Ryan Hertel

Sludgeworth Losers of the Year LP reissue

Here we have a reissue of an already posthumous compilation album from a SCREECHING WEASEL-affiliated band that predicted the ’90s Midwest pop punk that would eventually birth that weird, crooning dude-sweat style that VFW hall punk bands did in the late ’90s/early ’00s. It is both a time capsule and something that the Riot Fest crowd would freak out about if it was recorded and released today. It feels like the hype around the original couple GASLIGHT ANTHEM releases, when they were maybe the new saviors of Americana punk or something. There’s just something here that’s tangible and timeless that sticks with you. The fact that there’s still enough warranted interest in this release 30 years after the band broke up (and almost 28 years after this was originally released on Lookout!) is testament to how perfectly this collection captures a feeling that many of us want to experience over and over. It’s also one of a million examples of the second track on an album always being awesome, with “Someday,” originally from their only LP, What’s This?, taking that spot here.

The Brokedowns Maximum Khaki LP

I relentlessly wished every nearby human who would listen a “Happy Kony 2013” (and 2014, 2015, and so on) every New Year’s Day for almost a whole decade and did not get tired of that incredibly stupid joke. I am therefore very happy to see “Kony 2022” as a track title on the new BROKEDOWNS album. This is a collection of fourteen straight-ahead punk music moments, most under ninety seconds each, with tongues shoved into cheeks and maybe other places. A prime example of what’s being presented here is the EXPLOITED sequel no one asked for, “UK82 Pt. 2: The Olds Are Not Alright.” If you’re slowly finding yourself past your physical peak at shows lately, “I’m Sore” is the new anthem the crowd that stands in the back now has been waiting for. It also serves as a rad showcase for the guitar section. If you find comfort in the awkwardly warm embrace of Midwest punk à la DILLINGER FOUR or the LAWRENCE ARMS with just a smidge of GOOD RIDDANCE thrown in, there are a few fun little ditties for you on this album. You also can’t be mad about the option to get in on the mature and business-like khaki-colored vinyl.

Verrat Zeiten der Leere LP

VERRAT is pissed-off at the state of things. The world is falling apart, the populace is in despair, and these Austrian crust punks spend about a third of their album yelling at us about it in English and the rest in their native German tongue. This is certainly a standout recent album in the genre. The whole band operates like a furious machine, taking just enough influence from black metal guitars and death metal vocals to make their own aggressive crust punk sound. The vocalist, Emil, puts up fierce competition against the guitars and both end up winning. There is no weak point or rest break on this album as it blasts straight at you for just over half an hour before letting us reflect in terror during the meditative and desperate instrumental outro. “Jahre Dunkler Verse” and “A Toxic Whole” are tracks that especially stand out. It can be hard to tell if this album is meant to be a wake-up call or just a declaration that there’s no hope left. It will likely take more than a few listens for the listener to make their own determination.

World Burns to Death The Sucking of the Missile Cock LP reissue

This hardcore classic has been re-mastered (though seemingly still with a layer of mud caked over the speakers to maintain some authenticity) to remind us of what the state of hardcore was in 2002 right after 9/11 when George W. Bush was in office. The anger and disdain is visceral, likely leading to the staying power of this album. Everything on here is so perfectly put together that it sounds like it could have been written and recorded last week. “Whom the Gods Destroy…They First Make Ridiculous” is a face-bludgeoning anthem that sticks with you. “The Dead Sing This Hymn” has a ridiculously strong intro that is likely to cause you to thrash around whatever room you happen to be in. Perhaps it’s a good idea to put away any fragile items before you put this one on. Even if you played this one a thousand times twenty years ago, it’s time for a revisit. This album also reminded me that it’s been a while since I’ve pulled out any SEVERED HEAD OF STATE records, so I’m going to get on that, too.

Loose Nukes Fast Forward to Extinction LP

This is a re-release and upgrade of the initial 2017 demo released by this Houston hardcore powerhouse. I’d usually be a champion for just recording new music and moving on if you weren’t thrilled with your original release, but there were some real good bones here. You can see why they chose to revamp the track list and drop/add some songs from the same time period. What we have ended up with is a complete album from a band that sounds like they’ve reached full maturity despite only recording their first songs together as this group. They keep it tight too, with only one song out of thirteen just barely passing the 1:45 mark. It’s also awe-inspiring to listen to the vocalist, Mike, fit every word into his allotted time. Following along with the lyric page while listening, you are given the impression it cannot be done before hearing it. Along the same line, I was highly amused when, on “White People Problems,” there was just a note that said whatever he was singing didn’t seem to match with what was written, so they just put in a line of question marks. That was much more amusing than just not even trying to write down the lyrics for the verse sections of “Earwax,” also just a line of question marks. Pick this up if you want to hear a hardcore band that came out of the womb angry and good at it.

Dropdead Live AS220 11/3/20 cassette

Lots of comedians, podcasters, and rock and/or roll musicians did live streams during the height of the pandemic, but this is the closest to feeling like a steamy hardcore show that came out of the suddenly inflated genre of live audience-less performances. In this case, if you didn’t know, you’d probably never guess this wasn’t in front of a crowd. The energy is there. The aggression is there. DROPDEAD is doing what they do best: fast, angry hardcore with a liberal sprinkling of animal rights. The first half of the set is made up of almost half of their newest album from 2020, Dropdead 2020. The rest of the set is made of a mix from the rest of their previous 30 years of existence. If you’re a newcomer, this is a perfect introduction. If you’re an old fan from way back, then you already know that you need to check this out. It’s easily in the running for best “live” release of 2021. “The Cost of an Animal,” one of their longer songs by clocking in at one minute and twelve seconds, is one of the standouts of the set. You can feel Bob Otis strangling the microphone while the rest of the band takes their instruments to their physical limits.

V/A Unearth’d: Underground Deathrock, Post-Punk, and Darkwave LP

This is surely a collection of 1988 goth club classics, right? These are certainly some the CULT and GENE LOVES JEZEBEL B-sides that have been forgotten to history? Nope! This is some new shit and it’s just that good! While leaning heavily on Athens, GA and North Carolina, this compilation throws in a few acts from various other states, Europe, and Canada as well. It’s like when Suicide Girls released that classic goth comp in 2005 and everyone suddenly thought they were an expert on the genre, except this is bands that are up-and-coming and actually need the attention. SOLEMN SHAPES provide “Concealed” to the mix, and its industrial drumbeat acts counter intuitively to the slow, anxiety-inducing build of whispers and chants that end up going a little wild on you.  If Bologna, Italy’s HORROR VACUI’s “Lost,” probably the strongest jam in the mix, doesn’t make you flail your limbs and lose control in a darkened room, then you have a soul. Deathrock is alive, no, dead and well, and this compilation proves it.

Wristwatch Wristwatch LP

WRISTWATCH asks the question, “What if the SPITS went for more of a synthy dance party vibe?” This is punk rock that turned down the RAMONES and added a lot more DEVO. This is what ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE would sound like much angrier and looking for a fight. This synth-garage duo is charmingly grating and forcibly danceable. You will fail to keep your hips still while jamming to this one. Coming from Madison, Wisconsin, they bring the music like only the Midwest can. If we can get this duo on tour with DEVON KAY & THE SOLUTIONS, KITTEN FOREVER, and DIRECT HIT!, it will be the greatest lineup the greater Milwaukee/Chicago area has spit up in a long time. This is the first release from WRISTWATCH, but if the two members can sit still without going back to their multiple other bands or just creating a few more, this project can have some long and interesting legs. Start with the track “Screwed,” and see if you can stop listening. You won’t. Blast it loud and preferably while standing up with nothing fragile nearby. Better yet, find a show and throw your show dollars at them so they keep it up.

Human Trophy Corpse Dream LP

Throw some middle-shelf gin in a cocktail shaker of post-punk and some aggro goth-rock to get what HUMAN TROPHY is laying down on this album. Illustrator Reuben Sawyer’s latest musical project comes fully formed and ready to overwhelm your senses. This is an immersive experience, and not an inch or second of this record feels out of place. The obvious and trite comparisons are BAUHAUS and JOY DIVISION, but there is a unique flavor here that needs to be experienced. The titular track, “Corpse Dream,” is a flailing rager that really distills down the magic of the whole album. The album closes heavy with “Blood Apex,” leaving you ready to start it all right back up again. With so much else going on, it feels impossible that Sawyer was able to provide his full attention to this project, and yet, it’s far superior to so many other albums from groups that you could tell tried their damnedest. This is some magically perfect shit. This and whatever comes next are not to be missed.

Prison Affair Demo II EP

If you want to put some wacky, wild, “blink and you’ll miss it”-style nerd-punk in your ear holes, PRISON AFFAIR is probably what you’ve been craving. With vocals echoing back and forth between the shrieking and megaphone-assisted to deep and menacing reverberations, there seems to be a chaotic balance in place here but just barely. Technically, you’re told that you’re listening to four sub-two-minute tracks, but the experience is more of a singular six-minute-plus manic dream. It’s as positive as it is sweaty and uncomfortable. It’s impossible to recommend a single track when they’re all tied together like a perfect knot and the whole experience is so yummy and easy to digest. If you’re sad that you never got to see DEVO live, get in on this Barcelona-based experience and fill that need.

Altar of Eden Chimeras cassette

ALTAR OF EDEN brings six tracks of faux-nihilist, gothy post-punk with a headache-inducing drum machine pounding loudly. “Matrix of Chaos” is good fodder for a darkly-lit dance party in a renovated basement. Step two feet to the right, then two feet to the left, and bang your head in time with your feet hitting the ground, repeat ad nauseam. You got it! Think ’80s deathrock that wants to be a little more hardcore, and you’re getting there. The real star of the album is the bassist keeping everything fluid, dance-y, and together next to the throbbing robot beat. If you’re a DJ at a local goth night, you know the kind with a dress code and $20 cover, this can be a fun new addition if your playlist is getting a little stale.

Video Prick Two Tracks flexi 7″

This is one of those teasers that is completely unfair. It’s almost cruel to be given something so rad with the promise of more to come but want it so badly right then and there. This is powerviolence-tinged hardcore with an almost imperceptible pinch of heavy metal guitar noodling. The two (as of yet unnamed) tracks are compelling all the way through and constantly morphing in a way that never lets you get complacent. The last ten seconds of track one are a true thrill. These two songs also display a massive improvement, especially in the vocals, from the demo that was released a little over a year ago. The upcoming LP will most assuredly be one to not miss.

Good Cop World Piss LP

This album is constantly jumping back and forth through different and sometimes contradictory sounds, sometimes in the same song. Throughout the entire experience, though, some naughty drums are getting beaten, and dirty, dirty guitars are getting strangled. This is high-energy, high aggression music with layers on layers on layers of vocals. “Neighbourhood” is an exemplary track that really shows the band’s range, with an indie dance music feel and angelic vocals giving way to muddy guitars and strained-vocal-chords-style shout-singing. It manages to be menacing and inviting at the same time. “Kickflip” is some skate punk that really makes you feel like it’s going to break into ska at any moment without ever actually doing it. The line “I wish you / Would get swine flu” on “Stay at Home” is maybe my favorite “fuck you” I’ve heard in a song in a while. GOOD COP is a very tight trio that really seems to be having fun while engaging in some good-times mockery of the power structures around them. World Piss shows that you can sound pissed-off any way that you damn please.

Kool & the Gang Bangers Year of the Kool EP

This is lo-fi, snotty, and angry punk from Sweden. If you close your eyes and think about the SPITS, you’re probably pretty close. There are two songs about wishing someone dead (“Make You Extinct,” “Wish You Were Dead”), one that’s so blatantly RAMONES-inspired that it leans into it hard enough to come back around the other side and feel totally original (“I’m Not a Pinhead”), and one that’s just good ol’ fashioned shit-talking (“Talking Trash”). This is a two-piece that is loud enough to be four and sounds like they have the swagger to hold the stage as such. I hope to see this duo in a sweaty club or musty garage if they make it over US-ways.

The Bragging Lads Half Empty LP

This band is unabashedly ’90s-style pop-punk in the vein of the BOUNCING SOULS. There is a small venue jump and shout and drink whatever comes in a tall can for cheap vibe here. The lyrical content focuses heavily on being in bands, touring the country, friends dying, and just hanging out. There’s a fun times atmosphere throughout, but it’s often hard to tell how hard they’re taking anything seriously. Case in point is “Bravo,” a corny 30-secondish love song that may either be a joke or may be completely, awkwardly serious. The BRAGGING LADS are certainly not a joke band, so it’s unclear. The repeating backup vocals on “Anyhow” are classic and work perfectly. Overall, the winning crowd pleaser of the album is “Castaway,” continuing the tradition of the second song on an album always rocking. This band and this album will fit nicely into your rotation of LIFETIME, PULLEY, and the like.

Quaker Wedding In Transit LP

The Jilted Lover 7″ was the perfect teaser to this full-length presentation of mature angst. The assumption of JAWBREAKER love and comparison to the GASLIGHT ANTHEM are still deserved throughout this expansion to ten songs. The working class, music veteran vibe with members from all over who have lived all over is on full display here. The intro to the album on “Sinking Ship” is strong, loud, and desperate. It’s the aura of cheap beer soaked into rotting floorboards at the local dive that then continues throughout the whole album. The line, “I’ve become a Midwest lyric / Even though six months I moved away,” from “Aching” is a particularly throat straining and somber scream. While the vocalist has guts that he is ready to show you by throwing them up right onto the floor, the drums and guitars are very proud to stand right beside him, soaked in Scotch and equally in need of a good time after considering the weight of the world outside of the venue. This trio is a force to be reckoned with and is sure to someday make its way across the country and rattle the foundations of every saloon, local, and pub they come across.

Mikey Erg Bon Voyage EP

MIKEY ERG, formerly of the ERGS, has written a love letter to the 7″ format with Bon Voyage. With three new songs acting as a sampler of his capabilities and a cover of the BEATLES’ “Mother Nature’s Son” to fill out the B-side, Mr. Erg will garner clapping and wooting from the rabid fanbase of his past band, and may even pull in some newbies through his infectious enthusiasm. The A-side is pop-punk designed for a festival setting, meant to lure in beer-holding, newly balding 30-something dudes who don’t fit their T-shirt the way they used to. The B-side then sonically explodes with speed and excitement with “Colleen” before moving into the sneering-while-smiling tune of the previously mentioned cover. This 7″ is a fantastic proof of concept document for those that somehow missed the last nearly two decades of Mikey’s career, and it will be a quick and healthy dose for those that have been craving more.

Born Shit Stirrers Lester LP

I wanted to hate this at first. “This is just another we can just do offensive grindcore and no one can tell we have no passion’ record,” I said to myself. I was wrong about the passion and the genre. This collection of UK expats in Japan make some super fun, super concise punk jams. They’re the kind of immature and snotty that can only come with many years of experience perfecting immaturity and snottiness. Offensive for offensiveness’s sake is typically a pretty boring choice, and heavily featuring samples from American Beauty and featuring Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham on the cover seems to be just negatively provocative more than entertaining. However, there is enough going on here to shine through the less desirable choices made by the band. There is some legitimate instrumental and lyrical talent on display here, so taking a couple minutes to sample a few of their songs would not be wasted time. The first five tracks will barely cost you three minutes. “Smash Your Smartphone” rings like a classic X song, “The Worm” is a punk rock joy, and “Kurosaki” is a ska-tinged 90 seconds of movie dialogue before going straight into anarcho-punk aggression for another 30.

Miscalculations The Perfect Candidate LP

This London group is sometimes art-gothy, sometimes pop-punky, but always energetic. It often has a similar energy as the A.K.A.S (ARE EVERYWHERE!), especially in the electro/keyboard-like noises focus, or the less ska-ey end of the SUICIDE MACHINES. “The Blurred Line Between Art and Crime” is a great track to dip your toe into. It’s a danceable good time that feels unstoppable as it plugs along with juggernaut strength. “Brutalist Parade” almost feels like it’s about to bring you to an industrial show in a secret warehouse somewhere right before ending the album on one final and abrupt shout. This is a hip wigglin’ electro punk album for those that can’t help but dance when given even the slightest inspiration to do so.

Quaker Wedding Jilted Lover / Where You Used To Live 7″

This is working person’s music. These are the kind of songs that say “we’ve been in plenty of other bands and learned a lot of things. This is the culmination of that learning. Now we’ll just keep getting better.” In the descriptions, they are proud to explain the geographic origins of these two tracks, as there are many miles on these three NYC musicians with references to Portland and Corvallis, OR and a history with Detroit. “Where You Used To Live” is a road song in that you feel like you’re following along with the singer as he walks past every landmark he names. It’s very easy to hear JAWBREAKER love in both the writing and delivery of the vocals, especially in the vocal cord strain on display in “Jilted Lover.” The drums and guitars display a dedicated, drunken confidence of musicians who are doing this because they compulsively need to. These are two angry, poetic love songs that deserve your time and aren’t afraid to demand it. Hop on the train with these guys now so you won’t regret missing it like you did with the GASLIGHT ANTHEM so many years ago.

Dangereens Tough Luck LP

Jingly jangly piano! Jingly jangly guitar! Jingly jangly trumpet and sax! This is some sharp and full-bodied rock and/or roll from Montreal, which seems to have a never-ending supply of great art seeping out from it. This is the kind of rock that you may initially be struck with the inclination to say “Hey! They’re ripping off…” and then realize you can’t actually pick the band. It sounds familiar, but that’s because this collection of musicians is just that good. There’s some glam, some garage, some power pop, and a whole lot of frantic energy. The first line of the album is “Here I am,” and from that point on, you’ll feel like you’re on a musical journey with a very showy guide. Check out “Streets of Doom,” for a foot-tappin’, booty shakin’ sampler of the glory.

Broadway Calls Meet Me On The Moon / Call It Off (Acoustic) 7″

This 7″ is one of those releases that exists just to signal to fans that the band is still doing that thing they liked back when. It might pull in a few new people here and there, but it’s mostly a nostalgia call for older fans. There’s no experimentation or anything really new here in this love song single. That said, it is very well done and shows they’ve put in their hours doing their thing. “Meet Me On The Moon” is the pop-punk, BOUNCING SOULS sound that BROADWAY CALLS has always had, just slightly fresher. The B-side is an acoustic version of “Call It Off,” the first song off the band’s first album. The vocalist seemed unsure how to make the whoa-oh-ohs of the original work all slowed down and acoustic, but he tries…

Gino and the Goons Do the Get Around LP

This is that RAMONES-based drunk punk “bad boy” thing that feels dated and unnecessary except when the SPITS do it. I’ll even give a pass to PERSONAL AND THE PIZZAS, because at least their gimmick includes pizza. It’s the musical equivalent to a comedian still trying to do Andrew Dice Clay bits in the year 2020. It’s like meeting that guy at a party that says “women are things!” and when called on it tries to explain, “I’m just being offensive, cuz that’s punk!” This Florida trio seems to think they’re doing a STOOGES impersonation, but it somehow comes off simultaneously as try-hard and lazy. “Prissy Missy” especially misses the mark, just kind of feeling like a sweaty old man hitting on every girl he sees with heavy panting and “come on baby, let’s step out and talk” creepiness. I wouldn’t want to be alone with this band, because I cannot stand for another lecture on how “PC” everyone’s gotten and how music’s “supposed to be fun!”

The Bombpops Death in Venice Beach LP

Since their Fat Wreck Chords debut in 2017, the BOMBPOPS have been popping up on everyone’s radar, and this is the album that should keep them there. They’d previously developed a mastery of the SoCal skate punk sound mixed with killer vocal harmonies that got them on Fat, so now they were able to use that and focus on their lyrics and storytelling. This album finds them in a scary place. Addiction, suicidal ideations, and interpersonal violence all pepper Death in Venice Beach like a fine spice. In the end, there’s a reluctant optimism to the overall feel of the album, but you might have a harder time finding it than you’d expect. There is a complexity here that demands your time. “13 Stories Down” is the perfected version of the sad song every punk kid wrote in high school when they thought they weren’t going to make it. “Notre Dame” and “Double Arrows Down” are some standout tracks that really complete this all-around superb release.

Less Miserable Insufficient Funds LP

These four Canadians like playing with their genre and their tempo to keep from being easily described. This is like a new, long-awaited HAGFISH album in that way. With the upbeat, fast “let’s go, let’s go” opening, you’d be forgiven for assuming you’ve stepped into a pretty straightforward pop punk album, but as it proceeds, you really get to see how dexterous this band can be. The vocalist can expertly dive from monotone talk-singing (“Functional Embarrassment”) to country-style crooning (“Sleepwalker”) to that strained shout where you have to lean back two feet from the mic to not peak all the levels, seemingly without slowing down. The elevator music bridge on “The Last Lonely Boy” is unexpected but wonderfully refreshing. The triple vocals on “Soul In Progress,” especially the back-and-forth male/female interplay, are excellently balanced and gratifying. This band excels in the dark, sad lyrics set to super fun and happy sounding music realm. This is particularly apparent in the ska-laced “Almost Fun.” There is a lot of goodness going on here, and it seems like they’re just getting started. Also, they’re pretty funny.

Dead Bars Regulars LP

DEAD BARS make pub punk with nostalgia for a time when you could still smoke inside and get a PBR for $1.25. Every song is handcrafted to be sung with a choir of people you only know from inside that bar. “Rain” opens with an exhilarating guitar shriek and provides some of the most enjoyably ugly string work on the record. “I’m a Regular” is probably the best example of the lyrical and vocal strengths available on the album. Finally, “You Never Left” closes the album and hangs around for a long time to once again illustrate just how solid the musicianship, both instrumentally and vocally, was on the ten preceding tracks. This is punk rock and roll that allows itself to be as fun as it is sincere. It’s probably safe to expect this crew to become road dogs and play near you soon and then again four months later.

Fatamorgana Terra Alta LP

This upbeat synthesizer dance party from Barcelona features so many artificial handclaps that, at a certain point, I began to find it hard to differentiate between the claps and the snare. It began to drive me mad right before I blacked out from the electronically induced confusion. Upon waking, the echoing, haunted vocals then gave me hallucinations like I was seeing a new planet for the first time. Luckily, the beeps and boops from the keys provided the perfect new planet, sci-fi soundtrack. This is atmospheric and gothy background music. It’s got moments of punk inspiration, but it’s never particularly intrusive. “Until” is particularly pulsing and spooky. “Espacio Profundo” has a fill-the-room, heavier sound.

Set-Top Box TV Guide Test LP

This compilation of this Aussie band’s earlier cassette releases is DEVO-worship with more of a rusted-out electronics flair. While it sometimes comes off like a cuddly version of MINISTRY, it just as often feels like the POLYSICS got into PCP. The first half of this release will take the listener to a weirdo punk show in a basement space, and the second half leans heavy into a gothy dance party on a sunny day under a dingy overpass. “Terrorvision” is a solid punk jam, despite being long for this album at just over 2 minutes and 30 seconds. “Data Lost…” is the soundtrack to depressed robots taking over your planet and way of life. Wrap your favorite body parts in tin foil, dye your eyebrows blue, and get ready to sweat out chemicals when you listen to this one.

Control Top Covert Contracts LP

What we have here is dance punk rock’n’roll for indie punk spaces jammed into crumbling strip malls. It’s dancy, loud, abrasive, and grooving. The vocalist, Ali Carter, is channeling Kathleen Hanna at her angriest, and there are more than a few times that you’ll pick up some LE TIGRE vibes in the lighter moments. In the louder moments, you’ll just enjoy the rage, like a KITTEN FOREVER with cleaner vocals. Throughout, the guitars are sharp, knifelike, and ready to sonically stab stab stab your ear holes. “Ego Death” is the perfect combination of all of CONTROL TOP’s best traits and should bring you into the fold. “Type A” should make you wiggle dance, even if you don’t want to.

Makewar Get It Together LP

There is no weak link in this tight three-piece punk ensemble. It’s been a cliché since the mid-’90s that all of the bands on Fat have “that Fat sound” and sound alike. It’s not really ever been that true that many or even most of the bands sound that similar, but people like to talk shit. That said, MAKEWAR might be an example of what you’d call “that classic Fat sound,” and people would fully understand what you were saying. This band is a new and improved take on GOOD RIDDANCE or STRUNG OUT, with an additional bilingual flare from Venezuela and Colombia. “Oh Brother” is their sound presented pure and simple on a platter for you. “No Más is some good clean hardcore. In a rare occurrence, the album finishes stronger than it began with two of the best tracks, “Hands on the Tyrant” and “Get It Together,” closing it out. If the massive leap in quality from their previous (and still awesome) releases is to be believed, this is a band that is going to command everyone’s attention soon.

Hagar the Womb Hagitate 10″

The women-led duel and gang vocals on every track of this reunion project are the reason to check this out. After breaking up in the late ’80s and reuniting in 2012, this is the most complete and realized new release from HAGAR THE WOMB. Of course there are a lot of similarities here to POISON GIRLS, early CHUMBAWAMBA, and Penis Envy CRASS, but, at the end of the day, Hagitate just feels like a vanity project not unlike the STEVE IGNORANT WITH PARANOID VISIONS albums that have come out over the last few years. The songs are still good and the band is enjoyable, but they will have a hard time living up to the original period of UK anarcho punk they were a part of. The song “Show Off” pretty much explains that they just wanted to get on stage again and have fun, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it does feel like it can water down a legacy. Sometimes it’s nice to see people form new bands and projects instead of going back to the well. This is a very enjoyable release if you love 30- or 40-year-old anarcho punk, but there is certainly nothing mandatory about it.

Screaming Females Singles Too LP

B-sides and rarities compilations are always a mixed bag, and this collection is no different. Some of the early 7″ tracks suffer more than benefit from their lack of recording quality. “Arm Over Arm” and “Zoo of Death” from 2006 certainly hint at what SCREAMING FEMALES would become, but they’re better off as a curiosity than an example. However, “Pretty Okay” from their 2008 split with FULL OF FANCY might be the standout track on the comp and still makes it into their live set not infrequently. The most unique inclusion is a remix of the droney “End of My Bloodline,” with new rapped verses by SAMMUS and MOOR MOTHER. It’s a killer track, despite sticking out like a sore thumb from all of the other lo-fi garage punk tracks. This would likely not be a great introduction to the band for a newcomer, but there is more than enough quality music here to make this a necessity for veteran fans of the band.

Möwer Möwer LP

MÖWER are loud, dirty MOTÖRHEAD worship from Pittsburgh. You can practically smell the live show through this record, and it reeks of cheap beer and day-old cigarette smoke. The grinding guitars and vocalist’s horrifying cackle on “Outlaw Heathens” let you know the kind of thrashy horror show you’re in for just after it’s too late to save yourself. This Japanese version of the band’s debut on Splattered Records is the definitive, must-have edition. For one, they up the artwork 1000% by adding Death riding a motorcycle and proudly declaring themselves “Motor Speed Punks from Hell,” in both Japanese and English. The two added live tracks are also the perfect enticement to grab this as soon as you find it. This is the kind of album you learn to sing along to if you want to develop that perfect “I live above a bar” snarl.

Potty Mouth SNAFU LP

POTTYMOUTH already had a very strong debut in 2013 with Hell Bent, but this album is such a massive improvement that the wait was fully worth it. The magic and chemistry they display here after taking their time to tour and yell at record labels has paid off in this cohesive magic disc released on bassist Ally Einbinder’s Get Better Records. Each menacing track clings to the next like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. The transition between “Starry Eyes” and “Liar” sees vocalist Abby Weems dive into the deep end from a soothing, gentle crooner to a fully aggressive presence in a matter of seconds. The deliberate care taken into placing each track on this album has created a solid Jenga tower of tough ass punk that will stand tall for a long time.

Slow Crush Ease (Deluxe Edition) LP

This Belgian (but really from all over) quartet has taken shoegaze and somehow stripped the bullshit out of it. The thick, smothering blanket of guitars and drums stands no chance against the vocalist’s deep, penetrating bellows. She pulls herself out of the quicksand just to show you the glory in the danger. The A-side tracks are killer but were already released a few years ago on the previous edition of this release. The four newly added live tracks are the real reason to pick this up, and they demonstrate the massive growth the band has experienced in just a couple years. It’s like they found SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE and MINERAL and said, “nah, we can do it better.” SLOW CRUSH seems to always be touring the US and Europe, so you should hit them up and grab this.

Talk Wrong Feral Bearings EP

The blank side of this EP holds beautifully silkscreened plants and leaves, and though they’re simple, I love them. They are pretty and delicate, which did not set me up for the music. This is sad dude music in the same vein as the LAWRENCE ARMS or the METHADONES. It’s modern punk rock for sad kids that can still drink a few beers and make it home to sleep in their own filth somewhat responsibly, but just dangerously enough to concern their parents and close friends who have watched them slowly deteriorate. This is lose your voice and forget half the night material. “Pill to Swallow” starts out with the singer shouting “Cigarettes bring out the worst in you,” and it felt like it was directed at me. Stop judging me, sir.

Catch As Catch Can Regular Vanilla LP

As soon as this started, Burger Records odors took over all of my senses. I was shocked that this wasn’t a new release from that label just due to the poppy, bubblegum garage vibrations being excreted by my speaker. Then I read that the cassette release will be coming out there, and all made sense in the world. This is four dudes from Germany who love them some garage pop saturated with oooooohs, ahhhhhhs, and jingly-jangly guitars. “Age of Coming” is a good pick if you want to anticipate a live sing-along, and “Pickle-Brine Chicken” is a real danceable jam about the culinary arts. These dudes have not reinvented any wheels, but this record is seeping with love of the genre.

The Carvels NYC Life Is Not a Waiting Room EP

This is some saxophone-heavy power pop, with forceful vocals projected by rhythm guitarist Lynne Von Pang. “Life is Not a Waiting Room” and “I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy” both offer some party- pop moments that would feel right at home in a live set opening for the RUBINOOS or SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS. As a counterpoint, “Scarcity” felt a little like listening to this band at a prom try to force a slow dance on kids who just want to dance like dum- dums. I would expect they have a fully entertaining stage presence, and know how to show the audience the good times. Based on this three- song sample though, I would expect to skip a few slower tracks on a longer release.