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.

Lousy Suffer cassette

Right off the bat, you know that Indonesia’s LOUSY is here to deliver some real aggressive, moshy, riff-driven hardcore punk. Riotous stuff, not unlike, say, FREEDOM—this is music made to get you raging and get you moving. This is twinned with barking, reverb-and-delay-smattered vocals that compliment the tough instrumentation very nicely. We’ve got a super solid release on our hands here—highly recommended.

Mercy Music Melody and Truth LP

This album kicks off with a song that sounds like it could be an out take from an OLD 97’S record. From there, the hits keep coming. There’s also a kinda subtle ONE MAN ARMY vibe here, too. MERCY MUSIC has made an unbelievably catchy album that I could see getting some decent rotation from anyone who comes across it.

Model Zero Little Crystal / Leather Trap 7″

Two perfect, catchy songs from this great Memphis band. “Little Crystal” is a psychedelic garage dance tune with electronic flourishes. “Leather Trap” is a rocker that blasts out from the first note, yet still has a similar wild psych-y style. I am dancing from room to room. I just can’t get enough. I love this.

OK Satán Expanded Horizon cassette

Debut release from this Danish band that actually came out in early 2021. I reviewed the follow-up to this release a few months ago, but here is where it started with these folks. Trebly, frenetic weird punk over rudimentary Volca beats for fans of LUMPY or labelmates BIG CHUNGUS. Most of the songs fall under very dumb, very straight-forward punk, which is not a diss. There is a time for everything, like songs “Looks Like Shit” (“I don’t want to see your face / Looks like shit”), “Can I Fix It,” “Going Downstairs,” and “I Wanna Be Danish.” Most of the lyrics for these songs are the titles shouted over and over in a snotty, nasally tone. If you want a direct hit to your lizard brain pleasure center, you can certainly do worse than these short jams. What impressed me though about this tape was when the band experimented and slowed down a little on songs like “It Is Today Not Yesterday,” with a repeated, hollered refrain of “believe it.” “It Is Too Much” shimmers with some post-punk guitar icicles dripping over the vocalist screaming “I don’t get it / Shit’s too much.” It’s effective and sounds like a better, more thoughtful band than the shorter tracks would suggest. “Mona” has a mutant country riff and ballad-style vocals like ICEAGE locked in a tiny bathroom. Cool band worth checking out, and one that I hope leans into their more serious, vulnerable side.

Piorreah! Maquetas 84–85 LP

PIORREAH! was a Spanish band in the mid-’80s, and I believe this album compiles their complete recorded output. Playing in a classic, amateurish punk style, these dudes have the vibe of “local favorites,” somehow reminding me of the shows I used to go see at rec centers and the YMCA during high school. They sprinkle in ska bits more and more as the record goes on, lending further credibility to my “these guys sound kinda like the bands my friends used to make in the ’90s” evaluation. I can picture some Barcelona boomer stumbling across this collection and being super stoked to revisit the sounds of his youth.

The Plagues Shadow of a Doubt / Hector the Connector 7″

Hi-energy ’77 punk, NY-via-Southern California-style from start to finish. Vocals are a snotty monotone bark, guitars run the show here with a soulful approach to classic garage punk. “Hector the Connector” is the hit, taking those four chords that we all know and making them feel like they’re important again (note: they were never not important). No bullshit here, just two short-ass smashers…punk style.

Progromo Heute Schlägt der Bauer den König / Niemals wird Heute 7″

With an opening clip from Rebel Without a Cause, I couldn’t help but be interested. This 7” single, with an A-side translated to “Today the Pawn Beats the King,” has been brought to light forty years later, after being the side project of Bernd Zimmermann (ISOLIERBAND, DEUTSCHDENCH, amongst others). PROGROMO is drum-machine-driven, with clean guitar and guttural-yet-clear deutsch vocals that land nicely in the realm of poppy darkwave, and I like it. This tracks with other modern releases from the likes of Phantom and Symphony of Destruction.

 

Slimex Easy Money cassette

SLIMEX returns with an absolutely killer studio recording, the follow-up to their well-received four-song demo from last year, available on a lathe-cut 7” or cassette, the latter which I am listening to now (and for the foreseeable future). This is just incredible. Bouncy, jangly, weirdo synth-heavy punk. I refuse to cheapen this release by throwing an “egg” at the front of their descriptive term. This is for anyone and everyone who cares about new wave, synth punk, etc.

Spy Habitual Offender CD

Bay Area hardcore contingent SPY kinda popped up out of nowhere in 2020 and took the scene by storm overnight following the release of their first EP, Service Weapon. With Habitual Offender, SPY is back with more of the vicious, mosh-friendly hardcore punk that endured them to so many people when they first popped up. The vocals spit bile in every discernable direction toward the listener, with the instrumentation serving to further pummel them. This record exudes pure, unrestrained hatred from its first second to its last—it’s great!

Star Party Meadow Flower LP

As soon as I heard this Seattle duo’s late-2020 demo cassette, I was all in. Their punky blend of pops, both dream and indie (imagine LUSH or RIDE playing SHOP ASSISTANTS tracks), was exactly what I needed at the time. While the production seemed to imply large, cavernous spaces that mirrored the cold, empty world I was seeing outside my apartment, the shimmery guitars and cozy melodies swaddled me in warmth, reassuring me that we’d be outside soon enough, enjoying a world full of the bright flowers depicted on the demo’s cover. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of it—I needed more! Thankfully, Carrie Brennan and Ian Corrigan (GEN POP, VEXX) got to work, and about a year-and-a-half later, delivered just that. Meadow Flower is eight more tracks of dreamy, life-affirming pop—a perfect soundtrack to get back out in the world and revel in all the things it has to offer, fittingly released at the beginning of a literal and metaphorical Spring. It’s just lovely.

Teen Mortgage / Tongues of Fire / Venus Twins split cassette

VENUS TWINS are a sharp and heavy bass/drums duo with a gloriously dated sound—I wish I encountered more bands that approached punk with this kind of attack, like they’re just trying to bludgeon their own songs. TEEN MORTGAGE is a dark and driving guitar/drums two-piece with a dangerous edge—“Shangri-La” is a would-be summer night anthem. Oddly, the most subdued outfit of the three has as many members as the other two combined, but TONGUES OF FIRE are their own brand of restrained, repetitive power. All three bands sound like they could have escaped from the 1990s (a compliment), all three were new to me, and all three command (demand) attention. Two tracks from each, and my ears are peeled for more.

Ut Griller LP+7″ reissue

The final LP from London-via-New York no wave trio UT, originally released in the cultural dead space of 1989—more than ten years after the big bang of No New York, and just barely on the wrong side of the decade divide for the band to be properly acknowledged as three women making confrontational, visceral, and liberatory music pre-riot grrrl. Griller finds UT at their most linear and accessible, as their initial mangled, shapeshifting (and instrument-swapping) avant-garde attack was refined into dark, angular pop that effectively bridged the gap between the spindly sprawl of the RAINCOATS and the scrappy, knotted-up punk of female-forward early ’90s groups like AUTOCLAVE and HEAVENS TO BETSY (to my ears, the sideways-melodic opener “Safe Burning” will never not represent the unfulfilled promise of SLEATER-KINNEY). Compared to the thin, brittle production of their previous album In Gut’s House, Griller’s punched-up, Albini-helmed recording really centers the tension and unnerving drama inherent in UT’s songwriting, peaking with the desperate gloom-strum (almost veering into early THROWING MUSES territory!) of “Canker,” and the primal, howl-and-thunder art-punk intensity of “Rummy”—if the more experimental, disjointed approach that UT wielded on In Gut’s House speaks to the brain, Griller hits straight at the heart.

X-Intruder Punished for the Crime of Lacking in Judgement LP

This is heartless punk with all the flesh melted off. Yes, it’s a Terminator on the cover. Yes, it’s a perfect metaphor for the sound. Sometimes a band’s clarity of vision makes my job that much easier. Guitars here are dialed in for assassination, and the rest of the band sounds cruel—especially the pummeling electronic percussion. The band isn’t without melody, though, with tracks like “Never Let Your Public Down” hitting like NO TREND with hooks. The vocals, though, are vicious. Catchy aggression will take you very far in this genre. Anyone can sound like they hate you—it takes a real mechanic to leave just enough heart to stick with the listener. The guitar leads that soar above the rest of the chaos do a lot of heavy lifting, but the engine running it all runs strong from start to finish.

Angry Adults Obsessed (With You) EP

This record features six tracks of pop punk with a clean and crisp sound. The emphasis is on the “pop” here. The distortion isn’t loud or harsh enough to overwhelm the rhythm section, a sound I always associate with Epitaph and Fat Wreck records of the ’90s. The vocalist has nasal rasp to compliment all those pretty tunes. A good pick for fans of this genre.

Baraka Face Junta Test Sytemu CD

The band was new to me, but the sounds resonated instantly. Stark anarcho/post-punk from Poland with ties to STRACONY, a nasty good saxophone (a recent addition, apparently), and male/female vocals that bark and chant and spit with a constant ferocity. The songs are advanced and addictive, they just sound important, like you’re supposed to be listening and listening closely—imagine a foundation somewhere between THATCHER ON ACID and WŁOCHATY, and then bring in a crew to build on that foundation unencumbered. Ten songs here, and my biggest takeaway is that I need to track down their first two records, because this one is incredible.

Body Shop Hissy Hits Live at Pulp Arts cassette

Catchy, garage-y pop from Orlando, FL. BODY SHOP formed while the members’ bands were on pandemic hiatus. As the title says, this cassette was recorded live at Pulp Arts studios. There are a couple of songs that were also included on BODY SHOP’s debut Fl3sh World. These versions are rougher and tougher, the music more lo-fi while sounding more powerful. The vocals are extra breathy and occasionally remind me of Siouxsie Sioux, especially on “Love’s a Blonde.” Fun stuff.

Cheap Freaks Live at the Olympia cassette

Alright, let’s get down to business here. The band: for those of you unfamiliar with CHEAP FREAKS, they are a killer garage rock band from Dublin, Ireland that seamlessly incorporates aspects of punk, surf, and psychedelic rock into their sound. They have released a bunch of EPs and an outstanding LP on Big Neck Records that you can still find out in the wild pretty easily. The label: Primitive Screwhead is the all-live cassette subsidiary of the aforementioned powerhouse Big Neck Records, and has been cranking out tape after tape of Big Neck and Big Neck-adjacent projects. This volume was recorded on July 4th, 2013 at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre. CHEAP FREAKS sound unbelievably tight and the sound quality is better than most bands’ studio releases. Another one right on the money by Primitive Screwhead.

The D-Vices Adequate / Modern Boy 7″

Brought to you by the fine folks at Celluloid Lunch in Montreal, Canada, this D-VICES single straddles the line between artiness and rocking in a cool, swaggering way, like wearing sunglasses after dark, stumbling through back alleys. On both sides of this, the rhythm section solidly drives a grooving fencepost of a bassline, nailed into place with a tough street beat. Foundation cemented, the guitar and vocals have space to chew up the songs. On “Adequate,” the guitar snakes through the rhythm section, scratching and sparking, riding and riffing on a single chord before exploding into an echo-drenched anti-solo, and on “Modern Boy,” the chords are tense and minimal but lend so much action to the music. Speaking of being modern, if I didn’t already know this was an archival recording from ’79, I could be easily convinced this was one of the current stable of bands Celluloid Lunch has been putting out as of late. Instead, we get a Canadian KBD classic that hasn’t been overlooked by history or made overpriced by collector scum.

Dry Socket Cessation EP

Why fuck around with both sides of the record when all of your action fits on one? DRY SOCKET only needs three songs to make their point, so if you didn’t get it the first time, just go listen to all three again. The formula is simple: pissed, hardcore, punk. “Phantom Pains” delivers chills from the moment the needle drops with the band’s stance (no immunity, no freedom from accountability, there is no unity with white supremacy) and sets the stage for a pure assault. Dani’s vocals are dead on-point and the riffs are straight for the throat—check the start/stop after the intro around twenty seconds into “Red,” because this is the shit that sets the real bands apart from the folks who are phoning it in while projecting the “correct” image. Full endorsement from this eager listener…from content to delivery to presentation, Cessation is a fukkn beast.

Güiña Atake Psicotronico demo cassette

Demo release from this Spanish-language DIY punk band. I couldn’t find much in the way of a bio, but I did read that this is a product of communal squat living, and it shows in the lived-in confidence of the recording. The one-mic-in-an-empty-room production gives the songs an intimacy and immediacy that works really well on songs like opener “Atake Psciotronico.” Messy indie guitar lines not far removed from peak GUIDED BY VOICES lead into fast and frantic punk vocals, sounding like a mix of heart-tugging REPLACEMENTS minor chords with classic hardcore. I kept trying to place what it sounds like, and it’s “Made to Be Broken” by POISON IDEA. It’s so good. Second track “Nada Con El Estado” continues the perfect blend of tinny indie-punk with a great call-and-response chorus. I was so stoked to hear the rest, but the remaining songs unfortunately are unremarkable power-chord hardcore. Not bad, but not as hooky and interesting as the tape’s beginning. Click on over to GÜIÑA’s Bandcamp for that first track—maybe one amazing song is all you need?

Hacker Pick a Path 12″

Melbourne tech freaks HACKER are on the mainframe again after their beast of a demo was released in 2019. Featuring seasoned veterans from countless Aussie punk bands, HACKER knows what they want and how to get it. POISON IDEA-styled hardcore done the right way, with futuristic dystopic themes embeded in the seven killer tracks that make up Pick a Path. Hardcore Victim is killing it once again!

Imploders EXD cassette

There’s something exciting about sharing new material in a live setting. I don’t mean if you’re just “some band” telling the audience you have a couple new ones, I mean specifically when recording a release for general consumption. Land Speed Record remains one of my favorite HÜSKER DÜ records partly for the gall of releasing your debut as a live record. So I’m excited by this bruising Toronto troupe releasing their follow-up to an excellent debut EP as a live session from Equalizing Distort Radio. It sounds great, beefier than your typical thin basement demo but with all the dials in the red where it counts. There’s an ’80s influence here—especially in that guitar tone blurring the line between clean and filthy, as well as the bratty, acrobatic vocals—but it all sounds like a fresh jolt of juice. Excited to see what comes next, but in the meantime I’ll play this a couple dozen more times.

Indre Krig Demo ’21 cassette

This fiery demo from London’s INDRE KRIG is over in a flash, but not before this tight and speedy band delivers solid nods to both original UK and So Cal-styled hardcore. They’ve got the motions and the power down, now I’d like to see a little more diversity and originality in the songs.

The Love Depression The Love Depression LP reissue

Straight from 1968, this record is freshly reissued, and for the first time since its release, widely available. You don’t often associate the garage and psychedelic music of the 1960s with Venezuela, but the LOVE DEPRESSION dispels that notion. This record is mostly covers including some of JIMI HENDRIX and CREAM. While the covers are pretty fantastic, some better than the originals, it’s the LOVE DEPRESSION originals that stand out. “Gonna Ride” is absolutely simmering with psychedelic garage energy. Something like a souped-up JIMI HENDRIX. You most likely haven’t heard of the LOVE DEPRESSION, but now is your chance. This record holds up better than ever.

Low Rats Ex-Crisis / Sweet Jane Doe 7″

Punk rock’n’roll. You know the type, played by Johnny Thunders-worshipping barflies who look like a ragtag bunch of souls, brought together through their mutual love of SLADE, RAMONES, COCK SPARRER, HANOI ROCKS, cheap whiskey, and cheaper beer. This is “getting ready to fuck shit up on a Saturday night” music!

Madison Bloodbath Gittin’ Loose With​.​.​. LP

In the early-to-mid-aughts, right around when things started to get digitized and when the cost and turnaround time for a band to put out a 7” wasn’t thousands of dollars and a year wait, there was a certain spirit and sound to a subgenre of punk. Back when you could just write songs about failed relationships, getting drunk, and going on tour, all with epic, future angst anthemic chords. I had a bunch of split 7” records from bands like GRABASS CHARLESTONS, THIS IS MY FIST, SASS DRAGONS, the ERGS!, and early OFF WITH THEIR HEADS from labels like No Idea, Recess, and the late and disgraced Plan-It-X. MADISON BLOODBATH lands right in there, and I’m going out on a limb and assume the members were and are still in that scene. The album doesn’t give the typical list of the prior bands the members have been in, and that’s great––it lets the album stand on its own. With layered vocals, crunchy guitars, and pummeling drums, it’s a debut where the sound is self-assured and well-practiced, but still rough enough to be honest.  It made me dust off and crank up my copy of The Cheap Wine of Youth by RIVETHEAD and reminisce. (Okay, I was just about to submit this review when I found out this is a 2022 vinyl reissue of the 2008 CD released by A.D.D. Records, so I’m not a total idiot for placing this record in that era. But I’m also too lazy to re-write it and I’ll stand by what I said: this record stands the test of time.)

Nape Neck Look Alive cassette

The UK’s leading jabbers and scrabblers NAPE NECK return with the follow-up to their absolutely bruising self-titled 2020 cassette debut, and somehow they’ve managed to squeeze the vice even tighter on Look Alive. Vocals from all three band members push and pull against one another, fighting for space in a claustrophobic crush of caustic sheet metal six-string scrape and a frenetic, lockstep rhythmic rumble, like the DOG FACED HERMANS or the EX if they had come up through artist lofts rather than anarcho squats. The exquisitely ERASE ERRATA-esque “Aim Slow” scratches and slides through a cycle of needling guitar and staccato bass grind before breaking down into abstracted-from-language shouts punctuating the title imperative; blink-and-you-missed-it chorus clangs of cowbell provide some limber post-punk-funk release in the otherwise hermetically pressurized “Kiss Me Boy, I’m Dying;” “Warm Air” spirals around a Möbius strip bass line, bisected by an anxious and agitated/coolly collected call-and-response vocal tradeoff—but anxious almost always wins out with NAPE NECK. No wave for the now!

Print Head Change cassette

Brief eleven-song (none of them longer than a minute) tape from this Canadian punk band. The skittery drums and intertwining trebly guitar lines in “-Theme-” had me expecting an eggy CONEHEADS-core clone, but I was pleasantly surprised at the rest of the tape. With a vocalist that sounds like David Byrne on Adderall, PRINT HEAD buries new wave-y pop gems in bursting 78 RPM capsule form. Kind of like how LIQUIDS and BOOJI BOYS do it, these songs, especially standouts like “1,000,000 Opinions” and “What I Be,” are serious hits under the fuzz and hiss. Final track “Wanna Change” has a JAY REATARD sound, all fast-strumming, pure gold vocal melody, and it’s over before you can click the replay button. I really liked this.

Programmed Hatred I Wish I Could Have Nice Things But I Live in Philadelphia cassette

Nine tracks of blown-out powerviolence/noisecore from a new Philly group. Side A has some unexpected ambient sections paired with plenty of voice-over clips (pretty on-brand for this type of thing), yet they are still structured as songs. Alternatively, Side B is an indistinguishable gargle of digital-distortion-peaking wreckage that made me double check my speaker connection. I threw headphones on and it sounded the same; as if the audio of Star Wars had been condensed to a nine-and-a-half-minute cassette and then bastardized by thousands of pirated copies. To be certain, the album title is my favorite part of this project, but maybe there’s a fan base for this kind of off-kilter depiction of urban decay, which, if you follow the liner lyrics, you complete a picture of—otherwise, good luck getting the message.

Progromo Im Zentrum der Macht / Die Sterne Fallen Auf Amerika 7″

Hyper-obscuro German post-punk from Bernd Zimmermann, who was a member of ’80s groups ADD, DEUTSCHDENCK, and ISOLIERBAND. These two tracks (along with those released on the “Heute Schlägt der Bauer den König” 7”) were originally recorded in 1982 and previously unreleased until this joint venture between Bachelor Archives and Red Lounge Records. This is solid post-punk with gloomy Teutonic vocals, firmly of its time but should nonetheless please anyone with more than a passing interest in the genre. The B-side “Die Sterne Fallen auf Amerika” especially reminds me of Pornography-era CURE or the early 4AD roster.

Schizos Fuck Music City EP

Holy moly! I think these guys have finally figured it out. This New Orleans-via-Nashville act got off to a rough start—their 2017 debut as, like, a minimal drum-and-synth OBLIVIANS tribute act really rubbed me the wrong way. Even still, I always felt like they had some promise. And sure enough, they’ve steadily improved from record to record. Their 2020 LP saw them going more of a straight REATARDS route with solid enough results. Then they really tightened things up on last year’s Come Back With a Warrant EP—a fantastic record! But I’ll be damned if Fuck Music City doesn’t manage to blow that record out the water somehow. It’s odd that the addition of Drew Owen a.k.a. SICK THOUGHTS (he’s providing “instruments”) ended up making the band sound less like the REATARDS, but that’s what we’re dealing with. The A-side of the record is three quick tracks that borrow as much from USHC as they do Memphis garage punk. It’s leaner and meaner than anything this project has committed to tape but still scuzzy as all get-out—just perfect shit! Then they get loose on the B-side with “Going South,” a track that runs three-and-a-half minutes and sounds like that period of NWOBHM that was still pretty heavily influenced by boogie rock. It rules. Buy this record!

Shark Attack The Awful Truth EP

Absolutely killer Arkansas punk relic, unearthed and put to wax for the first time! It should be criminal for shit this fucking good to go unheard for so long, but perhaps that makes this release so much sweeter. “The Awful Truth” opens with a devastating KARP-esque heavy churn that should have SHARK ATTACK on a who’s-who of essential ’90s DIY hardcore. “Problem” follows with a nod towards the hard-hitting DIY Bay Area punk that inspired their short-lived relocation before the band dissolved. “God” is a pure power-dirge and the perfect closer—a tortured two-riff dose of disbelief. If this record had come out in real time, then we would all still be talking about SHARK ATTACK, but file under “better late than never” and consider me grateful…though I sincerely hope that there’s more than just these three songs.

The Slickee Boys Here to Stay / Porcelain Butter Kitten 7″ reissue

This reissue of the 1981 single by DC cult heroes the SLICKEE BOYS is a two-sided heater of early punk propulsion, power pop hooks, and new wave production quirks. Probably because of their locals-only reknown and dissimilar sound to the larger DC hardcore scene, the SLICKEE BOYS have mostly been a footnote in the city’s hulking tome of punk lore. I have to admit to not following that footnote myself, but listening now, this and their other two early singles really hit my sweet spot for that late ’70s sound of revved-up rock’n’roll with wildly catchy choruses and hyper-melodic leads. “Here to Stay” has a desperate edge to it that reminds me of the WIPERS, and “Porcelain Butter Kitten” has a more adrenalized garage stomp, but both feature serrated, slightly psychedelic siren solos that slice through their respective songs.

Televised Human Condition EP

The second song on this EP is literally called “Violent Hardcore,” which pretty much says it all about Portland, Oregon ragers TELEVISED—a band made up of entirely one man, that man being Aidan Stutzman. Old-school-style, rough hardcore punk the way it’s supposed to be done. Taking clear notes from bands such as NEGATIVE APPROACH and local legends POISON IDEA, TELEVISED has that classic sound totally down and fits into the fold just nicely. The vocals are incredibly gruff and pissed, in the tradition of Brannon, Choke, and all the other USHC greats. An awesome record highly recommended to fans of “violent hardcore.” Also, an interesting tidbit—this record was mastered by L.A. punk legend Geza X, responsible for the sound of classic recordings by bands like GERMS, DEAD KENNEDYS, MDC, and BLACK FLAG (amongst a deluge of others)! So if you’re somehow not convinced yet, I feel like that should just about do it for you.

Thatcher’s Snatch Wapping Dispute EP

From its tongue-firmly-in-cheek EXPLOITED rip-off sleeve, down to its carved-into-a-school-desk naughty schoolboy name, the fellas from THATCHER’S SNATCH indulge in a form of worship of ’80s UK culture like they’ve got caught drinking Carling Black Label on Top of the Pops by Bruno Brookes. Normally this kind of carry-on has the whiff of a Kenny Everett skit rather than something to take seriously, but here’s the thing, right; it’s actually properly fucking good. Tackling targets as disparate as Antipodean egg-chaser turned professional bigot Israel Folau and striking printworkers in ’80s Wapping, it packs a rhetorical wallop in its eight minutes; and that’s not to speak of its lightning turbo-charged UK82, like if MENACE or ENGLISH DOGS had stuck their fingers in a plug socket.

Uni Boys Long Time No See / Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream 7″

Wow. This is super catchy and has my name written all over it. It’s pop music played with real guitars and real bass and real drums. Melodic and pretty, it’s still got the shit that separates the excellent from the okay. Sure, it’s pretty and all that, but it’s rock’n’roll. Two songs, and they cover the basics: rock’n’roll and women. Boom. You’ll be bouncing your head and tapping your feet. I personally guarantee it. You owe it to yourself to give this a try.

Yokozuna Lower Westside Crew EP

Total ’90s noisecore from Virginia—if you think the 1997 Demo side is too hi-fidelity, then feel free to flip your shit (over) and check the Live at Grandma’s House session on the flip. Someone might suggest that there was no need for this to exist, and maybe I wouldn’t argue with that person—it sounds like shit and it’s sloppy and it’s two decades old, they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But, if another person countered that this is an essential piece of shit-fi brilliance and the world is a better place with $1 bins full of actual noise instead of accomplished bands with the crossed-out music symbol logo on their records…? Well, I’m gonna be on that second person’s side, because that second person is smarter than the first person. What a fucking mess.

V/A Amenaza Mexicana Vol. 2 cassette

The International Anti-Capitalist Punk and Hardcore Union presents Amenaza Mexicana Vol. 2 (“Mexican Threat Vol. 2”): ”Noise to Survive Capitalism in the Third World.” This is a twelve-song compilation cassette showcasing Mexican underground punk. A wide array of genres make appearances on this tape. Kicking off with a couple tracks of melodic punk rock, it changes gears and brings us some goth-y deathrock and hardcore punk before spinning on its heels, taking us back full circle. The B-side gets a little less predictable, immediately kicking you in the face with back-to-back hardcore tracks before delving into driving, metallic crust punk and some sort of metal-infused shoegaze, switching back to the easier digestible hardcore punk and more melodic punk before the weirdness gets a little too weird. There is a bit of something for everyone on this compilation, the Union really doing their part to try to unite the different punk factions. All in all, a cool compilation with an even cooler message: “Ama La Musica, Odia El Fascismo” (“Love Music, Hate Fascism”). Bring on Vol. 3!

500$Fine Yer Wolfbro is in My Capitol EP

On their first release since their 1997 Forward CD, Richmond, VA’s 500$FINE makes a four-track comeback. Gary Llama’s vocals fall in the range of Tim Armstrong, and the band certainly has that Hellcat vibe, though these Richmond-rockers delve deeper and more seriously into the socio-political realm. They’ve slowed down a little since Forward, but understandably so, and written: “And now we are old / And everything I felt / Still fuels every part of me” from “The Same.” They’ve also abandoned their ska interludes, which frankly I don’t miss, giving a more distilled, powerful backing to songs that range from twisted conspiracy politics (“Yer Wolfbro is in My Capitol”) to the support of the Black Lives Matter movement (“Commonwealth”).

Angry Silence Strange Times Call for Strange Measures CD

Honest post-punk from Brittany. Jangly and abstract timing with sweet hooks like SWELL MAPS getting released on Flying Nun Records. The self- and life-reflective lyrics are delivered in English with a passionate Mark E. Smith duotone delivery, as if the FALL had a bit more lyrical optimism. The band describes themselves as pop, but their shambling, broken anthems with earnest delivery set them well apart from their pop peers. Found myself more engaged and amped on it with every listen, up there in the spirit of the JAM’s 1977 releases.

Blitz Second Empire Justice LP reissue

It’s funny revisiting this record so closely to Voice of a Generation, because if I hadn’t been blessed with the prior knowledge that this was by the same band, I would have bet my next paycheck that this was two very different outfits, and I’d be on the beans on toast for the next month. Stating the bleeding obvious: it doesn’t sound anything like their debut full-length, for better or for worse. Gone is the gruff bellow, in comes a skeletal and sparse croon. No more buzzsaw guitars and thunderous bass, in comes razor-sharp guitar lines and bin-lid snare. A magpie approach to the nascent post-punk scene, a JOY DIVISION riff here, an ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN riff here, and a sprinkling of the CURE and FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM here for a light seasoning of goth, it’s a strange beast. It’ll never top the debut for me, and it’s definitely an acquired taste, but perhaps you are less of a curmudgeon than me and this is the BLITZ album for you.

Marty Brass Painted Glass cassette

The last few years have shown an enormous uptick in the number of solo projects releasing music, and understandably so. You tell all the weirdos out there that they can’t go out and make music with their friends, and I really only see a few options as to what the reaction to that will be. Thankfully, our dear MARTY BRASS seems to have chosen the more constructive of those potential paths and has graced the world with an absolutely delightful cassette of solo music. Eight songs of masterfully crafted power pop/garage-pop from this talented gent from Cleveland, Ohio, one being a lovely version of a ROLLING STONES song. It’s beautiful, it’s catchy, it’s driving, it’s well-played on every instrument, it’s pop music at its absolute best! (And I have it on good authority that there’s plans to take the live band version out on the road in the coming months!) Two years in and one would assume we had seen and heard it all by now, but MARTY BRASS shows that there’s still new solo projects worth checking out.

Cupid and the Stupids 99 Ways to Fix a Broken Heart cassette

Spared Flesh continues their hot streak with a new cassette from this seven-piece Byron Bay outfit—fourteen tracks of loose, lo-fi jams recorded straight to four-track in a riverside shed. The release copy describes this as “cute-core” and “Broadway punk‘n’roll,” which aren’t entirely inaccurate descriptors. But don’t let that scare you off! The music here is way less annoying than you might be imagining. Really, this is more the sound of a group of friends having a great time making music—the end result might be cute, but it doesn’t come off as by design. The tunes themselves bounce around the lo-fi landscape—depending on the track, you might hear a little Flying Nun or Elephant 6 or Rip Off Records. To get a good sense of the variety here, I’d recommend listening to one of the gentler tracks, like “Burn the Mattress,” then flipping over to the absolute scorcher “Heartbreak Motel.” If neither floats your boat, this release likely isn’t for you…and maybe your broken heart ain’t worth fixing.

Dirt Sucker Valley Fever EP

Last time I went on tour, in 2019, my senior citizen rocker of a mother threatened to drive from Wyoming to come see us play in Salt Lake City, and when I warned her it was being held in a stinking, claustrophobic punk house basement, she immediately snapped back “I used to go to gross punk houses in Salt Lake all the time in the ’80s.” Fair enough of a point, I reckoned, but now she needn’t leave her state, as DIRT SUCKER roams near her home on the range, and they might even come rock at her place. The rampaging hardcore din contained in these soily brown grooves is a qualified ripper. Each side is spiraling with Ginn-sian guitar dissonances, a punchy, crunchy rhythm section that embraces the whorl with a puissance for stops and starts, topped off by vocalist that’s a mutually maniacal and menacing musical match. I hope mom doesn’t mind blood on the carpet, because I bet this guy can take a mean mic to the face.

The Entrails The Entrails LP

The opening instrumental steels the listener for a dark, psychedelic, guitar-drenched sonic journey. Instead, the ENTRAILS follow that misleading track with a steady stream of downtempo and off-kilter garage rock with drunk creep vibes. ALUMINUM KNOT EYE for a reference point (and I’m sure these folks have a few DEAD MOON records in their collective arsenal), though admittedly most of this self-titled debut lands a little flat. The upbeat numbers (few and far between) have an addictive swagger but are held back by vocals that hit like some dude trying out to be in your weird uncle’s ’60s cover band. This review condensed to one sentence: “Almost…not quite.”

God Plutonium Demo 2022 cassette

This is exactly what a hardcore punk demo should be! It’s fast, it’s pissed, the recording sounds completely demented, and above all it leaves you wanting more! GOD PLUTONIUM features members of NECRO HEADS, LIVING WORLD, ALAMOS, and presumably countless other Pittsburgh bands. The masterminds over at Kill Enemy Records have done it once again, continuing their flawless output thus far.

 

Hippyfuckers Pink Eye demo cassette

Seeing Olivia Gibb’s instantly recognizable drawing style on the cover art, colorfully cauterizing my corneas from a kilometer away, I immediately knew this HIPPYFUCKERS demo would be the freaky fuckin’ thing I needed. Six tracks of madness for Missouri mutants, every song is a brain-burster of heavy, gnarled riffs dripping with every effect pedal stomped on, while guttural bass grinds away and the drums barely hold this twisting car wreck together as it plummets off the cliff. You can almost see the vocalist contorting into shapes unseen, hanging off the ceiling, crawling between your feet. Wailing into the microphone as it’s already gone halfway through their digestive tract, flailing like they’re slowly dying from whatever household chemicals they swallowed before the set. Ten outta ten, top prize hog at the freak punk farm fair —go see ‘em on tour this summer and into forever.

Idle Hand Six Ways to Tell Your Boss Off cassette

C’mon now, of course I like this. Pummeling old-school punk with snappy riffs, a nice touch of damage, some neat spooky parts, and an overall cool feel. It’s one guy from Philly playing all the instruments and an awesome female vocalist, and it rules. No immediate comparisons come to mind, and that’s always a good thing. Great tape. I was going to put a couple songs I like the best here, but nah, I like all these.

Karkaisu Kohta Sataa EP

Great debut from Finnish hardcore band KARKAISU. This band from Helsinki plays melodic, almost Swedish-styled hardcore punk à la WOLFBRIGADE, but with a bigger hardcore edge. On tracks like “Ei Kuulu Sulle,” you can hear thrashy riffs as the game changes to a more crossover-influenced hardcore. A really well-rounded sound, and the vocals bring a whole new dimension to the six songs on the self-titled EP. A fun record that prompts you to hit repeat.