Alex SN

R.O.B.O. Contaminas EP

Contaminas is a quick EP of simple, light, and straightforward punk with some touches of hardcore here and there. Four catchy songs in less than four minutes that retain some of the heritage of its members’ former groups (and cult bands of the ’00s Madrid scene) MULETRAIN, AEROBITCH, and SUDOR. Two-riff songs, a dirty sound, and short lyrics come together for an easily digestible album.

Cheetah Chrome & Señor No Yesterday’s Numbers EP

One of the guitarists that shaped punk rock, a cover of the FLAMIN’ GROOVIES, and two DEAD BOYS songs, recorded live in a Galician pub—an EP for mythomaniacs and seekers of those rare and bizarre connections in rock history. There’s little here that adds to CHEETAH CHROME’s extensive career, but it’s still cool to listen to him after all these years, especially “What Love Is” and “Sonic Reducer,” two of the most emblematic tunes of his musical legacy, recorded with an ambient mic during the show, with SEÑOR NO, a veteran rock band from Basque Country, as the backing band. The FLAMIN’ GROOVIES cover was recorded the last day of the tour with Kaki Arkarazo, former KORTATU and NEGU GORRIAK member. A must for all nostalgics.

Leatherface Minx LP reissue

Someone once said that LEATHERFACE was the best British punk band from the ’90s—I think that is an understatement. There’s no other group that sounds like them. Their style is unique and unrepeatable, a race between two ambitious guitarists that wanted to find the definite riff, the weirdest, sharpest, most outstanding guitar lick. Mush is by far their best work, but Minx is probably their second-best, a perfect example of their style: that strange and warm fog of derailed guitars, complex and perfectly executed arrangements, topped with a rugged and deep voice which feels straight out of a sailor’s tavern down on the misty docks of Sunderland. The reissue by Call of the Void is a good chance for the collectors, since it’s not easy to find original LEATHERFACE albums just lying around. A trip across one of the most nostalgic, intelligent, and passionate punk bands that probably ever was.

Tatxers Hiruzpalau Amets Larri EP

TATXERS sound like a melancholy, rainy afternoon drinking beer at a pub in old downtown Iruña. Hiruzpalau Amets Larri was a breath of fresh air that hit every squat party in Spain last year. They follow in the tradition of the solid Basque Country scene, but with a brand new approach. The band is more influenced by the sense of melody and arrangements of the early records of punk pioneers ZARAMA than by the cornerstone of the genre in the region, ESKORBUTO—who were coincidentally named by ZARAMA’s singer, Roberto Moso. The guitars are playful and clean, with almost no distortion, snailing through repetitive riffs. You can see the trademark of Julen Urzaiz, engineer at Sound of Sirens studios and godfather to a handful of the new Oi! and Basque punk bands: KALEKO URDANGAK, STREETWISE, AGAINST YOU, HERDOIL. The four songs on this EP have that certain feeling of nostalgia in their own subtle ways, but without turning their backs on a powerful chorus and a fair share of rage. When I listened to Hiruzpalau Amets Larri, thoughts of green and mountainous valleys, old cobbled towns, and endless drizzle, but also riots and pub shows, came to my mind. It’s one of the most outstanding punk records I’ve heard in a long time.

Foil Full Band Demo cassette

I read somewhere that a song that starts with a good drumbeat sticks in your mind like gum on your shoe. That’s what happens with FOIL’s demo—three songs of fast and dirty hardcore punk with changes of rhythm and an urgent feeling to the whole composition. The bass sounds thick and the guitars are sometimes like sci-fi noises, throbbing here and there. Kansas City, Peruvian coke, police hatred, and depression, an explosive combination for a punk record. Love the artwork.

Primitive Fucking Ballers You Gotta Do Something cassette

Hectic drums, powerful bass, and a sloppy, provocative voice with the violent urge of a televangelist on speed. It seems like the drummer is trying not to repeat the same beat twice, and the result is an atmosphere of anxiety and muffled howling, like a chemical hangover the morning after a party that got out of hand. Hardcore punk in the vein of the Lumpy Records catalog, but more aggro.

Rat-Nip My Pillow EP

This is it. The kids from Pittsburgh always know how to deliver it. This is just my thing: the whole thing oozes aggressiveness, you almost can touch it. Drums are like a horse’s kick in the head or a blacksmith punch, riffs are a blunt and overwhelming repetition topped with some razor-like licks, and the vocals are an invitation to take things outside. I can hear 2000s hardcore punk in here, bands like WASTED TIME, DIRECT CONTROL, or CÜLO, a corrosive way of playing fast and dense punk that you don’t find so often nowadays. With this kind of band, everything’s already said or written, so the best thing to do is try not to overthink it and just let yourself go. Dance, scream, break things, and go berserk. RAT-NIP already did it.

Spad EP cassette

Two-riff songs that last less than two minutes each, simple but effective guitars, and a voice that kinda speaks to you from behind a megaphone at a rally. I like the canned sound and how the bass takes over in the middle of “The Corner Room.” There are no pretensions here, just old hardcore punk with influences from the classic New York and Boston styles, but with a less solemn approach.

Fükkheads Speed and Political demo cassette

Pure noise. Call your friends, lock yourself up in a basement with mold and bad acoustics, try some acid, and play out-of-tune guitars and rusty drums. Then, record everything with an old phone while a maniac screams as if the world was coming to an end. The result would be something similar to the latest FÜKKHEADS work, an indiscernible maelstrom of din topped with a voice out of a psychophony. A crust pandemonium just apt for the demented and fans of the most unhinged DOOM tracks (kind of the same thing). The A-side is a 10:32-long recording of a cave show; the B-side was taken from a squat gig at an abandoned factory. It seems more fun to play than to listen to, but as they say: “This release is an existential cry for help as the human race accelerates towards complete oblivion, wishing to return into the mycelium network from once we evolved from. It’s ugly but so is this world!”. I agree.

Kibera Nemáš Jméno EP

D-Beat from the Czech Republic with an epic touch, good structures, and an afterlife voice. The guitars are too grandiloquent and solemn for my taste, almost with a bit of metal, but they have everything you look for in the genre.

Cryin’ Hand Laugh Now… cassette

Lo-fi punk to make you feel like you’re at a basement gig. It’s chaotic and manic, reminiscent of bands such as GLUE, FRIED E.M., or some Lumpy Records group. There’s nothing new here, but if you like ’80s-sounding recordings, moldy cellars, vintage cassette textures, primitive riffs, raw tunes, and repetitive structures, you’re probably gonna enjoy CRYIN’ HAND. I did.

Swab Big City LP

Melbourne is a hot hub of hardcore punk nowadays—SWAB and their label, Hardcore Victim, are living proof of it. The band has just released their first album after a demo and an EP. Their latest work is a really fun record: thirteen songs in fifteen minutes of straightforward, direct, abrasive punk with no pretensions, artistic approaches, or pseudo-metaphysical lyrics. What could you expect of songs like “Hippies Still Exist (And I Hate Them),” “Pills in My Mouth,” or “A Real Punk”? They sound like a kid erupting in a childish tantrum, urgent but carefree, with a sloppy vibe but precise execution. No bullshit, just quality hardcore punk.

Final Dose World Prisoner / Void Inside flexi 7″

World Prisoner feels like a final scream, an agonic yell from a post-apocalyptic, dying world. The guitars form a devastating wall of sound that kind of numbs you, like a steamroller rolling over you. I think they’ve listened to a lot of LEBENDEN TOTEN, because FINAL DOSE has some of that anguished anger in their music too, which they like to call “blackened hardcore.” I can’t really understand the second track, an electronic elevator song that doesn’t really do much for me. An interesting band to keep on your radar.

Scalpo È La Lotta L’Avvenire flexi EP

Right from the start of È La Lotta L’Avvenire, a metallic, suggestive, and defiant bass grabs you by the neck and it won’t let go. Then a simple but effective guitar lick comes into the scene and razes everything in its path. Next thing you know, you’ve listened to the EP fifteen times in a row. SCALPO has that dark and cold sound you’d expect from a band based in Sondrio, a little town in the north of Italy, almost caressing the Switzerland border. Also, their sound is in the vein of the Italian Oi!/hardcore bands forged on those northern lands. You can hear a bit of NABAT in the rawness, but also in the more catchy, commercial parts. Throw some WRETCHED in there, and I even hear some NEGAZIONE—the more straightforward tunes, not the psychedelic, unhinged ones. They sure have a taste for vintage sounds and sand-like guitar textures, but without losing a keen, sharp sound. The ideal soundtrack for long, bitter winters in boring border towns. When I listen to it, I feel transported to Italy in the ’80s: the Years of Lead, deindustrialized cities, strikes, picket lines, social conflict, depressed communities, and skinheads taking the streets. A must-listen.

Froggy & The Ringes Soft ”G” EP

Who said garage is dead? FROGGY & THE RINGES are here to prove them wrong. Their style is like an uncut gem. You hear repetitive rock’n’roll riffs played to exhaustion, topped with sharpened guitar solos and a voice closer to street punk/Oi! than garage. Something like if they would’ve been listening a lot to the early HIVES records and then tried to play similarly while high on speed. In brief, a predominance of mid-tempos, dirty sound, an aggressive vocal style, and unhinged, humorous lyrics, that make Soft “G” a good and different record. For sure deserves a listen.

Screaming Fist Templanza EP

This is how you do it. People from TØRSÖ, VAASKA, and NEGATIVE STANDARDS (among others) doing rough D-beat with raw sound and political lyrics in Spanish. It’s a perfect combo: manic drums that don’t follow the same beat for more than twenty seconds, loops of skilled riffs punching your head over and over, and a voice that glues everything together. The strong personality of the vocal style supports the whole composition, with an attitude of “we’re gonna eat you alive” that has won me over. The dusty treatment of the guitars fits perfectly too, creating an aura of old and cheap punk, a harsh texture that’s really charming. Nothing new here, but there’s no need, SCREAMING FIST delivers catchy and rash hardcore punk just fine.

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.

Big Laugh Manic Revision EP

I reviewed this record for Undergrounz Zine the first day it came out ’cause I thought it was too much. I think I must’ve listened to it twenty or so times in a row. It’s kind of a cyclic album; the instrumental fade-out in the last song, “Fazed,” works as a transition to the epic drums that open the EP in “Imposter.” The whole vibe of this reeks of the ABUSED, from the artwork, which pays tribute to the Loud and Clear aesthetic, to the sound. Or, better, the ABUSED meets This is Boston Not L.A., because BIG LAUGH merges heavier passages with more fluid ones, but always without losing strength and presence. I said it before, I’ll say it again, their strength is how they managed to combine that overfall of dizzy, hectic guitar riffs and omnipresent drum work, hard as nails, that sweeps everything else with the power of a cascade. BIG LAUGH is the best example that Milwaukee hardcore is alive and kicking.

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.

Liquid Assets Offshore Accounts cassette

Now we’re talking. A Canadian band of weird hardcore punk Á  la SCHOOL JERKS or BRUTAL KNIGHTS, releasing a cassette on a Malaysian label? Honestly, it checks all my boxes. The strongest part of LIQUID ASSETS is their sound. A vintage, rare garage sound, backed by simple yet effective riffs and a crabbed, unintelligible mumble instead of vocals. The kind of deranged music you freaks would dig, as if it came out of the cell of a psychiatric hospital. The songs are really short and straight to the point (just two of them last more than two minutes). Half of the time you feel like you’re in the basement of a bunch of suburban misfits, improvising over old GERMS records, smoking pot and getting drunk while recording everything you play. In short, this is a great record, really witty to hear, and I suppose, even funnier to have recorded it.

Isotope Isotope LP

It’s Christmas again. A perfect time to spin dark, obscure music. Exactly the kind of sound ISOTOPE delivers on their self-titled debut LP. Eight songs of raw, apocalyptic D-beat in the vein of Japanese hardcore legends BASTARD. But, instead of straightforward and short compositions, they wander the realms of metal and crust, daring to go one step beyond. I personally prefer the faster, frenetic parts, but everything is played and assembled well enough, so it works just fine as a whole. Isotope is a pretty good record that will make fans of the genre vibrate with its aggressive palm mutes, sharp, metallic guitar licks, repetitive and solid riffs, and solvent lyrics. Give it a go.

Sex With a Terrorist S.W.A.T. demo cassette

There is a rule in films that say you have to trap the viewer in the first thirty seconds of footage. I don’t think S.W.A.T. are filmmakers, but they know for sure how to apply that principle. The opening riff immerses you in a crumpled sound, a crossover between LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS, VOID, and SCHOOL JERKS. This is weird punk, receiving direct influences from the Californian hardcore punk tradition and turning it into a fresh sound. Something fast, with breakneck riffs, but with enough space to experiment and improvise. Especially on “Screenshot Hardcore,” the last song of the demo and the longest, with strong vibes of the last OILY BOYS record. This is an album that requires several listens for one to capture its true essence. A great first impression. I’m looking forward to more releases.