Cissie Scurlock

Laffing Gas It’s a Beautiful Day in the Gulch LP

Everything from the music to the artwork reminds me of early ’00s Danish hardcore punk, except this is a current band from the middle of America—Bloomington, Indiana to be exact. Musically this is most reminiscent of AMDI PETERSENS ARMÉ, who were themselves doing their best rendition of first wave LA/DC hardcore punk, so LAFFING GAS has got some of that as well. The songs on this LP contain what you’d expect given those influences—tons of energy, snotty and engaging vocals, some quick, cool guitar skronks here and there but nothing too polished or fancy, thankfully. The riffs are good and the songs have enough dynamics to avoid being generic. The endless cycle of hardcore punk continues, may it live an endless life.

Acrylics Sinking In LP

ACRYLICS have made a full-length LP, playing with much more atmosphere than I recall either of their singles or their demo having. Although the band is still ferocious, still massive sounding (more massive than ever, in fact) and still has the coolest FLAG homage riffs (without really sounding too much like BLACK FLAG), they’ve added a couple of instrumental interludes, some synthesizer, lots of pedal effects and some studio trickery, all of which add texture to the sounds. Songs like “Harm” and “Losing Sight” are moodier and more expansive than anything on prior ACRYLICS releases, while “New Face,” “Awake,” and the previously released “Structure” feature the more familiar gut-punch hardcore. It’s hard to put into words how great this record is. Sinking In is clearly the result of a lot of hard work. Nothing about the record—the songs, recording, artwork, lyrics—feels like an afterthought.

Nosferatu Solution A LP

Musically, NOSFERATU hasn’t changed much since 2016’s Sounds of Hardcore EP, but the recording on Solution A is better and overall I think these new songs are more dynamic and interesting, even though I love the EP. On Solution A, NOSFERATU plays fourteen songs in seventeen minutes. One side flies by, flip the record, and then the next side ends. Repeat. There are a couple of mid-tempo flourishes here and there and a few moody-ish songs like “Under the Sun,” “The Act of Fear,” and the instrumental outro “Solution Absolute,” but overall this is fast and tightly-wound traditional hardcore. The songs are memorable with neat guitar sounds, drums that rarely stop rolling and galloping, and vocals that are snotty and have lots of attitude and reverb. Tracks like “Dictated in Red,” “Attack,” and “Application of Reason” are likely to be stuck in your head all day after a few listens.

Pobreza Mental Ya No Me Pertenezco EP

POBREZA MENTAL plays hardcore punk in the stumbling chaos vein of WRETCHED, CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS and Colombian bands such as IMAGEN and HP.HC, albeit not nearly as lo-fi and rudimentary as the two latter bands. The vocals shout to the point of breathless anger. The drums hiccup, pummel and degenerate into a crashing mass of cymbals. Every now and again stray guitar notes emerge from the claustrophobia to punctuate the rest of the wild sounds. Almost every song gradually builds from a mid-tempo creepy crawling rumble to an all-out glorious blast. The songs are about not belonging, the feeling of having nowhere to go as cities continue to gentrify and other depression and anxiety oriented fare. Ya No Me Pertenezco is an all-around perfect hardcore punk EP.

The UV Race Made in China LP

Scratchy feedback and a FALL-esque bass line reintroduce the UV RACE to the world. I’ve missed their off-kilter psych drone punk songs and Marcus’s takedowns of the boring, absurd world we’re all forced to live in. Whose brain isn’t insane from the inane at this point? No one I want to know. Made in China is a great collection of songs that contains the clever lyrics and the well-thought-out variety of instrumentation I’ve come to expect from the UV RACE—bits of saxophone, keyboard, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and assorted vocal effects accent minimal, repetitive punk riffs. The songwriting and recording remain simple and perfectly ragged, still showing elements of the CLEAN, SWELL MAPS and as fore-mentioned the FALL. When Racism came out, I balked at buying it because it’s incredibly rare that a punk band puts out multiple good full-lengths and the UV RACE had already released two great ones. When I finally picked it up and realized it was their best record yet, I felt pretty damn stupid, and Made in China continues to grow on me and challenge my notion that punk bands are lucky to put out more than one good LP (since EPs are the best format for punk, anyway). The UV still know.