Reviews

Ruth Schwartz

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 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!

The French Are From Hell Gunfight EP

The best way to describe this outfit is to say that they’re “new wave.” They have a melodic saxophone, cute vocals, and a rather slow poppish beat. These guys remind me of a million club/bar bands that I never remember except that I got really drunk that night. Fine for some, but not for me.

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.

Reality Control / Blood Robots Within These Walls split flexi

The graphics and leaflets that come with this flexi contribute to an admirable project. Both bands have a distinct message orientation, and the music is slowish, basic peace-punk—English style. While the songs are a little on the dull side, the themes of peace and individuality are still important ones.

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.

Condemned to Death D-Day EP

I like C2D because they epitomize the late SF “vat” soul. Here, they offer six ripping semi-thrash numbers that are real spirited. The songs are good and rousing, but they constantly remind me of other bands. Still, it’s hard not to like them.

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.

Sick Pleasure Aids LP

West Berlin’s SICK PLEASURE produces a raw style of punk with cynical lyrics about desperation and street life. They combine gruff vocals, heavy guitars, and distinctive song structures which steadily build in power and intensity. Down and dirty.

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.

Carnage All the Sad People / Dismal 1984 7″

This debut combines a garage recording, psychedelia, and an early UK punk sound with a modern anarchist stance. It has spunk and scathing, cynical lyrics. Not exceptional, but raw and spirited.

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.

Icons of Filth Used, Abused, Unamused EP

Finally, some vinyl from this eclectic, powerful band. This record has superb production, a speedy full-bodied guitar sound, and distinctive songs that are worth hearing over and over. Highly recommended semi-thrash.

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.

Tragic Mulatto The Suspect / No Juice 7″

Noisy, stark, melodic, tribal, witty, unrelenting, and snotty as hell—that’s SF’s TRAGIC MULATTO. They have some of the same elements as the Independent Projects bands, but they’re more harsh and not at all reserved.

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.

Antidote Thou Shalt Not Kill EP

Another hot debut from New York with lots of fast, raw thrashers that compare to the best of MDC and CAUSE FOR ALARM. The songs are unpredictable, but the lyrics to “Foreign Job-Lot” are suspect, to say the least.

Beastie Boys Cooky Puss 12″

A surprising follow-up to their great garage thrash debut. Here, these New York boys rap it up with lots of effects and a certain ethnic flavor, and also include a dub version. Punk should meet rap more often, but it may not be for everybody.

Prevaricators No Kidding EP

This band has joined WHITE CROSS on the Zero Degree label. They play straight-ahead punk with some flair. The production is rather thin, and the themes are a bit silly, but I think these guys will develop further with time. For now, this is a pretty good effort.

Butcher Stand and Fight / Killing Groups 7″

These guys are pretty catchy in the INSTANT AGONY or DEAD WRETCHED mold, but their new single is missing the fast hooks that characterized their debut. “Stand and Fight” is a good track; the flip is pretty boring.

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.

Instant Agony No Sign of Life / Taste of Power 7″

This is the third INSTANT AGONY single, and they’re slowly degenerating into mediocrity. I like the lyrics and the general approach, but I find the specifics very ordinary. Generic English punk.

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.

Yard Trauma Reptile House cassette

YARD TRAUMA is a very versatile band, in that they deliver slices of industrial, psychedelic, and garage punk material. Aside from a few live tracks, the recording is very good (like most Iconoclast tapes). These guys are not ordinary!

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.

Beton Combo Sound Ltd EP

A lot different than their post-punky LP. This 7″ features quite decent English-sounding punk with some great hooks and an engaging style. They also do a couple of thrashers.

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.

Channel 3 I’ll Take My Chances / How Come? 7″

The long-awaited follow-up to their album, and it’s a good one—fast, catchy LA punk with great production. CH3 are still carrying on the tradition that put LA on the map.

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.

Erazerhead Werewolf / Rock and Roll Zombie 7″

This one is heads up for ERAZERHEAD. When they’re hot, they’re hot. “Zombie” uses the same riff as the RAMONES’ “Rock and Roll High School,” which makes it great fun.

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.

Riot/Clone Destroy the Myth of Musical Destruction EP

Although their first EP was good, this new release shows progress. Two of the songs here are SUBHUMANS-type thrashers; the others are slow and steady. Sensitive lyrics and lots of commentary on the sleeve make this a must.

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?

Sluts Bäh! LP

More value for your Deutschmark. This band is similar to many other German groups, but also has some standard Britpunk elements. Most of the songs are mid- to slow tempo numbers with good strong hooks. Take it for its musical value, because this record comes with an incomplete lyric sheet.

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.

Whoom-Elements Of Love / Men in Politics 7″

This female trio from Austin plays melodic, harmonic music. But underneath that soft exterior are fine poets who say the obvious but not so obvious. “Men in Politics” is a gem.

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!