This month our Record of the Week feature will focus on seven new releases from the amazing Tian An Men 89 Records label. For decades now, Luk Haas has traveled the most unreachable corners of the globe seeking out punk and underground rock scenes, and releasing music on Tian An Men 89 that the rest of the world would never otherwise get a chance to hear. The man is a true hero!
Chaos in Morocco compilation LP
Short review: Tian An Men 89 is the most important record label in the world for punks seeking international and (truly) underground punk bands, and you should seek out everything they release—period. As for this release specifically? Five Moroccan bands ranging from all out fist-pounding hardcore to commercial ska-punk. HOBA HOBA SPIRIT is perhaps the most interesting band: proto NWOBHM clashing with anthemic, folksy punk—a combination that I enjoy far more than the description might suggest. ZLAQ WELLA MOUT is perfect Hellcat Records fodder, perfectly executed anthemic street punk—the ska emphasis on the first track is tempered with the searing metallic vibe of “Ma Tssibch Ki Dir.” The PROTESTERS are in a similar vein; a future classic if there was any justice in the world, “I Wanna Protest” is the perfect political punk starter song. But the two bands that really kick my teeth in are W.O.R.M. (churning dual-vocal hardcore that just screams for a circle pit) and RIOT STONES (rough, primal street punk proving perfection in simplicity, their two songs alone would make for an indispensable 45). You might think that punk is whatever little bubble of cool that you find yourself in, but punk is so much bigger. So. Much. Bigger.
Suriname Punks Meet Guyana Punks compilation EP
From the new batch of TAM89 releases (you bet your ass I already mail-ordered all seven of them) come three bands from two neighboring countries on the northern coast of South America (I actually didn’t know, had to look them up). DE ROTTE APPELS from Suriname kick it off with a very ’77 UK punk sounding jam with an anthemic chorus and an overall poppy feel to it. Country-mates ADHD are doing a similar style but with a looser approach and some seemingly more modern influences. On the flip you get KEEP YOUR DAY JOB from Guyana doing some solid, polished melodic punk with a very epic feel. They employ a mesmerizing guitar lead topped off with over-articulate English lyrics, kinda like PROPAGHANDI. A very cool peek into some obscure punk. The overall recording production is quite a bit more slick and digital than past TAM89 releases—a true sign of the times that technology is connecting punks from all corners of the globe, while digital recording programs are apparently easily accessible almost everywhere.