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.

Alarm Practice Room Tape 2019 cassette

ALARM is from Grenoble, France and has been a band since at least 2013, when their debut 7” came out. As can be surmised by the name of the demo, this cassette release was recorded in the band’s practice room in 2019. It was apparently recorded live in one take, which is particularly wild since the sound quality and production value are not that bad at all. Hell, this sounds a lot better than a majority of the cassettes which get into my hands. Eight songs of driving, mid-tempo punk rock with super catchy vocals, sometimes yelled, other times sung, and tastefully placed stripped-down guitar leads. Oh, and one of the songs is a RUDIMENTARY PENI cover, which can’t ever be a negative thing. Very cool tape. Songs are catchy and memorable. Seems like a band that would really shine live, so here’s hoping they make their way stateside sometime.

Baby? Baby Laugh / Baby Cry LP

New directions in music by Oakland avant maestros Erin Allen and Max Nordile. BABY? is an abstract fresco of guitar strings plinking and scratching, drums tumbling and collapsing, horns wailing and lamenting, and found-sound contrasts of water pouring peacefully and cop sirens reigning terror. While 98% of MRR readers won’t give this the time of day, 1% will turn this on and immediately turn it off after the first track or two, and finally there is the 1% that will complete it and maybe even go back and listen again. It’s classically not for everyone, and probably really only for Max and Erin as an expression of sound and friendship. What I love about these two as people and artists is that while we’re all here still listening to this, figuring it out and deciding if we like it, they’re just out there, making more of it, like perpetual creation machines. They probably recorded twenty more albums, finished 53 paintings, six zines, and went on tour four times while this LP was in the queue to be pressed (and probably even more as I was flipping to the B-side of it).

Crawl Space Crawl Space demo cassette

This is an easy one to review, as it’s been playing in my tape deck since it came out. This band basically shares the exact DNA of Washington’s excellent/defunct PITBUL (including one of the PNW’s best shredders Jose Mora, also from GAG), and brings a concise violence to hardcore that rattles your teeth and satisfies on a primal level. I even dig the production, even if it sounds like the drummer is performing on a metal trash can. But that’s what this is, quick and mean and grittier than the cat box. Step into the CRAWL SPACE. Zero fat, face-cracking hardcore.

Divine Horsemen ‘Live’ 1985–1987 CD

What if Humphrey Bogart read some Flannery O’Connor and then began handling snakes and speaking tongues? Chris D. of the FLESH EATERS is the answer to that question; a man of exceptional intelligence and literary acumen who also happens to have the singing voice of one of the Lords of Hell. The way Mr. D. slips from inky-black noir crooning to blood-curdling, fire-breathing shriek is one of the great feats of the modern age. If you’re not familiar with the FLESH EATERS’ tremendous legacy, you owe it yourself to spend some time with those particular hellions. But if you’re getting up in years and need an occasional break from the punk racket, Chris D. formed the DIVINE HORSEMEN just for you. Joined by his wife at the time, singer Julie Christensen, the HORSEMEN was basically a latter-day ‘EATERS line-up repurposed into a more traditional blues rock set-up, yet still swampy as all get out. Christensen’s soaring vocals contrast nicely with D.’s ominous premonitions, off-setting the darkness while still hinting at a furious, doomed love. I can glimpse a world where the DIVINE HORSEMEN could have made the crossover into a radio-friendly milieu, but they got waylaid by addiction. A story as old as time. After leaving the HORSEMEN, Christensen went on to join LEONARD COHEN’s touring band and had an on-again/off-again solo career. D. continued to write books and make music. The band even reunited for an album last year. Down, but not out.

The Faction No Hidden Messages: 40th Anniversary Edition 2xLP

As the title indicates, this is a 40th anniversary reissue of this South Bay band’s 1983 record, with a bonus LP’s worth of live tracks from a 1983 show in San Francisco. This reminds me of my first days into punk rock and going to the On Broadway in San Francisco to see whoever was in town. With other bands like CODE OF HONOR, the FACTION were the founders of skate punk hardcore. Quicker in pace, but still quite melodic, this has stood the test of time. 1983, 2022, 40th anniversary? Come on, guys, do the math. This was a great listen.

Feral Dunce demo cassette

Atlanta’s FERAL is cooking up some complex shit over here. The songs pack a modern and manic hardcore pummeling of the Toxic State variety, punctuated by atmospheric, no wave-esque bass-driven parts that remind me of SONIC YOUTH in places. As the tape goes on it becomes increasingly spacey, with disco-y post-punk vibes that reveal themselves more and more before finally culminating in the groovy “Cycle.” There’s one last punky cool-down number after that, but then you’re beat. Very good.

Las Ratapunks Ishguin cassette

Peruvian trio that hits with the hooks of DEAD HERO and the power of CONDENADA. No fronting whatsoever on Ishguin—honest punk sounds so totally refreshing in a world of posing and pretense. This one has been on steady rotation for me since I came across it earlier this year, highly recommended (if you like punk).

Maudit Dragon Maudit Dragon LP

This three-piece from Grenoble, France quite simply fucking rules. For a debut LP, these songs are wise beyond their years, with a production that isn’t over-polished. Jo’s vocals range from high and light, to a low-end, strained output of total force, reminiscent of Brody Dalle’s snarl, particularly the opener “Ailleurs” that sounds like the DISTILLERS’ “Ask the Angels.” The guitars are perfectly big-fuzzed-out, mirroring the vocals, and make a wall of sound over the powerhouse drums—and did I even hear some keys in the background? I can’t imagine this not making my 2022 top ten. Everything I want out of a punk album: grit and power balanced with harmony and tenderness. The Cursed Dragon calls, so listen up.

The Neuros (Baby) Don’t EP

Hell of a way to kick in the door and state your purpose. This debut announces the NEUROS’ significant talents as a fiery rock crew that bridges the gaps between four decades of punk and garage. The vocalist, Freya, is a major draw here, and her charged melodic yelp wonderfully cuts through the bar-band din at its sharpest. All-around, this record, mixed/mastered by one of Australia’s hidden gems David Forcier, sounds damn near perfect. The bass has presence, not mudded out like it often is, which adds all the more punch to the crunch of the guitars. This thing pummels, but you can pogo to it. It harkens back to tried-and-true punk methodology, but sounds fresh and tough. What more could you want?

Orthodoxxer What Real Hate Is cassette + zine

You know what’s a good idea? A label that releases a fanzine to accompany each LP/CD/K7 in its catalog, The folks at Musical Fanzine offer up ORTHODOXXER for their third sonic (and visual) offering—nine pieces of techno-tinged electro-punk that lands like ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE through a L.O.T.I.O.N. filter; dark and intense, but never takes itself too seriously, with a couple of legit hardcore bangers (I’m looking at you, “Earth’s Vilest Thing”). The companion zine is really just an expanded lyric booklet, but in a modern age dominated by mp3s and on-the-go jams, I appreciate being encouraged to sit down and spend time with the sounds.

Pretty Boy Floyd and the Gems Sharon / The Instigator 7″ reissue

It turns out this is from 1979. It also turns out it wouldn’t take anyone too long to figure that out. If you’re a fan of power pop that was heavily influenced by punk way back then, you’ll love this. Super catchy and full of CLASH-influenced lead guitar, this is real and just fun to listen to. Get it.

Primal Brain It’s Still All a Game cassette

Blistering hardcore punk rife with heavy breakdowns. Follow-up cassette to the band’s first demo from a few years ago, It’s All a Game, also on Oklahoma City tape label O.D.D. Tapes. Apparently not much has changed over the last two years. A nasty, blown-out, lo-fi recording which makes the band come across as a raw punk band at times, tho I’m not convinced that is the intent. Pummeling and unrelenting, ripping through song after song, all building up to the closer which is a crushing dirge of a number. Super heavy, and equally scary.

Rifle Holloway Demos cassette

Four-song debut from this London quintet. It’s a little bit ’77 punk, a little bit Keith Morris BLACK FLAG, and a little bit contemporary garage punk. Reminds me a lot of the stuff BITS OF SHIT was doing a few years back. The songs are neither bad nor particularly memorable. Cool vocal performance, though! I’m probably not going to dig this one back out too often, but I’ll definitely tune in for their next release.

Strange Colours Future’s Almost Over LP

The right kind of lifer just does it better, as clearly evidenced here by longtime ‘roller Andrew Mozynski (the DEADLY SNAKES) and cohorts (especially Ryan Rothwell of POW WOWS on guitar, bass and vocals). From track one, this full-length hits hard from the pocket. The drums pound with the kind of raw force and precision-with-a-swing you could almost sample—an erstwhile “amen” break from the garage. These songs are immaculate, styled well but authentic, with plenty of pop, echo, and grit. Jay Lemak brings the garage sound with beautifully blown-out organ and the guitar cuts like a razor. Here’s a thing I don’t bring up enough that shines here, too: the tracklist. Not everyone knows how to guide the vibe of an LP, but each of these songs builds a narrative. It takes some smarts to not let the energy out of the room, and somehow by the time you get to mid-album burner “Sea of Tranqs,” it still gives you extra juice you didn’t know the band was capable of, only to follow with a dark night of the soul highway mood piece “Valley of No Return” to cool you off. Every piece is in the right place, and if it seems like I’m raving, I am. Finding new jolts in garage is hard, and sometimes that’s why you gotta go to the experts. The record has been out for some time, so quit sleeping on it and grab a copy.

Sweet Knives Spritzerita LP

Alicja Trout and Rich Crook, former members of the LOST SOUNDS, reformed a few years ago with John Garland and Jon Grissom, to bring us SWEET KNIVES. Spritzerita is the second LP from this Memphis group, and six months after its release, it’s already sold out! Without Jay Reatard’s vocal obscurity and with less reliance on synth, SWEET KNIVES is much more garage-y than LOST SOUNDS. Alicja’s delicate vocals, heard at their softest on the closer “Fruitcake”—a clean, acoustic, upbeat song—dance over the other full-speed slammer tracks, as in the opener “Blockin the Lanes.” This deserves your attention.

Voyeur’s Market Voyeur’s Market demo cassette

Twee-punk from Calgary on a very CUB/GO SAILOR/TIGER TRAP kind of trip: blithe femme vocals, a handful of chords, skeletally bashed-out drums, sugary and sweet but not saccharine. If any of the new wave-damaged oddballs of the Lumpy Records diaspora had kneeled at altars to Rose Melberg rather than Su Tissue, they might have produced something not far from the wound-up, start/stop pop bounce of “Going Your Own Way,” and there’s a similarly playful, almost post-punk asymmetry in the bass-forward (and toy keyboard-accented?) “Mrs. K.O.L.” that sounds like OH-OK crashing the International Pop Underground convention—that’s an immediate “yes” from me.

Yleiset Syyt Umpikujamekanismi EP

Finland’s YLEISET SYYT (“common causes”) plays a timeless type of punk akin to early BLACK FLAG paired with intelligent and poetic lyrics, as revealed to me by the ol’ Google Translate feature. It’s all good rockin’, covered with statements like “Painful things happen in the backyard of the creative middle class,” but also enjoyable with complete ignorance of its thoughtful messaging.

V/A Mendeku Diskak Promo Kasetea, Vol. 2 cassette

If I hear anything as good as the opening BRUX track this month, I might fukkn faint. But it’s good that I steeled myself, because this sampler is bursting at the seams with track after track of infectious gruff Oi! from MESS (Mexico), SELF INFLICT (USA), ZIKIN (Basque Country), and the CHISEL (UK), and while every single track is excellent, “Nagusikeri Faltsue” from KOLPEKA will make you stop and check to see if you’re still alive. The folks from Mendeku Diskak have set an extremely high bar with this collection of tracks from upcoming releases (some of which are already out) – and I am definitely paying attention. 

Bad Breeding Human Capital LP

BAD BREEDING is anarcho-punk filtered through the lens of someone living in the ever-growing social collapse of this modern world, because times keep getting worse, so the anger grows. Imagine if any of the Crass Records bands were to be transported to 2022, and I bet they would come close to what BAD BREEDING is doing. I say “close” because BAD BREEDING operates in an artistic world of their own that is really hard to emulate. Yes, “artistic,” because that is something lacking in punk: art. So much more than just a punk band, BAD BREEDING is the complete package of social unrest, and Human Capital is a sonic mirror held to the metaphoric face of society. From anarcho-punk to post-punk passing through grittier hardcore punk, there are twists and turns that are hard to predict but easy to listen to, that leave you wanting more. This is a complete album in every way, as the artwork and the music are indistinguishable in the way the passion goes through both. The artwork is segmented and crafted by a fantastic team of visual artists that have the same love for punk as BAD BREEDING, featuring Nicky Rat, Dead City Tokyo, Shiva/Shadow Comms, Jack Sabbat/InHell, and Yagi. And as with their last record, there is an essay written by Jake Farrell that serves as a further depiction of the ideals of the record. A band that may divide the waters in a sense that many are not prepared to understand, but that is what punk is all about! Is this the album of the year?

Burning//World Peace is No Reality LP

Lashing out with sizzling fury, BURNING//WORLD brings a torrential downpour of distorted, raw D-beat hardcore. This is DISCLOSE’s Tragedy leveled off the mixing board, buzz-sawing like your ears and speakers can hardly take much more. Blistering riffs and haunting divebomb solos blast though at a relentless pace. This waits for no peace and is just above mid-tempo. Eleven tracks of a GLORIOUS?(-style) nightmare I could get lost in all day—total Dis-onslaught. D-CLONE pitches, FRAMTID pummeling, ANTI-METAFOR tightness, DISPENSE harshness…by now you know the DRILLER KILLER. BURNING//WORLD hits this style perfectly in the face and knocks its fucking jaw out. “Give Up All Hope”-core at its fullest decibels, and I seriously hope you can get this.

The Christian Family The Raw and Primitive Sounds of… CD

I really liked this one. It’s a strange combo of really catchy and herky-jerky. It’s super melodic, but also kind of eerie. That is kind of remarkable when you consider they’re a duo, just guitar and drums. At times it seems like the emphasis is on the female vocals. But the guitar work is really impressive. They remind me, at times, of the MAXINES, another duo. Excellent record.

The Faction Corpse in Disguise EP reissue

The FACTION were O.G. skate-rockers, widely known as the band in which Powell Peralta legend Steve Caballero played bass. With the exception of a few song snippets from skate videos back in the day, I had never really heard much of their catalog, so this 40th anniversary edition of their 1984 EP was new to me. They sound kind of like a chilled-out TSOL on these four songs, which, by the way, are not the same four songs that appeared on the original release. So is it really a reissue? Either way, it’s still suitable headphones material for some casual ripping, and I really can’t hear it without picturing fat, fish-shaped boards with big wheels flashing at the top of vert ramps.

Gonk Gonk cassette

There’s a lot to be said about bedroom tinkerers putting out home-taped outsider punk like this. I respect it, keyboard drums and telephone-compressed guitars/vocals and all. But it doesn’t shake my ass. There’s a sleepiness to this tape, and one could call it restraint, which has its place (and is often underrated). But even on the shout-along chorus (on paper) of “UFO,” it’s too muted to reach out and grab me. It’s a great exercise in aesthetic and execution, with dialed-in songwriting, but I just wish it had some wattage behind it.

Mars Rehearsal Tapes & Alt. Takes: NYC 1976-1978 3xLP

What a beautiful time to be a fan of MARS. I remember when I was discovering no wave, and trying to find anything by the band (physically or digitally) was like hen’s teeth. But once I heard them and GLENN BRANCA, my tastes for guitar noise were forever refined and I never felt the need to hear SONIC YOUTH again. In the last few years, we’ve seen a slew of archival releases from the group, but this release is the motherlode. Three LPs of demos, rehearsals, alternate takes, and more—truly for the most hardcore of MARS obsessive. The audio fidelity is far from pristine, but if you’re here for the noisiest of no wave, you probably aren’t a snooty audiophile. The evolution of the band is heard from originally making piano and acoustic guitar demos at home before quickly taking up electric instruments, writing a set of VELVETS-indebted songs, and playing one gig as CHINA. The mutation of the band from a minimal, arty proto-punk band to the harsh experimentalism of MARS starts here. The music becomes more abstract, rattling, industrial, and truly experimental—where the band is questioning the format of the standard rock’n’roll song as well the place and physical use of the instruments within them. MARS’ music sounds to me like taking rock music closer to the realm of painting or sculpture, using their instruments to create texture and color as opposed to melody or harmony. It’s here where we get to the real meat of the compilation, and the true endurance test for listeners. Listening to the multiple takes of the songs “Hairwaves” and “Helen Forsdale” reminded me of something like the massive STOOGES’ Funhouse Sessions, where the band is drilling down the song with minor variations, but you hear the song take shape and come to life. The drum-and-vocal-only take of “Puerto Rican Ghost” was interesting to hear separate from the avant guitar sounds they’re known for. What really captures the spirit of this record is the band doing a run through of “11,000 Volts,” after which they sound happy about the results and then immediately go back into the song again, finish it, and then hoot and holler with joy at the end of that one. It gives you an interesting two-fold perspective on the song from what you’re hearing as a listener and what they were hearing at the time as musicians. What part of the song did they nail that they didn’t before? What sounded different that time that they knew they got it? It’s documentation like this found on this record that truly makes it a treasure and dispels any notion of this music being random, but rather being vigorously rehearsed, instilling the craft and discipline the band had in creating such dissonant music.

No Knuckle No Knuckle 12″

Staunchly DIY label Tomothy Records might be releasing things at a slow drip—this is only their fifth release in the two years they’ve been at it—but that’s what happens when you eschew modern conveniences like digital recording and mixing. Thankfully, they make up for a lack of quantity by making sure they’re only releasing some real good shit. Like this debut LP from Portland’s NO KNUCKLE—a trio of dudes who were all in blistering hardcore act GIMMICK, like, a few seconds ago. But this ain’t no hardcore! Actually, if there’s an immediate comparison point to make for this album, it’s eluding me. At times it sounds like GANG OF FOUR playing lite-prog, and at others it sounds like the COWBOYS covering DRIVE LIKE JEHU. Throughout the nine tracks on the record, you’re getting a somewhat baffling mix of dubby post-punk, noisy post-hardcore, straightforward punk, and arty proto-punk. But it all ends up fitting together pretty spectacularly, thanks in large part to an excellent vocal performance. Gage Maurie (who does pretty great stuff under his own name, but also fronted GIMMICK and FIB) sounds like a teen with a flair for drama trying his best to channel a mix of Ian Svenonious and Ian McCulloch. I love it. Listen to a track like “Adult Supervision” to hear what I’m talking about, then buy the record because it’s great!

Pigeon Permanent Quest / Riged 7″

Post-punk, noise-y PIGEON puts out this single, after their Deny All Knowledge of Complicity LP from last year. “Permanent Quest” sounds like a more typical punk rock song structure, while the shouted lyrics find their noise/start-and-stop-instrumentation on “Riged.” I also hear snotty UK DIY influences like GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS.

Pitva Pitva LP

PITVA is a modern take on classic Eastern Bloc punk, with the rage and heft of hardcore intersecting with the terror textures of anarcho and goth. The guitar is icy, brittle, less interested in blocky riffs than feedback-drenched howling, sounding like an air raid siren, or a lost S.O.S. signal in the airwaves. While the guitar slices at the high-end frequencies, the bass drives low and hard, carrying the weight of song structure, while the drums punch out a martial 1-2-1-2 attack. The album production is bleak and echoing, like it was recorded in a dank cave or (more appropriately) an old abandoned squat, reinforced by rubble and barbed wire.

Quergeburt Quergeburt cassette

Spanish label Discos Peroquébien released the unmissable reissue of the debut (originally from 2019) of these German geniuses, a beautiful cassette with twelve tracks of an ultra lo-fi punk that looks back to the most riff-oriented Japanese noise freakouts and the terrorist school of the Providence, Rhode Island noise rock scene. Think of the BRAINBOMBS in a hardcore style and you’ll get close, but not quite to the molten core of the beautiful and fun sound of these guys. Music to end parties to.

Romper Romper CD

From Ventura comes a nice little slice of soul-filled, vocal-led hard rock/grunge/punk. It’s a dirty back alley behind a 7-Eleven kinda ride. RAMONES, SABBATH, L7, all listened to at maximum volume on a warped tape slowly getting eaten by your brother’s stereo in his crappy van. “Mud “ is brilliant. An “Eat Me Raw” or the little green guy flipping the bird shirt should be donned immediately. Cool.

Rosa Beton Demo 83 cassette

In 1983, two East Berlin teens with a four-track recorded a clandestine punk demo in one of their bedrooms, dubbing their illicit project ROSA BETON (“pink concrete”). The duo was never able to perform live in the Stasi-controlled GDR where punks were systematically surveilled and targeted as threats to the state, and the cassette was likewise never openly distributed, but copies were still passed along to friends in secret, single-handedly preserving ROSA BETON’s mythology over time. Just as their chosen name subverted the reality of East Berlin’s brutalist urban landscape (monochromatic concrete exteriors, unrelenting angles, function over form) by introducing a pop of color, the pair’s musical approach took a similar turn—stripped-down and austere, with some sly art influences behind the stark facade. “Stehen Bleiben is Verrat” flirts with sharp, stitled rhythms in an early EX/RONDOS-like fashion, “Scheißstadt Berlin” and “16 Jahre im Exil” could pass for degraded third-generation dubs of Pink Flag-era WIRE demos (complete with dry two-part harmonies), and “Wir Glauben” scratches and collapses for 90 blown-out seconds as well as anything in the SWELL MAPS/Messthetics pantheon. So cool that this exists. Interestingly, the B-side of this reissue is actually 2022 re-recordings of the full 1983 demo (minus one track) by original guitarist/vocalist Thomas Wagner and three new bandmates, completely transforming the songs from primitivist teenage DIY clamor to hi-def, synth-battered electro-punk with tandem-shouted male/female vocals—think LOST SOUNDS with a Neue Deutsche Welle twist.

The Stimulators Loud Fast Rules! EP reissue

Mostly known in NYHC lore as Harley Flannagan’s first band, the STIMULATORS were truly the brainchild of guitarist Denise Mercedes. Her path to rock’n’roll started almost mythologically, having been given her first electric guitar by BOB DYLAN and an amp from BOWIE guitarist Mick Ronson. She was also Harley’s aunt, and when she wanted to start a band and no drummers were to be found, she stuck her young punk progeny behind the kit. The group was rounded out by queer poet Patrick Mack on vocals (who would pass away from AIDS in 1983) and bassist Nick Marden, famously of the Mapplethorpe photo wearing the “Loud Fast Rules” leather jacket. The band came on the scene after the first wave of CBGB bands had either signed to labels, gone on tour forever, gone new wave, or just imploded. In this time before hardcore was completely codifed, the STIMULATORS gigged not only with the BAD BRAINS after they were banned in DC, but also gorehound maniacs the MAD and no wave noiseniks like RED TRANSISTOR. As Mercedes was initially inspired by seeing the DAMNED, the three songs on this single rock more in that vein of British punk to my ears, but with the chant-along choruses and backup “oooh”s that definitely show having absorbed the RAMONES at full volume from inches away. Mercedes’ guitar has the perfect early punk sound of disciplined downstroke power chord slashing and in-the-red ramalama leads. Harley, as a twelve-year-old who could barely see over the kit, plays better than his age would have you guess, pushing the songs forward with an unrelenting ride cymbal, fully locked in with the guitar. Overall, this is a classic artifact of NY punk, and a catchy punk single that finally more than collector scum can get their hands on.

Stresssystem Vrede Die Geen Vrede Is cassette

Eva from Dutch punks MAKILADORAS has the vocal duty in this incredibly brutal band that delivers an incredibly tight and fast performance of loud, heavy music that encompasses crust, D-beat, and thrash with some vicious riffing, pummeling beats, and a voice that cuts through with clarity and anger.  It’s an absolute blast. A must.

Vintage Crop Kibitzer LP

While other bands playing similar stuff have popped up, gotten more attention, and fizzled out, this Geelong act has quietly kept its nose to the grindstone. Kibitzer is the band’s fourth LP in six years, and it’s just as solid as anything they’ve put out. As with their previous records, they’re still peddling a mix of URANIUM CLUB-esque intricate, post-punk-y smart-guy rock and EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-ish garage-y people’s punk—a contradictory meshing of attitudes that I think non-Aussies would have trouble getting away with. What maybe differentiates this record from some of their earlier releases is a more overt new wave influence. That’s fine when it takes the form of DEVO-aping, as it does on a track like “Casting Calls,” but less so when it shows up as some superfluous, squiggly-ass synth shit (why y’all gotta do “The Duke” like that!?). Also, vocalist Jack Cherry really tests the limit of how many words/syllables you can jam into a single line, a style choice likely borrowed from Brendan Current. I don’t remember that bothering me on previous records, but I didn’t love it here. Still, those small complaints aside, this is a pretty strong record that sounds great. Should appeal to folks who’ve been into the aforementioned bands or acts like PERVERTS AGAIN or SMARTS.

Werewolf Jones Terminal Velocity cassette

The eerie and dreary garage rocking of WEREWOLF JONES falls sonically somewhere between FLIPPER and the GORIES, giving off a vibe of being comfortably at home amidst the bad vibrations they emit. You have four tracks here, all heavy garage bummers that share a backbone with the likes of the DRAGS. I know that the band is named after a Simon Hanselman character, but I can picture an actual werewolf singing these songs, especially when he gets all riled up like on the title track. Crank it up and celebrate ennui.

Alienator Alienator demo cassette

At first glance, the cover looks like a Memphis rap album, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this is pure top-notch hardcore from Portland. C.O.C.-inspired thrashing with the balance of DISCHARGE, but reaching high speeds that would get them a ticket. Six songs of headbanging, windmilling, and moshing at dizzying speeds. A vicious way to get their career up and going.

Barry Neolithic Homo Sex EP

I’m immediately reminded of KLEENEX, perhaps because of the quirkiness, but it’s a little less stilted. It’s straightforward, mid-tempo, jangly, and heavy on vocal harmonies. And with the competing male/female vocals, it was definitely made for me. Worth looking for.

Butchers Bill American Trash CD

It looks like this New York City-area band has been playing in some form or another since at least 2003. They’re even playing the long-gone Continental club in their Discogs photo, and like many of the bands coming out of that club, they play a version of swaggering, shaggy-headed rock’n’roll, but in a lukewarm manner. It’s not awful…sorta…maybe like elements of the HEARTBREAKERS, HUMPERS, ELECTRIC CHAIRS, and (ugh) the DOORS. Imagine the background band for a schlocky movie bar fight scene. Really, it’s just OK and won’t make you wander from your bar conversation, making a nice background hum for your life story being told once again to your other coked-up friend. Another round, bartender!

Choke / XGrifoX split cassette

Yoooooo—where the fukk did this come from!? CHOKE fukkn explodes with three pieces of churning, anti-pig grindcore. I picture a room full of people chanting “defund the police,” and it gives me chills because in that moment, you know that room feels like change is actually possible. And that, young punk, is the fucking power. XGRIFOX fills their side of the tape with ruthless PV/grind from the GODSTOMPER school. Just one dude named “El Grande” beating the shit out of a bass and a drum kit and trading high/low vocals with himself. Sounds like it was recorded in a tin shed in the backyard—and if you know what’s up, then you know that’s precisely how it’s supposed to sound. Got my ass handed to me with this one, and I’m anxious to hear more from both bands.

Die Angst Abgesang / Salzprinz 7″

Twenty years after their inception, Potsdam, Germany’s DIE ANGST has dropped this new single. The A-side “Abgesang” starts with upbeat drums, some phaser effect on the bass, and guitar feedback—all pretty typical—but the illusion is shattered with a guitar strum and the gruff, stark, Germanic vocals, which really tie together the melodic post-punk atmosphere of the band. The B-side “Salzprinz” leaves a little more rumination between lyrics, but has the same well-produced song structure of its sister track. While I couldn’t find much on the band, the few listens of their older stuff I certainly enjoyed. Dive in.

everyone is alone sometimes everyone is alone sometimes cassette

The lack of capital letters got me real worried I got assigned some Midwest emo-worship, but instead we have a one-dude hardcore project. Overall, I’d say it is very much my kind of hardcore—weird, exploding, rampaging, and riffy, with more twists, turns, and time changes than their song lengths would suggest. The drums are either blasting at full speed or piling on the hyperactive fills, and no in-between. The blown-out recording style makes every song sound like it’s bursting at the seams. Until cloning can ensure this maniac plays each part live himself, I’d love to hear this fully realized with an actual band. I’m intrigued by the koan aspects in the title “i am a field of beans,” and I respect mentioning D. Boon’s death day as the recording date.

Fatalist Ruination LP

Parts MASTER/DEATHSTRIKE, FROM ASHES RISE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH— FATALIST excel at groove and doom. Metal crust at a high caliber with sinister, tyrannical vocals. The bestial nature of the vocals reminds me of some blackened crust bands, but strangely, I’m picking up the tones of slower SCATHA tracks. Definitely dig the fluidity and conciseness of this album. It sounds like metallic hardcore but does not go overboard on any particular song structure identifying its roots in punk. A variety of beats show off their skill, but FATALIST never gets too grandiose. Miserable, downtrotten, anguished hardcore punk. This feels like a theme album for pirates of cold dark waters, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Forbidden Dimension Sin Gallery LP

We’re just getting started and my head is bouncing around. That’s always a good sign. It’s mid-tempo and catchy and a little surfy. It’s a lot surfy. Twenty cuts. Jesus. With song titles like “Haunted,” “Graveyard Line,” and “Shrunken Heads,” I’m expecting this to move from surf to something dark. And it does. It gets a little rockabilly, a little hot-roddy, a little garage, even a little swampy at times. Back to my comment about there being twenty cuts: with that many tracks on a record, there are bound to be hits and misses, and that is definitely the case here. An awful lot of the songs start with some sort of a sampled soundbite.

Germ House Lost Title EP

Warren, RI’s Justin Hubbard currently helms two solo recording projects that were once full bands—FAR CORNERS, reserved for his clangy post-punk musings, and GERM HOUSE, which leans a little more UK DIY. There’s never been all that much differentiating those two projects, but this five-song EP really blurs whatever line separated them. The two tracks that open the record are built on a foundation that’s equal parts bouncy TELEVISION PERSONALITIES jangle and trebly DESPERATE BICYCLES ramshackle (there’s even a weedy little keyboard running underneath the opening track that’s very “Don’t Back the Front”-ish), but the cold, multi-tracked vocals and psych-ish freakouts give the tracks an overall vibe that’s more garage-y post-punk. Fortunately, these are two sounds that sound great together—it’s maybe my favorite thing he’s put out. Highlight of the record for me is “Stacking Mistakes.” At first blush, it almost sounds like it could have been pulled off an early A FRAMES 7”, but it’s also somehow got this strange IRON BUTTERFLY quality to it—it’s great. Real cool record!

The Hard-Crop’s For What Cause? cassette

I probably wouldn’t have guessed that the next best blast of real-deal “street punk” would come out of Kuala Lumpur, not that I’m complaining. The HARD-CROP’S play tough, unpolished Oi! with a driving sound that’s straight out of ‘83. This band could easily sneak onto any old comp featuring CRUX, the LAST RESORT, 4-SKINS, ANTISOCIAL, and the like, and few would notice. The nine songs on this killer tape showcase the band’s great taste in influences, re-collecting the above bands and more while making the style and sound their own. For instance, the frequent gang vocals have a bit of a LOLI & THE CHONES feel to them. It’s fresh and classic at once; a rare trick that’s always appreciated. Who cares if they’re not that handy with apostrophes, they’re handy with the Oi!

Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons Screams to God LP reissue

KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS were an early ’80s Swedish synth(etic) punk project with a dark, dramatic intensity—too art-conceptual to be humorless goths, too sinister and paranoid-sounding to pass as straight new wave, the aural equivalent of black latex as viewed through a prism of fluorescent plexiglass. Although they didn’t take things quite as far as the SCREAMERS or the UNITS by completely dispensing with guitars, KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS’ double-synth/live drums assault was charged with a similar short-circuited energy, while original vocalist Anne’s steely yet still hyper-expressive delivery (almost exclusively in English) wavered somewhere between SIOUXSIE-style ice queen and Neue Deutsche Welle eccentricity. Screams to God covers the entirety of the group’s brief 1980–81 lifespan, with the recordings from their debut Serve You! 7” (four songs mistakenly made it to the test pressing, later pared down to two for the actual release) hitting especially hard: the space junk synth squirm of “Blätta” devolves to perfectly DEVO depths; “Happy Funeral” careens across an oscillating and claustrophobic keys/drums pulse as Anne defiantly smashes any goth illusions (“no black suits!”); “Fantastic” and “In Bars” warp and bend under layers of processed dystopian electronics and clattering percussion. Dark Entries first put out this collection almost ten years ago, when millennial punks were just on the cusp of a mass blame-it-on-DEVO synth infatuation, and it’s been a highly sought-after artifact almost ever since—I’m not saying that there’s a direct cause/effect correlation there, but I’m also not saying that there isn’t one.

LASSIE Behold LP

Are you sexually attracted to the bat on this record cover? Yeah…I’m not either—definitely not drawn into its sexy, sexy eyes. Anyway, Leipzig fun punkers Lassie are back! This time in LP form. You’re getting thirteen tracks of mutant robot rock, combining the downstroke dum-dum sounds of the SPITS, the punk-pop of the Dirtnap roster, and the kitchy sci-fi fun of the REZILLOS. It’s party punk played with a sense of urgency that I bet would make for a wild-ass live show. A real good time!

M.A.Z.E. Live at the Archer Ballroom cassette

Live documentation by Japan’s M.A.Z.E. on tour during 2019. If you’re a fan of their LPs, the songs will be familiar. Sounds decent for what was probably just a tape recorder in the back of the room.

Moflex Moflex cassette

A collection of previously released material by Mexico City’s MOFLEX spanning from 2016 to 2018, with two additional songs specific to this cassette release. Repetitive lo-fi punk rock songs that are a bit heavy on the upstrokes; not sure whether that is meant as a pop punk or ska-infused element to these songs. Nice-looking packaging. I’m sure fans of this band will be excited to get this collection rather than tracking down the two different cassettes MOFLEX released a handful of years ago.

Ottawa The Third Age 12″

This rerelease sure has a musical time stamp. Listeners will find plenty of mid-’90s USHC hallmarks: fast, occasionally breakneck tempos, blastbeats spliced in, and forays into crossover thrash territory here and there. The two vocalists trade high-pitched screams and a hoarse shout respectively. And of course, there are lots of (maybe too many) movie soundbites.

Plot What Happened to Your Face LP

What a mystery this Philly trio called PLOT is. A series of very interesting influences come together in a thick concoction, where we can taste the pulse of the heaviest post-punk (think BIG BLACK or KILLING JOKE) with elements of ’90s industrial metal (voice samples included) and even some of the more exploratory spirit of ’90s post-hardcore. The result is dark, dense, and very singular. A deeply expressive sound that could well serve as the soundtrack of a post-industrial city in ruins or as the noise that our civilization makes when dying, a dreadful final death rattle.