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 Season in Hell Demo I cassette

To start things off, I’ll let the band describe what we’ve got here in their own chosen words: “Written and recorded (in) under two hours in Clifton Heights, PA on the day Kacznski [sic] died.”  Now that you have a rough idea what we’re dealing with here, A SEASON IN HELL plays super aggressive powerviolence-inspired hardcore. Everything was recorded live on what sounds like a damn boombox. A couple of the songs have some heavy licks and the band is pretty tight, considering. I’m definitely not saying this demo is bad, but with a little more time spent on it, I think it could have moved a lot closer to good. Kind of feels like the product should be a little closer to finished before it is exported. The recording itself sounds like a relic from years past. I didn’t realize it was possible for bands to still capture that hiss-filled, lo-fi, demented demo sound that was more commonplace years ago when nobody had access to home recording equipment. The four-song demo repeats on the cassette, and I got halfway thru the second repeat before I realized what was happening. I thought they had written an insane amount of stuff in a mere two hours.

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.

Abe and the Shits Demo Vol. 1 CD

Given the band’s name, I was sure I was about to be listening to some sort of garage punk. Then I saw they were out of Tokyo. So, this could be “ABE” as in Shinzo, as opposed to Lincoln. I mean, I know “AND THE SHITS” is doing most of the heavy lifting—still,  the Western version of Abe connotes a garage-y Midwestern-ness that certainly played into my belief, so, I don’t know, this could be anything! Turns out it’s garage punk. But with a decent helping of ’77 flair. Not much out there about the band. Bandcamp lists four members, none of whose names I recognize, but the couple of live videos out there just show a guitar/vocals duo playing with a backing track (maybe to a crowdless audience). All in all, the five tracks that make up this demo are actually pretty good…if also a little forgettable. I’d certainly check back in if they ever put out a proper release. Probably give it a listen.

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.

Acid Mikvah Acid Mikvah demo cassette

Directly from Chicago, Illinois comes ACID MIKVAH, a group of Jewish punks who released this cassette in June 2021 (extra credit for the lyrics on their Bandcamp page). Reverbed vocals over political, garage-y, fast punk rock, with quite catchy riffs led by a heavily distorted guitar that has resemblances of early raw punk mixed with classic hardcore. With songs that speak against apartheid and religious birthrights and take a stand against nationalism and hatred, they create freedom punk to fight against Israel’s war and sieges against Palestine (“Call everyone an antisemite, the establishment got your back / But we fight back, with Palestinians, for a just world”). Interesting political punk, you may like them.

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.

Added Dimensions Added Dimensions cassette

ADDED DIMENSIONS is the new home recording project from Sarah Everton, most recently of Philadelphia’s great (and unjustly slept-on) minimal punk trio BLOWDRYER, and previously of TELEPATHIC and READING RAINBOW. Sarah’s trebly/jangly guitar riffs and sneaky bass lines are backed by a charge of unfussy, driving drums from Rob Garcia, all cloaked in the perfect amount of Tascam grit, as she lyrically pares down the heavy psychic weight of modern living (the social cost of convenience and connectivity, the inane routine of labor as a means of survival, etc.) into disarmingly hooky mini-manifestoes—even the sugar-coated melodies can’t hide the harsh truths behind lines like “running in place so you can get paid” (“Behavior”), or “live in a fantasy, suffer anxiety, waking up dead” (“Obvious Device”). WIRE rubbing elbows with the SHOP ASSISTANTS as a C86 band? A Kim Deal-fronted URINALS? Charms you can’t resist!

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.

Alarm Practice Room Tape 2019 cassette

ALARM is from Grenoble, France and has been a band since at least 2013, when their debut 7” came out. As can be surmised by the name of the demo, this cassette release was recorded in the band’s practice room in 2019. It was apparently recorded live in one take, which is particularly wild since the sound quality and production value are not that bad at all. Hell, this sounds a lot better than a majority of the cassettes which get into my hands. Eight songs of driving, mid-tempo punk rock with super catchy vocals, sometimes yelled, other times sung, and tastefully placed stripped-down guitar leads. Oh, and one of the songs is a RUDIMENTARY PENI cover, which can’t ever be a negative thing. Very cool tape. Songs are catchy and memorable. Seems like a band that would really shine live, so here’s hoping they make their way stateside sometime.

Alex B Kurbis Mondays and Tuesdays CD

Mondays and Tuesdays doesn’t always go full speed ahead—it’s right on the edge of pop punk, emo, and indie rock. I mean, its melodies are engaging and energizing like pop punk, but the arrangements have a pensive, withdrawn feel that might limit the stagediving during shows. More than once, I heard the steady thump-thump-snap of drums that emo and melodic HC utilize so well. Of course, there are some big give-it-your-all chrouses. The band also takes time to slow down and croon enough to keep a toe in the emo camp. Sometimes they’ll throw a few complimentary notes onto the end of a chord to add to the striking, melancholy sound.

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 CH 001 cassette

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 Adults Dust and Weight EP

Third release from Helsinki trio ANGRY ADULTS. Fun, summertime punk rock, as if they jumped out of the late ’90s Fat Wreck Chords catalog. Uplifting guitar riffs between whiny, slacker-esque vocals and splash-heavy drums keeping a mid-tempo beat. Going nowhere fast, driving the LAGWAGON down Highway 1 in the full sunshine…or some coastal road in Finland. This doesn’t wow me, it’s not trying to change my mind, it’s not genre-bending or new, but after a few listens it’s growing on me, making a whole lot of sense in this sticky summer heat.

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!

Anxiety Spree The Vinegar Pageant cassette

Third release from upstate New York’s ANXIETY SPREE, which has turned into the solo project of Dominic Armao. Compared to the band’s last release, this is a little more focused, with no signs of the upbeat pop sound found on A Party For the Garden Rats. The instrumental intro to “The Price” reminds me of something you’d hear on a SLINT album, with mostly spoken word, to boot. Even though the lyrics are included, I find myself a bit lost in the metaphors, but that’s OK; I enjoy the syncopated vocals over the angular guitar lines. This self-released project will make you a copy of the tape by request—for four bucks this can be yours!

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.

Appaloosa Western Glow cassette

Five songs on cassette, previously released as singles by Seattle, WA’s APPALOOSA.  Femme-led pop punk with a strong backbone of garage rock. Shamble-y guitars tear into solos, light vocals turn sassy and harsh, occasional keys provide texture, while bass and drums keep a pretty steady rock’n’roll groove. The earliest contribution to this release, the RATS cover “Thoughts By Now” (from 2020), is my favorite, with contrasted clear-as-a-bell vocals against lo-fi and super rough-sounding guitars; that said, the polish on “Western Glow” shows a nice maturing of their sound. I get the vibe of the COURETTES with rougher edges. Hope we have an LP to look forward to!

Appaloosa Lonely Stone postcard flexi

“Lonely Stone” is a short and sweet track of garage rock, heavily tilting towards the pop end. The barely distorted guitars and vocal harmonies give the song a glam feel. The novel format and the band’s curated image make this a fun work of living nostalgia.

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.”

Ass Life 3 LP Discography CD

I’m not sure if I fully get this L.A. band’s mix of D-beat, stoner riffs, and surreal humor, but maybe I’m not supposed to. This CD compiles three ASS LIFE tapes into a thirty-one-song endurance test. The tracks (especially the older ones) are heavy—mostly blistering D-beat assaults with occasional forays into MELVINS-esque sludgecore, with lyrics that often read like inside jokes without a punchline. For instance, “Sildenafil Penis” links Viagra with the war-torn city of Aleppo (I think), and I’ll leave “Shapeshifting Lizard People,” “Gape It,” and “Boofing w/ Chris Farley’s Ghost” up to you to investigate. But then, there are other moments that seem almost sincere, like the lines, “I used to party / I don’t do cocaine / My son is my drug / My son is my drug” in “My Son is My Drug.” In “Serious Man,” we have “I’m a serious man / And we’re a serious band.” So, who’s to say what is irony, or if it even matters. The songs all rip pretty hard with full-throated hardcore and borderline metalcore chugging. The playing, thick production, and fat distortion tones are all top-notch, and the vocals, as disconcerting as the lyrics can be, fit perfectly. Near the end of the most recent collection, there are some interesting left turns. “Vomitive Hues” opens with a distorted, monotone rendition of the BEACH BOYS’ “Barbara Ann,” and “Really Cool Cars” surprises with clean guitars and sung vocals about “Pretty cool cars / Dependable, safe cars” that highlight L.A.’s economic disparities that allow some people to flex Lambos while others must use their cars as shelter. It goes from BILLY BRAGG folk to heavy alt-rock like FAILURE without sounding contrived. Weird and recommended.

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).

At Their Mercy Catechism CD

Emerging as a powerhouse, the crossover genre is on the rise again due to excellent acts like POWER TRIP and FORESEEN getting under the spotlight. Scottish band AT THEIR MERCY dynamically blends the best of both worlds: hardcore and thrash metal, but in a way unlike the aforementioned bands. With influences such as CRO-MAGS, SLAYER, or even DISCHARGE, it’s a fusion of relentless aggressive music—they lean more towards the hardcore side, giving it a bouncier edge. Effectively executed, AT THEIR MERCY’s music  has the potential to captivate fans from both the hardcore and metal genres.

Atomic Tide Night Crimes CD

Second release from the San Francisco group ATOMIC TIDE, with members from AVENGERS, ANGRY AMPUTEES, GLITTER WIZARD, and the PLEASURE KILLS. This is a bombastic approach to punk with tinges of surf-y, psych rock guitars, and is gripped by the power of Lydia Taylor’s vocals, reminiscent of Yula Be’eri in NANUCHKA—deep, rich, and resonant. Their first self-titled cassette release came out in 2019, so it’s good to see this group survived lockdown and made it out with five new rippers! This is night music, if the title didn’t make that clear, so once the sun sets, pop this CD in your 2008 hatchback and let ATOMIC TIDE do the troublemaking for you.

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.A.D.G.E. B.A.D.G.E. demo cassette

Relentlessly pummeling hardcore punk from New York City. Three songs of absolutely stomping, crushing hardcore. This just plain rules! For the Killed by Death aficionados amongst us, at times the vocalist of B.A.D.G.E. sounds remarkably similar to the singer of TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS, but on top of a revved-up powerhouse of a band rather than the plodding, somewhat nonsensical classic KBD track. Truly, the only drawback is that there are just three songs.

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.

Bad Idea Breakout 12″

Listening to this BAD IDEA LP sent me down a rabbit hole for about an hour after I gave it a spin, as one of the songs in particular reminded me so much of a band whose name I just could not remember—I eventually found them, anyone remember a band called the BEATINGS from the early ’00s? Anyway, BAD IDEA sounds pretty good here, sort of NY proto-punk that dips into early ’80s hardcore, like if the DICTATORS and the MISFITS went out to lunch. “Bad Attitude” has CBGB written all over it, and “Massacre” has a little West Coast vibe going on. They go a little poppy for my taste on “Good to Die,” but otherwise this was an enjoyable spin.

Bad Image Bad Image cassette

This is the second self-titled release by Phoenix, Arizona’s BAD IMAGE. Playing a classic style of hardcore punk with a nice little slavering of UK82 in the mix, this is a super solid release exuding with venomous anger in the vocal department. A particular standout on this tape is the stomping “Energy,” but all four tracks on here rip considerably well. Looking forward to hearing more from BAD IMAGE in the future.

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.

Barren Soil Barren Soil cassette

As you would be right to presume, BARREN SOIL do not play ’90s revival skacore; there aren’t any ska puns in their songs nor, as far as I can tell, any pork pie hats. Thank fuck for that. This Vancouver-based unit, as the grim and sadly realistic moniker gives away (a reference to a line from NAUSEA’s “Extinction”?), does not deal in cheerfulness—BARREN SOIL is an unstoppable metal crust bulldozer. We have been quite blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with quality stenchcore music in the past couple of years, and this band definitely sits on the top shelf. This tape is their first recording, but the sound is amazing; it has a heavy, thick production but still keeps that specific nasty, dirty edge. The three-piece definitely knows what they are doing, and what they aim at creating and destroying with these eight songs (in fifteen minutes, an appropriate length for the genre). BARREN SOIL sounds like a brawl between deranged bears. It is an indelicate blend of NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR, mid 2010s CANCER SPREADING, and early ANGUISH, with grizzly vocals, some rotten, groovy FROST-like mid-paced bits, and even proper old-school blast beats, which I salute. So crusty it bites. I actually counted that the singer shouts the word “crust” six times on this recording, so there is one “crust” every 180 seconds on average (as a comparison, Oi! bands usually shout “oi!” every 55 seconds). Ace. The artwork, courtesy of Mike Roberts from GENOGEIST, fills the apocalyptic crust template to a T, too. This gem is a self-released tape, but it would certainly deserve a vinyl reissue. Now grab your crust pants and play this loud.

Bass Feens Bass Feens CD

There were a couple endearing things making first impressions with this disc. First, the band included a nice, handwritten note in the review copy, which is wholesome as fuck. The other was that the disc was burned as a CD-R of WAV files rather than a proper CD, which had me hunting down a device to play it with on my laptop. That took me back. BASS FEENS are two punks grinding out earnest, high-tempo punk rock in their garage somewhere in Davis, CA. With a two-piece band, everything has to be solid, and they deliver track after track of driving, full-bodied punk rock you can party and/or skateboard to. “Reset” is a banger.

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.

Beast Killer Dystopian Now/Dystopian Me LP

Two things that I find impressive about this album: first and foremost, the fact that this is a two-piece. Very curious what octave pedals they’re using here, because it feels incredibly full. Secondly, the drummer is fantastic and tight as hell. Otherwise, this band reminds me of those No Idea acts that sound more like FOO FIGHTERS than HOT WATER MUSIC. The kind of band that you might see open for FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH or something similar. I might just be biased because the record kicks off with one of those “fuck your scene, fuck your style, fuck you” songs, and I really cannot stand that type of attitude. If you like that sort of thing, this LP is up your alley, because it’s constant throughout.

Beat Panic Anti Club//Club 10″

Debut release from Naarm/Melbourne, Australia’s BEAT PANIC continues the dialogue about colonization and Aboriginal displacement in Australia, thusly giving name to the Kulin Nation of Naarm. This shows up more in the Bandcamp notes than what I can find in their lyrics, but something to recognize all the same. To the music: I didn’t know what I was going to find after the synth-only opener “Sprawl,” which is haunting and tender all at once. What follows is  wonderfully rich, goth-tinged post-punk reminiscent of DAVE VANIAN AND THE PHANTOM CHORDS, especially the commanding yet reverb-hollow vocals. Definitely worth a listen—but hey, I was sold at Aussie post-punk.

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.

Berliner Doom Wer Das H​ö​rt ist Doom EP

For a band with no synths, it’s uncanny how much BERLINER DOOM evokes a very specific moment of early ’00s art-damaged electro-punk—someone really needs to tear a rift in the time/space continuum so this lot can have the circa-2004 split 7” with LES GEORGES LENINGRAD or NUMBERS that they deserve. There’s twelve tracks on this debut EP, only two of which (barely) crack a minute, a literal dozen beyond-econo jams triangulated between cavernous, blown-out bass loops, no wave guitar strangulation, and rattling bare-bones beats, with deadpan femme vocals from bassist ARM intoned almost exclusively in German. I’m partial to the sparse and thoroughly Zickzack’d neo-Neue Deutsche Welle of “Zu Spät vorm Späti” and the budget dance punk sass of “Deine Libido,” but for extra credit, seek out the “extended radio edit” of “Alte Weisse Frau, Bitte Sch​ö​n!” that they’ve made available online, and not just because they managed to work in lyrical references to both CULTURE BEAT and SONIC YOUTH!

Betonwelt Betonwelt cassette

Hamburg band BETONWELT answers the question, “what would a perfect balance of anarcho-punk, post-punk, and hardcore sound like?” The answer: it sounds awesome! Wildly distorted guitars, lyrics shouted in multiple languages, and a rhythm section that pounds out the beat make this self-titled well worth a listen. The second track “Burning” introduces the hardcore feel, while “Depression” goes even harder with a racing opening and grimy, plodding midsection. The closing track “Alone” almost feels like it could have been a ROLLINS BAND recording. Most of the thirteen tracks on this album contain a great sing-along chorus, which must make the live performances amazing.

Better Plastic Mint Condition EP

First and foremost, I am a big fan of this album art. Throw a couple skulls on your record cover and it’s an automatic spin from me. Artsy powerviolence out of Brooklyn—shocking, I know. Super groovy, and sounds similar to FUCKED UP’s Glass Boys (Slow Version). Has a Steve Albini edge to it, and reminds me a lot of heavier JESUS LIZARD/LAUGHING HYENAS. What really sets this 7′ apart from their peers is the guitar and bass work. Pummeling at times, but also noisy and dissonant. Treble-heavy bass sounds like it’s come straight from the ’90s, giving off a classic post-hardcore vibe. Guitar is noisy as all hell and reminds me of if WOLF EYES collaborated with Greg Ginn (at least during his late ’80s era when he tried playing jazz guitar). A fun little romp and well worth a spin.

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.

Binge Kings 25-Song Demo cassette

BINGE KINGS announce their arrival with a 25-song collection of shit-fi garage punk tunes consisting of tinny guitar, drums, and snotty shouted vocals. Upon further listening, I think the drums are just one snare drum. It might actually be a bucket. In addition to the songs, there are seven skit tracks taken from movies, mostly centered around beer. The talent on display here is lacking—primitive power chord progressions with simple snare pounds could be great, but the songwriting is never that interesting. The vocals are by far the best part, and the confident full-throated yell works well over the high-tone practice amp aesthetic. It sounds like they were going for CARBONAS-style straight-ahead punk, but you gotta have the songs, man. “Windsor” stands out as a rough little gem with a melody that shines through the fuzz like the best LIQUIDS tracks. I know demos can be rough around the edges; the rawness and spontaneity are often an exciting statement of purpose. This one was a bit of a slog to get through.

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.

Bladen McLaughlen + the Good Time Boys Good Time Noise CD

The experience of listening to this album is kinda like buying weed as a high-schooler. If you don’t know any better, a bag of schwag may not seem so bad, even if smoking it does leave you with a headache afterwards. If Good Time Noise serves as someone’s introduction to the wild and wacky genre that is punk rock, they could be forgiven for mistaking this as being decent, or even good. For me, it’s all stems and seeds. BLADEN MCLAUGHLEN + THE GOOD TIME BOYS can only be described as “boomer punk.” I have no idea if the band members are in fact boomers—nor do I care—but the songs they have committed to polycarbonate plastic substrate sound more dated than the medium on which they appear. One track begins with a George W. Bush sound clip, which is an odd choice of source material to sample in 2023, but I guess it relates to the song, which is titled “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Pete Townsend would be rolling in his grave, were he not still alive. By and large, Good Time Noise is riddled with boring, mid-tempo drivel that is simultaneously over and under-produced, somehow. I’d have snoozed right through this one if the hoarse, grating vocals weren’t so darn loud. Most of the lyrics seem well-intentioned, but the title track is excruciatingly dumb, even for a drinking song. And then there’s the ode to Portland, Maine—a majestic place of stunning natural beauty that I now wish to avoid altogether for fear that this release is representative of its current punk scene. Yikes.

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.

Body Cam Promo cassette

Hot new tape from BODY CAM. Their flexi from a couple years ago was pretty great, and here they’re grimier and sharper than before. It’s three songs of whipping hardcore with rocking riffs and a dirty, distorted sound. The warped groove of “R.T.S.” is the winner for me here, but the whole thing rips. I’ll be looking out for more of this.

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.

Brain Itch The Future Burns cassette

Pretty solid mid-pace-ish D-beat from Toronto. The production isn’t quite as raw as I would personally prefer, but the tunes still deliver the goods. Lots of solid riffage here. There’s no song shorter than two minutes, but all the tunes manage to keep your attention the whole time. I like it!

Brass Lip Vol. 1 cassette

Two-piece recording project from Calgary. Cool, weird, home-recorded four-song demo of lo-fi, simplistic, plodding garage punk. Please don’t take that to mean that BRASS LIP is boring, because they are anything but. These four songs are great and the vocal delivery is spot-on. I don’t think there is a single thing about this tape I don’t like. The layout looks great, the lo-fi recording works really well with this style, the songs are memorable. Here’s hoping they get a couple more people on board to round out the band and start playing live, ‘cause this seems like it would be a pretty rippin’ live band.

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!

Brix! Brix! CD

Seven original cuts of straight-ahead street rock and a by-the-numbers NEGATIVE APPROACH cover. BRIX! keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, which I appreciate. None of the songs crack the two-minute mark, and they play faster than many bands that they might be compared to. While not as refined as CONSERVATIVE MILITARY IMAGE, these lads are cooking with a few of the same ingredients, blending hardcore and Oi! As expected, the vocals are gravely with plenty of gang chants throughout. A touch of pub rock influence creeps in, culminating in a lifted “Back In Black” lick at the end of their eponymously titled song “Brix!”—I could’ve done without that, but it is instructive. They don’t sound like AC/DC, but they do sound like the kind of band that would randomly break into a tired AC/DC riff.

Brody and the Grodies Brody and the Grodies Went to the Bar So This Half-Finished Record is All That You Ge CD

One of those bands that purposely tries to sound like shit and is proud of it, except BRODY AND THE GRODIES don’t really sound like shit. They’re just kind of boring and corny. Seven drum-machine-driven punk songs with topics ranging from beer, coffee, Bigfoot, beer, and meat. Wait, did I mention beer? The album is topped off with a five-minute sketch that sounds like it came from an old ICP demo tape. You can tell they had fun recording this, which is really the best thing I can say about this whole ordeal. You’d be better off listening to FOSSIL FUEL or one of the other hundreds of FOOD FORTUNATA-related projects out there.

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.

Bug Paralysis LP

This is the debut 12” from BUG out of Victoria, British Columbia. With their earnest and romantic sound, the songs are reminiscent of ’90s grunge and indie with a pinch of deathrock stirred in. Warbled vocals with an obnoxious punk affectation deliver poetic lyrics over eleven tunes that could possibly pass as lost entries from the earlier Sub Pop catalog. It’s the kind of thing that would have found an enthusiastic audience on a property located directly between the Lollapalooza and Warped Tour admission gates. Check out “Heads are Gonna Roll” for one of the finer moments here.

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.

C0mputer Masturbation Ritual cassette

I’m going to make up a new subgenre: Outsider Tech Death. If you can imagine kids weaned on SLIPKNOT and SYSTEM OF A DOWN who create a DIY metalcore band…that’s what we’re looking at with Florida’s C0MPUTER. It doesn’t make sense, but in the same way that JANE and SYSTRAL didn’t make sense in 1998, maybe the punks just need to grow into these sounds. Maybe the future is Outsider Tech Death. Maybe the future is C0MPUTER.

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.

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.

Call in Dead Patriarchy / Religious Wars 7″

What it says on the tin. Gender critique over blastbeats followed by a faithful rendition of a punk rock standard. Personally, I think covers are best reserved for live shows. However, this version is fine, but omitting the rapid-fire bass notes during the bridge’s opening? Really?! The aforementioned blastbeats sound best when played to the verge of pure noise, so when the band appears to ease off the pedal, I believe something is lost. Maybe it’s the production’s fault? I recommend using much crappier equipment and burying the result in your backyard for a few weeks.

 

Call the Cops Manifesto (For the Rebirth of the Worldwide Punk Scene) LP

Well, this is interesting. This is the second record I’m reviewing this weekend that has a distinct industrial rhythm; this is a compliment. In a sense, it’s similar to the way SADIST does it, but this is more like RESTARTS or RANCID meets MALIGNANT TUMOUR. Tone is sort of street punk though, with more death metal crust vocals. CALL THE COPS from Italy play breakdown hardcore with a pogoing street punk stance. I have no idea why you would ever even hint at CALL(-ing) THE COPS, but perhaps there is something not translating for me. Other jams swing with an Italian Oi! flavor and melodic bounce. CALL THE COPS can sing. There are a lot of samples throughout, and they are all interesting and unique political statements—I’m not talking ’90s movie quotes, more like interviews. CALL THE COPS have a lot going on, from the melancholy intros to downright grizzly street crust. There is a traditional old European folk sound to their album that is sincere and not overly sentimental. Sixteen tracks of malicious mohawked hardcore punk. A powerful fourth outing from CALL THE COPS.

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.

Cat and the Underdogs Punk Rock Overdrive CD

This is a funny one for me. From Sweden, these guys deliver a version of melodic punk rock that has guitar elements that remind me of both the STOOGES and SOCIAL DISTORTION, though definitely a little softer. It’s got a very 1977 sound to it. It’s mid-tempo and catchy, and the production is crisp without sounding overproduced. That said, there’s a metal/glam thing in some of the vocals that almost reminds me of hair bands, like POISON. The jury is still out on this one.

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.

Cel Ray Cellular Raymond cassette

Six-track cassette from this lo-fi, female-fronted fast-paced post-punk/garage band from Chicago, with a touch of Aussies AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS in the intention and style of vocals. “Clock Me Out” is the choice track, creating the right amount of progression—sick bass line and tasty clocking guitars. Give ‘em a listen.

Cell Rush Demo 2022 cassette

Grimy, nasty, ten-song demo cassette from Western Michigan. Mostly meandering around at a snail’s pace, CELL RUSH comes across incredibly primal, plodding from riff to riff, staying in the mid-tempo realm of noisy hardcore punk music. They do speed up from time to time on a couple songs, but it’s usually followed by an even more stripped-down slow part. They really hit their full speed during one of the more memorable tracks, “All-American Nosferatu.” Something about this recording makes me feel very unsafe, like I’m being stalked and someones going to jump out at me from beyond the next corner. Very nasty.

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.

Cheap Death Immaterial World cassette

Five songs of metal-infused modern hardcore from Brooklyn. The vocalist makes CHEAP DEATH sound very much like some kinda screamo/post-hardcore kind of band. It’s got a fair amount of blastbeats, if that’s your thing. What I don’t understand about hardcore bands that incorporate blastbeats in this way is that if the riffs are slow, the song still kinda sounds slow even with blastbeats filling up the drum portion, but maybe that’s just me. Perhaps this style of hardcore just isn’t really my cup of tea, but the songs are tight, the musicianship is solid, and the vocalist sounds strained and pissed.

Cheez Say Cheez cassette

The second demo by this mysterious Arizona band, playing a variety of styles from straightedge HC to rap to synth silliness to speedmetal, making fun of everyone and everything, except the Master Cheez, of course. Rad shit.

Children of Sorrow Another Indestructible Dirty Sound LP

Melbourne band CHILDREN OF SORROW existed for a short time during the mid-’80s and played moody hardcore anarcho-punk that bites similar to T.S.O.L. Thundering bass that struts and slams comes from a double layer of bass and fretless bass (that’s right, there’s no six-string guitar jangle in here), while vocalist David “Ossie” Eldridge unleashes a vocal assault that ranges from a Jack Grisham-sounding delivery to all-out hardcore mayhem. Songs shift from mid-tempo to lightspeed in the time it takes to blink. This 12″ is packaged with a lyric sheet and a four-page zine documenting the band’s history that includes photos and gig flyers. The thunderous bass and drum work is perfect for Neanderthal pacing, but when the speedy sections hit, you’ll need to be prepared for crashing into everything around you. Needless to say, this is a brilliant document of a lesser-known band that is worthy of a longstanding position in everyone’s collection!

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.

Chill Parents Context Collapse cassette

Absolute monster release from DC trio CHILL PARENTS—a steady, four-on-the-floor hardcore hybrid that’s heavy and relentless. I realize that as a generational subgenre, this is not unusual, but it still strikes me when I hear modern anthemic hardcore/punk mingling with early ’90s Sub Pop hooks. I prefer when the band opens up (see “Dissipate”). but it’s the contrast that sets them apart (see “Migraine”). Only 25 copies on cassette, but there’s a CD, too (and a digital version of course, because it’s 2023).

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.

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.

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.

Church Clothes Sacred Illusion EP

The cover of CHURCH CLOTHES’ debut splashed in rootsy, faded psychedelia doesn’t adequately prepare listeners for the flush and vibrant hardcore demonstration it holds inside. This NYC act weaves a tough tapestry of hardcore with inflections of both classic ’80s and grungy ’90s styles, with all four members of the group pouring all of their power into the songs. While fairly standard in structure, these tunes shine with organic fury, and a loose cannon lead guitar pulls things into a wild, psychedelic direction at times, lending a little “truth in advertising” to that trippy cover. Dig it.

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.

Clifton Lee Mann Ömghost CD

CLIFTON LEE MANN’s latest is half bluesy rock’n’roll unencumbered by punk updates, and half conventional punk tunes with a carefree, shaggy approach. The difference between the two can be a little sharp and made me feel like I was constantly listening to cover songs. I could almost imagine this playing to SHELLSHAG fans. The razor-thin lead guitar screeches over a fuzzed-out rhythm guitar and a farting bass. The unpolished sound quality was a wise choice. LEE MANN mostly delivers a mild sing/talk, but occasionally croons a note.

Cloudage Cloudage cassette

Debut EP from Toronto-based CLOUDAGE, a feel-good indie set that will have you hooked straight away or leave you spitting up sugary-sweet melodies, depending on your preference for this type of thing. There are fleeting moments of edginess that help cut the sweetness where the backing vocals chime in, and you may feel compelled to nod along. While acoustic guitar strums mix with electric guitar and bass distortion over upbeat drums, the vocals are clearly the focus here: a barrage of narrative lyrics to pull at your memories of breakups and heartache, hardly stopping for a breath, evening singing through outros with “ooh”s and “la da da”s. There’s an homage to Ad-Rock from the BEASTIE BOYS, “Ad-Rock You’re So H”—and is that meant to be ambiguous? Hard? Heavy? Whatever. The closer “Stay Pure” pokes fun at their style with the line “Let bygones be bygones / Don’t turn pain into poetry / To hold onto in sad songs;” a genuine and self-effacing sentiment that may be the thread throughout this four-song debut.

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)?

Cold Cream Cold Cream II CD

Carrboro, NC band of scene veterans that plays SUPERCHUNK-style indie punk with some fuzz-psych and hardcore sprinkles. Tracks like “Cactus Wife” and “North Pole South” are catchy, likeable noisy pop that you could throw on at a backyard BBQ with no complaints. “Fast Fash Treasure Island” branches out with some Kim Gordon-esque vocals and a sneaky lead line that gives a hint of what’s to come. “Fixedair” and “Penelope” are swirling psych excursions with fuzz tunnels and submerged cave-in vocals. Then, as a surprise, COLD CREAM goes hardcore for the last two, channeling the melodic end of HÜSKER DÜ. Upbeat and enjoyable CD with enough experimentation for repeat listening.

Committeemen Extended Play CD

Houston, Texas-based COMMITTEEMEN release six new songs on this EP. Forming post-pandemic through answering some Craigslist ads, vocalist and guitarist DJ Gilmore-Innis and drummer Ken Dannelley (also of the NERVE-CURLERS and CORNISH GAME HEN) got together as the heads of the project, having their second guitarist and bassist amicably change over since this release. COMMITTEEMEN play post-punk-flavored garage rock, with some fairly gruff/shouted vocals and fuzzy guitars way up front in the mix. They remind me of the BLACK DOTS who I reviewed a while back, but not as emotive. They take the “Are we not men?” line from “Jocko Homo” on their “Total Devo,” give a dissonant little guitar intro, but otherwise don’t try out any mimicry. Another namedrop comes on “Kate Bush Plays Coachella,” but I can’t really parse what’s happening in that song, as they sing “Just like the movies / You see right through me”—your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, decent release, with another single (“Stimulated”) that has come out since.

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.

Conditions Apply Rage & Ignorance CD

CONDITIONS APPLY aren’t especially catchy, but their songs still have a memorable, infectious quality, like a chant at a St. Pauli game. The drums deliver a martial beat while the guitars and vocals follow suit: three, maybe four chords barely identifiable under the distortion and rumbling bass. The lyrics include the usual suspects of left-wing punk grievances, but honestly, even the party song sounded like an angry screed.

Conducta Erratika Represión 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.

Cop an Attitude Cop an Attitude cassette

This tape is the first recording from this young band from Karlsruhe, Germany. Now, when I say young, I am talking about the actual band, since the members seem to have all played in other bands before, like ’90s hardcore unit DIAVOLO ROSSO (to be fair, the only band on their resumes I am familiar with). COP AN ATTITUDE plays fast, ’90s-style hardcore with hooks, tunes, and quite a variety of paces and moods (from emotional hardcore—the acceptable term for “emocore”—moments to fastcore) and political lyrics. The songs were recorded live at their rehearsal space, so you can infer that they are seasoned musicians who already know what they are trying to create. It is a little too “progressive” and clean to my ears and not raw enough (but I am half-deaf anyway, so that certainly affects my perspective). It sounds passionate and I can imagine quite a few people being into COP AN ATTITUDE, what with the current ’90s revival, but it is not my cuppa.

Cornish Game Hen Death Process CD

Imagine my surprise when a dance punk band named CORNISH GAME HEN wasn’t from across the pond, but instead from Houston, Texas of all places. Sounding like ADAM ANT, the B-52’S, and THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS all smashed together, it is a daunting task to get through this fourteen-track album. Very repetitive and drab, which is interesting to me because it sounds like each member takes up vocal duties throughout this disc. You’d think this would spice things up a bit, but it still just all sounds the same. I do need to point out that out of all the tracks, the vocal performance on “Poster Punk” really stands out, as it showcases an impressive run during the chorus. The synth work is great, don’t get me wrong. However, it does a metric ton of the heavy lifting and doesn’t fill the gaps left wanting by the rest of the band. CORNISH GAME HEN ultimately chose quantity over quality here. Death Process may have worked better as an EP with a handful of their best songs from this session.

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.

Cosme Demo No. 2 cassette

Short synth punk demo from Mexico that often sounds like Tim Armstrong singing karaoke. The first track has Nintendo keyboards with gruff Spanish-language vocals. It’s way too slick and toothless for me. The third track, named as the Cancer zodiac symbol, is the turning point from keyboard oddity to punk. It’s a heartfelt street-punk song that doesn’t sound too far from RANCID’s best, with sparkling keys on top. The repeated line “Time heals, some might say all those years that are gone now” gives it a wistful, nostalgic feeling, and is worth repeat plays. “Cosme,” the last track, is the most traditional, fast punk song here and ends the tape on an anthemic, fist-pumping high. I would listen to another tape from COSME, but I definitely prefer the second half to the first.

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.

Critical Response Critical Response LP

I can’t put my finger on it but something about this record reminds me of a type of sound that would have been prevalent in the ’90s. It’s a little bit rock’n’roll, it’s a little bit hardcore, it’s a little bit neither of these. The vocalist reminds me of Kirsten from NAKED AGGRESSION at times, and at others sounds like the vocalist of some kind of Orange County ska band. All in all, this has moments where I really like it. For the most part though, it’s just OK. It reminds me of a bar band, mostly.

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.

Cult Crime Cult Crime demo cassette

More solid punk coming straight outta Toronto. This one is a nice, concise three-song affair. Tuneful, rocking punk. Sounds like something that could’ve come out of Southern California in the early ’80s. Catchy tunes that’ll get your head bobbing like a maniac. I really dig it!

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.

Cur Ínugamì cassette

Short, no-bullshit, demented hardcore punk from Philadelphia. Imagine the darker ’80s Japanese heavyweights, but ultra-primitive and with throaty USHC vocals. The tape is good, but the vision mostly makes me anxious to hear what they’re going to do next.

Cutre Inconscientes cassette

It is riffs ahoy on this killer cassette from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s CUTRE—there’s so many of them and they all rip! Classic-style hardcore punk that’ll get your blood pumping (along with your fist). The vocals howl and scream in sheer defiance while the instrumentation is as tight as can be—and did I mention this is jam-packed with superior riffage? I feel like a good indicator of this tape’s bad-assery is the fact that there is an INDEGESTI cover on it. Get this blasted!

Cyberplasm Mutilated Systems cassette

Oh my…many of you surely heard The Psychic Hologram full-length that Iron Lung released a few years back, but this dose of insanity is something else altogether. These Olympia freaks keep pushing harder with ferocious noise punk delivered as ’90s industrial juggernaut—I figured it was going to be good but…damn. Imagine The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste-era MINISTRY doing a set of DISFEAR and MEANWHILE covers and then closing with a LORDS OF ACID number. Don’t snooze.

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 (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) DIY punk scene.

Darker Than Through the Cracks cassette

Baltimore, MD horror-based punk. Seven slickly-recorded, driving rock songs with the subject matter of all things spooky. It’s all very well done, I just can’t help but wish the recording was a little scarier-sounding if the band is going to be entirely horror-themed. I think I feel the same way about a lot of goth music too, though, so it may just be a personal preference for nastier recordings fitting of the style and theme of the bands that release them.

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.

Data Unknown W/P cassette

Last year’s Promo Only tape was a killer, but on W/P, Indiana’s DATA UNKNOWN steps up the weird and leans even heavier on the synths (as if that was possible). The result is a true freak stomp, barely recognizable as punk and undeniably punk as a result. Tweaked TUBEWAY ARMY sounds clashing with a triple threat of early Rough Trade, SUICIDE, and Midwestern nihilism. Total brain-melt in the best way.

Data Unknown Cylinder 1 cassette

Indianapolis oddballs drop their fourth or fifth release since they began putting out stuff in early 2021. This time we’re getting six tracks of the fucked synthwave you’ve come to expect from this mysterious act if you’ve been following along. If you haven’t, it’s probably time to get on board—this thing is great! At times they sound like CHROME trying their hand at drum machine egg-punk, at others they sound like one of the weirder Ralph Records acts (probably SNAKEFINGER) covering, like, “Let’s Have a Party” by PSYCHOTIK TANKS. If only more acts were this eager to annoy while being this unbothered by trends!

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.

Day Residue Deadly Walk cassette

Hailing from Detroit, DAY RESIDUE channels the feral sound that only the Motor City is capable of. Verging on hardcore, but full of untamed rock’n’roll energy, this cassette is a blast! Six songs that rip so hard it feels like a whirlwind. Gnarly riffs and ferocious drums run rampant through this cassette, while vocals deliver vicious personal diatribes. “Piss Paradise” is a sub-two-minute song that channels punk energy into a guitar-driven basement anthem. I fell in love with this album within the first 30 seconds, and I’m sure you will too.

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 Name Dead Name cassette

DEAD NAME is a new fresh upcoming hardcore band from London—there seem to be a lot of them recently, lucky bastards—with a name and a cover clearly indicating you are dealing with a proper pissed-off queer/trans punk unit. I am told there are members of ÄTTESTOR (more on the political USHC side of things) and TRAIDORA (a solid one-woman queercore project with a distinct Spanish hardcore touch), so you can legitimately expect some raw hardcore punk aggression and political lyrics which is, indeed, what you find on this demo tape. What I did not expect, however, is the primitive evil metal vibe permeating the demo, adding something original to the otherwise rather classic stomping hardcore style, combining heavy, slow-paced moshing parts with fast and wild bits. The production is raw indeed, if not rough, so be warned that you won’t probably play this at your cousin’s birthday, but I think it fits the primitiveness and the anger of DEAD NAME. Imagine Quality Control HQ hosting a black mass with ETERAZ and GALLHAMMER as guests. And you’ve got to love the song “The Tories are Not a Vibe,” illustrating how horrible Sunak’s government is. I’ll keep an eye on them.

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.

Dead Stare II cassette

Eight tracks of old school punk goodness, coming from that school of hardcore that wasn’t yet an exercise in how fast you could play and occasionally featured guitar solos. Some tracks even have hints of British Oi! The two covers they do, by the SPITS (“Bring”) and NECROS (“Reject”), tell a lot about the overall vibe of DEAD STARE. The vocals are too distorted to make out, which is too bad, because they’re enthusiastic about something. I just can’t tell what. Riffy and melodic.

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.

Deletions Stets cassette

Not sure if it’s intended to be an homage, but the graphic design on this cassette really brings to mind that period in the late ’90s where melodic hardcore bands were flirting with Midwest emo and sci-fi aesthetics (not a time I’m wistful for!). Like, compare this to the cover of, say, GRADE’s Separate the Magnets. Musically, that comparison isn’t too far off, either. I wouldn’t say DELETIONS, an act out of Harrisburg, PA, plays melodic hardcore by any means—this is closer to post-hardcore with more overt post-punk leanings—but there’s definitely an emo influence to the ten short songs on this cassette. Honestly, it sounds like this band is going for an A FRAMES vibe but knows their love of the PROMISE RING is going to bleed through, so their hope is they can add enough farty analog synth sounds that people won’t notice. It’s some real rough stuff. And that’s not even considering the lyrics, which are borderline excruciating! Still, their commitment to playing profoundly out-of-touch music with this much verve had me rooting for them. So, while I don’t recommend that you listen to this release, I can’t help but recommend that the band 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.

Demoted Shit for Brains CD

Brooklyn’s DEMOTED has a rough and immediate DIY sound. Simple, but carefully composed, these tracks range in themes from the juvenile self-deprecation of the title track, to the atmospheric dread of “Twitching Eye,” to the personal, Rollins-style lament of “Not Myself Today.” Standard punk misanthropy.

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).

Desiccate Desiccate demo cassette

Man. I love this. DIY to its fullest. No-bullshit, heavy noise punk from the Great White North. Not a lot of nuance to their songs, but they don’t need it. DESICCATE isn’t here to be flashy. They’re here to fucking rock. Honestly, that’s what I like to see from bands these days. Energy that transcends the medium. No over-the-top production, no more than three takes. There’s no need for any ego-stroking solos here. Just the white-knuckle grip of a barre chord, the howl of indecipherable vocals, the grounded melody of a bass run, and a steady but powerful drum beat.

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.

Disappearances Meat Clown cassette

I can safely say I had no idea what to expect from Philly’s DISAPPEARANCES based on the unsettling cover of their latest release, Meat Clown. It definitely wasn’t the ’90s-influenced powerviolence/hardcore featured across ten tracks of blastbeats, quick tempo changes, and shrieking vocals. At times, it reminded me of the LOCUST, a band I’ve always had a soft spot for. While not really in my wheelhouse, I enjoyed it.

Disarm Regerings Stödda 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.

Dischordia Andrà Tutto Bene CD

I have to say I’m a real sucker for this kind of melodic hardcore/pop punk stuff. Given that there is nothing on the sleeve, and these Italians sing in their native tongue (and sound all the better for it), I’ve no idea whatsoever what they’re lilting on about, though they do have a circle-A as the last letter of their band name, which may or may not have some significance!? Regardless, they produce a gloriously structured racket, drawing on the best of early WESTON, first couple of LPs-era PROPAGANDHI, and NOFX when they got Hefe in the band, and suddenly became brilliant. Yes, they’re that good.

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.

Double Standard Mt. Focus LP

DOUBLE STANDARD from Malta’s latest release consists of unique-sounding political hardcore punk tracks full of thoughtful expressions of injustices of our world, reminiscent of the feeling of ’80s-style recordings of NWOBHM and anarcho-punk that isn’t overtly metallic or modern-sounding. Mt. Focus successfully expresses the complex, subtle feel of the issues facing our societies and ecosystem, not just through their lyrics but through sonic means as well.

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.