fuzz" has a mid-period ('Hunger' maybe?) Makers sound that I like. "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" is not a cover thank god, but the original we get fares about as well as that cover would have. "Just Don't Care" goes for a pounding snotty Mummies style with far better production and "Bug Out" is a rawker all the way. I dig the title cut for what it is, appreciate that these guys dug the masks out for another go 17 years after their last record, but I'm still stunned that someone put this out in 2014. Are Kopper and the Garage Punk Forum guys still hiding out somewhere? Because that's where I'd imagine Manglor is moving copies of this.(RK)
(Manglor Records // www.manglorrecords.com)
M.O.T.O. "Chinese Rocks (Or a Fistful of Maobacks") LP
2014: Caporino and MOTO tour China and record an LP while there. Think about that. I'm certainly proud of the guy and what he's done over a 25+ year career with a band that hasn't really changed all that much in spirit over such a time span. An inspirational story. Is this the best MOTO record? Of course not, but I'm glad it exists. Most of the new stuff is more of the indie-rocking style and there's a disturbing lack of songs about his dick, at least until the scorching live version of "Crystalize My Penis" (and I should note there are only 2 live tracks on this) which is the best tune on this aside from "Shitty Kids" (which also appears on a 7") - and for the record only about half of this was actually recorded in China, but still, cool idea nonetheless. MOTO superfans will have to have this, but if you're a casual MOTO-fan like myself, not necessary. Get the "Shitty Kids" 7" instead for the best MOTO tune of the past couple years.(RK)
(Secret Mission/Blast of Silence // www.ecretmissionrecords.com)
Mercy For Living s/t 7”
An archival release of improvisational Italio flange and synth recordings that feels like it has to have some Fogna ties. It does! Dark, brooding scores that plod along simple Killing Joke rhythms and creep beneath a near black metal shriek. Tribal. Ethereal. Simple yet affective gothic punque. Makes you wonder how Sacred Bones didn’t get there first. SCUM STATS: 200 pressed, half on black & white mixed and half on clear. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Paul Messis "Nightmares" 7"
Solo 7" from one of the guys in Suburban Homes. This time it's straight US Sixties garage, again given successfully vintage-sounding production. "Nightmares" is Electric Prunes styled West Coast garage-siker, with the proper reverb effect and some shadowy vibes around the hook. The better of the two songs, played quite skillfully and by the book. "Penny Arcade" is sunshine garage-pop-folk with lots of melody and a harmonica solo. Again, so vintage it hurts, and this one is a bit too plain - all garage, no punk. Get the Sub Homes 7" instead.(RK)
(13 O'Clock Records // www.13oclockrecords.com)
Messrs s/t 7"
I totally forgot how great that Messrs tape was. This 7" is even better. All new songs, five of em, recorded thick and heavy. The three A-Side tracks approximate what Unsane could have sounded like were they a hardcore band. Unnervingly intense waves of destruction that will make you think you smell something burning. B-Side slows down for "After" which is a good couple of minutes worth of negative vibing that builds up a real slow and intense boil, which then explodes into the closing seconds-long blast of "Safehouse". I (perhaps incorrectly) rarely associate Columbus with music this directly agressive (Unholy Two notwithstanding), but these guys more than make up for the rest. Nice all-over print paper sleeve as well. You'd be a fool not to grip this one. (RK)
(Savage Quality // savagequality-at-gmail.com)
Miss Destiny "House of Wax" 7"
I'm not kidding when I say the A-Side of this reminds me of L7 more than a little bit. I think it's the Donita Sparks-like vocal delivery. And for the record, I really like L7. It's a hard rocker that does nothing fanccy, just pounds away and throws in a real simple solo. I like it even more knowing it's about the Paris Hilton remake of the movie (I mean, the movie sucked, but what a weird concept for a song). B-Side does more of the same, a little less pound, a little more vocal harmonizing. Sorta surpised at the straight rock'n'roll here, the vocals are superb and just tough enough, has a slightly wasted Californian feel to it. Good enough that I would shell out for an LP, but I also wonder if the keep-it-simple approach would work over a long player.(RK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)
Modern Warfare "Daygo Shadows Delivered" 7"
Reissue of the underrated first 7" from Modern Warfare. Popular opinion will tell you the "#2" 7" is the better (and more expensive) record, but not me. Three tracks of perfect 1980 Geza X-produced Long Beach punk, "In the Shadows" is a great early LA punk tune, with twin guitar interplay and a nice little hook. "Delivered" has some great stereophonic guitar trickery and always reminded me a bit of The Dils, "Dayglo" is a tight little punk stomper a la Eyes with more cool Geza production tricks. An under-rated record from an under-rated band and under-rated scene/label in general, that whole weird little Bemis thing is a really cool little early Eighties niche that hasn't been plundered by the reissue labels yet - Ut tapped a good vein here, with some more Bemis label surprises coming in 2015. Scum stats: three different silkscreened (inside and out) sleeve color variations.(RK)
(Ut Records // www.ut-records.com)
The Moderns "When She Gets Back" 7"
Unreleased 1979 recordings from The Moderns, the relatively unknown pre-Modern Warfare powerpop outfit that included Jim Bemis of Bemisbrain Records, the label responsible for the seminal 'Hell Comes to Your House' comp and other notable records (Leaving Trains, Nip Drivers, etc). "When She Gets Back" is a powerpoppers delight with an almost sinister hook. "Escape Velocity" is a bouncy almost Gears-like beach punker with rapid-fire vocals and "Run" is a speedy rock zipper. Punker than your average powerpop, which of course scores points with me. The Ut/FK braintrust has made some headway into this surprisingly un-reissued circle of bands, with the Modern Warfare 7" and a discography LP already in the works. Scum stats: 550 copies with silscreened sleeves.(RK)
(Feral Kid/Ut Records // www.feralkidrecords.com/www.utrecords.com)
Mary Monday & The Bitches "I Gave My Punk Jacket To Rickie" 7"
SF archival 7" from around the Hozac way, you'll remember Mary Monday from "Popgun" appearing on KBD #17. The story goes Mary Monday was a former stripper who hooked up with the punk scene and ended up opening for The Ramones on their first West Coast appearance. "I Gave My..." is solid dum-dum '77-'78 clubber with some fancy guitar playing and Mary sure has the snot dialed up to 11 on her vox. "Popgun" is the better cut, with frantic pacing (right up there with "Time Change" for non-stop energy), an absolute ripper of a solo, a big nasty hook, simple yet perfectly effective and dumb lyrics. Not quite in the Dangerhouse league, but a mighty fine slice of early West Coast punkitude.(RK)
(Hozac // www.hozacrecords.com)
Mope City "Halfway House" EP
Hey, you don't name your band Mope City unless you've got some downers to lay on us, and these kids are certainly willing to try and bum you out. Complete indie-rock action, with some acoustic guitars mixed with the electric, girl/guy vocal trading, I think at least two of these songs might be about suicide. "Small Eye" is their A-Side, the girl does a swell job on the verses, the guy sounds sleepy on the choruses and its got a very subtle hook and they turn up the guitars for the big finish. Not bad, but sort of the by-the-books indie. "Halfway House" is a bit uptempo and "Blunt Razor" the most depressed...jeesh. I'll give em some bonus points for executing a well done diorama for the sleeve.(RK)
(Tenth Court // easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Mother's Children "Lemon" LP
Second LP from Ottawa's premier power-glam (or glam-pop?) outfit Mother's Children. They do what they do very well - just enough glam-rock in their power-pop to not sound 100% wimpy and they even mix in some outright punk rock moves. "Talk To Her" is the hit, total early Eighties power-pop style and there's a good half dozen more like it. I've always liked these fellas, because they're not big on the schmaltz, they write short and direct pop hooks, no gimmicks, they don't utilize pompous amounts of glam (or just do the boilerplate Glitter-stomp), the guitar player is capable of ripping leads (one thing that always makes a power-pop song not wimpy), tight as shit musicianship. I'd say they're the perfect ground in between Exploding Hearts and Marked Men and maybe Gentleman Jesse if he was a Canadian. If you want to hear pop-rock played by some men not wearing costumes, here you go. A real swell record for all you fancy lads out there. I would've scored this a point higher if the sticker on the sleeve was actually scratch-n-sniff.(RK)
(Taken By Surprise // takenbysurpriserecords.bandcamp.co)
Musk s/t LP
Look, me saying I love this record is like saying fish love water, but I would be remiss if I didn't say a few things at least. First, it's heart warming to see the Fletcher-Laux combo together again. Different city, same scuzz. Second, Chris Owen's guitar playing (and guitar sound(s)) is sublimely hellish and a reminder to all that he did some great work with the underappreciated Killers Kiss as well, and this is leaps and bounds beyond that. Cheap comparison: Laughing Hyenas covering Necessary Evils, or vice versa. Best song title: "Combat Shock II", the film version of which I'm sure lives deep in the recesses of Rob's mind. The intro on this is brilliant ("muuuuuuuuuuuusk") and whether they're lumbering about like the Butcher Shitter or cleaving through your speakers like Farmer Vincent I feel like it's the clearest realization the idea these "old guys" have been working on in various projects over the past decade-plus and I'm thrilled they made this record happen, and even more thrilled that some real hep blogs/websites (that pretty soundly ignored anything previous these guys have done) have been nice enough to realize it as well. Owen should market the nausea-pedal he uses on parts of this and I'm still undecided whether that's a sax or a harmonica on "Rot Soft". Play it at your sister. Or Ty Segall.(RK)
(Holy Mountain // www.holymountain.com)
Mystic Inane "Deep Creep" 7"
Best 7" of the year. Three songs that capture all the negative energy and creepy vibes that makes punk so disturbingly great at times. Title track is overflowing with guitar, one of the best riffs of the year played by a gal who has taken some things from Sac Trust and the rest of the SST roster and carved out her own interpretation of it. The new singer (at least different fromm the one demo I heard) fits the band much better, the rhythm section just smashes away, all combining into a beautifully sick steamroller of a dirge. "Blue Manhattan" is more of the stuff Solid State Tuners was made of, a slightly primitive but almost jazz-like guitar playing leads the way, precision drumming ticks away the seconds, vox are again the perfect level of mad-at-the-world and mad-at-myself. "I Believe In UFOs" closes with their most devastating and nimble tune, the drummer really gets his piece here, the riff on this one is the simplest yet loudest. An incredible record on all fronts - music, lyrics, art, the foldout sleeve, the band name, the whole aesthetic works. One of the band I most want to hear more from and see live in 2015. Scum stats: 100 on white, 400 on black, if this thing isn't sold out already I'm going to be furious. Also of note is that Negative Jazz is currently batting 1.000....(RK)
(Negative Jazz // negativejazz.bigcartel.com)
Narcosatanicos s/t LP
Danish sextet going hard into the bad-vibe noise-psych experience with at least three guitar players and a saxophone. "Salt" has a croaking vocal thing that makes it sound a little silly, but the band's mission statment is that they're basically trying to replicate the feeel of a bad acid trip, and you gotta have some crazy vox in that equation somewhere. "Voodoo Jesus" hits a noise-groove not that far from Bastards or other scumbait. "Filth" is a noise-jazz-riff with found sound effects spliced all over, "Narcosatanicos" pushes the tempo to hardcore levels with some guitar and sax wank-outs, "Truckstop Prostitute" seems like the obvious Brainbombs tribute song title, but they never get the riffs just right on this. I suppose they're going for a more smeared experimental-noise attack anyway, so I really shouldn't hold that against them though. A pretty bad trip, sure.
Scum stats: 100 on red, 400 on white.(RK)
(Mastermind Records // mastermindrec.tictail.com)
Negative Scanner "Ambitious People" 7"
I was surprised to read this band is half of Tyler Jon Tyler, because that band was a snooze. Negative Scanner has the girl from TJT singing, and she sounds a little like Alice Bag on this. Title cut is a majestic piece of jittery post-punk with a chorus that just soars, her vocal performance is riveting in its confidence. "Evening News" is a bit Ponys-like with some UK post-punk panache. "R.I.P" takes up the B-Side with a longer mid-tempo guitar-slasher that's along the lines of the non-hardcore Vexx songs. The title cut is a real stunner and her vox really make the rest of what could have been an average record much better.(RK)
(Trouble in Mind // www.troubleinmindrecs.com)
Nerv "USA Off Earth Now!" EP
Iowa City hardcore. Anytime I see some alien-themed schtick you immediately think Darvocets, but aside from the Area 51 reference and green men, they're not quite of the same conspiracy-minded gonzola. Musically they're more of the husky Midwestern breed. Hardcore blasters tempered with well utilized feedback sodden guitar playing, thick bass ropes, they switch up styles and tempos a bit but always remain heavy. "Shut-In" has a great lurch that speeds off the tracks then hops back on again. Singer does a great job, sort of a howler, but stays away from using the usual growl that immediatley renders a HC band ordinary in my book. "Big Idea" has some great unhinged moments and a Ginn-inspired solo. Seven tracks, I like where their heads are at. Would probably look good on a bill with NSU.(RK)
(Lagerville Records // lagervillerecords.bigcartel.com)
New Swears "Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whatever" LP
This band, this record, these songs = exactly what is wrong with "garage" music in 2014. This new strain of post-Nobunny "party" bullshit is quite honestly the bottom of the barrel and has dragged things down to depths I don't think have ever been plumbed before. First of all, this isn't garage, it's fucking pop-punk masquerading as rock'n'roll, maybe weak powerpop at it's very best (which isn't very good). The amount of horseshit on this record is staggering. Absolute bullshit from the songs to the artwork. Seriously terrible.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // www.bachelorrecords.com)
Nun s/t LP
Much anticipated debut LP from Melbourne synth-punkers Nun, comprised of members of Constant Mongrel, Woollen Kits and more. Works the dystopian future aesthetic hard, from the high rise on the cover conjuring a JG Ballard reference, songs called "Cronenberg" and "Uri Geller", Blade Runner vibes (I think there's even a lyric about replicants) to Jenny Branagan's tendency to sound like the villainess in a Dr. Who episode. It ties the whole thing up into a tidy package with crisp drum programming and an arsenal of synths s they walk the darkest corridors that Gary Numan stalked with Tubeway Army. Not quite all doom and gloom (and goth) either, just the darker edge of pop songs propelled by the finest in analogue synth manipulation/playing you'll find these days. Recorded fantastically by Tom Hardisty, the low end is what gets me the most, and I imagine it's a real treat to hear this blasting live with the appropriate lighting and smoke. At their hardest they stop just short of where industrial music would begin (and the band - or at least Branagan - cite Minisrty/Jourgenson as a big influence) and much of the time it seems like a less dancey KMFDM. They're creating a very calculated product, and it succeeds incredibly well. There's no shortage of hooks here, and even though they go headfirst with the schtick, it's so catchy you don't mind aside from some obvious turns. I suppose "Immersion II" has to be the lead-off track, and as goofy as the lyrics to "Kino" might be, it still sounds excellent. Supposedly the domestic Hozac press is due really soon...(RK)
(Aarght/Avant // just wait for Hozac next month...)
Obnox "The Juke That Sat By The Door" 12"
Oh hey, just here reviewing another Obnox record. Chunklet released this one. I like "Dark Arts" a lot because it reminds me of the punk Bassholes tunes, but it's only about a minute and a half long. The rest of the A-Side isn't his best, two longer tunes that sound like they got away from him a bit. Jumbled, a bit unfocused perhaps, "All Hail the Deejay" has an awkward rhythm that never settles comfortably in a groove, "Sit Your Ass Down" sounds mailed in. B-Side isn't much better, "Do the Clap" sounds like a mess of a Dirtbombs tune and the Eddie & Ernie cover feels like it was thrown in as the mandatory tribute to his influences on each record. Maybe this was a rush job or at least some barrel scrapings when compared to the high quality of his previous efforts.(RK)
(Chunklet // www.chunklet.com)
Octagrape "Vertical Evasion" 7"
Two sided covers record from the Octagrape on a square lathe-cut that quite frankly sounds like garbage. Their version of Pretty Things "Mr. Evasion" sounds pretty straightforward, given a little extra guitar effects wank, adding an element of SF faux-psych to a legit psych tune off 'SF Sorrow'. There's some irony in there if you want to look for it. Swell Maps are very high up on the "Bands You Should Never Cover" list, not just out of respect to the originals but because how the fuck are you gonna cover the instrumental insanity of a Swell Maps tune? Octagrape stretch "Vertical Slum" out to about three times it's actual length, adding an extended instrumental freak out on the end after the lyric chant ends the original, and I'll admit it actually works. They didn't play this one too straight and bent the song into their own framework. If this lathe didn't sound like a 78 that went through a belt sander I'd like it even more. I suppose I could just use this download code...Scum stats: mine is #ed out 20 copies with a hand-painted sleeve. I admire the craftsmanship.(RK)
(self-released // octagrape.bandcamp.com)
Octagrape "Dial-An-Animal" 7"
Round-shaped lathe that sounds even worse than the square reviewed above. "Ono Cyclone" you can actually hear and if I was given a blindfold test I would have guessed this was a Ty Segall project or maybe Ty jamming with Mike Donovan. West Coast "garage" or "psych" moderne, it's actually a pretty good song with a lazy hippie-pop vibe and a serious jam-out ending with some killer guitar. Could very well be the best Octagrape song I've heard. The side with "Bandaid Licker" is a wash, because I can barely hear it, but it sounds heavy, maybe like Fuzz or one of those newer bands on In the Red. They should really get their money back from whoever cut these, because I've heard lathes that sound just great and these are pretty lousy. Yeeah, yeah, download code, I know, but this a fucking record review, not an MP3 review.(RK)
(self-released // octagrape.bandcamp.com)
The Parrots "Loving You Is Hard" 7"
Spanish garage-punkers second single. Apparently these guys have already been in a Converse advertisement that was shown in Target stores and get a lot of youtube hits. I should end the review there. Two songs of squeaky clean garage, the sort of stuff they use for uh....advertisements where the company thinks something by Black Lips would be too raw. These guys are tight, I'll give em credit, title song is a playful King Khan & BBQ feelin' good dancer, B-Side is a reverbed exercise in clean cut garage but they at least rock a little on this one. Completely sanitized music without any sense of excitement or edge. Makes Thee Oh Sees sound like GG. I kinda like the cover of this though, they look like a trio of gay vampires.(RK)
(Bachelor // www.bachelorrecords.com)
PC Worship "Social Rust" LP
I've steered clear of PC Worship thus far for a few reasons, most of which were based on incorrect assumptions made by myself. They seemed like a bad Brooklyn based "art punk" band, and the ties with Gary War (who made some records that bring on the snooze like few others) had me thinking I was correct, and a cassette releaseon Night People had me thinking I was even more correct. Then I remember reading some shit on the web where they were described as "mutant soul" and could just picture some Ian Svenonius bullshit. Barf. For some reason I gave 'Social Rust' a go, mainly due to Andrew Savage's inisistence (of Parquet Courts, a band I do not dig, and also the guy behind Dull Tools Recs), and I have to say what while some of my assumptions were indeed correct (arty as fuuuuck), it might not really be a bad thing either. The first few tunes remind me a little of a less weird Eat Skull with a bit more oomph at times. "Behind the Picture" has a pretty smokin' mid-section and reminds me a bit of the early Sic Alps stuff, "Gypsy's" is a snippet of Seventie freak-rock, the acousitc "Baby in the Back Room" is actually quite good and reminds me some of Tyvek - the weakest part of the equation overall is the guy's whispery vox, but it works very well on this on this one. B-Side is where the meat it is, three looong jammers taking up the side, all of which are outstanding. "Paper Song (Dig)" is a drone rocker, they do some great things production-wise, getting some massive low end sounds (is that a digeridoo?), female back-ups appear, some strained horns in there somehwere I think. It's a big climbing tune. "Public Shrine" continues the experiments in the deep side of the pool, more massive low end, even more horns, a nearly cinematic sense of dramatics, and really just a noise compostion or some sort of free jazz sludge which dissolves into "First Wave Back" which incorporates the elements of the previous tunes and makes another song - sludge creep, a very determinded and heavy bass/horns driving skronk, organ atmospherics, broken down jazz, lonely guitar, it's a massive bunch of moving parts that sounds BIG. Pretty fantastic and tough to figure out. I'm not going to go back and jump all over their old records (if they all sound like the B-Side of this, maybe I should, but I have a feeling they don't) but I'm real okay with keeping this record in rotation right here and now.(RK)
(Dull Tools // dulltools.bigcartel.com)
Pierre & Bastien s/t LP
Pierre & Bastien "Live" LP
After 3 singles (and a split...and some comps...) we finally get some 12" action from France's finest band, Pierre & Bastien. The trio from Orleans are all business on the live LP, recorded in 2012 in front of what sounds like an intimate and well behaved crowd. Most of the LP is played along with select cuts from the singles and I think I can identify at least two songs exclusive to this release. The band's sound drifts to the darker side on this recording (which sounds fantastic, pulled from the board I'm assuming, but the liners are in French), the doubled-up riffing taking on a sort of shadowy psych/kraut repetition. I'd have left happy if I was at this show, especially after the rave-up take of "Auto-Entrepeneur" they close the set with. The eleven song self-titled LP on Pouet! (who've released other P&B records, plus material from Subtle Turnhips and that Noir Boy George 7") is a sharper sounding affair brimmming with relentless treble-fied riffing and needly lead lines. Monotone vocals add to the European post-punkitude, and there are moments where they almost go Wire-y. I've come to realize the reason why they're my current favorite outfit, is they remind me of the best parts of Cheveu and Crash Normal, except where those guys would make a hard left into some art-punk excess or wacky synth experiment, Pierre & Bastien stay the course and drive those arrows home with clenched-teeth purpose and string slash. This is French guitar action all the way, and they do not kid around. Their machine-like attack never wavers in intensity, no Glue Wave paint huffing or garage turkeying, just all business. It gets so grim that they nearly hit Brainbombs territory on "Twist", which ends the LP on a powerful note, just a massive riff workout with heft and dynamics and the closest they get to heavy low end exploration. And the fact that Paul is singing in French 97% of the time just adds weight. Scum stats: not sure on the live LP (not many I'd guess) but the studio LP was limited to 300 (sold out) and repressed in another edition of 300 (labeled "repress" on the insert).(RK)
(Killed By An Axe /// killledbbyanaxe-at-hotmail.fr)
(Pouet! Schallplatten // pouetschallplatten.bandcamp.com)
Piss Test “Biggest Band in Europe” LP
The Stumptown punkers long play continuation to their fast and furious wave of hits. A pissed, vinegar sting that rattles off a grocery list of trash talk, shit vibes and other seething agitation. “Mayor Of Mississippi” opens things up with an Adolescents guitar slash over sturdy bass gallop - and from there on out it’s an unrelenting hate wave. The Angry Samoans are always in every review about them (even the ones I didn’t write) and that is still apparent, but there’s more to it than that. This classic Frontier-era punk scrawl even has some hometown Wipers pride up in there, as well as the occasional surf lead and hiccupped vocal to keep the sidewalk-skaters out searching for Animal Chin. Hostile tunes that seem to hold a grudge against everything the Northwest has to offer. You name it; coffee, drugs, rain, Nick Cave fans. Fuck ‘em all. I can’t help but to think that bandleader Zach is the PDX answer to San Francisco’s beloved Chud/Chad of Life Stinks. Both are equally caught in a tizzy by what is happening to their chosen region. The Piss Test sound is a closer kin to Scraper’s snort binge aerobics than that Life Stinks nod-out, gutter reality, but both have a great attitude and should run for local government. Action pact and anti-everything that the West Coast Burgerloos hold dear. Solid, no-bullshit punk that should party hard with the Video records of late and those SoCal finer moments of yore. So buy it. SCUM STATS: 550 pressed and wrapped in silk-screened sleeves – some with raer smudges! Clear vinyl and running at 45rpms stateside. 520 copies released across the pond on inferior 33rpm black vinyl and with a kitchen magnet. Quite a bonus for those who aren’t homeless, own refrigerators or have euros at hand. (RSF)
(Jonnycat/Taken By Surprise Records // www.pisstest.bandcamp.com)
Plastix "Konsumier Mich" 7"
Danger Records latest reissue is the Plastix 7", which compiles their only recordings that originally appeared on the super-obscure "Die Todliche Dosis" comp LP back in 1981. Quirky punk-pop/New Wave, characterized by Andrea Bartl's super squeaky vocals. "Konsumier Mich" works for me on a few levels. It has an almost reggae influenced bounce to it, super simple and almost quiet instrumentation that belies a really big hook. Secondy, the conversation they have in the middle of the song sounds like a Sprockets SNL skit come to life and then the tune ends with a bit of Ants-like pomp. High quality Euro-wave here. The B-Side has two more, one of which is busy-sounding wave with a sort of radio-ready sound (for Vienna in 1980). The last tune is actually the most punk, "Geschlechtsverkehr" is a mouthful, but Andrea makes it sound great, she evens does some heavy breathing and panting on this one, it has a terrible guitar solo, and a slight darkness to it. Not a bad artifact (the wavier edge of the power pop crowd will dig this one) but far from as essential as say the Loose Heart 7". Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Danger Records // dangerreords.bandcamp.com)
Posion Girls "Hex" LP
Poison Girls "Chappaquiddick Bridge" LP
The anarcho-punk scene is not my favorite, Crass included, but Posion Girls are one of the exceptions. Vi Subversa was in her mid-forties when Poison Girls began, her children were in Fatal Microbes, her ideas similar to Crass with whom they quickly formed an allegiance after self-releasing 'Hex' in 1979 (with help from Small Wonder, and reissued later on the Crass label). Some of the earliest anarcho-punk aside from Crass themselves, which became the start first wave along with Flux of Pink Indians, Subhumans, etc...on 'Hex' (a 45rpm 12") the band sounds standard issue for the day, but Subversa's lyrics and delivery take things to another level - her startlingly intelligent words deal mainy with personal politics, internal struggle, women's roles. Questioning the need for education, doctors and love and peppered with plenty of cries to burn it down and attack. Subversa's somehwat haggard and aged vocals lend a sense of sometimes frightening wisdom to a young woman's game. Angular pre-post-punk tunes make 'Hex' more of a really good '79 punk record than anything else. The slow-mo creep of songs like "Reality Attack" is exceptonal. "Chappaquiddick Bridge" was their second LP from 1980, when the full-on Crass connection was in bloom. Produced by Penny Rimbaud, with brief appearances from Vi's Fatal Microbes offspring it takes chances, incorporating piano, violin, and the vocals becoming more theatric (sometimes given the air of a burlesque). Sonic experimentation via synths/guitar noise, yet also base level aggro-punk on "Underbitch". This is balanced with the acoustic version of "State Control" that opens, the tribal "Pretty Polly", the frightening "Good Time (I Didnt Know Sartre Played Piano)", Vi's lyrics again dealing with the more personal side of politics but points one barrel at the establishment just as well. Included is a one-sided seven inch (originally a flexi) of "Statement", perhaps the band's best song. Subversa's vocals are unnerving at times, both for the razor sharp smarts and the fact that she sounds like a mad woman (in both senses), and these two records are a reminder to myself that not all the Crass-related bands sound so much alike. Exceptional packaging from Water Wing, thick tip-on gatefolds and lyric sheet repros. The one thing I always fund odd is that PG really weren't much for graphic design on their covers, eh? But I guess you're allowed to do that when the lyrics seak as loudly as these do. Recommended for Crass-fetishits and fans of the deep end of second wave UK punk equally.(RK)
(Water Wing Records // www.waterwingrecords.com)
Primitive Motion "Worlds Floating By" LP
First full length from Brisbane's Primitive Motion, a guy/gal duo doing the arty drone/kraut/DIY thing. A bit of dreamy New Zealand on the opening "Terminal Longings" which is all lovely swaths of keyboard and some mellow sax, "Skyline" cranks out a rough little DIY sound like a broken organ, "The Hill" has a "special guest beat" from Edmund Xavier (Horrid Red, Der TPK) that sort of wanders aimlessly and doesn't really help any (I would not give him a helper on the scorecard), and "Home of the Lone Coast" is a real drivey krauter. B-Side has the wonderful "Silver Frosted Light Force" which is long enough to get lost in and sounds like what I want New Age music to sound like, "Colours" is almost hard in comparison but it's just a low-fi organ sound with vocals that are just the band making noises, which works as some pretentious art school thing. "Mortal SOuls" is the last track, and the one that I did not ride with at all - sounds like Brooklyn to me. They had me on the rest of the LP, whether I was really had or not who knows. I dont usually go for this light sounding arts-n-crafts stuff, but the sax and flute have me hypnotized. (RK)
(Bedroom Suck // easterbilby.bigcartel.com)
Michael Psycho "Think" LP
At first I was thinking, shit are we really reissuing stuff from 1990 now, and then I was hit the reality of fuck that was almost 25 years ago...obvious, but still a jarring fact. This was probably reviewed in an issue of Forced Exposure I've read back to front more than once, and I still had no idea it existed. Michael was an Eighties Sacto hardcore dude who ditched his band and went loner to record 'Think', which is essentially a sloppy garage-punk record that keeps some of the hardcore sensibilities intact - songs about kids, trends, justice, hatred, all the hot topics. Mike's not completely inept, but the demo-style recordings leaves warts and all intact in an endearingly sloppy style. Shit, this could be called primitive folk-punk if you look at it the right way. "Violent Mindless Hatred" is the winner here and "Teenage Love Affair Boogie" has a weird almost cowpunk vibe. A strange out-of-time sounding record that might be dated only by it's lyrical content, it's at its best when Psycho's at his worst (musically speaking). Coley called it a "classic" upom its release, whie I wont go quite that far, it's still worth discovering. Scum stats: vinyl only, 500 copies.(RK)
(S-S Records // www.s-srecords.com)
Quaaludes "Nothing New" 7"
Rather snotty all-girl punk from the Bay Area. "Gin" has some great dual vocals/conversation thing going on, musically it's a garage-punk blaster. "Nothing New" is hard rockin' L7 (second time this section I've dropped an L7 reference), guitar sound is incredibly tough and the girl singing does a great laughing-while-I'm-singing thing that I love. Did I mention that this is fucking hard rock? Both A-Side tunes are jammers. B-Side tacks on three more, "I'm for Them" has more of the crazy lady vocals, "Drool" feels like this girl is just yelling at me now and "Stiff Little Single" slows it down for some Kathlenn Hanna-style diatribe about fucking and stuff. These gals are coming from a way more alt-rock angle than most gals going for the DIY/post-punk sound today, and I like it. I'm also a little scared of the singer. Scum stats: great looking silk-screened pocket sleeves, limited edition on pink wax.(RK)
(Thrillhouse/Dollskin Records // quaaludes.bandcamp.com)
Radioactivity "Danger" 7"
Ive enjoyed most of the Radioactivity records Ive heard thus far, and this one is no exception. Jeff Burke can write a killer tune when he wants to (and he often wants to) and "Danger" is a snappy little number, really taut construction offset with a nice and moody guitar solo. I love these kinda tunes that are kind of downers but still catchy as shit. "Why" is more of the same, a melancholic riffer that double times it nicely on the chorus and has the same sort of bum out vibe that's still weirdly uplifting. This guy is one of the few that can squeeze more emotional impact into a three minute pop-rock song than most bands could even hope to do over the course of their entire career. Top notch stuff, I'm sure the legion of fans these guys have don't need to be told that, but if you haven't checked in on these guys yet, this is the perfect point to start. Great looking sleeve too.(RK)
(Secret Mission // www.secretmissionrecords.com)
Rajayttajat “Awopbopaloopop Alopbam Raja” LP
By now you either get it or you don’t. If you’ve been along for the ride so far, then this is more highly recommended retardo-spunk. Tin-eared guitar squelch, miserably recorded rhythm section, foreign tongued vocals, blurred R&R, R&B and proto punk influence and the sound bites of parties you wish you’d been invited to. Like their first full length, it all seems to be slightly playing at the wrong speed - as if the Doozers from Fraggle Rock took a break from radish harvesting to tear it up a while. Perhaps the turntables in Finland play at 38&1/3 rpm just to mess with us ‘mericans? It’s more of the same, true. But it’s so good. The fist pumping choruses I don’t comprehend. The leads that’d make James Williamson nod in delight. The occasional sax blowout. I mean they got a formula, and that formula is to scramble the best of all into a hash brown like mess slathered in a ton of cheese. Straight up euro-blooze, The Pack fury and Chuck Berry worship all coming to light. This could possibly be a covers album, but Raja lays it on so thick, you may never notice. Yodeling and armpit farts are heard. A bucket full of Goodtime Island, all over again. Also scoring points for the best false ending/lock groove fake-out ever used, possibly setting the whole band up as some kind of Andy Kaufman joke. SCUM STATS: Pressed on USA colored vinyl (Red, White or Blue) and housed in the world’s heaviest and oversized tip-on gatefold sleeve. I had to router a groove in my Expedit© just to fit this bulging bastard. To add to the growing stupidity, it also holds a near subway-sized full color poster. 300 copies shat into existence - plus an overseas version exists. How many? If only the corporate heads over at Bat Shit would lay off the cherry cough syrup or pull themselves away from whatever Danielle Steel novel their thumbing through long enough to do a web update, we’d know for sure. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Real Regular s/t LP
Real Regular is a band made up of the most mongo of the mongos living in Cleveland today, counting past/current members of Bad Noids, Lucha Eterna, Avon Ladies and more amongst their pseudonymned ranks. Heavy Flipper nods with a bizarro Sockeye/Sloth and/or Mr. California absurdist streak, maybe a bit of Numbskull and some definite Folded Shirt devolution. "G.R.I.D.S." starts us off on the good foot with with an off balance dirge they plod and stomp their way through and things just continue falling apart from there. "Joy to the World" sounds like the bassline from "G.R.I.D.S." played backwards with more free-range guitar wandering around the track. "Doesn't It Bleed?" has Buff McGooski's finest vocal, posing a sneering riddle to the listener. Do you have the answer? Does he? "I Am Handsome" speeds it up to mongocore tempo and then it's on to Side Two which goes back to the well for "Return of the G.R.I.D.S. (Again)" which has dueling vocals between a muppet and some guy who just did a huge hit of nitrous and runs the instrumentation from the original track through a phaser or something which makes for queasy fun. The piece de resistance here is "Blue 5/Yellow 10", an almost side long display of these goofs running vocals, bass and guitar through every cheap effect they can find for a real mongo hoedown. These guys should be the house band for the Now That's Class basement, as this is the sort of music that shouldn't see the light of day - a perfectly ludicrous concept band that could only have been imagined underground and under heavy sedation in the wee hours of the night/morning. The overall experience is something akin to the noises in your head when you start doing whip-its after you're already shitfaced drunk. One hell of a record and the first LP on the Saucepan label, which might be on its way to being the next Wheelchair Full of Old Men. There are two sleeve variations for this, but I have to say the one pictured here really gives off a better sense of what this LP is all about. (RK)
(Saucepan Records // saucepanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Red Red Kroovvy "II" 7"
I didn't think we'd be seeing another Red Red Kroovvy record, they seemed like the sort of band who would make a great little punk 7" and then disappear. But they're still banging around Perth, and 'II' shows some progression...no, just kidding, they still sound like the Murder Punk comps run through a sieve and distilled into some sort of pure Australian Seventies punk-thud. The girl singer really lets it rip on this one, and this is a real value with five songs on it, and they're all 100% punk, no indie rock or synths anywhere to be found. "Desire II" is the second coming of Suicice Squad, "Real Life" crawls on the floor like a slightly more competent Germs, "Global Citizen" gets all political and almost starts making me think they've heard a Crass record since we last heard from them. B-Side has "New Year" which is just rude punk rock that you dont hear much anymore - just a riff and lyrics that yell AT you, and speaking of yelling, "Sick" really sends this record off on a high note. Absolutely recommended and absolutely punk.(RK)
(Helta Skelta /// heltaskeltarecords.bigcartel.com)
The Rivals "Future Rights" 7"
The Rivals "Here Coes the Night" 7"
Reissues of both of The Rivals singes (originally on Ace/Oakwood Records, 1979 and 1980 respectively) both of which are supremely snotty and loud examples of the underbelly of local UK punk from an era that is absolutley rife with worthwhile acts like these guys. "Future Rights/Flowers" is an absolute monster 7" (both sides were on the first UK Bloodstains), the A-Side darkly anthemic and the possibly superior B-Side is acctually about destroying flowers but is so nasty it's unbelievable. You could slice a side of beef with a guitar sound this sharp. Incredible production, drums sound huge, guitar is as nasty as can be and another successful example of a bunch of kids who heard the Pistols, started a band and got a local label to put them on so they could fade into obscurity and collectorscum wantlists. They even look great, a fine trio of yob lads. The fantastic story behind their version of "Here Comes The Night" is that they heard Bowie do it and didn't realize the Thin White Duke was doing a cover until John Peel played the origial back to back with their version on the radio (and Peel supposedly said the Rivals version destroyed Them), which led to a surge in popularity but due to shoddy distro no one could even get the single. A bid at major label deal fell through, the drummer died in a car accident and the band dissolved with members ending up in Last Resort and Anti Nowhere League and some other even-less notables. "Both Sides" is the weakest of their tunes due to some added keyboard, but is still hooky in a Professionals kinda way. You absolutely need 'Future Rights' and other isn't too far behind. I'm generally not one to go nuts for 7" reissues (just get the comp LP for chrissakes) but owning the first Rivals in its original format is worth some hype. Nice and thick cardstock pocket sleeves are a bonus. (RK)
(Breakout Records // www.purepunk.it)
Nathan Roche "Magnetic Memories" LP
I thought "Watch it Wharf" was pretty decent for a guy describing himself as "slacker rock" of some sort with some good songs that pulled from the VU-via-NZ school of songcraft. He really works the lazy angle here, sounding semi-comatose for a good majority of it, and there's some seriously schmaltzy Seventies-AOR kinda vibes on a lot of this. "Call Back" is a perfect little pop-song with female back-ups and a heavy Lou vibe to it, but that's aboout the only redeeming song on the A-Side. "2014" has some cool fake-psych vibes and "Bon Voyage!" is playfully Knox-ian. Overall, sounds really half-baked (or way too baked I suppose), the breezy/lazy approach doesn't really make for a memorable listen here and the modern yacht-rock touches don't help any. (RK)
(Glenlivet-A-Gogh // easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Second Family Band "Wrong Carnival, Kid" LP
Formless hippie drum circle kling klang spread over two sides of vinyl. ""Free-Improvisation". "New Weird America". Barf.(RK)
(Earjerk/No Note // email@example.com)
Sewers "Chain of Command" 7"
Brisbane's Sewers come off here much better than they did when I last heard them on that split with Rat King. "Chain of Command" is a compact and gutsy little number that doesn't try so hard to drag its knuckles, it actually creates some weird spaces with "post-punk" chop-chop and some psycho-delic guitar clouds. Shows some progression, which I dig, as I felt they were going in circles on their LP. "Life's A Boar" is a terrible play on words (that makes me want to force a Bushpig reference in) but a decent tune that fits the military-themed baggage on the sleeve - like VPS without the drumming, very lean and mean, which is a good look for them. Their best stuff right here. (RK)
(Tenth Court // easterbilbyrecords.bigcartel.com)
S.H.I.T. "Feeding Time" 7"
Many times hardcore bands are more fun to watch live than to hear on record. I'm sure many will disagree with me on this particular instance, but I think S.H.I.T. are better on record (not that they were bad live), but I think you really get the full vocal effect on record, which I think is the focal point here. Musically it's a heavy rager, with a repeat-o-riff that sort of echoes itself, when paired with the vocals makes for a swirl of siked-out hardcore pummel. "Private Lies" is a slower variation on the formula with more repetition that has them pulverizing their own riff into smithereens by the end. Paired with the mad vox and feedback/noise background it makes for some pretty good damage. I didn't care so much for the previous records, but this one hits all the right marks. Scum stats: first 200 on yellow wax and the Sam Ryser art doesn't hurt.(RK)
(Static Shock // staticshockrecords.bandcamp.com)
Shovels s/t LP
San Fran by way of Melbourne combo gets Homeless to hand over the keys to the car after a short lived run of cassettes and 12”es under the ill-fitting title, Electric Jellyfish. If you recall, I waxed on about how fucking fab Jellyfish was live as well as on recordings, so I’m going into this biased. Along with the name change, the band has brought more subtlety to their spin since their last grotesque EP of sonic abhorrence. After opener “MB Jacket” swells back in forth in a slurred tide of scree slinging, “Multiple Furrow” cracks along the lines of the battered pirate shanties laid down by label mates, Sewers. The 80’s earbleed of NYC is still apparent - especially in instrumental passages like “Grenoble” and “Alternator Debt” - where the siren calls of Renaldo & Moore hellshake these toolshack walls. Then comes the calmness I speak of. “Car Yards” and “Arm Arm Leg” feel like band leader Michael Beach’s solo outings. Moody build up that don’t batter you about the head and neck as much. Perhaps this is due to his removal from the bands home base and back to the Cali haze? I’m cool with it nonetheless because his solo releases are pretty darn stellar as well. SCUM STATS: 350 pressed. 100 of them on dish soap/semen sorta’ clearish vinyl. Originally available on cassette, direct from the band. Find whatever ya’ can. (RSF)
(Homeless // homelessvinyl.com.au)
Sick Thoughts "Moral Sickness" 7"
Now that this kid is starting to write some good songs that don't rip off Reatards records 100%, let's address the other elephant in the room. All of this kid's records look like absolute dogshit. It's true. I get it, he don't give a fuck or whatever, and I can understand tossing out a bad record cover or two. But just about every one of these records looks like garbage, and he should start to care at some point. Let someone else do the art if you have to. The tunes on this are honestly really good, they still have a whiff of Reatards to them, but it's the good whiff where you can tell it's an influence not just a lazy direct rip off. "Moral Sickness" has that raw riffing down, and the bass/guitar solos/runs at the end rule. "Go To Hell" is a GUFU outtake, and I notice Drew is really doing the Jay voice on this one. He redeems himself on "Kept Boy", while sounding like the B-Side of 'Teenage Hate', it's gotta good riff and he sounds a little less like Jay, but then he goes right back to it again on "Never Thought". Shit, I guess I Was wrong about this one a bit, but "Moral Sickness" might be his best track yet. Sadly, I'm also going to deduct points for taking the time to write out a lyric insert, but then slopping it up so bad no one can even read it. C'mon man. It's not like you have to type shit out and design your sleeves on a computer, but at least make it look like you give a little bit of a shit. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Blast of Silence // blastofsilence.org)
Sick Thoughts "You Won't Get Through" 7"
Another Sick Thoughts 7" from Euroland, this has halfway decent artwork aside from the fingerpainting on the cover. "You Won't Get Through" is a pretty decent slow-burner that's heavy on the damage (guitar, vox and psyche) that sounds influenced by Jay but not directly channeling him, which is a plus. "Wanna Hide" is a Samoans-style punk puker and "Can't Tell Me" is an uptempo almost-pop bedroom disaster. Vocals are way louder than anything else on these two. I give this one a solid "okay".(RK)
(Fuck CD's // vapaapalokuntalainen-at-gmail.com)
Sick Thoughts "Beat on Beat" 7"
This kid again? Well, I do envy the fact that this kid has probably has achieved a goal by getting a record on Goner, so good on him. Now it even looks like a Reatards record! In a rare wise decision he actually saved some good songs for Goner though, and "Beat on Beat" is a good and sloppy outta control punk tune that sounds like Sick Thoughts instead of you know what. Blabbering vox are carried along well by the breakneck pace and the gang chorus was a nice touch. Now we're getting somewhere...and I'll be damned if "Fun While It Lasts" is even better! Sounds broken in a good way, sort of sliding tempo change thing going on, and just falls into some sort of locked-up rhythm. Real off-kilter, great drum parts (and sound), this one shows some fucking progress here, sounds like something coming out of the garage-hardcore hybrid machine that's running rampant across the US. If you only own one Sick Thoughts record, make it this one. Scum stats: 100 on red, 500 on black.(RK)
(Goner // www.goner-records.com)
Singvogel "8560 Forar" 7"
Rather interesting record here, I was not expecting this to sound like it does. I figured it would be some heavy punk or Brainbombs worship, but it's really something far away from that whole thing. It's billed as suburban krautrock from Denmark, and the repetition and drone is there. The A-Side gets a ton of character from the bass clarinet, which gives it a real creepy vibe that plays well off of the wall of sound the rest of the band put up - I think it's a five piece at least, all rhythm and drive. Super solid recording, voals are just understated enough, and it really has a catchy momentum to it. Sort of grim, but not evil sounding, very European/hinterlands. I like it a lot. B-Side gets weirder, adding some mandolin instead of the clarinet, the music on this one seems a bit more alt-rock-esque than krauty, kind of like something from a Melvins/Big Biz thing or maybe Skeleton Key. Not as magical as the A-Side. Looking at this now, I think I might have originally thought this was a Swinehood record from the porcine artwork and oversized S. That A-Side track really is something though, makes me wonder which side the rest of the their albums sound like. Scum stats: 240 copies.(RK)
(Mastermind Records // mastermindrec.com)
The Sluts "12" of Sluts" LP
The Sluts were New Orleans' resident drug-abusing band of obnoxious punks from 1979 through the early-mid Eighties, setting their sights high (or maybe low) on the goal of offending everybody and anybody in town. This 12" was originally released in '82 and barfs up a good 14 cuts at 45 rpms, all of which do their best to piss someone off. I think "Nuke the Whales" may be their best execution, but they blow out a few other good ones too ("Moms Cunt" is always a crowd pleaser), and what they might lack in musical aptitude they certainly make up for with moxie. These guys did not give a shit about anything - their fanbase (or lack thereof), proper grammar or spelling, artwork, the scene, tuning up, you name it, they said fuck it. I mean they labeled the sides of this record "fuck" and "you" and then also included a song called "Fuck You" just in case you didnt get the point. I believe it's on "Rip-off Rocker" where singer Dee Slut states "I'm an asshole, I'm a dick..." and that sums up The Sluts right there - punk taken to to cartoonish extremes of antagonism and assholism, and entire LP that equates to one giant middle finger to anyone curious enough to listen. They weren't the most talented band (although they're certainly proficient enough and are perhaps even dumbing it down), the music is just a conveyance for their various ways to tell you to fuck off. And isn't that what punk was supposed to be back then? A fitting reissue for the Jeth-Row label and recommended for fans of Fear, Flipper and the finger. The "liner notes" are a wealth of information - they call the Red Rockers pussies (true), call Ian Mackaye a dick (kinda true), claim they were signed to SST (?!) then broke up and Dee reminds us he was asked to be the singer of Black Flag at one point. Crazings.(RK)
(Jeth-Row/Race! Records // jethrowrecords.bigcartel.com)
Jimmy Smack "Death or Glory" EP
Second piece in the Death Vault Jimmy Smack series, and there couldn't be a more fitting label name to be behind this project. If you don't have the "Death Rocks" 7" yet, go buy that immediately before you read any further, one of the most monster (!) reissues of the year (or last year, who's counting?). Read up on the liners with that one so I don't have to go over it again. Crazy electric bagpipe playing skullface (who I would say The Mighty Boosh ripped of the Spirit of Jazz for) obsessed with DEATH. This is actually the first single, released in 1982 on Jimmy's own Star Theatre imprint and then immediatly lost to the history of punk record wantlists. It's more primitive than "Death Rocks" (if you can belive that), with short pieces of synth/bagpipe noise over which Jimmy bellows aboout the upcoming apocalypse, monsters, lost souls, DEATH, technology destroying mankind and more death. "Death is Certain" is particularly jarring, with just a short drum pad loop and what sounds like a tazer as the instrumentation while Jimmy gives a real deadpan delivery. Death is certain. Spooky. A-Side has three of those, the B-Side has a lengthier piece of static called "The Scarlet Beast" that delivers more apocalyptic doom, this time regarding some sort of she-demon and ends with "Batty" on which he gives the bagpipes an instrumental workout. Not as absolutely incredible as "Death Rocks" but still a very necessary piece, as they don't come much more weird than Jimmy. There's not much else that sounds like this. The good news amidst all the darkness is that DV is supposedly working on a Jimmy Smack 12" next...Scum stats: 110 on red, 220 on black and a few test presses floating around. Comes with slick pic sleeve with recently unearthed photos from legendary punk photog Ed Colver. On a side note, these Canadian reissue labels are really fucking killing it this year, huh?(RK)
(Death Vault // deathvaultrecords-at-hotmail.com)
Sonic Chicken 4 s/t LP
The long-lost second SC4 LP see the light of day due to the perseverence of Dusty Medical, which was originally due to come out back in 2009 (perhaps on In the Red, who released their first LP, which I believe was also self-titled). In case you forgot, SC4 were one of the by-product bands of the Nasty Product scene, which was the hotness in the garage-scene in the mid-2000s, beginning with The Fatals and including also-rans like Kung Fu Escalator, Mighty Go Go Players and sort of incuded Magnetix, Feeling of Love and other Frenchmen. Sonic Chicken 4 outlasted most of them, did some US tours and appeared on labels like Trouble in Mind, Rob's House and the already mentioned ITR. A pretty good snapshot of garage a half-dozen years ago, heavily influenced by Black Lips, Demon's Claws and the King Khan & BBQ Show (and Khan also produced here). Twanged-up, reverbed-out, vocal harmonies out the yin yang, fuzzy garage-pop that does just fine. The wilder moments are preferable ("Sonic Night" for example), the tunes with the gal pitching in on vox lend a certain French/YeYe angle that Liminanas were also working on, "Inspiration" is a dead ringer Black Lips tune that works well. I do not remember much about their ITR LP, which lends me to believe this is a better record that their first LP. While this music is nothing new (har har har) it does remind me of a time when garage-rock wasn't the shit heap it is now. If you liked them then, you'll like them now. And I'll use this last sentence as a reminder that as far as this particular scene goes, those Weakends records were really the cream of the crop and I still think the first two Fatals singles rip.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // www.dustymedical.com)
Southern Comfort "Suzanne" 7"
It's a strange comparison to make perhaps, but "Suzanne" really reminds me of a Jacuzzi Boys song with some girls harmonizing on vox. Downbeat rock with a pop hook and blistering solo. Burns really well. B-Side is more bummer-rock that burns a little less hot, but it's still warm enough for me to dig. (RK)
(Hozac Records // www.hozacrecords.com)
Space Raft s/t LP
Debut LP from ex-Mystery Girl Jordan Davis with members of Goodnight Loving, Call Me Lightning and other Wisconsinites backing him. Straight-up garage-pop with some Seventies rock'n'roller vibes that get a little schmaltzy. I cannot deny that there's some strong songwriting in evidence here, and fans of the Reigning Sound and your mom should enjoy this very much I suppose. And I mean your mom will like this, not her fans.(RK)
(Dusty Medical/Bachelor // www.dustymedical.com)
Static & The Cubes s/t 7"
Static & The Cubes press release makes a big point of telling you "The Spits are dead!" and these guys are the new punk madness. If they wanted anyone to believe this hyperbole at all, they should've left out the part about these guys being ex-Epoxies. Woof. Although the guy pictured on the back looks a lot like Dickie Barrett. You know what this sounds like - Dirtnap Records circa 2003. New Wave synth lameness, including an awful Plastic Bertrand cover. I'll forgive Danger Records this one, as their reissues are top notch. That COMA LP is so killer...(RK)
(Danger Records // dangerrecords.bandcamp.com)
Suburban Homes "The Suburban Home EP" 7" EP
Great outta nowhere 7" from the UK (Crawley, West Sussex supposedly) with an actual punk ripper on the A-side, sounds like it was swiped right off the Raw Records roster. Recorded nice and tinny, just a riff and chorus repeated end on end. Quite awesome, with blistering solo included, natch. On the B-Side "Pseudo-Intellectuals" brazenly rips off Swell Maps, right down to the chunky recording and Sudden-esque vocal inflection. It's also great, as is the fried and crackling guitar sound/solo. "D.I.Y." is exactly what it says - an approximation of the UK DIY sound, might sound more like a male Slits than anything. Simplistic drumming, an ethereal solo, right back ta basics. Perhaps this band swipes a bit liberally from it's sources, but it's a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. Sounds just like a record you could've bough from the Rough Trade shop in '79. Scum stats: 300 copies.(RK)
(Market Square Records // marketsquarerecordings.bandcamp.com)
Surgeons s/t 7”
The forgotten children of the 2012 Total Punk roster return, bringing a sound that’s hard to shake. This here should be a nagging reminder to put them back at the front of your singles file. Three mid-fi tracks of burly Texas slop and pound. “Headache (Buried Underground)” starts things off with an Action Swingers noisy crawl before pulling itself up out of the hole and tearing through something along the lines of a later Functional Blackouts tune. The cryptically named “Backwoods (Fred C. Nelles)” is perhaps a loving ode to the correctional facility? It’s got a smidge more herky-jerk in delivery but still goes about vibing the same ugly way. Great free range string sling present throughout. The lone B-sider “My Favorite Things (The Apostles)” works a jazz scale as backbone for a heaping mess of cluttered guitar and snare rolls. Shit builds into a blown out mechanical drive for a brief moment, then settles back in with the bass blister to close. If only the new Black Flag woulda’ been like this. SCUM STATS: 200 exist. Be careful not to leave it lying about like a bastard – all copies are on clear vinyl and have absolutely no labels or markings to clue you in. 100 of the sleeves are printed acetate, 50 are vellum and another 50 are on some sort of metallic paper. There’s an architecture firm trying to place an order at an Oakland Kinko’s about to get pissed. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Tapehead "The Flexi" flexi
If I was to nominate a 'Best Flexi of 2014' this wouldv'e been the winner, and there was some stiff competition - I counted almost 10 flexis from 2014, and I hate say it, but quite a few of them were pretty fucking good. And flexi or not, I'd rate this one pretty highly in any category, as Tapehead are one of my favorite of the hungry and young bands of punks out there, and these three (well, 2 and a half) songs are a good start on what I predict to be one of the high points of the next few years (if they can get along and stay off hard drugs for that long). The compostion of the band is the perfect WNY blend - the rhythm section from Rational Animals (switching the drummer to vox though, and he does a pretty damn good Rotcore frontman job, half leather jacket punk/half Manitoba like hambone), the drummer from Love Pork (who no one outside of Rotchester probably remembers) who is probably the most insane player I've seen since the last time I saw Human Eye and the guitar player/brain from Brown Sugar cranking out the riffs and leads tht are equal parts hardcore and classic rock."What's The Story" is all adrenaline with some real fancy guitar parts, a real punk chugger that aint too far from the Shug at their best. "The No More Blues" proves me wrong when I thought you couldn't do the counting-as-lyric thing and make it work in 2014, but Cam does a good job and I feel like they're just being wiseguys too, but you can't argue with a killer cut, especially when they blow your eyebrows off with the big finish. Then they pull the old "leave 'em wanting more trick" and just you give us a sample of "Bondo Stomp" before the fade out. Wait for the LP suckers! But seriously, I can't wait for the LP...Scum stats: 250 copies and 35 copies of a test press edition with alternate sleeve (seriously, a flexi test press?!). If you buuy just one flexi this year...(RK)
(Reel Time // reeltimerecordss.bigcartel.com)
Thee Tee Pees s/t LP
Thee Tee Pees had a couple seven inchers that I liked well enough for modern garage in the Nineties Budget rock style, each of them at least had an entertainingly dumb tune or two on it. I couldn't really take too much of this long player. Organ grinding that will drive you up the wall, doing their best to try and live on in the Budget/Rip Off/Boom Boom tradition, but not really funny, sloppy or creative enough to pull it off. The best thing about this is the diorama photographed on the cover, a cover art concet I think should be utilized more often. It almost always looks cool. (RK)
(Manglor Records // www.manglorrecords.com)
T.I.T.S. "I Told You I Was Sick" 7"
New French outfit composed of members of Fatals and Feeling of Love (who now also have Lili Z. in the fold), "I Told You I Was Sick" is a hard rocker with a baboon on vocals, reminds me of a real aggro Intelligence cut (circa 'Males') and the ending pounds it out extra hard. Sounds nothing like Fatals or the jillion other bands spawned from that scene, which is to their credit as I think we've heard enough of that, as much as I loved it at the time. "Kashmere Trap" sounds a bit like FoL in its broken garage construction and fuzz guitar flare-ups, but adds more punk fire to the fuel mix. I found the A-Side rather impressive and Polly Maggoo found this imppressive enough to come out of hibernation which is as good of an endorsement as you can get. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Polly Maggoo // mistertits.bandcamp.com/)
Ttotals “Let Everything Come Through” LP
A two piece of southern gravel paths, electrified roots and dream pop haze that have stretched their appendages out since their earlier single. Not leaning on as much Gallon Drunk bellow or Flaming Stars torchbearing as before, they’ve borrowed some noisemakers and a few friends to stretch out choruses and add sax and keys along the way. There’s still some serious quiet/loud dynamics at play, but the open space between crescendos has a swath of filth via electronics or amp buzz that’s keeping the dirty swamp muck near and dear. Not burying the songs, but hanging in there as a menacing reminder that it can still suck you under. The vocals rub closely to an Ian McCulloch croon, and that’s something I don’t recall. Both of the single tracks make an appearance here, fleshed out and fit in just fine. A solid moody groove that would pair up nicely as the warm blanket to Dead Space’s shivering darkness or even buddy down with the rural dust clouds of label mate Michael Beach. (RSF)
(Twin Lakes // www.twinlakesrecords.com)
Uberkroppling “Godt Jul” LP
Another fine mess of foreign headscratch unleashed from the Killed By Dunder-chumps over at Bat Shit HQ - a label that is quickly becoming the Mondo Macabro to the weird and wooly world of outer-punk records. Far too many umlauts for me to even attempt typing the song titles, “Godt Jul” brings a heaping wreck of tunes running in circles between the spaced out weed ‘core of Vágtázó Halottkémek, early Venom deathstyle and mean, midpaced Jabbers/Mentors shenanigans. Raja-esque R&R tardiness riffs abound, as well as some blues chunder that reminded me of something off the first Whipping Boy LP. ?!? I’m as perplexed as you are, honest. I’ve played this through at least a dozen times now and find it perfectly stupid in everyway. The singer just barks up a lung as and the band rolls with it in drunken stride. An avant-blargled slop that could be the hardcore brother from a foreign mother to Gary Wrong’s glue trap. These guys must’ve spent time in the same asylum lock up as Nick Blinko - or at least ingested Pope Adrian a few turns’ too many. STATS o’ SCUM: The Bat Shitter’s wrapped it up in a blinding coke mirrored Christmas card package, that even turns into a holiday decoration if you wanna’ carve the sleeve up. This isn’t a Christmas record, mind you. Fuckin’ dumb. 500 pressed: 100 gold band copies, 100 red for the Mastermind label edition, 100 green available at Bat Shit and 200 plain Jane black ones. All the more stupid, because I’m pretty sure mine’s orange? I could be suffering some retina damage due to looking at the sleeve glare at high noon, so ignore me. Keep it out of the direct sun during summer months or wear one of those pinhole viewers for solar eclipse while imbibing. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
Ulsers "Remember Them" EP
Ulsers "Forget Them" EP
On the surface, quite an exciting reissue: super obscure 1980 Aussie DIY punk that I was totally unfamiliar with, and the first release for Wallaby Beat Records, the blog which sets the standard for unearthing the finest in grillfat and punk from down under. Looks great too. The opening sax wandering on "Cabaret" has me paying attention, suitably smoky and sleazy sounding, and it turns out to be a rather likable tune of harmonica/acoustic/minimal percussion style DIY, with suitaby semi-obnoxious vocals, and it certainly gives a good impression of it's title. "Radio" stretches your patience a bit, but I can still dig the DIY path they're stumbling down - untrained musicians making a racket in the name of punk, and the sax really saves it (as much as the harmonica tries to kill it). The vocals go from slightly grating to annoyingly over-agitated on this one. At this point I relize I was expecting some KBD-like thunder at some point. "Avant punk" is a funny thing...I mean, some bands are great at it, but it takes a certain degree of skill to make it so the listener doesn't want to throw the record out the window too (but maybe that's the goal as well..). The Ulsers walk that fine line well, and that might be the most difficult trick of them all to pull off. "I'm Italian" could be the poster child for grating DIY-ness that you hate to love. The LP almost gets me to the point where I feel like chucking it, but maybe only as far as the neighbor's lawn so I can pick it back up later when I walk the dog. I kid. The LP tracks were recorded in various living rooms, and the inner sleeve pictures of the band are great - looks like The Gizmos posing as a Holiday Inn lounge band. Seven songs on the A-Side that shuffle and stomp along in and out of tune, sometimes sounding like a Monty Python sketch parodying punk, sometimes finding an actual groove ("Take Off Outta Here") and mostly just goofy as hell. These tunes have them playing actual instruments (electric guitar, drums instead of cardboard boxes) and the sax player really blows hard on these tunes. Definitely more "together" than the 7" tracks, but still doing that zany ad-lib/free jam thing. The B-Side has their best tune/joke, "Somebody Loves You", and it's all very good natured until you get to "Nerve Gas", a lengthy noise freak out that starts to sound a bit sinister in a Flipper-esque fashion. A pretty remarkable set of records that really give you something to chew on, sort of like watching Plan 9 From Outer Space or Robot Monster. I gotta admit, this stuff grows on you.(RK)
(Wallaby Beat // wallabybeat.blogspot.com)
Universe People "Are Coming to the Dance" LP
I'll admit to not having heard the first Universe People LP, which is strange, since the personnel here is some of my favorite stuff - Min from A-Frames/Intelligence, The Dutchess herself and an Australian ex-pat. This thing starts firing right off the bat - ""Loves Like A Man" is prickly and witty post-punk, "The Modern Girl" is my pick of the bunch which sounds a bit like Rogers Sisters at their best, the girl/girl duelling vox are fantastic as is whoever is making that siren sound effect. The title cut is a brawny rocker cut through with some staticky vox from the gals. "Cha-Cha" sounds like what the A-Frames might have sounded like as a girl group, "My Cabana Boys" is a good stab at a Breeders-esque rocker, "Long Gone" a sing-songy Fall swipe and they close strong with "Spark in Your Eyes" which returns me to my Breeders reference, this time like one of the slow numbers off of 'Pod' perhaps given a few extra downers. Good stuff and it's great to see a new Dragnet release in 2014.(RK)
(Dragnet Records // universepeople-bonjour.bandcamp.com)
UV Glaze s/t 7"
UV Glaze are a Berlin scuzz punk outfit going for the AmRep sound and getting pretty close. Not as feedback drenched as I was expecting, it's sorta clean-sounding but in a dirty pig-fuck way. There's some latter day Black Flag elements to their thing as well, singer goes all-in on the wacky front guy schtick, really crunchy guitars and some math-rock style precison. "Daily Vomit" is the hit, the bassline is relentless and the guitar scrawl hits the spot here. The A-Side pushes pretty hard, but by the B-Side this guy's singing gets to real hambone levels, not sure if it's just his accent, but it starts to become the worst "I'm-so-drunk..." impression I've heard in a while. Musically it's not lurching or blues-based enough to draw the Jesus Lizard comparison they're looking for, not swinging enough for Cows. It's more hardcore derived, like the fastest Pissed Jeans tunes maybe, or if you really want an AmRep namedrop, I'd give you Chokebore-goes-metal or "Honeybucket is the only Melvins song I've ever heard"-core. Surprised this is on Bachelor.(RK)
(Bachelor Records // wwww.bachelorrecords.com)
V/A Brain Tumors/Pisswalker split 7"
I'm realizing this is the first Brain Tumors record I've heard, even though I feel like I'm familiar with them via reading the singer's hilarious tour blog for some time. I also give them bonus points for calling Deadbeat Records out for being a shit label, although they were not the first nor the last. Anyway, it's not as good as I'd hoped! Fast hardcore with yammering vox, sounds like some Clevo-influence, four songs that are recorded shitty at least. Third tune reminds me of Homostupids a bit, until they start doing the hardcore gallop. Not bad, but not great at all. Pisswalker, I'm afraid they are going to suffer from the fact that I have trouble taking any band with the word piss in their name seriously. I mean, Pisswalker is a shit band name, lets agree on that. Doesn't matter anway, as they play some run-of-the-mill harcore en espanol that is pretty forgettable. As the great Iron Sheik once said: FUCK THE SPLIT SINGLE.(RK)
(Lagerville Records // lagervillereocrds-at-gmail.com)
V/A Cruelster/Putrid Cause split 7"
Cruelster are the latest in Clevo hate-punk, not sure who's involved that we would know, but they certainly sound Clevelandish. High octane garage-punk, "I'm A Fucking Psycho" has a meatheaded chant-along vocal and some needly guitar work that makes up a weird/cool ending breakdown/crack-up. Then there's two songs of GSMF-esque hard rockin sorta-hardcore with some weird breaks and they end by disemboweling "Freak of Nature". All balls, sounds a little muddy, but you get the point. Putrid Cause are Columbus hardcore with some metal leanings. I guess they have a keerazy frontman and all, so I imagine the music fares better live, as it just sounds like your typical HC-shit here. My suggetion here is to buy the Cruelster LP.(RK)
(Turbine Piss Records // turbinepiss.blogspot.com)
V/A Eel/Pissbath split 7"
You can almost smell the crust on this one. Eel are Jimmy Rose's current outfit, all Japcore worship and powertools. I think there's a grinder being used on the first cut. Hard-charging powercore, some of the ol' d-beat, I think the lyric to "Brainless" is just Jimmy breathing heavy in the mic. Guitar sound is 110% overdriven, "Future???" nearly sounds like Cider and "Window of My Eye Is From Decay" is so Japanese it even looks like a Japanese guy thought up the title. No pussyfooting here. Pissbath have an unfortunate name, sound like theey're trying to do Disclose with a girl singing on "Legal Drugs" and "Personal Fetish" on the lyric sheet has (orgasm) as the chorus. Not my shit, but the cover of this is a great drawing of a masked spiky punk doing bong rips with some kind of mutant caterpillar. If you want to see some Americans have fun with Japcore tropes, this is all you.(RK)
(Mind Cure // www.mindcurerecords.com)
V/A "Held Hostage Vol. 2" LP
Twelve band comp via Learning Curve, the label bringing you the now sounds in the AmRep noise rock genre. We start well with a total ripper from The Blind Shake, Henry Blacker and Disaseratti both do variations on the Kyuss sound, Hollow Boys do a pop-fuzz thing, Gay Witch Abortion do a Melvins-esque Scorpions cover ("Robot Man"), In Defence sound like Zeke playing metalcore and the side ends with an unreleased Dreamsalon tune of the poppier style. Seawhores have a few records out on AmRep and seem to be well liked and sound like the sludgiest Melvins, Hex Machine cover Ace Frehley and sound like a rawk version of Mudhoney here, Pretty Please sound like an emo-metal band (or Korn), Nightosaur are math-rawk and Powertakeoff end with a doomy take on Melvinsludge. Aside from the two bands you probably already know and like (Blind Shake and Dreamsalon) there's not much good happening here, even from the A-listers with actual AmRep appearances. They all love some Melvins though. Gay Witch Abortion is still one of the worst band names ever, and they have some competition on this LP.(RK)
(Learning Curve // www.learningcurverecords.com)
V/A Mary Monday/Street Punks split 7"
Not sure what happened here, as I thought Hozac was going to release this, but apparently someone beat them to the punch. MM side has a demo version of "Popgun" that's pretty interesting in comparison to the original - certainly not better, but it's cool to hear it a little slower, with cleaner vox, a different solo, etc..."Leave Us Alone" sounds like the same session and has a gap in the first minute where the tape was fucked up, overall it's bit of a poppier tune with a slight edge. A decent punk cash-in sounding tune with fancy licks. Street Punks were Mary's backing band for the "Popgun" 7", and without Mary up front they sound like your average Seventies power pop bordering on New Wave band. Nothing too edgy, "Suburban Boredom" is a really good power pop tune, big hook, good playing and a good lyric too "Wanna-wanna-wanna...". They also do a version of "Leave Us Alone", which has a bit more drive, but still sounds a bit like a cartoon punk song. I think they hired the guy who does the art for Artifix Records to design this sleeve. (RK)
(Mid-Nite Hi Records // ??)
V/A Thee Mighty Fevers/Morbeats “Weird Affairs & Teengeneration Accidents” split 7”
A collaboration - one half Japan and one half Italy - working to aid world relations. Ain’t no pussyfooting around it, Thee Mighty Fevers are damn aware of their similarities to other Flat Tires (©Mitch Cardwell) from the land of the Rising Sun. They even managed to squeezed TeenGen into the title of this here record. Two more blown and barked, high energy blasters that owe more than a yen or two to the Rip Off catalog. “Emotion Fire” lunges forth with strong rattle-about leads, shout along choruses and a struggling English count off. Stronger than dirt. Actually skewered my brain meats for a second as I started to believe it was an early Hunches tune. “That’s Alright Mama” is leaning towards deranged pre-funksploitation era Gasoline blues-snot. The Morbeats are straight up punk over Garage. A catchy mess that wallows in production values worthy of Greg Lowery’s skid marks. “Sex Cow” is best named and the better of the two pounders at hand, sounding heavily influenced by the flipside artist. Zero blooze infusion though, which is somewhat surprising coming from Italians. A solid run for those old school Blank Generation buds on the boards. SCUM STATS: They only pressed a 100 of these?! I can’t believe the label would waste copies on review, being such a precious commodity. 13 of them came with a “fine art” photo attached. The rest have the regular sleeve housing a shock-a-fied dayglo orange wax (I feel like I’m treading on some serious Estrus hyperbole at this point, so fuck it – I said wax.) Mine even came with earplugs, and a button to sweeten the deal and make it impossible to shelve properly. (RSF)
(One Chord Wonders // www.ocwrecords.bandcamp.com)
Timmy Vulgar “Genetic Armageddon” 12”
John Olson of Wolf Eyes and various other Michigan meltdowns adds Timmy to his rapidly growing American Tapes empire. If you have kept up with the Vulgarisms so far, you’ll find this a nice pairing to last year’s solo cassette on Flesh Wave as it continues his homespun outings of rock rubbish, synth-scaping and other electronic doo-dads. The warped sketches of demos, Organisms-to-be and other broken gear Eno fetishisms intertwine and bring back the confusing feeling I once had jumping from Clone Defects to Human Eye, and so on. If you take a moment, decompress and sweat it out you’ll do just fine – and probably learn to love it. The title track recalls the Siren Records early transmissions with its twisted metal marching, marble mouthed vocals and shortwave gibber-jamming abound. “Female Hands” is bongo beat instrumentalism, melding that aforementioned Eno shimmer with a defective Emeralds record playing improperly fast. Some low fuzztone kicks the atmosphere up on the way out. The goof-spook, woodland creature tribal jams “Technology Is A Dead End” and “The Sleethoid” prove Timmy has licked the lysergic sweat dripping from Jimbo Easter’s furrowed brow at least once or twice. Monster manual tales complete with acidic soloing and synths bubbling out of control. “For Eddie” is the tear-tugger riding on dubbed beats and melancholic guitar sear. The woodblock clanks onward as bio-mechanical insects fidget about during “Manium Cosmonk”. The little beasties must have contact mics attached to their incisors, because you can clearly make out every screech and gnaw during their feast on what can only be tiny aluminum beetle carcasses (obviously). Then a cat falls on an Electric piano. Somehow I’m surprised at the lack of vacuum cleaner I hear. “Order In The Court” completes the journey with over-blown, gross tone soloing and splitting its robotic rattle apart. From that we hear what could be the alienated vocal take of a lost Human Eye track deteriorating under gamma radiation. Ride complete; the lights return and the safety bars unhinge. Please check to make sure you haven’t forgotten any of your belongings. SCUM STATS: 300 one-sided copies numbered and pressed on purple-marbled junk vinyl. Spray painted and hand glued sleeves. Catch one quick. (RSF)
(American Tapes // www.americantapes.bigcartel.com)
Timmy Vulgar s/t 7”
One-sided and one tracked, this is stream of unconsciousness, late night drunken ramble. Timmy - acoustic guitar in hand, toy drum at foot and possibly a lampshade in the wing – is field recorded by Tony Sagger, who keeps the juices flowing. Goofy as hell and bordering on being a comedy record. The song title goes unknown, but from what I can piece together it’s a one time ditty on appalling use of Native Americans as taco meat, the woes of growing palm trees in Michigan and trying to sing in key with a floor tom on your head. I feel hungover just listening to this. Is this essential, you ask? Well, I’ve personally heard Timmy do a gorked-out, 20 minute Dom DeLuise impersonation this one night in Oakland - and how I wish I recorded that. I’ve also spent countless hours of my workdays pissing myself while watching YouTube videos of Vulgar vacuuming his apartment ceiling as well. I guess that’ll clue you into what camp I straddle. Plus Jimbo Easter’s cover illustration is so fucking ace, it deserves purchase on that merit alone. (RSF)
(Terror Trash Records // somewhere in the marshes of rural Wisconsin marshes)
The Wipers "Nome Noma" 7"
Meanbean Records is here to show us yet another example of how those pesky Canadians are just running the table as far as reissues this year (along with Ugy Pop and Death Vault). MB looks like its focus will be Montreal/Quebec power-pop and punk, and that's cool with me (although I wouldn't mind a repress of this either.) These Wipers obviously have no relation to the incredible Greg Sage, but are a power-pop outfit that released this single back in 1980 (and again in 1981, so this is technically the third pressing). "Nome Noma" was the hit off of what turned out to be their only record, it's a little quirky/silly but has a serious hook and top notch guitar playing - think of it as the Montreal counterpart to Teenage Head. Power Poppers worldwide will love it though. I much prefer the B-Side of "Bowery Boy", as even if the sleaze sounds faked, it's great for fake sleaze, like some nice Canadian fellas trying to act like the Voidoids or Dead Boys. Again, the exceptional guitar playing elevates this, and I like that they wrote an almost tough verse but then the totally wimpy chorus blows their cover! It does remind me of NYC though. Outstanding packaging, plenty of archival photos and fliers make up a nice tri-fold sleeve, informative liners (in English and French), and great art design all make for a fantatic first release for this label. Well done. Scum stats: 100 yellow, 400 black.(RK)
(Meanbean Records // meanbeanrecords.bigcartel.com)
Gary Wrong Group “Floods Of Fire” 12”+7”
More gutter glue from the forefather of the outer-odd punk movement. Bubbling over right from the start, “Dream Smasher” revels in chiming vibes or something similar on a flimsy plastic Korg unit and utilizes the old rotary dial phone technology as vocal effect. “Setting Fire To Your Loft’ is the fucking stone cold hit-killer amidst dime store beats and sonic ray-gun wash, all layered over deadpan pisser lyrics. In the end I can’t help but to think of it as some low buck Hawkind cover from their 'PXR5' era. That said, it could also suit Life Stinks in a Bizarro-world set list. Speaking of hawkin’ some wind, “Warlords Willing” does just that over the course of the entire B-side. Taking the infinite time/space shift towards galactic soundscape, the track builds for days until a cymbal crash n’ squiggly feedback war throws it into a wormhole. Blip. We’ve lost contact. Just when you thought it was safe to tuck the sucker back in the sleeve, a bonus single falls to the floor. This little fellow offers up two covers. A perfectly fucked take on the Action Swingers “Miserable life” full of dubbed out word spray, metal riffage and tube screamer/fazer shitblasts. Ned Hayden probably does not approve. The flip is Pink Reason’s “Down On Me” and it’s less chaotic but still riding warped with bullfrog dead pan vocals, overzealous tambourine use and beercase cardstock for beats. It’s pretty straightforward - or as straightforward as Pink Reason ever was - which was pretty off-center from the get-go. A train wreck of SCUM STATS. I’m trying to decipher late night drunken texties. There are two label versions: The Jeth-Row one is silk-screened with Gary art in an edition of 300 black copies. The Bat Shit exists in an edition of 300 on clear vinyl and wrapped in that trendy transparency shtick you lumbersexuals are all aching for nowadays. Initially all the Bat Shit ones were to come with this bonus cover single, but the fine American Postal service lost half of them. Only 100 come with this mythical unicorn of small white plastic. Snooze and loose. Good luck keeping the transparency sheets in their scrap booking corners, children. And don’t forget to wash all that Cheeto dust off your fingers before handling the stark, bone white sleeve as well. Record collecting is fun. (RSF)
(Bat Shit Records // www.batshitrecords.bigcartel.com)
(Jeth Row Records // www.jethrowrecords.bigcartel.com)
Xetas “The Silence” 7”
Strange, albeit catchy and heavy, somewhat angular punk from TX. “The Knife” bursts from the speakers in a metallic chunder, clanking along string plinks and giving enough grouchy attitude to butter the bread of any Manateees fans willing to listen. Diggin’ it. “The Silence” on the flip brings a totally different sound. Co-ed vocals share the spotlight and ride upon some extremely poppy punk choruses. I’d normally wash my hands of things rubbing so closely to the Fat Wreck catalog or something, but there’s still some gross tunage and that Austin heat baked swelter causing damage, keeping me fairly entertained. I feel like I said something similar about Cruddy, Flesh Lights and the like a few years back - you can pop all ya’ want as long as it’s a damaged pop. Plus if I’m not in the mood, there’s always that A-Side. SCUM STATS: 500 I believe. 100 were on white. (RSF)
(12xU // www.12xu.bigcartel.com)
Yes I'm Leaving "Slow Release" LP
Yes I'm Leaving "Mission Bulb" LP
Two LPs worth of fair-to-middling noise rock from Sydney's Yes I'm Leaving, front runners for worst band name of the year 2014. I've often been accused of enjoying bands re-hashing genres, and you can't point that finger this way this time. YIL do a pretty sterile attempt at combining Aussie rock and what is sometimes referred to as post-hardcore popular in Nineties Chicago (Shellac) and DC (Circus Lupus). Sure, this thumps and scrapes along just fine, but after listening to both of these numerous times, I'm struggling to remember anything remarkable about them. Standard issue noise rock that's played proficiently and "sounds" great, but it's as dry as a popcorn fart and not even as interesting as that might sound. Overwrought DC-isms aplenty, Fugazi here, Jawbox there...When you put these alongside the re-issue of Deaf Wish that Homeless just put out, they really pale in comparison. (RK)
(Homeless // )
Yi “Crying” 12”
The band to beat of 2014 season has proven itself too good to exist. The only Oakland crew that physically scared me in a contained live setting. The only group that I’d let off the hook for laying down an English Beat bass ape – right out of the gate. This is their swan song and it’s a fine way to complete their legacy of riff-rocking, punk fuck-all and noise jam deconstruction. What does this EP deliver? Tell us, Don Pardo. You get the upbeat, toasted skronk of “Monkey In The Mirror” and the sunbleached, garbage bag full of charm “Going Dumb”. The Bad Brains-cum-freakshow “Laugh At Me” followed by the rollicking bopper “Freeze” that meets an unholy end in the thrashzone. The gearjamming “Your lucky Day” decides to trip itself up, getting tangled in an awkward heap of condenser mic shenanigans. The stalled and sputtered string play of and “Crying”- a one/two punch that leads to a full minute of pensive contemplation, non-solo detuning and electrical jack-off madness - crushing time as we know in the records final moments. You learn to forgive the Bay Area for their Hickey and Primus worship after only one full rotation of this platter. Quite a feat. Even slap bass seems cool in the end. SCUM STATS: 300 pressed and in hand painted, hand lettered sleeves. And now it is done. Yi is no more. Why pull the plug? I had so much to believe in. Fuck you Yi. Quitters. Come back. Daddy needs. Assholes. I love you. (RSF)
(self-released // www.yipunx.bigcartel.com)
To read past reviews go here.