Reviews

Lumpy

Closet Christ You’re In My World Now EP

Raw and demented thrash by some chap named Brendan. Six short, rapid spurts of venomous hardcore with a home-recording charm, and all the sounds just right. The occasional guitar line is whammy-bar’d, twisted at the end, and wrung out like mutant piss-soaked drawers. Think Oslo’s NEGATIV, but faster and more reckless. Only thing that would make this better is if it was twice as long, since there’s definitely room on the wax.

Eke Buba Shut Up EP

Holy shit, this record. I mean…whoa. Like early Boston hardcore but tougher and faster and my face is fukkn melting. Like this is perfect early ’80s USHC but better and from 2018 and from Croatia, and this is also quite possible the single most crucial record in MRR this month. Been a long time since this old man has been this floored, highest recommendation for fans of punk (that means all readers).

Fried E.M. Modern World LP

It’s cool how unpretentious this record is. The band’s got no pedals or gimmicks to hide behind and no fake street politics or ideology to promote aside from a seething distaste for society and life. The vacant mindset is represented by the bare jacket art resulting in an extremely snotty record but the music isn’t as barebones as it may seem as FRIED E.M. operate in an interesting fits-and-stops manner. Some songs are rumbling blasts while others are more janky stop-go mutations with groaning bass, Ginn-esque guitar squeals and pummeling drums. It’s like they’ve scraped the grime and desperation from BLACK FLAG’s Damaged and thrown it onto a cleaner modern interpretation of MAD SOCIETY, the CIRCLE JERKS, the OVERKILL 7″and other random L.A. punk bands. The A-side kinda lacks but the B really takes off. If you were into SCHOOL JERKS ten years ago, you can feel young again with this.

M.A.Z.E. M.A.Z.E. 12″

Sparse and wiry sounds from Japan that are completely liberatory and free in their simplicity, like a modern-day continuation of the coloring-outside-the-lines approach of countless girl-centered punk geniuses from KLEENEX to the NIXE to NEO BOYS—trebly minimalist guitar, rubbery bass lines, perfectly stripped-down drumming, and ecstatically joyous vocals. “Join the LCD” zig-zags into some more angular, choppy start/stop rhythms without losing its playfulness and melody, and “She Left This Town” even reminds me of bands like CHIN CHIN that existed in that transitional period between early 80s UK DIY and the dawn of C86, drawing equally from spiky post-punk and shambling, jangly pop. Short and sweet (six songs in under twelve minutes); highly recommended if this one escaped your radar when it appeared last year!

M.A.Z.E. II LP

It’s been nearly two years since we last heard from the Japanese band M.A.Z.E., and while they are clearly the same quirky post-punk-ish outfit from that last release, this latest LP is a much more manic affair. Their last 12″ was composed of sparse tracks built around rubbery bass lines and minimalist chicken scratch rhythm guitar that served as a backdrop for the vocalist’s KLEENEX-ish yelp. While Eriko still brings that same energy here, she takes a bit of a backseat to the guitar, which has become the star of the show. Most songs are built around hot, circus-y licks with a borderline synth sound that might give the LP more of a new wave-y vibe were they not played at such a frenzied pace. Overall, this LP sounds decidedly more punk than anything they’ve put out thus far. The blown-out beginning of “311” could even be mistaken for TEENGENERATE until the vocals kick in and they shift into an odd post-punk rhythm. And that’s kind of the defining trait of this unique LP—a song starts, they seemingly settle into a groove, shift into a weirder variation of that groove, shift again, then start a new song after doing that for a minute and twenty seconds. It’s great!

Natural Man Band Living in a Chemical World with the Natural Man Band LP

If New Wave Theater was revived for our current day and age and filmed somewhere in the heartland, Kansas City’s NATURAL MAN would easily be regular guests—day-glo punk with blaring sax, dual vocals (sometimes intersecting, sometimes harmonized, often shouted), low-budget synth, and boundless energy to get all of the kids decked out in asymmetrical sunglasses and loud geometric prints to completely bounce off the walls. There’s echoes of Ohio’s favorite spud sons in the cracked mechanical rhythms of “Working Nights” and “Chemical World,” but rather than relying too heavily on the anxiety-ridden DEVO-isms of a lot of their Midwestern ovular-punk peers, NATURAL MAN generally throws things back to a freewheeling and utterly unselfconscious art-schooled dance frenzy that exists somewhere between BLACK RANDY and the B-52’S. Do you want (the new) new wave or do you want the truth?

Q Quiche EP

I suspect that if I’d paid more attention to the “mysterious guy hardcore” bands Á  la HOAX and them, I’d have a better frame of reference to review this record, as Q seem to share those bands’ self- destructive aggression and disinterest in sharing information. From my vantage point, Q are very much a band that fit in with the late ’90s Pessimiser / Theologian scene. There are occasional blastbeats, tons of mid-to-slow tempo stomping riffs, and shrieked, nearly metal styled vocals while the guitars are pure hardcore punk. They could easily be slotted in on one of the Cry Now, Cry Later comps alongside heavy hitters like MAN IS THE BASTARD, STAPLED SHUT, or especially CATTLEPRESS. This is an odd, unsettling record, I haven’t heard many like it. Worth checking out, especially for those with nostalgia for the powerviolence days.

Rik & the Pigs The Last Laugh LP

Olympia’s RIK & THE PIGS were absolutely one of the best bands to ever do it. And that 2015—2018 stretch of releases they put out was so flawless and so potent that there hasn’t ever really been a point where I haven’t had one of their records in my current rotation. It hadn’t even dawned on me that it had been nearly four years since we’d last heard from them until Lumpy announced that this LP was coming out. Crazy! Apparently, the act fell apart back in 2018, but not before they got together for a couple of recording sessions out in California. And that’s what you’re getting here. Side A is a four-song session with Mike Kriebel, who did all those Beat Session cassettes. Side B, which has more of a rough-and-tumble live vibe,  is five songs they did with Tony Santos (presumably in the titular garage from the COWBOYS’ 2017 Live at Tony’s Garage EP). You’re getting some new takes on some old classics (the two revved-up versions of “Off/On” are particularly fantastic), but you’re also getting some brand new tracks. In either case, you’re getting a version of the band that was firing on all cylinders. It’s among the best stuff they’ve put out.

Sweet Tooth Sugar Rush 2009 EP

This is from the era when everyone discovered powerviolence and completely lost their shit. Sugar Rush is very much of the time but it blows a lot of stuff out of the water with intensity and great musicianship. The focus is power through speed and the obliteration of everything. SWEET TOOTH’s speed was powerviolence-y but avoided the tough-guy attitude and when they slowed down it just allowed for hard-hitting mosh parts. It’s just an Adderall laser focus on destruction and pure fucking stupidity. I wish I got to experience it live. Also includes a hilarious retrospective booklet.

The Cool Greenhouse Crap Cardboard Pet 10″

Expert antagonism courtesy of this standout UK act. Prior compact offerings were fine/dandy, but the patient stretching of the material here (no song shorter than five minutes, one approaching ten) really showcase the motivations of these CGs: repetition in the spirit of the FALL, with the same sort of roundabout accusatory bitterness to boot. The COOL GREENHOUSE move beyond purely referential tribute though, taking these cues further than comfort permits, especially via the synthetic hypnosis of “Crap Art,” which is maybe the most brilliant tune of this year. Limited to a scant 200 copies, all of which include an actual crap cardboard pet. A must-have release from every angle—highest recommendation.

The Inhuman We Will Build / Cheap Novocain 7″

The INHUMAN was the short-lived one-man project of a Tucson, Arizona weirdo named Joel Schenkenberg, who recorded a demo of completely warped art-punk in his bedroom circa 1983. That tape essentially vanished into the black hole of history before two tracks were rescued for this single in late 2019 by Lumpy Records, leading haven for the 21st century iteration of American oddball DIY. Schenkenberg’s vocals are all sneering outsider paranoia, buried in a claustrophobic, sub-lo-fi mix of blown-out guitar, rudimentary synth presets, and drum machine drone circling the same orbit as COUNT VERTIGO, the electro side of 39 CLOCKS, the first couple of CABARET VOLTAIRE singles, and the more left-field early ’80s Subterranean Records groups. “We Will Build” is almost conventionally post-punk with its scribbly guitar solo and anxiously repetitive oscillating pulse, while “Cheap Novocain” slows to a doomed, dystopian crawl perfectly suited to a rasped incantation like “Anaesthetize your brain to pain / Drinking cheap novocain.” Total degeneration by way of the desert!

The Mind Open Up the Window and Leave Your Body LP

This is the second album by Cleveland’s the MIND, a band capable of crafting beautifully gloomy gems of songs: vaporous, uncanny, and with all the hidden qualities of a Man Ray photograph. Their sound is really peculiar, it lives in the exact confluence of ’80s post-punk and early dream pop. The music feels like a monolith casting a shadow over a poppy field.  There is a dark psychedelic edge to the songs, reminding me of Chicagoans DA! or really early SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. The band seems to really be hitting you straight from the unconscious with each song, and this is an LP that deserves to be played really loud late at night. A pleasant surprise.

The World Reddish 12″

The swan song (unfortunately) from the Bay Area’s preeminent disciples of the ’78-’82 Rough Trade catalog, released in 2019 but collecting tracks originally recorded in 2015 and 2017—it actually sounds just as tightly-crafted as their First World Record LP from 2017, and I never would have guessed that this was the result of two pieced-together sessions from a few years apart. For the uninitiated, the WORLD’s take on spiky post-punk-funk combined shuddering dub-damaged guitar, hopscotch bass lines, fiery sax, propulsive drumming with a percussive assist from bongos and shakers, and coolly detached vocals, all delivered in urgent sub-three minute bursts designed with the express purpose of eliciting involuntary impulses toward the dancefloor. “Kill Your Landlord” and “Punctuate” dig into methodical and simmering skronked-out grooves, providing an ideal counterbalance to the more frenzied ESSENTIAL LOGIC/FAMILY FODDER-esque spiraling rhythms of “Last Rhodesian” and “White Radish” that bring Reddish to a high boil. A textbook example of going out with a bang, and we should all truly consider ourselves lucky to have existed in the WORLD’s world for even a brief moment in time.