Dirtbag Distro

D.Y.E. D.Y.E. cassette

D.Y.E begins their cassette with a steady thump of bass and floor toms, accompanied by looming feedback. After that, they plow and plod through the next three songs. These qualities are staples of the ’80s US hardcore repotoire, which the band clearly studied. The demo’s moderate audio quality allows them to show off that attention to detail. The vocals are a touch lower than the guitars and drums, making it sound like the singer is screaming to match their volume. This can invoke a show in a basement, dive bar, or dive bar in a basement.

DJINN Hell is Real cassette

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

Foil Full Band Demo cassette

I read somewhere that a song that starts with a good drumbeat sticks in your mind like gum on your shoe. That’s what happens with FOIL’s demo—three songs of fast and dirty hardcore punk with changes of rhythm and an urgent feeling to the whole composition. The bass sounds thick and the guitars are sometimes like sci-fi noises, throbbing here and there. Kansas City, Peruvian coke, police hatred, and depression, an explosive combination for a punk record. Love the artwork.

Sarin Reaper Sarin Reaper demo cassette

Four tracks of unhinged-sounding D-beat with a little of the wailing vocals and guitar I associate with crust and black metal. The band places the emphasis on delivery with the instruments melting into a wave of feedback and fuzz. The song titles and lyrics reference an infamous sexual assailant and anti-Jewish violence. In general, I dislike when bands flirt with this kind of imagery in such a morally ambiguous way.

Stereo Joy 10 Minutes With Stereo Joy cassette

Hitting more like a bedroom than garage, this solo project brings some nimble and nifty punk with enough genre experimentation to really craft something you can sink your teeth into in the promised ten-minute runtime. With surf excursions such as the aptly-named “Whirlpool,” as well as the more shambolic, apocalyptically grunge-tinged opener “Mind Imperfection,” this tape really showcases a broad range of what Joey Roest-Aleman can do. This is all while maintaining a cohesive sound of wet (like, drenched) and agile guitars, clear and punchy bass, and strange disaffected vocal delivery. The one gripe, and it’s biased, is the computerized drums. I get it, finding a drummer is every punk’s nightmare sometimes, but I’d love for this project to find one. It would really seal the deal.

Proton / Total Sham split cassette

These two Missouri bands make it hard to pick a favorite on this sharp, short split tape. On the A-side, PROTON from the city of Columbia unleashes their brutal brand of D-beat hardcore. A lo-fi bludgeoning that cranks the speed and ferocity of the traditional DISCHARGE formula up to “holy shit” levels, it’s raw, but not noise, keeping it squarely in punk territory and never crossing into metal, which is kinda perfect. These three pounding jams make a great appetizer for indulging in their scorching Imminent Collapse EP from earlier this year and 2021’s Men Behind the Sun cassette. Next is Kansas City’s TOTAL SHAM, and god, do they rule. Refreshing like an ice-cold 22oz of Olde English, I tell ya. Just a pure early hardcore sound, like Group Sex-era CIRCLE JERKS spiked with Pick Your King-era POISON IDEA and delivered with a palpable practice spot ambiance. Their tunes on this tape are addictive little rippers that get my head bobbing involuntarily every time, and their full length Life as a Total Sham cassette is an instant classic, offering nine more killer songs where these came from. This is all some of the coolest stuff I’ve heard in a while, and if you’ve caught me spazzing out behind the wheel of my car lately, these bands are the likely culprits.