Jake Joyce

Metrics Demo 2022 cassette

High-energy hardcore from Spain that teeters on the edge of egg-punk thanks to their inclusion of a keyboard. Speaking of which, I’ve been listening to this EP on repeat for the last couple of weeks or so and only just realized there were synth leads layered in throughout the entire demo. In fact, the guitar overpowers almost everything, including the vocals. Otherwise, the production here is solid and crisp. I would just suggest they be a little more careful with the mixing next time around. All in all, a decent debut from METRICS. It makes me look forward to what they’ll do next.

Big Rat Rock n’ Roll Fever cassette

BIG RAT’s new EP brings us four pure rock’n’roll tracks for the politically-conscious party animal in all of us. Singer Ian Brink channels Richard Hell and a nasally David Johansen, so naturally you’d think he was born for the role. With almost all of the energy coming from Brink, this is a very vocal-driven record, showcasing the authentic “punk” attitude that some attempt unavailingly. The rest of the band sounds very much like STREET BRATS and the JABBERS. Some great guitar licks here, at points giving off a real classic AC/DC vibe. All in all, nothing groundbreaking, but is absolutely worth a pick-up if you dig these types of tunes.

Italia 90 Living Human Treasure LP

Very cool artsy post-punk from across the pond in London. Darkened dance-rock akin to JOY DIVISION, ADAM & THE ANTS, and PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. Spacey and ambient at points, atmospheric and subtly industrial at others. Singer reminds me very much of Nik Fiend of ALIEN SEX FIEND fame. The rhythm section provides most of the hooks while the guitar is left to wander on its own, getting lost in a sea of dissonant chords and reverb-laden licks. Dystopian poetry for an ever-growing apocalyptic world. Lovely work here.

3D & the Holograms 3D & the Holograms LP

Man, I’m sure someone out there is going to read this and consider it blasphemy, but my first thought upon hearing 3D & THE HOLOGRAMS’ self-titled release was “this is what GG ALLIN wishes he had sounded like.” Rock’n’roll chaos that is as brutal as it is catchy. There’s no build-up or warning. Once you hit play, you’re immediately thrown into the tornado of sound. Much like a caffeine-induced panic attack, you feel trapped. The walls are closing in around you and there is no escape. However, you find yourself enamored with this unadulterated fear. You embrace it. You crave more. But with a blink of an eye, it’s all over. Fantastic stuff here.

Demoralized Demoralized demo cassette

There’s no mincing words here, folks. This is some of the best grindcore I’ve heard in quite a while. DEMORALIZED’S demo is very true to the genre’s nature—raw as hell, unlike a lot of the overproduced, studio grind you get nowadays. Drums sound natural and range from fast to fastest. Feels as if they were all done in one take, I mean that as a compliment. Guitars are heavy as hell and the vocals go unwavering. I’m usually not a fan of heavy treble on the bass, but it fits the DIY aesthetic so well that I can’t be mad. I terrorized my neighborhood last weekend by blasting this while grilling in my backyard. You kids make me feel young again.

Decorticate Conditioned By Violence cassette

Danish powerviolence with a hint of Ray Cappo thrown into the batter, sounding like BETTER THAN A THOUSAND merging with CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and other similar Slap-a-Ham-adjacent bands. Tightly mixed without being too over-produced. The drums are killer and direct traffic throughout, as is the case with most bands like this. Dueling vocalists channeling both youth crew and death metal energies. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but the nuanced singing styles make the album feel fresh, relentless, and unwavering. I am absolutely amazed that this is a trio. The sound is huge and intense as all hell. Well worth a spin if you love it fast and loud, which, if you’re reading this, I’d assume was the case.

Level Gone West EP

I typically love short and quick hardcore albums, but there’s something about this one that feels a tad empty and unsatisfying. The momentum is affected by dead air and sudden tempo changes, and it kills the energy midway through. These types of transitions work well on full-lengths, but for an EP that’s barely hitting the seven minute mark, there isn’t a lot of room to stretch your wings. I’d love to hear what an LP from these folks sounds like—feels like it’d fit their aesthetic a little better and give the building parts more time to breathe. Regardless, there’s some good stuff here. Very reminiscent of early CEREMONY. The drums sound great on this and are probably what’s causing me to long for more of their intensity.

Teini-Pää Sata Syytä Aloittaa LP

I don’t have an inkling of how to speak the Finnish language, so I had no idea what to expect with this record. The cover art reminded me a lot of the mid-to-late ’00s indie rock scene, and to be honest, because of that, I wasn’t expecting much here. However, this album completely blew me away. Very sentimental, rustic dream-rock. I can’t understand what they’re singing about, but I can feel it with the hooks and melodies. For all I know, they could be singing about something absolutely brutal. Still, the songs ooze with tenderness and nostalgia. “Mun Sydän On” is the standout track, the one that caused this album to sink its teeth into me. For fans of SUGAR STEMS and GOOD LUCK. Wonderful stuff.

Tee Vee Repairmann Organic Mould EP

More wacky, drum-machine-clad, DEVO-infused garage rock from our friends at Goodbye Boozy, this time featuring Australia’s TEE VEE REPAIRMANN. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it a thousand times: the best in punk is currently being exported from the Land Down Under. The rest of the world should collectively thank Strai’yah for their services to rock’n’roll. First half of this slab retains the traditional egg-punk we’ve all come to know and love, reminiscent of SNOOPER, ALIEN NOSEJOB, and CHERRY CHEEKS. The B-side features two slower ballads with a much stronger bedroom pop vibe. Really rounds out the EP as a whole. Great piece here, highly recommended.

Doctor Explosión Superioridad Moral LP

First record in over a decade from Spain’s DOCTOR EXPLOSIÓN. Great collection of songs here that bring to mind KING KHAN AND THE SHRINES melded with the MAMAS & THE PAPAS. This may sound like a weird concoction, but it works well. What you get here is a combination of the raw energy of a ’70s garage rock band and the bittersweet sentimentalism of golden-age oldies radio. Very partial to the vocals here, which sound like they’re coming from the deepest depths of an AM receiver in an old station wagon. Guitar work is incredible with licks for days. Great summer jams for those hot days where you sit around and do nothing but drink beer and sweat your ass off.

Sistema de Entretenimiento Sistema de Entretenimiento LP

Fantastic synth-heavy, drum machine punk from across the pond (Valencia, Spain). Diverse flavors in each track—well, as diverse as you can get with punk music. The first half of the album sounds like EPOXIES and GRAVY TRAIN!!! with a hint of ’90s Euro house. The rest are a mixture of classic DEVO and what could be described as a modern-day MUMMIES. I know drum machines aren’t for everyone, but I’m a sucker for them. Really adds to the band’s motif, and I don’t think a real drum set would do the music justice. Judging by their YouTube presence, their live shows look fun as all hell. Hopefully we’ll see them stateside soon enough. Lovely record here. Well worth a spin if you’re into melodic dance punk.

Endorphins Lost Night People LP

Sludge-violence out of Seattle. Not a bad record by any means. Band is tight, and production is on-point. But if you’re recording a hardcore album in 2023, you best bring something unique that makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Night People comes off as a formulaic, grind-by-numbers slab. Very reminiscent of a modern CAPITALIST CASUALTIES and MAN IS THE BASTARD, especially with the dual vocals. Drums are easily the most impressive part here, and really drive the energy of each song. Worth a spin if you’re a powerviolence junkie.

V/A If, When & With Whom cassette

Great compilation for a great cause, with all proceeds benefiting the National Network of Abortion Funds. Wide range of genres here, spanning ’90s alternative radio worship to West Coast garage rock to lo-fi bedroom pop. Hell, there are even a couple vaporwave-fused synth-funk tracks as well. There’s something for everyone here. Heavily recommended release, both for the music and the mission. At this point, all we can do is look out for each other and help wherever we can.

En Love Fled EP

Brutal powerviolence from Columbus, OH’s EN LOVE. Clocking in at under ten minutes, the Fled EP is a mosh classic. In what seems to be specifically crafted for the pit, this slab flows perfectly for anyone who is looking to dance their ass off. The EP kicks in slow and low, but immediately jumps into the action. No guitar solos, drums set deep into the pocket, just one homogeneous pile of fervent intensity. Very reminiscent of CLOUD RAT and other modern PV bands. I don’t know if this was on purpose, but the drums are blown out like crazy and it adds so much depth and vigor to an already massive recording. Good stuff here, recommended to anyone who loves newer grind.

Rumor Kontrol Here are the Facts cassette

I can candidly say that this release will not be for everyone, but I absolutely love what I will affectionately dub “bedroom punk”—hardcore drum machine madness from RUMOR KONTROL’s maiden voyage, Here are the Facts. DIY as all hell. Fast and gritty guitar that sounds like it’s being played from an old practice amp. I don’t want to mince words, I mean this as a compliment. Although I champion all things lo-fi and DIY, I didn’t notice the bass until much later in the album; my only complaint is that it should be a little louder in the mix. But other than that, this is pure rock’n’roll rawness right here. No ego bullshit, straight to the point.

Dead 77 Demons LP

The first full-length from Los Angeles’ DEAD 77. Upon first glance, I fully expected this to be a street punk album, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more akin to the early A-F Records bands such as THOUGHT RIOT and the CODE. Gang vocals galore here, which act as a call and response to the raw, melodic lead vox. There’s a delicate balance to be had between both, and DEAD 77 does a good job of not overlapping them. It creates a strong energy that is unwavering throughout the entire record. This is also helped by the guitars, which are layered into a wall of sound, peppered with fiery leads throughout. Well worth a listen if you’re a fan of late ’90s melodic hardcore.

Snooper Town Topic EP

I have adored SNOOPER since I first laid ears on them several years ago. Do you remember that “egg punk vs. chain punk” meme that was big back in 2018? If you’ve ever had a hard time distinguishing between the two, I’ll make it easy for you. SNOOPER is the quintessential egg punk band, and they do it better than anyone else today. You see, while SNOOPER might draw comparisons to bands like DEVO or TOY DOLLS, they’re something completely different. They are their own influence. Town Topic continues their trend of fast-paced, new wave jazz-punk. Quick little jaunts about the simple things in life, for better or for worse. SNOOPER’s guitar tone is what hooks me in the most. Clean, punchy, and swift; a styling all their own. Fantastic band who will most certainly do huge things in the years to come. Better hop on this train now!

Bothers II LP

Second full-length from Portland’s BOTHERS. Very interesting record, as it tends to meld certain punk styles that typically contrast. While a majority of the record has an early HOT WATER MUSIC/LEATHERFACE vibe, you can also hear a little bit of LAUGHING HYENAS-era John Brannon in the vocals. Songs swap between brutal, straightforward power chords to soaring harmonies. Catchy as all hell at parts. The bass is the unsung hero of this album, putting in work throughout. I wish it was a little louder in the mix so it could act as a stronger driver. For fans of No Idea Records and other melodic hardcore from the ’90s.

Choke / Döpemess split cassette

Music aside for a second—maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t understand why each half of this split is being hosted on two separate Bandcamp pages. I’m aware that this is first and foremost a cassette release, but the majority of the folks who will be listening to this will be doing so digitally. I feel like it would make more sense having it all in one place. Regardless, it’s a pretty groovy split. Both bands sound different enough for it to be interesting. As a two-piece, DÖPEMESS does a fantastic job filling any and all gaps. Drums are incredible and never waver. Fast as all hell. Dual vocals give the tracks a real call-and-response vibe. CHOKE is much more slow and low, reminiscent of SPAZZ and CAPTAIN THREE LEG-styled powerviolence with their barking vocals. Drums sound almost impossibly fast at times. Comes complete with samples that are almost longer than the song. Good shit.

Compassion Pacing Animal LP

First release in three years from Brooklyn’s COMPASSION. Blisteringly fast grind tracks—blink and you’ll miss them, which is arguably the best kind of grindcore in existence. Everything is super tight and heavy. Drums are so fast and on point that I need to see it to believe it. Vocals are intense and nuanced, switching between guttural growls and banshee-like screams. Guitars cut through everything else like a knife, crisp and menacing. Very reminiscent of IRON LUNG and early WEEKEND NACHOS. Press release mentions that this band is a duo, but this recording is layered with two guitars and a bass. Would love to see how they pull this off live. Well worth a digital spin.

Split System Vol. 1 LP

There must be something in the water down in Australia because every band that has come through there lately has been incredible. Vol. 1 from Melbourne’s SPLIT SYSTEM is of course no exception. This album is what I would expect if the ROLLING STONES decided to try their hands at proto-punk, with the end result sounding like if the NICE BOYS had a heavier ADAM ANT influence. The vocals and lead guitar co-exist beautifully, and are both catchy while avoiding stepping on each other’s toes. Rhythm section is tight and stays in the pocket, letting the guitars shine. Great clean tone from both axes. Lovely record here, and very much recommended.

Desiccate Desiccate demo cassette

Man. I love this. DIY to its fullest. No-bullshit, heavy noise punk from the Great White North. Not a lot of nuance to their songs, but they don’t need it. DESICCATE isn’t here to be flashy. They’re here to fucking rock. Honestly, that’s what I like to see from bands these days. Energy that transcends the medium. No over-the-top production, no more than three takes. There’s no need for any ego-stroking solos here. Just the white-knuckle grip of a barre chord, the howl of indecipherable vocals, the grounded melody of a bass run, and a steady but powerful drum beat.

Alien Nosejob Stained Glass LP

This band is everywhere I look. I swear, I had three friends text me this album the day it dropped. With good reason, too. It rips! Guitar-worship to its fullest out of Melton, Australia. The press-release for this slab likens it to AC/DC. While that may be true for tracks like “Coastal Living 2,” I think the majority of the record sounds more like the NEW YORK DOLLS mashed with ZZ TOP. And not even just early-era TOP. I’m talking about the ’80s shit where they took a lot of risks, especially with “Sharp as a Needle” where the rhythm section really comes out for the first time. Speaking of, the bass and drums are tight as hell. I honestly can’t tell if it’s real drums or the best drum machine I’ve ever heard. Bass stays in the pocket for the majority of the record, and really gives the guitars the time to shine. Fantastic album, but seeing as it’s from Total Punk, you may already know that.

Sweet Reaper Microdose EP

Lovely little four-song slab from Ventura, California’s SWEET REAPER. Energetic, vocal-driven power pop with such a clean guitar tone that you’d think they were playing from an original 1950s Telecaster. Vocals are very melodic, and bring to mind MARKED MEN, RADIOACTIVITY, and a slew of other Dirtnap bands. Helps warm the bones on these chilly winter nights. Great stuff.

Mala Vista Ruthless & Toothless LP

I don’t know about the rest of you, but power pop has always struck me as one of the most “dangerous” forms of music—even more so than hardcore and the like. Something about a bunch of tatted-up dudes having the confidence to play sugary-sweet rock’n’roll has one hell of an edge. Lovely album from this NYC quartet. Very reminiscent of EXPLODING HEARTS and EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS, especially with the vocals. They’re not reinventing the wheel here, but the songs are catchy as all hell and the guitars sound great with crisp, soaring riffs. Makes me nostalgic for my younger years, wandering the streets of Chicago after a couple drinks.

Ingrown Gun LP

Classic straightedge metalcore out of Boise, Idaho. More emphasis on the “core” than the “metal,” the way it should have always been. The length of the songs is a unique twist on a genre that’s usually known for its long, drawn-out ballads. Brutally fast at points, transitioning into some of the slowest and lowest breakdowns I’ve heard in years—the kind of breakdown that makes me want to zip up my hoodie and head into the pit. Production is crisp, with everything sounding crystal clear. You can hear every little detail. Very reminiscent of DEADGUY and all the bands you’d hear from Spook City back in the day.

High Cost What’s Living Worth? 12″

Heavy powerviolence out of NYC. The drums are incredible, going from blistering fast speeds to slow and low breakdowns within mere seconds. The guitars and bass follow along just as closely, and appear to borrow some tricks from black and thrash metal, a really dark tone set early on that continues through the whole record. The vocals are easily the most impressive part: raw, unwavering barking that comes off very natural and relentless. Doesn’t sound like they had to resort to studio tricks to give them that edge. Speaking of, fantastic production and tight as hell.

Cloud Rat Cloud Rat Redux LP

A remastered, partially re-recorded version of Michigan grindcore trio CLOUD RAT’s debut album. If you’re familiar with them, then you heard this when it first came out over a decade ago. The record itself is great; the guitar swapping between relentlessly brutal and beautifully elegant riffs. The drums embody the classic grind element, while the vocals are non-stop barbarity from the moment you hit play. There’s a reason why this band is one of the top players in the game today. I just don’t think I understand the point of reworking the album—I personally think the original release still sounds better. If you’re a grind fan who appreciates ever-evolving production, then you’ll love this.

Ann Beretta Like a Riot! Live From the Broadberry (Acoustic) LP

More proof that the line between country and punk is much thinner than you’d think. Originally released in 2020, this 2018 live recording of Richmond’s own ANN BERETTA features live, acoustic renditions of their typically electric originals. It’s popped back up on our radar because DCxPC Live recently gave this album a limited vinyl release. Much like other country-adjacent punk bands such as DRAG THE RIVER and TWO COW GARAGE, these songs are a fine mix of debauchery and sentimentalism. The heavy use of a pedal steel and fiddle pushes the tender vibe while helping fill the gap that’s been left from going acoustic. Strong vocals, very reminiscent of Ben Nichols from LUCERO—very gruff but melodic at the same time. Personally, I enjoy these versions way more than their traditional punk songs. Really adds to a stronger dynamic and makes it much more interesting.

C.O.F.F.I.N. / Mini Skirt split EP

A fantastic split between two Australian punk bands. MINI SKIRT is up first with a very bass-driven style. The vocals come off monotone at times, but there’s something I really like about them. They feel authentic and sincere, especially on “Bag of Bones,” which appears to be a love song. Feels similar to Frankie Stubbs of LEATHERFACE. MINI SKIRT can be a little repetitive at times, but again, it works for them. C.O.F.F.I.N has a very different dynamic. Guitar-driven tracks with a vocalist that could be described as a punk rock MEAT LOAF. Very theatrical, especially when the piano lead comes in on “Under Your Wing.” This split works because the bands sound different enough to keep it fresh, but similar enough that you’ll be happy with both sides if you dig this sound.

Jade Dust Wild Geese LP

This band describes themselves as being influenced by mid-to-late DC melodic hardcore, and man, let me tell you…they’re either extremely self-aware, or they’ve done a great job learning how to reproduce that sound. My first thoughts went straight to RITES OF SPRING, EMBRACE, and GRAY MATTER. There’s a little bit of twinkling Midwest emo spread throughout as well. The vocals are energetic and melodic, they’re arguably the strongest part of these recordings. The guitar can be formulaic at points, but they sound great when they come out of the pocket. If you’re a fan of the late ’80s Dischord sound, you will love JADE DUST.