Reviews

MRR #463 • December 2021

Alien Nosejob Paint It Clear LP

I reviewed this Australian band’s HC45-2 EP early this year and expected this LP to contain the same kind of manic, freaky garage hardcore. Nope, totally wrong. Paint It Clear sounds like a whole different band, one fed on NEW ORDER and BUGGLES records instead of trashy KBD tapes. Whatever inspired this record, it works—this is a bouncy, fun collection of super catchy pop, complete with crispy drum machine beats, 808 claps, and infectious guitar lines. Paint It Clear is full of charm, with tracks like “Leather Gunn” and “Duplicating Satan” that are pure ’80s Euro-leaning synth-pop. I didn’t think I would be making this reference today, but the loping piano and keyboard ballad, “The Butcher,” sounds like it could have been written by George Harrison with lines like “It is hard to see the sun here / It’s hard to hear the sea here.” If you like power pop or miss the days of acid wash and crunchy bangs, check it out immediately. If you are a rocker with a sweet tooth, give it a listen for something different.

Anybodys Acts of Endurance EP

Second release from the Vancouver, BC trio ANYBODYS. These four tracks comment heavily on our socio-political climate and exemplify that equality is still an uphill battle, as in “Excuse me / You’re looking right through me / Into and out of me / I don’t care” from “Do We Disgust You?” I think the last track, “RFK (2020 Version)” rocks the hardest—hopefully they’ll continue down this path while fighting the good fight.

 

Artistic Decline Random Violence LP reissue

German label No Plan digs up an interesting relic from the fringes of hardcore history with their reissue of ARTISTIC DECLINE’s lone 1987 LP. This is a sprawling, all-over-the-place record that ranges from artsy post-punk to sharp SoCal hardcore, with noisy bits and goofy KBD-esque numbers mixed in for good measure. The songs are a real mixed bag, and it’s all pretty solid. “One Shot” would go great on a mix tape between the NUBS’ “Job” and “Dad I’m In Jail” by WAS (NOT WAS). They remind me of HC pioneers MIDDLE CLASS on the speedy “Media Lies,” and I might not notice if someone slipped “Hinkley and the Law” in while spinning the first BAD RELIGION LP. You get 29 tracks including some bonus material, all wrapped up in a sleeve with the LP’s original Pettibon artwork.

Asalto / Atropello! split EP

Split lathe-cut 7″ with two sonically different Brazilian hardcore bands. ASALO brings mid-tempo punk with clear production. While not necessarily catchy due to shouted vocals, the melodic major chords and bouncy bass sound like they could be on Fat Records, and I could see ASALTO fitting in on the Warped Tour. ATROPELLO! has the more interesting side to me, with three short blitzes of shrieking, blazing fast hardcore that sounds like a Brazilian 97A. They rip through three songs in about a minute and a half and leave me wanting more. Interesting pairing on this split, although I’m not sure the same listener would be into both bands. As of this writing, there is one remaining copy so snag it if you want it!

Bart and the Brats Livin’ in the Future EP

BART & THE BRATS is the one-man project of Bart De Vraantijik, and it sure as hell pulls a lot of weight for one man. Just three short tracks of tough, muscular rock’n’roll, the record almost feels like classic rock with its bluesy guitar licks. One part AC/DC, another part RAMONES. Nothing particularly special or innovative; this can feel a little run of the mill, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had if you’re into that classic late ’70s punk sound.

Battlefields 4 Track Demo cassette

Ugh. Absolutely killer demo from Pittsburgh’s BATTLEFIELDS. This is a straight ripper material, nasty hardcore with blown-out (un)production that approaches the off-putting level of discordance found on the amazing VIOLENT CHRISTIANS 7″ from last year (check out the damage on “You Made You”!). These are the kind of riffs that could incite riots, and the grimy delivery wins it the fuckin’ chef’s kiss. On repeat.

Beton Combo Perfektion Ist Sache Der Götter LP reissue

A recent reissue of anthemic political punk from 1981 by this West Berlin group. I enjoy the sense of urgency across the album, as if they’re against the wall at Checkpoint Charlie, raging against a line of rifle barrels. A solid archival release, if you’re a fan of Cold War EU punk or anarcho anything.

Billiam Billiam Cassingles Club 2020 cassette

Goofy synth punk fun from this Melbourne solo project. This tape collects the twelve cassingles BILLIAM released in 2020, which is a pretty impressive run for such a crappy year. Most of the tracks are pretty straightforward mixes of lo-fi synth, garage guitar, and cheapo electronic drums. There is enough personality here to keep things interesting, and the vibe here is laid-back and good-natured with songs called “Flemwad,” “Crocodile Sandwich,” and “I Need a Robot.” They are all about exactly what the titles suggest. BILLIAM fits in nicely with labelmates RESEARCH REACTOR CORP. and GEE TEE, as well as vintage ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE. For egg-punk nonbelievers, this won’t change your mind because I could see it coming across as annoying. But if you are in the right frame of mind for some simple DIY fun that sounds like a guy making novelty songs with a keyboard, BILLIAM is a good time.

Body Cam Booked flexi EP

Very convincing early hardcore vibes from Nashville’s BODY CAM. I’m picking up traces of influence that range from NEGATIVE APPROACH to MDC, and if someone told me this was a “lost” relic of classic ’80s punk, I’d probably go for it. I don’t know if this was intentional, but to me this hits the mark, right down to the artwork. Archetypal angst.

Broken Vessels Do You See My Smile? flexi EP

Pressing play on the first track, you can appreciate the snappy grime of BROKEN VESSELS for its jerky, jaded surface. Listen a little deeper and you’ll find layers of post-punky aggression that recall the moody mania of the mid-’80s SST roster. The band has evolved, matured, and tightened up since their previous release in 2018, trading their sense of ELECTRIC EELS-esque candor for punchy distortion.

Carvento Felana Carvento Felana cassette

A wormhole opens up in the fabric of time and out hops a battle-ready punk of some dystopian origin, like something out of The Road Warrior, clothing disintegrated and patched back together, with those new wave Geordi LaForge glasses wrapped around their eyes. “I have music from the future for you to review! It’s on cassette and limited to 50 copies! I came back in time to give you the last copy and it’s most urgent that you hear this and tell the people of your time!!” they said, frantically handing over the cassette. “In what future punks are still making limited edition cassettes?” I asked. “2022!” they replied, before jumping back in the quickly-closing wormhole, leaving nothing but cosmic debris in its wake. He must’ve meant to go further back; I shrug as I put on Side A and proceed with my duty to humanity. All booming mechanical drum machine patterns, circuit-eroded samplers and loopers gone amok, CARVENTO FELANA’s self-titled tape is glitching electronic body music served up in short punky doses, spewing out layers of static over synth patch bleeping and blorping. A solid EP for more open-minded fans of early industrial music, experimental electronics, synth punk, etc.

Chrome The Visitation LP reissue

CHROME’s 1976 debut LP sounds like coke sweats made flesh, like paranoia dripping from a ravaged sinus cavity, like the ’70s got sucked into a blacklight poster and emerged from a wormhole on the other side of the galaxy. It seems improbable that CHROME could exist without Helios Creed’s guitar wizardry front and center (or panned hard left/right), but this first version of CHROME has plenty to offer the wayward weirdos of the world. Like a speedfreak SILVER APPLES, “How Many Years Too Soon” comes thundering in on a jet plane and the panic rock only escalates from there. Someone left The Visitation out in the sun for too long—it’s got such a peculiar flavor, like it’s curdled but still delicious. Coming off like a degenerate PERE UBU, “Return To Zanzibar” is a moody garage-rocker that got kidnapped by space pirates armed with radio samples and primitive synthesizers, while “Caroline” is a pit stop at the sleaziest club in the quadrant. “Riding You” opens with a windblown sound piece that you’d expect to hear on a new age meditation tape, until it turns menacing like something nasty is coming over the horizon; the song itself is a slinking, winking rocker as if ALICE COOPER tried to write a disco track to impress someone. “Kinky Lover” takes that sound to its logical conclusion and only WICKED WITCH could dare draw back the heavy curtains that shrouds it. Sure, GEORGE BRIGMAN could have written “Sun Control,” but would he have bothered to add the backwards tapes and the chirping synths? CHROME creator Damon Edge is going for broke on this album, playing half the instruments and taking charge of the mic like he failed the KING CRIMSON audition and now he’s into punk so watch the fuck out. Final track “Memory Cords Over the Bay” perfectly sets the scene for Helios Creed to enter, stage left (hard-panned).

Comunione Comunione cassette

Hazy, wounded punk from this Milanese solo project. These seven tracks work perfectly together as one extended piece and all have a similar sound: empty-room guitar and drums with echoey vocals howling for a better tomorrow. There is a distinct spirituality to the lyrics, a seeking of reassurance. “Fantasma” repeats (according to an online translation of the Italian lyrics) “And the most serene good / And the most serene good / And the most serene good will live again.” Likewise, “Salvati” has a theme of salvation with the lines “Save yourself / From the emotions that annihilate you / From dreams that blind you.” This is clearly a personal work, a missive seeking a more positive future while reckoning with the present. COMUNIONE has a simple sound with shrouded, goth-leaning production, and a profundity that makes this tape a repeat listen.

Cry Bummer cassette

Perfect-length EP of grimy synth punk à la Belgium. I hear former greats like KEBAB and SIGLO XX on Bummer, but CRY can manage their own songs with aplomb. The gnarly bass tone lends a helping hand on hooky bruisers like “Public Hate” and “S.C.U.M.” “Oh Shit” would back that ass up to SPECIAL INTEREST on the dancefloor. The vocals mean business and business is good. Buy now, CRY later.

Death Gasp Executioner EP

Pittsburgh’s death-beat crustforce DEATH GASP returns from abysmal stench to deliver their brutal flavor of pulverizing, downtuned mind grind. I thought the first EP was a ripper and this is burying. Galloping distortion and smoldering vocals from the bellows of despair. With this EP, DEATH GASP is proving to be a concentrated behemoth of the style. Again, I thought the first EP was well on its way, but this bloated, embittered carcass of a slab really balances confidently in riff and rhythm, where I think they excel. It’s slightly death thrash, but certainly punk as fuck. It is very austere. Think HELLSHOCK but below-freezing grim frostbitten ghoulishness. Think EFFIGY but vocals like a goddamned beast. But it is essentially more dooming D-beat, like DISCRIPT or KLONNS (Vvlgar EP). Think everything registering low and the axe registering lower; a haircut at the shoulders. Executioner, a crustcore nightmare—respect.

Deodorant Aluminum-Free cassette

DEODORANT bridges the gap between hardcore punk and JAMES BROWN. Their funky grooves will remind you of the MINUTEMEN and JAMES CHANCE, but their snarky vocals will hark back to memories of DEAD KENNEDYS. Oh, and the band is absolutely unafraid to throw a little country twang in the mix. If that sounds like a complete mess, you wouldn’t be wrong. This EP is all over the place, the recordings are pretty much demo-quality at best, but hey, it’s a raucous bit of fun, so who really cares?

Desorden Público Discografía LP

Fuego a las Fronteras, a Basque-Mexican label based in Barcelona, is undertaking a much-needed exercise of reissues, focused so far in making available to the world great pioneering bands of hardcore in Mexico as XENOFOBIA or, in this case, the great DESORDEN PÚBLICO. This band was formed in the hardcore epicenter of the country during the ’80s, the San Felipe neighborhood in the outskirts of Mexico City around 1984. After recording a couple of demos and playing around the Mexico City metropolitan zone, in 1989 they recorded their first album Fúnebre, which serves as the basis for this beautiful vinyl, which also includes their two contributions to the legendary first Mexican punk compilation Rock Nacional Volumen II: Sólo Para Punks from ’87. So, what does DESORDEN PÚBLICO sound like? From the first track, one would think that we are listening to a First Wave of Black Metal band. The track that gives name to the album, “Fúnebre,” is pure darkened thrash, very much in the line of pioneers like the Colombians PARABELLUM and BLASFEMIA and of course, HELLHAMMER. The rest of the album indulges in a frenzy of chaos and pummeling attack, reminiscent of WRETCHED’s most destructive moments and D.R.I.’s crossover thrash, with lyrics about war, genocide, and poverty. For this writer, this is one of the best Mexican punk albums ever and every dedicated fan of the genre should listen to it. A true classic.

Detox Sects and Violence cassette

Timelessness is a hard mark to hit, and one that can never be forced or faked. Lebanese thrashing punks DETOX stumbled into a timeless sound just by being themselves, and the results were pretty exhilarating. This tape rips through crossover hardcore with a crispy almost-anarcho tinge, rarely pausing even to take a breath. It’s a shame, really, that this material was recorded in 2009 and the group has since disbanded. Now is a perfect time for this blend of rock’n’roll swagger and thrash—kudos and gratitude to A World Divided for unearthing this stone classic.

Divine Intervention Deus Ex Machina cassette

OK, this one is going to be a hard one to track down, but it is worth it. Krautrock meets raw black metal in a noise-drenched psychedelic punk wonderland paying homage to SUN RA, Deus Ex Machina is an absolutely brilliant collection of sound(s). This is experimentation within the confines and/or parameters of punk…which is to say that it’s fucking punk, and it doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard before. Brilliant.

Enact Promo 2021 cassette

Two songs here from this Portland, OR-based band. The first song is a pretty basic run-of-the-mill hardcore song. Gang vocals, pick slides, “fuck you, you can’t hold me down/back” lyrical content, etc. The second song, however, is where this tape does its job and gets me interested in hearing more. “Rose” is about a grandmother who has passed away. Musically, it’s much more melodic than the first song, and lyrically and vocally you can tell that this song means a lot to the person singing it, as it should when writing and singing about something personal. The lyrics in the song that are sung in Spanish are what really hooked me, especially the chorus, as it is something I’ve heard my wife say to our child for years. My only gripe here would be that I would have liked to have heard maybe one more song, but that’s on me.

End It One Way Track cassette

Four songs here. The first two clock in at under a minute each, the next two get progressively longer, with the last track coming in at just over two minutes. There are things I really enjoy here and they definitely outweigh the things I dislike. Generally, this style of hardcore is not really my cup of tea, but I find myself enjoying this more and more with each listen. It’s pissed, the breakdown parts (when there are some) aren’t cheeseball, and unlike a lot of stuff of this ilk, it sounds genuine. Sometimes when I hear bands like this it comes off like an act, but this shit is sincere. END IT has made a new fan here. Can’t wait to hear more, these four songs leave me clamoring for it.

Fracture Jualas cassette

Philly’s FRACTURE returns with their second outing after the fuckton of hardcore onslaught of their first release and it’s on cassette again like all good punk. They punish with almost ’80s SoCal-style skanking rhythms and lyrics sung both in Spanish and English, sometimes all in the same song. They rage along like a less raw LOS CRUDOS or RAYOS X and are definitely a couple bucks well spent. Next… 

Futurat Incinerat cassette

A perfect collision of modern freak punk stomps and early fuzzed-out grunge. Imagine MUDHONEY + LUMPY. Recording is blown to shit and everything feels like it’s studio-tweaked to death in the best way. Russian punk on an Australian label—up all the international punks!

Futuro Os Segredos Do Espaço e Tempo cassette

This release harkens to the psych sounds of GUIDA, the ethereal hardcore of CONTROPOTERE, and the dark corners created by RAKTA. FUTURO of San Paulo melds hardcore beats and drawn-out riffs similar to SLANT while presenting with a more melodic and cosmically-fueled aura. This is the kind of heart mainstream post-hardcore bands wish they had,  sounding organic and authentic and not postured and plastic at all. Some aspects remind me of BELGRADO or SKELETAL FAMILY, then surprisingly show up with a more IMPERIAL LEATHER energy, then fly away into the HAWKWIND or CAN night. Okay, this is actually fantastic, dreamy acid punk with hardcore and peace punk roots. Equally spacey, equally bumping, equally lashing. Every other song is my favorite and the bridges in-between have me totally intrigued and surprised. The musicianship and vocals are all tops. So excited I will get a copy of this. Definitely recommended.

Goldie Dawn Gone With the Wild EP

I admire any band that can make commanding, meat-and-potatoes rock’n’roll without coming across as corny. These four tracks mostly strike the right balance, writing songs indebted to ’70s and ’80s stadium anthems with a punk-leaning edge. There are a few sticking points with Kate Rambo’s pitchy vocals, although they mostly sound bold and brash, especially in the killer opener “Gone With the Wild.” But then the band closes with a tepid barroom take on the LEON PAYNE gloomy country classic “It’s Nothing to Me” and undermines everything that precedes it. Rambo’s vocals just don’t work here, and the band sounds fatigued. Ultimately, they bring nothing new to what’s otherwise a stone killer cut. Otherwise, this is a passable grip of guitar-driven songs.

Gorilla Knifefight The Cassingles cassette

Well-done, straight-up Midwest hardcore that pulls all the punches. There’s six tracks, of which maybe one lasts longer than a minute. It’s tight, lo-fi, sarcastic, dripping with attitude. Basically, all the good stuff. This tape should be your fix for the week. Five minutes of nothing but ripping tunes and cathartic energy.

Grit Shatterproof LP

Superb melodic Oi! from Ireland. Smooth femme vocals assail societal ills from a left-wing perspective and bluntly address sexism and harassment in and out of the punk scene. After two excellent EPs, it’s nice to hear the band’s vision fully realized—a little polish adds to their power, and vocalist Clodagh (ex-EASPA MEASA) has truly come into her own as a frontperson. I know GRIT is an Oi! band, but sonically this falls just as close to BAYONETTES or LA FRACTION…which is high praise. Coming in just under the wire in 2021, I have a feeling this is going to get a lot of spins in 2022.

Hans Condor Breaking & Entering CD

Hard rock out of Nashville, TN. HANS CONDOR is heavy riffs and tough guy posturing. The songs are rough and the vocals are spit at you. The titles speak volumes: “Pent-up Aggression,” “Blood on the Rug,” “Instant Gratification Generation.” I am glad they have an outlet, but I don’t have time for this kind of stuff these days.

HExSO HExSO CD

Frantic, straightforward punk from Japan. Just two tracks here—”Absurdity” spends three minutes drilling two three-chord riffs into the ground and I’m fucking here for it. I’m also here for “I Was Born,” which is only slightly longer and uses only slightly more riffs. The vocals are the focal point—anxious and manic, fronting a dirty and energetic punk attack. The only thing I want is more tracks!

Hologram No Longer Human LP

This is good. Like, really good. Ferocious, high-speed hardcore with cryptic, reverb-shrouded vocals over hammering drums. The guitars frequently go atonal like on “Humiliation Drills” and “Bite the Smoke,” adding an uneasy tension to the battering-ram punk. “Untitled” provides a brief interlude of bubbling synths wafting from melted VHS tapes before the frenzy starts again. Final track “I See a Pale Light” gives SWANS vibes with a dread-inducing, extended guitar/drum build-up and feedbacked hate vocals. Even more amazing is that this all comes from one person. I like the mystery—I don’t want to know anything else about who it is or how they made this. I just want more.

Horrible Girl and the Hot Mess Do You Know Who Your Friends Are? CD

When I got this album to review from this Greenville, South Carolina band, I had just finished reading A Punk House in the Deep South, which is a collection of interviews from the former residents of the 309 punk house in Pensacola, Florida, compiled by Aaron Cometbus and Scott Satterwhite. The book told tales of the independently creative, politically-minded, artistically mischievous, and musically-focused denizens of the legendary Southern punk house. Maybe it was (roughly) similar Southern geography, part timing, but more so part similar attitude, but I held the book and album with akin spirit. Highly energetic, brutally honest, and the right amount of rough production make the punk anti-pop songs authentically relatable, with a singer that reminds me of a younger Nico de Gaillo. It’s filled with enough tales of broken relationships, bad jobs, bad drugs, a day-to-day on the fringe, and relational escapades to fill a book.

Jade Dust Jade Dust 12″

There is some solid Revolution Summer love going on here. It’s an all-too-short burst of up-tempo punk tunes that fall on the FAITH side of the split. Super upbeat, energetic and posi melodic hardcore that is very much in the vein of bands like GRAY MATTER, IGNITION, and RAIN. The best part about this is the youthful energy (no idea how old these folks actually are) that comes across in the music. It feels similar to the late ’80s/early ’90s Bay Area bands like FUEL and MONSULA that were also taking cues from those Revolution Summer bands. If the plan was to leave you wanting more, well done.

Kometa Eierschneider cassette

Not to be confused with the Finnish band of the same name, KOMETA hails from Vienna, Austria and aims to rip a new one in the patriarchy. I was a little thrown off by the surfy instrumental opener—it’s fun—but maybe I missed the point. In bluesed-up post-punk styling, the angst and struggle picks up on the other three tracks, with lots of duality in the vocals, distorted and clean guitar channels, and a crunchy, blown-out bass to ground it all. Including their 2013 demo, this is their forth release, and comes out in anticipation of their debut LP, to be released within the year.

Krimi Krimi demo cassette

The always timeless ’78–’83 rough (Trade)-and-tumble sound comes round once again, this time courtesy of KRIMI, a new project from four Perth punks with solid OZ DIY credentials through their involvement in COLD MEAT, PRODUCT, NERVE QUAKES, and BODY TYPE. If you’re going to invoke hallowed names like the AU PAIRS and PYLON in my presence, you’d fuckin’ better be able to cash that check, so I’m pleased to report that this tape is an absolute ripper. Ash’s vocals hit that tried-and-true “stern talking-to” tone that defined so many femme-punk greats, and the lyrics are smart and sharp, giving as much weight to the personal as the political (not to mention the significant overlap between those two concerns)—no post-punk privileging of style over substance here. There’s been a significant PRIMETIME-shaped hole in my heart these last few years, and the spiky pop of “Wax Resist” fills it more than capably, cracking the ELASTICA whip with a pronounced KLEENEX wobble for the ideal jagged/ragged duality, and the clipped shriek of “Working hard / At whose expense?” that punctuates “Dressed for Distress” is pure DELTA 5 poetry, while the bass-propelled “Vicious Cycle” tears into the juvenile incarceration complex with stark, almost anarcho-edged tension. I can’t believe this is only a demo, the future is KRIMI.

Latest God Latest God cassette

This Australian group wears their influences on their sleeves here. Hardcore in the vein of SWIZ, mid-period 7 SECONDS, DAG NASTY, EMBRACE, etc. Six songs in total here, including a cover of “Clique” by MINUTE MINDER who I am unfamiliar with, so I can’t speak to whether it is better/worse/different than the original. Musically, it’s exactly what one would expect when seeing the names listed above. The vocals go from singing to yelling at times, but what gets me here is the vocal delivery. While the singer has a style all his own, at times it’s reminiscent of Dave Smalley, and then there are parts that are full-on channeling Ian MacKaye. While LATEST GOD is definitely inspired by what came before them and is following the blueprint given, they are forging their own path.

Lawful Killing Early Learning: The Complete Recordings cassette

The UK punk explosion right now is out of control, and this release beautifully documents it at its best. The throat-shredding vocals, the tornado riffing, the cheeky nods to NWOBHM and thrash all come together in a hyper-political burst of rage and hooks in equal measure. There are some members of other heavy hitters on display here, from loads of bands including CHUBBY AND THE GANG and STATE FUNERAL, and it all gels beautifully. Ripping hardcore, top of its class, not much else to say but give it a listen.

Les YSS Boys A Funny Story EP

This EP takes the two 45s issued in the mid-’60s by this Congolese beat group and combines them into one smasher of a record. Like a well-curated sampler, you’ve got a little taste of everything on this platter. “A Funny Story” piles on the guitar fuzz and hair-raising screams and booty-shaking bass and just sounds like it’s got a permanent hotfoot. “For Ever” is almost like a lament, but it’s funky as hell. The drums are urging you to dance them blues away and the band chugs along as encouragement. “Langston Hughes” pays tribute to one of America’s greatest poets with more irrepressible rhythms, well-tempered fuzz and a fair share of JAMES BROWN-esque grunts. “Nobody Would Change My Mind” declares its love for a missing paramour and we can only hope they found each other again in the ensuing decades.

Los Chicos 20 Years of Shakin’ Fat & Launching Shit by Medical Prescription CD

This is starting off just right for me. “We sound amazing, but we look like shit.” LOS CHICOS are from Spain, if you believe what you read. That’s perfect, cause these guys would be right at home at a Wild Weekend-type festival. They like to focus on the pub rock label. I think I prefer garage rock. You’ll also need to throw in some country, even rockabilly. Oh, and there’s some power pop. These guys hover around mid-tempo and catchy is definitely part of the equation. This really is good stuff.

Maximum Joy Stretch / Silent Street-Silent Dub 12″ reissue

This is a reissue of the classic 12″ single every avowed post-punk head should have in their bins. Formed from members of the classic Bristol bands GLAXO BABIES and the POP GROUP and fronted by the effervescent shouts and screams of Janine Rainforth, the group was a continuation of those two groups’ deep funk and dub roots. Scratchy guitar and a crisp upfront street-beat drum sound, it’s no surprise this was a co-release with 99 Records (NY label home to dance punk favorites ESG and LIQUID LIQUID). If you have an aversion to slap bass, this is definitely not for you, but the rest of us will keep the dancefloor warm for you til it’s over.

Men & Health Heroin on Reality TV EP

Well, we’ve certainly got a contender for dumbest release of 2021 on our hands. Look, I’m usually of a “the dumber, the better” mindset, but I’m having trouble getting on board with this one. MEN & HEALTH are a trio out of Copenhagen who take the ultra-minimalism of the URINALS, back it with a really cheap-sounding drum machine track Á  la COLLEEN GREEN, then sing songs about giving heroin to people on reality TV or being cold or whatever. I didn’t quite hate it, but I just kept wishing it sounded more like either of the records that Jeff Mahannah put out in the past few years (as MUZZY or I GET MYNZE). They hit the dumb/funny/catchy sweet spot on the track “Right On!”, but otherwise I just found this particular combination of lyrics and the vocals super grating (they got a good chuckle out of me by including a lyric sheet, though). Anyway, don’t listen to my gripes too much—this feels like a record I could come around on eventually. So, give it a listen…but only if you’re into the dumbest of punk.

Militarie Gun All Roads Lead to the Gun II 12″

If you’ve been listening to North American punk and/or hardcore for more than a few years, then you’ve heard MILITARIE GUN. And what I mean is that even if you’ve never heard of MILITARIE GUN…you know these sounds. That might sound like a dig, but this band nails so many sounds and feels all at once, and they do so flawlessly, that….you know this band the instant you drop the needle. I hear elements of ’90s AmRep (CHOKEBORE, GUZZARD), my wife hears early AGAINST ME!, there’s “Background Kids” that hits like CEREMONY with Surfer Rosa-era guitars and…and it all works. Everything. These L.A. kids pack pure, relevant, accessible power. “When it leads to the gun, need to pull back and adjust. When it ceases being fun…run.”

Mustat Kalsarit Yö cassette

MUSTAT KALSARIT is a peppy lo-fi band from Finland. Their music is catchy while being linear and earnest. It is heading somewhere and will arrive on time. The vocals enhance the musical sound. The combination of male and female harmonies sung in the Finnish language creates a unique aural experience. “Ulmaan” (“Swimming”) is a distorted rocker. “Harmaata Massaa” (“Grey Pulp”) is my favorite. It has a cool rhythm with an interesting guitar sound and the vocals have a more stern cadence. I like it.

Mutant Strain Epic Punk Shit cassette

Charlotte, North Carolina’s MUTANT STRAIN has returned with a teaser tape to satisfy the slime hordes until their next LP is recorded. If you haven’t heard their self-titled LP released last year on Sorry State, it is an essential slab of high-speed slime-core with frenzied vocals, constant punk’n’roll riffs, and furious octopus-arm drumming. Go get it. They are by far one of the best freaky outsider hardcore bands around, and a fearsome live act. This tape sounds like it was recorded live and captures the intensity of the band’s performances in all their frantic, blown-out glory. The tracks aren’t listed here, but it sounds like a batch of several in a row like how they appear on the LP and when played at shows. It’s about as close to being at one of their gigs as can be. Near the end of the tape is an interesting sound collage with what sounds like looped conversations and drone-y guitar with super harsh vocals on top. It’s disconcerting and menacing in the best way. Whether that is a new direction for the band, I don’t know, but I’m here for it. Epic punk shit, indeed.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips Something’s Gotta Bleed cassette

Latest installment from the one-man freak show hosted by MRR alum and Buffalo scene stalwart Biff Bifaro. Ass-shaking garage punk, but with the kind of weirdness that’s hard to pull off when you have to get a full band to sign off (I’m talking “What a Spooky Evening” specifically) and decidedly non-melodic vocals to give the whole thing teeth. Something’s Gotta Bleed is hot, loose, all over the map, and released by a killer Turkish label. I read another zine kinda slag this one off…dummies.

Newborn Naturals Newborn Naturals LP

A band from New York City that immediately brings to mind a JOHNNY THUNDERS/HEARTBREAKERS style does not make me happy. NEWBORN NATURALS’ songs are straightforward, basic rock’n’roll played with distorted guitars and a driving drum beat. The music is accompanied by drawled, nonchalant vocals. It is what it is. The songs on this LP were recorded between 1998 and 2004, a time when THUNDERS worship seemed at its height. Most of the songs are previously unreleased, a few appeared on 7″s.

No Fraud Straight Lines Crooked Morals LP

It’s hard when you’re a legendary band and you make a new record. How can a band like NO FRAUD not be resoundingly panned for making a record that’s “not as good” as their tape that came out 35 years ago? Well, a record like Straight Lines Crooked Morals is a pretty good fucking start. Fast-as-shit and wildly erratic, this is a formidable hardcore punk juggernaut with a healthy dose of irreverence. The achievement for a band with a revered legacy making a “new” record is when the listener goes “damn, this is sick” and kinda forgets that they’re listening to the band that wrote “Fuck Your Shit” in 1984. And that’s where my mind was when I was blasting “Trendy Fuck” in 2021, so well done. Twenty blasts of ferocious Florida hardcore punk.

Nukke No More Peace LP

Now we’re fukkn talking, punks! Absolute fucking D-beat rager from Portugal’s NUKKE, with gratuitous metallic leads from a guitar EQ-ed to SICKOIDS 2012 (if that reference falls flat, then please refer to the band SICKOIDS and the year 2012…then you’ll understand). As with so many of the greats, there are undeniable hooks buried in this bombast, songs like “T.S.F.L.” that will get stuck in your head for days but are still complete audio destruction. No More Peace is 100% top quality fire—easily one of the best records I’ve heard all year!

Nunofyrbeeswax Stratotoaster LP

Proto-punk, garage, lo-fi, poppy—hell, it’s just that Berlin sound! Serving up hot tracks from their clattering Stratotoaster, this album is all fun: driving percussion that’s way up front in the mix, and dreamy femme-vox ride over a variety of sounds, like a stand-up bass-walk from “Glitch,” or tambourine, cowbell, and horns on “Wax Bux.” No track sounds quite like the other, so it’ll keep you listening. This reminds me of releases from fellow Berlin label Phantom, if you’re interested in more. Get yrself exposed.

Oscuridad Eterna Macabre demo cassette

OSCURIDAD ETERNA has a fitting band name: “eternal darkness.” From Istanbul, a place not very known for darker music, they managed to exceed expectations with their debut Macabre. Recorded by two sole members during quarantine, this macabre twosome (members of UGLY SHADOWS and TATLIN EFFECT) crafted four songs filled with despair and clouded by bleakness. Simple yet effective post-punk with emphasis on goth and a production that ties everything together, a stroll through the ’80s and back to the genre’s glory days. Go get this if you are into chorus pedals and darkness.

Outfaced Outfaced demo cassette

This is some really classic-sounding hardcore mixed with a gruff vocal performance. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve heard some version of this a thousand times, but I’ll be damned if this band doesn’t pull it off really well. If you’re in need of six minutes of pure aggressive energy,  maybe something to put on while you angrily cook dinner, I fully suggest you give this tape a go.

Pasha & the Kindred Spirits Their Screens / B-Sides cassette

NYC quintet giving it the DIY try. A-side is the Their Screens EP, while the B-side is five unreleased songs that were recorded in the same session. Think of a lo-fi version of PARQUET COURTS with their emotional lyrics, or even MODEST MOUSE’s groaning, tortured guitar riffs. This also has that early-aughts indie rock sound (without the polish), if you’re looking to reminisce in real time. The energy is there, if this is your thing.

Patologia Ciąży Dziennik Trwa LP

PATOLOGIA CIĄŻY was playing around Poland between 1982 and 1984. They unfortunately never released a record, but recorded these demos in their rehearsal space. Their name translates to “Pregnancy Pathology,” which does not accurately reflect their sound. The songs are upbeat and catchy in a post-punk way. There is a sense of urgency and impatience. Yet, there is also, dare I say, a professional style to the band. They were getting airplay on local radio and playing festivals around Poland. It’s the great naiveté of the early days of punk when you were just playing some rock’n’roll, and though you were much better than what was popular at the time, unfairly most people never got to find out. The lyrics undoubtedly are political (if only I understood Polish) with titles like “Niemądre Pytania” (“Unwise Questions”), “Godzina Policyjna” (“Curfew”), “Atomowa Śmierć” (“Nuclear Death”), “Paranoja System” (“Paranoid System”), and “Bez Przyszłości” (“No Future”). The later song incorporates the riff from the SEX PISTOLS song of the same name for a fun ending. This is a great collection. I am so happy to finally be introduced to PATOLOGIA CIĄŻY. You should be too.

Peace De Résistance Hedgemakers cassette

I’ll take a hedgemaker over a hedge-funder any day of the fucking week, and this cat probably concurs, as PEACE DE RÉSISTANCE is based in NYC, where the hedgers breed like rats. I dunno how or why GEORGE BRIGMAN keeps on coming up in my reviews lately, but the sumptuous guitar fuzz on this tape immediately reminds me of his swampy buzz. On the title track, things get loose in an almost Zamrock way, which becomes the dominant style. It’s a novel move for what seems like a slacker bedroom rocker project. Unfortunately, the vocals tend towards a more common modern problem—disaffection communicated via a nasal tone. But the grooves are airy and cloudlike and the riffs are solid, so I’m on the lookout for what’s next.

Penetrode Penetrode cassette

First full-length release from these Philly hardcore freaks. The more I listen to this, the more I like it. While all rooted in noisy, dark hardcore, the songs are all very distinct from each other and occasionally go from fast punk to slow dirges, like on “Psychic Death.” There are some sonic similarities to bands like GAG and NERVOSAS, but the real stand-out here is vocalist/artist Bootsie. The vocals go from sung to shrieked to spoken and back again, with a distinctive yelp at the end of many lines. They’re great and sound confident, passionate, and exciting. Every song is a banger, but I keep going back to “Ebb & Flow.” It’s got layers of negative bummer punk distortion with a catchy opening riff, time changes, dissonant vocals, and lyrics like (I think), “Pick me up and spit me out.” It’s basically everything I want in a punk song. Check it out—this is a killer tape from a killer band.

Pet Mosquito The Last Goosebumps Walkaway CD-R

PET MOSQUITO is a quartet of teenage punks from Illinois. In a recent interview, singer/guitarist Everett Gariepy explained their band name: “…the four of us are pesky and annoying, like teenage mosquitoes.” That makes me laugh and appreciate the band more. The song titles such as “I Hate Illinois Nazis,” “Two Way Mirror In A Halfway House,” and “Deadbeat Town” give you a good idea what you are in store for. The music has a rough pop punk sound. It’s messy and lo-fi. The lyrics are spoken with a snarl and filled with social commentary.

The Prime Directive The Game EP

Three Palm Desert nerds bring you a four-song EP of Star Trek TNG-themed trash punk! What—doesn’t sound like your bag? Well, you’re probably right. But I’ll say this—it’s way less gimmicky than I was expecting and actually kinda good. It reminds me of those NO BAILS records that came out in the early 2010s. But instead of singing about 80s skateboarding games, Werther’s Originals, or whatever the shit, these guys are writing songs about some of the sillier TNG episodes. It’s never as infectiously dumb or hook-laden as NO BAILS, so I don’t think it’s going to win over any non-Trek fans. But it’s not quite a novelty—like, out of context you wouldn’t know it’s Trek-themed unless you really paid attention to the lyrics and knew a lot about the show. If there’s ever a Next Generation update of the 90s garage punk comp Fuck You Spaceman!, a track like “Skin of Evil” would fit on it nicely. Anyway, these guys seem aware that their potential audience would at best fill a runabout, so this is only being offered in a lathe-cut edition of 47. But I guarantee that the 47 people who end up with this thing are gonna be stoked.

Pronto Pop y Basura cassette

Not sure why we at MRR HQ are climbing aboard this bandwagon two years after its release, but Pop y Basura is a near-perfect freak punk release. And you need it. High-speed, high NRG solo synth punk from Mexico City, with direct ties to Canadian punks PURA MANIA and Venezuelan D-beat masters FRACASO…but PRONTO is something else entirely. Desperate HC/punk vocals fronting distorted drum machines and first wave keyboards, this is pure, powerful, primitive electronic destruction. Synth punk has rarely, if ever, sounded this fucking punk. And I love it. You will love it too.

Qlowski Quale Futuro? LP

First, the future was denied. Then a different one was fought for. Then realist capitalism settled among us and absorbed and neutralized any hint of rebellion until it flattened reality and returned us to a path that is, in fact, a dark tunnel to nothingness. Nihil. The London band QLOWSKI wonders what future or futures can be envisaged under the current circumstances. And they do it with an impeccably well-constructed work, full of urgent, edgy, tense songs that use the tools of post-punk and new wave to create little treatises on the things that matter: the everyday vignette that glimpses a potent poetic image, frustration and weariness transmuted into dreams that invade real life, noise as a knife to tear the veil of suffocating reality, creating cracks for desire, possibility and hope to seep through. It is truly beautiful. Referentially, you can detect the early OMD melodic spirit, the cubist punk edge of SWELL MAPS, the majestic simplicity of New Zealand punk, the dark romanticism of after punk. The references are just that, references that serve to orient you in the hanging garden of QLOWSKI, a garden full of pleasures oscillating between melancholy and the golden light of twee, whatever that may mean to you. Two good songs to enter this world are “Larry’s Hair Everywhere,” with that wonderful noise freakout in the middle, and the track that closes the album, a Lynch-esque tour de force, “In a Cab to Work ft Les Miserable.”

Rated X United Front LP

Hardcore that leans heavy on the punk rock. Featuring members of VIOLENT REACTION and the FLEX, so if you’re a fan of those bands, you’ll dig this for sure. Short bursts of pissed-off energy that blend hardcore, punk, and even some Oi! together for one hell of an album. There’s definitely something for everyone here, and even your most jaded friend who hates everything would dig this. If there’s one thing about this record that I would change, I’d have cut the last song as it is much longer than the others and doesn’t really flow well with the rest of the album.

Rebuilder Live From 2021 LP

Hmmm…this is a live album. Not just a live album, an album of a livestream. I don’t know if this is/was necessary. I mean live albums are generally, to me at least, an ego stroke at best. They don’t usually sound that great, don’t usually capture the energy of actually being at a show, and are most of the time the last gasp of a band trying to keep it together. All that said, I guess if you are a huge fan of REBUILDER, you’d enjoy this. Again, I’m not sure this was necessary to release, especially on vinyl, given the current situation. Perhaps this should have remained a livestream and another band could have released an actual album of recorded material on LP, instead of a live set from the internet.

Rejex Feel Nothing demo cassette

Kick-ass hardcore punk band from Moreno Valley, California delivering the goods to any old school hardcore aficionado. They sound like MINOR THREAT on speed. “Feel Nothing” is a four-song demo that clocks in at 1:37. They like to go fast and go hard. Bonus points for the production that sounds like it comes from the ’80s. And just like that, the demo ends and you are left wanting more!

Rider/Horse Select Trials LP

I don’t know what blend of psychedelics and speed these Ever/Never people are taking, but the last record I reviewed from them, CURED PINK’s Current Climate, was in a similar vein of experimentation. Here, on RIDER/HORSE’s debut, you hear a noise-heavy drum machine wasteland, filled with repetitive, jabby guitar riffs that yield to ambient synth breaks and dramatic, spoken lyrics. While the pandemic gave them a break from other projects, such as SPRAY PAINT, this duo was able to give this electric-drama their all, and it shows in the production. Personally, I’m sort of over this Vin Diesel-club-scene-music, but maybe you’re ready to get after it.

Rock Set Piteå Kommun / Up in My Room 7″ reissue

A reissue of early Swedish garage punks ROCK SET’s 1979 single. As a piece of history, this record is astoundingly interesting. It feels ahead of the curve for something coming out in 1979. The instrumentals sound a lot like MÖTORHEAD mixed with the SEX PISTOLS, if that makes any sense at all. The vocals remind me of an overtly snarky MODERN LOVERS. I think this is a well deserved reissue.

Schizos Come Back With a Warrant EP

SCHIZOS return faster and meaner and less like a JAY REATARD ripoff and more like the CANDY SNATCHERS at their most drugged and dangerous. The whole packaging is a parody/tribute to LYNYRD SKYNYRD’s first and best, down to the cigarette pack poster. I know everyone at MRR digs SKYNYRD as much as I do, so look out for this to make some year-end top tens. SCHIZOS continue their knack for song title mastery with “I’m Always First” followed by “Gross” followed by “Ugly.” Genius! Each song gets better, culminating in the title track which is like the best, punkest, meanest version of “Gimme Back My Bullets” you’ve never heard. Cheers, broken bottles and trashed halls await. It’s past my curfew.

Screamers Demo Hollywood 1977 12″

“You don’t love me / You love magazines!” Indeed, Mr. du Plenty, but all I’ve got is this cold digital space to let our readers know that SCREAMERS finally have an official vinyl document and it’s a sight to hold and to hear. I’ve spent a fair amount of cash on the SCREAMERS over the years, snagging whatever bootlegs trickled out featuring this legendary band’s multi-pronged electro-punk assault. Not to mention practicing my dance moves to SCREAMERS’ Target Video workout tape, which is highly recommended to those who care about their personal appearance or have a lurid interest in mime shock therapy (if both, HMU). In the ensuing years, SCREAMERS’ refusal to record a proper release seemed to be the ultimate self-defeating gesture, but from this vantage point, it comes off like the most brilliant long-game strategy in the punk rock playbook. Take Gary Panter’s iconic rendering of Tomata’s screaming head, season with breathless accounts of the group’s live performances, dollop with rare, smudged recorded glimpses of the band in lo-fi attack mode and serve to an audience eager to consume underground art in its most uncompromising state. Let it cool on the counter for forty-plus years and you’ve got an irresistible dish that can be gobbled down in just sixteen minutes. Though brief, the EP surveys self-flagellation (“Punish or Be Damned”), Hitchcockian psychodrama (“Mater Dolores”) and social anxiety (“Peer Pressure”) in a musically innovative configuration. Oh yeah, I forgot a crucial byte of info—SCREAMERS cut the guitars out of their rock, bringing the heat via electric piano and early portable synthesizers. In addition, they were hilarious and smart and they dressed really fucking cool. It’s an unstoppable combination of factors and results in one of the touchstones of punk’s original big bang, never to be tarnished by a misguided reunion cash-in. One of the many delicious ironies of the SCREAMERS is that a punk band that wanted to strike at the heart of the Los Angeles movie industry ended up finally making a mark in that field—drummer (now set designer) KK Barrett was nominated for an Oscar in 2013. Yet, as satisfying as it is to have this slab on the table, there’s plenty more SCREAMERS material, so it’s high time to let the dogs out, warts and fleas and all.

Screensaver Expressions of Interest LP

This might be the debut LP from these Naarm/Melbourne post-punks, but SCREENSAVER has existed in one form or another for a half-decade. The project started back in 2016, initially conceived as a way for Chris Stephenson (SPRAY PAINT) and Krystal Maynard (SWIM TEAM) to connect while being in an extremely long-distance relationship. Chris was based out of Austin, TX at the time with Krystal in Australia, and they would send each other recordings. Chris eventually joined Krystal Down Under, they recruited a rhythm section, began playing shows in late 2019, and started recording this LP just before COVID shut the world down. Thankfully, they were able to continue collaborating through their country’s various lockdowns to bring us this record, which is a very good one! Over these ten tracks, you can expect synth-heavy post-punk with a Krautrock backbone. It’s on the gothier end of the spectrum, thanks in part to Krystal’s excellent NICO-esque vocals, but it’s not quite as dark as, say, fellow Aussies NUN. It’s hard not to compare it to TOTAL CONTROL—a track like “Skin” even sounds like it could have come off Typical System. But where TOTAL CONTROL dips into harsher punk sounds from time to time, SCREENSAVER prefers to mix things up by going a little pop every so often, giving this album more of a new wave sheen. Just an immensely listenable record! For fans of CLAN OF XYMOX, GARY NUMAN, or early HUMAN LEAGUE.

Self-Immolation Music Psychedelic Unknowns cassette

This Leeds band returns with a second cassette of UK psychedelic shoegaze. RIDE, SPACEMEN 3, JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, and a little VELVET UNDERGROUND thrown in. It’s not really spectacular and not my go-to kind of lysergic background noise (ROKY, BUTTHOLE SURFERS) but they do it quite well. There are some excellent long drone-out moments and everything is buried and sounds like it’s been amplified through a wet tube sock. Cool RAMONES cover. Good for some kicks. Check it.

Sewer Side Fuzz Beach EP

Back in 2017, Goodbye Boozy put out a single-sided 7″ from this project. As is generally the case with Mr. Boozy’s releases, the record seemingly came out of nowhere, was by an unknown artist, and offered zero information about the act in the liner notes (comically, the record insert was just a rough doodle of what looks like a really high dog). The music had an air of mystery to it as well—it was loose, fuzzy psych in the vein of early BLACK LIPS or STRAIGHT ARROWS, but the vocals were unintelligible, droney, and sounded like they were captured on some distant plane of existence. It also featured an odd smattering of warping and skipping effects. The whole record made you feel like you were on drugs. I loved it. So, of course I jumped at the chance to review this EP, the first released by the project since then. There’s still not a ton of information out there about the outfit, but this appears to be a solo endeavor from Geelong/Melbourne musician Julian Wild. And while I was hoping for another mind-melter, I’ll have to settle for four competent but fairly typical psych/garage tracks. The two tracks on the “Beach” side of the 7″ sound like the gentler stuff the OH SEES were putting out back in the late aughts, and the two on the “Fuzz” side sound an awful lot like what TY SEGALL was doing around that same time. Again, it’s a solid record, and there don’t seem to be too many folks doing this exact thing these days. So, give it a listen, but seek out that first 7″!

Shitload More Vaccinated Than You! cassette

“In celebration of getting my third COVID-19 booster shot, I’ve recorded this to let you all know that I’m more vaccinated than you!” This is SHITLOAD’s statement for this self-released two-track tape. Bobby Paranoize does it all: bass, noise, yelling, screaming, drum programming, and vaccines?!?! Each track is a seven-minute frenzy of blastbeats, screaming, and gritty bass. No false grind here, just hatred and vaccine-filled noisecore! A total shitload of noise!

Slogan Boy Slogan Boy demo cassette

This tape is just a pure bit of fun and chaos. It’s demo tracks, so keep in mind they are unpolished, but this still rocks pretty hard. The highlight of the bunch has to be their cover of VOID’s “War Hero,” which is worth checking out if nothing else. There isn’t much else to say. Give it a listen!

Speedway S.O.F. EP

I don’t know what it is about this record, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. Musically, it’s definitely got strong youth crew vibes, but it sounds fresh. It doesn’t sound like a note-for-note rehash of the Revelation Records catalog circa 1988—89. Perhaps it’s the vocals that set it apart from other bands of its ilk. Kinda screamy, yet with a hint of melody. Almost like if the dude from the BRONX was in a hardcore band or something like that. I really dig this EP and can’t wait to hear more from this group.

Spräckta Spräckta demo cassette

This one’s a little older, but while digging around for info on Pittsburgh’s BATTLEFIELDS, I stumbled upon the related and equally awesome SPRÄCKTA’s 2019 demo. And boy, does it slap. Neck-breaking bouncy D-beats give way to old-school hardcore with a menacing mix of US and UK inflections for an effectively harsh and violent punk pounding. A very strong slammer.

Stay the Fuck at Home This City is Headed for a Disaster… cassette

STAY THE FUCK AT HOME is a New Orleans one-man thrashcore project that I’m assuming started during the quarantine. The vocals are a total homage to INFEST and the instrumentals are a variety of thrash metal, crossover, Southern rock, breakdowns, and whatever he feels like playing at the time, but there is always some spastic fastcore popping up in each song. The level of irony in the band name, song titles, and musical shifts make this a fun record instead of just a mash of weird choices. This one is hard to define but easy to listen to. Great house-moshing music.

Stingray Feeding Time EP

It’s feeding time! Punishing metallic hardcore from the UK with some known characters in the New Wave of British Hardcore scene. This four-track EP leaves no unchecked boxes, as each song is a world of its own in the hardcore realm: there is ultra-metallic riffage, there is some D-beat, there are plenty of breakdowns, and the barked vocals glue everything together in this hardcore extravaganza of an EP. Plenty of memorable moments that will make a worthwhile band to see in a live setting. The artwork by Tin Savage/Nicky Rat is the cherry on top. La Vida Es Un Mus delivering the goods again.

Suburban Lawns Suburban Lawns LP reissue

Outside of DEVO, is there any band that has provided more raw material for this millennium’s reboot of oddball new wave than SUBURBAN LAWNS? And yet, this is somehow the first true resurrection of the lone LAWNS full-length since its original release in 1981—I’m not counting that gimmicky 2015 Futurismo pressing with garish splattered vinyl, swapped-out cover art, and 1983’s Baby EP tacked on, and neither should you. Obviously, “Janitor” has been a secret handshake between art kids infiltrating punk for a solid four decades now (I had a teenage freshman literally yell play Janitor’!at me a few years ago while I was DJing at the art school where I work and it warmed my heart), with its halting, spring-loaded rhythm, some truly surreal lyrical juxtapositions, and Su Tissue’s effortless swing from deadpan monotone to exaggerated cartoonish squeals in a two-and-a-half minute display of sonic dada. Does the whole LP reach that same flipped-out high? Controversial opinion, but not exactly—I could do without Vex Billingsgate’s kitschy “lounge singer on ludes” croon in “Not Allowed” (the eternal question: if you had Su Tissue as a vocalist in your band, why would you let anyone else get in front of a mic?), or the detour into ska with “Mom and Dad and God,” to point two very specific fingers. But some of the deep cuts here are really just as weird and wonderful as the sainted “Janitor,” like the stop/start, one-chord post-punk austerity of “Unable,” or “Intellectual Rock” doing wound-up nerd-wave like a West Coast iteration of DOW JONES AND THE INDUSTRIALS, or how the band’s L.A. roots clearly show through on the Dangerhouse-ish duet “Anything” (with Su at her most vocally Betty Boop). A perfectly imperfect classic; here’s to hoping that teenage art school students will still be yelling for “Janitor” in another 40 years. 

The Chisel Retaliation LP

It’s grim up north, and few articulate this better than the CHISEL’s seasider songsmith Cal Graham. Over a blistering 30-minute debut, ably backed by a motley crew of London punk luminaries, his stentorian vocals explore the crushing mundanity of working class life; from small-town bullies, post-Thatcherite social decay, and police brutality. However, despite sounding like he’s permanently just had his pint spilled, there’s a relentless defiance, and sense of solidarity that runs throughout Retaliation like a stick of Blackpool rock, twinned with the kind of soaring guitars and thunderous drums that would make BLITZ or the PARTISANS proud; it’s a joyous affair. An uneasy truce between the best bits of Oi!, UK82, even a dash of anarcho and hardcore too, the CHISEL’s debut occupies the same space as that moment after a last-minute winner hits the back of the net and the ecstatic embrace immediately following could quite easily become a headlock; vim and vigour, piss and vinegar. An instant classic.

The Copyrights Alone in a Dome CD

Fans of the COPYRIGHTS will not be disappointed with their debut full-length for Fat. The formula remains the same here as with their past outings: catchy, polished, harmony-laden pop punk that draws inspiration from all the usual suspects without sounding dated or like a carbon copy of something from years prior. Are there times when listening you could say “Hey, that part sounds kinda like…”? Sure, but those times are fleeting, and at the end of the day, this is a COPYRIGHTS record through and through. One that’s sure to please fans, new and old.

The Cowboy Riddles from the Universe LP

It’s almost hard to describe how much this record kicks ass. Across thirteen tracks, the LP wanders from just about every subgenre of punk, nailing everything from noise rock to garage rock in the best of ways. At times I hear the influence of bands like UNWOUND and POLVO, other times it’s a straight rip of JAY REATARD, done in the COWBOY style. It’s just lo­-fi enough to give the record a rough edge, but still polished enough to convey the intensity this record puts off. This is not the time to stand all high and mighty and be that picky listener. Put it on your to do list, mark your calendar, write it on your forehead for all I care; whatever you’ve got to do to remember this: listen to this fucking record.

The Dissidents The Dissidents demo cassette

The context is the fertile Philadelphia scene, where members of bands like MISCHIEF BREW, WITCH HUNT, the PIST, and MANKIND?, among others, came together to create music in the midst of a rather bleak socio-political landscape. The band is the DISSIDENTS and the result is this demo that shows a fully cohesive band, generating a melodic sound, even sing-along-y, but powerful enough to create the much-needed liberating pogo. The lyrics are political, attacking issues such as police abuse, racism, the treatment of immigrants, and the history of the United States. A great demo that is just a little taste of what this band is capable of in the future.

The Drin Engines Sing for the Pale Moon cassette

Cassette-only mystery music from Cincinnati, OH. I imagine this was developed as a COVID-enforced winter project of long days alone with a four-track, and you can hear the masonry of them building each song brick-by-brick. Stylistically, it’s experimental, touching on an erudite record head’s exploration of motorik rhythms, coldwave synth sines, dub-heavy production, and propulsive post-punk basslines, notably the chunky riff that gives the second tune “Guillotine Blade” all of its life. The album leans on developing a mood through textural soundscapes and less on classic songwriting, but when a catchy chorus or a well-honed hook appears, that’s when this album really works and has that CLEANERS FROM VENUS feeling of it being more like a live band rather than recorded alone. If this was released as a two-song 7″ containing the tunes “Down Her Cheek a Pearly Tear” and “For the Tsarina” on the flip, I’d be reaching for my turntable to hear those two over and over.

The Ex Tumult LP reissue

The latest in Superior Viaduct’s continuing reissue crusade of the legendary Dutch band the EX. Tumult is their third LP, and on it, the band furthered the sonic experimentation they began on their previous release, Dignity of Labour. This era of the EX is the band expanding as musicians and artists, moving quickly away from the confines of punk rock and into the improvisational, genre-smearing world they’ve continued to express themselves in, implementing more noise as a song element and showing the influence of early industrial music like Z’EV or EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN in the thunderous and primal rhythms. Throughout the album, the drums are a highlight, with nary a 4/4 straight rock beat in sight. The bass grinds along percussively, focused on the repetitive march enforced by the drums. “Happy Thoughts” is an extraordinary track in this respect, like something out of an Adrian Sherwood/On-U production, the drums cut up and distorted to the point of sounding like a drum machine, building the syncopation to something militantly danceable. “Red Muzak” is a tidal wave of metallic sounds, rolling snares, and a crash cymbal like an exclamation point in the mix. Aside from the drumming across the album, you also hear Terrie Ex expanding his guitar palette away from traditional barre chords and single note riffs, using every part of the guitar to discover new ways of forcibly extracting sound, while also knowing when to bow out and let silence take over.

The Stick Figures Archeology LP

Tampa, Florida’s best (only?) contribution to the turn-of-the-eighties art-punk discourse gets anthologized! The STICK FIGURES were five University of South Florida students enamored with the serrated grooves of first-wave UK post-punk who found each other in 1979, duly inspired to craft their own ripped-up, danceable sound that wound up running roughly parallel to what bands like OH-OK, PYLON, and the B-52’S were devising about seven hours due north in Athens, Georgia. Archeology starts with the the four tracks from the STICK FIGURES’ one-and-done 1981 EP (released before the band relocated to New York; they would call it quits soon after), and it’s the sort of beguiling creative jumble that often comes as an unforced by-product of operating far outside of a rigidly-defined scene—”N-Light” is a frenetic bricolage of taut funk bass, trebly guitar scratch, and group-chanted vocals that clearly betrays the STICK FIGURES’ interest in the works of GANG OF FOUR and DELTA 5, while the jangly “September,” with its winsome femme vocals and playful crashes of xylophone, falls closer to presaging early K Records/C86-era shamble-pop. The remainder of the LP is fleshed out with a half-dozen unreleased studio recordings, a pair of live tracks, and an extended, electronically-damaged 2021 revamp of the EP’s “Otis Elevator Dub,” but don’t write them off as filler scraps, especially the keyboard-driven, rhythmic twee rush of “Make a Fire,” the totally sideways mutant funk beat that cycles through “Energy,” and Rachel Maready Evergreen’s deadpan spoken delivery over the angular new wave bop of “Yesterday” like a Third Coast SUBURBAN LAWNS. Undeniable weirdo genius.

The Yeasties Here for Flesh cassette

This St. Louis punk outfit is back with their second release, which is also apparently their last. The group is a bit of a Midwest supergroup with Olivia Gibb (WARM BODIES, BB EYE) on bass, Bethany Lumsdaine (co-creator of Bloomington, IN fanzine Shut Up and Listen) on guitar, Shannon Boyer (ROYAL BRAT) on vocals, and Shawn Durham (who apparently drummed for SNAIL MAIL at some point). They’ve reigned in their sound a little bit since their last cassette, which was pretty raw and wild, and end up with a more deliberate sounding collection of tracks. And, yeah, they clean up nicely! The three originals remind me a lot of the garage-ier Alicja-sung LOST SOUNDS tunes (sans synths), particularly in the vocals. They also do a sick cover of “P-E-R-V-E-R-T” by St. Louis first-wave unknowns the WELDERS. It’s a really cool cassette—wish we’d gotten to hear more from them!

Total Defeat Dreg EP

Australia’s TOTAL DEFEAT has some tasty, timeless hardcore on their 7″ debut. In keeping with the band’s name, riffs point downward on every song, delivering tough little doses of “just can’t win” punk with a dark and bouncy feel. The band has evolved from the primitive bass-heavy dirges of their 2019 demo and emerged tight and energized. Think POISON IDEA if they were NYHC. Alright, I’ll take it.

Twompsax Disgusting Me Out cassette

Hot on the heels of her excellent solo debut, Oakland-based artist Cher Strauberry is back with a seven-song cassette of 4-track recordings, this time under her TWOMPSAX moniker in preparation for a late 2021 tour. If you’ve been a fan of Cher’s work thus far, this is more of what you love—minute-long bursts of the lowest-fi punk (equal parts garage-, egg-, pop-, and hardcore) interspersed with odd snippets from ’90s movies. If you haven’t been a fan, you need to get with the program! One of the most essential voices in contemporary punk!

Ultrasónicas Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica LP reissue

A much-needed and vital reissue of an absolute classic of the Mexican underground. Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica was released as a 10″ in 1999 by the Spanish label Munster and released as a CD in México in 2004. It is a jewel of adolescent spontaneity, absolutely transgressive for the timorous and ultra-conservative Mexican society at the time of its release (here, I include the very macho Mexican rock and punk scene of the time). An all-female group that soon formed an outrageous and free gang that took garage (the SONICS, the PLEASURE FUCKERS, THEE HEADCOATEES), surf, and the most outlandish rock’n’roll as basic blueprints for a sound that not only refreshed the stagnant México City scene, but also opened the way for women in the rock scene. Side A has the more polished versions released by Munster, while on Side B we can listen to the versions of their mythical low-budget demo. There are also bonus tracks and inserts with photos and memorabilia for the fans. I feel I’m selling short the importance of this album for the music made by electric guitars in México. The most fun band this country has ever produced. Get it now.

Utah Jazz In Retrograde cassette

Full collection of the recorded works of Buffalo’s UTAH JAZZ—truly one of the most wildly addictive bands in recent memory. I remember Biff telling me how much I was gonna like them and me only kinda believing him because he really likes some stuff that I just think is marginally “fine” (check his reviews, his enthusiasm is suspect…an affliction that I enthusiastically share), But these fuckers? It’s like ’80s UK twee on a diet of ’83 Touch and Go. Like fukkn DOLLY MIXTURE doing a set of NEGATIVE APPROACH covers…but, like really bratty. So if you like to get wild, here’s your chance. Again. Biff was right.

V/A He’s Bad! 11 Bands Decimate the Beats of Bo Diddley 6×7″ box set

Garage goes to the future. Black Gladiator’s fuzz-covered tribute to “the originator” features a mix of covers and what could better be described as DIDDLEY-based sound experiments. About half of the tracks are pretty straightforward, while songs from acts like ATOMIC SUPLEX and ANDY CALIFORNIA take the primitive stomp to more imaginative places. Highlights include HAUNTED GEORGE’s shamanic interpretation of “Mummy Walk,” an epic two-parter from TRUE SONS OF THUNDER, and, of course, “Down Home Special” from GINO AND THE GOONS. After all, it was GINO who sent me the dime bag of actual dirt from BO DIDDLEY’s grave with their 2018 Rip It Up LP. Anyway, if you like old-timey rock and also techno, this record was made for you.

Vains You May Not Believe in Vains But You Cannot Deny Terror EP reissue

Before you even get to the music, all the branches that sprout from the VAINS’ tree make an intriguing story, like a hidden history of West Coast punk-related rock. Made up of three Seattle-area teenagers, VAINS existed for less than a year, but they planted a (black) flag and led the way for future generations with their sole release, a 7″ EP comprised of “three action hits.” How this single came about is one of those great rock’n’roll stories that seems too good to be true. In 1980, local music equipment shop American Music had a special promotion in effect—purchase $3000 worth of gear and the store would cover studio time and then press 1,000 copies of a single. Now, 3k ain’t cheap, even by 2021 standards, so VAINS must have been sporting a snazzy set-up. But instead of recording some wack KISS covers, VAINS laid down a grip of chunky, meaty punk that sits somewhere between DOA and the DEAD BOYS. They wrapped these songs in an excellent picture sleeve that featured yearbook headshots of fellow “school jerks” on the back. Maybe they didn’t go to high school with James Dean, but they did cut class with future members of the U-MEN and SILLY KILLERS. VAINS were just beginning their pedigree, which soon encompassed the FARTZ and, further down the road, some L.A. glam-rockers called GUNS N’ ROSES. Yes, bassist Nico Teen is also known as Duff McKagan and he remains the only cool member of the former Biggest Band In The World. All the people who were waiting so many years for Chinese Democracy need to bust out their Crosleys and get VAIN in the cold November rain.

Velvet Horns All Heart, No Bullshit cassette

This kinda reminds me of some kind of Plan-It-X band, only louder and punker. You can tell by listening that they’re having fun playing and that in turn makes this a fun listen. The band features Mattie Jo from RVIVR on bass and backing vocals, and that’s a bit of a shame, because I enjoy their vocal stylings and just wish that they sang a bit more, but I’ll get over it. All in all, a fun listen, and the five songs here just seem to fly by. Cassette is limited to only 30 copies, but hey, that’s why we have the internet, right?

Weird Crimes Three Songs cassette

This is a short mix of post-hardcore from Portland punks WEIRD CRIMES. On paper, I feel like this tape should be everything you want. Three well-crafted, hard-hitting tracks that don’t overstay their welcome. A short blast of ferocity. In that, this cassette succeeds to the max, but something about how this release is mixed is extremely off-putting. It’s like listening to a record through the wall you share with your annoying neighbors. It just doesn’t hit with the intensity you want to be hearing. That being said, everything besides that aspect of this cassette is on point. 

Why Bother? A Year of Mutations LP

Honestly, what’s more likely—that Feel It’s insatiable desire to release cool new music has reached a point where they can no longer find real bands to churn out product and have instead turned to throwing darts at a map and list of genres in order to foist a backstory on session musicians, or that Mason City, Iowa (the sixteenth most populous city in the country’s second most boring state) is full of enough cool people to fill out a band who just so happen to be into the odd combination of UK DIY and SPITS-y dum-dum sci-fi punk? Conveniently, the “band,” a supposed four-piece, is also content to be an 8-track recording project and has no intentions of playing live, so we may never find out. Anyway, regardless of how it came to be, the record is stellar. It sounds like a punked-up version of EXHIBIT A/SOLID SPACE with snatches of the same laid-back, boozy garage pop that made those early JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN recordings so compelling (particularly on a track like “Hum Drum”). Get on it!

Xenofobia Discografía LP

XENOFOBIA is a Mexican hardcore band, formed in 1983 in Mexico City. One of the original bands of the Mexican scene, crucial in developing a particular sound that—by taking the watershed sound of UK82, the unleashed fury of Brazilian punk, and the more chaotic path of American hardcore and mixing it with a native knack for atonality and ultra-politicized lyrical themes—managed to generate an authentic, vital, brutal and highly influential style for the Mexican bands that followed. This compilation includes the Muerte en América 7″ from 1987 and their LP Presionados from ’89. All the material was self-produced. DIY all the way. Great job of rescuing and recognizing a band that made noise with all the circumstances against them: police brutality, immoral poverty, rampant corruption, and an authoritarian regime that was beginning to lose control of its narrative. A must for all of those interested in this region of the world.

Year of the Fist DCxPC Live Presents, Volume 4 EP

YEAR OF THE FIST has been tearing up SF Bay Area clubs, dives, and public parks for nearly a decade now. They’re really good at what they do, playing a more metallic, GITS-meets-the LOUDMOUTHS high-energy gang tackle rock’n’roll kinda thing. This EP captures them where they rock best, in a live setting. I guess this was recorded by some blessed folks who kept smoky, filthy bar music alive in your home during the Plague by providing live streams of your favorite noisemakers. YEAR OF THE FIST are definitely no strangers to Albany (the city of cops), California’s the Ivy Room, and it shows by the comfort and ease with which they shred here, like it’s a crowd of hundreds instead of maybe five. “50 Ft Queenie” is my fave here. Keep on fucking.

Zodiak Move Like Water EP

Based in Tokyo, Japan, ZODIAK is as raw as you can get! And you will read the word “raw” a lot in this review. After their debut TKY 2020 and a split with Macedonian noisemakers DISEASE, they turn the amps to eleven once again. This EP has five furious and straight-to-the-point songs featuring noise addicts from bands like MORPHEME, ODIO, and DROPEND. With such a a line-up, one can expect extra raw and extra noisy hardcore punk with influences from SHITLICKERS to CONFUSE. LIFELOCK and MASS ARREST members also make an appearance in the song “Wax Wings.” It has all the ingredients for a great noisy raw punk EP, so if raw is what makes your juices flow, there is plenty in here for you.