Reviews

Puke n Vomit

Blitz Second Empire Justice LP reissue

It’s funny revisiting this record so closely to Voice of a Generation, because if I hadn’t been blessed with the prior knowledge that this was by the same band, I would have bet my next paycheck that this was two very different outfits, and I’d be on the beans on toast for the next month. Stating the bleeding obvious: it doesn’t sound anything like their debut full-length, for better or for worse. Gone is the gruff bellow, in comes a skeletal and sparse croon. No more buzzsaw guitars and thunderous bass, in comes razor-sharp guitar lines and bin-lid snare. A magpie approach to the nascent post-punk scene, a JOY DIVISION riff here, an ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN riff here, and a sprinkling of the CURE and FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM here for a light seasoning of goth, it’s a strange beast. It’ll never top the debut for me, and it’s definitely an acquired taste, but perhaps you are less of a curmudgeon than me and this is the BLITZ album for you.

Blitz Voice of a Generation LP reissue

Look, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. If you want to not eat your greens or avoid looking both ways before crossing the road, that’s on you largely, and given the natural truculence and stick-it-up-yer-bollocks mentality of the punk community, it’s likely to be met with resistance at best and open hostility most likely. That being said, if you haven’t listened to this record, I am going to tell you to go and listen to it right now. From the opening drum salvo and the first time Nidge’s guitar cuts through, it grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let up. Unlike many of their contemporaries in the Oi! scene that was coagulating round Bushell, et al., BLITZ doesn’t have the same panto “don’t mind if I do, missus,” end-of-the-pier approach to street violence and class politics that came to define the scene in postcard caricature fashion. Undoubtedly you’ve heard this LP a billion times before, and a reissue’s a reissue’s a reissue, but if at the very least it’s stopped you and made you go back and try and capture that lightning-in-a-bottle sensational you got the first time you dropped that needle on the record for the first time, then it’s job done as far as yours truly is concerned.

Circle One Demos & Comp LP

CIRCLE ONE is a band of some notoriety and has taken on the veneer of myth in these many years since the tragic demise of their singer. Formed in the very earliest days of the hardcore scene, they were one of the first bands to see the way forward into the ’80s being blazed by the GERMS and BLACK FLAG. The immediately emerged at the hardest and most aggressive vanguard of the emerging hardcore scene. This LP compiles their two early demos and some comp tracks. Most of us know CIRCLE ONE from the Patterns of Force LP, and the great thing about this LP is that none of these songs are on Patterns of Force. That is to say, by the time the band recorded the LP they had already discarded all these demo tracks and moved on. Some of them we know from comps, but there is a lot of material on here that is probably only known by tape traders until now. Let’s be clear—these are demos, not all the tracks are great, and you can see they were working to tighten up and develop the sound that would emerge on Patterns of Force. Indeed, listening to the progression from 1980 to 1981 to 1983, we hear the punk influences shed for a more purely hardcore sound, and the guitar tone gradually get thicker and beefier. While this isn’t on par with Patterns of Force, it’s certainly a great slice of Southern California hardcore punk history and there are some standout tracks here.

Circle One Patterns of Force: Alternate Mix LP

CIRCLE ONE is a band I only know through their reputation—and through stories of singer John Macias being killed by police at the age of 29. It’s Macias’s vocals which are the most interesting component of this reissue. Atop mid-tempo to fast SoCal hardcore, Macias sings with way more theatrics than I expected, reminding me of Jello on late DEAD KENNEDYS stuff, or, alternately, Jack Grisham of TSOL.

Disorder Perdition 12″ reissue

UK, 1982, what a special time for punk! Similar to many contemporary acts, DISORDER was traveling uncharted territories within punk. The Perdition EP single-handedly created a template for many of the noisier punk bands to come. Tracks like “Life”, that appears in the now legendary UK punk documentary UK/DK from 1983, became anthems in their own right, and “Remembrance Day” showed that DISORDER was also able to handle the more dark post-punk sound. This fine reissue by Puke n Vomit of the legendary EP includes a 24″x24″ poster. Heavily distorted and more metallic, this EP is a must have for any fan of the UK82 stuff.

False Confession Resurrectionists LP

Hailing from Oxnard, California, FALSE CONFESSION brings a VARUKERS-speed punk attack with the clarity of FINAL CONFLICT and the ease of CHEM-TRAILS from Connecticut. This album may sound traditional, but in that way it sounds timeless. You could tell me this was an obscure classic from the ’80s and I’d believe you. Picking up ICONOCLAST, DR. KNOW, and CRUCIFIX power as well, maybe a bit on the melodic side of VOIVOD. FALSE CONFESSION plays fast and clearly from the roots of hardcore punk and Dis-bands. Vocals are sung and repetitive, but I mean that in a poetic way. Over all of the aggression, the message is sincere and stylishly delivered. Songs are also quite long and complexly composed for this style, which can easily be offered as a verse-chorus-verse stale slab. Thrash breakdowns here and there, minimal obtuse discordant riffs and solos, various themes about the shared planet and the personal psyche all create something a bit different that at first notice sounds expected. Fuck…upon further inspection, I now realize this band was a pioneering band of the Nardcore movement in the ’80s. I am sorry, I’m from the ’80s/’90s East Coast scene and was not aware. Now FALSE CONFESSION is actually starting to sound familiar. It happens, m’kay! I’m such a fucking idiot, I’m submitting this. Making punk an honest threat again. Good new album, guys! I especially like this plodding metallic track “Mortal Coil.” I’m here to tell you this band should not be forgotten! Like the other HERESY or something…apparently, they were good…ugh. I should be fired.

La Flingue Structure Vide Ordure / Under the Radar of Love 7″

What I like about the FLINGUE is that it reminds me of all my favourite European punk bands like the KIDS, 999, and so on. The beautiful clean guitars with the tambourine give a more modern touch to an epic punk style from the past. I didn’t know this band until fortunately playing together on a tour in Argentina—it was definitely a surprising gig, and they are insane live.

Nabat Potere Nelle Strade LP reissue

NABAT is true Bolognese. Their music is thick and meaty while still glistening into a uniformed consistency. It’s hearty and warm and like most other things it’s been bastardized and ruined by Americans. If you’re not familiar with NABAT they’ve got a hefty Oi sound all their own with a mix of speedy UK82-inspired tunes and uniformed mid-tempo stuff, big woah-oh choruses and very gruff vocals. This isn’t a full reissue of all the band’s material, just their studio recordings, as some compilation songs, along with “Kill Police” and “Nichilist Nabat” which appeared on the split tape with RIP OFF, are missing. The roughness of the recordings becomes glaringly obvious moving from the smoothness of the Laida Bologna 7″ to the RIP OFF split tape recordings. Puke N Vomit tried but this reissue comes across like Sunday Sauce (half-assed and lackadaisical but ultimately pleasing to the many who buy a new pair of boots instead of performing upkeep on their flagship store Docs Martens). It’s not the highest quality but if you want to hear NABAT then this will cover you.

Nabat 1981 Laida Bologna Demo LP

This is the real stuff. At a time when a significant strain of European Oi! is milquetoast panto shite made by scruffy chancers in trainers, it’s nice to be reminded of what made it so exhilarating. This recently-rediscovered demo from 1981 represents some of the earliest recordings of the legendary Italian band and it’s truly great. It’s NABAT at their rawest, route one, kick-you-in-the-bollocks punk. Short, sharp and to the point like a jab to the kidneys; it’s the scuzzy and antisocial Oi! we all have come to love, all while they are seemingly having a complete laugh with their mates while doing so. A belter.

Necromancy Necromancy 12″

Does every old recording need to be reissued? Probably not. But these six songs recorded in 1989 are perhaps the only document from Davis, California’s NECROMANCY, and I’m happy that they (finally) achieved waxed immortalization. Think UNIFORM CHOICE-style positive and/or passionate hardcore, but with a Northern California angle that I can’t quite describe…but it’s real. Late ’80 USHC has a dirty reputation, and until people start paying attention to bands like NECROMANCY, that’s not going to change. Listen to “Epilogue to War” because that’s what’s up.

Nisses Nötter Det Är Krig LP

2020 saw among many great classic punk reissues the vinyl reissue of mean mangel machine NISSES NÖTTER’s jaw-breaking 1983 self-released Knäckta Nötter demo tape (and it sure feels like a demo tape, in a good way). These then-pre-teens from Gothenburg delivered a crushing, sloppy, and “angry at everything” lesson on how to do proper Swedish hardcore. If you are unfamiliar with this classic band, just keep in mind that their age span was eleven-to-twelve years old and yet they managed to play surprisingly fast and write great angry raw songs. The reissued vinyl version includes the complete history of the band and an insert. Cop this one when you need to let off some steam.

Reagan Youth Regenerated: A Collection of Alternative Classics LP

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, REAGAN YOUTH seemingly stood a step apart from their early ’80s NYC contemporaries: what they lacked in the brute-force pummel of a band like A.F. or the tweaked-out intensity of URBAN WASTE or ANTIDOTE, they made up for in simple, catchy riffs and personality. I mean, countless teenagers have answered the call of underground punk rock, but how many of them had the sarcastic wit of Dave Insurgent? While the other recently released REAGAN YOUTH LP (It’s a Beautiful Day… for a Matinee!) is essentially a vinyl reissue of the Live & Rare CD from the late ’90s, this collection on Puke n Vomit features completely unreleased demo recordings from 1981-1983 (plus a ripping live cover of “Ace of Spades”). Granted, aside from one instrumental cut sounding like a work in progress, you’ve probably heard all these songs before, but the sound quality is solid and this is sure to please anyone who’s worn out the grooves of their copy of Youth Anthems for the New Order.

Sedicion Extintos LP reissue

SEDICIÓN is one of the founding bands of Mexican hardcore. Hailing from the city of Guadalajara, they started in 1988 with an imagination influenced by anarchism, bringing a poignant, pacifist, and self-critical point of view to the social and political misery of Mexico in the ’80s, in the throes of the authoritarian regime of a single party that ruled in those years.  They released several albums, participated in splits with bands like HEREJÍA and M.E.L.I., and evolved their sound during the ’90s to approach melodic hardcore, managed to tour Spain (mainly in libertarian centers and squats in the Basque Country), and split up in 1995 only to return two years later, releasing a couple of albums and touring Mexico and Spain again. The group became inactive in the early ’00s, with some sporadic reunions to play live. As of 2018, the group reunited to celebrate 30 years, touring Mexico and Latin America, and it is precisely that inertia that generates an interest in reissuing their albums. Austin label Esos Malditos Punks reissued on vinyl En Las Calles from 1990 and Verdaderas Historias de Terror from 1991. Now, Punk n Vomit reissues their seminal debut Extintos from 1988. The album is harsh, brutal, savage, blunt, and violent, and at the same time, extremely catchy. A piece of late 20th century Mexican history. A great entry point for the uninitiated is “Líderes,” with one of the best riffs in the history of world punk. A must.

Solucion Mortal Live at the Fairmont 1984 LP

Such a thrill to write some words on this absolute classic of Mexican hardcore. First, a little bit of history. SOLUCION MORTAL is one of the pioneering bands of hardcore in Mexico. They formed in 1981 in the border city of Tijuana and are still active today. This historical document is a live board recording made at a show at the Fairmont Hall in San Diego, and was originally released as a tape in 1984. Unlike bands from Mexico City, SOLUCIÓN MORTAL had a geographical advantage: being on the border with California allowed the band to share stages with DEAD KENNEDYS or D.R.I. That is to say, they were able to play in the United States in their absolute prime. This led them to participate in some compilations on labels such as BCT Tapes from San Diego, ROIR from New York, and New Wave Records from France. And what does it sound like? Urban chaos, urgency, anger, and violence. A raw guitar sound,  pogo-inducing drum and bass work, absolute brutal vocals, and some of the best Mexican punk songs ever:  “Depresión,” “Maten a los Chotas,” or “Solución Mortal.” A must-have.

Stalag 13 Fill in the Silence LP

When I first saw this assignment, I wondered if this was the same STALAG 13 from Oxnard in the mid-’80s. Sure enough. I’ve got to admit to a certain amount of surprise that these guys are still at it. Or maybe they’re at it again? Not sure. Either way, I was surprised. I always found most of that Nardcore stuff a little “samey.” It was never terrible, but I didn’t think anything ever really stood out, at least not for me. If you’re a fan of (Southern) California hardcore, this could be for you. If you like it uptempo and don’t mind a little extracurricular guitar work, this could be for you. I gather that this is a mix of both older and newer songs. I do find it kind of cool that these guys maintain the passion for punk.

The Adicts Smart Alex LP reissue

Another ADICTS reissue from Puke n Vomit, this time their 1985 LP Smart Alex. This LP marks a bit of a turning point for Monkey and the lads, as they began to sand off some of the rougher edges and incorporate more new wave elements. Unfortunately, along with those rougher edges, they lost a lot of their charm, and this album feels a bit pointless and anaemic rather than anthemic. A lot of plodding MOR nonsense makes up the filler on this album which really drags in parts. Not a particularly stand-out record by any stretch, and I would suggest broadly for completists only.

The Adicts The Sound of Music LP reissue

The clown princes of clockwork punx are back…in reissue form! For the longest time, I actively avoided engaging with any of these droogy bands for the simple reason that the fans got on my tits to an almost cosmic degree—crystalised by one legendarily punishing pisshead at a COCK SPARRER show in Leeds, replete with plastic bowler hat and jockstrap. I, quite naturally, assumed it was annoying joke music for dickheads. Was I wrong in that assumption? To a certain extent, yes. While there is space for some joke music on The Sound of Music with a paean to Chinese takeaways, it’s an enjoyable camp romp through the poppier side of UK82, like the BLOOD and PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES had a scrap in a circus tent.

The Barbies Introducing The Barbies 12″

Oooo I like this! Charming post-BLONDIE power pop girl sounds with a serving of Bomp! This was supposed to come out in 1980 or so, but only a test press ever emerged, so here it is, some shiny new wave pop punk just in time for the end of the world… Rikk Agnew’s liner notes are a li’l confusing but I think this is a Fullerton-based brother/sister band, both vocalists have killer voices in a JOSIE COTTON/TONI BASIL/DEBBIE manner, and the farfisa and guitar sound are super sick. “Boys Will Be Boys” was properly released on a compilation but I think the songs that demonstrate their love of BLONDIE are my faves over the more SoCal waver ones…. Totally worth picking up! No filler, all killer…

V/A A Country Fit for Heroes LP reissue

Reissue of one of the seminal UK82 compilations; time to dust off the donkey jacket and the “Coal Not Dole” badge. Some of these names will inevitably be known to you, having been scrawled onto school books and pencil cases since time immemorial, but this compilation assembles some of the lesser-celebrated names of the UK scene, too. It’s an uneasy truce between skins, punks, and their scruffier anarcho cousins to dizzying effect. DISTORTION, CRUX, and the VIOLATORS are the stars of the show for this installment; a great document of the time and some real gems uncovered.

V/A A Country Fit for Heroes, Volume 2 LP reissue

Another musical dose of twelve-hole Doc Martens shoe leather up the hoop for those of us who never stopped fighting Maggie Thatcher. The follow-up to the much-beloved first volume in the series is actually an improvement, should you dare to believe it. The untouchable CRIMINAL DAMAGE’s “Criminal Crew” is a perfect slice of rowdy bovver, ON PAROLE offers some choppy Hiberian aggro, and Cwmbran legends IMPACT’s “Storm Trooper Tactics” is a taut and frantic polemic against the follies of joining the army. Really does not come highly recommended enough, save up your pocket money for this one.

Нови Цветя (Novy Tsvetya) Cold War Collection LP

I recall Bulgaria’s НОВИ ЦВЕТЯ (New Flowers) being arguably the first punk band in that particular country under Soviet control. Releasing punk music during this time was economically prohibitive, and basically illegal in the eyes of the state. So in that context, this collection being released and distributed in the West in 2020 by an independent US label is a testament to the enduring and undefeatable spirit of punk. The recordings date from 1979 (!) to 1995. Side A seems to be the earliest stuff judging by the lo-fi production, and a sound much more akin to early Yugoslavian punk than famous Western bands. Production quality and fidelity greatly increases on the flipside, but remains raw and is probably the most easily digestible material here for most listeners. Musically the whole collection is great to my ears, it’s just missing the context! This release desperately needs an insert of some info to provide background. I know it’s all on the internet but there’s a disconnect if you don’t have it all in one place. In the late ’80s a few punk/rock/new wave bands managed to release music on the label BG Rock, which was a subsidiary of the state label Balkanton. So curious Western collectors like myself have managed to track down records from bands like РЕВЮ (Review), КOНТРОЛ (Control), НОВИ ГЕНЕРАЦИЯ (New Generation), КЛАС (Class), АТЛАС (Atlas), and some others, but ÐНОВИ ЦВЕТЯ truly remained unable to officially release anything until after the fall of the Soviet Union. There have been other releases since then, but you know where to look for those. In the meantime, this is a really fun introduction for those interested in Bulgarian punk history. Just a shame about the lack of info!