Steve Spinali

Rawtones Are U Raw 12″

This record comes with a free condom to promote “safe listening,” and the material on this EP is fairly infectious, with some hard, up-front guitar work. The style, however, is distinctly ’79 flailin’, rockin’ new wave—the lead vocalist even has an English accent. Fairly good, I guess, but it definitely grows on you.

The Tribe of Benn Filthy Clean / Cattle Market 7″

The mid-tempo punk style here is assisted by a good feeling for melody in their power chord structures, and the two songs on this 45 are undeniably good at what they do. The vocals are gravelly, with lyrics that seem to have a certain humor to them. Very good release.

Rim Shout A Walk Through the Big City 12″

Mid-to-fast tempo German punk abounds here, with catchy choruses (especially on “Your Escape”) and a powerful power chord guitar sound. The songs are pleasant, but there are no particular revelations here. Just good, basic, loud punk.

V/A City of Thorns LP

A terrific idea: Mystic has decided to chronicle a series of local punk scenes in a “Sound of USA Cities” LP series, this one centering on Portland, Oregon. RANCID VAT, ANATHEMA, N.R.A., and other bands share this album, which varies severely in sound and song quality. Still, an interesting document.

Upset Noise Nothing More to Be Said!! LP

UPSET NOISE specializes in mid-tempo punk with distinct speedcore influences in most of the guitar riffing and some of the wanking. Good for the style, I don’t have much of a sensitivity for this kind of punk, though I have to compliment the fine acidy album cover.

The Fucking World Human Rights EP

Instead of the typical Finnish piledriving thrash, this superior EP contains four finely crafted classic punk tunes, all in an anthemic vein. “Shout,” in particular, reminds me of the kind of nostalgic, melodic punk we all used to live. Highly recommended.

Sloppy Seconds The First Seven Inches EP

Four tracks here, all in a bouncy pop-punk style with those irresistible choruses you can’t help but sing along with. What’s more, the lyrics are extremely funny, showing a real satiric bite and flair. I have a feeling that punks everywhere are going to be singing these songs to themselves for a long time to come. Terrific record!!

The Shaved Pigs Breakfast is Served LP

Rampant sarcasm and a less than tight, ripping hardcore style are the trademarks on this debut LP by the SHAVED PIGS. The song structures are not always distinctive in these simple tunes, but their cover of the ISLEY BROTHERS’ “Shout” (here entitled “Slam”) is delightful. Good album cover, too.

Sharky’s Machine Let’s Be Friends! LP

The hardcore on this album goes in some original directions, especially in so far as the song arranging is concerned, but the ultimate effect is rather monochromatic and unappealing. Nonetheless, strong energy and power abounds here, and the lyrics are very strange.

SS-20 Pope on Tour EP

The A-side of the 45 is a mid-tempo punk number boasting great hooks and lyrics in the best SS-20 style, with good arranging and even a nifty Beethoven guitar break(!). The two songs on the flip are faster and more powerful. Another excellent record from this consistent band.

Negazione Nightmare EP

This record is a re-release of NEGAZIONE’s classic Conannati a Morte… EP with an additional live track, and it displays this band’s absolute command of a fast, frenetic, thrashy, and memorable songwriting style. The live song is a tantalizing hint of how good this band must be live. Great record!

The Mice Scooter LP

Less overtly “punk” than their debut 12″, this album contains ten pop-punky tunes with the emphasis on the pop, in a style reminiscent of the early SHOES. Undeniably catchy, this record is best when guitars take precedence, but there’s still a good deal here for fans of cool pop music — though the style does wear thin after a while.

Live Skull Don’t Get Any on You LP

This live LP showcases LIVE SKULL’s guitar-laden, atmospheric post-punk sound. Obstinately non-melodic, the songs on this LP, although excellently recorded, don’t excite (they’re too slow) and don’t stick to the ribs (they’re not catchy enough). Fans of the band will like this, though.

Kud Idijoti Bolje Izdati Ploču Nego Prijatelja EP

Ultra-catchy Yugoslavian pop punk appears on the tracks here — really, it’s quite a departure from the typically messy, thrashy style popular in this country. KUD IDIJOTI have great melodies on three of four tunes, with nifty choruses in a mid-to-fast tempo style. Fine record.

Attanas Joulupukki EP

The latest EP by ATTANAS shows considerably more finesse and style than before, with occasional melodic concessions, but losing none of the high-sped HC power. These songs are short and to the point, and show some songwriting quality. Very good effort.

White Flag Live! Bleedin’ in Sweden 1986 EP

WHITE FLAG has, on this live EP, documented their European tour with a clutch of fast, funny, and hard-rockin’ songs. The recording quality is adequate, no lyric sheet is provided (this band needs one), and all things considered, this is probably a good documentation on their tour. Actually enjoyable.

Viktimz of Society Wicked Rock Music is Killing Our Children LP

VIKTIMZ pride themselves on their highly sarcastic, “fuck-you” lyrics and high-velocity thrash attack. A variety of topics, from abortion and nuclear war to martians, is covered with adequate musical punch and fair production — but the attitude is the main attraction here.

Ruido De Rabia / Ultimo Gobierno split LP

This duo of Spanish bands demonstrate a remarkable similarity to Finnish bands from 82 or so. U.G., with their ultra-fast, messy thrash sound, is reminiscent of that first BASTARDS EP; R.D.R., with more extended song structures but the same general style, recalls the first EP by RIISTETYT. Altogether, rather like a blast from the past, and recommendable for the U.G. side.

Totalitär Multinationella Mördare EP

TOTALITÄR, with a grinding HC guitar approach and a tasteful speedcore edge, pummel out five tracks on this one. The closest comparison I can think of is ANTI-CIMEX, and the vocals on this one manage to convey a real sense of urgency and power. Very strong release.

Strebers Öga För Öga 12″

Echoes of ASTA KASK and 6-10 REDLOS reverberate through the eight tracks on this fourth release from this Swedish band. Melodic, driving pop-punk is the order of the day, and it’s handled with style and verve. Nice choruses, powerful instrumentals—a good showing.

Spunky Boys Kids Are Alright EP

The rambunctious pop-punk on this record has a pleasantly tough power chord instrumental sound (abetted by sloppy, but good arrangements), and screamed vocals over the whole thing. The two songs on the A-side rock, while the one on the flip is less special.

Shellshock Self Defence EP

Terse, speedcore riffing energizes this fast, to-the-point trio of songs. The abrasive vocals are quite good, and the guitar work aims for original reworkings of the basic core figures we’ve come to expect from this genre. Verdict: a top-notch example of the style, though not exactly my cup of tea.

SM-70 Über Dem Jenseits EP

SM-70, hailing from W. Germany, opt for short, fast songs in a messy thrash mode. It’s a style that’s familiar, and you can bet there’s loads of aggro and a pummeling sound from track to track — it’s also, despite its effectiveness, a trifle too common to make a major impression. Still, it’s good.

Psycho Sin You Axed For It EP

Primitive production and an almost terrifying rawness make the highly distorted thrash on this one actually connect in a distinctive way — much in the way that TERVEET KÄDET did it years ago. The more experimental tracks, with lyrics over drums, are less effective, this is one unusual, interesting record. I like it.

The Offspring I’ll Be Waiting / Blackball 7″

What a pleasant surprise! Instrumentally varied, kick-ass punk with personal lyrics, both tracks camping out in the same area as early material by the LEFT. What’s more, there are hooks, nifty guitar breaks, and more than a little arranging skill. Highly enjoyable, and recommended.

Kyōakukyōjindan Kill Kill Kill EP

A five pointed star on the front cover, costs ¥666, released June 6 — hey wait! — this must be satanic rock! This is one of those cases when I’m glad I don’t understand Japanese; one side is a god awful drone with some woman screaming, the other side has three tracks in HC, pop-punk, and post-punk styles respectively. Poo poo.

Jive Turkey Goodbye Johnny Ray EP

Rockin’ pop in an English mode, but made palatable by the guitar predominance and a novel sense of melody. The chorus on “True Blue” is wonderfully catchy, and the other two tracks hold their own with a mid-tempo, bouncy style; an obscure comparison, but the sound is very much like Australia’s KELPIES. Good.

Garlic Boys Cocky Rock Boys flexi EP

Despite their hilarious name, this one is just mid-tempo pop-punk served up with solid guitars and rockish edges in the occasional lead breaks. “Cocky Rock Boys,” with its catchy vocal chorus, is the standout; the other two songs just sit there. Okay, but not mandatory.

Distortion X El Topo LP

This album of gruff, terse hardcore contains more than a few moments of gritty diversity where DISTORTION X has a chance to demonstrate its wrenching, discordant style. Compositionally, this record lacks the good cuts it needs, but there’s good power and aggression here.

Bösös Där Tiden Inte Stämmer / Lurad Ingen… 7″

The pop-punk on this 45 shows more of a vocal orientation in the melodies and background choruses, but the guitar sound is sharp and interesting. “Där Tiden Inte Stämmer,” a commentary on South Africa, is especially bracing. Fine record.

Pagan Faith Blood Bath EP

The instrumental sound is not unlike REBEL TRUTH (remember them?) with its inventive guitar riffing, and this band excels when the tempos are fast indeed. While the songs could be a bit faster, there’s a good “fuck you” attitude here, despite the rock trappings of some songs.

Neighborhood Watch Feeding the Hand That Bites 12″

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH (not the old L.A. band), on their second release, comes off with some unique punk which boasts some real uniqueness. The cool use of keyboards helps: an utterly scratchy guitar sound, played with restraint, makes for some good moments; and the rampant sarcasm pushes this into the black. An interesting record well worth checking out.

M.S.I. More Stupid Initials EP

This platter of HC/thrash has that tinny, garage-laden sound that I’ve always loved, and the good news is that MSI has a good command of their style. Not remarkably original, but the three all-out thrashers make for an entertaining ride.

The Conditionz Cream Soda Throw Rug LP

It’s a trade secret that these guys’ debut album was one of the unsung pop-punk surprises of a few years back. With this, their second LP, the CONDITIONZ seem to veer deeply into some R’n’B punk regions, as well as toward basic pop-punk with rich hooks. The change is interesting: the result is an enjoyable record with a good guitar energy.

Bored Cops Bored Cops LP

Don’t let the predominance of guitars fool you, this is pop—and not quite as engaging as I would have hoped. The compositions have no real stylistic niche and remain fairly generic: the vocals are just amateurish enough to become cloying after a while. Not good.

Amenity Let You Down Again EP

Personal/political lyrics, repetitive thrash song structures, exceptional speed, and tight delivery are all a part of the package with this debut EP. Of course, it’s been done often and better but that doesn’t stop at least three of the four or five songs here being strong, muscular thrash.

V/A Tsjernobilly Boogie LP

This album represents a variety of Norwegian HC styles, the most interesting being that by BRENT JORD, TMB, OVERLAGT DRAP, and KAFKA PROSESS. Production is good but basic, and the best material here demonstrates a richness of talent from this country that makes me hankering for more.

Powerage The Last Dove EP

This South Africa band makes another political stand that shows real courage, but the music here is the best POWERAGE has yet committed to vinyl. Simple, urgent HC with a rich guitar sound is the style — and it’s that combination of power and credibility that makes this a winner. Very strong!

No Allegiance No Cash Value LP

On their second LP, this German band upholds a uniformly good quality of energy, instrumental tightness, and anthemic lyrics. Overall, a very pleasant package, but on listening to the individual songs, nothing really stands out as unique or especially gripping. Just another buncha mid-to-fast tempo HC/punk songs with the slightest of core tinges.

Hard Corpuscles Decide LP

This Aussie outfit employs an approach to HC which emphasizes simple, riffy structures (frankly with not enough variety to keep my musical interest) abetted by the upfront guitar sound. The real highlights here are the exceptionally passionate words, and of course, the great cover art.

Chronical Diarrhoea Royal Diarrhoea EP

This is German thrash in a pared down American style — thirteen no-nonsense, short and to-the-point songs….terrific energy….riveting bass riffing….great guitar attack. This one has it all, so you’d be a sucker not to snap this baby up. (Great cover art, too!)

Abratzk / Galloping Elephants split EP

ABRATZK provide garden variety thrash on their cuts, with one pop-punky change-of-pace number that took me off guard and is quite good. On the other hand (and side), G.E. delivers amazingly intense HC thrash with spirited gruff vocals — a totally winning band. Two outfits to watch out for—and recommendable for the ELEPHANTS’ songs.

This Bad Life Reading Other People’s Mail 12″

A textured guitar sound fronts the four mid-tempo songs on this EP, which opt for a pop-punkish approach — paradoxically without much in the way of hooks. The slower “Everything Turns Grey” is the best track here, but this band has to eventually decide whether it wants power or melody.

Tall Paul Blue Army / Silver Horses 7″

This band opts for an atmospheric approach not unlike the more moody UK outfits, with excellent production on both tracks. “Blue Army” has interesting filtered vocals, but the material here does not grip.

The Raunchettes Tell Me Why 12″

This rockin’ all-female foursome kicks out five songs, nearly all with a chunky guitar sound and plaintive vocals. This band really connects when their humor and personality comes through (as on “What? Scuz Me?”), but this is still an enjoyable slab.

Raging Slab Assmaster LP

This band has spent altogether too much time listening to AEROSMITH. RAGING SLAB’s music shows a saturation in that most dreaded of all genres — rock —without the healthy self-parody that made the WILD, and early MENTORS and PLASMATICS so enjoyable. I’m surprised this is on…

Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers Into the Void LP

CCM finally achieves their musical peak with this album, which often approaches the intensity of early GERMS — both musically and vocally. A few songs lack that total punch, but chilling numbers like “Feel Like” and the excellent title track make up for occasional weak points. Very, very good Italian HC.

Walking Seeds Marque Chapman / Blathering Out 12″

A wall of guitars and percussion on the edge of audio distortion makes these two powerful tracks surprisingly appealing. This is mid-tempo, discordant, and rather indescribable with those demented vocals and unique instrumental approach. Quite good for its genre.

V/A God Bless America: Posh Hits, Vol. 1 LP

The CIRCLE JERKS, CROWD, UXA, TSOL, BLACK FLAG, SOCIAL D, and others show off mostly ace material on this collection of previously released tracks. Uneven, but mandatory if you don’t have the original pressings of the punk acts represented.

TSOL Thoughts of Yesterday 1981-1982 LP

It’s about time! This collection of tracks from 1981-2 sports a series of outstanding tunes by vintage TSOL, including one clinker (“Weathered Statues”): the rest is dynamic, upbeat, guitar-oriented TSOL at their best and near-best.

Trotskids Mise À S.A.C. / Mangeuse D’Hommes 7″

Best effort yet from these inspired French punkers. Both sides of this single exploit powerhouse guitar and vocals with absolutely irresistible riffs and melodies. Total ace!

Rhythm Pigs Hooligan flexi EP

Three songs here, exploring a faster paced punk sound with a certain lack of musical distinctiveness. I tried playing their first EP after hearing this, and the contrast is telling: the conciseness and good hooks of the old RHYTHM PIGS has been lost along the way.

P.E.D. Xerox for Yugoslavia EP

Humorous themes abound on this one, a slab with the fast/slow. HC approach and vocals reminiscent of the CRUCIFUCKS. Basically raw and okay, but the ultra-fast version of the CURE’s “Killing an Arab” is priceless.

Nunfuckers Dead and on the Floor EP

I’ve always enjoyed stuff like this: tight, to-the-point thrash with basic production and snappy riffing. Although I can’t say this is remarkably original, it connects with charm, fun, and touches of songwriting quality. Very good!

Lost Cause Lost Cause LP

Chicago’s LOST CAUSE performs HC with a melodic punk edge, always aiming to kick ass in energy and drive. Echoey vocals got in the way of my full enjoyment, but there’s undeniable potential evidenced in some of these songs. Above average.

The Hard-Ons White Folks Suck 7″

Still more rock’n’roll fun with Australia’s irrepressible goofball punkers. Both sides pummel in the fast, snotty punk vein; while the hooks are kept way in the back, the energy and speed here almost compensate for it. “Ferdi’s Song” has some good choruses. Pretty good.

Happy Hate Me Nots Scrap 12″

Mix that trademark Aussie rock sound with a dose of the Liverpool pop sound (TEARDROP EXPLODES), and you end up with a very accessible, textured sound which boasts a real distinctiveness. Good on melody, but doesn’t really connect with any discernible punch.

Condemned 84 Battle Scarred LP

Quintessential British Oi! with all the melodic aspects melded to the street lyric themes. A powerful guitar emphasis makes some of these tracks quite enjoyable from a musical point of view, but this is not OI POLLOI.

BB Doc L’Heure De Le Mort! EP

French Oi! with a fast crunching sound quite unusual for this style of music. “Oi” is my favorite track here, with its haunting vocal choruses, though the other two tracks have power to spare.


Predictably, this album combines the instrumental excesses of BLACK FLAG with certain rockish tendencies, resulting in a nicely produced but self-indulgent effort rife with lead breaks. A nice melodic element creeps in via the vocals; still, it’s not quite enough. Not good.

Spot 1019 Spot 1019 LP

A difficult band to pigeonhole, SPOT 1019 veers into pop-punk, C&W, lite funk, and pseudo-surf on this LP, with good and consistent results. The material is almost always funny and catchy, and their best songs (“Surf Machine,” “16 Wheels”) very enjoyable indeed. Poppish, but very strong.

7 Seconds Praise 12″

This record marks a low point in the career of this influential Reno band. The style of this record has been described as reminiscent of U2, but I found the tunes here unpassionate and the sung vocals unsuited for the mid-tempo material. Come on guys wake up!!!

The Rest The Rest LP

Hailing from West Germany, this thrash band shows off a highly energetic approach to thrash rather like the better German outfits from 82 and 83. Abrasive vocals and a hard guitar sound push this one over the top — a strong and spirited debut album. (Great sleeve, too.)

The Primitives Stop Killing Me 12″

On their third 12″, the PRIMITIVES show a slight decline. The title check, despite a nice chorus and good guitars, lacks the catchiness of their past pop-punk efforts; “Laughing…” is too wimpy for words, though the rockabilly bounce of “Buzz Buzz Buzz” is pleasantly bouncy.

Part Time Punx Ohne Ende LP

I heard the first song of this LP, and I said to myself: “Eric Hysteric.” He produced this, and the same distorted, trebly punk you remember from DER DURSTIGE MANN appears here, complete with the nice vocal choruses. Nothing on this quite equals their hilarious cover of NENA’s song, converted into a beer song — “99 Kasten Bier.”

Madness The Peel Sessions 12″

A disappointment. MADNESS was the very best of the English ska bands, but this effort comes across as limp and unenergetic despite some pretty good material. “Bed and Breakfast” is the catchiest number here, but better versions of the songs are to be had elsewhere.

M.I.A. After the Fact LP

One this album, M.I.A. adopts more of a SoCal melodic punk approach (which is good), but grafts it onto the slick style of their last LP. “Beautiful World” is strong, and their cover of “California Dreaming” engaging, but this LP is not up to the standard of what used to be one of the best bands going.

The Lookouts One Planet, One People LP

Many of the tracks on this album are stylistically similar, but I enjoyed the grungy, basic production here, as well as the urgent songs and sarcastic lyrics. This is punky thrash with good velocity and an infectious spirit of fun. Good work! I liked this a lot. Filed under “Speedfolk.”

Gulag Είσοδος Κινδύνου 0° C 12″

Terse Greek hardcore is played tightly and with real passion on the six tracks. While the songs could have been more memorable and catchy, I liked the first song on this 12″ a great deal, and hope to hear more from this very promising outfit.

Electro Hippies / Generic Play Loud or Not At All split LP

GENERIC mines a punk vein with an informal style not unlike a thrashy APOSTLES, with occasional lapses into poetry and folk. ELECTRO-HIPPIES, however, deliver an ultra-distorted HC/thrash variant that hits and misses. Two interesting bands, both highly credible from a lyric point of view.

F.F.F. Arbeit Macht Dumm EP

This spirited EP features female vocals over a nicely fleshed-out set of mid-to-fast tempo punk and thrash tunes. The playing is excellent and songs are well-arranged; one track, “Eins-Eins-Null,” even uses the violin to interesting effect. An excellent release!

The Edge The Banjo Single 7″

The Boston EDGE have moved back to Ohio, and somewhere along the way picked up a banjo to augment the band. “Just An Illusion” is a poppish ditty with a good melody and nifty banjo pickin’, while the flip is slower but still pretty good. Takes getting used to, but I recommend it.

Descendents All LP

This album sees the DESCENDENTS with somewhat longer songs than usual, a more power-pop compositional style, and the hooks we’ve come to expect from these popsters. The problem is that their emotion of ’82 is largely gone, but this is listenable for those who value melody over crunch.

Circle of Sig-Tiu Signs of Time LP

This follow-up to their fine debut album, despite some moments of power, shows a decline in songwriting and a notable increase in speedcore tendencies. This band would profit by increasing their influences rather than narrowing them.

Bomb To Elvis in Hell LP

Eccentric as hell, BOMB go for varied song structures which go from soft to loud, sung to screamed, weird to punky. The experiment wore thin on me, but suckers for novelty might give this a listen.

Blyth Power Wicked Women, Wicked Men and Wicket Keepers LP

On their debut LP, this band gathers together a very consistent clutch of pop-punk tunes, all of which meld Scottish vocal motifs, catchy power chord progressions, good melodies, and interesting lyrics. BLYTH POWER has a unique sound exploited well here. A solid LP.

Suburban Death Trip Psychodelic Discore LP

Distinctive, nasal vocal meld with a gritty instrumental sound not unlike a cross between BLACK FLAG and traditional fast-and-loud HC. The result is unique and effective a fair proportion of the time, though consistency isn’t S.D.T.’s strong suit. Aggressive and loud.

The Specials The Peel Sessions 12″

This well-known English ska outfit fares quite well indeed on this selection of early cuts. Terrific tunes and energetic performances make this record special — in particular the bouncy version of “Monkey Man.” One of the better Peel session releases.

The Slits The Peel Sessions 12″

The special appeal of this record is in the fact that it’s the first real taste most people have had (aside from a pathetic bootleg) of the early, punk SLITS. Some familiar, and some unfamiliar material — all of it very raw and quite interesting. Recommended.

Siouxsie and the Banshees The Peel Sessions 12″

Fans of The Scream period SIOUXSIE will find favor with this excellent four-track release recorded in late 77. “Love in a Void” is as great as always, but “Mirage” and “Metal Postcard” also connect with a vengeance. Rawer than other versions of the same songs, and a real treat.

The Sins …Beginning From the End LP

SINS specialize in solid mi-tempo punk with good instrumentals and vocals reminiscent of the early SAINTS. Aside from a few less interesting songs, what emerges here is an extremely promising effort, especially on rootsy punkers like “In the Red” and “Fair Share” which balance power with finesse.

The Screws Drink Till I Drop 12″

This Texas band opts for a truly punk approach on this five-song effort, and the charm here is largely due to the hard guitar sound and the “fuck you” punk attitude. I liked the title song in particular, though the entire platter is filled with riffy, punchy, enjoyable punk rock. Good.

Scratch Acid Berserker 12″

SCRATCH ACID is back with six demented, charging rockers, a nasty guitar attack, and vocals very reminiscent of NICK CAVE. While not as rootsy as their last LP, the band emphasizes power on this release, which rates as very good for its genre.

Ruts The Peel Sessions 12″

These mid-’79 tracks, five in all, show a fair diversity of punk styles and some rockin’ power, especially on “Society.” The RUTS were never a major force in British music, at least in my opinion; fans will find this an interesting document, nonetheless.

Rap Hysteria 12″

On the basis of their first two singles, I was expecting bouncy female vocal pop-punk with a great sense of personality. This set of tunes, however, veers into X-MAL DEUTSCHLAND territory with its sung vocals, slower tempos, and thinned out guitar sound. Too bad.

Poptonto Time to Think LP

POPTONTO utilizes a riffy, traditional approach to mid-tempo HC with an emphasis on power chords and serious lyrics. A very sincere bunch of tracks, but this band doesn’t stand out in the areas of songwriting, or overall personality. Okay.

Peach of Immortality “Jehovah” My Black Ass – R.E.M. is Air Supply! 12″

If you don’t have a sensitivity to noise, this will sound like a self-indulgent instrumental mess. What we have here is an insane, grinding, industrial-strength set of “tunes” which purposely tries to disorient and infuriate. You know what? It works.

The Kelpies Take Me Away / Second by Second 7″

This reissue (?) of an early 80’s Aussie punk single by the KELPIES shows a studio approach to the same restrained punk style that was showcased in their recent posthumous live LP. The guitar work is rather like CHELSEA, the two compositions here pleasant but not earthshaking.

K.G.B. Letzte Bestellung LP

This German band showcases a mid- to fast-tempo HC approach with somewhat engaging vocal choruses and a dynamic instrumental punch. While there were a few interesting moments here, the overall effect is aggressive but not gripping.

Joy Division The Peel Sessions 12″

Previously only available on costly bootlegs, these four tracks may not have the production crispness of “official” releases, but there’s still a brace of alternative versions that will please JD fans. “She’s Lost Control” is just as good as always. Recommended.

Indirekt Nacht und Nebel EP

This exceptional Dutch band comes back with a four-track EP even more impressive with their fine debut album. Passionate female vocals, a biting guitar attack, punchy mid- to fast-tempo punk compositions with melody…what more could you ask for? Great lyrics, too. Buy this now.

Doom Go Mad Yourself EP

This fan club only release shows good command of a more tasteful speedcore style. Still, there’s a monochromatic element in the songwriting which makes this fall a bit flat, despite good energy and power. Adequate.

The Birthday Party The Peel Sessions 12″

Aside from the excellent version of “Release the Bats,” the BIRTHDAY PARTY is not captured to their best advantage on this release. First rate production bolsters the mid-period output of this band moderately, but the material mostly doesn’t stand out.

Angry Red Planet Little Pigs, Little Pigs LP

ANGRY RED PLANET has developed their own unique and accessible punk style, passionate and full of immediacy, and this LP is dynamite when it connects. “Mediocrity” and “Pasturetime”, in particular, show off this hand at their best, but even the less memorable cuts tend to grow on you. Very good!

Venom P. Stinger Meet My Friend Venom LP

This album incorporates a variety of influences (punk, BIRTHDAY PARTY post-punk, and even industrial tinges), spreads its invention too thin over the ten tracks here. What results is a punk sound with wanky edges; I only wish the whole LP sounded like the terse, disciplined title track.

United Beast Dominate EP

The metal-punk on this release crosses the Offensive Barrier, at least for me. Basic speedcore riffs, crunching lead breaks, and sub-par songwriting combine to make for four songs distinguished only by their relative speed and energy.

The Undertones The Peel Sessions 12″

One of the greatest of all UK bands is given another long-shot chance to become the next BEATLES on this 12″, which contains disciplined but enjoyable versions of four of their terrific songs. UNDERTONES fans (and I know there are lots of them) should snap this one up, and fast.

Sekaannus Eksyneet EP

In their latest effort, SEKAANNUS employs a mid-tempo HC approach that’s listenable, but fails to pick up enough energy or noise to make a definite impression. Three songs, all in a repetitious, riffy style.

Pussy Galore Pussy Gold 5000 12″

“Noise” is the operative word for PUSSY GALORE — and happily, noise is used in very inventively on most of the tracks here. The two songs on the A-side sound remarkably like riffy 60s garage punk put through the old blender, while the thrashy “Get Out” easily out-trebles the JESUS AND MARY CHAIN. Unusual, and good.

Poison Hot Rod EP

This four song effort presents mid- to fast-tempo punk/HC with some lead breaks that tax one’s attention, and frankly less in the way of memorable compositions than I’d hoped for. Good energy, but unmemorable.

Mobs Gypsy on Journey EP

The thoroughly glammed-out band photos on the pic sleeve was fair warning on this one. Three songs in a metal-punkish vein, interrupted by dreary Japanese lead breaks and lame sung vocals– and close to zilch in the way of cool songs. Too bad.

Last Stand Approved Cuts LP

Melodic pop-punk is, of course, the approved sound of the ten approved cuts on this LP. Lyrics are committed, guitars up in front, but the standard for this punk style is much higher. LAST STAND should aim their sights to the likes of STRANGLEHOLD or MOVING TARGETS, and a bit more energy (as on “Scum Guns”) wouldn’t hurt.

Iron Lung Caspar Weinberger’s on Fire EP

This sometimes self-consciously bizarre EP uses a funny variant on a rap style on “Gödel Escher Bach: The Eternal Golden Rap,” while the two songs on the flip use a trebly synth (played quickly and seemingly at random) to underscore some similarly humorous lyrics. Strange, and basically okay.

Hüsker Dü Warehouse: Songs and Stories 2xLP

This double-album set from the HUSKERS rates as a real disappointment. Aside from two catchy numbers, the compositional structures here meander through their mid-tempo territory without going anywhere; the typical “lyric – chorus – lyric” structure of past efforts having been largely abandoned. Too bad.

Gang of Four The Peel Sessions 12″

This influential band is captured here at their peak in early 79, and the classic “I Found That Essence Rare” and “At Home He’s A Tourist” are given an aggressive, raw treatment on this EP, along with two other numbers. Very good versions, and recommended.

F.O.D. Shatter Your Day LP

This thoroughly enjoyable album showcases a blistering thrash attack with catchy power chord guitar progressions and solid melodies. Sixteen songs, each distinctive compositionally, with good lyrics to boot. My suggestion: purchase this terrific LP!

Disaster Area Die on Your Board LP

Two slow, uninteresting post-punk ditties appear on the A-side of this release, but a clutch of eight energetic punkers charge away on the flip. A rudimentary sense of melody and nifty speed changeups make for accessible listening, but the material doesn’t stick to the ribs. Okay.

Chaotic Dischord Goat Fuckin Virgin Killerz From Hell LP

Goofy humor is the appeal of this LP from CHAOTIC DISCHORD, who use a UK thrash style to cover topics like nasal sex, beer as a metaphor for life, random destruction, and nail bombs. No lyric sheet, but the music ranges from okay to very good, especially on “Vibrator Up Your Nose.”

Braver Noise Sand Surreal 12″

This has nothing to do with punk, thrash, or hardcore; rather, BRAVER NOISE springs from folksier roots, not unlike an American BLYTH POWER. What’s more, I tended to like this record’s melodic sense, well-structured compositions, and sung vocals. Very different; it’s unbelievable to me that this band contains three members from the original LAW & ORDER.

Wretched La Tua Morte Non Aspetta 12″

I’ve always been a great fan of WRETCHED’s loose, powerful brand of hardcore, but I’m not as impressed by this release. Much of the manic energy is still there; yet, the “live” feel of this disc gives the production less density than usual, and the guitar wanking was a real annoyance. Still, “La Tua Morte…” is a powerhouse track.

Wire Snakedrill 12″

Too many years have elapsed since WIRE’s prime to make this record an event. The four songs here seem more like a rock-ier extension of DOME than the kind of dense, rich songs WIRE and COLIN NEWMAN used to do. Nonetheless, “Drill” has a nice beat and interesting vocal rhythms.

Sherwood Liberté LP

This French band shows a real skill at fast-tempo thrash with punk overtones. Guitars are in the front where they belong, leading a ferocious instrumental attack, and the vocals are extremely strong and characteristically French. A fine effort, and very recommendable.

Seminal Rats Omnipotent 12″

SEMINAL RATS owe some of their stylistic nuances to fellow Aussies the CELIBATE RIFLES; this seven-track EP rocks hard, especially on standouts like “Rat Race” and “Change.” While none of these tracks will revolutionize rock’n’roll, this release is solid. Very decent, and very Aussie, if you know what I mean.

Musta Lammas Noidankehä EP

MUSTA LAMMAS straddle that boundary between hardcore and thrash, adding a loose Finnish sound and ending up with nothing too grabbing. The songs mine a gritty, medium- to fast-tempo style, and it was difficult to remember much in the way of riffs, much less songs, when the EP ended.

Mongo Mange Gatoo Death Can Be Hazardous to Your Health LP

This Dutch band seems to model itself after outfits like PANDEMONIUM, who specialize in ultra-fast thrash with political lyrics. The harsh, speedmetallish vocals are way in the front of the mix, which unfortunately pushes away the great instrumental sound here, but this is still a respectable debut.

Malinheads Medical Fame EP

This four-tracker from the MALINHEADS has all the elements of great thrash: stop on a dime instrumentals, passionate, throaty vocals, ripping production, and roller coaster energy. The fact that nearly every song here is distinctive doesn’t hurt matters, either.

Komintern Sect Les Uns Sans Les Autres 12″

That basic French pop-punk style, complete with those trademark vocal choruses, seems to be the order of the day on this release. Unfortunately, though, the songwriting is un-notable except for the catchy “Maurice,” which opens this seven-track 12″. The other songs have hooks that are predictable, and songs with little if any staying power.

The Joneses Keeping Up with the Joneses LP

The JONESES seem to have glammed out, judging by the cover pics, and their music has definitely veered even more into a slicker, more generic rock direction. To wit, compare “Ms. 714″ and “Crocodile Rock” to the versions on their first 12″ — the rawness and immediacy are gone. Nice guitar mix, though.

I Deny Anonime Persone EP

Musically, this is fairly unimaginative Italian HC with four grinding mid-to-fast-tempo numbers, and one ripper, “Non Per Me.” Lackadaisical production and playing buries most of the material here.

Groupoem What You See Here, Hear Here, Say Here, Stays Here When You Leave Here 12″

The band’s name says it all: this is a series of demented versifications backed by a kind of improvisational MINUTEMEN style. An eccentric concept with interesting results, but not astounding.

Germs The Lion’s Share LP

One side of this fan club record has five unreleased GERMS tracks recorded in 1981, none frankly up to their highest standards, while the flip contains a number of songs from their last show at the Starwood in L.A. A good memento for fans of this once great band.

Gash The Lesson EP

GASH turn in four songs here, showcasing a mid- to fast-tempo hardcore format with excellent lyrics and strong female wailing. A real progression from their debut LP, sacrificing nothing in the way of power or drive.

Forethought Dejenlos Cruzar Las Fronteras EP

The instrumental work on this EP, which sounds the work of an undisciplined MINUTEMEN, tends to lack focus and drive. While “Sunburn” sustains energy, the other four tunes use more complex, “funk” guitar figures that left me unexcited.

Depression Big Brother EP

A speedcore instrumental edge, featuring hard, fast guitarwork, underlies the three songs here, which operate in a faster HC vein. Powerful, but lead breaks and lackluster songwriting detract from this effort.

Coneheads Barn Burnin’ EP

This strong three-tracker exploits a riffy, rock’n’rolly approach to the kind of music perfected by bands like the LIME SPIDERS and CELIBATE RIFLES. “Action,” with its rambunctious energy, rates as the standout here. A very good showing.

Brigandage Pretty Funny Thing 12″

Varied female vocals are featured on these seven songs, most of which plumb a poppish vein with the hooks on the subtle side. Moments of rockin’ energy emerge from time to time, but the predominant style is soft and mid-tempo. Adequate, but I’m not convinced.

Wut Kapitalismus LP

WUT cruise with a basic HC style that’s either slow or moderate in pace, but spurt outbreaks of unbelievable fast thrash to add power and interest. This band only connects during these moments of instrumental fury; the reggae and mid-tempo HC doesn’t hit the spot. Uneven.

The Varukers Prepare for the Attack LP

The VARUKERS’ usual style varies from ultra-intense thrash that rips, to a metal-tinged HC approach with occasional guitar breaks. The latter style predominates here, and although powerful, the song structures tend to become repetitious. Not up to their standard, but it’s still respectable speedcore.

V/A Splitting Headache on a Sunday Afternoon EP

Four British bands share this compilation 45. SATANIC MALFUNCTIONS and ACTIVE MINDS play hot and heavy thrash, while basic punk and folky approaches are mined by INDIAN DREAM and RADIO FREEDOM, respectively. A respectable, interesting EP made recommendable by S.M.

Toys Went Berserk Guns at My Head / Don’t Run Away 7″

The female vocals here recall a mid-period SIOUXSIE, but not overtly, while the instrumental sound falls into that flanged British post-punk approach popularized by VIRGIN PRUNES et al. This is a good example of the genre, but by no means special.

Star Club Final Count LP

The STAR CLUB are at their best when playing their trademark ’78 sound, with good guitar hooks and catchy melodies. This album is not quite as consistent as their last two, but contains a few flashbacks of their former glory, albeit without the characteristic grunginess. Okay.

Razzia Ausflug mit Franziska LP

This album sees the genesis of a much cleaner and more defined RAZZIA sound, with synth even making an appearance. The best songs here are engaging and passionate, and contain a measure of accessibility to compensate for the loss of power. This band is still a force to be reckoned with. Very good.

Paranoid Visions The Robot is Running Amok LP

This British band specializes in committed mid-tempo punk in an ’82 formula, sounding somewhat like a rawer DIRT with their alternating male/female vocals. Good nostalgia value here, but the formula is fueled with contemporary energy.

OTH Sur Des Charbons Ardents LP

OTH combines a punky power chord song structure with cool rock’n’roll breaks to create a familiar and engaging instrumental sound. The individual tunes don’t leave much of an impression, and this is proven by the fact that the best song on this LP is a wonderful cover of “California Sun” called “Le Soleil du Midi.” Basically okay.

O.H.M. Cavecore EP

When they really get rolling, O.H.M. are an instrumental powerhouse, with loads of guitar abetting their thrashy tunes. The sung vocals definitely detract from the overall power, but this Danish band wins points for a sound that should be the envy of many a thrash ensemble.

The Kelpies Official Bootleg: The Dungeon Tapes, Live at 51 Stanley Street LP

This posthumous live recording of the KELPIES, a Sydney punk/rock outfit, shows real songwriting quality and makes me hungry for more. The inventive guitarwork recalls CHELSEA, and the tunes are subtly crafted pop-punk. Sound quality is respectable; this one definitely grows on you. Recommended.

Irha La Patria Chiama 12″

Three of the four tracks here adopt an upbeat pop-punky style with good energy, little discernible melody, and somewhat undisciplined vocals. The other song is a lilting reggae-tinged number that segues into ska. Adequate, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Honor Role The Pretty Song LP

HONOR ROLE has devolved since their highly distinctive debut. Time seems to have eroded the vocal uniqueness and punky tightness of the past; while there’s good, hard guitarwork and some interesting ideas, not one song really stands out from the pack.

The Gas Babies Headin’ for the Texas Border / DmF (Ready to Go) 7″

The homemade production sounds full and rockin’ just like all the good Aussie releases, especially on the powerful A-side. The flip has less punch, and frankly, neither track is particularly noticeable aside from the occasional instrumental punchiness.

Fuzzbox Love is the Slug 12″

The four tracks on this, FUZZBOX’s second record, demonstrates that this band has more in the way of a distinctive sound than great material. Cool synth bass with instrumental intrusions (sax, rhythm box, but no guitar I could hear) provide spare backdrops for vocals reminiscent of HAGAR THE WOMB. Nothing special.

Full Fathom Five Four Song EP

FULL FATHOM FIVE sounds like the better Homestead bands, with their powerful guitar sound, varied arrangements, and abstract vocal concerns. I liked their HUSKER-ish changes on “Why Their Faces Are So Worn,” and the other tracks are quite respectable.

Didjits Fizzjob LP

I admire this band for their hilarious lyrics and rich, hard guitar sound, and there’s certainly cause for interest in their punkish, rockin’ tunes. The problem is that the goofy vocals don’t hold down melodic interest, making the songs run into one another. Still, there’s talent and drive here; I want to hear more.

Chaos UK / Extreme Noise Terror Earslaughter split LP

This exceptional album features a load of dynamic uptempo thrash by two accomplished outfits. CHAOS UK, in possibly their best work to date, wins by a length for their thick vocals and layered guitar attack, but ENT have fascinating arrangements to recommend their side of the LP. A thunderous, exciting release.

Boys From Nowhere Jungle Boy / 1966 7″

Not quite up to the standards of their exceptional debut 45, the A-side still manages to cough up the requisite rockin’ 60’s punk energy to keep the toes tapping, though the melodic punch is largely absent. The flip is more poppish and less enjoyable. Pretty good.

The Zero Point The Murmur EP

This Danish outfit plays rock in a darker, discordant vein which tries to maintain power through atmosphere. “Who Is the Man…” almost pulls it off, but the overall effect of this EP is nondescript — as if the band were purposely trying to distance you from the music.

V/A Welcome to Ax/ction Island EP

Seven bands, including the SCAM, PSYCHO, GG ALLIN, and CANCEROUS GROWTH contribute a song each to this thrashy EP. Two songs rip (STUPIDS, SPASTIC RATS), one is pretty good (PTL KLUB), and the rest lapse into genericness.

V/A Fledgling Punx: Nouzui Omnibus Vol. 1 EP

This solid 4-track EP contains upbeat HC with a uniformly slicing guitar attack from the likes of GAGIZE, WEEDY EGGS (more pop-punkish), SWORD, and REZIST (excellent ripping thrash). Good record.

Sorry The Way It Is LP

The hard-edged rockers on this album usually have some hook or twist to make them quite listenable, whether it’s the hard and varied guitarwork or a melodic twist to the vocals. The compositions don’t, however, really stick to the ribs, a fact attested to by the fact that the best song here is “Ex-Lion Tamer,” the WIRE song.

Shonen Knife Pretty Little Baka Guy LP

SHONEN KNIFE, an all-female band from Japan provides enjoyable, and very simple pop and pop-punk on this LP. The endearing cuteness of the songs reminds me of a more poppish KLEENEX, with light lyric themes to boot (“I Wanna Eat Chocolate Bars”, “Ice Cream City”). Just adorable… Pretty good, too.

Shindiggers Crash Your Party LP

This Aussie ensemble concentrates on catchy songs, all done in a variant of the Mersey style with a slight rockabilly edge. There’s a lot of bouncy poppish fun on this album, though a harder guitar edge would have made it perfect. Pretty good.

Scoundrels Don’t Cry for the Moon LP

A chorused guitar sound and sung vocals provide the musical interest on this set of poppish punk songs, with the melody following the guitarwork in most cases. SCOUNDRELS succeed best when their songwriting wins over, but there is an inconsistency in that regard here. Good lyrics.

RIF Something Happened Today EP

R.I.F. specializes in power chord punk with sung melodies, in the accessible Swedish style. The five tracks here don’t connect in the same way as the ASTA KASK or TREDJE KONET, but the record is well-crafted and definitely hummable. Very good.

The Primitives Really Stupid 12″

More of that irresistible British noise pop appears here on this second 12″ by the PRIMITIVES. The title track has the same mid-tempo guitar power and good female vocals that made their debut so special, though the two songs on the flip are lighter and slower.

Naked Lunch Little Too Late / Teenage Blues 7″

Rather like fellow Aussies LIME SPIDERS, this outfit opts for that rockin’ power on the A-side, while the ballad on the flip is slower and more “soulful.” Fragile hooks and a lack of real crunch put this one in the second rank.

Masami Final Days EP

Up-tempo punk appears on this 4-track EP, which sustains a curious ’78-79 sensibility — but with the typically Japanese gruff vocals. “Mother Fucker” is the only memorable song here, with its Farfisa/guitar backdrop and spunky songwriting.

Mod Fun Mary Goes Round / Grounded 7″

MOD FUN opts for more of that poppish ’60’s neo-psych, with the only drawback being that a certain telltale wimpiness accompanies the accessibility. Cute background choruses, jangly guitars, not much passion… Okay, I guess.

Lost Patrol 5 Song EP

Lots of influences pop up here — neo-’60’s, power-pop, power chord punk — and all mixed so much together that no one style predominates. There are a few good songs (“South Africa” is my fave), but LOST PATROL doesn’t strike me as exceptional, either.

Last Bomb Retro Firing EP

Garden variety Japanese thrash is presented here — good tempos, passionate screamed vocals, riffy thrash guitar — respectable in all categories, but lacking in that extra emotional punch. And then, perhaps it’s a little too garden variety…

Kohu-63 3 Vuotta Myöhemmin EP

The touch is lighter here than on past KOHU-63 releases. “Salattua Historiaa” has good speed, but none of the three songs here have memorable songwriting or a HC punch. Sounds like they’re going through the motions.

Guilt Storm Night EP

Slow to mid-tempo punk is mutated by post-punk tendencies on this EP, which manages a gritty (and sometimes wanky) guitar sound abetted by sung vocals. Completely unnotable, stylistically or musically.

Dau Al Set Less Than Six LP

The vocals sound like Paul Weller (JAM), the songs are intricate and somewhat pop-punkish (but without very strong hooks), and the lyrics socially conscious. The overall effect doesn’t excite like the best French bands, but provides inoffensive listening.

Confuse Contempt For the Authority and Take Off the Lie EP

The DISORDER sound is again successfully filtered through a uniquely Japanese sensibility on this energetic, crunching 4-tracker. Every track here is fueled by the same manic power, backed by raw guitars and vocals, making CONFUSE one of the best outfits in Japan. Total ace!!

The Chud Don’t Call Me Batman / Rumble at the Drive-In 7″

A debut by this German garage band, new LP in the works, and while it’s not a blazing psych effort it does have a smooth charm to it. Similar in nature to the BACKDOOR MEN. Perhaps a little too much leaning on the Farfisa and maybe a little more guitar next time, okay?

Billy and the Willies Life in Hotelrooms LP

A country-ish style slips into this album of accessible ditties, which is at its very best when an upbeat energy conjoins with solid power-chord punk. A few of the less disciplined and slower numbers miss the mark, but the rudiments of good songwriting with a great sense of humor make this band a potential contender.

V/A U-Boats Attack America!!! LP

This American release showcases the greatest hits, as it were, of the German Weird System label. BLUT & EISEN, NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES, RAZZIA, CRETINS, and others serve up a series of blistering HC and punk cuts mandatory for those who don’t have the original German recordings. Excellent, varied sampler.

Vicious Circle Reflections LP

This Aussie band once again delivers the goods: mid- to fast-speed hardcore with crunching guitars and an impassioned vocal attack. Occasional forays into slower velocities result in less power here, but there’s more than enough frenzied thrash for most HC aficionados. Good LP.

Tredje Könet Fyra Hits EP

Four nifty songs here, all in that irresistible Swedish pop-punk vein. The guitarwork is hard and well-fleshed out, the melodies more often than not memorable, and the entire record so buoyant that I recall the best work of ATTENTAT, 6-10 REDLOS, and other fine Swedish bands. Wonderful!

Stiff Little Fingers The Peel Sessions 12″

These early recordings with one of the greatest UK punk outfits contain four songs, all finely recorded and performed. While lacking in the immediacy and power of their first LP, these slower alternate versions have their own charm. “Barbed Wire Love” is especially good.

Schliessmuskel Komm, Setz Dich Zu Uns EP

SCHLIESSMUSKEL tries a little of everything on their debut EP: “Klaus E.” is a blast of catchy thrash in the gritty tradition of HEIMAT-LOS; “Nachigedanken” has an almost RAMONES-y appeal; “Rita,” with its wonderful vocal choruses, qualifies as appealing pop-punk. A varied, and very good, EP.

Rövsvett Ett Psykiskt Drama I 7 Akter EP

Gruff vocals accompany discordant, biting hardcore and thrash on this hard-rocking seven-track EP. A lack of variety in songwriting is about made up for with the grinding guitars and overall vocal intensity. A good follow-up to their excellent debut EP.

Kiwisex Devil is My Name 12″

The percussive edge of SPK and later EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN springs up on this 12″, which has less power and dementia than it really should. This is industrial noise filtered into several distorted rock compositions, making for some repetitious listening. Below the standard.

Enola Gay White Control Means Bloody Murder LP

A well-executed poster sleeve makes a nice introduction to ENOLA GAY’s highly committed brand of punk and thrash. The compositions vary in quality from song to song, but their best moments occur when their instrumental power conjoins with great hooks (as on “Wealthy Ones”).

Depraved Stupidity Maketh the Man LP

The DEPRAVED do it again! While there aren’t as many standout numbers here as their debut LP, there’s crunch and lyric spite to spare on this one. Imagine British thrash with catchy riffing and memorable vocals choruses, and you get an idea how special this record (and band) is. Very strong!

The Damned The Peel Sessions 12″

Four ripping early blasts by the DAMNED are featured here, versions formerly only available on bootleg tapes and records. Several of the tracks, like “Sick of Being Sick,” are actually superior to the previously released versions. A must for fans of ’77 punk.

D.B.F. So Full of Lies LP

Political lyrics in both English and German accompany thrash with very tasteful speedcore influences. No guitar leads here—just fast hardcore, even though I would have preferred songs with more overall distinctiveness. D.B.F. put in a solid debut effort here.

Xband Pleasure of Life EP

It’s hard to pin down what it is that makes this EP so appealing. It may be the well-honed HC songwriting, the elaborate power-chord tracks, the added edge of accessibility, or the powerful vocals. Whatever it is, I enjoyed the four tracks on this record thoroughly. Another great one from Florida.

The 3-D Invisibles Jump Off the Screen LP

The nifty 3-D album cover (glasses provided) presages this band’s lyric compulsion with horror movie themes. The songs are all presented in a stripped-down, punkish format, with good melodies and arrangements, but very little in the way of power. A little dumb, and only a little better than average.

Scratch Acid Just Keep Eating LP

SCRATCH ACID shed some of their BIRTHDAY PARTY influences on this LP, which contains an assortment of powerful, gritty rockers mixed in with a few artier numbers. More of a rootsy rock approach is evident here, and the overall variety makes it recommendable.

Phantom Tollbooth Jack of All Phobias 12″

This seven-song job rocks hard, but also contains a number of instrumental and vocal over-indulgences that infect even the more promising tracks. It’s like the MINUTEMEN in terms of song structure, with lots of guitar wankings and awkward vocal intrusions. Basically unappealing, for me.

No Fraud The E.P. EP

The passion comes through on this frenzied EP of high-velocity thrash. A pummelling guitar and drum attack combined with harsh vocals makes each of these songs decisively effective, as well distinctive and dynamic in their own right. A winner!

The Mr. T Experience Everybody’s Entitled to Their Own Opinion LP

The MR. T EXPERIENCE definitely connects with an entertaining record here. This is simple and catchy punk rock, presented with biting guitarwork and high energy. What’s more, they address a variety of offbeat themes in a trademark funny/dumb manner I found winning. Good work, guys!

The Gruesomes Tyrants of Teen Trash LP

“Teen trash” is right—this neo-’60s garage outfit presents a clutch of primitive, upbeat rockers on this one. We’ve heard it all before—and that’s the problem. Montreal’s GRUESOMES don’t recycle their riffs to sound new or different, though there are a few nostalgia moments here, like “For All I Care.”

Floorlords Black Ice Ride 2-Nite / Electrified Wet Mud Wall 7″

Hardcore energy melds with funkiness on this record, which sounds somewhat like a jazzier version of late BLACK FLAG. I didn’t care for the songs here, but there’s a certain catchiness and power that might make this band into a future contender.

Brain Eaters Night Must Fall EP

Punkish fright-rock is performed adequately on this EP. While the ballad “Fiend Without a Face” lacks any measure of menace or melodic interest, the other two numbers boast an upbeat, riffy energy and sung choruses. Basically unmemorable.

V/A That Was Then… This is Now! EP

Four bands offer one song each on this nifty sampler. We get an intense, original HC offering from RUIN (with great lyrics); hook-filled pop punk by ELECTRIC LOVE MUFFIN; SCRAM performs an okay reggae-tinged number; and F.O.D. go completely crazy on their trashed out live track. Cool record; buy it.

V/A Smash Skate Rock, Vol. 4 LP

The likes of TUPELO CHAIN SEX, SCREAM, and several other artists offer largely mediocre tunes on this comp, which covers punk/rap, HC, pop, C&W, and even spoken word on the various tracks. Only MCSHRED connects with two high-velocity thrashers; I daresay it would be impossible to skateboard to the rest of this.

The Scam Everything Ends in Rot EP

The five hardcore numbers on this EP boast screaming vocals over the basic slow/fast arrangements, none particularly notable. “All By Myself” has a certain vocal power to it, but this record doesn’t excite or surprise as it should.

Random Killing Take Our Flag EP

“Terrorist Attack” and “Drunk Driving,” of the five songs here, show an approach to punkish thrash that’s anything but general. Tense vocals and energetic guitar work fuel these songs well above the standard for the rest of this EP, making RANDOM KILLING a potential powerhouse. I’d like to hear more.

Rancid Vat Burger Belsen LP

The music on this disc is definitive RANCID VAT—loose punk rock, infused with a gritty guitar sound and often hysterical lyrics. The individual tunes lack distinctiveness by and large, but the fart choruses in “Low Blow” and the goofy cover art help make up for it. Spirited, and basically okay.

Newd Harry Tracey is Dead LP

Loud guitars and occasional vocal choruses are a good starting point, but they only do so much to enliven this album, which contains largely undistinctive mid-tempo hardcore. Even the lyrics, covering a range of punk rockfish themes, also seem to lack the extra punch to push this one over the top.

Lost in Aggression Lost in Aggression LP

The growled vocals and rebellious lyrics on this LP are definitely punk, but the music is poppish in almost a PATRIK FITZGERALD style. The result is credible without being especially powerful, and frankly I wasn’t exactly bowled over by the tunes, either. An interesting idea marred by lackluster execution.

Thee Katatonix Daisy Chain / Home Alone 7″

KATATONIX display a knack for catchy, inoffensive neo-psych on this one. The A-side contains synth and poppish vocal harmonies in a ballad form, while the flip is even slower, but has some good, hard guitars. Basically okay for what it is.

Just Born Autumn Song EP

This trio of songs uses a punkish power chord style to address fairly nondescript lyrical themes. “Nowhere” has varied guitar work melded into an energetic, bouncy rocker, and it rates way above the two other simpler and less interesting tunes. Recommended for the good song.

Fanous Cheezcake Easy Answers & Simple Slogans EP

Imagine Kevin Seconds singing over a high-velocity thrash backdrop, with periodic lead breaks interrupting the proceedings, and you have a rough approximation of FANOUS CHEEZCAKE. Production is very basic, the songs fairly typical of the genre.

The Eastern Dark Long Live the New Flesh! 12″

In the LIME SPIDERS school of rockin’ Aussie punk, EASTERN DARK shows an added element of accessibility and real consistency in songwriting on this one. “I Don’t Need the Reasons” has especially memorable hooks and strong guitars. Top notch!

Disper-Azione Soltanto La Morte… Potrà Fermarci LP

DISPER-AZIONE kick up a nasty dust-cloud of dark, energetic chord progressions in their mid-tempo HC, add some powerful vocals, and also opt for lots of self-indulgent lead guitar breaks. When disciplined, as on the superb title track, this band is stunning; otherwise, this album is still rather impressive, but flawed.

Concrete Sox Your Turn Next LP

Some speedcore trappings, managed in an entirely tasteful and powerful manner, make the thrashy songs on this album very creditable on a musical level; bands like BROKEN BONES should look to the SOX with envy. The socially and politically responsible lyrics, however, make this one into both an intelligent and very listenable record. Very good.

Cólera Pela Paz Em Todo Mundo LP

COLERA fans won’t be disappointed with this one. This album has more of that uncompromising, Finnish-style thrash in a style very similar to vintage APPENDIX. While I would have preferred a little more guitar (the approach of fellow Brazilians, RATOS DE PORAO), this is still a very good release—and I appreciated the translated lyrics, too.

Chronic Disorder Blithering Idiots LP

Still another progression for this interesting Connecticut band. Several loose, spirited thrashers (like the catchy original, “Summertime Blues”) vie for one’s attention along with mid-tempo numbers reminiscent of a rawer HÜSKER DÜ. Songwriting is inconsistent here, and their hallmark intensity and humor are in short supply. Still, it’s an original effort.

The Birdhouse My Birdman / Don’t Wanna Shake 7″

Two riffy, rockin’ tunes appear here: the A-side contributes GUN CLUB-style guitars to agreeable, half-sung vocals, while the flip is a sloppier and less interesting mixture of the same. Not memorable, but hardly mediocre.

Amazing Grace Entities LP

A surprising entry from Florida, AMAZING GRACE clicks in with a rock’n’roll approach that varies in passion and slickness. For me, the songs didn’t stick, though the energy here is commendable, especially on numbers like “Raw Power” (an original). Contains a stupid song, “Boat People,” that shows misinformed political views.

V.E.B. Sehnsucht Tot Oder Lebendig / Dreamboy 7″

One of these two German pop bands, TOT ODER gets the bonus points for interesting instrumentals. Still, both songs are fairly slow and lilting, lack engaging hooks, and are listenable primarily through my adoration of female vocals. Uninspired.

The Sect A Free England / Never Go 7″

The SECT make their debut on vinyl with two ’77 style punk anthems in the STIFF LITTLE FINGERS vein. Both sides are up to the highest standards; skillful melodies, a hard guitar sound, and solid lyrics (especially on “A Free England”) make this one absolutely essential.

Pression X Pression X 12″

Not unlike an Italian MIRACLE WORKERS, this band has five mid-to-fast-speed garage psych punkers on this likable 12″. Nearly everything here is catchy but the snotty vocals and kinetic energy of “Out of Control” is definitely above the standard. Very good record.

Motorjoke Pinnen Rullar Till Peking EP

Undistinguished, straightahead hardcore with occasional lead breaks is the basic style here, the power-riffs underscoring a fairly aggressive instrumental attack. Half of the lyrics are in a bizarre kind of English that makes no sense whatsoever.

Krunch Tjafs & Dalt EP

Three of the four songs on this EP use an extended slow introduction followed by an explosive Swedish thrashfest, while “Andring” simply lets loose with the goods from the start. A solid dose of tight HC, though not quite up to the best material from their LP.

Tožibabe Dežuje EP

TOŽIBABE straddles the line between riffy punk and hardcore energy with their sheer enthusiasm, and I found these four simple songs even more engaging on multiple listenings. Good female vocals and a distinctive instrumental sound make this a fine debut release.

Gash G.A.S.H. LP

This all-female band from Australia forces out a tough, grungy guitar sound and some nasty vocals — and I admired the lyrics concerns, too. It’s too bad that the melodies follow the same minor-third guitar professions song after song. Extreme repetition, which is too bad, because I was hopeful about this band.

Der Durstige Mann Saufen Macht Das Leben SpaÁŸ LP

Alcoholic sickness infects every one of the songs on this loose, funny, disjointed, and original album. One first-rate thrasher, “Wandertag in der DDR”, leads off an assortment of predominantly medium — to slow-tempo sing-alongs that have primitive production, and sound like the band is drunk. And yes, it’s just as engaging as past DURSTIGE MANN releases.

Ausweis Victimes 12″

This French band has a knack for hard-edged post-punk with a good sense of energy, even if they uncharacteristically lag behind in the melodic sense. “Gom Jabbar” is a slow, tasteful dub, though the other three songs are more spirited.

Asta Kask Live 12″

This posthumous release captures ASTA KASK in eleven songs recorded live just this year. Sound quality is good, the performance spirited, and songs up to that trademark quality. Can’t say it captures all the excitement but it will have to do won’t it? Get this record.

Hags Project 1986 LP

This band covers typical MENTORS lyric territory with less satiric justification, and plays excruciating guitar rock with flailing leads that bored me to the point of wanting to make this sucker into an ashtray. But then I realized that I may be able to trade it to my local record store…

Big Stick Shoot the President 12″

Following their effective 7″ (included here with an additional track), BIG STICK pushes five guitar-oriented songs through a flanger, adds pounding drums, sprinkles demented vocals over the mix — and what results is funny, wild rock that many PERE UBU fans might find agreeable. Interesting.

Manimal Manimal LP

Not to be confused with the Ohio outfit, this Italian band presents fast, aggressive, utterly tuneless punk and HC in a suitably non-descript style. Tempos are fast, energy high—it just doesn’t connect.

M.O.G. Radio Rock EP

This very strong release almost seems like a Dutch version of DIE KREUZEN, with the emphasis on high-speed thrash and the occasional guitar squiggles (and sometimes more than squiggles). I liked several of the tracks here, which at their best, seem to combine all of the elements. Recommended.

Cas Prawde Last Hour of Warning EP

CAS PRAWDE is one of those bands with an upbeat punk attack, abetted by riffy song structures, but without much in the way of hooks or memorable tunes. The power’s OK—where’s that added punch that wants to make me listen to it again?

C.N.T. Mitaleja EP

I found myself getting caught up in the dynamic thrash of CNT—hot guitars, passionate vocals, the typical Finnish speed attack—so much so that the intrusion of speed-metal licks bothered me all the more. Too bad; otherwise, it’s a cool record.

Blyth Power Junction Signal 12″

This is just as good as the British pop we all used to love before hardcore became fashionable. Three superior guitar-pop ditties are here: the distinctive lyrics, delightful hooks, and unusual, almost archaic arrangements are clearly done with care. Even better than their fine debut release; the track “Sordid Tales,” with its surfy guitar, is especially appealing.

Prevaricators Jihad EP

This strong release shows this Virginia band at their near best: distinctive vocals blend with flailing rockish punk on the four songs here, of which the title track seems the most memorable. Production is hot, making for a ripping release. The only drawback is the sporadic guitar leads.

Contraband Girls of All Nations LP

This intriguing album contains textured and highly varied guitarwork and an emphasis on good songwriting I found refreshing. Not all the songs are memorable, but there’s a poppish edge to CONTRABAND’s best songs, combining mid-tempo punk with harmonic vocals to make for an LP that grows on you. Good, solid release.

The Shower Scene From Psycho Exploding Hits 12″

I don’t know where these characters come from, but what we have here are six innovative cover versions (with great femme vocals) of classics like “Purple Haze,” Georgy Girl,” and “One (Is the Loneliest Number).” Strong guitars and semi-tasteful use of effects make this one a winner. Completely hilarious.

The Primitives Thru the Flowers 12″

Imagine the catchy, female-vocal guitar pop of the SHOP ASSISTANTS melded with the simple song structures of the RAMONES, and you end up with something that sounds like this excellent release. Four songs, all snappy and memorable, with hooks galore. A complete surprise!

New Rose Circus of the Human Race EP

Melodic rockish pop is NEW ROSE’s stock-in-trade, and the slow-to-mid-tempo tunes on this release show fair promise. “Run for Cover” is upbeat and pleasant, and at least two of the other four tunes show an adeptness for very understated hooks and adequate songwriting. No great revelation, but OK.

Junk Schizo Pity to the Ignorant EP

This second EP from JUNK SCHIZO presents still more of the same driving, raging hardcore with “Black and Red,” but moves into other directions with the remaining three tracks. A pretty good EP, but probably not up to their debut in terms of energy. Good production.

Juggernaut Juggernaut LP

This Italian outfit displays a power not unlike bands like BIG BLACK and NAKED RAYGUN, with its rich guitar sound and mid-tempo hardcore energy. The commitment to gutsy, disciplined playing really pays off too; this debut LP is entirely assured—and the individual tunes, all finely produced, do stand out after multiple listenings.

Dream Police In Combat EP

After a six-year layoff, this Danish combo presents four tunes in a quintessentially “rockin’” mode—and I mean it. Guitar leads about over mid-tempo metallish guitar riffs, and although there is a punkish power in the songs, all four tunes here are clearly “rock.” Quite unlike JOHNNY CONCRETE’s previous efforts, and basically OK for what it’s doing.

Dorian Gray 1986 A.D. EP

This band is similar to a MINUTEMEN without fleshed-out arrangements: the bass and drums interplay while sung vocals drone over all six songs on this EP. With more energy or musical invention, this could have been intriguing. As it is, I had the feeling of incompleteness.

The Celibate Rifles 6 Days on the Road / Groupie Girl 7″

We missed this one the first time around, and it’s another first-rate single by one of Australia’s leading rock outfits. The JOHNNY CASH title tune is catchy and fun, and despite a fair flip, this one recalls the better rockin’ material from this country.

Ramones Animal Boy LP

This album pushes the RAMONES’ style into catchy, straight-ahead HC (which they manage to do better than the vast majority of bands going), with a smattering of rockin’ pop (which has been their forte for a while now). This is another extraordinary RAMONES LP (nothing but great cuts here), and it’s about time we all recognized that they’re the great American band.

V/A Les Héros Du Peuple Sont Immortels LP

This compilation of French pop-punk bands contains all that we expect from this kind of band: songs with choruses, catchy melodies, and moderate tempos. While there are respectable tunes by THUGS, OTH, PARFUM DE FEMME, and BABYLON FIGHTERS (cool reggae), no song really stands out in my mind. Interesting.

Sponky Business So What…?! LP

This Belgian band relates commendable lyric concerns in a simple, riffy punk style that’s a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the hard, stinging guitar sound, but the compositions seemed a bit “simple” and uninvolving. With better songwriting, this band could be a contender.

Les Garçons Bouchers La Biere EP

This outfit is a French equivalent of DER DURSTIGE MAN—a punk band whose material is most likely to appeal to those whose musical sensibilities have already been clouded by massive amounts of alcohol. Mid-tempo punk with shouted group choruses, and aggressively delivered; typically, the title track is translated, “Beer.”

Circle of Sig-Tiu Feuer + Asche LP

This powerful album combines some metallic touches with an urgent, dramatic compositional style. All of this results in memorable songs which really clear the air, and there’s a distinctiveness here that should be recognized, too. Very strongly recommended.

Asta Kask Än Finns Det Hopp EP

This new one from ASTA KASK has that brisk, melodic, and powerful style, but with an added emphasis on power. This sacrifices a bit of accessibility, but makes for some great moments, especially on the steamroller, “Sexkomplex.” Another great one from these guys.

Wimpy Dicks S.L.O. Bored LP

WIMPY DICKS incant growled vocals over a tough, uncompromising hardcore style that has unquestionable bite and power. The songs tend to be repetitive, however, both within and between cuts; but those who can ignore this will find all of the basics on this one. Adequate.

JFA My Movie EP

JFA present two lackluster instrumentals on one side of this EP, but the showcase for this band’s talents, “Desert Jewel,” demonstrates adeptness at a diverse punk approach: a haunting intro, bright guitars, and impassioned vocals make for their best track in a long time. Very good.

Happy World Jump for Joy EP

Diverse influences crop up on this four-track EP. The less urgent numbers on the “9” side didn’t capture my attention, owing more to a loose rock approach. Side “FF”, however, contains two dynamic, mid-tempo punkers which represent this band at their best. Not altogether catchy, but still respectable.

Butthole Surfers Rembrandt Pussyhorse LP

I’ve thought the BUTTHOLES’ records frankly variable in quality to this point, but I am really enthusiastic about this one. More subdued than usual, at times boasting a pounding backbeat, this is their first attempt at “acid pop”—and it’s a real breakthrough. Absolutely fascinating from song to song. Get it.

Bedlam Lost in Space 12″

Expect the same abrasive uncompromising thrash you enjoyed on their debut 12″, but with an additional grunginess—almost a looseness—on their latest. The band is hot, no question about it, and I still enjoy their offbeat humor and personal commentaries represented in the lyrics.

Protes Bengt In Bengt We Trust EP

This band is a hybrid of the Swedish outfits MOB 47 and FILTHY CHRISTIANS, and they pack in 32 songs on this 7″er. The ditties range in the under-30-second category, with ultra-raw production, not unlike the early NEOS, and I only wish I knew Swedish so I could understand the humorous lyrics. Real fun!

The Krixhjälters Guineapig Assasinator 12″

This rather original Swedish outfit balances just a tinge of metal influences in some of the vocals and riffing with a definite punk sensibility everywhere else. The result: crunching, powerful punk delivered with HC energy. Another cool Swedish punk release…

Angor Wat General Strike LP

This Norwegian outfit displays their political commitment in a highly distinctive HC style: gruff vocals bark over a mid-tempo series of smoky minor-chord progressions, with a very occasional hook to sustain interest. This album tends toward unpleasantness, though the band’s desire to communicate makes this an effort well worth supporting.

White Zombie Gods on Voodoo Moon EP

This is stylistically not unlike a spacey KILLDOZER 85 vocally and in compositional structure; the thing I found continually annoying was the endless guitar wanking that attenuated all of this LP’s intensity and power. More discipline next time, guys. Boring.

V/A Fresh Sounds From Middle America #3 LP

This sampler resents diverse sounds from some familiar (MICRONOTZ, BUM KON, IGUANAS) and mostly relatively unknown bands. While side one is composed of adequate alternative pop tracks, the flip really lets loose with hard-edged punky tunes spanning most of the punk/HC spectrum. Interesting comp—and worth your attention.

Honest Injun The Rosenthal Effect 12″

This band covers familiar territory—mid-tempo hardcore with dark, sarcastic lyrics—without much in the way of originality. Still, this record boasts good production, full guitars, and solid lyric concerns. I just can’t get excited over it.

The Dickies We Aren’t the World cassette

I can’t claim to be impartial about this band, but predominantly raw live tracks are mixed in with a few early demos on this one. New versions of all of your fave DICKIES songs will make fans delirious with joy, though this tape is not the ideal introduction to this great band.

Death of Samantha Strungout on Jargon LP

DEATH OF SAMANTHA opts for a discordant and somewhat arty approach to mid-tempo DIY rock. That may be the problem; in presenting a style rather than ace songs, this band evades any real appeal for me. Good, hard guitar sound, though.

Shell Shock No Holds Barred EP

The second (and very long-awaited) single by SHELL SHOCK contains four examples of straight-ahead HC done in a no-nonsense style. While lacking the unintentional humor of their debut, this one piles on fair amounts of aggro in its best moments, as on the aggressive title track. Basically OK, though unexceptional.

V/A Hard-Core Ljubljana LP

A bunch of Yugoslavian punk bands (U.B.R., III KATEGORIJA, EPIDEMIJA, TOZIBABE, ODPADKI CIVILIZAGIJE) present four to six songs each on this cool sampler. The mode of HC is grungy and loose, following the examples of the Italians, yet veering toward the speedier approach of the Northern Europeans. A very good sampler, and fairly consistent from song to song.

Spermbirds / Walter 11 split EP

These two bands are actually fairly much the same band, but with divergent styles. SPERMBIRDS indulge in an upbeat hardcore style with hilarious lyrics, while their alter-ego boasts a totally winning pop-punk approach, especially on “Kaiserslautern.” A very good record, and look forward to more.

Shop Assistants Safety Net EP

This combo shows promise on two tracks, where their individualistic pop songwriting melds with their pleasant female vocals; and they connect solidly with the EP’s title song—a gritty, melodic mid-tempo track that sticks in the memory. Not hardcore—just good independent-minded pop/rock.

Madame Edwarda Lorelei Étranger Héliogabale 12″

Reminiscent of English atmospheric pop (VIRGIN PRUNES, etc.), MADAME EDWARDA succeeds moderately with the title track, although as with most examples of this genre, the poppishness and hooks get stretched too thin for the sake of mood. OK.

Cosmic Psychos Down in the Farm 12″

COSMIC PSYCHOS employ a riff-laden punk style with very prominent guitar solos, as well as a strange arty edge that mixes poorly with the punk elements. I’m uninspired by the songwriting, and hope that the self-indulgent wanking doesn’t get in the way of future releases.

Xmal Deutschland Sequenz 12″

This three-tracker calls to mind JuJu-period SIOUXSIE, and they do a commendable job with this moody, new wave material. I expected to dislike this immensely, but the B-side, “Polarlicht” in particular, is undisputedly first-rate post-punk—completely unique and memorable.

Mushroom Planet Take Me Away / The Chair 7″

MUSHROOM PLANET performs Aussie rock’n’roll in the usual fashion, and here a distinctive guitar sound provides the interest. “The Chair” is the operative track, with its psych guitar riffing and sneering vocal attack—a wonderful song. The flip fares less well.

Liberty Our Voice is Tomorrow’s Hope! EP

LIBERTY has the benefit of political commitment abetted by an original approach to mid-tempo British punk. Great guitar riffs abound on two of the four numbers here, and the overall sound is rough, gruff, powerful, and uncompromising. Good solid release.

Kalashnikov Sub Version LP

Their debut single made me look forward to listening to this LP, but I was disappointed in KALASHNIKOV’s lackluster pop and pop-punk compositions, despite the plaintive female vocals. Some adventurous musical changes of pace—and sadly very little in the way of hooks or power.

The Arctic Circles Angel / My Baby Said That 7″

This record captures the Aussies’ rock sound, but without the overwhelming power you’ll find in the LIME SPIDERS or CELIBATE RIFLES. The songs are pleasant and quite listenable; I just felt that an added punch was needed to push it over the top. Adequate.

Kilslug Answer the Call LP

With this album, KILSLUG dirged their way into aggravating the hell out of me. Good, bassy guitars hold down a dose of dark, discordant hardcore in the basic FLIPPER mode, but devoid of hooks or power. Nothing really drew me in on this LP.

Decontrol Born to Be Wild EP

Surprise of surprises, I liked this. Punk with a genuine pop sensibility combines with metal on the two songs from the flip of this EP—the vocals are gruff, the music gritty and mean. DECONTROL’s cover of the STEPPENWOLF standard connects with abundant energy—so much so that I hardly noticed the flailing guitar leads. Recommended.

Deep Six Complaints Dept. / Rockin’ at the Rideau 7″

This is aggressive rock’n’roll distinguished by intriguing vocal choruses on both sides as well as prominent lead breaks. I enjoyed “Complaint Dep’t” better of the two songs here, if only for its studied poppishness. Fun.

Anti-Scrunti Faction Damsels in Distress LP

ANTI-SCRUNTI FACTION champions the grunge-o-rama attack on their debut LP. The lyrics and punky spirit of this band go a long way, but the sameness of the songwriting detracts from the album’s ultimate impact. I’ll tell you one thing: if the whole album were as hot as “Suicide Note,” an impassioned thrasher, they’d have dynamite here.

V/A Are You Ready to Be Interogated!!! cassette

This comp contains primarily demo tracks from the likes of AD NAUSEUM, STUPIDS, OI POLLOI, CHRONIC DISORDER, and a variety of less well-known bands, in appealing (and consistently political) songs. Very solid sampling of good bands.

Slam Tragedies! 7″

This Swedish combo fails to enliven their mid-tempo punk format on their latest single. “Tragedy” is an uneventful ditty with lackluster hooks, and the flip sadly rates only as a mishmash of bad production and songwriting. SLAM has done much better than this.

Marc Riley with the Creepers Creeping at Maida Vale 12″

While the FALL seems to be suffocating in their own style, MARC RILEY exploits the sound of his former mates and adds gusto to make a quartet of first-rate songs. Imagine Witch Trial FALL with an added dimension of life and catchiness, and you get an idea of what this fab disc is like. Get it!

Beki Don’t Turn Away 12″

Beki Bondage, formerly of VICE SQUAD and LIGOTAGE, falls flat on her face on this EP. She has a great voice, but the music is completely characterless and bland pop and rock. TOYAH has done music in this vein infinitely better.

Virus X Johnny Likes Pain 12″

The primitive compositions on this EP reminded me of the late, great CHILD MOLESTERS, a similarity which even extends to the sick lyrics. Unfortunately, the songs lack that essential catchiness that made the MOLESTERS so great. There’s good spirit here, but the music veers toward genericness. (Not to be confused with VIRUS, the NY band whose test press we reviewed eight months ago, but whose LP is yet to come out!).

The Spores Schizofungi! LP

SPORES make some interesting musical choices on this LP of mid- to fast-tempo mutant punk. The songs are quite catchy, but also often have that added instrumental difference (chimes, echoes, weird breaks) that makes for distinctiveness. Not earthshattering, though it’s a solid and recommendable LP.

Urban Dogs No Pedigree LP

Charlie Harper (of UK SUBS) and Knox (of VIBRATORS) pair up on this album of lackluster ditties in a proto-punk style. The songs on this release, while unrepresentative of the talent here, also display a noticeable lack of passion. These URBAN DOGS do have a pedigree, but here I could have mistaken them for strays.

Normahl Harte Nächte LP

Basic German punk, fast and punchy, with catchy guitar riffing—the same kind of thing NORMAHL has been doing for a while now. Nothing is performed with particular brilliance, though I find this style quite listenable. Good, but unspecial.

Danbert Nobacon The Unfairy Tale LP

DANBERT NOBACON from CHUMBAWAMBA presents a collection of solo folk ditties here, performed in a style not unlike that of PATRIK FITZGERALD or an acoustic BILLY BRAGG. Most of the songs are quite catchy, but a certain monotony does set in after a few tunes. A fairly good record, though it would have been palatable as an EP.

Blyth Power Chevy Chase 12″

This unusual release features ex-MOB members in songs which, in three of four cases, exploit a medieval flavor with a punk energy. Surprisingly, the gamble works—though I also enjoyed the pop punky style of this EP’s only rocker, “God Has Gone Wrong Again.” A good record that will grow on you.

Accident Crazy LP

ACCIDENT clocks in with some slick, routine melodic punk with sung vocals, including some new versions of old songs. Most of the material here sounds like punk as attempted by power-poppers, and only a pair of songs on the flip escape that tendency for inoffensive cuteness. No power, no heart, no soul…no buy.

Uruku Exhumed Lunch EP

URUKU approaches HC from an eclectic point of view, so if you combined the likes of BEEFEATER, UNITED MUTATION, and GREY MATTER into one outfit, you might come away with something like this. Thrash with diverse and arty overtones—mostly fairly routine, with no real standout numbers.

Unrest So You Want to Be a Rock’N’Roll Star EP

Of the three tracks here, the operative one is an idiosyncratic version of the BYRDS classic, “So You Wanna Be a Rock’n’Roll Star”—a hard-rocking rendition with lots of raw edges. The two remaining songs meander into rock/experimental domains that lack much real focus. Almost adequate.

Political Justice? Stating the Truths and Healing the Wounds EP

POLITICAL JUSTICE? delves into a medium-paced punk style with highly distinctive lyrics—and songwriting that unfortunately lacks any sense of uniqueness or catchiness. I admired the committed point of view of this band, but I hope the musical aspects of this outfit catch up with them on their next release.

PTL Klub 13 Commandments LP

P.T.L. KLUB have the style down pat: fast, thrashy songs, angry vocals, committed lyrics on good topics, and very occasional guitar leads. Of course, it’s been done often before, but when it’s executed well (as it is here) the music sustains power and drive. A very good record from this Massachusetts outfit.

Lethal Yellow Declaration of Retardation EP

A raw, gritty guitar sound innervates these garagy blasts of mid-tempo funnypunk. With titles like “Grilled Cheese Sandwiches” and “Spastic and Proud,” you can infer LETHAL YELLOW’s goofoid tendencies, but there are some really good songs delivered with spunk on this one. A lot of fun.

Zynthslakt Hit Med Stålarna EP

This 7″ represents the tracks ZYNTHSLAKT released on two split EPs with N.O.S. and the PAST, and the material here is gritty, catchy, and highly original. A rockin’ punk style is evident on all six songs, though I was particularly drawn to the vocal choruses on “Es Ist Krieg.” A good one.

V/A Vilda Vanor LP

This Swedish sampler dips into a variety of pop genres, from nifty pop-punk (KOTTGROTTORNA, TREDJE KONET, SPION 13), highly questionable new wave (WUTABOUT, FLYGANDE NUNNAN), and just plain rock (WHOOPS!, SCANDAL BEAUTIES). The songs vary considerably in quality, but some promising bands are represented, too.

V/A 77 KK LP

This one slipped by us somehow, so here’s the review, albeit late. One side is devoted to American bands (DOA, 76% UNCERTAIN, WHITE CROSS, etc.) in first-rate tracks mostly on other records already. The flip however, is all-French (TROTSKIDS, COLLABOS, and WARRIOR KIDS turn in especially good pop-punk efforts) and all unreleased. A very good comp; if the duplication doesn’t bother you, give it a listen.

V/A Questionable: The Compilation LP

Four bands contribute three tracks each on this comp, which is variable, but respectably workmanlike. BUNCHAFUCKINGOOFS are the only HC band represented, and provide some good satiric numbers, while LIVING PROOF shows vast improvement over their LP in a basic, rockish vein. ANIMAL STAGS specialize in mid-tempo goofoid rock, and MADHOUSE are forgettable. A 35/65 affair.

V/A The Vikings Are Coming LP

This Swedish compilation showcases a variety of newer bands, some rather promising. BEDRÖVLERZ and CRUDE SS whip away at their three songs each, while BIZARR demonstrates a pop-punk sensibility worth noting. Five other bands put in workmanlike efforts on this variable, but largely entertaining LP.

Trojne Who Gives A Fuck Anyway? EP

A rockish energy mixes winningly with thrashy song structures on this five-tracker. The song quality is about on par with their varied debut EP, but here exhibits much more consistent power, especially on the steamroller “1984.” A solid record, worthy of your attention.

The Nirvana Devils Secret Agent Girl / May I 7″

Two catchy, finger-snapping ditties make this single a worthy investment for those who might like an amalgam of textured ’60s pop and late-’70s power-pop. The slightly off-tune and off-time female vocals somehow adds to the effect as it did for the MO-DETTES long ago. Recommended.

Nick Toczek Nick Toczek’s Ulterior Motives: The Tape cassette

Highly political prose and poetry make this offering a pleasant surprise. No music here, just committed, clever, and anarchic words infused with a punk idealism. A breath of fresh air. Buy it.

Star Club Punk! Punk! Punk! LP

STAR CLUB’s third album is clearly their best yet, boasting rowdy, up-beat ’77 punk not unlike the PROFESSIONALS, but consistently rawer and more powerful. This band cherishes their early punk roots, and numbers like “Radical Real Rock” and “Urban Guerrilla” demonstrate their complete assurance with the genre. An excellent LP.

The Rejected First Offence EP

The term “generic” comes to mind on this one. Mid- to fast-paced hardcore from this Aussie outfit, but the songs are too repetitious (both lyrically and musically) and the guitar sound altogether too thin to sustain much power. “Copper,” of the five tracks, has a nice riff to recommend it; otherwise, I was unaffected.

Lack of Knowledge Sirens Are Back LP

The emphasis on clever arranging reminded me of late MAGAZINE, but the musical adeptness isn’t nearly as strong on this debut LP. In fact, the songwriting is largely monochromatic and uninteresting, despite a good feeling for the personal/political lyrics. Maybe next time.

The Fall This Nation’s Saving Grace LP

As with most extremely prolific bands, the FALL hit and miss with most of their compositions. This is basic middling FALL, with the repetitious arrangements and obscure, taunting vocals that aficionados of the outfit have come to expect. About every other song is pretty good, and nearly everything is very, very predictable.

Southern Culture on the Skids First Album LP

Rockabilly trappings blend with an off-beat raunchiness on S.C.O.T.S.’s debut LP, which shows promise despite its inconsistency. A few klunkers, but bursts like “Bop Bop Bop” and “Atom Age Truckers” show the band’s rockin’ roots to good advantage. The instrumentals here are especially appealing.

99 Cents 99¢ cassette

A stinging instrumental attack provides the distinction to this brisk tape of thrashy tunes. While this band definitely need work in the area of writing distinctive HC, they seem best at the quasi-NEOS approach of songs like “Scared Single.” Maybe this is a good direction for this abrasive outfit.

The Honeymoon Killers Love American Style LP

Gritty post-punk, not altogether unlike the WOUNDZ, but here with a more well-established sense of mania, both musically and vocally. But there are no standout songs, nothing I particularly remember as I write this review, so I guess I didn’t like it.

Brave New World Initiation 12″

The six songs on this EP represent a solid try at edgy, riff-laden post-punk with both tension and energy. BRAVE NEW WORLD do sacrifice catchiness for atmosphere, but those who enjoyed the instrumental sharpness of earlier SIOUXSIE material may find passing interest in this effort.

Angst Lite Life LP

ANGST aim for a “roots pop” approach, incorporating elements of punk, country, blues, and power-pop into a clutch of highly accessible ditties. Some songs are slow, but this band’s forte is in faster, intricately arranged tunes like “It’s All a Lie” and “Butler Grace,” which demonstrate a subdued, yet punky energy. Fans of the NEATS and EMBARRASSMENT should enjoy this.

Absence of Malice Awakening EP

There’s good, solid thrash on this six-tracker, but ABSENCE OF MALICE add nothing particularly original or inventive to the proceedings. You know what to expect: fast tempos, atonal guitar rifting, occasional lead breaks (and some good lyrics expressing youth alienation). OK.

Christian Death The Decomposition of Violets: Live in Hollywood cassette

This live concert, recorded in Hollywood, represents a fusion of late JOY DIVISION and Ummagumma-period PINK FLOYD. Atmospheric, slightly psychedelic, and well-recorded, this performance hits and misses with its post-punk sensibility; selected songs, however, are pretty decent for the genre.

V/A Vilag Lazadoi Harcra Fel EP

Hungary is well-represented by this four-track compilation EP, which contains some intriguing punk and hardcore material; especially powerful is ETA, whose track sounds amazingly like AGENT ORANGE’s “Bloodstains.” (This is on Primitiv Cozak, a division of France’s New Wave label dedicated to presenting Eastern European releases. More power to them for the initiative.) Some fine stuff on this one.

Bloodsport Class Struggle 12″

Interesting. Solid pop-punk music-making distinguishes this enjoyable three-track EP. The title track is quite an engaging ditty, though I was caught by the vocal harmonies and lyric satire of “Heroin,” and a hard guitar sound bolsters the power of all the tracks. Recommended.

Olho Seco / Brigada Do Ódio split LP

The OLHO SECO side contains material culled from past releases, and their crushing HC sound must be savored if you lack these records. The flip seems to be a brace of live-in-the-studio tracks by BRIGADA DO ODIO, recorded to sound like DISORDER sped up and stepping on boxes of Rice Krispies. A very good value.

Dezerter Jeszcze Żywy Człowiek cassette

This live recording documents DEZERTER at a 1984 rock festival in Jarocin, Poland before an audience of 20,000 (!) people. While the production doesn’t do justice to this first-rate outfit, the excitement comes through; 17 songs here, most of them very good, and a few really excellent.

A.K.O.B. Another Kind of Blues EP

AKOB walks a thin line between nasty, powerful thrash (“Officer Friendly Blues”) and metal punk (“Explosion Blues”), so my feelings toward this EP are ambiguous. There’s a fresh, flexible guitar sound to please everyone, plus some interesting lyrics. Still, these guys would be great if they stopped listening to those BROKEN BONES records.

Sorex Portrait of a Prisoner EP

Aggressiveness and a knack for original power riffs buoy the three songs on this EP over some of their competition. SOREX utilize a mid- to fast-tempo thrash formula, and while the song structures are somewhat longer than the norm, the band sustains the energy well. A solid and promising debut.

Skate Death You Break It—You Buy It LP

These zanies from Alaska have unleashed a surprise with this one. SKATE DEATH throws 20 songs at us, mostly falling into a mid-tempo punkish groove not unlike the BURNT. The lyrics are hilarious, boasting titles like “Food Is Good” and “Life Is Such a Boring Job,” but the individual tracks vary considerably in catchiness. Recommended.

Pig Children Blood for the State 12″

Committed lyrics add a measure of punch to this five-tracker, which features high-velocity thrash with an unfortunate excess of annoying, squiggly guitar leads. Too bad the guitar wanking attenuates their appeal for me; PIG CHILDREN are potentially a powerhouse combo.

Klaus Flouride Cha Cha Cha With Mr. Flouride 12″

This eclectic release from the DK’s bassist combines rock and pop with a crisp, engaging experimental feel. The unassured vocals got in the way of my enjoyment, but the post-punk sound of this one is on-target: it’s upbeat, well-recorded, and quite varied from cut to cut. My fave is the instrumental, “Mochra.”

Rotting Carcass / Wut split LP

ROTTING CARCASS showcases a bright, fast HC sound augmented by clean and basic production—resulting in a pleasant dose of good German material. On the other hand, WUT shows more inventiveness with their BUZZCOCKS-style guitar figures and spoken breaks, even though they mine the same general style. I enjoyed this LP, even though I find it difficult to pick out any standout tracks.

The Oigasm Enkele Reis Nunspeet cassette

Despite the band’s name, this resembles Oi only in the grungy arrangements. Instead, this tape features about a half an hour of inventive thrash with hilarious lyrics conveniently translated into English. The recording is basic, but clear and often quite powerful. I look forward to more from this outfit.

Leben Und Leben Lassen SÁ¥ledes Elskede Gud Verden… EP

LEBEN & LEBEN LASSEN exploit a nifty and unique guitar sound on this EP—it’s all refined treble, and remarkably effective. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t do as much with their sound as they could; “Nightmare” rates as a cool change-of-pace HC number, but the other tracks don’t fare as well. All in all, an OK record.

Laitz Balance of Power cassette

The stereo guitar sound adds interest to this tape of incendiary thrashers, which boasts first-rate songwriting, good lyrics, and a shitload of excitement. In fact, the instrumentals remind me of DIE KREUZEN’s first EP. An exemplary effort!!

High Circle Rabbia EP

HIGH CIRCLE sticks to a well-disciplined mid-tempo thrash style on most of these six songs, resulting on listenable (and rather staid) hardcore. But “Lucida Follia,” the standout track here, approaches the domain of RAW POWER with its frenetic instrumental attack and spirited vocals. I’d like to hear more of this power in future recordings, but I still recommend this 7″.

Gepøpel Paracide EP

GEPÁ˜PEL doesn’t beat around the bush; they beat the bush to death. Ultra-high energy thrash with virtuosic chord changes is this band’s stock-in-trade, and this eight-tracker consistently plumbs that style with skill. Easily up to the standards of the better Dutch outfits. In other words, first-rate.

Declino Eresia LP

Utterly frenzied, like most Italian bands DECLINO utilizes a guitar sound which is somewhat less full than the typical power-chord thrash approach. Song quality varies from cut to cut, but the best material (like the live version of “Vita”) shows the class of this distinctive outfit. Committed and often pleasing.

Phillip Boa and the Voodoo-Club Philister LP

Tim might say that “this sounds like KILLDOZER meets COLIN NEWMAN watching an SPK video en route to a concert by KING SUNNY ADE.” Suitably confused? Join the club. This is highly original, intensely percussive music that defies categorization; some of the tracks, like “Ostrich” and “Soul on Ice,” have really grown on me. Real good.

Alien Sex Fiend Acid Bath LP

ALIEN SEX FIEND’s musical style concentrates on a gritty, vaguely spooky rock/post-punk approach without any discernable emphasis on songwriting. Nine songs appear here. Only the rockabilly-tinged “Boneshaker” connects with its up-front percussion and psychotic echo effects. Nothing special here at all.

V/A Alive and Kicking EP

This mini-comp proves the D.C. scene is indeed alive and kicking with six tracks, all by different bands. The standards are solid all-around, though the songs by MARGINAL MAN, UNITED MUTATION, and GRAY MATTER seemed especially impassioned. Good record.

Sex Mutants Escape from Society EP

This band combines the sneering sarcasm of punk with bursts of mid-tempo energy, and it’s the humor that makes this effort interesting. The frantic “Running Wild” contains some power-chord abrasiveness; the other five tracks lack a distinctive punchiness. Not great, not bad.

Party Owls Rock Out! EP

Hard, medium-tempo thrash seems to be PARTY OWLS’ forte, though I was far more enamored of their goofy/retarded lyrics. Of the five tracks here, “Competition Skank” kicks up the requisite energy to be a winner; the other songs just sit there. Still, an above-average, entertaining release.

Lone Cowboys You Light Up My Life / Skulls Have Eyes 7″

Yes, it’s really the DEBBIE BOONE schlock classic, but here adopted to a neo-rock format—and with no small success. The flip, however, has a driving guitar sound and stands on its own as solid alternative rock. (They also have a recommendable cassette, Streets of Poison, available; good material and excellent sound quality.) Good band.

L.D.S. On the Cross EP

LDS straddles the fence between two genres: portentous horror rock and mid- to fast-tempo thrash. Certainly a tight outfit, this band doesn’t seem to have that sense for unique HC compositions—probably because they don’t really exploit the possibilities of either genre. Uneventful.

The Insults Thrasher Go Home EP

There’s a clutch of manic, ultra-fast thrash on this EP—some of it well up to DRI speed and even faster. Admittedly, the recording could be hotter and much of the guitar wanking could have been excised, but this record contains enough unspoiled moments to make it well worthwhile. Good basic release.

Gargoyle Sox As the Master Sleeps… 12″

This band explores the same territory as England’s SCREAMING DEAD—this is atmospheric horror rock, albeit with much less of a rock energy. Of the five songs here, only “Pink Little Playhouse” combines catchy post-punk arrangements with GARGOYLE SOX’s trademark twisted lyrics. A novel release.

Descendents Bonus Fat 12″

Not only do you get the DESCENDENTS’ classic Fat EP on this one, but also the two songs from their rare Ride the Wild 45 and an additional compilation track. This is hard-edged SoCal funnypunk at its best, and a welcome return to vinyl. May be the band’s best record.

Cancerous Growth Late for the Grave LP

CANCEROUS GROWTH do a respectable, but by no means brilliant job with the mid- to fast-tempo thrash formula, replete with rebellious lyrics and gruff vocals. This kind of thing has been done before, but I really enjoyed their high-velocity numbers. Basically OK.

The Burnt Where’s My Head? LP

The BURNT recorded this album on an 8-track machine in a basement somewhere, and the songs explore a variable-speed thrash style with growling vocals. It’s a good piece of work, too; most of the songs are concise, to-the-point thrashers, and there’s at least one mini-classic (“Garbage Can”).

Brain Damage Kill Dan White Party Tape EP

The title track of this four-song release has a loose, angry, experimental energy that reminds me of Wednesday nights at the Mab in ’78. Synth and drums predominate on this one, but if you like diverse, almost-experimental pop, you might find this sporadically interesting. They also have a strange cassette out.

V/A La Lucha Continua!!! cassette

Three fine Spanish outfits (ODIO SOCIAL, ANTI-DOGMATIKSS, and AUTODEFENSA) share this 15-song tape—and each of the bands have something special to offer. The basic mode here is highly political thrash, and the sound is so frantic and committed that I think these tracks could justifiably be on vinyl. This is a great job; buy it!

V/A AJZ Live Trash cassette

A 50/50 proposition. The bands, with the likes of FRITES MODERN, PORNO PATROL, MAU MAUS, UPRIGHT CITIZENS, DOA, etc. are world-class, and the songs are uniformly excellent. Unfortunately, most of the recordings were culled from hand-held walkman cassettes, which doesn’t help the sound quality. I must admit that the excitement comes through, though.

O.X. Pow PolÁ­ticos 12″

Those expecting the charging thrash of their debut EP will be in for a shock. O.X. POW’s style has degenerated into a new wave pop reminiscent of a spare U2, or perhaps AIRSTRIP 1 without the catchy material. And while political pop is OK in my book, there’s no real songwriting skill in evidence here. Too bad.

Hungry for What …And the War Goes On LP

HUNGRY FOR WHAT’s approach is molded by ’77 punk, but a certain sleekness of production imparts a contemporary feel to their songs. There’s some good music here; still, H.F.W. see-saw between moments of power and a sedate professionalism, with the latter winning out in most cases. A strong, yet unmoving release.

Le Crap Ip 12″

Denmark’s LE CRAP wanders through bewildering territory, indeed. While the guitar sound is hard and driving, the songs on this EP work with experimental song structures and off-beat percussion, with some unpleasant results. Not unlike France’s HUMAN BEINGS.

The Bollock Brothers ’77 ’78 ’79 LP

Various punk celebrities from the old days offer their talents for this album of slower, ’77-oriented material. The absence of energy in the tempos put me off initially, but there’s some very palatable SEX PISTOL-ian material here, albeit cleaner and more refined. A decent record.

United Mutation Rainbow Person EP

The compositions on this release from UNITED MUTATION sacrifice the thrashiness of their debut for a spookier, more atmospheric approach—but it works. Churning arrangements, an aggressive HC energy, and those trademark laryngitis vocals team up to good effect especially on “Take Your Pick.” Solid and recommendable.

True West Shot You Down / 1969 7″

On the A-side, TRUE WEST showcases a neo-generic pop style that’s so soft and unassuming that it left me completely uninvolved. The STOOGES cover on the flip, though, musters up some excitement despite the band’s continual tendency to squelch its own power. Lacks heart.

Sacred Denial Life’s Been Getting to Me LP

The thrash on this record contains some gripping instrumental changes of pace, and demonstrates the rudiments of songwriting finesse. A brace of hard-driving HC numbers, a nifty cover of WAR’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and some concise, dynamic production values make this one well worth getting. Some great potential here.

Lounge Lizards Live 79/81 cassette

I hate jazz even more than metal (at least heavy metal is humorous in a pitiable kind of way). That’s why I was surprised to enjoy (moderately) this cassette of finely recorded live cuts from the LOUNGE LIZARDS’ repertoire. Though these songs have their own robust energy, this is not punk.

JFA Live 1984 Tour LP

JFA have documented their live performing talents with mixed success on this album. The instrumental numbers (and there are a ton of them here) have both energy and clarity, though the vocal tunes tend to show the fair-to-middling quality of the recording. For JFA fans only.

Camper Van Beethoven Camper Van Beethoven cassette

This unlikely effort incorporates elements of garage pop and ska, combined with a satirical punk attitude; the result is subtly entertaining. While CVB could increase their energy level a bit, the band’s intelligence and offbeat humor come through in tracks like “Lassie” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” Pleasant.

Antiseen Drastic EP

This band unveils a new variety of hardcore—”destructo rock”—which sounds for all the world like gruff and grungy mid-tempo thrash. ANTISEEN can’t boast great songwriting skills, but I still enjoyed the irrepressible aggro and rebelliousness of their output. A pretty good release.

Toy Dolls A Far Out Disc LP

The TOY DOLLS return to vinyl with a display of outright mania unlike I’ve ever quite witnessed. While the general song quality is a bit lower than on their classic debut album, the band’s crisp pop-punk style and Olga’s unforgettable high-pitched vocals make this record a must. “She Goes to Fino’s,” “My Girlfriend’s Dad’s a Vicar,” and the hilarious “Commercial Break” are classics. Hysterical.

Sex Pistols And We Don’t Care EP

The SEX PISTOLS re-emerge from the vaults on this three-tracker, which features the guitarwork of CHRIS SPEDDING. Mainly a curiosity (better demo tracks appear on their A&M sessions), this EP boasts good sound quality and some interesting instrumentals on “No Feelings.” A nice item for PISTOLS fans.

Poison Girls Songs of Praise LP

I’ve been a POISON GIRLS fan from the beginning, but even I have to admit that this album is their first really poor one. The song structures are funk/new wavish and unfortunately lack the melodic or rhythmic punch of past efforts; there’s no real heart on this LP, either. Ultimately, nearly all of this album is uninvolving, despite some subtly written lyrics.

Neurotics Repercussions 12″

This seven-song effort from the (NEWTOWN) NEUROTICS once again demonstrates their adeptness at the ’77 punk style, though with less consistency than past efforts. “This Fragile Life” boasts a strong melody buoyed by a brass section, but it’s the high point in a selection of more subtle pop-punkers. Pretty good.

Neurotic Arseholes Angst LP

At their best, the NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES display some stylish and melodic punk compositions supported by clever instrumentals. While less aggressive than their debut LP, this one connects most of the time it remains in that melodic mode; happily that’s the majority of the time, and classy ditties like Du Russe” and “Kern Tag Ohne Liebe” attest to that.

Mau Maus Fear No Evil LP

The MAU MAUS display an adeptness at a wide variety of punk and hardcore styles from thrash to sing-alongs, pop-punk, and slow/fast numbers. Happily, they perform it all with authority and intelligence; I can recommend this varied album without reservation.

The Idiots They Call Us: The Idiots LP

This band opts for longer song structures and a pop style with moments of instrumental invention and even ingenuity. While the majority of this album sustains a melodic approach, there are welcome blasts of thrashy energy from time to time; too bad the compositions tend to fall into an earlier, less accessible German style.

Gakidou Pandora No Hako flexi EP

This band seems influenced by British post-punkers LEITMOTIV, and the two faster songs here represent good examples of that taut, expressive style. The other two numbers mine a languid mood I found sleep-inducing.

The Buttocks Fuckin’ in the Buttocks LP

This veteran German band treats us to a selection of mostly live and some studio material ranging from 1978-’81. Most of these tracks showcase the BUTTOCKS’ no-nonsense amalgam of aggressive punk and hardcore to good advantage, though the superior sound quality of their studio recordings (from their two EP’s) shames the rest of the LP. Limited edition of 1000.

Beton Combo 23 Skiddoo 12″

BETON COMBO represents an earlier style of German hardcore, in which the power and hooks are more subdued than the work of their contemporaries. A solid piece of work; still, only the textured thrasher “Ich Krieg Dich” leaves a real impression on multiple listenings. This EP’s not as impressive as their best recordings.

Moose and the Mudbugs Milk Crate Takeover 12″

MOOSE AND THE MUDBUGS recall the halcyon days of power-pop with these four songs. Most of this EP is unnotable—instrumentally adept but somewhat geeky in the vocals department—though I enjoyed the Farfisa/guitar combination on the pleasant rocker “20 Ashford.” Somewhat below the standard.

Mental Abuse Streets of Filth LP

MENTAL ABUSE performs thrash within some longer punk song structures, and what results is a gritty, kinetic, and highly enjoyable album. It’s difficult to pick standout tracks here, though “Rat Race” works well in the ’77 mode. Rambunctious and a hell of a lot of fun.

Active Ingredients Bringing Down the Big Boys EP

The sneering, cynical thrash on this EP should appeal to fans of bands like JACKSHIT, despite special studio effects which hurt some of these songs. “I Hate MTV” rates as a rousing thrasher, though this record falls beneath the standard of their ripping debut EP. Above average.

V/A Schweinerei cassette

NIXKONNER, ANNEXION RUSKI, and SEX TEENS, and the recording is fairly good. Basic thrash and punk is featured on this one, nothing particularly astounding, though there is some up-and-coming underground talent evident on this cassette.

V/A Graveyard-Hits cassette

A variety of underground German HC bands share this tape, including TIN CAN ARMY, IDIOTS, ANI(X)VAX, and eleven others. The sound quality is adequate, the songs respectable, and the tape’s a good value for those curious about the prolific German hardcore scene.

The Waltons Here Comes the Real Western Rockabilly This is the Waltons EP

Crisp, tuneful rockabilly (invested with a rich musical and lyric sense of humor) melds with punk on this bright four-tracker. It’s such infectious, hysteric, clever fun that I defy anyone to keep their feet from tapping during their three upbeat originals, or their delightful rockabilly reworking of the RAMONES’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” A must-get.

Svea Skandal Med All Rätt EP

SVEA SKANDAL contributes four adequate compositions on this EP, and despite some good musicianship and vocal choruses, it doesn’t quite connect. “Nar Solen Gatt Ner” comes close to a spirit of aggressive catchiness, but this record basically contains medium- and fast-tempo punk with the vocals imitating the chord changes. Okay.

Sixten Redlös Ni Ska Få Ångra / Hämnd 7″

These two refreshing slices of Swedish punk revive a ’77 sensibility without losing a mite of the hard-driving energy needed to excite in the ’80s. “Ni Ska Få Ångra” in particular maintains an invigorating pace and style that updates the work of older Swedish outfits like EBBA GRON. A fine single.

R.A.F. Gier Sheer Heart Attack / Lois 7″

While “Lois” fails by virtue of its numbing repetitiveness, the flip is enjoyable fast punk—though rather inexpertly produced; if the recording had more punch, the song would be a memorable bit of ’77-ish punk. An okay single.

Profan Relik De Levande Skulle Avundas De Döda EP

PROFAN RELIK muster a sharp, buzzy guitar attack on this nifty three-tracker. The mid- to fast-tempo punk tunes here sustain their distinctiveness with a clever blend of offbeat guitar riffing and BUZZCOCKS-style guitar solo figures; in this vein, “Esam Kvar” is especially effective. This disc really grabbed my interest…recommended.

Köttgrottorna Mus Som Mus EP

KOTTGROTTORNA produces some respectable power-pop with this, their second EP, and this band’s hallmarks are unforgettable vocal harmonies and choruses. “TT Tass” is especially strong, though the two songs on the flip demonstrate this band’s consistency. Considerably “lighter” than their contemporaries, this record is still good in its own right.

The Decay Tonight (Back From the Death) EP

DECAY explores the grungy edges of messy, chaotic thrash in a way that makes most Italian thrash outfits sound disciplined. Tim says this record sounds like it was recorded on their third rehearsal, and that may not be too far from the real truth.

Chaos Tribal Warfare EP

Yet another band named CHAOS hits vinyl, this one hailing from England (though it’s not CHAOS U.K., whom we know and love). This outfit delves into a mid-tempo Brit-punk approach with good production and terminally uninteresting songs; all three songs seem to be mired in musical ennui.

Anti-Avans Med Sverige i Tiden EP

This competent, yet uninventive band strives for a brisk pop-punk style; for me, the hooks didn’t entice me to bite, and most of the five tunes here even induced a bit of monotony. “M” has an adequate melody, buoyed by novel guitar riffing. A fairly uninvolving outing.

V/A Sin Alley LP

This collection of early recordings (1955-’61) presents a clutch of wild rockers plunging into the roots of the genre. ROY CAINES, TONY CASANOVA, MEL MCGONNIGLE, RHYTHM ROCKERS, and CRAZY TEENS provide raunchy, rockin’ fun in a distinctly ’50s style, though some of the other tracks are less impressive. A treasure trove of obscurities.

Rights of the Accused Innocence EP

ROTA let loose with five thrashers on this one, and the songs are at their best when the band’s breakneck instrumentals are conjoined by real passion in the vocal department. “Hypocrite” in particular makes for riveting listening, but some of the other songs are more like garden-variety thrash. The lyrics deal with identity problems, school, ideals, etc.

Musik Camp Musik Camp cassette

The twisted musical hi-jinx of this tape recalls TIN HUEY, but this outfit has more of a garage sensibility. This is spare, arty rock with a rhythm-machine backdrop—and maybe I wasn’t particularly moved by the music on this cassette because this band isn’t excited by what they sing about.

Minutemen Tour-Spiel EP

The MINUTEMEN are a superb live band, but the undistinguished recording values here detract from some fine songs performed with finesse. “The Red and the Black” is hot, though I’d prefer to hear an ace production of this outfit instead of the one we have here.

Leeway Enforcer cassette

LEEWAY straddles what I hope will eventually be a Berlin Wall between hardcore and heavy metal, with mixed results. “Be Loud” is a nicely textured thrash number, but metal rot gnaws away at the edges of their other arrangements. Aggressive, though this variant of HC doesn’t suit me.

Koo Dot Tah IQ 1986 / Free Radicals 7″

This single bridges the gap between late-’70s power-pop and ’80s new wave—a marriage of styles with a potential for unbridled cuteness. KOO DAT TAH use the layered vocals of the SHOES with a U2-ish guitar sound, and the two songs here veer into wimpiness despite intelligent lyrics. This band needs more of an edge to their music.

Killdozer 85 There’s No Mistaking Quality LP

KILLDOZER 85 opt for a gritty, rock’n’roll approach with a sandpapery instrumental sound, complete with the obligatory lead breaks. Disciplined rockers like “Hatbox Matinee” and “More Thanks” show a feeling for good, rootsy rock; a number of their other tunes seem atonal and monochromatic. With more consistency, this outfit could be a contender.

Frightwig Cat Farm Faboo LP

This band has, with some justification, been labeled an all-girl FLIPPER. And FRIGHTWIG does have rather loose arrangements, but their sensibilities are more rock’n’rolly than arty, and there are some good songs on this LP (especially “The Wanque Off Song” and “I’ll Talk to You and Smile”). There are also some awful songs. Still, this record is recommendable through the sheer force of the band’s personality.

Al Perry and the Cattle Cattle Crossing LP

This band plays hard country rock with a touch of swing, and writes some occasionally funny lyrics. When the CATTLE really let loose, as on “4WDORV” and the instrumentals “Finland” and “El Con Maio,” this outfit grooves with class. Unfortunately, only about half of this album has the kind of energy this style of music requires. An adequate LP.

V/A Never Mind ’77… & …This is ’84 cassettes

This altogether surprising duo of cassette compilations features well-known outfits like FRITES MODERN, PEGGIO PUNX, MOTTEK, and OLHO SECO—plus a variety of cuts from a clutch of promising new bands. The breadth of punk and hardcore styles represented on these two tapes, in addition to the general quality of the music, helps make these cassettes highly recommended additions to your collection. Intelligent and well-conceived.

V/A Another Crummy Comp cassette

The title of this comp isn’t strictly accurate, nor could it be with the likes of AVSKUM, XPOZEZ, SCAPEGOATS, and 15 other international bands. In fact, the song quality is quite good, with a political backbone braced with sincerity and honesty. Sound quality’s fine, too.

The Vibes The Inner Wardrobes of Your Mind 12″

The inner wardrobe of the VIBES’ minds must contain a lot of the CRAMPS’ clothes, given the deep mutant rockabilly/psych influence on this record. At least they’ve chosen their mentors well, because this band has good material (though not as invigorating as the CRAMPS’) and perform it with verve (but without the CRAMPS’ personality). “I’m in Pittsburgh” is a killer.

The Varukers Live in Holland LP

This limited edition (1500 copies) disc contains 16 songs recorded in a board mix with good sound quality. The vocals are up-front, with the drums and guitars vying in the background for your attention—not an ideal state of affairs—but the VARUKERS’ material saves this from being “just another live album.” Adequate.

U.B.R. Corpus Delicti EP

This Yugoslavian thrash outfit sustains the requisite speed and aggro for a credible effort, but little of the distinctiveness their geographic origins might suggest. This is churning, repetitious hardcore which, oddly, sounds somewhat Italian—until you realize it was pressed in Bologna. Fine booklet sleeve.

Systeme D Another Day EP

SYSTEME D address their output to a mid-tempo pop-punk style that, with an added “something,” could be really special. “Loser” weds catchiness to a punky rawness of energy, but most of this has been done more convincingly elsewhere by fellow countrymen like KIDNAP, COLLABOS, REICH ORGASM, etc. An OK record.

Soldier Dolls A Taste of Blood EP

The SOLDIER DOLLS invest these recordings with vocal zeal, yet the instrumentals miss the passion and drive this band seems to be aiming for. Still, “Victims,” a slower ’77-style number, provides a measure of catchiness to save this well-intentioned EP from its uneventfulness. The two thrashers haven’t the punch they need.

Negazione Tutti Pazzi EP

NEGAZIONE musters up one of the most ferocious Italian EPs I heard in a long, long time. Crisp production adds an edge to frenetic thrash that reminds me of the great INDIGESTI, but with a more biting vocal attack. One would be well advised to get this record immediately.

L’Infanterie Sauvage Chansons A Boire EP

L’INFANTERIE SAUVAGE combines elements of pop-punk (in the restrained guitar work and sing-along vocal choruses) and Oi (in the chants that punctuate this EP) on the four-and-a-half songs here. This record’s distinctiveness feels good on the way down, but this band hasn’t quite developed the knack for writing songs that stick to the ribs.

Kadavas Kadavas cassette

Two incarnations of the same band are represented on this 12-song tape, which plumbs a mid-tempo punk style in both live and studio recordings. Truthfully, I didn’t feel the excitement on this one, but the music’s OK.

Death Sentence Waldo Was Just Screwed Up on Acid… cassette

DEATH SENTENCE provides us with one side of studio demos and another of live tracks on this cassette. The studio recordings demonstrate that this band can pummel out thrash in a high-velocity DRI style, though both sides suffer from a certain muddiness in the taping. Still, keep your ears unplugged for this band—they have real potential.

Beyond Possession Tell Tale Heart EP

Calgary’s BEYOND POSSESSION have a knack for tight stop-and-go thrash with near-virtuosic guitarwork. While this outfit is more adept at arranging than songwriting, numbers like “Where’s the Matter” and “No Religion” demonstrate a preciseness (and rebelliousness) that makes this record a well above-average effort.

Voodoo Idols Temptation LP

This album witnesses the fruition of the VOODOO IDOLS’ songwriting skills, and their admixture of rootsy rock and punk (with a hearty infusion of sax for good measure) makes a better impression with each listening. The vocals seem way too manic for the music, but VOODOO IDOLS get a definite thumbs-up for improvement and distinctiveness.

The Tell-Tale Hearts The Tell-Tale Hearts LP

The TELL-TALE HEARTS use an invigorating R’n’B-style as an inroad to their brand of psychedelia, replete with cheesy organ and harmonica. “Crawling Back to Me” employs a biting ’60s punk sound with good results, but I also enjoyed the moody “Dirty Liar” the most of their slower material. A very good effort.

The Slickee Boys Uh Oh… No Breaks LP

This album reminds me of a tug-of-war between ’60s psych and late-’70s power-pop, the latter victorious by a respectable margin. My favorite cuts, “Gotta Tell Me Why” and “Glendora,” were previously released in better versions, and the studied pop leanings on this album don’t succeed as often as on their last LP. Pleasant listening, but not the special effort I expected from the SLICKEE BOYS.

Scared Straight Born to Be Wild EP

Mystic’s “Nardcore” series continues with this workmanlike EP of energetic thrash by SCARED STRAIGHT. This band suffers from a common problem: they have every bit of the requisite “power” but little of the distinctiveness modern thrash outfits need in order to avoid the morass of genericness. “Typical” is the best song on this nine-tracker, and ironically, the record itself is good, but typical.

Frosted Flaykes Waste Your Time / Rockin’ Rhythms 7″

A heavy dose of YARDBIRDS-style R’n’B fun almost works on “Waste Your Time,” which lacks in melody what it offers in rockin’ power. On the other hand, the flip is a down-and-dirty instrumental that recalls the “rave-up” spirit admirably. Not earthshaking, but altogether decent.

V/A Aha 3 cassette

Opening this cassette package is like Christmas! I got a Q-Tip, two slides, a plastic fruit-fly, one cellophane “mystery fish,” a bunch of neat booklets… I, for one, am excited. There’s also a cassette, which features some OK “sensitive” pop by TERRIBLE PARADE, and a lot of arty compositions, mostly in a very, very slow mode. Great packaging, but the music’s not too enthralling.

Shoutless Insane / I Tell No Lies 7″

This neo-? record from Sweden has an OK A-side, but “I Tell No Lies” is buoyed by a delightful pop sensibility, layered vocal harmonies, and good instrumentals. This combines the accessibility of modern rock with the stylistic elements of ’60s punk. A strong release.

Second Auschwitz Agent Orange & Zyklon, Belgium cassettes

Tapes #3 and 4 in what may turn out to be an endless series of cassettes from SECOND AUSCHWITZ. The Agent Orange tape, like the rest in the series, contains zillions of songs, while Zyklon, Belgium seems to be a live recording with even more zillions of songs. Well, this band certainly gives you volume.

Ruts Cold Distant Lights (Why Not Vote Socialist) LP

This limited edition bootleg (200 copies) showcases the live performing talents of this early English punk band through a variety of vintage performances. The sound quality ranges from poor to pretty good, but only about one-third of this album captures the excitement of this band. I suppose one’s desire to find this disc depends on how much of a RUTS fan you really are…

Lunatic Fringe Cringe With the Fringe EP

LUNATIC FRINGE employs repeating guitar figures to create an effect of intensity and drive within their songs, not unlike ANTI-SECT, but without all of that crushing power. Still, much of this EP works by sheer insistence—especially the fine rocker, “Con-formity.” Good British HC.

Hostages of Ayatollah Voulez-Vous EP

This German outfit, not unlike fellow countrymen the NIKOTEENS, sustain thrash-tempos without sacrificing their fundamental commitment to distinctiveness and even melody. The two songs on side A, with those tasty choruses, are especially appealing. A treat.

Hip Heaven Songs of Darkness and Disgrace EP

All three songs on this Danish EP go on too long for their own good, and opt for restrained guitar progressions and lyrics heavily influenced by spaghetti westerns. Hypnotic; in fact, I’d better finish this review before I’m lulled to sleep…

Flesh D-Vice Some Blood Stained Morning LP

This New Zealand punk band maintains some real drive through many of their songs, which plumb a style emphasizing a diversity of punk approaches, fast and slow. Nevertheless, the compositions themselves rarely impressed me with any measure of catchiness or inventiveness; but there’ s no denying that the title track is a highly worthy kinetic thrasher. A mixed bag.

The Adicts This is Your Life LP

This album features the upbeat pop-punk of the ADICTS with 15 tracks recorded in 1979. These songs possess the same aggressiveness as the material on their debut LP, though the truly outstanding material here is re-pressed from their fine debut EP Lunch with the Adicts, long out of print. There’s a fair allotment of strong material on this album, and that should be good news for ADICTS fans.

Vex Transmutation EP

Two of the songs on this solid EP demonstrate adeptness at clever, mid-tempo punk with tastefully humorous lyrics. The other two ditties, however, remind me of the aggressive punk of early DEVO, with its addition of minimal synth. Not bad at all—VEX seems to enjoy re-expanding the sound of punk music.

Snare and the Idiots Recycled Garbage EP

A fun, adolescent sense of humor infects this garage punk EP from SNARE AND THE IDIOTS. Semi-catchy instrumentals, primitive lead guitar breaks, and some R’n’B-ish song structures supply most of the charm here; the lyrics, too, are goofy enough to win my affection. Loose, rock ’n’ roll fun. Recommended.

Ramones Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La) 12″

“Howling at the Moon” is by no means the strongest track from their current album, but the two songs on the flip are very good and non-LP. “Smash You” is a return to vintage ’77-RAMONES, while their cover of the STONES’ “Street Fighting Man” is equally irresistible. I guess I still like these guys a whole lot.

Prevaricators Snubculture LP

PREVARICATORS specialize in mid-tempo punk rock with highly distinctive vocals and disciplined power-chord arrangements. The music is largely solid, but lyrically, this LP is variable from cut to cut. Commentaries like “Snubculture” and “Jesus H. Falwell” are well taken, but the apparently anti-gay song “Jesse’s a Girl” is in very poor taste. Some songs are sexually oriented Á  la early PORK DUKES. A problematic record, for me.

The Mumbles Live in the Shed cassette

About half of the songs on this tape are carbon copy covers of IGGY POP (“Five Foot One”), JOY DIVISION (a priceless version of “Dead Souls”), and even the likes of BUTTHOLE SURFERS and BLACK FLAG. The original numbers are sporadically funny, too, sounding something like a R’n’R version of the MENTORS. This tape is almost so bad, it’s good.