Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

Send two copies of vinyl (one for our archive, one for the reviewer) or one copy of CD-only or cassette-only 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 releases outside our area of musical coverage, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from! All vinyl records received are added to our archive, which since 1977 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

Beige Banquet Live! Live! Live! cassette

UK DIY that was, you guessed it, recorded live! Though, this falls more along the lines of weirdo sounds coming from contemporary Deutsch punks (NUNOFYRBEESWAX and PONYS AUF PUMP come to mind), blending tight transitions with oddball cowbell and clap track interludes over an otherwise post-punk landscape. For a good taste, listen to the driving last track, “Hotel Room.”

Bzdet Atom cassette

Nice mix of post-punk and coldwave from this Polish band. The genre hallmarks of bouncy, loping basslines, angular guitar lines, and detached, depressive vocals are all here. But BZDET is not afraid of the dancefloor, like on “Niewola,” which is driven by crispy drum machine handclaps. Similarly, “Nadzieja” builds an ominous atmosphere around a bass-led dance beat and guitar swells. Other standouts are “Sukcesy (Pozory),” which features an oppressive, atonal din interspersed with trebly synth wiggles, minimal electronics, and spoken vocals, and “Okazejszyn,” the closest that the band comes to NEW ORDER-style pop, albeit with slurred/reverbed singing. Moody dance jams covered in sheets of ice for fans of SIEKIERA and LEBANON HANOVER.

CHECK YOUR HEAD Walls of Pressure cassette

Malaysian straight edge. No frills here, just straight-up hardcore. Fast, mosh parts in all the right places, pretty solid outing here. The gang vocals sometimes miss the mark for me here, though. The whole point of having gang vocals is to accentuate a chorus. While there are points where this does happen, more often than not it almost seems as if they’re just kind of randomly inserted here or there. However, that’s a minor set back on what is a great hardcore EP.

Clan of Xymox Peel Sessions LP

Founders of darkwave CLAN OF XYMOX have been reissued on Dark Entries with their 1985 Peel Session recordings. For fans of the genre, it doesn’t get any better than this—but you already knew that. On the intermittent cool and cloudy days of Spring, this will land just right: ambient yet driving synth instrumentation, with vocals that range from melodic and upbeat (“Seventh Time”) to a tortured ode (“Agonised By Love”). “Stranger” opens the album, and could be the soundtrack to a fallen angel’s journey through hell, with anthemic choral vocals backing the whole song; completely chilling. CLAN OF XYMOX (also released as XYMOX) has a catalog of music spanning from 1983 to present recordings. This group has stood the test of time.

D. Sablu “Live” For Tour cassette

Classic punk from the ’77 UK and ’74 Ohio schools, but naturally, it sounds exactly like neither because the real punks keep making the shit sound new and important (because it is important, of course). I can’t even imagine how hard it is to restrain yourself enough to make music like this. Every fukkn song feels like it wants to just let it fly, and I want to listen to HELLNATION when it’s over just so I can hear something fast. But that’s the point, and these New Orleans freaks nail it. Even when they go fast on “So Sorry,” the freakout is so controlled and I love it. Mutant garage punk at the absolute top of their game…and to be fair, they pretty much let it all fly on “Parody,” that one is a full release. Full swagger, full strut, full stomp, total punk.

Ensor Stench of Morgue, Scent of Parties cassette

Stench of Morgue, Scent of Parties begins with a D-beat number, complete with spartan bass/snare thumping over reverbed vocals. The band quickly departs from that format while staying in the musical neighborhood. Throughout you’ll hear noisy, squealing guitar, a slower, blues-y beat under a fuzzy bass, and piercing single notes. Think of this as a kinda noise (not music) revue. Enjoy!

First Day Out Cruel World cassette

This shit might be one of my favorites this month. Streetwise semi-metallic hardcore with “tough guy” lyrics, but not in the super cheeseball “B-boy gangsta meets NYHC” kinda way. It immediately gave me BLOOD FOR BLOOD vibes, but with not as much of an “I don’t give a fuck about you” attitude. My only complaint is the length. I wish there were a few more songs, but I suppose that’s a good thing. The ol’ “leave ‘em wanting more” trick.

Gaoled Bestial Hardcore demo cassette

Fucking. Nasty. Pronounced “jailed,” this Perth band’s demo is a raw and filthy mix of powerviolence, furious hardcore, feedback damage, and paranoid atmosphere that is an instant classic. This tape is my perfect mix of extreme underground music: the basic skeleton is crusty PV, but there are touches of first-wave black metal, underground death metal (check out the lo-fi solo on “Lined”), and sludge (the slow crawl through slime on “Voices”) etched on its bones. Imagine IRON LUNG wearing CELTIC FROST shirts doing bong hits out of human skulls. Really, really raw and excellent. Let’s go ahead and make “bestial hardcore” a genre and use this as the blueprint. Highly recommended.

Guadaña Culpables LP

On their sixth release, GUADAÑA from Mallorca, Spain shows no signs of slowing down. High-octane punk rock sung in Spanish carries the Spanish punk rock tradition to the fullest. Culpables has fourteen tracks of pure punk rock filled with contagiating energy and disdain. An easy album to get into due to its non-stop energy discharge.

Heather the Jerk Cable Access TV LP

Catchy and tough punk from Heather Sawyer on her first full-length album. She put out an EP, Rick Shitty Sessions, in 2017, and this album showcases her musical and lyrical expansion but keeps just enough rawness and spontaneity to make it honest and relatable. Similar energy to when the MUFFS were a four-piece, or pretty much any of the tracks off Sympathy for The Record Industry’s Alright, This Time Just the Girls compilations. The range here is dynamic with slow heartbreak songs like “Heather Got a Divorce,” “Thinking About Food,” and “It’s Over,” to poppier sing-alongs like “”3D Binch and “1-800-Heather.” Sawyer drums and sings for the inimitable PROUD PARENTS, and her bandmate Tyler Fassnacht helps out here on guitar. Sawyer is one more part of what’s keeping Madison, Wisconsin as one of the more pivotal punk scenes around.

I-SO Total Collapse cassette

The NY punk scene never ceases to spawn great punk bands. If you like HARAM, SCALPLE, ANDROID, or DROOL, you might be familiar with I-SO’s members. Released on the punk hub Toxic State, Total Collapse is the soundtrack to the collapse of the modern world. Uber-fast tracks like “Apocalypse Anxiety” show an almost fastcore approach, while songs like “Isolation” slow down a bit and provide a Side-B-of-Damaged feel of malaise. Thumbs up for this banger of a demo.

Josef K Sorry for Laughing / Revelation 7″ reissue

In tandem their Glaswegian contemporaries ORANGE JUICE, Edinburgh’s JOSEF K stitched together scratchy funk and nervous, angular jangle to help shape of the Sound of Young Scotland in the early ’80s, leaving behind a breadcrumb trail for the danceable and debonair likes of FRANZ FERDINAND, the STROKES, et al. to pick up at the turn of the century (don’t hold that against them). This 1981 pairing was one in a string of great, spiky singles from JOSEF K’s brief reign—both songs resurfaced just a few months later on the band’s sole LP The Only Fun in Town (which got its own reissue back in 2020), but the 45 was always the true post-punk people’s format, and Optic Nerve’s reissue campaign of crucial ’80s DIY short-takes can only be viewed as a labor of love in the 7”-hostile hellscape of 2022. On the A-side “Sorry for Laughing,” taut, disco-fixated rhythms (check that hopscotch bass line!) are blurred at the edges by a flurry of restless post-FEELIES/pre-WEDDING PRESENT guitar strumming as Paul Haig’s deadpan croon seals the deal with suave sophistication, while B-side “Revelation” strikes anxious art-punk poses like a more JOY DIVISION-damaged FIRE ENGINES, all wiry, treble-heavy guitar slash and bob-and-weave bass to give GANG OF FOUR a run for their money. Absolute class.

Kara Kara CD

I love how the universal language of punk is anger. Like me, you may not know a word of Polish, but you understand the feeling behind each of these songs. You understand what the struggle to protect our territories from the dispossession of capital in any form is all about. And that goes the same from the Rio Grande to the Vistula. I love KARA’s debut because it sounds as if the Basque band DUT had been influenced by DISCHARGE instead of FUGAZI.  What I mean by that is that we are looking at an album full of sharp and punchy D-beat, extremely fast and precise in execution, almost unbridled but never losing technique. And it’s really fun too.  I hope with all my heart to hear more noise from this band from Warsaw. 

Neutrals Bus Stop Nights EP

If 2020’s Personal Computing 7” was NEUTRALS wearing their Ed Ball/TELEVISION PERSONALITIES influence on their sleeves, this four-song EP has them erecting a full-blown shrine. The title track kicks off the record, and from the jump you’re not only getting a riff borrowed from “World of Pauline Lewis,” but also a very similar guitar tone—it’s cleaner, brighter, and more sustained than what we’ve heard from these folks in the past. The production is maybe a little slick (which is true of the whole record) and the tune is a little poppier than you’d get from Dan Treacy and co., but the songwriting is still fantastic. It reminds me of a less ramshackle version of the stuff SO COW was putting out in the late aughts. Now, the following track, “Geoffrey Ingram”…I mean, “Gary Borthwick Says,” is a real hit! It’s a super catchy number recounting the exploits of a truth-stretching scamp that seems to combine everything great about …And Don’t the Kids Just Love It into one song. It alone is worth the price of admission! “Pressures of Life” is a good reminder that UK DIY and indie pop have more in common with Oi! than you’d generally think—just listen to that chorus kick in and tell me you can’t hear it as COCKNEY REJECTS-ish shout-along. The record closes with “New Town Dream,” which mixes in some of the post-punk brutishness you got on their fantastic Rent/Your House EP. I kinda wish there was a little more of that throughout the release, but I understand why there isn’t. Anyway, great record—definitely worth your time!

Pensioner Pensioner demo cassette

PENSIONER is the name of this no-fi solo effort from GHOULIES’ Alec, recorded (as so many solo projects have been recently) during the pandemic lockdown in Perth, Australia. This demo comes off like a stripped-down, purposely ugly version of GHOULIES’ frenetic synth punk; all slimy, irradiated grooves and warbled vocals. Sounds like it could have crawled out of NWI in 2014 with the rest of the Lumpy gang. There’s even a devolved RAMONES cover (“Commando”). “Slip Slop Slap” is a delight, appealing to my eternal love of simple pop songs buried beneath layers of fuzz and noise.

Raw Breed / Video Prick split EP

This six-song 7” showcases cuts from Seattle’s VIDEO PRICK and RAW BREED from Denver—an appropriate pairing. The A-side is filled with speedy D-beating, ripping chainsaw guitars, and spastic, venom-spewing vocals that conjure visions of a raw punk version of Doc Corbin Dart at times. On the flip, RAW BREED brings more of a tougher, crust-flavored clamor with stomping hardcore songs that, to me, have a kind of a NYHC-type of sensibility to them. A decent racket here.

Rejoice Promo 2022 cassette

It’s always amazing when a band can play so unhinged, you think there is no way they can hold it together. Surely, the guitars, drums, bass, and vocals are going to fly off in different directions like shrapnel from a grenade. They produce a tension in your head like you are about to watch a horrible disaster, yet by some sorcery, great bands hold it together, leaving you a sticky mess at the end. REJOICE’s three-track demo of melodic hardcore does all that and more. It’s wild stuff out of Cleveland, OH, with vocals screamed through an echoey effects box and a wall of distorted guitars. The opener, “Empty Hands,” starts with the crazy, reverb-y drum track, and then all hell breaks loose.

Sad Eyed Beatniks Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver LP

Dreamy, soft focus guitar strum from multi-instrumentalist Kevin Linn, also known as the label head at Paisley Shirt Records. Paisley Shirt has been a major player in the emergent San Francisco “fog pop” scene, and SAD EYED BEATNIKS fits perfectly alongside other lo-fi bedroom acts like FLOWERTOWN and APRIL MAGAZINE (members of both bands play in the live incarnation of SAD EYED BEATNIKS). Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver feels looser, more experimental than its predecessor, 2020’s Places of Interest. There’s some interesting, knowingly unpolished guitar work here that occasionally approaches noise (“Aristoteles Crater,” “Hysterical Rooters”), and many of the tracks meander with no particular purpose (“Free Composition Number 6,” “Oh Hallo”). I wouldn’t call this a downer record but it certainly inspires the kind of wistful melancholy I enjoy indulging in from time to time (read: nearly all of the time). While I’m reminded of GALAXIE 500 or such classic idiosyncratic DIY acts as the TELEVISION PERSONALITIES or CLEANERS FROM VENUS, Claudia’s Ethereal Weaver stands on its own as a representation of a unique and compelling modern scene.

Scowl How Flowers Grow LP

Southern California’s SCOWL is probably the hardcore hype band of 2022, receiving a lot of attention in the underground—they also quite bizarrely opened for LIMP BIZKIT at Madison Square Garden recently—but I’m happy to say that, every once in a while, you can indeed believe the hype. How Flowers Grow is a total fist-pumping affair, dripping with passionate anger and righteous fury. Fast hardcore with plenty of mosh appeal, the band is driven by the appropriately scowling vocal stylings of Kat Moss, who delivers a hell of a performance on this record. In the midst of the chaos, “Seeds to Sow” appears basically out of nowhere with a more alt-rock style to it, but it also doesn’t feel out of place, either. And right after, it roars back into the insanity! You’ve been hearing lots of good things about SCOWL for a reason—they’re great! Highly recommended.

Si Dios Quiere Sol y Guerra cassette

SI DIOS QUIERE is a punk band from Chicago. They make metal-inflicted hardcore: heavy, with intrincate and brilliant riffing and a particular knack for mosh-inducing moments. This EP, Sol y Guerra (“Sun and War”) is full of amazing breakdowns. The band has been incorporating thrash and even death metal influences, and it pays off. The songwriting is tight, the lyrics reflect the issues concerning their Mexican-American community, and the musicianship is off the hook. I truly believe you should see this band live. And, of course, get these songs, like, right now, as the tape is already sold out.

The Things Live at Temple Bar Music Centre cassette

I don’t know much about the THINGS, other than the fact that they are a garage rock band from Dublin, and that the bassist went on to form long-time garage-psych powerhouse CHEAP FREAKS, who also have a new live cassette out on the same label (Primitive Screwhead) as this one. Jump back in time and across the pond with me, won’t you? Here we are in Dublin on May 27th, 2004 at the Temple Bar Music Centre, with the THINGS taking the stage. From the first note played on this lo-fi, live-recorded cassette, I am instantly a fan. Driving, nasty, synth-heavy, dingy garage punk which somehow dips its toes into the rockabilly world without being off-putting in the slightest. There are a few songs on here that I would swear I’ve known all my life, they’re that catchy. I love what Primitive Screwhead has been doing as a label, cranking out cassettes of live material of varying sound quality. Keep up the good work.  Despite the tape being shrink-wrapped, mine came complete with a long pubic hair sealed inside. Is that standard with this release or am I a special case? Thank you?

Арлекин Извор На Главоболките LP

From Macedonia comes Арлекин with this dirty, scummy slab of wax. Their debut album Извор На Главоболките delivers some inspired noise rock jams, packed with plenty of punch and even more riffs. There are a bunch of interesting ideas on this album, especially on the nine-minute descent into madness “Извор на главоболките,” which in my opinion is the album’s highlight. I do feel the album does slightly drag on a bit in spots, but when they get it right, it hits hard. Not necessarily an essential listen, but recommended for fans of noise rock.

Briefbombe Briefbombe cassette

A novelty act the likes of which I am surprised we have never seen before. Postal-themed fastcore, self-proclaimed as being “mail-fronted.” You get it? Because of the mail? A theme all punks are familiar with, I mean, everybody goes to the post office. Eight songs played with complete ferocity and desperation. The mail never stops, and neither does BRIEFBOMBE, which translates to “mail bomb” in case you didn’t put that together. The world has surely seen its share of novelty fastcore/powerviolence bands, but I am pleasantly surprised by this one. The cassette is short and sweet, leaving you wanting more. The band doing a reimagined version of “Plz Mr. Postman” had me a little nervous, but instantly won me over. This is an absolute blast, and I hear they play gigs all dressed as postal employees.

Canadian Rifle I’m Just Like You EP

CANADIAN RIFLE has long delivered pop punk via chugging guitars, floor toms, and agnst. That’s the sound for a host of bands from the early-to-mid-’00s. This record has the musical markers you’d expect: distorted but tuneful guitar, intentional dissonance, and earnest but irreverent lyrics. I think this record sounds just a touch sharper and leaner than past releases. If you spent your youth spinning the first BENT OUTTA SHAPE EP, or IRON CHIC later on, you might want to pick this up.

Double Fisted Carousel / 3AM 7″

DOUBLE FISTED describes themselves best as “old school punk rock dudes playing whatever they want.” This two-song 7” comes straight out of their garage in Glendale, AZ, with a fuzzy, stoner-psych vibe. But there’s more to unpack with these two sides. The instrumental A-side “Carousel” starts like a demo cassette of a ’60s psych-rock tribute band before switching seamlessly into solid thrash riffage in the style of an early METALLICA demo. Then, around the 2:20 mark, the hardcore skate punk chugging kicks in. It’s a lot, but it works. The B-side, “3 AM,” has more of a stoner, metalcore build to it. The riffs are great, and the vocals kick after about 90 seconds singing about witches, demons, and junk. This track also has that ’60s heavy psych rock/proto-metal vibe until it closes with a quick, hardcore mosh.

Eyes and Flys I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been, I’m Just Glad That You’re Home / Buffalo 7″

I wouldn’t want to say this is particularly punk per se, but it’s definitely not indie rock in the modern sense. Indie currently tends to be a polished, neatly-made, safe and starched pop music for people who probably rent those new condos in your city. This EYES AND FLYS 7” (their second within a year) is more slanted (and enchanted) towards ye olde ’90s college rock, and I’m sure the folks involved have spent considerable time with their SEBADOH, GUIDED BY VOICES, and ARCHERS OF LOAF records on repeat. It’s got that dusty, woolen lo-fi sound down pat—layers of guitar, with bright jangle strumming under a crunchy morass of distortion emanating from tweed-covered amps, with a light thump of drums to keep the beat. It was probably recorded on an eight-track inside a drafty house in the fall or early winter, probably while wearing scarfs and knit caps. The melodies peer through the murk and its sincerity stands hand-in-hand with its sneer.

Gear Man’s Search for Meaning EP

Pretty solid straightforward hardcore here from Hungary. Has a youth crew-ish energy at times, but it’s not overwhelming. Imagine if dudes from INTEGRITY met up with dudes from IGNITE and decided to write some songs. Good stuff.

Ideation Blunt Instrument cassette

A blast of severe hardcore from Talahassee, this demo from IDEATION is full of bludgeoning USHC punk that’s so amped up that it crosses into raw punk territory, at times reaching a level of cacophony akin to DISCLOSE, etc. It’s a spirited effort for sure—the singer laces the tracks with battle cries of “let’s go!” and each time he says it, I’m down to ride.

Klazo ‘Demik Dementia LP

Hard to believe that a two-piece can create a racket like this…also hard to believe that this particular duo just keeps getting wilder. But they do. You’ll be muttering “you fucking hippies you need your ass kicked” under your breath for weeks after you hear the opener, but the rest of this 12” slammer is even better. The very embodiment of garage hardcore, because KLAZO is decidedly both. As much as I want to blast the shit out of ‘Demik Dementia, I want to live in the world that is the morning after this kind of mania is unleashed, because I feel like KLAZO is the equalizer. Filthy, monstrous fuckery of the highest order…like if M.O.T.O. wanted to kick your ass instead of wanting to drink your beer. That’s KLAZO. They’re gonna drink your beer too, though.

Lamprea Explosiva Gravacións 2014–2018 cassette

Long runtimes are for overrated studio films these days. Everything seems to go on way too long. Life’s too short? Not if you’ve been paying attention. Thank the gods of shambolic rock‘n’roll, then, for collections like this. LAMPREA EXPLOSIVA keeps the songs chaotic (but firmly on the rails) and brief, injecting you with sugary fuzz in seconds flat again and again. These cuts are fun with teeth, the sort of joyed-out bedroom punk that wears a smile as an act of rebellion with plenty of melody and amp-damage in equal measure. And, most importantly of all, you won’t be bored for a second or skipping to the end.

LBM Ankalli EP

You had a long day at work. You’re underpaid. The world is a chimera of misery. Capitalism has colonized every inch of your nervous system. The air in your city feels heavy, full of polluting and poisonous particles. This eight-song EP is the catharsis you need when you feel a scream of frustration coming out of you. Whether you are from the Global South like the members of LBM, or from the precarious zones of the so-called First World, whether you speak Spanish or not, this brutal D-beat exercise appeals directly to your courage and desperation as a worker being swept away by the wave of progress. These songs are ideal for catharsis and if you let it, for the revolution to come.

Mercenary Demos Collection LP

Atlanta’s MERCENARY was active from around 2013 until 2015, playing a particularly vicious and virulent strain of D-beat. They never released any vinyl records in their time, but put out two blistering demo tapes that have since become underground classics—one in 2013, and 2015’s Atlanta’s Burning—along with one compilation appearance. Former members would go on to play in bands such as NAG, EXTENDED HELL and ANTI-MACHINE, just to name a few. Tragically, vocalist Michael “Ruby” Rubenstein passed away in March 2021. One year following, this record compiling all of MERCENARY’s recorded material was released, finally immortalising this underrated, blistering group—and the visceral vocal styling of Ruby—on wax. Demos Collection is an absolutely ferocious listen, drenched in echo, dissonant riffage, and tortured howling; it is a must-listen for any dis-rocker worth their salt. And, on top of all this, all digital sales from this record are being donated to the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, with other proceeds going towards a mural in memory of Ruby—what’s not to love?!

Mick Trouble It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP

My confession is that I initially took the MICK TROUBLE mythos at face value, gleefully announcing on my radio show that I had found a heretofore undiscovered relic from England circa 1980. I know now that “MICK” is NYC-based Jed Smith, formerly of MY TEENAGE STRIDE and currently doing jangle pop double duty in JEANINES. It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP is, well, MICK TROUBLE’s second LP (following the first LP from 2019 and an EP from 2017), and it’s another loving pastiche in the tradition of the DUKES OF STRATOSPHEAR, in which the artist clearly has boundless affection for the period being imitated. The most obvious touchpoint here is the TELEVISION PERSONALITIES—the spirit of Dan Treacy shows up all over this record, especially in “MICK’s” earnest and extremely English vocals. Of course, this concept simply wouldn’t work if the songs weren’t good, and they’re great. Ebullient, expertly produced, and with about as many UK pop culture references as a HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT tune. Try “Jim’ll Fix It,” which alone has enough hooks and harmonies to fill your head for weeks. Cracking!

Paint Thinner Paint Thinner demo cassette

Stompy hardcore that takes a page or two from the book of GAG when it comes to worshipping underrated ’80s USHC bands. Groove dominates each song and every part is a mosh part, with curveball time changes and slamming skank beats. Not much else to say about this release, just hardcore music for hardcore people. A no-brainer!

Paul Pecho Curtis Yellingmouth / Neatly Framed 7″

Folks may be familiar with PAUL PECHO (a.k.a. Paul Schlesier) through his work with Leipzig psych-rock outfit BLACK SALVATION, but this 7”, his first as a solo act, finds him exploring some of the less heavy recesses of psychedelia. Both tracks on this 7” sound an awful lot like the stuff TY SEGALL was putting out in the early 2010s—maybe splitting the difference between the garage-y Melted and the acoustic psych of Goodbye Bread. It’s mainly due to the vocals—he’s doing the whole blown-out, multi-tracked thing and howling in a similar register. But the songs themselves aren’t straight rips by any means. “Neatly Framed,” the better of the two tracks on here, takes disparate layers of garage-y riffs, noodly guitars, and woozy vocals and backs that with a  loose hearty drum beat to create a track that isn’t overtly psychedelic but has similar mind-altering effects. It’s not bad!

Riesgo La Edad de la Violencia cassette

Pure mayhem straight from Chicago. This cassette is short, but enough to tell a story from start to finish. A story of violence, struggle for survival, and spiritual struggles. The sound is a cavernous, dissonant, blackened D-beat. The effect of the excerpts from the poem “La Fórmula Secreta” by Mexican writer Juan Rulfo (I recommend you read his novel Pedro Paramo and his book of short stories The Plain in Flames) is absolutely brutal and elevates this short punk flash to the category of art. Lyrics are in Spanish, but the hatred is universal. A hell of a debut.

Slashers Hang On / Snap My Neck 7″

New York-based SLASHERS play gnarly skate punk with a dash of metal influence thrown into the mix. This single is really cool, with both sides of the vinyl exuding snot and attitude. The metal influence is what makes this one really interesting, with the traditional metal/Japanese HC-style guitar leads/soloing. The instrumentation on this record is really top-notch—these guys really know their stuff. All in all, this record is totally rad and I’m excited to see what else is in store in the future.

 

Strangely Addictive How Will the Youth of Tomorrow Worship Satan? cassette

Far less evil than the album title would have you believe, STRANGELY ADDICTIVE is a Swedish lo-fi garage punk/indie pop band. A bit of a strange genre combination, and at times the songs feel too poppy for the punks, while at others too gritty for pop music fans. Liking a bit of everything, I can certainly see the appeal of STRANGELY ADDICTIVE. There are moments that they remind me of the HARD-ONS, and how can that be a bad thing?

Tensión Ruptura o Continuación cassette

TENSIÓN is a Spanish band that captures the dark essence of modern life with their dark atmosphere and very Spanish take on post-punk. Ruptura o Continuación is a compilation of EPs released between 2020 and 2021, which includes the Autolesión EP, the Construcción EP, and the Transformar EP, plus a new version of the song “No Hay Lugar.” With a total of nine tracks, this compilation gathers the band’s latest outings and creates a great companion for lonely walks and self-reflective moments. The icing on this dark cake comes with the track “Construción,” which is a gloomier take on the song “Construção” by Brazilian singer-songwriter legend CHICO BUARQUE. This is a great way to get into this band’s work, a lesson in what Spanish post-punk is capable of, and an abstract, modern piece of artistic punk.

Tiger Helicide Fuck! We Forgot to Write Hits! CD

They might have forgotten to write hits, but if you’re here for some true freak sounds, then you’ve come to the right place. Seems like TIGER HELICIDE doesn’t give a shit what I think, because this disc is all over the fukkn place—beer-drenched shitpunk, garage pop, no-fi bedroom grind nonsense…and that’s just three tracks selected at random. There’s merit here, but it takes a bit of sifting—if you can make it through to “Death Rays & Razor Blades” (the seventeenth of eighteen tracks, and a case study in repetition), then you win, because that song rips. If you listen to the song after that one…? Then you lose.

 

Axe Rash Contemporary Ass EP

When they released their self-titled 12” on Adult Crash Records back in 2019, AXE RASH stirred the punk pot with their high-intensity Swedish hardcore power, and they are back with Contemporary Ass, a well-deserved follow-up. They fit somewhere in between the raw aggression of Swedish mangel à la TOTALITÄR, with subtle hints to early ANTI-CIMEX and a more bouncy USHC-styled stomp to it. The icing on the cake is the vocals, which are as vicious as they can be and deliver a raging ass-kicking throughout the five tracks; they’re a standout factor in comparison with other contemporary mangel-worshipping bands. One of the most promising bands to come out of the punk department in Sweden in later years, and this is very telling because there are mangel-styled bands spawning left and right. AXE RASH got me hitchin’ for more! You will pay!

Battlesex Strike With Precision cassette

Portland, OR-based BATTLESEX returns with their second cassette release. Four songs of fast, heavy metal-infused raw punk. The clean production of the recording mixed with the riffs having some serious pop sensibility somewhat makes you forget that you’re listening to a pretty nasty band. A style that seems like it would benefit from a gruffer-sounding recording.

Christian Blunda Funky Punks in Space LP

Solo album from the MEAN JEANS frontman—a pandemic project three years in the making, and as the title indicates, kind of punk, kind of funk, angsty space-themed, and with keyboard synthesizers carrying most of the tunes. A concept album that stands strong, with a bit more sincerity than the Jingles Collection. Nothing like a pandemic to spin you into a fun, escapist space ride that is epic like an ephemeral soundtrack to an unseen sci-fi movie. I’m thinking of those futuristic ’80s action/horror movies that could dictate mood with a few extended atmospheric notes on a keyboard. He executes this well; I’ll put it up there with when WANG CHUNG made the phenomenal soundtrack to the epic 1985 film To Live and Die in L.A., but with aliens.

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.

Delay Songs for Money LP

I like the challenge of describing a record or a band or a sound that I like, but can’t quite put in a nice, clean box. This is one of those records. The band comes from Ohio, a state that seems to produce more than its share of crazy people. I’m not implying that these guys are crazy, but I’m not saying they’re not. The record doesn’t always “hit” for me, but when it does, it’s got a rhythmic, almost trance-inducing quality to it. It’s catchy and melodic and very much grounded in indie pop. I found my head bouncing with some regularity. When it doesn’t hit, it slows down and, at times, borders on self-indulgence. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I heard a record that was so black-or-white for me. With each song, I can almost tell in the first five or ten seconds if it’s going to be a hit or a miss. That’s kind of funny to me.

Exploding Eyes Live at Bello Bar cassette

Primitive Screwhead, live cassette subsidiary label of Big Neck Records, simultaneously dropped three releases of projects all featuring Robert O’Braidaigh, who was also in the THINGS and CHEAP FREAKS. Chronologically, this is the third of those releases, recorded on February 27th, 2016. Removing most if not all of the grit from his earlier projects, EXPLODING EYES feels like a straightforward, radio-friendly rock’n’roll act. The songwriting is great, musicianship is top-notch, and though the band is less nasty than the aforementioned, it still has some wild, squealing guitar leads and thundering drums. It’s interesting to listen to the progression of three different bands Mr. O’Braidaigh has done and see the genres he navigates fluidly. You can get all three of these as a bundle of cassettes from the label, which I recommend doing if you like any of the three bands.

The Floaties Now in Colour EP

These days, I’d normally think you’re signing your own death warrant being compared to DEVO. This band managed to flirt around the same atmosphere without getting sucked in too close, however. The active, syncopated riffing and humanist machine vocals are reminiscent, but the band also brings a power-popping confidence to the table as well. Through four cuts, the band keeps your head bopping the whole time. The vocals have a great sonorous quality to them and the rhythm section absolutely rumbles. Then it goes off the rails, as “Dead Right” swings in like a Stiff Records classic. The track builds brilliantly from a repetitive dual riff and vocals to a full-on jam: think WRECKLESS ERIC morphing into THIN LIZZY before your very eyes. That’s the kind of trick of the ear I can come back to a thousand times. Killer brainy rock‘n’roll.

Gritos de Asko Extincion cassette

Early 2010s Colombian metallic punk given the deluxe cassette treatment by Tercermundistas. Guitars way up in the mix and a driving, consistent shitpunk beat while throat-searing vocals give your ears the business over six fiery hardcore tracks, plus a LARSEN cover. A couple of these tunes surfaced on the Distort Colombia tape a few years back, but I’m quite chuffed to have the full session in my ear holes—this is the clenched-fist, no bullshit, patched-up black jacket, in-your-fuckkn-face shit.

Heavy Petting Anfahr’n Am Berg cassette

Leipzig, Germany’s fertile DIY post-punk scene has recently brought us the likes of ONYON and MARAUDEUR. HEAVY PETTING continues in that (self-described) neo-NDW tradition – with their jagged guitars, synth flourishes, and exclamatory KLEENEX-like vocals, they’re easily the successors to ’80s groups like NEONBABIES and CARAMBOLAGE. Anfahr’n Am Berg is this trio’s debut EP, with four full songs plus a two minute instrumental intro. “Bier” is great, weird fun—I don’t speak German but even I can understand and appreciate the chorus (it’s the word “bier,” repeated four times). They turn the temperature down on “Lieben Sie Mich,” with cold synths creating an atmosphere fit for an Eisbär. There isn’t a global shortage of angular art-punk with femme vocals (not to mention band names that are double entendres), so I’m not sure HEAVY PETTING is doing anything particularly novel here, but it is mighty appealing nonetheless.