Plastic Bomb

Angerboys How to Profit From the Panic LP

I’m going to make a food analogy here, sorry in advance. Hardcore, like food, is best prepared from the best ingredients and prepared simply with proper seasoning. No fuss in the mixing booth, the right blend of influences and new ideas, and mastered properly. While ANGERBOYS have some of the ingredients right, namely speed, this full-length just doesn’t sound right. For one thing, it’s not mastered properly. I’m not a sound engineer or a snob, but when there are differences between the overall volume from track to track, it’s not a “who gives a fuck” punk ethos, it’s annoying. Combined with the fact that everything here sounds way too upfront, with no room to breathe in the instrumentation, and the vocals isolated and unnatural (not to mention some truly irritating lyricism)—this is just an unpleasant record altogether. Whatever happened to “community not competition,” when you have a song like “Your Band … Sucks!” (yes, punctuated like that). They even reference Bandcamp in said ten-second “fuck you” to other, presumably local, bands. Mirror, meet band, where do you think I listened to this thing?

Totenwald Forward to the Past EP

Holy shit, I just stepped foot into a smoky, European, strobe-light-ridden ’80s new wave club. It’s 2:00 AM and shit is just starting to pop off. This is clearly one of those word-of-mouth, “ask a punk” spots that operates by its own rules and closes whenever people are done dancing and drinking. Maybe I’ve just arrived after reapplying my SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES level amount of eye makeup from sweating it out at another club. Or maybe I don’t start my night until after the witching hour. TOTENWALD (German for “Death Forest”) is the band owning the stage, and they are a time machine. One of their songs is even called “1984,” just a year before I was born but I feel like I’m right there with them 36 years ago banging our heads against the Berlin Wall. I think a lot of people are going to want to compare this band to X-RAY SPEX because of the female vocals and saxophone(!), but I think that’s unfair. They’re dark, gothy, distorted, synthy, angry, dancey, and radical. Also, just go look at pictures of them right now. Every one (including live clips!) genuinely looks like it’s from the ’80s, but this record actually came out in 2020. This four-piece is from Berlin and the past and the current timeline. Even the art packaging on the record is super fucking new wave punk. It rules. I definitely recommend entering this club. Just make sure you brought enough clove cigarettes and eyeliner with you.

[di: unru:] Misophonia LP

This is definitely something I’d flip past in a record shop and never consider picking up. I’m not even completely sure how to say the band’s name due to the punctuation surrounding it, as well as my limited knowledge of German and Finnish words. But holy smokes, I’m glad I have it now because this band rules. It’s synthy darkwave with strong and aggressive vocals, fantastic synth lines, and some real ace drumming. I sometimes am really turned off by ’80s-style bands because they overuse synth, and/or make the drums sound electronic. I’m not into EDM no matter what decade, so I definitely don’t want that mixing into punk subgenres. This band from Helsinki bridges the divide between JOY DIVISION and KILLING JOKE to stuff like WHITE LUNG and PLEASURE LEFTISTS. What surprised me as I looked over the lyric sheet was that while I loved the lyrics to “Flaws,” a song about body acceptance, I ended up thinking it was the only clunker on the record. It’s way slower than the rest of the tracks, is missing their awesome driving drums, and I wasn’t into the reverb on the vocals. But the song right after that, “Kick the Habit,” which I thought the lyrics were just all right, ended up being the most catchy on the whole record for me. I’m really into this record and stoked to have it in my collection.