Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

Send two copies of vinyl (one for our archive, one for the reviewer) or one copy of CD-only or cassette-only releases to MRR, PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no releases outside our area of musical coverage, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from! All vinyl records received are added to our archive, which since 1977 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

400 PPM Spirtu Pront LP

This is a Maltese band released by a label exclusively putting out music from Malta. Their band name is a reference to the CO2 levels in our atmosphere. They play socially conscious, bouncy Oi!-inspired punk. They actively fight against global warming and their lyrics champion environmental causes. While it’s totally not my style of music, you can’t help but get behind them and shout along to “One of the One Percent”, or simply marvel at the uniqueness of the Maltese language. Give it a whirl. Bomba!

Artificial Peace Live at the Wilson Center: June 25, 1982 LP

Hell yeah. Here is an archival live record from one of my favourite hardcore bands, ARTIFICIAL PEACE. This 1982 set at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC was recorded and mixed by GOVERNMENT ISSUE’s Tom Lyle and, while the audio fidelity is quite far from pristine, it does the exact job it was meant to do—capture the atmosphere and experience of that particular magical night. This fourteen-song set hits you right across the face with HC fury and does not let up. All the classic ARTIFICIAL PEACE tunes get played here: “Outside Looking In,” “Suburban Wasteland,” “Against the Grain,” etc. This mighty performance is a must-listen for any fans of this criminally underrated band.

Blemish Blemish 12″

Originally a 2021 cassette on A World Divided Tapes, Not For the Weak has picked up Montreal’s BLEMISH on this vinyl release. Well-informed post-punk, the instrumentation of which reminds me of the WIPERS’ Youth of America with a faster tempo, while the lyrics are a little more playful and UK snarl-y. Not to be confused with the Birmingham group of the same name (nor the death metal band from Jersey, nor the electro-pop duo from Los Angeles), this BLEMISH participated in the 2020 Demo Fest, with all three of those songs ending up on this 12”—their only physical release. Other than that, not much to be found on the band, or if they’re even still active. Here’s to hoping. Check out “Industrial Bodies” for a good taste of what’s inside.

Brux One for You EP

Coming across like a slightly rougher, hairier-arsed SYNDROME 81, the Badalona Boot Boys of BRUX firmly take up shop in between the first and second BLITZ albums for this, their first release proper. Frontman Juanma uses his vocals less like an instrument and more like a siege weapon, and the post-punk meets Oi! (pOi!st-punk?) stylings add a sense of creeping dread to accompany the aggro. Owners of the tape can probably skip this one, but highly recommended nonetheless.

Cyberplasm Mutilated Systems cassette

Oh my…many of you surely heard The Psychic Hologram full-length that Iron Lung released a few years back, but this dose of insanity is something else altogether. These Olympia freaks keep pushing harder with ferocious noise punk delivered as ’90s industrial juggernaut—I figured it was going to be good but…damn. Imagine The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste-era MINISTRY doing a set of DISFEAR and MEANWHILE covers and then closing with a LORDS OF ACID number. Don’t snooze.

Distancia Distancia cassette

Nine short, fast songs from this Spanish duo. Recorded with a warm, cavernous sound, the drums are front and center in the mix with pounding D-beats and rolls, while the guitar is curiously cleanly strummed most of the time. Consider it the least raw D-beat possible, with surprisingly melodic vocals that channel Pete Shelley more than Kawakami. I don’t have the lyrics, but the translated tape description mentions a mix of anti-consumerist, anti-prison, anarchist slogans. The melodies here are catchy enough for sing-along choruses (especially the track “Distancia”) and have just a touch of that Fat Records melodic hardcore sound while still retaining enough DIY grit to sound authentic and vital. Cool tape.

Extreme Decay Antiviral EP

This two-track EP hits hard and fast, and then it’s over, just like good grindcore should. Expect blistering riffs and hardcore stomping in fewer than five minutes. Like other Indonesian grindcore stalwarts like AK47 and BERSIMBAH DARAH, EXTREME DECAY mixes up tempos, guitar attacks, and vocal styles to stand apart from the stereotypical wall of breakneck noise a lot of powerviolence and grindcore bands fall into.

Eyes and Flys / Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips The Covid Collaborations: Vol. IV cassette

NERVOUS TICK AND THE ZIPPER LIPS is a solo recording project of MRR cassette reviewer extraordinaire Eric “Biff” Bafaro, and this is the fourth and final volume of his COVID Collaborations series. The deal with said series is that Mr. TICK invites another musician (generally a fellow Rust Belter) to join him in providing an original song, a cover of one of the other artist’s tracks, and vocals (and maybe lyrics) for a song written by the other artist. Here the collaborator is Buffalo musician (now out of Long Beach) EYES AND FLYS. The ZIPPER LIPS original is a jaunty garage-pop/lite-hardcore number with some sci-fi new wave touches—sounds like a Red Snerts track mashed up with Another Wasted Night-era GANG GREEN. I’m into it! The EYES AND FLYS original “Drive Slow,” not unlike the KANYE WEST track of the same name, is built atop a tight little sample of an obscure-ish classic—in this case, the INTELLIGENCE’s “Garbage in Garbage Out”—and ends up being a woozy lo-fi dirge. Also cool! I’m not familiar enough with either original these covers are based on, but the end results are fine enough. The two true collaborations are probably the most interesting tracks on the release (which isn’t to say they’re the best!). “I Need Time,” a ZIPPER LIPS track with EYES AND FLYS on vocals, is a druggy downer punk number that reminds me of LIFE STINKS. It’s maybe my favorite track on here. Then there’s “I Believe in Science Fiction.” EYES AND FLYS lays down a jangly psych track—complete with a harsh raygun organ outro!—and Lou Koller…I mean NERVOUS TICK croaks on about Captain Kirk and wanting to be blasted out into space or whatever. It’s certainly something! Anyway, both the concept and execution here are fun, and I wish more artists did stuff like this.

Government Clean-Up Plan Reality Confusion EP

On this seven-song 7” GOVERNMENT CLEAN-UP PLAN plays speedy and stormy thrashcore with earnest and straightforward vocals. These are essentially protest songs aimed at the usual targets: cops, work, the powers that be, and the conformists that condone it all. You may have never heard this, but you likely know the drill. It’s a strong modern delivery of ’80s mentality.

It Thing Syrup LP

First release from IT THING, hailing from the far reaches of Tasmania. Post-punk styling with poppier vocals, full of sass and heart. The laid-back, too-cool-for-you (please, don’t be fooled by “Uncool”) energy is not to be missed here, birthed from the malaise of modern life, exemplified in the line “Please change the channel on the tube” from my favorite track “Pet Snakes.” This is on the level of some Aussie contemporaries, like MINI SKIRT, yet stands firmly on its own feet. Syrup was released in November of 2021, and the first pressing is already sold out! Looking forward to more from these folks…

Malflora Mama I’m Bad cassette

Drone zone NOLA now wave descending upon your mind. Each song rides a pulsing wave of repetition, the guitar slicing through humid hallucinations, while the bass and drums roll over you like millstones, grinding you to a fine dust. In an alternate dimension, I’m holding the director’s cut of this as a double-LP, as I want each song to grow three times their size, transforming the album into a blackhole that will engulf you with brain-searing sonics. I want this, especially on “Emergent,” where the vocals urge us to “Imagine the possibilities / Redefine the barriers.” It’s psychedelic but wasn’t made for you to bliss out on, and it’s heavy without pummeling you into submission. It’s music made to firmly meditate on a powerful upward revolution and an outward future for Black and Brown people.

Man Dead Set Too Early to Be Late LP

The cover art is what really struck me here. At first glance, it resembles an old ROLLINS BAND cover. It would definitely pique my interest if I found this in a bin at any record store. On to the album itself: what we have here are ten relatively short, fast hardcore punk songs that are over before they become stale. Most stay under the two-minute mark, which is good, although there are two that go over that mark and while I personally prefer my hardcore songs to stay under one minute, it’s not unbearable, and is hardly noticeable when listening as the songs flow nicely. If you’re like me and constantly looking for something to pull you away from the old faithfuls, give this a spin.

Napalm Death is Dead Hou-Kai-Kei CD

Shit-fi noisecore is back, kids. Three tracks of bass/drum/noise in(s)anity that makes GODSTOMPER sound like RUSH. Three “songs” will violently remove twenty minutes from your life. Shit-fi is back, but NAPALM DEATH IS DEAD has been at this for almost two decades, with no signs of quitting and no desire to make anything but noise. Respect.

Ohyda Pan Bóg Spełni Wszystkie Pragnienia Lewaków… I Dojdzie Do Katastrofy! 12″

This is the third record from the Polish hardcore band OHYDA and it fits the soundscape of their previous releases: modern-sounding hardcore punk, with the taseful distribution of heavy/slow and stomping/fast parts, echo/delay on the vocals, some metallic guitars here and there, but way less metal than G.I.S.M. (although I hear the influence of them and DESTINO FINAL). Despite the songs not being that long, the band is able to create a space with borders much wider than only what the instruments play, at a pace that allows everyone to perform with intensity instead of with urgency, but that intensity bonds the whole record together and creates a great atmosphere that characterizes the band. Poland and Hungary (where I live) have a historically good relationship, meanwhile I guess both nations’ citizens try to convince themselves the other country is in deeper dictatorial shit and bigot paranoia. This record gives a pretty good insight of what is going on within these power factories fueled by EU money and inland hatred reasoned with religious or xenophobic bullshit, but the music rather translates that everyday experience instead of academically discussing its sociology; we are punx after all. Yet this record is not only regional: it fits into the modern era of international hardcore, since sadly the rage of OHYDA is easily translateable. 

Pembroke All the Brightest Pictures LP

PEMBROKE ties a bunch of different HC/punk genres together, which could sound dynamic or awkward depending on the listener. The writing and execution of any single riff or song is just fine, but the change between post HC riffs, breakdowns, crooning, and even reggae sounded forced to me. The production is nice and clean, like a ’90s Epitaph or Fat Wreck release.

Puffer Live and Die in the City Demo 2022 cassette

Montreal’s PUFFER lands here with a slab of lumpen punk’n’roll which offers a little more nuance and intrigue than your usual troglodyte Oi!-tinged hardcore. Vocals are reminiscent of NO TIME, and sound not too dissimilar to what I’d imagine it’d be like if a rottweiler learned to sing. Interestingly, there’s a bit of groove here with the tambourine flourishes and guitar solos, a bit like if MC5 cut their hair and had a wash. Good stuff(er) from PUFFER.

Rashōmon Nin-Gen 12″

RASHŌMON is Japanese for “dispute.” And there is no “dispute” that this record is a grade-A banger. Of course, we are dealing with Japanese-influenced hardcore right here. A well-oiled, chaotic machine of vicious melodious hardcore à la BASTARD but with the crudeness of a Dischord band (they are from Washington DC). They don’t sound like a rip-off band as much as putting their own twist on the genre, and it sounds more abstract than your average Japanese-influenced band. An excellent innovation in the genre and it will not disappoint. Or maybe they were named after the Akira Kurosawa flick?

Sado-Nation Disruptive Pattern LP reissue

For some reason SADO NATION has never gotten the same cult caché as fellow Portland first-wavers the WIPERS, the RATS, or the NEO BOYS. Hell, even avant noiseniks SMEGMA have more of a worldwide following for their demented mutant freewave than SADO NATION has received for their catchy, energetic punk rock. This is the band that kicked off the legendary 10-29-79 compilation, but people seem to talk more about the sole recordings by the even more unknown LO TEK than SADO’s ripping “Johnny Paranoid” that opens the album. But it seems the tide is changing on this, as their triple-digit Killed By Death collector wrecker records have been slowly seeing legit reissues. Disruptive Patterns is interesting, as it is an unreleased 1981 album that has now been issued twice by two different labels with two different covers in the last ten years. This version is by Puke n Vomit, and contains the original nine-song LP as well as three unreleased demo tracks from 1983, along with liner notes by members Leesa Nation (vocals), David Corboy (guitar/vocals), as well as Portland punk notables Jerry A. and Mark Sten. Musically, it’s high-powered punk of the time, fast and straightahead rockers, not dissimilar from anything in the West Coast first wave before hardcore reared its shaved head. The guitar fires off amped-up CHUCK BERRY riffage while the drums crash and tumble in full 4/4 force. Leesa and David trade off vocals from song to song, with Leesa more spit and sneer desperation and David’s voice a more melodic rock’n’roll shout. While not as much of a stone Portland punk classic as Is This Real?, Pick Your King, or In a Desperate Red, it’s still a document of the early Portland scene for any regional completists.

Scatterbrainiac Anti-Lethargic LP

From Porto, Portugal, SCATTERBRAINIAC plays heavy punk by numbers, replete with shouted gang vocals and simple song structures as outlined in the Official USHC Instruction Manual™. It sounds as if someone took a demo tape from 1984 and reproduced it cleanly through modern mixing methods.

The Soviettes LP LP reissue

A reissue of the SOVIETTES’ first LP from 2003. For those unfamiliar, the SOVIETTES were a band from Minneapolis that played what could be described as pop punk with tons of harmonies, and everybody sang. I like to think of them as something similar to the BANGLES-meets-DILLINGER FOUR. They released two albums on Adeline (this one and LP II) and one on Fat before calling it a day. I was a big fan, and was able to catch them once while they were still active and once during their reunion run, and I am beyond excited that this record was finally reissued on vinyl. The fine folks at Dead Broke and Rad Girlfriend have done a stellar job with this reissue. It looks and sounds great!!!!

Telesatan Behave! cassette

Behave!, the latest cassette release from Leipzig’s TELESATAN, consists of eight tracks of fuzzed-out, noisy garage punk, at times reminiscent of FLIPPER or even something along the lines of FYP or the Recess Records catalog. Fun, mid-paced, driven punk rock with a tinge of post-punk elements.

Trancefusion Incredible But True! LP

TRANCEFUSION was a first wave Italian punk band that would have been lost to the ages if Federico Guglielmi didn’t save that cassette of recordings the band made in 1978. They marked it “incredible but true!” Twelve of the fourteen tracks from that cassette are here, plus four live songs, of which two are the songs from the cassette that couldn’t be included because they deteriorated. The music is rough, trashy, and urgent. The singing is gruff and spit at you. They probably could have put out a 45 or two from these back then. This collection is an interesting look at Italian punk history.

Venosa Decapitado de Nacimiento cassette

There isn’t much you can get from an internet search for these guys and sometimes that is a great feeling because you can fill in the gaps yourself, like back in the day when you didn’t have any info other than what was found on the records or in zines. The only thing I could find was that VENOSA comes from Argentina. They play a furious brand of thrashy hardcore, fast and vicious, not quite thrashcore but almost there. I would dare to say that they almost sound a bit like Italian hardcore due to their chaotic nature. Decapitado de Nacimiento offers fifteen tracks that ooze aggression and discontent.

V/A Sharptone Records Presents LP

It’s confusing why this is called a compilation when it is actually the band BLUE ECHO backing a few different singers, some of whom are also in BLUE ECHO. But hey, everyone is entitled to refer to their record whatever they want. Side A is the better of the two, featuring songs from CLAY SMITH (two songs), JAMES GARCIA, MANSFIELD SHARP, and NIK SEDAN. The songs are power pop with a heavy ’80s style. SMITH has more of a bluesy country twinge to his songs. Side B has another song from SMITH and GARCIA, plus one each from BLUE ECHO and DAN GARCIA. This side sounds more hippie-ish with that rambling country rock style that immediately brings to mind the GRATEFUL DEAD, except for BLUE ECHO’s track which is appropriately an instrumental surf song. Everyone involved has been playing music for decades, but there is nothing too exciting here.

3ª Guerra Mundial Violencia EP

This is a really special piece of Spanish punk. This group from Madrid, formed by members of the legendary band PANADERÍA BOLLERÍA NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL KARMEN, recorded these three tracks back in 1987, which you can listen to now for the first time on this archival release by Beat Generation. These songs have a very English sound, totally focused on the UK82 style, but with the humor and very spiteful vocal delivery of the best Spanish punk. It’s a quick listen and makes you want to repeat the experience, so do it.

Abuso De Poder Vago Muerto EP

All-caps street punk. Thick and low guitars playing simple-as-nail-type riffs over which the singer gets gruff about the hostile side of life. The atmosphere is pissed-off, violent, and a running-against-the-wall feeling of unsolvable frustration. If you feel let down by the injustice of everyday life and seek sing-along, mid-tempo hardcore as your coping mechanism, then you’ve found your companion. Overly streamlined, the band only leaves the locked-in beat and linear song structure for a few solos. Packed with three-note riffs, each song has the potential to be a fist-pumper hit to people who would happily kick each other in the head, although I have to focus to realize them, since they’re all blended into a mix that sounds good but lacks any exaggeration, thus holding back the in-your-face effect. This is what I struggle with: theoretically this is great stuff, yet it lacks something that might have gotten lost while polishing everything to perfection.

Abyecta Enemigos De La Razón EP

Enemigos! Enemigos! Enemigos!” So shouts ABYECTA’s singer as this four-track EP begins. A metallic punk onslaught of thrashy riffs and D-beats ensues. They owe as much to Japanese hardcore as they do to speed metal bands like RAZOR or EXCITER. This duo recently relocated to Chile and has been touring the US non-stop, and seems to be on the right track to making their name known. An excellent EP that will satisfy metalheads and punks alike!

Bang Bang Babies / Reptilians From Andromeda split EP

This is a nice little international garage punk treat. REPTILIANS hail from Turkey and play some inspired axe-shred garage with distorted vox, reminding me a little of the long-gone TYRADES. They get two tracks here, of which “Occult Chemistry” is the rocker. You can’t help but be filled with visions of how much fun a garage punk show in Turkey must be. BANG BANG BABIES from Brazil only get one track to shine, but damn if they don’t pull it off well with a nice CRAMPS, LINK WRAY, and SUBSONICS-inspired track. It’s all a big blurry party. Enjoy and don’t think too much.

Crime of Passing Crime of Passing LP

A quick internet search will show that these Cincinnatian’s debut LP has garnished a lot of attention, from the likes of the ad-laden music blog site Stereogum, whose home page has a T-SWIFT post this week, to the more obscure minded Post-Trash site, to the questionable composure of myself here at MRR. Why, then? Because, simply, it is very, very good. With a moodiness and cadence like FEHLFARBEN and the energy of SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES, this band has a lot of bases covered: coldwave icy and reverbed-out drums, sculptured post-punk guitar riffs atop driving, high-octave bass, with the disdain of darkwave synth and vocals cast over everything in trailing slow motion. With Dylan McCartney and Dakota Carlyle of fellow Ohio DIY outfits the SERFS and the DRIN, this project is led by frontwoman Andie Luman who, gathering the full force of the band, lulls us into a state of hypnosis and reverie. Although this came out in the spring of 2022, this album is meant for the gray days of fall, the soundtrack of a thunderstorm and cracked brown leaves whipping through the sky.

Curleys Curleys cassette

Are you folks here to fuck around? Because CURLEYS sure as hell ain’t! These Gainesville cretins only have one setting—full fucking on—so, once this record gets going, it’s not stopping until your stupid head is crushed completely flat. The eleven tunes on here find the band sounding like a methed-up TEENGENERATE ripping through a set of MODERN WARFARE covers inside a giant novelty plasma globe, and the vocals are quacky as hell but still retain just the slightest bit of tunefulness, kinda like the singer of the CARBONAS doing an impression of fellow Total Punkers the SLEAZE. Everything about this record feels hectic and out-of-control, but it’s actually being delivered with blinding, pinpoint accuracy—it’s the aural equivalent of stepping in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard in his prime. Highest of recommendations!

Democracy Western Relaxation cassette

Five minutes of filthy hardcore rumbling from Milwaukee. It’s a smoker. Nasty, ripping punk that’s been vomited on by manic, monstrous vocals. I suppose you could obtain this tape from the esteemed Unlawful Assembly label via traditional mail order, but I believe it would be distributed more appropriately if copies were left to be found half-buried in the dirt in random spots around the country.

Eater Ant CD

According to the promo for Ant, the recording was lost and the band released The Album instead. Think about that…one of the greatest UK glam punk LPs ever wasn’t even the band’s first choice. They wanted to release this recording instead, because they thought it was better. It’s hard for me to agree, if only because I’ve drilled that record into my skull more times than I could possibly count, but holy shit is this a score. Burning, flawless, hi-energy ’77 punk in line with SLAUGHTER and EDDIE & THE HOT RODS, with BOWIE, VELVETS, and T. REX covers that fit in perfectly with perfect Blade classics like “Public Toys.” I’m gobsmacked that something this good remained unearthed for so long.

The Flatliners New Ruin CD

OK. Full disclosure, I spent years actively avoiding this band. Like I’m talking about not listening to any of their records, hanging out at the bar or outside smoking if they were playing a show I was at, etc., all under the assumption that somewhere I had heard they were a ska punk band. Ha ha ha. What an asshole. Guess I learned my lesson, because that couldn’t be any further from the truth, on this offering at least. Instead, what we have is something similar to singer Chris Crestwell’s other band, HOT WATER MUSIC, at least in some of the ways the backups are presented and some of the melodies. I have been listening to this like every other day. It’s really good, surprisingly so. The one thing that did take a bit of getting used to for me right off the bat though was Crestwell’s vocals. Upon the first few listens, I couldn’t shake the idea that they sounded like a mixture of Chris Wollard, Geddy Lee, and the dude from MATCHBOX 20. It bugged me for a bit, but I actually dig his voice. I find myself enjoying this more and more upon each listen. Maybe next time they’re in town I’ll actually make a point of watching them!

Flexï Nothing cassette

Seven solid songs from this New York band that form a heady brew made from RUDIMENTARY PENI-style propulsive bass and drums, the exasperated vocals of METZ, and guitars that go from punk to atonal sheets of noise like early SONIC YOUTH. These ingredients work together well, and this tape sounds great with fat drums, tinny shards of guitar that stab and slash, and vocals set back in the mix for some slight noise rock distance. The drummer-boy roll of “Nothing” is attention-grabbing, as is the shattered strumming under the refrain “Is this even ethical?” on “Ethical.” I would gladly listen to a full-length from these folks.

Gehenna Negative Hardcore LP

GEHENNA is negative hardcore and negative hardcore is GEHENNA. Having the title of “the infamous” before their band name is just one of those details that makes the legend of GEHENNA a bit more frightening—famous (or infamous) for their “take no prisoners” approach to live shows, filled with violence and disgust, and a big “fuck you” to the metal and hardcore scene. They don’t follow the rules, they make the rules. Starting out in 1993 and adding the steps that INTEGRITY built, they created a monster of blackened metallic hardcore that would open the doors to the likes of ROT IN HELL or BLIND TO FAITH. After some years in silence, the excellent Negative Hardcore finally came out, the third album in thirty years, and it is everything one can expect from this band. You can hear SEPTIC DEATH, BOLT THROWER, and of course INTEGRITY with the black cloud of black metal hovering over every track and the hateful delivery of the end-of-the-world premonitions of Mike Cheese signaling the apocalypse. A class-A record for the Holy Terrorists out there.

Isolationsgemeinschaft Der Tanz Geht Weiter! LP

This is wonderful and kinda hilarious all at the same time. It totally makes me think of that old Saturday Night Live sketch, “Sprockets” (YouTube that shit). It’s so German that it’s almost a parody. Really well-done synth punk, dance, post-punk…whatever. I guess it could be called coldwave these days, but unlike those poseurs, these guys are really German. For fans of COLD CAVE, KRAFTWERK, NERVOUS GENDER, etc. Now we dance.

Lollygagger Total Party Kill LP

A righteous, sex-fueled party is crammed into the grooves of the debut LP from Chicago’s LOLLYGAGGER. Serious QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE vibes, especially on the opener, but this act is fronted by a snot-nosed punk who hates boss, hates system, hates cops, loves screaming, loves exposing hypocrisy. Total punk attitude, total stoner metal groove.

Melt Citizen Dullard II cassette

Up-tempo guitar riffs with a crushing drum and bass back-end that complements the witty, snarly vocals for this El Paso band’s latest. Too fast and hook-filled to be stoner rock and too punk/grunge heavy to be shoegaze. The older kids will think of post-Land Speed Record HÜSKER DÜ and the young ones will compare it to DRUG CHURCH. Both great compliments.

No Dead Monsters Line Up / D Hall 7″

Punk, no chaser. The vocals are mixed louder than the guitars, usually a bad sound. Did we learn nothing from the first CLASH LP? The choruses are memorable and stuck in my ears after the finish. There’s only two songs here, the perfect length for a punk record.

No-Heads Concrete & Steel / New Normal 7″

A new release from Richmond’s NO-HEADS coming four years after their first, and perhaps you could have waited another four years, lads, because this isn’t for me. By-the-numbers, plodding UK82 worship with none of the grit that makes it endearing. Gruff vocals veer dangerously into RANCID territory and deliver absolutely nothing of substance. NO-HEADS? No tunes, more like.

The Out-Sect Out-Sect Theme EP

Sunglasses, leather jackets, Vox guitars, fuzz, use of the word “sect”—yup, we’re dealing with some genuine garage turkeys here! After a handful of digital-only singles, this Philadelphia outfit is dropping their debut 7”, featuring three originals and a cover of “Go Away” by ’60s garage punk unknowns the PLAGUE. I don’t know that the contemporary punk landscape has anything like a predominant sound, but this has to be the opposite of whatever that would be. I haven’t heard too many folks clamoring for a turn-of-the-millennium garage rock revival revival. But maybe we’re due! This thing rips. It’s a great pastiche of that mid-’60s sound with just enough modern punk thrown in to prevent it from seeming like total cosplay. Plus, it sounds real cool! Sims Hardin (MESH, TOE RING, SOCIETY) recorded and mixed this thing, and he’s given the record a really thin and buzzy production that nevertheless packs a wallop—it comes off sounding like someone wrapped the SONICS in wax paper. Give this one a go!

Personal Style False Memories / Heartbeat 7″

Three-piece from Buffalo, NY with what seems like their second release? Although I didn’t find much on the band, I get a very jam-econo/MINUTEMEN thing from “False Memories,” with sparsity and intention throughout. The live take from Duende at Silo City, on YouTube, is rough and full of feeling—I wish they’d gone for that sound on this recording. “Heartbeat Memorial” caught me by surprise based on the A-side, starting with a wall of distortion and a faster tempo that doesn’t see any rests, along with a more melodic structure. All that said, I thought I was headed for a synth-wave band based on the cover art, so color me confused.

Private Hell Private Hell cassette

If you like your crossover with the thrash and hardcore elements equally dialed up to eleven, this cassette is for you. One marching, anthemic track follows another, reminiscent of CRIPPLED FOX, early D.R.I., or S.O.D. but stripped of those bands’ silly streaks. The anguished lyrics more closely resemble SUICIDAL TENDENCIES in tone, with themes of depression and inner pain, and are very well-written. “Total Massacre” differs from the other tracks by being less a skate park rumble from start to finish and creeping toward mosh time with more than two minutes of a slow, metallic, instrumental build-up. Clever, smart stuff.

Repeat Offender Summary Execution EP

Sharp stuff here as REPEAT OFFENDER continues to hone their unique, catchy raging on their second 7”. Bestial vocals and a thumping rhythm section make a fun pairing, and across these six songs they shift seamlessly between menacing hardcore, anthemic street stomping, and a blend of the two. A lot of the Oi! stuff that has come out in recent years has leaned in the direction of post-punk, so I appreciate that this band has opted for a demon singer and a raucous and pointed sound instead.

Satan’s Rats What a Bunch of Rodents LP

Of the skadillion bands that emerged in the wake of the first wave of British punk, few got out more than a single, usually on a small regional label or on their own dime (er, quid?). I have quite a few of my favorites, but there’s still always more of them to hear. Put out by Overground (to whom I will always be grateful for reissuing a large chunk of the CRAVATS catalog), this compiles all the recordings SATAN’S RATS put together in their short lifetime, with most of it gone unreleased at the time. Notably the band got an opening slot for the SEX PISTOLS, got shit on by Bob Geldof in his review of their first single (“Exceptional only for its mediocrity,” Sir Bob writ, presumably miffed at another band with a RATS band name), and then the second and third singles promptly went nowhere. The singer quit, and the rest of the band went new wave as the PHOTOS and got a hit album from it. Them’s the breaks, as they say. But was it fair? The songs on here are rockin’ and melodic, definitely showing the influence of GENERATION X or BUZZCOCKS. But I wouldn’t say any of these have the big pop hooks or catchy choruses of a “Ready Steady Go” or “What Do I Get?”—if you’re a ’77 Brit punk fanatic, this could be for you, but I don’t think this is anywhere near an unearthed trove of classics.

Space Danish & the Sewer Diamonds Six Dungeons cassette

This slime punk from Michigan is definitely not for everyone, but if you want something truly fucking weird and gross, you’re in for a rancid treat. These six tracks are built around three-to-four-note detuned synth lines, programmed drums, and bluesy barf vocals ranting about germs and grease. I can imagine a rat climbing out of a sewer and singing these songs. Or maybe the ROCK-A-FIRE EXPLOSION on bad drugs. While this tape sounds like a mix between WESLEY WILLIS and an 8-bit BRAINBOMBS (for the repetitive dum-dum riffs, not the misogyny), I have never heard anything quite like it, and once I got over the discomfort of the first few songs, I got into it. Recommended for the real outsider greasy grimies.

Squelch Chamber Much Drugs cassette

If this weren’t a cassette, I would have checked the RPMs after a rumbling noise intro gave way to a four-note dread missive. Instead, I reached for the volume and felt the rumble take over while I struggled to make out anything not in the lower frequencies. I thought I was prepared after that opening cut…I was wrong. This one’s weird. Noise-drenched dirges, the BODY + crunked MITB + KILLDOZER…and then they fade into the background just long enough to make you think you can relax. Don’t let them fool you.

These Roving Years These Roving Years CD

Mid-tempo punk with positive lyrics about not giving up and standing up for each other and such. It’s catchy enough for me to have found myself bobbing my head a bit, and if this was on in the background while doing something else my foot would be tapping for sure. The thing here for me was the lyrical content. While I enjoy positive, uplifting lyrics, this came off like a punk rock version of motivational speaking to me, and that kinda turned me off a bit. Like I’m not sure if it was the singer or the simplistic lyrical style, but it just kinda seemed hokey. I suppose there are worse things than having a positive outlook on life, though…I guess.

V/A Nuestra América Hardcore Punk Vol. III cassette

A very interesting diagnosis and snapshot of the state of the South American punk and underground music scenes, with bands from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil. As with any compilation, there are tracks that you connect with better than others, but I dare to highly recommend the hardcore metallic tinge of Argentina’s ASESINATO EN MASA, the brutality of DL50, the raw crust of Brazilian veterans TERROR REVOLUCIONARIO, and the honest and politically charged funk-metal of Bolivia’s AMUKINA NUNCA MÁS.