Reviews

Ruth Schwartz

Dark Age Kali-Yuga EP

This four song EP sung half in German and half in English leaves me wanting a translation, and the two English ones, “Remember Soweto,” and “Man vs Nature,” have simple but admirable lyrics. There’s one mid-tempo punk song, one slower ballad, and a couple catchy, crunchy songs with gnarly vocals and a stab at originality. Pretty good.

Couch Flambeau Models 12″

This fourth record is more esoteric musically by being thematic blues in “White Boy Blues,” metallish in “Satan’s Buddies” (great song!), and funky in “Song with a Message.” But the jokes are just as poignant lyrically and musically as they’ve ever been. I’m glad the rumors of this band breaking up weren’t true. Their classic humor and skilled playing are as great as ever.

Screaming Trees Even If and Especially When LP

This Ellensburg, WA band’s second LP is an exciting moment. They get more indulgent here, proving themselves a real ’80s psyche band. Intricate swooning and meaty jams with a few melodic ’60s influenced songs. But ravers like “The Pathway” make it worth living for.

The Purple Things Purple Things LP

This Irish band has been cranking out the records. Lucky for us too as even though they are kind ’60s-ish, they really rock out with a garage-y touch. Strong and slick with crunch, catchy hooks, a little of the ‘ol reverb, and some incredible jams. This LP (and in fact the band) are a must for all garage enthusiasts.

Big Stick Crack Attack 12″

This is a document of one of two BIG STICK members’ tragic family separation, daughter’s death and is as anti-poverty, drug, and racism as conceivable. Musically rap, scratch, noise-a-rama (a la “Cookie Puss”) and great in its repetitiveness. But it is one of the most lyrically powerful pieces witnessed in a long time. Real and frightening.

Big Black Songs About Fucking LP

Trendy title. And there is a song about fucking. (Plus a few anti-live ones too.) Meaning and trendiness…Oooh. Although they don’t instantly wow me this time, this LP is as demented, crunchy, and interesting as always. And the end. The end.

Eugene Chadbourne LSDC&W: The History of the Chadbournes in America 2xLP

“I’ll take my Chadbourne and make it a double.” Four sides as crazed and priceless as always. From goofy Martin Mull-ish “In A Sentimental Mood” to BEATLES, BURL IVES, ROGER MILLER psych-out medleys. These records feature bits and pieces of other tapes and even early lost SHOCKABILLY material. There’s the regular dose of insightful, folksy guitar — diddling, singalongs, psychedelia, and political prowess.

D.J. Lebowitz Beware of the Piano LP

Bringing Fowl Records out of the closet is San Francisco’s longest lived and, as far as I know, only punk piano player. A fine novelty record if only for his covers of “Racism Sucks,” “Holidays in Cambodia,” and “Judy is a Punk.” He also plays lots of originals with vocals that are quite the goof.

Bongwater Breaking No New Ground! 12″

It’s a bird…It’s a plane…no, it’s the rest of SHOCKABILLY back for an encore. Hooray! Kramer and Licht team up with Ann Magnuson taking vocal responsibility and with celebs like FRED FRITH making appearances. The result is god-like. Great psycho freakouts, covers, catchy new ditties and moving moments.

V/A The Wailing Ultimate: The Homestead Records Compilation LP

The greatest hits of Homestead. Can’t afford all those records? Get all the hits here. Included are: VOLCANO SUNS, BIG BLACK, NAKED RAYGUN, LIVE SKULL, DEATH OF SAMANTHA, DINOSAUR, SQUIRREL BAIT, SALEM 66, and many more.

V/A The 20th Anniversary of the Summer of Love LP

A fine collection of known and unknown, previously released and unreleased psychedelic and psychotic bands of 1987. Nothing “neo” about this. Just hit after love hit. Features among many: HALF JAPANESE, SHOCKABILLY, ARTLESS, BONGWATER, FRED FRITH, KRACK HOUSE, STEVE TAYLOR, and ALLEN GINSBURG. Absolutely wonderful.

V/A None Whatsoever LP

Sort of interesting comp of mostly East Coast pop bands. I’ve never heard of (except homeboys TEN TALL MEN). From pretty catchy to extremely droll. A little electronics and a little psychedelia. SIGNS OF LIFE, TEN TALL MEN, BIG DIPPER, and EXPANDO BRAIN are the highlights. So-so.

White Zombie Psycho-Head Blowout LP

The only thing likable about NY bands aside from SONIC YOUTH or even TEENAGE JESUS/LYDIA LUNCH was that their first few records sounded like this. A clean crunchy grind with raunchy vocals, dirty lyrics, and no noise – just garage-y and trashy psychoticness. Hope they stay this way.

The Lorries Crawling Mantra 12″

These guys used to be RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY. At least they figured out how stupid that was. This new one is “late ‘80s gloom disco” music. You’ll hear it at all the cool clubs. Heavy on the beat, rhythm, and somber BAUHAUS-ian vocals. If you go on for this kind of thing – it’s pretty damn good. Otherwise, beware.

The Insane Picnic Magistrates and Saints 12″

Maybe I haven’t been reading my NME and Sounds lately, but I could swear this is the FALL incarnate or a formula for coolness. No apology for the comparison here. The only difference is that the FALL didn’t get this type of production or push on their first singles. Too bad.

Green River Dry as a Bone 12″

This band is still a mix of styles on this second 12”. Although there’s no apparent “hit” here, each song has a different signature; gloomy, rock’n’roll, metalish ballads, etc. And each is powerful in its own right. It’s a little hard to get hooked on these buys, but they’re good.

Caroliner Rainbow Hernia Milk Queen Rear End Hernia Puppet Show LP

There hasn’t been as wholesome a release in SF since BLACK HUMOR did their Love One Another LP in’82. What we’re talking here is hand made ‘box sets” with presents in each and, well, the record. CAROLINER are one of a kind noise. Hearing is believing, love it or leave it, trash and bake, or is it hear and fry? This is for all voyeurs, acid heads, or collectors of rare species. Don’t rent…own.

Big Black Heartbeat EP

Just when I thought the world didn’t need anymore WIRE covers, here comes a great one. BB meets WIRE is a great combo and the two on the flip are great as well. These three aren’t on the new 12”, either. BB fans won’t be disappointed.

V.H. de Straks Groeten Uit De Vrije Wereld EP

If you’re yearning for punk, garage mania without the noise element, here it is. Grinding guitar, punchy drumming, catchy melodies, slightly psycho but stark rhythms. The first track is awesome, the EP a find.

Ten Foot Faces Daze of Corndogs & Yoyos LP

Great! These guys prove way beyond their first single that they rock hard using a neo-psyche element but with a powerful ‘80s style. There’s some really catchy songs here and well worth listening. Good fun. Good rock n roll.

Oh’ Dev Don’t Push LP

Here’s the dark and virtually unknown underlings of hip, European, noise-punk. OH’ DEV’s second one is all right. Lots of the ol’ dissonant, psycho guitar with poetic spoken style vocals and lyrics of the disquieted character. But they’re upbeat enough of the time to demand a few listens and the title track is great.

In the Colonnades Talk for an Hour 12″

At first listen this band seems like another gothic throwback but their upbeat punch mixed with powerful rhythms and a psychedelic/blues style proves they can take off where LEATHER NUN left off. Hooray for a fine Swedish tradition.

The Catheads Hubba LP

Following in CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN’S footsteps, these SF kids rock only slightly more garage-y than their forerunners but they still have one too many folk ballads. A couple cute songs like “Golden Gate Park ” are good fun, but otherwise it makes me feel like moving off Haight St. and soon.

Beefeater House Burning Down LP

A fine, star-studded, post-mortem release, rich with vocal and instrumental interludes, the classic dissonant balls-out rockin’ and the words…are inspirational. It’s a composition that’s well conceived, executed, and received. Too bad it’s the last.

Bad Attitude / Gnä Gnä split EP

A self-produced EP is an admirable effort and these two bands pull it off in a good spirit. Both bands utilize an early punk sound. Switzerland’s GNA GNA take influences from the RED CRAYOLA school but here they rock harder than their first single. W. Germany’s BAD ATTITUDE combine hardcore and punk styles into two catchy songs. A good EP.

Artless Entanglements A Collection of Vintage Spotness LP

Spotness, you bet. Produced, paid for, played, written, sung, and art by the almighty Spot. And although it’s a little self-indulgent at times, it’s also a masterpiece of composition in both silly ditties, calculated garageness, and elaborate, intense, rockin’ instrumentals. Pretty damn weird but pretty damn good too.

The Public Heirs What’s Going On? 12″

Another release in the spirit of early UK punk with just a tad of the old post-punk. Catchy (almost danceable in their B-side dub remixes), and raw enough to be interesting. “South Africa” sounds remarkably like the PISTOLS with effects and “Power for the Many” is a studio piss-about.

Euthanasia Living Heck 12″

There are a couple of really good songs that have the always great combo of heavy rhythm, and melodic craziness. They maintain their own definite originality. The other songs are more of a crooning dirge which is fine, but not as fun. Overall, recommended, though.

Vale of Tears Songs From the Bible Belt LP

A good follow-up to their 7” featuring the same quirky yet melodic thrashers, funky moments, some good material, and lots of the ol’ saxophone. Their slower moments get dull and gothic sounding, but the fast ones are really fun.

Chorchazade Made to Be Devoured LP

Somewhere in between YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS and VELVET UNDERGROUND enters this band. There’s some really great intensity building, musicianship and twists, but is so subtle and quiet that unless you have a “mood” for soft music, this is a bit boring.

Al Perry and the Cattle Cattle Crossing LP

Al’s been around and playing the neo-psych world for what seems like forever, and this LP is good to see and a slight departure. Most of it is rowdy country music, but there is some good country blues, and the rest is some plain rockin’ hot dogs. Good fun.

V/A Play New Rose for Me 2xLP

A double LP comp with a really wide mix of mostly known bands doing cover songs. And a lot of them are ‘60’s covers to make it even more fun. The highlight is the DK’s doing “I Fought the Law.” There’s also ALEX CHILTON, SKY SAXON, PANTHER BURNS, SLICKE BOYS, and 20 others. Pretty great!

Tupelo Chain Sex Record Breaker 10″

TUPELO CHAIN SEX are sort of a novelty rock’n’roll/horn ensemble that use a lot of cover material and are pretty goofy for the most part. And if that isn’t enough, this is a rare, collectible 10” blue vinyl, limited edition that’s one of the worst recordings, quality-wise, ever. For fans and collectors only.

Sponge Born Under a Bad Sponge LP

This band used to be the X-MEN… the Chicago ones. I’m glad they changed their name, too. They are an eclectic group showing diversity in their mix of aggressive and twisted pop songs that range from frenetic pop punk to bare and goofy melodies. A weird band.

The Leather Nun Lust Games LP

The NUN rock full out. They’ve always been a rock band and offended in a humorous way, but with this posing girl front cover, posing band back cover, big production, and some trite rock songs they’ve lost their appeal. Only one song I like. What happened?

Flipper Public Flipper Limited 2xLP

A potpourri of live recordings from between ’80-’85. The recording quality definitely varies, but it is truly a fan’s edition. There are a few songs that have never been available elsewhere and some rare early recordings. Most notable is the foldout and cut touring game/sleeve which is good for at least three plays. Not bad.

Executive Slacks Fire & Ice LP

Every time these guys put out a record, which is quite regularly now, I really want to hate them. If I describe the mix of Euro-pop with electronic dance beats, it makes them sound awful and for the most part they are. But they also managed enough dementia, recording strangeness, and catchy pop numbers to be likeable.

Culturcide Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America LP

You won’t see any band members or label name on this record because the whole thing is plagiarized by taking everyone else’s Top Ten hit and changing it radically (mostly lyrically). There are “covers” of “We Are the World” (“We Are the World”), “California Girls” (“California Punks”), “Break Dancing” (“Fake Dancing”) and more. Every piece of trash you ever wanted to change. Genius.

Alien Sex Fiend Smells Like… 12″

Wow, I’m impressed. A one-song, three mix record which is the catchiest, trashiest, most rockin’ song I’ve heard from this lot in a while. They do two electronic versions (1 dub) which are okay, but the “shit mix” rules. Hope the LP’s this good.

Inca Babies This Train… LP

It’s easy to complain that the BABIES are too much like the BIRTHDAY PARTY, but after some classic singles, this LP isn’t bad. While no one song really stands out, the total record is quite enjoyable, adding Southern-style blues and pickin’ to psycho post-punk.

Gnä Gnä The Crawling Chaos Incorporation of Dark Music 7″

At first listen, it seems like a wimpy pop record and the B-side mostly is. But after a few listens, the A-side seems like it must be a lost and forgotten AVENGERS song. Melodic and simple with a bite of its own.

Volcano Suns All-Night Lotus Party LP

Still as great and still as diverse, this SUNS LP is almost as good as their first. It’s a mixed bag with half psycho rockers and half melodic country-type beats, which is OK but not as overwhelming as before. However, some of these songs are real standouts in terms of originality and intensity. Still worthwhile.

Baby Astronauts All the Pancakes You Can Eat LP

These guys are very diverse with their influences and styles, varying from song to song: rock’n’roll, blues, funk, ballads… But regional similarities are too obvious to ignore. They have that distinctive Twin Cities sound (somewhere between HÜSKERS and SOUL ASYLUM). Vocal and guitar harmonies abound. Catchy and recommended. Each cover is handmade.

Eugene Chadbourne Corpses of Foreign War LP

Here Eugene is joined by two members of VIOLENT FEMMES and the outcome is extra good pickin’ and the same strictly CHADBOURNE twisted folk protest songs. All classic, no fan disappointed, all lyrics hitting their mark, and lots of good clean fun.

Yell-O-Yell Hello, Hell! LP

This is too obvious. What we have here is the same people who’ve listened to a lot of the BIRTHDAY PARTY. But hey – that’s not all bad, because some of these tunes get way down, in a good way. I like “Ex” the best and the rest are okay, but tend to be a little tired.

The Anti Troppau Council A Way Out LP

This Greek band is able to perform various styles, paces and moods very well. There are early punk – hook laden – rockers, psychedelic punk tunes and slower melodic crooning. And all of it has strength of arrangement and intensity. Quite eclectic and all in all an absorbing record that has some great moments.

A Witness Loudhailer Songs EP

These guys remind me of a really early FALL with a rhythm machine. Screaming to whispers vocal prowess, strong lyrics (I do wish they’d included a lyric sheet), noisy , stark and intense. I’d rather hear a real drummer, but this is definitely a refreshing release for lovers of early Brit post-punk.

The Celibate Rifles The Turgid Miasma of Existence LP

It’s taken me a long time to like these Aussies, but this one has finally sunk in. This band has the traditional rock’n’roll à la BIRDMAN/SAINTS sound but with their own poetic style in both rockers and ballads. Great production, inventive arrangements, and topics ranging from world view to personal view. A fine release.

Wart Fun is Over 12″

On their first solo release, this band plays slow, plodding, early-style punk with a post-punk twist. Really stark and subdued but after a few listens even the seemingly boring songs sound melodic and catchy to me. And I haven’t heard anything as catchy as “New Clear War” since the OUTCASTS’ or CRISIS’ heyday.

Trial Moments of Collapse LP

This LP is a long time coming and they’ve come a long way since their single. It’s really easy to hear the JOY DIVISION in them and lots of it. But the production and rhythm sections are hot, the continuity flowing, the words integrating so that recognizing that distinctive sound becomes secondary. Dark, poetic, and proficient.

Sun City Girls Grotto of Miracles LP

The GIRLS are off in many tangents and can be a little boring but they are still provocative. Here they have depressing psychedelia to lounge music to ethnic accents to the true LSD freak-out. Very musical, poetic, downright pretty, distinctively ugly, the great acid experience or background music.

Pussy Galore Groovy Hate Fuck 12″

In this day of slick releases, this may seem pale. But this band is pure garage aesthetic in both sound and words. This is dirty rock’n’roll and as dirty as it gets, too. You may be offended by “Just Wanna Die,” “Pussy Teen Power,” “Cunt Tease,” or “You Look Like a Jew,” but I say that these guys get four stars for bravery.

Mighty Sphincter The New Manson Family LP

At first, I thought there was something different about this band and I couldn’t put my finger on It. More metal? Slower? More doom and gloom? More rock? Well, yeah, all of the above and produced by ALICE COOPER. Very gothic, slow, tired, and staid. Are the ’70s back or were they here all along? Yawn.

Lethal Gospel Martian Whores LP

This band has been one of San Francisco ‘s premiere doom-and-gloom bands for years and this new LP deserves some notice. They haven’t completely eliminated the gloom, but they have become much more musical and the arrangements shine over and above previous material. Some great rockers here and a variety of styles, instruments, and lyrical material.

Big Black Atomizer LP

I love BIG BLACK and this LP is no exception; the only qualm I have is that a couple of these songs sound so much like the BUTTHOLE SURFERS that they should’ve declared an ode to them so as not to be called plagiarists. Still, this material is strong in melody, rhythm, lyrics, and production. Classic songs as always.

V/A Emma 2xLP

Emma is a squat/rehearsal/recording studio/concert hall in Amsterdam that is run by and for bands and fans. This double-LP not only comes with a complete description of Emma’s intent and a booklet by the bands, but lots of music that’s been performed live an in the studio there. Thirty international bands in varying styles and recording quality. There is literally something for everybody here divided by sides: hardcore, pop, post-punk, noise, etc. They’re an example to us all.

The Leather Nun Gimme Gimme Gimme / Lollipop 7″

An ABBA cover. Well, if anyone can pull it off, I suppose LEATHER NUN can. Actually, it’s great—their powerful, sleazy, pop punch comes right through and the B-side is a great dirge, too.

Yo Once in a Blue Moon LP

These rockin’ folksters are back, and while just as endearing as ever, there’s a bit more of a challenge involved here. But musically, they’ve included lots of technical and instrumental variations by using horns, mandolin, violin, and lap steel, to name a few. YO are different than any other band, and I’m sure this one will grow on me as has every other record they’ve done.

Group of Individuals World Civil War / Police Beat 7″

This is a benefit single for the International Haymarket (May Day) gathering in Chicago and is decidedly anarchist, freedom-fighting, and information-oriented. I think that describing the melodic, punchy songs would minimize the amount of info and sincerity involved here. I’m overjoyed that people are still putting out records to inform and communicate.

Blue Room The Wages of Fear 12″

Blues overtones are what make these five songs great. “Hard on You” is a rockin’ PAGANS-style song, while “Played to Death” is loping, sleazy blues. “Call of the Wild” has a ska beat that turns into a knockout rocker. And nowhere except maybe KILLDOZER have I heard a vocalist like this. They’re hot.

V/A Hits and Corruption! LP / Skin and Bones cassette

You get a record, a tape, a booklet, stickers some punks, and some refreshing “We’ll never sell out” literature. The record and tape are packed with diverse goodies (no hardcore, though). Classic crash and burn from the EX and SONIC YOUTH, bluesy dirge from CARLETON MORGAN, great garage stuff from UT and ETON CROP, and a lot more I’m pleased to hear from again or for the first time.

The Honeymoon Killers Love American Style LP

Hot damn, this is a great record and the best yet from this band. They surely can’t be labelled and shelved as SONIC YOUTH clones again. Raving vocals with the most fulfilling melodies and arrangements I’ve heard from them while maintaining a powerful, steady rhythmic backbeat. Eclectic post-punk at its finest.

Will to Live Lying in Bed 12″

This project is up-tempo rockin’, heavy on the industrial rhythms and hooks. What a find! Ranting poetic words that discuss a wide variety of relevant topics. Yer SPK-type deformation pics. I’d love to see ’em live.

Gerry Hannah Songs From Underground cassette

Recorded in prison, this seemingly professionally produced cassette proves without a doubt that this Vancouver Five member can really sing the blues. I don’t doubt any word of this acoustic folk endeavor. Mellow, pretty, and not punk…but I like it anyway.

Sonic Youth Flower / Halloween 12″

This one is even more of a drone than ever. “Flower” is upbeat in their classic noise style while the title track is lyrically provocative and musically sedate. Still, both songs are good. Not my fare, but I wouldn’t be without.

Seeing Eye Gods Seeing Eye Gods LP

The coolest thing about this record is that it’s a two-sided paisley pic disc. Musically, they’re most definitely Marc Bolan/Donovan influenced, i.e., very sweet and melodic psychedelia. Well done for that and OK for those special moments, but wimpy for the rest. Still, I’ll keep it.

Naked Raygun All Rise LP

This is a bit different than previous records in that there’s only a couple of songs with their distinctive bass licks and chunky melodies. So instead of bordering on redundancy, they prove their diversity by being more melodic, rockin’, and even pop. This LP is more challenging than before and really great.

Fourwaycross Fill the Sky LP

As followers of the JOY DIVISION school, these guys really impress me with their attention to sequential detail, rhythmic style, and moodiness. Although they have slow moments, this first vinyl offering is well done and combines the aforementioned plus a smattering of industrial starkness, some noisy blockbusters, and melodic meanderings.

Eugene Chadbourne Country Protest LP

Yet another release from this man among persons. This isn’t unlike so many other recent releases. Lots of goofy cover songs, done à la carte or in medley, straight or crooked. Plus spoken word, original psychoticness, folk protest songs, and country pickin’. Oh, Eugene…

Camper Van Beethoven II & III LP

This band gets even more eclectic, excessive, and mellow on this second LP. They do have some great melodies, goofy lyrics, a variety of instruments and styles: blues, country, folk, etc. They also have some dull moments. Fans will definitely rejoice; hardcore fans veer the other way.

Mark Stewart As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade LP

This LP includes material from the last 12”, and even the new material sounds like a rehash of his past few records, though it’s more thickly layered and more difficult than before. However, ex-POP GROUP’s Stewart and Adrian Sherwood still create some of the best haunting wildness and lyrical nightmares. Still will keep the fans happy.

Salamander Jim Lorne Green Shares His Precious Fluids 12″

I don’t want to imitate Tim’s brief analysis, but this record really does sound like BIRTHDAY PARTY. (Old members are present, I believe, but name changes make it hard to be sure.) Great screamin’ blues, rockin’ moments, and other dementia. If you can find it, get it.

Raymen Going Down to Death Valley LP

Here is a fascination with the CRAMPS and early American pop and blues. In any case, there are lots of covers that are rockin’ and dirty. “Haunted House” really rips, as does most of the rest of the record.

Oh’ Dev Raving Bonkers 12″

Discordant, psychotic, psychedelic, and painful. Simple, stark, and crazed. OH! DEV plays twisted jazz meets the most painful blues. Definitely arty, but not wimpy. Nick Cave and Lux Interior take heed.

Soul Asylum Made to Be Broken LP

This band has always done great pop and post-punk but I have never been able to dig out those essential hooks. I guess they transcend them, because this is a fine recording full of melody and great rockin’ moments. They seem to have split it into a rockin’ and melodic side, but whichever way you splice it, these guys deserve attention.

Short Dogs Grow Short Songs in a Row cassette

San Francisco’s newest garage band comes above ground with a raw cassette that perfectly imitates their stage appeal. Rockin’, hook-laden, goofy (even when serious), wild, immature, satirical, and completely genuine. Watch out for these guys—you’ll be humming their songs before you know it.

Dayglo Abortions Feed Us a Fetus LP

Long-time no-see from these Canadians, and they’re back with a vengeance. One side features most of their now out-of-print first LP, and the other is new material. The new stuff is a little metal-tinged at times, but old and new are rockin’ classic punk. Dirty, violent, obnoxious, and lovable, DAYGLO ABORTIONS have their hearts in the right place.

Part 1 Pictures of Pain 12″

Slow- to mid-tempo post-punk. Haunting and flowing mood music bordering on gothic, but not as trite. Weaving but simple melodies. The title-track is the star by far. If you’ve been following the bountiful post-punk bands from the East Coast, you’ll love these Brits.

Clair Obscur Santa Maria / Toundra 7″

This French band has put together an impressive package with photo cards and cover booklet. The single is right in the JOY DIVISION, early NEW ORDER, experimental vein, although “Santa Maria” is a little more rockin’. I know this doesn’t sound great, but they’re not bad. Needs more edge to make me happy, though.

Zoogz Rift Amputees in Limbo LP

Imagine mixing FRANK ZAPPA, CAPT. BEEFHEART, TESCO VEE, EUGENE CHADBOURNE, DOC DART, and SACCHARINE TRUST down to one demented guy and his musician buddies. Jazzy, discordant, pun-filled, at times melodic and/or rockin’ with horns, various percussion and tape effects. Original and weird enough to be recommended.

Drunk Injuns Crimes Against Humanity 10″

DRUNK INJUNS—the greatest enigma of our times. Can you afford to miss the classic, rockin’ SF garage band who, apart from a hard-to-find cassette and a few comp tracks, are treating us to decent (not great) live recording which includes their greatest energy and material? There’s only 1000. Get it!

D&V Inspiration Gave Them Motivation to Move On Out of Their Isolation LP

This is essentially the new CRASS record. At least most of the members make an appearance in some capacity. I’d say it’s the most innovative, interesting, and yes, inspired thing they’ve done in a while. Still a stark beat and lots to say, but more varied in terms of influences, moods, and studio effects. Reminds me of something FOETUS would do and dependent on many listens. Admirable.

Shockabilly Heaven LP

Still cranking it out, as morose, apocalyptic, and truly psychedelic as always. Superb production with some covers, some of Chadbourne’s demented ballads, and lots of over-the-edge wildness. God damn, these guys are godhead, and Heaven is as great if not better than ever.

The Ex Pokkeherrie LP

They’ve done it again. A fascinating LP chock full of goodies: poster, book, and militancy. While they maintain melody, dissonance, moodiness, and a hard edge, they continue to grow and encompass many styles. Before, they’ve reminded me of CRASS; now I’m hearing elements of the FALL and SONIC YOUTH, but hell, the EX have been playing as long if not longer. Their integrity is rock hard and dependable. Godhead!

Yard Trauma Must’ve Been Something I Took Last Night LP

Their second LP shows growth and diversity as well as a bit of taming. This type of ’60s-influenced psych kicks ass anyway, but since 90% of these songs are originals, YARD TRAUMA have managed to scan the decades and prove timeless and talented. Not as rowdy on this record as live, but not to be missed either way.

The Huns Gene Vincent’s 115th Dream LP

A very appealing release from a Midwest band on the English Hit label. They’re rockin’ ’60s psych meets ’70s punk with a little rockabilly thrown in and a DYLAN cover. At best, they have elements of both RADIO BIRDMAN and the NOMADS. Not as great as the above, but close.

Crippled Pilgrims Under Water LP

These guys only border on post-punk as they tend to write mellow yet intense pop ballads. At their finest moments, they remind me of the VELVET UNDERGROUND or MAGAZINE. They have more interesting melodies, lyrics, and intentions than their current UK counterparts, and deserve attention (but maybe not here).

I, Braineater Artist Poet Thief LP

A great new LP by an interesting (and now proving without a doubt) diverse band. Clean, catchy rhythms and distinctive melodies that lean toward the post-punk end of things. But they incorporate gothic, folk, psychedelic, and especially the punk element. Side one is full of great melodies, and side two rocks out. Recommended.

U-Men Stop Spinning LP

The best of post-punk without wimping out. In fact, this new one rips. You can hear BIRTHDAY PARTY, CRAMPS, and country blues influences, but the material stands on its own. Reminds me of NAKED RAYGUN and SCRATCH ACID in terms of classic post-punk originality and guts.

Redskins Bring it Down (This Insane Thing) 12″

Those gumbie English socialist musicians think they can change social consciousness by hitting the charts. Makes one wonder how these great political intentions, evident in lyrics past and present, can possibly instigate changes by making the masses dance the night away to that big-band white-soul disco dance beat. Boring at best.

The Leather Nun 506 12″

The NUN has done another one worth mentioning. They cover WIRE’s “506” and pull it off quite well, except it’s not the hottest WIRE song to begin with. But most noteworthy are the two songs on the B-side—”Fly Angels Fly” and “I’m Alive.” There are basic rock’n’roll riffs reminiscent of early STOOGES and RADIO BIRDMAN. Cool lyrics, too.

Volcano Suns The Bright Orange Years LP

This band features Peter Prescott of MISSION OF BURMA, and is indeed reminiscent of those days, but this is a little less tame and more likeable. They are being touted as the “new HÜSKER DÜ,” which I’d like to avoid doing but it’s incredibly hard not to. Nevertheless, the VOLCANO SUNS are unto themselves in imagination and talent. This record is fabulous.

N.O.T.A. N.O.T.A. LP

Hot shit! You thought their past records were great, well here’s 19 tracks that are rockin’, thrashin’, imaginative, and catchy. The slower songs have a catchy early ’77 pop-punk sound, and the thrash just rips. A good mix that shows that NOTA are expanding their boundaries and coming of age as a style to US hardcore.

GG Allin & the Scumfucs You’ll Never Tame Me cassette

GG will never change. Rockin’ early punk-style garage numbers and every combination of obscenity and sexual depravity. We decided a woman should review GG to see if he really is offensive, and I think that if you are offended with such absurdities as “I Wanna Fuck Myself” (“cause I’m the best”) or “Needle Up My Cock” or “Kill the Children, Save the Food” and don’t see the obvious ridiculous satire, you’re just as sexually repressed as GG. If you like to hear strings of cuss words for 45 minutes, find this tape.

No Trend A Dozen Dead Roses LP

NO TREND is much tamer than they used to be; their wildness has been traded in for precision and style. LYDIA LUNCH has added some vocals here that add to their style. Moodiness, melody, and tradition make this LP a good soundtrack but not as gripping as before. Some good tracks make this worth getting—but it’s not my favorite.

The X-Men Spiral Girl / Bad Girl 7″

This is the second release from an English band that has superb garagability. Both sides here have great hooks with the A-side being slower and starker; it’s the poppier number here. The flip is faster, more upbeat, and has a great grinding guitar break. A must for psych-pop garage fans.

The Velvet Monkeys Colors (Part I & II) 7″

These guys are still pretty diverse in their own weird way. Part 1 of the song is an eerie psych-pop number, plodding but catchy and likable. Part 2 is off the deep end, using a drum machine which makes it eve eerier—with no vocals and added studio effects. It’s a little repetitive, but I like it. Too bad it’s so short.

Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel Hole LP

FOETUS has done a lot of bizarre material in the past, but this LP is a classic. As always, this is all written and performed by lone FOETUS, and combines his morbid, poignant, biting poetry and an upbeat, precise musical inventiveness with out-and-out aggressiveness and recording skill. He is many steps beyond CREME & GODLEY, MARK STEWART, or NICK CAVE, although the comparisons are obvious. I can’t scrape it off my turntable.

The Lime Spiders Slave Girl 12″

This is a comp of their first two 7” EPs released by a new LA affiliate of this cool Australian label. In my opinion, they’re one of the hottest R’n’B, rock ’n’ roll, neo-’60s, psych-pop bands in the world (next to the NOMADS)…and the best from Australia since RADIO BIRDMAN, whose influence is felt here. It’s hard to pick a fave track, but “Can’t Wait Too Long” and “Slave Girl” are hot with great hooks.

Nip Drivers Oh Blessed Freak Show LP

NIP DRIVERS are as fun, crazy, and rockin’ as ever. This new LP shows better compositions and recording than the last, and there’s a good variety of material that’s embellished with their traditional tidbits of vocal and musical comedy. “Bone Spider,” my fave, is a great neo-psychedelic number. Recommended.

Executive Slacks You Can’t Hum When You’re Dead LP

If you’re missing those early KILLING JOKE days, then here’s a great record for you. Side one has that hard rhythm and intensity that KILLING JOKE used to play and don’t anymore. The flip, though, is a little spoiled with whiny vocals and electronics that are OK but not as interesting as most industrial bands and not hard enough to be dub style. Recommended for side one.

Big Boys No Matter How Long the Line at the Cafeteria, There’s Always a Seat LP

This post-mortem (?) LP recorded in August ’84 is a potpourri of the many directions this band was heading. Sometimes, the record seems incohesive, but there’s great talent here. They do some killer raps, a HÜSKER DÜ-type pop song, partying-style wildness, great punk anthems, and dissonant jazzy stuff. Not their best as a concept, but still not to be missed.

Big Black Racer-X EP

I love BIG BLACK for their heavy rhythms, crystal-clear production, and storybook lyrics. This new record is no different. But as much as I love any abuse I can get from these guys, and as much as I love some of their songs here—their material is getting slightly tired. Their new stuff keeps reminding me of their other past classics. Same riffs! This may be too harsh a criticism, though, as I’d recommend this record above most others. So, I still highly recommend it.

CCCP Fedeli Alla Linea Ortodossia EP

This EP has one band with three songs. “Punk Islam” has lots of effects and an ethnic style that paints a vivid picture of Middle Eastern strife—it’s slowish, slightly catchy but still intense. The other two songs are better, mining a sort of UK peace punk style: “Spara Jurij” is the best, most rockin’ song here. An enclosed booklet discusses international war tactics: I wish I could understand it. Interesting and worth tracking down.

Lost Cherrees All Part of Growing Up LP

This is their first LP after two strong EPs and they’re lyrically and musically just as strong as they ever were. In the tradition of the RAINCOATS, their four female vocal harmonies really stand out—you’ll either love it or hate it. They do mostly somber, melodic ballads but every once in a while they pick up the pace and sound almost psychedelic. “Nervous Breakdown” is especially good.

The Raunch Hands Stomp It EP

These guys play traditional style R&B madness like PANTHER BURNS, and you’ll have a knee-slapping good time with this wildness. The A-side even has a harmonica break that will make you crack a grin, and “Stampede” is a great rowdy instrumental number. An absolute must!

Butthole Surfers Live PCPPEP 12″

Anything from the BUTTHOLE SURFERS is great by me, so taking that into account… here’s another great one from the rrreal rrrockers themselves. This live 12” contains most of the material on the first EP with two extra tracks: “Cowboy Bob” and a short, surreal ditty called “Dance of the Cobras.” These guys are such a great live band that hearing the whole five-piece with live banter is a real treat and worth the investment.

Asbestos Rockpyle / Happy Schizoids split 7″

A mysterious split single in a plain white sleeve. While the HAPPY SCHIZOIDS play a fairly uninteresting minor-chord pop number, ASBESTOS ROCKPILE plays a really crazed ditty, “Industrial Religion,” that is musically stark with its repetitive fuzzed guitar and beat—but has lots of sound effects and ominous, sputtering vocals that satirize big religion. Worthwhile for that track alone.

Inca Babies The Judge / Bus Breaker 7″

I’m not sure if the world needs another BIRTHDAY PARTY clone, but as far as these clones go, this outfit is one of the best at carrying out that demented tradition. This new 45 has a rockin’, hard edge that gives it an R&B/CRAMPS feel, and of course there’s lots of screeching vocals.

V/A World Class Punk cassette

Mykel Board compiled this for ROIR, and the outcome is by far the best and broadest international compilation yet. Not only does it have a wide variety of styles, it also has a wider variety of countries represented (27 in all), including the Eastern Bloc, South Africa, and South America, but excluding the US and UK. There are excellent hardcore and garage bands on side one, and on side two are some really great pop-punk and post-punk groups. A new wave band from Columbia is hard to get through, but I can’t think of any other bands here that I don’t like. Check this out.

Breeders Zen Punk EP

This record is a bit confusing. The A-side is an unappealing, slow rocker that sounds like the BREEDERS might be listening to too much LOVERBOY or FUN BOY THREE; the two other songs are fun thrashers. “Fuckheads” has great sentiments about people who play too rough in the pit, and seeing them live might clear up the confusion.

Murder Murder Suicide Murder Murder Suicide cassette

This Melbourne band was likened to the FALL or KILLING JOKE, which isn’t too far off, but they also do songs that sound like CRISIS or some of the more raw, inspiring ’77 punk bands. A couple of these five cuts (like “Atom Age”) are especially likable due to the killer drum and bass lines; the others are more poppish but still really good. Recommended.

Stalag 17 / Irah Nè Buoni Nè Cattivi… Soltanto Incazzati EP

These two Italian bands describe themselves as anarchists, and from what I can gather, they are to be admired for their dedication and efforts. STALAG 17 play pretty good thrash and slower, ballad-type songs; IRAH do pretty intense, fast songs that are catchy. Even though translations of the lyrics would be nice, musically this is a record worth tracking down.

Toy Dolls We’re Mad / Deirdre’s a Slag 7″

Well, you can’t spend too much time analyzing the TOY DOLLS, and they’re as humorous as always here. “We’re Mad” isn’t a typical song for them; it’s a bit heavy-handed with lots of reverb and a metallish guitar solo, but I’m sure that’s part of the parody and it’s starting to grow on me. “Deirdre’s a Slag” is remixed from the Strength Through Oi! compilation. Still great fun.

Slovenly Even So 12″

More geeks from San Pedro! Yeah! At first, their pop guitars make them sound as though they’d like to get on MTV, land a big recording contract, or imitate insipid Euro-pop bands. But you’ll soon see that this is just another bunch of self-indulgent weirdos (including Rob Holzman of SACCHARINE TRUST) playing a mixture of pop, post-punk, and jazz, with a slight dash of psychedelia and occasional keyboards and saxes. If you like TRAGIC MULATTO, you’ll love Slovenly.

Killroy Believe in the Ruins 12″

Here are some rousing numbers that prove to be a good follow-up to KILLROY’s previous 7”. They have a mid-tempo, somewhat ’77-ish English style that combines good arrangements, choruses, and that LA spirit (especially in “The Battle,” the title cut, and “The Scream,” which sounds like YOUTH BRIGADE). A little derivative, but an enjoyable effort.

Bloody Mannequin Orchestra Roadmap to Revolution LP

This is the third weird-ass art-damaged band I’ve reviewed lately, but I find them to be more hard-edged and unique (and less self-indulgent) than the others. They remind me at times of the CRUCIFUCKS, SWELL MAPS, SACCHARINE TRUST, etc., as they utilize many types of instruments, tempo changes, breaks, moods, and styles (including jazz and rock ’n’ roll). There are also lots of eclectic lyrics that parody soldiers, heads of state, and people that think they’re cool.

Artless How Much Punk Rock Do You Hear in Russia? EP

No further explanation is needed about our dear friend Mykel Board’s insulting intent here. The title song is a droning yet rockin’ cover with a sax that isn’t bad at all; “How Much Punk Rock Do You Hear in Russia?” and “We Want Nuclear War” are remixed from the previously released German ARTLESS/GG ALLIN split EP. They sound much better here, and will probably go down in history as the two most witty punk rock things Mykel has ever done.

Normahl Der Adler ist Gelandet LP

Proficiently recorded and executed new material that sounds distinctly German. It’s filled with anti-war themes, ’77-style three-chord riffs, and Oi-type choruses—without an Oi “attitude.” Side one utilizes humor and funny little musical intros and breaks, so it sounds a bit disjointed if you don’t understand German. Side two, while less imaginative, is more rocking. Not bad at all.

Null & Void Still… It Must Go On EP

This band features members of UK groups RUBELLA BALLET and the MOB, and it has that type of temperament. It is folksy yet intense, and they add little tidbits like a piano solo at the end of the first side. I especially like the catchy melodies and the clean, grating guitars in “Camp,” and the well-done rhythmic poetry in “Cold War”; the lyrics are of course strong and intelligent. Recommended.

M.A.F. Hau ab… LP

Yeah! M.A.F. plays fast punk—not thrash. A fist-full of energy with good hooks and speedy beats makes me want to sing along, even though I don’t understand German. Like many German bands, they have that ’77 UK influence in some of their songs, but it’s very energetic, like the best from that era. “Gefangenschaft” and “Alkoholiker” are great blasts; they also do a spirited cover of “If the Kids Are United” and some mock drunken rousers. Recommended.

Ipso Facto Noir Dior / Craving 7″

This is definitely from the whiny Bat Cave genre, but it has that extra punch that few such bands have. It’s catchy enough to warrant a review, but insipid enough to be easily categorized. “Craving” is the best cut, due to its KILLING JOKE beat.

BGK White Male Dumbinance EP

This is as strong as their album, featuring one unrelenting thrasher after another. “Action Man,” the title cut, and “Bite the Hand That Feeds You (Shit)” have especially great hooks and breaks, and all seven songs contain some biting attacks on conditioning in modern society. This one is a must, and don’t miss them on their US tour this summer.

The Ex Blueprints for a Blackout 2xLP

This is an amazingly meaty package. A graphic/lyric book, a poster, and two discs make this ominous piece quite remarkable. They plunder, explore, and ramble through many hideous subjects and musical flavors, from Christ: The Album-type CRASS opera to frightening industrial rhythm electronics like KOSMONAUTENTRAUM. If you’re familiar with the EX and like their work, this new release must be experienced from start to finish; if not, check it out.

Tragic Mulatto Judo for the Blind 12″

This 12” gives TRAGIC MULATTO more room to be weird than their earlier single. It sounds like physically disabled persons attempting to play jazz, blind people playing from sheet music, or some self-indulgent artists with saxophones. But since most of it has a hard, steady beat and a melodic guitar—not to mention peculiar lyrics—it’s tolerable and interesting for other weird-asses like myself. Likable in short doses.

Shockabilly Colosseum LP

The new SHOCKABILLY fare isn’t as accessible as their earlier stuff, which was more R&B-oriented. They are either returning to the early days of the MOTHERS OF INVENTION or doing lots of LSD. They do everything from “freak outs” to DOORS’ acid jams to sweet southern ballads to a wild version of “Homeward Bound” (God forbid!) to songs with a fuzzed-out guitar and Eugene trying to blow his nose. Whoooaaa…

Breather Loves and Disloves LP

I think this falls into the industrial category because of its starkness, repetitive rhythms, loops of breaking glass, and obsession with radiation death, but it’s much more musical than most industrial music. “Maya” has a wonderful rhythm (even if the vocals sound too much like JOY DIVISION’s Ian Curtis), but it was this song that got me to listen to all of it, many times. A compelling effort, eerie and rather listenable.

Fallout Butchery 10″

At first, this new long-player from FALLOUT all seemed to have that familiar anarcho-Britpunk style, but after more listenings, the variations and intensity come through. They have a PiL sound on “Know Your Enemy” and “Apartheid,” an IGGY POP riff on “Trojan Horse,” and lots of early CRASS garage influence. Well thought-out and executed.

Mydolls Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick 12″

It’s been a long time since this Houston outfit has released anything, and they’ve come a long way in the interval, as this is undoubtedly their best material to date. Side one is hard, and side two is soft, but both contain haunting post-punk. Although MYDOLLS aren’t outspoken feminists, they have a scathing demeanor—musically, vocally, and lyrically. “Christmas Day” is a great track, and “Please No, Mary” is poetically grand.

Sick Things The Legendary Sick Things EP

An enigma. The band is English, and all we know is that this EP was recorded in ’77 and has just now been released. It’s not half-bad either, sort of a cross between the early AVENGERS and X-RAY SPEX, with its catchy tunes and a female vocalist.

The Ex / Alerta The Red Dance Package split 12″

Two Dutch bands join efforts on this four-song maxi-EP. ALERTA’s earlier material was extremely dissonant, but here they join the ranks of the SEX GANG CHILDREN/X-MAL DEUTSCHLAND school of new Euro-hits. On the other hand, the EX is now more aggressive than they’ve been in a while, even though they’ve always produced interesting post-punk. “Crap Rap” is a fast, thickly layered chant that sounds as if CRASS merged with the FALL, and I think it’s really great. An interesting and worthwhile offering.

The Faith Subject to Change 12″

What can I say? Wherever MINOR THREAT left off, FAITH might be able to step in. Even though I worry that they might be too much of a sound-alike, they’re cool. They play fast songs, slower songs, and songs with shifting tempos, to which they add interesting studio bits, a lot of spirit and energy, and sincere discussions about the day-to-day aspects of their lives. Could become a classic.

Mau Maus Live at the Marples LP

Here’s a budget-priced live album with at least sixteen tracks and a whole booklet with every fact you’d ever want to know about the MAU MAUS. The quality is definitely live, which they apologize for on the sleeve, but it’s got the energy that every live recording should have. This band is one of the first English bands to be inspired by US thrash, and they’re still good, though at this point somewhat ordinary. Regardless, if you like powerful punk, this is a good deal.

Uproar Nothing Can Stop You EP

The third 7” from UPROAR isn’t bad, it just goes in one ear and out the other. It has great production, good lyrics, and I really like the song “Your Empire,” but it sounds like a million other English punk records.

Decry Symptoms of Hate EP

A proficient debut EP from this LA band. The lyrics are thoughtful, the production is good, and the delivery is fast, but they tend to reduce the songs to a formula by throwing in similar breaks and changes of tempo that confuse me. Although they show potential, it needs to be developed. Not bad.

Dicks Peace? EP

Here are three ditties that rouse all the “protest and survive” sentiments you might need. “No Fuckin’ War” is a slow, grueling masterpiece that’s simple but powerful, and will have you singing along before the end. The other songs are short, quickly delivered minor chord headbangers in the best of the new DICKS style. I especially like “I Hope You Get Drafted,” an unrelenting anti-stupidity song directed at “apolitical” punks, which I’d like to see being sung in the streets, busses, and homes all over the world. Somebody finally had the guts to come right out and say it.

Blight The Dream Was Dead EP

The long-awaited release by an inactive band featuring Steve Miller—ex-FIX guitarist—and dear ol’ Tesco (MEATMEN), getting down and dirty in a slow, noisy, art-damaged, and—dare I suggest—FLIPPERish drone with the purity of true nihilists. I find it a little refreshing in a musical sense, and a fine way to start my day if I don’t want to get out of bed.

013 Takaisin Todellisuuteen LP

This isn’t what one expects from a Finnish punk band. 013 play guitar-heavy rock ’n’ roll that’s greatly influenced by both early UK punk-pop and ’60s-ish garage rock. I think the early UK-type material is the strongest, but all their songs are delivered with power. If you like raunchy punkish rock, check this album out.

The Vibrators MX America / Shadow Love 7″

Back again with fervor. This is what got me listening to punk in the first place—powerful, unrelenting rock ’n’ roll. “MX America” is a great song with heavy production, good lyrics, a breathtaking bass line, and a drumbeat that whacks you upside the head; the weaker B-side is more of a ballad. Pick it up anyway.

Omega Tribe Live at the Clarendon cassette

A must for OMEGA TRIBE fans. The production isn’t great, but this tape includes most of their classic punk stuff (like “Profiteer” and “My Tears”) rather than their later psychedelic material. Since there’s little chance of seeing them live again now that they’ve broken up, this release is as close as you can get. Recommended.

Destructors Cry Havoc and Unleash the Dogs of War 12″

It looks like this really will be the last from these guys. I’ve always admired their simple, dreary, and repetitive style, as well as their double guitar sound. Although their cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is uninspiring, and the intro to “Nerve Gas” sounds like a Lydon rip-off, the rest is fine. “Khmer Rouge Boogie” is a great song.

The Blood False Gestures for a Devious Public LP

I thought their first few singles made them seem like silly Oi boys, but this album is so well done that it’s given me faith in their ability to play gripping rock ’n’ roll. They have an English skunk style with heavy metal overtones, but the gruff vocals, sing-along choruses, and demented lyrics turn many of the songs into instant classics, especially “Degenerate.”

Action Pact Question of Choice / Hook, Line, and Sinker 7″

This is the best thing I’ve heard from this band in quite a while. They still trot along in the wake of the BANSHEES, although “Hook…” is very catchy and the fastest, most aggressive song since their debut. The other two cuts are OK pop-rock numbers. Semi-interesting.

V/A Nice and Loud EP

Another good Big City compilation. One side consists of New York bands (NO CONTROL, DISORDERLY CONDUCT, and ULTRA VIOLENCE); the other features groups from Connecticut (REFLEX FROM PAIN, C.I.A., and the VATICAN COMMANDOS). Even though these aren’t the best tracks by these bands, they’re all good thrashers. The great songs by NO CONTROL and the VATICAN COMMANDOS definitely make this record worth checking out.

Yard Trauma Some People / No Conclusions 7″

YARD TRAUMA, featuring Tucson troublemakers Lee Joseph and Lance Kaufman, have managed to capture the essence and energy of ’60s garage psychedelia on this single. With a strong, upbeat, even danceable bass-line and an electric organ for flavor, they exhibit considerable madness. Good work.

Maniacs German Tanks cassette

The MANIACS play a combination of Finnish-influenced thrash and English-style punk. Some of the songs are somewhat garagy, while others have a steady ’77-style beat. Gruff vocals and a heavy bass make the MANIACS quite likeable, especially “Weltkrieg” and “We Want You.” Very catchy stuff.

Mark Stewart and the Maffia Learning to Cope With Cowardice LP

The old POP GROUP singer meets Adrian Sherwood, and the result is absolutely incredible. Is it my speakers blowing out or was the studio burning down? I’ll never know, but I do know that the blend of Stewart’s killer voice and worldview with Sherwood’s distinctive dub editing and bass-heavy style is hard to match. Whether or not you ever liked the POP GROUP, this one is recommended.

Reality Control The Reproduction of Hate EP

This group has a traditional UK anarchist band musical approach and stance, and they seem to be firmly committed. “Man” is a dramatic and unique song with an intense build-up that culminates in tense, maniacal thrash; the other two cuts are slower, but just as tense/intense.

Poison Girls Are You Happy Now? / White Cream Dream 7″

The first song is a blend of tribal disco-pop sounds and good lyrics. It reminds me of 10 CC, but the flip is in the early P. GIRLS style, with its stark, dissonant, and poetic attack on male sexual attitudes. Maybe they aren’t yet completely lost to the pop circuit.

Amebix No Sanctuary 12″

The AMEBIX are not a thrash band, but they’re not wimps either. Their music is a blend of tense drama and plodding seriousness that gives me a feeling of impending doom. With its great production, distinctiveness, and angst, I think this 12” is the best thing they’ve ever done. “Progress” and the title song are exceptional tracks.

Swans Filth LP

The best of New York’s art-damaged bands. They play plodding, dissonant noise with industrial overtones, a demonic dirge that’s almost unlistenable for the most part. It’s precisely that unlistenability that makes them so great. Aggressive and abrasive as hell.

Story of Failure Negative Fulfillment on the “83” Spitting Circuit EP

On side one, a FALL influence is celebrated, with a similar lyrical distain for tribes and trends. They tackle the pitfalls of suburban life in a direct and humorous way with no wasted words. They let loose on side two with a more original sound; “The Long Ride” is particularly great. It’s fair to say that they’re musically in synch with MISSION OF BURMA and the MINUTEMEN.

Crucifix Dehumanization LP

Yeah! Non-stop killer thrash that burns everything in its path. These boys make good by putting most of their repertoire on one album, including remixes of their 1984 EP. The layers of sound and lyrics get more and more revealing after a few listens, and it includes a beautifully done CRASS-style fold-out sleeve. Don’t miss this one.

V/A Bollox to the Gonads – Here’s the Testicles LP

The Pax label is doing some valuable work with the best of intentions. They’ve gone international on this, the follow-up to their Punk Dead? Nah Mate compilation. This time around, they include four uropean, eight English, and one American band (SAVAGE CIRCLE). Most of them are real strong, but CRUDE SS (Sweden), PSA (Italy), ANTI SYSTEM (UK), and the MAU MAUS (UK) really tear it up. There’s a total of thirty tracks, so don’t miss it.

Herbärds Eu! Se Bois LP

It’s a bit alienating for a woman to review an album pronounced “Oi! The Boys,” and it doesn’t help that I can’t decipher the lyrics. Musically, the HERBÄRDS have a sound derivative of British Oi. Most of it is rather unexceptional, but “BMW” and “Schweinbach” are rousing tracks. Listen before buying.

V/A Ultra Hardcore Power LP

The title is stupid, but the music is definitely worthwhile. This album demonstrates that Germany has several ripe thrash bands, though it’s not quite up to the standard of Waterkant Hits. Here the NORMAHL offer slower, less distinctive songs; the HERBÄRDS do some funny Oi tunes; and INFERNO, CHAOS Z, and BLUTTAT produce some ripping thrash. A good value.

Crass Who Dunnit? 7″

This is more of a novelty record than a punk record per se. The song gets to the core of British life, both thematically and structurally, since it’s in the form of a rousing pub sing-along, but it’s also about looking at ourselves as being responsible for the officials we elect, not just pointing the finger at them later. CRASS may be serious, but here they display their anger in a humorous format. Americans may find it a bit inaccessible, but if you know that “#10” is the residence of the Prime Minister and the “Birds” is akin to Jello, you should get the point and have a laugh besides.

17 Pygmies Hatikva 12″

This group is akin to other Independent Projects bands, in that they’re rhythmic, stylized, moody, and very hard to pin down. Side two is a little too sweet for my taste, but side one has a great rendition of “Lawrence of Arabia.” Wonderful soundtrack music.

Armed Citizens Make Sense EP

One side of this is thrash, the other is a bit slower, but all of the songs have good qualities. “We Want the Money,” the title cut, and “On My Own” are especially strong. This EP isn’t any great production, yet there’s definitely something about it that stands out.

Black Market Baby Senseless Offerings LP

This is sort of a mixed bag. Some of the songs here exhibit the worst elements of heavy metal, whereas other cuts (“Fight for Your Life,” the title track, and “World at War”) are clear-cut, well-designed punk jams like those of YOUTH BRIGADE and TOXIC REASONS. Most of it is pretty good.

Hose Mobo 12″

Except for one great thrasher, HOSE still ply that unmistakable FLIPPER sound. It’s slow and grinding, with lost of feedback and silliness. The sleeve packaging is novel, and the record itself is hand-etched. A good release.

Boskops Sol 12 LP

An extremely likable thrash album from Germany that’s well-produced, powerful, and full of great hooks. At times, the wall-of-guitar sound reminds me of DISCHARGE or CHAOS UK. There are some slow songs, but most of them really rip.

D.I. Richard Hung Himself 12″

D.I. have well-executed, concise songs with interesting but not necessarily innovative arrangements. There are a lot of obvious influences here—FLIPPER, ADOLESCENTS, CIRCLE JERKS, MISFITS—but the witty lyrics and good production make it plenty entertaining.

V/A Waterkant Hits LP

Here are ten new hardcore bands from West Germany, without a sleeper in the bunch. Most of the bands thrash—E-605, RAZZIA, MASSAKER, SS ULTRABRUTAL, and HH MILCH are all great; OXENSCHWANZ is totally weird, and the others go off in a variety of directions. Well worth the time and money.

The Varukers Die for Your Government / All Systems Fail 7″

The B-side is the star track here. It has the powerful, thrashed-out VARUKERS we’ve come to expect. They slowed it down on “Die,” which is somewhat disappointing, but it’s still tuneful and well produced. Watch for an upcoming album.

V/A Garage Music for Psych Heads Vol. 1 Cassette

Where did they find these recordings? This tape contains lots of long-lost original psychedelic bands, including the BAD SEEDS, the CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND, STILL ROVEN, the LOST TRIBE, and a bunch more. Anyone interested in obscure psychedelic punk from the ’60s should look for this.

Sleeping Dogs Beware EP

Hats off to the first American band on the Crass label, formerly known as ARSENAL. Both the music and the record cover are important here. The former is offbeat and original, with lots of effects and superior lyrics; the latter is a well-researched expose of American imperialism with poignant essays. This isn’t hardcore, it’s the hardest-core. A must.

Government Issue Boycott Stabb 12″

At last! This EP is classic DC-style punk, with strong production and strong material. The arrangements are original, with both fast and slow parts and lots of effects, but no power is lost. These guys had fun in the studio, and although they came out a different band, they came out with a great record. Play loud.

Antisocial Official Hooligan EP

A well-done UK Oi 7″, the third from this band. It’s musically good, great production-wise, but lyrically confused, to say the least. There are good anti-police and anti-government songs, but the pro-violence “Battle-Scarred Skinheads” put a chill down my spine. For those who don’t care.

Atila International Sandwich LP

This is a concept album in which each song is a take-off on an ethnic musical style. All are artfully executed, and they vary in speed, energy, wildness, effects, etc. I find this LP extremely inventive, original, provocative, and listenable. Four stars to LA’s ATILA the hairdresser.

Omega Tribe Angry Songs EP

I love OMEGA TRIBE. It’s fast with that masterful Penny Rimbaud production, but this band also has a pop element. For example, the great “Profiteer” is the epitome of catchiness, with handclaps artfully added; and “Another Bloody Day” is a ballad that includes piano, but it retains power. The lyrics are predictably unrelenting, so don’t miss this one.

V/A A Country Fit for Heroes Volume 2 12″

Like those from the first installment, the bands here haven’t released any other vinyl yet. And true to the No Future label, this is a mix of punk and Oi bands. Some of them are mediocre, but CADAVEROUS CLAN and IMPACT make this record worth the £2.50.

V/A Punk Dead—Nah Mate, The Smell Is Jus Summink In Yer Underpants Innit LP

Start by reading Featherby’s tirade on the back cover, a great intro full of optimism about the achievements of punk. Then move on to the great music. The MAU MAUS appear with one new track, and ANTI-SYSTEM and XTRACT both debut some powerful songs. The rest of this varied LP contains material by the XPOZEZ, MANIA, and the SEPTIC PSYCHOS, some of which is fiercely melodic, some which is quiet and calculated, and some which is thrashed-out. All in all, it’s a pretty intelligent compilation.

Artificial Peace / Exiled Split EP

An admirable new release out of DC, with ten tracks, two bands on one 7″ EP. The EXILED have improved a lot since their recent tape. They do both thrashers and slow, grinding numbers with interesting effects that show versatility and imagination. They sound young but have potential—“Artificial Friend” is great. What ARTIFICIAL PEACE lack in production values, they make up for with some good lyrics and classic thrash in between the slower bridges and haunting background vocals. Hats off to “Think For Yourself.”

Alternative In Nomine Patri EP

Nowadays, one opens a single on the Crass label with a little skepticism. Does the classic sleeve conceal another ANDY T? Well, you don’t have to worry about ALTERNATIVE, because they rip. The title cut is an excellent show song that may not appeal to the unrelenting hardcore type. The others are dynamite and should be played over and over, as loudly as possible. Great record.

Anthrax They’ve Got It All Wrong EP

I’m not sure if the Small Wonder label is here to stay, but it’s real good to see this new record. ANTHRAX definitely has that CRASS-family sound, with its orchestrated highs and lows. This EP is musically and lyrically powerful, so watch for another soon on the Crass label.

Flux of Pink Indians Strive to Survive Causing the Least Suffering Possible LP

I have a hard time finding fault with this album. Once again, if you don’t like your punk political, steer clear, because FLUX is dynamite. The whole LP is a marvelously orchestrated opera of poetic condemnations of our nuclear world that builds up to a climactic musical explosion. The production is superb, and a booklet is included. My copy’s grooves are already worn down.

Harnröhrer Manchmal Habe Ich’s Satt EP

Somewhere in between CHAOS-Z and DAILY TERROR we got HARNRÖHRER. They are a German garage band with heavy guitar sound similar to that of early U.K. punk. The production may not be great and the songs are rather monotone, but they are charming. Is this the real German underground?

V/A You Can’t Argue With Sucksess LP

Another LA compilation with a lot of unrecorded bands and a few who’ve already released vinyl (like NO CRISIS, MAD SOCIETY, and the CONSERVATIVES). The first efforts by F-TROOP, RED BERET, the CREWD, SECRET HATE, NUCLEAR BABY FOOD, and New York’s EVEN WORSE are good. Most of them play unique thrash, and a number of the songs are quite memorable. The production is also decent, even on the live tracks. A fine effort off of the LA mainstream.

V/A Valley Fever cassette

This compilation from Tucson is an admirable effort. The tape features good production and wide variety of bands. There are punk bands like CONFLICT, who have a strong thrash attack, and the URBAN GUERRILLAS, who have a garage tinge like the CHURCH POLICE—grinding, profound, and original. The defunct SELDOMS do a JAD FAIR imitation, GREEN ON RED have a live track that’s not as good as the stuff on their 12”, and the PHANTOM LIMBS have a track that sounds like Jello Biafra playing with the PANTHER BURNS. There are other pop, electronic, and psychedelic cuts that have a certain spark. Something for everybody, and a chronicle of Arizona’s musical history in one package. Let’s have some more, Lee.

Crash / Crux Fight For Your Life / Keep On Running split 12″

One record with a separate band on each side. In the No Future world, this is an appropriate move, because one side is punk, the other Oi. CRASH is the punk band, and they’re similar to many of the bands on that label—anthemic songs à la BLITZ. CRUX are more like the EXPLOITED or the 4-SKINS, only sorta low-key. “I’ll Die with My Boots On” is the epitome of Oi topics, but “Streets at Night” is the better song. Nothing exceptional here.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies Pissed and Proud LP

Well, they’ve finally put an album out. The sound quality is so good that you’d never know it was live except for the crowd noise and interaction between the band and audience. These guys produce powerful Oi music, but their themes are questionable, as with most such groups. They have all sorts of songs about “birds”—the English equivalent of “chicks”—and not being able to get off. Then we have the familiar ode to fighting, getting beat up, and the wimps that won’t fight in “Moped Lads.” Socially relevant themes in “Keep England Untidy” tell us to litter, and “Shitstirrer” is where they explain that when things are bad they will make them worse. Their song “Elvis Is Dead” is a classic, though, and “Maniac” is a great pun. But who knows at this point if they’re serious? Fun band to listen to but not to contemplate. They are thugs and proud of it.

The Straps The Straps LP

I’ve always wondered if these guys were punks. They’ve put out two singles, both great in their own right, but you couldn’t quite classify the music as punk. Now here’s their LP, and both the sleeve pictures and the lyrics demonstrate that they are indeed punks. Some of the tracks are good and punked-out; others are ripping garage numbers that sound sort of German. The singer has a very distinctive voice, and the band reminds me of UK DECAY or the ABWÄRTS in that they have a post-punk tinge. All in all, a fine band and a decent LP.

Subhumans The Day the Country Died LP

After three great singles, the SUBHUMANS have released an album that is equally great. They are part of the CRASS family, so if you don’t like your opinions strong, too bad. This LP has non-stop power, thanks to the absence of breaks between songs, and it has some great anthems like “Minority” and “Black and White.” Their themes are always handled skillfully, the music shifts from thrash to more typical English punk, and the sleeve is a lovely gatefold job which has the lyrics printed inside over a backdrop covered with “think.” No question about it, this one’s a must.

Kosmonautentraum Liebsmühn EP

If you’re lucky enough to find this 7″, grab it. First, you get the greatest funk bass line waaaaay out front; then the trashy tin-can drums come in; then a whiny, sloppy guitar and screaming vocals. If this is what they played in discos, I’d go. Play it often, and play it loud.

Crass How Does It Feel? EP

Coming so close on the heels of their Christ – The Album, it’s almost too much to digest. The title song is a catchy headbanging attack on the jingoistic British attitude towards the Falklands/Malvinas crisis. It has created a hoopla in the English press, who amazingly have supported CRASS against Parliament’s cries of “treason.” The flip features Eve and will please fans of Penis Envy. CRASS may be accused of preachiness, but their unrelenting critiques are having an impact.

GBH City Baby Attacked by Rats LP

You have to get beyond the tacky cover on this LP. It looks like an Oi or EXPLOITED album, but GBH play one ripping headbanger after another. They even utilize blues riffs in thrashers like “Bellend Bop.” Most of the lyrics are about war, poverty, and madness, but there’s one song about getting drunk and fucking a “slut.” Needless to say, that makes me wonder about these guys.

The Seize Everybody Dies EP

It’s been a long time since their first single and the SEIZE haven’t come out of the garage yet. In the great tradition of slam, crash, and slobber, this EP has a nasty edge and should be played at high volume. Four great ditties are included, but “In For Me” is the standout track.

Black Humor Love God, Love One Another LP

These guys are some sort of SF studio concoction, and they are lunatics. They swing from music for nightmares to rhythmic jungle rock. Recommended for the flexible. Check out their individually designed sleeves and enclosed worms!

Hüsker Dü In a Free Land EP

This band is one of the hottest, most awesome bands to ever walk onto a stage. They are not to be missed. Their first single was weak, and their LP was hard to make out, but this new single comes closest to capturing their raw, grating, high-speed velocity. Great!

Snake Out Live Pizza LP

Firstly, it comes in a pizza box. Secondly, they explain that they are not three crazed TV addicts, but in fact are a scientifically planned event a la the MONKEES. Thirdly, they do lots of covers of TV themes. And mostly, they play dirty, rockin’ rockabilly a la early CRAMPS, lampooning just about everyone. They’re good fun, really rockin’, and highly recommended.