MRR #470 • July 2022

1-800-Mikey Plushy cassette

If you’re a fan of all the varieties of punk that are barely punk and mainly pop, my dude 1-800-MIKEY has you covered! On this, his debut album Sydney-based recording artist Michael Barker is kicking out thirteen jams reminiscent of the lo-fi garage pop of early HUNX AND HIS PUNKS, JAY REATARD at his CHRIS KNOX-iest, or the punk-pop/pop-punk-stradling tunes of the MARKED MEN. But this project does not seem interested in replicating those acts’ kitsch, irony, or cool. Instead, MIKEY—decked out in some ill-fitting jeans and a bucket hat, clutching an oversized plush bear—is bringing unadulterated earnestness to the table. And, yeah, on paper that sounds even less punk, but it works. The songwriting is up to snuff, and he manages to keep the twee-ness to a tasteful minimum—even when a squiggly-ass keyboard rears its ugly head, it never overstays its welcome! I don’t know that this record is going to flip anybody’s wig, but it’s certainly a pleasant way to while away twenty minutes.

Adamkus Ir Ieva Green Demo cassette

ADAMKUS IR IEVA, or A.I.I. as they seem to be abbreviated, were from Lithuania and active in the early 2000s. Originally released as a CD-R demo, the entirety of the band’s demo, which was their one and only recording, has now been re-released on cassette twenty years later. Sixteen songs of politically-driven anarcho peace punk. The recording is a bit thin and modern-sounding, which definitely makes it stand out from classic peace punk recordings. It’s a bit of a shame, considering the songwriting here is pretty cool and interesting. Even so, this is definitely worth tracking down if peace punk is your thing.

Aldi Ost Aldi Ost cassette

Seven songs of mid-tempo, surf-infused hardcore punk from Berlin. Catchy, memorable songs with vocals occasionally sounding a bit like Keith Morris. ALDI OST seems to be pissed for all the right reasons, poking fun at security guards, hating cops, griping about SUVs, and on my favorite track of theirs, coming down on the drug-fueled toxicity of rigid, emotionless “Masculinity.” Their self-proclaimed “male-fronted punk” angle and the pin-up centerfold-style sticker of the singer included with the tape definitely gave me a little chuckle. Very solid debut cassette and I can’t wait to hear more!

Alienator Alienator demo cassette

At first glance, the cover looks like a Memphis rap album, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this is pure top-notch hardcore from Portland. C.O.C.-inspired thrashing with the balance of DISCHARGE, but reaching high speeds that would get them a ticket. Six songs of headbanging, windmilling, and moshing at dizzying speeds. A vicious way to get their career up and going.

Ammo Web of Lies / Death Won’t Even Satisfy LP

The fine, formidable hardcore of AMMO comes in with a rabid intensity that approaches TOTALITÄR levels, but this New Jersey band manages to apply that ferocity to traditional USHC song structures with beefy breakdowns and what have you. I’m hearing JERRY’S KIDS influence, maybe it’ll conjure up some other memories for you. Turns out this is the guy from NIGHT BIRDS getting some hardcore out, and it’s nicely done, with “Answer to a Lower Power” being my favorite cut of the bunch.

Barry Neolithic Homo Sex EP

I’m immediately reminded of KLEENEX, perhaps because of the quirkiness, but it’s a little less stilted. It’s straightforward, mid-tempo, jangly, and heavy on vocal harmonies. And with the competing male/female vocals, it was definitely made for me. Worth looking for.

Billiam 8 Hours in Billiamville EP

While I have developed a general aversion to the unabashedly quirky and messy styles of what is commonly referred to as “egg-punk,” BILLIAM has managed to win me over a bit with this little eight-song garage banger. There’s a frankness to these frantic and grooving tunes that makes the weirdness quite tolerable, and songs like the synth-driven “Soup Season” and the dreamy “Metal Bed” are just so damn catchy it’s hard to resist. This is probably my favorite collection that he’s put out thus far. He’s got a number on here entitled “B-Beat” where he pounds out a rudimentary D-beat for a few seconds before flatly proclaiming “I don’t get D-beat,” which I can totally understand because I used to not “get D-beat” either, back when I was stupid.

Burning Flag Matador LP

On their third album, BURNING FLAG keeps on waving their determination for everyone to see. The Halifax group is equal parts political punk and metal; their formula is based around crushing Scandi-styled crust but sometimes they reach ENTOMBED-like heaviness and groove, with emphasis on the groove, and some dissonant, apocalyptic GODFLESH industrial bleakness thrown into the mix. The themes of Matador explore misogyny, toxic masculinity, and societal corruption, so it’s a record filled with politics just as it should be.

Butchers Bill American Trash CD

It looks like this New York City-area band has been playing in some form or another since at least 2003. They’re even playing the long-gone Continental club in their Discogs photo, and like many of the bands coming out of that club, they play a version of swaggering, shaggy-headed rock’n’roll, but in a lukewarm manner. It’s not awful…sorta…maybe like elements of the HEARTBREAKERS, HUMPERS, ELECTRIC CHAIRS, and (ugh) the DOORS. Imagine the background band for a schlocky movie bar fight scene. Really, it’s just OK and won’t make you wander from your bar conversation, making a nice background hum for your life story being told once again to your other coked-up friend. Another round, bartender!

Bzdet Niepokoje cassette

A cassette of lo-fi post-punk from Poland. After my last few encounters with this type of thing, I hesitated to press play. Hearing the opener “Yareg” drop in with a deeply funky beat made my face scrunch up and my head bob with approval almost immediately. The drums programmed with the robo-claves and handclaps, a thick intrusive bully of a bassline, tremolo-bar-torture guitar, and static synth smears. It’s a two-minute tune I’d love to have a 12” remix of, because after that, the tape goes to predictably cold and straightforward post-punk that just sounds limp in comparison. If it kept the mutant funk, I’d be all in, but at least they knew that first song was a strong opener.

C-Krit C-Krit cassette

Now, this is nuts. On their second cassette release, C-KRIT delivers some freako, lo-fi hardcore punk with plenty of attitude. The word that most comes to mind when listening to this is “obnoxious.” The vocalist makes practically no attempt to get in sync with the music, spitting and slurring the seemingly ad-libbed(?) lyrics in a particularly snotty demeanour and peppering in strings of gratuitous profanity along the way. As the recording continues, it sounds like they’re all getting dumber and dumber. The last two songs are two cliché hardcore covers: “Louie Louie” and “Stepping Stone,” except C-KRIT’s interpretation of these two tunes is certainly original. This is music entirely made for and by people who only possess two brain cells—I like it…

Claimed Choice We Won’t Give In LP

I love old French Oi! It can often be a really beautiful thing. Catchy and streetwise but almost touching in sincerity and feeling, as heard in bands like CAMERA SILENS or SNIX. This new Lyon band goes for a less traditional sound than their elder statesmen, but it still rocks pretty hard to the shaved noggin. Well, only one of these folks has the proper haircut, but don’t hate, as they mix in nice glammy rock’n’roll guitar to some perfect, gruff “TEMPLARS meets R.A.S. marching through the French sewers”-style vocals. It’s a little like what CROWN COURT was doing early on. Fine by me, and it should be fine by you if you know what’s good for you.

Controller The True Sense of Strength Within LP

Busting out of Lehigh Valley, PA comes CONTROLLER with their debut full-length release after two cassette tape releases. This is heavy hardcore, with heavy emphasis on the word “heavy.” This LP is packed to the brim with stomping riffs to get your blood boiling. There’s also a pretty strong thrash metal influence in several of these tunes. And, of course, an ungodly amount of guitar divebombs. Exactly what you’re looking for in music like this. If you like your hardcore much more on the metal side, you could certainly do much, much worse than The True Sense of Strength Within. Recommended.

Crisis Man Asleep in America LP

I’ve never been a fan of the moniker, I hate any kind of label to begin with, and I understand that it came about more or less organically (and more or less ironically tongue-in-cheek), but I must admit that it made me shy away from bands I saw associated with that thing they call “egg-punk” or “DEVO-core.” Anyway, CRISIS MAN is actually good. Like really, really good.  These songs are full of gushing anxiety and energy that seems to make the songs almost collapse in on themselves. But the songs build complex structures that make them dynamic and always interesting. In addition to that, there are melodic hooks galore, great riffs, a beast of a drummer, a howling vocalist, a bass that throws memorable lines, and above all, what is most appreciated by this writer, a spirit of freedom that is contagious and that makes the band transcend any stylistic delimitation. Egg-what?

D.F.C. Igreja Quadrangular Do Triângulo Redondo LP

Originally released on CD in 1996, this second album from Brazilian hardcore legends D.F.C. (DISTRITO FEDERAL CAOS) is an exercise in ’80s crossover style that echoes the sentiments of D.R.I. and RATOS DE PORAO in speedy thrashing laced with rapid-fire vocals, but there’s enough melody and breakdowns to keep the music squarely planted in the punk camp. With a penchant for cartoony artwork and parody album covers, D.F.C. seems more interested in issuing their metal-infused ass-whoopings than taking themselves too seriously. There are twenty brief, snappy songs here, and two of them are only four seconds long, making it an ideal soundtrack to any hessian morning routine. Get your day off to a strong start by brushing your teeth while listening to D.F.C. call people “putas.”

Dan Melchior Loud Version LP

I think I’m turning into my dad. The man loved a lame high-concept cover album. JOE JACKSON jumpin’ and jivin’ through some swing tunes, RICKIE LEE JONES doing stuffy-nose jazz covers of kids songs, DREAD ZEPPELIN being an embarrassment to humanity—just absolutely his shit. I’d been subjected to so much of that kind of stuff growing up that when it dawned on me that this record was a collection of blown-out (“loud”) covers of MELCHIOR’s own back catalog (plus a couple of fresh covers), my eyes reflexively rolled right out of my head. But stripped of my sight, a heightened sense of hearing kicked in, and I think I came out really loving this record. The noisy production gives the taut, bare-bones numbers I loved from This is Not the Medway Sound (an under-appreciated record!) a fuller, looser vibe, while the relatively stripped-down versions of full-band tracks like “Hungry Ghost” really push MELCHIOR’s songwriting to the forefront. It’s kinda a shame that I don’t have any kids, because I can easily see myself foisting this on a car full of tweens who are neck-deep in Nintendo Switches or whatever and dad-splaining to them, “Now, DAN MELCHIOR has been making music for over twenty years, and on this record he’s playing louder versions of some of those older songs…,” and so on and so forth for the full 30-minute runtime of the album.

DEB5000 Debutante cassette

Auckland, NZ punk four-piece with all its female members coming out of other bands (though I haven’t been able to find which ones) to create the ridiculous, the fabulous, DEB5000. Take one look at the cassette cover, it’s amazing; take one look at the track list—where’d they come up with this shit? “Bad Guts” about gastro-intestinal problems, “Keanu (Wyld Stallyn)” that makes a song out of Keanu Reeves characters. I think “Termite Queen” rocks the hardest and makes a great metaphor for female strength. This is some wild Down Under punk rock, and I would recommend.

Delivery Personal Effects / The Topic 7″

This Melbourne act follows up a strong debut (2021’s Yes We Do EP), with a new 7”, a split release between Feel It and Spoilsport. You’re getting a song per side on this one. “Personal Effects” is a slower, sax-laden garage-y post-punk number—sounds a lot like Homo-era UV RACE, when that band was at their most VELVET UNDERGROUND-y. “The Topic” sees the band leaning into some of the noiser aspects of that same sound, speeding things up a bit, and underpinning the proceedings with a brooding new wave synth. The vocals are largely rhythmic, chanted by at least two of the members in unison, but there’s an understated melody to them that I found really compelling—like, you wouldn’t call it poppy, but it’s definitely hummable and plays nicely against the harsher elements of the track. Cool stuff! Can we get an LP, please?

Die Angst Abgesang / Salzprinz 7″

Twenty years after their inception, Potsdam, Germany’s DIE ANGST has dropped this new single. The A-side “Abgesang” starts with upbeat drums, some phaser effect on the bass, and guitar feedback—all pretty typical—but the illusion is shattered with a guitar strum and the gruff, stark, Germanic vocals, which really tie together the melodic post-punk atmosphere of the band. The B-side “Salzprinz” leaves a little more rumination between lyrics, but has the same well-produced song structure of its sister track. While I couldn’t find much on the band, the few listens of their older stuff I certainly enjoyed. Dive in.

Die Verlierer Die Verlierer LP

We’re only halfway through this latest trip around the sun, but I have no doubt that this debut will rate as one of the best punk records of 2022. There’s an appealing sleaze emanating from DIE VERLIERER. They wear suits like cooler-than-thou continental types, but they rock the fuck out like gutter-dwelling amphetamine enthusiasts. Debonair, but damaged. “Die Zeit” kicks off with thrilling, dark energy like SODS on Minutes to Go. This smashing opener is backed up by “Die Verlierer” (“The Losers”), which pulls a similar trick by effortlessly channeling Dagger & Guitar-era SORT SOL. But let’s not paint DIE VERLIERER into a Denmark-shaped corner—I’m just trying to establish the rarified atmosphere that we are floating in. A slashing guitar tears into “Intrige und Libido” and ratchets the tension up as the bass lands every punch it throws, and the barely-in-control singing is like DIETER MEIER at his incandescent early peak. I’ve probably listened to this song at least a hundred times in the last few months. Absolute punk perfection. “Plastic Life” is like the encore of a gloriously shambolic STRANGLERS gig; I can almost hear the crowd singing along like a chorus of shithoused angels. DIE VERLIERER can actually swing, and this skill alone sets them apart from a vast landscape of indistinguishable simulation rockers. “Mann im Mond” is the CURE reincarnated as street toughs; fierce romantics, sensitive brawlers. “Nichts Funktioniert” is desperate and flailing punk that demonstrates true mastery of the form. This is the kind of song to inspire hordes of punks to treat desolate urban sprawl as the adult playground it surely is. Structures, after all, are just objects to bounce ideas off; bodies too. Just keep your eye out for the cops. That’s when “X Ray Vision” comes in handy. “Deadgirl” is the kind of love song no one writes anymore. That could be a positive development—from a certain point of view—but hey, fatalism is hot, and always will be. Listen, I don’t make the rules. Speaking of which, “Into A” is an epic last gasp that shamelessly nicks the BIRTHDAY PARTY’s “Deep in the Woods.” If you’re gonna steal, do it from the best, and yeah, add some phased vocals to the funeral proceedings and drag that sucker out like a corpse ‘til it’s six feet under. Hell of a record here.

Discreet Dead Man’s Line cassette

Latest release by DISCREET from Austin, a band which consists of members of ’00s outcast hardcore veterans TOTAL ABUSE, CREEPOID, SKELETON, etc. playing ’80s-style USHC with noise rock influences. The cover consists of Tony Kiritis kidnapping Richard Hall and holding him hostage on live TV after being upset about falling behind on a mortgage (Hall didn’t end up getting killed). An expression of the devastating, confusing, traumatic, ugly realities of our society. For fans of the members’ previous outputs or FLIPPER, BRAINBOMBS, SACCHARINE TRUST, VOID, SST, you get the idea.


Ditches Lost in Time EP

Another excellent release from Drunk Dial. Bands get together and record an original and a cover song in a day with whatever ingestant or inhalant needed. The result is often impromptu, energetic, and inspired. It’s as if label boss Jordan Stamm is orchestrating his own version of the Peel Sessions. This one has Stockholm’s DITCHES playing their angsty power punk pop burner “Lost in Time” as the title track, with the B-side being a more inspired cover of “Abra Cadaver” from their fellow Swedes the HIVES. DITCHES has their own version of the Denton, TX sound, honed by bands such as MARKED MEN and RADIOACTIVITY. Jeff Burke of said bands has recorded DITCHES in the past, and does the mixing here.

Doppler Radar and the Local News Kissing Booth / Scalp Me cassette

DOPPLER RADAR AND THE LOCAL NEWS from Indianapolis, Indiana brings us a two-track cassette, a format commonly known as the cassingle. “Kissing Booth” is an skramz-esque track with artsy spoken word vocals on top of herky-jerky, math-rock-style starts and stops. This is backed with “Scalp Me,” a more straightforward powerviolence-y track that mostly sounds like the vocalist is one of the Gremlins in the classic movie of the same name. A mere 23 copies of these were released in Italy and already sold out. It seems this is from the 50 North American copies that were made, of which copies are still available.

Dyym 2020 CD

Here we have some metal-tinged DIY hardcore from Poland. With their female-led vocals and style in general, this reminds me of HYSTERESE, who I’ve reviewed a couple of times. Songs are in that two-to-three-minute mark, but make plenty of time for complex structures, packed with riff changes, bass and drum breaks, and full-force choruses. Lyrics, kindly translated into English, ask poignant questions about social inequities, such as “Equality March” that starts with “Why do you think love is heterosexual / Traditional, brutal and pushy?” This song, clearly not to be missed, is both the opener and the closer, sung first in Polish and last in English. My favorite of the album is “Utopia” for its introspection that can be read in the lyrics and heard in the slower nature of the track, ultimately building to a roiling chorus that rests at the top, where a simple “utopia” is sung.

everyone is alone sometimes everyone is alone sometimes cassette

The lack of capital letters got me real worried I got assigned some Midwest emo-worship, but instead we have a one-dude hardcore project. Overall, I’d say it is very much my kind of hardcore—weird, exploding, rampaging, and riffy, with more twists, turns, and time changes than their song lengths would suggest. The drums are either blasting at full speed or piling on the hyperactive fills, and no in-between. The blown-out recording style makes every song sound like it’s bursting at the seams. Until cloning can ensure this maniac plays each part live himself, I’d love to hear this fully realized with an actual band. I’m intrigued by the koan aspects in the title “i am a field of beans,” and I respect mentioning D. Boon’s death day as the recording date.

Ex Parents Ex Parents demo cassette

Originally released in February of 2020 and limited then to a mere ten copies, EX PARENTS decided to utilize the downtime that was about to be thrust upon us all to send their demo out to be remixed/mastered and have artwork done by Keith Caves, who is undeniably one of the best in the biz! So here we have the newly remixed/remastered/reissued/hand-numbered (out of 50 copies) EX PARENTS four-song demo tape of pop-infused hardcore punk. I can say with utmost certainty after playing with them in their hometown of Roanoke, VA last month that the tape doesn’t hit as hard as the band does live. That doesn’t at all mean that it’s not a solid demo, merely that the band’s live sound couldn’t quite be captured. As someone who is a bit of a completist when it comes to music, I can’t help but wonder how that originally mixed batch-of-ten tape sounds. Are we getting the DIY version of “the great rock’n’roll swindle” here? Can’t wait to hear the record that is allegedly in the works.


Ex-White Estray 12″

A few years back, these folks did a split with the great LASSIE—and while this new 12” doesn’t quite get the blood pumping as hard as that loyal canine, there’s still plenty of quality punk on this perfectly-sized slice of tunes. EX-WHITE walks the fine line between new wave freak-out, hook-or-crook power pop and good ol’ fashioned rock’n’roll. As if led by a mohawked minister, “True Love” weds all three of these elements together in a short but memorable ceremony. The title cut is easily the standout track here, the kind of song that could have dominated college radio for a couple weeks in a different era. “Loser” ends things with plenty of melodic burn to spare.

Extraña Misión Ensayos 1988 cassette

Short-lived darkwave band out of Lima, Peru—this compilation of scarce recordings was put together on a 2002 GJ Records CD by the same name. Twenty years later, Cintas Taciturnas has put out the same comp on cassette, and thus the importance of reissuing continues! The audio quality is actually pretty good, so that you don’t miss the wandering, left-to-right vocals, the rambly, jabby guitars, farty bass, and almost new wave dance-y drums. “Absimos de Senitmientos” fits in that latter dance-y category, while tracks like opener “La Extraña Misión” are colder and more grating. If you’re looking for some obscure ‘80s darkwave, search no further.

Fatal 6 Songs cassette

Featuring members of SCARECROW and OUT COLD, Raleigh’s FATAL delivers a slick exercise in traditional USHC stylings on this aptly-named cassette. These six blasts of pounding hardcore are produced in a way cleaner fashion than their accompanying artwork would suggest. In a world increasingly inhabited by echoes, distortion, etc., FATAL opts to come through loud, crisp, and clear. Favorite track: “Ghost on the Shelf.”

Fatalist Ruination LP

Parts MASTER/DEATHSTRIKE, FROM ASHES RISE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH— FATALIST excel at groove and doom. Metal crust at a high caliber with sinister, tyrannical vocals. The bestial nature of the vocals reminds me of some blackened crust bands, but strangely, I’m picking up the tones of slower SCATHA tracks. Definitely dig the fluidity and conciseness of this album. It sounds like metallic hardcore but does not go overboard on any particular song structure identifying its roots in punk. A variety of beats show off their skill, but FATALIST never gets too grandiose. Miserable, downtrotten, anguished hardcore punk. This feels like a theme album for pirates of cold dark waters, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Forbidden Dimension Sin Gallery LP

We’re just getting started and my head is bouncing around. That’s always a good sign. It’s mid-tempo and catchy and a little surfy. It’s a lot surfy. Twenty cuts. Jesus. With song titles like “Haunted,” “Graveyard Line,” and “Shrunken Heads,” I’m expecting this to move from surf to something dark. And it does. It gets a little rockabilly, a little hot-roddy, a little garage, even a little swampy at times. Back to my comment about there being twenty cuts: with that many tracks on a record, there are bound to be hits and misses, and that is definitely the case here. An awful lot of the songs start with some sort of a sampled soundbite.

Fret Rattles Are You Ready? EP

I believe I reviewed this band a really long time ago. It seems like they’re still rockin’ along with their watered-down STOOGES-meets-MC5-meets-HELLACOPTERS formula. The EP title could be a nod to the 5 or even GRAND FUNK. “Degeneration Ride” is catchy as hell. Rama lama fa fa fa.

Fuckface Fuckface cassette

This was a really nice surprise in the mail. As an ex-resident of the city formerly known as San Francisco, I managed to witness this band several times throughout their career, at clubs, warehouses, and municipal waste sites that no longer exist. I saw this crew develop from a snotty hardcore band getting faster and heavier, eventually melding into the blackened, druggy beast  unleashed on their Little Deputy EP and self-titled album. Their vocalist Matty improved both vocally and in fashion sense while the band got tighter and significantly more evil. This tape shows them right in the middle, I believe, showcasing all the older hits and including some excellent between-song soliloquies and wisdom. It’s raw and fucked-up as all hell and you should buy three copies immediately.

Funny Face Dog in Hell cassette

This cassette is a true time machine. Absolutely no part of this release would have me believe that it came out in the year 2022, aside from it being expressed that it was recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic on the back panel, of course. Catchy and instantly memorable ’90s-sounding indie/alternative rock—I keep seeing comparisons to THEE OH SEES on the band’s Bandcamp page and such, but I just don’t hear that. While this does have some jangly, fuzzed-out guitars and an undeniable pop sensibility, none of their songs feel as driving as the more up-beat OH SEES songs or as out there as their kooky psychedelic jammy ones. I hear more of a mix of DINOSAUR JR. and a bit of that first KING TUFF record.

Gage Maurie A Compilation (In No Particular Order) cassette

I alluded to this in the last review I did for the label, but it bears repeating. Spared Flesh rules! If for some reason you’ve been sleeping on them, it’s time to wake the hell up! Everything that dude has put out has been compelling (at the very least) to great. And this release is no exception. This time he’s serving up the first two demos (with the track lists reordered—hence the title) from Portland artist GAGE MAURIE, whom you may know as the frontman for acts NO KNUCKLE and FIB. It’s real good—fifteen tracks of lo-fi bedroom musings that touch on anything from slacker rock to the contemporary punk herky-jerk of the URANIUM CLUB or even woozy, Southern-fried psych folk. It reminds a bit of the stuff PRINT HEAD is doing but maybe a bit less noisy and less scattershot. Dig in!

Germ House Lost Title EP

Warren, RI’s Justin Hubbard currently helms two solo recording projects that were once full bands—FAR CORNERS, reserved for his clangy post-punk musings, and GERM HOUSE, which leans a little more UK DIY. There’s never been all that much differentiating those two projects, but this five-song EP really blurs whatever line separated them. The two tracks that open the record are built on a foundation that’s equal parts bouncy TELEVISION PERSONALITIES jangle and trebly DESPERATE BICYCLES ramshackle (there’s even a weedy little keyboard running underneath the opening track that’s very “Don’t Back the Front”-ish), but the cold, multi-tracked vocals and psych-ish freakouts give the tracks an overall vibe that’s more garage-y post-punk. Fortunately, these are two sounds that sound great together—it’s maybe my favorite thing he’s put out. Highlight of the record for me is “Stacking Mistakes.” At first blush, it almost sounds like it could have been pulled off an early A FRAMES 7”, but it’s also somehow got this strange IRON BUTTERFLY quality to it—it’s great. Real cool record!

Goosebumps Walkaway Beware of Dog CD-R

Nasty and hopelessly infectious lo-fi Illinois punk. You ever wonder what would happen if MC5 rebirthed themselves as a 2010s emotive and hi-NRG indie pop band? Because that’s the shit that’s on my plate at the moment, and I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do with it. You ever listen to a sound and instantly know that it hits you in some kind of way, but not know what kind of way that is…? That’s what’s happening to your humble reviewer right now. It’s not even on the internet, so I feel like I’m on this island alone…but I like how this island sounds.

Grimly Forming Live on KXLU 88.9 FM cassette

A live cassette of an on-air radio broadcast performance from October 25, 2019. Los Angeles, California’s GRIMLY FORMING brings you a non-stop barrage of pummelingly aggressive hardcore punk. The band speeds through their eleven-song setlist in right around fifteen minutes, barely pausing between songs. Growling, pissed-off vocals on top of mid-tempo plodding riffs, intertwined with blistering fast hardcore. What a stomper.

Hellish View Holy Horrors cassette

Another piece of sonic raw armageddon for the worshippers of DISCLOSE and everything noisy in punk. This chaotic threesome from Minnesota released yet another excellent Dis-beat banger; this is the last release with their original line-up. Compiled into five ugly tracks of Dis raw punk that sounds as close to DISCLOSE as possible. A no-brainer for the “noise not music” enjoyers!

Hot Load Love Bag Demos cassette

Five songs of revved-up, sleazy, booze-soaked Los Angeles rock’n’roll. Barked, distorted vocals on top of nasty riffs, driving drums, and wailing butt-rock bluesy guitar leads. This is the second pressing of the HOT LOAD demo, the first press of 50 copies apparently having sold out fast, so don’t sleep on the sleaze.

Invalid Invalid LP

And the ugliest cover award goes to…Pittsburgh’s INVALID! This tight twelve-incher is packed with very authentic old school hardcore echoing BLACK FLAG and NEGATIVE APPROACH with touches of POISON IDEA. Tough chugging, speedy thrashing, and brooding breakdowns are covered in stretched-out throaty growls and hey, is that the SACRILEGE “Life Line” riff on “Party’s Over”?

Jeff Hill Band The Pathway Tapes 1977 EP

The JEFF HILL BAND were a power pop three-piece based in London during the late ’70s, fronted by the eponymous Jeff Hill. They released only one single during their brief existence, 1979’s “Something’s Wrong With My Baby.” The four songs featured on The Pathway Tapes were originally recorded for the Chiswick label in 1979, and here they’ve been released at long last by Lisbon’s Different Class, who have done God’s work in unearthing several similar forgotten punk/garage/power pop groups over the years. Despite forming in the UK, the JEFF HILL BAND has a decidedly American (and specifically New York) flavor, sounding more akin to MILK ‘N’ COOKIES than the JAM. While there’s nothing revelatory about this lost EP, it did endear itself to me after several listens. By-the-numbers late ’70s power pop isn’t always enough to thrill me, but the songs here are sweet, simple, and toe-tappingly infectious. Won’t change your life, but it’s hard to dislike!

Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons Screams to God LP reissue

KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS were an early ’80s Swedish synth(etic) punk project with a dark, dramatic intensity—too art-conceptual to be humorless goths, too sinister and paranoid-sounding to pass as straight new wave, the aural equivalent of black latex as viewed through a prism of fluorescent plexiglass. Although they didn’t take things quite as far as the SCREAMERS or the UNITS by completely dispensing with guitars, KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS’ double-synth/live drums assault was charged with a similar short-circuited energy, while original vocalist Anne’s steely yet still hyper-expressive delivery (almost exclusively in English) wavered somewhere between SIOUXSIE-style ice queen and Neue Deutsche Welle eccentricity. Screams to God covers the entirety of the group’s brief 1980–81 lifespan, with the recordings from their debut Serve You! 7” (four songs mistakenly made it to the test pressing, later pared down to two for the actual release) hitting especially hard: the space junk synth squirm of “Blätta” devolves to perfectly DEVO depths; “Happy Funeral” careens across an oscillating and claustrophobic keys/drums pulse as Anne defiantly smashes any goth illusions (“no black suits!”); “Fantastic” and “In Bars” warp and bend under layers of processed dystopian electronics and clattering percussion. Dark Entries first put out this collection almost ten years ago, when millennial punks were just on the cusp of a mass blame-it-on-DEVO synth infatuation, and it’s been a highly sought-after artifact almost ever since—I’m not saying that there’s a direct cause/effect correlation there, but I’m also not saying that there isn’t one.

Komplex Viny Pohřeb Všedního Dne EP

Czech Republic’s KOMPLEX VINY often runs up to and hops over the line between crust and metal. You’ll hear buzzsaw chords one moment and a bit of guitar shredding the next. The gruff vocals arrive complete with a gurgle at the back of the throat. The delivery is excellent, but the pro production quality (a common feature in this genre) feels out of place. I prefer my crust a little crustier.

Lamictal Doctor’s Orders cassette

A groovy, garage-fueled egg attack, LAMICTAL is the solo project of a gentleman named Alex from California. Clearly he’s not lying when he states that he “doesn’t care what the doctor says” on “Doctor Says,” as this tape sounds like he’s abandoned prescriptions to create his own kind of medication.


Are you sexually attracted to the bat on this record cover? Yeah…I’m not either—definitely not drawn into its sexy, sexy eyes. Anyway, Leipzig fun punkers Lassie are back! This time in LP form. You’re getting thirteen tracks of mutant robot rock, combining the downstroke dum-dum sounds of the SPITS, the punk-pop of the Dirtnap roster, and the kitchy sci-fi fun of the REZILLOS. It’s party punk played with a sense of urgency that I bet would make for a wild-ass live show. A real good time!

Lexus 2 EP

I couldn’t find out much about this band other than it appears to be one person’s project. They play guitar and bass and program the drums. It’s not my usual cup of tea, but the first several tracks are perfectly serviceable, crusty D-beat. Later, some tracks, like “Prep 2 Freak” and “2 the Bone,” get a little experimental and weird. “I’m Not Crying I Got Smoke in My Eyes” closes out the EP with nearly three minutes of moody piano.

Life is Beautiful Men’s Health 12″

Don’t let the cover fool you. Actually, please do. Let the artwork open the door, and invite yourself into the world of Men’s Health. Vile, self-deprecating Midwestern powerviolence awaits. Ten disturbing doses fill the smooth grooves of this one-sided ruby red wax, so you don’t even have to flip it over to do it all over again. LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL will surprise you (the solos in “Hunk” and the title track), disgust you (the lyrics to “Dysfunction”), surprise you (“Don’t Touch Me” is a sleeper smash that will sadly never be)…but mostly they will crush you (“Sorrow Collective/Torment of Consciousness” in its entirety). And they manage to avoid genre-specific trappings in the process—you are familiar with the sound(s), but you haven’t heard this before, and that is an accomplishment.

Living World World EP

The latest in a crop of blown-out, echo chamber hardcore that won’t stop swinging on you once you’re down. The energy and attitude is undeniable, but the writing is also complex. It’s a magic trick to write such seemingly straightforward hardcore, when all the while the tempo is fluctuating and everything is far removed from the usual “verse/chorus” arrangement. I’m not saying it’s prog or anything, but a cut like “Spite Controller” just drags you through an entire microcosm of anger, pain, and ultimately catharsis that never lets you quite catch your breath or find even footing. All in less than a minute-and-a-half. Masterclass hardcore.

Lumpen Corrupción 12”

I mentioned in my review for their debut EP that LUMPEN is the spirit of South American punk dissidence, and this opinion hasn’t changed. This is what punk should be! Ravenous yet catchy UK82-styled hardcore punk with the wrath of a thousand dissidents who are fed up with all the violence and corruption that they were born into and who took matters in to their own hands in order to change things. Corrupción is as amazing as their debut Desesperación, but it has a few surprises. Aside from the CHAOS UK-meets-CRIMINAL JUSTICE hybrid, they managed to do a post-punk-ish song called “Anti-Patria” which is pretty bleak, and I could hear a whole album of songs like this. To end the record, there is a kick-ass ULTRA-VIOLENT cover, but with Spanish lyrics that prove that bands don’t need to succumb to the pressure of singing in English to sound good or get included. LUMPEN and fellow countrymen PRIMER REGIMEN are for sure the best Latin punk bands at this moment! Renuncia a tu vida!

M.A.Z.E. Live at the Archer Ballroom cassette

Live documentation by Japan’s M.A.Z.E. on tour during 2019. If you’re a fan of their LPs, the songs will be familiar. Sounds decent for what was probably just a tape recorder in the back of the room.

Mad Mojo Jett Partyville EP

This is energetic rock’n’roll, energetic enough that it borders on frenetic at times. With rockabilly, Americana, and punk influences, this is lead-guitar-heavy garage rock. At times it gets a little swampy and there are some KINKS influences in the guitar work. I’d call it Anxiety Rock. My wife thinks it could work as a spaghetti western soundtrack.

Milk TV Anorak / Bowery Swing 7″

MILK TV channels early ’80s post-punk and it’s coming in loud and clear. I heard a bit of DELTA 5, MERCENÁRIAS, and DEVO in the mix. The songs’ melodies and rhythms sneak up on you in a great way. They can seem awkward or aimless at first, but in no time you’re in the midst of a totally weird, totally danceable number and you realize you’ve been headed there the whole time.

Moflex Moflex cassette

A collection of previously released material by Mexico City’s MOFLEX spanning from 2016 to 2018, with two additional songs specific to this cassette release. Repetitive lo-fi punk rock songs that are a bit heavy on the upstrokes; not sure whether that is meant as a pop punk or ska-infused element to these songs. Nice-looking packaging. I’m sure fans of this band will be excited to get this collection rather than tracking down the two different cassettes MOFLEX released a handful of years ago.

Motorsav Respiratordrømme LP

MOTORSAV of Copenhagen plays upbeat goth punk, immediately recalling the popular swing and moody grooves of MURDER CITY DEVILS. As the play progresses, though, the tones wallow darker, where vocals recede deep into the shadowplay. Synths and post-punk riffs take the lead with anthemic choruses beneath the fog. This is all a lot faster than your average goth punk band, but vibing with HORROR VACUI or BELGRADO…I like the strained lunacy of the vocals without sounding trope-ishly morose. It is rawer that way, and warmer, amongst a vast array of bands like this that strive to sound cold and gloomy. The track “Din Krop” has some really awesome, deep monk-chant-like moments. This LP is bleak while being upbeat. If Hardcore-era DEVO and the MUMMIES sounded more like the FUZZTONES covered in a warm syrup tomb of ROSETTA STONE. Screams of agony, gnashing teeth, CEMETARY walks, SHE PAST AWAY synth overload, and plenty of distortion. The last track “Spøgelsesbyen” reaches octaves that remind me of ZOUNDS’ Subvert—a fantastic harmonizing outro to a great album. It moves really quickly for a genre that can lose me sometimes. This is goth punk on the attack with feelings of optimism and a carefree nature.

Nag Halloween 3 cassette

They say that when you’re a punk rocker, every day is like Halloween. At least, that’s what Al Jourgensen said back before he heard BIG BLACK. For the Atlanta punkers in NAG, I bet every day is like Flag Day. BLACK FLAG Day. Actually, maybe Veteran’s Day. Cuz these cats have been around for a minute now, and they slay every time they press record. As you can surmise, this live set was recorded last year on October 31st. Fuck it, let’s call it a “dead” set, and while there’s no Jerry in sight, it is full of satisfying jump scares. All of the songs come from last year’s Observer full-length, and while this is definitely FFO (for fuckfaces only), if you ain’t down with NAG’s vibe, then you can show yourself out.

Necromancy Necromancy 12″

Does every old recording need to be reissued? Probably not. But these six songs recorded in 1989 are perhaps the only document from Davis, California’s NECROMANCY, and I’m happy that they (finally) achieved waxed immortalization. Think UNIFORM CHOICE-style positive and/or passionate hardcore, but with a Northern California angle that I can’t quite describe…but it’s real. Late ’80 USHC has a dirty reputation, and until people start paying attention to bands like NECROMANCY, that’s not going to change. Listen to “Epilogue to War” because that’s what’s up.

Open Mike Knight Open Mike Knight 12″

Oakland’s OPEN MIKE KNIGHT kicked out some majorly scrambled art-scree over the span of about seven months in 2001, where they effectively served as dual Y2K spirit hosts for MARS and the SHAGGS (if only the SHAGGS had been a gang of West Coast girls playing basement no wave and writing songs with titles like “Fist Me” and “Crotch Rot” instead of “Who Are Parents”). A seven-song demo was left behind in the wreckage, and now joins recent Jabs excavations from similarly-minded ’90s/’00s agitators SCISSOR GIRLS and MODESSA in the transition from cassette-to-vinyl permanence. You can almost hear vocalist Nel’s eyes rolling as she shrieks, shouts, and generally verbally baits anyone within spitting distance, as the guitar hacks and scrapes at inside-out chords, drums tumble and clatter in a rhythmic freefall, and a steady bass pulse holds everything together (however precariously) as the primary stabilizing force for OPEN MIKE KNIGHT’s jagged stabs. Some of the wildest neo-no wave meltdown sounds this side of MELTDOWN!

Organ-ism Nací Muerto cassette

Incredible debut of this Milwaukee band. It’s nine short and punchy tracks of a very streetwise and very violently aggressive D-beat. Paradoxically, it feels quite intimate. Lyrics en Español, but the hate is universal. “Pudre Por Me” is one of the best punk tracks I’ve heard in 2022.

Ottawa The Third Age 12″

This rerelease sure has a musical time stamp. Listeners will find plenty of mid-’90s USHC hallmarks: fast, occasionally breakneck tempos, blastbeats spliced in, and forays into crossover thrash territory here and there. The two vocalists trade high-pitched screams and a hoarse shout respectively. And of course, there are lots of (maybe too many) movie soundbites.

Pänika Wear Your Own Fur, Asshole! EP

Wroclaw, Poland’s PÄNIKA offers some angry, political, raw hardcore punk on this 7″ release. Lurching forward in full force from the off, this EP has some back-breaking fast tunes on it with some heavy-hitting, pogo-y tunes sandwiched in between. A real ferocious listen—really solid stuff!

Paranoid State Great Divider LP

This ten-track collection has a tough enough approach to melodic punk. There’s grit in the vocals, and on standouts like “Self-Doubt,” there is an appealing bum-out minor key vibe. Overall, the album doesn’t grab me, but it’s hard to dock it points arbitrarily. The bassist, I’ll say, takes it a couple steps too far sometimes with overly mobile playing that often stubs its toe into the rest of the band. But there are some solid shout-alongs here. “False Prophet,” bassline excepted, centers on a deeply satisfying crash of a chorus. In the end, it’s a good enough batch of songs that could use a little editing (the closing track is baffling, no part seems to cohesively lead to another). With some work on editing and songwriting chops, the band could catch my ear.

Pastry Boys Above Us Only Pie cassette

Seven-song novelty cassette with songs about pastries, baking, and nibbling in general. The songwriting is surprisingly good despite the novelty nature of this project. Somewhere between power pop, glam, and mod revival kinda stuff, PASTRY BOYS keep you really entertained the whole cassette through and are witty enough to force a few smiles throughout the listen, with their self-identified genre of “chouxgaze” being one of the more quippy attempts. Very entertaining.

Plot What Happened to Your Face LP

What a mystery this Philly trio called PLOT is. A series of very interesting influences come together in a thick concoction, where we can taste the pulse of the heaviest post-punk (think BIG BLACK or KILLING JOKE) with elements of ’90s industrial metal (voice samples included) and even some of the more exploratory spirit of ’90s post-hardcore. The result is dark, dense, and very singular. A deeply expressive sound that could well serve as the soundtrack of a post-industrial city in ruins or as the noise that our civilization makes when dying, a dreadful final death rattle.

Prowler Prowler demo cassette

Man, what the fuck is it with Denver? What have they got in the water there to make their HC so sick? PROWLER is another addition to Denver’s hardcore domination. This is hardcore punk the way it should be done (in my humble opinion). The influence from bands like the ABUSED, NEGATIVE APPROACH, and YOUTH OF TODAY is apparent, while also not being cheesy like a lot of YOUTH OF TODAY clones can be. It’s loud, it’s fast, it’s pissed-off, and that’s all it needs to be. I think this one rules—give it a listen and you’ll feel the same way. Stoked to see what PROWLER has coming up next.

Récidive Tripes d’Acier EP

Formed in 2019 in the mean streets of Paris, a breeding ground for new Oi! bands, RÉCIDIVE is a fairly new band with just the Planté Là x Jeunes Espoirs 7” previously under their belt (or should I say braces?!?). Back with Tripes d’Acier, this shaved-headed crew has done three songs that will get any skinhead on the dancefloor, swinging and slamming. You can hear CRIMINAL DAMAGE and BLITZ in their sound as expected, but they manage to sound mature with their well-crafted songs, bringing some sort of freshness to their catchy brand of Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Red Lights Red Lights 12″

For fans of the GUN CLUB and JEFFREY LEE PIERCE, this reissue is a must. RED LIGHTS, from what I can find, formed in 1978, two years before the GUN CLUB, and recorded this five-song demo that largely went unheard. Even at nineteen years old, PIERCE’s voice was just as iconic as it was anywhere in his career. The blues-heavy, cow-punk sound of the GUN CLUB was still to be reached, though, as RED LIGHTS touched on reggae in “Kitty,” and is otherwise very pop-heavy, in the vein of his Debbie Harry worship (“Debbie by the Christmas Tree”). The opener “Jungle Book” garnished the most fame, being covered by a number of bands including the LAST on their 1980 Look Again LP (featuring Vitus Mataré on keyboard, who was on this original demo). The recording shows its age in sound quality, but if PIERCE and the GUN CLUB play an integral role in this whole punk thing, then RED LIGHTS is surely a stepping stone in the history books. Copies are limited, so get yours today.

Renegade Leathers Booze, Sex, the Devil CD

Rockabilly-tinged and liquor-drenched. There, I just wrote this PDX band’s next album title for them. Featuring a member of the awesome BITCH SCHOOL, this band sticks to the over-21 crowd with tales of alcohol, fornication, and yes, Satan. It’s soulful in the vocal department and the band is good with the chops thing, but overall it’s not off-the-rails enough for me. Not horrible, but my standards are pretty high for this kind of thing to stand out from the endless supply of disposable CDs floating through here every month. Better luck next time.

Rigorous Institution Cainsmarsh LP

Stark and grim, this album is a grimy soundtrack for the end times. Coming up with something to compare it to, my first thoughts were of AMEBIX and, in terms of mood and atmosphere, HAWKWIND. Undergirded by creepy, melancholic, droning synthesizers, Cainsmarsh is anarchic crust punk at its most eldritch. “The Terror” is a two-minute instrumental horror poem. “Laughter” picks up the tempo and raises the nightmare fuel levels to eleven. There are occasional metallic elements on tracks such as “Criminal Betrayers” and “Ergot,” but this is absolutely punk AF. With gravelly vocals, merciless riffs, pounding rhythms, evil lyrics, and a constant mood of hopeless gloom, this is one of the best, most psychotic anarcho-punk albums I’ve heard.

Lacking / Road Pig split cassette

Here’s a tape you can blast in the car and loop over and over. LACKING’s contribution is three tracks of blink-and-you-miss-them hardcore crammed into less than a minute each. “Ego Breathe” stands out as a mosh pit anthem. They manage, especially on “Dis-semination,” to change tone and time signatures a couple times in 44 seconds. ROAD PIG’s two tracks, while still hardcore, bend more towards metal with strong D-beats. “Deathmachine” is a ripper. Sadly, there weren’t any lyrics or liner notes with the tape.

Rövsvett Jesus Var En Tomte LP

Swedish hardcore masters RÖVSVETT need no introduction. 2020 marked the 35th anniversary of one of the most brutal hardcore records ever to come out of Europe, Jesus Var En Tomte. Prove me wrong! This time, it has a new mix that makes it sound even fresher,  with an added 22 bonus songs, including “Fast” (from the same recording as the rest of their second EP Jesus Was an Elf, with a new mix), and finally a live recording of the classic “Ultra Huset”. Hard to imagine someone playing blisteringly fast yet so precise like this back in the day, whilst other bands achieved classic status with way sloppier and mild recordings. Truly an underrated band.

Rudimentary Peni Death Church LP reissue

One of the most influential albums in punk history. But you already know this. This is the prototype from which the discographies of entire bands and even world scenes were created. But you already know this. We can also see it as a master plan for a suicide mission: to expose the farce of the great civilizational institutions and destroy tropes deeply rooted in our minds. Let’s say it is also an initiatory journey where the medium is the message and the medium is these 21 songs that expose the topographical record of a particular spirit, that of Blinko. A notoriously sensitive spirit that generates images that can be brutal and cryptic but powerfully vehement lyrically. An album that invites you not to be a mere passive recipient of riffs, but an active participant in a process of psychological and existential transformation, of the opening in the middle of a dark forest, a path of mental resistance. And besides, it just slaps.  Consider it a unique opportunity to own a piece of history.


Ruined Age No End in Sight cassette

These four tracks of straightforward, crusty hardcore don’t give you a chance to breathe. “No End in Sight” showcases the grinding guitars, solid D-beat drumming, and bleak lyrics that make this tape so dang good. The vocals remind me of Chuck Schuldiner’s on DEATH’s classic debut Scream Bloody Gore, though this is far from death metal. The final track is a cover of DISCLOSE’s “War Cloud” and is a wall of brutality.

Lakka / Samorast split cassette

Killer Czech/Slovak emotional hardcore split release. LAKKA starts with blistering, anxious, passionate European screamo (think DOWNFALL OF GAIA, SHIKARI). SAMORAST has a more distinctly Eastern sound—similarly emotive but thinner and slightly more abrasive. Both bands are new to me, both bands are incredible, and both bands remind me how much I miss honestly over posturing in hardcore in general. Naturally, there’s substantial overlap, but this split feels real, and that’s worth a lot in these times.

Save Our Children Save Our Children demo cassette

Another scorching-hot banger from Austin, Texas. Seven deadly punk hardcore anthems in under seven minutes, as per punk tradition, in a GANG GREEN-meets-JERRY’S KIDS mash of ferocious energy. From the sound to the logo, this band exudes old school hardcore the way it is supposed to be. Even the lack of information about the band feels like the old days. Tune in and get transported to the ’80s!

Skinned Pig Skinland Empire cassette

It slid right past me, but SKINNED PIG from Hesperia, CA dropped this hot little tape back in January, setting the bar for the year high right from the get-go. Combining ’60s pop melodies with classic punk sentiments and an Oi! mentality, the band plays sickly-sweet and garage-y hardcore punk with a timeless feel. I can hear everything from the DILS to the BUSINESS to the VINDICTIVES in their sound, and I would have dug this had it come out at any point in my life. C’mon, bud. Bump those first two songs quick and tell me not. Matter of fact, bump the whole thing.

Merked / Slag split cassette

Total and complete grindcore devastation. The samples of righteous violence between MERKED songs make everything even more intense (“I swear on my fucking mother, if you touch her again you’re dead”). Dark and heavy grind-churn savagery that makes me scared to flip the tape…fortunately, I’m playing on an autoreverse deck. SLAG continues the savagery on the flip, pure San Jose grind supremacy. Of all of the records (and tapes) I’ve listened to this month, these are absolutely the most brutal sounds I have heard—fans of grind and violence are well advised to not sleep on this shit. Absolutely colossal release.

Smallspeaker This Record Kills All Trend Scums EP

A great new single from Japan’s SMALLSPEAKER. The band features Hiroshi Otsuki of the REGISTRATORS and Masa Seventeen of COCKSCRATCH. Three songs of overblown, trashy garage punk. Dirty, nasty, and cool. “Pop Killer” is my fave, but all the songs are great. The sleeve is screened on an 8” envelope and makes the whole package look really nice. Now I just need to find one of these.

SOSS 2022 cassette

Frenetic drum-machine-driven solo project punk from Mobile, Alabama. Four original tracks and a DANZIG cover. It’s fast, it’s catchy, it’s weird, it’s got unexpected hooks and tempo changes, it’s everything you could possibly want in a solo project. That is to say it’s everything I want in a solo project, I’m not gonna tell you what you should want, but you just might want to check out this killer cassette by SOSS. Oh, and I just discovered that there’s an additional four songs not included on the tape or on Bandcamp, unless you download the entire album from there, and they’re top-notch. Not sure why these weren’t included on the cassette, but I am pleasantly surprised to have uncovered them.

Split System Climbing EP

Melbourne punks from STIFF RICHARDS, SPEED WEEK, and the BLACK HEART DEATH CULT joined forces to form SPLIT SYSTEM during one of the breaks between their city’s COVID lockdowns. Once back under lockdown, though, the band had to turn into an email project, with each member self-recording their parts at home. But you wouldn’t be able to tell from listening to this thing—it sounds great, thanks in part to a fantastic mix from Mikey Young. The four tracks you’re getting here are a bit early BLACK FLAG, a bit Raw Power STOOGES, and a bit EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING, which on paper sounds good as hell. But, I don’t know, these songs just aren’t doing it for me. There isn’t anything bad on the release, and everything is competently put together—it’s just that nothing stuck with me once the record was off.

Spread Joy II LP

Chicago’s SPREAD JOY appeared on the scene with their self-titled debut last year, and now they’ve returned with a second full-length on Feel It. And much like their first, this is not a record that overstays its welcome, clocking in at just over seventeen tightly-wound minutes. Channeling LILIPUT and SUBURBAN LAWNS, Briana Hernandez wails, whines, and squeals alongside jittery, scrabbling guitar lines and clean, taut drum beats. Forty-five-second-long opener “Ow” is frenzied and breathless, a burst of delirious punk energy. Lead single “Repetition” is at least initially powered by a riff similar to “Unoriginal” from the first record (which was itself swiped from “Three Girl Rhumba”), before it mutates into something altogether more punchy and abrasive (and still doesn’t surpass two minutes).The two longest tracks on the album, “Ich Sehe Dich” and “Languages,” show what the band can accomplish when given a little more space to stretch out and explore. II is a worthwhile sophomore effort, and proves to me that SPREAD JOY are one of the most invigorating bands operating in the neo-post-punk sphere today. Joyful!

Maniac / Spy split EP

Two bands from opposite sides of the States come together for one vicious 7″ EP. California’s SPY and Massachusetts’ MANIAC bring their two different brands of pissed-off hardcore onto a single disc, and it’s great. The two bands’ respective vocalists both spew their venom across their two tracks (two per band/side), with the instrumentation being similarly biting. This reviewer does slightly prefer the SPY side, but both are very much worth your time.

Squelch Chamber Everything Turns to Shit cassette

This noisy, sludgy mess of a cassette made me wonder at first whether my tape deck was broken, or I got a damaged copy. Full of dissonant fuzz and feedback, there were tracks, like “Below Beneath” and “Instrumental” that seemed less like music than the soundtrack to a psychedelic nightmare sequence in an old Italian giallo movie. Other tracks, like  “A Wolf Alone” and “Drink to Survive” steer closer to hardcore and powerviolence. Their take on “Family Man,” one of BLACK FLAG’s Rollins-era spoken word pieces, smothers the spiteful lyrics in a thick sauce of industrial madness reminiscent of SKINNY PUPPY. SQUELCH CHAMBER seems to be trying to capture the unrelenting heaviness and static of life in the 2020s. Good stuff to disassociate to, especially “Interlude.”

Susans Susans cassette

SUSANS are a three-piece bass/drums/ukulele combo out of London, Ontario. It appears they’ve been active for a few years now, and this is their first full-length. This is art-punk with an aggressive, occasionally demented edge. Vocal duties (largely delivered in a declarative shout) are split between bassist K. Cuz and ukulele player Gabe Nestor. Nestor’s ukulele adds a spindly, classically DIY quality to the whole affair—it doesn’t really rock, but it suits the paranoid songwriting. Tracks like “Nine,” “Impress Your Neighbors,” and “Too Much Info” are anxious and wiry, while “Hands” and “Toro” find the band sounding messier, less restrained. “Hands,” an ode to handwashing written at the outset of the pandemic, incorporates both melodica and sampled speech. They end it all with the buzzing, feedback-laden noise-punker, “It’s Okay (To Be Weird.)” I happen to agree.

Targets First Blood cassette

This is a 1:58-long promo tape, so I’ll keep this review in the same fashion: quick and to-the-point. TARGETS is an unrelenting one-man assault of fast hardcore with a fixation on murdering, a shower of sonic bullets that hit every target. Killer (pun intended) artwork by the legendary Mark McCoy of CHARLES BRONSON fame, and with that said, this band could be on Youth Attack, so you get the picture. Shooting to kill!

Tetanus II cassette

I’m glad to see that TETANUS wasn’t just passing the time between sanitizing things and donning facemasks with their first cassette that was released amid the uncertainty of the height of the pandemic. They’re back with a new venom-drenched tape full of ripping hardcore that’s got more wreck and less effects than their previous cassette. With cool songs like the succinct and cutting narrative of “Winner” and the classically-foreboding stomp of “Borderline,” this second shot of TETANUS makes it clear that the band is gaining momentum.

The Dance Do Dada LP

When quirky NYC art-wavers the MODEL CITIZENS splintered after a one-and-done 1979 EP, vocalist/organist Eugenie Diserio and guitarist Steve Alexander quickly formed the mutant disco/funky no wave outfit the DANCE, pushing the MODEL CITIZENS’ wonky downtown B-52’S vibe into more debauched corners of the dancefloor. Do Dada is an odds-and-ends adjoiner to the recent reissue of the DANCE’s two proper LPs, starting with the four songs from their 1980 debut 12” Dance for Your Dinner (the release of which coincided with their stint as the backing band for pre-teen post-punk chanteuse CHANDRA), looping in a few tracks from a pair of 1982 singles, and ending with two different mixes of a previously unreleased 1983 track (“Into the Future”) recorded just before the project’s demise; the alpha to the omega. Although the DANCE (inexplicably) never landed on ZE or 99 Records, their early EP material in particular would have fit right in with either label’s early ’80s rosters. Eugenie squeals, chants, and runs through various onomatopoeias over breakneck disco beats and a liquid (LIQUID) bass line on “Do Dada,” “She Likes to Beat” and “Dance for Your Dinner” slip into slinky, secondhand smoke-shrouded late-night rhythms punctuated by skronking sax, clattering cowbell, and retro-trash keyboard warble, and the urgent, body-shaking post-punk funk of “Slippery When Wet” sounds like LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX with a different accent, while later ’82–’83-era cuts like “In Lust” and “Dubbin’ Down” stretch out even further into simmering, extended dance grooves, taking Dance for Your Dinner’s wired abandon and refining it into club-worthy bangers for art school oddballs and the glitterati alike—they weren’t fucking around with that band name.

The Dogs John Rock / Younger Point of View 7″ reissue

Reissue of the Detroit band the DOGS’ debut 7”, originally released in 1976 after the band moved to Los Angeles. The two songs reveal the band’s hippie roots. “John Rock” is an ode to MC5 manager, White Panther Party founder, and pothead poet JOHN SINCLAIR. It is a rollicking, catchy tribute. The B-side “Younger Point of View” utilizes a groovy psychedelic ’60s free love sound to sing of the end of the hippies, and I would assume the band’s hippiness too, as their next release two years later would be “Slash Your Face.” The original 7” had no sleeve, so this reissue uses the werewolf from the original label as a cover.

The Dumpies Roberto Clemente EP

Astoria, Oregon’s the DUMPIES knock up some dirt with their Roberto Clemente EP, named after the Puerto Rican baseball player. And while traditional sports culture and punk ethos haven’t always walked hand-in-hand, I guess we are mixed up in everything now, and maybe that’s okay. All said, the track list reads like the snotty-as-ever garagesters they seem to be, with “Pot Moms,” “Eat Ass Do Crimes,” and “Garbage Zen,” to name a few. This six-song EP comes in at just over five minutes, with the longest song (1:19) being the SHANG-A-LANG cover “Commotion” that makes for a great anthemic ender. It’s catchy and fun like something you’d hear in a college basement, while being slightly more informed, with the song brevity of a hardcore outfit. Have a five-minute beer and listen up.

The Hard-Crop’s For What Cause? cassette

I probably wouldn’t have guessed that the next best blast of real-deal “street punk” would come out of Kuala Lumpur, not that I’m complaining. The HARD-CROP’S play tough, unpolished Oi! with a driving sound that’s straight out of ‘83. This band could easily sneak onto any old comp featuring CRUX, the LAST RESORT, 4-SKINS, ANTISOCIAL, and the like, and few would notice. The nine songs on this killer tape showcase the band’s great taste in influences, re-collecting the above bands and more while making the style and sound their own. For instance, the frequent gang vocals have a bit of a LOLI & THE CHONES feel to them. It’s fresh and classic at once; a rare trick that’s always appreciated. Who cares if they’re not that handy with apostrophes, they’re handy with the Oi!

The Last Resort Skinhead Anthems IV CD

Bass-player-turned-lead-vocalist Roi Pearce toots his one-man version of the Oi!/street punk originals the LAST RESORT once again. He’s not going too far out on a limb with this album title, but this time he’s wrangled Berkeley yobbo favorite Lars Frederiksen to mix it up propper. While there’s nothing close to “Violence on Our Minds” present here, there’s some classic LAST RESORT menace on songs like “Murder” and “The Devil You Know,” or the maybe unintentionally hilarious “Psychopath.” It’s the big, beefy guitar sound, courtesy of Lars this time, that they’ve been touting for some years now. Roi’s voice is in top form, but overall, it’s a little lackluster. Still, it’s maybe a nice way for the new breed to show respect to their elders in whatever silly skinhead hierarchy that may exist. Check it.

The Pagans of Northumberland The Pagans of Northumberland LP

Apparently there is someone who was (or may currently be) in CHIXDIGGIT in this band, which I find…interesting. Anyhow, the PAGANS lean heavy on a DROPKICK MURPHYS/RANCID influence. In fact, so much so that it kinda sounds like what I imagine a collaboration between the two would sound like if you let Matt and some of the MURPHYS handle vocals and sing songs about football. I usually tend to leave this type of stuff where it lies, but there’s something about this that is genuine and doesn’t come off as hokey, rehashed bullshit like so many of these types of bands do.

The Sad Tomorrows The Sad Tomorrows cassette

The SAD TOMORROWS are made up of members of several of the Garden State’s finest purveyors of punk. Much like in the members’ other bands, they have managed to churn out four finely written tunes—these are decidedly more pop-leaning, yet still have a kick to them. Unfortunately this is a one-time pressing, limited to 100 copies. Fortunately, dear reader, as we live in the information age, if you miss out on a physical copy, you can still enjoy these tunes via modern means.

The Units Live at the Deaf Club 1979 LP

This is an uncovered live recording of the UNITS playing a completely ripping set at early SF punk spot the Deaf Club. Whatever synths they were using must’ve been able to take a beating, because it sounds like they are pummeling the keys and tearing the knobs off the panel here. The set comprises mostly what would be their first LP, and the band is fully frenzied from the start of opener “Cannibals.” The short-circuited arpeggiator, bent timbres, and careening synth squelches are maniacal and still ahead of their time to hear even now. Even with all their futuristic machine sounds, their very human drummer puts a physical power behind the band, giving the songs life and energy. They close out with the all-time hit “High Pressure Days,” with that monstrous backbeat wallop on it that no drum machine could replicate. The recording is astoundingly good, a clear but still gritty document that proves the power of the band in a live setting. The songs are so energetic, catchy, and danceable, and their sound so one of a kind, it still blows my mind that more of the world didn’t catch on to the UNITS at the time, even in the burgeoning rebranding of punk as new wave. Yes, in a better world, we would’ve had a fully-realized SCREAMERS studio album, but in this world, at least the UNITS are getting proper reissues of theirs, and hopefully well-deserved fair due as pioneers.

The Wake On Our Honeymoon / Give Up 7″ reissue

Before they were Factory-backed, joyless JOY DIVISION/NEW ORDER adherents, and later saccharinely sweet Sarah Records twee-poppers, the 1982 debut recorded offering from Glasgow’s the WAKE was an exercise in anxious art-punk with a streak of youthful naivety, almost like a schoolboy-fronted JOSEF K. “On Our Honeymoon” launches straight into a deliriously loping bassline caught in a gravitational pull somewhere between Peter Hook and Three Imaginary Boys-era CURE, with skittering, disco-flecked drums and scratchy guitar running at odds against paper-thin wallflower vocals; it’s a two-minute rush of spiky, minimalist brilliance that immediately set the bar at a height the band would fail to ever hit again (hot take). On the flip, “Give Up” sinks into monochrome post-punk malaise as if NEW ORDER had never discovered the dancefloor, with wavering, saturnine keys and a tenuous edge of despair in vocalist Caesar’s delivery, all set into motion again by that darkly melodic bobbing bass. A single that’s been given a new life as a reissue once already this century and thus far from a lost-to-time obscurity, but that all-timer of an A-side makes a pretty strong case for yet another revisit.

The Wilful Boys World Ward Word Sword LP

The WILFUL BOYS keep things loud, but also like to bring out their songs’ different qualities, be they aggro or poppy, lurching or raging. The vocals are a talky drone just as often as a hardcore snarl. My favorite songs restrain the ‘core just a little and dash in some pop or discordant noise. Sometimes it’s nice to get your angst sideways.

Tord Epònim EP

TORD is a solo recording project of Barcelona artist Blai Subirats Nuez, and this release appears to be their first solo effort (after a couple of splits). The EP is made up of four tracks of drum machine post-punk, pairing CURE-esque guitar atmospherics with industrial-ish beats. Some quacky vocals and a dash of eggy quirk help to keep this from being a totally rote affair, but it’s hard to say this packs any big surprises. This stuff ends up sounding best when they opt for harsher textures like on the track “Què Faràs Demà,” but everything here is listenable. A perfectly OK record!

TV Dust 4 EP double cassette

As alluded to in the title, this is a compilation of four EPs by Italian wave weirdos TV DUST. Not sure the exact order of release on these individually, but the band has its sound locked in throughout. The synth maintains a minimal drone that allows the vocals to yelp forward, while the bass and drums drive and keep the rhythms and tempos interesting. Motorik hypnotics and disco hi-hat abound. I picture these guys having really big Martin Rev-style sunglasses.


Ursut Dårarnas Paradis LP

Sweden is a hotbed of crust bands, it seems. For those who haven’t seen their logo sewn on thousands of crust pants, URSUT is a relentless D-beat band from Malmö that follows the Scandinavian tradition of SKITSYSTEM or WOLFPACK. With tight musicianship, a double vocal assault, and an infernal ambiance, URSUT crafts melancholic soundtracks for the downfall of mankind. Dårarnas Paradis is a repress of the band’s debut from back in 2011, now ready to be consumed by all the vinyl freaks out there. Their second album Köp Dig Lycklig is also a great addition to any crust collection. Crust as fuck!

V/A Thesaurus, Vol. 6: Panorama Punk Rock France 1982–1984 2xLP

If you haven’t gotten hip to Cameleon’s series of Thesaurus comps yet, there’s no time like right fucking now to rectify this grave oversight. The kingdom of heaven is within your reach! Your golden ticket is nearly 90 minutes of world-beating punk rock contained herein, slathered thick and heavy across four sides of wax. (Will this be the only culinary reference? Stay tuned.) The hit ratio over the course of these 34 songs is shockingly high, with almost nothing dipping below “fairly sick.” Who knew France’s punk bench was so deep? I mean, sure, there’s some classic early ragers and a couple of game-change type bands that pop up, but this particular installment covers the early-to-mid-’80s, so we’re wandering into uncharted territory. This era, of course, is prime time for hardcore, but the styles presented here cover the gamut. Just a smidgen of the greatness contained within includes: CRISE DE NERF uncannily predict PUSSY GALORE’s dented tin can approach to punk, even ANGRY RATS won’t survive these “New Clear Days” so they rage against the dying of the light, while MOPO MOGO advise you to “Fuck Off.” HUMAN BEING sounds righteously disgusted, much as ELECTRONAZE are full of piss, vinegar, and probably smoke 100 cigarettes a day. OMG ain’t text speak, heathens, but they are deadly punks whipping a drum machine and feedback guitar into a frenzy, while ELECTRODES play fast, urgent punk that reimagines DISCHARGE as a garage band. Speaking of garage rock, VONN’s “Bubble Gum” should have been an international hit. I dare you to remain still while this chewy little bastard plays! There are quality CLASH rips from HEROS and BRIGADES, killer rock‘n’roll rave-ups from BALL’S and TED DESTROYER, weird punk from KARNAGE on “The Cops Are Coming,” and it just keeps going. You might be able to dig up a lot of these gems if you spent a couple years in France, rummaging through every record store and thrift shop in the country. Or, you could just pick up this—excusez mon français—fucking awesome compilation.

V/A Demons Inside Us: 20 Years of Phobia Records LP

If you’re looking for a fantastic, frenzied collection of contemporary Scandinavian and Eastern European hardcore punk, here is your comp. Twenty-one tracks of blistering heavy käng-and-roll, classic crust, and D-beat, comprising various levels of speed and distortion, yet compiled thoughtfully in pace and tone. All your favorites are rumbling the pots off your speakers here: PARANOID, EARTH CRUST DISPLACEMENT(!!!), ABSOLUT, PARASIT, DISSEKERAD (you need Dis LP), UTSATT, WARCOLLAPSE, SVAVELDIOXID, VOIDFILLER, SLUTET (you need Dis LP), and much more. Several decades of Scandi-beat punk-tuated melody and passion come though over the course of this LP, covering a bit over two decades from the Czech Republic’s punkest label. An excellent sampler from Phobia Records. Sixteen-page zine and poster included. Only a few are left on gold vinyl. Comp is a ripper, zero slouch tracks, and I enjoyed it even more while revisiting it to write about it.

Restraining Order / Warfare split EP

Two songs of short, fast hardcore/punk from each band here. Both bands play a style of music that is not easily pinned down. Is it hardcore? Yeah, but there’s also heavy street punk influences as well. I mean, hell, RESTRAINING ORDER’s song “Undercover Cop” almost sounds like it could have been a pre-Do or Die DROPKICK MURPHYS song. There’s definitely a little something for everyone here.

Warthog Four Walls EP

At this point, everyone knows or has heard of WARTHOG. They’re one of those bands that with everything they release, be it records, merch, or other publicity stunts (billboard!?!?), will get major attention. To get this sort of attention nowadays with bands spawning left and right is admirable, so there must be an “it” factor to them. With that being said, the sons of Larry are back with their third self-titled EP in a row. Yes! They are delving more and more into metal-oriented territory with recognizable influences of proto-bands like VENOM or CELTIC FROST, but still go fast on the POISON IDEA-styled hardcore. WARTHOG is at the top of the game and has been a major influence on American hardcore, and they are quickly spreading that influence to Europe as well. But you have to see them live to witness the full force of the WARTHOG attack! Highly recommended!

Woodstock ’99 Super Gremlin 12″

I’m 99% sure that WOODSTOCK ‘99 is former FRIED EGG-ers who pulled up stakes from Virginia to settle in Cleveland, where their style of ripping hardcore probably feels right at home. Opener “La Casa De Fuck You” was on a Tetryon Tape (the one with Fred Durst on the cover) that came out last year, and it deploys a great, nagging one-note piano hook like POISON IDEA wants to be your dog. Maybe it’s the CB radio vocals, but the first half of “$800 Lunch Meat” sounds like MULE of all bands, erupts for a brief flash, then comes back down into a weird alt-rock vibe that could pass as TOADIES (or SEASON TO RISK, if yr frisky). “Pickled Drunk Driver” walks a peculiar line between ignorant hardcore stomp and SOUL ASYLUM’s semi-psychedelic heartland thrash. The more straightforward moments are high-class POISON IDEA tributes and probably go over like gangbusters in an Ohio City basement. “Green Oyster Dick” jacks a Bay Area punk structure and could have been on a split 7” with GRIMPLE back in the day. “Budget Inn” is all wailing guitar leads like a SCREAMING TREES song, but instead of Mark Lanegan’s growl, you’ve got a French lady talking. The other vital piece of information that you need to be aware of regarding Super Gremlin is that every song ends with a gong strike, a creative choice which this listener can only respect. Rats off to ya.

Wrong War Fixed Against Forever LP

Debut LP from Chicago’s WRONG WAR, this HC album is fast, tight, and angry. The socio-political tension can’t be missed, from the band’s moniker to each and every song. The opener “Words Were Mere Words” shouts in its chorus, “And how I / Long for / Those days when / Words were mere words. / And how I—let it align.” A reckoning with cancel culture, as in we should be responsible for what we write and say and how it makes one another feel? Or an actual desire to not be accountable? Although the lyrics are all shouted, they are clear and you don’t need the liner notes to make them out—that said, the messages are vague and trope-y…the war machine (“Count the Days”), religious falsehoods (“Direct Function”), foolish patriotism (“Escape Clause”). But I don’t know, maybe I’m just oversaturated with being reminded of how shitty everything is, was, will be, etc. Anyway, if this fuels your rage, they released a second LP (Once Upon a Weapon) earlier this year, and I can only imagine what they’ve got to say since this release came out in 2020.

Choke / XGrifoX split cassette

Yoooooo—where the fukk did this come from!? CHOKE fukkn explodes with three pieces of churning, anti-pig grindcore. I picture a room full of people chanting “defund the police,” and it gives me chills because in that moment, you know that room feels like change is actually possible. And that, young punk, is the fucking power. XGRIFOX fills their side of the tape with ruthless PV/grind from the GODSTOMPER school. Just one dude named “El Grande” beating the shit out of a bass and a drum kit and trading high/low vocals with himself. Sounds like it was recorded in a tin shed in the backyard—and if you know what’s up, then you know that’s precisely how it’s supposed to sound. Got my ass handed to me with this one, and I’m anxious to hear more from both bands.

Белый китаец (China White) Вкладыш от жвачки турбо (Turbo Gum Insert) cassette

When this tape first kicked on, I thought I was in for some catchy rock’n’roll/power pop throwback stuff, which would of course have been A-OK with me. The band’s titular song “China White,” which begins this ten-song cassette, nails that style absolutely perfectly. As the song concluded, I was finishing reading the attached letter which confusingly described the band as being a synth punk band, as does the label’s Bandcamp. As soon as the next song started up, I realized I was in for quite the ride. Completely changing gears, the band starts fluidly ripping through genre after genre without sounding forced or contrived at all, working their way from the aforementioned style through songs of fast D-beat, nasty garage punk, herky-jerky synth punk, and ultimately landing on a few killer tracks of the mid-tempo synth punk persuasion, akin to bands like the SPITS. This is outstanding. An absolutely killer cassette from St. Petersburg, Russia. Apparently the band is on a hiatus right now, as some of the members left Russia because of the war—yet another reason to hate war. The band and label have made a point to express that proceeds from this release are going to support people from Ukraine.