Willow House

Fog Lamp Conversation? cassette

Seven tracks of synth-driven garage psych with a post-punk undercurrent. The sung vocals are stabbing in the direction of the BLACK ANGELS, though not exactly hitting the vein. Perhaps it’s due to the drum machine, but there’s something rigid and mechanical slurping the lifeforce out of these songs like a digital leech. What’s left is a brittle husk whose parts don’t comprise a unified whole. Even the BLITZ cover feels stiff and unnatural in its execution. For this kind of neo-psych stuff to really break through, the band has to flip the script in some form or fashion—otherwise it just withers in the face of more innovative, or competent, or better executed alternatives. FOG LAMP has a sense of style, but the substance is nowhere to be found.

Hollow Point 10 Track E.P. cassette

Vancouver, BC’s HOLLOW POINT’s debut EP is ten tracks of raging, turbulent, early ’80s-style USHC thrashcore mayhem. Sonically reminiscent of early Dischord releases like STATE OF ALERT or TEEN IDLES, but with its own style added into it. Willow House Records is still keeping it real in the city of SF.

The Losers Storm the Beach cassette

As a somewhat long-running demo/tape reviewer, I have always felt it was my responsibility to describe the music on the tapes that I am assigned objectively, make accurate comparisons, and be as encouraging as possible. I’m struggling with this one a little bit, because from the first listen, I can’t get past the comparison aspect. From the yelling of the first line, I thought “damn, this sounds a whole helluva lot like that first NOFX EP on Mystic Records.” I then listened to it again, and could think of nothing else. Seeing that name, people in the modern day might immediately be put off, and who could blame them, but I encourage you to listen to that first record to see how wildly different it is from the NOFX of nowadays. I probably hadn’t listened to it in fifteen years, but it was all I could think of. To attempt to break myself out of this internal cycle, I figured I would simply listen to the self-titled NOFX record to prove to myself that the comparison was all in my head. Well, it wasn’t. I went back and forth listening to that and the five songs on the LOSERS’ cassette, and at one point I lost track of which one I was listening to. If you told me these were lost songs from the first NOFX session, I would completely believe you. I guess the only thing left to be said is if you like the first NOFX 7”, you’re gonna love the LOSERS’ Storm the Beach.

Utopian Homicide Detective Utopian Homicide Detective demo cassette

This demo cassette from San Fran punks UTOPIAN HOMICIDE DETECTIVE is fucking great! Instrumentally, it has a lot of proto-punk sounds that rock like MC5 or early STOOGES material, but the unhinged vocals are more like GOVERNMENT ISSUE or FLIPPER, and it all comes together in a perfectly noisy way. It’s a kind of arty noise that isn’t trying to be. The five songs on this cassette each have quick moments that are absolutely rocking, and even quicker moments that are psychedelic blasts of distortion that are otherworldly. In all, Croat, Guam, Kiko, and Mutt come together to make some of the best punk that you’ve probably never heard.