Reviews

Supreme Echo

Antheads Think Fast EP

I’m repeatedly impressed with Supreme Echo’s ability to keep releasing lost gems of early Canadian punk. I mean, these eight tracks recorded in 1980 are previously unreleased, and members were in ACTIVE DOG and went on to form/join MODERNETTES and POINTED STICKS. It’s simple and urgent garagey punk sung with swagger, with huge guitar licks like an amphetamine-fueled, sped up and stripped down MC5 or FLAMIN GROOVIES. All of the songs sound like they could be covers but as far as I could tell, none are. Includes the obligatory multi-page insert with band story and photos putting things into context, and it’s all well worth your time.

Culture Shock Forever + Ever (+ Ever) EP

Apparently one of the rarest Canadian punk 45s ever. This is the sound of people figuring out that they can do punk—plaintive almost sorta Jonathan Richman vocals over sludgy attempts at BUZZCOCKS guitar. A mod punk vision that feels very of its era. Lyrics are all desperate paens to a girl who just won’t succumb. If you are into Good Vibrations outta Ireland this will definitely appeal, feels more rudimentary than, say… RUDI but a similar sensibility! Worth checkin out.

Dayglo Abortions Wake Up, It’s Time to Die EP

I couldn’t help buying Feed Us A Fetus as a teenager, which perhaps still has my favorite cover art on a punk record to this day. DAYGLO ABORTIONS has to be one of the most gloriously obnoxious—both in sound and aesthetic—bands from the annals of Canadian punk. Considering that the only material that really stuck with me are the first two 12″s, this unreleased session from 1982 is like a godsend. Cruder versions of classics like “Bedtime Story,” “Proud to Be a Canadian,” “Ronald McRaygun,” and the debut of previously too-shocking “I Am Whiter Than Hitler” (“but I ain’t no fucking nazi!”). And, fuck me, it’s already sold out! Do I have any fans out there that wanna help me out? Anyhow, as you may expect, Supreme Echo packed this thing in a stellar package with nice things to read and look at, like an amazing interview with their psycho vocalist.

Extroverts You Gotta Lose EP

It probably wasn’t easy being the first punk band in any city, but I bet it would be even weirder to be the first one in Regina, Saskatchewan. The EXTROVERTS hold that title; the eight songs on this 7″ were recorded in 1979. Like all early punk groups, the EXTROVERTS’ music is catchy and poppy with rough edges and attitude. The recordings are lo-fi, but there is something there. Song titles like “Nobody Knows Nothing” and “Brain Damage” nicely sum up the angst involved. Comes with a booklet containing the band’s story, photos, and fliers. Cool stuff.

Pink Steel Here We Go Again EP

PINK STEEL is proof of what can happen with a resource-strong support system, i.e. an enthusiastic high school drama department. Looking past the boner joke (I mean, we’re talking about teenage boys), the story told within perfectly explains the unique blend of punk, power pop, and theatrical bliss of this formative Victoria, BC septet. Yes, seven members. Both of their hard-to-find 7″s are included here, six songs resequenced, presumably to best fit all the material onto one fairly long 7″. Highlights are “My Girl’s Radioactive” and “Won’t Come in Your Hand,” mostly because of the lyrics. The piano tinkle is what shifts their upbeat and aggressively adolescent sound into something more profound. If you are relying on online streaming to enjoy Supreme Echo releases you are doing it wrong. The research and care that goes into the interview and liner notes here elevates these recordings, putting things into proper context and making the physical release essential. Your eyes will bulge at the flyer for “The Alandhiscar X-Mas Party” lineup from 1982, featuring PINK STEEL, the NEOS, and NOMEANSNO. I already know my high school years were bullshit, but give me a break, Victoria. Obvious pickup.

Plan Nine I Ain’t No Robot EP

Kinda all-over-the-place reissue of this ’81 release out of Calgary. It’s akin to a lot of stuff from smaller scenes of that era in the sense that while the songs pretty much fall under the banner of punk, they touch on a lot of different styles. The goofier side of the GIZMOS might be a fair comparison, albeit with a bunch of hard rock guitar solos thrown in. I found it all pretty enjoyable, but then read the included booklet and found out the title song here is about how the brothers in this band felt that socialism and communism are bad for people, which, uh, dampened my enthusiasm.

Private School Lost in Action 2×7″

Deluxe-as-fuck reissue of a crucial Canadian punk slice. This four- song EP was originally released in ’79 in a hard-to-file large envelope sleeve, and is now available in standard but expansive packaging, including an extra track, a booklet and two-song bonus flexi. The best tracks are still “Money Guns & Power” and the Bloodstains-comped, proto-hardcore “Fuck You,” but the rest of the songs are great too, sax and all! Supreme Echo rules!

Sudden Impact Freaked Out EP

Guided by the expert punk archivists at Supreme Echo, SUDDEN IMPACT upgrades a semi-legendary demo to a fully formed EP. Before leaning into something closer to “trad” skate-thrash, SUDDEN IMPACT were making pits erupt in Toronto and the proof is evident on a blazing 1984 recording. Delivering ten cuts in thirteen minutes, this remastered EP is practically the platonic ideal of a hardcore punk 7”. Things back then were truly fast and furious, so much so that who even has time to come up with song titles? (“New Song” could use a little more work but still packs a punch.) “Freaked Out” sports enough bent corners that it could fit comfortably on an early Killed By Death volume (see KRAUT). True to form, the theme song (“Sudden Impact”) completely shreds and features the always-welcome sound of breaking glass to ensure that you’re paying attention. And then they wrap things up by covering TED NUGENT, because of course. NUGENT sucks, but AMBOY DUKES rule, and as far as hardcore covers of hard rock nuggets go, it ain’t half-bad.

The Neos Fight With Donald EP reissue

Here it is! The first of two official reissues from the legendary Canadian band. Before fastcore or powerviolence were hardcore subgenre touchstones, these three teenagers were playing blisteringly fast punk with lyrics full of social commentary and their own inside jokes. Recorded in 1982—1983, that puts this record right around the first DEEP WOUND demo and before the SIEGE demo. Way early for this kind of lightspeed HC, and it blows my mind that NEOS are not quite the punk household name that they deserve to be. Hopefully this eighteen-song 7″ and the recent discography release will change that. Enough history, how does it sound? Fast and raw with the frenzied syllable-per-beat vocal delivery I mistakenly associate with ’90s Slap-a-Ham releases. This EP sounds like it was recorded live, and the energy is palpable. It’s passionate punk, turned up to maximum speed—pure energy bursts of righteous youthful spirit. Essential listening as a historical artifact and as a total face-melting 7″.

The Neos Three Teens Hellbent on Speed LP

Goddamn! This LP collects EPs, live stuff, and outtakes from this blazingly fast Canadian thrash hardcore act. Amidst the chaos and unchecked speed can be found little bits of goofiness which make the band’s catalogue much more appealing, and inspired bands like SPAZZ later on.

The Reaction East End Rockers EP

First-gen punk from up Canada way, reissued in scholarly style. Though I’ve held the particular volume of Smash the State that included the REACTION for eons now, the presence of SIGGY MAGIC simply lifted the thunder out from under this lot for my ear-holes. Not the case today though—this sounds pretty primo, collecting their most coveted track “The Kid’s Arrived,” along with a few cassette-only movers/ shakers. Not a lot of fat to trim either: proficient punking that’s oddly comparable to the NORMALS, if forced to cite a domestic KBD heavy. Includes hyper-detailed booklet for all us nerds to wipe our brows with after pogo-ing. Good stuff!

Witches Hammer Mortalas EP

This. Is. Awesome! I did a double-take when I saw this in my pile of records to review, as the only WITCHES HAMMER I knew of was the legendary Canadian thrash metal band, and sure enough this is a reissue of their debut release. Musically, it’s an absolute milestone in crossover history: raw and frantic, with an obvious punk influence bubbling below the surface (D-beats are present, for example). It was and is a great record, but the most appealing element of this package is the amazing, hefty booklet which includes band photos, flyers (WITCHES HAMMER performed plenty of DIY gigs with the likes of SNFU, the ACCÜSED, the BONELESS ONES, DOA, and VERBAL ABUSE), and a lengthy band history by guitarist Marco that makes it very clear that the band were more comfortable interacting with and performing for Vancouver’s punk scene than metalheads. Supreme Echo have put together a superlative package here: the remastered material sounds great, the pocket sleeve is sturdy and glossy, and the booklet is as good as anything you’d get from a reissue label like Radio Raheem or GTA. This’ll obviously mostly appeal to the crossover-curious, but anyone with an interest in Canadian punk history will enjoy the archival material included. This is a top-quality reissue and one that I am surprised and pleased to see included in the pages and archives of MRR.