Reviews

Munster

Alternative TV How Much Longer / You Bastard 7″ reissue

Spanish label Munster Records is responsible for outstanding reissue work that has bequeathed us treasures from all over the Americas and Europe. Now, they’ve reissued the seminal 1977 debut single by the band founded by Mark Perry (editor of the zine Sniffin’ Glue), Alex Fergusson (PSYCHIC TV), GENERATION X’s John Towe, and Tyrone Thomas. An absolutely necessary exercise in self-criticism about the insurmountable contradictions of the English punk scene on Side A, and a self-conscious rant about rock’n’roll on the B-side. A great opportunity to get this piece of history, with one of the favorite songs of this writer, on plastic.

Attrix Lost Lenoré / Hard Times 7″ reissue

Reissue of a 1978 single (and the lone release) from English punk trio ATTRIX, who were behind the label of the same name that’s probably best known now for the Vaultage series of compilations documenting the late ’70s/early ’80s Brighton scene. There’s a heavy VELVET UNDERGROUND influence on these two tracks, as refracted through the smudged prism of UK DIY—raw rave-ups with plenty of back alley strut, all jangling guitar chug, driving rhythms, and matter-of-fact vocals that make up in confidently cool attitude what they lack in dynamics. The buzzsaw hooks/gang chorus double whammy in “Lost Lenoré” almost crosses over into roughed-up, PROTEX-ed power pop, with “Hard Times” conjuring visions of Transformer-era LOU REED if he’d been backed by the BUZZCOCKS. Two winners, no filler.

Décima Víctima En El Garaje LP

Compelling archival release of a studio-quality 1983 garage four-track recording from this Spanish post-punk band. This was a demo for their second and final album, Un Hombre Solo—basically, a skeletal version of that work. To my (Anglo) ears, DÉCIMA VÍCTIMA sounds here like a cross between JOY DIVISION and the GREG SAGE album Straight Ahead—dark, melancholy tunes that take their time to reach their final destination. The heavy reverb and the hint of a rock’n’roll twang somehow brings to mind visions of a nightclub scene in a David Lynch movie, equal parts menace and mystery. Recommended.

Eskorbuto Los Demenciales Chicos Acelerados 2xLP reissue

One of the most influential bands for the Spanish and Latin American punk community, ESKORBUTO has a special reputation that has only grown with time. After the classics Eskizofrenia and Anti Todo, they released Los Demenciales Chicos Acelerados originally on Discos Suicidas in 1987. This is a band way ahead of their time and that had a huge impact, making this the very first “punk opera” ever about a corrupt politician who finally sees his demise because of his ego. Housed in a controversial gatefold sleeve, this double LP reissue of this classic album contains the original artwork complete with a political satirical work against any kind of dictatorial regime. Still relevant and still resonates with modern days.

Los Saicos ¡Demolición! / Lonely Star 7″

Many record and band reviews (mine mostly) spend space name-dropping other bands and styles that a reviewee sounds like and borrows from. It’s a kind of connect the musical dots. Because let’s face it, we’re all influenced in some way by what we’ve heard before. But there are those trailblazers and avant-gardes who every now and then create something strikingly new from the same twelve notes we’re all shuffling around, using nothing but their own instincts. LOS SAICOS were operating out of Lima, Peru from 1964–66 with limited access to outside music or the happenings in England or the United States at the time. Their proto-punk sound with sharp guitar riffs and screaming vocals pre-dates the STOOGES, SEX PISTOLS, and RAMONES by a decade, though the band remained in obscurity, almost as an in-the-know secret among garage punkers. The early-aughts saw a brief reunion, along with numerous articles and a few documentaries that brought them back into current consciousness. BLACK LIPS and many many other similarly-styled bands cite them as a major influence. This 7″ is a reissue of two of their early singles, a great musical artifact that couldn’t care less if punk was born in London or NYC.

Los Saicos El Mercenario / Un Poquito de Pena 7″

Oh, LOS SAICOS, great representatives of Peruvian sonic teenage terrorism. This pair of songs came after “DemoliciÁ³n” and “Entierro de los Gatos” and all those great classics that led them to be retroactively read as the originators of punk rock. We’ve almost got a new band here, as there’s only two original members left, Erwin Flores and César “Papi” CastrillÁ³n, who recorded these songs together with other musicians for a local Peruvian label in the distant year of 1969. The Spanish label Munster Records is in charge of the reissue and it has everything we came to love about the Los Saicos sound. “El Mercenario” is a mind-blowing tale of a mercenary, who embarks to Africa in order to commit atrocities as a soldier for hire only to realize the futility and damage he caused, leading him to commit suicide; the story is narrated by a voice somewhere between a ballad singer and a young amphetamine user with euphoric screams marking “1, 2, 3, 4″ as a kind of cool vocal hook, plus guitars with dark surfer vibes. On the other side, “Un Poquito de Pena” is a love ballad with intense singing, arpeggiated and extremely melodic guitar riffs, a true gem that could’ve been included in one of those Back From The Grave comps. Great single that deserves to be on par with the rest of LOS SAICOS’ work.

Los Saicos Single Box Set 8×7″

An absolute monster box set (pun intended). Smash hit after smash hit of the legendary Peruvian band. The thing covers their whole career so you can appreciate the richness of their sound: the caveman vocals, the reverb-rich riffs, the wild BO DIDDLEY-esque beats.  I’m not so fond of the whole exercise of historical revisionism the band has suffered and benefited from but, I think they may well be the only band worthy of that sort of intellectual procedure. They truly are a great band and they did anticipate sounds and motifs from the punk era.  This is teenage angst as a form of art. Enjoy the marvelous sounds of LOS SAICOS.

Nubs Job / Banana 7″

If you don’t already have it, here’s another chance at this always-in-style NUBS 7″ courtesy of the dependable Munster Records. The escalating nihilism of “Job” remains an especially tasty KBD delicacy. Spot-on punk. On the other side of the record, “Banana” is a song, too.

The Love Depression The Love Depression LP reissue

Straight from 1968, this record is freshly reissued, and for the first time since its release, widely available. You don’t often associate the garage and psychedelic music of the 1960s with Venezuela, but the LOVE DEPRESSION dispels that notion. This record is mostly covers including some of JIMI HENDRIX and CREAM. While the covers are pretty fantastic, some better than the originals, it’s the LOVE DEPRESSION originals that stand out. “Gonna Ride” is absolutely simmering with psychedelic garage energy. Something like a souped-up JIMI HENDRIX. You most likely haven’t heard of the LOVE DEPRESSION, but now is your chance. This record holds up better than ever.

The Zeros In the Spotlight / Nowhere to Run 7″

The ZEROS have been at it since the mid/late ’70s. That’s over 40 years. That blows my mind. Most bands that fall into that category aren’t what they used to be. There’s an energy to really good punk rock that comes from its youth. That doesn’t mean they can’t create excellent music; it just means you shouldn’t expect it to have the sense of urgency that comes with youth and being new. I’d say these guys get that. These are well-crafted songs that are played well and great to listen to, but they’re not trying to create fake youthful rage. With harmonicas and a fair amount of lead guitar work, there’s a certain Americana feel to the first track. The B-side is more straightforward punk rock that reminds me of the LAZY COWGIRLS. This is good shit.

Ultrasónicas Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica LP reissue

A much-needed and vital reissue of an absolute classic of the Mexican underground. Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica was released as a 10″ in 1999 by the Spanish label Munster and released as a CD in México in 2004. It is a jewel of adolescent spontaneity, absolutely transgressive for the timorous and ultra-conservative Mexican society at the time of its release (here, I include the very macho Mexican rock and punk scene of the time). An all-female group that soon formed an outrageous and free gang that took garage (the SONICS, the PLEASURE FUCKERS, THEE HEADCOATEES), surf, and the most outlandish rock’n’roll as basic blueprints for a sound that not only refreshed the stagnant México City scene, but also opened the way for women in the rock scene. Side A has the more polished versions released by Munster, while on Side B we can listen to the versions of their mythical low-budget demo. There are also bonus tracks and inserts with photos and memorabilia for the fans. I feel I’m selling short the importance of this album for the music made by electric guitars in México. The most fun band this country has ever produced. Get it now.

Warsaw Pakt Needle Time LP+7″ / Lorraine/Dogfight 7″

Recorded live and straight to the lathe on Saturday, November 26th of 1977, WARSAW PAKT’s explosive Needle Time LP was on record store shelves by 7:00 AM the next morning. This legendary stunt serves a fitting metaphor for the fast and furious London group’s short and potent career. Active only from 1977-78, WARSAW PAKT was fronted by the uber-charismatic Jimmy Coull, and included some grizzled ’60s psych veterans and an ex-MOTÖRHEAD drummer amongst their ranks. This resulted in some truly unique, sophisticated, and rockin’ pub-punk that’s been largely unheard in the decades since. Due to its unique origin story, Needle Time really captures the power of the short-lived band’s live performances in the UK alongside the CLASH and the DAMNED, but really this would have been a great record under any circumstances. Packed with sharp, catchy, and high-energy songs from top to bottom, Needle Time showcases the band’s prowess for speedy, loose, and edgy rock while punk was still in diapers. There’s not a bad tune in the bunch. Lucky for us, the geniuses at Munster Records have given Needle Time an awesome reissue treatment, threw in a bonus 7″ with it, and even put out two previously unreleased studio tracks on yet another 7″ single (“Lorraine / Dogfight”)! As if that weren’t enough, further enlightenment can be found on the ROCKETS 7″ from last year which reveals the PAKT’s pub rock roots. It’s all top o’ the stack material.