White Stains


White Stains Blood on the Beach EP

Punk has always been defined by either how much you give a shit or how little, and Pittsburgh’s WHITE STAINS exemplifies the appeal of both. The music feels urgent, it’s seasoned, driving, old school punk rock with a good sizzle to it. Early ’80s California scene-indebted but not corny or retro. The vocals, on the other hand, sound like they were recorded with a beer in one hand while sitting on the couch. I mean that in the best way possible. The sarcastic “ha ha ha” on closer “Laughing Gas” drips with dismissal. Like you’re dumb for even listening. It’s the kind of degradation that leaves me desperate for more. Each track has teeth and chews on you like a bone, the songwriting is solid and varied. As the Steven Wright punchline goes, “see, that’s how you do that.”

White Stains Make Me Sick LP

I don’t really know where to begin. I expected great things from this band, but Make Me Sick has knocked me out. Why? Because it is the perfect punk record. It sounds like a street fight, lost beforehand, between a gang of scrawny and stoned punks against the local jocks. Like one of those weeks when everything goes berserk, life beats you down, and you just need to vent your bad blood, go out, roll up the lapels of your jacket and look hateful at your neighbors from above your sunglasses. Look hateful at old women dragging their purses across the sidewalk; at the children who play in the park; at the families who are out for a walk and look like the people in those disgusting car commercials. It sounds like a society reject, drinking cheap booze straight out of a brown bag in the snowed parking lot of a lonely gas station in the middle of a boring and dead suburban neighborhood. It sounds simultaneously urgent and carefree, loose, like a threat veiled with indifference, as if you were trying to look unworried, but something is devouring you alive. The guitars wobble back and forth, like in an eternal question/answer dynamic. They sound like razors being sharpened, like a whistle loaded with intention, of bile and poison. It reeks of alleyways, basements, train stations, liquor store back rooms, squats. It sounds as if ’77 punk met Midwest ’80s hardcore punk. Provocative but decisive. A maelstrom of noise and drum rolls. Albeit they pretend to look as amateurs, you can see years of experience behind each song. I can imagine the singer, hanging from the microphone, falling and rolling over the stage, spitting at the public. The guitarists, concentrated, immersed in their own world, intercalating those barrages of distortion, as if they were passing a ball from side to side, deliriously, sickly, as if the riffs were a hot globe that burned their hands. At times, the songs contract, concentrating all its strength in palm mutes and dry blows, just to suddenly explode soon after, provoking sonic avalanches. At the second listening, I already knew it would end up being one of my favourite 2020 records. For true punks.

White Stains White Stains demo cassette

WHITE STAINS is one of the best things 2020 brought along. Their new LP is simply sick, and this was a great preview. I didn’t pay too much attention when it came out, but after getting hooked to the LP, I came back to it. These three songs sound as if no time had passed since the early ’80s. I think there’s a strong vibe of BLACK FLAG’s “TV Party” or “Six Pack,” especially in the last track, “Quarantine.” That’s the general spirit, punk in its purest form, unpretentious and raw, just old-fashioned hardcore punk, like a basement version of ADOLESCENTS or CIRCLE JERKS. Cannot dig this more.