MRR #474 • November 2022

3D & the Holograms VR Execution EP

Sydney larrikins Billy (from RESEARCH REACTOR CORP.) and Ishka (from SATANIC TOGAS or TEE-VEE REPAIRMAN or SET-TOP BOX or every other band in Sydney) virtually team up with JJ from Olympia, WA’s the GOBS to bring you four tracks of the fucked punk you’d expect from this lot. With Billy on vocals, it’s gonna be hard for this thing to not sound like RESEARCH REACTOR CORP., but this stuff is faster, more full-on, and slightly less cartoony…for the most part. The first three tracks are drum machine punk takes on the REATARDS or PERSUADERS. It’s really good shit—some of my favorite tunes these dudes have cranked out, particularly “Projection.” Then there’s “MS-DOS,” which is the same type of stuff, but in more of a rubber band-y Sega Genesis (or, for the non-US world, Mega Drive)-rock vein. It’s borderline too silly, but I love these dudes too much to be that bothered by it. Cool record! Apparently, an LP is just over the horizon, to, so be on the lookout for that!

Ä.I.D.S. The Road to Nuclear Holocaust 12″

My dad’s dog is really quite extraordinary—my dad actually thinks the said dog is Nobel Prize material, but he’s always been a little hyperbolic. The little bastard has the sharpest ear in the animal realm. Even if you softly whisper words like “cake” or “walk” to someone else’s ear, the furry tornado will rush toward you and glare miserably. I am endowed with the same power when it comes to DISCHARGE. I can effortlessly hear random people in another room discussing the band and, while I try not to bother them, a part of me wishes that I would be more like my dad’s dog and just run to them. So when I heard about Ä.I.D.S., a Swedish project blending the classic D-Takt sound with power electronics, I was very curious, and upon reading the epic romantic description provided by La Vida Es Un Mus, the well-established and prolific label releasing it, I was determined to love The Road to Nuclear Holocaust (a very common road in D-beat mythology). I don’t necessarily dislike original takes on the discore genre—I love THISCLOSE and their silly but respectful tribute to the obsession with DISCHARGE, and even the insane Truth of Arize LP (harsh noise + DOOM-styled cave-crust) gets some playing time. But this one does not do anything for me. There are classic DISCHARGE riffs and a couple of decent ideas but on the whole it just sounds like a bored punk arsing around with a synth during the COVID lockdown convinced that Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing would sound alright with more solos and played through a ’90s kid’s electronic toy. I wanted to love this but ended up disappointed.

Agentss Agentss 12″

A reissue of the two EPs from this São Paulo, Brazil new wave synth group. Folks may be familiar with this band from opening the Não Wave comp of Brazilian post-punk that came out in 2005, which, along with the Sexual Life of the Savages comp, really introduced me to this whole scene (the latter specifically to the amazing AS MERCENÁRIAS). AGENTSS were apparently the first synth band in Brazil, forming after their lead singer/keyboardist Kodiak Bachine visited America and discovered records by, among others, the CURE, GARY NUMAN, and KRAFTWERK, groups whose influence is obvious on the four songs here. The guitars are drenched in chorus and delay, the synth zooms and glides through the soundscape, and the mood is more robotic and nervy than somber or dramatic. Short but landmark, it would make a good deep-cut DJ bin-filler for your goth bar set.

Ann Beretta Like a Riot! Live From the Broadberry (Acoustic) LP

More proof that the line between country and punk is much thinner than you’d think. Originally released in 2020, this 2018 live recording of Richmond’s own ANN BERETTA features live, acoustic renditions of their typically electric originals. It’s popped back up on our radar because DCxPC Live recently gave this album a limited vinyl release. Much like other country-adjacent punk bands such as DRAG THE RIVER and TWO COW GARAGE, these songs are a fine mix of debauchery and sentimentalism. The heavy use of a pedal steel and fiddle pushes the tender vibe while helping fill the gap that’s been left from going acoustic. Strong vocals, very reminiscent of Ben Nichols from LUCERO—very gruff but melodic at the same time. Personally, I enjoy these versions way more than their traditional punk songs. Really adds to a stronger dynamic and makes it much more interesting.

Bad Image Bad Image cassette

This is the second self-titled release by Phoenix, Arizona’s BAD IMAGE. Playing a classic style of hardcore punk with a nice little slavering of UK82 in the mix, this is a super solid release exuding with venomous anger in the vocal department. A particular standout on this tape is the stomping “Energy,” but all four tracks on here rip considerably well. Looking forward to hearing more from BAD IMAGE in the future.

Balcanes Gloria Eterna LP

From the sunny shores of a Spanish paradise comes a cruel and pounding noise. BALCANES wear their love for early-era SWANS and SCRATCH ACID on their sleeves, and it comes together in a way that makes it difficult for me to put down my headphones. Throughout Gloria Eterna’s nine tracks, the band combines bass-driven repetition and guitar loops along with harsh and ambient noise, layering the LP into a dark, sludgy stew. Standout tracks “Futuro @!&*#,” “Ciudad Campamento,” and “La Paz No Durara” show the range of sonic exploits that are in the band’s arson. All of the material comes off very real and genuine throughout the record, closing with “Bona Nit,” a piano-and-sax piece that could hold hands and kiss with Obey-era BRAINBOMBS. Live footage of the band that I found online gets my corroded arteries humming. Great record, get it.

Binge Kings 25-Song Demo cassette

BINGE KINGS announce their arrival with a 25-song collection of shit-fi garage punk tunes consisting of tinny guitar, drums, and snotty shouted vocals. Upon further listening, I think the drums are just one snare drum. It might actually be a bucket. In addition to the songs, there are seven skit tracks taken from movies, mostly centered around beer. The talent on display here is lacking—primitive power chord progressions with simple snare pounds could be great, but the songwriting is never that interesting. The vocals are by far the best part, and the confident full-throated yell works well over the high-tone practice amp aesthetic. It sounds like they were going for CARBONAS-style straight-ahead punk, but you gotta have the songs, man. “Windsor” stands out as a rough little gem with a melody that shines through the fuzz like the best LIQUIDS tracks. I know demos can be rough around the edges; the rawness and spontaneity are often an exciting statement of purpose. This one was a bit of a slog to get through.

Blister Early Onset cassette

Debut album from Portland, OR’s BLISTER, offering ten tracks of tilt-a-whirl death punk. With one hand on the keys and the other clutching the fork in the outlet, the synth player sets the background for this stomp-around, mid-tempo death stroll, while guitars and drums plod beneath salty, sassy vocals that contextualize some life-disparaging moodiness. This reminds me of the FLESH EATERS, but without the horns. “Burnside Burnout” is a great song, and I can only imagine is an ode to the crusty ones that skate and lurk beneath the bridge.

Bloodsuckers The Real Cost cassette

This 2021 reissue of BLOODSUCKERS’ cassette release consists of UKHC/UK82 in the VARUKERS’ Another Religion Another War/BROKEN BONES’ Dem Bones school, an ’80s Finnish HC approach with the power and intensity of ’80s Boston hardcore running through their veins. No frills, nothing artsy fartsy or no weird esoteric bullshit, just an output of raging hardcore with a backbone of UK82/UKHC bombardment riffage, the urgency of ’90s Japanese HC, and the toughness of ’80s Boston HC. A combustion of pummeling drums with all-in-one killer machine gun buzzsaw guitars, and a tough vocal style with ferocity.

Buggin Brainfreeze / Gratitude flexi 7″

“Brainfreeze” is a two-minute pummeling from BUGGIN, one of the best hardcore bands from Chicago right now. Simply put, this is hardcore punk that is incredibly accessible. Very catchy, great breakdowns, great riffs. Also, it’s a love song, which is cool as fuck. The B-side is a cover of “Gratitude” from BEASTIE BOYS’ Check Your Head, handled wonderfully as the band flex their mid-tempo muscles.  Fresh off of the Darkside of the Moon 2 tour from Triple B and Flatspot Records, BUGGIN are ones to watch. Fingers crossed for a full-length soon.

Call in Dead Patriarchy / Religious Wars 7″

What it says on the tin. Gender critique over blastbeats followed by a faithful rendition of a punk rock standard. Personally, I think covers are best reserved for live shows. However, this version is fine, but omitting the rapid-fire bass notes during the bridge’s opening? Really?! The aforementioned blastbeats sound best when played to the verge of pure noise, so when the band appears to ease off the pedal, I believe something is lost. Maybe it’s the production’s fault? I recommend using much crappier equipment and burying the result in your backyard for a few weeks.


Chronophage Chronophage LP

CHRONOPHAGE is a band that slowly wooed me. I’ll fully admit I wasn’t open to embrace their first two releases What is the Mystery of Love? and Prolog For Tomorrow—something about the lo-fi production of the first didn’t light up my enthusiasm for the second, and I couldn’t break through it. But it was Th’ Pig Kiss’d Album that was the skeleton key that opened up everything for me. I love having my mind changed by a band, especially if they’re not being pushed on my plate. I could tell there was some true songwriting happening in this band, unhindered by aesthetic tropes or genre. This new LP is another progressive step, with influences I can only hint at. There are sounds that are familiar to the ear and on the tip of my tongue, but I’ll avoid embarrassment by incorrectly guessing. Written and recorded as the pandemic waged on in uncertainty, the songs seem to reflect the dismal nature of the outside world, and the warm light and strength found in the internal worlds of friendship and love. The production and arrangement of the first three songs suggest fighting through some sort of dense depressive fog, the songs floating in a milky pool of feeling, melodies, and verses, but without any resolution. That’s when “Summer to Fall” kicks in with that instantaneously hooky descending bassline, twanging bites of power pop guitar, the keyboards humbly humming harmony underneath while the vocal ascends with that simple but resonantly tender line “You woke me up at midnight / To tell me you were scared.” The structure of it gives you one perfect hit of dopamine and excitement after another—a trickling sunshower of piano, a clashing call-and-response bridge, back to the undeniable chorus, with a spoken word closer coda. It’s a completely Perfect Pop Song. “Black Cloud” is a similarly strong statement, skeletonized with doomsday jangle and sweetened with synth string stabs, lyrics that sound like viewing scenes of desolation and desperation from a car window, moving through it but never away from it. From this point on the record, the murkiness found on the A-side dissipates, and the closers “Burst the Shell” (a slow-burning blue beauty) and “Fear Agony” (a sharp-tipped rocker with an ecstatically messy fuzzy climax of a guitar solo) conclude the record like you have (or it has) woken from a dream with total clarity. CHRONOPHAGE is one of the few bands currently going for whom I’m excited to see how they grow creatively and sonically. Their music is imagining a better brighter world while still fighting the dysfunctional and doomed one we still reside in.

Churchgoers Churchgoers demo cassette

In the UKHC scene, it is more than common to be at any show and hear an exchange between a 19-year-old and 23-year-old saying “we should start a band that sounds like UNDERDOG meets…SHEER TERROR”. However, it is practically almost never when a group of kids get together wanting to start, and I quote drummer Bobby Cole, “a NEOS-worship band”…until now. To say this demon absolutely floored me would be an understatement—I was nothing less than bewildered, in fact astounded, by the sheer musicianship and originality projected from this demo. While Bobby (the ANNIHILATED, ANTAGONIZM, MOTIVE) writes almost all the songs, each member of the band contributes equally in their own way to creating this absolute Magnum opus, sounding as if HERESY or RIPCORD had been listening to nothing but Hassibah Gets the Martian Brain Squeeze and YOUTH KORPS’ Demo ‘82 rather than SS DECONTROL. Mark McCutchan’s vocals here provide a fiery adolescence completing the general vibe of this band, just four angry, pissed kids, with Ben Hills (LAST AFFRONT, VILE SPIRIT) playing the riffs phenomenally at a raucous speed, while bassist Xav (NEGATIVE FRAME) keeps it steady throughout. This is probably my favourite release of the year, so please, do go and give it a listen.

Clusterfux Blood cassette

I previously received a cassette collection by CLUSTERFUX which compiled the band’s 7”s and tons of unreleased songs—I remember at the time feeling like it was a bit lackluster and somewhat all over the place. If I were a more pompous individual, I might suggest that my review pointing out the gripes I had with the previous cassette inspired CLUSTERFUX to focus on the genre they really wanted to be playing on Blood, their newest release. This cassette couldn’t be more different from how the earlier tape came across. We’re talking straightforward, no-bullshit, crossover/thrash metal. A short and sweet six-song cassette, which I think works well for a band of this genre, rather than the overwhelming nature of a collection cassette. Hell, even listening to a record like Crossover by D.R.I. feels like a bit of a marathon if you ask me—by the end of it, I’m always left wondering why they didn’t cut the album off with the stomper “No Religion.” Anyway, you get none of that with this cassette. If you’re into later-era crossover D.R.I. albums, CLUSTERFUX now sounds like a mixture of that and any ’80s classic thrash-metal band who were not memorable enough to make it into any iteration of the Big Four.

Crucifix Dehumanization LP reissue

In my braggadocious opinion, this is the most crucial album of all time, and thankfully, it’s been reissued. Sothira Pheng’s opening vocal delivery simultaneously gives me goosebumps and gets my blood boiling, ready for the hardcore to come. The under-production of this album gives the feeling of CRUCIFIX playing in the room with you, while still managing to cleanly and accurately capture the skills of the band. Jake Smith has that crazy ability to accurately riff at breakneck speeds and then slam on the brakes. Bassist Matt Borruso has that sound that is dirty and a little blown-out, but is evidently one of the powerhouses behind the band as his instrument is featured prominently throughout the album. Does drummer Chris Douglas have a drum set left after he plays? It honestly sounds like he’s attempting to smash through the heads and reshape the cymbals. The LP reissue has been produced to sound the same as the original recording, so there’s no missing any of this pivotal release. The original six-panel foldout poster sleeve is also included, so go ahead and throw that up on your wall. If you’ve never heard this album, well, now is the time. If you’re like me, and have literally worn out copies, it’s a good time to restock.

Crux of Vipers Cry Tuff Glory cassette

Can we please just all recognize that Paul Lucich and Hank Chang are among the great unheralded punk songsmiths of the 2010s? The collective nucleus of bands like SABRE, ULTRA, and COLD CIRCUITS, while independently taking part in SYNTHETIC ID (Lucich) and SCYTHE, NEON BRAT, HEX CYSTS (Chang), now they are solely responsible for this gruff, melodic Oi! juggernaut called CRUX OF VIPERS. It’s a weird tape, one that doesn’t quite make sense but feels instantly welcome in your punk ears—UK82 street tuffs mingling with damaged modern melodic punks, it’s all infectious even while (or perhaps because) the vocals are demented as hell. You’re not going to hear anything else like CRUX OF VIPERS this month (or next). Unless Paul and Hank decide to reinvent themselves yet again, of course.

Cuir Album LP

CUIR (French for “leather”) is a one-man band cruising through eleven two-minute cuts of neo/cyber/future Oi! on the superb Album. These strong (if slightly repetitive) traditional punk songs are elevated with flourishes of synth running through each track. Opening instrumental “Maniac” sets the pace, and standout “Luxure Objectif” sums things up perfectly: a propulsive two-and-a-half minute ode to kinky leather bondage. CUIR mastermind Doug Zilla even sounds a little bit like Tony from the RIFFS, what’s not to love? For fans of CAMERA SILENS and the movie Drive.

Cutters Australian War Crimes EP

This release from Melbourne’s CUTTERS consists of six tracks of hardcore punk reminiscent of early “No Parasan”-era FUCKED UP, with songs about the bleakness and emptiness of modern society and a title track in reaction to war crimes committed by Australian SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith in Afghanistan. Without resorting to gothy post-punk or anarcho-punk aesthetics, CUTTERS manage to sonically mirror the very dark realities of our world, with rage coming from the daily disgust and depressive nature of self-claimed proud nations and their patriotic cultures. which seems to be a relatable reality many face around the world.

Dead Stare II cassette

Eight tracks of old school punk goodness, coming from that school of hardcore that wasn’t yet an exercise in how fast you could play and occasionally featured guitar solos. Some tracks even have hints of British Oi! The two covers they do, by the SPITS (“Bring”) and NECROS (“Reject”), tell a lot about the overall vibe of DEAD STARE. The vocals are too distorted to make out, which is too bad, because they’re enthusiastic about something. I just can’t tell what. Riffy and melodic.

Dr. Sure’s Unusual Practice Scomo Goes to Hawaii / While Aus Burns LP

Most of the songs on this Australian group’s record straddles the Present Day Post-Punk Partyline of minimalism, herky-jerky guitar parts, and thumpy ruled-out basslines keeping the erector set rhythms together, but the transistorized burble of synths gives this record character. The closer “10 Million Acres” is the standout track on this, a downcast but moving meditation on the cataclysmic bushfires of 2019, and the layers of loss involved. That song is an absolute must-listen if you want to hear anything from this.

Drakulas Shame / Three Sisters 7″

What we have here is the tenth entrant in a series of 7”s where Portland label Drunk Dial invites a band to drop by the studio, drink to excess, then record an original track and a classic cover. How is this different from a typical recording session? Not sure! I listened to a handful of these, and none of them seemed overly loose or sloppy. I mean, that’s probably for the best, but then what’s the point of this concept? Anyway! Here we’re getting a couple of tracks from Austin band DRAKÜLAS, made up of folks from the RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS and RISE AGAINST. The original is a gothic pop punk number similar to the stuff fellow Texans HEX DISPENSERS were putting out back in the day, but a little slower and less catchy. It’s not great. But, hey, at least this cover is solid! They’ve picked “Three Sisters” from oddball new wave punkers the JIM CARROLL BAND. They play it straight, which is the right move, but they give it a punchier production and take the vocals in a glammier direction. It’s pretty cool!

Eskizo Abandonar la Esperanza cassette

ESKIZO is a great D-beat band from Georgia in the American South. The band’s been around since 2015, refining a very heavy and particular rendition of DISCHARGE-worship that is aggressive, vindictive, and yet really fun. Most tracks are in Spanish, but that shouldn’t be any kind of barrier to enjoy the mean sounds of ESKIZO. I really dig “Inestabilidad,” a mix between early DARKTHRONE and MG 15. Get the cassette.

Excluded Legion of War LP

A hefty hunk of Mexican street punk here from the fellas in EXCLUDED on their fourth release, a pleasingly quixotic mix of Oi! and hardcore both in English and Spanish. It took me a while to get fully into this, and while they don’t quite grab me in the way that their contemporaries and compatriots MESS do, for a take on the genre it’s a lot of fun. Gang vox, ramshackle riffs that feel like they could derail at any point, and drums that sound like someone knocking the absolute shite out of some bin lids, it’s an enjoyable way to spend your time.

Exxxon Diesel Tape cassette

EXXXON is back with a third tape of fossil-fueled fury. This one kicks off with “Mavverick,” which pays homage to MINOR THREAT’s “No Reason” with its thumping bass intro and recurring “you say you hate me” lyric. Next up is the brief, head-bobbing blow-out “Connoco,” followed by the bratty, stomping closer “Chevrron.” While this one’s a little more driving and less funky then their previous efforts, their simple and smart shit-fi recipe remains pretty much the same. They’re going to run out of gas company names eventually, right? They’re already using ones I’ve never heard of, but then again, I’m not really a big gas station buff. I am a fan of uncompromising punk art, however, and that’s what this is.

Feed Stimuli cassette

I guess it was bound to happen, but someone finally smashed the two plastic dinosaurs of NWI-style home studio synth punk and good ol’ fashioned ’80s hardcore. The results couldn’t be more fun or sensibly pissed-off. The bulk of the HC sound comes from the broken-glass vocals that send home the blunt force of tracks like “Numb.” Everything here drives forward, with a cool clean tone to the guitars and satisfying swerve to the synth. Everything congeals in a sound that’s truly disorienting at first, with brainy-but-dumb guitar leads and great riffs that make your teeth throb. The overall impact feels subtle at first, but this is some dank basement rage cage shit, not to mention the dizzying effect of almost every track title/chorus being the same cadence of growling three syllables. Pow pow pow. Almost every cut. I’d definitely slam to it, and I’m amazed I haven’t heard more imitators. Not yet anyway, but they’ll come. Check out “Tooth Decay,” you won’t even notice you’re getting bruised when you’re having such a good time.

Flex TMG Whisper Swish 12″

Debut vinyl release from this Oakland duo made up of Hannah D’Amato (FAKE FRUIT) and Rob I. Miller (BLUES LAWYER). FLEX TMG pairs the hectic, dubbed-out avant disco of Y Records or the dancier side of the New York no wave scene with vocal melodies more reminiscent of the dance-pop of that same era. Each of the six tracks on the 12” are supported by an ESG-like groove assembled from lo-fi drum machines, various hand percussion, and rubbery, ass-rattling bass lines. Depending on the track, guitar gets layered in as meandering ambience, chicken scratch funk, or even acid jazz psychedelia. But it’s Hannah’s vocal performance here that sells this for me. On the opening track “Burn This Town,” you’re getting a half MAXIMUM JOY post-punk yelp, half an almost CRYSTAL WATERS hypnotic, sing-songy rap—it just sounds effortless and cool but approachable at the same time. Then other tracks find her doing more of an airy “Heart of Glass” thing…less approachable, but still very cool! It’s borderline magical, though, when she organically blends those three styles, as she does on the song “Ghost.” I’ve listened to this track dozens of times at this point, and it hasn’t lost any of its luster. That little yell that she gives out right after the mini-hook “felt like a ghost in that city” is probably my favorite moment on any record this year. It’s already such an upbeat song, but something about it really makes me feel alive. Just an exceptional track on a great record!

Food Fight Shenanigans EP

A French band on a Spanish label! Why can’t the whole world get along that well? Track one gets started with a super catchy power pop number that’s super melodic, but almost has a little herky-jerkiness going on. It’s a fine start and leaves me wanting to hear more. They slow things down a tad on track two, but it remains very catchy, with an almost CARS-like lead guitar. Track three is another power pop cut with vocals that remind me of MADNESS, despite the fact that it is not at all a ska sound. And they round it out with one that continues very much in the same spirit of the others. Overall, four strong songs that are quite easy to listen to. More than bouncing my head, this one has me shimmying my shoulders. It’s a subtle but important difference.

Foreseen Untamed Force LP

Finnish thrashers FORESEEN have unleashed their highly anticipated new LP Untamed Force. I’m going to get straight to the point: this record is fucking awesome. A truly wild ride that places FORESEEN comfortably next to thrash/crossover contemporaries MUNICIPAL WASTE and POWER TRIP (R.I.P. Riley, to whom the album is partially dedicated), while also bringing to mind the best of the NWOBHM: VENOM, DIAMOND HEAD, and MOTÖRHEAD. Opening track “Soldier’s Grave” sets the tone for the rest of the album with chugging guitars, double kicks, and righteous solos. Vocalist Murko Nummelin’s delivery matches the music almost too perfectly; at times he sounds like he’s foaming at the mouth. Lyrically, you can feel the urgency and fury in every track. By the halfway point, FORESEEN has aimed their sights on those entitled in society on “Birthright,” the pain endured to please the powers that be on “Tolerance of Abuse,” and the despair of drug addiction on “Suffocating Routine.” Then two minutes into “Fetish Oppression,” things take off into an unexpected soaring bridge complete with angelic (or demonic) backing vocals. It’s one of many moments that make this album such a fun listen. FORESEEN is masterful at adding touches throughout that take each song to the next level. Check the organs playing in “Cold Comfort,” the runaway train guitar and bass chug in “Serve Your Purpose,” and the dizzying drums and face-melting intro of “Desensitized.” Title track “Untamed Force” closes the album with the band declaring “Crashing the gate / No time to wait / For someone to do it for us / Storming onwards / A ferocious untamed force,” a firm affirmation that this is FORESEEN’s world and we’re just living in it. Expect this to be on every “best of” list at the end of the year.

Form Rank Form Rank cassette

Some beefy, American-style Oi! here, if that’s the sort of thing that floats yer boat; some nice lumpen riffs and a really quite spectacularly Neanderthal “ugh” that reaches in and tickles you on the old amygdala are enjoyable enough. The vocals lurch dangerously close to Tim Armstrong-style anglophilia, which is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. Some inexplicable saxophone dotted about, which I thought was exclusively the purview of our mates sur la continent, so hearing it here has the same disorientating effect as seeing your teacher in the supermarket on the weekend. Perfectly fine stuff here lads, keep at it.

Fukker Demo EP

With inverted crosses on the Ks and a logo that has three skulls (two goat skulls and a human one that is being stabbed), an alert listener like myself can guess that this band called FUKKER is probably not arsing around with fancy melodies or ambitious songwriting (or even with tuning for all I know). I must say, I was not familiar with this Australian lot. Contrary to what the aesthetics hint at, FUKKER is not an evil metal-punk band, but a rather classic käng hardcore one, with a well-balanced, fuzzy, distorted sound and shouted vocals with a bit too much echo for my taste (a trap that too many hardcore bands fall into these days). I suppose they don’t intend to create anything new here, but it is done well enough and it reminds me a lot of the Japanese take on the Swedish hardcore sound, not unlike a hungover CONTRAST ATTITUDE covering SHITLICKERS and DISARM or something, but the closest comparison would be early GIFTGASATTACK. This six-song demo was originally released on tape in 2019 but this is the vinyl version of it released on two Australian labels that specialize in raw and noisy hardcore, Televised Suicide Records (BOOTLICKER, ODIO, DISEASE, KOSZMAR, etc.) and Fuzzed Atrocities. Did I mention that FUKKER covers NO FUCKER? Cheeky bastards.

Future of Despair Hell City cassette

The latest cassette release from Los Angeles’s FUTURE OF DESPAIR is from the G.I.S.M.-worshipping school of ’80s Japanese HC, along with ZOUO, ANTISEPTIC, BONES, etc. Perhaps the next generation of L.A. bands is continuing to carry on the DNA of the East 7th/Silenzio Statico catalogs with BLAZING EYE and ZOLOA running inside their veins. A bombardment of Randy Uchida-style noisy distorted guitars with hellish screams coming down from the struggle of daily life on the streets of L.A.

Glaas Qualm LP

Berlin, Germany’s GLAAS comes out with Qualm, their first LP after last years’ self-titled EP. Think post-punk with wild synths and jacked-up effects of a diseased hardcore. This ten-track album is fun and rowdy—the kind of thing that exemplifies the chaos and distress of the genre to the non-believer, yet is the exact thing that sounds to-the-point and refreshing to the enthusiast. With members from DAS DAS (Cosey Mueller), LACQUER (Raquel Torre), and CLOCK OF TIME (Seth Sutton), to name a few, this group comes well-informed and polished only in their form, leaving plenty of splinters to pierce through the speakers, hopefully blowing out into a lousy basement haunt. Copies are going fast!

Green/Blue Paper Thin LP

GREEN/BLUE’s second release of 2022, and third album to date, Paper Thin is a chilly take on post-punk. The songs achieve a balance between bleak Midwestern moodiness and tranquility-inspiring tenderness. “Floating Eye” comes as an interlude, and is the most brilliant song of the lot, with a slowly plucked bassline, soft vocals, and no drums—it lulls me into a state of peace and happiness. If that sounds nice, then give this a listen, and if you’ve enjoyed their previous work, there’s no doubt this will be in your new rotation.

Hayley and the Crushers Modern Adult Kicks LP

This album is delivered with such a positive spirit that it’s tough to be critical of it. It’s got a lot of catchy pop melodies, I will say. But I can’t stop hearing what sounds to me like overproduction. Maybe that’s just “production,” but I prefer my music not quite so polished. What’s wrong with a little grit? As you may have guessed, HAYLEY AND THE CRUSHERS are female-fronted, and I’m normally a total sucker for female-fronted pop music. And maybe in a different venue, I’d speak differently, but for me this sounds like it wants to be on mainstream radio, and that’s not what I want when I come to MRR.

Heaven Starless Midnight EP

Bashing out their own little cavity in the current hardcore landscape, HEAVEN from Texas keeps it heavy, fast, jarring, and dark. These tunes carry creepy melodies that sound like sped-up versions of UPSIDEDOWN CROSS riffs, which is appreciated, but it’s the East Bay Ray-esque lead guitar work and weirdo solos that really makes this thing pop. Factor in the agonized gang vocals and a dripping saturation of dread, and it’s a strangely alluring synergy. Just based on the day-and-night difference in styles of the two bands, I was surprised to learn that this group shares members with CHRONOPHAGE. If these guys have anything close to the ambition of that band, this debut 7” could be the start of something beautiful.

Hope? Dead & Gone cassette

This release came out over a year ago, and if you haven’t heard of HOPE? or witnessed them live yet (as they’ve toured quite extensively), then it’s time to stop sleeping on this Portland quartet. Grinding rhythm guitars, chugging bass, pummeling drums, earnest near-spasmodic vocals…HOPE? has everything you’re looking for when it comes to crusty, D-beat hardcore. Nine songs that give the feeling of standing next to a passing freight train at full speed— HOPE? has a powerful sound that is unique, articulate, and creative. Drawing their source sound from the very depths of the D-beat well, HOPE? plays more like ANTI CIMEX or RIISTETYT rather than later, more noise-oriented acts. Lead singer and band visual artist Manda uses this souped-up rock’n’roll hog to deliver harsh social criticisms that will make all the called-out bastards quake in fear. The song “End of Time” kicks in just past the midpoint of this cassette and is an absolute ripper, with moments of it sounding like AUS-ROTTEN or even BEHIND ENEMY LINES. Is it wrong to say I hope HOPE? releases more material? Even if they don’t, this cassette is an instant classic and holds an important position in the ongoing conversation that is hardcore anarcho-punk.

Icepield A​ɪ​SP​ɪ​ː​LD cassette

I don’t know how to pronounce this cassette’s title, but I do know that this is late ’90s/early ’00s emo. The songs are on the sophisticated end of the genre: tense, scale-crawling guitar parts appear alongside layered power chords. The former come with occasional chugging riffs, which give it a pop punk tint. The vocals are a real SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE/BRAND NEW whine. The band mostly plays it safe musically but stretches the boundaries a few times, which kept me on my toes.

Internal Primal State EP

Supposedly a solo project, New Bedford, MA’s INTERNAL offers a wall of sludgy powerviolence, particularly on the low end. The tracks hit hard and then are over. A track like the title track stands out for its length, just over one minute, and its slower pace in the middle third, which it uses to dish out a different flavor of brutality. The lyrics are bleak throughout, such as with “Pack It Up”—”Pack it up / The choice is clear / Disappear.” The closing instrumental track, “Internal,” slows things down with head-bobbing hardcore. This is the kind of stuff that grows on you with repeated listenings.

Irish Handcuffs Transitions LP

Catchy melodic punk from Germany with personal lyrics about love, loss, and life, melding different aspects of bands like SAMIAM, NO USE FOR A NAME, and ALKALINE TRIO into a nice package that is totally their own. I’m of the firm belief that everything has been done to death, so to hear a band like this that doesn’t make me write it off as a carbon copy of something from a bygone era and make me reach for the original is refreshing. Well done.

Irreal Era Electrónica 12″

If you really commit and do your homework, sticking with tradition can always feel fresh and vital. This group from Barcelona certainly perfects a sound that could have come straight from the height of ’80s hardcore, when punks and metalheads started to blur together. This pummels, crackling with lightning and feedback that never once missteps. Brutality without a care for the modern world.

Ismatic Guru II cassette

Treble-punk meets synthwave on this short and fun tape. Imagine the top-of-the-neck guitar lines of CONEHEADS with the bright and bouncy keys of CHERRY CHEEKS and you’ll get the idea. The bio describes the vocals as “goblin ELVIS,” and I can’t do better than that. Every song is a perfect bouncy rocker with interlocking guitar and keyboard elements that are catchy and danceable, with a warm bass (or maybe organ?) sound that is mixed perfectly. The last song is called “Hey, Little Fucker,” which is an A+ title. If you’re on team egg, check this one out.

Jade Dust Wild Geese LP

This band describes themselves as being influenced by mid-to-late DC melodic hardcore, and man, let me tell you…they’re either extremely self-aware, or they’ve done a great job learning how to reproduce that sound. My first thoughts went straight to RITES OF SPRING, EMBRACE, and GRAY MATTER. There’s a little bit of twinkling Midwest emo spread throughout as well. The vocals are energetic and melodic, they’re arguably the strongest part of these recordings. The guitar can be formulaic at points, but they sound great when they come out of the pocket. If you’re a fan of the late ’80s Dischord sound, you will love JADE DUST.

Judy and the Jerks Music to Go Nuts LP

All anybody wants to talk about these days is the scene in Hattiesburg, MS, all because of JUDY AND THE JERKS. Fun, energetic punk fucking rock that brings to mind BLATZ and MR. CLIT AND THE PINK CIGARETTES. At moments poppy, and always unhinged, these ten tracks bring the party. “Scorpion” has a bass line that haunts my dreams, and before it gets too repetitive and dull, the song careens into chaos before bringing that bass line back to wrap it up. With so many solid tracks like “I Lost My Feet,” “California,” and “Nothing to Prove,” it’s hard to pick a favorite. Smart, funny, and radiating energy like an exposed reactor core, JUDY AND THE JERKS are near the top of the list of bands I can’t wait to see live. 

Kanada Kanada LP

Now here’s an obscure one. This album is a reissue of an ’80s punk band from Mikołów, Silesia, not far from Katowice in South Poland (just in case you are too lazy to actually check the location on your smartphone). I suppose that if you already know KANADA, a band with former members from AWERSJA and GARAZ W LEEDS, you were probably a young Silesian punk rocker between 1987 and 1989. It would be a euphemism to point out that those were not exactly the easiest times to play political punk music in that part of the world, and most music from Polish punk bands in the ’80s was taken from live tapes or rough studio recordings, which is the case here. In retrospect, especially if you are familiar with what Polish punks were up to, you could say that the sadly short-lived KANADA was quite unique because of their heavy UK anarcho-punk influence. Their rather tuneful and versatile punk rock style with snotty dual male/female vocals reminds me a lot of ALTERNATIVE, CHUMBAWAMBA, and TOXIC WASTE, and “Apatia’’ is even a reworking of a POLITICAL ASYLUM song. The closest comparison with another Polish band I can think of is the criminally underrated STRACONY, but they would only start to play five years after the demise of KANADA. The first ten songs are taken from a live recording from a gig in Wodzisław Śląski and were originally released on tape on Svoboda Records in 1990. The sound is unsurprisingly a little thin, although KANADA were pretty tight indeed. The two last numbers on the LP are studio songs and hint at how great a proper KANADA album would have been, especially since the lyrics are passionate and highly political (‘’Pray, vote, and die,’’ they shout). This wonderful piece of punk history is released on Enigmatic Records, a label that had been running prolifically from 1989 to 2005 and came back to life in 2019. Fans of traditional British anarcho-punk will love this one. A real enigma remains: why call your band ‘’KANADA’’? Had they been a terrible ska act, I would have understood ‘’SKANADA,’’ but I admit I am clueless here.

Lawsuit Models Unknown Ghosts LP

Mature pop punk? Is that a thing? Like, you can tell this band grew up listening to bands that fell under the umbrella of pop punk for sure, but there’s also some actual elements of something other than three-chord RAMONES-worship. There’s parts that kinda have that DESCENDENTS/ALL/HAGFISH vibe at times. At other times, I am catching ATARIS vibes. I don’t really know how to describe it other than a “radio-friendly” aspect. I suppose that’s not really an accurate term anymore, but I do believe it to be a fair description.

Leatherface Cherry Knowle LP reissue

Full disclosure here, I love this band. Now, that said, I do not particularly love this album. It was, in fact, the first LEATHERFACE album I heard, and as such it will always have a certain place in my heart, but for me it’s probably somewhere in the middle as far as my personal rankings of their albums go. That’s not to say that it’s not a strong album. In fact, as my gateway to the band, it was strong enough to make me go see them several times, which then led to my eventual love of the band. Song-wise, there are some great ones here. I think it was initially the production of the album that didn’t win me over immediately, but now it’s endearing. I’m glad that it’s finally been reissued, as it is a great record, and the only one I actually no longer have a copy of. Pretty sure it sold out fairly quickly though, so it’s off to the internet I go to find a copy for a ridiculous price!!!!!

Grimple / Logical Nonsense A Darker Shade of Grey split LP reissue

Reissue of the GRIMPLE and LOGICAL NONSENSE ’94 split; classic hardcore bands formed in New Mexico that stand up considerably today. GRIMPLE’s sound is so incredibly tight on this recording, there is a bit of metal and a lot of BORN AGAINST. The vocals that Greg Valencia brings and the effect of the production are incredible and bring back years gone by. “Infierno,” “System Fukers,” and “Forever Fuked” are highlights. LOGICAL NONSENSE brings a heavy set of rapid-fire grindcore to the B-side. All are drilling, guttural assaults in the best of all ways. The split ends with a killer WENDY-O MATIK spoken piece. Both bands are almost outdoing each other throughout, very killer stuff.

Loose Nukes Fast Forward to Extinction LP

This is a re-release and upgrade of the initial 2017 demo released by this Houston hardcore powerhouse. I’d usually be a champion for just recording new music and moving on if you weren’t thrilled with your original release, but there were some real good bones here. You can see why they chose to revamp the track list and drop/add some songs from the same time period. What we have ended up with is a complete album from a band that sounds like they’ve reached full maturity despite only recording their first songs together as this group. They keep it tight too, with only one song out of thirteen just barely passing the 1:45 mark. It’s also awe-inspiring to listen to the vocalist, Mike, fit every word into his allotted time. Following along with the lyric page while listening, you are given the impression it cannot be done before hearing it. Along the same line, I was highly amused when, on “White People Problems,” there was just a note that said whatever he was singing didn’t seem to match with what was written, so they just put in a line of question marks. That was much more amusing than just not even trying to write down the lyrics for the verse sections of “Earwax,” also just a line of question marks. Pick this up if you want to hear a hardcore band that came out of the womb angry and good at it.

Martha Please Don’t Take Me Back / My Heart is a Drummer 7″

This 7” single came in advance of MARTHA’s fourth studio album Please Don’t Take Me Back, which was released at the end of October. The group has written a lot of music since their first release in 2012, and between their old family (I assume) photos for album covers and their syrupy indie sound, they have definitely made a “thing” for themselves. “Please Don’t Take Me Back,” sung by one of the male vocalists, reminds of some newer ARCTIC MONKEYS that’s made its way through alt-radio stations countrywide—and while I don’t necessarily mean that as a compliment, the song is great in a lot of ways: it starts with simple palm-muted strumming, bouncy drums, and iconic over-pronounced British vocals that build into a heavier chorus with plenty of harmonies and catchy hooks. “My Heart is a Drummer” (which I don’t see on Please Don’t Take Me Back) has a more enjoyable structure, with a fast drum breakdown during the chorus shouts of “In the place where my heart is a drummer / In the place where my heart is drummer.” I also find the female vocals (occupying the second half of the song) a little less grating and the lyrics less formulaic. Everything about this works, sounds great, and has that air of nostalgia (just look at the cover) that is so popular amongst a world gone wrong, but you have to really like sappy indie to enjoy this, and for me, these two songs were about my limit.

Mechanical Canine Walls Covered in Mildew CD

This album starts out with a pretty boring guy singing over an acoustic guitar part, which had me doing the ol’ eye roll/groan combo, but then the rest of the band kicked in. From there it got better…thankfully. This is pretty catchy. There’s a lot going on musically, like synthesizers and such. I don’t know what to say about this. I don’t hate it. Like at all. I just can’t see myself listening to this. It’s like a punk version of the RENTALS or something, I guess. The singer kinda sounds a little like a mix of both Jon Ginoli from PANSY DIVISION and John K. Samson from WEAKERTHANS to me. Not really my bag. Seems like something young kids would go apeshit to at shows. Like twenty years ago, I would have probably gone to see this band because a girl I liked was into it. I probably would have had a good time, too. Now though, it seems like something I’d be annoyed by. What with people having fun and such.

Mindforce New Lords LP

Upstate New York hardcore giants MINDFORCE return with their excellent second LP New Lords on Triple B Records. It’s been four years of heavy touring and headlining festivals since their debut Excalibur, and it shows—MINDFORCE is sharper than ever. The band is a well-oiled machine and frontman Jay Peta’s performance is worth the cost of admission alone. Opener and title track “New Lords” is a shout-along headbanger leading into “Survival is Vengeance,” a no-frills thrashing that showcases Peta’s strong vocals. At the album’s halfway point, the band shows (a little) mercy with epic standout “Thirteen and Mean,” the album’s longest track and what feels like the centerpiece. Awesome mid-tempo muted riffs and white-hot solos lead to a fake-out ending followed by a stomping final thirty seconds. A few rippers later, we arrive at closer “Rotten,” which sees MINDFORCE go out with a bang. Beginning the song with ominous metal-riffing, the band takes us through a whirlwind of different speeds and styles before inviting the listener back to the pit to get their ass kicked one last time. MINDFORCE are masters of high-energy live performances and they’ve successfully captured that same energy on New Lords.

C.O.F.F.I.N. / Mini Skirt split EP

A fantastic split between two Australian punk bands. MINI SKIRT is up first with a very bass-driven style. The vocals come off monotone at times, but there’s something I really like about them. They feel authentic and sincere, especially on “Bag of Bones,” which appears to be a love song. Feels similar to Frankie Stubbs of LEATHERFACE. MINI SKIRT can be a little repetitive at times, but again, it works for them. C.O.F.F.I.N has a very different dynamic. Guitar-driven tracks with a vocalist that could be described as a punk rock MEAT LOAF. Very theatrical, especially when the piano lead comes in on “Under Your Wing.” This split works because the bands sound different enough to keep it fresh, but similar enough that you’ll be happy with both sides if you dig this sound.

Mirage Immagini Postume cassette

MIRAGE is the “let’s pull out ten of the best early Italian hardcore records and try to do something similiar” band of the Roachleg roster—singing in Italian and recreating both the urgency and the bit post-punk (but with wilder guitar sounds) that are familiar from STINKY RATS or even WRETCHED. Yet the music is less chaotic, I guess due to the fact that MIRAGE is not reinventing hardcore locally as teenagers who are only getting familiar with the instruments. On the other hand, the band has a straightforward power that fills the demo with energy but lacks infantilism. Anger is dripping from each second and the song structures are varied enough to remain interesting, although with each listen the smoke clears, and while the core of their sound does not vanish, they do not grow out from the same circle as IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO and PSICO GALERA.

MIT The Male Idiot Theory cassette

Limited-run tape edition of this Belgian band’s album, combining roboto drum programming and guitars full of angle and jangle. The songs are tight and hooky, the vocals distorted and shouty, and the mechanical rhythms, maniacal tempos, and often odd structures clothesline you in a way that no human drummer could. I would say that with 13 songs in 32 minutes, I got a bit of ear fatigue halfway through—there’s a few unnecessary instrumentals, but mostly I think it’s the unrelenting boom-boom-tat of the drum machine so loud in the mix and starting off every song. The best tunes on here, like “Rainy Sunday,” “Not Reliable,” and “Cancel Today” are catchy and crammed with ideas, and a more tightly edited EP would highlight those best.

Mononegatives New Exit in Shards EP

Canadian synth punk with a heavy dose of MAGAZINE and COLIN NEWMAN. What starts off with a vivacious feel in the first steps of the EP soon becomes pretty disjointed and overexerted. The EP contains three minimal, bass-driven tracks with some synth-y backing. The B-side kinda reminds me of CHROME. Maybe I just need more time on this…I do remember stumbling upon Apparatus Division (their 2021 LP) and having a more positive reaction to the band.  

Nasty Facts Drive My Car 12″ reissue

Teenage punky power pop perfection! While too many KBD slabs have been elevated to “essential” status by virtue of little more than their scum stats, this is a legitimate ripper, and a really important one at that. NASTY FACTS first came together as four grade school Brooklyn tweens playing covers in 1975, an origin story that would probably be enough in and of itself to cement their legend, but bassist/vocalist KB Boyce was also Black and queer, commanding space in a scene that has generally been synonymous with lovelorn white men fixating on women as lyrical subjects/objects of unrequited desire. The band tears through the three tracks on their one-and-done 1981 single with the wound-up melodic velocity of the BUZZCOCKS (bobbing bass, blazing guitar, restless drumming), with KB’s vocals exuding effortlessly cool teen nonchalance on the unassailable A-side “Drive My Car”—the line “I’d rather dance than read a book” in one verse precedes “I’d love to hit you with my car / Don’t ever look at me that way” in the next(!), with some SHANGRI-LAS’ “Leader of the Pack”-style car crash sound effects thrown in to really underscore that sentiment. The B-side (“Gotta Get to You/Crazy ‘Bout You”) is killer, too; a double-trouble dose of fierce, anthemic bubblegum punk right up there with the likes of SCREAMING SNEAKERS and the MNM’S (if you know, you know). Such a crucial record in so many ways. 

Niis Must Be… 2xEP

NIIS?! Never heard of them. This Los Angeles band seems to be getting around quite a bit and this came out a year ago, so my loss. This may be a crappy comparison, but they feel like a harder, faster HOLE, BABES IN TOYLAND, or DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, crossed with some classic ’80s mainstays like the DEAD KENNEDYS, BAGS, or GERMS (they cover “Media Blitz” online). They have a big internet presence with multiple videos and write-ups, and their singer’s voice destroys and she has good taste in leather gear, so I say you should take a minute from the nothing you’re doing and listen to this. “Big Zoo” kills. Good night.

Non Plus Temps Desire Choir LP

Dub-punk damage from the preternaturally prolific, small-circle Oakland scene with overlapping personnel from groups like the WORLD, NAKED ROOMMATE, RAYS, FAMOUS MAMMALS, and PREENING (among others) fixed at its center. During the lingering pandemic shutdowns and social lulls of 2021, Andy Human and Sam Lefebvre started recording drum and bass tracks on a practice space tape machine for what would eventually become NON PLUS TEMPS, under the spiritual guidance of the wobbly post-punk/dub grooves of Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound label—it’s a looser, cut-up variation on a theme that Andy has previously explored in the WORLD’s skronked-out ESSENTIAL LOGIC-isms and NAKED ROOMMATE’s liquid electro-beat, with the distinctive heat-shimmer vocals from Amber Sermeno (co-conspirator in both of those projects) serving as an additional connective thread on a number of Desire Choir’s rubbery mutant funk sprawls, like “Continuous Hinge” and “Book (Dub).” The promise of any sort of synthesis of the NORMAL and VIVIEN GOLDMAN hinted at in the title of “Warm Launderette” is quickly dashed, with Candace Lazarou of BODY DOUBLE offering a melodic backing counterpart to Andy’s fractured, surrealist narrations over squealing sax to conjure a major Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy/Another Green World ENO vibe, and “Reversible Mesh” beams shuddering dub beats into deep space, with spectral, disembodied vocals circling beneath layers of warped and disintegrating synth texture. It’s a real trip; the rhythm is going to get you!

Old Death Dirty World LP

On their debut full-length album, Portland’s OLD DEATH serves up twelve cuts of messy, virulent punk rock. Dripping with more snot than an infected nasal cavity, Dirty World feels like an earnest ode to punk of yesteryear. OLD DEATH evokes the thrust and snarl of Back From the Pink Room-era PINK LINCOLNS in a serious way! The tunes are gritty yet melodic, with bitingly cynical lyrics with a political slant. There’s an unhinged quality to the music that keeps things from getting too stale, though the non-stop guitar wankery does quickly become grating. Most compelling are the sub-two-minute tracks where the drums are more propulsive and the vocal mucus is palpable. They start to lose me when they drift into the skronky breakdowns found in “21 Gun Salute” and “Sick City,” but if you have a soft spot for bands from the ’90s that played in the style of bands from the ’80s, then OLD DEATH just might be your thing.

Oog Bogo The Beat Sessions cassette

When this act dropped their Plastic LP earlier this year, I was not a fan. It seemed like yet another herky-jerky solo affair in an already overcrowded field, and the record struck me as being superficially wacky or out-there (an impression I think I got from its record cover). But maybe most significantly, the album’s production just kinda left me cold. The guitars sounded thin, squishy, and percussive—at times, almost like they’d been programmed on an SNES—and the vocals were too forward in the mix, really breaking the illusion that these songs were being played by a band. So, I hastily filed this away as being fine but not for me. Now, look, we all make mistakes. If you’re unfamiliar with the Beat Sessions series, the deal with them is that sound engineer Mike Kriebel invites a band to drop by his Golden Beat studio in Los Angeles for a one-day, high-quality, live-ish recording session that he then releases as a cassette (it’s essentially a modern-day Peel session). For this twelfth installment, OOG BOGO (a.k.a. Kevin Boog from MEATBODIES) is joined by a handful of folks to more or less re-record that entire LP in a looser, live setting. Seriously! Seven of the eleven LP tracks are represented here, along with three quarters of their 2020 EP and a KLEENEX cover (“DC10”). And this just worked for me this time…like, a lot! The songs are faster, and the production is much more immediate—this thing really beats the hell out of you like you’re in the room with the band. What’s wild is that pretty much all the parties involved in the LP’s recording (at least TY SEGALL and Mike Kriebel) are also present here, perhaps in slightly different roles. In any case, hearing these songs in a new context allowed me to appreciate them for what they are—well-written, intricately constructed, genuinely out-there bangers that are equal parts psychedelic pop, SPITS-y downstroke punk (particularly in their dum-dum harmonies), and whatever you want to call Here Come the Warm Jets or the A-side of DAVID BOWIE’s Low. Revisiting the LP, I still think some of my original complaints are warranted, but I’m willing to admit that I was wrong—it’s an excellent album. Still, this collection of tunes is nevertheless an improvement over that. Stellar stuff!

Padkarosda Sötét Végek LP

Posthumous release from probably the widest-known recent Hungarian band in DIY punk. As I know PADKAROSDA broke up and most of the members continued in a similar vein (but different enough in nuances) with a band called SÜLLYEDŐ VILÁG, it therefore has surprised me they still have new releases. They were one of the most consistent bands on the local Budapest scene—summarizing in a mean way, they wrote one really good song and played it a few dozen times. Construing my meanness, they went the rare extra mile, which is figuring out a signature sound. If you think about it, one of the key elements in great bands is that you are able to identify them even on a blind listen. So it turns out that it’s not the song which is the same, but rather their idea and craft is consistent. Speaking about the music, PADKAROSDA plays Eastern Bloc-flavored post-punk, which does not shy away from grabbing little bits from early European hardcore, either. On Sötét Végek (“Dark Ends”), they tame and stretch their songs, using tight mid-tempo rhythms and giving a generous amount of space for drums and bass while the guitars sometimes just assist for the evil-sounding and a bit dramatic vocals. When the guitars work then, they swirl as a vortex that sucks civilizations into an abyss. They remind me of CROW PEOPLE, because here as well, the atmosphere is the heaviest and there is just enough role for the guitars to snake through each song and get a good grab on the listener, instead spreading out in the whole sound spectrum. Based on records like this, I am not surprised PADKAROSDA was able to step out from the unknown mass of the local scene—they deserve this recognition, and if you are into super gloomy post-punk that is still very punk, you deserve this record, too.

People’s Temple 8 Track Demo cassette

Not to be confused with the Michigan psych rock band by the same name, Brooklyn’s PEOPLE’S TEMPLE pairs their acid with anarchy. This is a killer first outing. Here we find fast, dialed-in hardcore with riffs a-plenty. Featuring members of GLUE and GUNN, this calls to mind West Coast USHC like BATTALION OF SAINTS and CHRIST ON PARADE, with a touch of early POISON IDEA thrown in for good measure. Roachleg never fails to deliver the goods, and this cassette is certainly no exception. Pounding like a hangover headache, PEOPLE’S TEMPLE never really lets up, even as they modulate their tempo from track to track. These are well-constructed, memorable songs, with “Human Livestock” being a standout. Keep an eye on these freaks!

Persona Free Your Mind! 12″

Free Your Mind!, the latest release from NYC’s PERSONA, consists of seven tracks of anarcho-punk-infused, thrashy fast hardcore punk fury. Fierce combustion with the intensity of maniac drums and noisy, textured analog-sounding recording, a damaging, in-your-face explosion. Reminiscent of anarcho-punk bands going outside of their musical boundaries and fusing the fury of fast USHC such as HERESY/RIPCORD and DAN, or the intuitive New Mexico/East Bay fury of GRIMPLE. We’ve been pogoing for the last decade-plus with the Toxic State catalog, and perhaps it’s time for more circle pits and stage dives.

Chimes of Bayonets / Personal Style split 7″

One song from each band here. CHIMES OF BAYONETS have a sound reminiscent of something like a harder-edged Midwestern “emo” band, perhaps. PERSONAL STYLE’s contribution sounds like a mix of ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT without the horns and SUPERCHUNK, but like…tougher. Both bands have their moments here that have me on the fence of wanting to hear a bit more, but ultimately those moments aren’t enough to get me off of that fence. Perhaps if there were one more song from each band on this release I could have been swayed, but unfortunately this was not the case.

Primer Regimen 1983 EP

Been waiting for this one for a while, as PRIMER REGIMEN is one of the best Colombian bands out there, and it’s a pleasure to listen to this EP in-depth. After two great EP releases (No Futuro / No Solución and Ultimo Testamento) which were straight-on UK82 pogo-inducing bangers, one might expect more of the same, and this is where PRIMER REGIMEN throws us a curveball. “Hegemonia” opens the EP with tribal-ish, tom-heavy grooves (think What’s This For…!-era KILLING JOKE) that set a more bleak tone for what’s to come, while the follow-up “Líderes” returns to their brilliant brand of passionate and aggressive UK82-influenced tupa-tupa that takes no prisoners. This succession of songs just shows the evolution of the band as they rely more on ambiance this time that on previous records, so this is an important EP for PRIMER REGIMEN, as they are silently perfecting their craft and pulling out different influences, mainly post-punk and anarcho-punk. 1983 is also a very political EP, relaying the bloody story of Colombia that still has a shadowy grip on their people today.

Problem Anti-You cassette

Oh yeah, they had me from the warped taunt of the opening chords. L.A.’s PROBLEM is the truth. On this tape, you get seven stripped-down hardcore slammers delivered with a with a thuggish Oi! mentality. They’ve got a cool blend going here, taking the anthemic simplicity of old-school street punk, pumping it up with the power of O.G. USHC, and slathering it all in a classic “fuck you” attitude (as spelled out quite clearly in the title track’s closing sermon). It’s a brilliant job that several different punk subspecies will find tasty.

Pyhät Nuket Kuoleman Sotatanssi LP reissue

PYHÄT NUKET was formed by Finnish punks Lasse Aaltonen and Juha Nabb while their main outfit, the legendary RIISTETYT, was taking a break, and after this short-lived project was finished, most of the musicians went on to NUKET. PYHÄT NUKET was far from their main gig, delving more and more into goth and new wave territory, but you can just call it post-punk—catchy and bright anthems for the goth that resides inside each punk. Kuoleman Sotatanssi has now reached a cult classic status in the underground scene and has seen a reissue courtesy of Svart Records.

Rabbit Rabbit demo cassette

Love the name (which is presented symmetrically and fairly illegibly) of this band from Brooklyn. RABBIT plays DARKSIDE NYC-style blackened HC with some dooming psych elements. Four tracks of lo-fi bleak hardcore that is set-back and captivating. The guitar tones are a blanket of space warmth, the drums and bass piledrive through with early ’90s NYHC bitterness. Every musician in this band is bringing something powerful, but RABBIT is clearly not about showmanship. I’m about halfway through this listen and now feeling a specter-like sound of CRO-MAGS’ “Malfunction” mixed with NO FUNERAL tone and the OUT OF LINE demo production. Wait for the Watership breakdown (sorry, had to). Excellent demo if old school dark death-inspired NYHC is (or was) ever your thing, and you’re seeking something fresh from this atomic garden.

Radiation Risks Welcome to Bad Boy City EP

There’s no speed limit in Bad Boy City. No stop signs, no traffic lights, and certainly no cops. Danger lies around every corner, but trust me, the trip is well worth the gamble. Spawned from the same primordial ooze that brought us SCIENCE MAN, BROWN SUGAR, SPIT KINK, and NERVOUS TICK AND THE ZIPPER LIPS, among many others, this posthumous EP may be the touchstone of RADIATION RISKS’ catalog. These stalwarts of Buffalo, New York’s enduring punk scene rip through seven tracks of innovative hardcore punk in under twelve minutes. Welcome to Bad Boy City delivers velvet-fisted gut punches through the use of clean guitar, not dissimilar to Japan’s MILK. This EP is chock-full of hooks and surprises. When least expected, RADIATION RISKS will flip the script and downshift from blazing thrash to inflective (dare I say jazzy) interludes, only to slam the pedal back down to the floor. The pervasive sense of wild abandon is not betrayed by these fleeting glimpses of musicality. Rather, it’s clear that RADIATION RISKS don’t take themselves too seriously. Why embark on such wild rides if not for fun? Featuring absolutely killer cover art by Tommyrot and limited to an edition of 100, these bad boys won’t be available for long. Snatch a copy before you can’t. RADIATION RISKS are coming for you!!!

Rat’s Eyes Ростоталконтроль LP

I’ve mused here before about the perceived sub-genre of “Futurecore,” and Moscow’s RATS EYES take that concept to a whole new level. Not only does this record sonically follow in the chaotic dystopian footsteps of bands like S.H.I.T., these guys go as far as calling themselves “future punks” and even present this album as if it was recorded 1000 years from now. Talk about committing to a theme. That being said, the music itself is super solid, a tight and kind of candied form of this particular breed of swirling and menacing hardcore that retains its charm for the entirety of the ten songs. It’s a fully realized album and a great spin that I think will age quite well as it creeps towards its true release date in 3022.

Raw Breed Universal Paranoia LP

Denver strikes yet again! Those guys are maniacs, they just cannot stop themselves producing quality hardcore. RAW BREED is yet another example of this, brought to us once again by Denver HC powerhouse label Convulse Records. Universal Paranoia rips all who dare to listen to it a new one. The vocals growl and scowl over a vicious instrumental ensemble. The music sounds like a mish-mash of several different HC variants, but it all works like a charm. The standout track for this reviewer is the pummelling “Damnation,” but you can’t go wrong with any of these twelve tracks.

Remedy Feelin’ Demo 2022 cassette

Low-fidelity, rudimentary rock’n’roll. Singer’s going for some kind of Colin McFaull-meets-Angry Anderson snotty bar rock vibe while the band plods through grimy would-be jams that sound like they are, quite literally, coming from your drunk neighbor’s garage. Which is, of course, the charm of REMEDY FEELIN’, because that’s exactly what they’re going for. When they hit the multiple vocals on “Sleepless Summer,” I’m reminded of SF greats FANTASY (which will mean little to most readers, but if you know, then you definitely know)—like glam without any of the chops or any of the….well, without any of the glam. Weird, right?

Rot Organic CD

Oh, this rips: 25 tracks of blistering crust grind from São Paulo. Dual vocals, totally guttural death and clearly sung Portuguese with killer conviction. This is very much for fans of the most crucial NASUM, early BRUTAL TRUTH, EXCRUCIATING TERROR, MORSER, early PHOBIA…this really takes me back to ’90s gigs where you can see no light and you hear 5,000 decibels at once (yes, I realize that would shatter the solar system). Super tight non-stop blasts that have several groove breaks for brief moments, mid-tempo beats, then back to over-the-top clobbering. ROT has this sound down so well. As the CD goes on, the vocal tradeoff is more like later E.N.T. or DEATH TOLL 80K. And, well, certainly current NAPALM DEATH, it may even rival them! Through a punk lens. And thankfully, this is not gore cartoonishness in content at all: political, apolitical, social (unrest), anti-fascist, cerebral. Some of the guitar tones on “Under Black Clouds” are downright sinister. Terrorize your best grind memories with this one. Since 1991, almost all of ROT releases have been an EP or split. Absolutely brutal album, like ROT does this shit effortlessly!

Rough Gutts Part 1 & Part 2 12″

The label says the band is unstoppable…the band opens the record with “Spit,” and I’m inclined to think the label might be correct. No-nonsense garage rock’n’roll with heaps of swagger and a healthy dose of space rock; the only thing missing is the damn tambourine (and I keep thinking it’s going to make an appearance before I flip the fukkr over). Brighton’s ROUGH GUTTS ride the horse hard, breathing new life into damaged, neglected punk licks, dragging them back in time in the process. The formula may be simple, but far too often when punks go this route, the listener is reminded that punk, at its foundation, is a rudimentary and inept art form. Maybe there really is a difference between punk and rock’n’roll, and maybe some people should stick with what they do well (or stick with what they do poorly), but ROUGH GUTTS have the chops to back it up and the result here is a slamming fucking success. Never did get that tambourine, but the organ in “See The Light” was a nice consolation—this one’s a burner.

Savageheads Service to Your Country LP

As my dear friends in the Guinness marketing department will oft remind me, good things come to those who wait, and this is a very good thing indeed. Coming hot off the heels of their solitary release eight(!) years ago, a SAVAGEHEADS full-length finally lands, and fuck me sideways lads, it’s a total bloody belter. Thirteen tracks of raging UK82-in-‘22 pogo joy and the perfect soundtrack for cheap cider and solvent abuse. Snotty, amphetamine-rapid riffs, sneered vocals sticking two fingers up to every establishment of which you can think, and pounding drums that feel like the heartbeat of an anxiety attack. People will compare this to yer ABRASIVE WHEELS, yer SKEPTIX, yer PARTISANS, etc., but this is just a really fucking good record and one you should nick your nan’s pension to get…it’s just that good.

Sawchuk Modern Love LP

Active for around eleven years so far, this is the first full-length release for Detroit’s SAWCHUK. Modern Love straddles the line between fast hardcore punk and the more heavy, more groovy variety of hardcore—whichever mode it is in at any given moment, it is consistent in its negative energy. This record displays a wide array of different emotions, very few of them of a positive nature. Modern Love is a very dour listening experience, but in the best way.

Scary Hours Symptoms of Modern Hegemony CD

The apparent brainchild of one chap from New Jersey, SCARY HOURS are an advanced metalcore project that seems streamlined for the big stage. CAVE IN-caliber discordance and AVENGED SEVENFOLD-style emphasis on the metal end of that metalcore spectrum. It’s very (very) well-put-together, and kinda makes me wonder if these sounds exist on some other youth-driven commercial platform. Make no mistake, Symptoms of Modern Hegemony is (an) extremely good (example of the genre), though the promo version comes with a full-size “campus copy center”-style bound lyric booklet complete with descriptions of the disparate bands the artist used as an influence for specific tracks. “Sackler Street” was a “first attempt at writing something super metallic like the BLACK DAHLIA MURDER or DISEMBODIED,” while other tracks reference LEFTÖVER CRACK, PANTERA, and JETS TO BRAZIL…confused? There’s a lot to unpack here.

Shux Chonks Missing cassette

SHUX’s “(I Don’t Wanna) Indoor Toilet” was one of the gold nuggets panned out from the sediment of Lumpy Records’ 2017 Horrendous New Wave LP comp, a neo-Red Snerts rhythm-machine-propelled weirdo flip-out with bratty femme vocals taking Big Plumbing to task—it resurfaced on a demo the following year with three more originals and a cover of DEVO’s “Goo Goo Itch,” but that was the last we’d heard from SHUX until now. Chonks Missing was recorded with a human drummer in 2019 and apparently intended for a 7” release that never came to pass, with fleshed-out, full-band takes on the non-DEVO demo material and two raging new tracks (“Milk Sick” and “Split Merengue”) that hit more of a Yes L.A./Dangerhouse target than anything Mothersbaugh-indebted. Vocalist Cara Murphy-Smith hiccups KLEENEX-by-way-of-Su-Tissue-style over a deliriously ping-ponging bass line in “Not a Not Nazi” (“I’m not saying you’re a Nazi / But you’re not a not Nazi,” what a line), while the feral Midwestern punk snot of “Wolfman’s Eyeballs” is like a St. Louis response to what CB RADIO GORGEOUS has been up to recently a few hours north in Chicago, and “No No Tony” snakes along in a rhythmic rumble of mounting desperation. Only 25 copies of this exist, don’t sleep.

Skrewball Wild Cats EP

With rough and snappy charisma, SKREWBALL from Plymouth, UK pumps out four solid youth crew pounders on their debut 7”. This mostly mid-paced “street punk” stomps firmly in between classic NY and UK hardcore styles, aided by an awesome sore-throated vocalist and bursting into fits of speed at the right moments. Maybe this will arouse fans of both GORILLA BISCUITS and ANTISOCIAL?

Slytter Et Slytter Liv cassette

Live Tascam tape from this Danish band that rides between garage punk and flanged-out grunge. It’s a messy affair with false starts, occasional silly vocal takes, and segues into cover songs like “House of the Rising Sun,” the bane of Guitar Center employees everywhere. SLYTTER works best when they go raw and let the feedback swirl, like on the screamed “Viktoria” and droney, noise-rock-aping “Neglene Gror.” The rest sounds like a rehearsal tape— in this case, a warts-and-all time skip to 1990 Seattle. Check it out if that’s your thing. Their Bandcamp says there is a vinyl pressing coming soon, and I have to ask, do we need that?

So Cal’s Parishioners So Cal’s Parishioners cassette

Wow, it’s incredible how aptly named this band is. Four cuts of classic hardcore, but not just any old hardcore—this is classic SoCal hardcore. It’s melodic, it’s mid-tempo, it’s heavy on a distorted guitar, and the production is lo-fi without sounding off. Some people might make a distinction between L.A. hardcore and Orange County hardcore, but when it’s got that surf vibe going on, I just think of it as L.A. hardcore (having grown up in Northern California, it’s all just Southern California anyway). In the end, it’s really nicely done, and I’m happy that kids and bands are still making cassettes; it shows a commitment to the DIY ethic. If someone can get me a copy of the actual cassette, I’ll make copies for anyone who wants one (I’m kidding).

Klonns / Soiled Hate Different Senses split cassette

The cover of this split is a black flail, a medieval weapon with two spiked balls attached to a stick with chains, and that’s a perfect visual metaphor for what’s inside. The three KLONNS tracks are unrelentingly harsh Japanese hardcore. SOILED HATE are in a similar vein, but with more varied rhythms and chuggier moments reminiscent of NYC hardcore. “Persecution Mania” stands out as a dissonant ripper with a chanting, higher-pitched vocalist providing an interesting counterpoint. They also do a KLONNS cover, which you like to see in a split. Overall, these two bands play raw, powerful, and tight. The split closes with two tracks that are experimental synth covers of a song from each band, both with somewhat hardcore (in the techno sense) gabber vibes.

Spodee Boy Neon Lights EP

Goodbye Boozy teams up with Nashville’s Conner Cummins (SNOOPER, BODY CAM) once again to bring you another SPODEE BOY 7”. If you’ve been following along thus far, you should already know that this would be good. And I’m not here to dispel you of that belief—it’s excellent! If you’ve not been following along, this is a great place to start! I feel like Conner is really starting to come into his own as a songwriter. The four tracks on this EP are still heavily indebted to the COUNTRY TEASERS, FLIPPER, and STICKMEN WITH RAY GUNS, but it’s starting to feel less like a straight homage and more like something distinctly SPODEE BOY. For my money, “The Plan” is the hit of the record, but the title of the EP seems to suggest otherwise. In any case, just go ahead and listen to the whole thing because there are no duds. Limited to 300 copies, and, surprisingly, there appear to be a few left. Snatch ‘em up, y’all!

Squire The Young Idea / It’s Getting Better 7″ reissue

Originally released in 1984 as a fan club-only type thing, I’m guessing most anybody reading this has never heard these two cuts. Hell, I’m not sure I’m even familiar with the band. Listening to the A-side, with its sharp, somewhat stilted lead guitar lick, you’ll find your body sort of contorting to the music. It’s got a mod feel to it, but it’s also reminiscent of catchy ’60s pop music. The B-side continues with the same, though it probably leans even more ’60s pop than the A-side. Whatever you want to call it, this really is nicely done. And it’s a piece of history. You kids should know your history.

Strong Boys Homo EP

Gay hardcore punk heroes STRONG BOYS from Dublin are back after a six-year hiatus with their just-over-five-minute-long EP Homo on the always wonderful Static Shock label. There is a heavy influence from John Brannon and an early NEGATIVE APPROACH vibe, with barking tough guy vocals and lean/mean guitar and rhythm section. Lyrically, you can hear what STRONG BOYS have to say loud and clear: they are not here to take your shit. Not yours, not the church’s (“Pink Death”), not society’s (“UB2FU,” “Bad Blood”), and most definitely not some creepy shitstain trying to cop a feel at the bar (“Bad Bear”). Great hardcore that isn’t fucking around.

The Astronauts When You’re Not So High LP

The ASTRONAUTS, the epitome of punk rock jam bands, are a developed taste, but When You’re Not So High is actually quite easy on the taste buds, as the ASTRONAUTS rock harder on this LP than on any previous release. This four-song LP has song lengths that may push the boundaries of your attention span, but that won’t be the fault of the band. “Heresy,” the opening track, is a very moody (edging near dub session) critique of contemporary punk and our failing governments, all delivered in the poetic manner only Mark Wilkins (a.k.a. Mark Astronaut) is capable of. The second song “Have It” almost reads as “All Night Party, Part Two” with a pulsating club beat driving an anti-party/party track, and if you’re looking for the “punk” on this album, wait for this song’s midpoint—by the end of it, you’ll be questioning your own complicity in the scheme. “High” and “Melissa’s Party”, the final two songs, almost flow into one unit as they meander and then suddenly rage against the politics of social gatherings as viewed through the lens of 40-plus years of partying experience. I often listened to the ASTRONAUTS in the same way as I view surrealist art, a quick review followed by several hours of discovering the various hidden messages and small enclaves that make the whole of the work interesting. What I can say at the moment is this album is full of very controlled vitriol aimed squarely at the external and internal bullshit of our day, all backed by constantly interesting arrangements. This might not be the most “punk rock” album, but I assure you the message is more punk than any of us actually are.

The Berzerkers For Love / Rest Yer Bones 7″

Two straight-up, hard-rockin’ tunes from Orange County. Both songs feature wailing guitars and snarling vocals recovering from the trials and tribulations of the year 2021. The way the singer pronounces “head” in “For Love” makes it occasionally sound like “hair,” making me repeatedly chuckle at the lyric “head on straight.” I always found the phrase “Rest Yer Bones” a bit corny. Does anyone say that anymore? I’ll stick with the A-side.

The Comets The Comets LP

An archival release showcasing the entirety of short-lived central Florida act the COMETS’ recorded output, this record features ten spunky numbers spanning a period from 1981–1983. Acolytes of the British mod scene and fronted by the English-born Mich Shields, the COMETS excelled in crafting spirited and slightly off-kilter rock jams that fit right in with some of the brightest US power pop of the era. While sticking to the shiny and simple framework established by bands like the JAM, the songs carry a whiff of the working class rock of their early ’80s Philly contemporaries the A’S and mirror the sharp songwriting of the CARPETTES, culminating in a striking and addictive sound. Upbeat, soulful, and polished, this cool collection of tracks offers a range of hit-worthy hooks and memorable melodies. “Living the Answer” starts with an unexpected speedy chord pairing that reads like a blending of the iconic Twilight Zone and Munsters TV themes before springing into its hopeful and anthemic jaunt. “Foot of the Stair” shares the sparse urgency of the CURE’s “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” “Everybody Loves a Hero” opens with the saccharine guitar shamble that would become a signature style of DINOSAUR JR. a few years later. The A-side of the band’s final 1983 single, “Big Business Jokes” pairs a frantic BUZZCOCKS-style jitter with its brief yet dramatic chorus punchline. All of these tunes resonate as thoughtfully-composed bursts of gleaming and easily digestible rock’n’roll romance; music that is well-worthy of the rescuing it’s been provided by this comprehensive discography LP. It’s an essential for shelves of a certain nature.

The Drin Down River in the Distance LP

I reviewed the last DRIN release, and when the opportunity came up to review this one, I was interested in hearing what this mysterious project has come up with next. Down River in the Distance cranks up the murk and expands the bleak, dubby spaciousness. The drums take a big step forward in the mix, the bass providing more of a felt frequency. The prettier strummed chords and more melancholy minors are replaced with fuzz-fracked brittle guitars that crackle as if coming from a shortwave radio. It’s psychedelic, but with a color palette that’s only swirling with muddy grays.

The Executed Demonstration cassette

Phoenix, Arizona’s the EXECUTED has released this demo on Noise Merchant Records from the UK, a key label to discover a wide range of emerging hardcore bands worldwide. Four tracks in less than seven minutes gives us the perfect intro for the EXECUTED. Sharp guitars, even sharper voice, good riffing and beat changes. Listen to the track “Blinders” for speedy pogo and riff rage, continue with “Grid Decay” for a catchy guitar jumping along with the drums followed by a downbeat that goes in crescendo to the pit, then “Shock State” follows quite in the same line as “Blinders,” and finish the album with “The Last Riot” to extinguish whatever was left of hatred and violence in you before the EXECUTED. Really fun album, hardcore punk mixed with nods to and cadences of ’80s skate rock and classic hardcore like the downbeats—for me it’s a formula that works, but that you don’t get to hear as often as you’d think. Highly recommended.

The Hammer Party Earth Abides CD

Jagged noise rock EP from this Providence band. Presumably named after the BIG BLACK record, the HAMMER PARTY has some pretty big shoes to fill, and does an admirable job holding the grimy torch. These four songs adhere to the “find a groove and play it into the ground” side of the genre in the vein of 400 BLOWS and MELT DOWNER, and they do it well. “Sterilize” opens with instantly gratifying snare pounds, a dissonant guitar lead, and raspy repetitive vocals. “Federal Reserve Blues” pairs a syncopated guitar riff over a skiffling jazz beat to great effect, always feeling slightly off and unpredictable. Final track “Walk the Walk,” featuring Rick Pelletier of SIX FINGER SATELLITE on wailing no wave sax, centers a hollow, loping bass line with growly, TOM WAITS-style vocals that build into a strange bluesy jam. It’s weird, but it’s good weird. If you worship at the scabby AmRep altar, this is worth your time.

The Harlequins Time LP

And now for something completely different, here are a dozen tracks of psych-y indie rock/pop from Cincinnati, OH. Any of these songs could sneak onto your hometown classic rock station or the soundtrack of a Zach Braff movie. The fuzzy, reverb-y guitars, dreamy, ’60s harmonized vocals, and trippy instrumental passages would make our parents/grandparents rack their brains for where they heard this band before. As an example, the track “Daydream” features BEACH BOYS-style “ooh”s, and check out these lyrics: “I walk through a dream / Half-a-stride / Awake so it seems / Eyes are wide open / Aren’t they?” Far out.

The Higher State Codeine / Clouds of Doubt 7”

This is pretty straightforward. You’ve got a band firmly rooted in ’60s garage rock covering two ’60s garage rock tunes. The first one is a slower number, full of organ and tambourine. Combined with some very somber vocals, it definitely creates its own darkness. The B-side continues along the same lines, though this cut is definitely more upbeat and a more catchy number. Still, with both cuts, the lack of a real drum presence is noticeable. All that said, I find myself strangely drawn to the record. There’s something interesting in there that draws me in. This one is perfect for a series by Back to Beat called “Moody Garage.” It is just that. 

The Mickey Finn 1964/1967 LP

This is a nice collection of singles and unreleased songs from this English beat band. Their best-known song “Garden of My Mind” leads the way for a fun mod head trip. Most of the tracks are fast-paced, upbeat rockin’ ’60s numbers to get you grooving. There are a few duds in the repertoire (“God Bless The Child,” “Please Love Me”), and Jimmy Page makes some obligatory session cameos, but when the MICKEY FINN is on, they are on. Great liner notes by Mike Stax, too.

The Monarchs Can’t Stand Your Lies EP

From France, these garage rockers deliver a pleasing version of ’60s rock that is heavy on the psychedelia with a definite twist of mod. Honestly, all four cuts sound like they could have come from a Back From the Grave or Nuggets compilation. Mid-tempo throughout, you’ll be left feeling groovy. Can somebody pass me the bong and turn off that goddamn lava lamp?!

The Poisoning Human Apparitions EP

This band comes from Santa Ana/Los Angeles, California, and this seems to be their first EP—physical copies are only available at live shows. A four-track EP spinning around for twelve minutes or so. Kinda fast punk rock, notes of GG ALLIN in the vocals, quick guitar changes, and good drums with fills and stops that may cause pogoing. The first track “Human Apparitions” is like some kind of hymn and works as an intro to the EP (riffy as hell). Good hardcore punk, with really defined guitars and a lil’ bit less distorted than usual. The second song “Breathless” was to me the best song on this EP: well-executed, and creates an atmosphere of losing oxygen, with great guitars for this one as well as good drum cuts. I wouldn’t categorize them into the “metal punk” area at all, as they are closer to classic hardcore punk, even a clean-ish version. Their singer transmits a calm but uneasy feeling, like a hawk looking from above, calm but deadly. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I liked them, but after some listening, I realized this is quite good. It’s always easier to just make noise and angry postures, but this has musical accuracy, and it seems to have passion, too.

The Trouble Seekers The Trouble Seekers LP

What a pleasant surprise. The TROUBLE SEEKERS are Kevin McGovern from the PROSTITUTES and Hillary Burdon from the PANDORAS. On their first album, they deliver a superb set of songs with great elegance, melodic sense, and humor, mixing the classic Southern California punk sound of the ’80s, synths à la SCREAMERS or NERVOUS GENDER paired with a punchy drum machine, and some classic rock attitude. Imagine the McDonald brothers collaborating with Lawrence from DENIM—that’s the closest thing I could come up with to describe the very personal sound of this project.  Listen to “Out of Order” and thank me later.

Billiam / The Vovos Vampire Club split EP

Melbournians BILLIAM (a.k.a. Billy “Gotta Go Fast” Twyford, whom you may know from DISCO JUNK or COLLECTIVE HARDCORE) and the VOVOS team up for a split 7”. BILLIAM is bringing you three tracks of his typically charming brand of hyperactive bedroom punk. Things are maybe 30% sillier this go-round, with a plethora of cheap synth sounds (and maybe even a melodica) in the mix, but I’m also detecting a bit of TWOMPSAX/CHER STRAUBERRY influence creeping in. All in all—pretty good! But the other side of the record is really what sells this thing for me! The VOVOS are a five-piece named after an Australian cookie, who’ve been playing together since they met at GirlsRock! Melbourne camp as teens. They’re fantastic! They play a mix of indie pop, ’90s indie rock, and punk—a combo of sounds that on paper I don’t think I would have gone for, but these girls weave them together in such an odd way, creating quite a compelling tapestry. “Jessica Day” sounds like TIGER TRAP playing the NEW PORNOGRAPHERS but with Super*Teem!-era DONNAS’ shout-along hooks. Then “Justice for Pretzel Man” starts as a minimal ramshackle guitar-and-voice number in the vein of MARINE GIRLS or the SOFTIES with what sounds like an early MODEST MOUSE-styled guitar-rock tantrum boiling just under the surface (though, never actually breaking through), then the song explodes into a chorus that nails the loose, shouty harmonizing of the RAINCOATS’ debut. I really loved both of these tracks, and I’m keen to hear more from them!

Thee Dirty Rats Humans Out LP

We’re in desperate need for a new wave of garage that doesn’t feel like an echo of an echo of the past. There have obviously been great garage rock duos that loom large over the scene, and THEE DIRTY RATS feel in step with the tradition, but the use of cigar box guitar that truly sounds like shit (not a compliment in this case) and distant and muddy drums makes most of the affair feel hollow. One high point that actually uses the crappy sound to an almost motorik effect is the uncharacteristically effective “Headache.” I could hang if the rest of this LP sounded the same, a blood rush of nearly industrial rock that touches base with SUICIDE and NEU! more so than anything from the garage canon. Likewise, the following track “Plastic Veins,” with its JESUS AND MARY CHAIN bubblegum goth aura, satisfies by doing something not altogether new but with a steely confidence and bummer vibe that I just want more of. Like any subgenre, the formula works best when used against itself, and I wish this Brazilian two-piece took that more to heart.

Axe Rash / Therapy split EP

Stockholm’s AXE RASH have, and always will, it seems, provide straight, simple, raw, and heavy metallic D-beat to the masses. This, however, is a similar merge with American hardcore as we’ve seen with bands à la WARTHOG, and the lyrics to each of their two songs are humorous, particularly on the opener “Ostrich Man.” Great stuff. THERAPY from San Diego, while providing some great music as well, doesn’t have quite the force that AXE RASH has in their songs, but nonetheless is a promising band. The first couple of their songs lack a bit, but “Power” is mental. I really felt I was being transported to seeing the band in person via this song, which few records can accomplish. Ultimately, the truly exciting aspect lies in the A-side, but it’s still worth taking the time aside for a full listen.

No Comply / They Live To the Max split 5″

Due to some technical difficulties, this review is late, as the format is a unique 5” I could not get to play on my turntable. Well, the wait is over, and it was worth it. NO COMPLY play bizarre-core, as if the brood of RIGOROUS INSTITUTION played more like SWING KIDS, or if MAN IS THE BASTARD teamed up with ASSHOLE PARADE. Two tracks to grease up the wheels. THEY LIVE take a much more blasting hardcore approach, and it is awesome. Think DEVOID OF FAITH, or PLUTOCRACY in terms of distortion, but a little less crusty. Straight-up powerviolence HC with palpable tension. I’m pretty sure the last song is about Animal Chin and this all has an aggressive skate vibe to it. If you see this, get it. It’s a novel 5” and it’s great.

Tooth Paint Digital Sex cassette

This is a side project from Henry, the bassist of Germany’s post-punk band L‘APPEL DU VIDE. Henry is a very talented young fella, capable of producing high quality synth punk that lives comfortably outside of time—these five songs can be placed next to the ’80s defining classics, raunchy electroclash, or ’00s no wave. The tunes are catchy as hell, incredibly well-constructed and irredeemably fun. The closing track “Digital Sex” may be my own new personal anthem. Get the cassette now!

Total Silence Total Silence demo cassette

This is a beautiful, down-tuned, thrash-y, metallic exertion of power. If the first five seconds of sludgy guitar isn’t your thing, then move on. If it is, my god, turn it the fuck up. These mid-tempo tracks let you appreciate all the riffs, belabored drums, and  “I’m not going to have a voice after this tour” vocals. It reminds me a little of DROWNINGMAN in its pace and technicality (but without the harmonies), and is certainly my kind of heavy. I hope to hear more from these Toronto slayers. TOTAL SILENCE(?)—anything but.

Total Vacation You Suckers Don’t Even Listen to Hardcore… cassette

You read the title before you started reading the review, right? Well, read it again and ask yourself: do you? Do you even listen to hardcore? Sucker? Nothing fancy from these Whittier Boulevard motherfukkrs, just short, fast bursts of hardcore. Equal parts INFEST and RAZOR’S EDGE, not sure what more you could want. If you even listen to hardcore, that is.

Ultra Sect Echoes From the Past 12″

San Fransiscan Oi! outfit ULTRA SECT returns with another collection of rough-as-yer-like tunes, albeit ones in which they are pretending to be vikings or Normans or Visigoths or what have you, which is absolutely one of my least favourite contemporary Oi! tropes (although it is microscopically less annoying than people who’ve never been singing about the pub or football). Topic analysis aside, it’s pretty good stuff, a decent take on modern Oi! albeit a subcategory of it for which I don’t particularly care.

Uncross Demo 2022 CD

Coming straight out of Salt Lake City, Utah’s UNCROSS offers three tracks in ten minutes on this demo, which was released in April 2022. Extra points for having the lyrics on the page,  starting off with “Descend Into Decrepitude” (“Lies cannot save you / Hate will not heal you / God cannot hear you…”). With distorted strings and sludgy cadences, the first minute-and-a-half of this song sorts of works as an intro to the demo. After that, the vocals enter, with remembrances of crust metal and doom. It totally makes you feel like descending, and after that starts picking a rhythm inviting you to a doomy pit. Very cathartic. For the second song “Amplified Self-Loathing,” the strings are mental and ill, and follows the lyrical work: depression is a constant, as is self-loathing and hatred scattered towards humanity. This track is a little bit less accomplished, but it has some dark introspective force going to your own soul. The last track is “DYI” (“Doing Yourself In”). This reviewer does not condone nor encourage suicide, but this band might as well. My personal favorite track is “Descend Into Decrepitude,” as it gets the desired atmosphere and may convince you to enter into a rhythmic trance. For lovers of sludge and doom, and reaching the core of depression; a great first effort for UNCROSS.

Unit X Ontario Songs cassette

UNIT X is a self-proclaimed vegan straightedge band from London, Ontario, but, as opposed to the more metallic-style commonly associated with that term, UNIT X owes a greater debt to the classic, late ’80s youth crew bands. Ontario Songs offers some solid music and ideas and a nice ‘n’ gruff vocal approach. Unfortunately, I feel this four-track release is let down quite a bit by a pretty sterile mix. The drums also sound pretty clearly programmed, which can be a very hit-or-miss move in the land of punk/hardcore, and I feel like the move did not land here. Regardless, this is still a perfectly solid release that is worth your time if you’re into youth crew.

V/A Punks in Peoria LP

Taking a long view of the various punk and alternative bands to emerge from Peoria, Illinois throughout the ’80s and ’90s, this comp provides some cool snapshots of a small-town scene’s evolution. Starting off with goofy, KBD-worthy tunes from bands with names like CONSTANT VOMIT and BLOODY MESS & HATE, the tone of the collection progresses into some weird, later ’80s new wave/post-punk (peep the lo-fi sci-fi of DAED KCIS’s “Ghost Story Lane”) before eventually landing into a showcase of various popular ’90s styles. There’s archetypal indie pop in tracks from DOLLFACE and DISMISS, as well as what sounds like misguided NIRVANA-worship from FAST FOOD REVOLUTION, and many degrees in between. This will be a cool nostalgia trip for those who were there, and it’s likely to remind folks in various locales of bands they went to high school with.

V/A Paris on Oi! LP

A compilation by some of the leading lights in “La Ville-Lumière,” aimed at capturing a snapshot of its particularly vibrant and thriving Oi! scene following the pandemic. A noble cause, and one that I back, because it really is a cracker. BROMURE, SQUELETTE, and CRAN will all be familiar to those keeping an eye on the scene, but uncovering treats like RECIDIVE and CONTUSION is always a treat. Fair warning, it is French Oi!, so please don’t be startled by liberal applications of saxophone, but it’s a price worth paying for a dip into one of the better scenes in Euro-land.

V/A She Don’t Need You cassette

This comp seems to cover three bases: riot grrrl (POSY), synth punk (ANDREW ANDERSON), and garage (SEXAPHONE), and features bands from Bulgaria to the West Coast of the USA. From the title alone, I assumed this was going to be a riot grrrl-only list, but the range is achieved (with a little distraction from the synth stuff, to my own ears). A lot of the buzz seems to be about the COACHWHIPS’ “When I Go (Demo)” that is a blown-out, lo-fi gem, and they’re maybe the most senior contributors. Personally, I like the tongue-in-cheek love song “Stupid Punk Boy” by GOLDEN STARLET that starts with the interlude from “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” (“What colors are his eyes? / I don’t know…”) and has plenty of ’60s girl group melody ramped up with shouts and UK snarls. I also enjoy the descending minor scale in the PRISSTEENS’ “Party Girl” that enshrines the reverence for when the fun is over. BECKY & THE POLITICIANS offer up a weirdo synth-stomp that sounds like dial-up internet to a beat, yet kind of works? THREX is a computer on drugs. FAR CORNERS sounds like a ’70s UK band recorded on a boom box. If there’s a thread here, I may be missing it? Super lo-fi, lots of fun, broken guitar amps? Well, that’ll have to be enough. Good stuff within.

Viceprez Juger LP

These Lyon-based punks hit several pleasure centers at once. Their sound is scrappy and fierce, with enough rumble and groove to air things out while also seriously delivering on the hooks! Citing fellow French energetic melodic punks YOUTH AVOIDERS, and accurately so, this record also hits almost as hard as modern Oi! purveyors such as CHUBBY & THE GANG and the CHISEL. Each track is fun ‘n’ fierce and you’d have a hard time tracing the DNA from some of the members’ tenure in the much more indie outfit SPORT. Most of the music is gritty and full-force, with some interesting detours such as the menacingly repetitive “Driving Around,” which is also the only track that breaks the three-minute mark. Be sure to try out “Rice,” a poverty food anthem that rings true to a hungry belly and sounds straight from the time machine from 1979. Eleven tracks of no bullshit that’s a hell of a lot of fun. If you want more than that, you’re greedy.

Vomitatrix Vomitatrix cassette

I am not well-versed in noisecore, but from what I remember of seeing BASTARD NOISE, MERZBOW, and SEX MOB (featuring JOHN ZORN), VOMITATRIX aligns with their sonic insanity. However, VOMITATRIX adds more carefree, psychedelic guts to their music. This is chaotic but with formation. Disturbing and unhinged but not without consciousness. I think VOMITATRIX would be a thrill to see live. From Jupiter, FL—I’m feeling more like from Jupiter the planet. Some of the song titles are more disturbing than the maniacal structures (think A.C.). This is “free death,” in the musical genre sense. Like JOHN ZORN, what do you do with yourself when an audience standing there expects you to “play”?

Vortis The Miasmic Years LP

Smart folks playing dumb music. This band actually sported not one but two college professors at one point in their twenty-year career. To quote their Wikipedia page: “The band was named after the Vorticist movement of the early 20th century, a group of artists and writers whose basic tenet was to ‘perpetuate violent structures of adolescent clarity’ throughout life.” Oh brother. Kill me. The songs are well-thought-out and played competently, but are none too exciting to these marginally educated ears. They’re from Chicago and you could kinda compare them to some of the ’90s bands of the area like PEGBOY, SHELLAC, or the DIDJITS, with a little more basic rock’n’roll thrown in. They might fit right in on a Touch and Go comp of that era, but being that I never cared much for those bands, I don’t much give a hoot about this. Oh, if only I’d stayed in school…ugh.

War Effort War Effort cassette

Rumor has it that WAR EFFORT started as an experiment: get into the studio and try to record an EP in a single day. Maybe we’re hearing the end result, maybe not, but I sure do love the myth-making intention. And what do we have here? Blistering and pure D-beat from a band that offers a brutal execution; an in-your-face sound that lives up to the phrase “first idea is the best idea.” This sounds fresh, free, and unabashed.

Warning? Unattainable demo cassette

Established in 2019, WARNING? is a gritty and snotty skate punk band from the Bay Area. Not that much info on this band can be found, which makes you think of how it was back in the glory days of USHC. The four songs on this demo go by as fast as possible but they manage to get in your head. A good debut, now let’s see what comes next!

Whippets Kick EP

Did anyone else expect SNAPCASE’s “Caboose” to start playing after the opening drum lick on this EP? For your sake, I hope not! Anyway, we’ve got a new 7” from Goodbye Boozy, this time it’s the debut vinyl release from the Madison, WI-based act WHIPPETS. The project began as a recording outlet for Bobby Hussy (he seems to have started developing ideas for it as far back as 2013), but he’s since fleshed things out into a full band by adding frequent collaborator Tyler Spatz (the HUSSY, CAVE CURSE) on bass and Riley Heninger on drums. Broadly speaking, I guess the band plays post-punk, but from track to track the amount of “punk” or “post-” you get will vary. Three of the four tracks on this EP tread a lot of the same ground JAY REATARD laid with Blood Visions—tight, dynamic, start/stop songs that are as indebted to garage punk as they are gothic rock or any of its derivations—whereas “Cure” is more mechanical post-punk in the vein of A FRAMES. To top it all off, Bobby’s doing his best imitation of early-BIRTHDAY PARTY Nick Cave—to the point of caricature, though, so it’s more in TV GHOST territory. I don’t think any of these songs have quite as much character as ones put out by the aforementioned acts, but they’re definitely not bad. You should give it a spin!

Wolfbrigade Anti-Tank Dogs EP

Arguably one of the most influential Swedish punk bands ever, starting out as WOLFPACK and steadily evolving into WOLFBRIGADE, with their trademark DISCHARGE meets ANTI-CIMEX meets DISSECTION sound. Many of the modern crust bands owe their careers to these Swedish crust-mongers. This new three-track EP shows a slight evolution into a more metallic and dirty territory, even more so than on their last record The Enemy: Reality. Every song is carefully crafted and sharpened into a weapon of crust destruction. WOLFBRIGADE is a central piece in the Swedish punk scene, whether you want them to be or not. So dig your paws in! The Lycanthro Punks will stop at nothing and trample everything in their path.

World Burns to Death The Sucking of the Missile Cock LP reissue

This hardcore classic has been re-mastered (though seemingly still with a layer of mud caked over the speakers to maintain some authenticity) to remind us of what the state of hardcore was in 2002 right after 9/11 when George W. Bush was in office. The anger and disdain is visceral, likely leading to the staying power of this album. Everything on here is so perfectly put together that it sounds like it could have been written and recorded last week. “Whom the Gods Destroy…They First Make Ridiculous” is a face-bludgeoning anthem that sticks with you. “The Dead Sing This Hymn” has a ridiculously strong intro that is likely to cause you to thrash around whatever room you happen to be in. Perhaps it’s a good idea to put away any fragile items before you put this one on. Even if you played this one a thousand times twenty years ago, it’s time for a revisit. This album also reminded me that it’s been a while since I’ve pulled out any SEVERED HEAD OF STATE records, so I’m going to get on that, too.

Your Pest Band Reflecting Board LP

Sometimes bands get it right with their album title. Reflecting Board is spot-on for this collection of introspective punky power pop tunes. It is mood music for when staying home and lounging seems like the right option. The album contains seven tracks that were released in Japan in 2021, now available on vinyl.

Zikin Zementua Armosaten 12″

Basque Country band ZIKIN (Basque for “dirt”) has released their EP Zementua Armosaten on one of my new favorite labels Mendeku Diskak, and rightfully so, as ZIKIN fits right in alongside labelmates MESS, CASTILLO, and BRUX. Quick, sharp, angry bursts of street punk with a slight tint of deathrock. Standout track “Jodidu” (Basque for “iodize”) is a catchy fist-pumper with a DEAD KENNEDYS-inspired surf guitar lead that seems to appear out of nowhere. A rad EP that makes me look forward to hearing more from ZIKIN.

[Ass][Ass][Ins] Underneath cassette

Instantly addictive, high-energy punk. SPITS-caliber paired with SOVIETTES-level hooks, all given the business with guitar leads sharing the spotlight with sharp, urgent vocals. Check “I’m Not Paying Rent” and know that you’ll be hearing from Canada’s [ASS][ASS][INS] again—great stuff!