Reviews

Legless

C.O.F.F.I.N. Children of Finland Fighting in Norway LP

Here’s a band that does the sleaze-rock-meets-heavy-metal sound with some actual flair—not to mention brains. From track one, you know what you’re in for, as whining dog leads and the classic “slam on the piano” riff set the stage for rhythmic pyrotechnics and lead singer Ben Portnoy’s incredibly commanding growl. This band raises hell in a way most rock bands forget how to, and they don’t sound the least bit stale for all their reference (and reverence) to the hazy halls of hallowed rock that came before. Part of what makes the formula so fresh is that there’s clearly more thinking going on than the group might want to let on at first. Take some of the lyrics from ripper “Cecila”: “Volunteer your story to your new chosen friend / Treat it like a rag through the back of your head / Follow suit, dirty the bowl / Dread dripping from your pockets as you power home.” That’s practically out of a novel for my money, and it lends serious pathos to a record that’s more than just a good time (although it is also most certainly that). Unreal record. Stone classic that breathes smoke and pukes fire.

Cutters Chewed Up Fortune EP

Remember a simpler time when you knew fuck-all about punk and just wanted to rage as hard as you could with some of the early records you found out through your friend’s older sibling? This is the feeling you get from Melbourne punks CUTTERS’ EP. They take every early DEAD KENNEDYS album, cut it, chew it up, and spit it out. A fun record for pure hardcore punk lovers. Short, fast, and to-the-point, just like this review!

Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters Waiting in a Corner LP

There isn’t much better than a really good Aussie punk record. It’s equal parts boozy grit, hazy dreariness, and urban beach angst. JACKSON REID BRIGGS & THE HEATERS have some of that going for them, minus the really forgettable band name. There’s a little SAINTS “Know Your Product” bigness of sound, a hint of RADIO BIRDMAN’s guitar theatrics, and a touch of the beautiful melancholy of “This Week” by CELIBATE RIFLES. Unfortunately, this is like the PAT BOONE version of all that, lacking the subversive kick and weirdness of all their possible influences. There’s no character or desperation here, nor even an accent present. There’s some moments like the aptly named “Feel It” where they almost get it, but it’s just not enough. They have a fuck-ton of releases and there is no lack of writing on them via the internet. I imagine you’re either a fan or not by this point. I’d sadly be in the latter group here.

Speed Week Hey Hey It’s Speed Week 12″

SPEED WEEK is a newish band out of Melbourne who play pretty straightforward punky pub rock. Unlike their yobbo contemporaries the CHATS or AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS, who fall somewhere between a little winky and total caricatures, SPEED WEEK just seems like some lads who wanna get together up the pub and bang out some chunes. And they do on this mini LP—solid ones! What stood out most on this release were the lyrics. They’re as plain-spoken as you’d expect given the genre, but they’re also surprisingly earnest. One of the best tracks, “Equine Dream”, is an anti-Melbourne Cup tune (for Americans, think of the Kentucky Derby crossed with a frat party…or maybe just the Preakness). It’s written from the point of view of a racehorse who’s resenting his life of being drugged-up and trotted out to amuse dolled-up drunks. That may sound a bit silly on paper, but when the hook hit—”I’d rather be wild and living free in my equine dream!”—I genuinely found myself yearning for that exact same thing. Definitely not something I anticipated from some mulleted Aussies!

Split System Climbing EP

Melbourne punks from STIFF RICHARDS, SPEED WEEK, and the BLACK HEART DEATH CULT joined forces to form SPLIT SYSTEM during one of the breaks between their city’s COVID lockdowns. Once back under lockdown, though, the band had to turn into an email project, with each member self-recording their parts at home. But you wouldn’t be able to tell from listening to this thing—it sounds great, thanks in part to a fantastic mix from Mikey Young. The four tracks you’re getting here are a bit early BLACK FLAG, a bit Raw Power STOOGES, and a bit EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING, which on paper sounds good as hell. But, I don’t know, these songs just aren’t doing it for me. There isn’t anything bad on the release, and everything is competently put together—it’s just that nothing stuck with me once the record was off.

V/A GTRRC II LP

This is a little more interesting than your average covers comp, of which most are complete sewage fodder. G.T.R.R.C. is a band made up of members of GEE TEE and RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION, both from Sydney, Australia, who love to get together and cover their favorite molden oldies. I believe I got that right but excuse me if I’m mistaken. Also included are many of their international friends, some known and some not so much. The covers stick mostly to ’70s punk, ’80s pop/new wave, and classic and modern garage. The most faithful ones are competent and dull as shit. As with most of these labors of love, the ones that shine a light through the muck are the weirdest and are covers in name only. Favorites here are the two THIN LIZZY covers by SICK THOUGHTS and SPODEE BOY, SNOOPER doing ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” ERIK NERVOUS’ gut-busting cover of “Raining Blood,” the always great SCHIZOS covering the PERSUADERS’ “Heart Of Chrome,” and BELLY JELLY tearing up the SWINGIN’ MEDALLIONS’ “Double Shot Of My Baby’s Love.” Honestly, it all makes a pretty great party record for gathering with friends or enjoying alone in soul-crushing isolation while enjoying one’s favorite beverage. Drink up. End of days.

V/A Good Times RnR Compilation, Vol. 3 2xLP

What I believe started as a few of the Sydney rock mutants (RESEARCH REACTOR CORP., GEE TEE, and SET-TOP BOX) fartin’ around and playing some covers has now morphed into a full-blown spectacle. After recruiting a bunch of like-minded bands and fleshing the project out into legit comp (2020’s GTRRC II), we now find them pooling their resources with labels Erste Theke Tontraeger, Legless, and Under the Gun to bring you 46—46!—tracks across two whole damn LPs from pretty much every band in the contemporary egg-leaning punk scene. And, look, there are some cool bands on here and some cool songs, but you already know you don’t need this. It’s basically the punk equivalent of a giant sack of Halloween candy. There’s plenty of good stuff in here, but there’s also quite a few Tootsie Rolls, some generic-ass orange and black wrapped taffies, and even a few toothbrushes and pennies. Some sickos are going to sit down and eat the whole bag, and some fun-haters are going to steer clear of it entirely. But most folks are going to pick at the good stuff, setting a few things aside to come back to later. For me that good stuff—the Snickers and Almond Joys, if you will—would include SPODEE BOY (covering STICK MEN WITH RAY GUNS’ “Hell to Pay”), C.O.F.F.I.N. (FUNKADELIC’s “Super Stupid”), SCIENCE MAN (ZZ TOP’s “Sharp Dressed Man”), MUTANT STRAIN (the GERMS’ “Strange Notes”), and SPINAL CRAP (I’m pretty this is SCHIZOS playing ROSE TATTOO’s “Nice Boys”). I’m sure your pile would look a little different.