Reviews

Thrilling Living

CB Radio Gorgeous Mid Fit EP

Wild, whirlwind punk via Chicago that collapses time and space between the Dangerhouse-led sound of Los Angeles circa 1977-79 and the modern Midwestern weirdo underground of DEVO/SUBURBAN LAWNS devotees that had Northwest Indiana fixed at its epicenter—there’s some personnel overlap with CCTV here, tellingly. Bass and drums lock into hyperkinetic pogo-worthy rhythms topped with urgent, slashing guitar, while frontperson Anna pushes into the instrumental tussle with a series of shouts, yelps, and KLEENEX-esque non-verbal vocalizations (check that “woo ooh ooh” refrain in “Mid Fit”) that are a total joy. Blistering and barely contained; I’ve never said that a record “slaps” before, but this one truly does.

Child’s Pose Eyes to the Right EP

I fell in love with ELASTICA long before I ever had the opportunity to hear WIRE, and the collective works of RED MONKEY and Slampt Records were basically responsible for shifting my attention toward spiky DIY-revolutionary sounds in the late ’90s, so the acerbic, whiplash angular pop destruction of this second CHILD’S POSE EP is basically a direct line to the pleasure centers of my brain. Raw-nerve guitar slashes and needles, stark, see-sawing rhythms give way to total frantic tumbling-down-the-stairs inertia, and Sop’s vocals careen from fierce, spoken word detachment to wild ebullience breaking down and drawing out words into entirely new sound forms, with “Eyes to the Right” posing the eternal punk question “Do you ever feel like you’ve been cheated?” with a more genuine sense of danger (and simultaneously, anarchic joy) than anything Sir Jonathan Rotten ever snarled. Perfect pogo anthems for complicated modern realities.

Judy and the Jerks Music For Donuts EP

Watching JUDY AND THE JERKS play was one of the highlights of 2018! What a group! It’s a true and total brat attack like SIN 34 and Thrasher Skate Rock comps, but in a dream not a drab reenactment broscape. This is a sick hardcore 45: it sounds like the Hardcore California book in a cool and refreshing way, like stealing a soda on one of these end-of-the-world hot days. It’s a pleasure and it’s a punch in the face! You will like the feeling, you will imagine yourself in the crowd of Decline while listening to it… Every song is perfect, furious bratty hardcore for true punks. Can’t wait to get the LP!

Scrap Brain A Journey Into Madness LP

Raw, vulnerable, and disgusting, SCRAP BRAIN delivers a scourge of slowed-down art hardcore spiced up with a few unusual elements like a remixed pop sample and electronic interlude. While some hardcore bands attempt to break music through extreme precision or brute force, SCRAP BRAIN instead uses their powers to contort notes into unnatural positions, pours on malaise-infused static confusions, and glues it all together with scathingly unapologetic lyrics dissecting the experience of madness. Definitely something not to miss for hardcore fans, art rockers, and weirdo punks alike.

Sniffany and the Nits The Greatest Nits EP

If fucked up bashed out guitar snot gets your brains blown out, if you run out the grooves in yr HONEY BANE ’n’ GOOD THROB 45s, if you seek lyrics that are savage class ’n’ gender disintegrations for pogo punks, then this is for you. It almost sounds like a weird combo of NO TREND and something on Crass Records in places?! I mean this is CRASS worship with a hardcore ferocity, so I think by now even reading my puny words you know whether you wannit or not… Do a runner!

Special Interest The Passion Of LP

I gotta say it. SPECIAL INTEREST make me horny as fuck. Really. It’s the music I want to hear in the backroom of the leather bar instead of the endless tired techno and classic rock. Just get out your old Crisco-coated VHS copy of Cruising, put on any bar scene (not the GERMS one), turn down the volume, slap on “Disco III” and let the poppers fly. Spiraling was totally one of the best albums of 2018, and while The Passion Of may be a little less raw and primitive, it is still punk as fuck and fierce as hell. For the uninitiated or blissfully ignorant, SPECIAL INTEREST is the band you wanted to hear when all the glossy rags were blowing air about the second coming of No Wave, the Lower East Side in the ’90s, and posers like the YEAH YEAH YEAHS. It makes me think of groundbreaking queer punk like the SCREAMERS, LE TIGRE, or NERVOUS GENDER with some TANGERINE DREAM thrown in, backed with a trunk-thumping Miami bass beat and a Southern charm that makes it all sweet and OK as your head is bludgened in. To me, The Passion Of sees the band finding its confidence and creating a fully realized piece of art. The ominous openings of “Drama” slap into the hard thump of part three of the “Disco” trilogy (hopefully more?), followed by the breakout hit of the plague, “Don’t Kiss Me In Public.”’ “All Tomorrow’s Carry” is a slow drive-by headbanger while “A Depravity Such As This” is a delicious druggy sin. They educate you with the stomping-on-whitey anthem of “Homogenized Milk,” while “Head” is a personal B&D psychodrama. “Tina” is chemical Hades. “Passion” is synth violence. “Street Pulse Beat” drags you through the gutter looking gorgeous, and lastly, “With Love” kinda magically pulls it all together leaving you spent of fluids, vacant and smiling. Multiple showers and a good therapy session may be needed after listening. I can see SPECIAL INTEREST getting really big from this one and lord, they deserve it.

Warp Traffic Control LP

I have heard people say if this band were part of the NWI crew they would be a so-called “hype band.” Maybe so, but instead they get to be seemingly the last punks existing somehow in San Francisco’s tech barf landscape of barbaric sharing economy lies ’n’ abandoned value systems. They are also my favorite live band right now, the combo of humans involved in this group makes for a dynamic experience! You think you are in for some art damage, maybe some sorta deconstructed B52’S but then somehow it truly sounds like it coulda come out on SST in 1981 (those fuckin destabilized Ginn guitars!!!! Also worth a look for fans of Pagan Icons!). However, this definitely feels like a product of now: smart acerbic lyrics that seem applicable to lots of end times capitalism scenarios but also could be from a game of Exquisite Corpse, vicious poetics in a most cool manner!!! Coolest group, best sounds, buy or die.

Xylitol I’m Pretty Sure I Would Know If Reality Were Fundamentally Different Than I Perceived It To Be EP

We live in hell. Sweatpants, aggressively marketed to us on data-mining apps as we remain confined to our homes-cum-workplaces (if we’re lucky enough to not be risking COVID serving the WFH class), cost $100 for some reason. Nazi cops use the same apps to suppress resistance and target the already marginalized. I don’t know anyone at this point who’s enjoying life. I hate it, you hate it, XYLITOL from Olympia really hates it. For XYLITOL, sourdough baking and furiously donating to GoFundMes is not enough—they wrote six pogo anthems asserting their humanity and agency when it feels like no one has any. “Dim the Sun” flips the script on ATROCIOUS MADNESS’ HAARP obsession, a Dr. Evil climate change reversal fantasy that trounces any corporate carbon offsetting. “I Want a Refund” is the clear hit, a laundry list of daily indignities large and small with nary a receipt with which to return them. “(There’s Something in Your) Void” slaughters the Scandi-minimalist vapidity of contemporary design; “I Have Free Will” is a last-gasp plea for sentience against the invisible hand of the market; “Don’t Let Them Leave” would rather parade Elon Musk’s head on a pole through the commons than let him escape to Mars with wee X Á† A-12. “Crazy Frog” closes out the EP—I think it’s a love song, but honestly who knows? It’s like PRINCE on DMT. XYLITOL only has one beat, but this record is short, and I’m glad the lyrics are shrieked along to frantic pogo rather than subsumed by the infographic-industrial complex.