Don Giovanni

Bad Moves Untenable LP

I fucking love BAD MOVES. Their last record blew me away and I was so eager to hear this new one that I pre-ordered that mess and have spun it several times before MRR assigned it for me to review. Let me just mention that the LP comes with a BAD MOVES crossword puzzle and it was an absolute delight to solve that while listening to this record. Their songs are poppy, and catchy as hell. Between the rhythm guitar riffs, sick leads, and three-part vocal harmonies, there’s so much melody packed into each track. And they’re political as hell to boot! Their song “Working For Free” lays out the horrors of capitalism, wage inequality, and class war all in just over three minutes. But then there’s their single “Party With the Kids Who Wanna Party With You” that starts slowly and sets the foundation for this awesome build-up in the bridge, before it explodes into an all-out dance party. It’s emblematic of the song itself, too—spend some introspective time to figure out who you are, find the community you want to be a part of, and then never let them go. BAD MOVES are like a close friend from that idyllic community who not only highlight the social justice work that needs to be done, but make you feel seen, heard, and loved while they do it right alongside you. Plus, on the surface alone, their songs are all so bubbly and beautiful that I find myself entranced and smiling every time I put them on. I hope they never stop making new music.

Longings Dreams in Red LP

It’s been seven years since LONGINGS from Western Massachusetts have released material. Obviously, a bunch of shit has happened and the world is in a darker and more dire position, and all of this is very reflective in Dreams in Red. Opening with the raging, darkened post-punk of “Expensive Graves,” this album only builds into a level of aggression that begins to two-step a fine line between post-punk, hardcore, and post-hardcore. By the midpoint of the album, the squelching, squeals, and general noise level rips through desperately angry songs with earworm lyrical accuracy that will run endlessly in your mind for hours like mini protest chants. There’s a heaviness to this album that is only attained by staring into the decaying void of our present reality and refusing to descend further into it by shouting, screaming, and fighting.

Moor Mother Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes LP

In a time where hip hop has slowly become a game of status, MOOR MOTHER seems to bring back the urgency and unrest of PUBLIC ENEMY, taking back hip hop to its true political roots which are in fact a parallel to punk in ethos. Camae Ayewa is the Philadelphia-based poet that goes by the name MOOR MOTHER. She speaks the poetry of political unrest, a harsh vision of the real world without filters. Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes is experimental hip hop, punk, and noise all mixed up into a sonic black hole as the title suggests, utilizing spoken word as a tool for conscientization, in essence using hip hop as it was intended. This is a unique vision of the world from a unique artist that needs to be experienced in order to get the full picture.

Screaming Females Singles Too LP

B-sides and rarities compilations are always a mixed bag, and this collection is no different. Some of the early 7″ tracks suffer more than benefit from their lack of recording quality. “Arm Over Arm” and “Zoo of Death” from 2006 certainly hint at what SCREAMING FEMALES would become, but they’re better off as a curiosity than an example. However, “Pretty Okay” from their 2008 split with FULL OF FANCY might be the standout track on the comp and still makes it into their live set not infrequently. The most unique inclusion is a remix of the droney “End of My Bloodline,” with new rapped verses by SAMMUS and MOOR MOTHER. It’s a killer track, despite sticking out like a sore thumb from all of the other lo-fi garage punk tracks. This would likely not be a great introduction to the band for a newcomer, but there is more than enough quality music here to make this a necessity for veteran fans of the band.

Spitboy Body of Work 1990–1995: All the Songs 2xLP

Body of Work brings together SPITBOY’s full discography on this double-LP release. This historic all-female group faced a lot of adversity in their day, standing up to sexist and racist fans by writing a litany of songs on feminism, blaring it out, and demanding change. In the totality of their work, we hear a snotty, crusty, and unrelenting anarcho-punk sound that pairs perfectly with their subject matter, as in “Baby boy, precious baby boy / The world wants you / I am what’s left over” from “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” I also really like “Fences,” originally off their ’95 split with LOS CRUDOS. The bass line rambles throughout, as the song weaves from heavy guitars to pinch harmonics and quieter melodies, while they rage against the commercial punk scene. This is a great piece for the collection, and all the proceeds go to the National Women’s Law Center!

Supercrush SODO Pop LP

SUPERCRUSH is made up of folks who cut their teeth coming up in the Pacific Northwest hardcore scene, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to their second full-length. This is some sugary-sweet alterna-rock that sounds like it was just unearthed from a time capsule buried sometime in the early-to-mid-’90s. Fuzzed-out, jangly guitars, breathy vocals, and hooks galore. This is the perfect record for driving on a warm spring day with the windows down and no destination, or just laying in some grass soaking up some rays, possibly while partaking in a jazz cigarette. I don’t know man, this record is just fucking really good, and I just feel relaxed when it’s on.

Teenage Halloween Teenage Halloween LP

This record is hard for me to write about. On the surface it sounds like a bunch of “folk punks” traded in train-hopping and alcoholism for the ability to write hella catchy “pop” songs, although I understand that’s a pretty shitty analogy and I feel it’s a disservice to a band that has written a great fucking record. I will say this…in a perfect world, where the radio actually played real music still, TEENAGE HALLOWEEN would be fucking huge! I could listen to this record everyday and find something new I like about it every time.

Teenage Halloween Till You Return CD

It’s a myth that the water in New York makes the pizza crust the best on Earth. Could we build a similar myth connecting New Jersey’s water leading to painfully (in a good way) earnest emo-indebted punk bands? TEENAGE HALLOWEEN follows in this tradition of music that says what it means, and presents it couched in a belted-out anthemic sound that calls to mind New York neighbor JEFF ROSENSTOCK and the more erudite Jersey-born TITUS ANDRONICUS. The music is exhilarating, custom built for shout-alongs replete with gorgeous, soaring guitar work perfectly exemplified on tracks like “Getting Bitter.” The band in general just seems sort of impossible not to love, unless you’ve got “sourpuss” tattooed across your knuckles or you write “fluent in sarcasm” in your dating app bios. For the rest of us who still see the value in wearing our heart on our sleeves and telling your friends you love them—god bless TEENAGE HALLOWEEN and god bless all of us.

The Sad Tomorrows The Sad Tomorrows cassette

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

Vitamin Recordings 1981 LP

Genuinely out there art-punk from early ’80s Boston, one of the most underrated of all localized scenes for such things (go chase that Propeller Product discography!). VITAMIN was started by a fourteen-year old vocalist/guitarist and a barely-older teenage friend, eventually to be joined by a few actual adults—an art school-grad violinist who had spent time in the equally off-kilter GIRLS, and a drummer recently transplanted from San Francisco’s own formidable weirdo underground. Recordings 1981 collects the group’s four-song demo and a slew of live tracks captured that year at two different Boston clubs, and while the roughed-up soundboard material (including several songs that don’t overlap with the demo) is definitely interesting from an archival perspective, it’s still deeply disappointing that VITAMIN never really managed any kind of proper recorded output before they splintered. That historical wrong is made especially apparent in the total shambolic genius of the demo tracks, with nerd-sneer vocals, warbling violin scratch, and tangled rhythms all presented in crystal clear audio, fitting right into a turn-of-the-eighties international constellation of like-minded oddball post-punks spanning from TACTICS in Australia (think of “French Fries” as New England’s response to “Watch My Hands”) to UJ3RK5 in Canada. Beyond cool.