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.

Bad Breeding Human Capital LP

BAD BREEDING is anarcho-punk filtered through the lens of someone living in the ever-growing social collapse of this modern world, because times keep getting worse, so the anger grows. Imagine if any of the Crass Records bands were to be transported to 2022, and I bet they would come close to what BAD BREEDING is doing. I say “close” because BAD BREEDING operates in an artistic world of their own that is really hard to emulate. Yes, “artistic,” because that is something lacking in punk: art. So much more than just a punk band, BAD BREEDING is the complete package of social unrest, and Human Capital is a sonic mirror held to the metaphoric face of society. From anarcho-punk to post-punk passing through grittier hardcore punk, there are twists and turns that are hard to predict but easy to listen to, that leave you wanting more. This is a complete album in every way, as the artwork and the music are indistinguishable in the way the passion goes through both. The artwork is segmented and crafted by a fantastic team of visual artists that have the same love for punk as BAD BREEDING, featuring Nicky Rat, Dead City Tokyo, Shiva/Shadow Comms, Jack Sabbat/InHell, and Yagi. And as with their last record, there is an essay written by Jake Farrell that serves as a further depiction of the ideals of the record. A band that may divide the waters in a sense that many are not prepared to understand, but that is what punk is all about! Is this the album of the year?

Burning//World Peace is No Reality LP

Lashing out with sizzling fury, BURNING//WORLD brings a torrential downpour of distorted, raw D-beat hardcore. This is DISCLOSE’s Tragedy leveled off the mixing board, buzz-sawing like your ears and speakers can hardly take much more. Blistering riffs and haunting divebomb solos blast though at a relentless pace. This waits for no peace and is just above mid-tempo. Eleven tracks of a GLORIOUS?(-style) nightmare I could get lost in all day. Three songs of total Dis-onslaught. D-CLONE pitches, FRAMTID pummeling, ANTI-METAFOR tightness, DISPENSE harshness…by now you know the DRILLER KILLER. BURNING//WORLD hits this style perfectly in the face and knocks its fucking jaw out. “Give Up All Hope”-core at its fullest decibels, and I seriously hope you can get this.

The Christian Family The Raw and Primitive Sounds of… CD

I really liked this one. It’s a strange combo of really catchy and herky-jerky. It’s super melodic, but also kind of eerie. That is kind of remarkable when you consider they’re a duo, just guitar and drums. At times it seems like the emphasis is on the female vocals. But the guitar work is really impressive. They remind me, at times, of the MAXINES, another duo. Excellent record.

The Faction Corpse in Disguise EP reissue

The FACTION were O.G. skate-rockers, widely known as the band in which Powell Peralta legend Steve Caballero played bass. With the exception of a few song snippets from skate videos back in the day, I had never really heard much of their catalog, so this 40th anniversary edition of their 1984 EP was new to me. They sound kind of like a chilled-out TSOL on these four songs, which, by the way, are not the same four songs that appeared on the original release. So is it really a reissue? Either way, it’s still suitable headphones material for some casual ripping, and I really can’t hear it without picturing fat, fish-shaped boards with big wheels flashing at the top of vert ramps.

Gonk Gonk cassette

There’s a lot to be said about bedroom tinkerers putting out home-taped outsider punk like this. I respect it, keyboard drums and telephone-compressed guitars/vocals and all. But it doesn’t shake my ass. There’s a sleepiness to this tape, and one could call it restraint, which has its place (and is often underrated). But even on the shout-along chorus (on paper) of “UFO,” it’s too muted to reach out and grab me. It’s a great exercise in aesthetic and execution, with dialed-in songwriting, but I just wish it had some wattage behind it.

Mars Rehearsal Tapes & Alt. Takes: NYC 1976-1978 3xLP

What a beautiful time to be a fan of MARS. I remember when I was discovering no wave, and trying to find anything by the band (physically or digitally) was like hen’s teeth. But once I heard them and GLENN BRANCA, my tastes for guitar noise were forever refined and I never felt the need to hear SONIC YOUTH again. In the last few years, we’ve seen a slew of archival releases from the group, but this release is the motherlode. Three LPs of demos, rehearsals, alternate takes, and more—truly for the most hardcore of MARS obsessive. The audio fidelity is far from pristine, but if you’re here for the noisiest of no wave, you probably aren’t a snooty audiophile. The evolution of the band is heard from originally making piano and acoustic guitar demos at home before quickly taking up electric instruments, writing a set of VELVETS-indebted songs, and playing one gig as CHINA. The mutation of the band from a minimal, arty proto-punk band to the harsh experimentalism of MARS starts here. The music becomes more abstract, rattling, industrial, and truly experimental—where the band is questioning the format of the standard rock’n’roll song as well the place and physical use of the instruments within them. MARS’ music sounds to me like taking rock music closer to the realm of painting or sculpture, using their instruments to create texture and color as opposed to melody or harmony. It’s here where we get to the real meat of the compilation, and the true endurance test for listeners. Listening to the multiple takes of the songs “Hairwaves” and “Helen Forsdale” reminded me of something like the massive STOOGES’ Funhouse Sessions, where the band is drilling down the song with minor variations, but you hear the song take shape and come to life. The drum-and-vocal-only take of “Puerto Rican Ghost” was interesting to hear separate from the avant guitar sounds they’re known for. What really captures the spirit of this record is the band doing a run through of “11,000 Volts,” after which they sound happy about the results and then immediately go back into the song again, finish it, and then hoot and holler with joy at the end of that one. It gives you an interesting two-fold perspective on the song from what you’re hearing as a listener and what they were hearing at the time as musicians. What part of the song did they nail that they didn’t before? What sounded different that time that they knew they got it? It’s documentation like this found on this record that truly makes it a treasure and dispels any notion of this music being random, but rather being vigorously rehearsed, instilling the craft and discipline the band had in creating such dissonant music.

No Knuckle No Knuckle 12″

Staunchly DIY label Tomothy Records might be releasing things at a slow drip—this is only their fifth release in the two years they’ve been at it—but that’s what happens when you eschew modern conveniences like digital recording and mixing. Thankfully, they make up for a lack of quantity by making sure they’re only releasing some real good shit. Like this debut LP from Portland’s NO KNUCKLE—a trio of dudes who were all in blistering hardcore act GIMMICK, like, a few seconds ago. But this ain’t no hardcore! Actually, if there’s an immediate comparison point to make for this album, it’s eluding me. At times it sounds like GANG OF FOUR playing lite-prog, and at others it sounds like the COWBOYS covering DRIVE LIKE JEHU. Throughout the nine tracks on the record, you’re getting a somewhat baffling mix of dubby post-punk, noisy post-hardcore, straightforward punk, and arty proto-punk. But it all ends up fitting together pretty spectacularly, thanks in large part to an excellent vocal performance. Gage Maurie (who does pretty great stuff under his own name, but also fronted GIMMICK and FIB) sounds like a teen with a flair for drama trying his best to channel a mix of Ian Svenonious and Ian McCulloch. I love it. Listen to a track like “Adult Supervision” to hear what I’m talking about, then buy the record because it’s great!

Pigeon Permanent Quest / Riged 7″

Post-punk, noise-y PIGEON puts out this single, after their Deny All Knowledge of Complicity LP from last year. “Permanent Quest” sounds like a more typical punk rock song structure, while the shouted lyrics find their noise/start-and-stop-instrumentation on “Riged.” I also hear snotty UK DIY influences like GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS.

Pitva Pitva LP

PITVA is a modern take on classic Eastern Bloc punk, with the rage and heft of hardcore intersecting with the terror textures of anarcho and goth. The guitar is icy, brittle, less interested in blocky riffs than feedback-drenched howling, sounding like an air raid siren, or a lost S.O.S. signal in the airwaves. While the guitar slices at the high-end frequencies, the bass drives low and hard, carrying the weight of song structure, while the drums punch out a martial 1-2-1-2 attack. The album production is bleak and echoing, like it was recorded in a dank cave or (more appropriately) an old abandoned squat, reinforced by rubble and barbed wire.

Quergeburt Quergeburt cassette

Spanish label Discos Peroquébien released the unmissable reissue of the debut (originally from 2019) of these German geniuses, a beautiful cassette with twelve tracks of an ultra lo-fi punk that looks back to the most riff-oriented Japanese noise freakouts and the terrorist school of the Providence, Rhode Island noise rock scene. Think of the BRAINBOMBS in a hardcore style and you’ll get close, but not quite to the molten core of the beautiful and fun sound of these guys. Music to end parties to.

Romper Romper CD

From Ventura comes a nice little slice of soul-filled, vocal-led hard rock/grunge/punk. It’s a dirty back alley behind a 7-Eleven kinda ride. RAMONES, SABBATH, L7, all listened to at maximum volume on a warped tape slowly getting eaten by your brother’s stereo in his crappy van. “Mud “ is brilliant. An “Eat Me Raw” or the little green guy flipping the bird shirt should be donned immediately. Cool.

Rosa Beton Demo 83 cassette

In 1983, two East Berlin teens with a four-track recorded a clandestine punk demo in one of their bedrooms, dubbing their illicit project ROSA BETON (“pink concrete”). The duo was never able to perform live in the Stasi-controlled GDR where punks were systematically surveilled and targeted as threats to the state, and the cassette was likewise never openly distributed, but copies were still passed along to friends in secret, single-handedly preserving ROSA BETON’s mythology over time. Just as their chosen name subverted the reality of East Berlin’s brutalist urban landscape (monochromatic concrete exteriors, unrelenting angles, function over form) by introducing a pop of color, the pair’s musical approach took a similar turn—stripped-down and austere, with some sly art influences behind the stark facade. “Stehen Bleiben is Verrat” flirts with sharp, stitled rhythms in an early EX/RONDOS-like fashion, “Scheißstadt Berlin” and “16 Jahre im Exil” could pass for degraded third-generation dubs of Pink Flag-era WIRE demos (complete with dry two-part harmonies), and “Wir Glauben” scratches and collapses for 90 blown-out seconds as well as anything in the SWELL MAPS/Messthetics pantheon. So cool that this exists. Interestingly, the B-side of this reissue is actually 2022 re-recordings of the full 1983 demo (minus one track) by original guitarist/vocalist Thomas Wagner and three new bandmates, completely transforming the songs from primitivist teenage DIY clamor to hi-def, synth-battered electro-punk with tandem-shouted male/female vocals—think LOST SOUNDS with a Neue Deutsche Welle twist.

The Stimulators Loud Fast Rules! EP reissue

Mostly known in NYHC lore as Harley Flannagan’s first band, the STIMULATORS were truly the brainchild of guitarist Denise Mercedes. Her path to rock’n’roll started almost mythologically, having been given her first electric guitar by BOB DYLAN and an amp from BOWIE guitarist Mick Ronson. She was also Harley’s aunt, and when she wanted to start a band and no drummers were to be found, she stuck her young punk progeny behind the kit. The group was rounded out by queer poet Patrick Mack on vocals (who would pass away from AIDS in 1983) and bassist Nick Marden, famously of the Mapplethorpe photo wearing the “Loud Fast Rules” leather jacket. The band came on the scene after the first wave of CBGB bands had either signed to labels, gone on tour forever, gone new wave, or just imploded. In this time before hardcore was completely codifed, the STIMULATORS gigged not only with the BAD BRAINS after they were banned in DC, but also gorehound maniacs the MAD and no wave noiseniks like RED TRANSISTOR. As Mercedes was initially inspired by seeing the DAMNED, the three songs on this single rock more in that vein of British punk to my ears, but with the chant-along choruses and backup “oooh”s that definitely show having absorbed the RAMONES at full volume from inches away. Mercedes’ guitar has the perfect early punk sound of disciplined downstroke power chord slashing and in-the-red ramalama leads. Harley, as a twelve-year-old who could barely see over the kit, plays better than his age would have you guess, pushing the songs forward with an unrelenting ride cymbal, fully locked in with the guitar. Overall, this is a classic artifact of NY punk, and a catchy punk single that finally more than collector scum can get their hands on.

Stresssystem Vrede Die Geen Vrede Is cassette

Eva from Dutch punks MAKILADORAS has the vocal duty in this incredibly brutal band that delivers an incredibly tight and fast performance of loud, heavy music that encompasses crust, D-beat, and thrash with some vicious riffing, pummeling beats, and a voice that cuts through with clarity and anger.  It’s an absolute blast. A must.

Vintage Crop Kibitzer LP

While other bands playing similar stuff have popped up, gotten more attention, and fizzled out, this Geelong act has quietly kept its nose to the grindstone. Kibitzer is the band’s fourth LP in six years, and it’s just as solid as anything they’ve put out. As with their previous records, they’re still peddling a mix of URANIUM CLUB-esque intricate, post-punk-y smart-guy rock and EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING-ish garage-y people’s punk—a contradictory meshing of attitudes that I think non-Aussies would have trouble getting away with. What maybe differentiates this record from some of their earlier releases is a more overt new wave influence. That’s fine when it takes the form of DEVO-aping, as it does on a track like “Casting Calls,” but less so when it shows up as some superfluous, squiggly-ass synth shit (why y’all gotta do “The Duke” like that!?). Also, vocalist Jack Cherry really tests the limit of how many words/syllables you can jam into a single line, a style choice likely borrowed from Brendan Current. I don’t remember that bothering me on previous records, but I didn’t love it here. Still, those small complaints aside, this is a pretty strong record that sounds great. Should appeal to folks who’ve been into the aforementioned bands or acts like PERVERTS AGAIN or SMARTS.

Werewolf Jones Terminal Velocity cassette

The eerie and dreary garage rocking of WEREWOLF JONES falls sonically somewhere between FLIPPER and the GORIES, giving off a vibe of being comfortably at home amidst the bad vibrations they emit. You have four tracks here, all heavy garage bummers that share a backbone with the likes of the DRAGS. I know that the band is named after a Simon Hanselman character, but I can picture an actual werewolf singing these songs, especially when he gets all riled up like on the title track. Crank it up and celebrate ennui.

Alienator Alienator demo cassette

At first glance, the cover looks like a Memphis rap album, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this is pure top-notch hardcore from Portland. C.O.C.-inspired thrashing with the balance of DISCHARGE, but reaching high speeds that would get them a ticket. Six songs of headbanging, windmilling, and moshing at dizzying speeds. A vicious way to get their career up and going.

Barry Neolithic Homo Sex EP

I’m immediately reminded of KLEENEX, perhaps because of the quirkiness, but it’s a little less stilted. It’s straightforward, mid-tempo, jangly, and heavy on vocal harmonies. And with the competing male/female vocals, it was definitely made for me. Worth looking for.

Butchers Bill American Trash CD

It looks like this New York City-area band has been playing in some form or another since at least 2003. They’re even playing the long-gone Continental club in their Discogs photo, and like many of the bands coming out of that club, they play a version of swaggering, shaggy-headed rock’n’roll, but in a lukewarm manner. It’s not awful…sorta…maybe like elements of the HEARTBREAKERS, HUMPERS, ELECTRIC CHAIRS, and (ugh) the DOORS. Imagine the background band for a schlocky movie bar fight scene. Really, it’s just OK and won’t make you wander from your bar conversation, making a nice background hum for your life story being told once again to your other coked-up friend. Another round, bartender!

Choke / XGrifoX split cassette

Yoooooo—where the fukk did this come from!? CHOKE fukkn explodes with three pieces of churning, anti-pig grindcore. I picture a room full of people chanting “defund the police,” and it gives me chills because in that moment, you know that room feels like change is actually possible. And that, young punk, is the fucking power. XGRIFOX fills their side of the tape with ruthless PV/grind from the GODSTOMPER school. Just one dude named “El Grande” beating the shit out of a bass and a drum kit and trading high/low vocals with himself. Sounds like it was recorded in a tin shed in the backyard—and if you know what’s up, then you know that’s precisely how it’s supposed to sound. Got my ass handed to me with this one, and I’m anxious to hear more from both bands.

Die Angst Abgesang / Salzprinz 7″

Twenty years after their inception, Potsdam, Germany’s DIE ANGST has dropped this new single. The A-side “Abgesang” starts with upbeat drums, some phaser effect on the bass, and guitar feedback—all pretty typical—but the illusion is shattered with a guitar strum and the gruff, stark, Germanic vocals, which really tie together the melodic post-punk atmosphere of the band. The B-side “Salzprinz” leaves a little more rumination between lyrics, but has the same well-produced song structure of its sister track. While I couldn’t find much on the band, the few listens of their older stuff I certainly enjoyed. Dive in.

everyone is alone sometimes everyone is alone sometimes cassette

The lack of capital letters got me real worried I got assigned some Midwest emo-worship, but instead we have a one-dude hardcore project. Overall, I’d say it is very much my kind of hardcore—weird, exploding, rampaging, and riffy, with more twists, turns, and time changes than their song lengths would suggest. The drums are either blasting at full speed or piling on the hyperactive fills, and no in-between. The blown-out recording style makes every song sound like it’s bursting at the seams. Until cloning can ensure this maniac plays each part live himself, I’d love to hear this fully realized with an actual band. I’m intrigued by the koan aspects in the title “i am a field of beans,” and I respect mentioning D. Boon’s death day as the recording date.

Fatalist Ruination LP

Parts MASTER/DEATHSTRIKE, FROM ASHES RISE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH— FATALIST excel at groove and doom. Metal crust at a high caliber with sinister, tyrannical vocals. The bestial nature of the vocals reminds me of some blackened crust bands, but strangely, I’m picking up the tones of slower SCATHA tracks. Definitely dig the fluidity and conciseness of this album. It sounds like metallic hardcore but does not go overboard on any particular song structure identifying its roots in punk. A variety of beats show off their skill, but FATALIST never gets too grandiose. Miserable, downtrotten, anguished hardcore punk. This feels like a theme album for pirates of cold dark waters, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Forbidden Dimension Sin Gallery LP

We’re just getting started and my head is bouncing around. That’s always a good sign. It’s mid-tempo and catchy and a little surfy. It’s a lot surfy. Twenty cuts. Jesus. With song titles like “Haunted,” “Graveyard Line,” and “Shrunken Heads,” I’m expecting this to move from surf to something dark. And it does. It gets a little rockabilly, a little hot-roddy, a little garage, even a little swampy at times. Back to my comment about there being twenty cuts: with that many tracks on a record, there are bound to be hits and misses, and that is definitely the case here. An awful lot of the songs start with some sort of a sampled soundbite.

Germ House Lost Title EP

Warren, RI’s Justin Hubbard currently helms two solo recording projects that were once full bands—FAR CORNERS, reserved for his clangy post-punk musings, and GERM HOUSE, which leans a little more UK DIY. There’s never been all that much differentiating those two projects, but this five-song EP really blurs whatever line separated them. The two tracks that open the record are built on a foundation that’s equal parts bouncy TELEVISION PERSONALITIES jangle and trebly DESPERATE BICYCLES ramshackle (there’s even a weedy little keyboard running underneath the opening track that’s very “Don’t Back the Front”-ish), but the cold, multi-tracked vocals and psych-ish freakouts give the tracks an overall vibe that’s more garage-y post-punk. Fortunately, these are two sounds that sound great together—it’s maybe my favorite thing he’s put out. Highlight of the record for me is “Stacking Mistakes.” At first blush, it almost sounds like it could have been pulled off an early A FRAMES 7”, but it’s also somehow got this strange IRON BUTTERFLY quality to it—it’s great. Real cool record!

The Hard-Crop’s For What Cause? cassette

I probably wouldn’t have guessed that the next best blast of real-deal “street punk” would come out of Kuala Lumpur, not that I’m complaining. The HARD-CROP’S play tough, unpolished Oi! with a driving sound that’s straight out of ‘83. This band could easily sneak onto any old comp featuring CRUX, the LAST RESORT, 4-SKINS, ANTISOCIAL, and the like, and few would notice. The nine songs on this killer tape showcase the band’s great taste in influences, re-collecting the above bands and more while making the style and sound their own. For instance, the frequent gang vocals have a bit of a LOLI & THE CHONES feel to them. It’s fresh and classic at once; a rare trick that’s always appreciated. Who cares if they’re not that handy with apostrophes, they’re handy with the Oi!

Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons Screams to God LP reissue

KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS were an early ’80s Swedish synth(etic) punk project with a dark, dramatic intensity—too art-conceptual to be humorless goths, too sinister and paranoid-sounding to pass as straight new wave, the aural equivalent of black latex as viewed through a prism of fluorescent plexiglass. Although they didn’t take things quite as far as the SCREAMERS or the UNITS by completely dispensing with guitars, KITCHEN AND THE PLASTIC SPOONS’ double-synth/live drums assault was charged with a similar short-circuited energy, while original vocalist Anne’s steely yet still hyper-expressive delivery (almost exclusively in English) wavered somewhere between SIOUXSIE-style ice queen and Neue Deutsche Welle eccentricity. Screams to God covers the entirety of the group’s brief 1980–81 lifespan, with the recordings from their debut Serve You! 7” (four songs mistakenly made it to the test pressing, later pared down to two for the actual release) hitting especially hard: the space junk synth squirm of “Blätta” devolves to perfectly DEVO depths; “Happy Funeral” careens across an oscillating and claustrophobic keys/drums pulse as Anne defiantly smashes any goth illusions (“no black suits!”); “Fantastic” and “In Bars” warp and bend under layers of processed dystopian electronics and clattering percussion. Dark Entries first put out this collection almost ten years ago, when millennial punks were just on the cusp of a mass blame-it-on-DEVO synth infatuation, and it’s been a highly sought-after artifact almost ever since—I’m not saying that there’s a direct cause/effect correlation there, but I’m also not saying that there isn’t one.

LASSIE Behold LP

Are you sexually attracted to the bat on this record cover? Yeah…I’m not either—definitely not drawn into its sexy, sexy eyes. Anyway, Leipzig fun punkers Lassie are back! This time in LP form. You’re getting thirteen tracks of mutant robot rock, combining the downstroke dum-dum sounds of the SPITS, the punk-pop of the Dirtnap roster, and the kitchy sci-fi fun of the REZILLOS. It’s party punk played with a sense of urgency that I bet would make for a wild-ass live show. A real good time!

M.A.Z.E. Live at the Archer Ballroom cassette

Live documentation by Japan’s M.A.Z.E. on tour during 2019. If you’re a fan of their LPs, the songs will be familiar. Sounds decent for what was probably just a tape recorder in the back of the room.

Moflex Moflex cassette

A collection of previously released material by Mexico City’s MOFLEX spanning from 2016 to 2018, with two additional songs specific to this cassette release. Repetitive lo-fi punk rock songs that are a bit heavy on the upstrokes; not sure whether that is meant as a pop punk or ska-infused element to these songs. Nice-looking packaging. I’m sure fans of this band will be excited to get this collection rather than tracking down the two different cassettes MOFLEX released a handful of years ago.

Ottawa The Third Age 12″

This rerelease sure has a musical time stamp. Listeners will find plenty of mid-’90s USHC hallmarks: fast, occasionally breakneck tempos, blastbeats spliced in, and forays into crossover thrash territory here and there. The two vocalists trade high-pitched screams and a hoarse shout respectively. And of course, there are lots of (maybe too many) movie soundbites.

Plot What Happened to Your Face LP

What a mystery this Philly trio called PLOT is. A series of very interesting influences come together in a thick concoction, where we can taste the pulse of the heaviest post-punk (think BIG BLACK or KILLING JOKE) with elements of ’90s industrial metal (voice samples included) and even some of the more exploratory spirit of ’90s post-hardcore. The result is dark, dense, and very singular. A deeply expressive sound that could well serve as the soundtrack of a post-industrial city in ruins or as the noise that our civilization makes when dying, a dreadful final death rattle.

Récidive Tripes d’Acier EP

Formed in 2019 in the mean streets of Paris, a breeding ground for new Oi! bands, RÉCIDIVE is a fairly new band with just the Planté Là x Jeunes Espoirs 7” previously under their belt (or should I say braces?!?). Back with Tripes d’Acier, this shaved-headed crew has done three songs that will get any skinhead on the dancefloor, swinging and slamming. You can hear CRIMINAL DAMAGE and BLITZ in their sound as expected, but they manage to sound mature with their well-crafted songs, bringing some sort of freshness to their catchy brand of Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Rudimentary Peni Death Church LP reissue

One of the most influential albums in punk history. But you already know this. This is the prototype from which the discographies of entire bands and even world scenes were created. But you already know this. We can also see it as a master plan for a suicide mission: to expose the farce of the great civilizational institutions and destroy tropes deeply rooted in our minds. Let’s say it is also an initiatory journey where the medium is the message and the medium is these 21 songs that expose the topographical record of a particular spirit, that of Blinko. A notoriously sensitive spirit that generates images that can be brutal and cryptic but powerfully vehement lyrically. An album that invites you not to be a mere passive recipient of riffs, but an active participant in a process of psychological and existential transformation, of the opening in the middle of a dark forest, a path of mental resistance. And besides, it just slaps.  Consider it a unique opportunity to own a piece of history.

 

Skinned Pig Skinland Empire cassette

It slid right past me, but SKINNED PIG from Hesperia, CA dropped this hot little tape back in January, setting the bar for the year high right from the get-go. Combining ’60s pop melodies with classic punk sentiments and an Oi! mentality, the band plays sickly-sweet and garage-y hardcore punk with a timeless feel. I can hear everything from the DILS to the BUSINESS to the VINDICTIVES in their sound, and I would have dug this had it come out at any point in my life. C’mon, bud. Bump those first two songs quick and tell me not. Matter of fact, bump the whole thing.

Spread Joy II LP

Chicago’s SPREAD JOY appeared on the scene with their self-titled debut last year, and now they’ve returned with a second full-length on Feel It. And much like their first, this is not a record that overstays its welcome, clocking in at just over seventeen tightly-wound minutes. Channeling LILIPUT and SUBURBAN LAWNS, Briana Hernandez wails, whines, and squeals alongside jittery, scrabbling guitar lines and clean, taut drum beats. Forty-five-second-long opener “Ow” is frenzied and breathless, a burst of delirious punk energy. Lead single “Repetition” is at least initially powered by a riff similar to “Unoriginal” from the first record (which was itself swiped from “Three Girl Rhumba”), before it mutates into something altogether more punchy and abrasive (and still doesn’t surpass two minutes).The two longest tracks on the album, “Ich Sehe Dich” and “Languages,” show what the band can accomplish when given a little more space to stretch out and explore. II is a worthwhile sophomore effort, and proves to me that SPREAD JOY are one of the most invigorating bands operating in the neo-post-punk sphere today. Joyful!

TV Dust 4 EP double cassette

As alluded to in the title, this is a compilation of four EPs by Italian wave weirdos TV DUST. Not sure the exact order of release on these individually, but the band has its sound locked in throughout. The synth maintains a minimal drone that allows the vocals to yelp forward, while the bass and drums drive and keep the rhythms and tempos interesting. Motorik hypnotics and disco hi-hat abound. I picture these guys having really big Martin Rev-style sunglasses.

 

Woodstock ’99 Super Gremlin 12″

I’m 99% sure that WOODSTOCK ‘99 is former FRIED EGG-ers who pulled up stakes from Virginia to settle in Cleveland, where their style of ripping hardcore probably feels right at home. Opener “La Casa De Fuck You” was on a Tetryon Tape (the one with Fred Durst on the cover) that came out last year, and it deploys a great, nagging one-note piano hook like POISON IDEA wants to be your dog. Maybe it’s the CB radio vocals, but the first half of “$800 Lunch Meat” sounds like MULE of all bands, erupts for a brief flash, then comes back down into a weird alt-rock vibe that could pass as TOADIES (or SEASON TO RISK, if yr frisky). “Pickled Drunk Driver” walks a peculiar line between ignorant hardcore stomp and SOUL ASYLUM’s semi-psychedelic heartland thrash. The more straightforward moments are high-class POISON IDEA tributes and probably go over like gangbusters in an Ohio City basement. “Green Oyster Dick” jacks a Bay Area punk structure and could have been on a split 7” with GRIMPLE back in the day. “Budget Inn” is all wailing guitar leads like a SCREAMING TREES song, but instead of Mark Lanegan’s growl, you’ve got a French lady talking. The other vital piece of information that you need to be aware of regarding Super Gremlin is that every song ends with a gong strike, a creative choice which this listener can only respect. Rats off to ya.

Adamkus Ir Ieva Green Demo cassette

ADAMKUS IR IEVA, or A.I.I. as they seem to be abbreviated, were from Lithuania and active in the early 2000s. Originally released as a CD-R demo, the entirety of the band’s demo, which was their one and only recording, has now been re-released on cassette twenty years later. Sixteen songs of politically-driven anarcho peace punk. The recording is a bit thin and modern-sounding, which definitely makes it stand out from classic peace punk recordings. It’s a bit of a shame, considering the songwriting here is pretty cool and interesting. Even so, this is definitely worth tracking down if peace punk is your thing.

Bzdet Niepokoje cassette

A cassette of lo-fi post-punk from Poland. After my last few encounters with this type of thing, I hesitated to press play. Hearing the opener “Yareg” drop in with a deeply funky beat made my face scrunch up and my head bob with approval almost immediately. The drums programmed with the robo-claves and handclaps, a thick intrusive bully of a bassline, tremolo-bar-torture guitar, and static synth smears. It’s a two-minute tune I’d love to have a 12” remix of, because after that, the tape goes to predictably cold and straightforward post-punk that just sounds limp in comparison. If it kept the mutant funk, I’d be all in, but at least they knew that first song was a strong opener.

C-Krit C-Krit cassette

Now, this is nuts. On their second cassette release, C-KRIT delivers some freako, lo-fi hardcore punk with plenty of attitude. The word that most comes to mind when listening to this is “obnoxious.” The vocalist makes practically no attempt to get in sync with the music, spitting and slurring the seemingly ad-libbed(?) lyrics in a particularly snotty demeanour and peppering in strings of gratuitous profanity along the way. As the recording continues, it sounds like they’re all getting dumber and dumber. The last two songs are two cliché hardcore covers: “Louie Louie” and “Stepping Stone,” except C-KRIT’s interpretation of these two tunes is certainly original. This is music entirely made for and by people who only possess two brain cells—I like it…

Crisis Man Asleep in America LP

I’ve never been a fan of the moniker, I hate any kind of label to begin with, and I understand that it came about more or less organically (and more or less ironically tongue-in-cheek), but I must admit that it made me shy away from bands I saw associated with that thing they call “egg-punk” or “DEVO-core.” Anyway, CRISIS MAN is actually good. Like really, really good.  These songs are full of gushing anxiety and energy that seems to make the songs almost collapse in on themselves. But the songs build complex structures that make them dynamic and always interesting. In addition to that, there are melodic hooks galore, great riffs, a beast of a drummer, a howling vocalist, a bass that throws memorable lines, and above all, what is most appreciated by this writer, a spirit of freedom that is contagious and that makes the band transcend any stylistic delimitation. Egg-what?

The Dance Do Dada LP

When quirky NYC art-wavers the MODEL CITIZENS splintered after a one-and-done 1979 EP, vocalist/organist Eugenie Diserio and guitarist Steve Alexander quickly formed the mutant disco/funky no wave outfit the DANCE, pushing the MODEL CITIZENS’ wonky downtown B-52’S vibe into more debauched corners of the dancefloor. Do Dada is an odds-and-ends adjoiner to the recent reissue of the DANCE’s two proper LPs, starting with the four songs from their 1980 debut 12” Dance for Your Dinner (the release of which coincided with their stint as the backing band for pre-teen post-punk chanteuse CHANDRA), looping in a few tracks from a pair of 1982 singles, and ending with two different mixes of a previously unreleased 1983 track (“Into the Future”) recorded just before the project’s demise; the alpha to the omega. Although the DANCE (inexplicably) never landed on ZE or 99 Records, their early EP material in particular would have fit right in with either label’s early ’80s rosters. Eugenie squeals, chants, and runs through various onomatopoeias over breakneck disco beats and a liquid (LIQUID) bass line on “Do Dada,” “She Likes to Beat” and “Dance for Your Dinner” slip into slinky, secondhand smoke-shrouded late-night rhythms punctuated by skronking sax, clattering cowbell, and retro-trash keyboard warble, and the urgent, body-shaking post-punk funk of “Slippery When Wet” sounds like LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX with a different accent, while later ’82–’83-era cuts like “In Lust” and “Dubbin’ Down” stretch out even further into simmering, extended dance grooves, taking Dance for Your Dinner’s wired abandon and refining it into club-worthy bangers for art school oddballs and the glitterati alike—they weren’t fucking around with that band name.

D.F.C. Igreja Quadrangular Do Triângulo Redondo LP

Originally released on CD in 1996, this second album from Brazilian hardcore legends D.F.C. (DISTRITO FEDERAL CAOS) is an exercise in ’80s crossover style that echoes the sentiments of D.R.I. and RATOS DE PORAO in speedy thrashing laced with rapid-fire vocals, but there’s enough melody and breakdowns to keep the music squarely planted in the punk camp. With a penchant for cartoony artwork and parody album covers, D.F.C. seems more interested in issuing their metal-infused ass-whoopings than taking themselves too seriously. There are twenty brief, snappy songs here, and two of them are only four seconds long, making it an ideal soundtrack to any hessian morning routine. Get your day off to a strong start by brushing your teeth while listening to D.F.C. call people “putas.”

Extraña Misión Ensayos 1988 cassette

Short-lived darkwave band out of Lima, Peru—this compilation of scarce recordings was put together on a 2002 GJ Records CD by the same name. Twenty years later, Cintas Taciturnas has put out the same comp on cassette, and thus the importance of reissuing continues! The audio quality is actually pretty good, so that you don’t miss the wandering, left-to-right vocals, the rambly, jabby guitars, farty bass, and almost new wave dance-y drums. “Absimos de Senitmientos” fits in that latter dance-y category, while tracks like opener “La Extraña Misión” are colder and more grating. If you’re looking for some obscure ‘80s darkwave, search no further.

Fret Rattles Are You Ready? EP

I believe I reviewed this band a really long time ago. It seems like they’re still rockin’ along with their watered-down STOOGES-meets-MC5-meets-HELLACOPTERS formula. The EP title could be a nod to the 5 or even GRAND FUNK. “Degeneration Ride” is catchy as hell. Rama lama fa fa fa.

Grimly Forming Live on KXLU 88.9 FM cassette

A live cassette of an on-air radio broadcast performance from October 25, 2019. Los Angeles, California’s GRIMLY FORMING brings you a non-stop barrage of pummelingly aggressive hardcore punk. The band speeds through their eleven-song setlist in right around fifteen minutes, barely pausing between songs. Growling, pissed-off vocals on top of mid-tempo plodding riffs, intertwined with blistering fast hardcore. What a stomper.

Invalid Invalid LP

And the ugliest cover award goes to…Pittsburgh’s INVALID! This tight twelve-incher is packed with very authentic old school hardcore echoing BLACK FLAG and NEGATIVE APPROACH with touches of POISON IDEA. Tough chugging, speedy thrashing, and brooding breakdowns are covered in stretched-out throaty growls and hey, is that the SACRILEGE “Life Line” riff on “Party’s Over”?

Jeff Hill Band The Pathway Tapes 1977 EP

The JEFF HILL BAND were a power pop three-piece based in London during the late ’70s, fronted by the eponymous Jeff Hill. They released only one single during their brief existence, 1979’s “Something’s Wrong With My Baby.” The four songs featured on The Pathway Tapes were originally recorded for the Chiswick label in 1979, and here they’ve been released at long last by Lisbon’s Different Class, who have done God’s work in unearthing several similar forgotten punk/garage/power pop groups over the years. Despite forming in the UK, the JEFF HILL BAND has a decidedly American (and specifically New York) flavor, sounding more akin to MILK ‘N’ COOKIES than the JAM. While there’s nothing revelatory about this lost EP, it did endear itself to me after several listens. By-the-numbers late ’70s power pop isn’t always enough to thrill me, but the songs here are sweet, simple, and toe-tappingly infectious. Won’t change your life, but it’s hard to dislike!

Lumpen Corrupción 12”

I mentioned in my review for their debut EP that LUMPEN is the spirit of South American punk dissidence, and this opinion hasn’t changed. This is what punk should be! Ravenous yet catchy UK82-styled hardcore punk with the wrath of a thousand dissidents who are fed up with all the violence and corruption that they were born into and who took matters in to their own hands in order to change things. Corrupción is as amazing as their debut Desesperación, but it has a few surprises. Aside from the CHAOS UK-meets-CRIMINAL JUSTICE hybrid, they managed to do a post-punk-ish song called “Anti-Patria” which is pretty bleak, and I could hear a whole album of songs like this. To end the record, there is a kick-ass ULTRA-VIOLENT cover, but with Spanish lyrics that prove that bands don’t need to succumb to the pressure of singing in English to sound good or get included. LUMPEN and fellow countrymen PRIMER REGIMEN are for sure the best Latin punk bands at this moment! Renuncia a tu vida!