HEX – “Poison In The System: The Demos” CD
If you liked your punk, the UK in the early to mid ’80s was a good place to be. Not only were all kinds of genres flourishing within said rubric, but there was a significant community of like-minded souls, putting on gigs, writing (and distributing) fanzines, (cassette) tape labels, and whatnot. It meant that bands could (and did!) release demos, on cassette, and distribute them far and wide. The anarcho-punk “scene,” spawned by the likes of CRASS and their progeny (SUBHUMANS, CONFLICT, FLUX OF PINK INDIANS, MOB, et al.) were the inspiration and incubator for HEX. Hailing from the Northeast of England, they were part and parcel of the legendary (well, to us folks, anyways) Sunderland Bunker, a venue, and musicians collective. Herein you’ll find four demos tapes (fourteen tracks in all), recorded in 1986 and 1987. A variety of musical styles, evocative of KILLING JOKE, ANTISECT, and the FAMOUS IMPOSTERS grace the demos. It all features the music gifts of Dickie Hammond and Dave Lainey, better known for playing in HDQ and later LEATHERFACE. Really great stuff all round, and some excellent liner notes do a superb job of capturing the sense of community, and possibility that was nurtured by the scene. (Ramsey Kanaan)
G.L.O.S.S. –“Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit” EP
This exists perfectly as a solid hardcore record, nothing necessarily freaky or weird just excellently solid but a thing that makes it stand out (other than the context it exists in) is that you can hear all of the lyrics. No reading along with lyric sheets necessary—somehow, at breakneck speed Sadie manages to enunciate every word. A thing that is always rough to me about hardcore is all the vocals garbled and barked until I kind of just feel like some angry man is yelling at me. And what Sadie is singing about is so integral and important it’s just really fucking cool to just hear every lyric. This record delves into politics in a way that avoids being exclusionary or preachy but instead is filled with rage and love and an overall we’re-in-this-togetherness. It also comes with an excellent zine that furthers the aesthetic and message.
(Nervous Nelly / Total Negativity)
HUNCHES – “You’ll Never Get Away With My Heart / Like I Could Die”
The HUNCHES, if you are unfamiliar, were a Portland punk rock band that’s been dead, dead, dead, for over five years now. They used to do that to their audiences you know, knock ‘em dead. They had this front guy, Chris Gunn, who could make a show feel dangerous in a fulfilling way, like you risked acquiring a truly noble scar encountering a genuinely memorable musical experience. During their existence they were generally categorized as playing “garage punk,” which was how most people used to qualify punk rock that wasn’t a straight carbon copy of 1984 thrash: “garage,” whatever the hell that meant. People are a lot better situated now, it’s come full circle back to a mindset in opposition to hardcore-dogma-adherence, thanks to bands like the HUNCHES getting their retroactive cred. This 7” is their 2001 demo, predating any of their LPs on In The Red. It’s a loud, punishing, art-blues inflected punk rock record with Gunn’s tortured vocals at the front of the mix, and it would sit in your 7” pile of early ’00s-era singles the same way that a FLESHEATERS record parks comfortably with Dangerhouse titles. ’Cause they’re all flying at you from Planet Shit. They may talk different, but they are all talking shit. Buy this or rot in fetid ignorance. (Ryan Wells) (Almost Ready)
LA MISMA – “Kanizadi” LP
This is so perfect just go buy it now—just do it! LA MISMA from New York are a force to be reckoned with and, after just one 7” and a few demos, this ferocious full-length hurtles through the punk universe like a blazing comet! I can’t single out one song on this record because the consistency and character—the bite!—is found in every song. Each jam packed with pogo power, this is short and fast, heavy and solid, structured but crumbling under the intensity of the execution. A commendable homage to the CRISIS guitar sound, fueled by UK82 punk power and laced with the venom of ’80s Italian punk, but never limited or overshadowed by those influences. The guitar mixes creeping hooks and solos with frontal-attack riffs. The hypnotic bass booms and rumbles with the power of a coming earthquake. The stomping, cymbal-crashing drums are crude and commandeering like a primeval instinct. The vocalist spits, squeals and yelps, all passionate Portuguese delivery and transfixing impressionistic lyrical content. The result is spine-chilling, catchy and driving all at the same time. The production works around the core sound like a Rubik’s cube doing every element justice—the twisting guitar distortion, the bristle and weight of the bass, the dissonance in the vocals, the pitch and punch in the drums. 18 minutes and 53 seconds of white-knuckled, jaw-clenching, hair-raising energy that has my mind and body positively ecstatic. Comes with a 28-page booklet and A2 poster designed by the vocalist. For fans of: good fucking music! Exceptional! (Lydia A)
(Toxic State / La Vida Es Un Mus)
EBENEZER AND THE BLUDGEONS – “Peer Pressure” EP
Looky what I win this month! No one coulda guessed these OG Baltimore KBD punkers were such the lyrical geniuses, but there’s no doubt after any spin of this classique 1978 four-songer. I still remember first dropping the needle after coughing up some substantial lunch money in the ’90s. Side A doesn’t really do much bludgeoning, ’cept with the inescapable “al-bi-no” chorus of “Gerti,” but the B-side is the absolute apex of bar band punk. Ooh, the controversy of “Weekend Nazi,” only to be topped with the inexplicable punk paradox of “Oh! I Love This Weather” with one of the least climactic punk choruses ever. How can something that sucks so hard manage to also be the greatest thing ever?! I’m proud to be an American. (Graham Booth)
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Out now! MRR #404 • Jan 2017
Reading lists and cybersecurity for the impending Trump presidency, Transgress Fest, Copenhagen's PRISON, PHANTOM HEAD from Kansas City, Berlin's DIÄT, Polish punks from Dublin THE BLOW INS, Baltimore’s QUITTER, HARD LEFT from Oakland, Canadia's PARASYTES, Australia's LAKES and TOL, BRATAKUS from Scotland and photo spreads from Static Shock Fest and Mexico City.