MRR #473 • October 2022

Added Dimensions Added Dimensions cassette

ADDED DIMENSIONS is the new home recording project from Sarah Everton, most recently of Philadelphia’s great (and unjustly slept-on) minimal punk trio BLOWDRYER, and previously of TELEPATHIC and READING RAINBOW. Sarah’s trebly/jangly guitar riffs and sneaky bass lines are backed by a charge of unfussy, driving drums from Rob Garcia, all cloaked in the perfect amount of Tascam grit, as she lyrically pares down the heavy psychic weight of modern living (the social cost of convenience and connectivity, the inane routine of labor as a means of survival, etc.) into disarmingly hooky mini-manifestoes—even the sugar-coated melodies can’t hide the harsh truths behind lines like “running in place so you can get paid” (“Behavior”), or “live in a fantasy, suffer anxiety, waking up dead” (“Obvious Device”). WIRE rubbing elbows with the SHOP ASSISTANTS as a C86 band? A Kim Deal-fronted URINALS? Charms you can’t resist!

Agravio Que Futuro De La Verga EP

A hasty and harsh chaotic storm of hardcore punk from Mexico City, AGRAVIO wafts forth from the embers of SARCRIFICIO playing more anxiously and less thrashy, like NEGAZIONE, VICTIMAS, ATOXXXICO, or TRAMPA. Some aspects branch out into to post-hardcore punk’n’roll and immediately fall back into hammer-smash mode. This is gnarly, raw, lo-fi, and killer. Unique structures that hold back with explosive experience then let loose with skull-knocking punk rage. Fastcore changes fit perfectly in the classic riffs and beats, as if they were stolen and tossed back, used up without care. There is a feeling of urgency on every track, never quite solved or satisfying a solution. Always left hanging, always waiting for the fall, squinting and checking the sky…what’s more punk than that?

Aihotz Matar al Superhombre EP

Latest release by Basque punks AIHOTZ from Bilbao. Their sound is psychedelia-drenched, international ’80s punk/post-punk, a third-generation mixtape copy meets UK82-style street punk like something that comes out of NYC on Toxic State, or the La Vida Es Un Mus school of punk—art school dropout, yet still quite unclassifiable. For fans of RAKTA, BARCELONA, and UNA BESTIA INCONTROLABLE.

Apex Predator Apex Predator demo cassette

Savage, angry metallic hardcore out of Seattle! I am here for it. The guitars chug along relentlessly with the crashing cymbals. The lyrics are nasty and to-the-point. This is circle pit material reminiscent of SLAPSHOT with slower, anthemic breakdowns that accelerate into breakneck mayhem. “Intruding Thoughts” stands out for reasons that are just between my therapist and I. There’s no wasted space on this demo. Nothing but five tracks of solid old school hardcore in about fifteen minutes.

Aŕesi Aŕesi cassette

I’m not sure what’s in the water of the Bay of Biscay, but Bermeo has once again produced another belter of a band in AŔESI. If you like you like their fellow compatriots STA. CRUZ or REVERTT, you’ll be on board with this—good ol’ fashioned skinhead rock’n’roll and catchy as fuck. Excited for more from this mob.

Attic Ted 13 Select Home Recordings cassette

Collection of songs from this Texas duo, recorded over a twenty(!!)-year span. I don’t know how to accurately describe this—the closest reference points would be circus or carnival music with post-punk vocals. Imagine the weirdness of the MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO with the delayed and pitch-shifted vocals of vintage WEEN. Opening track “Hyperbole” is a good introduction to the organ-grinding surrealness. “Either Way” has a slight MADNESS ska beat with backing vocals, swirling noise, and bicycle bells. “Texas Trip” takes us into satirical cowpunk territory. What’s surprising is how well-composed and carefully constructed these tracks are. This is not low-effort experimentation; it is very odd and inspired creativity. True story: I fell asleep while listening to this (from my own circumstances, it’s not boring or anything), and I had strange-ass dreams. If you want to sample some unique and playful avant-garde music, click on over to their Bandcamp.

Baby Adam Baby Adam cassette

BABY ADAM is not an actual baby, or a solo act going by an infantile alias, but a trio from Florida with a noisy indie sound and very warped pop sensibilities. These songs sound almost like they could be primitive, lo-fi covers of ’90s groups like SEBADOH. It’s captured in the carefree and creative recording styles of that band’s earliest work, but it hits levels of unpolished, organic expression that are more in tune with the more melodic efforts of PUSSY GALORE. There’s also a youthful sort of earnestness present here, the kind that I associate with emo-type bands of the early 2000s. In the end, I mentally file this somewhere near (but not close to) Butte, Montana college rockers MORDECAI. Is it art, or ineptitude? Both? If you enjoy it, does it matter?

Bacteria Trizas cassette

The ones that make you think are sometimes the best ones. The ones that make you stop and try to figure out what you’re hearing, those are the ones that grab you. Only five songs on Trizas, but Argentina’s BACTERIA delivers a couple of hardcore burners and some mid-tempo dark slogs, and I’m trying to figure out if I’m listening to a grunge band switching gears or a hardcore band exploring their options. The title track closes the tape with a gloriously dark two-riff groove (think WIPERS > GRAUZONE) and I found myself digging into their (extensive) back catalog before I listened a second time. 

Battalion Zośka New Blood CD

About halfway through this album, I found myself beginning to laugh, not from joy or elation, but from the growing realisation that this was one of the shittest things I’ve ever heard. A doff of the old chapeau to BATTALION ZOŚKA for creating something for which literally no one was asking, a plodding retread of a plodding retread of street punk with a needless studio sheen and zero heart. I’m sure if you’ve ever worn a flat cap to a show, or own a skateboard, you’ll think this is good. You’d be wrong, but you would think that. Avoid this like the bubonic plague.

Belly Jelly The Universal Language cassette

On the crowded dance floor of fringe synth-driven punk, it takes a special toolbox to stand out. Luckily, Indiana’s Sean Albert (SKULL CULT) has one with several deep compartments. A solo endeavor, BELLY JELLY is surprisingly broad in scope. This tape is an ambitious and deliciously weirdo odyssey, much like digging through a bag of jelly beans in every flavor (gosh, did I just stumble onto the point?). Each track brings a new shade of sharp, bouncy punk that can grate and inspire gyrations all at once. Far from cutesier iterations of this type of sound, Albert is keen on hitting you hard with syrupy hooks—like a rock covered in jam thrown through a window. A track like “Phobic Neurosis” exemplifies what this project does best, a bouncy nightmare of sharp riffs and effects-perverted vocals all set to a mechanically-precise rhythm section. Top marks all around!

Berthold City When Words Are Not Enough LP

I’ve been following this band since early on in their career and own both of their EPs, so I was beyond stoked when an LP was announced—as hoped, it does not disappoint. Angry, fast, no-frills, classic straightedge hardcore that will always stand the rest of time. Unlike some bands that attempt this style, BERTHOLD CITY fucking nails it. A lot of the time, bands in this style overdo it with the gang vocals, or for whatever reason get overly metal with the guitars. None of that here, though. The gang vocals are inserted in the perfect places and there’s no hint of metal guitar parts anywhere! To me this is a near perfect hardcore record that, if I did one, would certainly be near the top of my year-end top ten list. This record fucking rips. My only gripe would be that the first run of vinyl sold out before I could grab a copy.

Billiam Turrets Over Craigieburn EP

Nothing like straightforward, stripped-down punk to cleanse the palate. Apart from the distorted vocals, which remind me of MR. CLIT AND THE PINK CIGARETTES (who bark into a microphone made from a banana phone), these six tracks are cleanly recorded, mid-tempo, lo-fi, and fun. “Number 19 Pancake Parlor Special” features some keyboard action that hearkens back to some early B-52’S vibes. Great fun out of Melbourne. 

Blessure Ekaitza / Sabaté 7″

More Basque Country brilliance on BLESSURE’s debut release here, with the Bilbao quartet channelling a classic French Oi! sound on this bilingual 7”. There’s touches of CAMERA SILENS and R.A.S. and even more contemporary skinhead chanteurs like RIXE, too. A real good time.

Candy Apple World for Sale EP

More heat from Denver courtesy of Convulse Records with the latest release from CANDY APPLE. This 7″ platter is packed to the brim with heavy and dissonant riffage. World for Sale has a very noisy, very dirty sound to it without going all the way with it. It is simple and to-the-point, angry any-riffy hardcore, and that is all it needs to be! This rages—Denver does it again.

Cartones Sala De Espera cassette

Have you ever dreamed of a world where people love late-era RAMONES albums as much as you? A fantastical land where seemingly normal passersby on the street will shout lyrics to “I Believe in Miracles” at you while you walk past? I know it sounds almost too good to be true, but what if I told you that such a land exists?! A decade of the RAMONES touring South America from the late ’80s to the late ’90s left rioting fans thirsty for more, and from then on, the heavenly country of Argentina has been viewing the RAMONES as the pinnacle of pop music. Apparently that stance shows no signs of stopping. CARTONES are no exception to this notion that I’m gonna go ahead and say is a fact. No, this cassette does not sound exactly like the RAMONES. This is not a carbon copy by any means. What you have here are ten beautiful songs of pop music, the likes of which could only be written by individuals who, from a young age, grew up hearing the blown-out, sing-songy vocals of a nearing the end of his career Joey Ramone crooning to them from the radio. I swear I was going to make a comment expressing how CARTONES’ songwriting and harmonizing style reminded me of Argentina’s premiere RAMONES-worship band LOS EXPULSADOS until I saw in the track list that Sebastian Expulsado himself is featured on one of the songs. Sala De Espera is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it if you have an appreciation for pop music, downstrokes, and a certain band that may have been mentioned a few times in this write-up.

Caveman Senseless EP

Here is a list of adjectives that will try to describe what these almost eleven minutes of noise made me feel: violent, brutal, wicked, dynamic, creative, powerful, fleeting, venomous, painful, anger-filled, destructive. Indonesia’s CAVEMEN not only delivers the powerviolence goods, their sound is incredibly addictive and deserves non-stop spins.

Cell Rush Demo 2022 cassette

Grimy, nasty, ten-song demo cassette from Western Michigan. Mostly meandering around at a snail’s pace, CELL RUSH comes across incredibly primal, plodding from riff to riff, staying in the mid-tempo realm of noisy hardcore punk music. They do speed up from time to time on a couple songs, but it’s usually followed by an even more stripped-down slow part. They really hit their full speed during one of the more memorable tracks, “All-American Nosferatu.” Something about this recording makes me feel very unsafe, like I’m being stalked and someones going to jump out at me from beyond the next corner. Very nasty.

Chained Bliss Chained Bliss LP

High-energy debut LP from Philadelphia’s CHAINED BLISS. This has the youth crew sound similar to the new-ish ENACT. Pummeling drums, buzzed-out fifth chords, slimy guitar leads, powerful bass, and in-your-face half-sung/half-shouted vocals. I imagine their live shows rule, as I want a crowd to bounce off while listening to this, but alas, head-banging over my morning coffee will have to suffice. Turn up loud, get stoked.

Church Clothes Sacred Illusion EP

The cover of CHURCH CLOTHES’ debut splashed in rootsy, faded psychedelia doesn’t adequately prepare listeners for the flush and vibrant hardcore demonstration it holds inside. This NYC act weaves a tough tapestry of hardcore with inflections of both classic ’80s and grungy ’90s styles, with all four members of the group pouring all of their power into the songs. While fairly standard in structure, these tunes shine with organic fury, and a loose cannon lead guitar pulls things into a wild, psychedelic direction at times, lending a little “truth in advertising” to that trippy cover. Dig it.

Clone-Z Nuclear Junkies cassette

A beast of a tape. Nine tracks of raw D-beat, monstrously rabid and brutal, with great guitar leads and great guitar solos. Short and to-the-point. To be listened to under the effects of fury.

Contusion Haine et Souffrance 12″

Band name in Old English-style font? Inexplicable medieval woodcut imagery as cover art? Vocals that can only sound like that as the result of smoking two packs of Gitanes a day? That’s French Oi! baby, and this is very much that. CONTUSION emerges from the same Parisian scene that birthed FACTION S and OUTREAU, and indeed they share many of the same members, as well as a penchant for rough-as-yer-like Oi!—gang vocals, thundering bass, good-time mid-tempo skinhead rock’n’roll all present and accounted for, just how you like it. Nothing earth-shattering here, but we’ll leave that for the longhairs and prog fans.

Dangerous Girls Present Recordings 1978–1982 LP

This is a great collection. Not one song included here is from their four 7”s, yet almost every one seems like it could have/should have been released on one. DANGEROUS GIRLS were from Birmingham, UK and existed for four years, 1978 to 1982. The songs on this collection span those years. The earlier stuff is more poppy punk with a snarky attitude and humorous lyrics. The later stuff gets more arty in cool ways. Unlike most collections of this type, there is only one live song (“Plug Me In”) included, and it is an unreleased one, too. The live track brings the album’s momentum down a bit (it appears halfway through the second side) and doesn’t sound as good as the studio songs, but it’s a pretty good song so I can forgive the misstep.

Decomp Condemned to Earth LP

Full-throated Earth Crust from the realms of DISTURD, AMEBIX, and HELLSHOCK. Clenched-fist machine gun snare, constant metal crust churn, Condemned to Earth is a ruthless pummeling—starts fast and refuses to let up. Even with the sub-two-minute D-beat ripper “Paranoid Coward,” they never stray far from their influences, and I don’t want them to. Excellent.

Delco MF’s Bullshit EP

We got a wild one here, youse guys! DELCO MF’S is a solo recording project of Jim Shomo, vocalist/guitarist from Philly bands DARK THOUGHTS and LOOSE NUKES. The project bears more of resemblance to the latter of those two acts, except it’s way rawer and more unhinged. The five songs on this EP, four of which don’t even crack a minute, take the loose, feral hardcore of Cleveland’s BAD NOIDS and really amp up all the weird, gremlin-y aspects of their sound. To top things off, all the tracks are buried under an extremely murky production—the first time I played the record, I literally checked my needle to make sure it wasn’t coated in lint, which, contrary to what you might think, really manages to add to the out-of-control vibe of the record, kinda like wrapping up a roost of rabid bats in a blanket. This thing rips!

Denim No Remorse LP

Let DENIM take you for a Viennese whirl with this slab of pure Neanderthal stomp. Eight tracks of Oi!-infused hardcore, stripped of all frills and designed to get your brain in a full nelson and not let go ‘til it’s finished. Reminiscent of a rougher HAMMER AND THE NAILS in places too, all piss and vinegar. Utilitarian guitars and bass support an increasingly furious set of vocals which at times seems like matey has taken personal offense to something I’ve done. Good stuff.

Deliriant Nerve Uncontrollable Ascension cassette

Absolutely pummeling death metal/grindcore from Washington, DC. Tight riffs, relentless drumming, short songs which end as soon as you start to get a feel for them. My biggest gripe with most straight-up grindcore bands is that they seem to put the pedal to the metal and play endlessly full-speed without anything to differentiate their songs. Thankfully, you don’t get that with DELIRIANT NERVE. They slow things down often enough for a catchy breakdown or a circle-pit part, helping the album easily keep your attention. I believe this to be members of DC grindcore band NEEDLE, as well as ZTUPED who I think are absolutely top-notch. If you’re into this style, this cassette will not disappoint. This is To Live a Lie showing why they are debatably the best name in the game when it comes to extreme music labels.

Desamparo Estás Condenado Al Fracaso cassette

Lo-fi recording of primitive hardcore. The quality supports the overall experience, since the simplified riffs and beats mix well with the blurred and blistering environment, as if your friend passed you a tape of their weekend session at the rehearsal room (which is always a nice gesture), and listening to this recording is not that distant from this feeling. Bands like DESAMPARO might have a better understanding of what making records supposed to mean than many of us—they write straight-up flawless hardcore tracks and set everything to sound even more amazing in this low-budget enviorment, because the sound is a significant part of the songs. If I listen closely and listen a lot, I can hear the guitar melodies hidden behind the desperate screams, but the real thing is the overall creation. They have deeper lyrics than the average bands in their style, reflecting everyday experiences rather than some blurry collective idea of shooting clichés. Yet I cannot say they are on constant repeat, as some of their songs are too long and monotone for me to be more excited than just considering them another great addition of the millions of cool hardcore bands from all over the world. But bands like this are the actual backbone of this subculture, who make it possible that there are great groups playing such fucked-up music all around the world. 

Detësto Atomdöd EP

Raw and rugged hardcore punk from Brazil. This unassuming slab kicks off solid immediately, and then you realize “holy fuck, they are nailing this Scandi-beat style to a D [sic].” Crunchy, distorted, and echoing, DETËSTO scorches on this debut EP. Mid-tempo D-beat mangel, leveled in the dense Vevarsle zones. Heavy and dark with some metallic breakdown moments that serve more as intros than running throughout their classic structure (and, might I add, classic lyrical content). Yes, some things do need repeating to death! Some wild percussion effects occur that sound like glass bottles or windchimes on the crash. Think DISFEAR, WARCOLLAPSE, AVSKUM, or NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR with groove—a detonating five tracks that take no pause. Some of the sickest Sugi cover art I’ve seen as well, using way more negative space than usual. Contemporary D-beat at its finest.

DJINN Hell is Real cassette

DJINN, like the invisible spirits the band shares a name with, seems to be a mystery. They hail from Hammond, Indiana, but beyond that I am at a loss with any other details. Their Hell is Real cassette is straightforward harcore with a knack for horror themes and fury. There is definitely a slight metal influence within the band and a rabidly atonal hollering that carries the load.  The band keeps it tight, and the drumming in particular stampedes through twelve tracks in under fifteen minutes.  It adds up to something that in the end becomes a bit stale and dry. 

E.V.A. Un Sitio Barato Para Soñar EP

Debut recording from Barcelona’s E.V.A., offering up four tracks of dreamy post-punk on their aptly-named EP, the title of which translates to “A Cheap Place to Dream.” These songs are bass-forward, with simple, steady drums, clean, beautiful guitar riffs, and femme-led vocals, the sum of which reminds me of the post-punk coming from neighbors in France and Germany, like on the Symphony of Destruction label. And for a €1 digital copy, this shit is cheap!

Eärthdögs Cry Now Cry Later EP

I don’t have an advanced degree, so I can’t tell the difference between grindcore and powerviolence, but I know a ripping EP when I hear it. Five short songs growled into your dead soul with hyperkinetic rhythms and wall-of-sound guitars. “A Soft Throat for the Grip of Domination” dips a toe into noisecore territory. This California five-piece brings the pain. I want the album cover framed on my wall, too.

Eddie and the Subtitles Skeletons in the Closet LP reissue

A re-sequenced reissue of OC legends EDDIE AND THE SUBTITLES’ 1981 LP Skeletons in the Closet is an interesting artifact, in that it plays more like a compilation than a cohesive album. It’s a juxtaposition of diverse styles that seem to represent different eras and mindsets for the band. This record could be successfully disassembled to create three separate and distinct bodies of work—a brief KBD-esque collection of punk-tinged rock’n’roll procedures like the opening trifecta of “Zombie Drug Killers,” “No Virgins in Hollywood,” and “American Society,” a record of goth-y, synth-heavy pop tunes, and an album where EDDIE reveals his swingin’ ’60s rock roots, which gets very goofy. “Bobbin’ Little Bobcat,” for instance, makes the STRAY CATS sound like SLAYER in comparison. Some of this also seems to be a direct reflection of the band’s live shows playing alongside the CIRCLE JERKS and other heroes of the period, with the inclusion of covers like “Louie Louie” and “Movin’ On.” Rather than be choosy, it seems that EDDIE & co. opted to put in everything they had going on at the time here and wrap it all up in an awesome Shawn Kerri cover that makes this record worth owning all by itself.

Empire Expensive Sound LP reissue

When commercial success and artistic integrity presented a fork in the road, drummer Mark Laff and guitarist Bob Derwood Andrews left the then (from the label’s point of view) doddering ranks of GENERATION X to form the more alternative-flavored EMPIRE. This LP is a reissue of their debut from 1981, and while the band never saw the chart-ranking success of the Billy Idol-fronted GEN X, they made a hell of a record here. Allegedly inspired by JOY DIVISION, this group wanders a line between late ’70s garage punk with catchy hooks and poppy lyrics like the VIBRATORS, to sparse, guitar-heavy tracks that have the ambience of JOY DIVISION, but sound more like predecessors to FUGAZI or SONIC YOUTH with screaming feedback, pinch harmonics, and heavy drums. Just take the instrumental opener “Empire” that is a long, beautifully sad guitar riff, followed by “Hot Seat” (originally off their self-titled 7” from the same year) that is all jangly “clap the tambourine” power pop. That said, the lyrics on “Hot Seat” are divorced from the songs’ otherwise pop styling; they sing “Sitting here in my armchair / Sitting here without a care / All I have to do is stare / I wonder how long will I live,” an inherently punk apathy. While a lot of this sounds like any UK outfit of its time, the integral nature of Andrews’ guitar really makes this album worth a listen.

Battalion Zośka / Fatal Blow split EP

Oh good, more BATTALION ZOŚKA, this time teaming up with UK Oi! outfit FATAL BLOW on a split release. The FATAL BLOW side is perfectly serviceable, workmanlike Oi! with a firm left-wing bent as you’d expect from the OPPRESSED alumni, taking on embarrassing Fred Perry botherers the Proud Boys and the rapidly spiralling unhoused epidemic. Then comes BATTALION ZOŚKA, and I wish they wouldn’t. More dull-as-dishwater shite, and the interpolation of Millwall chant cements it.

Flash Flash LP

High-energy punk blasts from Basque Country. FLASH sounds like the classic American HC of ZERO BOYS and ARTICLES OF FAITH mixed with blown-out production and raspy, sore-throat vocals. There are leads on leads with string-bending solos that dial up the melodicism and live, electric feelings of these songs to very high levels. “Bihotz Gorrak” (Basque for “Deaf Hearts”) is a classic sub-two-minute anthem full of riffs, gang choruses, and fist-pumping melodies. Instant classic, and I don’t even have the lyrics. “Harri Hau” (“This Stone”) is another winner that sounds timeless and brand new at the same time. I listened to final track “Querrido Punk” (“Dear Punk”) several times in a row. It’s a perfect blend of pounding snare, fuzzed-out riffs, and passionate vocals. Great ending to a great record.

Cold Brats / Gel Shock Therapy split LP

I love splits because bands usually try to bulldoze everything in their path over their own side of plastic grooves or slice of tape. In this case, New Jersey’s GEL does a search-and-destroy action with four tracks of ear-shattering and brash hardcore, blowing away any neuron connections you have left. Then it’s the turn of Romania’s COLD BRATS, with an army of sharp riffs ready to drive punks and normies alike berserk. After listening to their contribution, you’ll understand why the split is called Shock Therapy. The talent of both bands is undeniable, and putting them together is an act of pure genius.

Girlsperm The Muse Ascends LP

The return to GIRLSPERM! Five years after their debut LP, Layla, Marissa, and Tobi are back with The Muse Ascends, and it continues to be a tall order to describe the band without employing the term “girl gang.” The GIRLSPERM turf stretches directly between the feminist/minimalist no wave territory of ROSA YEMEN/Y PANTS and the ’90s agit-punk revolutionary racket of Slampt Records, with sloganeering vocals (almost always presented in a unified front of ecstatic three-part shouts), treble-sharpened switchblade stabs of twin guitar, and a structural austerity within their concise art-punk outbursts that demands each member’s instrumental contributions be placed on completely equal footing, engaging in a sonic call-and-response trust dialogue with one another as a means of defense against the squares and creeps of the world. When they subvert the signature organ riff from the ARCHIES’ bubblegum smash “Sugar Sugar” into a halting single-string anti-solo on “Sugarcide,” it’s a clear statement of intent—the history of rock music as we know it only exists to be reshaped in GIRLSPERM’s image.

Grasping at Pieces We Are GAP, Not JFA CD

From the title and cover art, one could assume that this was some long-lost ’80s skate punk demo, but GRASPING AT PIECES is a nowadays Alabama band of teen punks who can’t be any older than sixteen. It’s exactly what punk should sound like when you’re that age, and it’s exactly what I remember high school punk bands sounding like when I was that age. They got turned on by whatever their gateway band was, got a guitar, learned a power chord and how to play it fast, found some friends to play drums and bass, and ran with it. Every song on here is fast, snotty and less than a minute, and the titles tell you everything: “Don’t Touch My Vans,” “Puke,” “Bible Belt.”

Gripe Déjame Solo cassette

GRIPE is back with another tape, playing garage-y, jangling, hyper-fast punk rock that tends to lean into hardcore, but with barely distorted guitars and bit of melodic spoken-yelling. Their sound is dense due to the constant shredding and up-tempo beat. The vocals are powerful and well-thought-out, and the additional backing pushes the overall sound into a rather gig-like atmosphere instead of a studio session. They cover a MIDDLE CLASS song with translated lyrics, and as a reference, it fits perfectly. It’s a fun release.

Happy Kadaver Self Liberation 12″

Four doses of dreary German punk that start out more than a little reminiscent of a rudimentary EA80, but far rougher around the edges. While I appreciate the intent and approach, the execution leaves a lot to be desired, and I find myself listening to HAPPY KADAVER for what they will become instead of what they are…and then they change course and I find myself listening to a mediocre, mid-tempo German bar punk band and wishing I were listening to a mediocre German dreary punk band, and then…then, I start to question my life choices.

Hellshock Hellshock LP

Like many soap-dodging, crust-loving punks of my generation, HELLSHOCK is a band that has had a massive influence on me (especially as far as my crust-pants wearing habits go), and the ’00s stenchcore revival that followed in their wake was brilliant and probably the first meaningful wave I felt a part of—let’s not count the sloppy CASUALTIES cosplay of the late ’90s. I still play the early records regularly, and while time was not so kind to some of the ’00s metal crust bands, HELLSHOCK still sounds genuinely brilliant. The world left them at They Wait For You Still in 2009, an album infused with Japanese hardcore which I have always been quite undecided about. It was not a bad piece of work, but I could not relate to it that much, and in the end did not care much about it. When this brand new album recently came out, I was very curious like everyone I suppose, but did not expect too much. And sadly, I cannot say I care about this one either. This time, HELLSHOCK are full-on old school death metal and, apart from the odd crust overtone, the band of yore is definitely gone. I am sure they still sound like a freight train live, but this LP leaves me a bit cold, like death metal does in general. One can safely assume that death metal fans would be well into it. I do think the artwork looks brilliant, though.

Fashion Change / Hologram Live in DC split cassette

Two different solo studio bands from two different coasts of the United States (HOLOGRAM and FASHION CHANGE) came together to tour that country in May of 2022. This particular performance was recorded at Slash Run in Washington DC, current hometown of HOLOGRAM (or at least mainman Brendan Reichardt). The audio fidelity of the performances is very lo-fi, but this does not take away from the listening experience—of course, if anything, it only adds to it. HOLOGRAM, whose No Longer Human LP was my favourite release of 2021, plays several choice cuts from that slab along with tracks from their previous releases Build Yourself Up So Many Times Only to Be Brought Down Again and Again and Illusion of Control, along with, quite fascinatingly, a short cover of the intro to “Horizontal Hold” by THIS HEAT. On the flipside, FASHION CHANGE rages through numbers off of their Coward cassette and Devil’s Laugh 7″, with a couple of new songs thrown in the mix. This cassette tape comes highly recommended to anyone who is already acquainted with these two bands’ previous respective discographies—if you are not yet, make sure to remedy that! Two thumbs up for two of my favourite currently active bands.

Illegal Corpse Riding Another Toxic Wave LP

Hard, tight crossover leaning more on the hardcore than the thrash side of the scale. The cover art, songs about beer, and sick riffs all spell “thrash,” but the aggressive breakdowns and brutal attitude will have you throwing elbows and picking up change in the pit. “Let It Beer” absolutely rips and particularly showcases the insane drumming with double-kicks flying, rolls and fills, and hi-hats crashing all over the place. There’s no fat or filler in any of these thirteen tracks. Impossibly fast and in-your-face like all the best crossover should be. Fans of MUNICIPAL WASTE and GOATWHORE, take note.

Illegal Leather Raw Meat LP

Anyone who has followed Marco Palumbo’s exploits over the past couple of decades with his bands the GAGGERS, DISCO LEPERS, and others, knows that the London frontman has mastered the art of crafting catchy ’70s-style garage bangers, and ILLEGAL LEATHER’s cold and caustic sound pulls this classic energy into the modern age. Equipping their simple and snotty approach with digital drums and dual male/female vocals, the band makes some of the least boring pop music ever to dabble in the realms of “new wave,” keeping it urgent and never crossing into “cute.” Right from the mechanical melancholy of the anthemic opening track, I can’t help but be reminded of the SPITS. It’s timeless style delivered with machine precision and a fun sci-fi edge, grounded firmly in reality by the gun-toting gimp who graces the cover.

Ilusion Ilusion cassette

Hailing from Montreal, this is ILUSION’s latest cassette release on A World Divided. There really is a difficulty name-dropping bands to make a comparison here, but the closest thing it reminds me of would be of a multiple-generation dubbed copy of some ’80s international hardcore punk compilation, except it’s a single band. This is another release where despite the lo-fi recording, it’s still musically interesting with variations of its own texture. It’s not that there isn’t a continuity, it’s definitely the same band, but despite the variation between mid-paced punk, to D-beat/raw punk, to somewhat grungy punk songs, something glues it together to have its own unique style. Definite post-punk vibes without relying on the genre, if it makes any sense. For fans of IV REICH’s first 7″.

Infra Combo Exsanguinated by Punk cassette

Experimental guitar album that approaches punk through textural noise and rhythmic loops, like TELEVISION by way of the DEAD C. “Exsanguinated by Punk” appears as three movements with JOHN COLTRANE-style parenthetical descriptions: “Acknowledgement,” “Empathy,” and “Ascension,” painting a theme with seemingly improvised passages that meld the vocabulary of punk and jazz. The beautiful opener “Eulogy for Jean-Luc Godard” combines droning chords with exploratory noodling over stumbling drums. And while we’re on the subject of Godard, he was punk as fuck. Keep your Repo Man and give me his film Weekend, where consumer culture literally crashes and burns, as the ultimate punk movie any day. Similarly, INFRA COMBO stomps through genre conventions and treads on our sacred traditions with the second and third iterations of the title track. “Empathy” contains the lines, “When all the spikes have gone limp / And the chains have lost their chrome / When my leather jacket has gone back to the earth / We pack up and go home,” while “Ascension” builds into a detuned march that Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo would happily put their names on, with the lyrics “If this is all there is / Then my heart breaks / If this is all there is / Then the style isn’t worth the space.” It’s a challenging album that rejects the staid conformity that comes with this territory we inhabit while embracing the radical experimentation that brought us here in the first place.

Insanity Defense Asylum: Complete Recordings 1983–1985 LP

This is that ’80s hardcore I live for. The early 1980s were swarming with hardcore punk bands coming out of every nook and cranny, with too much attention always given to just a few bands and miniscule historic records of bands that should have mattered more. INSANITY DEFENSE is one of those bands that has flown under my radar (and I’m sure many others), and I’m sorry for having missed out for this long. INSANITY DEFENSE easily hold their own sonically against the great titans in the coliseum of early hardcore punk, and demonstrate their talent throughout each song on this historic document. The vinyl album, and accompanying zine, preserves two different recording sessions spanning a two-year timeframe. In this period of time, INSANITY DEFENSE honed their sound from speedy, houseparty hardcore punk into a deathrock-tinged hardcore powerhouse. The LP is further worth owning as it splits the two recording sessions between sides, serving not only to highlight the maturation of the band, but also as a unique listening experience in that Side A will attract fans of DOA and MDC, while Side B plays similar to AGENT ORANGE, TSOL, and even moments of CHRISTIAN DEATH.

Iron Lung Mental Distancing flexi EP

Three-song flexi that was culled from material the band recorded before the pandemic began. Okay, it’s IRON LUNG. I knew it was going to be good, but it’s really fucking good. “The Psychology of Quarantine” (how’s that for a pre-COVID omen, Jesus) opens the EP with a noisy soundscape and then delivers the absolutely pummeling guitar/drums powerviolence we know and love. The lyrics, “Their power / Fueled by depression / Granted access first to the mind / And then to its declining vessel / During crisis there is insatiable hunger / And an endless food source” encapsulates the chaos, confusion, and downward cultural spiral of the last two years in a 45-second invective. “Everything is a Void” is another grenade blast that has a stuttering, glitched-out guitar phrase before the blasting begins. “Our brains know what sickness tastes like,” indeed. The third track, “Only Human,” is a RUDIMENTARY PENI cover, and I was excited to hear what IRON LUNG would do with the original’s rolling drum cadence. My expectations were dashed, reconfigured, and handed back to me in a stunning way—they go industrial-influenced hardcore like a mix of GODFLESH-style booming low-end noise-bass and the filthiness of PIG HEART TRANSPLANT. It’s nasty and unique in the best way a punk cover can be. Even the best powerviolence records can run together a bit because of the fast blur of songs, but IRON LUNG, as usual, makes every track an innovative, distinct, unnerving experience. Can a stopgap, album-teasing flexi be one of the best punk releases of the year? Essential listening.

Jane Doe Ensemble The Corruption of What Cheer? LP

With two singles (one vinyl, one digital) and an EP of demos behind them, this is JANE DOE ENSEMBLE’s debut LP. Their NYC roots are not to be missed on this minimal, no wave art-punk recording. Organ and synth-led, most songs are slow and reflective, with jabby guitars, floppy drums, and chorused lyrics focused on social and political commentary, like “What is Left is Also What is Right.” These songs are not catchy, you won’t get them stuck in your head, and they’re not foot-stompers, but they will make you think. On “Respect,” I hear some slanted DEVO influence, but my lack of depth in the art-punk world doesn’t give me much else to reference here, which is maybe part of the point. If you’re not already feeling weird and uncomfortable enough, then have a listen.

Jeff Hill Band Entertainment for the Fun Generation LP

I’m just a few songs in, and I can tell you what these guys are about: these guys are about super melodic pop music. It’s very much got that feel of power pop from the early ’80s. And whether the sound is pop or power pop, the influence is clearly the pop music of the ’60s with all sorts of different genres represented, including doo wop and surf. I like it. I like it a bunch. Fourteen songs is a lot on one album for me. My magic number is ten. And I like songs to almost always be less than two-and-a-half minutes.

Kirkby Kiss It’s Gonna Cost You LP

I don’t know what’s going on here. Musically, this starts out as some decent post-hardcore-type stuff in line with Dead Reckoning-era SMALL BROWN BIKE with effects pedals, but when the vocals kick in, it’s wild. Like hardcore-as-fuck wild. Then a few songs later, it goes full-on DISCHARGE/HOLY MOUNTAIN, followed up by a song with spoken vocals that reminds me of some early ’90s Ebullition/DC-type vibe. This record is kinda all over the place while staying in a specific lane the whole time. It’s something that I could find myself revisiting on occasion, but not a lot.

Beex / L’Amour split LP

Two bands with a shared member and shared sensibilities. BEEX plays slightly rocked-up, boilerplate blues. Thankfully we’re spared lengthy guitar solos. L’AMOUR delivers more of the same with a RAMONES-y, MÖTORHEAD-y tilt. The sound on this LP is pro enough, though I suspect poorer quality would’ve been suitable, too. The soundtrack to a perfectly crappy bar.

Languid A Paranoid Wretch in Society’s Games LP

If D-beat was an Olympic sport, it would probably be diving—like diving, to the unversed, it pretty much always sounds and looks the same. Only self-proclaimed experts can actually tell the brilliant kind from the mediocre one, and everyone can spot a really botched dive just as well as an excruciatingly boring D-beat band. And if D-beat was an Olympic discipline (it won’t be until 2032), then LANGUID would possibly win a gold medal. This Edmonton band has been going since 2015 and has delivered quality orthodox D-beat ever since, but their new album A Paranoid Wretch in Society’s Game (a very COVID-compatible title) takes them to new heights. D-beat is a subgenre based on strict expectations, and LANGUID knows the game well and totally meets it with a heavy production, perfect Swedish D-beat riffs, some groovy bass lines, a very pure version of the beat on the drums, and shouted vocals with the compulsory scansion, flow, and accentuation. LANGUID belongs to the Swedish branch of the loving D-beat family and clearly aims at emulating DISFEAR (A Brutal Sight of War-era), DISPENSE (In the Cold Night-era), and the most obvious reference by far, Remaining Right: Silence by MEANWHILE, a band who under the name DISCHANGE were one of the very first bands in punkstory to try to sound just like DISCHARGE. So from a creative stance, LANGUID tries to sound just like a band who tried to sound just like another band. Referential punk poetry in action. This album is a pure declaration of love to the mighty D and probably the strongest work in the Swedish-styled D-beat category in a few years (it is admittedly a narrow category). This gem was released on D-Takt & Råpunk Records, a label that specializes in such delicacies, the aptly nightmarish artwork was drawn by Adam Kindred (from CONTAGIUM and ZYGOME), and it was mastered by Kenko…from MEANWHILE. A future classic, to be sure.

Las Partes Faltantes Las Partes Faltantes cassette

Buenos Aires foursome with their debut release, an experimental mixture of math rock and hardcore(ish?). The opener “Campana Zarate” has a heavy breakdown near the end that finishes with a college jam band bubbly guitar solo (trust me, I got dragged to see too many of those). And while this jammy thing continues throughout the album, what those college bands were missing is made up here in the heavier, technical rests and tempo changes (read: math rock), that are paired with yelling and super soft near-aria vocals—a good example of this duality is on “Ghosteas”. Check it out for something different.

Last Affront 10 Track EP

Fast and ripping hardcore punk the way it should be done. LAST AFFRONT from London/Brighton, England put out this blasting EP in 2021 following a slightly disappointing demo back in 2019. On this EP, the band perfectly translates their live power and presence into a studio setting. The instrumentation is fast and furious (not unlike YDI or SSD) while still delivering some top-notch musicianship, all performed underneath a shrieking, hoarse vocal delivery. This was one of my favourite records to come out last year and it still holds up.

Lesser Minds Futile cassette

New Jersey’s LESSER MINDS come out swinging with this debut cassette EP. Futile is a very pissed-off, riffy affair in the vein of classic CEREMONY, with some of the dissonance of chaotic bands like DEADGUY. The abrasive and oppressive sounds omitted by LESSER MINDS is certainly far from easy listening. Recommended.

Liquids Life is Pain Idiot LP

Considering this was on my best of 2021 list, it’s not surprising that I love this record. Revisiting it now, especially now that it’s finally on vinyl, I’m amazed at how comparatively clean it all sounds given the band’s legacy of ear-bleeding basement punk. There’s no hesitation in recommending this sprawling collection of songs, though if anything, Mat Williams’ songs have even more heft to them with the details and turns of phrase (both lyrically and musically) put into sharper focus. Tracks like “All You Say” and “Shitty Fuckin DNA” are undeniable classics that continue the tradition of mirror-smashing hopelessness that keeps hardcore and punk vital to this day. The playing is as tight as ever, the songs are perfection. This band might be tidier than ever, but that doesn’t stop them from burning everything to the ground.

Maniac Maniac cassette

I was not feeling this one at first, but this collection of off-kilter new wave slow-dancers won me over in the end. First of all, MANIAC: change your name. Discogs lists 27 bands with the same name, several of them well-established and long-running. Also, this music is not maniacal, although the vocals do slightly veer into SAMHAIN-era Danzig on “Good Friends” and “Last Breath.” The rest of the songs sound more like basement-recorded MODERN ENGLISH or GARY NUMAN with thick synths, mid-tempo drum machine beats, and detached crooning. I was ready to pack it in and move on when “Queen” came on. It’s the kind of song that sounds so instantly classic that you wonder if it’s a cover. I checked and I couldn’t tell—is it a cover? It’s catchy, nostalgic, romantic, and danceable. If word gets out, it’ll end up in a Sofia Coppola film. “Take Me Home” works the same way with a perfect NEW ORDER tribute that will swell the hearts of any aging waver. Pop it on, guaranteed make-out sesh.

Mark The 1st 2 Albums cassette

God bless the blown-out bedroom pop singers that keep the dream of guitar-based, melody-laden rock songs alive and well. The eponymous MARK offers up two full-lengths of just that on the best format for the form—cassette. At its best, the songs remind me of Matt Sharp’s post-WEEZER output, with a sort of detached but emotive cool. I’d advise against listening to both albums back-to-back, however, as the songs do tend to meander here and there and blur together into a nice-enough soup of pretty decent jams with some high points scattered throughout. Overall, The Short Shrift (the first album) is the more satisfying overall listen, with its more rough-around-the-edges production and straightforward emotive rock sensibility. There are great songs on both though, such as the more ponderous and expansive “Can’t Make it Honest” from Quiet Days. This is clearly a labor of love, and you couldn’t question the sincerity in play here, even if you might find yourself tuning in and out more than you should.


Merked Murk Mob cassette

Oakland’s heavy hitters MERKED play twenty tracks of sinister, grinding powerviolence with a gruesome slab of sludge, recalling HARD TO SWALLOW and UNRUH. Excellent stuff that does not tire on the ears like some forms of PV can. Punk grind attitude, somewhat sloppy at times, in a fluid way. It sounds like they are having a good time doing what they love and I like that. A three-piece that sounds like a mammoth, lots of breakdowns and some mid-tempo moments. I got through the entirety of the twenty tracks and it sort of felt like a play. There is definitely a story here and they don’t overdo it; the tape simply slams start to finish. I reviewed CHOKE from the Bay Area some months ago as well, and still have yet to see them. Lame of me, but it would be rad to check both these bands out. That would vibe nicely, I think.

Mitraille Mitraille LP

Debut LP from this Belgian act who’ve been at it for about five years now, with a handful of EPs under their belt. My internet sleuthing didn’t turn up too much about the band, but everything I did come across wanted to inform me in some flippant manner that these guys play garage punk. And they do. It’s just not nearly as tossed-off and cool as their Bandcamp copy would have you believe. Actually, this is some pretty slick-sounding shit—you can tell some real work went into both the production and the songwriting here. These guys wanted these tracks to sound good. The problem is they just sound fine. They’re clearly aspiring to some big, catchy sound (or like the underground garage punk equivalent), but the songwriting isn’t quite up to the task and something about the execution sounds insincere. A rougher production might have helped hide these shortcomings, but the approach taken here really lays them bare. It ends up sounding  like a facsimile of the BLACK LIPS at their most anodyne, or an antiseptic band like PARQUET COURTS covering the URANIUM CLUB. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, just exceedingly OK.

Money Final Bag demo cassette

A while back I called the Roachleg Records “hotline” in an attempt to get more info on the VIOLENT CHRISTIANS. A whiny, Jerky Boys-type character answered the phone, sounding confused and annoyed by my call. “Wild Christians?” he replied, “what about ‘em?,” as he went on to deny any knowledge of the existence of that band, or any other band for that matter. It was a hilarious, baffling exchange, and I’m not sure why I expected anything less. Over the past couple of years, this Brooklyn-based label has established itself as one that gets my immediate attention upon dropping a new release. In a world increasingly populated by copycats and cosplayers, Roachleg’s commitment to releasing truly abrasive and gnarly music has earned them a special place in my ever-blackening heart, and this demo adds to the filthy pile of perverse tapes that they’ve been steadily foisting on the unsuspecting public. Naming their band after “the root of all evil,” MONEY rips through three tracks of nasty hardcore rumbling. The band has a grim, noisy, and driving sound punctuated by madman guitar noodling and led by unintelligible, cretinous vocals, all dripping in the sonic scuzz that has become this prolific label’s calling card. In fact, the blurred and belligerent delivery of it all could easily distract one from the fact that there are some serious chops at work here. It’s hot shit, and I’m hoping we haven’t heard the last of it. Want to learn more? You better call Sol.

Nailed In Shovel LP

Croatia’s NAILED IN offer some pissed, fast hardcore on their Shovel LP, taking clear influence from other pissed-off fast hardcore such as INFEST and the early ’80s Boston bands. If you’re into that type of stuff, then you should dig this slab a fair amount. It doesn’t quite grasp this reviewer as much as it should, but I do like it and would recommend it a listen.

No Brains Certified Mullet EP

This is a charmingly dumb record. The songs have an early hardcore style. They are trashy while being a bit poppy. The drums plod along while the bass thuds with them. The guitar is barely discernible. The silly lyrics are spit out between breaths. Throw it all together and you a get a fun record that pretends it’s still 1982.

Ojo Por Ojo Leprosario LP

“This sounds like a lot of other albums I’ve heard” is my default phrase of criticism, but in the instance of  OJO POR OJO’s release Leprosario, I mean it as the highest form of praise. Listing all the amazing inspirations OJO POR OJO certainly draws upon would take an entire page, and rather than just mimic other bands, they instead opt to carve a trench of their own, using a barrage of extreme music elements as their digging machine. This is one of those albums you can put on for your punk friends and your metal friends, and every subgenre and derivation of, and they’ll all ask, “Who is this?” There aren’t a lot of sounds coming from metal that really make my head turn these days, but OJO POR OJO gives me whiplash. Mixing elements of hardcore punk, crossover, and metal seamlessly so that you’ll never see what’s coming around the bend, OJO POR OJO continually gifts the listener with suprises and unique transitions. “Pisadas” opens this LP with a sludge-laden snarl that chugs along until suddenly a guitar begins picking a fast riff and this album switches into overdrive. “Borracho de Gasolina,” the next song, is a thrash fest ready for circle pits. Essentially, this album is a ten-song stampede in which OJO POR OJO demonstrates just how musically skilled they are. When you peruse the liner notes and realize this is a three-piece unit, and that the lead singer and guitar player are the same person, you’ll wonder how OJO POR OJO is capable of such immense power and precision. “Mausoleos de Metal” is a standout song; powerful, thrashing drums, soaring guitars, voracious vocals, everything OJO POR OJO is capable of, poured into a single glass, and served straight-up.

Pacino Sedm Sv​ě​tů LP

PACINO has real energy under their sometimes understated delivery. The bass and drums propel the songs, though you might miss them at first—behind the riffs, they’re defining and pushing the music forward. The guitars mostly play around the bass, providing complementary notes instead of a louder, more distorted mimic. The rough vocals have a wonderful harmony at their core. The band’s genre feels familiar, but I’m struggling to identify it—’90s alt rock? Lo-fi indie? If you’re interested in the answer, please give it a listen.

Peach Blush Disqko cassette

From a quiet and dreamy shoegazing intro to a solid, chunky, four-on-the-floor guitar-heavy slog…and that’s just the teaser track. Throw adolescent(s) vocal delivery in the mix and this Arkansas trio delivers an exceptionally mature debut with Disqko—a scant four tracks (plus the aforementioned intro) from a band who are relying on songwriting instead of blind riffing; the power is in the presentation instead of the tonnage. Sounds rooted in ’90s alt (which this undoubtedly is) are definitely not typically my “thing,” but good is good. PEACH BLUSH lingers, PEACH BLUSH focuses, and they are damn good at it.

Gunn / People’s Temple East Coast Tour 2022 split cassette

The GUNN/PEOPLE’S TEMPLE split tape is yet another example of a classic, decades-old musical conflict: West Coast vs. East Coast. Orange County’s GUNN represents the West with four brand new absolute ragers on their side—already with a stellar discography on their back, these tunes may in fact be their best offerings yet. Representing the East is New York City’s PEOPLE’S TEMPLE, who are absolutely no slouches themselves. Their early POISON IDEA-styled approach works incredibly well in their favour, with a total of six tunes on their side of the cassette—some new stuff, some re-recordings of material from their demo, and even a cover of “Rampton Song” by Brits DISORDER. So which coast takes the prize this time? That, loyal MRR readers, is for you to decide…blast it loud and choose wisely!

Pet Mosquito The Plaza Records Sessions Vol. 1 CD

Lo-fi, fuzzed-out garage-y punk-y stuff. While this type of thing is cool on record, the recordings don’t usually do it justice, and these types of bands benefit from the live setting where the wild energy that always seems toned-down on records can shine. I feel like this is the same situation, and I bet they kill it live.

Polluted Womb I & II cassette

This release is a compilation of the first two releases by POLLUTED WOMB from El Paso, Texas. The music is raw and downtuned crust punk with some odd touches of grind. And in the grand tradition of dour ’90s-era crust, it is absolutely jam-packed with samples. Of the two releases on this cassette tape, I prefer II slightly more but, if you’re into this type of thing, both releases are worth your time.

Protex Wicked Ways LP

This is the second album from the reformed Northern Irish punk band PROTEX. The best thing you can say about a reunited band is that they still sound like their old stuff, and PROTEX does a good job of sticking to that old sound. Wicked Ways has that punky power pop sound and the songs are introspective in an almost teenage-like way. They are dreaming and wondering. The only original member is singer Aidan Murtagh, but as I have read, he feels no pressure for this version of the band to become successful with any new recordings so it has freed him up to just have fun. I think that is a great attitude. I am sure some naysayers will complain (they always do), but after they have been listening to this album for forty years, they’ll have to admit I was right. If they are still around, that is.

Punitive Damage Strike Back EP

A powerful unit with members hailing from Vancouver and Seattle, PUNITIVE DAMAGE drops three all-too-brief bombs on this bright yellow 7”. This is some heavy and tight hardcore with a classic sound and a rabid singer that is absolutely pissed. If that murderous opening track “Legacy” doesn’t get your attention, don’t even look at me. More, please.

Radio Days I Got a Love EP

Pop music with punk influences. Is there anything better? Awesome. I can hear the PARTRIDGE FAMILY in this! That’s a high compliment. I can also hear the EXPLODING HEARTS. At its core, this is pop music made by folks whose musical interests are varied and broad and include stuff that stretches way beyond the Top 40. If you like power pop that is catchy and maybe even a little corny at times, you’ll like this one. I loved this right off the bat, and I feel confident that it will continue to grow on me. Worth looking for.

Refedex The Top of Off LP

Australian post-punk/noise rockers with an approach somewhere between US MAPLE and the JESUS LIZARD. Thick, bobbing bass lines meet snaky, mysterious guitar lines with build-ups that build and build and build with no release. Tension abounds, harmonics chime, and floor toms pound. Restraint meets desperation with the tight rhythm section, led by erratic, exasperated vocals. Every song here is a sneaky, smoky killer, making its way into your unconscious mind. Great release that could have come out on Touch and Go back in the good old days. Recommended.

Remote Control Remote Control EP

REMOTE CONTROL is a new recording project from the ever-prolific Ishka Edmeades (SATANIC TOGAS, SET-TOP BOX, TEE VEE REPAIRMAN, and probably every other band out of Sydney). This time he’s opting to apply his sharp songwriting chops to some synth-free blistering punk tracks, and—big shocker—it’s cool! You’re getting three sub-two-minute corkers here (along with a couple of tracks of soundscape-y farting around). This is probably the closest Ishka’s come to putting out some straightforward USHC, but, of course, coming from this dude it’s not gonna be all that straightforward. It’s still a little cartoony and still sounds like something the weirdest kid you remember from high school might cook up. In other words, it’s real good shit!

Resin Bad Trip Bad Day cassette

RESIN’s latest cassette release by L.A.’s new label 1753. Sonically, it lands somewhere around Mexico’s MUERTE EN LA INDUSTRIA with the evil-sounding KURO-style vocals, as well as Kyushu noisecore influences. Catchy but not just drunk and pogo, and I don’t know… puke and vomit as well. But coming from L.A., these punks must have the SILENZIO STATICO catalog and BLAZING EYE/ZOLOA riffs running inside their veins. The phrasing and riffs are actually interesting enough to where it’s not dismissable as another relentless D-beat/raw punk band. This will make you go to an alley and drink 40s with the crew.

Rouge Rouge cassette

This has got to be like my sixth review for this label in as many months. We get it—y’all like music! Just make sure you continue putting out good shit if you want me to keep up this pace. Speaking of good shit, allow me to introduce to you ROUGE, a new four-piece out of Berlin who meld the new wave shimmy of the first B-52’S album with the drippy garage punk of THEE OH SEES’ The Master’s Bedroom is Worth Spending a Night In LP. The six tracks on this cassette kinda teeter between being more overtly punk and post-punk, but they all have a consistently gloomy vibe and a fairly unique sound overall! I’m into it!

Savage Pleasure A Harrowing Cry… From the Shadows cassette

Metal-infused punk or punk-infused metal? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that it rips! Equal parts AMEBIX and HELLHAMMER with some nods to VENOM or early VOIVOD, but always keeping a punk edge. From the cover to the samples, there is this occult folky feeling that just seals the deal and glues the whole thing together. Overall, this demo is a great debut from SAVAGE PLEASURE. First-wave enthusiasts, get your hands on this one.

Scrunchies Feral Coast LP

Don’t let the quiet bass-and-vocal intro to the opener “The Houseplant” fool you, because this shit turns up and slaps. With a riot grrrl sound like SPITBOY or BIKINI KILL, this Minneapolis group has earned their keep amongst the greats. Their 2018 debut album Stunner earned them wide recognition, and Feral Coast is no lightweight follow-up. Fronted by the shouts and vocal prowess of Laura Larson (formerly of BABY GUTS and currently with KITTEN FOREVER), SCRUNCHIES is an amalgamation of too-many-to-name bands through its various members, past and present. On this release, Matt Castore’s (CONDOMINIUM) bass lines bowel-rip through the undercurrent; farty, distorted, and unrelenting. Danielle Cusack (BRUISE VIOLET) speeds through cymbal-heavy and frantic drums, only softening to let some verses be heard, then red-lines into the bridges and choruses, singing backup the whole while. It’s hard to pick a favorite track here, but “Black Egg” is up there for me with an intro that builds to the roiling “Honestly honey” hook, balancing the personal and political nature of SCRUNCHIES lyrical content. If any of the aforementioned bands pique your interest, I think you will really enjoy Feral Coast.

Sectarian Bloom New Spring cassette

Second release from the darkwave-meets-post-punk group SECTARIAN BLOOM, out of Oakland, CA. For a trio, they really fill out these songs, creating the ambience of a genre often accompanied by a second guitar and synths. Will’s vocals are clean and stark, like Peter Murphy of BAUHAUS, while Susi (I could only find first names here) sings passionately and hangs onto notes over the glassy guitar riffs. The lyrics are poetry, like some JOY DIVISION coldness found on the opener “Static”: “A new found passion / A new found hate / But now aware of what fate waits / Expired incandescence / Flowing coils losing sheen / Silent detachment waits at every corner / Just static.” Transylvanian claims to have “the darkest waves in the Bay,” and I think that does well to sum up SECTARIAN BLOOM.

Self Improvement Visible Damage cassette

The whereabouts of Su Tissue following the demise of SUBURBAN LAWNS have been a source of continued speculation, but after listening to this debut from Long Beach’s SELF IMPROVEMENT, one could convincingly run with the theory that Su decamped to the UK for a spell before finding her way back to the LAWNS’ hometown, where she started the band up again under a new name and with a new accent—English expat vocalist Jett Witchalls largely sticks to a Tissue-adjacent (but considerably less art school quirky) deadpan speak/sing, only allowing her austere facade to slip into more animated squirms and squeals when the band’s wound-up wiggly world rhythms hit fever pitch. ”Ashes” circles in an ominous, bass-centered loop with near-whispered voice-over narration for a steady two minutes, before abruptly shifting into a frantic finish line dash of shrieks and “I can’t believe it’s not Northwest Indiana” robo new wave writhing, and the nervous tick of the title track sounds like ’80s weirdo staple “Janitor” if it had been written by Hardcore-era DEVO, with Jett’s blank emotion chants spiking into the briefest of melting-down shouts without ever losing control. I think Su would approve (wherever she is). 

Sewer Trout Meet the Sewer Trout LP

This rules. Full disclosure, I’m a little impartial, being friends with Hal MacLean and having shared hosting duties with him on radio shows forever. SEWER TROUT were legends from Sacto, California and included Hal and his late brother Jim MacLean. They were part of the Lookout! Records roster for a quick blur, but were always a bit more clever at songwriting and musicianship to be lumped in with some of the later “pop” punk ilk on that label. You can really hear elements of the BEACH BOYS and even the BEATLES or WOODY GUTHERIE here, along with contemporaries like CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN, BLATZ, and the LOOKOUTS. Well ahead of their time, they cover timely political issues (“Coors For Contras”), gender dysphoria issues (“Vagina Envy”), and complex spirituality (“God’s Got Balls”). It’s a complete discography sorta, but still, most of the hits are here, along with some of Hal’s stellar artwork that’s been gracing well-deserving punk flyers and records forever. Cut short much too soon by Jim’s tragic death, their spirit lives on in the music and cheap beer. I think there’s even a tribute cover band now?! SEWER TROUT for president indeed.

Agathocles / Shitload split cassette

AGATHOCLES pumps out raw, unhinged mincecore sounding like it was recorded in a public toilet. Nasty, brutish, and short, each of their 25 tracks on this split is a punch to the face. Some tracks, like “Porcelain A,” fold some of that sweet D-beat into the mix. All of it has that trademark snare drum/cymbal overload and growling, political vocals you’d expect from these veterans. Then, taking a huge swerve into another dimension, SHITLOAD starts blasting straight-up migraine fuel. The second of their seven tracks of dissonance and shouting is entitled “Kazoos, Whistles, Feedback and Noise.” I appreciate when things are labeled precisely as what they are. I don’t even know what to compare this stuff to, but I do love their track titles. My favorite is “Brah, You Shoulda Seent Da Looks People Were Givin Me When I Wore My Mawbid Angel Shirt With Da Sleeves Cut Off In Rouse’s.”

The Sick Rose Shaking Street LP reissue

This record, originally coming at the tail end of the ’80s revival of garage (you know, before the ’90s and then ’00s revivals, etc.) doesn’t necessarily live up to the billing of this quintet as one of Italy’s “most devastating” garage bands. I won’t fault these songs for a flaw in marketing though, because it does hit my sweet tooth for jangly guitar rock with some echoes of the ’60s freakout bands and an undeniably ’80s pop finish. Not quite the Paisley Underground, not quite America’s scum rock take on garage, and not quite the sparkling crystalline sound of New Zealand, this stands on its own rare ground and merits. A tune like “A Kiss is Not Enough” drives along like 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS premiered on college radio between a REPLACEMENTS song and R.E.M. Normally I wouldn’t throw so many bands together to describe someone’s sound, but it does flip a switch I wasn’t expecting. Then the band goes full time machine with the tambourine-accented and nicely-druggy “Don’t Keep Me Out.” It’s a great synthesis of eras and styles that mostly hit, even while not necessarily tapping the raw aggression other garage revivalists. This is fairly buttoned-up with hooks aplenty. European cool, I guess they call that.

No Comply / Sidetracked split EP

The SIDETRACKED side will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with their erratic start/stop, no time to breathe approach to powerviolence—seventeen tracks in three-and-a-half minutes, taken from different recordings and different sessions, so it sounds even more fucked-up and weird than they normally do. But speaking of old heads, NO COMPLY is still in the game after more than twenty years, and still they sound like they just crawled out of the grooves of a 1994 dollar bin score. Treble-heavy and bass guitar-driven, classic PV in the West Bay tradition—there’s nothing polished here, but there’s a lot that’s pure. This split needed to happen, and it didn’t disappoint.


Maxxpower / Sidetracked split EP

Second straight batch with new SIDETRACKED cuts, so I start with the flip so I can keep myself hungry. Wise choice, it turns out—Montreal’s MAXXPOWER are a ruthless wall of speed-picking fastcore, and all I want is more fukkn fast after I hear their five tracks. Thick, meaty, and subtly metallic bursts that hover around the half-minute mark, they’re my introduction to the band and they are absolute killers. Half-a-minute is like a rock opera to SIDETRACKED though; each of the tracks on their side barely top the twenty-second mark. More nasty start/stop powerviolence manipulations from these Washington stalwarts, overall slightly dirtier-sounding than you might be used to (especially the bass), but their digitally-enhanced breaks that make them sound like fastcore robots are on full display. You might think you know, but no one sounds like SIDETRACKED—they’ve taken the formula and manipulated it beyond recognition…this is truly theirs now.

Slander Tongue Ride / Lockdown 7″

While it’s good enough to hold my attention, this glam-focused single isn’t my favorite thing I’ve heard all month. The A-side starts off well enough, but it feels like it’s supposed to go somewhere, and it just doesn’t. Jesus, finish me. The B-side is a little less glam and a little more punk, but it still is missing something for me. Sort of mid-tempo and catchy, just not compelling. I feel like Slovenly is generally pretty dependable. I’d say this was a little disappointing.

Slaughter Boys Til the End of the Weak LP

Get ready to get hooked. San Diego’s SLAUGHTER BOYS are back with an LP packed with hit after would-be hit. Classic-sounding punk that sounds like ’80s Southern California (think DICKIES, ADOLESCENTS) crashing full speed into the BLOOD and EDDIE & THE HOT RODS, all with an overt glam/garage tinge. Definitely not what I normally go for (at all), but I’ll be fucked if these punks didn’t absolutely nail it.

Smegma Dives Headfirst Into Punk Rock 1978/79 CD

SMEGMA were the true freaks of Portland punk’s first wave. A gang of mutant anti-musicians originally from Pasadena, CA and involved in the Los Angeles Free Music Society, SMEGMA moved to Portland in the mid-’70s and found themselves swept up in the freedom of the early punk movement. While the group gigged with the WIPERS, NEO BOYS, and ICE 9, and even had a young Jerry A. from POISON IDEA in their lineup, they weren’t exactly playing three-chord rockers. This compilation is an expanded edition of a 2015 tape and documents those early years, through live and home studio recordings, also including the rare 7”s Disco Diarrhea and Flashcards. While songs like “Front Row Lloyd” and “Get Away” come closest (while still being miles away) to doctrine “punk rock,” chugging away monotonously on furiously out-of-tune riffs, most of the music documented on this is droning, skronking, screeching, strange, creeping, cacophonic, freeform, improvised, and id-driven. While rooted in the punk rock history of Portland, SMEGMA were massively important in creating space for noise and experimental music in the city, and I’d declare them to be just as influential to the legacy of DIY independent music-making as DEAD MOON.

Spad Spad demo cassette

New cassette release on No Solution Ltd. from Orange County’s SPAD. The first thing that came to mind listening to this band is ’80s USHC/Italian bands such as RAW POWER and INDIGESTI, except this band can play their instruments. Rather dry recording without too much distortion or effects—perhaps something about the weather may have some sort of influence on the dry sound like this. Fast, thrashy hardcore punk.

Spit! Spit! cassette

Taipei’s SPIT’s new release sounds like an aural hell of fastcore/grindcore chaos—a thrashy-sounding HC approach with screamed vocals, furious blastbeats, and tough breakdown parts for two-stepping. Somewhat reminiscent of SENSELESS APOCALYPSE releases without the grit, and with a more modern hardcore touch to it than the AGATHOCLES school of grindcore. For fans of PUNCH, TRASH TALK, WEEKEND NACHOS, and DROPDEAD/SIEGE at times.

Sukob Tvoje Misli Su Nečija Umjetnost LP

Debut LP of a new Croatian band playing hardcore and referring to both POISON IDEA and CELTIC FROST. Based on this description (written by their label), I assumed “oh so, you sound like WARTHOG,” but even if in theory both bands have the same inspirations, this record differs from their contemporary. For one, SUKOB started with an full-length album, and they are way less metal-influenced and much more unstructured hardcore, which does not mean chaotic but instead a gimmickless riffage and not-so-varied songwriting. The tempos change between galloping riffs, straight-up brain-hitting direct parts, and mid-paced. It is a short record and lacking that overwhelming effect that is usually created by close-to-pitching mixing and mastering—the sound does not explode out from the speakers, and the listener has to turn it up and pay attention, otherwise it could become decent hardcore/punk background music. The singer screams with lots of passion, almost spitting out his throat, occasionally switching to rather bitter spoken vocals. This emotional outrage is constant, which makes the sound of it a bit monotone. Listen, readers of MRR: this is not a bad record, even if I was not super excited about it so far. I like falling apart, chaotic, larger than life, weirder-than-VOID hardcore, which means I have a though time in general to find bands that really interest me. If you are not that busy sabotaging your own life and you are just looking for decent hardcore coming from less familiar places, then SUKOB is your band. If you are into non-stop tension, tight ripping, riff carpet bombing and super-pissed atmosphere, then I recommend this. It’s an honest one, the love of this type of music comes through every song—take your chance, thrash your room listening to them, prove that I am just a picky asshole.

Syndrome 81 Prisons Imaginaires LP

SYNDROME 81 stands apart from the majority of their contemporaries in the Oi! scene, taking as much inspiration from latter-era BLITZ or even ROSE OF VICTORY as they do CAMERA SILENS or TROTSKIDS. This darker, solemn take on the genre with touches and flourishes of deathrock and post-punk is a bit of a palate cleanser compared to some of the more tedious caricatures that the Sambas-and-camo-shorts mob farts out semi-regularly, and on their debut full-length they sound tighter and more fully-realised then ever before. Punchy and anthemic, this has the potential to be one of the best releases of the year.

Systema Muerte EP

Total powerhouse. The Colombian scene is on fire, and if releases like this keep coming, then that flame will not be short-lived. SYSTEMA already crawled up to the top league of current hardcore with their previous LP, and this 7” only solidifies their place. Through variously-paced songs, they can keep a huge intensity and confidently blend a modernist sound with a chaotic urgency—the whole single is just a tasteful summary of what is great in hardcore, including introducing a sort of originalty. Creating a dark and violent atmosphere that reflects the current state of the world, but unlike in reality, here punx do dominate the situation and dictate what is happening. Therefore, the record is both desperate and motivating, not only pumping energy into the listener but also setting a good example of how to create something great from a lot of terrible shit. This is raw and raging, get it! 

Teenagexorcist Teenagexorcist demo cassette

Four-song demo cassette of blown-out, lo-fi, noise-infused, powerviolence-influenced hardcore. Slow and sludgy repetitive riffs followed by fast and spazzy blast parts with feedback before and after each track. The weird pedals/noisemakers peppered in are the coolest and most memorable parts.

Nashgul / Teething split LP

Oh hell yeah. I have not heard much from this band since the mid-2000s I’m sorry to say, but I am stoked to have this for review. Am I bummed I don’t have a reviewer copy? You bet. Says on Bandcamp there are two remaining. Oh well. NASHGUL plays brutal grind crust in the style of MISERY INDEX with D-beat and early SEPULTURA elements, and a killer RATOS DE PORAO cover and motor-charged RIP cover. One song is called “VHS.” I like that. TEETHING, also from Madrid, plays even more furious grind with tracks such as “Going on Vacation” (yes, please) and “Eat Your Boss” (ew…sick track, though). TEETHING’s side also features various hardcore moments that are more like DYING FETUS meets early SUICIDAL and MDC. If BLACK FLAG went grind? I’m just riffing now. This is a punk grind onslaught and I totally dig it. Awesome collage cover art, too.


Terminal Addiction EPs 2020–2021 LP

This is a collection of two EPs from Russia’s TERMINAL ADDICTION compiled by Not For the Weak Records from the USA. TERMINAL ADDICTION offers some ripping, Scandinavian-style D-beat that is sure to get your fist pumping in earnest. These two EPs are packed to the brim with riffs, rage and bitchin’-ass guitar solos—this platter rips! Recommended to those who like their D-beat ragin’ and rippin’.

The Casual Dots The Casual Dots LP / Sanguine Truth LP

Of all of the fruits borne from the DC/Olympia punk alliance that flourished in the riot grrrl era, the CASUAL DOTS were definitely one of the sweetest. Christina Billotte (of AUTOCLAVE, SLANT 6, and QUIX*O*TIC), Kathi Wilcox (of BIKINI KILL and the FRUMPIES), and Steve Dore (of DEEP LUST) formed the band somewhat spontaneously to play Ladyfest DC in 2002, put out a full-length on Kill Rock Stars two years later, and then went completely silent—Sanguine Truth is the trio’s first new recording in eighteen years, and the out-of-print debut album has been brought out of early ’00s CD-only purgatory along with it. Starting off with a surfy instrumental (“Derailing”), The Casual Dots rides on Billotte and Wilcox’s intersecting twin guitar interplay, darting between points with a plotted rhythmic precision (no need for bass) over Dore’s stripped-down beats. “Evil Operations Classified” reignites SLANT 6’s wiry and needling econo-punk spark, the knotted and woozy “Flowers” recalls what Billiotte’s AUTOCLAVE bandmate Mary Timony went on to do in HELIUM, “Mama’s Gonna Bake Us a Cake” is a hip-shaking, bare-bones garage stomper in a GOSSIP-ish mold, and the inspiration from vintage soul and R&B is laid out even more directly in the choice of great early ’60s covers that bookend Side B (“I’ll Dry My Tears” by ETTA JAMES and LAVERN BAKER’s “Bumblebee”). In comparison, the new Sanguine Truth LP has a more meditative and introspective air about it, smoothing out some of the punky raucousness of the self-titled record into ten smart, subtly spiky pop songs for uncertain futures. Christina’s trademark dissonant spy theme guitar lines build an anxious tension in the extended intro of “High Speed Chase” that’s completely countered by the too-cool calm of her vocals when they finally cut in, while “Live For Yourself” could pass as a lost ’60s girl group tear-jerker with its slow dance drumming and doo wop harmonines, and the haunting “Descending” reaches YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS-worthy levels of stark, minimalist beauty. More than worth the almost two-decade wait.

The Courettes Hop the Twig / Only Happy When You’re Gone 7″

For some reason I’m drawn to duos. I’m also a fan of female-fronted punk rock. And I like my music firmly rooted in a garage. That this duo has one member from Denmark and one from Brazil is kind of amazing to me. How did these two find each other? Anyway, this is some seriously rocking garage punk. The A-side is a rocker that’s super catchy and melodic, and on the B-side they rip into a classic ’60s girl ballad. While only a single, I think I could listen to these two tracks all day long. How have I not heard of these two before?

The Courettes Salta Il Ramo / Non Ti Lascerò 7″

For me, the COURETTES are the next big thing, though I think it’s likely they’ve been around for a bit given their volume of released music. Still, this Danish/Brazilian duo takes a favorite genre of mine (garage punk) and really delivers it in a special way. This single happens to be two of their originals, this time recorded in a foreign language. I would have expected it to be Brazilian (or even Danish), but it seems it’s Italian. Doesn’t matter—two real garage rockers here that will keep your head bouncing while doing internet research trying to figure out who the fuck these guys are. Female-fronted, which is always a plus for me.

The Drolls That Puget Sound LP

It would be easy to say this is Denny and Josh from SICKO playing pretty similar stuff, leave it at that, and not be wildly off the mark. That would be unfair to not just the other band member but the band as a whole because this doesn’t sound stale or rehashed (that joke comes later). This is fresh, catchy punk that leans pretty heavily on power pop and late ’80s alternative. More LEMONHEADS than the NERVES, but with melodic hooks that drive clean, well-crafted pop songs. Great record all around, and if you are going to cover your own song, definitely pick the one called “Rehashed.”

The Front Wet Things LP

A collection of poppy, goofy new wave songs from this Miami, Florida band. They were around from 1980 to 1983, and released two singles and a posthumous album. Some songs from those releases are here, plus a bunch more. There is no info about when the other tracks were recorded, but they sound like studio recordings. Unfortunately, only one of the three songs from their debut First Strike EP is included. The standout track is the B-side from their second single—“Poor People,” a catchy, upbeat synth-led song with silly lyrics like “Ship them off to Arkansas or somewhere else that sucks.” The FRONT was apparently on its way to major label stardom, but broke up instead. They made the correct choice.

The Frowning Clouds Gospel Sounds & More From the Church of Scientology LP

Faithful ’60s-style music from Melbourne. The songs are groovy fun with bits of folk, psych, and surf, along with a touch of Ray Davies. This album is a collection of tracks recorded in 2012 at the same time as their second album, Whereabouts. Some tracks were released as a European tour cassette, others as singles, with a few unreleased ones thrown in for good measure. It’s a nice album. Members would go on to form HIEROPHANTS, AUSMUTEANTS, and ALIEN NOSEJOB, among other cool bands.

The Fuzztones Encore CD

A compilation of unreleased tracks from this long-running garage rock band, with seven covers and one original song, although judging by the original “Barking Up The Wrong Tree,” the band should stick to covers. Hearing a 70-year-old man announce in song that he is not gay is pretty pathetic. The lyrics, including “My backyard, babe / Is a no bone zone” and “I’m founding father of the paisley pussy posse” are cringeworthy at best. Time to leave the songwriting to others. The covers, including songs by MARBLE HALL, the BEVIS FROND, and the PRETTY THINGS, are obscure enough to make them interesting. There are guest appearances by Wally Waller of the PRETTY THINGS, STOOGES’ saxophonist Steve Mackay, and the GRASS ROOTS, too. The CD features two bonus tracks not on the 12”.

Ex-White / The Gobs split EP

Turbo Discos, a cool new label out of Germany, aims to please. You all were clamoring for more split 7”s, so that’s what they’re delivering! That’s right—with their fourth vinyl release, they’re giving you two sides, two bands, two songs apiece. But bad format aside, this thing absolutely smokes! I think it helps that these two bands are so sonically similar—like, if you didn’t know any better, you’d probably just assume all these songs were coming from the same band. Both play blistering punk with a sci-fi, dum-dum edge. It’s loose, it’s noisy, it’s great. EX-WHITE, a four-piece out of Germany, play things a little more straight, with a couple of REATARDS-esque burners, while the GOBS, an act out of Olympia, WA, crank out two murky, SPITS-ophrenic numbers. So good it left me wanting more! Like maybe a couple more songs apiece…split over two releases…with each act getting their own 7”.

The Ire What Dreams May Come LP

Philadelphia’s the IRE has released What Dreams May Come as their first proper full-length. Building on their 2019 demo and 2021 cassette, the IRE opens this album with a short dirge and then ascends into a series of powerful, gothic anthems of hope and perseverance in dark times. The rhythm section of danceable bass guitar and precision drumming assist in creating a tight production, while moments of accurate guitar stabs are delivered quickly and deadly. Vocals reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux serenade with lyrics of light and dark imagery in a balance of refined poetry—”The Chariot” and “Ketu: The Severed” are my current album highlights. What Dreams May Come leaves me dreaming of what the IRE will become with future efforts, as this album showcases excellent musicianship and a refined palate of particular taste.

The New Brutarians Hysteria LP

My love of duos is well known. Bands like the HUSSY, the COURETTES, the GOOCH PALMS, the MAXINES, and now the NEW BRUTARIANS are among my favorites. It’s probably not coincidental that all of those bands also feature one male member and one female member. If you took the energy of 1977 punk and focused it into more of a pop theme, you might get something like this Hysteria LP. The band they remind me of the most is the HEARTBREAKERS. It’s super catchy and mid-tempo and melodic, but also has a garage element to it. While it’s got its more traditional punk moments, at its core, I’d call this pop music, but it’s got an authenticity rarely found in pop. They even throw in an acoustic number. It’s fun to listen to pop music played by folks who grew up on punk, as opposed to pop music played by folks who grew up on Top 40 radio. Just a different thing entirely.

The Nightingales Hysterics 2xLP reissue

An expanded reissue of the second album by these John Peel favorites, and an unknown quantity to these ears. I feel like I’m fairly literate in British post-punk, but somehow I have not heard any of the NIGHTINGALES’ albums. I acquainted myself with their first record Pigs on Purpose before heading into Hysterics, and between both I found a distinctive sound. The drums dominate their songs, never playing a straight beat but instead creating an unsettling base of rollicking toms and accenting snips of hi-hat for the guitar and bass to sway seasick upon. The rhythmic unease is offset by what I hear as a distinctively English folk presence being experimented with on this album. A violin sidles in mystically on the second track, and on the third, the group somehow merges a funky break with banjo plucking. Lead singer Robert Lloyd has a huge sonorous voice, confident in its everyman timbre. I’d say this is jangly and melodic enough for a fan of the MONOCHROME SET, JOSEF K, or ORANGE JUICE, but with enough upside-down experimental quirk for you to listen to next to DOG FACED HERMANS, the RAINCOATS, or GLAXO BABIES.

The Path Dies Screaming EP

Latest release by Vermont’s the PATH, consisting of six tracks of raging fast hardcore. Some of the song breakdowns are remiscent of screamy ’90s political hardcore groups, or some youth crew stuff coming out of that area in the late ’80s, yet faster and without the militancy. Politically-charged lyrics reflect the current state of the world that we are facing, and the last track is a melodic acoustic antifascist anthem. Their message is clear, and Vermont probably rules.

The Prize Wrong Side of Town EP

Wow. This is a damn fine EP. This is straightforward, driven power pop that features blended male/female vocals. It just hums along at a nice pace and will keep your head bouncing non-stop. With three guitarists, I was a little worried there’d be some extracurricular guitar work, but I was pleasantly surprised. The harmonies are really nicely done, and the production is full and crisp without sounding at all overdone. Really an excellent record, and from Australia if that’s the sort of thing you keep track of. You should find this.

The Reflectors Faster Action LP

Cake icing. The REFLECTORS are sweet, almost cloying, but balanced, more like butter cream?  On Faster Action, the L.A. power pop foursome belts out a crisp twelve songs in the vein of the ZEROS, mixed with equal parts PHIL SEYMOUR. The band has done their homework and put an emphasis on riff-laden lead guitar, vocal harmony, and lyrics that Chrissie Hynde would approve of. The LP has some great standouts like “All Made Up,” “Radio Signals,” and “Can’t Sleep Tonight” that bring the aesthetic and sensibility that defines power pop. Throughout the cuts you can hear the REFLECTORS coming together and finding their sound, which adds to the appeal. Faster Action is catchy and yummy with a little filling, look forward to seeing what’s next for this band.

The Scientists Negativity LP

Australian post-punk legends return with their first full-length since 1987. Fuzz on fuzz on fuzz in these rockers, combining swampy leads, proto-grunge freakouts, feedback, and Kim Salmon’s inimitable voice. Standout tracks abound, but here are a few: “Outsider” has an awesomely nasty guitar tone and a punk-blues riff that Jack White would pay a few of his millions for. “Naysayer” takes us through the slime with a track that would pair nicely with their contemporaries, the GUN CLUB. “Safe” has hand-claps and call-and-response vocals that call back to the earliest, rawest rock’n’roll and pulls the rug out from under Jon Spencer’s whole shtick. “Magic Pants” begins with a gorgeously warm distortion that cycles over a rolling 6/8 rhythm. “Moth Eaten Velvet” slows it down with a quasi-ballad complete with slide guitar and strings. Salmon suavely intones, “Faded glory / Still has stories / No one cares for history.” Negativity proves him wrong with a record that rides the classic/fresh groove and is a welcome return. If you like dirty rock’n’roll, this is wholly enjoyable. Dear SCIENTISTS, please don’t wait so long for the next record.

The Sheaves Excess Death Cult Time cassette

Take a drunken somersault through your lo-fi ’90s records with a graduate of the Mark E. Smith Vocal School. Mixing angular, dissonant, chiming guitars with slurred, flat-affected vocals, the SHEAVES carve a very particular niche from influences like the early eras of GUIDED BY VOICES and PAVEMENT with likable results. “Lariat Slung” has a mysterious guitar line that brings some subtle post-punk menace. While definitely listenable, some of the tracks seem to lack a focus and build untuned strumming on top of itself over curious non-sequitur lyrics until the song ends. “Hit Silly,” the final and by far best track, does the opposite with a propulsive beat and repetitive riff that sounds like the FALL in the best way. If slightly shambolic, noisy nuggets are your jam, check it out.

The Stonemen Faded Colors / In the Evening 7″ reissue

This is heavy, heady stuff, the way unearthed garage should be. What really stands out on these tracks from this woefully obscure Canadian quartet is what a downer they are. This is heavy not just for its fuzz or its four-on-the-floor stomp, but also for its doom-laden atmosphere. I love an unholy racket, and this satisfies that while also bringing the melody. Not as bluesy as the GROUNDHOGS and more straightforward than the MONKS, this carves its own space in history of the bummer side of stonerdom. Crucial listening.

The Templars La Premiere Croisade LP

Noted as the lost first TEMPLARS album, I was surprised to see that this even existed. La Premiere Croisade includes the band’s first EP Poor Knights of Acre, as well as a handful of songs from the same recording sessions. This is your classic Oi!, through the lens of mid ’90s teenage Long Island. It lands with chugging tempos, plenty of string bending, and faux-British accent growls. Comes off like BLITZ circa Voice of a New Generation, but more lo-fi and with less production. Cool to see this reissue happen and hear a scene from a time and place long ago—the LP satisfies the street punk itch and will have you in braces by the last cut.

The Wild Boys Last One of the Boys / We’re Only Monsters 7″ reissue

Prior to joining the SPECIALS, Roddy “Radiation” Byers formed the Coventry, UK punk band the WILD BOYS along with his brother Mark, guitarist/vocalist John Thomson, and bassist Rob Lapworth. Roddy left the band in 1978, but the rest soldiered on without him, releasing their sole 7” in 1980. The B-side “We’re Only Monsters”—penned by Roddy—became a very minor hit in the UK, but the record was otherwise all but forgotten after the band fell apart in 1981. But like so many of the records Reminder rescues from the collector scum sicko set, this one needs to be heard! “Last One of the Boys” is a catchy little power pop number that sounds like a cross between the NERVES and the BUZZCOCKS. It’s good, but it’s easy to see why folks preferred this B-side—there’s so much to love! The delirious guitar hook, the busy-ass bass line, the infectious bubblegum streetpunk chorus, the singer’s aping of Pete Shelley to the point of caricature, all just superb shit! It’s hard to imagine how this record has remained this obscure for this long. In typical Reminder fashion, the physical edition of the release is a faithful recreation of the original 7”. However, the digital release comes with two bonus tracks—the only other songs the band recorded. These tracks are in the same power pop/new wave vein as the tracks from the 7”, but they were written for a musical called Risky City about Coventry’s violent underbelly. Incredible!

Thyroids A Swift Kick in the Ass EP

Some more wacky Texas punkers, this is THYROIDS from Dallas. This is some ripping, angular garage punk with some hardcore punk in the mix, along with a slight and welcome experimental bint. This EP offers three kick-ass punk rock bangers—the vocals exude attitude and the instrumentation delivers on the record’s title with ease. The song structures are unconventional, with plenty of starts, stops, tempo changes, irregular time signatures, and all that good stuff. This EP is a real blast and I dig it a ton!

Today is Tomorrow Second Guest CD

There’s something about this that just doesn’t sit right with me. It just doesn’t hit right. It kinda sounds like a demo recording, but at the same time it doesn’t, if that makes any sense. It just sounds kinda hollow, I guess. As for the band themselves, the sound is very reminiscent of that wave of pseudo pop punk/”emo” that was big on Warped Tour a couple decades ago. At its core, it’s kinda punk, but in a loose “dudes covering radio ‘punk’ hits at a bar” kinda way. One song stuck out to me, though: “Parking Ticket” had something that sounded familiar to it and I couldn’t place it. Then it struck me. It kinda sounded like if Matt from SQUIRTGUN sang for HOT WATER MUSIC. There is a part that repeats through the song that is literally a part from a HOT WATER MUSIC song. Honestly, I think if the sound was a bit thicker I’d be more apt to give this a bit more of a chance. Maybe next time.

Tramp Jail Bait / All I Want 7″

If you’re a fan of stripped-down, female-fronted garage punk, this could be right up your alley. If you lean towards raunchy lyrics, you might even end up touching yourself when you listen to this one. Comparisons to the DONNAS are fairly obvious, but the lyrics are more direct and the sound is definitely not quite as “produced.” For me, it’s a shtick that’s a little too focused, like you’re backing yourself into a pigeonhole.

Tuxedo Cats Out the Bag EP

The poindexters over at Reminder HQ have decided to momentarily shelve their obscure acetates, hang up their tweed jackets, and emerge from their hermetically sealed library to get out in the real world and experience some now-sounds. Of course, it’s been a minute since contemporary tunes have graced their ears, so it’s not surprising their first non-archival release bears a striking resemblance to the same music of yesteryear they’re accustomed to peddling. TUXEDO CATS, an excellently named five-piece out of Brooklyn composed of folks who once made up bands APACHE, TOUGH SHITS, and DANCER, play a catchy mix of all the typical Remider genres—power pop, glam, and punk. Out the Bag is their debut EP and features four tracks of snotty, hook-filled, dolled-up tough-guy scuzz rock. It’s all worth your time, but “Play it to Win”—a solid HEARTBREAKERS rip—has been bouncing around in my head non-stop since I first heard it about a month back. Pick this thing up!

Under Attack Mercy Killing EP

This is UNDER ATTACK’s latest EP, co-released by 625 and To Live A Lie. Despite cover artwork depicting older hardcore members, looking like it’s going to be yet another crossover thrash metal band from their area, this record is straight-up raging fast hardcore hell with bursts of negative energy, with some My War-era BLACK FLAG dirge mixed in the slow parts. If the artwork consisted of more black, Xeroxed anti-war or dark imagery of society or something, it would easily sit well next to older DROPDEAD records, or on Pessimiser Records or the Youth Attack catalog from a few years back.

Under Pressure Vicious Bite & Vengeance Demo LP

Graffiti font! American flags! Outer boroughs! It’s the whole schtick. This re-release is pretty cut-and-dry late ’80s NYHC. It retains the short-fast-loud DNA with some post-YOUTH OF TODAY breakdowns and mid-tempo beats. There’s even Cause for Alarm-style guitar shredding for good measure. The poor audio quality makes this more of an historic document than a genre highlight.

Urn Urn cassette

A charge of hypnotic hardcore out of Dallas, the second full-length from URN is a unique beast. On one hand, it sounds like something their Austin neighbors GLUE might make after binging LSD to the point of paranoid delirium. These pounding tracks carry a sort of refined menace to them, and you pick up on the band’s psychedelic lean through both the tense, often spiraling and flanged-out riffage, and the lyrics (“Ride the wave / Now you see everything.”) That is, when they’re not just dropping straight gangster rap lyrics. There’s also a hip-hop influence to the record that’s most bluntly demonstrated by the TRAE THA TRUTH sample on “Grey Cassette,” but also pretty clear in the words to songs like “Stash Pot” (“Playing with my money makes my glock go pop / You think I’m fucking playing til I run up to your block.”) Themes go back and forth between reality-bending mind expansion and the realest of talk, and the whole thing rips. Recommended.

V/A Nic Więcej Do Powiedzenia: Tribute to Homomilitia CD

The target audience outside of Europe might be small here, but if you’re like me, then you’re going to eat this shit up. HOMOMILITIA was a constant presence in the 1990s European DIY crust discussion (and the distro crates), but these treatments are not what I was expecting at all. CYMEON X opens with a pretty honest cover, but then ALLES torches the whole concept with a damaged hard techno rendition of “Fak Ju Szkoła,” and GYL 2022 EXPERIENCE drops a truly bizarre spiritual sludge “Go Woman.” There are more true-to-the-original covers (CONTORTURE, UNHALM, HOW LONG?), there are some that take HOMOMILITIA’s political crust to higher extremes (NONSANTO), some who tweak things just a bit (SHESH SHESH SHESH), and others who completely reinvent the sounds (AUTONOMA). Absolutely amazing collection, and a brilliant homage to a legendary band who are too often overlooked outside of their native Poland. Highly recommended!

V/A No Sabiamos Como Hacerlo, Pero Lo Estamos Haciendo: Zc Hardcorepunx Review 2010/2020 cassette + zine

Comps rule. Regional comps rule. Retrospective comps that capture a scene rule. This Hardcorepunx Review is all of this and more, with a zine and cassette that captures the scene in Campana (just north from Buenos Aires) through the last decade. Over 40 tracks ranging from disjointed punk (RATAS, FUCK DA KIDZ), noisy garage HC (BARDO, AUTOAGRESION, AMENAZA), ripping fastcore (MATA 7, LOS CAIDOS, THUMBARRANCHXS, SUGGESTION), mosh-heavy HC (NO CALLES NUNCA, SIN RETORNO, VENOSO), crust (DETTONACION), grind (KUSH)…you see where I’m going here, but I’m not finished. And neither are the folks at Discos Corrosivos. Lo-fi punk (GODZILAS, LXS ABATIDXS, PERIFERIA), chaotic punk (BALACERA), powerviolence (HOT BURRITO), a couple of passionate (almost emo?) tracks from LAS PARTES FALTANTES, and a dark shoegaze departure from PESTE NEGRA ORQESTRA. It’s a truly excellent collection of sounds even without the context, but to capture a time and a place so well is truly awesome. Highest recommendation.

V/A You Didn’t Think We Could Take It, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Subsonics LP

Graduating from the 7” format of the first volume is this second tribute to Atlanta’s SUBSONICS. The band’s lo-fi, minimalist songs allow for interesting interpretations. The bands doing the covering are from all over the globe, including KID CONGO POWERS, SLOKS, BLACK MEKON, BANG BANG BABIES, DISTURBIOS, COLT COBRA, and more. A fun collection whether you are familiar with SUBSONICS or not.

V/A Instant This / Instant That: NY NY 1978​​–1985 2xLP

A survey of female-forward downtown New York sounds centered on twin sisters Ellen and Lynda Kahn, who skewered material pop culture as the video art/no wave duo TWINART, along with contributions from a handful of like-minded local peers who were also blurring the distinctions between the city’s visual art and underground music scenes in the ’70s and ’80s. Instant This / Instant That starts with (and takes its title from) a one-off recording by the Kahn sisters’ first band TASTE TEST, from a flexi that came with a 1979 issue of the Chicago-based zine Praxis—it’s a delirious collision of busted synth squiggle, primitive Whac-A-Mole beats, and breathless call-and-response chants about polyester, microwaves, and “shiny shit” as they romp through the detritus of the modern convenience lifestyle. As TWINART, the Kahns would venture even further into exploring the possibilities of electronic textures and manipulations, from art-damaged minimal wave (there’s echoes of ALGEBRA SUICIDE in the stark layering of handclaps and spoken word in “Hands On Hands Off”), to skeletal bass/drum machine art-punk clatter (“Trashy Fashions”), while keeping TASTE TEST’s B-52’S-level fixation with consumerist kitsch in place. The snapshot of the TWINART inner circle is fleshed out with the DANCE, who lend the unreleased demo “Dream On” (showcasing them at their most straight new wave) and the 1982 breakneck mutant art-funk B-side “You Got to Know,” with heads of DANCE Eugenie Diserio and Steve Alexander joining TWINART for the retrofuturist synth-wave sleaze of “Double Shot of Love,” plus three tracks from performance artist JILL KROESEN (including her PATTI SMITH-gone-no wave 1980 single “I Really Want to Bomb You”), and two offerings from multimedia artist JULIA HEYWARD (the rhythmic, almost BUSH TETRAS-esque “Gassum,” and the electronic sound poetry drone of “Keep Moving Buddy”). Weird, wild, and wonderful.

Vanilla Muffins The Drug is Football LP reissue

VANILLA MUFFINS refer to their brand of upbeat punk as “Sugar Oi!,” drawing from SHAM 69 and the RAMONES in equal measure. On Puke N Vomit’s reissue of their beloved 2003 LP The Drug is Football, you can nearly taste the sweetness. Opener “Brigade Loco” is a love letter to punks in Spain with a catchy sing-along chorus and guitars à la COCK SPARRER, “Pride of the North” is three minutes of perfect pop punk probably worth the price of admission alone, and “Viva El Fulham” is all BUZZCOCKS and the JAM riffs. By the time they reach their take on WALL OF VOODOO’s “Mexican Radio,” they have covered just about every ’70s punk benchmark I can think of. Great, catchy football-worship for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Warboy Futile Living EP

A 7” reissue of a demo by this one-and-done Portland hardcore band from 1983. Not a lot of info on ‘em, besides their lineup featuring members of LOCKJAW and SADO-NATION. Eleven songs of classic American hardcore, unrefined, fast and furious. Big blocky barre chords over oompa drums (the cymbals as prominent in the mix as the guitar), blubbaduh blubbaduh bass and bored yelling about cops, injustice, war, and snickering at anarchists. A choice disc for Portland ‘core completists.

Tyran / Wolftrap 13 split EP

Poland’s WOLFTRAP 13 offers a metallic churning version of Swedish D-beat with excessive double bass—they morph into their own on “Firewalker,” and I feel like I want to know what they would do with a full release of their own. Countrymen TYRAN waste nothing with their two tracks—clenched-fist juggernauts of gnarled metallic hardcore. Two bands I’d like to hear more from.

Xero Xero demo cassette

“This is fucking great.” Wow, really, what is not to like here? The recording is so fast, each member is racing with the other to see who finishes the songs first, and sometimes there are unexpected twists and turns, as if instruments would hijack who leads to tracks. Multiple (and mostly the best) bands are evoked—if you were ever keen to figure out how to listen to WRETCHED, KAAOS, and HHH all at the same time, XERO just did you a favor, mixed through a contemporary channel perfectly balanced between being rudimentary and not nostalgic. They added few slower and freaky parts too, leading into fun, experimental territories, and this is just a fucking demo with seven songs around twelve minutes. It’s brutal, urgent, vicious, and either well-thought or viscerally genius. Looking forward to what will be their next step.

Xui Xui demo cassette

XUI from Oakland plays a fast, filthy, and agile kind of hardcore that reminds me a bit of the mighty GLUE from Austin. Speedy and groovy riffs shoot out of this tape recklessly while the singer’s frank and frothy barking incites the melee, and all four songs hit the mark. A good start.

Yambag Strength in Nightmares EP

Now here’s an aural equivalent to smelling salts. Hailing from Cleveland, YAMBAG transcends tradition by infusing their heartless brand of bumping punk with spasmodic, nerve-shaking blastbeats. The seven tracks here shift between rocking, stilted, and pummeling shards of hardcore that erupt into brutal, rattling bursts of relentless powerviolence when you least expect it, and somehow it all feels like a party. It’s a ruthless, calculated killer, and is easily the best record to feature bastardized versions of the McDuck family on the cover of all time.

Zanjeer Parcham Buland Ast EP

Born out of frustration and the anger of being stomped by the system, ZANJEER was first conceptualized in 2020 in Bremen by members who come from all over (Colombia, Pakistan, England, and Germany), and who used to make noise in bands like MURO, AMENAZAS, and MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS, just to name a few. This provides a multicultural and multilingual output on life as someone that is against the established system. It means that their ferociousness is channeled through Urdu, Farsi, and Punjabi lyrics and vocals. ZANJEER raises the flag for the disenfranchised, the excluded, the victims of religious oppression and post-colonial nationalism. Sonically, it’s somewhere in between DISCHARGE, DISRUPT, and a darker CHAOS UK, with a vocal delivery that could be on a RATOS DE PORÃO record. To complete the full vision of the band, they recruited Nicky Rat to do a powerful cover that encapsulates what is inside the record.

Satanic Togas / Zoids split EP

SATANIC TOGAS charge through this split with all the grit, dirt, and swag. The Sydney three-piece has the sound and feel of dusty, bluesy garage, all while being screamed through a telephone. I get PUSSY GALORE by way of Detroit. Great stuff from what I would expect of a Goodbye Boozy band, both songs carry the weight in under three minutes of ripping.   ZOIDS are a tough one to nail down, I can’t find any info on them for the life of me. On the split, they start where SATANIC TOGAS left off, but without any solid footing. There is nothing in their two songs that sync up, and at times I feel like I am listening through the walls of two different bands’ rehearsals. Rough.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) Tatari 7″

Japanese-obsessed Swedish maniacs PARANOID always go full-out on their releases, constantly putting out fresh stuff without losing quality. With just two tracks here, they solidify the direction that they are going in: heavy me(n)tal punk! Tatari is a companion 7″ to their digitally-released album Cursed, and pressed as a gift to whomever bought it through Bandcamp. The two songs are well balanced and make for great headbanging music for punks and metalheads alike. The leads get stuck in your head like any great heavy metal band’s licks would, and the steady beat reminds you that this is still a punk band in essence. Metal or punk? Who cares? You can see punk in VENOM as much as you can see metal in ANTI-CIMEX.