MRR #467 • April 2022

500$Fine Yer Wolfbro is in My Capitol EP

On their first release since their 1997 Forward CD, Richmond, VA’s 500$FINE makes a four-track comeback. Gary Llama’s vocals fall in the range of Tim Armstrong, and the band certainly has that Hellcat vibe, though these Richmond-rockers delve deeper and more seriously into the socio-political realm. They’ve slowed down a little since Forward, but understandably so, and written: “And now we are old / And everything I felt / Still fuels every part of me” from “The Same.” They’ve also abandoned their ska interludes, which frankly I don’t miss, giving a more distilled, powerful backing to songs that range from twisted conspiracy politics (“Yer Wolfbro is in My Capitol”) to the support of the Black Lives Matter movement (“Commonwealth”).

Agoni En Röst För Fred 1984–1986 LP

AGONI of Stockholm was one of the predecessors of modern D-beat and Scandinavian hardcore, playing in the heavier register such as SVART PARAD, BOMBANFALL, CRUDITY, DNA, HEADCLEANERS, ANTIBOFORS, DISARM, or DISCARD…but in some cases, several years prior to those bands. So, if any of that is of interest, this review is for you, and you already want or have this LP. AGONI was fucking heavy and fast, and pre-any of those categorizations. Just hardcore käng (känga “boot” crust) punk. Grumbling, furious bass and a calamity of drumming and distortion. An intonating furnace of vocals. Classic tumbling intros and tempo changes you hear all the time in a D-beat “Dis” band today. Not just today, ever since the mid-’80s, and all over the world! But AGONI, and their Swedish contemporaries, wrote that skit. The freshness is almost palpable; it sounds so sincerely constructed and musically destructed. The remastering of these three demos(!) and a live 1985 gig is outstanding. Not to get too far off track here, but if you watch ’80s skate videos and you see the look on the skater’s face when they are like, “What the fuck did I just do and land?,” you realize they were inventing something raw and powerful and always went as hard as possible —it was their scene to do so. That is what it’s like to listen to this compilation. Beautiful hardcore in its the purest and earliest form. No carbon copies here, actually writing the often-imitated fill stylings and riffs you hear today, seemingly happening on the exact take you are listening to. Those subtle imperfections in timing and dropping tone that make it so fucking punk. Side B (demo three) moves into their more thrash-crossover material, as bands of this style were doing then, but even their take retains hardcore roots in its hooks. This collection is essential! Alas, all the liner notes are in Swedish. Use your translation app or something, it’s not 1984—and don’t forget your band is not AGONI when you rehearse that two-second raw moment they did, but you’re still pretty good.

AKT 3 Frauen​-​Feuer 12″

AKT brought together four women from Brazil’s mid-to-late ’80s underground scene (Sandra Coutinho from the legendary MERCENÁRIAS, Dequinha Camargo of minimal wave act BRUHAHÁ BABÉLICO, Karla Xavier from experimental electronic post-punks R. MUTT, and Biba Meira, drummer for genre-bending rockers DEFALLA) who were all interested in exploring more improvised and less rock-oriented approaches to music-making with the German avant-garde serving as a primary touchstone, from tranced-out Krautrock rhythms to industrial/electronic-minded Neue Deutsche Welle groups like MALARIA! The numbering of the band’s name actually changed through key phases in their brief existence—AKT 1 for their first live shows in 1990, AKT 2 later that year when they recorded the six tracks collected on Frauen-Feuer (only two of which have been previously released, on a 1991 Brazilian comp LP), and now AKT 3 for this 2022 archival resurrection. “Habits” pairs deep post-punk bass throb with English lyrics lifted from Ezra Pound and samples of howling dogs, and “Wir Haben” (with foreboding, theatrical vocals in German, natch) runs the acute-angled rhythms of CARAMBOLAGE through a dense fog of processed electronics, while the lurching low-end, spin-cycle drumming, and disorienting synth textures of “Prince No Deserto Vermelho” (sung in their native Portuguese) is totally no wave via NEUBATEN. That cold-stare intensity lets up on the instrumentals “Carrossel” and “Os Sufis Dançam,” although the unsettled Metropolis-worthy atmosphere remains, which makes the almost conventional post-new wave pop lilt of “He is Happy” AKT’s sharpest turn of all. History exists to be rewritten.

Angry Silence Strange Times Call for Strange Measures CD

Honest post-punk from Brittany. Jangly and abstract timing with sweet hooks like SWELL MAPS getting released on Flying Nun Records. The self- and life-reflective lyrics are delivered in English with a passionate Mark E. Smith duotone delivery, as if the FALL had a bit more lyrical optimism. The band describes themselves as pop, but their shambling, broken anthems with earnest delivery set them well apart from their pop peers. Found myself more engaged and amped on it with every listen, up there in the spirit of the JAM’s 1977 releases.

Antibodies LP 2021 EP

Straight-up, no-frills hardcore from this Canadian band. Fast and instantly likeable, with simple riffs pounded down into the dirt and vocals that go from rabies to a sarcastic sing-song quality that sounds like DOLLHOUSE (especially on “No Pension”). Feedback creeps in around all the edges, making it sound like the whole thing will crash apart at any second, but it never does cuz it’s just so tight. Every song rips, but some standouts are “Neuro Crutch,” where the vocals turn into a near-blackened thrash attack, and “Rent-a-Cop,” which adds a saxophone for texture but never lets up the punk battering ram. Great record for those times when you just want to punch, punch, punch the air.

Ataque Zero Ataque Zero 12″

Unrelenting five-track debut from Bogota, Columbia’s ATAQUE ZERO. Bass lines build to ride cymbal-clattering choruses, with Luis’ shouted vocals barely taking a rest throughout the entire EP. This project is part of the autonomous cultural center, Rat Trap, in Bogota, that features DIY artists and musicians. Limited copies going quick!

Baby Tyler Vol. 3 cassette

A solo artist from Madison, WI, BABY TYLER’s got some real songwriting chops. Apparently this guy does a whole acoustic thing in addition to the punk bile found on this cassette, which isn’t hard to imagine when you focus in on the thoughtful composition of these ten tracks. The songs have depth and complexity that will really draw you in if you let them. I didn’t, mostly, but in an ocean of so-so modern acts, BABY TYLER bobs above the surface.

Blitz Second Empire Justice LP reissue

It’s funny revisiting this record so closely to Voice of a Generation, because if I hadn’t been blessed with the prior knowledge that this was by the same band, I would have bet my next paycheck that this was two very different outfits, and I’d be on the beans on toast for the next month. Stating the bleeding obvious: it doesn’t sound anything like their debut full-length, for better or for worse. Gone is the gruff bellow, in comes a skeletal and sparse croon. No more buzzsaw guitars and thunderous bass, in comes razor-sharp guitar lines and bin-lid snare. A magpie approach to the nascent post-punk scene, a JOY DIVISION riff here, an ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN riff here, and a sprinkling of the CURE and FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM here for a light seasoning of goth, it’s a strange beast. It’ll never top the debut for me, and it’s definitely an acquired taste, but perhaps you are less of a curmudgeon than me and this is the BLITZ album for you.

Blitz Voice of a Generation LP reissue

Look, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. If you want to not eat your greens or avoid looking both ways before crossing the road, that’s on you largely, and given the natural truculence and stick-it-up-yer-bollocks mentality of the punk community, it’s likely to be met with resistance at best and open hostility most likely. That being said, if you haven’t listened to this record, I am going to tell you to go and listen to it right now. From the opening drum salvo and the first time Nidge’s guitar cuts through, it grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let up. Unlike many of their contemporaries in the Oi! scene that was coagulating round Bushell, et al., BLITZ doesn’t have the same panto “don’t mind if I do, missus,” end-of-the-pier approach to street violence and class politics that came to define the scene in postcard caricature fashion. Undoubtedly you’ve heard this LP a billion times before, and a reissue’s a reissue’s a reissue, but if at the very least it’s stopped you and made you go back and try and capture that lightning-in-a-bottle sensational you got the first time you dropped that needle on the record for the first time, then it’s job done as far as yours truly is concerned.

Body Farm Living Hell LP

Oh, I feel fortunate to be assigned this record. The flexi by BODY FARM I reviewed last month was thoroughly impressive and a powerhouse of consolidated hardcore. Politically drenched in passionate activism, BODY FARM brings an intense, clear, and brilliant message in a positive light. Musically, BODY FARM goddamn rips. A flurry of powerblasting and anarchistic cheer punctuation. Feeling some old favorites such as EBOLA, HARD TO SWALLOW, GRIEF, CAPITALIST CASUALTIES, DR. KNOW, PLASMATICS…you have likely not heard anything like this recently. Part dooming breakdowns, part raging blasts, with brief skips of D-beat and thrash ferocity. Bass gargles like a leviathan, vocals are manic and echoing. Complimentary lower vocals are smoldering crust. “Ohioan Solidarity” is a bolstering anthemic crusher. “Death on Two Wheels” might be my favorite, starting off with a Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure quote from the biker bar. Love it! The closing title track grooves me out, just to want to spin it again. It is a fast listen, but there is a lot to pick up on. This record is fantastic if you are looking for something very fresh and very smart. A+!

Brower Live and Contagious LP

As we hopefully near the end of the COVID pandemic, what we are left with is a deluge of bedroom four-track albums or bathroom laptop solo epiphanies. However, this album will stand as the last live concert album to be recorded before the March 2020 shutdown. I left the mystery alone whether the live recording is in the vein of the BLACK LIPS Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo album recorded “live” in Tijuana, or more authentically, THIN LIZZY’s Live and Dangerous, which the art on this album cover reverently replicates. Regardless, it’s a fun raucous ride throughout. Sporting sounds from glam, English disco, and funk punk, the influences range from MUD and STATUS QUO to early KISS and late PHARMACY. The supporting band includes Josephine Network on guitar and Hershguy on drums. The songs pull from a range in BROWER’s career, so it’s a great intro if you haven’t heard this treasure before.

Coax Coax cassette

COAX from Russia plays that heavy modern hardcore, feeding us foreboding riffs played tightly with a sense of urgency and a touch of dystopian angst. This one slides into the same category as S.H.I.T. and FAZE, but with a subtle element of grooviness packed into the sound. Every word of the lyrics is laced with hate, and I’d love to get the singer a glass of tea with some honey after all that rough hollerin’.

Consec Demo cassette

Killer lo-fi hardcore/punk from Athens, Georgia. CONCEC’s debut release clocks in at just over four minutes—very brief but very effective, taking no more time than is needed. The vocals are snotty and the instrumentation is riffy and intense. This rough-and-ready dose of HC shows off a lot of future potential and is a much recommended listen to anybody who likes their hardcore punk on the scrappier and primitive side.

Crippled Fox In the Name of Thrash LP

It’s always respectable when something is accurately labeled or identified. If you see a red MAGA hat, you can make some safe assumptions about the person wearing it. With the album title In the Name of Thrash, you can expect unrelenting speed and melt-your-face riffs. Straight out of Budapest comes 23 tracks of mosh-pit power-ups in the vein of early DRI, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, and STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH. Every song is devastatingly fast and tight with an attitude of fun and unity throughout. This band does not hide what it’s about under layers of nuance or lyrical gloss. Take the track “High on Thrash,” which asserts “Thrashing is my drug / I’m wasted with my riffs / Bashing myself / With a killer song that rips.” After nearly two dozen thrashcore classics, the album closes with a hilarious send up of power metal pretension and bombast, “P.M.A. (Power Metal Attitude.)” It’s all big hair, knights with swords, and soaring falsettos that had me grinning ear to ear.

Crippled Fox Attack of the Thrash Wrist EP

Everything to be said about CRIPPLED FOX is in the lyrics of “United Mosh Pit,” the fifth track of eight on this EP. “Long-haired thrashers / And skatecore punks / Hardcore kids / Blasting the show as one.” That is the entire text of the song and could be the band’s manifesto. Occasionally punctuated with out-of-nowhere samples from DE LA SOUL, the TV show Married With Children, and others, this album shreds with fun, blistering, thrash-soaked hardcore. DRI’s Dirty Rotten LP is an obvious comparison to make. Close your eyes and you see nothing but kids in flannel shirts and bandanas zooming up and down half-pipes. The choice to record live in a rehearsal space was inspired. The resulting spontaneity and energy makes these good songs great. CRIPPLED FOX puts out some amazing crossover thrash and are now 95% of the reason I want to visit Budapest.

Cupid and the Stupids 99 Ways to Fix a Broken Heart cassette

Spared Flesh continues their hot streak with a new cassette from this seven-piece Byron Bay outfit—fourteen tracks of loose, lo-fi jams recorded straight to four-track in a riverside shed. The release copy describes this as “cute-core” and “Broadway punk‘n’roll,” which aren’t entirely inaccurate descriptors. But don’t let that scare you off! The music here is way less annoying than you might be imagining. Really, this is more the sound of a group of friends having a great time making music—the end result might be cute, but it doesn’t come off as by design. The tunes themselves bounce around the lo-fi landscape—depending on the track, you might hear a little Flying Nun or Elephant 6 or Rip Off Records. To get a good sense of the variety here, I’d recommend listening to one of the gentler tracks, like “Burn the Mattress,” then flipping over to the absolute scorcher “Heartbreak Motel.” If neither floats your boat, this release likely isn’t for you…and maybe your broken heart ain’t worth fixing.

Darby Trash Trashin’ II cassette

Do you like LIQUIDS? If so, you’re in luck, because DARBY TRASH from Chile does, too. So much, in fact, that everything from the artwork to the washed-out production of these egged-out songs mimics the LIQUIDS to a T. Originality is overrated, anyway.

Dead Years Dead Years LP

There’s something about this band that reminds me of a lot of different bands, but the weird thing is that none of the bands that they remind me of play the same style—that makes me super curious about them. They really make me wanna be on a roadtrip listening to them with my friends. I really liked this album, ‘cause every song leaves you with a different feeling, and I also think the vocals bring something really special to the songs.

Decade The Impossible Scale of Increasing Slaughter EP

Few D-beaters out there stand out as much as Ontario’s DECADE, and the band’s unique range of styles is on display on this EP. We’ve seen a few different shades of DECADE over the course of their handful of releases, and this four-song record seems to have a hot little mix of everything. The chugging charge and ethereal vocals of the opener give way to the spaced-out, confusion-packed banger “Indifference” on the A-side. The flip opens with the crusty pounding of “Existence is Ignored” before the bass-heavy rocking swagger of the closing track, and the whole thing is painted with killer metal guitar licks. Some of the band’s best looks are when they pick up on less popular sources of inspiration like later ’80s-’90s DISCHARGE and FINAL BOMBS, and overall they’ve got an uncanny ability for forcing strange innovations into the genre with great results. If you haven’t heard their 2018 World Stops Turning LP or split with FATUM, you gotta check those too. These guys are killers.

Demonios Demonios cassette

L.A. punks are always making great bands—there is a special thing about Latino punk bands from there that always makes them different from the others, and it’s not like they all sound the same, I just think they have a really special thing that is really, really unique from other L.A. punks. As always, the drums from Kat are amazing, I’m a huge fan of hers. I remember her from other amazing bands like DESTRUYE Y HUYE, and she always gives the bands the punch that they need! Also I love how the voice sounds kinda like the singer is speaking/singing, it gives the band a special touch. A really great tape, six amazing tracks of L.A. punk.

Dirt Sucker Valley Fever EP

Last time I went on tour, in 2019, my senior citizen rocker of a mother threatened to drive from Wyoming to come see us play in Salt Lake City, and when I warned her it was being held in a stinking, claustrophobic punk house basement, she immediately snapped back “I used to go to gross punk houses in Salt Lake all the time in the ’80s.” Fair enough of a point, I reckoned, but now she needn’t leave her state, as DIRT SUCKER roams near her home on the range, and they might even come rock at her place. The rampaging hardcore din contained in these soily brown grooves is a qualified ripper. Each side is spiraling with Ginn-sian guitar dissonances, a punchy, crunchy rhythm section that embraces the whorl with a puissance for stops and starts, topped off by vocalist that’s a mutually maniacal and menacing musical match. I hope mom doesn’t mind blood on the carpet, because I bet this guy can take a mean mic to the face.

DShK Power For Them, Pennies For You cassette

Hardcore D-beat fury from Asheville, NC, DSHK orates from the bellows of the publicly squalored and community denied. This is a project born out of the frustrations and confusion of the pandemic, where tensions in the United States are at a boiling point, and it shows. Five tracks of inspired hate for fucking pigs, patronizing politicians, and even pointing a finger at pacifism in general and its inherent snail’s pace. No offense to snails. But fuck all cops. Anyway, DSHK puts their pennies where their mouth is too, donating a generous percentage to mutual aid groups in NC with every tape sold. Also contains one HERÄTYS cover, and it’s a great one. This is a two-piece, covering guitar/vocals and drums/bass/vocals, who come across as dueling punk twins. The execution levels are similar, but they echo and support one another. Production-wise, I am reminded of CALLOUSED on the rhythm and percussion side and HOLY MOUNTAIN on the lead and vocal side, but significantly grittier. A nasty sting of a demo. Check it out.

Eel Men Are You There God, It’s Me / Meantime 7″

Smart and snappy art-punk out of London featuring members of TEN-O-SEVENS and THEE SPIVS. “Are You There God, It’s Me” is a piece of catchy mid-tempo power-pop-punk beholden to groups like ADAM AND THE ANTS and the MONOCHROME SET, while the B-side “Meantime” is more angular, with some delicious GANG OF FOUR-style slicing guitar. As their first single it shows promise, but it doesn’t do quite enough to set the EEL MEN apart from the current crop of clever UK post-punk guitar groups. That being said, I’m excited to see what they do next and if they incorporate a bit more of that nervous energy heard here on the B-side.

Endless Bore What Do You Dig For?! 10″

All the way from Melbourne, Australia comes ENDLESS BORE, with a record that has the power to shake the Land Down Under to its very core. In this 10″ EP, ENDLESS BORE offers some riffy, shit-stomping hardcore in the vein of the nastier Boston-style HC. They also throw some of the grinding intensity and superhuman speed of powerviolence into the mix—the combination is immensely palpable.

Fatigue Barbecue Times cassette

Better late than never, here are some words about a tape that Berlin’s FATIGUE released in 2019. Total Girls in the Garage vibe, amped up real high with tough no-bullshit, in-your-face riot grrrl energy. You wanna take SMUT and TEAM DRESCH and reimagine that shit as a snotty garage bar-punk outfit? I’m here for it—three years late, but I’m here.

Ford’s Fuzz Inferno The Book of Fuzz: Selected Verses (Part 1) CD

Two excellent EPs from 2021 on one little encoded piece of plastic for your bopping pleasure. Dutch duo FORD’S FUZZ INFERNO pretty much sounds like their moniker—walls of garage-damaged, blasted combo amp guitars topped with sweet in-your-face croons; these chaps serve up hit after should-be hit. They don’t rely on the heaviness, but they get there because they just want to crank the shit out of those guitars, you know…to fuzz ‘em up. Fans of RADIOACTIVITY and the like may find familiar hooks in here, but FORD’S FUZZ INFERNO is a stripped-down model—getting straight to business with none of the excess.


Fright Fright 12″

With members of top-shelf ’80s and ’90s hardcore bands like DEVOID OF FAITH, CITIZENS ARREST, and DOWN IN FLAMES, FRIGHT drops six tracks of tight, East Coast-style hardcore streaked with old-school thrash and speed metal. The music is tight, relentless, and mosh-worthy. The vocals could have used more grit and gravel, but the riffs are delicious candy, like something blasting from a mixtape in my ’86 Buick back in the day. Lyrically, it’s fairly standard metal fare in the style of NUCLEAR ASSAULT—despair, corruption, decay, depression. An example is the track “Obliterated Ruin” with the lines “Castrated by repressive state / Organisms breed and cry / Basking in desperation / Lacking strength to arise.” Maybe they don’t tell a coherent story, but they fit with the overall vibe perfectly. This is FRIGHT’s first release and hopefully not their last.

Gape Gape cassette

Los Angeles-area act brings us their second release, a five-song cassette of competently-made noisy hardcore punk. If you were to strip out the slower, artsy intros on the opening and closing tracks, you’d be left with a handful of sub-two-minute tracks whose sound falls somewhere between pure crust lust and the mean hardcore of a band like STRAIGHTJACKET NATION. Imagine taking the 2011 CONVERGE/DROPDEAD split and pulling the vocals from the COVERGE side and the music from the DROPDEAD side—you wouldn’t be too far off from what we’ve got here. If that sounds like your bag, give it a go. I certainly ain’t mad at it!

God Plutonium Demo 2022 cassette

This is exactly what a hardcore punk demo should be! It’s fast, it’s pissed, the recording sounds completely demented, and above all it leaves you wanting more! GOD PLUTONIUM features members of NECRO HEADS, LIVING WORLD, ALAMOS, and presumably countless other Pittsburgh bands. The masterminds over at Kill Enemy Records have done it once again, continuing their flawless output thus far.


Graveripper Radiated Remains CD

GRAVERIPPER of Indianapolis plays very cleanly produced thrash death with elements of blackened metal. The vocals are grim, reminding me of CENTINEX but with the punk attitude of BAT. Also, the themes create illustrious visions of cosmic, bleak scenes of monsters and beasts. Think AURA NOIR played a bit more melodically but just as intensely. Black hypnotic riffs blanket my soft brain with scorching bile. All the greatness of ’80s US thrash with the demonic harmonic vibes of Scandinavian death-beat. This is catchy and cold, and I can’t help but be ripped from my seat into the talons of GRAVERIPPER. I see this was mastered by Joel Grind of TOXIC HOLOCAUST, and Joel really gave it the full-on hexing and unholy treatment. Definitely recommended for escaping into a headbang and a mind-melt. It also seems to be selling like hotcakes, so grab this whenever you can. Damn, the vocal rhythm and IMMORTAL grimacing is insane on “Cherenkov Light.” Six evil tracks, each one more impressive than the last. Did I mention the cover art rules?? GRAVERIPPER is detailed as hell on every level. This is a great new one evoking thee metals of olde.

Green/Blue Offering LP

On the first listen, this record offers a mesmerizing experience. By the second listen, it still refuses to lose any of its magic. Equal parts dreamy and primal, GREEN/BLUE brings wiry guitars, raw beats, and plenty of songwriting magic. There are times when this record feels triumphant and other times when it’s melancholy to an extreme, but the blend comes together perfectly. I hear a lot of influence from bands like WOMEN, WAVVES, and SONIC YOUTH. This isn’t entirely punk or entirely pop, but it is damn sure something special.

Grimple Up Your Ass LP reissue

A well-deserved and long overdue reissue for an essential piece of early 1990s East Bay (by way of New Mexico) punk. You hear the term “melodic hardcore” refer to drivel that is neither, but GRIMPLE is undoubtedly both. The riffs are hopelessly addictive, but they are delivered with relentless ferocity while you find yourself singing along with vocals that sound like they are coughing up razor blades. The lyrics are honest and often dark, but the whole record is bursting with hope, determination and youthful possibility—“Behind a locked door I’m not trapped, I don’t want out / To put things in their places, I put myself here,” followed immediately by “I don’t see it so it isn’t there, the real truth is that I don’t fucking care / I close my eyes it’s an easy choice, fuk that bullshit, I want a voice!”  Songs like “Violent Fuk” and “Problem” are uncompromising and full of fire, while “Think” throws dark chords under the rest of the mix and makes you feel queasy (when you listen at the appropriate volume). “But If You Weren’t Here” is an anthem for literally any punk who grew up (mostly) alone and exemplifies how tight GRIMPLE was as a band and a unit. Drop the needle on Up Your Ass and you can just feel that it was them against the fucking world…my only complaint is that it’s weird to hear these songs with out the pops and scuffs and crackles I’ve been adding to my copy for the last 30 years. I can fix that, though.

Hippyfuckers Pink Eye demo cassette

Seeing Olivia Gibb’s instantly recognizable drawing style on the cover art, colorfully cauterizing my corneas from a kilometer away, I immediately knew this HIPPYFUCKERS demo would be the freaky fuckin’ thing I needed. Six tracks of madness for Missouri mutants, every song is a brain-burster of heavy, gnarled riffs dripping with every effect pedal stomped on, while guttural bass grinds away and the drums barely hold this twisting car wreck together as it plummets off the cliff. You can almost see the vocalist contorting into shapes unseen, hanging off the ceiling, crawling between your feet. Wailing into the microphone as it’s already gone halfway through their digestive tract, flailing like they’re slowly dying from whatever household chemicals they swallowed before the set. Ten outta ten, top prize hog at the freak punk farm fair —go see ‘em on tour this summer and into forever.

Idle Hand Six Ways to Tell Your Boss Off cassette

C’mon now, of course I like this. Pummeling old-school punk with snappy riffs, a nice touch of damage, some neat spooky parts, and an overall cool feel. It’s one guy from Philly playing all the instruments and an awesome female vocalist, and it rules. No immediate comparisons come to mind, and that’s always a good thing. Great tape. I was going to put a couple songs I like the best here, but nah, I like all these.

Indonesian Junk Live ?!*@ Like a Cyanide CD

These well-aged garage-sters are back with lots of hooks and good-time blah blah…all live in the city of Dahmer. Reminds me a lot of that good DEVIL DOGS album (the live one). To quote the late Bobby Soxx, “Fuck power pop, fuck new wave, this is punk rock, you’re a slave.”

Isotope Soap In Need of Systematic Entropy LP

The glorious synth freaks from Stockholm are back, and ISOTOPE SOAP has outdone themselves here. SPITS, TG, SCREAMERS, DEPARTMENT S vibes all collide with a heavy emphasis on bizarre structures and a timeless sound that refuses to fit in any decade past or present. If anything, In Need of Systematic Energy is slightly more accessible than some of their previous efforts (with a title track that belongs on every mixtape you make this year), but you still never know what to expect from one track to the next. Worth noting that RAPED TEENAGERS and PUSRAD personnel are behind this genius…which is not even remotely surprising.

Jenny Trajinero / Kids of Today 7″

A nifty single of power pop that’s truly powerful. Justin Maurer, whom I mostly know from Oakland’s CLOROX GIRLS, understands how to get the most bang for a buck when playing jangling guitar pop. In true contrarian fashion, the B-side here is what really grabs me. “Kids of Today” runs the gamut of pleasure, from great use of discordance and resolution in the main lick to the palm-muted chug and ringing out triumph back-and-forth that makes up the meat of the track. It’s anthemic in a way that actually pays off its title. The single is great too, with luscious keys and a head-bobbing swing that puts a smile on your face. What’s not to like here?

John, Paul, George, Ringo & Richard Das ist die Zukunft, Aber Nicht Deine! LP

I can’t imagine this band name would work if you went with anything other than “Richard.” “Richard” just has this poncy air about it that really sells this dumb joke. Anyway, this project is the work of a single person—presumably a Richard—who’s been at it since about 2016. He peddles an oddball mix of noise, minimalist avant-pop, dub, yé-yé, downtempo electronica, and space age bachelor pad music. It’s out there, man! Depending on the track, it can sound like a more listener friendly MEN’S RECOVERY PROJECT, a less wacky MR. BUNGLE (Disco Volante-era), or, like, the entire Ralph Records roster covering the poppier cuts from CABARET VOLTAIRE’s Red Mecca. Dude may be a Dick, but he made a cool record. This is the future, but not yours!

Karkaisu Kohta Sataa EP

Great debut from Finnish hardcore band KARKAISU. This band from Helsinki plays melodic, almost Swedish-styled hardcore punk à la WOLFBRIGADE, but with a bigger hardcore edge. On tracks like “Ei Kuulu Sulle,” you can hear thrashy riffs as the game changes to a more crossover-influenced hardcore. A really well-rounded sound, and the vocals bring a whole new dimension to the six songs on the self-titled EP. A fun record that prompts you to hit repeat.

Karma Sutra Be Cruel With Your Past and All Who Seek To Keep You There LP

This is a really, really special release of an amazing anarcho-punk band from England. As a record collector, I always get really excited when a label makes releases like this, because some of this stuff is almost impossible to get or the bands simply didn’t release any material at that time. KARMA SUTRA were one of those bands that have all the elements that makes me fall in love with anarcho-punk—I don’t think they have any song that is not good, it’s a classic, it’s timeless, a record you should get before people try to sell it on Discogs for incredibly stupid prices.

Karne Krua Suicidio EP

Magnificent reissue of KARNE KRUA’s 1991 demo that you didn’t know you needed…until you hear it. Raw and gruff Brasilian hardcore/thrash from the Northeastern city Aracaju, KARNE KRUA plays from the RDP/LOBOTOMIA school, then injects wild, piercing solos and a vocal delivery that embodies sinister but addictive hardcore. While the recording on Suicidio is primitive, the delivery of these eight tracks is devastating, relentless, and the past thirty years has only served to make the recording sound even more intense. This is a reissue done right, with notes (em Português, claro) and photos from the original K7 release. Awesome.

Kim Salmon Let’s All Get Destroyed / Unadulterated 7″

KIM SALMON, progenitor of “swamp rock” himself, has always been a grade-A weirdo. His solo work really lets that strangeness shine and this single is no different. From the off-key falsetto backing vocals to the shambolic just-behind-the-beat drums—this single puts FLAMING LIPS to shame without even really meaning to. It’s a freak parade marching through the town square, gleefully banging on a cowbell and singing with abandon. It would be foolish to really critique SALMON at this point for anything. So long as he stays himself, it’s worth listening to whatever he’s cooking up. B-side “Unadulterated” is a great counterpoint, too, with a dreamy piano lead and early-ENO guitar that flows you down the stream of SALMON’s subconscious. Compelling and deeply satisfying through and through.

La Grieta Askeroso Getxo Sound 2005–2015 double cassette

Spanning an entire decade from 2005–2015, this is the complete discography of Spanish avant-garde experimental art/noise project LA GRIETA. Presented with very cool-looking minimalist artwork in a dual-cassette case on bright yellow and pink cassettes, with a huge write-up in Spanish about the history of the project. It all looks very cool, and for fans of this band or this style, I imagine this to be an absolute delight. As an introduction to the band, I found it to be a lot to attempt to digest, especially with its lack of form. I recognize that is the style that is being sought, but listening to two straight hours of long, loosely knitted-together, seemingly improvised sloppy “songs” featuring squealing feedback, blip-bloops of unknown origin, horns, melodica, and even snoring has it all feeling like jazz to me. I am absolutely craving something easy on the ears.

Last Gasp The Storied Weight of It All LP

Cleveland’s LAST GASP has somehow successfully managed to make a record that merges fast hardcore with breakdown parts that don’t sound out of place and a vocalist that wouldn’t sound strange singing in something poppier. Almost reminiscent of RESTRAINING ORDER with more “welcoming” vocals. I can see this growing on me more and more with every listen. Extra points for the nod to Cleveland legends DEAD BOYS with the opening ring-out of “Sonic Reducer” on their song “One Last Drink.” A fun easter egg and classy nod to their city’s punk rock history.

Lightheader Lightheader cassette

LIGHTHEADER has a math-rock musical style. The music is busy, sometimes frantic, sometimes drifting. The vocals are laidback and sincere. The combo flows pleasantly from my stereo speakers, occasionally perking my ears up to some odd sound.

Lime Crush Timewaster EP

In three joyous, sub-two-minute bursts, the 2015 debut 7” from Vienna, Austria’s LIME CRUSH plotted a perfect equilateral triangle of playfully shambolic art-punk, Slampt-descended boy/girl revolutionary agit-pop, and an unraveling Girls in the Garage ’60s beat—on their new Timewaster EP, those angles have been stretched into somewhat tighter and more acute points, but they’re still bashing out some of the most ecstatic Alpine econo-punk racket this side of KLEENEX. Drummer Andi Dvořák takes the lead on the garage pop A-side “Timewaster” (a sonic successor to the band’s previous cover of LOVE’s “Can’t Explain”), his shouts foiled by slightly melancholic, girl-group-styled backing vocals; on the B-side, “Park” sticks most closely to the anxious twang-and-jangle of the first LIME CRUSH EP, quickly snapping from a bass-and-spoken-word intro to a breathless rush of galloping drums and girl-gang harmonies, and “Téléphone,” with its cyclic, snaking bass groove and matter-of-fact narrative vocals, almost strikes me as a meditative, soft-edged inversion of GAUCHE’s fiery dance-punk calls-to-arms. No time wasted here.

Marty Brass Painted Glass cassette

The last few years have shown an enormous uptick in the number of solo projects releasing music, and understandably so. You tell all the weirdos out there that they can’t go out and make music with their friends, and I really only see a few options as to what the reaction to that will be. Thankfully, our dear MARTY BRASS seems to have chosen the more constructive of those potential paths and has graced the world with an absolutely delightful cassette of solo music. Eight songs of masterfully crafted power pop/garage-pop from this talented gent from Cleveland, Ohio, one being a lovely version of a ROLLING STONES song. It’s beautiful, it’s catchy, it’s driving, it’s well-played on every instrument, it’s pop music at its absolute best! (And I have it on good authority that there’s plans to take the live band version out on the road in the coming months!) Two years in and one would assume we had seen and heard it all by now, but MARTY BRASS shows that there’s still new solo projects worth checking out.

Mid Rats Divisions CD

Hardcore skate punk that wouldn’t be out of place on Fat Wreck. Overall, it’s pretty good. Lyrics are a bit political-leaning as opposed to your common skate punk band and that’s OK. The singer’s voice took a bit to get into, it’s a weird mix of Trevor from FACE TO FACE, Davey Havok, and screaming. Not bad once you actually get into it. There’s a definite AFI vibe to the “whoa-oh” parts, for sure. All in all, not a bad outing.

Milquetoast Caterwaul CD

Have you heard the song “Milquetoast” by HELMET? It’s from their “weird” album Betty, and not a bad starting point for understanding MILQUETOAST’s influences. This CD is a mix of noise rock, stoner riffs, and occasional punk blasts about our crumbling world, as well as goofy shit about space missions, “psycho tweakers,” and a Spanish-language song about “ghoul cops.” It seems like the band has a good time with these songs, many of which drag on past the four-minute mark with comic operatic vocal touches and lots of guitar solos. This might have an audience, but it isn’t me. The whole thing comes across as tedious and silly— especially songs like “Space Force,” with lyrics like “(Space force) / Hey man, did you tie that down? / Fuckin’ (space force) / Then why’s it floatin’ around? / Oh no (spaaaaace).” There are some good stoner riffs, like on “Step Off,” but the whole thing sounds very “local bar band” to me. Their bio describes them as “punked-up party sludge,” but really, bands like TORCHE have been doing this better for years. A positive I can mention is that the limited cassette run is held together with sealing wax. That’s cool.

Move BHC Freedom Dreams EP

On this debut 7″ EP, Boston’s MOVE BHC delivers some bone-breaking heavy hardcore/beatdown with overtly political lyrical content, with heavy emphasis on Black struggle. No thrills or smiles here, just totally righteous indignation. These eleven minutes contain several truly powerful moments, such as the intro to “Righteous Unrest.” Recommended to all those searching for some broader nuance in their windmilling music.

Mr. and the Mrs. Kill a Corporate Nazi to Free an Indigenous Slave 2×7″

I kinda dug a tape this Kansas duo released a few years ago, but I may need to go back and revisit that shit because this record is bonkers good! The guitar snarls, the vocals snarl, the drums lurch, the songs are just so gloriously simple…as if they’re saying “we’re going to do this thing—here it is—we’re doing it—you know what it is because we told you we’re doing it—and you can’t escape” on repeat. Space garage psychedelics meet four-on-the-floor rock’n’roll. It’s easy to drop comparisons and maybe that’ll get your ears tuned up, but ain’t no one sounds like this shit. Now I’m gonna dig out my copy of that Deo Volente tape and bounce these two fuckers off each other for a while.

Nestter Donuts Flamenco Trash CD

The label describes NESTTER DONUTS as “thee one and only flamenco trash one-man band.” They had me at “thee” (hee hee). I am MRR’s resident one-man band expert after all. Fun, rocking, trashy garage music with a foot-stomping style. DONUT is energetic and dramatic in the best possible ways. It’s a rollicking good time.

Nicfit Fuse LP

NICFIT does lots of things right on this debut LP. In the grand tradition of many a punk band from Japan, NICFIT plays havoc with genre, executing hairpin turns where most would end up in the weeds. On these tracks, post-punk rhythms ride surf guitar riffs into noise rock pummel. Hell, “Rigged” opens with a snippet of CECIL TAYLOR-esque piano sputter. Oddly enough, NICFIT often resembles underappreciated mid-2000s band KAITO UK, which gets two thumbs up from these two hands.

Nowaves Odd Secrets LP

Driving post-punk synth from Dresden with the dark sparsity of COMSAT ANGELS or BAUHAUS, but with the lyrical creativity of NICO’s The Marble Index. The JOY DIVISION comparisons will be made, but they have their own original dark surf vibe going. The album has a danceable goth-pop sound, and the ten tracks grow more with each listen for a solid release.

Ogro Ogro cassette

First things first, check out the rad packaging from this Basque punk band: a cassette nestled inside a tiny burlap sack, like some kind of dungeon treasure. Love it. The songs are super raw hardcore with primitive, blackened vocals. This is filthy, knuckle-dragging, cave-dwelling orc-core of the finest kind. The band is tight, and the mix sounds perfect for this kind of savagery. I don’t know the words, but there are some subtle differences that keep things interesting, like a heavy, palm-muted bridge during “Primitivo,” some attention-grabbing time changes in “Venganza,” and gang vocals in “731.” Recommended for fans of RASPBERRY BULBS and BONE AWL.

Oust Never Trust a Politician EP

Three tracks of ultra-bleak Dutch hardcore. This band wastes no time tearing into fast and ferocious territory with plenty of room for pit-demolishing breakdowns. No, not in a bro hardcore way, like truly violent-sounding. This band started out straighter kängpunk, but thankfully is in stranger, more satisfying territory with these songs. The echoing, throat-rattling vocals have major presence, and the guitars add texture and tone from across several genres from traditional hardcore to deathrock. It all blends, though; this doesn’t sound “experimental” but rather is a no-frills affair. Slams from the needle drop ‘til the bitter end.

Peace Decay Death is Only… 12″

The internet kinda melted when this record dropped last month. And then, because we live in the digital age of instant gratification, the internet started melting about some other cool-ass record that came out and PEACE DECAY just existed in some present past realm…and this is why the internet is great and also totally sucks, because you need to spend time with this record. Austin’s PEACE DECAY was born out of COVID, but their genes are pure Texas punk. If you take the sum of the parts (SEVERED HEAD OF STATE, PROGRAM, STORM THE TOWER, VAASKA, CRIATURAS…and on and on and on) and consider that these chaps hail from the land of WORLD BURNS TO DEATH and SPAZM 151, then brace yourself, because that’s a lot, and Death is Only… is more than all of that. Sonically, the recording embodies majestic and anthemic energy that’s only reinforced by near-constant guitar leads ripped from ’00s Burning Spirits hardcore while vocals nail Nerve Damage-era Burdette snarl without ever suggesting that they belong anywhere that’s not inside these fucking grooves. This record charges, it’s pure force from start to finish (a finish that comes way too fast)—the modern embodiment of whatever “anthemic hardcore” is supposed to be. Highest recommendation.

Planet Y En Plads i Solen LP

Besides their demo, this is the first full-length album that Copenhagen’s PLANET Y has released. There’s not much I can find on the group except a consistency in their album artwork: a post-industrial collage with a looming, orange sun. The twin vocals remind me of HYSTERESE who I reviewed a while back, but the instrumentation is much rougher on En Plads i Solen, which translates to “A Place in the Sun.” I really like the glassy guitar line in “Plasticsolen (Plastic Sun);” also the guitar and bass chugging verse of “Dør på Klem (Door Almost Open)” that sounds like the verse from NEIL YOUNG’s “Rockin in the Free World,” which somehow works here. It took me a few listens, but I think this despairing yet hopeful, charming yet in-your-face album is simply great.

Poison Idea Record Collectors Are Still Pretentious Assholes LP

I just checked, and the classic Portland punk of POISON IDEA still destroys. This sophomore release from the band captures a POISON IDEA that’s matured from the straight beatdown thrash of Pick Your King and is in the process of turning into the polished unit that would produce Kings of Punk, and it rules. This LP reissue pairs the original eight tracks from the EP with five more from the Drinking is Great and Cleanse the Bacteria compilations, including a cover of the STOOGES “I Got a Right,” and its humblebrag cover artwork remains intact (who the hell was thinking about JOHNNY MOPED in 1984?).

Polyester 100% Polyester LP

A super fun and dance-y record—the voice, the music, the lyrics, everything about this band makes me wanna start dancing and jumping. I just love when punks make music like this, because we don’t hear stuff like this really often. I can’t decide what song is my favourite one, because they really, really have a super interesting formula in all of them. “Dale Dale” is maybe the one that surprised me the most, because it’s so fucking good and it has some Spanish lines, so I obviously get excited about that. Also “Sue Me,” it’s fucking fire, the changes in the drums are crazy and the chorus sounds really retro, it’s amazing.  Definitely a band to check out, so different from what most punk bands are playing these days, absolutely love it.

Power Supply In the Time of the Sabre-Toothed Tiger LP

The name of this band along with the title of this LP made me expect some kind of caveman-themed metal band. Instead, this Melbourne foursome (featuring members of DRUG SWEAT, OOGA BOOGAS, and VOICE IMITATOR) delivers a relaxed and sunny brand of garage rock that never takes itself too seriously. Singer Leon Stackpole sounds effortlessly laid-back, while Mikey Young’s guitar work is impressive without being showy. While some songs are straightforward rockers (“Land of the Fire,” “Conservative Instincts“), they also get to stretch out into some more experimental territory on “Infinity and 90” and “Swimming in a Bathful of Ghosts.” It’s all exceedingly pleasant and playful while never being dull. I’m reminded of Rotterdam’s LEWSBERG and fellow Australians THIGH MASTER. A fantastic debut.

Print Head In Motion cassette

It’s a challenge—a fun challenge!—to keep up with every limited-run cassette release from Canada’s prolific PRINT HEAD, a.k.a. Brandon Saucier. The man put out something like six or seven of these last year, and 2022 appears to be bringing us more of the same. In Motion doesn’t deviate far from the formula of aggressively lo-fi, egg-flavored punk, but hidden (just barely) beneath all the noise and chaos are some pretty tuneful and competent songs. PRINT HEAD may be mining similar territory as other hyperactive noiseniks like SET-TOP BOX and ERIK NERVOUS, but it’s definitely worth checking out on its own—all of it!

Quaker Wedding Total Disarray LP

There’s a place between LEATHERFACE and AMERICAN STEEL (post-the Rouge’s March album) where this band lies. The great, angularly harsh guitar work is reminiscent of 1997 HOT WATER MUSIC before their infamous Hard Rock Cafe breakup, and the lyrics haunt with the emotional despair and angst of WEDDING PRESENT’s David Gedge. This is their sophomore release on the infallible Salinas Records and fits in with the more raw and rock part of their discography. I didn’t know what a “quaker wedding” was when I was assigned this review. But the week after, I caught one of JAWBREKER’s shows for the 25th anniversary of Dear You and then watched the documentary Don’t Break Down about the history of the band. At the end of the film Blake Schwarzenbach makes a comment that during the meeting when the band broke up, it felt like a quaker wedding where “you just sit there but there’s a lot of weight in the room.” Here the weight is authentically well-defined and felt.

Reality P.R.O.M.O. cassette

Cool tape with two long tracks from this Israel-based solo project that opens with a great GOBLIN-style synth dirge, all digital bells and deep, bubbling atmosphere. Then it gets really weird, with a truly unique vocal approach that sounds unlike anything I have heard before. The closest thing I can compare the down-tuned, altered vocals is maybe DJ SCREW’s productions, but imagine that over snaky post-punk/indie guitars and electronic drums. It sounds like a Speak & Spell left between melted JOY DIVISION and SONIC YOUTH tapes. There are many great, chiming call-and-response guitar lines that are both dissonant and shimmering with beauty. While disconcerting at first, I found this very listenable and interesting all the way through. Recommended.

Richard Hamilton Memory Palace cassette

My introduction to RICHARD HAMILTON was as RICKY HELL AND THE VOIDBOYS. I’m 100% in favor of giving the elders of punk a hard time. I was amused, then I was fascinated. Only the name seemed joke-y. On this cassette, RICHARD HAMILTON delivers introspective, indie pop songs. Like seemingly the majority of recordings made in these pandemic times, Memory Palace is a one-man-band affair with HAMILTON handling every aspect of it. It gives me ’80s flashbacks with a bit of Madchester stylings thrown in. The result is a sweet and melancholy collection of songs with great lyrics. It’s catchy from the onset. The highlights are “Happy Go Lucky,” “South of France” (I’m a sucker for any song that mentions specific places in San Francisco) and “Traffic on the 5.” This is a great cassette.

S.M.I.L.E. Just S.M.I.L.E. cassette

Hardcore punk that has something for everyone. A little bit of metal-tinged guitars here, some RANCID-esque bass lines there, some breakdown parts, a dash of street punk, and mildly distorted vocals. S.M.I.L.E. is one of those bands that would appeal to all sorts, while simultaneously being an acquired taste to others. Definitely worth a listen, or three.

Sect Mark Promo MMXXI cassette

For the sake of this review, let’s call it “futurecore.” I’m talking about the dystopian hardcore with menacing, spiral riffs, venomous echoed vocals, and borderline-mocking tone played by bands like S.H.I.T., FAZE, COAX, Singapore’s excellent C.H.U.TE., and others. That’s what this is, and it’s one of the better takes on it that I’ve heard. This promo tape of four songs was enough to make me check out the forthcoming LP.

CEO / Shitbots split EP

This is the type of lo-fi garage rock that inspires spontaneous acts of violence. You will be hard-pressed to find a more crusty, rough-around-the-edges, intensely in-your-face record. On the A-side, SHITBOTS bring two absolutely flaming tracks with all the audio quality of an old CD that’s been burnt in the toaster. On the B-side, CEO brings a much more reigned-in sound. Of the three tracks CEO provides, the majority are led by acoustic guitars, incorporating elements of country and blues.

Side Effect Suicide Tuesday! 12″

SIDE EFFECT plays their punk by the numbers with power chords, great little earworms, and snarled, raspy vocals. All throughout they capably add additional melodies, briefly quiet down and ramp back up again. This record is short and sweet. Its catchy and shambolic style brings to mind the OBSERVERS.

The Punks / Skateboard Skateboard & The Punks split cassette

For background, SKATEBOARD was a band from Buffalo, NY and the PUNKS were a band from Rochester, NY. A dude named Brandon was in a band called BROWN SUGAR from Buffalo, NY. Later, that dude was in SKATEBOARD and also in the PUNKS, and that’s why this tape has a weird and confusing title. MRR reviewer Biff (who was also in BROWN SUGAR, but was not in SKATEBOARD or the PUNKS) told me this one was good. Biff told me I was gonna like it. That motherfukkr….he was right. SKATEBOARD is gruff and wildly catchy punk, like early ’00s Toronto shit through a filthy American filter with no health care. The PUNKS swing harder (like a hardcore MENSCLUB, for the lucky few who will get the reference) and land like a lost ’80s Rust Belt punk nugget. But this whole thing is a lost Rust Belt nugget, because both of these bands were gone before they even got off the ground. So all hail Capitol Idea Cassettes for making this happen…but because NY punks are weird, there’s no song titles, no band information, no label contact information, no lyrics, nothing. So good fucking luck finding a copy…but when you do? Don’t snooze.

Socialcide Complete Discography 2006–2008 cassette

I had never heard of Virginia’s SOCIALCIDE, but this tape changed all that. This much-revered, short-lived band played “original recipe” USHC with a lot of early SoCal influence, and they were pretty awesome. Far from a one-dimensional copycat act, the band has a range of cool styles on display throughout the 32 tracks on this cassette. They thrash as hard as Dealing With It-era D.R.I., creep you out like TSOL in their heyday, and go into songs that sound like outtakes from the first SUICIDAL TENDENCIES LP. In other words, this would have been right at home in my fourteen-year-old self’s Walkman during any given skate session, but it also sounds pretty damn good today.

Soft Torture Soft Torture cassette

This is the first release from this veritable supergroup made up of members from some of Philadelphia’s best and brightest, including BLANK SPELL, DESTRUCTOS, and YDI. You read that last one correctly—bassist Chuck Meehan was in the original lineup of that legendary ’80s Philly band (and the SOFT TORTURE track “2021” is an updated version of “1983” from YDI’s seminal EP A Place in the Sun). The eight songs here (apart from the outro) showcase a fast and feral brand of rhythmically complex hardcore, with all band members firing on all cylinders at all times. The result is the kind of controlled chaos you can only achieve with a certain level of technical skill. Vocalist Jess Nicho has a unique delivery— at turns snotty, bored, detached, and deranged—that elevates the final product to something truly wild. “9.99” is a personal favorite, pairing an almost sing-song chorus with Jess’ typically twisted and visceral lyrics. Real freak shit!

Soup Activists Riling Up the Neighbors cassette

Martin Meyer is arguably one of the primary architects responsible for our contemporary punk landscape. For better or worse, I don’t know that we end up with the chain/egg punk dichotomy without LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS and their gooey aesthetic, or his label Lumpy Records and their “Feelin’ Eggy?” promo emails (not to mention Lumpy put out records by most of the bands originally labeled “egg-punk”). That aside, I’m also just a huge fan of the dude’s work. So, it came as quite a shock to just learn that he’s been making music under the SOUP ACTIVISTS name for the past two years, and this eleven-song cassette is his second release. Now, I go in blind when it comes to projects I’m unfamiliar with, so I had no idea who this was on my first listen. But my initial reaction was “Why did MRR give me this? It sounds like…SICKO or some shit!” To be fair, I think I was primarily picking up on the earnestness of the music—as I sat with it longer, I could tell there was actually a lot more going on. Still my primary point of comparison, at least on those first few tracks, would be something like the ramshackle pop punk of early FIFTEEN. Later tracks maybe feature more of the lo-fi jangle/strained tunefulness you’d find in an Eric Gaffney-sung SEBADOH track or some polish-free pop akin to, say, a DOLLY MIXTURE. Now that I know who’s behind the music, I can’t not hear that this is a Marty joint. But it would be hard to overstate how blown away I was to find that out. I’m still not sure that I really love the music here, but I have certainly loved the time I’ve spent so far trying to figure that out.

Split District Invitation to Exile LP

OK…this record. Where to start. At first, when the opening song started, nothing really hit me. Then the vocals came in and I was immediately overcome with a NAKED RAYGUN sort of vibe. As the record played on, it became apparent to me that what I was reminded of musically was mostly SWINGIN’ UTTERS. Then as more time went by, the vocals also started to remind me of something else…boom! RADON. So then, what started out as nothing particularly special started to grow on me. SPLIT DISTRICT has managed to create an album that, while it has callbacks to other bands/albums, is original enough to have caught my ear. In a very good way.

Spooky Demo 2021 cassette

With quirky drum machines, reverb-drenched vocals, and scratchy guitars, SPOOKY create self-described DEVO-core. I think that’s an apt description of the genre, like an even more DIY, homemade DEVO demo. Besides the obvious influence of DEVO, this tape shares a lot in common with the sounds of ALIEN NOSEJOB and GEE TEE. There’s just four tracks on the tape, all of which are playful and quick to end. Without a lot of substance, it’s hard to say this is something great, but for a demo tape it’s still pretty fun.

Squire Girl on a Train / Every Trick (In the Book of Love) 7″ reissue

Forming in the late ’70s in Paul Weller’s own Woking, SQUIRE was a mod revival band mining the same territory as the PURPLE HEARTS and SECRET AFFAIR. And they had plenty of mod bona fides, having opened for the JAM in 1978 and being featured on the 1979 compilation Mods Mayday ’79. “Girl on a Train” was originally released in 1982 on songwriter/guitarist Anthony Meynell’s own Hi-Lo records, a label still active today. Both tracks here are consummate power pop, sweetly melodic and full of hooks and handclaps. It was enough to get me interested in the rest of SQUIRE’s catalog, which has conveniently been reissued by Hi-Lo.

Stinkbird Stink cassette

Helsinki, Finland-based poppy garage punk band STINKBIRD brings us a five-song, scent-centric cassette EP. Catchy, mid-tempo songs peppered with noodly guitar work and a vocalist teetering towards the bar-rock realm of things. Surprisingly, it doesn’t stink nearly as bad as the song titles/lyrical content would have one believe.

Sundown Keep Moving CD

Melodic hardcore quartet SUNDOWN, of Indianapolis, presents their debut LP. With every member contributing to vocals, you get a variety of leads from song to song, the best of which I think is the tremendous, metal-tinged screams of the opener “Don’t Ask Me” that lights a fire for its successors. Their self-described influences of HOT WATER MUSIC and AVAIL can definitely be heard throughout: heavy riffs, clever lead guitar turnarounds, shouts and howls that cede to emo-styled melodies. Think of a grittier ALKALINE TRIO. If this strikes your nostalgic fancy, this fast and technical record will keep you on your toes.

Swath Of… Lament cassette

Oh hell yes—this is what I needed!! Early primitive heavy metal vibes on “His Demise,” brooding ethereal indie on “Where It Started…,” and pounding deathrock on “The Changeling” (there are three more tracks, but you see where I’m going here). The guitar has a lo-fi “plugged straight into the board because I didn’t know else to record” power that is so fucking impossible to fake, you just nail it or it sucks, and SWATH OF… nails it like few bands I’ve ever heard. Vocals are haunting throughout, they just soar and they shadow everything else in the mix. Lament is a benefit for the Black Trans Travel Project, which only further seals the deal for me—New Jersey fucking delivers.

Taulard Dans la Plaine LP

French band TAULARD brings us their second LP of upbeat, post-punky art-rock. As the opening track kicked off, I was immediately reminded of another song by another artist…that I annoyingly could not place. After listening to the song dozens of times over a week or so, pausing it every so often to run through a half-remembered melody in my head, it finally hit me—the song I was thinking of was BLONDE REDHEAD’s “In Particular,” in particular “En Particulier,” the French version of the track that appears on the Mélodie Citronique EP. With that sorted out, I listened to the songs back-to-back…and they maybe don’t sound as similar as I initially thought. “In Particular” was quite a bit slower and had a much more intricate production. Still, the melodies were similar, and both tracks were supported by a steady, driving beat. TAULARD even delivers their lyrics in the same cold, detached manner as Kazu, an attitude that both bands balance out with super cozy low ends. So, yeah, this doesn’t sound entirely unlike late ’90s BLONDE REDHEAD. And while the remaining ten tracks may get a little punkier or a little poppier, that’s true of the rest of the album as well. But TAULARD really ups that coziness I mention above by adding, of all things, a droning high-pitched keyboard. Very light, agreeable chords run under all these tracks, imbuing them with a sense of nostalgia that really makes for a pleasant listening experience. Now, I hate to leave you on a click-baity note, but I really don’t want to spoil an incredible moment on this record. If you want the full effect, you’ll have to listen to the whole thing along the way (do it—it’s good!), but there’s a moment shortly into the eighth track that literally made me exclaim “wow!”.

Tempter Tempter 12″

Crawling out from the deepest, darkest depths of Richmond, VA is TEMPTER, a new ensemble combining the talents of members of NOSEBLEED, DIVISION OF MIND, CANDY, and EKULU. The metal/crossover influence is strong on this mind-melting EP, taking plenty of cues from UK crust and Japanese hardcore—including the atmospheric interludes! The incredibly meaty riffs and hoarse, raspy vocals are masterfully combined with super raw, lo-fi production with plenty of reverb. These brutal tunes will have you pumping your fist and banging your head—especially the two bookenders, opener “Sacricide” and closer “Pestilence.” Highly recommended for anyone after a bit of that metallic flair in their hardcore. 

The Entrails The Entrails LP

The opening instrumental steels the listener for a dark, psychedelic, guitar-drenched sonic journey. Instead, the ENTRAILS follow that misleading track with a steady stream of downtempo and off-kilter garage rock with drunk creep vibes. ALUMINUM KNOT EYE for a reference point (and I’m sure these folks have a few DEAD MOON records in their collective arsenal), though admittedly most of this self-titled debut lands a little flat. The upbeat numbers (few and far between) have an addictive swagger but are held back by vocals that hit like some dude trying out to be in your weird uncle’s ’60s cover band. This review condensed to one sentence: “Almost…not quite.”

The Roxies Don’t Wanna Dance Because I’m Told To LP

This is definitely a nod to the melodic punk bands of the late ’70s. The singer sounds vaguely familiar, but I think that is due to his style of delivery more than anything else. While the band is from Berlin, one of the greatest cities in the world, the singer is from Yorkshire, England. It doesn’t sound like it’s from 1977, but it’s definitely got that vibe. It’s mid-tempo and very catchy and melodic. That said, when it gets a little softer, it reminds me a bit of the CHILLS, high praise. This is nicely done and I’m a fan of the sound, so it’s right up my alley.

The Wirtschaftswunder Preziosen & Profanes LP

The WIRTSCHAFTSWUNDER (German for “economic miracle,” and a reference to the rapid development of West Germany post-WWII) was from the weirder and more experimental side of the ’80s Neue Deutsche Welle. They were a truly multinational group, featuring members from Germany, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and an Italian singer (Angelo Galizia) who sang/shouted in heavily-accented German. Preziosen & Profanes compiles their first EP Allein along with a handful of early singles and assorted compilation tracks. Demented zolo strangeness abounds here, in the same league as RENALDO AND THE LOAF, Sweden’s KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS, or fellow Germans PALAIS SCHAUMBERG. There is a playful sense of unpredictability to these tracks, combining musique concrète found sounds, sampled speech, cartoonish synth-pop, toy instruments, and various electronic squalls—often within the same song. “Allein” is an upbeat synth-punker with Galizia’s furious howl at the forefront, while “Metall” layers industrial noise over piano and violin (the overall effect reminding me of “Silent Command” by CABARET VOLTAIRE). “Television” is a bouncy synth-pop number, while its B-side “Kommissar” is a cover of what I assume is an iconic ’70s German TV theme song. “Ich steh auf Hagen” stretches out to nearly five minutes of experimental thrashing about, driven by the same propulsive drumbeat until it all falls apart near the end. Tremendous fun.

The Missile Studs / Thee Evil Twin 10 Piece Feed split 12″

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I just have this bone in my ear that wiggles wrong when rock‘n’roll music comes in too squeaky clean. That bone is wiggling here for sure with Sydney’s THEE EVIL TWIN. The music is serviceable, well-done even, but it just has a sparkle to it that I have trouble getting past. I’m a grouch, I guess, I just want everything to sound like it was recorded in a basement in hell. The hi-def garage punk of a track like “Let’s Go Again,” with its crispy clapping hi-hats and compressed guitars, just doesn’t have the patina of evil I crave in this style of music. By contrast, the MISSILE STUDS kick things off with a sloppy melodiousness that locks into place. There are drunken backup harmonies, a mic-slobbering singer with proper gruff and grizzle, and the band sounds just right. Everything has an impact, the crunch of the guitar and the slightly wet tambourine/snare that boogies through the night. “Stockholm Love” hits hard with the tight drums keeping the band from slipping off the rails and the harsh guitar holding up the catchy “Hey! Ho!” vocals that will always feel timeless even as they echo the golden years of the late ’70s. I hate to pit side vs. side and band vs. band for a split, but sometimes there’s just a clear preference. The MISSILE STUDS are the nasty fun I’m looking for in garage punk.

Top Down Backyard Thunder LP

Third full-length LP from Berlin trio TOP DOWN, who clamor out effortless garage punk with anthemic choruses, my favorite being “Broken Hearts.” They play scratchy guitar riffs, steady-as-ever drum and bass, and seemingly lazy, yet perfectly placed, vocals that groan and crack, reminiscent of Fred Cole. Would highly recommend this for fans of that desperate, lo-fi garage sound.

Total Nada El Camino Más Fácil EP

Somewhere I read that to repress libidinal energy is to repress the genius of creativity. TOTAL NADA, with this debut EP, seeks to do precisely the opposite. They build, with just six awesome tracks, a space of liberation for those libidinal energies to emerge and birth autonomy and personal expression. The band is from Canada, with a Colombian vocalist singing in Spanish, and a sound where the different axes of the global hardcore cartography converge. One senses the brutalist monotone of RUDIMENTARY PENI but also the manic aggression of South American hardcore of the late ’80s and early ’90s and the overwhelming force of the best Italian punk. It’s gorgeous, it’s fun, it’s sweaty, and above all, it’s brilliant. It is the light that guides us out of the ideological labyrinth in which we live.

Tusen Ögon Imorgon EP

May I present to you, dear reader, one hopelessly infectious Scandinavian garage jammer. Imorgon captures all of the pop hooks of bands like FRANZ FERDINAND, HIVES, and INTERPOL (you know, all those bands you don’t like to admit that you like until you’re having a weak and/or manipulative moment), but this makes the shit feel real again. Even the ballad/anthem hybrid “Sparka Ner Alla Kors På Kyrkogården” and the crooning vocals on “Tusen Hål” hit just fukkn right and it all feels edgy and punk as shit. Maybe it’s not in spite of the hooks, maybe it’s because of them—EBBA GRÖN had hooks…were they punk? Hint: they were punk. There’s a future world where TUSEN ÖGON is a household name and you’re telling your square friends about how you “read about them on this punk website years ago…” to make yourself feel cool. You can live in that world, or you can just crank the shit out of this stunning slab of wax. Your choice.

Ultras Ultras cassette

Not to be confused with the great Spanish band ULTRA, this Oakland crew rips through four sinister, crushing hardcore stompers in about as many minutes. Pummeling, no-frills, no-fills brutality with relentless drums and vocal-cord shredding, all bookended by bleeding shards of feedback. This is fighting music, and I would cross the street if I saw this tape coming my way. Every track is strong, but let’s take the lyrics to “One and the Same”: “Problem made flesh / Each breath a regret / Wake up, same shit / Life counterfeit.” Nihilism you can smash your head on. Featuring members from WORLD PEACE and FENTANYL, and for fans of mean-ass punk like VACCINE and CITY HUNTER.

User Unauthorized Harsh Truth LP

Hailing from Austin, USER UNAUTHORIZED plays an interesting mix of anthemic hardcore and dark punk. Ripping drum fills punctuate heavy breakdowns throughout, which is interesting because they have a track called “No Breakdowns.” The sound (mastered by Enormous Door, so it’s killer) is clean and very detailed from the clear, harsh vocals to the buzz of the strings and the pop of the cymbals and snare. I do like USER UNAUTHORIZED’s ability to bend songs from classic punk riffs to down-tuned hardcore. Layers of lyrics filled with angst and spite toward, well, authority, in all its stifling and suppressing forms. A lot of these compositions reminds me of an old favorite EP by NO WIN SITUATION, but seething with the attitude of AUGUST SPIES, DEFIANCE, and rhythmically, MIND OVER MATTER. Harsh Truth is a solid mix of old-school East Coast hardcore and popularized West Coast punk. But in Texas. Stay harsh!

V/A Let’s Bubblegum the Punk! Volume 1 LP

French label Pop Superette has put forth a compilation of vintage (1975–1985) North American power pop featuring a roster of bands that flew well under the radar at the time, but were on par musically with more recognizable contemporary acts like the NERVES, the DB’S, and the RUBINOOS. Despite the title, there’s not much punk to be found here—these are by and large sugary sweet songs lacking the edge of even the most pop-oriented of punk bands. Still, there’s a charming DIY spirit imbued throughout, alongside a strain of American ’60s Merseybeat worship that was already anachronistic by the late ’70s. Selection is great and surprisingly varied in mood, with highlights including “Conditional Romance” by New Brunswick, NJ’s ROCKIN’ BRICKS and “She’s Hifi” by the TREND out of Columbia, MO. After a while, though, the noticeable lack of any women in these groups (besides as lyrical subject matter) sent me off to listen to the SHIVVERS instead.

V/A Rapsodie En France LP

I’m not sure if I’m the right person to be reviewing this; it kinda feels like I got some spiky punk’s mail by accident. This is a reissue of a French hardcore comp from 1985, and its essentially nine bands of the UK82/DISCHARGE type but en français—so expect buzzsaw guitar, rubberband bass, and you-know-what drum beats. The recording quality is demo at best, not a lot of power, and with vinyl pressing being such a hard-sought, time-consuming commodity right now, I have to ask if pressing this on LP was necessary? If it was a tape originally, I feel like the diehards for this would’ve been fine with a cassette and a zine, and honestly it would’ve been more true to form for this type of punk. But to be real, I’ve never owned a leather jacket or worn a shoestring ‘round my dome, so perhaps I’m the wrong person to ask about this.

V/A Inkstains Across Atlanta cassette

Tired of digging through a wobbly stack of 7”s to find music by your favorite Atlanteans, only to put on a record that you then have to get up and flip a minute and a half later? There has got to be a better way! Introducing Ink Stains Across Atlanta, a collection of every Total Punk 7” by an Atlanta-based artist—fifteen songs on a single cassette! Total Punk? More like Total Convenience! Set adrift down the river of despair with GG KING’s “Joyless Masturbation,” soak in the healing aura of SLUGGA’s “Parasite,” experience pure ecstasy as the music of any one of a myriad of Brannon Greene-fronted projects (PREDATOR, NAG, HOSPICE) fills your ears, or journey into the unknown with a handful of unreleased and non-Total Punk tracks. To order this collection, take $7, wad it in a ball and put it in a bag with a SASE, and send it to Total Punk HQ, or simply log on to using the browser of your choice.

V/A Vol. 2 CD

The title might not say much, but Vol. 2 is a stunning 1985 collection of punk, primitive hardcore, and pure energy rock’n’roll from more than a dozen different bands from Peru. Legendary acts like EUTANASIA and PANICO share space with the stark, otherworldly delivery of EXCOMULGADOS, the inept shit-fi chaos of CONFLITO SOCIAL, and FRENTE NEGRO’s ferocious pogo. There are more favorites to be sure (ERUCTO MALDONADO and SOCIEDAD DE MIERDA, for example), but every minute of this disc is essential listening that highlights how totally varied and diverse the punk scene was in Peru. Contents: tape hiss, ultra-raw recordings, ramshackle punk, booklet with lyrics and info solo en español…what more could you ask for? My only complaint is that I’m never going to find an original copy of the tape.

Visual Purple Visual Purple cassette

Canton, Michigan, 1996: three fifth-grade boys (we’re talking ten/eleven-year-olds!) buzzed on the likes of NIRVANA, R.E.M., and the KINKS form a jangly, lo-fi garage pop band called VISUAL PURPLE, play a handful of shows of the D.A.R.E. graduation ceremony/school talent show variety, and get one of their dads to record their original songs to four-track; things were all over before anyone hit teenagehood. I was also a fifth-grade alternatween in 1996, so the wild backstory immediately drew me in (and with no small amount of awe, as the “bands” I was starting with my friends at the same time only ever existed as concepts), but VISUAL PURPLE wasn’t some sort of kiddie-punk novelty act, and the six songs on this cassette could have just as likely been the handiwork any number of indie rockers of legal drinking age who were putting out fuzzed-out, ramshackle home recordings on labels like Siltbreeze and Shrimper at the height of the Clinton era—GUIDED BY VOICES, STRAPPING FIELDHANDS, SEBADOH, etc. Think of a Midwestern counterpart to Australia’s contemporaneous teen scenesters NOISE ADDICT (for the two or three people out there who will pick up on that reference), except even younger and (thankfully) minus any songs about Evan Dando. The kids were alright!

Walled City Dream Deprivation cassette

Fast and angry debut from Florida’s WALLED CITY. The instrumentation comes off like melodic hardcore á la DEATH BY STEREO, whereas the vocals and lyrical content sound like the recent (and only) ENACT release. I think “Broken Windows” hits the hardest, and is a good taster for the EP. Have a listen and get pissed.

Wirus Pychoza LP

The sound on Psychoza is tuneful and even a little danceable. There’s singing, not screaming, which is always a challenge for punk. But the vocals have enough growl and gurgle to keep the punx (or at least me) happy. The bass has a real sharp, treble-heavy sound which brings to mind KID DYNAMITE or the CHOKING VICTIM LP. The whole record has a great, consistent sound without becoming repetitive.

Zero Zeroes Mirrors / Dreamcrawler 7″

A good, old-fashioned two-song 45 from these German punks. Both songs are mid-tempo, two-guitar crunchers with gruff, melodic vocals and plenty of great guitar leads. With anthemic refrains perfect for singing along, especially on “Dreamcrawler,” both songs are catchy but definitely not pop, and would fit in nicely on a playlist with early JAWBREAKER and LEATHERFACE. Good release if you like traditional, heartfelt punk rock.