Allusion Allusion demo cassette

This demo cassette from French punks ALLUSION features four viciously raw, D-beat-heavy hardcore punk tracks on the A-side, with even more abrasive versions of the same program on the B-side. It’s evident from the first thirty seconds of both sides where ALLUSION draws their aggression from. Be ready for pummeling drum breaks, distorted guitar leads, and barking vocals on whichever side you choose to play.

Coins Parallèles Démo cassette

Montreal post-punque pour toi. I breathe a heavy sigh listening to this, as I wonder how many new minimal post-punk bands we need? How has this style survived the pandemic? To be fair, I get the allure for bands that play this kind of music, much like the spikeys glom to D-beat. It’s a recognizable sound, it has a defined aesthetic, and it’s usually a surefire ticket to a built-in audience. But at this point, the style is so minimal that it’s become deeply generic and overdone. Listening to this demo is akin to opening my lunch and seeing that it’s peanut butter again. But I will say there are some textures on this that I liked, and the lead guitar has some occasionally inverted, diagonal-sounding passages that contrast with the hard parallel lines and 90-degree angles that the songs are drafted with. My biggest complaint with this (as with most bands of their ilk) is that the rhythms are so stiff and uptight. Their drummer’s neck and shoulders must be so sore from playing like this! How the hell do you make a cowbell sound so damn unfunky? I just wanna get them a massage, some beers, and a plate of poutine, let them loosen up a little before going back to the studio. Groove is in the heart, but this sounds like music for Lego-men to dance to, and I’m sorry to tell you, Lego-men have got no heart.

Cry Bummer cassette

Perfect-length EP of grimy synth punk à la Belgium. I hear former greats like KEBAB and SIGLO XX on Bummer, but CRY can manage their own songs with aplomb. The gnarly bass tone lends a helping hand on hooky bruisers like “Public Hate” and “S.C.U.M.” “Oh Shit” would back that ass up to SPECIAL INTEREST on the dancefloor. The vocals mean business and business is good. Buy now, CRY later.

D.B.R. Boogie Nights cassette

D.B.R. appears to be a solo-recording project from Denes Bieberich. The Bandcamp copy just attributes the recording to “…a mysterious being who interacts in German bands such as BENZIN, PIGEON, LIIEK, OSTSEETRAUM, and much more.” Bieberich also makes music under the name DEE BEE RICH, which would seem to seal my suspicions that he alone is behind this project. But DEE BEE RICH doesn’t sound all that much like what’s on this cassette, and there seem to be different vocalists from track to track. All the aforementioned acts seem to be pretty incestuous too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those folks are chipping in. Nor would I be surprised to learn that the vocals are being pitched up on some of the tracks. It reminds me of Mark Winter’s shenanigans, particularly around his project GSB (a.k.a. GORDON SPICER BAND, a.k.a. GOLDMAN’S SEX BATTALION). Mark’s clearly providing a musical influence here as well. But this is by no means CONEHEADS-core. Instead, this project takes some of that scene’s trappings and applies them with a light touch to create mostly minimal post-punk tracks. Like, “Nuclear Family” almost sounds like YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS, but with skittery C.C.T.V. drums and very faint cartoony rubber band funk guitars. And though some of the other five tracks are less minimal, more punk, or more sci-fi, that’s kinda the gist of the whole release. It’s actually pretty cool!

Desborde Ya No Kiero Ser Parte De Este Mundo demo cassette

Buenos Aires band DESBORDE’s first release (although they put two of this tape’s seven songs on Bandcamp in March of this year, if you deem that to count) is being released by a ton of labels in different parts of the world, and I can only assume they all had much the same “woah!” reaction as I did on first hearing. It’s synth punk, but pretty far removed from the post-CONEHEADS/NWI scene egginess that seems to be the default style for that sound at present: it wouldn’t surprise me if none of DESBORDE’s five members owned any DEVO albums. Instead, it’s super catchy, mid-paced street punk-adjacent stuff with sing-along choruses (if you know Spanish) and groovy keyboard fizz—the juxtaposition is kinda similar to NACHTHEXEN, although DESBORDE is on closer terms with punk orthodoxy, sound-wise. Gotta imagine this band would be amazing to see live where most people in the room knew the songs back to front.

Hot Chicks Legalize It cassette

If the band name and tape title didn’t already set low expectations, the détourned RAMONES cover art and cassette shell decorated with pot leaves almost certainly would, but thankfully, HOT CHICKS aren’t Burger-eating party-bro goofballs, but rather some Leipzig movers and shakers from bands like LASSIE and EX-WHITE having fun with a femme-forward, synth-caked side project. Lise Sutter of MARAUDEUR, COUTEAU LATEX, etc. recorded and mixed this (and might even be in the band, it’s hard to tell who exactly those fake RAMONES are), and even without that connection, HOT CHICKS’ twitchy nuevo-wave art-garage immediately hit me as an even less self-serious twin to Sutter’s group the STACHES—blasé lead vocals with animated girl-gang backing chants, econo surf-trash guitar, squiggly sci-fi synth, metronomic drums. I’m partial to the robotically detached “Misfortune Day,” with shades of early DEVO without cracking any eggs, and the naggingly insistent “Fox,” which flips from extremely MARAUDEUR-esque punctuated, post-punky verses to tambourine-rattling sass in its choruses, but the whole thing is worth a blaze.

Nohz Nohz demo cassette

Right out of the gate, NOHZ digs into a devastatingly tough riff that sets the table for what is to come—a flagrant disregard of the safety of your eardrums. This is an altogether brutal affair, with extremely well-crafted songs that feel both fresh and familiar at the same time. Tempos fluctuate from track to track in a way that makes every cut feel like a singular accomplishment, yet does not detract from the effectiveness of the broader sequence of the release. There is a brooding quality to the music that is heightened by the evil as fuck vocal delivery. In that regard, I’m reminded of RASPBERRY BULBS for their wedding of punk and black metal, though NOHZ certainly skews more punk. Song titles like “Brief Lights, Forever in Pain,” and “Sundial Impailers,” should be a pretty clear indication of what we’re working with lyrically. Musically, this release is brimming with hooks and discordantly catchy riffs. It’s an ugly, ugly world and this demo provides a fitting soundtrack for a waltz through the wastelands. NOHZ beckons you to join the blood party…will you accept the invitation?    

Precipice Precipice demo cassette

Mixed bag four-song demo from this Nantes, France crew. It definitely has its ups, with tracks like opener “One Customary Behavior in One Particular Situation,” delivering noisy, stompy hardcore with tinny guitars, bouncing bass, and gruff vocals. “Circus” follows this template well and adds dissonant guitar leads that produce some extra grime, like the ones MYSTIC INANE did so well. “In the Depth of Well” lost me a bit because the vocals are buried deep under the bass and guitar. It sounds like it was all recorded live in the same room, which is unfortunate, because the song sounds cool otherwise. Closing track “4” is a low-effort noise jam of someone lazily strumming open guitar strings and some backward vocals. At a little over a minute, it’s not a big deal, but when it comprises a quarter of your demo’s runtime, it becomes a statement. Of what, I’m not sure. The first few songs are enough for me to keep PRECIPICE in mind, though.

Zipper Dreamer’s Gate cassette

ZIPPER includes a couple of members from recent Australian deathrock/goth candelabra-carriers NYLEX and RULE OF THIRDS, and some of the stark SIOUXSIE-isms of those projects have definitely been carried over here, but Dreamer’s Gate pairs its strict rhythms and needlepoint guitars with a more dreamy ’80s pop shimmer; a new wave mirage in soft-focus pastels refracted in the distance of a monochromatic post-punk desert. Vocalist Haruka gives ZIPPER much of that spark, alternating between Japanese and English in animated shrieks and shouts (like the ones playfully pushing against the moody, straight-out-of-the-BUNNYMEN bass line of “High War”) or gossamer sighs (the early/mid-’80s 4AD-referencing context of “Flower”), often in the same song (“Ice”). Keen debut, especially in a typically staid subgenre that has little interest in coloring outside of the lines.