Reviews

self-released

11:55 And You Know, It Just Keeps Getting Funnier cassette

This Michigan 5-piece has a song called “Spirit of ’76″ and that gives a good idea about their sound: garage-y pop-punk with jangly guitars and personal/political words. Pretty good.

13th Key Reaper’s Night cassette

A metal-punk band that’s short on wanking guitar solos and long on power and oomph. This is close to older bone-crunching punk than modern metal, which is fine by me. I can’t say much about the lyrics, though.

149 Dead Marines Genius Animals cassette

There’s a decidedly jazzy feel to the thrash this band delivers. I can’t really put my finger on it, but it does set them apart in a way. No, it’s the guitar and drumming; though they’re both frenetically fast, it is jazzy as well. Hear it for yourself, because this is something of a breakthrough, different from the MINUTEMEN.

5 Balls of Power Operations in Musical Warfare cassette

A 28-song release displaying the BALLS’ hard-hitting but almost pop hardcore sound. There’s a lot of attention on melody, vocals, and back-up singing, as well as many changes within songs. This can be annoying, but their overall power and unrelenting energy carries it off. Pro job, fine lyrics too.

500 Miles to Memphis Blessed Be the Damned CD

Never heard of these folks before, and this is their fifth full-length in the last fifteen or so years. 500 MILES TO MEMPHIS definitely have the instrumentation on occasion: pedal steel, mandolin, and banjo, together with the wall of rock sound. I’m always a bit suspicious of bands that try and meld roots / folk music with punk rock. I think it works best when they stick to the more “regular” albeit punk stuff (though I am a sucker for the layered gospel choir vocal effects). There are a couple of songs that I’m sure SOCIAL DISTORTION could fit right into their current set. Not terrible by any means, and the lads can certainly play.

5051 El Salvador EP

A very hard-to-come-by EP by this San Diego group. The music is medium-paced punk with occasional rapid-fire outbursts. The production is very powerful and English-like, and the words are really good, covering cliquishness, religion, paranoia, and intervention in Central America.

63 Eyes I’m Not Me, But I Play Me on T.V. cassette

This looks and sounds familiar to me, but I can’t place. It. Anyway, here we have 18 medium tempo garage-y punk tunes, with catchy lyrics. Reminds me of the early Los Angeles underground sound, very rocking with tasteful twists!

A Bunch of Jerks The Dead CD

First response I had to this was to be a real fucking “jerk.” Then I thought, what the hell? They’re probably a good time, like that friend’s band you reluctantly drag yourself to see and end up having a pretty nice evening. There’s most likely some ironic Hawaiian shirts, funny headgear, and a couple of people even bring their kids. Somebody has one too many well bourbons and tells that bad uncle joke over and over. All get to bed in time to make it to work the next day. Sorta wholesome in a weird way. Musically, they remind me of a much less punk WHOOSIE WHAT’S IT’S with some competent musicianship, elements of punk, garage, and surf and a rowdy singer that can belt it out just fine. The title track is the winner and there’s even an ALICE COOPER cover to get your tipsy office pal dancing on the table. Just swell.

A Few Chairs A Few Chairs cassette

Quite a versatile band. Almost every track sounds substantially different from the last, ranging from straight chord garage rock (great cover of “Boys”) to folk punk, to MUTANTS/X-type early punk (cool male/female trade-off vocals), noise, thrash, and more. A band to watch for.

A.C.T.H. L’Italia Se Desta cassette

At their best, ACTH show a real ability for crunching mid-tempo punk with nifty vocal choruses and guitar riffing. Another up-and-coming Italian band which deserves their chance at vinyl. Good stuff. (Does ACTH stand for “andrenocorticotropic hormone”?)

A.P.P.L.E. Rather Dull? cassette

“Progressive” punk that maintains a hard musical bite, yet combines with an almost folky female vocal (not unlike Pauline Murray in her PENETRATION days). Great words (comes with lyric book) and an intelligent outlook are as refreshing as the music itself. From the makers of Counter Culture zine.

A.P.P.L.E. Neither Victims Nor Executioners cassette

Proving there’s more to NYC than street survival and “fuck you” lyrics. Fueled by strong female vocals, intelligent lyrics, and still powerful playing, there’s a PENETRATION/ POISON GIRLS influence, but also more going on here — funk influences, folk rocks aspects (cover of “Blowin’ in the Wind”) and classy production. 8 songs, worth mailing away for.

Abi Ooze Bad Egg cassette

Poppy, self-loathing, and self-rewarding bedroom punk from Philly, with a distorted recording that really lends it a fuzzy, warm vibe. The vocals make me think of BAD SLEEP and BIG EYES, but with way more bummer subject matter. Aileen Wuornos samples between songs let you know these people are on the right side. Killer.

Abraxas Promo cassette

Just two tracks at three minutes of raw furious hardcore from Charlottetown, PEI. “Left Behind” has a head-bobbing D-beat pulse, but I prefer the busy riffing and frantic phrasing on “Enough.” Cymbals clatter high in the mix, which is both a good and bad thing. Fans of such fidelity will say it improves the noise factor, but I’d like more guitar. These Canucks aren’t showing anything new but it’s still promising for a promo.

Abreaction Prepare for War cassette

At times this is rather usual mid-tempo Brit-punk, with some of the intros being more exciting than the body of the song itself. But then at times they surprise with their sudden bursts of extra excitement and energy. Also, this is a live tape of this anarcho-punk band, and a studio might produce a much livelier product.

Action Park You Must Be This Tall to Die LP

This album opens with a soundbite of a commercial for the fabled/doomed amusement park from which the band takes its name, and from there the listener is treated to twelve poppy, melodic, hook-laden songs that sound like they were just unearthed from a time capsule buried sometime in the mid-’90s. There’s enough here to keep me interested while listening, just not enough to make me reach for this for repeat listens. That said, 1995 me would have been all over this record, for sure.

Activistas A is for Activistas CD

A nine-track effort (a mini-LP?) of what sounds like a British cabaret band, almost. Or sort of a “Knees Up Mother Brown” musical hall variety act. Male and female vocals, drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards. It’s all rather amateurish sounding, which is a little off-putting to these ears, though suddenly, the last three tracks (starting with a version of WOODY GUTHRIE’s “This Land Is Your Land” with BILLY BRAGG lyrical embellishments) really kick it up a gear, and sound rather more polished and hence eminently presentable! Perhaps with the addition of some more keyboards, it all falls into place? Lyrically, they seem to hit all the right spots (and targets) from Emma Goldman to Boris Johnson.

Aerobic Death ESG cassette

Galloping drums, weird structures, and snarly-ass vocals are the hallmarks of AEROBIC DEATH’s thrashy attack. They sound sort of like the early MEAT PUPPETS, right down to a slight GRATEFUL DEAD influence. “Ten Minute Fart” is the best song title.

Afflict Necromance LP

Okay, okay, so dumb lyrics aren’t just limited to the USA. Actually, less than half the tunes here have gore-related subject matter, while the rest are introspective and brooding, not so lame at all. Musically, mostly speedy thrash, but more musical than speedcore, as well as some slower tunes.

Agnostic Front United Blood EP

A. FRONT’s music is ultra-frenetic, intense, and to the point—they sure don’t waste time with any unessentials. What distinguishes them from other New York groups like the MOB and URBAN WASTE is their apparent Oi influence, which manifests itself particularly in their growling guitar, their appearance, and—possibly (but hopefully not) in their ideas. I can’t really tell what the hell they’re talking about, but this EP is downright nasty.

Aktitud 69 Zonas Marginadas LP

AKTITUD 69 is actually MASSACRE 68 from Mexico, and these songs, despite being released in 2019, were recorded not long after the band’s great ¡No Estamos Conformes! LP (probably in 1991). Why does the cover have an AKTITUD 69 label stamped over probably a MASSACRE 68 logo, why did it take this long for the songs to resurface, why the name change? These questions should be answered by investigative journalism and not by dumb record reviews. MASSACRE 68 was in line with the tupa-tupa cave beat, occasionally chaotic-fast/ocassionally groovy-three-chords hardcore that was not afraid to torture some of the high strings with solos. Topping it with their singer who has the voice of a maniac leader, spitting his furious rants. For context, their contemporaries were XENOFOBIA, SEDICION, M.E.L.I., ATOXXXICO, and SOLUCION MORTAL. Since this is all lost and found, there is no question that they rip. It’s fast, intense, frightening hardcore that flirts with tension building, epic atmosphere, and other unusual parts that vary from sheer brain hammering. They both can, and enjoy, performing this record. But song after song, something is lacking. The sound of an album is the invisible instrument of the band. Shit-fi quality supports a great hardcore record—Zonas Marginadas sounds large, as it has the ambition to meet the virtual standards that no one actually ever sets, but when it’s pursued in a manipulated environment, it always traps the music. Although here, the urgency is able to sneak fractions of songs out from the engineering dungeon. This is the interesting conflict of the album, as it struggles to sound self-confident in a foreign role, but the best parts are when the music is about to fall out from the band’s hand, because they forget about themselves. It is still enjoyable, but the length of the songs, the distance between the band and how their record sounds, and some of the writing solutions degrade it to background hardcore. Those who hate the lo-fi noises of early recordings should get this because AKTITUD 69 is a great band who has an OK record for you.

Alien Celebrating Your Victory 12″

For real, it’s like a humongous swatch of pounding electric noise. Every time you play it, your neighbors will wonder where you’ve got the ship boiler…will swear you are fucked up…will wish they are like you. This disc is quite simply the absolute nuts, plain as that.

Alienator Alienator demo cassette

At first glance, the cover looks like a Memphis rap album, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this is pure top-notch hardcore from Portland. C.O.C.-inspired thrashing with the balance of DISCHARGE, but reaching high speeds that would get them a ticket. Six songs of headbanging, windmilling, and moshing at dizzying speeds. A vicious way to get their career up and going.

Amateur Gynecologists Gynecore cassette

A good example of generic suburban hardcore punk. This band falls into the “We’re pissed off at something and we don’t know what it is, but let’s still form a band” syndrome. The music isn’t that bad, and with time it should develop. The lyrics, on the other hand, are meaningless and don’t have a bit of fun quality to them. The best thing about this tape is that this band was formed, give them time and hope for the best.

Ammoniia Demo 1 cassette

While I freely admit that they almost lost me with the new school guitar mosh that closes the opening track, these Michiganders launch right into the devastating mid-paced slammer “Recalcitrant” and I’m back on board. AMMONIIA does an excellent job of harnessing late ’90s USHC’s discordant ferocity and injecting it into the stylish modern stomp, effectively creating something akin to the first couple of LARD records and/or mid-era SNAPCASE on mescaline. Likely these results are accidental, but I truly want to believe that someone set out to start a band that sounds like mid-era SNAPCASE on mescaline.

Android Chapter 001

The vocal patterns remind me of HANK WOOD (with some obvious nods to WHITE PIGS), the changes of pace remind me of HOAX, and the lack of interesting riffs backed with a major outpouring of adoration from people on the internet remind me of GAG. There are six songs here but it’s actually four if you don’t count intros and interludes, although the interlude could’ve actually been the best track here if they had kept jamming it. The art’s pretty cool and if you missed out on punk in 2013 you may think the music is as well.

Angry Adults Obsessed (With You) EP

This record features six tracks of pop punk with a clean and crisp sound. The emphasis is on the “pop” here. The distortion isn’t loud or harsh enough to overwhelm the rhythm section, a sound I always associate with Epitaph and Fat Wreck records of the ’90s. The vocalist has nasal rasp to compliment all those pretty tunes. A good pick for fans of this genre.

Angry Silence Strange Times Call for Strange Measures CD

Honest post-punk from Brittany. Jangly and abstract timing with sweet hooks like SWELL MAPS getting released on Flying Nun Records. The self- and life-reflective lyrics are delivered in English with a passionate Mark E. Smith duotone delivery, as if the FALL had a bit more lyrical optimism. The band describes themselves as pop, but their shambling, broken anthems with earnest delivery set them well apart from their pop peers. Found myself more engaged and amped on it with every listen, up there in the spirit of the JAM’s 1977 releases.

Angst Love Dissolves cassette

Elements of ’77 punk, hard pop, and even C&W surface on this pleasantly upbeat five-track effort. Instrumental expertise and good songwriting about on this tape, though my favorite composition is the pop-punky “It’s All a Lie” because of its tasty guitar riffing. Very entertaining.

Anti-Dogmatikss Rompan Filas!!! cassette

Boomba! This is a pretty terrific debut. While the drummer seems to lag at times from sheer exhaustion, this band blazes from beginning to end, delivering not just wicked blasts of thrash, but tuneful, catchy, and intelligent songs as well. Hot!

Anti-Heroes It’s Time to Change EP

This four-song slab has a sound very similar to STIFF LITTLE FINGERS due to the melodic, raw mid-tempo music and harsh gravel vocals. The lyrics on the other hand stress political awareness and action like England’s CONFLICT. Combined, these influences blended with originality makes an entertaining and inspiring record.

Anti-Momb I Don’t Care What You Think cassette

This release doesn’t come off as well as the band does live. Somehow here, the vocals seem almost annoying, and the instrumentation lacks the power they can display. Still, it’s not horrible by any means—just not as good as it could have been.

Antidon’ts We Reap What You Sow CD-R

The band was looking forward to being included in the last print issue of MRR, so our apologies that it looks like they missed that boat. This is some real high-energy, spazzy, angry punk that bounces back and forth between screamy streetpunk and legit ska-punk. The best parts are the fast, crunchy riffs that sound a little like early GRIMPLE. They also mention that they recently recorded a split with MDC.

Antifaces Como Moscas LP

ANTIFACES is a three-piece band from Miami. Their language is Spanish and their weapon of choice is direct and sincere melodic hardcore punk. Six years of career, and several demos and LPs later, they have come up with a forceful sound: the angriest and sweatiest of melodic punk from Argentina and Spain with some sinister touches here and there. This is ANTIFACES’ bet: to unleash a storm of noise and create urgent songs dedicated to survivors of the system; men and women who live on the edge, who fight and resist the terror of modern life, violence, and corruption of the soul. Rather than wait to be devoured by the nothingness of it all, these songs demand us to spit, kick back, and dance in a mental pogo of catharsis. As they say, “I don’t want to die in the arms of a policeman.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s Latin America or the First World, there is a system in place that seeks our death, ANTIFACES sings to life. Choose life.

Antwerp The Mole: Let Me Out! cassette

What’s happening to America when high school kids begin producing industrial music? It has to be an encouraging trend. I didn’t much care for their voice-oriented material; yet, the instrumental sections here are sometimes haunting and effective, spanning a wide variety of experimental styles. More, I say!

Anxious Pleasers Anxious Pleasers demo cassette

Seven-song demo cassette from the Great White North, specifically Hamilton, ON. ANXIOUS PLEASERS could easily fit in with other modern Canadian bands like PRIORS and TOMMY AND THE COMMIES, and musically they actually sound somewhere right in-between the aforementioned. Not as poppy/garage-y as TOMMY, not as heavy rock’n’roll as PRIORS, they fit right in that “best of both worlds” kind of sweet spot. A power trio of long-time recognizable Hamilton dudes who were in ROCKET REDUCERS, TV FREAKS, FLESH RAG, and surely a gaggle of others. My favorite to date, and even includes a PAGANS cover.

Anybodys Acts of Endurance EP

Second release from the Vancouver, BC trio ANYBODYS. These four tracks comment heavily on our socio-political climate and exemplify that equality is still an uphill battle, as in “Excuse me / You’re looking right through me / Into and out of me / I don’t care” from “Do We Disgust You?” I think the last track, “RFK (2020 Version)” rocks the hardest—hopefully they’ll continue down this path while fighting the good fight.

 

APF Brigade God the Tape

ANIMAL/ANARCHY, PEACE & FREEDOM BRIGADE from England give a diversified approach to the talent that exists in music and how to express it. Triumphant lyrical manifestos describe the actions and stupidity of mankind, its conquest for control towards idiotic destruction of the earth. 60 minutes of avant-garde, folk, and fast surges of variable musical styles.

Appliances SFB Waiting for the Europeans / Head Culture 7″

Better than their varied debut EP. Now, they have a denser, more rhythmic post-punk orientation. “Waiting” evokes Bauhaus in their early “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” period; the flip is equally powerful, and includes some eerie sound effects. Interesting.

Arcata Boys Choir Drug Free Youth cassette

Musical absurdity from some wild Northern Californians. Record some characters who are trying for that NEOS sound in their living room, and you’ll have the basic idea. Completely incoherent garage thrash, more experimental than listenable, though some of the lyrics are worth hearing.

Arctic Flowers Straight to the Hunter LP

In an era when most DIY bands can barely exist longer than a single album and tour, it’s actually quite special to see a band like ARCTIC FLOWERS put out their third full-length album. More specifically, a self-released third full-length! After nearly a decade of existence, these Northwestern punks are still killing it! This album brings us more of the dark and catchy WIPERS-influenced punk rawk we’ve come to expect. As with the more recent recordings, some will almost find it jarring that the vocals are actually sung (as opposed to screamed, barked, or grunted) into the mic. Alex is an awesome singer and doesn’t try to hide it, which sometimes doesn’t blend well with raging punk. But with ARCTIC FLOWERS, it works perfectly. This album destroys! My one criticism is that the insert seems like a rushed afterthought. But when that’s the worst part of your record, you’re doing something right. Do yourself a favor and find this record.

Arson Savage Butchery cassette

This is thrash in the VOID tradition, with an edge to the guitar that never strays quite into a metal territory but is still more than fast enough to really nail this fucker home. The vocals are snarled through with a tinge of reverb and just a hint of restraint (barring, of course, the few moments where this thing really kicks into gear). This is hardcore from Leeds, UK by characters you’ve heard from before (PERSPEX FLESH comes to mind) who got the Static Shock treatment, though this is a demo that sounds more like it could’ve come out on 625 Thrashcore sometime during the 2000s—highly recommended.

Asbestos Double Bind demo cassette

Another motherfucking Denver banger. Unpretentious freak stomp hardcore with the perfect blown-out recording, and songs that get straight to the point in a minute or less. Music for eternal raging in concrete basements. This had better not stay a solo project.

Asbestos Rockpyle Festival of Fun, Vol. 1 cassette

A retro-collection of jabs and jibes from these fun-loving troublemakers. While punk in attitude, there’s only one really punk song here, the rest being acoustic or rhythm-machine backed—but somehow that doesn’t matter too much given the lyrics to such gems as “Pastaman Vibration.”

At Their Mercy Disavowed CD

Throaty, fist-clenched metallic UK hardcore. AT THEIR MERCY nods respectfully to the throne of ’80s UK thrash, but they run off with those influences and pick up some straight Big Four thrash along their way. The recording is massive (check “All That’s Left” if you doubt me) and the vocals are far beyond powerful—this is a classic and refreshing example of a band crossing between heavy hardcore and heavy metal. In other words, some old dudes (guitarist was in ’80s thrashers ATAVISTIC, and the others are no young bucks) showing the young kids what’s up, and I’m here for it…I just hope the kids are paying attention (and taking notes).

Attaktix Contra Order cassette

Absolutely massive release from Lithuania!! Everything you love about ’00s Swedish kÁ¥ng with gratuitous doses of blast brutality and an ear for churning sludge. ATTAKTIX have harnessed all of this and created a fucking monster—unabashed devastation from the Baltics, hell yeah.

Attitude What’s Your’s? cassette

Formerly CONDEMNED ATTITUDE, this band hits very hard with a powerful sound similar to a more metallish ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT with “reality” lyrics. Lotsa tempo changes, innovative structures. Good stuff from Andy Airplane and buds!

Attitude Adjustment Dead Serious cassette

The brain blows to smithereens as this nitro-charged speedcore whip hauls at 1000 MPH currents of wind-blown mayhem. Perhaps the best yet in non-stop, tight, aggressive zoomfests of energetic action that cleans the table in the chaotic fashion. Good lyrical content adds to the ferociousness of this rambunctious five-piece.

Authentic Virtues Authentic Virtues cassette

Sort of a modern-day rhythm-machine version of a band one might have found on the bizarre ’60s label E.S.P., along with the FUGS, the GODZ, and especially PEARLS BEFORE SWINE. Rhythms and electronic organ dominate their garage-level instrumental attack, with lots of noticeable ’60s tinges. Actually, I think there are vocals, but just off-mike.

Auxiliö Mi Piel cassette

The moment the riff in “Mi Piel” starts playing, you know you’re gonna be bulldozed by the raw power of it. This is an extremely pissed-at-the-world work of art. Four songs, four punches straight to your face. AUXILIÖ works the line between D-beat, thrash, and pure hardcore mayhem, and they do so by way of some great songwriting: violent riffs, driving bass lines, pummeling drums, and some truly great guttural vocals. Thematically, the band lashes out against the usual sources of oppression: religion, misogyny, the trappings of a decaying capitalist world, only with a unique point of view, switching between Spanish and English. “Religión Hipócrita” is great trash with some vicious riffing,  “Ciclo Vicioso” has some cool ’90s Mexican hardcore vibes, and “Death Trophy” is an instant moshpit-inducer classic. AUXILIÖ is a hardcore band from L.A. They’ve been doing their noisy thing since 2016 and have played in Perú (they’ve got a split with PODRIDO on Unsainted Records, if you want to check it out). You can get this furious EP as a CD or cassette. Do hurry cause they’re running out.

Avskum Crucified by the System EP

Another boiling speed-merchant band in the tradition of ANTI-CIMEX, right down to the guitar solos. Maniac snarls overbite into brutal distortion and missiling quickness, which belts this hammering havoc into a forceful bombardment of chaotic punches. Great, but not unique—if you ordered this and ANTI-CIMEX, and the records got mixed up, you’d never know.

Żona Zła Dzieła Zabrane LP

Fans of REJESTRACJA, ABADDON, TRAGEDIA and the like: here’s a modern-day answer to your Polish punk classics. Punks from Dublin collect two sessions from 2016 and 2018 on a well-balanced long-player. While the punk flattens out a cityscape with a rolling pin like fucking shortbread on the sleeve art, the band pounds out basic but massive hardcore-tinged punk songs with instantly memorizable choruses. Great cyclical riffs and a distorted vocal style better recall all of our favorite vintage Polish punk better than anything I’ve heard…probably since the ’90s? But don’t worry, it’s not purely throwback, you don’t need any prior record nerdiness to enjoy. You may think two-chord punk will inevitably be tedious, but the art form will often prove you wrong. I mean, on the last track on strona A, the drummer is basically blasting for a minute and a half and it’s so punk that you don’t even notice! And there’s a boobed skeleton pushing a wheelbarrow full of skulls.

B-Team First Product EP

Yes, they do have a lot of GANG OF FOUR influence, which often becomes boring. Such is the case with the two B-sides. But the A-side is blessed with a much more raw and aggressive sound—the redeeming side of “post-punk.”

B.R.Dreck Live cassette

Well-rounded musical influences play an important role in this German band’s sound which is a nice mixture of early punk, thrash, and pop. They switch off, and the combination of male and female vocals adds an interesting diversity to the arrangements and blends well with the mid-tempo, offbeat tunes.

Baby Tyler Vol. 3 cassette

A solo artist from Madison, WI, BABY TYLER’s got some real songwriting chops. Apparently this guy does a whole acoustic thing in addition to the punk bile found on this cassette, which isn’t hard to imagine when you focus in on the thoughtful composition of these ten tracks. The songs have depth and complexity that will really draw you in if you let them. I didn’t, mostly, but in an ocean of so-so modern acts, BABY TYLER bobs above the surface.

Bad Batch Bad Batch demo cassette

BAD BATCH from Cleveland, Ohio’s latest demo release. Carries on the local tradition of LIP CREAM Á  la NINE SHOCKS TERROR’s (the band, not the album) approach to the late ’80s Japanese HC sound. Burning Spirits-style epic leads without being a complete replication of the bands they like. Recommended.

Bad Beach Bad Beach cassette

Gothic punk that hails from the depths of England. Simplistic rhythms and aggressive melodies come together with a sound very close to early TSOL or the DAMNED. Definite “eerie” overtones present, resulting in a hard-edged image and making this tape nothing more than healthy entertainment.

Bad Example Bad Music LP

Punks on YouTube always know what’s up, especially when it comes to buzzing, damaged hardcore, and that’s how I first heard BAD EXAMPLE. They have that sound that seems to always ignite comment sections across the web lately. There’s cave-like production, amplifying the ferociousness of the playing with waves of cacophony, plus you have those vocals that sound like you’re live in the warehouse—a whipping screech that cuts like wind following a machete swipe. It’s of a style, one that is especially popular right now, but damn if it isn’t done well. Nine tracks in under fifteen minutes, sounding like a hailstorm in a tin can and played like they mean it—BAD EXAMPLE shines alongside their contemporaries in hardcore and keeps the genre dismal and alive.

Bad Idea Sonic Hellride CD

Polished street punk from Minneapolis. Nothing to see here unless you’re looking for solid, gruff, catchy punk rock—like RADIOACTIVITY on a steady diet of the BUSINESS. Short, snappy, and to the point…just like this review.

Bam!Bam! Nails LP

This album is getting me right in my early ’90s Riot Grrrl nostalgia feels. Jubilant sunny-day punk that is equal parts vulnerable BRATMOBILE jangle and noisy BIKINI KILL/HOLE swagger. The transition between the muscular sub-metal riffage and more introspective pop numbers is so dramatic that it suggests the members are switching instruments—if so, another ’90s staple brought back to life. Add in the references to My So-Called Life and you’re hitting the trifecta. Lest this review lead you to think BAM!BAM! are nothing more than a throwback to an earlier era, I must say that for all the stylistic borrowing the songs themselves hold their own, and I predict that this LP will compete with the best Olympia has to offer for turntable time. I also sincerely hope to get a chance to see the band play once live music is a reality again.

Battlefields 4 Track Demo cassette

Ugh. Absolutely killer demo from Pittsburgh’s BATTLEFIELDS. This is a straight ripper material, nasty hardcore with blown-out (un)production that approaches the off-putting level of discordance found on the amazing VIOLENT CHRISTIANS 7″ from last year (check out the damage on “You Made You”!). These are the kind of riffs that could incite riots, and the grimy delivery wins it the fuckin’ chef’s kiss. On repeat.

Bój się Boga Forbidden Songs CD

London punks with twelve tracks of fiery hardcore punk recorded in 2016. Forceful femme vocals that remind me of Agnes from HOMOMILITIA, though the music here is way more straight up and way more punk. Dueling guitars sound ripped from the late ’80s until moments of modern HC melodies make appearances. High-energy, driving intensity—enthusiastic approval.

Bent Out of Shape Demo 2020 CD

First release from this streetpunk outfit hailing from the Netherlands, and with any luck it will be their last. Workmanlike riffs twinned with anaemic attempts at barked vocals, laced with a series of increasingly cringe-inducing film quotes; so far so modern streetpunk. Vague and indirect small “p” political lyrics railing against authority and lying politicians, not to mention the prerequisite football tune, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard one thousand times before. One to miss.

Big Thing Some Guts cassette

Rockin’ garage punk with slight pop influences, but great unrefined sound. The lyrics are rebellious and presented in a good-hearted, humorous manner. A close comparison might be an early garage version of the DICKS. Watch for vinyl because these guys rock!

Billy & the Bad Peach Demo 2019 cassette

The murky guitar that opens “I Don’t Feel So Good” might make you think you’re in for some regurgitated goth, but that only lasts about fifteen seconds, and these New Jersey mutants offer so much more than that. The opening cut is a squirmy punk done damaged, raw shit just disassembled and tortured to the point where they (almost) sound scary. They do return to those dark undertones (guitar leads in “It’s A Trap,” for example), but the filthy stomp of “Kool” seems to personify the band: “I found out the truth, the truth about you / The truth is you don’t know you.” Only four songs here—all simple and nasty—but fortunately there’s a second tape lurking somewhere back in 2020.

Biohazard Social Menace cassette

A bunch of 13- and 14-year-olds, bored with the beauty of the Monterey peninsula, crank out some primitive, amateurish thrash. The production on this homemade tape is so bad that it’s hard to decipher the songs, but there’s plenty of compensatory youthful spunk. For fans of recording in a breadbox.

Black Black cassette

BLACK, now called BLACK FIELDS, present an enticingly raw and unrelenting garage sound that closely resembles a CRASS sound or LA’s YOUTH BRIGADE. Not thrash or chaos, but very energetic punches of staggering impetuous euphoria.

Blackcat Manor From Here on Out CD

This midwest band plays punk metal. This five-song EP is sometimes screamo and sometimes sung vocals, with lots of musical chops and twists. Although I like somewhat similar bands like STRUNG OUT and PROPAGANDHI, as well as metal in general, this just sounds too generically thrashy for me.

Blame It On Whitman Everything is Fine.. CD

This wanders around the emo genre. Some songs are slow and jangly, teetering on indie rock. Other songs are uptempo guitar-heavy and almost have a HOT WATER MUSIC feel without the gruff vocals. Vocals are off-key at times but we’ll call that personality. This has its moments but some tighter arrangements would do some good here.

Blatant Dissent Paint Scenarios cassette

Chunky ’77-style punk from Northern Illinois. The speed is medium and the song structures are appealingly basic, but BLATANT DISSENT’s disarming live humor doesn’t really survive the transition to tape and their sporadically exciting guitar parts are unfortunately muffled by the bass-heavy recording here. More excitement needs to be generated next time.

Blight Chapter II cassette

The same BLIGHT as before, with Scott (ex-CRUCIFUCKS?) singing/chanting/growling instead of Tesco. Long, slow, painful dirges are their forte, and they deliver with all the ugliness of an extreme downer overdose. Watch out—they’re on tour now!

Blind Acceptance I Want Out cassette

On their slower material, these guys remind me of the FUCK-UPS, with their older-style, bone-crunching punk attack. Most of the songs here follow in that mold, with a couple of thrashers, or at least with thrash breaks. Their lyrics tend to dwell pretty much on the negative, making the FUCK-UPS comparison even more valid.

Blind Ride Too Fast for a Sick Dog CD

This is a hard-rocking power trio from Campobasso, Italy. There’s a nice primitive lo-fi sound to this that makes it all work and brings out the heaviness and energy that only a tight three-piece can have. They love heavy rock as well as punk and horror movies like an Italian band should. Maybe like a meaner, heavier GROOVIE GHOULIES listening to a lot of early BULLDOZER? Really was not expecting to like this but I find myself totally nodding along. “Passive Ways” and “Afraid of Losing Nothing” are my most bang-worthy moments here. Go on. Give it a chance.

Blisterpack Empty Spaces cassette

A raw and eclectic set of songs on this EP. The opening track sounds like an homage to the KINKS, while later tracks are reminiscent of early cuts from THEE OH SEES or maybe some Paranoid Time-era MINUTEMEN. Although it may be hard to pinpoint the sound of this record, every song is still a lot of fun. What surprises me most about this EP is that it’s really groovy. Not in a peace-and-love kind of way, but a lot of the tracks are funky as hell in a JAMES CHANCE style. What’s not to like here? Punk ballads, scuzzy garage rock, and No Wave grooves. I’ll take some of that.

Blowback Great Again EP

Unfortunately, this is not new material from this excellent rock’n’roll-tinged hardcore band from Japan. Instead, this is the DC-based band that’s been kicking around for a minute, offering up six tracks of punky political hardcore with spot-on lyrics. The songwriting is good, not great, and sticking mostly to moderate tempos and straightforward traditional song structures, though the closing track (“A Brief History of Genocide”) flirts with reggae in an interesting, CLASH-y way. The vocals are nice and clear, so one can understand the lyrics, all of which feature right-on takes on issues like internet-based political radicalization, environmentalism, and, of course, fuck Trump. Not a record that’ll set the world on fire, but a strong release with an excellent message to share.

Boo! Hiss! Pffft! Boo! Hiss! Pffft! (Why Don’t We Throw Some Tomatoes at Those Guys?) cassette

The debut tape by the most obnoxious band in the Bay Area contains covers of “Stayin’ Alive” and “Old McDonald Had A Farm” and annoying originals. Actually, these bozos are amusing, criticizing everything in sight.

Boofin Tylenol Symptoms of Life cassette

I’m not sure what makes a truly good-sounding hardcore punk release. Sometimes people try too hard to ape their influences (sometimes that’s fine and good) and sometimes people fight too hard for modernity and originality, becoming unrecognizable from the original form (also fine, I guess). I feel comfortable saying that BOOFIN TYLENOL is a decent representation of good current hardcore punk. The influences are apparent (TAR BABIES and SST Records) without being overly paraded. Simple yet forward-thinking, all-around great playing, fast and aggressive, surprisingly melodic and refusing to be pigeonholed.

Bösös Där Tiden Inte Stämmer / Lurad Ingen… 7″

The pop-punk on this 45 shows more of a vocal orientation in the melodies and background choruses, but the guitar sound is sharp and interesting. “Där Tiden Inte Stämmer,” a commentary on South Africa, is especially bracing. Fine record.

Blood Bags / Brain Bagz split LP

How do you suppose two such bodypart and fluid “bag” bands from opposite sides of the world came to know each other and share a slab of vinyl? A random internet search? A blind “Hey, I think you’d dig my other bag’ friend” sorta thing? Dunno, but lucky for us, this SLC and Auckland match came to fruition and even a US tour at some point. New Zealand’s BLOOD BAGS (they use the S bags moniker?) play a much less druggy and less noisy CHROME CRANKS and SCIENTISTS meets KYUSS swagger flavored dirge. It’s damn decent and “Quivering Violence” is pretty rageworthy. That’s all fine and nice but let’s talk about SLC’s BRAIN BAGZ (thats with a Z, folks). Totally unoriginal CRAMPS and MAD DADDYS worship but they’re young, they pound, they stomp and they love love love what they do. I have zero real clue but it’s a total delinquent-like feeling and that fuzz is just lovely and the lysergic beeps and squawks are all timed just right. “Look a Bit Sick,” “Dracula Sam,” “Haunted”…so tired right? But no! This shit kills and not a limp tune in the pack. Worthy much very of your time! (Not a typo.) Primitive.

Brain Itch Forced to Pay cassette

After an impressively ominous intro, I really wanted Ontario’s BRAIN ITCH to come out raging…but the tension they created with their solid, mid-paced metallic UK punk chug wound me up so fukkn tight that when the opening title track did finally, mercifully, unload….? Well, it was awesome. Five blasts on Forced To Pay, landing somewhere between hard-churning Motörpunk and that 1-2-1-2 doopa doopa that personifies most of the last decade of North American hardcore punk. This is their third tape in as many years—all short, all sweet, all killer….and not an ounce of filler.

Brave New World Something New cassette

On BRAVE NEW WORLD’s tape, uplifting and intelligent lyrics about overcoming our societal problems are coupled with intense, driving, middle-paced music. The result is a punk/post-punk combo that hits home—they’re abrasive, musical, disturbing, and different.

Bricheros Making Our Way to the USA LP

Three things are critical to enjoying this album: you must love (like love) I Don’t Want to Grow Up, you must at least strongly enjoy How to Make Enemies and Irritate People, and you must be open minded to accepting new melodic pop punk bands into your life. These three Peruvians living in the US create pogo pop that’s just and fun as it is standard, and the path of this record is well-worn by many RAMONES-obsessed kids before them. But you can’t deny this is a fun record. The songs are great, and if your heart still flutters at the mention of ’90s Lookout!, you’ll be dancing to this!

Brutal Assault Screaming Urges cassette

Pretty cool hyper aggressive thrash produced by this Florida three-piece. The band’s method for success is to play as fast as possible, slip in several clever speed changes, and spit out a clean, pissed-off vocal style. Fifteen ragers that are simple in nature, but have the ability to make an impact.

Buckets They Kicked It cassette

Assorted forms of experimentation can be found on this indie tape by the BUCKETS. There’s repetitious guitar figures, quasi-industrial noise, flowing classical fugues, primitive blasts Á  la SENSELESS HATE—you name it, it’s on here, except for rocking beats. Op and Another Room should be able to make more sense of it.

Bullet Proof Backpack Total Lockdown cassette

Youthful hardcore from Newport, RI. So many aspects of this feel instantly familiar even upon a first listen. The songs feel as though I’ve heard them many times before. I’m not sure if that means they’re particularly good, or just really well re-written punk songs. Six originals and a NEGATIVE APPROACH cover.

Bullmoose Hot Garbage CD

Sports bar hard rock / safe metal with occasional pop aspirations. Not punk in the slightest. Been a long while since I dipped my toes in this sickly pond, but the stench here jogs my memory enough to cringe. Capably performed with pro-production slickness, but sadly imparting zero edge and negative soul. Hard pass.

Burning Image The Final Conflict / Burning Image, Burning 7″

Every once in a while, someone comes out of nowhere that doesn’t sound like anybody else. There are “Bat Cave” overtones here, but the music pile-drives along with ten times the balls of any SISTERS OF SEX SPECIMEN. The artwork is pretty deadly as well. If you’re lucky, their guitarist might send you a demented chalk sketch or two.

Burning Witches The Sound of Fury cassette

I was totally blown away by this one. With the quasi-religious cover drawing, I was expecting some devil drone wank, but instead I was treated to a sledgehammer-style thrash band that is mostly female! Should be a 7″ out soon!

Butchers Bill American Trash CD

It looks like this New York City-area band has been playing in some form or another since at least 2003. They’re even playing the long-gone Continental club in their Discogs photo, and like many of the bands coming out of that club, they play a version of swaggering, shaggy-headed rock’n’roll, but in a lukewarm manner. It’s not awful…sorta…maybe like elements of the HEARTBREAKERS, HUMPERS, ELECTRIC CHAIRS, and (ugh) the DOORS. Imagine the background band for a schlocky movie bar fight scene. Really, it’s just OK and won’t make you wander from your bar conversation, making a nice background hum for your life story being told once again to your other coked-up friend. Another round, bartender!

Butterfly White Night CD

Moments like this are exactly why it’s such a pleasure to review records for Maximum Rocknroll. BUTTERFLY are a long-running traditional Japanese hardcore band (first album released in 2005) that I’ve never heard or even heard of before, and they absolutely destroy! This is exactly what you want to hear when you’ve got an itch for burly, aggressive, and uniquely Japanese hardcore punk. The backbone is hard rocking hardcore Á  la TETSU ARREI plus touches of GASTUNK-style melodrama, with crazy over the top guitar solos, some of which are double-tracked in the style of DEATH SIDE. Singer Nora stands out as the female analogue of Tokurow of BASTARD, or Butaman of aforementioned TETSU ARREI: ultra-tough, but musical as well—super impressive! Really though, every member of the band gets to shine, especially drummer Tsukasa, whose playing has a creative jazzy feel that produces some unexpected and very catchy results. To top it all off, this self-produced CD includes excellent, if menacing, artwork by the rising multimedia artist Mega!

Bwak Dwagon Underground and Passed Around LP

Space-age sounds for punks who dig commercial rock radio but also love HAWKWIND. Ohio’s BWAK DWAGON lose me on tracks like “The Underworld” and “Demeter” (unfortunately, these two run back to back) when they stay slow and subdued, but the weirdness dominates even on ’80s alt radio/proto darkwave trax like “Evergreen.” This band would have opened for SCREAMING TREES in 1987.

C.K.N. C.K.N. cassette

Their name translates as “Creative Chicken Fuckers,” and if that isn’t enough to get you to buy this, then the music will be. Awesomely fast and powerful thrash that’s both non-metallic and creative. Contains songs both in Dutch and English, and from the latter one can discern their radical political bent. 20 songs.

C.O.T.C. Better Alone Than in Bad Company cassette

Ten fast, aggressively raw guitar thrash songs combined with a deep, pounding drum beat. Each is constructed of speedy chaotic riffs which are interspliced with slower tempos. A young band, but they have the ability to punch it out. Good first effort.

Cage Kicker Cage Kicker cassette

Relentless hardcore punk from Berlin, Germany. This is everything a punk demo should be. It’s fast, it’s pissed, it’s catchy, it’s short which leaves you wanting more. I want more! Oh, so much more! CAGE KICKER seems to hate many of the same things I hate; cops, organized religion, money, prison. What’s not to love about this demo? Pardon me, I have to flip this over and listen to it again being that CAGE KICKER might be my new favorite band.

Cage Kicker Parasitic Future cassette

On this release, CAGE KICKER from Berlin plays angry and vicious—yet catchy, pogo-y, and stompy at the same time—’80s USHC/UK82-style punk. Endless circle pits with pogo-ing, I believe Parasitic Future is where the rare, bilateral agreement between the society of circle pitting hardcore and pogo-ing punks occur.

Caltrops Do We Have a Future? cassette

Fiery Colorado crust with near-constant vocals in line with Japanese greats and almost too many leads. Two solid D-beat bangers and one stoner/grind ripper, but the breakneck “Bastards Will Pay” steals the show here, noteworthy because it’s the track where they seem to burst out of their comfort zone and really unleash. Recording is appropriately raw, and CALTROPS fall in line with late ’90s US political crust, which is a compliment.

Camper Van Beethoven Camper Van Beethoven cassette

This unlikely effort incorporates elements of garage pop and ska, combined with a satirical punk attitude; the result is subtly entertaining. While CVB could increase their energy level a bit, the band’s intelligence and offbeat humor come through in tracks like “Lassie” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” Pleasant.

Cancerous Growth Back From the Grave cassette

A live tape that has its pluses and minuses. The drumming is really strong, the guitar raw, and the vocalist rivals CAPITOL PUNISHMENT’s for lowest range around. Drawbacks include the mix and the somewhat “heavy” aspects of many tunes. Still, it’s crude and powerful.

Caroliner Rainbow Hernia Milk Queen The Rear End Hernia Puppet Show cassette

This Bay Area band has been around for a few years and have built up a small, but growing and devoted following. Musically, it’s a tough call but I’ve a sneaking suspicion these folks think the BUTTHOLE SURFERS are too wimpy and normal. A good taste of their weirdness, and each tape comes especially packaged — some packed in chopped onions, others in old nylon stockings.

Cause for Alarm Parasite EP

Blistering thrash with positive, idealistic lyrics. This is one of the best new bands I’ve heard since DRI. CAUSE FOR ALARM have the type of intense, committed attack that leaps out of the speakers and slaps you in the face to get your attention; then they get you thinking. You can’t expect any more from a punk band, so don’t ignore this EP.

Cólera 1.9.9.2. cassette

A very “noisy” tape, as production facilities in the Third World appear to suffer as much as the people. CÁ”LERA are a very bass-heavy band with lots of buzzing guitar and clear vocals—even I can understand some of the Portuguese. Most tracks here are in the mid- to fast-paced punk style, and they have strong political lyrics.

Certain Death Life Is a Bitch…Then You Die cassette

These guys have a knack for extremely clever punk arrangements, and demonstrate a good hand for satiric lyrics, as well. I only wish the ultra-boring guitar solos had been excised from these boisterous and intelligent mid-to-fast-tempo punk tunes. “Spontaneous Human Combustion” is a pop-punk near-classic.

Broken Things / Changer split EP

BROKEN THINGS plays straight pop punk that feels like the ’90s. Their first song is reminiscent of SICKO. Super poppy, pretty catchy, but maybe not catchy enough. Also, that organ is too much. The second song is a little more JAWBREAKER-ish, but without any of the guts. Also, you brought that organ back at the very end? Why? There is a third song that you get digitally. It’s in the same vein, but maybe better than the other two. CHANGER does two songs as well. I’m pretty sure that this is what SUM 41 sounded like (or still does?), add in some heavy part that I think is what passes for “emo” in modern culture, and there you have a giant turd. I do appreciate that they ask people to be kind to animals.

Chardonnay Do You Have the Maximum Intuition cassette

As an instantly addictive collection of references, the opening salvo from CHARDONNAY offers a journey far more advanced than a mere listening experience. You want high praise? I thought about HAWKWIND, WIPERS and COMPLICATIONS in the first track alone, and when they settled down into a barrage of gravel-voiced emotion, I found myself liking them even more. Self-described “LSD-beat” from New Orleans, this release is probably more rock and less fire than I would normally request, but damn the tunes are just gold throughout. It’s good to branch out from time to time…

Charged D.I.S. Charged D.I.S. cassette

This band has got it going on with the band name CHARGED D.I.S. They play a calamity of noise, with strange samples, awkward graphics, D-beat rhythms, classic riffing, and a warbled recording with from-the-throat singing. A lot of the constant sampling is children crying. I can hardly read the song titles, but I’m pretty sure they include “Killing” and “Humans.” The demo insert folds out and suggests you “cut here” (at the dotted line) “and hang” a (miniature) poster design. That’s just funny. It is of a larger gas-masked figure marionetting a smaller gas-masked figure with the header “D New World Graves.” There are also graves in the image. I’m hoping CHARGED D.I.S. made like ten of these and I’m now rich, because I could see that happening. Play this for your dog, see what happens. D.I.S. FTW.

Chat Pile This Dungeon Earth cassette

A sonic trash compactor squeezing the life out of all of their predecessors, CHAT PILE takes HELMET’s ability to riff and churn and BIG BLACK’s harsh industrial punk bent and manages to make it simultaneously inaccessible and infectious. I’m talking about a goth PAILHEAD or a black metal drum machine NIRVANA here, and it’s dragging me back to a completely different place and melting my mind. Both of the band’s 2019 cassette releases are to be put to wax by Reptilian soon, and I think the large scale format will suit them extremely well. And for the record, “chat” is a mining byproduct that has rendered parts of Northeastern Oklahoma toxic that belong to Native tribes and were destroyed by white capitalists. So a “chat pile” is a very repugnant thing…and that kinda sums up their sound.

Children’s Crusade Children’s Crusade cassette

Two former members of thrashers STARVATION ARMY and another group called PARIS IN THE SPRING team up again (one on vocals, the other on all instruments), this time to produce some ominous, dirge-like STOOGES material. I found it somewhat less than moving, as is usually the case with studio projects.

Chiller Dread Creeps In EP

These kids get more fierce with each release. Fast, nasty hardcore punk from Pittsburgh, CHILLER kills it with the breakdowns, drop the leads in where they belong, front everything with ’80s Midwest HC vocal intensity, and they barely pass the 60-second mark in the process. “Whistler” is my choice cut with its disjointed riff and disorienting beat, but there are no bad choices here.

Chiller Dread Creeps In EP

Straightforward hardcore punk that strays the line somewhere between MOTÖRHEAD and MELT BANANA. This is definitely a rough mix. The drums often overpower everything else and the vocals can’t be heard a lot of the time, but it’s hardcore so who really cares anyway? It’s all about the aggression and intensity, and there is plenty to be found on this EP.

Chronic Disorder Fred EP

Perhaps not as continuously energetic as their fabulous debut EP, but CHRONIC DISORDER still manages to connect with some impassioned thrashers like “Eileen’s” and “I See Red.” My favorite, however, is a whacked-out send-up of JOY DIVISION’s “Isolation” (“Point/Counterpoint”), that shows this band to be quite versatile indeed.

Circles The Defenestration of Prague cassette

Although these dudes are pretty sedate compared to modern HC outfits, they play some enjoyable twangy garage punk. The lyrics dwell on personal and political matters and “War Heroes” is destined to be an underground classic.

Civil Dissident Fourth Rate American Thrash

Impregnated by an orgy of thrash from across the world, Australia shoves forth one of its first high-speed rocketing barrages in the form of CIVIL DISSIDENT. Wild, uncontrolled quickness charges into a screaming fracas of blaring guitars and brawling drum snacks, stinging sharply with missiling vocals and catapulting this nitro-packed projectile head-on to chaotic dilapidation. This rates up there with the current crop of torpedoing intensity that fills this brain’s excitement.

Clair Obscur Santa Maria / Toundra 7″

This French band has put together an impressive package with photo cards and cover booklet. The single is right in the JOY DIVISION, early NEW ORDER, experimental vein, although “Santa Maria” is a little more rockin’. I know this doesn’t sound great, but they’re not bad. Needs more edge to make me happy, though.

Clear Channel Hell LP

Supremely funky debut LP from this D.C. group of dance-punks. Made up of bass, drums, bongos, and two vocalists, CLEAR CHANNEL combines the best ingredients of funk, post-punk, and new wave into a unique, irresistible mix. “Hello Disko” sounds like Lydia Lunch fronting the B-52’S in the best way, all moaning vocals, bobbing bass, and disco beats. “B.B.I.” is a dubby exploration with soulful singing that reminds me of TV ON THE RADIO in the falsetto parts. “Maria” could be a ’60s R&B classic re-recorded by a punk band. It’s great. Then comes “Hot Fruit,” a funky, kinda dirty jam that deserves a place in the novelty song history books. If you want people to get up and move at your next party, put on “Hot Fruit.” I’m planning a mix tape around it as I write this. The record ends with the title track that turns up the drama with theatrical call-and-response vocals and the same grimy disco vibe from the opening. This is dance music by punks, kind of like DUB NARCOTIC SOUND SYSTEM, in attitude at least. Check it out—the most purely enjoyable record I have heard in a while.

Clevers Clevers LP

The singer of this band has a vibrato to their voice much like Marissa from SCREAMING FEMALES, though in a much higher register. Musically they really nail that despondent, anxiety-ridden post-punk sound. In the first track they loop into a repetition of the haunting lyrics “time’s wastin’” for what feels like a full minute. Man, the guitar on the second track “Insight” sounds so fucking cool. Something about this band just feels so grown-up. They’ve got a harmonium, three-part vocal harmonies, and so much distortion. I hear a lot of TERRIBLE FEELINGS here, too. This band is incredibly smart, mature, and talented. Hope to hear a lot more from them.

Clown Alley Clown Alley cassette

A seven-song release from this up-and-coming SF band, most of which are thrash. There’s a heaviness to their sound, which becomes even more apparent on the two slower numbers, powerful post-punk dirges. Dave (ex-JERRY’S KIDZ from Albuquerque) sounds good, and the band is tight and strong, though I think the super-clean production here detracts a bit from their normally noise-intense live performance standard. A band to watch.

Cock Pliers Sex Traffic Rush Hour LP

Blasting grind insanity that asks more questions than it answers. The keyboards are understated, but give this Minneapolis outfit an occasional mainstream black metal sound that is a sharp contrast to the abrasive atonal machine-gun blast attack that dominates most of the tracks. Like PG.99 and SOCKEYE combining forces to cover KVIST…a truly weird collection of instrument/alists (eight of them…? Maybe?)…or maybe a one-person bedroom project. Songs include “Meat Fukkr,” Man Bun in the Oven” and “Circle of Sodomy,” which should get you headed in the right direction. I made it to the last track, “Dick Chisel,” and I’m still trying to figure out what I’m listening to…which is absolutely a compliment.

Cockwomble Cockwomble CD

The eponymous debut full-length, from the brain of singer/songwriter/guitarist Ali Gavan. I’d previously heard of him as the producer and engineer of ROBB JOHNSON, so it only makes sense that he’d put his own prodigious talents to work on original material. Full of (political) venom, snot, snark, and bite, COCKWOMBLE present themselves as if SCREECHING WEASEL or early PROPAGANDHI were performing a HUMPERS tribute set. Equal parts melodic pop punk, garage-y rock’n’roll, biting political satire, and black humor. What more could you ask for (other than the next ROBB JOHNSON long player, of course)?

Compressions Death Spiral cassette

High-energy US hardcore punk with a nice greater Bay Area vibe—I’m thinking somewhere between ECONOCHRIST and BL’AST. They never unleash, but the guitars sound like they are constantly fighting to get out of a cage, and the vocalist earns the mid-era FLAG comparisons likely heaped upon him from listeners and watchers. The more I listen, the more I like it.

Concrete Sox Demo cassette

Great stuff from the UK again. Potent riffs with power and might, featuring a great distorted guitar sound that grinds with an echoing feedback. Raunched-out vocals, with a strong bass and good drum hooks, brings this effort into a fast paced charge of exciting melodies in the vein of early GBH or newer ENGLISH DOGS. With this being a four-songer, hopefully vinyl will soon follow.

Conducta Erratika RepresiÁ³n demo

This release is among the very few best new music. I stopped being optimistic about wonderful-demo bands but dealing with the present, this tape is the essence of great radikal hardcore. It is falling apart between the battle of enthusiasm and pace, therefore it’s as urgent as it grabs and drags you; anger-based total chaotic music from Chile that recalls manics like WRETCHED and ANTI-DOGMATIKSS or the bands and their collective sonic mind fuck of La Ciudad Podrida Vol. I comp or ephemeral group VIXENS. CONDUCTA ERRÁTIKA is unique because they recall and not replay the aforementioned names. Either they understand or relive equivalent frustrating conditions that they are able to translate to music in a similar approach but indistinguishable style. Therefore their music becomes free of the burden of the history of hardcore since it does not have to fit into any templates. The music is raw and careless, raging in each track, its purpose is to create noise that here equals reprisal. The quality of the recording coats each number well, and tells about the circumstances of the band. Everything here integrates into one swirling thunder that aimlessly rumbles. This tape embodies CONDUCTA ERRÁTIKA via all possible features. This is the noise of their lives and I am happy they share it with us. Highly recommended.

Controller The True Sense of Strength Within LP

Busting out of Lehigh Valley, PA comes CONTROLLER with their debut full-length release after two cassette tape releases. This is heavy hardcore, with heavy emphasis on the word “heavy.” This LP is packed to the brim with stomping riffs to get your blood boiling. There’s also a pretty strong thrash metal influence in several of these tunes. And, of course, an ungodly amount of guitar divebombs. Exactly what you’re looking for in music like this. If you like your hardcore much more on the metal side, you could certainly do much, much worse than The True Sense of Strength Within. Recommended.

Coolest Retards Another Minor Classic cassette

Put members of ADRENALIN O.D. and STUPIDS in a studio together for 14 minutes, and you get no less than 22 songs full of wacky confusion, sure craziness, intense energy, and an overabundance of good humor. Very spontaneous and rough, but funny as shit.

Corpse Grinders I Eat Babies / I’m Goin’ Crazy 7″

An Australian psychobilly group that shouldn’t be confused with the old DOLLS offshoots whose album was recently—and posthumously—released. These guys have a piercing instrumental attack and wild vocals, but the song structures are a little too derivative to really get today’s kids stompin’ on each others’ blue suede shoes. It’s still rockin’, though, so go for it if you like to howl.

Cosme D# demo cassette

Four injections of ultra-simple punk from Mexico. A serious MISFITS hair up their ass, thrift store synths polluting the damn joint, and gruff bedroom vocals half singing/half barking…my knuckles are sore and I’m down about 40 brain cells…but I’ll be damned if “G” isn’t a top song.

CR Dicks Go In LP

These Iowa noisey garage punkers channel equal parts CRIME, the OBLIVIANS, and most directly JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION. It’s not as horrible as you’d think from the awful band name and cover art, but ain’t all that either. Give it a spin if you dare.

Crash the Superyacht St. Vitus Square Dance Apocalypse cassette

While this seems to have begun as a COVID project, CRASH THE SUPERYACHT from London, UK has remained pretty busy. After releasing four digital EPs, they now enter the world of physical releases, and it’s with a full-length cassette. Nine songs of lo-fi indie pop. Simplistic and catchy.

Crux Decussata Class Dismissed cassette

I’ll be honest with ya, I put this cassette aside while doing my reviews for the month fully expecting it to be the real stinker of the bunch. To my surprise, CRÜX DECUSSÄTA proves the old adage “don’t judge a demo by its cringe-worthy artwork” to be true. Three songs of rip-roaring speed metal, with the final one being a weird hybrid of “Highway Star” by DEEP PURPLE and “Victims of the Vampire” by SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS. I enjoyed the first two songs, both complete with their SLAYER-style high-pitched-scream dive-bombing before dissipation, but was incredibly skeptical of how they would pull off the third’s mashup. To my surprise, it is actually pretty well done and super entertaining, wisely switching away from “Highway Star” before the extended solo and morphing into “Victims of the Vampire,” taking that to the end and focusing on that song’s much more attainable solo.

Crimson Ghostbusters Crimson Ghostbusters LP

Remember funny college dorm rock bands? These local vets crank it out punk style. Songs that walk that fine line between cover and mash up. Lots of MISFITS bits here mixed with BUGGLES, SLAYER, CHEAP TRICK, THIN LIZZY, TOM PETTY, and others. A good time that’s not for grumpy people.

Cringe Spit on Your Grave EP

Chunky Texas garage punk. Dorky singing and muscular guitars propel these basic rockers. The themes are typically inane, with “Toxic Shock” and “Secretary Spread” generating the heartiest guffaws. Tesco’ll be able to relate to these jokers.

Critter All Better cassette

Seven-song demo cassette by this three-piece Canadian outfit. Slow-to-mid-tempo plodding songs in the grunge/riot grrrl kinda vein. This demo was originally released as part of Demo Fest 2020, a fundraiser event which had over 200 demos released on the same day by bands from around the world. I wonder what percentage of them actually made demo tapes of their release.

Crude SS Crude SS Demo Cassette

Throngs of grinding guitar intensity, distinctive disorderly grates echoing subcutaneous rips of emergent power. CRUDE SS defiantly blaze impetuous rawness, a sonic inferno of chaotic crunchers bolting forth storming drum booms and menacing guttural vocals. A brutal untamed force, unrestrained outrageous wailings of frantic guitar cavortion highlight this fierce arrangement that exhilarates to the maximum with a strong character of stimulating popularity. From Sweden this is rapidly delicious.

Cryptic Slaughter Life in Grave cassette

Zooming speedcore mayhem with wild metallic bites and machine-gun drumming. Rough, growling vocals float over this. CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER mixes the textures of DRI, SLAYER, CFA, and the POSSESSED to bring forth one monster of rapid-fire acceleration for this young band. Wild and intense.

Crystal Violet Violet Night

Hard-driving late night psych, somewhere between HAWKWIND, PHARAOH OVERLORD, and the WIPERS. High praise for this solo project from New Jersey, but CRYSTAL VIOLET focus their (his) vision before they pull back so when they (he) lets loose there is nothing lost or left behind. Even interlude passages like “Mercy Of The Mountain” and “Flux” serve as important components of the overall presentation. Repeated listens reveal even more nuances and encourage deeper digging. Recommended.

Culturcide Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America LP

You won’t see any band members or label name on this record because the whole thing is plagiarized by taking everyone else’s Top Ten hit and changing it radically (mostly lyrically). There are “covers” of “We Are the World” (“We Are the World”), “California Girls” (“California Punks”), “Break Dancing” (“Fake Dancing”) and more. Every piece of trash you ever wanted to change. Genius.

D. Sablu Taken by Static cassette

New Orleans, LA is home to David Sabludowski, who fired up a Yamaha MT400 multitrack cassette recorder and cranked out a wild eleven-song demo under the condensed moniker of D. SABLU. Taken By Static has a bit of everything going on in it so I’m having somewhat of a difficult time saying exactly what it sounds like. There are some faster electronic/new wave tunes on it that are super cool, a couple really blown-out and nasty revved up garage punk songs, some slow, meandering pretty things, oh, and a song or two that could debatably be passed off as lost OH SEES demo tracks. A wild ride I will be buckling in for again and again.

Dakiniz Raging Shouts CD

Spastic angular noise rock from France. Borderline ’90s emo with a bit of DRIVE LIKE JEHU and JON SPENCER in the mix. I couldn’t get into this. It’s so loosely arranged and drawn out I kept getting lost in the songs. Oh well.

Danziger Hate Us! CD

Satanic Queer Pizza UFO Punk? Not exactly. These northern Polish punks actually deliver a very progressive and anti-authoritarian message through a polished pop-punk style akin to JAWBREAKER or pre-mainstream GREEN DAY. All the lyrics are translated to English and appropriately criticize the abhorrent ultra-conservative Polish government and a placated society. A bit of hopelessness, some humor, but altogether honest and in DIY fashion. Singer/guitarist Tytus does these great rocket-launch jumps, and they covered “Devilock” when I saw them on tour in 2018, both memorable attributes. Not the new hot shit you’re lookin to fly out with your Mastercard for the next punk-tourism festival, but DANZIGER seems to have established themselves as a staple of the Tricity (GdÁ¡nsk, Gdynia, Sopot) DIY punk scene.

Das Damen Too Hot for Hollywood cassette

What’s this? A new Australian discovery? A mid-’70s guitar band? A neo-Mod outfit? Actually, it’s our buddy Lyle Hysen (ex-MISGUIDED) and friends turning in a pretty neat, rockin’ set of three songs, except for the offbeat drumming. (No, no—just kidding, Lyle!) Fun.

Dash and the Rip Rocks Live Angst cassette

The drawbacks of a live release—low fidelity and unclear sound—come to the fore here, but DASH and company have lots of power, which will hopefully come to the fore if and when they go into a regular studio. They play snappy and sometimes creative thrash, with lyrics geared toward making the average coal miner as angry as he ought to be.

Data Unknown Promo cassette

Excellent rehash of classic synthwave—the kind that was born out of a background in industrial experimentation—and punk. But especially punk. DATA UNKNOWN leans heavily on the drums (not just the “beats,” per se, but the drums…even if they’re programmed). Electronic freak-outs with shouted choruses, think CHRISTIAN LUNCH by way of TUBEWAY ARMY…or imagine early punks turning primitive classics like HUMAN LEAGUE’s “Being Boiled” into infectious, danceable punk slogs. All of the sounds feel old, but DATA UNKNOWN is the freshest thing I’ve heard in ages.

Dateless Extreme Brewed Crash Cooled cassette

Hard-driving NZ rock with serious and generous (or seriously generous?) Aussie overtones. After a long drive down a dusty road, when you walk into the only bar you can find just as the sun is setting…this is the band playing. This is walking out of solitude and into a wall of beer and humanity. DATELESS are raw, primal….DATELESS sound like rock’n’roll.

DC Necros History of… cassette

Although this band was involved in the DC scene in the classic years of ’81-’83, they do not follow along the same musical line as many of the other bands. This band resorts to raw, good ol’ sloppy rockin’ punk, much in the vein of the GERMS, especially the vocal style. All seven songs do a good job of documenting this needlessly ignored outfit.

DDR The Morning Grey cassette

Dark post-punk from Zagreb, Croatia, with the distinction that separates them from the current scene being the searing melodies that quickly sneak in and grapple with the dissonance of the singer’s voice. Melodic in the mid-tempo, angry way of HÜSKER DÜ or Throb Throb-era NAKED RAYGUN. Like maybe what ICEAGE would have sounded like if they stuck with their early DIY/punk sound, but better. Sung in English, the lyrics seem to be trying to piece together some beauty out of a fractured and absurd, sometimes grotesque world.

Dead Aim Blood is Sweat cassette

DEAD AIM’s sound is a vigorous, coarse, grinding one with influences ranging from C.O.C. to AGNOSTIC FRONT. The metal licks are kept to a minimum and the cool vocals really hold the songs together. The lyrics, on the other hand, are the weak point and really do subtract from their potential.

Dead Already Gilded Age of Piss EP

Australian US hardcore band, if you know what I mean (you
probably do). Ostensibly pulling from the ’80s, but the herky-jerk tempo changes and hyper-political lyrics make it sound like its really pulling from that part of the ’90s that was pulling from the ’80s. This record I am presently reviewing is not super well-executed, but it does have a wide-eyed exuberance that I cherish and that is increasingly refreshing in this dark, dark age.

Dead Already On a Hook LP

This Australian band’s fourteen-song debut LP is chock full of good, simmering punk edging on hardcore, but is completely killed by basically monotone, yelped vocals which work within this same repetitive delivery. Song to song, it doesn’t matter the lyrics, the lead vocals largely find a pattern within a song: working low to ending on a high sharp note, and repeating it regardless of the lyrical content within the same continued vocal range across the entire record. Lyrics are punk’s greatest strength: being able to hear what someone is singing about, being able to understand why they are yelling, relate to it, and sing along is all power, and it’s power that people seem to largely have set aside for either lack of lyrics they actually believe in or to make the music sound more brutal by having the vocals be unrecognizably gnarly. Here the band seems to actually have relatable, relevant lyrics delivered in a stream of consciousness about climate change, Silicon Valley cyber-snooping, and fighting fascism, but the vocals aren’t gnarly. They’re shrilly, barked repetitively, nulling any impact over this long of a recording. Backing vocals break it up a little, and the music is solid crunchy punkers with bullish leads and sturdy drumming, but the vocals are pretty much a dealbreaker. The cover is a spiral line drawing of decapitated chicken heads, with the back cover of a decapitated chicken getting a drop of liquid dropped inside from an eyedropper.

Dead End Where Do We Go From Here? cassette

Some very original-sounding noises can be found here, with clean, snappy production to boot. It’s punk all right, but with so many quirky musical interjections that it seems surprisingly new. Great musicianship, with no loss of edge, musically or lyrically. Highly recommended.

Dead in Argentina The City Is Not Alright / I See Red 7″

The A-side starts out with a JAWBREAKER-ish riff but the sort of spacy, sung vocals really takes you off that vibe and into a more post-rock kind of thing. The song is still driving but not blown-out loud or overly distorted. It has more of a dark feel, like it should be soaking in reverb, but it isn’t. Not bad, but doesn’t really grab at anything. The B-side sounds like it’s going to be a Midwest emo tune until it hits real hard and then it sounds like some of those No Idea Records emo bands from the late ’90s: TRUE NORTH, TWELVE HOUR TURN, etc. Screamed/sung vocals, crunchy distorted bass, heavy syncopated drumming. A real solid song.

Dead Stare Dead Stare cassette

This is extremely raw and lo-fi crusty art noise. I say “art” because there is something unearthly, irreverent, and rebellious about this. It is so basic yet ensnaring. Riffs sound like early DISCHARGE or STONE THE CROWZ played through a blender with very raw black metal pedals. Lyrical pace is performative and reminds me of the FREEZE at times, and the percussion is primitive MURDER JUNKIE madness. I like this. It’s jangly and off-putting. It’s distorted and creepy. It is hardcore and mechanical. DEAD STARE is obtuse and deranged. This is a very bleak tape with sparks of brilliance throughout.

Death Ridge Boys Boots on the Streets cassette

Portland’s hairy exponents of leftist Oi! return with four new ones and three covers. This may be the best thing I’ve heard from them so far. The songs are catchy as hell, especially the excellent 4 SKINS-inspired, menacing “Let Them Know.” They feel like a more tuneful CRIMINAL DAMAGE that’s less obsessed with BLITZ here. The drums are snare-heavy, up front, and the wailing guitars are nice and buried and shitty-sounding like a proper Oi! mix. “Always Darkest” excelles with pandemic-inspired lyrics like “Can’t go out without wearing a mask / Cuz people are in fear for their lives / You see me on the street / But you’d never guess I’ve been wearing one my whole fucking life!” LOL. The covers (BIG BOYS/7 SECONDS/WIRE) are pretty straightforward and don’t add much to the originals, but are well-thought-out and untraditional while remaining street in spirit. The overused term “banger” could be apt verbiage here, but without a side of mash it falls flat as pavement. See you fucks at the microbrewery!

Death Sentence Demo ’84 cassette

A very classy, powerful power thrash outfit that doesn’t resort to metal riffs. If anything, they owe more to earlier punk, but they’re firmly rooted in modern sounds, blasting it out with strong lyrics and hooks to boot—”live” proof that Vancouver is not dead. Hot!

No Brain Cells / Deformed split cassette

Two regional English bands split a tape here, and they couldn’t be more different. DEFORMED’s recording is a studio demo, and their sound is “death punk,” cleanly executed (get it?), and effective. NO BRAIN CELLS do 30-second thrash numbers, and it’s a live tape that fades in and out (at least on my cheapo machine). It’s good to see such varied punk bands be able to cooperate though.

Defy Parent Ownership cassette

While this new band hasn’t developed any new style yet, they are enjoyable and inspiring for a couple of reasons. First, at least two are women (we need more in bands!), they play a good, intelligent brand of garage thrash, and finally, hail from East Oakland, where no punk bands had hitherto come from. Keep it up.

Delirio Delirio CD

DELIRIO’s latest release contains energetic, no-frills, highly energetic bursts of modern-sounding hardcore. Their fast yet sincere-sounding hardcore approach can be comparable to bands like COMEBACK KID or HAVE HEART. Great recording production, yet sounding too polished and boring.

Demand Demo 2021 cassette

Washington DC’s DEMAND’s demo from last year delivers some super solid hardcore. Very danceable with some nice hints of melody while still keeping it HC to the very core—the type of hardcore that wouldn’t be out of place on the Triple B roster. This debut release demonstrates some real powerful potential for this band and I’m really stoked to see what’s up next—recommended!

Demented Dinner Music Demented Dinner Music cassette

Mostly guitar and synthesizer dementia from one Terry Snider, done over the course of years. It’s sort of folk/pop/industrial trash (again Europeans, not thrash), some of which is listenable but painful, some of which is actually enjoyable. One person’s expression.

Depression The Death Squads cassette

Fifteen songs are on this tape, but because of the poor sound quality, it’s hard to hear one of Australia’s best thrash outfits wail away. Despite this, DEPRESSION exhibit some real mania here. Fortunately, they’re about to release some vinyl, so hold tight.

Derrumbando Defensas Ruidos de Resistencia LP

Vinyl version of 2017’s Confrontar CD, retitled and repackaged for the 12″ format. Monstrous metallic hardcore with a production and presentation well suited for massive stages and furious sing alongs, breathing life and urgency into a subgenre often reserved for third-tier bro bands. Ruidos de Resistencia reminds me why I still have a soft spot for the heat chugs and for those melodic guitar leads, and they make everything feel important…because everything is. The only mistake here is the lack of a lyrics sheet, or even context for the words—because the words are important, especially the perspective of women in a hardcore band from Chile addressing institutional oppression and exploitation. “Cruelty Free” is the track to end all tracks, and the “every moment / every second” chorus will likely be stuck in my head for weeks. Quality fucking release from start to finish, full endorsement.

Desastyr Danting Megazus CD

Twenty-seven tracks of one-man Casio D-beat. I keep listening, but I don’t know what to say…it’s unlistenable, and that’s the point. Noise is, in fact, not music…but at what point does nonsense become art? DESASTYR is like SOCKEYE deconstructing BEYOND DESCRIPTION. I’m gonna send this to Ear of Corn fanzine and see what Food Fortunata thinks (and if that means anything to you then you’ll likely be scrambling for a copy of this CD).

Destinazione Finale In Bilico Nel Reale LP

Blistering Italian hardcore, tight as a drum and just catchy enough. These thirteen songs are gone in a flash (the final track is the only one that touches the two minute mark), and the amount of awesome they cram into that lightning fast package is simply staggering. TOTAL FURY’s 13 Songs is a partial comparison perhaps—clean, ripping and uncompromisingly catchy hardcore punk with a subtle sprinkling of ’80s thrash. This was my first exposure to the band, and now I’m on a serious hunt for the demo that came out last year. Anyone holding?

DeStructos Blast! cassette

Slick and upbeat post-punk from Philadelphia, filled to the brim with the tension between bleakness and determination. Far on the sophisticated end of the punk spectrum, the tracks incorporate some dance-punk, post-hardcore, samples, and artsy vibes among staccato yelling in a seemingly self-aware re-working of punk’s original postmodern project of cannibalizing culture and regurgitating it in new and thought-provoking ways. It reminds me of an updated version of HUGGY BEAR, but they can also execute pro-sounding new wave magic.

DeStructos Blast! cassette

This cassette is the answer to the age-old question, can you combine the sound of the JESUS LIZARD, MELT BANANA, and JOY DIVISION? Well, apparently you can, and it sounds goddamn amazing. The riffs are angular, thick with distortion, and catchy as hell. The vocals spit with attitude and remind me heavily of Siouxsie Sioux or the RAINCOATS. DESTRUCTOS prove here that they are one of the most creative and badass punk bands coming out of Philadelphia, and that means something because I’ve heard a lot of stellar bands from Philly recently. This tape is a melting pot of sounds from across the spectrum of punk and noise, and all of the sounds come together to create something really special and unique. Give it a listen, I promise you won’t regret it.

Deviants In the Bathroom cassette

A six-song debut by a local band that contains at least one former member of INTENSIFIED CHAOS. The music is in the classical punk style, with both English ’78 influences and US surf sounds. It won’t set the world on fire, but it’s good clean fun.

Dewityourself Dewityourself LP

It’s an interesting idea. Niels de Wit, who has been playing in bands and putting out records for four decades, picks out fourteen songs that he wrote from over the years, and rerecords them. The songs encompass stuff done by hardcore bands like GEPÁ˜PEL as well as alternative pop rock like JOHAN. The thing is that he makes most of them sound like the power pop/punk of his more recent bands. Even some of those hardcore songs are given a catchy, upbeat touch. On its own, it feels a little dated, like a ’90s pop-punk version of ELVIS COSTELLO. It might be more interesting to those familiar with his previous work.

Dialer Tour Tape 2019 Cassette

Took me a minute to wrap my head around what’s going on here. This is Philadelphia, PA-based drum-machine-driven synth-punk which also has an occasional saxophone. Some of the songs are pretty cool—faster and nastier than I expected, particularly the newer songs on the A-side of the tape. This is where DIALER really shines. The slower tracks feel too long and lose my attention, particularly the repetitive ones with spoken-word political sound clips in lieu of vocals, which close out each side of the tape. Side A is listed as having four new demo tracks but there’s definitely more on it which goes on for a while, and side B is DIALER’s side of a split 12″ with CHRONIC ANXIETY. Interesting to see a band in the current age having a strong, outspoken, anti-war/anti-authority political agenda, and props to that considering it feels like many bands nowadays are stuck singing about goo and slime, but a lot of it does come off sounding a little contrived and cringy.

Didjits Durga! Durga! Durga! cassette

I guess what’s “underground” is relative to where you’re from. For these guys from Central Illinois, this form of pop/punk/funk they practice is pretty radical. For me, though, it’s a bit too close to much “new wave,” although there are moments that attract me. Needs more edge.

Didjits Whoop My Head cassette

The second tape from these folks contains five studio tracks and some live material, and is no letdown from the high quality inventiveness of their premier outing. Punk with guts but incorporating weird changes that most post-punk bands utilize at the expense of rawness and exuberance—these guys keep it all.

Didjits Signifies My GO-T cassette

Heavy rockin’ garage sounds are the main element that makes up this nine-song tape. Twangy guitar leads complemented by delightful distortion make for some catchy riffs while a steady drum sound holds the backbeat in control. There’s also a strong humorous side to the band’s warped view of life in the lyrics.

Die Frohlix Die Frohlix cassette

A very silly, enjoyable, and decidedly low-tech effort from Germany. This is high-energy pop-punk, heavy on the RAMONES riffs, with excellent lead trumpet on many of the cuts that adds to the levity. They even do a rave-up version of the Waltons TV theme-song. Put these guys on vinyl soon!

Die Kreuzen Sick People cassette

Wisconsin thrash punk with more structural complexity than usual. Choppy rhythms, fluid guitarwork, and spastic vocals are the distinguishing characteristics here. DIE KREUZEN (formerly the STELLAS) provide further proof that the Midwest is no longer slumbering, so give them a listen.

Die Wut Armutsstaat EP

A fairly average Oi release from Germany. Most of the songs are in the medium-tempo vein and the guitar could be a lot grungier, but the speedy “Skins” and “Freiheit” are catchy little blasts with ambiguous lyrics that make it worth a listen.

Diensthund Horizont Aus Draht cassette

The album title translates to “Horizon Made of Wire,” and is mirrored in the wiry, stripped-down guitar licks and lo-fi feel. With its synth lines and frequent rests, this reminds me of the early DEVO demos on Hardcore Devo: Volume One, only heavier. There’s lots of negative space, and a general zaniness throughout this disturbing six-song Deutschpunk carnival ride, and I feel a little crazier on the other side of it…wait, what’s happening?

Diphallia The 14 Inch EP

In case you don’t know or are too lazy to search, diphallia is a condition where one is born with two penisis. What would cause people to name their band after this could be puzzling, but when pondering the humor of this after a ton of beer in a backyard party in backwoods Florida, you might begin to see their vision. This is total backyard party punk that spans the globe from Fort Worth (where they hail) to Oxnard to Pinole (CA), with just the right amount of snottiness and fast parts to keep your dull thud of a buzz coasting along just fine. Not sure about a song called “White Trash Punk” in this current day and age, but “Slave to the Grave” is fucking cool. Think the band you never heard of on a 50-band Mystic Records comp, or the overloud blown-out track on a ’90s East Bay mixtape. Keg stands would probably be in order, or at least some poppers.

Direct Action Direct Action cassette

It would be unfair to characterize this band as something between DISCHARGE, DOA, and MDC—because although there are some tinges of each influence, DIRECT ACTION is their own band, slashing out with one intense song after another, all of which are powerful, intelligent, and well done. Get this tape, and their hopefully upcoming 12″, but they have had some problems with the mail (it’s the name), and many sent out never arrived. They’ll send you the tape and cover in separate packages to avoid such problems.

Dirt Just an Error LP

As expected, melodic mid-tempo raw punk filled to the top with politically aware messages. This music has a hard edge and is enhanced by the high-pitched female vocals, making most of these 12 songs catchy and memorable. Only available through mail order.

Disappearances III cassette

This cassette got me immediately into a frenzy. Just the kind of harsh and vicious noise that’s so needed in times like these. This is the third release by Philadelphia’s DISAPPEARANCES, ten songs full of short, intense, and brutal spurts of vile. The powerviolence influence is there, but I would say that it’s just the template for more angular and dissonant leanings (think of ’90s bands like BORN AGAINST and RORSCHACH), with just the right amount of breakdowns to keep things dynamic and interesting. Lyrics can certainly be bleak, but that’s just how the world really is. They really know how to weave the personal and the private within the structural and systemic. There’s humor in there too, a self-deprecating and black one. “Blue” is my favorite of the bunch, it has a really cathartic feel to it. Would love to hear this in a live setting.

Disarm Regerings StÁ¶dda Mord EP

While the drumming is a bit sloppy, the rest of the band churns on. I like the other aspects well enough, but I keep hearing the drumming; sounds like it’s from someone else’s record…maybe some jazz track mixed in for kicks. Unfortunate for me—maybe it won’t irritate you as much, because the rest is cool.

Disaster Area Die on Your Board LP

Two slow, uninteresting post-punk ditties appear on the A-side of this release, but a clutch of eight energetic punkers charge away on the flip. A rudimentary sense of melody and nifty speed changeups make for accessible listening, but the material doesn’t stick to the ribs. Okay.

Disbeware Disbeware cassette

This tape came with an encouraging note saying the guitar and drum duo is “by old punks out of Portland.” With a strong political bent, lo-fi recording, and drums mixed way down low, the songs can’t help but have a bit of a folk-punk vibe. The best parts are the scattered moments of off-key-but-somehow-melodic singing that you might recognize as the special sauce spicing up bands like SHOTWELL and HICKEY. The recording is so weird, and the songs are so slow and earnest, that it inspires nostalgia for the countless ephemeral basement-and-porch creations in small towns made by punks who probably grew up to be square…or went on to be famous. Liberated, self-aware, and a little gross.

Discript 未知 cassette

It is an honor to review this exhumation of a 1993 project by BEYOND DESCRIPTION’s alter ego. DISCRIPT play pulverizing, heavy D-beat fury with muffled riffs, china hits, cybernetic effects, putting forth themes of dissatisfaction with society and its inherent rudeness, all sung in Japanese with vapid flavor and viscous flow. Reminds me of the VARUKERS channeling CORRUPTED. Or an old obscure Swedish HC favorite VISIONS. What an intense combo—and DISCRIPT is killing it after 25 years of grimacing slumber. Sonic terror level red. If this were any louder I’d be knocking shit off the speakers. Five tracks of sheer awesome grunting bestial Japanese crust that have left all metal-grind preceding reputations in the dust.

Disorderly Conduct Slam Dance cassette

Extremely raw and intense thrash from a new New York-area outfit. Unfortunately, the lyrics are on the Quincy-punk level, as in “Slam Dance”: “You fake fuckin’ punker… Get on the floor and take a chance. Just slam, slam, slam, slam dance.” Yeah, right. If the ideas expressed here were even half as appealing as the raging music, these guys might be serious contenders.

Disposición Negativa Disposición Negativa cassette

DISPOSICIÓN NEGATIVA is a grindcore band from Perú. This cassette is 21 short blasts of fury, including a cover of AGATHOCLES and another one of DISRUPT. Being grindcore, you know what to expect and the band delivers it: sick blastbeats, incessant and heavy riffing, and low-pitched growls. The sound is personal though, and you can tell the creative potential of the band in future releases. What I really enjoyed and want to emphasize is the haiku-like brevity, conciseness, and terrible beauty of the lyrics (all in Spanish), decrying the Western ideal of progress, neoliberalism, war, family, the church. Killer release.

Disscharrrgh D-Beat Me Over the Head With a Plank cassette

Bare-bones D-beat punk doesn’t get much more bare-bones than DISSCHARRRGH. Picture the genre at its most primitive—a more than competent mid-fi presentation of sub-60 second songs that rarely (if ever) venture beyond the “no more than two riffs of no more than three chords” formula. Vocals are gruff and often struggle to keep time while the bass takes the lead in the mix—guitars are there, but they’re buried—and it gives the whole thing a scumputer punk vibe that totally works. Super shitty digital artwork and a repurposed cassette really complete the package. Choice cut: “All Over Again.”

Distemper Up Against the Wall cassette

Interesting. At times, this band’s sound doesn’t quite seem to gel, but then within their simplicity lies a vast amount of musical innovation and complexity. Combine this with extremely intelligent political lyrics and a desire to take chances while keeping an edge, and you’ve got the beginnings of something. Watch for growth here.

Divine Intervention Deus Ex Machina cassette

OK, this one is going to be a hard one to track down, but it is worth it. Krautrock meets raw black metal in a noise-drenched psychedelic punk wonderland paying homage to SUN RA, Deus Ex Machina is an absolutely brilliant collection of sound(s). This is experimentation within the confines and/or parameters of punk…which is to say that it’s fucking punk, and it doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard before. Brilliant.

DNI Wir Sind Lebendig EP

Upbeat German punkers with a great sense of humor. They sing about the walking dead like it was an outtake from a Disney film. Lots of sing-along-style tunes with quick step guitars. Should appeal to MISFITS fans.

Doku-Buta Go! Go! People flexi EP

Translating as “Poison Pig,” I expected a bit more weirdness than supplied, but this slab of plastic contains some neat tracks. They can do thrash, punk, proto-punk—all with verve and gnarly-ass vocals and guitar. Reminds me a bit of early PERE UBU.

Don’t Know No Is All He Knows cassette

This is a pretty good thrash debut. While DON’T NO don’t break any new ground, they do have snap. The drumming and bass playing are hot, the vocals have back-ups, and the lyrics are pretty sharp, with a definite straight edge bent to them.

Doppler Radar and the Local News Kissing Booth / Scalp Me cassette

DOPPLER RADAR AND THE LOCAL NEWS from Indianapolis, Indiana brings us a two-track cassette, a format commonly known as the cassingle. “Kissing Booth” is an skramz-esque track with artsy spoken word vocals on top of herky-jerky, math-rock-style starts and stops. This is backed with “Scalp Me,” a more straightforward powerviolence-y track that mostly sounds like the vocalist is one of the Gremlins in the classic movie of the same name. A mere 23 copies of these were released in Italy and already sold out. It seems this is from the 50 North American copies that were made, of which copies are still available.

Double Cross Here to Stay cassette

A 15-song demo from a wine country band whose influences are M.A.D. and CODE OF HONOR, among others. They’ve got a real right, thrash-oriented attack. It’s not too distinctive yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them develop into something special as time goes on.

DPBS Stairway to Community cassette

Ultra limited-run tour tape released last year. The power of The Internet can still connect you to these space indie sounds from Montreal. Dreamy and just a little bit noisy (sometimes) prog-punk with a decided groove, like a basement punk WOODEN SHJIPS or something. It’s good, man, I swear…and I would have enjoyed seeing this band on their summer 2018 tour.

Drill Sergeant The Cosmic Leash cassette

Philly hardcore brutality with a raw, cavernous production. The pedal-augmented guitar tone unleashes some truly horrifying feedback screams. Stylistically, you could call it powerviolence, but it’s more bashy than chuggy—somewhere in between HERESY, INFEST, and YDI. Lyrically a bit tortured, written in the first person and with rich, damning vocabulary. A shock to the system.

Druj Druj cassette

If you don’t already know, Oklahoma City is a hotbed for hardcore punk. Wild, inventive, no rules—when no one cares, then you have the freedom to do what you want…and then people start to care. DRUJ dropped this (their third) tape earlier this year and I had listened countless times before it entered my “review assignments” email, so why am I at a loss for words? The guitar intro over the drum roll that starts “Die In Flames” sounds as shit-hot as it did the first time I blasted it, and the vocals are somehow even more disorienting, and I still sit slack-jawed at full volume, just blasting…and seething. DRUJ needs this, and you can feel it when vocalist آزيتا unleashes howls in “Jesus Wept,” setting the tone for four pieces of sonic nihilism. I could dissect each track, but an academic examination would cheapen the experience and this band deserves better than that. Give it to them.

DWP DWP cassette

This appears to be a solo project from a member of the group NAIL POLISH. What we have is a pretty neat set of experimental punk intersecting early WIRE, COLIN NEWMAN solo records, and TOTAL CONTROL. Those are all pretty top-shelf references for me to make, so you know this is probably worth checking out. I look forward to hearing more.

DZTN 1980 Don’t Give Up cassette

Isolation hardcore continues, this time with the fourth release (that I know of) from Portland’s DZTN 1980. Cold, howling anarcho-tinged freak sounds with song structures that can (perhaps) only be signed off on by bands with no dissenting members (or no other members at all), bands that typically exist in one person’s mind. Distinct Blinko tendencies set to a steady, driving drum (machine), Don’t Give Up seems gone in an instant, and leaves me wondering if I’ve been through something. When the act’s sole member reflects on the past year by sneering “Does it have to be this way? / Does it have to be a struggle? / We wanna believe in something / Why not each other?” on the final track, I feel like someone just pulled out the splinter, so maybe I have.

E.A.T.E.R. A Momentary Relapse For No Reason CD

There’s some serious latitude given here, since ERNST AND THE EDSHOLM REBELS were responsible for a couple of crucial ’80s Scandinavian slabs, but this disc is utterly forgettable. The guitar leads are interesting, and are mostly enough to hold my interest, but the majority of this is artificially overproduced slog that actually sounds like a record made by some dudes who recorded a killer EP in 1984 (fun fact: they did), and then developed a taste for commercial stoner rock as adults. I like a couple of the modern releases, most notably 2013’s Abort the System EP, but this one just doesn’t do it, and that’s before I even get to the twelve-plus minute “Dirty Waters” that closes the CD.

EA80 2 Takte Später LP

EA80 delivers melodic punk and post-punk. It’s really clean stuff, super-produced, and that sterilization process detracts in a way from the overall effect. This is especially true with the vocals, which seem so separate and almost operatic that it’s annoying. So-so.

Earthside Too Far cassette

A catchy 14-song tape produced by this Milwaukee outfit. Several blatant metal leads are weaved into medium-paced melodic thrash, both of which are topped off with strange, echoing vocals. Lyrically, a bit on the basic side, but it doesn’t detract too much from this tape as a whole.

Eat Shit and Die Recoil Finger CD

Snotty Massachusetts punks blast their way through twenty doses of blistering hardcore. Equal parts classic New England grind/crust and West Coast sample-laden, turn of the century core…stripped-down, no holds barred, don’t-give-a-fuck fuck-you shit punk. And who can fuck with not giving a fuck?

Eat Shit and Die The Early Year CD

In case you can’t tell from the band name, these guys are pissed! With members like Moe Pain and Ben Worse(!), you get a little warning of the intense Massachusetts modern floorpunching hardcore/grind meld pummeling you are about to receive. Not to be confused with the Ojai powerviolence grind combo of the same name, this band treads along similar waters with more of an East Coast DISASSOCIATE kinda vibe. There’s lots of shocking sound bites as they gun more for the offensive side of grind, such as on masterworks like “Fart Out My Dickhole.” They definitely have a sense of humor and I can’t really picture any of them being under 250 pounds, but these four EPs fly by in no time. I’m not really left wanting more, just empty and vacant and that’s not the worst thing.

Ed Gein’s Car Brain Dead Baby EP

Excellent, powerful ’77-style punk in a MISFITS/UNDEAD vein. The title track is instantly memorable for its sickoid lyrics and preeminently catchy instrumentals, but the other two songs here keep up the standard just as well. My opinion: get this EP as soon as humanly possible.

Eggbert Dern That Kudzu cassette

Most or all of the dozen or so songs here would fall under the “generic thrash” cover, with predictable but enjoyable energy and an abundance of youthful enthusiasm. Pretty tight, and decent recording quality.

El Sancho Our Part in the Darkness CD

A trio of punk veterans end up on Hawaii’s Big Island, help carve out a wee scene there, and produce this debut eight-track effort. All self-recorded, mixed, mastered, and released. It’s speedy, poppy basic punk, Á  la DESCENDENTS and CRIMPSHINE, with lots of politics (and some zombies) in the lyrical mix. Catchy and infectious for sure.

Email Trouble Cyberbully cassette

The combination of driving mid-tempo drum machines, dark, dancey synth leads, and angsty human vocals really resonates with the strange realities of late capitalism and the electronic age. Minneapolis’ self-described “Queer+Trans punx making synth beats” deliver ten tracks that could definitely get a basement full of punks dancing deliriously, peppered with smart political and cultural critique. The minimalist synthesized instrumental compositions allow the vocals and lyrics to be front and center. This tape is totally electronic and totally punk at the same time, which is no easy feat. The tape includes cool artwork and a free, customizable ALIENation membership card.

EMG EMG cassette

Unusual hardcore, where thrash meets industrial noise with sometimes inspired moments. There’s straight thrash too, as well as FLIPPER-esqe music. All in all, a band to reckon with, despite their garagy live recording. Very intelligent lyrics, too showing that thrash can indeed be creative and manic today. Hey, they even incorporate surf music into it.

EMG History of… cassette

Slow, screeching noise guitar and pounding drums become the background for chanting vocals, together there are a lot of similarities to the WITCH TRIALS and CRASS-type bands. There are 51 songs on this cassette which really shows the growth of this band, but the muffled production takes away a lot and can become the main concern when listening.

End Product Fun on the Day After cassette

For a band that claims to be “from nowhere,” they certainly are “somewhere.” There’s a lot of accomplished and powerful HC on this tape, and while most is fairly generic, there is ample evidence of future distinctiveness.

End Result The Seven Year Locust Returns cassette

Experimental stuff with a vague punkish sensibility and some left field BEEFHEART-like effects. It might precipitate epileptic fits, but it probably won’t appeal to the more intolerant hardcore fans. Tough! The lack of fuzzy, distorted guitars is one of END RESULT’s more distinguishing characteristics.

End Result Rambo Church cassette

Male and female vocals combine with some hard-driving punk/thrash and intense political lyrics. Besides their varied originals, there are a few covers (CRASS, BEATLES, DICKS, etc.) on this live recording. Sound quality is decent and energy is high. Good.

Endless Bore Treatment Resistant cassette

Second album from Melbourne, Australia-based ENDLESS BORE. Fifteen tracks of stripped-down, by-the-numbers hardcore with tough breakdowns and vocal stylings you’d more likely expect to hear in a crust or D-beat band than a straightforward tough hardcore outfit. That of course isn’t to say that they aren’t fitting for one another.

Endless Bore What Do You Dig For?! 10″

All the way from Melbourne, Australia comes ENDLESS BORE, with a record that has the power to shake the Land Down Under to its very core. In this 10″ EP, ENDLESS BORE offers some riffy, shit-stomping hardcore in the vein of the nastier Boston-style HC. They also throw some of the grinding intensity and superhuman speed of powerviolence into the mix—the combination is immensely palpable.

Enemy Distrust cassette

Ooh baby, this is tough. Heavy hardcore riffs and tough-as-nails breakdowns. ENEMY doesn’t come off particularly like tough guys, though. Do I feel that way because of the polite hand-written note which accompanied the cassette? Perhaps it’s because of the band name and song titles written in pink paint marker directly onto the cassette shell in lieu of any sort of artwork? Either way, I dig the effort. I can’t find any info about the band, but I hope to because this is hard enough to get us aging punkers out of mosh retirement.

Enola Gay 317 Nitter cassette

A 12-song studio demo that’s well-produced. It’s got that chunky drumming that I don’t go for too much, but the guitar sound and vocals are real good, and it’s real powerful overall. The main problem with ENOLA GAY is that they rely a bit too much on the basic repetitive thrash structure. More variation would help.

Ephs No Riots Cassette

This is certainly a lo-fi recording, which is not necessarily a slam when it comes to this style of punk. The J-card does warn you that it was “recorded at home,” after all. Mid-tempo, kinda catchy, minimal punk rock sounding like it was recorded on a crummy old boombox. There’s a bit of a post-punk feel to it at times with the jangly guitar meandering around repetitive bass lines. EPHS covers “Teenager” by the RATS which is a pretty cool tune to choose for a cover, and the tape has some kinda drum machine type thing on at least one of the songs—like I said, it’s pretty lo-fi. It seems this cassette is an edition of merely twenty, so snag it while you can if you’re into lo-fi catchy home recordings.

Eraserhead The Demo cassette

Not to be confused with the English band, this Memphis outfit is a punk/metal/rock amalgam. The overriding emphasis is on the punk side, but there’s a lot of guitar wanking and soloing, and you know how excited I get about that. But find out for yourself.

Erik Core Last Call LP

I’ve never been a big fan of acoustic punk, but it seems to be coming up more in my life lately. I witnessed an excellent set by my friends’ band RENT STRIKE the other night, showing me there can be some merit to the genre. Not having much to compare this to besides the aforementioned band, BILLY BRAGG, AGAINST ME!, DAVE DICTOR, or that time my old band got our equipment stolen and we had to wing it, this is a fairly entertaining album of socially aware and politically charged music. “Jacked Up” and “High Noon” are my faves, featuring a heavier country sound and biting commentary about my old home town. Erik has been around the Bay for a long time, and this record is even mastered by the guy from the LEWD and METAL CHURCH, so dim the lights, pull out the incense and bourbon, and give it a try.

Eva Ras Kada Odlaziš cassette

This is an exceptionally harsh collection of sounds from Serbia’s EVA RAS. Emo-violence (still) gets thrown around a lot as a subgenre descriptor, but this tape is unquestionably violent in the way that early Scandi-BM was just unmusically and seemingly unnecessarily harsh. Chaotic screamo with no bass and sub-60 second bursts of complete fucking chaos—you have to look back to MOHINDER to find anything approximating this kind of desperate brutality. Apparently there are only twelve physical copies (?!?!), so best hit the link below…

Eva Ras Meni Nije Svejedno… It’s Not Whatever cassette

EVA RAS is a solo screamo project from Belgrade, Serbia. Musically they would fit in very well with the likes of ORCHID or PG.99, etc. It is spastic, chaotic, and unsettling, so I think it very much achieves the goal of the genre. The band uses the term “emoviolence” to describe their sound, and I admittedly had to look that one up. I’m not sure when screamo started being referred to as skramz, and when bands sounding like that adopted the term emoviolence, but as far as I can tell it’s all pretty similar. This is apparently the first half of a double EP, the second half forthcoming, and the cassette is limited to 12 copies.

Ex Parents Ex Parents demo cassette

Originally released in February of 2020 and limited then to a mere ten copies, EX PARENTS decided to utilize the downtime that was about to be thrust upon us all to send their demo out to be remixed/mastered and have artwork done by Keith Caves, who is undeniably one of the best in the biz! So here we have the newly remixed/remastered/reissued/hand-numbered (out of 50 copies) EX PARENTS four-song demo tape of pop-infused hardcore punk. I can say with utmost certainty after playing with them in their hometown of Roanoke, VA last month that the tape doesn’t hit as hard as the band does live. That doesn’t at all mean that it’s not a solid demo, merely that the band’s live sound couldn’t quite be captured. As someone who is a bit of a completist when it comes to music, I can’t help but wonder how that originally mixed batch-of-ten tape sounds. Are we getting the DIY version of “the great rock’n’roll swindle” here? Can’t wait to hear the record that is allegedly in the works.

 

Excel Personal Onslaught cassette

Storming out of Venice comes the latest speedcore rave band since SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. Fast, effective, with lots of metallic speedy chords, EXCEL is a young ensemble who sounds just too good on this second demo. They attack with a no-holds-barred lightning striking barrage of blasting vocals and great instrumentation. SUICIDAL look out—EXCEL are moving fast.

Executioner In the Night 12″

This former hardcore band has gone the way of the buffalo (or is it the dinosaur?), opting for an older metal sound meets ’70s rock meets post-punk. Of the six songs, only “Talk of the World” (speedcore) contains any real zip, though the vocals really detract from it. Lyrically, it’s quite “dark” and self-absorbed.

Exotic Hipsters Surf on the Rocks cassette

A garagy tape from a garagy band. There are a couple of instrumentals in the surf style, two other tunes that borrow heavily from ’60s garage pop, and a bizarre cover of NO ALTERNATIVE’s “Johnny Got His Gun,” which they make almost unrecognizable.

Exploded Painetta Pallossa cassette

A defunct band from the small town of Korpilahti in central Finland. The EXPLODED have a raunchy mid-tempo instrumental attack and gravelly Oi-style vocals (like those of Maho Neitsyt). This primitive but unremarkable tape is already sold out.

Extreme Noise Terror Extreme Noise Terror cassette

The sound ripped my teeth from their gums as my mouth gaped open wide in astonishment as to the full-front ferocity of extreme power smashing my face. This is the best new blast of damaging explosions to rock the brainwaves as an assault of growling vocals bark over a maniac lashing of speedy thrash pushed in with raw, loud distortion.

Eye Witness Demo 2019 cassette

EYE WITNESS from Salem/Boston, MA released a limited quantity of tapes in late 2019 with poor circulation but what they lack in promotional skills they make up for in perfectly brutish hardcore punk. The recording is blown out and sounds like a tape that’s been dubbed well over a hundred times but even still the guitar, drums and vocals stick out over the rumbling bass. It’s worth hearing between the perfectly timed accentuating shouts that sound like a caveman pondering life and the nods to POISON IDEA, MISFITS, and RAW POWER. What you’d expect from a band with a members-of list longer than this review.

Eyes and Flys Eyes and Flys / Fall Asleep with the TV On 7″

Debut record from this Buffalo, NY one-man band. The theme song is a distorted, stomping rocker. Repetitive, pained vocals lend a nice sound to the straightforward musical track. “Fall Asleep with the TV On” is a slow, droney tune with acoustic guitar and lulling vocals. It could easily put you to sleep, TV on or off. Cool stuff.

Eyes and Flys Coastal Access / Black Flowers 7″

This band is a mystery to me in credentials and style. They come from Buffalo and play an earnest melding of classic rock and 100 FLOWERS-style reverbed artiness. Unfortunately the atonal vocal style is distracting and not too pleasant. Musically, it’s an intriguing listen and exudes a dark, paisley-coated dreariness with lyrics that border on poetic. A beautifully silkscreened cover envelopes it perfectly—all back and covered in flowers. I maybe could see them on a bill with COME HOLY SPIRIT but I’m just not so crazy about those vocals.

Eyes and Flys Everyday Life / Wait for the Sun 7″

A record of two halves, each as enjoyable as it is different. “Everyday Life” is a blown-out, mid-paced garage schlock downer, while the flip is a quirky, scratchy acoustic guitar-driven dirge with tweaked-out vocals and an earworm melody. Could be a one-off, could be your next DIY bedroom SWELL MAPS/BUTTHOLES/NO TREND heroes?

Eyes and Flys New Way to Get It EP

Are you wistful for, like, 2009? You know, the halcyon days when lo-fi garage pop and shitgaze ruled the (Myspace) airwaves, “Be My Baby” drum beats were de rigueur, your local Sparks and Four Loko-littered basement might host a bill of PSYCHEDELIC HORSESHIT and the BARBARAS, and your favorite band’s latest release could be put out by a hip economy car company? If so, have I got a release for you! To be fair, EYES AND FLYS, a recording project out of Buffalo, is a little more BLACK TIME (good!) than WAVVES (bad!), and it’s not like they’re singing about pizza parties or fake dance crazes. Really, it’s a solid take on this kind of sound. But it’s a sound that nevertheless reminds me of a feel-good time that doesn’t quite match the world’s current tenor. It makes it tough for me to enjoy. But that’s more on me than it is these tunes, which I suspect would have appealed to pre-doomer me. So, give it a listen!

Eyes and Flys Anxiety Tools / God’s Management 7″

Seeing as this is their fourth 7″ in just over twelve months, EYES AND FLYS have certainly kept busy during the past year. And while I respect their work ethic, these guys’ music hasn’t quite hit the target for yours truly. EYES AND FLYS walk a strange borderland between partly-sunny near-goth and overcast garage-strum (a place called Buffalo, actually). Forsaking the punkier direction of the preceding singles, there’s an implied darkness and gloominess to these tunes, but it never settles into something truly compelling. The songcraft is definitely there, as you’ve got acoustic guitars and extra percussion jingles and jangles, but it remains on the other side of the river, just waving at me and there’s no thought of attempting a crossing. The B-side is some sort of heartland rock instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on anything from a TOM PETTY record to a ’90s indie-emo platter on Caulfield Records. On the insert, in addition to the nice old-school touch of a phone number for contact, there is the inscription: “Getting by two songs at a time.” It’s a nice sentiment, but I think it’s time to make an album where this material might congeal into something worthy of its ambition.

Eyes and Flys Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam / Sad Labor 7″

There’s something about the title “Asbestos Fiber in a Sunbeam” that makes me happy. The picture I have in my mind is somewhat uplifting, and I really need that these days. The song is a rollicking, fuzzy stomper. It’s energizing. “Sad Labor” is slower with a lilting off-kilter quality that grows to sound big and expansive, then ends with the guitar just strumming slowly. I like this a lot.

Eyes and Flys I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been, I’m Just Glad That You’re Home / Buffalo 7″

I wouldn’t want to say this is particularly punk per se, but it’s definitely not indie rock in the modern sense. Indie currently tends to be a polished, neatly-made, safe and starched pop music for people who probably rent those new condos in your city. This EYES AND FLYS 7” (their second within a year) is more slanted (and enchanted) towards ye olde ’90s college rock, and I’m sure the folks involved have spent considerable time with their SEBADOH, GUIDED BY VOICES, and ARCHERS OF LOAF records on repeat. It’s got that dusty, woolen lo-fi sound down pat—layers of guitar, with bright jangle strumming under a crunchy morass of distortion emanating from tweed-covered amps, with a light thump of drums to keep the beat. It was probably recorded on an eight-track inside a drafty house in the fall or early winter, probably while wearing scarfs and knit caps. The melodies peer through the murk and its sincerity stands hand-in-hand with its sneer.

F.F.F. Arbeit Macht Dumm EP

This spirited EP features female vocals over a nicely fleshed-out set of mid-to-fast tempo punk and thrash tunes. The playing is excellent and songs are well-arranged; one track, “Eins-Eins-Null,” even uses the violin to interesting effect. An excellent release!

F.V.K. Who’s Your Friend? cassette

An excellently recorded tape, FVK came on with superior political lyrics (I say “came” on, because they lasted only during last summer). The first few tracks are fairly “heavy,” but after those they launch into a series of thrash stop-and-go killers. Fine.

Faded Glory Death Zone cassette

Garage thrash meets industrial noise. Primitive sounds whacked out with rock’n’roll gusto, includes both studio and live recordings. Some songs are actually catchy, and I got to (I think) feel complimented by the tune “Reagan Dropped the Bomb (on Tim Y).” Crude, rude, and rockin’.

Fail Sons demo cassette

Serious question: are they intentionally speeding up the chorus of “Americans”? Because it sounds so weird and so totally awesome that I really want it to be intentional. Anyway, FAIL SONS are catchy and urgent punk, seemingly fine-tuned for the club circuit (in a good way, it means that they are on top of their shit), with dual guitars doing the dance while layers of vocals alternate gruff and sweet harmonies all over the damn place. It’s a really straightforward formula, and it totally works. Also, it turns out the drums speed up awkwardly and for no apparent reason on a few other tracks too (most notably “BP Oil Spill Of Human Misery”), and I love how it makes everything feel kinda uncomfortable.

Fallout Conscription EP

The six short compositions on this EP suffer from badly mixed, garage-style production values, with the guitars pushed way into the back. Too bad, because the subjects covered on this record demonstrated a high level of political astuteness and credibility. “Conscription” and “Laughable Attack” are especially topical.

Fallout Salami Tactics EP

More mid-tempo political punk from FALLOUT. The lyrics are extremely perceptive, and the songs start to click after a couple of listens, but they don’t exactly make you jump up and take notice. The music could use a shot of adrenaline.

Fallout Home Killed Meat LP

This is a bit better than the other UK records I was assigned this time. It contains some thrash and some older-style punk, all of which is delivered with considerable power. Personally, I like the live tracks best—they have a totally industrial quality to them, sort of like hardcore meets THROBBING GRISTLE.

Fallout Criminal World EP

This debut by Italian band FALLOUT consists of three fast ’77-type numbers and three thrashers. The sound is driving, the choruses and tunes stick in your craw, and there are some nifty little lead parts, so check it out. Good effort.

Fallout Butchery 10″

At first, this new long-player from FALLOUT all seemed to have that familiar anarcho-Britpunk style, but after more listenings, the variations and intensity come through. They have a PiL sound on “Know Your Enemy” and “Apartheid,” an IGGY POP riff on “Trojan Horse,” and lots of early CRASS garage influence. Well thought-out and executed.

False Alarm I.W.L.P.I.F. cassette

This group hails from down near Monterey, and the music is fairly standard NorCal stop-and-go thrash. Pretty energetic, but not really original. The words are similar in all fifteen songs, expressing a desperation and emptiness that must make the writer a real joy to be stuck in an elevator with.

False Alarm Self-Destruction cassette

Not to be confused with the defunct Monterey group of the same name, this band has more in common with, say, SUBURBAN MUTILATION in terms of noise, distortion, and intensity—garage to the max! I can’t hear the words for shit, as they’re spit out at 150 mph and subjected to the kind of recording techniques that were probably used in the 1920s, but there’s one song called “Fags Suck” which they “oh-so-intelligently” dedicate to the CLITBOYS. This is followed by “Live Your Life!” Sheer genius, right?

False Truce MMXX cassette

Chris Pfeffer has had a hand in some of the best punk Texas has produced in the last two decades—STORM THE TOWER, OBEDIENCE, SEVERED HEAD OF STATE, J CHURCH, CRIATURAS, SIGNAL LOST, the list goes on (and on)—and when civilization closed up shop last year he did what any self-respecting genius would do: he made a record. By himself. Very much a sum of its (his) parts, FALSE TRUCE sounds absolutely like Chris—the guitars take the Mould model to another level, the full-charge D-beat lurch, and honest and blunt delivery of honest and blunt lyrics. Hopefully this project doesn’t fade into a COVID haze, because the world needs FALSE TRUCE.

Falwells We Suck cassette

Rough and tumble old style punk rock here, very spirited, similar to the VANDALS, LOVE CANAL, etc. Slap in the face lyrics deal with religion, society’s problems, and some very backwards lyrics on “SLUT,” the title tells the story.

Famous & Fallen Take Me Away CD

Despite the limitations of being a bearded trio, FAMOUS & FALLEN do a damn fine job of melding the best of melodic hardcore and driving pop punk. Not as fast or as shiny as GOOD RIDDANCE, or as poppy as SCREECHING WEASEL, but they are nevertheless firmly planted somewhere in the middle, and to more than good effect. Excellent musicianship, singing, and songcraft make this well worth tracking down.

Famous Mammals Famous Mammals cassette

Three-fifths of the WORLD (to say nothing of the dozens of other projects they’ve had a hand in, but let’s start there) regrouped last year as FAMOUS MAMMALS, shifting their post-punk allegiance from rhythmic, sax’d-out ESSENTIAL LOGIC stylings to something closer to the shambolic UK DIY aesthetic trafficked by the HOMOSEXUALS-aligned It’s War Boys label, with instrumental credits for their debut cassette that read like a junk shop inventory list (or components of a Joseph Beuys installation, take your pick)—viola, Belgian siren, vacuum, radio, whistles, chord organ, Fluxus chairs. A clattering Rhythm Master provides that patently early ’80s chintzy analog drone, the murky psychedelia of “The Plum Overcoat” suggests that the TELEVISION PERSONALITIES really did know where SYD BARRETT lived and paid him a house call, there’s a dryly faux-Brit accented “Ode to Nikki” (I’m assuming Mr. SUDDEN; I’ve never been so sure of something being a SWELL MAPS homage in all my life), and the ode in all but title “The Observer and the Object” positions itself as a lost bedroom-spawned successor to “Dresden Style” or “Let’s Build a Car,” if there were any lingering questions as to where FAMOUS MAMMALS stand on the issue of the Godfrey brothers—I’m staunchly “pro,” by the way.

Farmers Farmers ’85 cassette

Completely unrestrained weirdness, this tape is guaranteed to fry your brain after a mere ten minutes. Strongly reminiscent of early-vintage RESIDENTS, albeit with considerably more dementia, both lyrically and musically. Though inconsistent from cut to cut, FARMERS are fairly good at what they do on this tape.

Faster Poison Faster Poison cassette

Straightforward, first-stage thrash that touches base with a lot of other young hardcore bands. The potential is there, and needs time to develop. With this eleven-song studio demo comes some classic stop-and-go thrash that is dominated by severing buzzsaw sound. Basic.

Fatal State Pura Rabia cassette

Maximum-speed political hardcore from Portland. Gruff backups make the high-end crack of the femme lead vocals even more powerful, highlighting a band that has taken the ’00s epic hardcore model and stripped away the bullshit to expose the intensity. Songs are short and to-the-point, just fist-in-the-air defiance in the form of metal-tinged riffs and a relentless anarcho-hardcore assault.

Fatalitees Yeah, Right cassette

Medium-fast punk, FLIPPER-ish drone, sharp lyrics (“Reaganomics”), funny lyrics (“Gotta Piss”), and really dumb lyrics (especially in the xenophobic “It’s Time for the Bomb Again”). They also throw in the kitchen sink, and have a ’zine called Corrugated What.

Fatherfigures Any Time Now…And High Time Too 2xCD

I have to say, this is fucking great. Which of course, doesn’t tell you anything. Well, other than I really like it. A lot. FATHERFIGURES are a new (though out of the ashes of FLIES ON YOU) quartet from the UK who gleefully take the “post-punk” moniker (think the likes of GANG OF FOUR, COCTEAU TWINS, early CURE, SISTERS OF MERCY, later period WIRE) and kick it around the park. Dark, sparse, poppy, brooding, melodic. All of that and more. It even comes with a bonus CD with remixes of half of the fourteen tracks on the actual CD, and it’s even more sparse, and dubby, and reverby, and makes the sounds sound even more like Metal Box-era PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. If any of this makes sense to you, dear reader, then you’ll understand just how excellent this is. Indeed.

Fatties Didn’t See Shit EP

Orlando punks outshining Mickey and Pulse. Dayglo puke-inspired color schemes instantly nauseate the listener, then you start the music—Big Man garage punk with skinny guy attitude, wicked humor, and freeform circus-prog musicianship. CARBONAS and BEAT BEAT BEAT crossed with early RANCID VAT and ZOOGZ RIFT. “Didn’t See Shit” is killer. Touch me please. I’m sick.

 

Faux Co. Radio Silence cassette

I mean, it’s not bad. But I feel like I’m listening to the 1971 California radio pop engine firing on all cylinders, and I don’t know why there’s this MAMAS & THE PAPAS rehash mixed in with my raging D-beat and my hardcore. Don’t get me wrong, Sweetheart of the Rodeo is an essential record (and it’s way more country than Radio Silence is), there’s just a time and a place.

Fear Itself Demo cassette

Does “horror thrash” exist? If so, FEAR ITSELF plays it well, complete with metallic tinges and spooky lyrics. This contains ten cuts of whizzing thrash with slower rockin’ parts, resembling ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT. Don’t be afraid to buy this tape.

Fearless Iranians From Hell Fearless Iranians From Hell cassette

Featuring a real live Iranian on vocals, this live tape gives the listener an echoey idea of what power thrash FEARLESS IRANIANS FROM HELL can deliver. And judging by the lyrics I could discern, they’ve got a lot to say, as well. FEARLESS IRANIANS FROM HELL, get thee to a studio, or off with your hands!