REVIEWS CATCHING UP - SUMMER 2018
Key: (RK: Rich K.)(NG: Nick Goode)(DH: Dave Hyde)(RSF: Rob Vertigo)(RR: Russ M.)(RL: Ryan Leach)(EH: Enrique Hilfiger)
A Deer A Horse “Backswimmer” cassette
So glad I got to share the stage - sounds unheard - with this outfit during their seventy-ish plus (sure) week tour of the wretched states of 'murica. It's nearly impossible for me to wrap up their sound in just a few comparisons or sentences, but try to imagine a Carla Bozulich fronted, prog-leaning noise rock trio getting burly and shoveling a Melvins type sludge on top of the most swinging Silverfish or hellacious early PJ Harvey moments. Now grin as you imagine this sound caking up on the faces of certain Brooklyn elites. Feels good, doesn't it? It's art and it's rock (you can have both!). The quiet/loud dynamic goes into full effect during tracks like "Statue Sea" and "Once Or Twice" - letting the breathy jazzed vox linger between the purr-fecto guitar slash n' burn and a sinewy rhythm section worthy of any 90's Albini production. I can't think of a better tour pairing for these woodland creatures than Montreal's Towanda - another recent review gem - for a chance at total world domination/destruction. In a sea of bratty hardcore demos, weekend goth and MRR flavor of the months, it's lovely to have something like this fall into the mailbag and blow the norm to bits. A contender for my cassette of the year. (RSF)
(self-Released // www.adeerahorse.bandcamp.com)
A.H. & Das Reps "Refrigerator" 7"
Y'know, I'll admit to giving your buddy Andy a bit of a raw deal over the past couple years - and by that I mean, I basically ignored a lot of his records, particularly those under the Andy Human moniker - why? I dunno, I guess I had just been seeing his name on what seemed like EVERY SINGLE record from SF all the way back to the The Cuts. Familiarity breeds contempt, is that how it goes? What does that even have to do with this? I'll admit, probably a mistake on my part, but I have to make bad decisions every once in a while. While I never LOVED the Cuts as much as everyone else (I merely liked them), I did really LOVE Time Flys (at least up to that second LP), and then it was just like a new band every other month - Lenz, Buzzer, Razz, Andy Human, Andy Human and Some Guys, A. Human, I even started thinking he was in bands I'm pretty sure he wasn't in and holding it against him (was he actually even in Apache?). I think that first Andy Human LP on S-S soured me on things (it wasn't good, I still stand by that) and I just walked away, more or less to save myself time if anything. So, here we are, and I've stumbled back into his catalog, and I'll admit Razz will really grow on you if you give them a chance, that Beatniks 7" is one half of a good record, everyone loves The World (me too) so I said fuck it, let's give this TP platter a spin and it turns out it's fucking great, I should've known. "Refrigerator" is some kinda broken fuzz punk with a nasty hook, and "You Don't Even Know" is a frantic garage-punk runner with some weird left turns. It's what I would've hoped for - not too much quirk, not too much pop, not too much sleaze - a perfectly portioned serving of everything. I wish he always played it kinda straight like this one instead of going too far out on some "quirky" tangent. All I can say is this record is great, I now have some back catalog to explore, and I guess I have to listen to this Jackson Politick LP now huh? But just stick to one name, please....(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Alien Nosejob "Panel Beat" 7"
Proudly Australian four song EP from Alien Nosejob, who you might remember from the 'Horrendous New Wave' comp or The Simpsons. This "band" emanates from the mind of Jake Robertson, who you might remember from Ausmuteants, Leather Towel, Drug Sweat or a half-dozen other projects. See, we're learning things here, making connections. And just for the record, this was mixed by Jake, recorded by Billy Gardner (Jake's fellow Ausmuteant) and mastered by, yes, Mikey Young, The only thing missing is having Owen Penglis cut the plates or something and you'd have the most Australian record ever. Jake goes in a synth-punk direction on the A-Side, not so much unlike Ausmuteants, but perhaps with a bit more of a punk edge. Maybe it's the Lumpy association seeping in. Either way, Jake probably has trouble writing songs without a hook, these ones are just a bit rawer than usual. Very likeable. On the B-Side he changes lanes to a more dour post-punk feel. "Tired" is probably the best cut on the record, and not just because it steals the guitar part from "Devil Inside" and turns it into a bassline. It certainly has the most heft to it, a song that actually makes you feel something - I don't know what exactly, but there's some emotion there. "Guilt and Blame" sounds like his interpretation of the Eat Skull aesthetic maybe. It's jagged and pulsing and blusters forward without looking back. Nice one. Side A is very friendly and all, but the B Side of this is where the real meat is. Scum stats: no idea, but apparently not many, and they all come with a random photo. I'd suggest grabbing one ASAP once they show up in some US distros, as it seems to be sold out from the source.(RK)
(self-released // aliennosejob.bandcamp.com - distro via Total Punk/Feel it)
Alvarius B. "With a Beaker on the Burner and an Otter on the Oven" 3 LP series
Much like his former band Sun City Girls, Alan Bishop's (AKA Alvarius B) solo work can be all over the place. His song-based works such as "Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset" and "Baroque Primitiva" rank among the very best work of the SCGs, while others rank among the SCGs most difficult material. This triple LP (released as 3 separate LPs, or a value-priced double CD) comes on the heels of Alan's other 2017 release - the "Alvarius B Vs. Abdel Baqy Byro in Cairo" LP, a totally ridiculous 40-minute sound collage which has some hilarious and very interesting moments, but likely is completely inscrutable to casual Sun City Girls listeners. The idea of Alan having 6 sides of vinyl to fuck with your head is both exciting, and a bit frightening. Surprisingly, my shock upon first listen was mostly at how normal things sounded, no bizarre spoken rants (though the rants written as promo material for this release are excellent), field recordings or home-recorded solo guitar work this time around. This blend of folk and rock would likely be found palatable by people totally unfamiliar with the SCGs or underground music in general. This is not a bad thing at all, the two hours of tunes here remind me of the more restrained Alan presented on "Baroque Primitiva" if he had wrote his own lyric-focused songs instead of Ennio Morricone covers. There's still plenty of humor and oddness throughout - like "Smokin' To Live" or the new lyrics on covers like "Dark in My Heart" and "Wanted Man" (Hazlewood and Dylan respectively). There's some more experimental tracks as well, notably the hypnotic "The Reason", an 8 minute track thats closes the first LP and the surreal lyrics of "I'll Carry Your Dwarf" (featuring lead female vocals from Hana Al Bayaty who also sang in Alan's underappreciated band Invisible Hands) Overall though, tracks like "A Mark Twain August", "Fine Line" and "Natural Wonder" perfectly back up Alan's assertion that "These songs are pretty good, most likely way better than your songs, and I don't even have time to be a real songwriter, so what does that say about you? It says that you suck." At 35 songs in 2 hours I'm still finding new tracks that grab my attention on each listen. For those wondering what volume to pick up, I would recommend all three, there's no wrong choice, each LP stands on its own and there isn't a huge variation from one volume to another. The 2nd volume might get a few more spins around here than the others though, while Vol. 3 probably has the most "out-there" moments. (RR)
(Abduction // distro via Forced Exposure)
American Breakfast "Ass Cube" 7"
Interesting record here. Chicago garage band who have apparently been around for a bit with no releases until this. Their singer Laure is French born, has the accent to prove it, and she sings with such an unbridled passion it's impossible not to appreciate it. She practically sings herself out of breath on every verse and I can't imagine how she does this live for more than a couple of songs before blowing her voice out. "Ass Cube" has her vox up front with the band playing some lo-fi treble-high garage rock behind with her, breaking for a pretty hot solo, and then she tries to totally destroy her vocal cords even further. Bravo. "Ice Cream" is a bit more jaunty, some jangly guitars, good bassline, good garage-pop beat/hook, and her vocals get absolutely savage on this one. B-Side is a slow and dreamy one with strummed guitar and minimal percussion as the backbone, while plucked solos and Laure's distant talking give it an even more ethereal quality. Honestly, Laure's singing is 100% of what makes this record good. Without her the songs would be ordinary garage tunes, but she elevates them tenfold at least with her commitment. You really need to hear her.(RK)
(Randy Records // randyrecords.bigcartel.com)
Amyl & The Sniffers "Big Attraction/Giddy Up" 12"
12" that compiles The Sniffers two cassette/digital EPs thus far. Their first, 'Giddy Up', which for some reason is on the B-Side of this record, was supposedly written and recorded in the first 12 hours after the band formed, which I'm 100% sure is taking some sort of liberties, because there's no way a turd this polished got pinched off that quickly. It's actually the better of the two sides, as it's actually a little bit rough around the edges and somewhat punk. In the grand scheme of things, I was going to say these guys would be on Burger if they were American, but now that I've looked I see Burger actually put one of their tapes out. Either I'm good at this or it's really obvious where these kids are coming from. A-Side is their latest EP with songs about blowjobs and drugs and being tough and not losers and all that shit you'd expect from a band trying hard to be considered punk but not really that punk at all. And not in a joking way either. I believe "poseur" is the term. They've got the look and the schtick though, so Amyl and her band of merry men shouldn't have trouble getting gigs sponsored by PBR and Vice. None other than Mikey Young is made an accomplice here by making things sound nice and punchy, the tunes aren't terrible but are really just average rock'n'punk, and anyone who thinks this is anywhere close to "primitive pub rock in the vein of Rose Tattoo or Coloured Balls" needs to stop listening to music. There are far worse things out there in the world, but that still doesn't justify anyone reading this website spending time listeining to this.(RK)
(Homeless // homelessvinyl.com.au)
Anmls s/t LP
Chilean street punko's who love to shout together - a lot and often. Reminiscent of 80's Spanish language boot-stompers Cicatriz, Eskorbuto and the like, but with added filth-blown guitars that are left tryna' cut through layers of amp cone dust and a seeping to the surface 70's rock cockpunch. The hardcore leanings and gang vocals calm a tad as the sides play on and I'm starting to hear echoes of John Reis riffage in the aptly titled "Instrumental" and the flip's opener, "V'amanos De La Ciudad". Thanks to "Pirata" they practically give you an Oi anthem at the end. Sort of a shock to see Slovenly head in this direction, as I'd expect the band to hook up with Lengua Armada, Sorry State or some other stateside stable of cellar dwellers. Is Ruleta Rusa still active? These cats should team up with them for a US stretch. Either way, I have no real knowledge of international hardcore (outside of Italy), so I'm gonna' shut up now and let you dig in on your own.(RSF)
(Slovenly / Algo Records // www.slovenly.com)
Back to Basics "Shaded Eyes" 7" EP
Third record from this obscure Flat Tire Punk outfit whose lineage includes the legendary First Alert and bangers of recent vintage Louder. This is the first Back to Basics record available in the US though, all due to the good work Count Drugula has done with Secret Mission Records and whatever unholy back-door deal he's struck up with the guys at Mangrove. So what have we been missing from B2B (and yes I just used that abbreviation, and yes it is terrbile) - basically the sort of really slick and fully produced power-pop with some slight punk leanings most of these third generation (post-Teengenerate/post-Firestarter is my measure) Japanese bands are peddling of late. I don't love it - I need more punk and more raw meat - but this is the sound currently in favor with many FTP acts today, in particular those having members of old guard bands it seems to me. I LOVED First Alert, they were something special - their reverence/obsession for UK mod/powerpop and attention to those details gave them something unique, aside from being great musicians (so great even a power-pop hater like me couldn't hate on them) - and while Back Ta Basics (that's better) are ultra-competent and taleneted, there's just nothing special about it. Just another single from another slick Japanese power-pop band. Give me more XL-Fits and bands who want to be on Gozira Records. Or the 25 Ta Life demo even...(RK)
(Secret Mission // www.secretmissionrecords.com)
BB Eye "Headcheese Hearthrob" LP
Well, here's an LP that exceeds expectations. And I'll confess, I had low expectations, figuring this would be 75% goofing off and 25% stumbling into a coupla good tunes. But never underestimate Lumpy - he's not the one trick slime pony a lot of people have already been unwitting enough to peg him as, and it's not all him here - his better half Olivia Gibb (of Warm Bodies) is his co-conspirator (and crushing my hopes that the Warm Bodies "cover" on that tour tape was an actual diss track with some real beef behind it) and is on the same level of dumbing it down, then smartening it back up and then dumbing it down again....does that even make sense? Just look at this cover - you kinda want to hate these two. Maybe that was the point - a bait and switch of a sort. And let's be on the level here, its not like this is some complex songwriting bonanza with tons of depth and chord changes - but it is a really well done, very catchy and not corny at all 12" full of neo-new wave punkola - no hardcore, no slime, no jazz, just these two adorable dummies playing it clever and simple. Olivia takes on most if not all vocal duties, getting a little more chirpy and squealy than her WB "voice" and I'm guessing ol' Marty is tickling the keys, lotso keyboards of varying tones, drums, guitars, is that a xylophone? Title track is buzzsawing synth punk with Fred Flintstone playing dinosaur bone keyboards, "Im So Annoying" borrows a familiar bass-n-drums rhythm and adds more keys for a pretty funky little number, "Marinated Toe" would be called post-punk by 99% of the people who buy these records, to me it's more dunderhead DIY but hey, why split pubic hairs, "Poke U in the Eye" is horrendous new wave for sure and is top shelf for that genre. Side B opens with a sparse minimal synth number (hahaha), "Cherry Cola" has Olivia at her most patience-testing vocally but she takes it right to the edge and I think they did some poppers before recording this one, "Butterballs Lament" is actually sorta complex, with dual vocals for the first time, a very sly hook and layers of synth that belie the budget punk expectations - lyrics are excellent and this one sounds like you could slip it on a mixtape for an NPR "punk" and they'd be into it until they realized who the juvenile nosepickers behind the whole project are- it's a really good song is what I'm saying. An excellent LP and a further extension of this Horrendous New Wave concept that I'm taking a shine to.(RK)
(Fish Records // www.lumpyrecords.com)
B.D. "Over 30 Singles” LP
I'm pretty sure I've yapped about twenty or more of these tracks compiled here, so this'll be a tidy wrap up for all the newbies around here.
B.D. (standing in nowadays for Bad Daddies) is the long running project of the Reynolds family - a screeching hardcore parental unit from the land of Livermore, CA. This record works as a "best-of" overview of most of their output, ranging from scrappy pop-punk to mid-tempo/post-crunch and raging hate fueled screeds, all blurred in feedback and all in under a minute a pop. It's like achieving marital bliss while blazing through a home 4-track! Long time fan, right here - of the band and folks involved. I've always been personally more attracted to their later, uglier tunes than the catchier stuff from the early days, but when sandwiched in this madness even their lesser aggressors still seem to be caked in snotty vox, jagged Flag-style guitar slash and what seems to be an unwavering supply of skull-piercing feedback. Knowing they're parents (and teachers to boot!), I can only imagine their kids walk around the house wearing those safety yellow ear muffs that air traffic controllers use for protection. There's been a revolving door policy in effect for the rhythm section since their inception and for a while it seemed as if every local show occurred with a different line up. Solidified over the last couple years, the band really started to take form, mutate and leave behind the peppier-flavors of yore while ushering in a whole lotta' blunt damage, possibly from ingesting repeated viewings of Violence Creeps, Rad and other like-minded cellar dwellers. Some fresh highlights included would be "The Flood" featuring off kilter-shifting Urinals-gone-DNA skronk, the Creeps-worthy, jangle guit-strangle of "V.I.C." and "Eyeball Skeleton" that - if I'm not mistaken - was written by their children, way back in 2009 or something equally as crazy. Troll the vintage reviews on this site if you need more juice on the band. Even if you have a grip of their singles output already, it's worthy of purchase just to get your mitts on fanzine included. Interviews with all surviving ex-members (spoiler alert: they've all survived), cool flyer art (spoiler alert: some are mine) and a hilarious track by track breakdown of the songs they didn't bother to include - that even comes with a footnotes column! Order up, and grab some Typical Girls comps while ya' do.
(Emotional Response // www.jenandstew.com)
Michael Beach "Gravity/Repulsion" LP
I've spent more time than I can count, playing bills around the Bay with this man. Whether a gun for hire next to Meercaz, Charlie Meguira, and Colossal Yes or striking out with his own Aussie grunters Shovels and solo outings, Michael name has been plastered on at least a third of my gig fliers. We have an admiration for each other and our...uh..."craft". I wouldn't be hangin' too far out on a limb saying Michael Beach is a "craftsman" when it comes songwriting, composing and such - while I'm more of a shouting drunk who can't play a note or be bothered to jot lyrics down until mere moments before recording. So while I'm out stumble-bumbling around, this guy cranks out his third solo outing - and a damn incredible one it is. The rhythm section featured within is no slouch, either; Muzz "Meercaz" Delgado holds down bass duties and Utrillo of Comets On Fire kit bashing fame sits at the throne. Brevity is key here, as "Gravity//Repulsion" flies by in two easily digestible eleven minute slabs - which in a time of like-minded acts cranking out bloated AOR-style long-players and sprawling double LPs can be a welcome find. This short-stack is all killer and no filler. Zero room for fat. Also: ideal for repeated listens, which I've done a lot. Beach is still stitching together a multitude of influences. "You Were A Mirror"s fires things of in a Kiwi keyboard pop sheen, only to become frayed within Neil Young scruffy guitar flourishes in the end. This dark pop strum continues through the somber "I Never Had Enough Time With You", but there's some underling kraut drive creeping in and that feedback that's been apparent all along rips into a Comets On Fire pedal-war during the solo. "Endless Plain" sustains the kraut drive, as if Neu! was to session with Springsteen's E-Streeters, Dylan's grab at The Band, or even a piano bar blues as attempted by Magnolia Electric Co. Stellar as this A side may be, the biggest and brightest kernels of gold are panned on the flip. "A Vision Of Modern Love" is a goddamn modern classic if I've ever heard one. A propulsive piece of jangle rock and rasp that tosses pop tropes aside for more glorious solo frazzle and the occasional derailment into Sonic Youth/Branca-esque instrumentation. I cannot get the closing refrain out of my head. It's been four months now! "Freddie Dreams of Mars" closes the record with an honest attempt at a Bowie/Elton piano rock opera, only it seems to be channeling the Patti Smith Group. Attempt is a poor word choice. That would make it seem like he might've failed. This is not the case, it goes down beautifully. Theatrical and audacious, but it has my eyes watering. Speaking of theater - instrumental vignettes string the songs together, making ones ears perk as if a curtain was being drawn and the next act, was about to arrive in the spotlight.
Seriously, this stuff should be charting strong on the indie charts. There's an appeal outside the scrappy dive bar and house circuit Beach runs in.
Now that he moved Melbourne this past summer where hopefully folks will get it. Maybe he'll be hosting award ceremonies along side Tex Perkins in no time flat. Good on ya' mate!(RSF)
(Spectacular Commodity // www.michaelbeach.bandcamp.com)
Bend Sinister "Tape2" LP
Hearing the A Frames in 2002-03 was an incredible experience - it's not often you get to hear and be floored by a band (in real time) that sounds NOTHING like their peers or the popular trends/sounds of the time. You could sort of tell where they were coming from musically, but no other then-modern bands were doing it like them - and they seemingly came out of nowhere on top of it all, it was as if one day their record appeared in the Underground Medicine catalog and the next thing you know everyone's chattering and flipping their wig about it. And like good record dorks, we needed to know more, and scraping back the layers after hearing the 'Neutron Bomb' 7", you were able to put together some of the puzzle - Dragnet Records, Woodhouse, Karate Party, The Intelligence, Double Fudge, Vulvettes, all gave you some more insight into where they were coming from and how they got there. Bend Sinister were an obscure part of the puzzle even then. The 7" wasn't easy to find even at the time. The only way I heard the stuff was through the old Blank Generation file sharing thing where Min (aka Sum Yung Guy) was nice enough to share a folder full of songs. Even today this stuff sounds different than the norm, a time when every other band plays "post-punk" or some bastardization of the form. The simple description is a noisier, faster and louder version of the A Frames, and it's about right. "Radiation" is a connector - the A Frames played it as "Radiation Generation", and it was perhaps the noisiest song they played. From there it was addition by subtraction I guess - pare it down, slow it up, angle it out. But this is a Bend Sinister review anyway, and this is a fantastic record all on its own. In reality it sounds more like Karate Party (at least when Woodhouse would really punk up the jams) to me (minus the curly pedal) than A Frames - where our guys were later far more subtle in their work, here it's all bash and crash, hitting things as hard as possible, pushing the velocity and intensity to ramming speed, feeling the wheels start coming off and then giving it even more gas. A tune like "Antibody" shows off their love of the Brainbombs-esque riff destroyer, if "You Wrecked 'em A.L.L." doesn't make you want to wreck some shit you're probably dead (and are definitely dead to me now), "Better Now" is the sort of bludgeon I would expect from some Midwestern pigfuckers, but it's also like the "loud" part of an A Frames song, but just played for the entire song. That these tracks were demos/practice sessions makes them even more impressive. There were few bands that were so far apart and ahead of the field as these guys in any permutation, making this one of the most worthy reissue projects of recent memory. Listening to this stuff again after many years is energizing and a reminder of why I listen to music - to hear something unique, something new that you hadn't heard before, something that moves you, maybe teaches you something or at least makes you think. Bend Sinister were certainly a sum of their influences/parts, but not many can put those parts together in a way that makes you wonder how they got there. Highest recommendation here, and better than 95% of the new records that will be released in 2018. You did realize there's also a "Tape1" I hope...(RK)
(Homeless // homelessvinyl.com.au)
Beta Boys "Brick Walls" 7"
Total Punk loves Olympia, eh? Beta Boys are actually transplants from Kansas City, where they were in Nuke Cult and Dirty Work (a couple of examples of bands that had a great reputation, but unless you were local you'd probably never know if there was any truth to it), and I guess they felt the pull of the weirdo capital of the country and got in the van. I wrote a bit about their previous three 7"es leading up to this, and I have to admit I like the look of sticking to the 7", the most punk of all the formats, and not releasing an LP - I know 7"es are a tough sell these days, but the purity of a 7" EP/single cannot be denied - plus I can't imagine these mutants keeping it together for more than four songs at a time. Another interesting item to think about - they started with some demo tapes (three to be exact) and then put out 7"es on some reputable labels from across the board - Lumpy, Goodbye Boozy (a Euro imprint that has been around since before you were born, mostly known for rock of the garage turkey sort, but in modern times picking up on some of the new hotness), Neck Chop (but that guy will release anything, right?! I kid...) all of which actually had some new songs, not just their demo tape mastered and pressed to vinyl. Huh, you know that's way it used to work back in the day - you put out a couple tapes for the locals and tours, then do some singles, and improve in increments as you go along - and here we are at their fourth 7", and it's by far their best material and recording, go figure - a band actually lets things progress naturally and gets better and develops an identity. That identity is still a clusterfuck, and I do enjoy that their art thus far has been so bad it's good. They had to simplify their usual vomit-up some drawings for the TP rubber stamp and hit a home run with some sort of evil Snoopy, a disembodied madface, an anarchy symbol and a sick logo. The tunes are real ballbusters, this is what I imagined they'd end up honing their sound into. Sloppily powerful, droolingly punk, simple yet pummeling repeat-o-riff, rhythmic, crushing, 100% pittable, gang vox that sound like a bunch of idiots. Thats the A-Side I was talking about there, "Brick Walls", and bonus points for a vague yet certainly punk title. "Littered Streets" on the flipside ups the tempo to hardcore velocity, but like classic hardcore speed - like thrash just sped up a lot. It's one for ramming your head into something repeatedly. I like these kids a lot, they're taking their time (whether it's intentional or not who knows) with these records and it's making me like them even more. Sounds like it's about time for an LP...(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Black Abba "Feel Good" 7"
Third Bl'abba seven incher, and I'll admit that I thought they might be pushing the shelf-life of this "band" but after listening off and on for a week or so it's hard not to be pulled into their black hole of lethargy. Any concept that involves an A-team player like RWC3 backing some of NOLA's elite lady rockers in a band with a gag name and a schtick that I think is something along the lines of we're-the-laziest-band-ever/we're-not-even-interested-in-these-songs...well hey sign me up. And this record might have their best song "Let's Fight" just because I think the lyric "lets fight, lets fight, let me play with your knife" chanted/giggled over some rudimentary shit-fi garage-rock stumble is some sort of genius, but the verses are good too as is the tasteful "motherfucker" drop, because if you're gonna work blue at least make it count. The title track actually does deserve some mention as well for summoning some of the most apathetic playing and singing I've heard in years. A milestone of indolence and indifference, I just worry where they can go from here...can you actually phone in phoning-it-in? If anyone can figure it out, it'll be this crew. Scum Stats: 299 copies.(RK)
(Ken Rock // kensplastic-at-hotmail.com for Ken's sometimes entertaining and always lengthy e-mail updates)
Black Panties "Dirt From the Mop" 7"
Black Panties returns with a new Total Punker after taking a year or two away -2016 was the last we heard from our hero after all that confusion around the split with Sick Thoughts and some random Euro tape release. It sounds like the vacation did him some good (or bad, depending on how you look at it), because he tears some ass on this one. My hot take on Panties is he is one hell of a rocker (and a fantastic frontman) but he needs to stay away from the fucking synths/keyboards. It would frustrate me to hear him write fantastic trash-punk tunes and then ruin them by shoehorning in some dumb synth-line. Just keep it rock'n'raw dude, fuck that new wave hippe shit. These two sides are perfect Panties - rough and abrasive, blending classic shit-fi garage rock with a lovingly misanthropic worldview, black humor delivered with a punk sneer - not too serious, but not fucking kidding either. Title track begin with a "short impressive drum solo" of the sort you might hear on the subway platform via a guy with some Home Depot buckets turned upside down before launching into a Reatards-esque sheet of garage-punk with some of Panties' most introspective/existential lyrics to date. This bucket of shitwater is pretty deep it turns out. "Dreams of My Teeth" on the flip might be my preference though, as it's more of a crusher, remiscent of sorely-missed shit-fi-riffers White Load even. Just hammers it out, just how I like it. Another victory for Total Punk, and have I mentioned how pleased I am that this record has no fucking synth on it?! Thank you Black Panties. Bonus point given for lyric sheet humor as well.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Bloodbags "Busted Chops" & "Dead Eyes" 7"es
King Perpetrator himself brings us a double whack attack of knuckle draggin' garage damage. Them shires in the land o' Nun don't just produced shambolic twee, y'no! The "Busted Chops" EP features four bottom heavy bangers, sure to satiate the tired old men around here, missing the halcyon times of that Necessary Evils bombast. "Fat Needles" opens the agitation like a Union Carbide Production, rich with a slide guitar to help knock yer needle outta'the groove. "Swollen Hands" has the sorta' chunky pummel that used to boogie Oblivian, until the dueling solos try to trump each other as if avant horn solos. "Wolfman Won't Die " is prime Tex Perkins grunt - a Beasts O' Bourbon blues barf of the Black Milk age. Things collapse during a an obscene take of "Street Where Nobody Lives". Finger blistering and bordering on colossal derailment in its nearly hardcore blastitude. I'd imagine Mike Hudson would be grinning ear to ear behind an unfiltered if he'd had a chance to hear it (R.I.P.) Thee status of scum: Red vinyl for yer jackhole.
The "Dead Eyes" single scrapes its rusty claws through some post punk grime, but never falls short of anything but burly. "Red Sally" sees them gravel throat-ed as always, punchin' up gnarly riffs in chunks ala' James Arthur-cum-James Gang gone to rot. "Captain Swing" does just that - it swings. This Goat is fully Lubricated. Funny how I mentioned Union Carbide up there, cuz they cover "Cartoon Animal" on the flip. Slowed, gruffly crooned and bordering near balladry. Two great platters that are impossible to find stateside. Hope y'all got to see them trek about this country at least once in the past couple years. Beasts to behold. Swingin' apelike, you could say. See ya' next Gonerfest!(RSF)
(Stink Magnetic Records // www.stinkmagnetic.com)
(1:12 Records // www.1to12records.com)
The Cavemen "Nuke Earth" LP
"Nuke Earth" is the third time these sleaze-Zealanders have been found rifling through the rubbage bins of garage shock past to toss a full platter. The best tracks within float to the surface - kinda' like pull tabs or smoke butts floating in the fetid water of a gas station squeegee bucket - and scramble about, attempting to create something along the line of a budget-punker's K-Tel collection. These cavemanish boys crank things off with "Lust For Evil" a tune that's got one boot planted firmly in the Oblivians camp and the other can be found kicking the 'Tards squarely in the gonads. Leather-jacketed riff warriors, hopped up on CPC (get it?!) and unleashing dueling leads and hostile vibes aplenty. "Janey" lightens things a tinge with some boozy balladry and organ rottens the rock during tunes like "Batshit Crazy" and "Concrete Town" in a way that could bring both Lost Sounds lovers, Spits fanatics and tattooed MCD car-show greasers lovingly together for a sock hop. Duster-huffers will rejoice to the dum-dum Dictator clunk of "Chernobyl Baby" and "Thug" which reeling in a meaty Gizmos/Penetrators spew. "Dont Wanna Hang" strips veneers in guitar frazzle and New Bomb Turk velocity. It's like having the Las Vegas Shakedown start up again, right there on your very own turntable! The parts may be aftermarket, but there's gonna' be some paunchy yet pleased turkeys around these forums real soon. (RSF)
(Slovenly // www.slovenly.com)
Charnel Ground s/t LP
Charnel Ground’s Self-titled debut is destined to be a mainstay of 2018 best-of lists. The group features guitarist Chris Brokaw (Codeine and Come), bassist James McNew (Yo La Tengo) and Kid Millions (Oneida) on drums. The record is comprised of instrumentals that cover the gamut from the ominous soundscapes (the “Vom Himmel Hochs” in Kraftwerk parlance) that open the record to the Neu!-like instrumentals that close it, including the self-titled track that takes up the entirety of the B side. Charnel Ground was well recorded by Tom Tierney and Alex Mead-Fox at Spaceman Sound (it’s been a long time since I’ve referred to a professional studio in a review). Hopefully a sophomore record will follow. 12XU coming through yet again.(RL)
(12XU // 12xu.net)
Child Molesters "1978 Hound Dog Recordings" 12"
1978. It was a very different time. A band called the Child Molesters wearing nazi memorabilia. Releasing their new record on Hitler's birthday. No wonder TV shows like Quincy ME were doing episodes about punk rock leading the youth astray. I mean, you and me, we know the Child Molesters were just a joke, and a generally poor one at that, but these buffoons were exactly what parents were looking out for at that time, and they were more than happy to fan the flames once someone noticed them. I suppose it's somewhat humorous that the sketchiest thing about these guys turned out to be them bilking record collectors out of cash, going so far as to bootleg themselves (actually a counterfeit instead of a boot situation, but you get the idea). It's a proven fact that "(I'm The) Hillside Strangler" is their best moment by a looooooong shot, and their Yoko cover from the flip of that single is their second most listenable moment. After that it's mostly smoke and mirrors, a bunch of goofballs playing rudimentary rock songs that are meant to offend "squares" and really aren't even that funny for those who "get it". "I'm So (Fucked Up)" always reminded me of a less good Penetrators song. None of the accidental(?) genius of the 7" is really apparent here. "13 Is My Lucky Number" is some Dr. Demento wacky hijinx at its heart, "Im Gonna Punch You (in the Face)" reminds me of something that coulda been on a flexi stuck in an issue of Mad Magazine, and "...Wholesale Murder" is the best song here and the most "punk" sounding tune by far. I'll swear up and down that the 7" is a bona fide KBD classic, and maybe I'm still a bit sore about spending a lot of time and money tracking down a copy of the SFTRI 2x7" version of this stuff years and years ago in a pre-internet age and realizing it wasn't all that good, but let's be honest and agree this ain't so hot, not because it's "offensive" or anything, but because it's just kind of lame music. Kudos to Negative Jazz for doing the work to make this happen and dealing with these jokers in 2018, as this thing looks great for what it is. But again, nothing is going to polish these four turds enough to make me think they're worthwhile punk music. (RK)
(Negative Jazz // negativejazz.bigcartel.com)
Chiller demo and "II" cassettes
Pittsburgh's a sneaky little scene. They might not get a ton of hype or get the respect they deserve for a legacy of great bands, but I don't think they care. They're not doing it for you anyway, they're doing it for themselves. They had a hot run of heavy bands for a bit there but they all seemed to disappear - Slices, Kim Phuc, Rot Shit, Brain Handle...where'd they all go? Yeah, Blood Pressure are okay on record, but I have my doubts they're an actual band since I've had a chance to see them at least three times already, and they cancel every time. At least we will always have EEL, thank god. Speaking of animals, whatever happened to Tusk Lord? But enough of me wasting time, like I said PGH will alway have EEL and they should be proud, but now they have Chiller as well. Their 2016 demo is is about 8 minutes or so of no-nonsense American hardcore, it's just riffs, burly vocals and raging tempos. I'm not joking when I saw they remind me a little bit of Fucked Up circa 2003 when they were making some of the best hardcore punk records of their time. I think it's the vox mostly and maybe how they make some of the more melodic parts seem not so melodic (or wimpy) through sheer force. Chiller are certainly not playing dumb 1-2-3-4 cookie cutter hardcore at all, there's complexity and some emotion there under the heavy riff outer shell. Lyrics seem to fluctuate between socially conscious issues, spirituality and scary stuff. The "II" tape condenses things into 6 minutes, and they sound leaner and meaner but still heavy, and they actually play both faster and slower at points on this one, which might be the more pittable of the two in the long run. They're pretty dialed in here, if you like burly 'core you should look into this. They might not be able to beat up EEL, but I bet they could kick the Gotobeds' asses. (RK)
(self-released // chillerpgh.bandcamp.com)
Clean Room "Madcity Meltdown" cassette
Midwest rust coated stoner-pop with a real shit-can drum sound and some solid riffage. The title track is as if the Burger stable wrestled a release out of the Satan's Satyrs. Elsewhere it's like finding Ted Nugent digging through a rubbish bin, hunting for Coney dog remains. Scrappy as fuck and graspin' for Nine Pound Hammer's stake in the redneck punker turf. Another obscure reference - for the three old folks left reading - the Reverb Motherfuckers spring to mind if you were to scrub all the Butthole-esque tomfoolery and canoodle away. Not really workin' for me due to the recording quality, sadly. If given the right environment (is Butch Vig available?) and an overdose of Hamm's, these kids could hit a homer - or at least clear a base or two - in the future.(RSF)
(self-Released // www.cleanroom.bandcamp.com)
Erik Core "No War, Nowhere, Know Peace" LP
Ex-White Trash Debutantes (!?!) on deck here, kicking out a gruff & tumble punker-folk, like MDC doin' it's best at Billy Bragg or Pogues. Nope. Not what I was expecting. 'No War...' is a hodge-podge of acoustic, hippy "heal-the-earth" zeal getting steamrollered over by a really outstanding r&r rhythm section. There are moments of Bad Seeds reek ("Bullet By Bullet" & "Tears Run Red") and even some sixties Love, Airplane and Shocking Blue arrangements peppered throughout. I'm not sure if Core was going for that vibe or not, but that all fits into the protest/anti-war cannon, for sure. I set out to negative review before even the first needle drop (The cover art is brutal. Sorry.) - but as I flip it more than a few times today, it's such an odd duck concoction wrapped in solid playing and spirit, it's clawed its way into my "not bad" stacks. An awkward start, yet pleasant surprise. This Core guy's been slugging it out like this for 25 years and this is the first I've heard of him. Crazy times. If you're in need of just one acoustic politico-punk LP traipsed up in studs, hinting at "On Parole" as a lift-off and struttin' about in faded metal tees this year, I'd say this might be the one. Anything to help you purge those Andrew Jackson Jihad from shelves.(RSF)
(self-released // www.erikcoregunpowder.bandcamp.com)
The Cowboys "Live at Tony's Garage" 7"
For some reason I have not been able to board The Cowboys hype train. I've tried to hop on a few times, but I barely make it through an LP. I'm not sure why, it seems like everything I should like - no frills garage rock from Midwest America, released and supported by labels and bands whose tastes I'm almost always in line with. It just doesn't stick - is it too no-frills, too plain, too nondescript? I can barely muster a review of what I've heard thus far. I tried to go into this 7" with a clear head. I feel like there's something here, but it's still slipping through my fingers on these A-Side tunes. I love the production (or lack thereof) but it seems like they're just a few steps short of being some almost-ran from a late KBD volume (the type I really tend to love) where they're not exactly playing "punk" just some revved up (or down) version of rock'n'roll that had yet to fully germinate into punk proper. There's also that turn-of-the-80s sweet spot where bands were getting labeled as New Wave or power-pop, when they were really just a fucking bar band trying to play fast or perhaps having a keyboard and a quirk or two. I just can't peg where these guys are, and maybe my trying to fit them into the mold of recreating a sound of the past is my mistake - I appreciate that they're playing now, but there also seems to be some looking backwards in their vision and sound that can't be denied. I tend to overanalyze these things when I'm not 'getting' a band I feel I should be, but that's all I can do. I can find no connection here. The funny thing is I fucking love their cover of "The Witch"! I've heard dozens of covers of the tune at this point, but I feel like they really nail something here - the killer drum sound, this guy's vox somehow being the closest I've heard someone come to
matching Roslie's passion on this number, the extra step they give the beat, I dunno. I think it's hot shit, which of course means I dig the next tune in it's sub-KBD Gizmos Indiana-style jamming, but I think I'm finding the personality here. It's perhaps a bit like The Yolks, had they been inspired by Midwest punk-rock-and-roll instead of soul/R&B records. I'm not fully on board yet, but this is the closest I've come to getting a ticket. Fans of the band won't be disappointed I'm sure, but maybe this is a good entry point for those in my boat. Scum stats: 100 on green, 500 on black.(RK)
(Feel It // feelitrecordshop.com)
CR Dicks "Go In" LP
The Midwest - it breeds a special, raw weirdness. Rustbelted religious zealots that warn of He Who Walks Behind The (corn) Rows. Roving gangs of disinfected youth skate abandoned Hardee's parking lots, choke down Buzzballs and ramp jump haphazard tire fires. Pimple-pocked ICP worshipers excrete a seemingly endless supply of fructose, staining their ratty thriftscored Jnco's with a Slurpee-like substance. Unshapely pajama'd soccer moms sit and chainsmoke away the dawn, cocooned in their PT Cruiser's as they eagerly await a Target bath towel sale. On weekends, school chums plan outings to actively hunt for woods porn and toss home appliances into rock quarries. A terrifying, harsh reality that is only suited for the glass lens/wet dreams of filmmaker Larry Clark. I know this for a fact. I come from there - and I rarely ever go back. 'Go In' is the soundtrack to this lifestyle. This is a real folk blues.The cumulative sounds of all the above horrors, harvested into a foot-long dirt clod and left to whirl about in a trailer-tearing tornado of trashed transistors, patchchord knots and shit-blues antics. What's left behind after this storm subsides is a batch of degenerate dope-funk and garage punk hybrids, peering up through the rust and and rubble of overturn farm machinery. Off-putting overdub damage peers from every cranny. Pianos plink off time and a trashcan clatter surges. Tracks like "Let Me Ride", "Unnatural" and "The Government" should shatter the eardrums of any fidelity challenged fanboys out there still left clamoring for The Horrors third coming. This is quite understandable, as the main Dick on deck (Andy Caffrey) was key to that racket as well. Elsewhere, low-end rumbler "Periwinkle Cadillac" could double as a sinister 'Mellow Gold' outtake and "Stop Looking at Me" or "Hit That Shit" groove like lost JSBX Experimental Remixes. Bonus points are given for the Skeksis sampling during the "Smoking Dark Crystal" meth bash. White boy (w)rap combats an operatic femme-fueled infomercial during the agitated shamble of "Gyro Hut" (another beloved Midwest staple) and when tunes like "Retardism" unravel in static and wonk, you'd believe Taziki sauce is all the glue holding they have holdin' this slop together. Sure, one would assume a hodge-podge like this wouldn't work or shouldn't even be attempted, but this batch of tunes come together quite flawlessly (or at least they walk away with only the most minor abrasions). A fearless and fun party platter, featuring some of the best gut-bucket crunk and soul-splatter of this ilk since 'Dial M For Motherfucker' debuted. Did ya' dig hard on the Lo-Fi Jerkheads, the King Brothers/Gasoline Stax phase or maybe that epic Junkpile Jimmy collection? Have you been shaking to the fits, hoping Bim would roll another Obnox joint? Well strap into your hazmat suit, brother bears. The time has come to step into this foil rimmed Winnebago. In Cedar Rapids, the blues may still be #1 - but they're followed closely by bathtub pharmaceuticals, Greek cuisine and axel grinds. Mad respect.
(Obsolete Recordings // available from Goner)
Des Demonas s/t LP
Des Demonas hail from Washington, D.C., and this is their self-titled debut LP on In the Red. Des Demonas is a great record, one demonstrating that In the Red still has its ear to the ground. Des Demonas has catholic tastes; the record should appeal to fans of Gun Club-era Scientists and the Swell Maps. This five-piece (including Farfisa organ) is solid, cranking out blistering, Crime-style repetitive riffs one track, sparse, mid-tempo songs loaded with dynamics the next. (For those keeping track, guitarist Mark Cisneros plays for Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds, which makes a lot of sense once you hear Des Demonas. Singer Jacky Cougar is an effective sing-speaker.) Des Demonas is sure to appeal to the Terminal Boredom crowd. Although I don’t know what that translates to in terms of sales, I can’t think of a recent release that deserves your support more than Des Demonas. My copy came on white vinyl if you’re into that sort of thing.(RL)
(In the Red Records // www.intheredrecords.com)
Dirty and His Fists "Demo 2016" EP
Full disclosure, I never heard this demo, but it sounds real nice here on the wax so I have to assume they had it (re)mastered/dolled up. I will also admit that I did listen to this band's 7" on Feel It and vaguely remember it - nothing terrible or offensive, but nothing to fondly look back on either. Dirty and Co. have members of other bands that seemed to have some juice over the past coupla years - Blazing Eye, Lock, Merchandise, Trash Talk, one of these kooks was even in that Leather Slave fiasco (remember that shit? It was like two dudes in matching all white sweatpants/ski mask outfits doing terrible Brainbombs-inspired "rock" records with "edgy" photographs that Francis Harold & the Holograms would've considered too corny). Pick any of those aforementioned bands and I could probably give you a vague description, most of which would be a guess, yet I'm sure a lot of people consider one or more of those bands some essential semi-recent shit. Who's right? Who knows?! All I can tell ya is that the world needs ditch diggers too. The scene needs this sort of cannon fodder hardcore to take the opening slot/salvo so your Kaleidoscopes and Mystic Inanes can headline. And once again, Dirty & His Fists aren't bad at all, it's perfectly serviceable hardcore punk and they could even be local standouts for some of you (and here's where I challenge you to to tell me how many legit GREAT actual punk bands have come out of LA in the past 10 years...), but let's be honest and admit these guys are just taking up space in your 7" box until you purge all your punk records in a few years for tattoo money (and don't get the tribal, dude, I'm warning you now)...(RK)
(Negative Jazz // neggativejazzz.bigcartel.com)
Dirty Limbs "Demolition" cassette
Fresno dirt heads, wrapped up in tattered denim and crapping out ugly pop punk nuggets that stink of 70's style Schlitz-puke and disenfranchised youth. The sorta' shit that circles the commode like Die Group, Scraper and the like. Not very smart, no frills, party trash. Tunes like "Chris C" and "Proto Punk" do their job nicely, rattling about like a less offensive gaggle of GG Junkies. The kind o' music you can use to get your lil' brother into some deeper, gnarly shit. "Predictable Repetition" has a sweet-spot, terrible solo squalor that harkens various Final Solutions outings. Nice job, Dirty Limbs. Willing to smash again and see what bleeds.
(self-released // www.dirtylimbs.bandcamp.com)
Drug Sweat "Six Song EP" 7"
Guess how many songs are on this EP. Okay, guess how many Ausmuteants are in this band then. More than one and less than the number of songs. Jake is definitely one of them, and his voice is what makes this EP more than a bit indistinguishable from Ausmuteants. Maybe a bit more slithery, maybe more drugs (obviously), but quite similar garage-punk with synth stuff. "Hectic Whipper" is the best song title, the best nickname for cocaine I've heard in a bit (I've taken to calling it Charles lately) and is the equivalent of that initial rush from the first bump of what will most likely turn out to be a very long night. "Pingu" is the best tune musically speaking, very paranoiaic, sort of like a video game where your objective is to close all the blinds on every window and lock all the doors, then go back and double-check all the locks and peek out a blind every 30 seconds to finish a level. A record that's almost entirely about drugs that doesn't really make me want to do some drugs. Weird.(RK)
(Aarght // aarghtrecords.bigcartel.com - US distro via Feel It)
Dwarves "Take Back the Night" LP
I told a buddy of mine about this LP, told him I thought it sucked and asked for his opinion. He was much more positive, saying that it was the best thing they've done in 20 years (and joking that maybe I'd like it better if it had some long hippy jams). Actually, he's correct, this is the best Dwarves LP since 2000's "Come Clean". Sadly, that's pretty faint praise. This LP differs from most of their recent work in that there's no goofy experimentation and finds the band playing straight ahead punk on all 15 tracks. There are a few tracks here that are good and would fit well on "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" or "Young and Good Looking". The fast poppy "Here's Looking At You Kid" (about a peepin tom) is a fun track - fast, catchy and with the band's trademark sleazy lyrical style. Unfortunately, much of the LP blurs together, and starts to sound like any Fat/Epitaph pop-punk with a metal/heavy edge. Making it worse, Blag only sings half the time, and Nick Oliveri's (ex-River City Rapists and a member of some lesser-known bands) vocals start to grate quickly. There's also a couple tracks like "Safe Space" and "City By The Bay" which have lyrics trying to be topical and "Anti-PC" that are more eye-rollingly corny than edgy. I doubt many people expected a Dwarves LP on Burger Records in 2018 to not be crap, but for die-hard fans it's at least worth a listen or two. Most of their recent stuff left me not wanting to hear the Dwarves at all, at least this one made me wanna dig up some of their classic stuff from the late 80s-mid 90s.(RR)
(Burger Records // www.burgerrecords.com)
The Fadeaways "Sick and Tired" 7"
Fadeaways have been around for a bit, at least 10 years from what the interweb tells me, with at least a dozen records out on mostly garage-oriented labels and I haven't heard any of them. They're definitely a bit of a throwback to the 90s garage boom, wearing matching striped shirts and playing some good if out-of-fashion garage turkey rock. "Sick and Tired" is full of energy and stomp, has a blistering fuzz solo and a good hook. These guys are pros, and Get Hip would've moved 1000 copies of this in 1993 easily. On the flip is a cover f The Customs' "Long Gone" from 'Bloodstains Across the Midwest' and it is what it is. Best thing about this band is that their guitar player is named Assman. (RK)
(Secret Mission // secretmissionrecords.com)
Fully Glazed "Bone In" 7"
Philly's Fully Glazed finally appear on vinyl, much to the delight of the general populace. "Bone In" b/w "Bone Out" (not to be confused with the "Country Ham" b/w "City Ham" cassette from 2017) is not just the official theme music for all Eagles Super Bowl celebrations, it's a rangy guitars and drum cruise, possibly extemporaneous or at least loose enough to give off that impression. This record has me asking myself questions like "is Richie Records the Twisted Village of today?" and if so does that make Fully Glazed the modern Wormdoom or BORB? Neither I suppose. A less obtuse Dead C maybe? Eh. I'm also whisked away to an Albany basement where Burnt Hills do some of the same things the men of FG pull off in a similar basement in a different state (geographically and of mind) - and I think that might be what makes Fully Glazed stand alone. Whereas as your Wayne Rogers' and Sonic Boom's and other famous proprietors of the "heavy guitar jambrowski" style of attack all seem to be coming from a certain lysergic or cannabinoid inspired headspace to end up in their psychedelic rhythm or drone, depending on who they are, the men of Fully Glazed fuel their journeys with meatball bombers (or hoagies if you prefer) washed down with cans of beer, their inspirations cheap pulp novels and reruns of Dragnet. It's a far different place they inhabit, and one I can relate to much better than all those others. You don't have to be a hippie to know how to jam (although one of these guys could be, I'm not sure...) and Fully Glazed definitely know how to churn up some butter, if you know what I mean. Scum Stats: on the new Petty Bunco imprint (possibly named by Sgt. Joe Friday) and limited to 163 copies (there's also a test press edition of 10, but I should't even be mentioning that...) and sold out unless you "know someone" I'd imagine. (RK)
First vinyl release from this Philly supergroup following last year's CS release on Loki. Obviously, the 7" format doesn't allow for 20-minute jams like that tape did. This doesn't seem to phase the guys whatsover. Both sides sound like they could be the beginning, middle or end of an epic Velvets/Spacemen 3 inspired jam session. The excellent guitar playing on here makes it easy to want a lot more than could fit on a 45. Don't want to complain though - I'll keep my mouth shut and just flip this over a few times, considering the "on-again/off-again" nature of the band. It won't happen, but I'd sure be happy to find myself in a smoke-engulfed basement watching these guys jam with the guys in Burnt Hills....Scum Stats: #rd/163.(RR)
(Petty Bunco // testostertunes.bigcartel.com)
The Futurians "Distorted Living" LP
Remember the mid 2000s when the phrase "Weird Punk" became a popular way to classify bands like Human Eye, Daily Void, etc? The Futurians could be a "weird" version of those bands (Weird Weird Punk?!) While this LP was my first exposure to them, they've been cranking out CD-Rs, tapes, and lathe-cuts since 2003 (this release is only their 2nd on non-lathe vinyl). One of the founding members was Kraus, the man most known for his bizarre mostly-synth based solo releases since the early 2000s (Still active and definitely worth checking out...if anyone has the reissue Ultra Eczema did a few years ago, hit me up! He also make a guest appearance on 2 songs here) The Futurians, being a 4-piece, have a fuller sound than most Kraus recordings. The band is steeped with an obvious love of sci-fi (Dr. Who references abound in their catalog), yet they come off more menacing than schticky. Around half the tracks have pretty fast drumming, which keeps those songs at least somewhat based in the rock/punk genres. Other times, the drumming is more plodding with a tribal style, or the percussion gets completely overwhelmed by the synth/guitar madness, those tracks are much tougher to pin down. The variety (also added to by around half the tracks having vocals) and track sequencing keep things varied enough that it requires a good amount of attention, and prevents the LP from bogging down. This little micro-genre from New Zealand is definitely worth investigating, especially by fans of Von LMO and Chrome. Scum stats: Limited to 300.(RR)
(Feeding Tube // www.feedingtuberecords.com/)
Gad Whip "In A Room" 12"
Four tracks on a one-sided 12" (etching on the flip!) from Gad Whip, who operate in a genre I'm very fond of: guy with an accent doing spoken word over backing sounds. In this case the accent is British (whatever dialect Yorkshire does) from a fellow name of Pete Davies, and he delivers his words in a rather stately manner, not one to lose his cool or "rant" but still getting his dark world-view across in a convincingly firm and serious manner. No yelling, the jokes are clever and sharp and I appreciate the "candor". The backing band is a full one, generally this sort of thing gets somes minimal accompaniement, but the Gad Whip are a full bass/synth/drums/guitar unit, and provide Pete a nice variety of sonics to lay his thing on - title cut is probably the closest one to what I consider post-punk, bass heavy and steady with guitars and keys growing out of the cracks in the foundation. "Fun Fair Fish" might be where they get the dub from, it's actually sort of an upbeat wave-y thing, "Grey Scale Quiche" has a smooth and mellow synth thing behind it that could double as a new age tune for a yoga studio if you take the vocals off (I also find this one most disturbing, as grey food is fucking scary). "Train Song Pt 2" saves the best for last, the most aggro and dark of the bunch, and the most punk/rock bit as well, full of guitar shred and drum smash, while Davies keeps his composure and finishes his verse. Well done. I'd love more like the first and last cuts, the only weird thing is sometimes you start paying too much attention to the music and forget about the words, words which I think are the whole point of this right? But then again, that makes it like two records in one, eh? Scum stats: label says limited edition, but I have no numbers for you. I will say that I really appreciate that Ever/Never always has the dankest silk screeened sleeves though - I like it when they feel this heavy with paint and texture.(RK)
(Ever/Never // evernever-records.bandcamp.com)
Gallery Night s/t 7" (x2)
Having spurned both Buffalo and Chicago at this point, the despicable Jim "Hollywood" McCann has moved his lair to Milwaukee and formed a new band called Gallery Night with some locals he now has under his evil spell. Is this just the latest "Jim McCann band"? What is a "Jim McCann band" you want to know? Well, it's a term I heard used to describe A/V Murder at one point by a disgruntled ex-bandmate, meaning it sounds kinda like Tyrades without the female singer and punk attitude - angular guitars, post-punky shadows, semi-arty aesthetics. And although I think said person was speaking derogatorily, I don't think the term has negative connotations (I mean, aside from the obvious fact that Jim is a total bastard), but instead speaks to a persistence of vision that the guy has tried to bring to fruition over numerous projects. And I believe with Gallery Night he's taken a leap even further away (really, this might not even qualify for the McCann genre), a three piece band with Jim on guitar and rounding out the trio with a drummer and a baritone guitar. Musically, the tunes have gone further away from the angles and become bigger and louder to the point where I feel like he's shifted to a post-hardcore vibe, heavy with deliberate riffs and thudding rhythms isntead of the post-punk razor slashes he often utilized. But back to the guy's dastardly vision, the unifying concept here is all these records are self-titled three track seven inches (I haven't heard the third on Big Neck yet) with a somewhat uniform black and white sleeve design. Clever idea, yes, and stylistically reaching into the Touch & Go catalog, perhaps even a slight whiff of the more muscular AmRep acts - each of these slabs has a real slobberknocker of a tune on it (for me it's "Got A Gun" and "Watching Black and White") with the two others not far behind - "I See You Waving" is equally epic and apocalyptic, "S.O.S" nearly paranoiac - showing a palette of technique perfected throughout years of "McCann bands" (is there still a Football record coming out anyway?), this culmination of or evolution into a pretty scary at times power trio that flex muscles both dynamic and emotive. Oppressive at times, far from garage rock, but still possessing a punk snarl. You know this guy had a mohawk at some point in his life and is still pissed off enough about it that these songs have a true edge. And for as much as I wish Jim was still playing bass for the Baseball Furies on the small stage at Mohwak Place (or as much as I wish we were all back in that more innocent time), it's impressive to see him pull this shit off, even if he is a huge dick to everyone he meets. Both of these records are 100% rock-solid ragers for the sophisticated and reformed ex-garage turkey in us all.(RK)
(Dusty Medical // dustymedicalrecords.com)
(Tall Pat // tallpatrecords.bigcartel.com)
Gee Tee "Death Race" ep
Brisbane punk-chop that I'm enjoying very much right now. The A-Side is like throwing on a 'Cool Bands' comp - "Got No Head" is firmly in the Conehead/Liquids/Erik Nervous lo-fi compression-punk zone and it's simple and executed with just enough amateurism. Then we get a Machine Gun Joe Viterbo soundbite into the titular track (one of my all time favorite films) which is built on a real buzzsaw of lo-fi guitar and synths, dumb lyrics and all, it's a good'n. The best thing on this is the instrumental they tack on the end though, it's a little groovy and super catchy number that reminds me of the weird instro bits Marky would stick between songs on those aforementioned comps. B-Side brings out the Aussie in them, as "Fightin' Is Dumb" is a bawdy anthem for getting pissed and singing along with if I've ever heard one, and all those weird synth squiggles they throw in can't hide it. "Z-Zero" is synth-pop dipped in glue with a nice hook - "CTR" matches a grunty bassline with synths-as-sirens and a high-pitched let's-annoy-the-shit-out-of-everyone approach that is actually not too overdone. Very likeable B+/A- stuff here, the only comment I could make is they shoud've used the insert art for the cover and shouldn't they be using 'The Cars That Ate Paris' as a theme instead though? (RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
The Golden Boys "Better Than Good Times" LP
Matty Hoops got the band back together. 'Better Than Good Times' is the first new Golden Boys record in five years. If you know the Golden Boys, you know the deal: a good amount of songs by Hoops and some by Wes Coleman. The delay might have paid off as 'Better Than Good Times' is the best collection of Golden Boys songs I can recall on one album. Like the Deadly Snakes, the Golden Boys are just a solid rock ‘n’ roll band (great live) — if you’ve been keeping track, they dropped their debut album ('Scorpion Stomp #2') on Perpetrator twelve years ago. The record sounds amazing because it was recorded by Stuart Sikes. My copy came on white vinyl if you’re into that sort of thing.(RL)
(12XU // 12xu.bigcartel.com)
Gutara Kyo s/t 10”
Damn, this here is a firecracker! What lies within these grooves are obliterated Teengener-ized riffs, and demented psycho-wails, all walloping upside the punk velocity of something akin to prime 80's Gauze. "Drive" got a lead that's reminiscent of a garage slop take of an old Soundgarden tune (I'm dead serious!) and it's pokin' out of a deteriorating Stalin bootleg. "Daydream" and "It's Gotta Be You" ride along hardcore gallops, rendered futile due to some of the gnarliest production filth since Tim Kerr was knob twisting. The shining light in all this scree would be the soulful belter "Romance" that kicks off the flip. This gold star doom rocker features strained crooning and a truly putrid solo that's - of course - blown all to snuff. It wouldn't feel outta' place on that 'Tokyo Flashback' sampler at all. Fo' real tho' - this platter could clear the sinuses of the most jaded of High Rise fan. Hell, Gutara Kyo is good enough to make me overlook the fact these songs are pressed up on the lamest of all formats (the dreaded 10") with a goddamn dumb 45 hole. Hey Pete, knock it off! All snark aside, I'd still tell folks to buy this, even if it was only available on floppy disc. Scum Stats: 100 copies pressed up on red and black splatterwax.(RSF)
(Slovenly Records / Mondo Mongo // www.slovenly.com)
Haircut "Shutting Down" 7"
The latest in Bucktown Hardcore, five tracks of straightahead punk rock with zero gimmicks or schtick in the vein of vintage Direct Control/No Way Records. The songs are standard hardcore fare and would almost seem too "plain" were it not for Juliana Viana's vocals (and lyrics) which imbue the songs with some personality and attitude to make things better than average. And again, it's a no-frills delivery from her that actually makes things sound tougher - "Boys Club" is impressive both musically and ideologically and the high water mark here. Five songs in about five and a half minutes, three in english and two in spanish for all you bilingual punkers out there. For some reason I was betting a band called Haircut would be some goofball joke punk, but these kids are serious, which is far better. Scum stats: 100 on yellow that were mailorder only, the remainder on black vinyl. Art by Shiva from Kaleidoscope.(RK)
(Feel It // www.feelitrecordshop.com)
Hand & Leg s/t LP
Greek duo doing their best impersonation of that gluey/Krauty/fuzz-buzzy sound that the French has dominated for the past decade. This co-ed bass and drums act strips their music down to the bleached bone, leaving the sorta' repetitive weed-wacker chops and threadbare beats that Wire fans should froth over. Standout tracks like "Dogshit Country" lighten the low plod load a smidge, letting the high strings shine as if Godheadsilo was taking on a Volt tune. "Bloody Hole" closes us shop in a full two minutes of tone drone and irritated wail before the "song" proper takes flight within a spattered cacophony of pie-plate thwack and chanted vocals. Soothing to one's skull as This Heat. Dig yer feet in the sand, people. Scum Stats: 100 on clear vinyl.(RSF)
(Slovenly Records / Black Gladiator // www.slovenly.com)
Haxxan "The Magnificent Planet Of Alien Vampiro II"" LP
Nasally Israeli psych-boogie, for the moderne youth market. The press release mentions playing with Ty and them Fuzz comparisons are pretty on point in these here grooves. They also trot out bratty, childlike pop tantrums that should speak to the Burgerooligans that follow these updates as well. What you mostly get on this is quiet/loud dynamics pushing out a Black Angels/Frijid Pink hybrid. There's quite a bit of local flavor in their guitar pyrotechnics, so world-beat freaks and psych aficionados should perk up. Most of it makes for a fine fried background rock, but nothing is really sticking to my maw. A couple of tracks do stand out - "Circle Of Quantum" and "Snakes In My Hair" - both nearly seared my eyebrows off like the best moments of C.A. Quintet "Trip Thru Hell" with swirling, woozy leads and vocals lost in the arid desert wind. The whole ride is easy to digest and makes for decent afternoon accompaniment, but gotta' say I wanted more like those two aforementioned tracks. Better than the countless Ty & Dwyer clones we've had to weather so far. Better than the King Gizzard knock-offs to come. Let's just be happy today.(RSF)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
Heavy Lids “Bleed” 7"
Heavy Lids are still trudging through the southern swamplands and synthin' it up like a NOLA bred Spits. A supergroup of sorts featuring members that have probably been at every Gonerfest since its inaugural flight. "Bleed" is an aggressive piece of blistered tin, throttling off over a jagged key line. "No Reason" on the flip punches more in that Die Rotzz/Die Group/just-fuggin'-die vein of leather jacketed sweat-punk. The damn thing is over before I can come up with anything clever to spout. Do you like punk? Then here ya go! All pressed on blue vinyl, methinks.(RSF)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Frank Hurricane "Holy Archives Vol. 1" LP
Frank isn't an easy person to sum up. While he's got some great records, you really need to meet the man himself. He's contagiously up-beat, happy to meet you and maybe even "puff some motherfuckin' pounds" or "snort some yeti powder". Fear not if you're staying sober, you can enjoy a "a slice of a psychedelic spiritual pizza pie" instead. "Psychedelic", "holy", "spiritual" and "motherfuckin" are just a few of the words that consistently pepper his speech. I've never seen him slip out of character, even at a fest on the day he wasn't performing. His shows feature very extended introductions to songs where he is just strumming his guitar while he tells stories that can last up to 20 minutes! He's a very entertaining and hilarious storyteller, but luckily he has some very interesting music to go along with the fun. Sometimes, he does does some nice solo guitar instrumentals, and some very sincere folk ones. His huge discography (mostly tapes and CD-Rs) goes all over the place - some harsh noise, some goofy hip-hop, and even an excellent LP that sounds like Nurse With Wound. This is his latest vinyl release, and consists of songs originally from his earliest released CDrs and cassettes from 2010-2012, including some that were later re-recorded for vinyl release. I thought that perhaps his early recordings might rely a little too much on goofiness, but actually turns out to be the opposite. The 15 tracks here don't really give you an idea of his funny persona, but they are excellent, very lo-fi folk tunes. Sometimes he recorded the tunes over some other music, which bleeds through at times. All that is captured on this vinyl release, the label name is very apt for this one. Frank tours the US heavily, check him out if you can! For those already familiar, definitely grab this if you dig his folky tunes. Scum Stats: #rd/300.(RR)
(No Fidelity Audio // www.frankhurricane.com)
Kid Chrome "I've Had it" 7"
Catatonic Youth's "I've Had It" CDr came out over 10 years ago now, which I'm bringing up here for pretty obvious reasons. Whatever happened to Diltz Barrett anyway? Is he Kid Chrome? Is Kid Chrome him? Or is the Kid (who we know is one of the guys from Lysol/Freak Vibe) assuming his aesthetic to make a statement here? His version of "I've Had It" is not a cover but touches on a similar sentiment, utilizing the same vocal echo effect at times in a simpler punk direction, some keys and guitar and sounds like they might be sampling Tones on Tail for the rhythm track, vox are sort of a punky yelp. It's okay, but far from the genius that was Diltz's thing. B-Side raises another interesting question in my mind via "Pall Mall 100's", referencing a rare and horrible cigarette configuration and making me think of Mystic 100's/Milk Music, who hail from the same region, but I'm not sure I can connect enough dots to make that theory hold any water - genetically it's more guitar/synth punk with a beefy rhythm track almost identical to the A-Side and flipping that Diltz effect switch on occassion and it segues right into ""Don't Walk" - in the end this sounds more like garage-punked synthers that aren't too shabby, but the Catatonic Youth things keeps me looking for some hidden subtext or subliminal message that I doubt even exists. Perhaps Captain Tripps Ballsington has the answers, but he outranks me and I'm loathe to ask an officer a dumb question. Don't even get me started on the artwork (which I dig...) - anyway, with this being the strongest Neck Chop Round yet, I'd still say this is probably the fourth best record of the batch, which isn't so much a slight to this better than average 7", but a testament to how strong the rest of the records it was released beside are. (RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Knowso "Look At The Chart" 12"
One-sided 12" EP from this Cleveland offshoot band from the Perverts Again/Cruelster camp (plus one of the guys from Cloud Nothings?!) and it's a delight. Basically the Perverts Again template sped up and crossed with a bit of the aesthetic (Mr.)DNA from the Uranium Club Band in its Devo-style robotic rhythms and vaguely scientific/corporate themes. Six tunes (five listed on the jacket, but "Human Like Me" is on there too if you check the labels) rife with monotone vocals and crisp stop-on-a-dime rhythm and groove punkers. No complaints here, might actually be some songs here that are better than Perverts stuff and it's swift and to the point, perfect punk length. And don't worry about all that pitch changing at the end, it's not your turntable. I will take this moment to pull out the soapbox and talk about album art - I like Nathan Ward's stuff, great artist for sure, but I think bands/scenes need to be careful about repeatedly using the same artists. You know how it goes, guy does a killer album cover (usually for his own band) and next thing you know six other bands are using his art, and then everything starts looking the same. An untrained eye wouldn't be able to tell this LP from the Citric Dummies LP in a line-up, which is not real good. Think of it this way - Pettibon wil be remembered forever and his artwork is iconic of course, but he was only doing art for Flag records/fliers (with a few exceptions, I know...), not the entire SST roster. If he had been doing covers for everyone from Sac Trust to St. Vitus to SWA it would of course not resonate like it does, it would have diluted the aesthetic/look and made it seem more commonplace and less special in a way. You see a Pettibon drawing and think Black Flag and their own aesthetic. Not to sound like a dick here, but you should think about this as a band/artist. I know it's cool to get your shit out there, but take some time to think about the value it has if you keep it close, maybe for just your own band or one particular label - make your art something that people can identify with you or your own thing, don't dilute it. Even if they are your friends. /end rant. And let's close this out by reminding you that again I think this is a very good music record and you should definitley purchase it, in particular if you're a Clepunk fan. (RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
LUUM “Born To Love Mixtape ” & "Not If...But When? Not Who...But How? EP" cassettes
Two tape combo review here of an outfit featuring at least one member of one my fave - and criminally overlooked - Total Punkers, The Surgeons."Born To Love" is their odds-n-sods compilation. Jesus Christ. Not the sorta' thing to force on your neighbors at 8am. Things splatter from the start with a screaming/crying wall of shit that had my cat running for his nearest hidey-hole. Once that initial ugly blast settles down, the music on hand leans towards the fuckered early Gaffney Sebadoh sounds or even Deep Wound (just to keep it regional). It's clap-trappin' about in a near-core meets train-wrecked violence that's greatly pleasing to my senses. Tunes included are interspersed by dizzying collage mixes, live Eyehategod-style thwacks and some fairly deranged cover choices (The Doors?!). I'd go on to talk about the messy details, but this fuckin' thing came out so long ago that "Jimmy" was still babbling on his YouTube channel, and this made his hit-list. I'm more than sure you trend-dwelling snotcakes have already mainlined these sounds by now. br>
The Crass family titled "Not If..." is the "pro" sounding of the two releases. "Fauston" features dueling vocals that go tripping all over themselves and frantic East Bay Ray leads. "Never Tried" and "Realize" hint of the ugliest Adolescents tunes unheard. "Caras Retorcidas" is like a deep run through the entire jazz-punk jizz catalog SST once offered up - only they're all coming at you at the same time and cashing out in under two disorienting minutes. This cassette feels as though it's an advance to a yet released single, so maybe that'll happen. Or maybe it has? I'm old as dirt and out of touch. Change my sack, Bedilia. Both are worthy of purchase. Grab some.(RSF)
(Lament Records // www.lamentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Lysol "Teenage Trance" 7"
Lysol are one of the best modern day punker gangs, the LP was sorely slept-on and their Total Punk 7" is a favorite scorcher of mine - it's a perfect example of a train running off the rails just right. On this two songer I feel like they're showing a bit of restraint though - there's a moment about midway through "Teenage Trance" where it feels like they're about to kick it into an even higher gear and really fucking take off, but instead they sort of level off and land it safely. Either they're trying to mix it up, or they just wrote it to be a real teaser. "Chemical Reaction" on the flip is sort of the same case (and reminds me just a bit of Hank Wood - first LP stylee), it builds up a good amount of steam/tension but we never get the blow off. Who know what's up here - it's okay but far from their best work, and honestly I'm a little let down by this one, as it had my highest hopes of this round of Neck Choppers pinned to it. The caveat being Lysol records always seem to growers for me, but I don't even know if I like this one enough to give it the chance.(RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Miss Destiny "Ice Queen" 7"
Miss Destiny return to us with a new 7" on Melbourne's up and coming Shipping Steel imprint. It seems like the LP was released so long ago, but I just checked the 'scogs and it says 2016. Still, that's at least a couple of years too long between records, in particular when this new one rocks real tough. I have to assume I've made this comparison before, but they remind me of L7, and I'm not just saying that to make a lazy bands-with-girls comparison, but listen to the way the words get dragged out in a a very tough Donita Sparks style. And for the record I love L7. I still grab 'Smell the Magic' and throw it on regularly (by the way, that's a record you need the tape/CD version of for the bonus tracks). "Ice Queen" is hard rocking with the emphasis on hard, super tough vocal performance, driving riff/beat, a sharp guitar solo - this band is all business here. "Randy" on the flip isn't quite as pissed off, but it's still rough and tumble even on the hook and there's a distorted solo adding even more rawness. Is it about Randy Rhoads? One can only hope. When I was a very young man I was friends with this hesher girl in our neighborhood (who actually went to play in a local metal band) who got pregnant while we were still very very young - she named the kid after Randy Rhoads, no joke. Last I heard he grew up and went to work on Wall Street. She has since become a lesbian, and I attended her wedding. Life is full of surprises. You should grab a copy of this hard rocker as soon as you see them stateside, this kind of no bullshit rock'n'roll is just what we need right now. Scum stats: 300 copies on black vinyl, 250 with regular red on white sleeve, 50 limited covers with black on pink color scheme. I'd also like to mention that I noticed the label stamped their logo on the inside of these pocket sleeves - nice touch.(RK)
(Shipping Steel // www.shippingsteel.bigcartel.com)
Nike "Flea Bytes" 7"
The Sleaze were one the best and most entertaining bands of their time. That's just a fact. Sure, their time was a brief window of a year and a few months from 2010-11, but they were amazing on record and breathtaking in the live setting, and if some people didn't get it, that's their fault. They were the perfect snot-nosed punk kid band on the surface, and underneath full of chops, wit and charm. I saw them destroy not once but twice over a Horriblefest weekend, and if you can win over the rowdy mutant crowd that is Cleveland during a fest weekend, well you're definitley the real deal. Of course they were doomed to either get bored, grow up and/or stop getting along, then break up and fade into obscurity, but that's just what happens to those who burn so brightly and stupidly. I'll always remember their magnificence. I figured they'd all go their own ways and become accountants or something and forget they were ever in a stupid punk band. But then I hear Conor is in Austin and is in a new band called Nike with Miranda from Casting Couch. I wasn't expecting this to sound like The Sleaze. It doesn't obviously. But theres still a spectre of Sleaze inhabiting this stuff - when I heard "Flea Bytes" I just wanted it to make a sharp left and turn into "Weird Truck" during that part where they start/stop ("Oh baby!") but no, it just stays as this sort of brittle post-punky thing. And does "Separate Seedz" lift a part from "Smoking Fuckin Cigs" and just slow it down to make it "post-punky" or am I just real far up my own ass here? I dunno, this isn't a great record. I want it to be, but that doesn't help any. Sure, I don't expect Conor to be shrieking like a teenager here, but I also dont want to hear him play lukewarm indie rock while singing in a weird baritone or falsetto either. Sorry. Austin breaks another punk.(RK)
(Pocket Producer // pocketproducerrecords.bigcartel.com)
Nomos 751 s/t LP
Electroshok-rockers that clatter along like a Grecian Metal Urbain. Drum machine robot riddims and twisted rockabilly riffs fighting against various space trash splatter and the occasional Spits-take on skate punk. There's a Grande Triple Alliance vibe rippling underneath that's hard to shake as well as more than a couple nods in the early Red Mass direction I use to enjoy (long before that act stank it up with Mac Demarco's hair-footed guest spots). I should ramble more about the tracks involved, but my janky-assed computer's 'bout to crash for yet another twenty minute interval - so I'm just gonna' go pogo about like some metaloid mutant instead. Give 'er a go!(RSF)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
No Negative "Cellophane" 7"
Two song seven incher from Montreal noise-rockers No Negative, who aside from having a great eye for graphics/design, surprised me with a truly interesting and aggro performance here. "Cellophane" deserves the A-Side if only for being the slightly more conventional tune of the pair, a post-hardcore projectile that scrambles through the shadows, twin guitars creating some overcast skies whilst racing to the finish, alternating between clouds of noise and emotive Wipers-like runs, dual vocals add a natural echo effect, and the rhythm section is tight-n-shiny but the band is deft enough to not need them to carry the song. Impressive, yes, but even more impressive is the flip "Stickin' It to the Man Again", which reminds me a bit of Tropical Trash in their ability to marry the noise to the rock, this thing lurches and stutters before launching into the weapons-grade riff and then back-and-forths it for maximum power, all the while with the guy from Playboy poking some bass clarinet licks in between the static and sparks. Fantastique and recommended for real heads. Scum Stats: 308 copies, hand numbered with great b/w design and a fold-out insert.(RK)
(Swollen City // swollencityrecords.bandcamp.com)
No Sister "The Second Floor" LP
Brisbane band of Sonic Youth worshippers whose first LP I seem to remember liking quite a bit. I'm singing a different tune about this one though. I'm too lazy to go back and relisten to the previous record, but this one has some real uncomfortable moments on it for me - was there a noticeable hip-hop element on that first record? I have to think there wasn't, or else I was super-high when I was listening to it. They do some good guitar things here, but most of these songs just go south fast when the vocals kick in, there's a real not-good tendency to talk-rap here - unless this is a 'Judgement Night' soundtrack influenced concept record a song like "Non-Contest" cannot be described as anything but bad. Like I said, they get some good guitar things going, but I guess anyone can stick a screwdriver into their fretboard and play it with a violin bow and come out the other end sounding a bit like Lee Ranaldo, eh? The girl saves some of the tunes, but even she gets a little too "rappy" with her delivery at times. They even do some bad guitar things here, like the Helmet groove they lock into on "Satellite Power" (I mean, I like some Helmet - they always killed live - but this seems accidental and out of step) or the cheese metal guitar sound they ened up tuning into on "You Know The Feeling?" (yes I do, and I don't dig it...). "Romantic Notion" is the one song I would save from this bunch. It gets to the point where I just want to make jokes about how this is not a "Kool Thing" to do, or how 'Sister' is my favorite SY LP and these guys are "NO SISTER" hahahaha....but I shouldn't be kidding around at other people's expense. Let's just call this a bad record and move on...(RK)
(self released // nosister.bandcamp.com)
Jackson Politick "Paste v.1" LP
I was finally ready to give the whole Andy Human experience my full attention with this LP. I fear I may have made an error. This definitely listens like an odds and sods compilation of tracks he had left lying around, but how this guy had anything left laying around with all the records he puts out is beyond me. Listen, I'm a less is more guy - there are a very very small handful of artists I want to hear absolutley every idea from. Andy Human is not on my list, but I'm sure he is on many of yours, so take this with that grain of salt(iness). First three A-Side tracks hurt, two sound like stabs at neo-Devo-core, one sounds like a pop punk tune played by a New Wave band. Fourth tune is a good shitcan punker that still sounds a lot like any other band in 2018. The Arthur Lee love song makes me think he wanted to make a song that riffed on 'Another Green World' Eno but with a Jay Reatard-esque hook (Matador years). "Sex and Pity" is a good long form endeavor with layers of synth and a real drive behind it, with the lyrics the only thing dragging it down. B-Side starts with two that combine the aforementioned Eno thing with a Dwyer and/or Sic Alps twist, and the second one has such a soft pop feel it makes me mad. "I Am A Raver" is the killer cut on this though, very sly bassline jammer with some Mod style pop-ism in the hook. "The Hours" ends this one with a vaguely romantic post-punk thing going on, perhaps his attempt at making a song for a Sacred Bones comp or something. There's two good cuts here for my hot take, but anyone who is super into this guy will feel differently I'm sure. And I still think some of those Beatniks and Reptoids cuts smoke, so I'm not giving up. Well, I'm giving up on this LP, but not the catalog in sum. Insert looks real cool though.(RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Power "Road Dog" 7"
Power's first record since they tore ass across the US on tour, which culminated in them taking over the American record industry, getting records on both In the Red (US repress of the LP) and Jack White's Third Man (a single in the live series), which is a pretty big deal in reality. Coming from Australia, LP out on a good indie (Cool Death), next thing you know you're touring the States, have a record on the most prestigous and respected garage label in the world and a single on the label the guy from White Stripes runs. I'd say our boys did pretty good for themselves. Now they're back down under and back with a cool indie (Shipping Steel) for this ballsy little platter. "Road Dog" gets the chug going on the intro before unleashing a savage party rocker about the road that I think you should pounding a Victoria Bitter to every time you listen, it just seems logical. I'm not trying to overanalyze the lyrics here, but I heard "C'mon baby" a couple of times and that seems about right. A real heavy metal pounder with some scorching solos. B-Side is "Death Kid", it drops the tempo a notch but ups the burl a few levels, I feel like this one is thick with some NWOBHM stink, and it's a real nutkicker. Solo even nicks some inspiration from our pal Kirk Hammett. These dudes are top of the mountain as far as power trios go, and if you don't agree I dare you tell them that. Scum stats: 200 copies - 150 on black, 50 on red. Came in one of those plastic inner sleeves that should be banned right along with the heart punch though.(RK)
(Shipping Steel // www.shippingsteel.bigcartel.com)
Preening "Greasetrap Frisbee" 7"
No Wave trio from Oaktown I've heard nothing of before this, and I gotta say I like their style. Opening track comes off like a way skronked out The World, but the bass/drums/sax instrumentation is super-dialed in and hits a perfect off-kilter groove, and they make good use of what I assume are a tazer and a drill for added sound effects. Alejandra Alcala's vox act as a very fitting punctuation to the beat. "PO Box" builds up another good groove, this one's less No Wave and more linear, and I wish they'd just let Alejandra handle the vox though, because this dude's voice is bringing them down. This one was a step or two away from becoming annoying, but thankfully they shut it down at the right moment. They fill out Side A with some noise which is apparently the title track. It's there. Side B opens with "Poison" which eschews any of the rhythm or danceable No Wave moments I loved on the A-Side for some slowed up lurchy post-rock with the dude doing some zany spiel-talking and then they get all keerazy after he yells the title and smash away. That song would've been 100% more enjoyable with Alejandra on vox. "Face/On" (ha!) thankfully brings our heroine back to the mic, and it's an interesting exercise - sort of a difficult beat to follow, some offspeed tempo changes but it all works out in the end via some build up drum linkage. Really the only thing wrong with this record is any time the guy opens his mouth. Musically, it's dead on and a great foil for The World. (RK)
(EVer/Never // evernever-records.bandcamp.com)
Proto Idiot "Leisure Opportunity" LP
How the hell did the Hipshakes connection escape me?! Proto Idiot is way less Oblivian and way more Adverts than the 'shakes ever were. This here's a jagged pop-gone-puke to tunes like "Better Way Of Life" and "Angry Vision" - the sorta' stuff Jaytard did solo and that Useless Eater kid slung about. Comparisons to Devoto-era Buzzcocks seems apt, and there's a tad of 'Chairs Missing' up in here too. Honestly, either this is a love letter to the entire UK punker past catalog or I'm just an asshole who thinks so 'cuz of the English accent. Hey - it's the GG King Of The UK! Still, I'm perplexed that I never knew the Hipshakes were related. I'm bad at this game. I'd way rather party with this Proto Idiot than those stuffy shirted Protomartyr's out there. Good Fun. 'Nuff said. Scum Stats: 100 on green vinyl.(RSF)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
Protruders bunch of tapes
These guys have sent me four tapes thus far over the past year. Nice guy that I am, I figured I would just wait until they got me all four before I reviewed any of them. It just seems right. These Protruders are from Toronto, but since I'm on the inside here, I know that they used to be called Kappa Chow and used to be the kings of the Sackville, NB scene until moving on up to the Big Smoke. Joe and Ilise scrapped the old name, got some new people to play with and started writing new material (FOUR tapes worth). It's still in the lo-fi realm that KC inhabited, but they seem more serious about everything now. Kind of. You can definitely feel them heading away from typical garage rock and heading down the path Tyvek are on, or many of the X! Records bands with a healthy dose of proto-punk thud in there too. "Untucked in Nantucket" was the first tape and even if a few songs still have a foot in the garage, you can see them heading far outside the box already - noise experiments, lots of mid-tempo drivers and heaps of Electric Eels tributes. And it was recorded by the handsomest man in Canada, Jonah Falco, if you want some name drops. Next was "Lively Time For Snake Reading" which starts going even further out on that limb - at different moments I'm reminded of the earliest TV Ghost stuff, the echo-overdrive and cavernous recording of Black Time and even The Pink Noise in some of the vocals and rhythms. Talk about progression. Then comes "Steaming Pile/Dance Dancing Ape" which almost sounds like a totally different band. They've gone back to playing fuzzy garage-styled rockers, quit a few of the A-Side cuts get sorta cutesy and New Wavy, which I can do without, they slip in a good Stones cover, do a joke song about "The Scene" then kick off Side 2 with a cover of "Job" which always works, I could live without the Jack Lee cover, but they end it with some loud and abrasive noise guitar rock at least. The latest "Protruderssredurtorp" goes back to getting weird, maybe a little too weird as they throw everything they got in here, sometimes it's loose Zappa/Beefheart freeform skronk, I recall hearing at least one lame powerpop song, choppy post-punk deconstruction rock, super yelpy vocals, lo-fi treble charging that reminds me some of the Drags at points. It's all over the place. I couldn't tell you which of these I liked the most, but they have a 7" coming out on Goodbye Boozy and we should all definitely get it, because they have a killer 7" at least hidden in this mess.(RK)
(self-released // protruders.bandcamp.com)
Razz "Time Frames" LP
Razz have made an LP that I would say is impossible not to like, unless you're a total dickhead. I'm pretty close to a total dickhead when it comes to this "sound" and even I can find very few things to bitch about here. Let's talk about the things they do right. They're a retro-sounding band from the Bay Area who somehow manage to not hit me over the head with some kind of schtick or wear embarrassing costumes to try and make it work (only Mike Lucas can get away with that shit). This is straight forward rock'n'roll, a bit on the ramalama side (which is quite alright), and they mix in just enough of other sounds but not too much - when they get glammy it's the tough sounding kind with hot guitar moves, when they get power-pop it's a dignified power-pop sound, not some whiny nerds who forgot to put the power in it. And that right there is a big part of it - the power, the hard part of rock'n'roll, and let's be honest this is not a tough album by any means, but it's got rock moves galore that I feel like most bands of this ilk leave out, always trying too hard for that easy and obvious hook so they could spend more time styling their hair. These guys just play the rock and let the hooks come at you naturally instead of forcing them down your throat. I imagine Dan Wood is responsible for much of this, and if you want to hear a sorely underrated band go back and listen to Dan's previous band The Pets. This thing is only eight songs long but it's just enough, no lulls or duds, they just deliver the rock and go on their way. One of the most purely feel good rock'n'roll records in a long time. And just wait until you hear what they do with Depeche Mode's "What's Your Name?". Highly recommended for non-dickheads. (RK)
(Emotional Response // jenandstew.com)
Red Mass "Rat Race" 7"
Oh boy, another Red Mass EP, great.......no, no I kid - I mean, at least with Roy you know there's always a chance for something genius, and as we've all said many many times already, if someone could whittle down the 25 (according to discogs) Red Mass records down to a greatest hits LP you might have one of the best records of the decade left over. But as it is, we just get Roy raw and unedited as long as people will agree to release his music, and the person this time around are Roy's fellow Canadians over at It's Trash Records. Well, Mr. Vucino has done his countrymen a solid, as "Rat Race" is nearly five minutes of a shoo-in cut for that 'Best of Red Mass' LP - at first it's Roy doing his best Danzig impression over one of the most straight garage-punk things I've heard him do in a long time. His ladyfriend backs him up on vox while Roy goes over-the-top with his (which is really one of his best moves) and then around mid-song they hit the pause on the punk and it turns into a hard rock instro-jammer with some space-psych overtones and guitar riffing that gets dangerously close to a black hole. That A-Side is worth the price of admission. B-Side goes and gets all zany on us, with one "tune" that sounds like Roy and some of his buddies spouting lyrics over a record playing at the wrong speed and another "tune" that just sounds like Roy playing a metal record on that same broken turntable. Hey, you can't win 'em all - the artwork blows and good luck reading any of the credits/info on the back, but that A-Side can count as a "W" though.(RK)
(It's Trash // itstrashrecords.bandcamp.com)
Rivener s/t LP
Jazz/Gloom/Post-Rock duo that I can only assume spends quality time together hunting for mushroom magic out in the Connecticut dew. "Noiren" creaks open with a stuttering crime swing and moody improvisation. As it stumbles about for footing, seemingly lost in a fog - the closest kin I can muster would be the earliest of Rachel's outings or some of the lesser known Bruce Licher's IPR offshoots. Good timing with the Twin Peaks resurgence, Twin Lakes (hey?!). "It Takes A Pillage" clatters, chimes and bottoms out, sawing through wood, bone, Bill Orcutt or whoever/whatever else is strewn about their cabin porch. The shortest numbers -"Rainbows Turn To Stone" and "Xool" - chirp and screech like that art exhibit where the tiny finches ate seed off an amplified guitar (it's way cooler than you posers think) and then some treatments occur (loops? back-masking?) to aid in the descent towards sonic death. "Discoveries Of Fire" rumbles off a Von Trier Antichrist score gloom. I keep expecting someone to sit in and plink some ivory. "Tsardana" shuts the barn door and brings Licher's Scenic or even a Sun City Girls world view into the peripheral. It's good stuff for a cold winter morning, especially if you're morning is spent trying to free a foot from a rusty beartrap . (RSF)
(Twin Lakes Records // www.twinlakesrecords.com)
Rockabilly Yobs "(Gonna Beat You) Like a Red-Headed Stepchild" 7"
You already know that I'm usually never a fan of old punk bands recording new stuff, but these "Gizmos" recordings from 2014 are a rare exception. These Yobs are Highland/Flowers joined by a couple of Apache Dropout guys for two songs of genuine Midwest punk rocking. "(Gonna Beat You) Like a Red-Headed Stepchild" is a real dum-dum lo-fi blaster with Ready Eddie really belting it out as hoarsely as possible, Krazee Kenne rips real good guitar all over this thing, it's sloppy and juvenile in the best way, and the lack of drums (I think some tambourine is the only percussion) really works in their favor here, making it sound even more like an impromptu jammer. "How Bitchen is That!" on the flip has Kenne ripping even harder on that guitar, there are some cardboard box drums this time, but it's still a real fun and loose garage shaker with just a group shout vocal between solos. This thing isn't going to start your needle on fire, but it really put a smile on my face and you can tell these dudes were having fun too. It doesn't get much more authentic than this, and the thing is, the Gizmos were all about having fun and the fact they're still having a blast doing this shit 40 years later makes me feel good about the world in general (a rare thing these days). Big thumbs up to Hate for making me think everything will be okay, and I should also mention they just put out a new issue of Hate Magazine (and even if it is in Italian, it comes with a 7" that speaks all languages) and I hear they have an LP of unreleased Gags songs coming out soon!!?? Scum stats: 200 copies on pink vinyl. (RK)
(Hate/Vulcher // www.haterecords.com)
Ronnie & Natalie with Stumpwater s/t 7"
Supreme Echo dig a real winner out of some darkened corner of a Manitoba rocker's closet here. To begin, Stumpwater are described as "mysterious rockers" and Ronnie and Natalie are apparently a "legendary" brother/sister duo, or at least are inside the Winnipeg city limits, and they combine forces here for a two-tracker originally released in 1972. I've been a bit obssesed with "6 Times" for a spell, if only because Natalie's voice is something that needs to be heard to be believed - "untrained" might be the polite descriptor, but what I really mean is it sounds like some girl at a keg party who has consumed her weight in Labbatts and smoked two packs of Players trying to singalong with a broken karaoke machine - I just can't believe I'm hearing a voice this frazzled on the chorus of a record. It's just beautiful. And when I'm not focusing on Natalie or waiting for her part to come up, it turns out the tune's a real hot-and-sleazy little mid-tempo pumper, with plenty of bold guitar moves (fuzz and wah) round which Ronnie sings most of the verses (I like to imagine a hammered Natalie in the recording studio just jumping all over Ronnie's lines and coming in too early and just annoying the shit out of him). The flipside is Stumpwater on their own serving up a generous helping of 1972 vintage rock'n'rolla, think Sabbath meets Slade perhaps. It's a scorcher fo sho. A highly recommended platter, the A-Side is totally bonkers, and the smoking B-Side is all gravy for your poutine. Scum stats: 500 copies.(RK)
(Supreme Echo // www.supremeecho.com)
Rubber Mate "Cha Boi" 7"
If you love Cleveland like I love Cleveland then like me you couldn't be happier there's a new wave of mongos and punks there keeping the fine tradition of Clevo rock'n'roll alive and kicking - Perverts Again, Real Regular, Bulsch and yer boys Rubbermate here. "Cha Boi" is their best tune, agressive, gooey, like pop music from some faraway planet. I sometimes think of the effect Mr. Caifornia moving to Cleveland had on the music there, because it seems like these kids became a little bit more weird once he was on the scene and went from trying to be the next Upstab to just letting the old freak flag fly. When someone as bizzarely creative and energetic as Mr. C strolls into your town, you know he's gonna make a difference even if it's just via osmosis. Anyway, more about that theory later (or see my academic paper 'The Mr. California Effect: How Weird is Too Weird?', published by University of Buffalo press), "Hogtied" is almost a primer in Clevo rock - pound drums relentlessly, write or steal riff and then burn it all to the ground, then get weird friend to make up words to say over mess you just recorded. It's a proven formula that has been working for years. Love you Clevo, see you soon.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Ruler "Tiger" 7"
New Fink band alert! This one has our hero joined by members of Young Ones, Raydios and Intimate Fags and on this debut they give up two tracks of that classy garage-punk that we all love Fink for. "Tiger" is super tough punk with a hard guitar riff that still maintains some semblance of hookiness, but that's just Fink right? Even if he was writing death metal tunes, they'd still be catchy as hell. A very good start here, a sub-3 minute knockout done to perfection.
"Gimme Some Noise" sounds a bit more garage-y, a real uptempo feel-good number with handclaps suitable for singing along with a drink in your hand. I prefered the A-Side by a long shot, but any Fink is good Fink and I'd like to hear more. Scum Stats: 200 copies available stateside.(RK)
(Mangrove/Secret Mission // secretmissionrecords.com)
Rut "Attraction" EP
Hardcore from Santa Rosa that shares some personnel with Acrylics, the guitar player for sure as I recognize that chorus pedal, but thankfully he's a bit more conservative with it here. Four track EP that I actually like very much (moreso than Acrylics even), they play in that stomp-it-out rhythm that makes each of the tracks sound similar but bang it out with such aplomb that it works. The female vocal shout helps things out very much and I will admit this kid is a pretty good guitar player. Plenty of mosh parts, recording is loud and crunchy, "My Skin" is the pick of the litter as it almost gets into a Mystic Inane-esque zone with a catch-and-release riff that flexes as much as it swings. Sure, they're not the most original sounding hardcore band out there, but they execute nearly perfectly and make no mistakes, which counts for a lot sometimes. Might be cannon fodder, sure, but they're the ones I'd want charging the frontline in my batallion. Scum Stats: 400 on black, 100 on clear. Bonus point given for using Nancy instead of Sluggo.(RK)
(Digital Regress // digitalregress.com)
Sashcloth & Axes "March" Cassette
A two song cassingle (why is this format making a comeback?) of stomping electro-dance music that should satiate the needs of those yearning for early Wax Trax tunes to be spun in the clubs again or folks awaiting the next Scorpion Violente release. "March" is just that - a five minute pulse complete with fried synth solo, Fulci zombie moans and sampled panther mating calls. No frills. Some bells and whistles. Driving. The flips "Tears" is a little lighter - bumping some New Order/Flock Of Seagulls fare - but when the vocals crank up it's as if these Sashclothiers found Ohgr trolling about like a leather-boy in the ole' SF Armory restroom and managed to capture his grunts to tape. More of an actual song than a theme, this time around. Not bad dance tracks, but who's gonna' DJ a cassingle at a club? The kids wanna' swing their arms to "This Corrosion" - not wait for you to hook your Walkman up to the PA. Press up some big discos 45 and do this jive proper.
(Lament Records // www.lamentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Simply Saucer "Cyborgs Revisited" 2XP
Back in the late ‘80s, when one could count on a magazine like Forced Exposure to deliver the goods, Byron Coley correctly posited that Simply Saucer’s 'Cyborgs Revisited' was the greatest Canadian album ever made. Although posthumously released, 'Cyborgs...' is a record that would’ve dwarfed the work of Simply Saucer’s Canadian contemporaries. Unfortunately, most copies of the LP would’ve ended up in record stores’ cut-out bins. In that sense, Simply Saucer joins the ranks of Rust Belters the Mirrors, Rocket from the Tombs and the Styrenes as a band way ahead of the curve—a distinction not exclusive to proto-punk, as The Index, The Dovers and Randy Holden had proven years earlier.
Simply Saucer existed during a period (’73-‘79) when both underground music and Western capitalism were stagnating. Simply Saucer absorbed Roxy Music and the groups coming out of West Germany, as well as The Velvet Underground. “Here Comes the Cyborgs, Pt. 2” captured the essence of early VU better than the post-1970 version of the band did. The fact that Simply Saucer existed is mind blowing. Outside of the bands associated with the mid-‘70s Cleveland proto-punk scene, there weren’t many other groups from this period creating exciting, new music.
In the Red’s reissue of 'Cyborgs Revisited' is a double album. The second LP completes the 1975 live show that made up the B side of the earlier editions on Bruce Mowat’s Mole Sound and Get Back, which were both single albums. Jesse Locke competently handles the liner notes for ITR inside the gatefold. Also included are images of Simply Saucer’s show flyers and promotional material for their sole ‘70s release (“She’s a Dog” 45). My version came on marble vinyl, if you’re into that sort of thing. It would’ve been nice had credits been included—who played what, who engineered/recorded the A-side demo, etc. That criticism aside, In the Red did a great job.
So here comes the $64,000 question: should you repurchase this version if you have an earlier edition? Well, that’s up to you and your bank account. However, if this is your first chance to own it at a nice price, purchasing it is a total no-brainer. Alongside The Electric Eels’ 'Having a Philosophical Investigation with the Electric Eels', 'Cyborgs Revisited' is a crucial slice of mid-‘70s underground music. This double album ranks right up there with the Consumers' 'All My Friends Are Dead' as ITR’s best reissue.(RL)
(In the Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Skullflower "Werecats Powers Of The Crossroads At Midnight" LP
For the past 10 years, Skullflower has been the duo of Matthew Bower and Samantha Davies (whom I unfortunately overlooked when I wrote a brief description of their previous LP for my Termbo top 10). This release continues on from where 2017's "The Black Iron That Has Fell From The Stars, To Dwell Within (Bear It Or Be It)" left off, being the second part of a trilogy centered around the Egyptian gods Set, Horus and the Apep serpent. Last year's LP was dedicated to Set. Oddly, this follow-up isn't dedicated to Horus or the Apep serpent, but rather Barron Samedi, a deity involved with Voodoo practices. I asked Bower about this and got a quick reply from him. He informed me that the original concept for the trilogy was Hicham Chadley's (who runs the Nashaphone label) idea. It wasn't too surprising that he said the band often goes off-track, and that the change in theme was also due to the artwork Ahmed Nosseir created (the artwork on both Nashazphone LPs is very cool). Onto the record, there are 3 tracks on here, a 20-minute one for side A and 2 10-minute tracks for side B. Skullflower's current sound provides a challenge for me to describe, let alone compare to their other recordings from recent years. It could be written off as just noise, but while the songs generally sound very similar for their entire duration (making them easy to zone out to, or perhaps meditation/mind expanding purposes), there is more going on beneath the surface - these sounds are absolutely not just a harsh noise wall with little to no variation. The first LP in this trilogy had hints of a percussive element that I don't hear on this LP. On the other hand, I hear more subtle hints of melody this time around. If I had to describe Skullflower, I would describe them as "Dark Psychedelia". I think that label is appropriate for the majority of their releases, even back in the early 90s when they had a standard rock band lineup. While their sound has mutated plenty of times in their 30 years as a band, there's always been that psychedelic feel to their music. You can get a good idea of what to expect at Matthew's bandcamp, and these Nashazphone LPs are a great place to jump in, their length is manageable for new-comers and they look great aesthetically.(RR)
(Nashazphone / skullflower.bandcamp.com)
Spectral//Death "Live At Nuclear Paradise” cassette
Mid-fi live recordings of something I guess one would call "brutal" "grinding" or "crust-like". It's got scum blasts, tribal pound and a vocalist that sounds like a dust-vac clogged on rusty beer pull tabs. What does that all mean? If you got a friend with an Amebix or Nausea patch holding the ass of their pants together, hand 'em a copy of this cassette. Then - and only then - let me know what they think. Not bad, but not my bag. I wash my hair at lease once a week or so, so I'm not the one to judge.(RSF)
(Lament Records // www.lamentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Spray Paint and Ben Mackie "Get Legless" 7”
A 7” collaboration that makes a lot of sense. Ben Mackie’s in Melbourne’s The Cuntz and you’re likely very familiar with Austin’s Spray Paint. It’s rare that a record can match the same level of disaffection I get from listening to, say, Children’s Hour or the Gordons. But this brief 45 does pretty much just that. It’s great. The perfect soundtrack to 2017.(RL)
(12XU // 12xu.bigcartel.com)
The Stallion "The Dark Side of the Wall" 3XLP
Ben Wallers and Alastair Mackinven of the Country Teasers give us a nearly 2-hour reinterpation of Pink Floyd's "The Wall". "Spiderman in the Flesh" from the Teasers' 2005 release "The Empire Strikes Back" featured new lyrics sung over the tune of "In the Flesh", the lead track from "The Wall". That is not the approach taken here, most of the lyrics here are the same as the original. Nor is this release a simple spoof, there's quite a few moments that are fairly faithful to the original, a lot of effort had to spent for them to learn all these songs! One's enjoyment of this is likely dependent on how the listener feels about the original "The Wall" and post-Syd era Pink Floyd. While I'm not a huge fan (certainly not as much as Mr. Wallers, who considers both "The Wall" and its follow-up "The Final Cut" to be brilliant records, and childhood favorites), I do enjoy a good deal of 70's Floyd...back when the only source I had to listen to music in my car was FM radio, I'd frequently listen to classic rock radio, and be happy to hear one of the hits from "The Wall" or earlier Floyd releases. For those who can't stand 70's Floyd whatsoever...I'm not too sure that this release is for you. The first LP is relatively straight-forward and a fun listen. Very enjoyable to hear Wallers singing these songs (and the Youtube videos that can be found for the first few tracks are hilarious and very complimentary to the music) and when the dark ambiance found in "Goodbye Blue Sky" and "Empty Spaces" collides into an extremely over-the-top version of the hard rockin' hit "Young Lust", it completely kicks ass!! Things gets progressively stranger as we flip over to side C - the hit "Hey You" is completely unrecognizable and vocally just feature Wallers yelling about "The Stallion", clearly inspired by the trilogy of songs from the first 3 Ween LPs. Side D is quite a chore, featuring 3 songs that in their original form were only 6 minutes long total...here they are stretched out to an entire side of harsh noise and totally out-of-place fast dance beats. The final LP kicks off with the hit "Comfortably Numb" which is transformed into a dark electronic dirge, which works amazingly well. The rest of the LP continues in this vein, a nice combination of the more normal LP1 and the total weirdness of LP2. I have to wonder why exactly these guys chose to cover this album as they did. Seems to me, that this project is both a tribute to and a mockery of the concept of smokin' a ton of weed and listening to a classic album, whether that classic record is "The Wall" or Ween's "Pure Guava". Or maybe even this album itself which does lend itself to enjoying some smoke...but there's certainly parts here which make that a difficult proposition. When it comes down to it, I really have no idea what Wallers is going for, let alone why he felt it was appropriate to kickoff "Run Like Hell" with a snippet of the Cheers theme song! Very nice packaging from In The Red...definitely recommended if the whole concept doesn't have you running like hell!(RR)
(In The Red // www.intheredrecords.com)
Stiff Love "in...Trouble" EP
All ladies quartet from Olympia way (members of many, many other bands of course...) serving up a four song EP here with one Lazy Susan on vocals (drummer goes by...wait for it...Anne Tagonist! Someone must've used that before, no?...Shirley Stoned is a winner too. Very impressed with their punk pseudonym game) and getting a credit/note on the labels for it, which is a little odd I guess ("VOCAL BY LAZY SUSAN WITH STIFF LOVE" is on both sides. I guess we at least know who's the boss). For as weird and wacky as I always say Olympia is, there's something different here, which they achieve by playing it kind of straightforward. Believe it or not, back in the Nineties the Pacific Northwest was well known for its bustling garage-punk scene - Estrus Records over in Bellingham were the foremost label of the time and their Garage Shock festivals rallied the troops from all over the world, bringing fans and bands to congregate in Washington, which also had a hot local scene going - The Statics, The Makers, Night Kings (and numerous other Rob Vazquez bands), Spider Babies, Primate 5, we could go on and on...but the digression here is trying to direct us to the fact that Stiff Love remind me very much of a tight little 90s garage-punk band that might've had a single out on Regal Select or Superelectro back in the day (probably would've been recorded a bit dirtier back then, but hey "lo-fi" was hip at the time!). "Walk in the Dark" is a hooky garage-popper with some real clean and catchy guitar jangle, "Trouble" cranks it up to punk tempo but with some surf twang even! I knew I was on to something here. B-Side could be a slightly punker and more female Kent 3 or a cleaner and catchier Sinister Six. A refreshing take here, nothing blatantly or weird by force, just a well written, played and recorded (Is Capt Tripps the Mikey Young of Washington State? Or Is Mikey Young the Capt Tripps of Australia?) garage-punk record. It might not set the world of the new young punk on fire but they'd be well served to pay attention to something like this that does it all right before they go listening to other records that do it all wrong...(RK)
(Neck Chop // neck-chop-records.myshopify.com)
Sub Dom "Daughters" 7"
A nice pick-up from the D4MT Labs store, no idea what the relation is (if any) aside from geographic, but if you're over there buying Kaleidoscope merch pick this and/or the split tape with X-20 up. Three cuts of synth-wave on this one that are worth jamming. "Daughters" is digi-motorik sputter and stutter that locks into a sci-fi groove nicely, somewhat reminiscent of Catatonic Youth. Possible flute sampling here. "Traces" sounds like a kinder/gentler Spits, hooky semi-punk dum-dum spunker with monotone vocal treatment and well placed squiggles and squeals, "Sherman Tank" goes even deeper into the mong for a minimal quirk droner that might be sampling a smoke alarm between stretched synths and robo-vox. Mysterious black and white sleeve art and the acronym 'Simulations Unveil Banal Dailies of Man' on the cover almost makes it seem like a pisstake on the L.O.T.I.O.N. aesthetic, which I like if it's true, because that shit is kinda hokey if you ask me. Scum stats: clear vinyl, 300 copies. Buy doubles.(RK)
(Brain Dead Records // soundcloud.com/braindeadrecords)
The Subsonics "Flesh Colored Paint" LP
In this time of reunions around the corner for every wang-dang-doodle of a band that falls under the Budget Rock blanket, it shocks me to no end that Atlanta's Subsonics have never even given up. I've evidently been in the dark for nearly a decade (Sorry Slovenly/Sorry Subsonics.) as "Flesh Colored Paint" is their eighth full length. The band continues to do what they do best - muggy southern stomp filtered through Marc Bolan flutter and a Cramps-ian cha-cha heel strut. This sorta' glitter shimmer fits snugly nestled in the crotch region, somewhere between American Death Ray, Danny & The Darleans and so on. They've always been in my peripheral and I've witnessed them bring quite a solid live revue in my times, but they've never seemed tough enough to break me during my boozy-fueled heyday. NOW - on the other hand - being older, wiser and actually warming up to the voice of Brian Ferry - this stuff is pretty damn sharp! I'm fully locked down on the track "Begging Hands" here, which proves beyond any doubt that these swingers are as big of fans of Radley Metzger's 'Score' skinflick as I am. Elsewhere they beat on the traps like a Black Time light, less set on grate and more on the grind. "Die A Little", "Cold Cold World" and "In The Black Spot" ride in the Velvet's lil' Reed wagon, possibly playing at the wrong pitch. "I Must Be Poisoned" and "I'm The Most Popular Boy In Town" are cut from the same girl group worship and sequenced catsuit that Kid Congo stitches together with his Pink Monkey Birds. "Permanent Thaw" fires off that Black-Angels-Death violin scrape along its woozy train track clack and tunes like "Why Should Anybody Care At All" feature squirrelly, ragged soloing, as if front-mouth and string-slinger Clay Reed was dry humping his gee-tar on the studio floor (and chances are, he did). A good party platter for the red eyed sect. Now while we're at it, let's wax up them early WorryBird CDs!(RSF)
(Slovenly Records // www.slovenly.com)
Suburban Homes "Unemployed" 7"
One of the very few Total Punkers released in 2017 that didn't really thrill me. I've mentioned it before, but I think this project lacks the legs they're trying to give it. I think the first 7" was a very nice bit of copycat DIY that appeared in our laps out of nowhere - that record has their best songs and managed to be charming in a naive way, as if they just sort of stumbled onto these songs and we could forgive the formulaic approach, as it was done simply and convincingly well. The sort of record that should have been a one-off. But then the records kept coming, they got less and less DIY-alike and more plain old garage-like, shoehorning some bit of the aesthetic into each song seemingly just to keep the concept moving. And if you've noticed, all of Paul Messis' musical endeavors center around what we would refer to as civil war re-enacting - the "retro" sound of the Higher State is cosplay set to music. I have nothing against the guy, but Suburban Homes really lost any interest from me the minute I heard that second record. Now it's just a gimmick band, and not a good one at that. Sorry. At least he's not Mick Trouble.(RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Sweet Knives s/t LP
Good to see these "kids" gettin' the band back together, all Eddie & the Cruisers style! What's on deck is the surviving members of the Lost Sounds spreading some catchy pop-leaning, waver-goes-punk. Alicja takes total control and fires of a mix of sugary synth gems, peppered with the occasional Sounds hostility - if their barbed-edges were filed down some, to not scare everyone out of the room. Like a Lost Sounds set where you felt it was safe to dance about, without the fear of getting a Flying V to the jaw or have a mirror ball come crashing down on you. Moody tunes like and "Isolation Deprivation", "Strange Feeling" and "How's It Gonna' Arrive" take the cake, speaking to my base with their Wire-esque 154 hooks and giving me a case of the cold wave shivers. Tracks like "End of the World" are practically beachy and similar to Trout's Black Sunday-era recordings. The LP wraps up with a swaggery sub-swamp riff and hushed pop number called "Particle of Time" that's a glimmer of what Stereolab coulda' sounded like had the collaborated with The Cramps. !?! A pretty swell concoction, to say the least. A welcome return to y'all! Scum stats: 100 copies on orange.(RSF)
(Big Neck Records // www.bigneckrecords.com)
Thee Monsieurs "Deux” LP
Knowing how much I loved Tunnel Of Love - one of the finest bombastic blowouts to cross my blurred vision in the early aughts - I feel like a lamestain for sleeping on this act for so long. Well, I fixed that over the past few months. Here I am, warming by the fire during this wintry bluster and ingesting another fine Andy MacBain release. Between this stuff and the Andy California EP, he's keeping Slovenly's Gladiators on the garbage rock radar (not that they ever really fell of it in the first place). The opener "Burning Flame" and "I Will Run" are straight up crash/bang shards of garage violence and if you said to me these were lost Tunnel Of Love tracks, I wouldn't argue it one bit. Things chill and take pop-ier turns within tunes like "Suburban Girls" and "At The Hop". Not saying cutesy levels of pop, but there's a definite whaff of catchy albeit retched perfection ala' Nobunny or Ramones girl group grabs. The femmes on deck keep Andy's cock-swingin' machismo at bay, adding great touches of Toody-esque back ups, forceful fuzzed power chords and abusive can bashing. "Get Right Get Ready" is rears a Karp riff and shoves it, clawing smack into the face of some delirious Dollrod slop. That's not a bad place to be - crawling around in a metallic Danny Kroha muck. Wrapping this fast lil' fucker up is "My War", which brings all the above elements to a broil, splattering about like a scorched Love cover turned beat-punk brat psych and going gloriously wrong. A wooly ride. Will ride again. Scum Stats: 100 copies on orange.(RSF)
(Slovenly Records / Black Gladiator // www.slovenly.com)
Thought Pattern "The Bradfords" cassette
I was gonna' say "hey man, you missed the Weird Punk wave" until I realized these tracks are from 2012. These Bradfords are really a one man bedroom art-oddity that should perk the ears of those who miss the early Hozac boat or Sacred Bones blossoms. Less of a Gothic angle overall (but it's definitely in there) and similar to - say - early Digital Leather CD-rs in tone. Tunes like "Your Fired" and "All my friends are poor" bring the FNU clatter or even Gary Wrong to the plate more so than a thousand Blank Dogger clones (thank Jebus for that). The sounds are varied up enough to keep me entertained and there's plenty of awkward samples, insectoid instrumentals and gluey interludes to break up any sorta casio-monotony therein. Clown away, bitches and order deep. (RSF)
(Lament Records // www.lamentrecords.bigcartel.com)
Timmy's Organism "Eating Colors" LP
Another year shot from the cannon and another record full o'searing guitar overdose as delivered by Motor City's main mudpuppy - Timmy Vulgar. It's exactly what you'd expect and exactly what you need. Every time I find myself trudging through that river of lackluster "guitar hero" indie rock records and reviews by their overzealous fanchilds, I think about throwing in the towel, becoming a Grumpy Gus and finish my days on planet Earth listening to Alice Cooper or AC/DC on repeat - then here comes a package from the Lampinen compound to drag me out of the abyss. 'Eating Color's doesn't change formula of the past few Organism's outings, it just continues down that familiar path like some elongated, fresh appendage. The guys got a "thing" and it's a thing he does well. Better than most. He just sweats out ROCK. Once you get a pedal chain dialed in like this, why would you wanna' do anything else? Good christ. That tone, people. Total Punk's "Lick Up Your Town" from earlier this year makes returns to the mix, but how can you keep a track like that down? A fine piece of nut-bust boogie and savage biker damage - and when paired with "Brood Of The Dirt", both feel very Brown Acid/Bonehead compilation worthy in the far outlying future. Other wide-eyed standouts: Wormhole punker "Psychosis Devotion" filters that early Human Eye x-perimentation and "Struttin' Stoned" gives off that wack 4-track outsider froth of his earliest Sacred Bones sides. Speaking of outsiders, the title jam rip-snorts as if Leland Yoshitsu has return to Earth and "Four Leaf Clover" rattles in acoustic barroom downer mode, not unlike Leland's quieter freakfolk moments. "Crawling Through The Future" and "Wolfman Running" is the extend-o-freakouts that the Organism's trademarked by now - equal chunks of Blue Cheer bombast and Grand Funk, blown to space. Bringing all this bad tab trauma to a close is "Chemical Makeup" a long hauler where Vulgar is surely self-aware of his Cooper-aping "get me out!" loony bin riff, just before the before band flails away into drum roll and crashing fuzz-obliteration. There ya' go. Where does your allegiance lie? Until the Organism Army starter kit arrives (posters, armbands, membership cards, etc.) y'all can all ease in by grabbing this LP.(RSF)
(Detroit Magnetic Tape Co. / Lo & Behold! Records // www.lo-behold.bandcamp.com)
The Trendees "We Are Sonic Art" LP
'We Are Sonic Art' is a vinyl reissue of The Trendees’ 2015 cassette. Hailing from New Zealand, The Trendees are into lo-fi recordings with a musicianship that makes early Straight Arrows releases sound downright competent. Hints of King Loser and a sound that would sit right at home on Goodbye Boozy or Total Punk. Seven tracks played at 45 RPMS.(RL)
(Albert’s Basement/Melted Ice Cream // albertsbasement.net / meltedicecream.bandcamp.com)
Twitch "Mess'n With the Bull(Gets the Horn)" 7"
I'm a fan of Supreme Echo's earlier Twitch reissues and their sloppy/heavy Canadian rock moves. Their costumes and flair for the dramatic just added some extra exploitation bang for your buck. This new one documents their 1976 period, where they had dropped the Satanic imagery for some goofy "punk"/glam gimmick (as a punk cash-in I hope/assume) of t-shirts, jeans and boots and goe to more minimal face painting, i.e. more Sensational Alex Harvey Band, less Kevin Sullivan-meets-Kiss. Title track is all power-pop that has them coming off like a lesser Thundermug robbed of their power to rock-n-stomp. "Spunk" on the flip (an easy entendre to work with and a possible/obvious Pistols reference) is lost on me, a sort of lethargic rocker thsat never really hits the gear I think it was intended to. A far cry from the classic proto-metal/punk sound of their early Seventies period. I suggest you find that stuff first if you want to hear Twitch at their best, as this material is mediocre.
Scum stats: 500 copies, impeccable desgn/packaging from Supreme Echo as usual.(RK)
(Supreme Echo // www.supremeecho.com)
V/A "Killed By Meth Vol. 2" LP
I was really looking forward to this comp. I've lived in the Rust Belt my entire life and I am as proud as it is possible to be about that geographic distinction. And when it comes to music, much of the very best ever recorded has come from this zone both past and present - Cleveland and Columbus alone are responsible for so much, Detroit is right behind them and if you're stretching the boundaries to Wisconsin and Toronto I'll play along. I feel like music from this region is mine (and ours), it's for the people, it's something special that the rest of the country doesn't have or sometimes get. So knowing what talent is out there, and with the very wide parameters geographically speaking, honestly, you'd have to fuck up real bad to not put out an absolutely killer regional comp. BUT, this label sticks in the caveat that all material on these comps should be unreleased and of the "demo" variety I believe, trying to give a hand to those bands out there not already highly visible. There's some liberties taken there as well I believe (man, if the guys in Hell, Norway played this fast and loose with the rules who knows what would've happened...) but you should still have a solid chance at making a winning comp - and what's better, an LP full of demos from bands you have never heard of for the most part or a collection of toss offs from the popular/usual suspects? Thats where I applaud It's Trash heartily, I think the unheard bands/demos thing is the way to go - that's what comps used to be for - to hear some bands you might have never known about without shelling out for a dozen full LPs you might not even like. This project is certainly serving its purpose, a noble one at that (while an LP might not be the most cost-effective means for a "sampler" of this ilk, it's another feather in this maniac's cap that he invests so much into these). So while I might not go back and listen to Vol. 1 much at all, I did find out about a couple bands from it (all of which were Canadian by the way - Plasmalab and BSHC in particular) - so here we go with #2. They begin with the best Bloody Show track I've heard so far, a band with potential for sure and proudly repping Columbus in spirit and sound (somewhere between the Slicks past and Obnox present). Static Eyes are apparently the continuation of Gut Reactions and do that Wisconsin garage-trash thing ala Mistreaters/Sagger but sped up for modern times - pretty average but the girl's vox help. Gun are from Hammond, IN and really shake a turkey leg here, but I dig it - sort of a Junkpile Jimmy/Bassholes shitbox lo-fi stomper with wailing harmonica that gets me every time. Eroders are from Detroit and have done some things I've liked on Flesh Wave, and this is more of that - choppy stop-start punk with velocity. Very nice, and I think one of these guys is Timmy Vulgar's drummer now. Our pal Erik Nervous is next, and this is really a demo of him doing everything with a Tascam, I dig it a lot, lo-fi bedroom franticity where things all seem a little out of step creating a stutter effect that's real cool - for some reason his vox are starting to remind me of the guy from The Wards. I expect even bigger things from this kid. Golden Trash from Sarnia next (home of the Sarnia Sting where Steve Stamkos played his minor games), but it's just sort of mid-grade garage chug that vanishes from your mind after you hear it once. Rotcore's Beastman close the side, and let me tell you something - this band could've been contenders had they kept up with how good their very first recordings were, but instead it devolved into schtick instead of rock'n'roll. Another Rotcore self sabotage. City Slang open Side B, and you know they're not going to be good because they couldn't pick a better/less obvious name than that - this is a z-grade leftover from a 'Drunk on Rock' comp. Hamilton's Flesh Rag have quite a few records out already, and this one is par for the course - we'll call it hard garage with a dark vibe and it's just ok. Buffalo's Radiation Risks are next and where the hell did they get that organ from? Get rid of it immediately! Toronto's Protruders play a good lo-fi guitar burner with a good hook - ex-Kappa Chow people. Next is Buffalo's best band right now - The Drains - and this is a real solid echo laden short sharp shocker, pretty aggro which is what this town needs. Then there's this band Manager from London (Go Knights!) who do the bass-heavy sludge punk thing - it plods along and isn't awful, singer sounds beefy and mean, and they start picking up the pace at the end, turning out better than I thought it would. Cleveland closes out this spectacle, and if Real Regular don't get your juices flowing, you must be dead - Mensa caliber lyrics, it sounds like two different songs being played at once by a bunch of chimps. Fantastic! So, just like last time - even though it's not end-to-end burners, I learned a few things - I should stick with Bloody Show, Erik Nervous is a hit machine, The Drains shoud tour (and you should find their tape) and I love Cleveland more than anything. See ya next time!(RK)
(It's Trash // itstrashrecords.bandcamp.com)
V/A "Tokyo Flashback" 2LP
The first I heard of the Japanese psychedelic underground that the label PSF specialized in, was through reviews in early 90s Forced Exposure and descriptions of the imported releases that FE offered up for sale. Unfortunately, while the descriptions were intriguing and mysterious, I didn't have the cash to check the stuff out first-hand. As the years passed, I was able to hear some of the stuff through file-sharing but actual physical copies of PSF releases never became too easy to stumble upon. I don't want to dwell on the differences between being able to download albums vs. holding an actual product, but the latter is certainly preferred. Which is why it's exciting news that a US label (started by some of the same folks who run the great acoustic guitar label VDSQ) was formed to do vinyl reissues of classics from the PSF catalog. So far, the label has done a fantastic job with reissuing Keiji Haino's 1st LP, and now this seminal compilation which was previously only available on CD. It's one beautiful package. The gatefold double LP comes in its separate outer sleeve, printed inner sleeves, a download card to get digital files in lossless quality, along with two inserts (one of which features a translated version of the original liner notes written by PSF's Hideki Shimoji) - very pleasing aesthetically and informative. The vinyl seems to be of high quality as well. Anyone interested in this doesn't need to have any qualms about the reissue quality. The original compilation was PSF's 12th CD release which came out in 1991, and must have been quite a revelation at the time of release, with half the tracks being unreleased songs by bands with PSF releases, and the other half being relative newcomers. It translates to vinyl very well, with each side featuring 2 bands (these are long tracks, so only one song was contributed by each band). The A-side here features live cuts from Marble Sheep & The Run-Down Sun's Children (the majority of their releases were released by the Japanese label Captain Trip, and while I'm unfamiliar I've heard they slower evolve into heavily Grateful Dead-influenced territory) and High Rise (their LP "Psychedelic Speed Freaks" was not only PSF's first release, but the album title also served as the unofficial version of what the letters PSF stood for). Both tracks are great, and probably what those checking out PSF were expecting, long heavy hypnotic tracks with plenty of over-the-top guitar. The majority of side B is taken up by Ghost's superb "Tamura Yura" which maintains the hypnotic quality of the previous tracks but the guitars are replaced by cello and banjo and truly haunting vocals. Ghost are sometimes referred to as folk-ish, but sound utterly alien to these ears...you really need to hear it for yourself. White Heaven close out the first LP with an alternate version of "Blind Promise" from their debut LP. WH were one of the most straight-forward ROCK bands on PSF, and their track here is a great example - they sound influenced by late-60s California psych mixed as well as The Stooges. While not as experimental as much PSF stuff, the guitar work by Michio Kurihara still gets pretty out-there. Speaking of experimental, Keiji Haino is infamous as one of PSF's most prolific and experimental artists. The 2nd LP here features 2 Haino-related tracks, starting with a live track from his legendary power-trio Fushitsusha. This track is pure heavy thud and Haino's guitar playing and unique vocal style are both evident in full form. Side C closes out with a track from Verserk, mentioned in the liner notes as the youngest band on the comp. Their track here was their first (and unfortunately, last) release. It's a great heavy tune that recalls both Black Sabbath and St. Vitus...I'd be thrilled if any unreleased stuff by them is found. Kousokuya kick off the final side, and the first word that comes to mind hearing their track is DARK. Very sparse drumming here, and unique female vocals. Keiji Haino finishes off the whole sha-bang with a solo vocal-only track. I find Haino's voice difficult to appreciate even in his bands, so 8 minutes of only vocals is a lot for me to take! In the context of this comp, I always let it play through...it's unique if nothing else! For anyone interested in heavy underground rock, but unfamiliar with this scene, this compilation is a must-have. While much of this music has received a lot more coverage outside of Japan over the years, I still find it under-rated/underappreciated, especially with the huge variety of PSF's catalog (even this diverse compilation is only scraping the surface). Black Editions already has a lot more projects in the works, hopefully of similar quality and I look forward to em!(RR)
(Black Editions // www.theblackeditions.com/)
V/A Tropical Trash/Brutal Birthday split 7"
I had set a personal rule for myself that in 2018 I would no longer review any split singles. Well, I've already disappointed myself yet again, but it's for a good reason - this is actually a damn fine record. Looks good too, with art from Shitboy Face. Tropical Trash are running with an expanded six-piece line-up on this one it appears and they use the extra noisemakers to make "Last Night Straight" a real thumper - sounds like someone is playing a theremin with a kazoo at one point. It's a steady mid-pace hammering they punctuate with bleats and blasts of noise, then they break it down real quiet and bring it back for a whisper of an outro. These guys never disappoint, the perfect balance of noise rock and art punk or something like that. Brutal Birthday, who I'm hoping named themselves after a Homostupids song, are an Italian group with members of other acts on the Maple Death label (Stromboli, Hallelujah) and they go for the gusto with some shit-fi noiserock. Guitars are all static and feedback, relentless motorik drumbeat and vocals are yelled or delivered in a spooky tone that reminds me of Creepy Dave from the Blowtops. This is really good for a bunch of Italians. Scum stats: 300 copies, stamped labels, insert.(RK)
(Maple Death // mapledeathrecords.com)
V/A Nag/Lip split 7"
Alright, so you pricks got me to listen to that TT/BB split already so I'll give this one a shot too now - but this is the last fucking split I review, ever! Nag we all know, Brannon Greene's latest punk outfit, and of course they're hot shit. Both tunes smoke some kill, "Eye Level" is actually kinda burly and lo-tempo but still swings somehow, in particular when they kick it up a gear for a somewhat psychedelic outro/ender. "Surfer" has Brannon borrowing some lyrics from Johnny "Bob" Goldstein for a swift little jabber. Hey, two cool as fuck songs on a split I'll probably never pull out to listen to, or at best will record to a mixtape if I ever stop being lazy. Thanks. Lip are from Baltimore and the fact they couldn't come up with a better name has me concerned from the get-go. They're a trio, sounds like gtr/bass/drms, kind of post-punky but more on the garage-punky side, they do some cool vocal tricks on "Control" where they lay a ton of echo on the guys vox laid on top with one of the girls trading lines with him with no effects on hers - sounds pretty sick and the tune is a real nice bass heavy punker that actually moves quickly, perhaps Dasher-esque. Second track is more of the same, not quite as sharp as the first one. A perfectly serviceable split seven inch that will languish in obscurity forever. I hope you're all happy.(RK)
(Space Taker // www.spacetakersounds.com)
V/A Thigh Master/Dag split 7"
Okay okay one fucking more split, but just because I really like Thigh Master, and the fact that I just reviewed a Nag record and there's a band called Dag here. Remember when you were a kid and dag could be substituted for "damn" - as in "Dag, man, that was a sweet catch!" - I'm telling myself that's is the connotation under which Dag have named themselves, if only for my own amusement. Thigh Master of course contribute two non-album cuts that are beautiful and airy slices of guitar-pop, "Exodus" will make you feel like things will get better, has a perfect solo and vocals from heaven. "Pity Run" is a more introspective cut, a bit more dusk than the mid-day shimmer of "Exodus" but a delight anyway. Dag are actually a sort of reconfigured Thigh Master, with Dusty as the lead songwriter. Both tunes are acoustic pop-folk on a bed of singer-songwriter with a side of rock, not unlike an Australian Lou Barlow/Sentridoh with a less defeated worldview. If this is the last split seven inch I ever hear, I'm totally okay with that - both because this record is a true beauty and I still hate the fucking format with a passion. Scum Stats: 500 copies released for their Euro Tour.(RK)
(Bruit Direct // bruit-direct.org)
Very Mental "Misconstrued" 7"
I'll tell you what - over my years of doing this shit, some of the weirdest people I've met have been from Olympia. I'm not talking abut people trying to be weird or punk or whatever - I'm talking about just legitimately strange human beings. I don't know if they're all born there, or Olympia is like some magnet that pulls them in from across the country. Lots of straight up weirdos, and there's nothing wrong with that. And the cool part is that some of them get together and start cool bands (and not cool bands, too), and Very Mental are one of them at the moment. I know one of them is also in Gen Pop and between them all I'm sure they have quite a back catalog that no one outside of Olympia has ever heard of - bands seem to vaguely exist there and put out a tape and then vanish or morph into something else, leaving you wondering if you imagined it all - like, does that Table Sugar cassette really exist? Did the band really exist in the first place? Let me know. The other thing slightly strange about this Olympia business is, even though these weirdos start some weird bands, when they start actual rock'n'roll bands they're almost always killer - shit, Rik had to go to there to find himself a band that could rock as hard as he needed. Again, Very Mental are the latest one I've heard - not sure if it's a three or four piece, but they have a sick guitar player and a girl on vox who belts it out loud and proud and some dude pairs up with her and does sort of a dum-dum Spits-voice on back-ups, and it works really well. "Misconstrued" is a 100% American rocker with some punk, maybe even some proto-punk sewn in there - I detect a certain Dictators-esque strut and cockiness to the musicianship and the "I can't do nothin" attitude is some classic punk shit. The flip is "In the Morning" and it's got a heavier riff, a little less vocal interplay, but I did I mention the crushing riff they drop on your head here? Dollsy swagger, a little bit of sleaze pedal on that guitar, this is rock'n'roll for sure. Yet another winner from Total Punk. (RK)
(Total Punk // www.floridasdying.com)
Warm Wave “Pyongyang Suntan" CDr
Montreal outfit pushing their wares on the squarest of all formats (outside mp3s), but the packaging was charming enough for me to give 'em a go. The disc starts off lop-sided enough with the title track, a skewered drear-pop that builds around back-masked guitars and muddled loops. Sorta' like Thurston Moore cutting some Beach Boys chafe. Things warble about the Neil Young/Flaming Lips axis from there on out. "God's Bad Poems" slurs along in a roots-early My Morning Jacket sensation for a good minute or so until the honestly devastating solo shatters the track teensy-weensy little shards. Shocking to a jaded fuck like me, even. If only Kurt Vile sounded this good. "Cthulhu Beaucoupz" does a fine job of boogie creeping as well, and the long sprawl finale of "Milk Witch" brings back that aforementioned guitar shearing frazzle-fry. Not bad. I can see myself listening to a couple of these tunes at least a few more times this week. PS: cassette next time!(RSF)
(self-Released // www.warmwave.bandcamp.com)
Laurence Wasser "V" LP
Haven't heard this guy since 'Tete de Bebe' it seems, I was mistaken in thinking he had been a member of some band since then. Nope, strictly solo this guy. For a record that describes itself as a series of "sketches" it's surprisingly complete sounding and unified in tone and aesthetic. 11 songs, not much in the way of lyrics aside from some yells and whoops, this sounds very much like what we wanted garage-rock to sound like circa 2002 or so - very much indebted to The Cramps, Birthday Party, Pussy Galore and adding that ever so sophisticated French twist, ala Crash Normal or maybe Cheeraks without the savagery. Rock solid drumming seems to be the commmon denominator through each song, buffered with piano, guitars, whistling, bells, keys and other instrumentation. Certainly not a lo-fi affair (although allowed to be a bit ragged at the edges) the A-Side is more atmospheric, the B-Side more cavemannish (a little rockabilly here and Australian sounding there) and even sounds like Scratch Acid towards the end a bit. Sophisticated in its unsophistication and a very worthwhile listening experience. Recommended. By the way, these savages just chucked this LP in a cover with no dust sleeve and then shrinkwrapped it - ballsy move that I respect but am still a bit uncomfortable with.(RK)
(Atomic Bongos // atomicbongos.org)
Zellots s/t 7" flexi
At first I didn't realize this was a flexi and thought Supreme Echo sent me a sleeve with no record in it or I had misplaced the vinyl somehow. Great story, I know. This three song flexi has a lot going for it. Firstly, a high quality sound for the format, cut round and with embossed "labels" it looks better than the usual flexi as well. Secondly, the three tunes here are pretty damn good for a band that had ony been together for a few months when this was recorded in 1979. Zellots were an all-girl quartet from Vancouver, allies/friends and part of the scene that included Modernettes and Young Canadians. "On the Dole" is the best of the bunch, an energized punker that sounds a bit like LA/Dangerhouse-esque stuff and Heather Haley's vocals are perfect femme-punk. "Vampire Love" continues the decadent LA sound and gets even heavier and slightly goth-rock even. They end with "Let's Play House" a fun 50s sock-hop slow-ish jammer (with a "Chapel of Love" aside) that isn't far from an early Blondie move even. Thirdly, I think it's fantastic that General Echo could source recordings from a band that barely existed, make them sound great and put together a fantastic package like this - I won't say this stuff is groundbreaking but it is good enough to deserve this treatment and proves (again) that not everything has been found and mysteries and surprises are still out there in punk's past. We just need to keep the faith and keep looking.
Scum stats: 525 copies, with fold out insert that has detailed liners from band members and photos/fliers.(RK)
(Supreme Echo // www.supremeecho.com)