Volume IX in the “Lars vs…” interview series has Mr. Finberg squaring off with Chris Gunn and Scott Simmons of the Lavender Flu. Click on the pic to jump in.
Hey now. Hope you’re well. I’m sure you’ve all been wondering what the hell is going with Termbo. So have I. While I (Rich K./The Editor) have never been known for my timely site updates, this has been the longest gap in the 14+ years I’ve been doing this. Why? There are a few dozen reasons, but I’ll try and not bore you to tears with explanations. Lets just say I haven’t been living my best life (is that the phrase?) over the past six months or so. But I feel a lot better now. This review section (and the Power Rankings) has been a long time in the making, and I know it’s nowhere close to the point where I should be. It’s going to be tough to dig out of this hole, but I’m going to keep swinging. There will be more to come soon, apologies to everyone as always. I won’t try and explain the plan I have to get caught up with all the tapes, records and zines piling up here – I do have a plan though, I swear. Some of this stuff is carryover from last year even (and extra thanks to the staff for not murdering me for sitting on it forever), some of it is from last week. It’s what I have ready for now, or else we’ll be waiting another year until I feel like I’m caught up. I just had to rip this band-aid off and get something out there for you, even if it is less than ideal. More to come soon – there’s a reviews section to peruse here, more blabbering from me below, the latest list joined in progress:
22) SPECIAL INTEREST “DISCO II”
True story, I watched/listened to this video at least 30 times in one night while working in the shop after I saw it once (via recommendation from Rich at Total Punk, that guy knows his shit) and it earwormed me. I had never even heard of Special Interests before that (and by the way, I’m 99.5% sure it’s Special InterestS per the LP cover after referring to them in the singular for awhile based on the video credits). It’s weird to think that there are times when Youtube is my first exposure to bands these days, but I’ve had it happen more than a few times recently. I hope videos are making a comeback (what better way to be introduced to a band?), but not many bands make the effort, and I’m often just listening to a rip of a record with a still picture of the sleeve as the “video”. But when it works out like Special Interests , it’s a fantastic experience. You’re completely immersed in their world after watching this once. And how did no one use the TRUST NO WAVE slogan yet? It’s perfect. So this song, exactly what I want from a band claiming No Wave in 2018 – catchy as hell, simple anthemic lyrics, danceable, hard edge synth, submarine bassline, intense (bad) attitude and aesthetic. It’s a total killer as both a punk tune and a club jam. This thing was born for 12” 45 maxi-EP with a remix or two. Did I mention Quintron recorded this yet? Dancefloor destroyer of the year. Frontwoman Alli has a powerful presence, great delivery and she also made this video. I guess New Orleans makes sense to birth a band like this. I feel like “No Wave” has generally been the domain of “arty” types with more than enough pretense to go around, and Special Interest bring it to street level where it should be in 2018 – fearless, sexy, intimidating. Anyway, I think this is an incredible song with a great video, and is something I wish more bands would do. They have a 12” out now called “Spiraling” that I also love, and it gets even harder into the post-punk grind and moves away from the dancefloor – there’s not another dance hit like “Disco II” on it, but how could there be? Listen to “Young, Gifted, Black, in Leather” for a hard slap to the face from possibly the most truly punk band in sport right now. Word on the street is that they murder live as well. Bandcamp it.
20) MAYHEM “Give Up” 7″– I feel bad reviewing this, because I have no idea where you can even get a copy, but I have to say something. Yet another victory for the sleuth behind Break My Face, It Never Ends and so much more, our hero RR this time manages to track down the parties responsible for probably the finest moment of television punksploitation ever, the ‘Next Stop, Nowhere’ episode of Quincy, M.E. that featured the “band” Mayhem as the scapegoat punk outfit bringing ruination to the local youth. I won’t rehash the story of how this was made, who was behind it or how RR managed to put all the pieces together over many years. You know it’s a good one. And speaking of good ones, for fake punk both of these tunes are pretty solid rockers for 1982-83 (I will add that according to the liners, Fear and Germs LPs were used as reference materials), they sound great here with bonus crowd noise and lines from the episode itself (“It gets pretty radical out there…”). But would you expect any less than a spectacular and 100% quality product from the person responsible? And about that person, probably the most important archivist/scholar of the seedy underbelly of the obscure punk rock we love so much, how will we ever thank him for all he has done for us (aside from maybe dropping some change over at the Rodeo or making a donation via Circulation Zero? I think the answer is to keep fighting the good fight with him, to dig deeper and deeper still into the distant past of the 90s and 00s much like he’s done with the 70s and 80s. I get the feeling many of us believe that with all the technology available and the overcrowded information superhighway that every rock has already been turned over, that there are no more mysteries that can’t be solved via discogs and google – I know this isn’t true and so should you. We just have to learn to not be lazy and dig deeper and cast the net wider. There are still cases out there to crack.
007) CONTROL TEST “Verdadero Criminal” 7” – synth-punk how it should be done: pure in yr face aggro, with the synths on the ominous/evil settings and the songwriting more concerned with boring a hole in your head instead of getting you to dance. This is very likely what the Screamers would have come up with had they formed today. Or maybe what Lost Sounds might’ve sounded like had Jay been obsessed with hardcore instead of the Oblivians. Synth-PUNK informed by hardcore and unhinged rock’n’rolling – even more remarkable is that this is from the PacNW, home to Dirtnap Records and the day-glo lame-oh spawn of The Epoxies and all other poseur “new wave” atrocities. Not surprising is that this is some of the cats from Lysol/Freak Vibe (including the Phil Lynott-looking dude, I believe) as those bands both have/had the necessary outsider vibes and dangerous chops. Four tunes here that practically leap off the platter and grab you by the collar, the vox are screaming at you somuchso that you should probably close the cover on that turntable lest some spit fly off the record at you, instrumentation is all synths and real drums – did I mention the vocals are in espanol yet? Because it’s not a deal breaker at all and actually adds some killer-ness to things. Icing on the cake is Capt. Tripps recording and Iron Lung’s stamp of approval (if there’s one no-bullshit label left in the world It might be these guys) – covers look sick too with various multi-colored dye jobs on thick pocket sleeves (that also have an interesting die-cut where the little finger-grip slot is…). Total package here, grip it and rip it.
12) JOCK TALK – The Tribe are in the midst of a middling yet still Central-Division-leading season, but @thetribehole on Instagram have made it 100% more entertaining.
17) FRED GALL BOBSHIRT INTERVIEW. WATCH IT! I’ve claimed many favorite skaters over the years, but Fred Gall….you just want to hang with him as much as you want to watch him rip. Gnarly skater and all-around sick dude.
3) TABLE SUGAR “Collected Acknowledgements” 12″ (and everything else) – my current obsession. Sure, there are other bands perhaps mining the same sound, but I don’t think there are any doing it quite like this. Ramshackle DIY played by a bunch of ladies is a very generic overview, but there’s something magic happening here. Something real. Simply played with passionate feelings highly evident, innocent yet savvy, very punk at heart, catchy songs, off kilter songs, hard rhythms and soft voices, otherworldly moments and moments rooted right here on earth. Could this band have come from anywhere other than Olympia? I feel like there might be some magic portal these girls and their music stepped out of somewhere in those PacNW woods. Music that soothes me as much as it interests me, it’s as if you can pick apart each component of a song and marvel at how they put it all together. It all just sounds right, and there’s nothing much else I feel like listening to at the moment. There is some overlap song-wise with the Chapel of Crimes tape, the live tape just adds another layer of fascination and I still need a physical copy of the ‘Introductory Material’ tape if anyone is holding. It’s all just perfect. Do yourself a real favor and go get a copy.
77) SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION – there’s nothing worse. So I’m going for it. BROWN SUGAR were a band that existed in my homeburg of Buffalo, NY for a brief period between 2007 and 2010 or so. You might have heard of them. This LP I am pleased to have been part of releasing is available via the Loki Label webstore along with our latest cassette release from CRAZY DOBERMAN and some new distro items as well (jazz, Ice 9 zine, spoken word, Sex Scheme LP). I never had much of an interest in putting out “records” – seemed like waaaay too much work (and it is). Brown Sugar made me ignore that policy – I feel that strongly about them and the difference they made in the brief time they walked among us. There was a period during 2009-10 where I’m quite convinced they might have been the best active band in the world at the moment. Of course, that’s right around when they all decided to split town and break up. Anyway, “Long Strange Drip” is finally here, get your very own copy now.
999) KALEIDOSCOPE “2017” EP – I was a bit surprised, but then pleased that some people were inexplicably bummed out by the ‘Volume 3’ 12” from last year – most beef seemed to stem from unmet expectations – a lot of people seemed to want it be more weird and/or less rock. I get it. This band is amazing, good enough that they might be able to carry hardcore to its next peak or be the igniter for the next genre shift. I’m with you guys on that. Sure those first few releases were peppered with Chrome and psychedelic modernism grafted into the hardcore design – to think they’re going to continue to get more “out” and less hardcore/punk/rock is unnatural. To crib someone else’s line, they’re not a hardcore band, they’re THE hardcore band right now. And it’s by maintaining that stable/rock footing they will excel and inspire – sure get as weird as you can, but keep those feet on the ground thumping and thundering and riffing. Songs like “Scorched Earth” are made to burn. Music for the people has to keep them moving, not zoning on some upside down shit. I know people who like almost NONE of the new music they hear these days and people who seemingly like everything. Kaleidoscope is where those two extremes overlap. Everyone digs it. Look out for a split VHS with Nosferatu coming soon?! Go to the lab.
12) WARM BODIES LP – one look at this thing and I want to hate it so bad. But it’s too good to hate. I’ve said a lot of good things about this band already, but that’s based solely off of their two records thus far. I’ve never seen them live, I honestly haven’t even heard all of the tapes (though I imagine all of the songs overlap with the vinyl at this point, maybe?), I don’t know any of the members and haven’t even seen an interview with them. So it’s sort of a blind opinion in a way, but that’s the way it should be right? If the music is good, who cares, right? Yes, yes I agree….but all of that extracurricular stuff does give you a bit more insight into things: who these people are, why they’re making the music in the first place, it just helps you wrap your head around their whole aesthetic better, which is important too. There have been bands whose music I’ve really enjoyed a lot that I can’t listen to anymore once I found out they were shitty humans or saw them suck hard live or realized they were poseurs or scene hoppers not in it for the right things. Why am I saying all of this? Well, I still love Warm Bodies, but this LP seems like almost a different band to me – even if they replay some of the songs from earlier releases. I think I don’t remember them being this goofy before, and I’m just now realizing that Olivia Gibb really is the female Lumpy. It all makes sense now. Maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention to the lyrics. I had them pegged as more of a serious affair, or at least semi-serious – and musically they certainly are all business, but seeing the lyrics and this art, well they’re obviously a lot more fun and juvenile than I thought. Anyway, blah blah blah. Natural Man and the band whip through these songs, sounding way less “jazzy” here and way more Cali-punk. Guitar work is still excellent and has a unique signature for sure. Lyrics have Olivia channeling her inner child on some songs, on others it’s just a gross out gag, but it all works. One of the more entertaining frontpeople in the game for me. She has the ability to ride that line of almost annoying with her shrieks and pitch but somehow never crosses it – its a delicate balancing act I enjoy hearing, she’s just right there on the edge the whole time. And the band is powerful and can swing. Hot stuff here, just hide that LP sleeve so you don’t have to look at it. Feelin’ eggy?
2) EVERYTHING BY RIK & THE PIGS – well, let’s just say Rikky and his boys stormed into 2018 with a vengeance and dragged me with them, reaffirming my belief in rock’n’roll and that it still can be saved (and can still save lives). Riding the momentum from the best 7” of 2017 via the late in the year release of “Blue Jean Queen” (smart and strategic move by the Feel It Records marketing department) – which by the way contains not only two new hits, but the definitive version of “TV Bloopers”, my fave jam from that first demo from over three years ago now and that had been promised for some time, and it says something about how serious Rik takes this shit: i.e. he reworked that song for years trying to mold it into its best possible form, and that is something that other outfits could and should take note of – listen to the raw snotpunk demo and then bask in what a sophisticated rock’n’roll jammer (with horns!) it became. That’s how you do it, instead of just sticking your demo on a 7″. Back on track though, this three song salvo carried them into 2018 and the early January release of ‘A Child’s Gator” (which might be a long 12” EP or a short LP, depending on who you ask) which set the bar so high for the rest of the year it might be impossible to follow. I’ve spilled a ton of words about this record already (most of which will never be seen, unless I get the gumption to translate the 12 pages of drunken screed I penned for Rich at Total Punk when he asked me to write a short blurb to use for the LP, a task I failed at immensely) and have told everyone and their mother they should get a copy in their home immediately. I feel that strongly about this record, this band, this songwriter and what they have done here. I rarely get to hear an album that celebrates rock’n’roll to this extent, that takes all that is good about this thing we love and amplifies it and fires it back in our faces with style, substance, chops, hooks, you name it. It’s an album that will make you feel good to be alive, that will make you thankful for that first punk record you heard so many years ago that sent you down this path. I hear Cheetah’s guitar, Shernoff’s songwriting, the Dolls’ swagger, Dart’s squeak, the Asheton’s balls…An album that will make you think that maybe everything will be alright after all, and an album that will scorch your dumb haircut with hot licks, tough riffs and huge hooks. Sometimes a band will hit that zone, that spot where they get totally dialed in with the perfect sound, the perfect amount of looking backwards to the trailblazers that came before them and the perfect amount of now sound, where they actually start channeling the spirit of rock’n’roll itself = Rik & The Pigs are sitting in that spot right here. I’ve heard bands do it before, sometimes they can exist there for years, sometimes it lasts for just one record, sometimes even just one song. But the fact they’re there gives me hope and should give all of you hope as well. Rock’n’roll is not dead. The kids don’t all suck. Things might actually be okay after all. America might still have a chance! Repressed just for you.
77-83) SEVEN INCH REISSUES – 2017 was a rough year for punk reissues of the 7” variety (at least in my opinion), a format that usually sees a good dozen or more quality repros from labels like Last Laugh, Ugly Pop, Mean Bean, Breakout and others that seemed to be lacking. But we’re only three months into 2018 and I have a solid stack of choice reissues already. To wit:
– TRASH MONKEYS “Trash Monkey Universe” EP – this one is a real mindblower, that I of course had no idea even existed until Almost Ready hipped me. 1986 Miami punker from a pre-Harry Pussy Bill Orcutt and Mark Feehan (post-Broken Talent) along with a guy who was in The Eat and other locals associated with Kreamy Lectric Santa, Stun Guns and more. Four song weirdo blaster, with the hammerpunk of “Hitchhiking for Housewives” and the pop-quirk of the Half Japanese-esque “Clairvoyant Housewife” being my favorites, but the other two songs are weird as fuck too. This one should turn some heads.
– TEENAGE DEPRESSION “Skank or Die” EP – Jason Rerun to the rescue on this platter, one of New Jersey’s finest to not bear the Mutha imprint, there’s just so much to like about this record. Great cover photo. The nine songs giving you lotsa bang for your buck (about $150 less bucks than an OG too). The youthful exuberance/stupidity/incompetence. Just the title “Skank or Die” itself. The guitar player went on to play with GG. The fact “False Jesii, Part 1” is a poem about Henry Rollins, and also had a sequel recorded 25 years later by Pissed Jeans (which itself was then covered by Sauna Youth four years later for a real Six Degrees of Matt Korvette situation). As always quality repro packaging from this label, with liners and the oh so truthful realization by drummer Kazumi Umeda that “…it turns out there’s no difference between a hardcore parody and the real thing.” Now that’s what we call REAL TALK. A must-have.
– CHEMOTHERAPY 7” EP – one of the most shit-fi high school kid punk records ever. 1983 – Carmel, Indiana – Chemotherapy form to play a talent show/battle of the bands and of course get the plug pulled. Rightfully so, because they are beyond inept. They make Psycho Sin sound tight. Absolutely ridiculous flailing on instruments, going so fast they trip over their own shoelaces. A dozen songs over two sides, possibly inspired by the ‘Dirty Rotten EP’, but probably just a product of some hyperactive teenage minds. Must be heard to be believed – and this has been “remastered” by Paul Mahern even. Timechange Records really blew it on the presentation though – I guess the typo riddled “liner notes” fit the aesthetic and all, but they even changed up the sleeve, adding the band name to the front for some reason, when the cartoon alone looked so cool and totally messing with the back (no song titles, they fucked up the guitar players “name” and even pixelated the fuck out of the band logo, and then added a bunch of dumb shit to make it look even worse), they got the B-Side label right but added their logo to the A-Side where the fucking band name should be, and what about the fucking insert? Seriously? Is there some sort of poetic justice in an apparently incompetent label reissuing one of the most incompetent punk records of the 80s? Not really, since the band at least has the excuse that they were in fucking high school when they put it out the first time. As shitty as this thing looks, at least it sounds right – I guess, it’s not like I’ve ever heard an OG.
– CHILD MOLESTORS “(I’m the) Hilllside Strangler” 7” – undoubtedly one of the upper echelon of the KBD bunch, this thing has it all: outrageous band name, song exploiting a gory and topical headline, borderline incompetent playing and no-fi production, brilliantly dumb lyrics….an undeniable hit. Glad to have a reissue of this tasty platter. The really funny thing about it is, this record has a sketchy history of bootlegging/reissuing already via Ace himself that it only seems right that a label named “Meathouse Productions” should reissue it. And these things actually look good too.
– JACK & THE RIPPERS “No Desire” 7” – I think this might have crept out at the tail of 2017, but it seems to have just got off the boat for US customers more recently. Perhaps the finest Swiss punker of them all gets the reissue treatment once again, and if you don’t already have one in your home, now is the time. For some reason the fact a German label reissued this slightly disturbs me, but thank you anyways. By the way, you can get most all of these via our buddy at Feel It Records…..
– INSINUATIONS “Prompt Critical” 7″ – I deep dive into the RVA punk scene for this obsurity from 1980, which actually sounds older than that if you ask me – Id say it has more of a proto-punk vibe, but the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster them definitely dates it to ’79-80. Sort of a Penetrators/Gizmos gooftime rock’n’rolla feel to it, and catchy to boot. Pairs well with a Landlords LP.
4) ISS – I have one question, and that is: Why the fuck are people not freaking out over this shit as much as I think they should be? First, I made a mistake and placed ‘Endless Pussyfooting’ far lower than it should have been in the Year End Top Ten at #6 – it should have been in the Top 3 and could’ve been at the 1 spot. A staggering piece of work, yet at the moment I was writing that list (and this proves how arbitrary those things really are, I just enjoy doing them at the time) I was down deep in a rock’n’roll hole – not that ISS isn’t rock’n’roll – it is – but what they are doing to it is so innovative it can sometimes get bewildering. Writing a best-of-list is a time for looking backwards, and ISS are definitely a band looking forward. Remember when hip hop really got some mainstream steam and people started realizing it was more than a fad (actually, you probably don’t, I’m just old) – and how critics and the rock press legitimized it by making a big fuss over sampling old records and rediscovering and recycling old jazz/soul/funk via DJs and producers and what a mindblower it was? Well, is that not what ISS is doing to our old punk and hardcore (and rap and more) records right in front of us once again? Are people not as impressed as I am by their ability to sample everything from Reatards to Pavement to Gauze to a drumbeat from the fucking Creep demo tape? And to be able to do so with razor sharp wit and seamless production precision? It’s exciting listening to this stuff, a feeling that I rarely get to experience these days now that I’m an old fucking man that thinks he’s heard it all. And instead of yelling at you to get off my lawn, I’m screaming at you damn kids to pay attention to ISS – we could all learn something. As far as records go, while I’m very proud to have been a part of the first full length (which is now rightfully on vinyl as we speak…), I think ‘Endless Pussyfooting’ is a masterpiece – and I’ll tell you another thing, I really fell in love with this while listening to the cassette version. I’m not going to try and convince you that cassettes are some great format (but in reality they are) you need to get into – for me they work on both a nostalgic level (I spent years growing up in the pre-CD era where the tape had supplanted the LP as the format of choice) and a level of necessity and ease (I spend a lot of time working in a space where a record player would not be a feasible option and I loathe listening to music via shitty computer speakers) – but by all means go buy the LP version (and then download it to your iTunes or whatever the fuck it is you do) and get down. The new 7” on Sorry State advances the cause even further, dipping into the catalogs of Cabaret Voltaire and Albert Camus (among many others) for raw materials to spin into gold for us fools. Punks jump up…
13) HANK WOOD & THE HAMMERHEADS self-titled LP – well well well. Hank and tha Hammers returned, and absolutely made my life 100% better for with the release of their third LP (for real, I was at a real low point when this LP hit and listening to it every morning helped me face the day or at least stoked me up enough to get through it). I knew this record was coming eventually and I think we all had some mixed feelings about what it would be like – we wanted it, yes, but there’s no one that will say ‘Stay Home!!!’ was anywhere near what our unrealistic expectations for it were. “Go Home!” set the bar so impossibly high (I reckon it might be the best LP of the past ten years or so) that they essentially had to have a sophomore slump. And that’s okay. I knew it was coming. I’ll confess to having barely paid attention to it. It was like a free pass or something, we all knew it would pale in comparison to the first one, and I think the best case scenario we were hoping for was to get it out of the way, to create some distance from ‘Go Home!’ so we could enjoy them again without the spectre of how incredible that LP was looming over them. I mean, that first record was THAT good. My only concern was that they might not make it to a third LP, but they thankfully did. And with that distance we can actually appreciate this record on its own merits, and I’m going all in on it. The band has seemingly adjusted as well, and I feel like they have fulfilled some sort of vision here, or at least feel confident about it. It’s the right blend of the over-the-top bluster of that first record and the sort of peckerwood hardcore thing they were fishing for on the second record. I was so stoked on this after first listen that I had to download it while I waited for the LP to arrive. For the first time ever I exceeded bandcamp listens for a release – I didn’t even know that was possible! I also heartily agree with ending on “Whisper” as well, with Henry sounding more wounded by that damn baby of his than I’ve heard him before. I mean, that’s a HUGE part of what makes this record and this band so great – Mr. Wood’s lyrics and his unique delivery of them. I’ve never heard a better UNH or OWW and how he uses them as punctuation (or doesn’t) is something really special. And I think all their records, and their finest moments rely on Henry battling his feelings for a girl, or being hurt by one – never have I heard a man treated worse by the fairer sex. What if all of these songs are really about one woman? What a relationship! And there we break down to the simplest level of this – they’re almost all essentially about loving or dying in one way or another. Well done, boys, and I should also mention that the guitar playing on this record might actually exceed the first. Consider it this way: ‘Go Home!’ is their “Go Girl Crazy!”, ‘Stay Home!!!’ their ‘Manifest Destiny’, and this is of course their ‘Blood brothers’. Is “I Can’t Stay” not just the modern update of “Stay With Me”? And we all know that for as much as we love the punkitude of that first one, when you get down to it “Bloodbrothers’ is their best, most complex and yet also most simple at heart. And I’ll let (DH) handle the review for the video of the year that accompanied this LP:
Hank Wood And The Hammerheads “You Wanna Die” music video
Somer’s animated video for The Hammerheads “You Wanna Die” joins “Thriller” and “Institutionalized” atop the list of history’s best and most innovative music videos. Really. Paper cut-outs brought to life, death, and life again in stop-motion. It is beautiful and mesmerizing, a pinnacle of artistic expression for the art form of the music video. The song ain’t bad, either. (DH)
01) SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION #2 – The Loki Label is celebrating some kind of anniverary with our third LOKIFEST next month, in our favorite city this time around, at the world’s best bar, the legendary NOW THAT’S CLASS. Come on down on JULY 21st to see our friends: COUNTER INTUITS (we will be negotiating the contract for the long-awaited Ron House spoken word LP at the afterparty) — THE COWBOY (local Clevo boys we will be trying to sign) — CEMENT SHOES (members of Brown Sugar, Fried Egg, Utah Jazz, Haircut and more will also be celebrating the release of their debut 7″ on Feel It Records) — TROPICAL TRASH (Louisville heroes head east) — STORKS (Richie Charles of Watery Love/Fully Glazed with a crack squad of Philly bats in the line-up) — the Loki Label mobile distro unit with new/exclusive merch will be on site and Sam from Feel It will bring the merch pain as well, and we have some other surprises in store – hope to see you all there –
Welllll, we’re back. What we have here is one of the best interviews I’ve had the good fortune to be able to publish on Termbo, an intimate chat with Byron Coley, certainly a legend around the TB household and I’m sure you feel the same way if you’re here reading this. This interview was done by our friend Julien for our other friend Alex’s zine Psycho Disco. It appears in issue #3 which is available now, but the catch is that the zine is in French – so these guys were gracious enough to let us put out this translated version for all of us English speakers to enjoy. So thanks very much for that, go and get the zine here (it also has an article in it by yours truly, which is how I got involved with poaching this from them). Please enjoy and give some thought to some of the topics discussed here – as our world keeps rapidly changing while we speed further and further into the future, it’s easy to overlook how the things we love and take for granted are transforming. Music is the glue that holds this thing together, but how we find it, think about it, write about it, feel about it is constantly evolving – how we are (or aren’t) adapting to these shifts is something I think we all need to be more aware of. So, aside from being stoked to have this awesome interview up, I’m also buying another week to cram some more reviews in. We’ll see you shortly with those. Thank you.
Hello again. Our update this time features an interview with our Australian friend Owen Penglis, who you might know from Straight Arrows and/or from recording a good amount of other Australian bands recently. We talked to him a few years ago after the Arrows had completed their US tour, and here Ryan gets us up to date on Owen and the bands’ recent activity, including a new 7″ out now on Spacecase Records. In other news, those long awaited record reviews will be up next week (no I’m not stalling ehhhh….yes, I am) and we also have some more interviews ready to go, including a whopper of a Byron Coley chat and some more from the ever-busy Ryan. The 2017 Year End round-up is still warm, in case you missed it. And we’re running the ol’ TERMBO TELETHON for 2018 on the board if you’re interested. That’s it for now, we’ll talk again real soon.
January’s almost over, must be time for the Editor to crank up the mainframe and post the 2017 Year End Wrap Up from the staff. Hell of a year, huh? There’s not much to ramble on about that I don’t cover in the intro, but lets just sum it up and say Termbo will live again into 2018 and possibly beyond and the editor is trying his hardest to make it all work better. We’ll see what happens, but I can tell you that those long awaited reviews are coming very soon as well as some interviews we have stacked up as well. Hope you find something of interest in these pages (I know I did – how did I miss that Heron Oblivion LP?!?!?) and remember there is ALWAYS good new music out there if you take the time to look around. Thanks as always to all the readers and lurkers out there, thanks to everyone still using the Termboard, thanks to all the labels/bands for sending us stuff and not surrounding Termbo HQ like those villagers did to Frankenstein, and thanks to the staff for hanging in there with me. I’m really trying, I swear. We’ll be back soon.
Hey! So, yeah, we’re still here. Back from our little “break”…honestly, summer is over, fall is gone, time to retreat back into the Termbo bunker and wait out the winter. We plan on passing the time by getting the reviews updated ASAP and catching up one some interviews we’ve had come through the office. Here’s the first, a chat with Mets fan, record mogul and all around great guy Gerard Cosloy. Gerard had a quite informative discussion with our pal Ryan Leach about the state of the music biz, GG Allin and Conflict (the zine not the band), three things I think we all love. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did. On deck we have reviews, reviews, more reviews, probably some Best of 2017 type stuff and an interview with Byron Coley. Not necessarily in that order. Thanks for sticking around. And if anyone want to give the gift of The People’s Format for the holiday, head over to the Loki Label who should have some new stuff out soon. See you real soon.
Hey everyone, I know it’s been long time since I last rapped at ya, but we’ve been bogged down enjoying the summertime over here. But, we’ve managed to cobble together a record reviews section for your perusal. The usual caveats apply: we tried to pack as much in as possible, left a lot of mediocre records out just to keep things moving, if your stuff isn’t included drop us a line and we’ll talk. Tape reviews are being compiled as we speak. On with the updated Power Rankings, joined in progress…
16) DAVID NANCE “Do the Negative Boogie” LP – this one’s pretty fresh out of the mail at HQ right now, and even if I kind of liked ‘More Than Enough’ I waaay more than kind of like this one so far. I won’t express feelings of unrequited love for this LP just yet, but lets just say I’m pretty serious about it. A Merle Haggard cover with a noise solo, rockin’ folk, folking rock’n’roll, that crawling kingsnake opener. I see a future for me and this record, go get one mailed to you from Ba Da Bing. It’s alos interesting to note that Nance’s teenage (?) garage rock band Forbidden Tigers might be the last good record to ever come out on Deadbeat almost ten years ago.
15) THAT FUCKING JAY BRUCE TRADE. ROLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL TRIBE.
14) THE CITY YELPS HALF HOUR LP. This came out to little fanfare in late 2016, via UK label(s) Horsey Music and Odd Box Records, but it still has a steady place in the rotation, even getting more as the summer began. The latest evolution of British DIY rock’n’roll via NZ-pop, lo-fi but not lacking in heart, it’s been the record I put on to get back up when I’m feeling out of sorts. If you didn’t know yet this is The Hand from Real Losers’ new outfit, but there’s nary an iota of that band’s sound to be found here. I read somewhere that they’re “Swell Maps meet The Clean” and I’ll roll with that, as it’s better than anything I’m going to come up with, and it scratches that itch for genuine UK eccentricity that I used to depend on Hygiene for (though there’s not much in common between the two aside from my arbitrary mental tic). I’m fairly sure this is about to sell out of a second press (if it hasn’t already), so you should probably start looking here….
13) TAIWAN HOUSING PROJECT ‘Veblen Death Mask’ LP. Hotly anticipated LP delivers in all ways possible, and I love when everyone I follow on Instagram is posting pictures of them playing live and talking about how amazing they are and I’m sitting over here in the middle of nowhere and not seeing them live at all. At least I have the record, and the band now includes Kevin Boyer, adding Tyvek to the list of bands they’re related to that I hold in high regard. And speaking of relations, there’s a Writhing Squares connection too, whose LP I’ll plug one last time in preparation for their entry into the next Richie Records singles series (I’m talking Squares here, not THP – and to encourage further confluence of interests, the series also includes a David Nance single this time as well). Mark Feehan and Kilynn from Little Claw are the heart of this truly super group (oooff), you can discover here if you’re not yet aware.
12) CHEATER SLICKS “Destination Lonely” LP – the Slicks will forever have a place in the power rankings, and ‘Destination Lonely’ is perhaps the most important record of their long and spectacular discography. Their second full length, it marks the beginning of their decision to remain a trio after first Alpo and then Merle Allin departed the band and the inability to recruit any suitable replacements on bass left them as a trio. So began the Shannon/Shannon/Hatch line-up that still soldiers on today. Originally released on the Australian Dog Meat label, the LP documents the beginnings of what were their most productive years, with three LPs and seven singles (or thereabouts) coming in this fruitful 1991-1995 period. ‘Destination Lonely’ contains the blueprint for future releases, an unbeatable mix of covers and originals played through over-amped guitars with Dana and Tom sharing vocal duties. This is the band just beginning their long run, hitting on every possible cylinder, plunging headlong into an almost 30 year long “career” without looking backwards or forwards, to this day still unable to quench their thirst for playing the most desperate and desolate garage-rock this world has ever heard. Almost Ready has stepped in where other labels have dropped the ball and revitalized the Slicks vinyl catalogue with reissues such as this. I was able to see the band play a triumphant record release show in NYC for this reissue, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I got a little misty eyed thinking about these guys being up there doing what they’re doing. Admirable, and a good band to steal a page or two from for your own life….go get yours (and more) via the ARR site, and you might even be able to distract people from looking at your ugly mug with a t-shirt featuring the Dan Clowes artwork on it…
11) NWI – or the lack of “Marky” bands in 2017. This stuff is still on my mind though…So is the CCTV 7″ piece of paper going to be the last gasp of what was the hottest bed of punk of the past couple of years? I guess that DLIMC VHS kinda counts too, that “band” was cool. Think about this – the CCTV single on Lumpy has gone through four pressings now. The numbers dont lie, they were a great band. But things have gone eerily quiet. No more DLIMC installments. No new bands. No Marky. No news via Jimmmy from Youtube (who has a radio show now by the way: just perfect). Christi Calfornia hasn’t returned the last letter I mailed her. What gives? Here’s what I want to think: Coneheads and CCTV are still together and playing shows all the time in NWI basements, Big Zit and Ooze never really broke up, but the whole scene has gone on 100% local lockdown and total radio silence, and no one except the NWI punks know any better. SECRET SCENE!
10) SKULL CULT “Stab Me With A Knife” – so, I dont usually go for synth-punk, but this crew has a little something going on here. This “Stab Me With A Knife” song is A FUCKING HIT, I TELL YOU. And I won’t lie and tell you it’s all good, because it’s not – aside from a couple other tracks from the Vol. 1 tape (“Feel It Die” and “Black Mask”), it’s all rather annoying synthola garbaggio, especially the Vol. 2 stuff – grating keyboard sounds and a little bit of these vox go a long way. Thankfully they only write minute-long songs, and the 1:05 of “Stab Me…” is absolutley perfect – aggressive, catchy and the vox in this instance are genuinely fantastic – that puke sound he makes after the first chorus is the most punk 3 seconds of the year. Both the tapes are sold out, but those Erste Theke Tontraeger (someone translate that for me, please) guys put both tapes on one 7″, and that Weirdly Label is doing a US press as well with alternate artwork (I think two pressings is overkill, but then again this song is REALLY good, too bad there’s so much chaff with the wheat here). As an aside, ETT are supposedly doing an ISS LP, so I will give them mucho credit for being the only label thus far to sack up for vinyl for one of the best bands in the world. Weird label though. Secondly, Skull Cult are from Bloomington, IN whose resident punks are trying to pick up the slack now that Marky has apparently disappeared.
09) “Horrendous New Wave” LP – the latest from Lumpy Records, which is a concept compilation – all of these “no name new wave bands” are from the minds of players you’ll be familiar with if you’re a fan of the Lumpy roster (which I’m just assuming you are). The line-up includes Rik, Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants), Arielle from Janitor Scum/Glitter, BB Eye (Lumpy + Olivia from Warm Bodies), Gibbous, a Muff Diver, the guy from Nosferatu and “many many more”! I have to think The Wad, The Stranger and Mr. Wax might be in the dugout too? It’s hard to tell, and as I type this I’m getting excited all over again – I mean, this is a GREAT idea combined wth a GREAT label full of freaks. But to be honest, it’s a bit of a mixed bag’o’nuts. Sixteen tracks. Only one band gets two tracks (Western Civ) and they just happen to be one of the bands that suck. Really, there is some truly horrendous new wave on this, Lumpy is not lying. Half of the fun here is trying to figure out who is who (and who dropped the turds in the punchbowl), and I have to think I scored rather poorly on my guesses. But let’s not get bogged down in the negative, let talk posi here. And the most positive thing here is the lead-off shot on Side B, a little dinger called “I Am Not A Nixon” from an outfit called Leaders, and it is without a doubt one of the best songs of the year, and what you want to hear out of new wave or synthy punk or whatever you want to call it. Massive sound, huge drums, huge riff, not some squiggly keyboard shit, but sheer brute force synth, with a hook too. Lyrics are hilarious but it’s played straight and it’s one of my favorite things right now. Whoever this is wins the fucking contest (my guess is this one is Rikky and pals). Not much can stack up to that jam, but there’s a good half dozen or more keepers here – Shux (I’m not even sure there’s a synth on this one, but it is definitely punk), Protoculture (sounds like the Leaders guy(s)), Dutytoot (sounds like Shux and also sounds like it was sent here from LA 1983), Knobnoster Band (pretty sure this is BB Eye), Mick Flannel (probably the best “name” here, more of a spoken word weirdo thing that I like very much), and Neuro Bliss (a song about unsubscribing to MRR!) are all winners. The Dequantize instrumental that opens is good too – sounds like the soundtrack for To Live and Die in LA if it was reimagined as a Nintendo cart. There’s four or five real stanky ones here too, those Western Civ tracks chafed my ass in particular – just too fucking cutesy/quirky/lame, but hey there’s always a few. But overall, this thing is truly interesting and an event of an LP – not just music, but the concept, and digesting how each of them made what they thought of as “new wave” and how some soared and some crashed. Lumpy’s got himself a good bunch of pals here, a real Ralph Records for the now or something. And that’s what encourages me to keep listening, the excitement of hearing what these kids from all over the country do when they come together like this – it’s inspiring. And you should pump “I Am Not A Nixon” as soon as you can. Screened covers with art that I have to think the Janitor Scum person did. Oh yeah, and it’s sold out you boners…Lumpy put two tracks up for you to sample, and it actually fitting that one is that killer Shux track and the other is Western Civ, so you get the good and the bad….
08) THE CAVEMEN. My fascination with these Cavemen continues. And for the record just one more time, I’m speaking of The Cavemen from Boston, MA – not the Cavemen from New Zealand who moved to London and have a bunch of records out on various lo-fi garage labels. People seem to think those guys are wild and primitive, but Boston’s neanderthals are the definition of PRIMITIVE. I haven’t heard shit-fi like this in some time, just completely blown-out thud. My point of reference keeps coming back to Black Time, if BT were American and really dumb and had absolutely no artistic aspirations. The ‘Band in BC’ cassette (see, they’re funny too) was tops of the tapes in 2016, and now they have somehow convinced a little label called Weirdly Records to press the best of that tape on a must-have 7″ – seven tracks with minimal band info, and reproducing the classy art from the tape. If you don’t believe me just give “Ca Ca (My Wall)” a spin and thank me later. Order from the band(camp) or the label.
07) KALEIDOSCOPE. See reviews section for further commentary.
06) GG KING “Another Dimension” 7″ – for as hot as the ATL is right now (and it’s getting spicier by the day), let’s not forget who the elder statesman is, the godfather of ATL-punk, the Goat Ravisher himself. GG is the Burzum of the scene (well except for the murder and arson part), the template for which almost everything else is built upon/influenced by/rated in relation to. There’s most definitely an Atlanta-punk sound, and it’s undeniably been shaped by King’s work dating all the way back before the Carbonas even (see Termbo Issue #3). This latest record is a redo of “Another Dimension” from the LP – why? I can’t answer that, but it sounds streamlined and perfected – you know, GG is a perfectionist and probably just had to go back and nail this one to the cross like he originally intended to. Then there’s this “Make A Movie” thing, which is sort of a rap/spoken word collage – and you can get the ‘Full Dub Edit’ on the bandcamp, yo. The 7″ version gets cut a bit short, but you probably shouldn’t mind. B-Side is “Gilliam Park” which is another classic GG dark-punker, with an all star backing band including our pal NG and some sick backwards guitar – remember when GG was entertaining us with things like the “Two Track Party Pack”? Well, hes still entertaining us, but now it’s with this fully formed beast of a serious hard-blackened punk band. Is there a more fully realized “band”/artist out there? It’s perfect. Excellence of execution. And another instance where he borrows a bit from punk ghosts past (“We’re the kids…” is a hauntingly familiar refrain). It doesn’t get much better than this folks. And while we’re at it, there’s a laundry list of other Atlanta punk records you should be feeding on: Mutual Jerk 7″ (DIY kinda freakiness), any of these Nag records (even if the artwork blows, these are still quality punking tunes), the final(?) Joint D= LP titled ‘Intelligence’ (and that copy of Atlas Shrugged is being burned in GG King’s driveway) from the guy who unites NC with ATL and gives me a reason to shoehorn in the fact that ISS have that ‘Endless Pussyfooting’ tape out on State Laughter…and that upcoming Uniform LP should be a real nut buster if they keep up with that tape from a bit ago. By the way, test press version of this is delicious, but that anti-dimension sticker on some of the regular versions is a must-have too. Get in where you fit in.
05) PUBLIC TRUST “The Leper” EP – man, Boston has really surprised me lately. I’m usually no fan of the HC scene there, but their punk division is doing great things of late. This fucking Public Trust 7″ man, it’s incredible. The best record Unnatural Axe never wrote. With extra meathead on the vox. I have no info on this band other than the singer from Boston Strangler is involved (and possibly more Stranglas) – is it all him, or is he just the brains behind the band? “The Leper” is the hit here, a total anthem about being afflicted, but all four songs are smokers (yes, even “Everyone Smokes in East Boston”) and you won’t get better value out of a 7″ right now. I can’t believe more people aren’t as nutty about this as I am….want some aesthetic proof that this one is legit: the sleeve/record contains visual references to Joe Spinell and Combat Shock…check em out if you don’t believe me. Then head over to Feel It for your copy.
04) MOZART “Nasty” EP – ‘The Tick’ was a pretty cool tape and all, but this 7″ EP is pure mania, probably the best hardcore record released in 2017 thus far. The alliance with Iron Lung makes sense, as these are all individuals to whom integrity means a great deal, and that makes the tenacity of this record that much more satisfying. The people involved are serious about this punk shit – not that this is some overtly political thing, or has some kind of scene agenda – but it’s fanatical and raging music for a reason. And the vocals are insane, intense and right on – matched by the aesthetic tenacity of each one of these records (500 of them?!) having a hand painted “blob” on them, which I’m sure the person(s) drawing them on thought more about than most of us think about punk in a month – Sidenotes: the related Thrilling Living label has released that Warm Bodies 7″ I love so much, and I’m getting real antsy to hear this gSp 12″, which is Tobi Vail, Layla Gibbon and Marissa Magic, and not a tribute to the UFC fighter you loved to hate. Further sidenote – Grace is leaving MRR, which gives me a mild panic attack when I think about it. Not that I really have a horse in this race anyway, but MRR has once again become the best punk zine in the world (not just by default) under her guidance and I fear what might happen now…I believe the only logical course of action is to immediately install Brace Belden in the coordinators chair the second she leaves MRR HQ.
03) STEFAN CHRISTENSEN “Shake off The Village” LP – Stefan’s first official vinyl LP as a solo act, and coming off what might have been his best set of songs yet on the ‘Open Day” EP gave me some high expectations. Nine songs that document Stefan drifting further into the waters of improv and experimentation, getting closer to the Xpressway sound than ever (whereas I might have pegged him closer to Flying Nun in the immediate post-Estrogen Highs days), with a heavy dose of Shepard-esque noise wrangling still abundant. Some of this outright harsh (“Over Scrawl” sounds like twisting metal) and some of this is outright beautiful (the expanse of “Brass City Pt. II” – a recurring locale from the previous EP as well), and he still lovingly slips a genuinely warm “rock” song in there like a note slid under the door (“Norton II”). “8AM Sharp” could conceptually be linked to Shadow Ring in its construction, but far more fleshed out and American. The stylistic jumps from song-to-song are never jarring, but more collage-like, in a way that still reminds me of Sebadoh in aesthetic if not sound. “Off Minor” is a rather fitting ender, full of guitar shredding and a little tape manipulation, Stefan with a foot on both sides of the fence (rock vs art?) and pulling it off wonderfully. Available for preorder now.
02) WARM BODIES. See reviews section for commentary. I’ve been told this band is the real deal live as well, which saddens me as I will probablly never get a chance to see them. Their two singles and cassette releases have been the highlight of 2017 thus far.
1) THE COWBOY LP – No one mourns the disappearance of Homostupids more than me. No one. Which makes the emergence of The Cowboy that much more reassuring. 2/3 of the ‘stupids plus 1/2 of Pleasure Leftists. Think of it perhaps as a more refined evolution of what Josh and Steven were doing in America’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band. Perhaps a bit more finessed, due in part to Drew’s more Charlie Watts approach as compared to Dale’s Keith Moon. Both are great. One of the big differences is that you can actually decipher what Josh is singing – and an actual lyric sheet helps too. That being said, this is just what the doctor ordered – more good old Americano rock’n’rollo with that distinct Clevo flavor. Higlights include “My Champion”, “Sneaking Leaker” (!) and “The Cowboy”, but of course there’s nary a dud in this dirty dozen. Whether or not this record is actually called ‘Back on the Farm’ is up for discussion, but the artwork by Josh’s daughter is definitely the visage of titular cowboy. Fun fact – this record almost came out on Smart Guy, then didn’t, and good ol’ Fashionable Andy saved the day. Cassette version will also be available on Blow Blood some day soon for those of you who favor the people’s format.
For a full list of Power Rankings for this quarter, send a SASE to Termbo HQ. We’ll be back with those tapes and an interview before you know we’re gone.
We hope you all enjoyed your Independence Day (and/or Canada Day) and are ready for summer to get into full swing. To tide you over until the weekend, here is a fantastic interview by Ryan with George D. Henderson of New Zealand’s The Puddle (and New Existentialists) wherein they discuss the classic New Zealand sounds and scene of the past and present. Ryan has more similar material coming soon, so keep an eye out. Reviews section coming next, we’re still trudging away at it and are not dead. Yet. In related news, check out The Loki Label for the latest Midnight Mines material on cassette, (and solo stuff from the Baron and Private) which is down to just a handful of copies. See you real soon.
Okay, time to start digging out from under this mountain of reviews and get the Termbo machine back in running order. Here’s a link to latest reviews section, some of which are embarrassingly late, some of which are surprisingly timely. Hope you find something you like in there, old or new or both. I had to cheat a little bit to get caught up further, as I resort to the “column” format below to clean up some stuff I had left on the desk. I’ll be doing the same with a XXL sized stack of LPs next. If you sent something in and it’s missing drop us a line and we’ll figure it out. Other than that, it’s onwards and upwards – more reviews, a demos/tapes section soon after and I’ll finally be putting the finishing the finishing touches on Termbo print issue #4 and other paper goods. All that and more from the Loki Label and friends really soon.
(Again, go check out this big ol page of new reviews here before or even after you’ve read what’s below.)
Might as well start with the best 45 label in the land, Total Punk. TIMMYS ORGANISM finally make an appearance on the roster with their latest offering coming off their LP on Third Man, and this one sounds like Vulgar might be dusting off old Clone Defects tracks (which is fine by me). “Lick Up Your Town” is a little sleazy lyrically (“Powder your garden with my fertilizer!”) and is a huge sounding mid-tempo rocker, with Vulgar’s jet-engine squeal guitar sound stealing the show. Flip is “Sweet Tooth” with a lascivious spoken intro that leads into a blues stomper with Timmy V emoting equally on vox and strings. Now that’s rock’n’roll. Also makes good use of the full sleeve rubber stamp with a nice eye catching design. BLACK ABBA’s (or just Bl’Abba if you’re on friendly terms) second single starts with their best tune to date, “Lost Dog”, a somewhat minimal sounding lo-fi punker with a wandering synth line and less-is-more solo – great lyrics too. “The Manager” is a winner as well, sounds loose and has a more DIY/artpunk feel, the doubled-up vocals add some disorientation and again it seems as if that synth is just meandering around the song, and it works. The tunes sound very organic yet still weird, and the simple construction benefits from the added nuances of the little things they do right – and I swear that guitar solo part is lifted from somewhere, but I just can’t place it…I’ll be sure to let you know when I figure it out. Best band member name on insert: Cher II.
LYSOL have been in heavy rotation around TB HQ all winter, and I’ll fess up to being a little late catching up after the tapes. The two songs on this Total Punk 7” were also the L.I. tour tape if you picked that up – “Wired” b/w “Knucklehead” and they’re both hot enough to singe your eyebrows. Am I in the majority thinking Lysol is better than Freak Vibe? Rob Vertigo, can I get a ruling on this? “Knucklehead” reminds me some of Brown Sugar and Mognoloid in its rock’n’roll + hardcore approach – there’s a piano in there right? – it’s just a real crusher. “Wired” is more of the same (yes I know this is the A-Side), another powerbomb rocker that demands repeat listens despite the bruising that might cause. These tunes sound more aggro than the stuff on the ‘On the Corner’ LP (which is a great record nonetheless) and I dig it. These cats are probably in the top dozen or so current acts out there right now, and if I wouldn’t have had my head up my ass for most of 2016 I’d of touted them more. So as to not let that mistake happen again though, I’m going to tell you that this FNU CLONE 12″ is amazing right off the bat. The head FNU has done away with the Ronnies (or at least left them on the other side of the country) and recorded all of this by himself, and it might be even more insane than ‘Saddle Up’ was. The sounds of technology revolting against you, hard digital punk, raw rock in general. Drum machines are brutally run through their programs, synthesizers are spliced into human DNA, effects pedals are abused and grafted onto voiceboxes. The A-Side is weird enough, but the B-Side of this thing is a fucking beast. The clone’s humanity might come through a bit more on this side, but it’s no less eccentric. The three song run from “Shake the Hand” through the Motorhead cover essentially reinvents weird-punk. Science fiction come to low-budget life. Incredible. One of the best records of the year thus far, and I cannot stop with that B-Side. I think it has injected some sort of binary virus into my head at this point. Must be heard to be believed, the only thing it somewhat reminds me of is Gary Wrong, if that guy was a cyborg monster instead of an analog wizzard – but it has a similarly busy all-hands-on-holodeck approach. FNU Clone has really outdone himself here, and I’m of the belief FNU Ronnies were one of the best things going while they were active – like I said, this thing pushes the boundaries even further into space and time and just raised the bar considerably. (www.floridasdying.com)
Know what? This PLAYBOY 12” from Negative Jazz is also the best record to come out in 2017 thus far. I cannot stress ho much I enjoy this one enough. I’ve listened to it 100 times by now easily and it keeps getting better. A four song 12” 45rpm monster called “Celebration” that weighs in just under 18 minutes or so, it’s unlike much else out there. Flipper is the no-brainer comparison, but it’s true – rubbery, gooey, sex beat/sax bleat, smart and degenerate lyrics. This is not some rehash sludgefest though, there’s something airy about the sound, almost spacey. Vocals are perfect, they sound strained but he’s not really yelling, the delivery is fittingly odd, and he’s often answered by the sax (as on “Outside”). It’s truly weird, in that I haven’t heard much like it around – not some predictably weird-punk stock moves you’ve come to expect. Pretty sure there’s no guitar player, did I mention that? Anyway, these dudes are from Montreal and are the best thing outta there in some time – and Playboy have an Omega or two or more in their ranks from what I’m told, and I like Omegas, but this Playboy shit blows them away. Artwork matches the bizarre tunes to a tee and thank god for the lyric sheet that’s full of more strangeness and charm – I’ve been trying to figure the words out for a good 2-3 months, and I wasn’t even close. Go buy this immediately, please. (negativejazz.bigcartel.com)
Now let’s talk random Euros. The Mastermind Records label outta Denmark almost always delivers (see Narcosatanicos and Angkor Wrack along with their fondness for Clevo-tardation via F/S and Trichecos), and this SMERTEGRAENSENS TOLDERE 7” is good enough that I took the time to spell that fucking name right (although I’ll be damned if I know how to format that AE as the same letter shit), they’re from Aarhaus (talk about a cool name for a city), they blow through seven songs in about seven minutes, and I swear it sounds like HFOS if they weren’t joking around – bad reference I know, but I have no clue as to a Danish HC band to relate them to – it’s slightly metallic, super burly, maybe a little 9ST fury in there. One of the Cola Freaks is in this band? Would’ve never guessed. Monstrous. The tasteful picture of a boxcutter on the cover sums up their aesthetic rather well. (mastermindrec.tictail.com)
From Denmark we wander over to the UK, where shambolic and quirky DIY records are coming out like it’s 1982 all over again. Firstly we have THE STICKS ‘No Sustain’ EP, their first record in a few years and it’s rather decent stuff. I remember not caring for a 12” of theirs, but I can handle this – they go for the more rhythmic and bass-led approach, not quite lo-fi either, these dudes know their way around a studio. Reminds me some of Yummy Fur as well as the usual Messthetics – scratchy guitars over locked-in grooves and then sprinkled with weird touches and deep voiced dudes talking their lyrics. Very enjoyable though, and limited to 300 in a risographed sleeve with insert on Market Square – who did the first Suburban Homes 7″ if you want some references.(marketsquarerecordings.bandcamp.com). Next we have VITAL IDLES from Glasgow with a two-songer of female-fronted DIY-pop that I’m really digging the A-Side of – “My Sentiments” is all sharp guitars and a lurkingly heavy bassline, Jessica Higgins’ vox are a delight – talked but in what I feel like is a real smartass way – it’s a bit of raw punker even. “The Garden” on the flip couldn’t be more different. A dramatic slow turn/ballad with violin and trumpet accompaniment, sort of sad-sounding but brightened up by that horn – a quaint recreation of a summer day perhaps, but I again get the sense Jessica is being a little sarcastic, which is why I like it. A swell little single either way (Not Unloved – notunloved-at-gmail.com). Over now to South London for this GOAT GIRL 7”, which I’m mentioning because the A-Side is called “Country Sleaze” and is an ode to Wallers & Co. (“Wallers find me you country tease” she croons!?) – and while I think it sounds more like a tune from the True Detective soundtrack than DIY, I do appreciate that four girls from London are this into the Country Teasers in 2017. B-Side is called “Scum”, is straight C&W, and I will say that at the least this girl has a nice smoky voice. On Rough Trade, you should at least hear “Country Sleaze” just to say you did.
OK, enough of Europe, let’s talk the latest in American Guitar Rock. Sophomore Lounge is the name of the label, and they just pulled the pin on a double-headed 7” bomb – one from the grunts known as TROPICAL TRASH, their first waxing since the highly regarded LP on Load (there was some primo tape and such action in between there as well, talking about the ‘Live at the Fillmore’ cassette and that “Big Game John Cage” thing) and the big change to the line-up card here is that they now have Bim “Obnox” Thomas on drums/gtr to make them even more of a force of jazzfry destruction. ‘Decisions Empty Nest’ is the name of the EP, three songs recorded by Maccarrone in Clevo, which is an alliance I fully support. “Early Wish” covers the A-Side and it’s just evil. Sounds like a short-circuting organ crying in the background under a tractor beam bass sound and some vocals that they’ve added some satanic effects to. Devastating. Think of ‘UFO Rot’ with Bim destroying the drum kit. Think about it. That’s what we have here. B-Side picks up right where the A-Side left off with the ending of “Early Wish” then “Exit Dust” pulls a weapons-grade riff out of the arsenal and then things start getting good and loose on “Troubleshot”. A real mind eraser from some of the top guys in the game. And if that wasn’t good enough, they’ve paired it with the latest 7” from our boys MORDECAI. “What is Art” is four songs, the two on the A-Side come from the ‘Abstract Recipe’ sessions with the “classic” Eli/Holt/Gavin line-up and “Seeing In” is an incredible bit of Shakey-esque hook-rock, and Holt ponders the big question of the title track over a steady groove that these guys lock into in their own way, lots of guitar slash. As always, magic happens. The B-Side is played via a truncated line-up of Gavin and Holt and recorded in the living room. According to Holt’s notes, this was a sort of experiment in deconstruction, in particular replacing drums with a cooking pan. “Spite” is built on that primitive drum idea with both Gavin and Holt getting free on the guitars and falls into place and apart in wonderful fashion. “What is Over” was inspired by Ego Summit and a hangover and is more of an abstract folky-jangler with continued wandrin’ guitar work. This record really made a shitty day into a great one when it arrived, if you need some evidence of the mystic power Mordecai and their music have. In my mind, the most remarkable band we have around today. With ‘Abstract Recipe’ and this 7” out now, the boys have fulfilled their yearly recording quota, and with all three of our heroes now spread out in different towns we’re left to wonder what happens next. I’m hopeful we’ll possibly see them live this year while school is out. Both of these records come in silkscreened pocket sleeves and in a hurtfully limited edition of 300 so keep your eyes peeled. (www.sophomoreloungerecords.com)
CHOKE CHAINS are the latest Thomas Jackson Potter outfit, joined by a Chinese Millionaire, Lindsey from No Bails and a guy named Chizz (!). “Cairo Scholars” is high octane garage-punking, maybe even qualifying as action rock, and has a real nasty solo. The flip is a cover of the opening track from the Deviants third record (“Billy the Monster”) that they give a big low-end revamp. Mastered for maximum garage turkeyness by Tim Warren, typically solid stuff from Potter. (www.houndgawd.com) Speaking of solid hands who have been making great music for 20+ years covering songs that are nearly 50 years old, there’s a new 7” from JAMES ARTHUR’S MANHUNT where he blows through The Grounhogs’ “Cherry Red” making it sound like a Texas acid-rock classic instead of UK blueshammering – actually it sounds a little like James Gang too, but that might have something to do with the fact I listened to “The Bomber” like ten times today. It’s hard to tell, but Manhunt really stretch out on it and give it a good shaking. That’s the B-Side, on the frontside JA actually does an Angry Samoans cover! Proving he’s a smart cat he does the Turner classic “Staring at the Sun” from the oft and unrightfully maligned ‘STP Not LSD’ LP. It’s a rousing and quite ballsy rendition. (www.spacecaserecords.com) To continue our old-timers paragraph here, I was certainly not expecting a new SLICING GRANDPA record in the mail. If you’re unaware, SG have been going for nearly 20 years now as the experimental recording project of John Laux, current Musk-man and former Tractor Sex Fatality. This one’s ominously titled ‘Finyl Vinyl’ and is a four banger – “Fake Mistake” is my fave, with a trebly shitbox recording, vocals that sound like he’s using a tin can and a piece of string, and a handful of swirly echo effects and things – a truly DIY sound and nearly hypnotic. Actually “I Showed Up” on the B-Side is now my favorite, because I’m arguing with myself as to whether it sounds more like Jandek or the Shadow Ring. The wonderfully titled “No Toilet” is an “instrumental” finisher that sounds like incidental music from a SOV horror movie. If you’ve never heard SG before, here’s your chance. (elmn8r-at-hotmail.com)
Keeping things retro, I received correspondence from the fine folks responsible for the Savage Damage Digest regarding a warehouse find of dead stock Richmond Records singles. If you’re unaware (as I was), Richmond was a New Wave label active from 1979-82 whose flagship act was Psychotic Pineapple. What they have available are the GLORIA BALSAM novelty record made “famous” by Dr. Demento – Gloria does a wacky cover of “High Hopes” and a tune about her missing dog “Fluffy” backed by Rubinoos and Pineapples. Woof?! Somewhat better than that is the RAL PHENO 7” (backed by Psychotic Pineapple of course), another of the New Wave novelty/weirdo persuasion, but not nearly as annoying as Gloria – “Let’s Get Stupid” is actually a pretty good piano pounder/sax wailer that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to an Eighties teen comedy. But the best of the bunch is THE IDYLLS 7”, an obscure power-popper/waver that has a pretty solid A-Side in “Why” that sounds a bit like an edgier Blondie. “White Lies” on the flip is a ballad that is interesting in a car crash way. (richmondrevisited.bigcartel.com)
Sticking with the era, some reissues of note. Firstly, Last Laugh have THE DOGS “Slash Your Face” 7” for us, a KBD ripper of the highest quality. Strong like viet cong. A legit from the masters job with pocket sleeve that’s of a far higher quality than the previous “reissue”. And in case you haven’t noticed, in between KBD bonzers, LL has been steadily releasing quality INCREDIBLE KIDDA BAND singles, with “Bullet In My Heart” being the fourth in the series – both songs are choice late Seventies studio tracks, and did Kidda Band ever write a bad song? (www.almostreadyrecords.com) There are few records more unexplainable than the TAPEWORM 7”, which Death Vault has just officially reissued for the first time (forget that shitty bootleg), with the added bonus of a four page insert with liners from Fuzz Box Flynn himself. Still no sign of “Fuzz Bassolo” though! I shouldn’t have to discuss how great this record is with you, but if there is some way one of you don’t know about it, I do envy you getting to experience “Break My Face” for the first time. Surely one of the 7” reissues of the year, Death Vault really does good work all around – BUT as if that wasn’t enough, DV also popped out a reish of the XTERMINATORS 7” as well, of “Microwave Radiation” fame and always memorable in my book for having some of the most ridiculous vocals – those nasally back-ups get me every time, and it’s certainly a killer tune besides. “Occasional Lay” on the flip is actually really good too (Break the Rules “good”) and has dumb back-up vocals too, thankfully. You should be able to get these from Florida’s Dying…
As a sidenote, the compiling of this installment was predominately soundtracked by the WRITHING SQUARES LP “In the Void Above” which came out late last year on Siltbreeze. It was in my Top Ten LPs, but in case you missed that I want to mention it again, it’s that good. Absolutely magnificent American space-rock built on bass and sax that rocks straight-up at times, then dips into Hawkwind-like grooves, kraut-rock runs, electronic rock explorations, it’s all very otherworldly and done with class including the best flute part on a rock record in recent memory. I’ve been listening to it a few times a week for at least six months and I’m still addicted to it. From some of the minds behind Taiwan Housing Project (whose LP is out any day), and Purling Hiss/Spacin’. Check em out on bandcamp if you don’t believe me.
Again, if you missed it or are a bit slow on the uptake, there’s a another huge pages of new reviews here.
That’s all for now kids, we’ll be back in a few with more reviews (LPs mostly now) and some zine talk on top. Tapes after that – thanks everyone.