Painters Tapes

Billy & the Bad Peach Juiced cassette

These guys do a nice post-punk, slightly noisy thing that at its best reminds me of the CUNTZ or even KILSLUG. They’re from Philly and have been around for a minute. Having the luxury of being able to watch YouTube videos of this band, I can see that they might be able to pull it off live, which is crucial with this kind of druggy dirge. No idea what the unfortunate band name is about, but they coulda been on AmRep way back when in the golden ’90s. Carry on.

Coffer Uneasy Street cassette

Nasty, lo-fi, grimy garage rock from Detroit, MI. Three songs which have a feel to them as if they were written, somewhat learned, and then immediately hastily recorded, which I admittedly dig. With a run of only 25 copies, this wildly blown-out recording would likely disappear into obscurity were it not for the label documenting it digitally. Painters Tapes, self-proclaiming to be “Detroit’s Worst Cassette Label” (though I think they’ve got some competition with Juicy Crack Cassettes) seems to have a ton of other releases, which I will be digging through shortly.

Desborde Todo Es Una Mierda cassette

Fast Argentine punk with synth parts. I don’t want to call it synth punk, as the electronic parts seem to be very appendaged-on for this recording. You hear them in the beginning or the end of a song, but the guitar generally drowns it out once it roars in. Aside from that, this is a tape full of rippers.

Junk Guts Get Trashin’ cassette

High-energy punk. I originally thought the drums were programmed, but I think there’s a person behind that kit? Someone smarter than me is gonna need to wise me up here. If it’s the latter, then this drummer is one of the tightest I’ve ever heard. The singer does a ton of heavy lifting here; their energy is what carries this album throughout. Otherwise it’s pretty typical cut-and-dry punk rock. Twelve tracks seemed daunting at first, but the album really picks up midway through and ends strong. I’m starting to question whether the drums are real or not again. To quote JUNK GUTS, “sometimes I think my brain is broke.”

Munchkin Head Not Gonna Cry Dad cassette

Imagine music set to a Bart Simpson side-scroller arcade game, and you might come close to MUNCHKIN HEAD’s sound. Drum machine, Casiotone keys, dirt-chewing guitar crunch with little derivation, and high-pitched vocals with a filter that makes it sound like dude’s gotta clear his fucking throat! I like the DIY nature of the magazine clip-out cassette cover and of the music itself, and the earnestness of the “devotional cockrock” tag, but the music is grating, and not in a good way. I’m a little annoyed, and clearly that’s what the band was going for, so, good job?

NightFreak Speed Trials cassette

Gruff rock’n’roll stewing in a suburban storage unit packed with knuckle-dragging, burnout used-to-be-punks all half-drunk on Beast. Things are getting tense—it’s sweaty and it smells like shit, motherfuckers are running low on warm beer, and no one is brave enough to walk to the store alone because the night is about to get a lot hotter. The NIGHTFREAK is coming. They launch into “I’ll Show You Heaven” and everyone in the room questions their life choices in unison, but it’s too late. The doors are locked and the stench feels like it’s going in your ears but it’s just another guitar solo. There’s no escape. This is your life.

OK Satán Master of Neglect cassette

Copenhagen’s OK SATÁN’s latest cassette release consists of five tracks of garage punk with vocals reminiscent of CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS or even Darby Crash at times. Fuzzed-out, lo-fi trash punk from the city with too much daylight or too much darkness, with noise punk vibes of FLIPPER, NO TREND, or KILSLUG. Soundtrack to slowly losing our minds. It’s a matter of time.

Susans Susans cassette

SUSANS are a three-piece bass/drums/ukulele combo out of London, Ontario. It appears they’ve been active for a few years now, and this is their first full-length. This is art-punk with an aggressive, occasionally demented edge. Vocal duties (largely delivered in a declarative shout) are split between bassist K. Cuz and ukulele player Gabe Nestor. Nestor’s ukulele adds a spindly, classically DIY quality to the whole affair—it doesn’t really rock, but it suits the paranoid songwriting. Tracks like “Nine,” “Impress Your Neighbors,” and “Too Much Info” are anxious and wiry, while “Hands” and “Toro” find the band sounding messier, less restrained. “Hands,” an ode to handwashing written at the outset of the pandemic, incorporates both melodica and sampled speech. They end it all with the buzzing, feedback-laden noise-punker, “It’s Okay (To Be Weird.)” I happen to agree.

Toeheads Animal House cassette

TOEHEADS are an angst-filled Detroit band. There’s lots of screaming and jerky rhythms and anxiety-inducing beats. But they also have a lo-fi garage rock undertone. “Graveyard Walk” reminds me so much of CHEATER SLICKS. This would be perfect if I was still driving my dad’s ’80s Pontiac that had that great cassette deck in 2001. The sound reminds me of the perceived freedom of my youth. Give me more.