Johnny Leach

The Covids Bust to Bits LP

Debut record from the Amsterdam four-piece the COVIDS.  From end to end, this record delivers straight-ahead poppy punk rock harmonies and power chords. Topics cover the typical: not wanting to work in a factory, forced authority, socioeconomic clash, etc. It’s standard fare with a touch of TEENAGE HEAD and some rather annoying vocals. What gleams from this quite ordinary listening experience is the production, the drumming and crunchy guitar tones in “Get Up” and “Night Tight” in particular. Sound quality becomes a slight inducement, a rarity…

Parasit / Svaveldioxid split EP

Powerhouse Swede D-beat split. SVAVELDIOXID and PARASIT both bring two insanely blistering tracks. PARASIT has a metal diet…if you need to know what XASTHUR on vocals fronting SKITSYSTEM is, this is a starting point. I will not bore you with any more inside analogies for SVAVELDIOXID, let’s say there is a lot to love. I think this is around the twelfth release that the band has produced, and each one is consistently solid in its ferocity.  Someone please buy the drummer a beer for me. 

Country Jeans Put Your J. On cassette

Some bluesy, scratchy songs taped on a four-track. I believe COUNTRY JEANS is at the moment a solo project. This has some moments that are a good listen and remind me a little bit of the COUNTRY TEASERS (“Put My Jeans On”), however the body of work as a whole is lackluster. It comes off unfinished for all the wrong reasons. 

Golers Die Now Pay Later LP

I can hear this band blasting in the background of a Vegas tattoo studio. I mean, I guess I get it, but it did not do a lot. The record is pretty monotonous throughout. If you are a big crossover fan, I can see this clicking. The cartoon artwork is cool.

Highschool Dropouts Highschool Dropouts LP

Black-leather-clad pop punk from the sunny rolling hills of central Tuscany. HIGHSCHOOL DROPOUTS fill their self-titled record out with enough downstroking, palm muting, and “oh-oh-oh-ohhhh”s to satiate any lover of early PARASITES or VINDICTIVES. The timing is impressive and the production is heat. The band put this album out in 2002 and has since broken up and gotten back together a couple of times. The four-piece’s output varies within their discography; they seem to have moved away from the energy that blasts from this slab of vinyl. This is the time capsule that you should start with.

The Go Don’t Take Her Away EP reissue

Long-lost power pop from the mean streets of Yonkers circa 1980. Looks like this four-song recording was it for the group. A couple of great straightforward rockers and a couple lukewarm crooners (“Tomorrow Night,” “She Gives a Color to Me”).  All is worth it upon hearing “Instant Reaction;” there is a deep honesty in the vocals and you can hear the steam in the room.  They credit Rob Freeman on production duties, who was known at the time for his engineering work with the RAMONES, which adds up. Breakout Records is the shit, I have not met a release of theirs that didn’t slap me around.

Nostrils Undaunted EP

The NOSTRILS did not make it past the songs on this eight-track EP, a time capsule that the good folks at Supreme Echo remastered from an old cassette from the lead singer of the band. These guys sound like the REPLACEMENTS with Joey Shithead recording a demo in a Winnipeg barn. Each song is fast, grimy, and reeks of an old tavern where you forgot your debit card. They could have been very comfortably at home on Rip Off Records. Who wouldn’t love a song called “Poverty Soup”?

Anti-Machine Too Many Eyes EP

There is a dragon that I have been chasing away at since I was a wee little shithead. It’s finding a moment that gets me closer to the initial, cautious, and addictive feelings of first contact with grimy, dark hardcore. It’s fleeting, to say the least, until a band like ANTI-MACHINE comes around and dishes it.  This is the band’s follow-up to their October 2021 self-titled EP, and like their first recorded offering, it destroys and brings pause. Too Many Eyes is loud, fast, and bleeding in vomit.  Who the fuck are these people? The NYC five-piece  shares some of the same mechanics as contemporaries 80HD and KINETIC ORBITAL STRIKE, with a feel of early BORN AGAINST. There is a place for some old fart like myself to situate themselves into this, for that I thank the band. Hail ANTI-MACHINE.

Consensus Madness Madness EP

New Iron Lung dispatch from Illinois in the form of a four-piece brimming with bratty holy terror. This appears to be the band’s debut EP, with seven tracks that encapsulate a pounding and catchy fervor through the track list. Lyrics are minimal and screamed by Sarah (no last name given) with more heart than most could muster, in a delivery reminiscent of Kirsten Patches. Start with “Confined.”  Hopefully more scathing punk rock is coming soon.

Heavenly Blue 4 Track EP

Four bong-loaders from the foggy shores of Nova Scotia. Bluesy, crunchy rockers with a generous helping of tambourine, with the stand-out track for me being the opener “Push On Through.” The EP doesn’t do a ton after that which holds on too much, and treads in murky stoner rock waters until the last cut. The EP is a bit of a different frequency for a MRR review, but slightly pleasurable nonetheless. This is the band from that aging hippie guy who owns the head shop down the street.

Golpe Assuefazione Quotidiana EP

D-beat à la Milano. This is classic bass-and-drums crushing punk. Great EP with a strong track list that will give your veins the fix it needs without taking you for an unexpected turn. Must we give comparative band names? You know this story well. The drummer steals the show and is a standout throughout. Don’t believe me? Start with “Teoria en Practica” and work your way back. Lots of merch from these capitalist-hating punkers…buy a shirt from these dudes.

Chain Whip Call of the Knife LP

Have not heard from Vancouver, BC’s CHAIN WHIP since the mighty 14 Lashes LP that got into my hands late 2020 or so. There have been a couple of releases from them that have slipped by me, but this one is just killer and filled to the brim with aggro, brutish squeals from a gutter. Listen  to “Toothless,” “Teenage Kinks,” or the slowed-down “State Hornets,” and tell me this isn’t CAREER SUICIDE by way of ’80s Huntington Beach. Until the band does a proper Midwest/cowtown tour, I am relegated to YouTubing the hell out of them. Living in Europe? Go see them now. Neon Taste has my money.

Landowner Escape the Compound LP

LANDOWNER puts emphasis on the limitations that they place on the creative process of the band, which in turn are clean, distortion-free guitar and bass tones, minimal drumming, and  almost spoken-word vocals. The results are intriguing, albeit somewhat repetitive and dinky.  There are moments to be had, with the diamond in the rough being when the band creates some melodies behind their usual tin march in the song “Thousands of Years in Fast Forward.” Beyond that, I feel that I am listening to early MEAT PUPPETS in 8-bit on a repetitive loop.

Theee Retail Simps Rubble / Jumpin’ Jack Off 7″

Snotty, psychopathic garage punk from Montreal’s THEE RETAIL SIMPS. Good shit, a lot more unruly than I have heard on previous releases from the band. Two tracks that somehow keep all moving parts together, starting with the killer opener “Rumble.” The production is filth of the highest order, and does not veer from the expected sleazy joy that I would expect from the good people at Goodbye Boozy, with “Jumpin’ Jack Off” in honor of Mick’s birthday to finish off the 45.

Headcheese Expired LP

There is not much (if anything) to dislike about Expired, the new LP from the Kamloops, B.C. quartet HEADCHEESE. Upon first listen, I needed to stop what I was doing and devote all of my usually non-existent attention to the situation at hand. Each track gets more antagonizing and tightly wound, sounding eerily like VOID if they had been produced by Spot. The band is new to me, but from what little I have gathered, they are bound by family ties between two members, come from a small river town riddled with wildlife, and even opened for D.O.A.?  This tops my year-end list for sure. Keep going HEADCHEESE, you rule.

Sympos Hard as Nail Punts EP

This EP paints itself into a corner pretty early into the first track. Tough guys singing about tough shit amongst the “Oi! Oi! Oi!”s, and bellyachings. The EP comes off as a satire (maybe that’s the point?) before we hit the halfway mark, and it is hard to take any of it with a straight face. Why does it all come off as antagonizing? Hope I don’t get beat up now.

Enemic Interior II EP

Great fucking name. The band behind it  puts out some pretty standard fare, working dad Oi!  The influences are worn in, tried and true with all the comforts. “Les Ombres” shifts things slightly with a well-tied riff that summons as much of the COCKSPARRER gods as can fit into a minute and forty seconds. Wanted to like it.

Tube Alloys Magnetic Point LP

L.A. (by way of Australia) post-punkers with a knack for all the Colin Newman-isms. The songs on Magnetic Point deliver an encomium to the post-punk gods of yesteryear, with production that matches the time and place. Lots to like, for sure—a little GANG OF FOUR, with a lot of WIRE. If Mark Perry sang for SWELL MAPS, this would be the sound. The music is provoking and doesn’t get stuck in the rut of parody while mixing electronic ambient breaks like “The Redactor” and “Machine Learning” throughout the record. Was a good listen.

Kinetic Orbital Strike The True Disaster EP

D-beat crust from Philly with Chris Ulsh from POWER TRIP on guitar. The EP is tough, with enough grit and vitriol to spread to the masses. All  tracks are  from the same recording sessions as KINETIC ORBITAL STRIKE’s first demo that came out in ’22. Each song on the EP is sizable with the usual comforts of the genre, and for me brings to mind DISFEAR’s Soul Scars era. I think the tad slowed-down track “True Disaster” takes the cake. Get it.

Top Left Club Turn and Burn LP

Beer-soaked from Brighton’s shores, TOP LEFT CLUB deals out pop-inflected pub punk rock. This brings me back to the all-ages club of my pimply punk rock teens. The songs are what you would expect, with a tinge of retro-ish Farfisa synth touches. Kind of EPOXIES meets “take your pick of early ’90s Lookout!”—fun for a few cuts, but probably not an album’s worth. I would’ve happily shoulder-tapped a Night Train and seen them live, however.

Los Invasores Demo 1987 LP

Vinyl treatment for a long-lost demo from Uruguayan punkers LOS INVASORES. Twangy, surf-inflected, and full of spit and piss. The tone of each of these songs will have you asking yourself “did these gents plug straight into the mixing board?”. Maybe…of the fourteen songs on the long-player, start with “Lamentos” and move into “Orguilo.” The tone is like they are using pennies as guitar picks. What!? Buy the vinyl if it’s not sold out.

Glaas Cruel Heart, Cold Summer EP

“Cruel Heart, Cold Summer”—could there be a better banger (or name of a banger) of a summer anthem? The track has layers and layers of snot-ridden vitriol bellowing out of brass instruments, and a band shoveling out noise on a reverb loop. It has a little FLIPPER and a little CHROME and makes everything around it on the record kind of fall to the side. Not that the rest of the EP is bad; there is an artful combustion within each song and it carries on throughout. “Crossfire” is proof! And GLAAS is now a new favorite.

Paprika Smoked cassette

This kills. PAPRIKA has the depravity and spookiness combo down to a razor’s edge. This is blistering, crunchy heat throughout each track of the tour tape. What are they drinking? When can I see them? These four songs bring up more similar ponderings. I would get it just for the “You Tear Me Up” cover (the beat that made DISCHARGE?).

Stella Research Committee Killed Alive cassette

After a ten-year or so run, STELLA RESEARCH COMMITTEE treads on with what I am reading as the trio’s seventh and final release/onslaught. Which is very much the experience with Killed Alive…bombarding, repetitive spoken word to a backdrop of dark ambient noise and loops. This band has discovered power electronics and deploys the usual expectations of the genre within each DNA-influenced track. The result comes off like Mark E. Smith fronting an ATARI TEENAGE RIOT cover band. That might be good?   

The Stools R U Saved? LP

This record took a couple rounds to get my footing, but I’m connecting the dots. The STOOLS have put out a pretty substantial amount of material since 2017—I slightly remember the split they did with TOEHEADS and really digging it. This is a great record straight through, with a style that always does it for me. R U Saved? will make a fan out of anyone who loves the SCIENTISTS, ZZ TOP, or LAUGHING HYENAS. This is pugnacious, beer-stained Detroit punk. Blues à la John Brannon. Listen to “Tunnels,” and I will bet you five bucks you will agree.

Ond Cirkel Bräcklig Jord cassette

Great record from Swedish post-punk shoegazers. Very drifty set of songs, led by stabbing bass lines wrapped in soft vocals. The band brings a melancholic siren-song quality to Bracklig Jord, which, after doing a bit of research, looks like the band’s first full-length. All in all, the vocals from Sanna Lodin are the most resounding throughout the record. This is straight from the mid-’80s 4AD playbook. Worthy of many more listens.

Morwan Svitaye, Palaye cassette

Kyiv-based MORWAN’s third release of post-punk/darkwave was recently made during the most challenging circumstances any band could face (for obvious reasons). This is Alex Ashtaui’s document of life during wartime, and for that reason alone, it should have your full attention. The record pounds an atmospheric, tribal, surf-inflected psych sound into each track, addressing war and the havoc that surrounds it.  The cassette needs to be heard in full, with each song building on the next. It is one of the more impressive pieces of music that I have heard this year. Start with “Полетіли” and “Земля палає,” and it’s hard not to see the importance of this recording.

V2 Johnny Rocco / Car Crash 7″

Re-recording of a seminal and classic V2 track alongside one new one, “Car Crash.” This appears to be a predecessor to a forthcoming full-length in the works. The band has reformed somewhat recently, with the only original member being the guitar player. Nonetheless, the tracks sound good and have ’77 Manchester written all over them.

V/A Lifetime Problems: An International Tribute to the Dicks EP

Seven DICKS standards from all over the globe. The lineup is mainly European, by way of Melbourne and Connecticut. I could go 30/70 with the material—there seems to be a feeling left with some of the recordings that the bands (hello, GOODBYE JOHNNYS) could very well have punched a clock before the process began. The EP, however, is not devoid of meaty morsels that do kill from the heart (jesus, sorry). La Rochelle’s BART & THE BRATS’ cover of “Fake Bands” is a savage kill, and BRAT FARRAR replicates “Dead in a Motel Room” with a tone and feel that would make Gary Floyd proud.

Sial Sangkar EP

Since 2017 or so, SIAL has put out great record after great record, each one summoning more rage mixed through burning, buzzing psychedelic noise. The Singaporean band’s recent EP Sangkar brings more groove and swagger than I have noticed on their past releases. Case in point: the ripping opener “Tali” that is a can of deep bass drums, long, delayed reverb and…what is that? A tambourine? This record continues on with aural infectiousness. The track “Sia Sia” is ripping end to end with a hand-clapping break in the middle of the song. Perfect and just off the D-beaten path enough to bring a different perspective. 

The Toms The Toms 2xLP reissue

A relic from ‘79 gets the reissue treatment from Feel It. Who the hell are the TOMS? From what I have gathered, this project is from an older Jersey guy, Tom Marolda—songwriter, composer, performer, movie soundtrack writer, etc. Not finding much on any other musicians involved in the project. This is really sweet music, cloying in fact. Like consuming a box of glazed donuts, I can feel my teeth hurting after the long march of heavy-duty power popness that makes up the 24 tracks on this LP. There are moments to be had for sure, but in the end, the production is squeaky clean and the songs way too repetitive. This might be for some, but I need more sharp edges.

Model Citizen Live at Dial Back Sound LP

MODEL CITIZEN is composed of members of DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS and the DEXATEENS. Apparently this LP marks the groups first release in years, like since the late ’90s or something crazy. Some of these tracks have a STRAWBERRY ZOTS feel, really pop-oriented with a ton of organ. I think I’m good, maybe the band’s namesake song is kinda OK? This is like being trapped in a truckstop bar, get me out of here!

The Whiffs Scratch ‘N’ Sniff LP

Scratch ‘N’ Sniff is the sophomore suite of songs from the WHIFFS, whom Dig Records have billed as “Kansas City’s foremost power pop foursome.” From the oft-mimicked Hard Days Night cover art to the above statement, I was not eager to like this, writing it off as parody.  After tucking into each syrupy, twelve-string Rickenbacker-layered song, the record quickly became hard to turn off. This album reminds me of a lot of happiness that will soon get stuck in your head. The record seeps with great melodies and tight songwriting that becomes something more relatable and oddly familiar than first perceived. The album’s thirteen tracks each build on each other, without any weak filler. Sounds like the BYRDS covering the REPLACEMENTS, feels like Paul Weller when he rocked a turtleneck. Start with “Wanted” and “Pretender”—there is not a moment wasted, and the tracklist continues on with modern-world glee.

The Rubs (dust) LP

The RUBS make no-frills, verse-chorus-verse pop music. They have been at it for a while now, and have scrawled their name in the lengthy scroll of the Chicago pop punk sound that keeps on trucking. It has been a minute since I have seen this band around. I do remember hearing their single “The Walk” when it came out in 2015 and thinking that Joey Rubbish and company were on the  bluesy garage end of the spectrum…seven years later with (Dust), the band comes with much more of a synth-laden, dreamy pop punk feel. It all has the right feel with enough hooks, harmonies, and palmed guitar riffing to get the bubblegum popping. I feel that a good amount of the record’s tracks would almost do better with shortened lengths—the opener “I Want You” and “Dana” come to mind. I would buy this album just to listen to “Here in My Dream,” a sleepy, quiet composition. It is acoustic and woody and does not sound like the rest of the pack.

Shitstorm Demonic Alien EP

This EP checks the boxes. There is all the snarl and sass that one would expect from such a band that is SHITSTORM. There is some PRISON AFFAIR for sure, laced with vocals that could easily be coming from B.A.’s offspring. The tracks are all fast and just kinda furious, with the sloppy lyrics being the only point of discord throughout the listen. The party ends with the slow-moving tank of a track “Get It Right.” Hell yeah! Let Missouri continue to be the depository of this satisfying filth. I can feel the septic Midwest bubbling away.

Exaltrist Demonstration of Violence ’22 cassette

Great four-song cassette from a trampler of a band. EXALTARIST is a combined effort from members from other Jacksonville obliterators UNREGISTERED WEAPON and MANIFEST IN FILTH. Lots of black metal-crusted feedback. These tracks all have enough vitriol to keep the lights on in each of the blistering tracks on the cassette. Washed-out cymbals and just murky enough belches throughout each track that burn into each other. Really diggin’ the song “No Gun Ri,” can we ever get more of this?

Strange Attractor Good Boy Bad Boy LP

Drunken Sailor’s track record of killer material continues to burn the forward path. STRANGE ATTRACTOR brings the snotty fringe from the far-flung corners of Sadbury, hard rock (mining) capital of the world. Admittedly, Good Boy Bad Boy took a few listens for me to glom onto, but after letting this one settle in, I’m a believer. The whole record skips through eighteen tracks in under seventeen minutes of jaded and despondent garage punk. These people are devotees of the school of ANGRY SAMOANS, with a bit of Finish Your Popcorn-era F.Y.P. Call me crazy, but I am picking up on a little PERE UBU? Now go on tour.

Destripados Lenguas Venenosas LP

The Portland scene continues to churn out some of the best and most unique hardcore/D-beat. Case in point: DESTRIPADOS (“gutted”), a four-piece consisting of members from Peru and Columbia who have created a masterfully blistering, ear-bleeding record of hell on earth. A few of the songs are delivered in Spanish, and each one tears the world apart layer by layer. Throughout each track, the band’s delivery and sordid energy is punishing and does not leave a second to waste. Some CRUCIFIX and VARUKERS meets TOTALITÄR, with lots of songs ending with a persistent and desperate falling shriek. DESTRIPADOS do not slouch on a single track throughout the Lenguas Venenosas LP, with “Eat N Shut Up,” “Deadly Pathogen,” and the album’s title track being prime examples. I really, really dig this record. Please come and play in my hometown.

Maldita Maldita LP

MALDITA is a four-piece from Toronto, and this is the group’s first LP of raw, metal-tinged street punk with vocals sung in Spanish by Rosa Venerosa. Throughout the record, the themes stick to politics and the chaos surrounding them, all whilst being dispatched with an intense and annihilating intonation. There is the low-hanging fruit of ESKORBUTO to compare the band to, as well as some metal-tinged ANTI CIMEX sound brought to mind. The opening track “Trabajo” kills. The production is all I want to hear on a record (wiry, drowned vocals, crunchy).  Throughout the LP the band does not let up and pummels through all ten tracks, almost all of them over two minutes each. However, the only minor qualm is the slight repetition with both style and lyrics. To illustrate this I would point to “Todos Muertos,” which was a bit rough to get through, but nothing that takes away from the whole of the record.

208 Nearby LP

This is the first LP from 208, a guitar-and-drums duo from Detroit. The sound all throughout is swampy and completely blown-out, almost to the point of making the whole recording sound as one. Imagine Jet Generation slowed down and blasted through an overdriven bass amp. 208 has the key words that I am usually immediately drawn to: blues, basement, and Detroit; however, in this case it’s impossible for me to get past the mixing. It’s a “once you hear it you can’t unhear it” kind of situation. I am sure that underneath the wall of murk there is something very engaging to be had. I bet they kill it live, it’s all about context right!?!?

Science Man Nines Mecca LP

This band first caught my attention when it was just a one-person project. John Toohill (singer) has since put together a group of like-minded curiosities to record with him on Nines Mecca. The album connects the dots between MC5 and ELECTRIC CHAIR with some metal riffing to carry the weight. Might sound more interesting than it actually is? There is not a ton of variety, as the album’s tracks list all bleed into one another. Standouts for me would be the “The Sign” and “Old Timer,” which offer a bit of refuge from monotony and display a level of vocal terror that could chum around with a young Jerry A. Would be interested to see how the new group continues to formulate.

Mick’s Jaguar Salvation LP

MICK’S JAGUAR so generously bestows upon us the sound of the aged and imposing hipster. This group could easily be your weird uncle’s bar band with the local guitar hero. The album’s cover art of two horses mid-mount could only be their homage to the cover of BLOODHOUND GANG’s The Bad Touch single. From the start, Salvation kicks it into neutral and ghost-rides ten tracks downhill. This is pretty bad. The album is chock full of glammy and hackneyed sleaze paired with flashy guitar solos which don’t go anywhere. If you can imagine El Duce singing for a HANOI ROCKS cover band while listening to this body of work, the humor of that image will get you through the slog.

Z-Pak Z-Pak demo cassette

This demo is one distressing crash after another distressing crash. The sound is damp and a little off-time, with waves of reverb and squealing vocals that bring a lot of early LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS to mind right from the start. The band is from Philly, and this appears to be the first cassette out for them. I will for sure make time for this band with what comes next. Get into it.

The Dirts II cassette

Second album outta the Swedish band the DIRTS. From the start, this is a fuzzy and psychedelic reverb-riddled exercise in Garage 101. Songs move in and out of each other without much distinction, while carrying a looming and grinding bass guitar pounding that  keeps the whole ship afloat. Nothing great, but nothing to complain about either—you have everything packaged and delivered in the most comprehensive and indulgent way. I would listen to it all again if it came my way. Could the estate of JAY REATARD please get some royalties for this?

Ingrates Don’t Wanna Work / Leather Lover 7″

This EP has a slight transporting effect and breams with teenage eagerness. INGRATES hail from the cosmic, otherworldly desert of Joshua Tree and don’t want to work, to the extent of singing a song about the matter. Who the hell can blame them? The title track is the drunken, power pop-tinged record I want to hear in the damp, dark corner of a bar. The slightly longer B-side moves into more lo-fi pop harmonizing in the name of leather endearment. The EP summons a time when the BOYS screamed “Brickfield Nights” and does a good job doing so.  It’s the record I could see my thirteen-year-old self buying with saved lunch money.

Chainsaw When Will We Die? EP

Straightforward D-beat from Boston from members of BRAINKILLER and SUNSHINE WARD.  This is all very much by the book and does not disappoint yet does not provoke. Is that a bad thing? There is a bit of DOOM (Pickering-era), some smatterings of FROM ASHES RISE, and a heavy dose of SHITLICKERS. Add your stock dejected, grainy cover image (anarchy symbol required) and a track list replete with nihilistic song titles and away we go!!!

Frvits Stupid Era EP

A fluctuating debut EP from a Canadian four-piece that brings together what sounds like (and comes off as) unfinished song after unfinished song. This is rough, I can’t grasp any of it without pondering what the amount or type of substances consumed to produce this body of work could possibly have been. Each song becomes progressively more annoying throughout the six songs, with the climax at the end with “Your Shopping Cart Misses You.” Blag Dahlia is somewhere on this EP, but I could not make him out on any track. Bad apples.

Mutated Void Roses Forever LP

MUTATED VOID creates brilliant, foggy, and damp hardcore/terror on their debut fifteen-minute LP. To me, this record stands out and is a proven addictive substance. Who is this band? There is an odd and arresting mystery to them. They are a two-piece, right? They worship skateboarding, I think? Could it be that ABSU and DIE KRUEZEN (Cows and Beer-era) birthed an orphan love child who is now lost in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, screaming to be found? Its only hope of surviving in a cold cinder block basement is a headlong caterwauling in the form of Roses Forever

The Battlebeats You Don’t Know Me EP

This EP is a crusher, there isn’t anything that doesn’t work for me on this. Super catchy, hard and straightforward garage. Zero filler. You Don’t Know Me brings a lot of the RIP OFFS, the GORIES, and the DEVIL DOGS to mind. BATTLEBEATS are a three-piece band who hail from the verdant mountain city of Bandung, West Java. They have been at it for a seemingly brief period, which makes listening to this punky volcanic blast that much more powerful and fun. May they continue to destroy.

Crime Light crime​​/​​​/​​shame​​/​​​/​​illumination cassette

This is CRIME LIGHT’s debut five-song cassette. Each cut brings a very classic meat-and-potatoes hardcore sound with a touch of metal riff seasonings. The overall feel of the group and the samples they use throughout this tape brings to mind early INCENDIARY and HIS HERO IS GONE. The eponymous ending track adds a new layer of vocal harmonizing to the mix which is a satisfying left turn. Keep it coming. I wanna see them play now.

Foil Peruvian Coke flexi EP

Short and ferocious, Peruvian Coke is a wall of reverb and distortion-drenched spleen and spit.  KCMO’s FOIL has been kicking around for a few years, and the band has released a handful of demos and cassettes, some through the band’s lead screamer Jame Mendenhall’s Dirtbag Distro. All three tracks on this are very solid and bring Grown Up Fucked Up-era RETARDS to mind a bit. I need more.

Balcanes Gloria Eterna LP

From the sunny shores of a Spanish paradise comes a cruel and pounding noise. BALCANES wear their love for early-era SWANS and SCRATCH ACID on their sleeves, and it comes together in a way that makes it difficult for me to put down my headphones. Throughout Gloria Eterna’s nine tracks, the band combines bass-driven repetition and guitar loops along with harsh and ambient noise, layering the LP into a dark, sludgy stew. Standout tracks “Futuro @!&*#,” “Ciudad Campamento,” and “La Paz No Durara” show the range of sonic exploits that are in the band’s arson. All of the material comes off very real and genuine throughout the record, closing with “Bona Nit,” a piano-and-sax piece that could hold hands and kiss with Obey-era BRAINBOMBS. Live footage of the band that I found online gets my corroded arteries humming. Great record, get it.

Grimple / Logical Nonsense A Darker Shade of Grey split LP reissue

Reissue of the GRIMPLE and LOGICAL NONSENSE ’94 split; classic hardcore bands formed in New Mexico that stand up considerably today. GRIMPLE’s sound is so incredibly tight on this recording, there is a bit of metal and a lot of BORN AGAINST. The vocals that Greg Valencia brings and the effect of the production are incredible and bring back years gone by. “Infierno,” “System Fukers,” and “Forever Fuked” are highlights. LOGICAL NONSENSE brings a heavy set of rapid-fire grindcore to the B-side. All are drilling, guttural assaults in the best of all ways. The split ends with a killer WENDY-O MATIK spoken piece. Both bands are almost outdoing each other throughout, very killer stuff.

Mononegatives New Exit in Shards EP

Canadian synth punk with a heavy dose of MAGAZINE and COLIN NEWMAN. What starts off with a vivacious feel in the first steps of the EP soon becomes pretty disjointed and overexerted. The EP contains three minimal, bass-driven tracks with some synth-y backing. The B-side kinda reminds me of CHROME. Maybe I just need more time on this…I do remember stumbling upon Apparatus Division (their 2021 LP) and having a more positive reaction to the band.  

Satanic Togas / Zoids split EP

SATANIC TOGAS charge through this split with all the grit, dirt, and swag. The Sydney three-piece has the sound and feel of dusty, bluesy garage, all while being screamed through a telephone. I get PUSSY GALORE by way of Detroit. Great stuff from what I would expect of a Goodbye Boozy band, both songs carry the weight in under three minutes of ripping.   ZOIDS are a tough one to nail down, I can’t find any info on them for the life of me. On the split, they start where SATANIC TOGAS left off, but without any solid footing. There is nothing in their two songs that sync up, and at times I feel like I am listening through the walls of two different bands’ rehearsals. Rough.

The Templars La Premiere Croisade LP

Noted as the lost first TEMPLARS album, I was surprised to see that this even existed. La Premiere Croisade includes the band’s first EP Poor Knights of Acre, as well as a handful of songs from the same recording sessions. This is your classic Oi!, through the lens of mid ’90s teenage Long Island. It lands with chugging tempos, plenty of string bending, and faux-British accent growls. Comes off like BLITZ circa Voice of a New Generation, but more lo-fi and with less production. Cool to see this reissue happen and hear a scene from a time and place long ago—the LP satisfies the street punk itch and will have you in braces by the last cut.

DJINN Hell is Real cassette

DJINN, like the invisible spirits the band shares a name with, seems to be a mystery. They hail from Hammond, Indiana, but beyond that I am at a loss with any other details. Their Hell is Real cassette is straightforward harcore with a knack for horror themes and fury. There is definitely a slight metal influence within the band and a rabidly atonal hollering that carries the load.  The band keeps it tight, and the drumming in particular stampedes through twelve tracks in under fifteen minutes.  It adds up to something that in the end becomes a bit stale and dry. 

The Reflectors Faster Action LP

Cake icing. The REFLECTORS are sweet, almost cloying, but balanced, more like butter cream?  On Faster Action, the L.A. power pop foursome belts out a crisp twelve songs in the vein of the ZEROS, mixed with equal parts PHIL SEYMOUR. The band has done their homework and put an emphasis on riff-laden lead guitar, vocal harmony, and lyrics that Chrissie Hynde would approve of. The LP has some great standouts like “All Made Up,” “Radio Signals,” and “Can’t Sleep Tonight” that bring the aesthetic and sensibility that defines power pop. Throughout the cuts you can hear the REFLECTORS coming together and finding their sound, which adds to the appeal. Faster Action is catchy and yummy with a little filling, look forward to seeing what’s next for this band.