14th Wish 14th Wish / Gotta Get Rid of You 7″ reissue

Reissue of the sole record from the apparently forgotten New York band 14TH WISH. It was originally released in 1980 on Orange Records. I’ll fall in line with the label’s hype. How did that happen? These two songs are great. Laid-back vocals with biting lyrics backed by a great band with a driving style and lo-fi sound. They simply exude coolness and the songs are so catchy. This band could have easily filled the HEARTBREAKERS’ shoes while they were off shooting up, or taken the place of any other overhyped first wave punk band. 300 copies so don’t snooze (again).

Adam Roth and His Band of Men Down the Shore Original Soundtrack LP

A very nice reissue of this 1981 film soundtrack. The film is a trashy, low-budget teen sex flick more commonly known as Beach House. The music sounds much more professional. ADAM ROTH AND HIS BAND OF MEN, which includes Adam’s brother Charles, play very catchy power pop. The songs are punchy and fun. The title track lays out the plot humorously as a good movie theme should. Bonus fun fact: one of the songs on this LP, “Judy Won’t You Dance With Me?,” was co-written by Denis Leary. The film is silly fun and the soundtrack rocks.

Burnt Envelope I’m Immature: The Singles Vol. II LP

The recipe for BURNT ENVELOPE’s I’m Immature: The Singles Vol. II goes as follows: mix equal parts STOOGES psychedelia with VELVET UNDERGROUND’s White Light/White Heat, add a heaping spoonful of early lo-fi BLACK LIPS, and top with a sprinkle of black humor, and voila, seven “singles” (a.k.a. fourteen tracks) of lo-fi slacker bedroom punk that sounds like it was a lot of fun to record. Get stoned and listen to “The Chameleon Pt 1 and 2” for a weird time.

Disco Junk Underage Punk EP

Pitch-perfect teen punk delinquency from Australia. Well, one of the AUSMUTEANTS guys helps, but the kids largely have the say here. Bratty bullshit is eschewed for real-deal antisocial, hateful angst and DISCO JUNK’s the better for it. Four tunes in all, each a slasher spat out by some past-it young puke that knows that he already “gets it.” Can’t wait ’til they go post-punk.

Eddie Criss Group Undertaker LP reissue

Originally released in 1980 on “King of Punk” DAVID PEEL’s Orange Records, the sole album from NYC songsmith Eddie Criss’s namesake group serves up a hot, greasy slice of forgotten rock history. More down-and-dirty, glam-tinged rock ’n’ roll than proper punk, the tunes on this reissued LP have been blessed with the distinct guitar work of the MC5’s Wayne Kramer! Kramer’s fiery lead licks are all over this thing, and tunes like the opening “Lady In Waiting” and “Witches Hour” are bona-fide blazers that will surely command the attention of any ’70s sleaze-rock hound. Production is properly thin and crispy, cracking to reveal pools of subtle psychedelia as demonstrated on “Sequences.” Undertaker is definitely a product of its era, and wasn’t exactly breaking any new ground. “Just No Use,” for instance, is pretty much “I Wanna Be Your Dog” with a different tempo and lyrics. There’s weak spots like the ham-fisted CHUCK BERRY impression on “Let Me Rock ’n’ Roll,” and at least one song that would cause Eddie to be promptly canceled were it to hit the mainstream today (“Schoolgirlz”), but those are overshadowed by the raw street soul that laces the majority of this once-buried slab. I’m glad they dug it up.

Gentilesky Ways of Seeing LP

Debut LP from this Sardinia-via-Istanbul quartet, with a hype sticker invoking the names of numerous femme-forward post-punk outfits that will typically push my buttons when referenced—EDITH NYLON, LILIPUT, BUSH TETRAS, LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX, and the MO-DETTES?! In reality, GENTILESKY’s approach is way more toughened-up/garage-informed (the mention of TYRADES is by far the most accurate) and not nearly as funky/dance-oriented as those comparisons would suggest, with production that’s a lot cleaner than what I tend to gravitate toward in the art-punk spectrum. Guitarist Claudio Zucca slashes away with serrated, Andy Gill-like abandon (although the sheet metal edge seems to have been somewhat dulled by the compression of digital recording), and the vocals are pushed really forward in the mix, which suits Yaprak Kirdök’s expressive wails well enough, but when bassist Andrea Pilleri joins in on backing shouts and GENTILESKY digs into an especially busy groove, like the chorus to “Freedom is Coming,” it veers into the sort of slick maximalism that I’d more closely associate with mid-’00s coke loft dance punk than early Rough Trade. There’s also a dizzying number of twists and turns on display here, both structurally and stylistically, that will dash any illusions of scrappy DIY amateurism—“Honesty” kicks into some punctuated, MINUTEMEN-by-way-of-GANG OF FOUR trebly scratch that’s conceptually adjacent, but the knotted rhythms and quiet/loud dynamics of “My Hands” are late ’90s Touch & Go if anything (one part SHELLAC, one part BLONDE REDHEAD), and the title track is seven minutes of drowsy and vaguely VELVETS-y sprawl. Maybe it’s just the cognitive dissonance between what was promised and what was delivered that’s keeping me from fully connecting with Ways of Seeing; your results may vary.

Green/Blue Offering LP

On the first listen, this record offers a mesmerizing experience. By the second listen, it still refuses to lose any of its magic. Equal parts dreamy and primal, GREEN/BLUE brings wiry guitars, raw beats, and plenty of songwriting magic. There are times when this record feels triumphant and other times when it’s melancholy to an extreme, but the blend comes together perfectly. I hear a lot of influence from bands like WOMEN, WAVVES, and SONIC YOUTH. This isn’t entirely punk or entirely pop, but it is damn sure something special.

Matt Gimmick Detroit Renaissance 79 EP

Reissue of this Detroit band’s 1979 EP. MATT GIMMICK were STOOGES loving ’70s punks, so much so that no one would think twice if you told them this record was actually the STOOGES. MATT GIMMICK even went so far as to record two at-the-time unreleased STOOGES songs they learned from a cassette they made when they saw the STOOGES live. That’s ballsy and funny as hell. Their versions are much better sounding than the ones the STOOGES would eventually release, too.

Neon Leon 1979–84 Singles Collection LP

Right out of the gate, I have to say that I would never have imagined that I’d find myself reviewing a record for MRR that features Mick Jagger on one of the tracks. “Neon” Leon Matthews is one of the true unsung heroes of NYC punk, and his story is truly the stuff of legends. Matthews’ was shredding with members of PURE HELL in Philadelphia in the early ’70s, before relocating to the fabled Chelsea Hotel at the urging of Johnny Thunders. It has been asserted that Matthews was the last person to see Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen together prior to her death. For more info on his remarkable life, check out Neon Leon Fast Track to Hell, his autobiography. Back to the matter at hand, Hozac has compiled all of NEON LEON’s singles from the late ’70s to the mid-’80s. The eight tracks span a range of sounds, from revved-up NEW YORK DOLLS-esque glam, to synth-tastic new wave, and a straight-up killer rendition of “Heart of Stone,” with none other than Mick Jagger contributing backups. It’s a wild ride! The opening cut “Rock’n Roll is Alive” is worth the price of entry on its own, with a phaser-laden drum intro (à la DEAD BOYS), unhinged guitars, and chorus reminding us that “rock’n’roll is alive in New York City!” From what I hear, NEON LEON is based in Germany and still performing. Killer! Snatching this up is a total no-brainer for fans of DEAD BOYS, WAYNE/JAYNE COUNTY, PAGANS, NEW YORK DOLLS, etc. NEON LEON rules!

Nun The Dome LP

Melbourne, Australia’s NUN have been releasing darkwave synth punk records since 2012, predating the current trend by more than a few years. This record shifts gears a bit, with more restraint and slower tempos than earlier releases. Dramatic vocals descend among austere but complex synth instruments. The echoey, velvety vocals sometimes seem to take after SIOUXSIE SIOUX, while the synth and drum machine compositions occasionally veer into the odd minimalism of Bolides Over Basra-era MEN’S RECOVERY PROJECT. The band is organized like a conventional punk band, with different members creating the lead synth, bass synth, and drum machine parts, which allows them to create a sound that feels both more vital and more tempered than you might expect from a multi-tracked solo project. Definitely something to check out for anyone into darkwave or synthwave or goth cosplay.

Pushups Pushups is Pop (1978–80 Archival) LP

PUSHUPS evolved from AURORA PUSHUPS, who themselves were something of a continuation of ZOLAR X. This previously unreleased debut LP takes the new wave sensibilities but sheds the sci-fi weirdness for an unabashed pop direction. The end result is eight tracks of some of the sharpest, catchiest power pop you’re likely to hear. It’s great—song after song is a bona fide shoulda-been hit, but with the two slightly demented tracks from the AURORA PUSHUPS “Angels on Runway One / Victims of Terrorism” single tacked on at the end (with all their art-punk fizz), it’s hard not to think that something was lost along the way…

Revelons ’77–’82 LP

You can’t help but feel a little bad for the REVELONS—if they’d released more than just a 45 during their six-year run, maybe they would have found the same level of success and critical appreciation as their Ork Records labelmates like TELEVISION and RICHARD HELL. We’ll never really know for sure, but the unreleased material gathered on ’77–’82 offers a pretty convincing glimpse into what could have been, with the REVELONS’ trinity of revved-up rock’n’roll, sneering (proto-)punk, and tough power pop beat playing out like a pile of cut-up and reassembled flyers from heyday-era CBGB and Max’s Kansas City gigs. Both sides of that lost-gem 1979 Ork single (“The Way (You Touch My Hand)” and “97 Tears”) are included here, hiccupping and strutting in an almost VOIDOIDS-esque manner, while “My Town” has all of the nervous new wave jitters of the TALKING HEADS without the art school pretensions, the wired post-VELVETS chug of “Red Hot Woman” casts the REVELONS as a more streetwise MODERN LOVERS, and if TELEVISION had ever covered ROKY ERICKSON’s “Two Headed Dog,” it probably would have sounded a lot like “A Children’s Story” (featuring TELEVISION’s Fred Smith on bass, no coincidence). The REVELONS never got their shot at making their own Blank Generation or Marquee Moon, but this lost-and-found collection does them proper justice—pure pop for punks.

Screaming Urge Buy LP reissue

HoZac brings us the first reissue of this Columbus, OH act’s 1980 LP. Folks are probably familiar with these oddballs from their debut 7”, particularly the dum-dum power pop punker “Homework,” which appeared on Killed By Death #6 and the inaugural entry of the beloved Hyped to Death compilation series that’s named for the track. It’s for sure one of punk’s greatest shits! And the business-savvy folks over at HoZac clearly agree, as the two tracks from that 7” kick off this expanded, remastered edition of the LP. So, that alone probably warrants a look-in. But you should definitely stick around for the rest of the LP. The remaining nine tracks on the record should definitely appeal to anybody who digs the more celebrated stuff that was coming out of the Midwest around that time, like the GIZMOS or the BIZARROS, when punk wasn’t really a template you could follow but something that was actively being defined by a bunch of weirdos who wanted to rile folks up by writing and playing original songs. Highlights include the DEVO send-up/ode “Mono,” or the ultra-dumb protest number “War”. Real cool stuff!

Soursob Soursob LP

Scottish trio SOURSOB plunks down snarly and gnarly punk gunk on its debut LP. Most of these eight songs are mid-tempo movers, buzzing with fuzz guitars and exuding displeasure with the world as-is. SOURSOB’s screeds about modern life recall GOOD THROB’s stick-in-the-eye punk POV. “Shoegaze” sports a down n’ dirty groove and LOL lyrics, while “Berlin” eviscerates the sheltered, moneyed culture tourists that seem ubiquitous in certain parts of the world. SOURSOB is further proof that bile never goes out of style.

The Anemic Boyfriends Fake ID / Bad Girls in Love 7″

A weird reissue of the B-sides from the ANEMIC BOYFRIENDS 45s!? Fake teen punk from Alaska circa 1981! You might know them for the monster anti-creep DIY classique hit “Guys Are Not Proud” (which is not on this), but this collects the more rockarolla faux-FOWLEY glam rockin’ underage teenager rocker songs. Can see why the rawk orientated HoZac would do it this way, but I think I would just rather spend a little more and get the OGs, because the combo of songs are freakier…

The Dents 1979/80 LP

Previously unheard femme-fronted Midwestern synth damage from Cincinnati’s the DENTS, who never managed to release anything in real time but finally get their due on this new archival collection, featuring seventeen cuts recorded on a four-track run through the club mixer at two local gigs in late 1979 and early 1980. Just by virtue of forming in Ohio in the late ’70s, the DENTS were pretty much destined to be inherently weirder (and therefore cooler) than most bands of the era on a similar punk/new wave cusp who also existed outside of coastal urban centers, boasted multiple members with mullets, and played sets heavy on covers of fairly recent vintage (in the DENTS’ case, we get takes on the VOIDOIDS, the REAL KIDS, and PATTI SMITH, among others), and they absolutely deliver on that promise. A steady, fucked-up synth warble over the dilapidated rhythmic stomp of “Baby Wants” and “The Dented” sounds like the UNITS through a heavy Clevo proto-punk filter, “Sleeping Around” is a shoulda-been KBD classic on the MAGGOTS/EYES wavelength (Vivien Vinyl’s savage opening shout: “He was a fixture of the Cincinnati scene / I was a victim of the sex machine”), and the nagging, synth-spiked snarl of “Why Do You Do?” drops a pin on the map right in between late ’70s New York punk grit and early ’80s Bay Area art-wave mayhem. Midwest is best; true heads understand and should acquire this post-haste. 

The Gorls Fall in Love 1992–93 LP

Before I even took this record out of the sleeve, I noticed a song called “Planet Vator” and thought of one of my favorite songs from the ’90s called “Planet Vator” by the DOBERMANS. I immediately played that track and it was the same song. A quick scan of the liner notes of the DOBERMANS 10″ and sure enough, the GORLS’ singer Dawn Johnson wrote the lyrics. Though that seems to be the only connection between the bands. I am immediately intrigued. Fall in Love 1992-93 collects all the recordings by this Seattle band. Eight of the tracks are unreleased. The music is catchy, lo-fi, garage-y rock. Johnson’s vocals are amazing. They are deadpan and easygoing with a wonderful lilt to them. She has such a distinct sound. Her style lifts the songs to a different level. The lyrics are cool, too. I am always in favor of songs about potato chips. Plus there is a great cover of the VICTIMS’ “Television Addict.” I can’t stop playing this record.

The Rubs (dust) LP

The RUBS make no-frills, verse-chorus-verse pop music. They have been at it for a while now, and have scrawled their name in the lengthy scroll of the Chicago pop punk sound that keeps on trucking. It has been a minute since I have seen this band around. I do remember hearing their single “The Walk” when it came out in 2015 and thinking that Joey Rubbish and company were on the  bluesy garage end of the spectrum…seven years later with (Dust), the band comes with much more of a synth-laden, dreamy pop punk feel. It all has the right feel with enough hooks, harmonies, and palmed guitar riffing to get the bubblegum popping. I feel that a good amount of the record’s tracks would almost do better with shortened lengths—the opener “I Want You” and “Dana” come to mind. I would buy this album just to listen to “Here in My Dream,” a sleepy, quiet composition. It is acoustic and woody and does not sound like the rest of the pack.

Trampoline Team Trampoline Team LP

Furious frenzy from New Orleans for those consumed by the TYRADES style. If that’s you, then you should immediately stop what you are doing and start doing this! Cuz you know that tough punk garage savagery with style and rigor can’t be beat! “Didn’t Wanna Come Here Alone” is so sick: sounds like a group the BAGS woulda played with. This is some true punk rock for fuck you types!!! A truly relentless record to lose your mind to. The cover is just as sick as the sounds within, looks sorta like a Man Ray body horror eye illusion but it’s a fly in a Venus fly trap. Repulsive glamor.

V/A We Were Living in Cincinnati LP

Ohio’s punk pedigree simply cannot be fucked with, yet Cincinnati never gets nearly as much lauding as most of the state’s other major burgs. HoZac (with help from an esteemed CHROME CRANKS member) aims to change all that with this collection, assembling a wide swath of pretty killer punk to get our scholarly heads a-scratchin’. Lotsa seldom-heard stuff here—a even split between stray single Killed By Death style excavating and wholly unreleased nuggz. BEEF’s “Nosedive,” a rescued live recording from ’78, finds the obnoxo-teen singer mimicking some air-show sounds…What’s not to fuckin’ love? There are some recognizable names as well: the CUSTOMS, the ED DAVIS BAND and even TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS, whose inclusion here strikes me as a tad dubious, but if a technicality allows the now-generation to hear “Clubnite” again, I’m all for it! The great and hyper-detailed liners really convey a whole lotta punk love for this city and scene as well. As if all this were not enough, there is a download component that serves up an additional fifteen tunes—more punk Cin-sanity than anyone would ever need! Top to bottom, an ace collection and document of under-reported punk racket.

V/A Diamond Distance & Liquid Fury: Sonny Vincent Primitive 1969-76 LP

Sometimes when punx who exclusively listen to punk rock accidentally encounter music from somewhere else and it does not suck, in their confusion the review and redistribution of the modified definition of punk rock starts to tame their minds. This explains when some tried to convince the world that a certain type of fast, electronic music is the new punk, or free jazz is punk. Occasionally it gets real chaotic and hardcore is called folk music. Side note: right now it’s 2020 and even if you have the words punk and hardcore tattooed on your body it is fine to own parts of the Acutel series or microdose yourself at some contemporary classical music event and tell your fellow radical rockers: you had a great Tuesday evening at this gallery where the performance took place. You basically can do whatever the fuck you want and within this freedom I state: this record is not punk at all. Which does not mean it is bad, because it is decent music that my dad would appreciate, too—but don’t worry, he does not possess a leather vest, nor wears a man bun, instead he was jamming me MC5 and ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO when I was around eight years old. This record sends me into that period when playing rock and roll was a radical act, tap water contained LSD, hippies started cults and robbed banks, and wars were either proxy or cold. Although it is a compilation of bands (FURY, DISTANCE, LIQUID DIAMONDS, TESTORS) which all had SONNY VINCENT, the proper curation made the record consistent yet varied enough not to ever become boring. Sound-wise the tracks are on the edge of psychedelic rock but no real chaotic mumbo-jumbo, rather large, extended solos. Everything is sweaty-face-in-trance-desperation tight, mostly mid tempo and big riffs accompany male sorrow. The atmosphere of the record is dirty, tired, coming down from a trip and looking either for epiphany while staring into the rising sun or for scavenging for an early breakfast before fainting onto a dirty mattress. It is closer to ROKY ERICKSON than to STOOGES, definitely not glam at all and also distant from the proto-punk art rock of the VELVET UNDERGROUND. In case you are done with the one-finger solos used on two-thirds of your hardcore songs, here is a whole catalog to lift ideas from, or in case you like to consume weed and get lost in classic sounding but still rocking albums or to be a rock dad with obscure knowledge, this can be your pick. It’s a fun listen.

Whirlywirld Complete Studio Works 1978-80 LP

This is an amazing compilation of all three releases from Melbourne’s WHIRLYWIRLD. WHIRLYWIRLD was led by Ollie Olsen previously with the YOUNG CHARLATANS and drummer John Murphy formerly of NEWS. The music is minimal electronic sounds, guitar, bass, drums and occasional squawking saxophone. Strikingly Olsen’s vocals have similar cadences and style to Nick Cave and Peter Murphy. They are dramatic, repetitive and playful with the sounds being emitted. The vocals may be the focus of the songs, but the experimental punk-y music forms a catchy foundation that I find equally fascinating. WHIRLYWIRLD was short-lived, only playing fourteen shows, but their music should be remembered along with their more well-known and celebrated contemporaries. Good thing Hozac decided to remind us of that.