No Way Asso

Guns’n’gänseblümchen Perspectives LP

Big, rich sound from a drum/guitar duo based in Germany and France. The vocals really shine through here, dueling from female to male, from tenderness to grit on both sides, evoking that peace-punk hope and despair all at once. Perspectives is the sophomore album from this true DIY, no-profit outfit—that’s right, free download on their Bandcamp page, so get it in ya!

Maudit Dragon Maudit Dragon LP

This three-piece from Grenoble, France quite simply fucking rules. For a debut LP, these songs are wise beyond their years, with a production that isn’t over-polished. Jo’s vocals range from high and light, to a low-end, strained output of total force, reminiscent of Brody Dalle’s snarl, particularly the opener “Ailleurs” that sounds like the DISTILLERS’ “Ask the Angels.” The guitars are perfectly big-fuzzed-out, mirroring the vocals, and make a wall of sound over the powerhouse drums—and did I even hear some keys in the background? I can’t imagine this not making my 2022 top ten. Everything I want out of a punk album: grit and power balanced with harmony and tenderness. The Cursed Dragon calls, so listen up.

V/A Peace, Unity, Noise And Having Fun: Tekken Tribute & Remixes LP

So this compilation LP is apparently a tribute to the French fastcore band TEKKEN. I regret to announce I was not familiar with TEKKEN the band, but it looks as though they were around in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and with some video research, I have realized that they were pretty good! If you like to blast off with CHARLES BRONSON, SPAZZ, DAMNABLE EXCITE ZOMBIES, AGATHOCLES, or even FANTOMAS, or any bands that were forming when fastcore was really breaking into its stride, I have this recommendation for you! There’s also some really bizarre MIDI carnival music, which I must admit I am entertained by, if not perplexed.

Young Harts All I Got LP

Like most people in their mid-thirties, I’m a ’90s nostalgist through and through. This full-length really should be my bag, with its sound that sits somewhere between SHUDDER TO THINK and the early albums of SUPERDRAG. On paper that sounds awesome, and there are moments of brightness from track to track. Ultimately, it falls a little short for me, largely due to some real clunkers in the lyric department—”No need for lyrics / I’m an OGG” seems to sum it up on the otherwise snappy “Up in Flames.” There’s also the production, which sounds overly digital. On that same song, there’s what sounds like software reverb throughout, which takes me right out of the experience. The song structures are solidly built and the vocal melodies are generally the centerpiece, but executed in a way that shines a bit too over-affected. The overall sound strikes me as a band that probably would have made a competent tour opener two decades ago, but I’d probably go stand in the drink line during their set now. And lastly, the more plodding ballads have got to go, such as the acoustic “Still Shining” and album closer “Shun It Down.”