Reviews

Greg Harvester

Bozo Shmo Freak You, Bozo! LP

BOZO SHMO was a weird, freaky clown-punk band that existed in the mid-to-late ’80s on the eastern seaboard (New York?) and is definitely hard to pin down. When I looked at this LP and saw people dressed up like a low-budget hobo circus with big smiles, you better believe that I had my doubts. There are only five studio tracks on here, while the rest of the LP is made up of live recordings (good quality) and practice recordings (fair quality). Some of it sounds like new wave-y ’80s synth punk that makes me think of the DICKIES, DANCING CIGARETTES, and even traces of LOST KIDS. It can be super catchy, but then they trail off into super maniac mode. It can get really goofy and “zany,” treading into territory that is not unlike a less technical MR BUNGLE, or just outright freak-out music. They also cover the RAMONES, JIMI HENDRIX, and more, making it all their own. There is an archival zine included, which gives you a hint of what it might have been like to see a bunch of fucked up clowns on stage playing manic freak shit in 1988. I’m still confused.

Freakees / Launcher split 7″

LAUNCHER plays manic punk that sounds more solidified, tighter, and crazier than their demo from last year, which was already good. They have hooks and melody, but also a wonky weirdness in the guitar that is part Greg Ginn and part just maniac energy. Total fucking bounce-off-the-walls punk. FREAKEES is more straightforward, with deranged, reverb-y vocals that are on the edge of a nervous breakdown at all times. They have an intense energy and rawness that I feel is lacking in much straightforward punk, and this is excellent to my ears.

Max Nordile Go To Sleep, Fool cassette

Max is maybe the most prolific musician in the Bay Area right now, seemingly releasing something on cassette or vinyl almost monthly. On this release, Max augments found (?) sounds, field recordings, skronky gear, tape manipulations, broken shit, and saxophones, bending them to his will and creating a wall of cacophonous collapse. Max feels life, and you should feel it with him.

Abi Ooze Bad Egg cassette

Poppy, self-loathing, and self-rewarding bedroom punk from Philly, with a distorted recording that really lends it a fuzzy, warm vibe. The vocals make me think of BAD SLEEP and BIG EYES, but with way more bummer subject matter. Aileen Wuornos samples between songs let you know these people are on the right side. Killer.

Už Jsme Doma MEdley YOUdley – SEStrih BRAtrih LP

Long running Czech punk/prog band who started when their region was still under communist rule in the ’80s. This live LP is a celebration of their 30th anniversary, and spans much of their career, bringing back past members to play on stage with them. It sounds like a party, with so much instrumentation (the usual standbys as well as flute, piano and sax) and gang vocals. It took me a minute to get into this, but I like it. There are traces of early anarcho-punk (in the vein of DE KIFT and the EX), prog-rock, weirdo shit (like the RESIDENTS, BEEFHEART) and so much eastern European punk that I am not properly schooled on. The whole thing is played rapid-fire with no breaks between songs and no space to catch your breath. It’s entirely impressive for a bunch of old farts, and it sounds like such a fun show. Consider me impressed.

Soloist Anti Pop Totalization Soloist Anti Pop Totalization LP

In the 432nd and final issue of this magazine, we are still asking the age-old question: “What is punk?” Is it the chaos punk at the bar drinking corporate beer while high-fiving his friends and not giving a flying fuck that the serial rapist still comes to their shows? Is it lesbian separatists who attach contact mics to filing cabinets while they saw them in half? Is it historical reenactments of D-beat cassettes from 1982? Is it a guy from Japan making minimalist synth in his room? We may never have a definitive answer that will please everyone, and this synth guy probably doesn’t even consider himself a punk, but he sent his record to a punk magazine, so here we are. Anyway, SOLOIST ANTI POP TOTALIZATION is completely synth- and noise-based, recalling the early industrial era, when everyone was still trying to figure out their sound with limited technical capabilities. S.A.P.T. draws influences from DENDO MARIONETTE, PUBLIC IMAGE LTD and CABARET VOLTAIRE with almost monotone, barely affected vocals. Rarely abrasive, but it has a good, harsh beat. Is it punk though? Ask me if I care.

Low Forms Gaze to Bow / The Watchful Eye LP

This is an interesting concept for a record, and the band pulls it off well. It’s one album, but both sides are presented as two different suites of music, showcasing different facets of the band’s presentation. “Gaze to Bow” is slower, atmospheric and contemplative, focusing their energy in a way that feels like a long drive across the plains. There are only three songs, and they all blend into each other seamlessly and beautifully. “The Watchful Eye” has a more upbeat and poppy sound which can kinda fall into the camp of REPLACEMENTS, RVIVR and the stomp of TOYS THAT KILL. The four songs on this side also blend into each other, but they stand alone as different songs with their own hooks and melodies. Even though both of these sides are fairly different from one another, I think they both complement each other well, and it has a really good feeling overall.

Cronander Trapped CD

Oakland’s CRONANDER fucks around with skate thrash, with heavy touches of metal and classic rock thrown in the mix. The vocals deal with the utter and complete dissatisfaction of modern daily life, adding no hyperbole and pulling no punches. Like, there’s an anti-cop song that the singer claims he wrote at age ten, and that same bluntness permeates the lyrics throughout. If you go to a skate park and see a dude skating in tight, faded blue jeans and a THIN LIZZY shirt, give him this CD and y’all will probably spend the afternoon stoned. Members of ANNIHILATION TIME and ANS.

B.Polar and the Spacefuckers We Not Come in Peace EP

Ah shit! Usually when we get cover art containing a dystopian robot scene it almost always sounds like a third-tier MAN OR ASTROMAN?, or some dumbfucks who think they sound like DEVO (they never do). B.POLAR AND THE SPACEFUCKERS sound like fuckin’ punk and hardcore, though. Dude is screaming his head off about enslaving the humans, crop circles, the emotionless void of a robot brain, and getting the fucking Alpha Centauri skinheads off of your planet!! The backup vocals sound robotic, and the songs have some weird changes in them to keep it interesting throughout. Definitely a surprise and a rager.

Spazz La Revancha CD

If you’re a fan of powerviolence, SPAZZ should be one of the first five bands that come to your mind. This album originally came out in 1997, and it stands the test of time. SPAZZ has the humor, the riffs to back it up, and they play it in their patented no-slow-all-go style that is a runaway bullet train driving off of a cliff into space. Fuck you. SPAZZ forever.

Sære Gamle Villa Bedste Ven EP

Copenhagen post-punk with some definite nods to their city’s dark punk past. Mid-tempo and brooding with echoing vocals pushed way up front—it’s almost too high in the mix for my tastes. The songs have good hooks and are memorable, but a couple of them sound almost identical. Still, it’s really driving and intense. Side two is composed solely of the outro song, which feels like it goes nowhere and doesn’t contribute much to the overall feel of the record. It’s confusing, but side one is good. Members of OND TRO.

Rat Patrol Doing Just Fine CD

RAT PATROL is from the Netherlands and have been around since 1988, but this is my first time listening to them. Retaining this amount of anger and drive after 30 years while still sounding fresh and relevant is not an easy task. They have a bit of an ’80s USHC energy with biting, crunchy guitars and a vocalist who only has one setting: full-on rage. The politics are on point, and the songs have enough catchiness to stay in your head.

Globsters Express Everything LP

This is it—the punkest thing in the magazine this month. Lo-fi, fucked up punk from Hazard, Kentucky, with every single note played full tilt and in the red. Every self-loathing, society-hating, paranoid word of this LP is screamed to the point of brain breaking insanity. At times, they almost share some similarities with crasher crusters trying to reimagine DISCHARGE for 2019, but GLOBSTERS is the sound of pure, unadulterated, unrefined hatred. A cassette version of this came out in 2014 (I’ve never heard it), but apparently this is a different mix and arrangement than the original. What are you waiting for? GLOBSTERS is the wildest flower.

Dumb Vision Modern Things LP

I remember DUMB VISION being poppier the last time I heard them, and those poppy elements are still there, but the band also seems darker and more focused. DUMB VISION is coming from a garage punk background, and layers that with the slightest bit of psych, and they do an awesome job of building their songs into a frenzy. My favorite example of that is the closer, “Don’t Die,” which builds on a riff and is fairly repetitive, but is able to build tension and acts as a perfect ending for the LP. The whole thing is a rager from start to finish.

Ben Katzman’s DeGreaser Quarter Life Crisis CD

Glam and butt-metal influenced “funny” punk from Florida. It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort went into this, evidenced by the intricate guitar shredding throughout the CD, but the goofy lyrics, party dude vibe, and multiple references to Instagram kinda kill it for me.

Chronic Anxiety / Dialer Split LP

I reviewed DIALER’s debut cassette a few months ago and loved it, so I was stoked to see this. DIALER continue to use aspects of post- punk, synth, free jazz (??), and more to create a tight feeling of what the future holds for punk. They sound so fucking pissed about the state of the world, but seem cautiously optimistic about the future. Start- stop spazzing makes space for clarinet freakouts and weirdo samples, and the singer still has FILTH vibes. I’m into it. CHRONIC ANXIETY are bass and drums playing post-punk with some grunge overtones. Their singer is kind of half singing, half ranting in an almost stream-of- consciousness way about yoga and big gulps. I’m not that into it.

Brutal Birthday Commotion EP

Bombastic, over the top, simplistic, noisy punk from Italy that sounds like a wall being knocked over. Kinda sounds like they are taking cues from early JESUS LIZARD at times, but I bet they’re not. Less cerebral and more grunting. Upon first listen, I didn’t care for this, but upon repeated spins the riffs kept coming out of the mire.

Bare Minimum Where the Buses Don’t Come CD

Tough guy metallic hardcore from Toronto with kind of “humorous” lyrics at times. Aggressive singing that sounds like it was raised on a diet of alternative rock radio.

Action Boys Action Boys CD

Simple 1-2-1-2 punk structure with a gruff vocalist and a lot of metal influence in the guitar. The last song was some sort of stab at a punk ballad, and it was a real challenge to endure.

Tropical Trash Southern Indiana Drone Footage LP

Dissonant psychedelic noise freakers TROPICAL TRASH are back with a new LP and it is excellent. There are unexpected twists around every turn on this record, but it still feels wholly accessible to anyone who isn’t already jamming down at the knob turner fest. The vocals sometimes have a Daydream Nation-era, blasé Thurston Moore vibe that works for them. Carefully constructed songs explode in different directions through bass-heavy riffs and non-standard instrumentation. For fans of early DREAMDECAY and THEUSAISAMONSTER.

Rubella Gallows Humor LP

According to press, Cleveland’s RUBELLA has put out over 60 releases since 1998 and they’re all a little different. On this vinyl release, the band consists of dense, minimalist synth with mostly plain, somber, clear vocalizations. There is a ’90s 4AD Records feel to it, underscored by rumbling, low frequencies. The earnest vocal delivery sometimes reminds me of someone who had a past in folk-punk, but I don’t think that is really the case here. Overall, a solid release for the synth crowd.

Melting Walkmen Daylight Savings LP

Copenhagen’s MELTING WALKMEN shift gears between energetic post-punk and somber lads staring at their shoes, but they mostly keep it upbeat. The dueling guitars work through varying degrees of dissonance that truly complement one another. The shouted vocals feel similar in each song, adding little dynamics, if any. In “Petrified” it sounds as if the singer is hearing the song for the first time and doesn’t quite know what to do, but not in a cool, fun way. Anyhow, it’s decent. The vocals bum me out, but the instrumentation is excellent.

Hakan III LP

When the first song came on, I almost convinced myself it was the MARKED MEN, but it’s not. What I’m saying here is that Italy’s HAKAN don’t stray far from the melodic punk blueprint that MARKED MEN certainly did not invent, but did perfect many years ago. Strong melodies, raw guitars, breakneck RAMONES-beat drumming and memorable songs. What I’m saying is that it’s nothing new, but when it’s done right, it still sounds really good.