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Please send vinyl (preferred), CD, or cassette releases to MRR, PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from!

4 Kopniętych I Fred 4 Kopniętych I Fred LP

As I type, I’m also listening to this LP by ’80s crew 4 KOPNIĘTYCH I FRED out of Poland. The groovy, melancholic opening track features some surfing guitar with a dark bend and some excellent shifts in pattern. When the vocals start, they feature some nice reverb that adds a bit of goth-rock touch. Post-punk song structures pervade this album, but the energy is pure punk rock. I really enjoy how the drums are featured prominently in a lot of songs and guide the tempo with expert precision. The record features a nice fold-out lyric sheet with some photos of the band playing. From 1983 to 1986, 4 KOPNIĘTYCH I FRED gigged in Jarocin. A lot of songs on this self-titled album seem to meander in unexpected directions that are increasingly enjoyable. 4 KOPNIĘTYCH I FRED seem to have an endless musical quiver to draw upon. If you like AGENT ORANGE, the ADICTS, or the DAMNED, then you absolutely must check this out. If you believe NED’S ATOMIC DUSTBIN is amazing music, then you’re going to love this.

Anonymous Carpetting Anonymous Carpetting cassette

The latest missive from Arielle McCuaig, Calgary’s leading art-punk agitator in PUPPET WIPES, VACUUM REBUILDERS, JANITOR SCUM, and probably at least two or three new projects just in the time since this ANONYMOUS CARPETTING cassette appeared last month. This one’s a solo home-recorded effort, all rinky-dink Casio presets layered with gnarled, freeform guitar and surreal spoken/chanted lyrics, scratching and collapsing like the most genuinely oddball Messthetics oddities. The appropriately anxious electronic twitch of “Nervous Habits” pays tribute to the PETTICOATS (connect the conceptual dots straight to “Paranoia”), the nagging, CHROME-plated rhythm of “Scab Thief” devolves into something far more mutated than mutant disco, and “Bell Bottom Strutter” is like a roughed-up, needle-pinned version of PRESSLER-MORGAN’s poetic, minimalist punk—all signposts from the past dotting the well-trodden path of wonky DIY, but ANONYMOUS CARPETTING takes plenty of detours along the way.

Blessure La Maniere EP

Serving up some tight and tense cold Oi! from the Spanish city of Bilbao, BLESSURE channels old school street punk with an anarcho vibe on these four florid tracks. Painting their driving backbeats with a post-punky feel, the band’s guitars take on an ethereal quality that works particularly well with the soft and direct tone of the vocals. Even though it’s dressed up in modern fashion, you don’t need to understand Spanish to recognize this as classic punk protest music.

Brute Spring Turquoise Window LP

Solo synth punk project in the tradition of “Hot on the Heels of Love”-style THROBBING GRISTLE and the slinkier moments of EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. Songs like “Blood on Sand” and “The Crash” mechanically churn with propulsive beats, electro-funk bass, and catchy, lo-fi keyboard lines. It sounds thickly analog and scratchy but also forward-thinking. Long-distance vocals call out through an echo tunnel to deliver barely intelligible communiqués to all the punks on the dance floor. The collection nears traditional industrial in moments, like on “Through the Window” and “Engines of Hate,” but the harder stuttering beats, guitar leads, and vocals still retain the melodicism of the surrounding songs to keep the record cohesive. Imagine your favorite vintage coldwave single left outside overnight exposed to the elements. The resulting sound, cracked, weathered, and slightly decayed, is BRUTE SPRING at its best.

Brux Fills De La Nit EP

This recording, as Working Class Drama, was released by the band’s label La Parca on a limited run of 100 cassettes in late 2023. However, its exceptional quality demanded a vinyl release. And here it is! BRUX returns with a collection of four tracks that embody their distinctive style. These hard-hitting anthems showcase a fusion of the sharpest post-punk elements, leaning towards deathrock, with raw street punk vocals. The band fearlessly navigates between two seemingly opposing genres, creating a fresh sound. Their music is both for traditional boot boys and post-punk enthusiasts alike. By combining the essence of BLITZ and deathrock, BRUX has crafted a diverse sound. Skins and goths can co-exist.

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.

Dead People / Disthroat split LP

Cool two-creature feature here from two great Spanish bands. DEAD PEOPLE from Barcelona plays simple and slick hardcore with a thumping bass, sing-along choruses, and an overall fun feel. They tie their six solid songs up in a neat bow with a surprising cover of “Suffragette City.” Flipping it over, Zaragoza’s DISTHROAT comes in sounding completely crazy with “A World in Decay,” and their portion continues in a barrage of brutish DISCHARGE-inspired riffing and ripping. Fans of DECADE will likely dig this side.

DSM-5 / 暴力装置 (Bōryoku Sōchi) The Future Means Murder split CD

Swedish D-beat mercenaries DSM-5 don’t waste any time, delivering five flaming tracks almost instructing the whole audience on how to properly handle distorted beats and how they should be grasped and executed. On the other half of the split CD, 暴​力​装​置 (VIOLENT DEVICE) gives us a fit filled with a raw hardcore essence, mixed with vocals echoing another era. Dis-lovers, this one’s sure going to satisfy your cravings.

The Follies Permanent Present Tense LP

The FOLLIES are a little FLAMIN’ GROOVIES with some BOB MOULD, and a little LOVE.  Lots of jangly pop to be had here, and I am not ashamed to admit liking the majority of it.  There might be a couple of songs that fall short (“I Idled,” “I Tried”), but all in all, Permanent Present Tense is a tightly-wound ball o’ power pop. Give us more vocals from Jess Poplowski, who contributed to  one of the better moments to be had on the record, “Bad Habits.”

Holy Shit! Have a Couple More Good Songs CD / Used Punk EP

It’s hard for me to really accept that Wisconsin’s HOLY SHIT! is well into their third fucking decade of thrashing, but here we are. Eight songs of beautiful, irreverent, ripping fastcore on the Used Punk EP, with just two songs kissing the sixty-second mark (neither get close to seventy). HOLY SHIT! continues to push envelopes, with blatant ’80s hardcore references mutated and damaged at will—this recording is no different, and I feel like every time I hear a new record of theirs, I get reminded all over again that “oh yeah, of course my brains are coming out of my ears….this is a HOLY SHIT! record.” You need a reminder too? They’ve got you. Just pop in the 78-track Have a Couple More Good Songs CD and hear the stellar KBDOOP LP, Not My Tempo and Old Hat EPs, splits with YOUR PEST BAND and GROANING GROOVE, the Live on WMSE cassette, plus some comp shit. It’s a lot, to be sure…but life is a lot, my friends. And it’s worth it. Also, the cover art is straight-up genius.

Los Retumbes Y De Postre, Komtessa cassette

If I had to imagine a garage band from the Basque Country in Spain releasing an album on a punk label out of Nashville, Tennessee, this is exactly what I would want to hear. Fast, driving, distorted guitars leading punk-tinged garage bangers with lyrics in Spanish, reminiscent of DIRTBOMBS and early MARKED MEN. Extra plus is album art that looks something William Hanna and Joseph Barbera would illustrate if they had worked for Adult Swim.

Monta​ñ​a Monta​ñ​a LP

The highly anticipated debut LP by MONTAÑA, a band hailing from Seville and formed in 2020, has finally arrived. Following their initial EP which made a splash in the vibrant Andalusian DIY punk scene, this new album features eight fresh tracks that stay true to the band’s signature style. With a focus on rhythms and danceable tunes, MONTAÑA boldly explores various elements of punk music that have evolved since the late ’70s, drawing from post-punk, new wave, and no wave influences. The songwriting and sound on this debut album have matured, showcasing the band’s ability to create songs that are both simple and complex, with an energetic vocal delivery taking the spotlight. Driving bass lines propel the music forward, supported by a solid rhythmic foundation and guitar work that keeps you moving while immersing you in the band’s dreamy and melancholic universe.

Northeast Regional Fitness EP

Following the band’s debut LP Brand Managers of the Mid-Atlantic from last year, NORTHEAST REGIONAL fires off three post-hardcore/power punk tracks on this latest 7”. The group comes to us from Richmond, VA by way of Washington, DC, and is the brainchild of vocalist and guitarist Jeff Byers. The group was formerly a studio-based effort with lots of credited musicians, but a steady lineup has since formed and the group has been found on stage with local acts like DARKER THAN and the ARMORS. For their sound, Byers sites inspiration from groups like the HIVES, OSO OSO, MENEGUAR, and brings it back to his regional roots “[with] LUNGFISH’s ‘less is more’ songwriting approach.” The songwriting and ethos of the band seem to be a mélange of mistrust of capitalism, a good gym routine, and heavy, fast guitar riffs, producing song titles like “Agencies” and “Isometrics.” If you’re looking to reminisce on the RVA punk sound of bands like STRIKE ANYWHERE and the riffy metal- tinged mood of DC’s DARKEST HOUR, look no further than NORTHEAST REGIONAL.

Office Chairs Cross Passages EP

Artsy-fartsy indie synthwave that is an apparent collaboration between a lauded experimental composer and a shoe designer. If that sentence sounds confusing, just wait ‘til you hear the music. I may be too dumb to give this a fair shake, but I think I get what they’re going for. It’s as if LCD SOUNDSYSTEM was robbed of most of their talent and some of their gear. Or like an incredibly low-rent knock-off of ESG, minus the ingenuity and charisma. The vocals on this release have a limp half-spoken, half-sung thing going on that makes me legitimately want to take a nap. Aggressively boring, and yet reeking of condescension. Or maybe I’m just too dumb to understand the sophistication at play.

Pork Belly I’m Okay You’re Okay Everything is Okay 12″

The jazzy, free-rock “Intro” felt pointless and self-indulgent at first, like a noise band warming up, but made perfect sense after listening to the rest of PORK BELLY’s new EP, like an appetizer for the no-wave-influenced indie punk to follow. The six tracks here fit together with syncopated drums, complex interlocking trebly guitar leads, and co-ed vocals that exchange deadpan spoken missives with more urgent sung ones. It works so well together, in the same quasi-experimental but still accessible way that the best moments of ERASE ERRATA or DEERHOOF records do. Closer “Superstar” is the standout here, a lush and woozy wall of tremolo-bending guitars that lays down blankets of chiming sublimity over melodic vocals, like a collab between TERRY and MY BLOODY VALENTINE at their most concise. PORK BELLY has beauty, they have grace, they have art-damaged noise punk that finds the sweet spot between atonal challenge and heart-swelling beauty.

Rick N the Sickos RNTS LP

Two lads from the CHATS team up with some other Brisbane punk (who also maybe used to be in the CHATS) to write a punk’n’roll record. Fourteen songs that blitz by in about fourteen minutes, covering topics like how much they love to rock’n’roll, lack self control, shit their pants, shit the bed, etc. Imagine some mix of the PROBLEMATICS or CATHOLIC BOYS, Blood, Guts, and Pussy-era DWARVES, and the Wimpy-fronted QUEERS…had all those acts somehow been really into the MEAN JEANS. It’s a little too self-aware (bordering on totally phony) to be good. But I have a soft spot for this kind shit, which not too many folks are making these days, so I didn’t hate it. “Shut Up” kinda kills, even.

Schenectavoidz Wax Void cassette

Raging, bong-ripping hardcore punk from upstate New York with a couple members from DEVOID OF FAITH. As you can see in the artwork, it’s so raging that both the cat as well as the rat can’t even quite keep up with its intensity…something about how they’re able to play in a way where it feels faster than the actual BPM of the music. A continuation from DEVOID OF FAITH as well as IN/HUMANITY or GUYANA PUNCH LINE. Chaotic destruction of thrashing madness from Schenectady.

Sikm Sikm demo cassette

Demo tape from these ATL ass-kickers, comprised of DINOS BOYS and HEARTATTACKS alumni, channelling French Oi!, US hardcore, the best parts of UK82, and general menace and violence. Music to boot down doors to. A bonus and unexpected RADIO BIRDMAN cover rounds this tape off nicely. Cannot wait to see what’s next.

Territory War for…? cassette

Not to be confused with the Perth band of the same name, this TERRITORY is from Philly and on their War for…? cassette, they play crusty D-beat in the vein of DISFEAR and NIGHTFEEDER. I have no complaints and won’t mince words: this shit rocks. Everything is perfectly dialed-in: the squealing distorted riffs, heavy D-beat drums, and menacing shredded vocals. I love it. On top of that, they recently opened for NEUROOT and are donating all proceeds from this tape to Palestinian aid. What more could you ask for? Check out TERRITORY and grab a tape or six.

V/A Snot N’ Piss, Vol. 1 cassette

An absolutely outstanding international tape compilation. Seven bands, three of which double up on songs, making a grand total of ten stomping tracks, and it is legitimately difficult to pick a favorite here. Bands span being from Germany, Italy, and across Canada. The only band I came into this comp being familiar with was SHITTY LIFE from Italy, and their revved-up, fast hardcore punk tracks do not disappoint. Most of the tracks on this comp lean towards the rock’n’roll/garage punk realm of the punk spectrum. If I had to pick a singular standout on here, it would probably be the POISON SUCKERS track. So grimy and lo-fi and yet oddly very catchy and pretty. My only gripe with this killer tape comp is with the layout, and it isn’t even that it looks bad or anything like that, it’s just a little difficult to decipher what’s going on and feels like there’s a bit of a lack of information included. Were it not for the more comprehensive breakdown about the release on the label’s Bandcamp site, I think it would have felt a bit confusing and harder to follow along with the tracks. All in all, a minor gripe for a killer compilation—I can’t wait for the next volume!

Accidente / Nightwatchers split LP

Genuine question here: are these the same bands with different singers? They both sound identical sans vocals, and even then, they both sing with the same inflection. It almost seems like these folks sat around and wrote these songs together. I guess that would be pretty impressive in itself, seeing as one band is from France and the other from Spain. I’ve whined about this in the past, so forgive me if you’ve heard this tirade before, but split albums are really only interesting when you can clearly distinguish the bands from each other. There were times listening through to this album that I didn’t realize it had hopped over into the second half until the singer appeared. Regardless, both bands are quite talented and have obviously taken great care with their songwriting. The production is beautiful, and each side sounds absolutely massive and sweeping. However, there’s nothing really groundbreaking here. I’ve listened through a handful of times and very little has really stuck with me. Closest I can come to a comparison is SUGAR STEMS and MARKED MEN, but they don’t replicate the same type of catchy hooks. Interesting to note that while both bands are from Europe, this LP was mastered at the legendary Sonic Iguana Studios in Indiana.

Bafomet / Devil’s Poison Drinking Blood split CD

Live, raw split combining forces between Chile’s own Satanic thrash metal on behalf of DEVIL’S POISON, a blistering, vicious gig filled with never-ending solos and thrashy gutturals all over praising the dark lord, and Tokyo blackened metal punk on the BAFOMET side. The venomous side of this split is all over the place, featuring “close to the chaos while the band is going strong” vibes which I enjoyed, but on the technical side, it’s quite messy. If you get your kicks spending several hours in dungeons and small, smoke-filled gig spaces as I do, then this might be right up your alley, since it sure captures that feeling.

Bastardestroyer / Gorc Crust 暴力 / Rychlý Pramen Z Pos​á​zaví split LP

Splits are always a fun showcase of like-minded bands sharing the medium of art to demonstrate their abilities. This is a split between raw punk aficionados BASTARDESTROYER from Indonesia and fastcore unit GORC from the Czech Republic. Expect violent tunes played at light speed and crusty boot stomps all over your eardrums. Also a gem for true Scandinavian hardcore maniacs in the form of a cover of “Criminal Trap” by the masters ANTI-CIMEX.

Choncy 20x Multiplier LP

Those groovy weirdos from Cincinnati CHONCY are back with a 12” vinyl follow-up to last year’s hit tape. Decked out in glitchy scratch-off ticket chic, this rollicking record further demonstrates the band’s “kitchen sink” style, in which elements of punk, post-punk, and hardcore are pieced together to create an ambitious sonic collage. Smart, uninhibited, and overflowing with ideas and energy, this set of songs defies succinct description, offering a poignant surge of originality in each track. Foaming at the mouth one moment and snapping into a friendly guitar jangle the next, there’s never a dull moment. Having an average weekend? Put this on the turntable and monotony doesn’t stand a chance.

Dagger Points Notes for a Man in a Sinkhole LP

DAGGER POINTS are aspiring slam poets from the NW with a sound that’s one part HELLACOPTERS mixed with another part spoken word, faux Mark E. Smith thing. There are members from EX-GIRLFRIENDS CLUB and LOVESORES, both of whom I am pretty sure disbanded pre-COVID. Can’t say much…this is a really tough slab of self-indulgence to get through. It’s like I can already hear the band members’ shitty pick-up lines…

Dead Silence Diving Back In 4xEP boxset

Let the ’90s nostalgia train keep rolling, young punks. Colorado’s DEAD SILENCE was everywhere when I discovered DIY punk. I never saw them, but the records (and there were a lot of them) popped up everywhere I looked, and the Freedom and Hell and How Could We Make Any More Money Than This? EPs received constant spins in my early years. Listening to this box, which contains those records along with the TIT WRENCH split and A Benefit tracks spread out over four 7”s, I’m struck by the UK influences that escaped me at the time. DEAD SILENCE really does hit like a group of North American punk kids gobbling up everything they could get their hands on and using it all to make a sound that was theirs, and that is unbelievably refreshing in 2024. Some previously unreleased recordings capturing the band in their infancy are thrown in as well, so this isn’t a straight reissue of records you (should) already have, and the booklet with images and memories makes this worth well more than the price of admission.

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.

Gut Health Singles ’23 EP

Five-piece from Naarm/Melbourne providing some wonderfully angular no wave, led by Athina Uh Oh. I hear ESG mashed together with DEVO—great quirky synth lines, staccato, jabbing guitar riffs, jittery drums, and a busy bass. They’ve got music videos for a lot of their songs, which are worth checking out to see their art-house aesthetic at work. Would definitely recommend this EP and this band!

Hooper Crescent Essential Tremors LP

Second album from Melbourne’s strident new wave/indie-artsy rocker project. Experimentation is a key point on this 12”, as their post-punk sound structure with a drum machine heart is filled with nods to TELEVISION, DEVO, and the like, but with much fresher (and on some tracks, much deeper) dives into sections and also instrumental space sounds. Aspects like the creation of “tension during order” is on-point here. I should also emphasize the fact that tempos are quite similar between the songs, giving the impression of monotony and repetition, which bored me from time to time, so note that this airplane takes time to pick up. Synths and keys are sweet and well-played. On the poppier side of post-punk, and for garage synth lovers.

Kuballa Auf Den Dächern Der Stadt EP

KUBALLA originates from Ludwigsburg and Stuttgart, and has been creating punk rock music since 2012. With their German-language lyrics and a touch of the old guard, like TURBOSTAAT and similar bands, they are certainly a perfect fit for fans of this genre. The four songs on their EP are filled with energy and possess a charming quality.

Lazy Sunday Another Summer LP

It’s hard to miss the vocals and guitars at the heart of this record. They’re the driving force of the songs, and are almost always harmonizing. That said, the rhythm section is no slouch. The former are strengthened because the latter is dishing out some very tight, stop-on-a-dime beats. They’re a solid foundation beneath this smooth, sad pop punk lament. Did I mention it’s smooth? Polished? Sparkling? It’s like the sonic equivalent of a newly inked tattoo, or a threadbare but freshly washed black T-shirt.

Mutant Genes Mutant Genes cassette

Originally released in 2012 as a 7” on Vomit Comet Records, Distress Signal Tapes does us the service of reissuing the only five songs recorded by this hardcore punk act out of Queens. I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of hardcore from this time frame, and admittedly a lot of NYC bands from this time frame as well, haven’t exactly aged particularly well. It’s not always easy to do something that leaves a mark and is able to stand the test of time. It’s incredibly silly, but seeing the “originally released 2012” line in the liner notes, I did not expect to be as impressed with this as I am. Driving, catchy, memorable songs, with vocals delivered by a dude that sounds remarkably similar to the singer from CAREER SUICIDE. I think this is great, and I’m a bit bummed I missed their singular two-week tour twelve years ago.

NightFreak Nightfreak LP

Some riffy, metal-spiked punk from Chi-town. NIGHTFREAK plays good bar-burners with some guitar heroism chucked in the heap. Anyone remember KARP? Not sure if I would ever come back to this album after hearing it all, but the track “Bones” is worthy of a detour.

One Million Bulgarians Pierwsza Plyta, Vol. 2 LP

Without doing a deep dive into ONE MILLION BULGARIANS and wasting time, I’ll just say that they were a goth band from the ’80s. This LP is a long-awaited release, and is well worth seeking out. A little more punk than most goth and heavier than most punk bands, ONE MILLION BULGARIANS fit into an interesting sound. The vocals almost conjure AXEGRINDER when they really start to kick in. Chunky bass tones combine with grinding, rhythm-heavy guitar to form a wall of industrial sound that also gives impressions of KILLING JOKE and MINISTRY. Crashing metallic noises and the sound of bouncing balls of skin replace the sound of drums when the jams begin to flow. As one of those people who likes aggressive music that doesn’t seem to have an ounce of light in it, I really dig this album. It’s kind of like early crust, kind of like early goth, and entirely its own thing.

Poison Idea Tribute to G.I.S.M. EP

The mighty POISON IDEA pays tribute to the mighty G.I.S.M. and their legendary frontman Sakevi Yokoyama with a 7” of two covers recorded in 1992 and a newly composed noise piece. The covers, the timeless “Endless Blockades for the Pussyfooter” and “Death Agonies and Screams” (the first two tracks off G.I.S.M.’s essential Detestation) are faithful renditions of the originals: fast and weird, one foot in hardcore and one foot in ’80s speed metal. Jerry A manages to capture Sakevi’s bewildering layered vocal attack (no easy feat), and the band rips through the tracks with the required high voltage. The main difference is the tone— POISON IDEA’s thick, warm sound is a departure from the original tin-can distortion, and it sounds awesome. “Pig Scream” is a short experiment with reversed vocals and sound collage screams that recalls G.I.S.M.’s more adventurous forays into extreme sound. The stark cut-and-paste artwork folds out into a perfect mix of both bands’ aesthetics, making a fitting and earnest tribute from one side of the punk underground to the other.

Polynesiankid Polynesiankid CD

A solid slab of ’80s-inspired hardcore skate punk inspired by the likes of BLACK FLAG and BAD BRAINS. I couldn’t find too much info on the band, but they are Tokyo-based, had a demo in 2021, and recently released this, their first full-length. There are some great tracks here, my favorite being the surfy “Mentos Coke,” which kind of sounds like the DEAD KENNEDYS in its intro. Overall, I have no complaints; it’s quick, it’s straightforward, and it sounds like the band had a good time recording it.

Reek Minds Malignant Existence LP

Fourth release by Portland’s REEK MINDS, again with a non-stop chaotic destruction of brain-melting, thrashing hardcore to grind your face off with. From the first D.R.I. 7” to SIEGE’s Dropdead, to GAUZE’s discography to UNITED MUTATION, to borderline old school death metal like AUTOPSY or ATROCITY (without metallic riffs)—really, the best of all worlds. Complete mutants of the punk scene, but also a real product of the current conditions in the Rose City. Recommended release.

Sludge Toxic Misery CD

From the glorious point of view of 2024, a band calling itself SLUDGE is, depending on your perspective on punk paranomasia, either unfortunate or brilliant. Or both, actually. Of course, SLUDGE couldn’t have known that the term “sludge” would come to represent a whole musical subgenre. And, well, let’s all admit that it is objectively a good name for a punk band. This is definitely an obscure one, and details are scarce to say the least. What I can tell you is that this CD is a reissue of the band’s 1990 demo entitled Toxic Misery, released on Snake Den Entertainment, a label based in Pennsylvania. And that’s about it. But it only made listening to it even more mysterious and challenging. In a world where you have access to almost all of the music of all bands in a heartbeat, it is a pleasant feeling to just give a band a go without any prior knowledge, like a baby tasting lemon for the first time. And on the whole, I like what I am hearing. The band has that distinct late ’80s raw hardcore edge with throaty, angry vocals and a crunchy crossover feel on some songs. Obviously, the band completely belonged to the ’80s American hardcore school, and I am reminded of POISON IDEA in the vocal delivery and the punk beefiness of the songwriting. The filthy, heavy, and crusty metal number “Lost” is the clear winner for me. I cannot say I love it, and some of the tough guy hardcore moments are totally lost on me (that probably has to do with the fact that I am about as hard as a dead shrimp), but I am sure fans of old school USHC would fall for this. Good job by the label to unearth this rare recording from a short-lived band that was typical in the noble sense of the term.

Squid Pisser Vaporize a Tadpole CD

Day-glo LOCUST-core technical grind with gurgling synths make this a wild ride from start to finish. Featuring Tommy Meehan of CANCER CHRIST and GWAR on guitar and Seth Carolina of STARCRAWLER on drums, this release collects a previous album, EP, and some demo tracks in preparation for their Skin Graft debut. And it’s weird. Give it ten seconds, and you’ll know if it’s for you or not: blistering blastbeats, start/stop guitar bursts, and unhinged vocals with no space to breathe. Many songs feature guest vocalists that vary in sound and approach, from the straightforward grind of “Violence Forever” with Megan O’Neil of PUNCH, to the noisier experimental punk of “My Tadpole Legion” featuring Yako of MELT BANANA. Less successful are the forays into nu-metal riffing on tracks like the CRUCIFUCKS cover “Marching for Trash,” or “Everlasting Bloat.” They don’t match the neon sliminess of the surrounding work for me, but I could see metalheads digging them. Fun and grimy collection for aficionados of monster masks and brightly colored fluids.

Sutros Acrid Tongue cassette

Debut full-length recording from this San Francisco-based, somewhat uncategorizable power trio. It’s rock’n’roll, it’s noise rock, it’s no wave, it’s garage rock, it’s psychedelic rock, it’s post-punk. Whatever aforementioned subgenre you most identify with, chances are you’re gonna hear something you like within these eight tracks. Everything about this is really well done. Recording sounds super pro, tapes look and sound great. These are clearly some dudes that know how to play their damn instruments. There are admittedly moments where the length of the songs starts to weigh on me a bit, and a couple times through the album, the wild, out-there licks start to enter an almost free jazz territory, which my little brain has trouble fully wrapping itself around, but these are merely minor personal preference points, nothing inherently bad. I mostly think this is a really killer album and wouldn’t be surprised if it were to get the vinyl treatment at some point down the road.

Throatrip Gaslight EP

I’m no expert on or even regular listener to powerviolence, it’s just not my thing. This EP from THROATRIP, however, is something I can get into. It’s pretty accessible for the genre, as the song lengths are slightly longer than usual. They aren’t epics by any means, but they are able to breathe and actually be digested by my unacclimated ears. Otherwise, you get all the trademarks of the style, including blastbeats, breakdowns, tempo changes, and audio clips between songs, including a line from The Breakfast Club that hits hard in this context. Extra points for being a two-piece and also having their drummer on vocal duties. These guys must be exhausted by the end of their live shows. Recommended, check out the track “Convulsions.”

Valtatyhjiö Kuristusleikki EP

Raging debut 7” by Finland’s VALTATYHJIÖ. With many bands taking cues and almost relentlessly knocking off classic KAAOS or RIISTETYT or some other already validated international hardcore group, VALTATHYHIJIO takes its influence much further and creates something new and that is themselves. Drier-sounding recording than the traditional style, yet still just raging, fast, in-your-face hardcore. The first track has the same energy as the Totaalinen Kaaos EP without sounding the same. Hard to pinpoint, but really into what’s coming out of the speaker. Another recommended release.

Zondar The Chain / The Light Burns 7″

Rob from BUCK BILOXI brings us some more of that DEVO-inspired egg-punk that’s everywhere these days. Both songs have movie samples that seem to last longer than the actual music itself. This single is fine. This drum-machine-laden bedroom punk genre has been done to death, and you really gotta come out swinging if you want to contribute something interesting, especially on a label like Goodbye Boozy, which has released a ton of heavy hitters in this style over the last couple of years.

V/A Failed States // Creative Reistances 3xLP

This triple LP compilation is truly something to behold! Across the six sides, we are treated to 43 cuts of blistering punk from Belfast in the north of Ireland, Banda Aceh in Indonesia, and Prishtina and Prizren in Kosovo. The impetus behind the project was to bring the three places into dialogue with one another, while providing space for each of the respective scenes to share and celebrate their unique identities within the broader context of global punk. To facilitate this, each record is curated by separate groups from each locale. It’s a massive undertaking that must have taken years to put together. I was immediately struck by the obvious care that went into the production. From the triple gatefold of the jacket with unique art for each record, to the thick slabs of colored wax, it’s clear that no detail was overlooked. The compilations themselves are no exception. Each curatorial group brought their own flavor to the effort. The Belfast record, Trouble Brews, is akin to a condensed retrospective of DIY punk from the region from 1978 to 2023, spanning the gamut of hardcore punk, ska, pop punk, crust, and more. Here again the care is in the quality, with bands like JOBBYKRUST, PINK TURDS IN SPACE, DEJA VU, and PORPHYRIA lending particularly memorable songs. The Banda Aceh record, Aceh Punx, is similar in the breadth of styles represented, but isn’t organized in the same chronological format. This change, while small, helps to achieve one of the aims of the project—the creation of dialogue across time and space. This record has more bands from the 21st century, and has more modern-sounding hardcore bands with metallic influences. Some standouts for me were GANDOE, MILISI KECOA, and ALAKAZAM OI. Punk KS takes yet another tack by skipping over the ’90s entirely and exhibiting bands from Kosovo in the ’80’s juxtaposed with bands from the last 24 years. Similar to the other discs, this album highlights bands across the broadest spectrum of punk, but once again stirs new ingredients into the recipe by pushing into more experimental territory than the other records. I was consistently impressed by many of the bands, but the ’80s groups in particular caught my ear, such as LINDJA, VIVIEN, GJURMET, and BANKROTT. All in all, this is an exceptional compilation. The initial pressing is limited to three hundred copies, and there is a two-year embargo on digital versions to allow the collection to circulate in the real world as a physical, analog artifact. Don’t be a dummy—if you see it, buy it!

V/A Scaling Triangles LP reissue

Originally released in 1981, Scaling Triangles was one of the first (and best) compilations of the era to focus explicitly on femme-centered post-punk, collecting three songs each from UK-based acts the PETTICOATS, SOLE SISTER, and SUB VERSE. The PETTICOATS are clearly the marquee name here, and the only one to ever make it out of comp-only purgatory—1980’s Normal EP is an undisputed clanging Messthetics world-beater, and Stef Petticoat’s contributions here are equally wild and not tempered in the slightest by the introduction of the speedy but steady pulse of a rhythm machine over chaotically thumped drums, with “Paranoia” in particular utilizing Stef’s repeated cry of that exact word over ticking metronome clicks and blown-out, trebly guitar to effectively push panic-triggered brain receptors. SUB VERSE’s brittle, drum-machine-rooted post-punk echoes SOLID SPACE’s DIY minimal wave on “Chance Romance” and the MARINE GIRLS on the melancholy and minimalist “Still Friends,” while Sue Clarke’s airy but passionate vocals over the tense rattle of “Science of Fear” is almost anarcho-punk austerity, and the three tracks from SOLE SISTER are switched-on, synth-focused instrumentals, the sort of charmingly homespun bleep-bloop that thrived in the early ’80s cassette underground and the reviews section of OP zine. Real genius shit across the board.

Завірюга XXX cassette

Kooky, zany, wild, demented, synth-heavy Ukrainian egg-punk. In a post-SPIN Magazine egg-punk article world, where it seems everywhere you look punks are trying to out scramble one another, along comes a solo recording project that I can’t even praise since the band name is in a completely foreign alphabet to me and I can’t phonetically sound it out. And, it is quite possibly the most sincere-sounding version of this currently overdone genre I have heard in quite some time. This is outstanding! There’s six songs on this tape, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll rip through it and be thirsty for more. Well, my fellow punk enthusiasts, you are in luck, because since August 2023, this project, which I believe translates to BLIZZARD, already has five cassettes out, all of which are unbelievably good. The only downside that I see here is it seems that as of now, ЗАВІРЮГА has never played a show and the mastermind behind the project “prefers to work alone.” Somehow this just got even cooler.

Amusement Dead on the Inside / Repentance 7″

Two tracks of grandiose, big-riff melodic hardcore. The vocals are a little less shouty and a little more singy than usual. Likewise, the guitars split the difference between pop and thrash, alternating between a more harmonious, introspective verse and a chugging, cathartic chorus. The members of AMUSEMENT (AMUSEMENT? Really? Have we officially run out of band names?) have plugged away at this genre for years, so the music is precisely cut with a bow on top.

Berthold City A Moment in Time LP

Featuring veterans of the L.A. hardcore scene, BERTHOLD CITY takes every element of straightedge/youth crew and packages it neatly here on A Moment in Time, a collection featuring their first two 7”s, three new songs, a CIRCLE JERKS cover, an INSTED cover, and a comp song. I really don’t have much to say here other than this would be a great entry point for someone interested in getting into this style. They aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but it is a pure expression and representation of the sub-genre. I mean, they’re named after the font used by everyone from SSD to JUDGE; you can tell what you’re going to get based on that alone.

Bluff City Vice S2pid cassette

Lo-fi cyberpunk duo of Tennesseans from Memphis ripping a gnarly digital form of punk, with a drum machine full of viruses and monotone “through the internet fiber” vocals that tweak from time to time. The use of rip-off sounds, effects, and heavily dubbed voices is creative. Give it a go for something different.