Reviews

Steve Spinali

Tožibabe Dežuje EP

TOZIBABE straddles the line between riffy punk and hardcore energy with their sheer enthusiasm, and I found these four simple songs even more engaging on multiple listenings. Good female vocals and a distinctive instrumental sound make this a fine debut release.

Gash G.A.S.H. LP

This all-female band from Australia forces out a tough, grungy guitar sound and some nasty vocals – and I admired the lyrics concerns, too. It’s too bad that the melodies follow the same minor-third guitar professions song after song. Extreme repetition, which is too bad, because I was hopeful about this band.

Der Durstige Mann Saufen Macht Das Leben Spaß LP

Alcoholic sickness infects every one of the songs on this loose, funny, disjointed, and original album. One first-rate thrasher, “Wandertag in der DDR”, leads off an assortment of predominantly medium – to slow-tempo sing-alongs that have primitive production, and sound like the band is drunk. And yes, it’s just as engaging as past DURSTIGE MANN releases.

Ausweis Victimes 12″

This French band has a knack for hard-edged post-punk with a good sense of energy, even if they uncharacteristically lag behind in the melodic sense. “Gom Jabbar” is a slow, tasteful dub, though the other three songs are more spirited.

Asta Kask Live 12″

This posthumous release captures ASTA KASK in eleven songs recorded live just this year. Sound quality is good, the performance spirited, and songs up to that trademark quality. Can’t say it captures all the excitement but it will have to do won’t it? Get this record.

Hags Project 1986 LP

This band covers typical MENTORS lyric territory with less satiric justification, and plays excruciating guitar rock with flailing leads that bored me to the point of wanting to make this sucker into an ashtray. But then I realized that I may be able to trade it to my local record store…

Big Stick Shoot the President 12″

Following their effective 7” (included here with an additional track), BIG STICK pushes five guitar-oriented songs through a flanger, adds pounding drums, sprinkles demented vocals over the mix – and what results is funny, wild rock that many PERE UBU fans might find agreeable. Interesting.

Manimal Manimal LP

Not to be confused with the Ohio outfit, this Italian band presents fast, aggressive, utterly tuneless punk and HC in a suitably non-descript style. Tempos are fast, energy high—it just doesn’t connect.

M.O.G. Radio Rock EP

This very strong release almost seems like a Dutch version of DIE KREUZEN, with the emphasis on high-speed thrash and the occasional guitar squiggles (and sometimes more than squiggles). I liked several of the tracks here, which at their best, seem to combine all of the elements. Recommended.

Cas Prawde Last Hour of Warning EP

CAS PRAWDE is one of those bands with an upbeat punk attack, abetted by riffy song structures, but without much in the way of hooks or memorable tunes. The power’s OK—where’s that added punch that wants to make me listen to it again?

C.N.T. Mitaleja EP

I found myself getting caught up in the dynamic thrash of CNT—hot guitars, passionate vocals, the typical Finnish speed attack—so much so that the intrusion of speed-metal licks bothered me all the more. Too bad; otherwise, it’s a cool record.

Blyth Power Junction Signal 12″

This is just as good as the British pop we all used to love before hardcore became fashionable. Three superior guitar-pop ditties are here: the distinctive lyrics, delightful hooks, and unusual, almost archaic arrangements are clearly done with care. Even better than their fine debut release; the track “Sordid Tales,” with its surfy guitar, is especially appealing.

Prevaricators Jihad EP

This strong release shows this Virginia band at their near best: distinctive vocals blend with flailing rockish punk on the four songs here, of which the title track seems the most memorable. Production is hot, making for a ripping release. The only drawback is the sporadic guitar leads.

Contraband Girls of All Nations LP

This intriguing album contains textured and highly varied guitarwork and an emphasis on good songwriting I found refreshing. Not all the songs are memorable, but there’s a poppish edge to CONTRABAND’s best songs, combining mid-tempo punk with harmonic vocals to make for an LP that grows on you. Good, solid release.

The Shower Scene From Psycho Exploding Hits 12″

I don’t know where these characters come from, but what we have here are six innovative cover versions (with great femme vocals) of classics like “Purple Haze,” Georgy Girl,” and “One (Is the Loneliest Number).” Strong guitars and semi-tasteful use of effects make this one a winner. Completely hilarious.

The Primitives Thru the Flowers 12″

Imagine the catchy, female-vocal guitar pop of the SHOP ASSISTANTS melded with the simple song structures of the RAMONES, and you end up with something that sounds like this excellent release. Four songs, all snappy and memorable, with hooks galore. A complete surprise!

New Rose Circus of the Human Race EP

Melodic rockish pop is NEW ROSE’s stock-in-trade, and the slow-to-mid-tempo tunes on this release show fair promise. “Run for Cover” is upbeat and pleasant, and at least two of the other four tunes show an adeptness for very understated hooks and adequate songwriting. No great revelation, but OK.

Junk Schizo Pity to the Ignorant EP

This second EP from JUNK SCHIZO presents still more of the same driving, raging hardcore with “Black and Red,” but moves into other directions with the remaining three tracks. A pretty good EP, but probably not up to their debut in terms of energy. Good production.

Juggernaut Juggernaut LP

This Italian outfit displays a power not unlike bands like BIG BLACK and NAKED RAYGUN, with its rich guitar sound and mid-tempo hardcore energy. The commitment to gutsy, disciplined playing really pays off too; this debut LP is entirely assured—and the individual tunes, all finely produced, do stand out after multiple listenings.

Dream Police In Combat EP

After a six-year layoff, this Danish combo presents four tunes in a quintessentially “rockin’” mode—and I mean it. Guitar leads about over mid-tempo metallish guitar riffs, and although there is a punkish power in the songs, all four tunes here are clearly “rock.” Quite unlike JOHNNY CONCRETE’s previous efforts, and basically OK for what it’s doing.

Dorian Gray 1986 A.D. EP

This band is similar to a MINUTEMEN without fleshed-out arrangements: the bass and drums interplay while sung vocals drone over all six songs on this EP. With more energy or musical invention, this could have been intriguing. As it is, I had the feeling of incompleteness.

The Celibate Rifles 6 Days on the Road / Groupie Girl 7″

We missed this one the first time around, and it’s another first-rate single by one of Australia’s leading rock outfits. The JOHNNY CASH title tune is catchy and fun, and despite a fair flip, this one recalls the better rockin’ material from this country.

Ramones Animal Boy LP

This album pushes the RAMONES’ style into catchy, straight-ahead HC (which they manage to do better than the vast majority of bands going), with a smattering of rockin’ pop (which has been their forte for a while now). This is another extraordinary RAMONES LP (nothing but great cuts here), and it’s about time we all recognized that they’re the great American band.

V/A Les Héros Du Peuple Sont Immortels LP

This compilation of French pop-punk bands contains all that we expect from this kind of band: songs with choruses, catchy melodies, and moderate tempos. While there are respectable tunes by THUGS, OTH, PARFUM DE FEMME, and BABYLON FIGHTERS (cool reggae), no song really stands out in my mind. Interesting.

Sponky Business So What…?! LP

This Belgian band relates commendable lyric concerns in a simple, riffy punk style that’s a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the hard, stinging guitar sound, but the compositions seemed a bit “simple” and uninvolving. With better songwriting, this band could be a contender.

Les Garçons Bouchers La Biere EP

This outfit is a French equivalent of DER DURSTIGE MAN—a punk band whose material is most likely to appeal to those whose musical sensibilities have already been clouded by massive amounts of alcohol. Mid-tempo punk with shouted group choruses, and aggressively delivered; typically, the title track is translated, “Beer.”

Circle of Sig-Tiu Feuer + Asche LP

This powerful album combines some metallic touches with an urgent, dramatic compositional style. All of this results in memorable songs which really clear the air, and there’s a distinctiveness here that should be recognized, too. Very strongly recommended.

Asta Kask Än Finns Det Hopp EP

This new one from ASTA KASK has that brisk, melodic, and powerful style, but with an added emphasis on power. This sacrifices a bit of accessibility, but makes for some great moments, especially on the steamroller, “Sexkomplex.” Another great one from these guys.

Wimpy Dicks S.L.O. Bored LP

WIMPY DICKS incant growled vocals over a tough, uncompromising hardcore style that has unquestionable bite and power. The songs tend to be repetitive, however, both within and between cuts; but those who can ignore this will find all of the basics on this one. Adequate.

JFA My Movie EP

JFA present two lackluster instrumentals on one side of this EP, but the showcase for this band’s talents, “Desert Jewel,” demonstrates adeptness at a diverse punk approach: a haunting intro, bright guitars, and impassioned vocals make for their best track in a long time. Very good.

Happy World Jump for Joy EP

Diverse influences crop up on this four-track EP. The less urgent numbers on the “9” side didn’t capture my attention, owing more to a loose rock approach. Side “FF”, however, contains two dynamic, mid-tempo punkers which represent this band at their best. Not altogether catchy, but still respectable.

Butthole Surfers Rembrandt Pussyhorse LP

I’ve thought the BUTTHOLES’ records frankly variable in quality to this point, but I am really enthusiastic about this one. More subdued than usual, at times boasting a pounding backbeat, this is their first attempt at “acid pop”—and it’s a real breakthrough. Absolutely fascinating from song to song. Get it.

Bedlam Lost in Space 12″

Expect the same abrasive uncompromising thrash you enjoyed on their debut 12”, but with an additional grunginess—almost a looseness—on their latest. The band is hot, no question about it, and I still enjoy their offbeat humor and personal commentaries represented in the lyrics.

Protes Bengt In Bengt We Trust EP

This band is a hybrid of the Swedish outfits MOB 47 and FILTHY CHRISTIANS, and they pack in 32 songs on this 7”er. The ditties range in the under-30-second category, with ultra-raw production, not unlike the early NEOS, and I only wish I knew Swedish so I could understand the humorous lyrics. Real fun!

The Krixhjälters Guineapig Assasinator 12″

This rather original Swedish outfit balances just a tinge of metal influences in some of the vocals and riffing with a definite punk sensibility everywhere else. The result: crunching, powerful punk delivered with HC energy. Another cool Swedish punk release…

Angor Wat General Strike LP

This Norwegian outfit displays their political commitment in a highly distinctive HC style: gruff vocals bark over a mid-tempo series of smoky minor-chord progressions, with a very occasional hook to sustain interest. This album tends toward unpleasantness, though the band’s desire to communicate makes this an effort well worth supporting.

White Zombie Gods on Voodoo Moon EP

This is stylistically not unlike a spacey KILLDOZER 85 vocally and in compositional structure; the thing I found continually annoying was the endless guitar wanking that attenuated all of this LP’s intensity and power. More discipline next time, guys. Boring.

V/A Fresh Sounds From Middle America #3 LP

This sampler resents diverse sounds from some familiar (MICRONOTZ, BUM KON, IGUANAS) and mostly relatively unknown bands. While side one is composed of adequate alternative pop tracks, the flip really lets loose with hard-edged punky tunes spanning most of the punk/HC spectrum. Interesting comp—and worth your attention.

Honest Injun The Rosenthal Effect 12″

This band covers familiar territory—mid-tempo hardcore with dark, sarcastic lyrics—without much in the way of originality. Still, this record boasts good production, full guitars, and solid lyric concerns. I just can’t get excited over it.

The Dickies We Aren’t the World cassette

I can’t claim to be impartial about this band, but predominantly raw live tracks are mixed in with a few early demos on this one. New versions of all of your fave DICKIES songs will make fans delirious with joy, though this tape is not the ideal introduction to this great band.

Death of Samantha Strungout on Jargon LP

DEATH OF SAMANTHA opts for a discordant and somewhat arty approach to mid-tempo DIY rock. That may be the problem; in presenting a style rather than ace songs, this band evades any real appeal for me. Good, hard guitar sound, though.

Shell Shock No Holds Barred EP

The second (and very long-awaited) single by SHELL SHOCK contains four examples of straight-ahead HC done in a no-nonsense style. While lacking the unintentional humor of their debut, this one piles on fair amounts of aggro in its best moments, as on the aggressive title track. Basically OK, though unexceptional.

V/A Hard-Core Ljubljana LP

A bunch of Yugoslavian punk bands (U.B.R., III KATEGORIJA, EPIDEMIJA, TOZIBABE, ODPADKI CIVILIZAGIJE) present four to six songs each on this cool sampler. The mode of HC is grungy and loose, following the examples of the Italians, yet veering toward the speedier approach of the Northern Europeans. A very good sampler, and fairly consistent from song to song.

Spermbirds / Walter 11 split EP

These two bands are actually fairly much the same band, but with divergent styles. SPERMBIRDS indulge in an upbeat hardcore style with hilarious lyrics, while their alter-ego boasts a totally winning pop-punk approach, especially on “Kaiserslautern.” A very good record, and look forward to more.

Shop Assistants Safety Net EP

This combo shows promise on two tracks, where their individualistic pop songwriting melds with their pleasant female vocals; and they connect solidly with the EP’s title song—a gritty, melodic mid-tempo track that sticks in the memory. Not hardcore—just good independent-minded pop/rock.

Madame Edwarda Lorelei Étranger Héliogabale 12″

Reminiscent of English atmospheric pop (VIRGIN PRUNES, etc.), MADAME EDWARDA succeeds moderately with the title track, although as with most examples of this genre, the poppishness and hooks get stretched too thin for the sake of mood. OK.

Cosmic Psychos Down in the Farm 12″

COSMIC PSYCHOS employ a riff-laden punk style with very prominent guitar solos, as well as a strange arty edge that mixes poorly with the punk elements. I’m uninspired by the songwriting, and hope that the self-indulgent wanking doesn’t get in the way of future releases.

Xmal Deutschland Sequenz 12″

This three-tracker calls to mind JuJu-period SIOUXSIE, and they do a commendable job with this moody, new wave material. I expected to dislike this immensely, but the B-side, “Polarlicht” in particular, is undisputedly first-rate post-punk—completely unique and memorable.

Mushroom Planet Take Me Away / The Chair 7″

MUSHROOM PLANET performs Aussie rock’n’roll in the usual fashion, and here a distinctive guitar sound provides the interest. “The Chair” is the operative track, with its psych guitar riffing and sneering vocal attack—a wonderful song. The flip fares less well.

Liberty Our Voice is Tomorrow’s Hope! EP

LIBERTY has the benefit of political commitment abetted by an original approach to mid-tempo British punk. Great guitar riffs abound on two of the four numbers here, and the overall sound is rough, gruff, powerful, and uncompromising. Good solid release.

Kalashnikov Sub Version LP

Their debut single made me look forward to listening to this LP, but I was disappointed in KALASHNIKOV’s lackluster pop and pop-punk compositions, despite the plaintive female vocals. Some adventurous musical changes of pace—and sadly very little in the way of hooks or power.

The Arctic Circles Angel / My Baby Said That 7″

This record captures the Aussies’ rock sound, but without the overwhelming power you’ll find in the LIME SPIDERS or CELIBATE RIFLES. The songs are pleasant and quite listenable; I just felt that an added punch was needed to push it over the top. Adequate.

Kilslug Answer the Call LP

With this album, KILSLUG dirged their way into aggravating the hell out of me. Good, bassy guitars hold down a dose of dark, discordant hardcore in the basic FLIPPER mode, but devoid of hooks or power. Nothing really drew me in on this LP.

Decontrol Born to Be Wild EP

Surprise of surprises, I liked this. Punk with a genuine pop sensibility combines with metal on the two songs from the flip of this EP—the vocals are gruff, the music gritty and mean. DECONTROL’s cover of the STEPPENWOLF standard connects with abundant energy—so much so that I hardly noticed the flailing guitar leads. Recommended.

Deep Six Complaints Dept. / Rockin’ at the Rideau 7″

This is aggressive rock’n’roll distinguished by intriguing vocal choruses on both sides as well as prominent lead breaks. I enjoyed “Complaint Dep’t” better of the two songs here, if only for its studied poppishness. Fun.

Anti-Scrunti Faction Damsels in Distress LP

ANTI-SCRUNTI FACTION champions the grunge-o-rama attack on their debut LP. The lyrics and punky spirit of this band go a long way, but the sameness of the songwriting detracts from the album’s ultimate impact. I’ll tell you one thing: if the whole album were as hot as “Suicide Note,” an impassioned thrasher, they’d have dynamite here.

V/A Are You Ready to Be Interogated!!! cassette

This comp contains primarily demo tracks from the likes of AD NAUSEUM, STUPIDS, OI POLLOI, CHRONIC DISORDER, and a variety of less well-known bands, in appealing (and consistently political) songs. Very solid sampling of good bands.

Slam Tragedies! 7″

This Swedish combo fails to enliven their mid-tempo punk format on their latest single. “Tragedy” is an uneventful ditty with lackluster hooks, and the flip sadly rates only as a mishmash of bad production and songwriting. SLAM has done much better than this.

Marc Riley with the Creepers Creeping at Maida Vale 12″

While the FALL seems to be suffocating in their own style, MARC RILEY exploits the sound of his former mates and adds gusto to make a quartet of first-rate songs. Imagine Witch Trial FALL with an added dimension of life and catchiness, and you get an idea of what this fab disc is like. Get it!

Beki Don’t Turn Away 12″

Beki Bondage, formerly of VICE SQUAD and LIGOTAGE, falls flat on her face on this EP. She has a great voice, but the music is completely characterless and bland pop and rock. TOYAH has done music in this vein infinitely better.

Virus X Johnny Likes Pain 12″

The primitive compositions on this EP reminded me of the late, great CHILD MOLESTERS, a similarity which even extends to the sick lyrics. Unfortunately, the songs lack that essential catchiness that made the MOLESTERS so great. There’s good spirit here, but the music veers toward genericness. (Not to be confused with VIRUS, the NY band whose test press we reviewed eight months ago, but whose LP is yet to come out!).

The Spores Schizofungi! LP

SPORES make some interesting musical choices on this LP of mid- to fast-tempo mutant punk. The songs are quite catchy, but also often have that added instrumental difference (chimes, echoes, weird breaks) that makes for distinctiveness. Not earthshattering, though it’s a solid and recommendable LP.

Urban Dogs No Pedigree LP

Charlie Harper (of UK SUBS) and Knox (of VIBRATORS) pair up on this album of lackluster ditties in a proto-punk style. The songs on this release, while unrepresentative of the talent here, also display a noticeable lack of passion. These URBAN DOGS do have a pedigree, but here I could have mistaken them for strays.

Normahl Harte Nächte LP

Basic German punk, fast and punchy, with catchy guitar riffing—the same kind of thing NORMAHL has been doing for a while now. Nothing is performed with particular brilliance, though I find this style quite listenable. Good, but unspecial.

Danbert Nobacon The Unfairy Tale LP

DANBERT NOBACON from CHUMBAWAMBA presents a collection of solo folk ditties here, performed in a style not unlike that of PATRIK FITZGERALD or an acoustic BILLY BRAGG. Most of the songs are quite catchy, but a certain monotony does set in after a few tunes. A fairly good record, though it would have been palatable as an EP.

Blyth Power Chevy Chase 12″

This unusual release features ex-MOB members in songs which, in three of four cases, exploit a medieval flavor with a punk energy. Surprisingly, the gamble works—though I also enjoyed the pop punky style of this EP’s only rocker, “God Has Gone Wrong Again.” A good record that will grow on you.

Accident Crazy LP

ACCIDENT clocks in with some slick, routine melodic punk with sung vocals, including some new versions of old songs. Most of the material here sounds like punk as attempted by power-poppers, and only a pair of songs on the flip escape that tendency for inoffensive cuteness. No power, no heart, no soul…no buy.

Uruku Exhumed Lunch EP

URUKU approaches HC from an eclectic point of view, so if you combined the likes of BEEFEATER, UNITED MUTATION, and GREY MATTER into one outfit, you might come away with something like this. Thrash with diverse and arty overtones—mostly fairly routine, with no real standout numbers.

Unrest So You Want to Be a Rock’N’Roll Star EP

Of the three tracks here, the operative one is an idiosyncratic version of the BYRDS classic, “So You Wanna Be a Rock’n’Roll Star”—a hard-rocking rendition with lots of raw edges. The two remaining songs meander into rock/experimental domains that lack much real focus. Almost adequate.

Political Justice? Stating the Truths and Healing the Wounds EP

POLITICAL JUSTICE? delves into a medium-paced punk style with highly distinctive lyrics—and songwriting that unfortunately lacks any sense of uniqueness or catchiness. I admired the committed point of view of this band, but I hope the musical aspects of this outfit catch up with them on their next release.

PTL Klub 13 Commandments LP

P.T.L. KLUB have the style down pat: fast, thrashy songs, angry vocals, committed lyrics on good topics, and very occasional guitar leads. Of course, it’s been done often before, but when it’s executed well (as it is here) the music sustains power and drive. A very good record from this Massachusetts outfit.

Lethal Yellow Declaration of Retardation EP

A raw, gritty guitar sound innervates these garagy blasts of mid-tempo funnypunk. With titles like “Grilled Cheese Sandwiches” and “‘Spastic and Proud,” you can infer LETHAL YELLOW’s goofoid tendencies, but there are some really good songs delivered with spunk on this one. A lot of fun.

Zynthslakt Hit Med Stålarna EP

This 7” represents the tracks ZYNTHSLAKT released on two split EPs with N.O.S. and the PAST, and the material here is gritty, catchy, and highly original. A rockin’ punk style is evident on all six songs, though I was particularly drawn to the vocal choruses on “Es Ist Krieg.” A good one.

V/A Vilda Vanor LP

This Swedish sampler dips into a variety of pop genres, from nifty pop-punk (KOTTGROTTORNA, TREDJE KONET, SPION 13), highly questionable new wave (WUTABOUT, FLYGANDE NUNNAN), and just plain rock (WHOOPS!, SCANDAL BEAUTIES). The songs vary considerably in quality, but some promising bands are represented, too.

V/A 77 KK LP

This one slipped by us somehow, so here’s the review, albeit late. One side is devoted to American bands (DOA, 76% UNCERTAIN, WHITE CROSS, etc.) in first-rate tracks mostly on other records already. The flip however, is all-French (TROTSKIDS, COLLABOS, and WARRIOR KIDS turn in especially good pop-punk efforts) and all unreleased. A very good comp; if the duplication doesn’t bother you, give it a listen.

V/A Questionable: The Compilation LP

Four bands contribute three tracks each on this comp, which is variable, but respectably workmanlike. BUNCHAFUCKINGOOFS are the only HC band represented, and provide some good satiric numbers, while LIVING PROOF shows vast improvement over their LP in a basic, rockish vein. ANIMAL STAGS specialize in mid-tempo goofoid rock, and MADHOUSE are forgettable. A 35/65 affair.

V/A The Vikings Are Coming LP

This Swedish compilation showcases a variety of newer bands, some rather promising. BEDRÖVLERZ and CRUDE SS whip away at their three songs each, while BIZARR demonstrates a pop-punk sensibility worth noting. Five other bands put in workmanlike efforts on this variable, but largely entertaining LP.

Trojne Who Gives A Fuck Anyway? EP

A rockish energy mixes winningly with thrashy song structures on this five-tracker. The song quality is about on par with their varied debut EP, but here exhibits much more consistent power, especially on the steamroller “1984.” A solid record, worthy of your attention.

The Nirvana Devils Secret Agent Girl / May I 7″

Two catchy, finger-snapping ditties make this single a worthy investment for those who might like an amalgam of textured ’60s pop and late-’70s power-pop. The slightly off-tune and off-time female vocals somehow adds to the effect as it did for the MO-DETTES long ago. Recommended.

Nick Toczek Nick Toczek’s Ulterior Motives: The Tape cassette

Highly political prose and poetry make this offering a pleasant surprise. No music here, just committed, clever, and anarchic words infused with a punk idealism. A breath of fresh air. Buy it.

Star Club Punk! Punk! Punk! LP

STAR CLUB’s third album is clearly their best yet, boasting rowdy, up-beat ’77 punk not unlike the PROFESSIONALS, but consistently rawer and more powerful. This band cherishes their early punk roots, and numbers like “Radical Real Rock” and “Urban Guerrilla” demonstrate their complete assurance with the genre. An excellent LP.

The Rejected First Offence EP

The term “generic” comes to mind on this one. Mid- to fast-paced hardcore from this Aussie outfit, but the songs are too repetitious (both lyrically and musically) and the guitar sound altogether too thin to sustain much power. “Copper,” of the five tracks, has a nice riff to recommend it; otherwise, I was unaffected.

Lack of Knowledge Sirens Are Back LP

The emphasis on clever arranging reminded me of late MAGAZINE, but the musical adeptness isn’t nearly as strong on this debut LP. In fact, the songwriting is largely monochromatic and uninteresting, despite a good feeling for the personal/political lyrics. Maybe next time.

The Fall This Nation’s Saving Grace LP

As with most extremely prolific bands, the FALL hit and miss with most of their compositions. This is basic middling FALL, with the repetitious arrangements and obscure, taunting vocals that aficionados of the outfit have come to expect. About every other song is pretty good, and nearly everything is very, very predictable.

Southern Culture on the Skids First Album LP

Rockabilly trappings blend with an off-beat raunchiness on S.C.O.T.S.’s debut LP, which shows promise despite its inconsistency. A few klunkers, but bursts like “Bop Bop Bop” and “Atom Age Truckers” show the band’s rockin’ roots to good advantage. The instrumentals here are especially appealing.

99 Cents 99¢ cassette

A stinging instrumental attack provides the distinction to this brisk tape of thrashy tunes. While this band definitely need work in the area of writing distinctive HC, they seem best at the quasi-NEOS approach of songs like “Scared Single.” Maybe this is a good direction for this abrasive outfit.

The Honeymoon Killers Love American Style LP

Gritty post-punk, not altogether unlike the WOUNDZ, but here with a more well-established sense of mania, both musically and vocally. But there are no standout songs, nothing I particularly remember as I write this review, so I guess I didn’t like it.

Brave New World Initiation 12″

The six songs on this EP represent a solid try at edgy, riff-laden post-punk with both tension and energy. BRAVE NEW WORLD do sacrifice catchiness for atmosphere, but those who enjoyed the instrumental sharpness of earlier SIOUXSIE material may find passing interest in this effort.

Angst Lite Life LP

ANGST aim for a “roots pop” approach, incorporating elements of punk, country, blues, and power-pop into a clutch of highly accessible ditties. Some songs are slow, but this band’s forte is in faster, intricately arranged tunes like “It’s All a Lie” and “Butler Grace,” which demonstrate a subdued, yet punky energy. Fans of the NEATS and EMBARRASSMENT should enjoy this.

Absence of Malice Awakening EP

There’s good, solid thrash on this six-tracker, but ABSENCE OF MALICE add nothing particularly original or inventive to the proceedings. You know what to expect: fast tempos, atonal guitar rifting, occasional lead breaks (and some good lyrics expressing youth alienation). OK.

Christian Death The Decomposition of Violets: Live in Hollywood cassette

This live concert, recorded in Hollywood, represents a fusion of late JOY DIVISION and Ummagumma-period PINK FLOYD. Atmospheric, slightly psychedelic, and well-recorded, this performance hits and misses with its post-punk sensibility; selected songs, however, are pretty decent for the genre.

V/A Vilag Lazadoi Harcra Fel EP

Hungary is well-represented by this four-track compilation EP, which contains some intriguing punk and hardcore material; especially powerful is ETA, whose track sounds amazingly like AGENT ORANGE’s “Bloodstains.” (This is on Primitiv Cozak, a division of France’s New Wave label dedicated to presenting Eastern European releases. More power to them for the initiative.) Some fine stuff on this one.

Bloodsport Class Struggle 12″

Interesting. Solid pop-punk music-making distinguishes this enjoyable three-track EP. The title track is quite an engaging ditty, though I was caught by the vocal harmonies and lyric satire of “Heroin,” and a hard guitar sound bolsters the power of all the tracks. Recommended.

Olho Seco / Brigada Do Ódio split LP

The OLHO SECO side contains material culled from past releases, and their crushing HC sound must be savored if you lack these records. The flip seems to be a brace of live-in-the-studio tracks by BRIGADA DO ODIO, recorded to sound like DISORDER sped up and stepping on boxes of Rice Krispies. A very good value.

Dezerter Jeszcze Żywy Człowiek cassette

This live recording documents DEZERTER at a 1984 rock festival in Jarocin, Poland before an audience of 20,000 (!) people. While the production doesn’t do justice to this first-rate outfit, the excitement comes through; 17 songs here, most of them very good, and a few really excellent.

A.K.O.B. Another Kind of Blues EP

AKOB walks a thin line between nasty, powerful thrash (“Officer Friendly Blues”) and metal punk (“Explosion Blues”), so my feelings toward this EP are ambiguous. There’s a fresh, flexible guitar sound to please everyone, plus some interesting lyrics. Still, these guys would be great if they stopped listening to those BROKEN BONES records.

Sorex Portrait of a Prisoner EP

Aggressiveness and a knack for original power riffs buoy the three songs on this EP over some of their competition. SOREX utilize a mid- to fast-tempo thrash formula, and while the song structures are somewhat longer than the norm, the band sustains the energy well. A solid and promising debut.

Skate Death You Break It—You Buy It LP

These zanies from Alaska have unleashed a surprise with this one. SKATE DEATH throws 20 songs at us, mostly falling into a mid-tempo punkish groove not unlike the BURNT. The lyrics are hilarious, boasting titles like “Food Is Good” and “Life Is Such a Boring Job,” but the individual tracks vary considerably in catchiness. Recommended.

Pig Children Blood for the State 12″

Committed lyrics add a measure of punch to this five-tracker, which features high-velocity thrash with an unfortunate excess of annoying, squiggly guitar leads. Too bad the guitar wanking attenuates their appeal for me; PIG CHILDREN are potentially a powerhouse combo.

Klaus Flouride Cha Cha Cha With Mr. Flouride 12″

This eclectic release from the DK’s bassist combines rock and pop with a crisp, engaging experimental feel. The unassured vocals got in the way of my enjoyment, but the post-punk sound of this one is on-target: it’s upbeat, well-recorded, and quite varied from cut to cut. My fave is the instrumental, “Mochra.”

Rotting Carcass / Wut split LP

ROTTING CARCASS showcases a bright, fast HC sound augmented by clean and basic production—resulting in a pleasant dose of good German material. On the other hand, WUT shows more inventiveness with their BUZZCOCKS-style guitar figures and spoken breaks, even though they mine the same general style. I enjoyed this LP, even though I find it difficult to pick out any standout tracks.

The Oigasm Enkele Reis Nunspeet cassette

Despite the band’s name, this resembles Oi only in the grungy arrangements. Instead, this tape features about a half an hour of inventive thrash with hilarious lyrics conveniently translated into English. The recording is basic, but clear and often quite powerful. I look forward to more from this outfit.

Leben Und Leben Lassen Således Elskede Gud Verden… EP

LEBEN & LEBEN LASSEN exploit a nifty and unique guitar sound on this EP—it’s all refined treble, and remarkably effective. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t do as much with their sound as they could; “Nightmare” rates as a cool change-of-pace HC number, but the other tracks don’t fare as well. All in all, an OK record.

Laitz Balance of Power cassette

The stereo guitar sound adds interest to this tape of incendiary thrashers, which boasts first-rate songwriting, good lyrics, and a shitload of excitement. In fact, the instrumentals remind me of DIE KREUZEN’s first EP. An exemplary effort!!

High Circle Rabbia EP

HIGH CIRCLE sticks to a well-disciplined mid-tempo thrash style on most of these six songs, resulting on listenable (and rather staid) hardcore. But “Lucida Follia,” the standout track here, approaches the domain of RAW POWER with its frenetic instrumental attack and spirited vocals. I’d like to hear more of this power in future recordings, but I still recommend this 7”.

Gepøpel Paracide EP

GEPØPEL doesn’t beat around the bush; they beat the bush to death. Ultra-high energy thrash with virtuosic chord changes is this band’s stock-in-trade, and this eight-tracker consistently plumbs that style with skill. Easily up to the standards of the better Dutch outfits. In other words, first-rate.

Declino Eresia LP

Utterly frenzied, like most Italian bands DECLINO utilizes a guitar sound which is somewhat less full than the typical power-chord thrash approach. Song quality varies from cut to cut, but the best material (like the live version of “Vita”) shows the class of this distinctive outfit. Committed and often pleasing.

Phillip Boa and the Voodoo-Club Philister LP

Tim might say that “this sounds like KILLDOZER meets COLIN NEWMAN watching an SPK video en route to a concert by KING SUNNY ADE.” Suitably confused? Join the club. This is highly original, intensely percussive music that defies categorization; some of the tracks, like “Ostrich” and “Soul on Ice,” have really grown on me. Real good.

Alien Sex Fiend Acid Bath LP

ALIEN SEX FIEND’s musical style concentrates on a gritty, vaguely spooky rock/post-punk approach without any discernable emphasis on songwriting. Nine songs appear here. Only the rockabilly-tinged “Boneshaker” connects with its up-front percussion and psychotic echo effects. Nothing special here at all.

V/A Alive and Kicking EP

This mini-comp proves the D.C. scene is indeed alive and kicking with six tracks, all by different bands. The standards are solid all-around, though the songs by MARGINAL MAN, UNITED MUTATION, and GRAY MATTER seemed especially impassioned. Good record.

Sex Mutants Escape from Society EP

This band combines the sneering sarcasm of punk with bursts of mid-tempo energy, and it’s the humor that makes this effort interesting. The frantic “Running Wild” contains some power-chord abrasiveness; the other five tracks lack a distinctive punchiness. Not great, not bad.

Party Owls Rock Out! EP

Hard, medium-tempo thrash seems to be PARTY OWLS’ forte, though I was far more enamored of their goofy/retarded lyrics. Of the five tracks here, “Competition Skank” kicks up the requisite energy to be a winner; the other songs just sit there. Still, an above-average, entertaining release.

Lone Cowboys You Light Up My Life / Skulls Have Eyes 7″

Yes, it’s really the DEBBIE BOONE schlock classic, but here adopted to a neo-rock format—and with no small success. The flip, however, has a driving guitar sound and stands on its own as solid alternative rock. (They also have a recommendable cassette, Streets of Poison, available; good material and excellent sound quality.) Good band.

L.D.S. On the Cross EP

LDS straddles the fence between two genres: portentous horror rock and mid- to fast-tempo thrash. Certainly a tight outfit, this band doesn’t seem to have that sense for unique HC compositions—probably because they don’t really exploit the possibilities of either genre. Uneventful.

The Insults Thrasher Go Home EP

There’s a clutch of manic, ultra-fast thrash on this EP—some of it well up to DRI speed and even faster. Admittedly, the recording could be hotter and much of the guitar wanking could have been excised, but this record contains enough unspoiled moments to make it well worthwhile. Good basic release.

Gargoyle Sox As the Master Sleeps… 12″

This band explores the same territory as England’s SCREAMING DEAD—this is atmospheric horror rock, albeit with much less of a rock energy. Of the five songs here, only “Pink Little Playhouse” combines catchy post-punk arrangements with GARGOYLE SOX’s trademark twisted lyrics. A novel release.

Descendents Bonus Fat 12″

Not only do you get the DESCENDENTS’ classic Fat EP on this one, but also the two songs from their rare Ride the Wild 45 and an additional compilation track. This is hard-edged SoCal funnypunk at its best, and a welcome return to vinyl. May be the band’s best record.

Cancerous Growth Late for the Grave LP

CANCEROUS GROWTH do a respectable, but by no means brilliant job with the mid- to fast-tempo thrash formula, replete with rebellious lyrics and gruff vocals. This kind of thing has been done before, but I really enjoyed their high-velocity numbers. Basically OK.

The Burnt Where’s My Head? LP

The BURNT recorded this album on an 8-track machine in a basement somewhere, and the songs explore a variable-speed thrash style with growling vocals. It’s a good piece of work, too; most of the songs are concise, to-the-point thrashers, and there’s at least one mini-classic (“Garbage Can”).

Brain Damage Kill Dan White Party Tape EP

The title track of this four-song release has a loose, angry, experimental energy that reminds me of Wednesday nights at the Mab in ’78. Synth and drums predominate on this one, but if you like diverse, almost-experimental pop, you might find this sporadically interesting. They also have a strange cassette out.

V/A La Lucha Continua!!! cassette

Three fine Spanish outfits (ODIO SOCIAL, ANTI-DOGMATIKSS, and AUTODEFENSA) share this 15-song tape—and each of the bands have something special to offer. The basic mode here is highly political thrash, and the sound is so frantic and committed that I think these tracks could justifiably be on vinyl. This is a great job; buy it!

V/A AJZ Live Trash cassette

A 50/50 proposition. The bands, with the likes of FRITES MODERN, PORNO PATROL, MAU MAUS, UPRIGHT CITIZENS, DOA, etc. are world-class, and the songs are uniformly excellent. Unfortunately, most of the recordings were culled from hand-held walkman cassettes, which doesn’t help the sound quality. I must admit that the excitement comes through, though.

O.X. Pow Políticos 12″

Those expecting the charging thrash of their debut EP will be in for a shock. O.X. POW’s style has degenerated into a new wave pop reminiscent of a spare U2, or perhaps AIRSTRIP 1 without the catchy material. And while political pop is OK in my book, there’s no real songwriting skill in evidence here. Too bad.

Hungry for What …And the War Goes On LP

HUNGRY FOR WHAT’s approach is molded by ’77 punk, but a certain sleekness of production imparts a contemporary feel to their songs. There’s some good music here; still, H.F.W. see-saw between moments of power and a sedate professionalism, with the latter winning out in most cases. A strong, yet unmoving release.

Le Crap Ip 12″

Denmark’s LE CRAP wanders through bewildering territory, indeed. While the guitar sound is hard and driving, the songs on this EP work with experimental song structures and off-beat percussion, with some unpleasant results. Not unlike France’s HUMAN BEINGS.

The Bollock Brothers ’77 ’78 ’79 LP

Various punk celebrities from the old days offer their talents for this album of slower, ’77-oriented material. The absence of energy in the tempos put me off initially, but there’s some very palatable SEX PISTOL-ian material here, albeit cleaner and more refined. A decent record.

United Mutation Rainbow Person EP

The compositions on this release from UNITED MUTATION sacrifice the thrashiness of their debut for a spookier, more atmospheric approach—but it works. Churning arrangements, an aggressive HC energy, and those trademark laryngitis vocals team up to good effect especially on “Take Your Pick.” Solid and recommendable.

True West Shot You Down / 1969 7″

On the A-side, TRUE WEST showcases a neo-generic pop style that’s so soft and unassuming that it left me completely uninvolved. The STOOGES cover on the flip, though, musters up some excitement despite the band’s continual tendency to squelch its own power. Lacks heart.

Sacred Denial Life’s Been Getting to Me LP

The thrash on this record contains some gripping instrumental changes of pace, and demonstrates the rudiments of songwriting finesse. A brace of hard-driving HC numbers, a nifty cover of WAR’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and some concise, dynamic production values make this one well worth getting. Some great potential here.

Lounge Lizards Live 79/81 cassette

I hate jazz even more than metal (at least heavy metal is humorous in a pitiable kind of way). That’s why I was surprised to enjoy (moderately) this cassette of finely recorded live cuts from the LOUNGE LIZARDS’ repertoire. Though these songs have their own robust energy, this is not punk.

JFA Live 1984 Tour LP

JFA have documented their live performing talents with mixed success on this album. The instrumental numbers (and there are a ton of them here) have both energy and clarity, though the vocal tunes tend to show the fair-to-middling quality of the recording. For JFA fans only.

Camper Van Beethoven Camper Van Beethoven cassette

This unlikely effort incorporates elements of garage pop and ska, combined with a satirical punk attitude; the result is subtly entertaining. While CVB could increase their energy level a bit, the band’s intelligence and offbeat humor come through in tracks like “Lassie” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” Pleasant.

Antiseen Drastic EP

This band unveils a new variety of hardcore—”destructo rock”—which sounds for all the world like gruff and grungy mid-tempo thrash. ANTISEEN can’t boast great songwriting skills, but I still enjoyed the irrepressible aggro and rebelliousness of their output. A pretty good release.

Toy Dolls A Far Out Disc LP

The TOY DOLLS return to vinyl with a display of outright mania unlike I’ve ever quite witnessed. While the general song quality is a bit lower than on their classic debut album, the band’s crisp pop-punk style and Olga’s unforgettable high-pitched vocals make this record a must. “She Goes to Fino’s,” “My Girlfriend’s Dad’s a Vicar,” and the hilarious “Commercial Break” are classics. Hysterical.

Sex Pistols And We Don’t Care EP

The SEX PISTOLS re-emerge from the vaults on this three-tracker, which features the guitarwork of CHRIS SPEDDING. Mainly a curiosity (better demo tracks appear on their A&M sessions), this EP boasts good sound quality and some interesting instrumentals on “No Feelings.” A nice item for PISTOLS fans.

Poison Girls Songs of Praise LP

I’ve been a POISON GIRLS fan from the beginning, but even I have to admit that this album is their first really poor one. The song structures are funk/new wavish and unfortunately lack the melodic or rhythmic punch of past efforts; there’s no real heart on this LP, either. Ultimately, nearly all of this album is uninvolving, despite some subtly written lyrics.

Neurotics Repercussions 12″

This seven-song effort from the (NEWTOWN) NEUROTICS once again demonstrates their adeptness at the ’77 punk style, though with less consistency than past efforts. “This Fragile Life” boasts a strong melody buoyed by a brass section, but it’s the high point in a selection of more subtle pop-punkers. Pretty good.

Neurotic Arseholes Angst LP

At their best, the NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES display some stylish and melodic punk compositions supported by clever instrumentals. While less aggressive than their debut LP, this one connects most of the time it remains in that melodic mode; happily that’s the majority of the time, and classy ditties like Du Russe” and “Kern Tag Ohne Liebe” attest to that.

Mau Maus Fear No Evil LP

The MAU MAUS display an adeptness at a wide variety of punk and hardcore styles from thrash to sing-alongs, pop-punk, and slow/fast numbers. Happily, they perform it all with authority and intelligence; I can recommend this varied album without reservation.

The Idiots They Call Us: The Idiots LP

This band opts for longer song structures and a pop style with moments of instrumental invention and even ingenuity. While the majority of this album sustains a melodic approach, there are welcome blasts of thrashy energy from time to time; too bad the compositions tend to fall into an earlier, less accessible German style.

Gakidou Pandora No Hako flexi EP

This band seems influenced by British post-punkers LEITMOTIV, and the two faster songs here represent good examples of that taut, expressive style. The other two numbers mine a languid mood I found sleep-inducing.

The Buttocks Fuckin’ in the Buttocks LP

This veteran German band treats us to a selection of mostly live and some studio material ranging from 1978-’81. Most of these tracks showcase the BUTTOCKS’ no-nonsense amalgam of aggressive punk and hardcore to good advantage, though the superior sound quality of their studio recordings (from their two EP’s) shames the rest of the LP. Limited edition of 1000.

Beton Combo 23 Skiddoo 12″

BETON COMBO represents an earlier style of German hardcore, in which the power and hooks are more subdued than the work of their contemporaries. A solid piece of work; still, only the textured thrasher “Ich Krieg Dich” leaves a real impression on multiple listenings. This EP’s not as impressive as their best recordings.

Moose and the Mudbugs Milk Crate Takeover 12″

MOOSE AND THE MUDBUGS recall the halcyon days of power-pop with these four songs. Most of this EP is unnotable—instrumentally adept but somewhat geeky in the vocals department—though I enjoyed the Farfisa/guitar combination on the pleasant rocker “20 Ashford.” Somewhat below the standard.

Mental Abuse Streets of Filth LP

MENTAL ABUSE performs thrash within some longer punk song structures, and what results is a gritty, kinetic, and highly enjoyable album. It’s difficult to pick standout tracks here, though “Rat Race” works well in the ’77 mode. Rambunctious and a hell of a lot of fun.

Active Ingredients Bringing Down the Big Boys EP

The sneering, cynical thrash on this EP should appeal to fans of bands like JACKSHIT, despite special studio effects which hurt some of these songs. “I Hate MTV” rates as a rousing thrasher, though this record falls beneath the standard of their ripping debut EP. Above average.

V/A Schweinerei cassette

NIXKONNER, ANNEXION RUSKI, and SEX TEENS, and the recording is fairly good. Basic thrash and punk is featured on this one, nothing particularly astounding, though there is some up-and-coming underground talent evident on this cassette.

V/A Graveyard-Hits cassette

A variety of underground German HC bands share this tape, including TIN CAN ARMY, IDIOTS, ANI(X)VAX, and eleven others. The sound quality is adequate, the songs respectable, and the tape’s a good value for those curious about the prolific German hardcore scene.

The Waltons Here Comes the Real Western Rockabilly This is the Waltons EP

Crisp, tuneful rockabilly (invested with a rich musical and lyric sense of humor) melds with punk on this bright four-tracker. It’s such infectious, hysteric, clever fun that I defy anyone to keep their feet from tapping during their three upbeat originals, or their delightful rockabilly reworking of the RAMONES’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” A must-get.

Svea Skandal Med All Rätt EP

SVEA SKANDAL contributes four adequate compositions on this EP, and despite some good musicianship and vocal choruses, it doesn’t quite connect. “Nar Solen Gatt Ner” comes close to a spirit of aggressive catchiness, but this record basically contains medium- and fast-tempo punk with the vocals imitating the chord changes. Okay.

Sixten Redlös Ni Ska Få Ångra / Hämnd 7″

These two refreshing slices of Swedish punk revive a ’77 sensibility without losing a mite of the hard-driving energy needed to excite in the ’80s. “Ni Ska Få Ångra” in particular maintains an invigorating pace and style that updates the work of older Swedish outfits like EBBA GRON. A fine single.

R.A.F. Gier Sheer Heart Attack / Lois 7″

While “Lois” fails by virtue of its numbing repetitiveness, the flip is enjoyable fast punk—though rather inexpertly produced; if the recording had more punch, the song would be a memorable bit of ’77-ish punk. An okay single.

Profan Relik De Levande Skulle Avundas De Döda EP

PROFAN RELIK muster a sharp, buzzy guitar attack on this nifty three-tracker. The mid- to fast-tempo punk tunes here sustain their distinctiveness with a clever blend of offbeat guitar riffing and BUZZCOCKS-style guitar solo figures; in this vein, “Esam Kvar” is especially effective. This disc really grabbed my interest…recommended.

Köttgrottorna Mus Som Mus EP

KOTTGROTTORNA produces some respectable power-pop with this, their second EP, and this band’s hallmarks are unforgettable vocal harmonies and choruses. “TT Tass” is especially strong, though the two songs on the flip demonstrate this band’s consistency. Considerably “lighter” than their contemporaries, this record is still good in its own right.

The Decay Tonight (Back From the Death) EP

DECAY explores the grungy edges of messy, chaotic thrash in a way that makes most Italian thrash outfits sound disciplined. Tim says this record sounds like it was recorded on their third rehearsal, and that may not be too far from the real truth.

Chaos Tribal Warfare EP

Yet another band named CHAOS hits vinyl, this one hailing from England (though it’s not CHAOS U.K., whom we know and love). This outfit delves into a mid-tempo Brit-punk approach with good production and terminally uninteresting songs; all three songs seem to be mired in musical ennui.

Anti-Avans Med Sverige i Tiden EP

This competent, yet uninventive band strives for a brisk pop-punk style; for me, the hooks didn’t entice me to bite, and most of the five tunes here even induced a bit of monotony. “M” has an adequate melody, buoyed by novel guitar riffing. A fairly uninvolving outing.

V/A Sin Alley LP

This collection of early recordings (1955-’61) presents a clutch of wild rockers plunging into the roots of the genre. ROY CAINES, TONY CASANOVA, MEL MCGONNIGLE, RHYTHM ROCKERS, and CRAZY TEENS provide raunchy, rockin’ fun in a distinctly ’50s style, though some of the other tracks are less impressive. A treasure trove of obscurities.

Rights of the Accused Innocence EP

ROTA let loose with five thrashers on this one, and the songs are at their best when the band’s breakneck instrumentals are conjoined by real passion in the vocal department. “Hypocrite” in particular makes for riveting listening, but some of the other songs are more like garden-variety thrash. The lyrics deal with identity problems, school, ideals, etc.

Musik Camp Musik Camp cassette

The twisted musical hi-jinx of this tape recalls TIN HUEY, but this outfit has more of a garage sensibility. This is spare, arty rock with a rhythm-machine backdrop—and maybe I wasn’t particularly moved by the music on this cassette because this band isn’t excited by what they sing about.

Minutemen Tour-Spiel EP

The MINUTEMEN are a superb live band, but the undistinguished recording values here detract from some fine songs performed with finesse. “The Red and the Black” is hot, though I’d prefer to hear an ace production of this outfit instead of the one we have here.

Leeway Enforcer cassette

LEEWAY straddles what I hope will eventually be a Berlin Wall between hardcore and heavy metal, with mixed results. “Be Loud” is a nicely textured thrash number, but metal rot gnaws away at the edges of their other arrangements. Aggressive, though this variant of HC doesn’t suit me.

Koo Dot Tah IQ 1986 / Free Radicals 7″

This single bridges the gap between late-’70s power-pop and ’80s new wave—a marriage of styles with a potential for unbridled cuteness. KOO DAT TAH use the layered vocals of the SHOES with a U2-ish guitar sound, and the two songs here veer into wimpiness despite intelligent lyrics. This band needs more of an edge to their music.

Killdozer 85 There’s No Mistaking Quality LP

KILLDOZER 85 opt for a gritty, rock’n’roll approach with a sandpapery instrumental sound, complete with the obligatory lead breaks. Disciplined rockers like “Hatbox Matinee” and “More Thanks” show a feeling for good, rootsy rock; a number of their other tunes seem atonal and monochromatic. With more consistency, this outfit could be a contender.

Frightwig Cat Farm Faboo LP

This band has, with some justification, been labeled an all-girl FLIPPER. And FRIGHTWIG does have rather loose arrangements, but their sensibilities are more rock’n’rolly than arty, and there are some good songs on this LP (especially “The Wanque Off Song” and “I’ll Talk to You and Smile”). There are also some awful songs. Still, this record is recommendable through the sheer force of the band’s personality.

Al Perry and the Cattle Cattle Crossing LP

This band plays hard country rock with a touch of swing, and writes some occasionally funny lyrics. When the CATTLE really let loose, as on “4WDORV” and the instrumentals “Finland” and “El Con Maio,” this outfit grooves with class. Unfortunately, only about half of this album has the kind of energy this style of music requires. An adequate LP.

V/A Never Mind ’77… & …This is ’84 cassettes

This altogether surprising duo of cassette compilations features well-known outfits like FRITES MODERN, PEGGIO PUNX, MOTTEK, and OLHO SECO—plus a variety of cuts from a clutch of promising new bands. The breadth of punk and hardcore styles represented on these two tapes, in addition to the general quality of the music, helps make these cassettes highly recommended additions to your collection. Intelligent and well-conceived.

V/A Another Crummy Comp cassette

The title of this comp isn’t strictly accurate, nor could it be with the likes of AVSKUM, XPOZEZ, SCAPEGOATS, and 15 other international bands. In fact, the song quality is quite good, with a political backbone braced with sincerity and honesty. Sound quality’s fine, too.

The Vibes The Inner Wardrobes of Your Mind 12″

The inner wardrobe of the VIBES’ minds must contain a lot of the CRAMPS’ clothes, given the deep mutant rockabilly/psych influence on this record. At least they’ve chosen their mentors well, because this band has good material (though not as invigorating as the CRAMPS’) and perform it with verve (but without the CRAMPS’ personality). “I’m in Pittsburgh” is a killer.

The Varukers Live in Holland LP

This limited edition (1500 copies) disc contains 16 songs recorded in a board mix with good sound quality. The vocals are up-front, with the drums and guitars vying in the background for your attention—not an ideal state of affairs—but the VARUKERS’ material saves this from being “just another live album.” Adequate.

U.B.R. Corpus Delicti EP

This Yugoslavian thrash outfit sustains the requisite speed and aggro for a credible effort, but little of the distinctiveness their geographic origins might suggest. This is churning, repetitious hardcore which, oddly, sounds somewhat Italian—until you realize it was pressed in Bologna. Fine booklet sleeve.

Systeme D Another Day EP

SYSTEME D address their output to a mid-tempo pop-punk style that, with an added “something,” could be really special. “Loser” weds catchiness to a punky rawness of energy, but most of this has been done more convincingly elsewhere by fellow countrymen like KIDNAP, COLLABOS, REICH ORGASM, etc. An OK record.

Soldier Dolls A Taste of Blood EP

The SOLDIER DOLLS invest these recordings with vocal zeal, yet the instrumentals miss the passion and drive this band seems to be aiming for. Still, “Victims,” a slower ’77-style number, provides a measure of catchiness to save this well-intentioned EP from its uneventfulness. The two thrashers haven’t the punch they need.

Negazione Tutti Pazzi EP

NEGAZIONE musters up one of the most ferocious Italian EPs I heard in a long, long time. Crisp production adds an edge to frenetic thrash that reminds me of the great INDIGESTI, but with a more biting vocal attack. One would be well advised to get this record immediately.

L’Infanterie Sauvage Chansons A Boire EP

L’INFANTERIE SAUVAGE combines elements of pop-punk (in the restrained guitar work and sing-along vocal choruses) and Oi (in the chants that punctuate this EP) on the four-and-a-half songs here. This record’s distinctiveness feels good on the way down, but this band hasn’t quite developed the knack for writing songs that stick to the ribs.

Kadavas Kadavas cassette

Two incarnations of the same band are represented on this 12-song tape, which plumbs a mid-tempo punk style in both live and studio recordings. Truthfully, I didn’t feel the excitement on this one, but the music’s OK.

Death Sentence Waldo Was Just Screwed Up on Acid… cassette

DEATH SENTENCE provides us with one side of studio demos and another of live tracks on this cassette. The studio recordings demonstrate that this band can pummel out thrash in a high-velocity DRI style, though both sides suffer from a certain muddiness in the taping. Still, keep your ears unplugged for this band—they have real potential.

Beyond Possession Tell Tale Heart EP

Calgary’s BEYOND POSSESSION have a knack for tight stop-and-go thrash with near-virtuosic guitarwork. While this outfit is more adept at arranging than songwriting, numbers like “Where’s the Matter” and “No Religion” demonstrate a preciseness (and rebelliousness) that makes this record a well above-average effort.

Voodoo Idols Temptation LP

This album witnesses the fruition of the VOODOO IDOLS’ songwriting skills, and their admixture of rootsy rock and punk (with a hearty infusion of sax for good measure) makes a better impression with each listening. The vocals seem way too manic for the music, but VOODOO IDOLS get a definite thumbs-up for improvement and distinctiveness.

The Tell-Tale Hearts The Tell-Tale Hearts LP

The TELL-TALE HEARTS use an invigorating R’n’B-style as an inroad to their brand of psychedelia, replete with cheesy organ and harmonica. “Crawling Back to Me” employs a biting ’60s punk sound with good results, but I also enjoyed the moody “Dirty Liar” the most of their slower material. A very good effort.

The Slickee Boys Uh Oh… No Breaks LP

This album reminds me of a tug-of-war between ’60s psych and late-’70s power-pop, the latter victorious by a respectable margin. My favorite cuts, “Gotta Tell Me Why” and “Glendora,” were previously released in better versions, and the studied pop leanings on this album don’t succeed as often as on their last LP. Pleasant listening, but not the special effort I expected from the SLICKEE BOYS.

Scared Straight Born to Be Wild EP

Mystic’s “Nardcore” series continues with this workmanlike EP of energetic thrash by SCARED STRAIGHT. This band suffers from a common problem: they have every bit of the requisite “power” but little of the distinctiveness modern thrash outfits need in order to avoid the morass of genericness. “Typical” is the best song on this nine-tracker, and ironically, the record itself is good, but typical.

Frosted Flaykes Waste Your Time / Rockin’ Rhythms 7″

A heavy dose of YARDBIRDS-style R’n’B fun almost works on “Waste Your Time,” which lacks in melody what it offers in rockin’ power. On the other hand, the flip is a down-and-dirty instrumental that recalls the “rave-up” spirit admirably. Not earthshaking, but altogether decent.

V/A Aha 3 cassette

Opening this cassette package is like Christmas! I got a Q-Tip, two slides, a plastic fruit-fly, one cellophane “mystery fish,” a bunch of neat booklets… I, for one, am excited. There’s also a cassette, which features some OK “sensitive” pop by TERRIBLE PARADE, and a lot of arty compositions, mostly in a very, very slow mode. Great packaging, but the music’s not too enthralling.

Shoutless Insane / I Tell No Lies 7″

This neo-? record from Sweden has an OK A-side, but “I Tell No Lies” is buoyed by a delightful pop sensibility, layered vocal harmonies, and good instrumentals. This combines the accessibility of modern rock with the stylistic elements of ’60s punk. A strong release.

Second Auschwitz Agent Orange & Zyklon, Belgium cassettes

Tapes #3 and 4 in what may turn out to be an endless series of cassettes from SECOND AUSCHWITZ. The Agent Orange tape, like the rest in the series, contains zillions of songs, while Zyklon, Belgium seems to be a live recording with even more zillions of songs. Well, this band certainly gives you volume.

Ruts Cold Distant Lights (Why Not Vote Socialist) LP

This limited edition bootleg (200 copies) showcases the live performing talents of this early English punk band through a variety of vintage performances. The sound quality ranges from poor to pretty good, but only about one-third of this album captures the excitement of this band. I suppose one’s desire to find this disc depends on how much of a RUTS fan you really are…

Lunatic Fringe Cringe With the Fringe EP

LUNATIC FRINGE employs repeating guitar figures to create an effect of intensity and drive within their songs, not unlike ANTI-SECT, but without all of that crushing power. Still, much of this EP works by sheer insistence—especially the fine rocker, “Con-formity.” Good British HC.

Hostages of Ayatollah Voulez-Vous EP

This German outfit, not unlike fellow countrymen the NIKOTEENS, sustain thrash-tempos without sacrificing their fundamental commitment to distinctiveness and even melody. The two songs on side A, with those tasty choruses, are especially appealing. A treat.

Hip Heaven Songs of Darkness and Disgrace EP

All three songs on this Danish EP go on too long for their own good, and opt for restrained guitar progressions and lyrics heavily influenced by spaghetti westerns. Hypnotic; in fact, I’d better finish this review before I’m lulled to sleep…

Flesh D-Vice Some Blood Stained Morning LP

This New Zealand punk band maintains some real drive through many of their songs, which plumb a style emphasizing a diversity of punk approaches, fast and slow. Nevertheless, the compositions themselves rarely impressed me with any measure of catchiness or inventiveness; but there’ s no denying that the title track is a highly worthy kinetic thrasher. A mixed bag.

The Adicts This is Your Life LP

This album features the upbeat pop-punk of the ADICTS with 15 tracks recorded in 1979. These songs possess the same aggressiveness as the material on their debut LP, though the truly outstanding material here is re-pressed from their fine debut EP Lunch with the Adicts, long out of print. There’s a fair allotment of strong material on this album, and that should be good news for ADICTS fans.

Vex Transmutation EP

Two of the songs on this solid EP demonstrate adeptness at clever, mid-tempo punk with tastefully humorous lyrics. The other two ditties, however, remind me of the aggressive punk of early DEVO, with its addition of minimal synth. Not bad at all—VEX seems to enjoy re-expanding the sound of punk music.

Snare and the Idiots Recycled Garbage EP

A fun, adolescent sense of humor infects this garage punk EP from SNARE AND THE IDIOTS. Semi-catchy instrumentals, primitive lead guitar breaks, and some R’n’B-ish song structures supply most of the charm here; the lyrics, too, are goofy enough to win my affection. Loose, rock ’n’ roll fun. Recommended.

Ramones Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La) 12″

“Howling at the Moon” is by no means the strongest track from their current album, but the two songs on the flip are very good and non-LP. “Smash You” is a return to vintage ’77-RAMONES, while their cover of the STONES’ “Street Fighting Man” is equally irresistible. I guess I still like these guys a whole lot.

Prevaricators Snubculture LP

PREVARICATORS specialize in mid-tempo punk rock with highly distinctive vocals and disciplined power-chord arrangements. The music is largely solid, but lyrically, this LP is variable from cut to cut. Commentaries like “Snubculture” and “Jesus H. Falwell” are well taken, but the apparently anti-gay song “Jesse’s a Girl” is in very poor taste. Some songs are sexually oriented à la early PORK DUKES. A problematic record, for me.

The Mumbles Live in the Shed cassette

About half of the songs on this tape are carbon copy covers of IGGY POP (“Five Foot One”), JOY DIVISION (a priceless version of “Dead Souls”), and even the likes of BUTTHOLE SURFERS and BLACK FLAG. The original numbers are sporadically funny, too, sounding something like a R’n’R version of the MENTORS. This tape is almost so bad, it’s good.

Th’Inbred Studio Demo cassette

TH’INBRED rely on songwriting finesse and the basic HC trappings to hybridize an effort that’s very special. Their off-beat humor melds with the music quite effectively—resulting in thrash with an unusual and likable difference. I look forward to their upcoming record.

Imminent Attack Element of Surprise 12″

This band opts for a metal-thrash approach incorporating a power-chord orientation with the strong influences of SSD (in some of the squiggly guitar solos), DIE KREUZEN (the anguished vocals), and DISCHARGE (in the basic song structures). The compositions on this 12” exhibit fine energy and commitment, though they only occasionally assert any degree of originality. Basically OK, I guess.

The Harlots Did You Ever / Conviction 7″

Two snappy slices of power-chord rock here, neither of which caught my fancy. Both songs boast mildly appealing choruses, but very little else aside from the hard guitar work to recommend them. HARLOTS need more sustained songwriting to satisfy a die-hard pop fan like me.

Glenheads Glenheads cassette

GLENHEADS definitely have the requisite weirdness to succeed in the experimental biz, but none of the talent for creating noise that eats away at your cortex. Tesco would know what I mean. Basically, it’s self-indulgent pop-influenced experimental material with a lot of vocal treatments. I don’t like it.

Farmers Farmers ’85 cassette

Completely unrestrained weirdness, this tape is guaranteed to fry your brain after a mere ten minutes. Strongly reminiscent of early-vintage RESIDENTS, albeit with considerably more dementia, both lyrically and musically. Though inconsistent from cut to cut, FARMERS are fairly good at what they do on this tape.

Don’t No The Real World EP

DON’T NO recalls the high-velocity antics of the better Boston outfits before they went metal, and there’s some fabulous stop-on-a-dime thrash on this one, powered by ripping drum-work. A potential classic. Get it.

Damage Sins of Our Fathers LP

DAMAGE connect again and again with a nasty, no-holds-barred thrash style on this, their debut album. Apparently recorded live at CBGB’s, this platter has the sharpness of a studio effort with high marks for tightness, production bite…and some very different lyrics (some partially in German!). A very pleasant surprise.

Antwerp The Mole: Let Me Out! cassette

What’s happening to America when high school kids begin producing industrial music? It has to be an encouraging trend. I didn’t much care for their voice-oriented material; yet, the instrumental sections here are sometimes haunting and effective, spanning a wide variety of experimental styles. More, I say!

V/A We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes cassette

A good value, this cassette features a clutch of Cleveland bands (CIVILIAN TERRORISTS, LURID, JIPPO, PESTILANCE, and PLAGUE) and just under 30 songs. The sound quality’s good, the music even better—and this tape (as well as future ones in this series) comes with a fanzine, stickers, etc. if you send $1.35 to No Fun.

Second Auschwitz Porca Dio cassette

Imagine, if you will, a bass guitar, drums, and sax fighting with sick vocals in a messy thrash format. Imagine 19 songs, some as short as ten seconds, delivered in under four minutes. The lyrics are viciously anti-religious and pro-vegetarian, but this is still a very unusual package.

Human Being C’était Beau Hier, C’est Déjà Moins Beau Aujourd’hui EP

This odd release features French post-punk in a sporadically interesting vein. The A-side’s brisk tempo and catchy, spare guitar riffing makes for pleasant listening, though the flip moves into a more freeform mode with disappointing results. An original effort, but this band needs much more discipline.

VOA Punk Sux cassette

VOA addresses a basic thrash style with loads of spunk, though their songs structures are highly reminiscent of early ILL REPUTE. With added songwriting finesse, these guys could really develop into contenders; that’s why I can recommend this tape, and look forward to future releases.

Lepers I Wanna Be God EP

The LEPERS’ latest four-track EP ranks, in my opinion, as their best to date. This band blends a simple thrash style with distinct rock ’n’ roll elements, and emerge with a treat in their piledriver, “Concentration Camps.” While this outfit will win no awards for originality, they deliver their measure of aggro with agility.

Fastbacks Every Day is Saturday 12″

Seattle’s FASTBACKS return to vinyl once again to showcase their solid, chunky pop/punk compositions. Of the four songs here, “Midnight Confessions” and “See and Say” win the top song honors, though the general standard here is somewhat lower than their debut 45 and 12”. As always, the plaintive female vocals fit the music well.

V/A Spanish HC cassette

Six bands share this compendium of Spanish hardcore, including the likes of ULTIMO RESORTE, SHIT S.A., and MG-15. R.I.P., however, shame their competition with 13 ripping live songs in a well-orchestrated thrash style; their tracks alone make this compilation especially attractive. Give it a listen!

V/A The Third Chainsaw Flexi EP

Although the previously released tracks by MORNINGTON CRESCENT and BGK make for a shred-fest in themselves, the two songs by BUTCHER are also worthwhile. Their cover of T. REX’s “Get It On” is a delightful pop-punk version, but “Psycho Trend” seems a tad more lively. Available with Chainsaw zine.

V/A Abt Nr 409 / Copvlation / Xerxes Von Munshrein LP

This trio of Swiss experimental bands channels their ideas through traditional rock song-structures. COPVLATION are the punkiest here, adopting an early CABARET VOLTAIRE sound, albeit with more power in the drums; XERXES VON MUNSHREIN have definite potential, though this band is decidedly more synth-oriented. No truly great songs here, but let’s hear more from the country that used to be the creative center of first-rate post-punk.

Vice Squad Teenage Rampage / High Spirits 7″

Their cover of SWEET’s “Teenage Rampage” is a tiresome retread of ’70s rock I’d just as soon forget (is it meant as a joke?). The flip, however, is more in keeping with VICE SQUAD’s typically polished punk sound. Release by release, this band is sounding increasingly like LIGOTAGE (Beki’s band). Coincidence?

Terveet Kädet Knock Out cassette

This tape features a selection of live tracks by TERVEET KÄDET, most ranging in sound quality from fair to good. Remarkably, though, I liked the power of these performances much better than the ones documented on the live side of the Black God album; so, this cassette could prove an interesting addition to your TK collection.

V/A Let’s Breed! LP

This buoyant sampler of Boston-area bands concentrates on accessible, up-tempo power-pop and punk—and manages it with surprising consistency. The FLIES, EDGE, and UNDERACHIEVERS vie for top honors, but the odds-on favorite is a slice of country swing (!) by SCRUFFY THE CAT. No thrash here; just agreeable, aggressive hard pop and punk—the kind you listened to and liked way back in ’79.

Rattus Kun Pommi on Pudotettu cassette

The incredibly prolific RATTUS presents 25 songs, some already released in different versions, on this “live in studio” tape. The sound quality is very good to excellent, and the selections give you a chance to hear this band branch out musically; note the cover version of “Police and Thieves.”

Linkmen Every Inch a King / Manic Depression 7″

The LINKMEN sound for all the world like a poor-man’s NOMADS: rich production values, that riff-happy ’60s punk sound, and a genuine instrumental aggression abound here. All that’s missing are the great songs. “Every Inch a King” lacks melodic punch, though the HENDRIX cover on the flip has some moments of power.

Der Durstige Mann Bier 4 Tot: Frankfurt Jukebox Hits LP

ERIC HYSTERIC and his friends again treat us to some garagy, off-beat punk; here, however, the mid-tempo ditties utilize synth and rhythm machine to augment their hard guitar sound—and add a bit of dementia. The songs are better than ever, too, though my inability to understand German left me out of a lot of the fun. Then again, if you get drunk enough, anybody could understand this music. Good stuff.

Deutsche Trinkerjugend Scheissegal EP

Likeable, garden-variety thrash are DTJ’s stock-in-trade, though the lyrics on this one definitely push this outfit into the growing ranks of “drunkcore” bands. Five of the six songs on this EP have energy and spunk, especially the upbeat rocker, “Die Schwarze Else.” Pretty good record.

V/A Brain of Stone cassette

23 bands from all over the world contribute to this compilation, though a sound problem on the first side (is it just my copy?) works against some of them. First-rate efforts by the ACCUSED, NOT MOVING (from Italy), YOUTH KORPS, VICIOUS CIRCLE (from Australia), and Denmark’s DISRESPECT make for some rousing moments; el Demento award goes to HAPPY FLOWERS for “Mom I Gave the Cat Some Acid.”

The Steppes The Steppes LP

With their folk-style vocal harmonies and sedate instrumentation, this band seems to have steeped themselves too deeply in MOR ’60s pop. Too bad; the rudiments of good songwriting are evident, but the STEPPES don’t develop their melodic hooks or arrangements with much originality. “Kathy McGuire” rates as an above-average moddish ditty.

Psycho Motor Effect Psycho Motor Effect cassette

Folk, mutant psychedelia, and experimental influences abound on this debut cassette. Acoustic and electric guitars predominate over lilting vocals in these improvisational-sounding songs; I felt that this band needs to apply more structure and invention to their output.

Part Time Christians Rock and Roll is Disco 12″

This remarkably consistent eight-track effort shows the PART-TIME CHRISTIANS at their quintessential best. Scathing, DIE KREUZEN-style vocals blend with grinding thrash (metal overtones included) on most of these songs here, though “Bowling Pin Massacre” parodies rap effectively. If they bowl as good as this record sounds, they’d probably hit a near perfect score.

The Pandoras Hot Generation / You Don’t Satisfy 7″

The PANDORAS present two rockin’ blasts of ’60s psych/punk on this one. “Hot Generation” opts for a slightly more commercial approach than past efforts, though the flip packs it all in—cheesy keyboards, thickly textured guitar riffing, and an unforgettable melody. The cover’s great, too.

Human Sufferage Thank You, Mother Dear 12″

The production on these acidic thrash compositions is extremely basic, as on their debut LP, but HUMAN SUFFERAGE earn high marks for improved songwriting and a sense of passion that’s almost tangible. “Take It for Granted” is a snappy hardcore number worth special mention, but the lyrics on all these songs show that this band is extremely articulate, too. A must-get.

DDT Broken Toy LP

The songs on this debut album hallmark some fine elements of the DDT style: exceptional lyrics, passionate vocals, and compositions that emphasize thrash with tasteful guitar breaks. Although some of the tracks do tend to lack distinctiveness, “Last Train to Athens” rates as a classic satiric rocker. Pretty good.

Newtown Neurotics Suzi 12″

The NEWTOWN NEUROTICS again display their complete command of the ’77-style punk style with these three highly melodic up-tempo bursts. “Suzi” qualifies as a finely honed bit of pop-punk in the best English tradition, and the two songs on the flip are almost up to the same standard. Is this band capable of putting out a bad record? No.

Disrupters Playing With Fire LP

The DISRUPTERS continue their treatment of fascinating lyric themes with their second LP, but the music is considerably less impressive. The plodding tempos and sluggish guitarwork impart a certain lethargy to the song structures, which mine a basic Brit-punk influence. “Surfshock” qualifies as a pleasantly abrasive, mid-tempo rocker.

Cult Maniax The Amazing Adventures of Johnny the Duck and the Bath Time Blues 12″

The title track of this five-track EP is a sedate dose of riffy funnypunk, but the only song here that shows any life is the fast rocker “Maniax.” While the compositions on this 12” delve into a Brit-punk style of a less-than-generic sort, I found myself pining for the CULT MANIAX of a long time ago. Tiresome.

Ugly Americans The Dream Turns Sour LP

This album contains a fair amount of monochromatic thrash on side one, but several tunes of the flip show that the UGLY AMERICANS have an unexpected versatility; I really enjoyed “The Bad, the Worse…” and especially “Bob’s Beach,” with its surfy overtones. The lyrics are always incisive and hard-hitting, so even though this LP is musically a mixed bag, I can recommend it without too much difficulty.

Kraut Whetting the Scythe 12″

While this mini-LP boasts considerably more production finesse than past efforts, the songs by and large didn’t grab me. KRAUT use metal and punk power-chord figures with skill and taste—yet, it’s difficult to pick out a single memorable track here, or anything even remotely along the lines of past greats like “Bogus” or “Kill for Cash.” Disappointing.

Ism Constantinople 12″

Always turning out interesting slabs, this four-song job contains two originals and two covers (RESIDENTS and FUGS). All are creative, with a variety of sounds ranging from crypto to country blues to folk bizarro. Only “Get Real Loose” is a real rocker, but even it isn’t in their previous sometimes-thrash mold.

Richard Hell R.I.P. cassette

This fascinating document covers the career of RICHARD HELL from his early work with the HEARTBREAKERS in 1975 through various incarnations of the VOIDOIDS. Mostly studio material with a smattering of live recordings, there’s some first rate stuff here, much of it previously unreleased. Fans of RICHARD HELL and seminal US punk would be well-advised to get this one.

Black Flag Family Man LP

Side one of this rather strange release contains a brace of spoken word recordings by BLACK FLAG, only one of which is graced by an instrumental backdrop, and most of which are OK as novelties. Side two has four metal-punk instrumentals, none of which are even passable. You have to be a pretty desperate BLACK FLAG fan to want to buy this LP.

Baby Opaque Pain, Fears, and Insects EP

BABY OPAQUE kicks up a dust-cloud of guitar and drums in a style that reminds me somewhat of mid-period UK DECAY, but with an added dimension of accessibility. The five songs here, which address themes of alienation, contain twisted guitar riffing, though my favorite is the spare pop number “Blue Crimson.” Quite out of the ordinary.

Asbestos Rockpyle Dying of Cancer cassette

The stark, discordant post-punk on this cassette LP epitomizes the rebellious, satiric, and occasionally infuriating music of ASBESTOS ROCKPYLE. The compositions utilize slower tempos with mixed results; but when the vitriolic lyrics and music conjoin (as on “DC Deadcore”) the results are close to magic. Unusual.

Articles of Faith Give Thanks LP

Although their compositions are longer than those of most contemporary thrash outfits, ARTICLES OF FAITH employ a fine sense of drama to create extraordinary tension within their songs. A screaming guitar sound, impassioned vocals, and their sheer velocity make for some great moments of noise and music, particularly on the pile-driver “American Dreams.” Of course, this is mandatory.

The Yard Apes Neurosis / Ghost Town 7″

The YARD APES demonstrate an arty, no wavish influence on these tracks, with varying effects. “Neurosis” mines a funky-rock approach without much success, though the flip’s poppy offering qualifies as a modest foot-tapper. OK, but no big deal.

Funhouse Conspicuous Consumption / Retaliation 7″

FUNHOUSE specializes in mid-speed rock compositions with lead solos and angry lyric concerns. “Retaliation” has a tense, riff-laden approach that makes for powerful music, but rumor has it that these guys are now much better than these early 1983 recordings indicate. A promising band.

Jackshit Hicktown EP

These goofballs from Reno cut loose with some hysterical thrashers on this six-song EP. “We Still Like Drugs” has loads of amphetamine thrills, though “ET Go Home” arguably rates as the funniest song of the bunch. My recommendation: go out and snap up this record and join the yuk-fest!

The Raped Philes ‘n’ Smiles LP

England’s glam-punkers, the RAPED, finally release an album—and it’s out five years after they wimped out and became CUDDLY TOYS. This one has a side of pile-driving ’77 punk anthems, concentrating on kinky sexual themes, and another side of fair quality live recordings taped at the Vortex in late ’77. Mandatory for aficionados of vintage UK punk.

Lip Cream Night Rider More Than Fight EP

The pounding, abrasive punk on this Japanese five-track EP seems rather fuzzy and ill-defined—which may be a mutual function of uneventful songwriting and lackluster production. The title track is fairly strong, but this is a severely uneven follow-up to their creditable debut.

Existenz Let’s Get Drunk Before It’s Too Late 12″

While there are no innovations in the basic thrash formula here, EXISTENZ employs good energy and production quality to fuel this ten-tracker well above the level of their debut EP. This outfit follows in the VARUKERS mold, albeit with echoey vocals and less intensity; nevertheless, “Fight For Freedom” qualifies as a classic pile-driver in the best Swedish tradition.

Freedom Last Revolution EP

A fine puzzle record in the grand tradition of MORNINGTON CRESCENT, which can be played at 33 or 45 with equal ease. The lyrics are ultra-gruff, like fellow Japanese GISM, but the instrumental backdrop has elements of both metal punk and mid-tempo rock, with prominent lead breaks. “Shit Babies” is appealing, but the EP’s title cut is more memorable, with its classic vocal choruses. Good record!

Cobra 1984 EP

COBRA sounds something like a Japanese version of the TOY DOLLS, with their high-pitched vocals and studied pop-punk trappings. “Real Now” is a delicious burst of power-chord pop, but in fact the whole EP demonstrates fine songwriting abilities. Atypical punk for Japan, but strongly recommended.

Major Accident Tortured Tunes LP

I’ve only occasionally enjoyed the British pop-punk of MAJOR ACCIDENT in the past, but this rather bootleggy sounding live LP sacrifices the primary merits of past recordings—production quality and layered instrumentation. Only for diehard fans of this outfit.

V/A Big City Don’t Want No Pity EP

This third Big City compilation EP features solid, aggressive material by ULTRAVIOLENCE, ARMED CITIZENS, UNJUST, and in particular, NO CONTROL, who delivers a gripping mid-tempo blast reminiscent of the AVENGERS live. Some rowdy, biting material here (although some has been previously released, and all are slightly dated)—so give it a listen!

The Vandals When In Rome Do As the Vandals LP

This spirited release contains loads of wildly satiric funnypunk, with dabblings into C&W, funky rock, and similar musical madness. A lyric sheet is desperately needed to enjoy this album (none is provided), but a few songs, like the hysterical “Mohawk Town,” provoke laughter without such assistance. In the same general mood as their debut 12”, and therefore recommendable.

Sis Q Lint Wally Wally / The Very Last Record From Gold Star 7″

“Wally Wally” satirizes the arch-conservative Wally George TV show with a disciplined power-chord attack, some studio gimmicks, and self-consciously funny lyrics. The flip is a spoken word/tape dub track. I admired the spirit of this 45 more than I really enjoyed it.

Rhythm Pigs An American Activity EP

RHYTHM PIGS play good “meat and potatoes” thrash with surprisingly effective vocal harmonies and musical changes of pace. Most of the songs here manage to break the typical thrash mold without sacrificing a whit of power in the process. Check this one out!

The Replacements Let It Be LP

This varied album contains quite a few lilting acoustic tracks, some straightahead rockers, a bit of metal, and some really inspired lyrics. “We’re Coming Out” and “Favorite Thing” are exciting enough, but the remainder of this release lapses into lackluster, uninvolving pop. Severely inconsistent.

Kremlin Korps Moscow’s Revenge EP

Superficially not unlike SIN 34, KREMLIN KORPS opt for a more churning guitar sound and longer songs that emphasize personal politics. The compositions are OK, but not exceptional; the things which really make this four-tracker work are the rich instrumentals and sneering, satiric vocals. Interesting.

Junior Achievement Fade to Black LP

Powerful production and an incisive guitar sound conspire to make this debut album by JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT both dramatic and exciting. None of the songs in particular stand out from the rest, but the ten mid-to-fast-speed HC tunes here boast clever arranging touches that add good measures of texture and vitality to the proceedings. A solid LP—with some exotic lyric themes.

No Trend Teen Love 12″

NO TREND’s debut EP was a grungy blend of demented lyrics and near-insane instrumentals—in other words, a classic. This 12” contains those tracks remixed to sound a bit cleaner, plus two additional songs. Of the newer stuff, “Die” in particular rates for its chilling vocals; of their older material, “Mass Sterilization” still maintains its dynamicism. Great record.

Ed Gein’s Car Brain Dead Baby EP

Excellent, powerful ’77-style punk in a MISFITS/UNDEAD vein. The title track is instantly memorable for its sickoid lyrics and preeminently catchy instrumentals, but the other two songs here keep up the standard just as well. My opinion: get this EP as soon as humanly possible.

Certain Death Life Is a Bitch…Then You Die cassette

These guys have a knack for extremely clever punk arrangements, and demonstrate a good hand for satiric lyrics, as well. I only wish the ultra-boring guitar solos had been excised from these boisterous and intelligent mid-to-fast-tempo punk tunes. “Spontaneous Human Combustion” is a pop-punk near-classic.

Angst Love Dissolves cassette

Elements of ’77 punk, hard pop, and even C&W surface on this pleasantly upbeat five-track effort. Instrumental expertise and good songwriting about on this tape, though my favorite composition is the pop-punky “It’s All a Lie” because of its tasty guitar riffing. Very entertaining.

Malefice Overboard EP

MALEFICE’s highly distinctive musical approach incorporates elements of thrash and hard rock into a near-psychotic performing style. Of the three songs on this EP, the title track rips with an unbridled instrumental fury reminiscent of the NEOS, while the other compositions boast somewhat less passion. This is good.

Corpsicles R U 1 2 LP

While sporadically exciting, the CORPSICLES fail to live up to the promise of their fine debut 45 with this album. The instrumental sound on these biting punk numbers is sharp and abrasive, but the melodies follow the guitar chordings too much, making for lackluster songwriting. The thrasher, “Scene,” is a good example of their more accomplished material.

Unwanted Shattered Silence LP

Metal riffs and infuriating lead guitar breaks mar this somewhat nondescript album of heavy metal-punk from Winnipeg’s UNWANTED. There’s good energy and responsible lyric content on this one, but the uninspired music leaves me cold. The numbers “Party Degs” and the LP’s title track are adequate, but hardly appealing. Too bad.

Crash Box …Vivi! EP

Easily up to the standards of their fine cassette, this debut EP by Milan’s CRASH BOX contains some good examples of their piledriving thrash approach. “La Trappola” and the gut-wrenching “Morire Cosi” boast snarling vocals and a gutsy guitar attack, though some of the other songs here are more workmanlike.

Asexuals New World EP

While solid all around, the ASEXUALS don’t write songs with overwhelming catchiness, either. “Wake Up” is a pleasant pop-punk amalgam with tasty guitar riffing, but the other three songs go at it with fairly quick tempos and a bit too much echo on the vocals. Decent, yet unspectacular.

V/A Daffodils To The Daffodils Here’s The Daffodils LP

The latest Pax compilation contains mostly unreleased material, and some killer tracks by the likes of the MAU MAUS, DESTRUCKTIONS, ONSLAUGHT, and the post-punkers LEITMOTIV. 20 songs, most of them good to excellent, and yet another thought-provoking editorial by Marcus Featherby on the back cover.

Subhumans Rats EP

The textured, and often virtuosic musical trappings of the SUBHUMANS augment four compositions not quite up to this band’s ultra-high standards. “Labels” is an energetic dose of British thrash, and the EP’s title track contains some bracing changes of pace—all with the great SUBHUMANS lyrics.

Paranoia Dead Man’s Dreams / Man in Black 7″

While “Dead Man’s Dreams” mines a lackluster SIOUXSIE influence, the flip delights as a bouncy mid-tempo burst of catchy post-punk; it’s also very finely produced and executed. On this single, PARANOIA continues to explore some unusual and interesting musical directions. Pretty good!

Omega Tribe It’s a Hard Life / Young John 7″

OMEGA TRIBE relates lyric concerns of alienation and discontent into a strictly MOR/New Wave format, making this formerly vital outfit seem something like the STYLE COUNCIL. “Young John” has a moddish pop appeal, but the disturbing addition of a synth and wind section make this release greatly disappointing on a musical level.

Faction You’ve Got the Fire EP

FACTION reminds me of a cross between early vintage SIOUXSIE and the A-HEADS, and the themes here address issues of personal politics. “Turn Away” contains a pleasantly pop-punk ambience, though none of the songs cover any new ground with much authority or power. A fair, basic release.

Aus 98 Alles Fällt / Schwarze Raben 7″

This unusual single by AUS 98 has a certain propensity for repetitiveness, but despite a tiresome dirge-like flip, “Alles Fällt” rips with a chilling guitar attack and some fine gravelly vocals. The extended song structures here provide an interesting change from the typical thrash formula. Pretty good.

V/A Flipside Vinyl Fanzine, Vol. 1 LP

There’s some first-rate American hardcore on this compilation, easily enough to compensate for an occasional so-so track. The FREEZE, BLACK MARKET BABY, KRAUT, GOVERNMENT ISSUE, and F.O.D. come across with some intense tracks, though my favorite may be the great live version of the DICKIES’ “Gigantor” that opens the album. I hope Volume Two of the series is as good.

Little Gentlemen Another Wasted Day LP

Despite some truly intelligent lyrics and an admirable sense of rebelliousness, the LITTLE GENTLEMEN hit and miss on this release. Some slower punkish numbers, an occasional rock track, and even a few thrashers fill out this package, though the band doesn’t seem to have much of a knack for tasty melodies or ripping guitar riffs. “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hid” is an exceptionally powerful anthemic rocker in the ’77 tradition, and my favorite song on the album.

The Neighborhoods Fire is Coming 12″

The NEIGHBORHOODS were one of the most promising late ’70s power-pop outfits, and this record would be great if the recording had more power. “Fire Is Coming” and their aggressive cover of “If I Had a Hammer” have a PURPLE HEARTS-style energy about them, but much of the other material on this disc seems more commercially minded, and therefore sacrifices its potential. Still, it’s an interesting find for rabid popsters.

The Fuzztones Bad News Travels Fast / Brand New Man 7″

The FUZZTONES dig their claws into some mean neo-’60s punk with this single. “Bad News Travels Fast” delivers its good with nasty guitar riffs and Rudi Protrudi’s “lead snarl,” though the screaming lead break on the B-side turns out to be the musical high-point of the record. Primitive, raw, and raunchy.

Meat Joy Meat Joy LP

MEAT JOY viciously slices away at a variety of pop and rock genres on this curious and extremely uneven album. “Proud to Be Stupid” mercilessly chops apart punk nihilism with its dirgy hardcore attack, while “My Heart Crawls Off” pummels the BANGLES’ cutesy pop into submission once and for all. Too bad there’s also a large proportion of experimental and post-punk rot on here. It’s your money.

Stukas Over Bedrock Life Like Yogi EP

This debut EP from LA’s STUKAS OVER BEDROCK contains a legitimate mid-tempo funnypunk classic whose lyrics extol the virtues of Yogi Bear as a youth role model; the two songs on the flip also exhibit real satiric charm and solid tunes. This should hold you over until the next DICKIES release.

Toxic Reasons God Bless America EP

The TOXIC REASONS’ latest EP features some scathing commentaries on contemporary American life, though the songs don’t quite rate with their best material. “Can’t Get Away” is a bracing shock of ’77-style punk, while the two other tracks invade D.O.A.’s territory of pile-driving political rock. Timely and heartfelt.

Vipers Never Alone / Left Your Hold on Me 7″

Neo-’60s psychedelia has a good outing with this release from New York’s VIPERS. “Never Alone” rates as a winning amalgam of cheesy organ, mildly snot-nosed vocals, and distinctive songwriting that should leave you singing the melody, whereas the flip seems somewhat less catchy. Still, a respectable and entertaining record.

Quel Dommage Bright Lights EP

QUEL DOMMAGE specializes in spare, slow post-punk with the typical complement of chorused guitars, arty lyrics, and utterly uninventive songwriting. Their sound recalls minimal pop outfits like the early CURE, but with none of the latter band’s clever stylings. Boring.

STD Another Dead Asshole EP

This Knoxville hardcore outfit gyrates dizzyingly between forceful thrash and basic heavy metal punk, lead breaks and all. What redeems this uneven debut are the highly satiric lyrics on songs like “Skateboards Suck” and the ultra-vicious “Businessman’s Lunch.” My favorite cut is the demolished version of JOHNNY CASH’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Stranglehold Same All Over / She’s Not Leaving 7″

More melodic punk from Boston’s STRANGLEHOLD, yet with considerably more production bite than on their fine debut 12”. “Same All Over” features the band’s trademark guitar riffing to bolster a rowdy, engaging pop-punk composition, while the flipside recalls mid-period STIFF LITTLE FINGERS with its gravelly vocals and varied instrumental flavorings. My advice—get it!

Mod Fun I Am with You / Happy Feelings 7″

’60s pop with distinct hard rock trappings. MOD FUN’s general tone of aggression has to be admired, but neither of the songs on this 45 are raunchy or catchy enough to sustain much interest. “Happy Feelings,” the better of the two, offers pleasant background vocals, some jangly guitars, and not much else.

Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime 2xLP

The MINUTEMEN have packed 45 of their minimal, funk-punky songs onto this very satisfying twin album. Most of the compositions here rate from fair to very good, and utilize some combination of melody, guitar riff, or interesting lyric twist to sustain the listener’s interest. The seven or eight really excellent numbers live up to the MINUTEMEN’s best standards—”Corona” and “My Heart and the Real World” have superb melodies, while cuts like “Nothing Indeed” employ the typical MINUTEMEN formulae very well.

Legendary Stardust Cowboy Rock-It to Stardom

Try as they will, the modern cowpunk bands can’t begin to approach the psychotic C&W on this disc. The LEGENDARY STARDUST COWBOY specializes in a music that sounds like a cross between HANK WILLIAMS and the late-period MEAT PUPPETS on a “drug train”; if you think you might like that kind of stuff, songs like “Paralyzed-’80” and “Radar” should tickle your funnybone and send your feet a’dancin’. This is the real thing.

Kie-13 Music for Zeros EP

A fairly uninventive, unappealing seven-song EP from Switzerland’s KIE-13. “Anarchie in CH” has some pleasantly diverting guitar progressions, but the medium-speed songs on this disc plod along without any discernible passion or excitement. Rather monochromatic and tiresome.

Svart Framtid 1984 EP

This six-track EP from Norway’s SVART FRAMTID features finely arranged thrash with some trademark staccato guitar figures and lyrics touching on the basic anti-religious, anti-war themes. The highly textured sound contributes to making just about all of the songs pretty remarkable, so get it!

Channel 3 Airborne 12″

This ultra-produced effort by CH3 is very disappointing in comparison to their past output. All four tracks are unfortunately oriented to the college and commercial new wave radio markets, with their rich instrumental sonorities, acoustic breaks, and studied poppishness. In that context, songs like “I Wanna Know Why” beat the hell out of the competition, but it’s definitely a step down. Beware!

Appendix Top of the Pops LP

APPENDIX’s new album seems to slip into that morass of genericness that many of today’s Finnish bands find themselves mired in. Occasional swipes of driving, well-written thrash (“A Man,” “I’m Scared,” and “An Ass Licker”) largely fail to enliven an LP that suffers from lackluster songwriting and a guitar sound bereft of real bite.

Zynthslakt / N.O.S. Och Hör Sen!! split EP

N.O.S. have two fairly unappealing cuts in a slower, brooding vein with some rich and bass-y guitar accompaniment. ZYNTHSLAKT, however, write powerful mid-tempo tunes with some deft touches in the arranging department, as on the excellent “Paga,” with its nifty two-channel alternating vocals. In fact, that one cut makes this Swedish EP well worth buying.

Action Pact Yet Another Dole Queue Song / Rockaway Beach 7″

As far as ACTION PACT’s output goes, “Yet Another Dole Queue Song” combines fair pop-punk stylings with solid production to achieve a hummable, though unremarkable, end result. Their cover of the RAMONES’ classic, on the other hand, is so dreadful as to provoke laughter. Uneventful.

The Bristles Boys Will Be Boys EP

While hardly up to the standard of their fine debut EP, these four skunk-style anthems definitely grow on you. The standout here may be “1984 Reality Today,” with its pop-reggae to punk change of pace, but the thrashing title track also packs a real wallop.

Arabens Anus Blommor & Bajonetter EP

Instead of garden-variety Swedish thrash, ARABENS ANUS opts for medium and fast tempos to augment compositions with minor key progressions, and even an occasional intrusion of synth. The result is different and quite good. “Himmel och Jord” and “Hjälter går Först” manage to intrigue and excite simultaneously, much as their countrymen ZYNTHSLAKT do. Recommended!

The Ejected Spirit of Rebellion LP

The EJECTED’s second album musters up loads of melodic pop-punk in a surprising array of styles, from chunky and fast punk to a few touches of reggae-flavored pop. “Stop, Look, and Listen” is a lilting, effective bit of UB40-ish reggae, but a brace of brisk rockers with catchy choruses make this record click. Despite a few dull slow numbers, this is basically solid Britpunk.

Nebenwirkung Gewalt EP

A garagy energy infuses the boisterous thrash on this six-song EP from NEBENWIRKUNG. The very short compositions here unfortunately have the vocals too far up front, but kinetic rockers like “Gewalt” and “Total Voll” triumph over the primitive mix with a guitar/vocal combination that really rips. Check this one out.

Stretch Marks What D’Ya See? LP

While some of the ferocity and offbeat humor of their debut EP is absent here, Winnipeg’s STRETCH MARKS still manage to come out with a creditable album. Breakneck thrashers like “Turnbuckle Stomp” and the title track are the standouts among these thirteen mid- to fast-speed punkers, though the cover of CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL’s “Bad Moon [Rising]” also lives up to all expectations. A good basic record, aside from my perennial gripe about BYO’s sedate production.

The Varukers Another Religion, Another War 12″

Nothing but intense, powerful British thrash can be found on this excellent eight-track EP. The VARUKERS mine that middle-peroid DISCHARGE sound and do an even better job of it, especially in vitriolic streamrollers like “The Last War,” “Deadly Games,” and the superb “Seek Shelter in Hell.” The best vinyl yet from this consistent band.

KUKL The Eye LP

This fascinating release presents inventive, discordant post-punk with poetic lyrics. While some of the songs have a lilting, unmelodic approach that goes nowhere, “Dismembered” is a chilling aural composition, as are the instrumentals that finish both sides of the album. Not for the closed-minded, for there is some really beautiful music here.

Cult Maniax Full of Spunk EP

This three-track EP of mid-tempo British punk delivers little in the way of excitement or clever songwriting. “Psycho Rocker” has some diverting power-chord progressions, but the other compositions are strictly routine stuff. The lyrics, too, are pretty lightweight, as they primarily satirize old youth fads.

Broken Bones Dem Bones LP

BROKEN BONES manages the British metal-punk sound more effectively than most of their peers, but many of these compositions blend into one another, much like recent GBH material. “Big Hard Man,” “Terrorist Attack,” and the humorous “Dem Bones” qualify as solid hardcore, yet the repetitious song structures and guitar solos detract from this record’s overall charm.

V/A Rat Music for Rat People, Vol. 2 LP

Somewhat better than volume 1 of this series, this compilation contains material by the DICKS, the BIG BOYS, JFA, DRI, and MDC, along with a few others. The MINUTEMEN have a winner with “Fake Contest,” but DRI’s “Madman” and the MDC tracks rate as the highlights on this varied sampler. Inconsistent but still worthwhile.

Mental Decay Run and Hide EP

MENTAL DECAY specializes in a raucous, somewhat raunchy hardcore attack reminiscent of A.O.D. and BEDLAM. The themes here are alternately humorous and rebellious, but I found clever numbers like “You Suck” and the near-classic “Love Story” the highlights of this entertaining disc. Fans of aggressive, stop-and-go thrash should snap this one up pronto.

Government Issue Joy Ride LP

This album witnesses an evolution in G.I.’s style from thrash to a decided “rock ’n’ roll” approach, and is not the band’s best moment. Their hilarious cover of “These Boots Were Made for Walking” aside, the songs here are largely un-catchy and lacking in punch. The lyrics provide intelligent commentary on social/political issues, but I’m still disappointed.

God’s Will Hey! You’re on My Property Now, Son EP

The eleven tracks on this EP plow into a maniacal thrash attack with frequent metal lead breaks. The lyrics are remarkably funny, but the song structures aren’t as memorable as they should be. “Rock Jam” and “Zombies” are solid rockers, though I feel that GOD’S WILL can more effectively develop musical distinctiveness in the future. Pretty good.

Chronic Disorder Fred EP

Perhaps not as continuously energetic as their fabulous debut EP, but CHRONIC DISORDER still manages to connect with some impassioned thrashers like “Eileen’s” and “I See Red.” My favorite, however, is a whacked-out send-up of JOY DIVISION’s “Isolation” (“Point/Counterpoint”), that shows this band to be quite versatile indeed.

Riistetyt Nightmares in Darkness LP

Another Rock-O-Rama bonus album with a side each of studio and live compositions. All of the studio material (some of which was previously released on their last Finnish 12”) exudes that trebly thrash feel that one associates with CHAOS UK, and special mention should be made of acidic rockers like “Brainless Violence” and “Skitzophrenia.” The live side varies in quality, with occasional vocal drop-outs, but it’s still entertaining. A fine release.

Peter and the Test Tube Babies / The Fits Pressed for Ca$h split 12″

The PETER & THE TEST TUBE BABIES track, remixed from their second album, boasts some great production values and inventive guitar figures, but still seems a bit uninspired. On the other hand, I found the FITS tracks at least moderately appealing, with its catchy guitar riffing and melodies. Nothing special, though by no means offensive.

Combat 84 Send in the Marines LP

One side of studio and another of live cuts can be found on this typical-sounding British Oi release. Some of the studio material has previously appeared on 7” EPs, but aside from the intriguing “Violence,” most of their medium-speed compositions leave a lot to be desired. The live side is particularly poor, and the lyrics on a number of cuts are backward. Buy at your own risk.

The Partisans Time Was Right LP

I’ve always been partial to the unique punk stylings of the PARTISANS, and their latest album, which contains one side of studio and one of live tracks, is quite strong. Most of the studio material has a richly arranged, dense rock ’n’ roll flavor, but with an abrasive hardcore edge. Their new version of “I Never Needed You” is much more raw and powerful, and the meaty, mid-tempo pop-punk title track is surely the best. The live songs are also excellently recorded.

Attila the Stockbroker Sawdust and Empire LP

Astonishingly original. ATTILA’s latest album adapts Renaissance instrumentation to clever, satiric views of contemporary British life. At times, the amalgam seems tiresome, but some novel tracks—the slow, moving title song, the somewhat thrashier “Dies Irae,” with its exciting mandolin work, and he hilarious “Boadicea Über Alles”—make the record interesting enough to appeal to those with broader taste.

MDC Chicken Squawk EP

MDC deliver a funnypunk classic in “Chicken Squawk,” an uproarious C&W thrash tune which belies a more serious argument for vegetarianism—it even has banjo lead breaks! On the flip, “Kleptomaniac” rates as a strong, catchy thrasher, although “Death of a Nun” suffers from lackluster performance and production values. A mandatory EP, however, and the foldout sleeve is extremely interesting and informative.

Saccharine Trust Surviving You, Always LP

SACCHARINE TRUST’s new album has an artistic approach that reminds many of the MINUTEMEN, although they seem even more demented and experimental. It exhibits a marked unevenness from cut to cut—the faster rockers (like “The Giver Takes” and the wonderfully scratchy “Craving the Center”) add a level of accessibility to the proceedings, but a number of the slower, artier pieces (such as “The Cat Cracker” and “Our Discovery”) don’t take long to become tedious.

Stalag 13 In Control 12″

STALAG 13 demonstrates a sleek, clean thrash attack with occasional metallic lead breaks which remind me of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, and their songs deal thematically with teenage identity and rebellion. “Black Stix/Silver Badge” is a chilling thrash number, and the unexpected changes of pace in “The Choice Is Yours” make for solid, inventive hardcore. Recommended.

Anti God Can’t Bounce LP

This selection of material, recorded between 1982 and ’83, both reveals ANTI’s strong points and suggests areas for improvement. The upbeat compositions (like “We Will Die”) and the short thrashers seem to burst with energy, while others (like “Media Scam” and “Backfire Bomber”) seem lethargic and just sort of sit there. A decent, though inconsistent release.

Resistance 77 Vive Le Resistance LP

As their name suggests, RESISTANCE 77 utilize a “classic” punk approach, one that’s rich with strong melodies, irresistible background choruses, and an aggressive guitar sound. “Will They Survive?” and “Advance Factory Units” are the most intriguing of the four tracks here and, although the lyrics aren’t as inspired as one might hope, aficionados of good ’77 punk will fond something to their liking. Very fine.

Red Beret First Impression LP

The energy and hard guitar sound here approximate the spirit of mid- to fast-tempo punk quite admirably, but there’s very little memorable material on this varied release. Despite the frenzy of “No Time for Losers” and a very solid rendition of the MONKEES’ “I’m a Believer,” I remain unimpressed.

Wretched Finira’ Mai? EP

Still another thunderous, exciting EP from Italy’s WRETCHED. The compositions on this record are somewhat longer than on their previous efforts, but the messy, explosive thrash sound remains highly effective, especially on steamrollers like “Mai Arrendersi” and the title track. No question about it, here’s another winner. Bravo!

Der Durstige Mann Saufen Ohne Ende 12″

Excuse my German, but the six ditties on this release sound like light-hearted, goofy funnypunk in the best tradition of ERIC HYSTERIC and friends. While an inability to understand the lyrics hurts one’s capacity to enjoy this record fully, DER DURSTIGE MANN still manages to produce some fairly catchy mid-tempo punk—especially “Kronprinz Rudolfs Letzte Liebe” and the title cut—with somewhat overloud vocals. Pleasant enough.

Blut+Eisen Schrei Doch! LP

This powerful album features an energetic, thrashy sound aided by killer production and some truly inventive compositions. Songs like “Lange Cesichter” and the superbly arranged “Dein Leben” add variety to a solid collection of tracks that contain some excellent guitar work. A consistent, strongly recommended record.

JFA JFA LP

Perhaps not as consistently appealing as their debut EP and album, this new release from JFA takes a few more musical chances, with tracks ranging from punk and surf to weird psychedelia. Two instrumentals (“Tentpeg” and the rollicking surf tune “Pipetruck”) are the songs with the most melodic interest here, but the old JFA wit resurfaces more convincingly in “I Love Broads.” Although mixed in terms of quality, this LP just might be worth a gamble.

V/A Mystic Sampler #1 LP

A highly varied selection of tunes, all from records already or soon-to-be released. Ultra-demented tracks by the likes of VOX POP and the MENTORS may not appeal to everyone’s tastes, but I was delighted by the compositions from the MINUTEMEN, SIN 34, and the hysterical reworking of “I Am Woman” by ACIDHEAD. Enjoyable, by and large.

Serious Drinking Country Girl Became Drugs and Sex Punk / Go for the Burn 7″

Although quite poppish, SERIOUS DRINKING may have their finest moment on vinyl with “Country Girl Becomes Sex and Drugs Punk,” a hilarious novelty track with humorous lyrics and pre-eminently catchy instrumentals to boot. The B-side recalls SERIOUS DRINKING in their more rowdy, inebriated state, although the song isn’t as memorable. An enjoyable, upbeat record.

Leitmotiv Silent Run / (Living In A) Tin 7″

LEITMOTIV seems more influenced by contemporary British pop than punk, but they’re excellent at what they do. “(Living in a) Tin” utilizes an intense drumming attack with a tasteful, spare use of guitar and synthesizer, while the B-side offers less kinetic energy. Infinitely better than the work of most of their peers.

Love Circus Showbiz 12″

LOVE CIRCUS makes more raw psychedelic noise on their first 12” effort, yet they generate neither notable songwriting nor a pervading sense of atmosphere. Even though “Live Forever” contains some pleasantly brooding instrumental touches, they’re usually more annoying than inspiring.

Hüsker Dü Eight Miles High / Masochism World 7″

HÜSKER DÜ’s version of the BYRDS’ psychedelic classic is an impassioned, screaming track which combines their live fury with a certain studio sophistication; the flip is an intense live version of “Masochism World” that loses a bit of its spunk due to rather bootleggy production values. Yet another iconoclastic release from the HÜSKERS.

Nighters Drop Down Dead EP

The NIGHTERS are one of the first Italian outfits to capture that irresistable ’77 punk style, and translate it into convincing ’80s hardcore. “Live It Anyway” boasts powerful guitar riffing and a hummable melody, but “Nightrise/Take a Look” is the winner here, with its especially energetic guitar work. Very stylish and entertaining.

Nabat Laida Bologna EP

NABAT’s second EP contains a bevy of aggressive Oi onslaughts with those delightful soccer choruses you can almost sing along with. The amazingly raw guitar sound and distinctive material found on their debut 7” is somewhat lacking this time around, but I still enjoyed this record, especially the catchy “Potere nelle strade.”

Basta Non Posso Sopportare Questa Sporca Situazione EP

BASTA have captured a rich, bassy instrumental sound on this debut EP, which features some solid mid-tempo Oi anthems. Of the compositions here, “Nessum pudore” and the tasty “Caos” exploit the raw guitar assault and gravelly Italian vocals to good result. Recommended.

V/A Who? What? Why? When? Where? LP

This compilation of anarchist and “human rights” punk bands from the UK is a strong, varied, and provocative selection, one that should be of major interest to hardcore aficionados. It’s somewhat uneven, as are most samplers, but the brilliant track by CONFLICT stands out, and is almost matched by those of some surprising new groups.

Ligotage Crime and Passion 12″

Beki Bondage, formerly of VICE SQUAD, has a decent outing with this new EP. “Crime and Passion” is a confounding yet effective mixture of pop, metal, and ’77-style punk, but still nowhere as good as early (or even recent) VICE SQUAD. The two songs on the flip unfortunately swerve toward genericness with that same combination of influences. Merely adequate.

Icons of Filth Onward Christian Soldiers LP

While the ICONS aren’t as consistently dynamic as some of their peers, their debut album shows that, at their peak, they can thrash with the best of them. Incisive lyrics, mostly emphasizing the need for individual responsibility and autonomy, work particularly well on steamrollers like “Power for Power” and “Sod the Children,” and the cover art is equally impressive. Intelligent and politically astute, if a trifle inconsistent musically.

Flux of Pink Indians The Fucking Cunts Treat Us Like Pricks 2xLP

On this bizarre and surprising double album, FLUX alternates between strangely mixed, highly inflammatory hardcore attacks and bursts of industrial noise. Most of the material here is rather unpleasant listening, though the vitriolic lyrics and some of the studio effects are remarkably compelling. I’m not sure whether I like it or not, but it’s certainly challenging.

V/A This Is Phoenix, Not the Circle Jerks LP

An OK compilation of Phoenix rock and hardcore bands that features one side of studio and another of live tracks. MIGHTY SPHINCTER has a twisted psycho-punk style that I found quite interesting, but several of the songs by CONFLICT and SOILENT GREENE (especially the latter’s “Pledge”) provide most of the energy and excitement. An uneven, interesting release.

Red Scare Then There Were None LP

This varied effort from L.A.’s RED SCARE is reminiscent of U.X.A.’s early style, but with a considerably more metallic approach that I found somewhat annoying. Nevertheless, “Last Request” and the chilling, mid-tempo title track qualify as standouts here, in spite of the fact that many of the other songs don’t seem remarkably catchy. Fair.

Rebels and Infidels Corporate Picnic LP

REBELS AND INFIDELS provide some sharp, almost nihilistic satire to complement their mixed-tempo compositions, but it’s the thrashers that really stand out here. The pile-driving “Last Rites” and “American Citizen” (as well as their theme song) offer both excitement and food for thought, and the off-beat production emphasizes this band’s raw, “live” qualities. Solid and creditable.

Nip Drivers Destroy Whitey 12″

Despite some rather questionable lyric overtones, there’s no question that this 9-track EP by the NIP DRIVERS presents extremely catchy, high-velocity bursts of punk rock. “Dog and a Cow” and their theme song are especially strong thrash-style tunes, so if you like accessible hardcore with dumb/funny lyrics, you’ll find this release delightful.

Naked Raygun Flammable Solid EP

Another winner from NAKED RAYGUN. The three compositions on this EP mine poppier song structures, but don’t sacrifice a whit of abrasiveness when the situation calls for it. “Surf Combat”, with its inventive changes of pace, rates as the most notable song here, but the aggressive energy of “Gear” is also quite appealing. A highly original release.

Minutemen The Politics of Time LP

Although dodgy sound quality mars some of the tracks on the MINUTEMEN’s latest opus, this retrospective album offers a variety of unreleased studio and live compositions (including gems like “I Shook Hands” and “Base King”). Not all of the songs here exploit this band’s unique punk-funk stylings, but their fans will find interesting moments among these twenty-seven tracks.

Meat Puppets II LP

How strange! You’d expect this album to mirror the manic ultra-thrash which characterized their debut efforts, but it’s almost exclusively Country & Western. It’s pretty good, too. The rock’n’rolly charms of “Split Myself in Two” are contrasted with gentle, melodic numbers like “Climbing” and the swingin’ “Magic Toy Missing.” Is there a C&W revival going on that I don’t know about?

45 Grave Sleep in Safety LP

At their best, 45 GRAVE excel at creating distinctive amalgams of pop and horror rock, but their debut album seems altogether limp and lacking in power. Sadly, Dinah Cancer’s vocal renditions are rather lackluster, and the best tracks here (“Evil” and “45 Grave”) have been released in far better versions on previous records. The annoying intrusion of synthesizers only serves to hammer one more nail into the coffin of this disappointing LP. Too bad.

Hated Principles The Curse of Prince Hated EP

HATED PRINCIPLES’ song structures may not be as provocative as they really should on this five-song debut EP, but their lyric sentiments and engaging sense of humor add spunk to this effort. “Burn Those Churches” has a satiric outrage worth of GG ALLIN, as well as a welcome thrashy power, while the other compositions mine equally nasty concerns with less musical aplomb.

V/A Reality Parade cassette

This provocative tape contains material from a variety of political English punk bands. Although the sound quality varies (sometimes drastically) from cut to cut, the material by the XPOZEZ, the INFECTED, and SCREAM & THE FITS provide enough moments of interest to present an effective cross-section of British underground music.

Poison Girls Seven Year Scratch 2xLP

This two-album set rates as good value for those who enjoy the socially conscious and unusual pop stylings of the POISON GIRLS. Album 1 combines unreleased and classic P.G. material, some of it out of print for years, while the other disc contains live tracks from a number of vintage concerts. As a retrospective, Seven Year Scratch shows the POISON GIRLS’ original music-making off superbly, and I’m sure that fans of both punk and pop will find much of value in this document.

Broken Bones Decapitated EP

This scion from the DISCHARGE family tree performs highly metallic, fast-tempo hardcore with considerable abandon, and provides some moments of blistering intensity. Aside from the tasty bass guitar licks on “Problem,” however, the three songs on this EP owe a great deal more to strong production than distinctive songwriting. BROKEN BONES fail to innovate with this release.

Wanda’s The Ideal LP

This all-girl sextet from Holland combines an abrasive, post-punky quality with lyrics that address primarily personal concerns from a woman’s viewpoint. “Second Part” is a brisk, spirited rocker, but the rest of this album accommodates offbeat guitar figures that sacrifice a great deal of accessibility. Novel, though uninvolving.

Stigmathe Suoni Puri Dalla Liberta EP

This Italian punk outfit plays pre-eminently catchy mid-to-fast tempo stuff, and seems to have an exceptionally fine sense of orchestration. Production is a problem, though—the drums and vocals are up front in the mix, guitars in the back, which detracts from the level of power this record could have had. Nonetheless, the songwriting is excellent, particularly on the gripping “Corri e sopravivi.” A promising release.

SPK Auto-Da-Fé LP

This retrospective album by the current leaders of the industrial noise set features some remarkable material. Side one contains tracks from SPK’s out-of-print Australian singles, including classic cuts like “Kontakt” and “Mekano,” while the flip features studio material previously heard on their Live at the Crypt tape. Auto-Da-Fe has obvious moments of unevenness and even tedium, but the best compositions here possess astonishing rawness and power.

V/A Hell Comes to Your House Part II

A worthy successor to Volume 1. Eight groups contribute a total of fourteen diverse tracks on this compilation, ranging in style from straight-ahead rockers to power-pop and even Country & Western. While this album is a mite inconsistent from cut to cut, standout tracks by the JONESES, the MINUTEMEN, and the SCREAMIN’ SIRENS might make this eclectic, engaging record worth owning for some. I found its party mood delightful.

Red Alert There’s a Guitar Burning 12″

This six-track EP by a veteran skunk outfit fails to generate much in the way of interesting songwriting or forcefulness. While “The Revolution Will Come” rates moderately well for some tasty riffing and snippets of melody, the rest of the compositions here seem rather generic, and the lyrics are especially unchallenging. All in all, tiresome.

Hunting Lodge Night from Night / Untitled 7″

The rhythmic, discordant compositions on this single plumb the same nether-regions of industrial music as SPK, but with more insistent repetitiveness. Both tracks here follow in the same path as the band’s Will LP, and while there are no revelations, the music is solid and often quite hypnotic.

Final Conflict In the Family EP

This four-track effort presents thrash of screaming intensity and instrumental punch, addressing themes of teenage angst and rebellion. FINAL CONFLICT is particularly adept at compositions with dramatic yet subtle changes of pace, like the title song and the clever steamroller, “Self-Defeated.” Heartfelt, riveting, and therefore highly recommended.

The Dickies Stukas Over Disneyland 12″

The DICKIES’ first vinyl in almost four years ranks up there near their previous funnypunk triumphs. Most of the eight songs here veer toward amphetamine pop, with irresistible layered choruses to boot, but the highlights include the poppish “Rosemary,” “She’s a Hunchback,” and an incredibly fast cover of LED ZEP’s “Communication Breakdown.” Buoyant and entertaining as hell!

Bad Posture C/S 12″

The eight tracks on this release showcase BAD POSTURE’s hysterical brand of aggressive funnypunk to its best advantage. The title song and “Time for Smack” are good examples of this band’s abrasive, mid- to fast-tempo hardcore assault, and while I admire their on-target lyric sense, the song structures could use more catchiness and originality as a rule. Nonetheless, there are some nice, gravelly vocals on this entertaining disc, so give it a listen.

Violators Die With Dignity 12″

This six-track EP contains material primarily from past singles and compilations, but it nonetheless represents some of the highlights from this skunk outfit’s intriguing career. “Die With Dignity” and the classic “Gangland” epitomize the VIOLATORS’ highly dramatic, accessible style—so if you don’t have the original releases, you should find favor with this inventive release.

Impact Punk Christmas EP

IMPACT’s undistinctive brand of skunk lacks any discernible punch, and that absence of power hurts the title cut, an otherwise fast and engaging original with loads of X-mas cheer. Of the two songs on the flipside, “Law of the Land” musters some spunk and energy but, quite frankly, I expected more from this lackluster offering.

Hagar the Womb The Word of the Womb 12″

Musically, the six tracks on this intriguing EP are reminiscent of early KLEENEX, but the women in this band possess an encouraging independence of thought which other punk outfits should pay attention to. While hardcore fans will sure find favor with the rich guitar sound and some fascinating compositions, HAGAR THE WOMB could improve some of their melodies by deviating from the tonic of their chord progressions.

GBH City Baby’s Revenge LP

While the highly abrasive, metallic sound of this album has its own rebellious charm, most of the songs veer toward undistinctiveness, a problem traceable to the lack of musical changes of pace, and vocals which eventually become tiresome. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the stormier numbers like “Diplomatic Immunity” and especially “Rally of Death,” as well as some of the more inventive guitar figures on the mid-tempo cuts. Definitely a mixed bag.

The Ejected Press the Button EP

Although this EP lacks the clever humor of past efforts, the EJECTED have opted for a resonant, bassy guitar sound to infuse their extremely catchy punk compositions. Of the three tracks, “Russians” and “24 Years” contain especially melodic instrumentals, and although this isn’t terribly vitriolic, it makes up for its lack of emotion with finesse and good arranging. Good basic record.

Discharge The Price of Silence / Born to Die in the Gutter 7″

DISCHARGE’s patented wall-of-noise guitar sound seems inextricably entwined with severe heavy metal influences on this single, which admittedly has its moments of power. But those tasteless lead breaks, combined with utterly lame heavy metal vocals, help make these two medium speed offerings as disappointing as their recent 12” effort. Adequate lyrics, but they can’t save the show.

Dead Man’s Shadow Another Year / One Man’s Crusade 7″

This single won’t win any awards for power, but it’s still rather engaging in an inoffensive sort of way. The melodic “One Man’s Crusade” has evocative lyric concerns and catchy guitar progressions, but neither of the mid-tempo tracks here boast any of DEAD MAN’S SHADOW’s former abrasiveness or aggression. For fans of subdued pop-punk.

Antisect In Darkness, There Is No Choice LP

ANTISECT’s song structures ripple with hypnotic guitar riffing and a truly nasty instrumental sound, counter-pointed with lyrics that range from diatribe to poetry. What results is mesmerizing—radical and highly distinctive hardcore with an intensity that perfectly complements the album’s mood of outrage and horror. An exceptionally powerful release.

The Accursed Up With the Punks LP

This limited-edition album features punk music with a deliciously trebly guitar mix, some offbeat song structures, and a lot of musical variety. The mid- to thrash-tempo material here also boasts an engaging garage quality rare in British releases these days, and though I would have preferred more standout tunes, this LP still contains much of merit. Give it a listen.

Abrasive Wheels Banner of Hope / Law of the Jungle 7″

The anthemic “Banner of Hope,” with its fast guitar work and melodic background choruses, recalls a more rock ’n’ rolly “classical” punk style, while the flip tends toward a slower, rockabilly-tinged flavor. Neither track really ranks with steamrollers like “Burn ‘em Down,” but the material on this single is pleasant enough, I guess.

A-Heads Forgotten Hero EP

The three mid-tempo rockers on the A-HEADS second EP explore distinctly personal concerns related to love, disillusionment, and isolation—and with some success. “Love or Pain” features rich female vocals and catchy musical changes of pace, while the other tracks are more workmanlike. Nonetheless, it’s a punky, thought-provoking, and heart-felt disc, so I recommend it.

Offenders We Must Rebel LP

The spirited thrash attack on this album recalls the work of the very best Texas bands, and reveals lyric concerns which mine a blend of youthful outrage and rebellion. “Fight Back” and the LP’s title song rate as my favorites, but the entire record demonstrates remarkable consistency—a factor in no small part due to the wild, raucous production. An exciting and distinctive release.

Morbid Opera Jesus Loves You… So Give Us Your Money! EP

The eerie, discordant compositions on this EP call to mind girl-bands like the SLITS and the RAINCOATS, but MORBID OPERA have their own varied musical styles and distinctly American lyric concerns. Most of these six tracks are quirky and unusual, but “Liar” probably ranks as my favorite. The open-minded will undoubtedly find much of interest on this garage-y and original release.

Misfits Earth A.D. LP

In contrast to their former grandiose ’77-style punk, the MISFITS have adopted an all-out thrash sound on this intense nine-track album. Nevertheless, their traditional horror-rock trappings remain, resulting in a consistently powerful, dynamic, and politically neutral effort. And on that level, the compositions here are marvelously effective, embodying the blistering speed and thunderous production values which complement their occult themes.

The Freeze Land of the Lost LP

One of Boston’s most inventive and aware punk outfits, the FREEZE connect on this album with a clutch of viciously satiric youth anthems. Land of the Lost is chock-full of cleverly written melodic thrashers (all superbly produced), but “Megawaki Cult” and the hilarious “Food Lava” rate as my favorites due to their sheer kenetic abandon. Too hysterical and wild to be true!

Agent Orange When You Least Expect It… LP

AGENT ORANGE again clock in with that irresistible ’60s surf-rock sound on this new EP. Two engaging instrumentals spice up the package (“Out of Limits” and “Bite the Hand…”), but the real surprise here is a rockin’ rendition of the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE’s “Somebody to Love,” which AGENT ORANGE make uniquely their own. Solid, catchy, and fun.

Personality Crisis Creatures for Awhile LP

While PERSONALITY CRISIS’ style of hardcore exhibits a number of influences, the most notable is heavy metal, which appears predominantly in the highly abrasive chord progressions. The music on this album, however, is very fast and aggressive (if rather uneven)—if you can get used to the distinctively gruff vocals, chances are you might grow to like it. I found it a hit and miss affair.

The Exploited Rival Leaders EP

Have the EXPLOITED finally joined the “human rights” punk movement? Who can say for sure, but their first EP on the Pax label contains a sharp anti-Bushell tirade (“Singalongabushell”), plus two surprisingly strong anti-war compositions, “Army Style” and the title track. The latter are especially fast and thrashy.

The Escalators Monday / The Munsters Theme 7″

“Monday” mines a neo-psychedelic vein with fair success, though it compares poorly with the ESCALATORS’ past output and other contemporary ’60s-style bands. The real treat is the flipside—a surf-influenced cover of the theme from the Munsters TV show—which is probably a must for fans of novelty releases. Lots of fun.

Conflict Last Hour LP

This bracing album by Tucson’s CONFLICT pairs piercing female vocals with a thrashy guitar assault; the result is both unique and exciting. Rockers like “Fester” and “Human Cargo” rate as my favorites, but CONFLICT are also quite adept at change-of-pace and slower punk numbers. The lyrics, which sometimes emphasize women’s concerns, are particularly refreshing.

Arkansaw Man Every Job/Mark Twain 7″

Good production and fascinating song structures distinguish this new release by ARKANSAW MAN. Post-punk influences are softened by lively tempos and the addition of a brass section, and there’s certainly more than enough originality on this record to make it a solid contender.

The Gymslips Rocking with the Renees LP

This British all-girl trio emerges from relative obscurity with a delightful album of hard pop reminiscent of early GIRLS AT OUR BEST. Songs like “Drunk Problem” and “Barbara Cartland” counterbalance a gutsy guitar sound with irresistible melodies, but even ballads like “Thinking of You” connect with a vengeance. Comes with a free four-track EP.

Toy Dolls Dig That Groove, Baby LP

The high-velocity insanity of this debut album by the TOY DOLLS brings to mind the work of great funnypunk bands like the DICKIES and the NOTSENSIBLES. Virtuoso guitar work, unforgettable melodies, and patently hilarious lyrics raise Dig That Groove, Baby to instant classic status, especially clever ditties like “Spiders in the Dressing Room,” the title track, and “Glenda and the Test Tube Baby.” Spirited and (s)punky.

The Leather Nun Primemover / FFA 7″

The newest 7″ from Sweden’s LEATHER NUN features two compositions mining an atmospheric post-punk vein. “Primemover” uses a basic metal riff to underline restrained, understated vocals, while the flip maintains a slower tempo and showcases more demented lyrics. No revelations here.

Slime Alle Gegen Alle LP

The mid-to-fast-tempo punks on this, SLIME’s third album to date, range from melodic ’77ish material with catchy choruses to hardcore thrash. Most of it is quite good, but I particularly enjoyed the title track and “Junge Junge” (a cover of BUDDY HOLLY’s “Oh Boy”). As you might have expected, it’s another superior release from SLIME.

The Celibate Rifles But Jacques, the Fish? EP

Catchy power-chord progressions, tasteful lead breaks, and extremely clever lyrics set this debut four-track apart from most current British hardcore. “Kent’s Theme” integrates snippets of cigarette jingles with a sharp anti-smoking attack, while “Let’s Get Married” adopts a loose, good-humored quality. An exceedingly winning release from a relatively unknown band. Bravo!

V/A Lung Cookies LP

Originally released as a cassette compilation, Lung Cookies features an impressive collection of bands from all over America expressing a variety of styles. The recording quality varies from cut to cut, with most being quite garagy, but these compositions provide an intriguing view of the domestic underground music with an emphasis on hardcore. The bands include RF7, SACRED ORDER, RED MEAT, the REJECTORS, TEN MINUTE WARNING, and several others.

Bad Brains Rock for Light LP

The tracks on this album exemplify the BAD BRAINS’ unique blend of reggae and metal-embellished hardcore. Ric Ocasek’s excellent production works especially well on the thrashers by underlining some of their complex arrangements and superb musicianship, and even though a fair proportion of this material has been released previously, it’s difficult to ignore memorable blasts like “Fearless Vampire Killers” and “How Low Can a Punk Get?” Solid and powerful.

Kommunity FK The Vision and the Voice LP

A variety of influences and moods infuse this unusual effort from KOMMUNITY FK. The mainly slow-to-mid-tempo compositions here feature some experimental intros, BAUHAUS-oriented song structures (though these Angelenos are better), and very stylish vocals. I especially admired the rich, abrasive guitar sound. Fans of the eclectic should find favor with this offbeat release.

Newtown Neurotics Blitzkrieg Bop EP

The NEWTOWN NEUROTICS’ command of melodic ’77-style punk is reconfirmed with this single. They cover the RAMONES’ classic, but add explicitly anti-war lyrics in an effort to increase its salience as ’80s political punk; the change works, though the vocals aren’t as affecting as Joey Ramone’s. On the flipside, they reprise the splendid song from their debut single, “Hypocrite.”

Pork Dukes Pig Out of Hell LP

Just when you thought they had been sold off as bacon, the PORK DUKES make their grand return to vinyl after a five-year hiatus. Admittedly, their new album suffers from inconsistency, but the DUKES seem to have recovered slightly from their calculated trashiness to connect with some real pop-punk delights here. Rumor has it that this band is actually STEELEYE SPAN incognito, and Jeff Bale detects elements of the SPAN sound in a couple of songs.

The Skeptix / OHL The Kids Are United EP

England’s SKEPTIX and one of Germany’s premier thrashers share this four-track EP. While SKEPTIX’s “Got No Choice” boasts a scorching delivery and good, trebly production, OHL’s “Spionage” ranks as the best song on the record, with its catchy guitar progressions and clever stop-and-go arrangements. The mid-to-fast-tempo hardcore on this release earns a strong recommendation.

Action Pact London Bouncers 12″

Powerhouse drumming is the only thing going for this Oi-punk release. ACTION PACT’s style changes so little from song to song that this four-track sounds like a retread of old material, except with plodding tempos and even a sax section on the title track. Boring.

V/A Posh Hits Vol. 1 LP

A great compilation of tracks from the vaults of Poshboy Records. There are many gems here, but the CIRCLE JERKS’ “Wild in the Streets,” the CROWD’s “Modern Machine,” and TSOL’s “Peace Through Power” rank as highlights in an album that also includes chestnuts by AGENT ORANGE, BLACK FLAG, and UXA. Good variety and quality make this record mandatory if you don’t have the original recordings.

Anthrax Capitalism Is Cannibalism EP

Penny Rimbaud’s distinctive production spices up four new compositions by ANTHRAX on their second EP. “Violence Is Violence” and the title track boast fast tempos and a blistering guitar sound which underline well-taken lyric concerns; the two cuts on the B-side aim for subtler effects, with equal success. This is political punk that’s both unusual and exciting.

Actives Riot EP

A rich, abrasive guitar onslaught provides an aggressive energy to this debut EP by the ACTIVES. The recording seems a bit muddy here, but two songs in particular (“Riot” and “Out of Control”) suggest that this group can emerge from a standard Britpunk style with catchy, change-of-pace instrumentation. Recommended.

Crass Yes Sir, I Will LP

This is a profoundly different sort of CRASS album. It counterpoints a thrashy, wild instrumental backdrop with an extensive lyric essay attacking the politics of power, nuclear escalation, organized religion, and especially our sheep-like passivity that allows it all to happen. CRASS apparently feels that their message hasn’t sunken in yet—hence the numbing music and emphasis on words—and they obviously hope that action will replace boredom and endless posing in the contemporary punk scene.

Disrupters Unrehearsed Wrongs LP

Easily more powerful than their first two EPs, Unrehearsed Wrongs contains some fine mid-tempo punk compositions including “Gas the Punx” and a catchy reworking of their classic anti-vivisection song, “Animal Farm.” Some of the tracks seem repetitious, but I enjoyed the poetic changes of pace and the guitar-heavy production. Check this one out.

Effigies We’re Da Machine 12″

This four-track EP doesn’t live up to the EFFIGIES’ standard. The record’s title track has a notable guitar riff, and the thick, heavy metal-punk instrumentation keeps the excitement rolling; the compositions are less distinctive than usual, however. Rambunctious, but not exceptional.

Rebel Truth The Request EP

Nine urgent, powerful punk anthems on this EP, all enriched by elaborate, carefully conceived instrumentation and fine lyrics. The production does seem a trifle muddy, but it hardly restrains the inventive compositions here, which very often combine the pop elements of “classical” punk with thrash energy. Atypical and strongly recommended.

Legal Weapon Your Weapon LP

LEGAL WEAPON’s second album is a workmanlike collection of slow- to mid-tempo punk rock numbers made more enjoyable by fine female lead vocals. Hardly a revelation, it manages to hit the mark with nicely arranged rockers like “What a Scene” and “Equalizer,” and with ballads like “Only Lost for Today.” Some of these songs go on too long, and this release isn’t as evocative as their debut, but I found myself drawn in by the rich, guitar-oriented production and complex arrangements. Maybe you will, too.

Angst Neil Armstrong 12″

A severely underrated Bay Area band, Angst specializes in intricate rock arrangements buoyed by occasionally hilarious lyrics. Such is the case here—songs like “Neil Armstrong,” “Pig,” and their soon-to-be-classic “Nancy” have a listless dementia about them that allows them to cross the boundaries of art-rock and funnypunk with equal ease. A fine effort, so buy it.

Icon A.D. Let the Vultures Fly EP

After their exciting debut EP, this effort ranks as a disappointment. Strong female vocals are amply supplemented by a fair song on the A-side (“Say No”), but the two B-sides are dismally produced and sound almost as if the band didn’t care what they were singing about—a lack of commitment that’s fatal here. Maybe next time…

Lost Cherrees No Fighting No War No Trouble No More EP

A solid, committed seven-track EP from Surrey’s LOST CHERREES. Female vocals and a basic, well-balanced production complement this varied selection, but the straight-ahead rockers like “Real Crimes” and “Pain Relief” are the most effective of these highly political compositions. A fine debut, even if “No Flag” sounds for all the world like a punk version of “O, Christmas Tree.”

Major Accident Fight to Win / Freedom 7″

A severe early CLASH influence, right down to the Joe Strummer vocals, mars the offerings on this band’s second 45. The better of the two tracks is “Fight to Win,” an unadventurous ’77-style punk number with a fair melody and uninvolving background choruses. This kind of thing has been down better elsewhere.

The Subhumans No Wishes, No Prayers LP

Vancouver’s legendary SUBHUMANS deliver their first record in years, but it’s been worth the wait. An aggressive ’77-punk style melds with strong lyrics to create brilliant cuts like “America Commits Suicide” and a very catchy version of “Googolplex”; there’s even a killer cover of MENACE’s “Screwed Up” to satisfy Britpunk enthusiasts. All we can do now is hope that they get back together and tour.

V/A Hardcore ’83 LP

The latest compilation from Propaganda varies in quality from cut to cut, but seasoned veterans like RATTUS, VARAUS, and the BASTARDS deliver thrashed-out songs close to their best material. Of the newer artists, the MARIONETTI and TAMPERE SS seem to be the most promising, especially the former’s killer “Turha Armeija.” With 35 tracks by 18 bands, you just can’t lose!

SPK Dekompositiones 12″

SPK, perhaps the preeminent industrial ensemble in the world today, add traditional vocals to this EP of well orchestrated percussive and synthesized noise. It may be more accessible and less affecting than their groundbreaking Leichenschrei album, but it still contains extraordinary music possessed of originality and, yes, genius.

Sado-Nation We’re Not Equal LP

Wow! Raw female vocals and a manic instrumental attack charge a highly distinctive album of garagey hardcore. SADO-NATION has that rare ability to write songs with thrashy energy, without sacrificing their inherent drama, as on classics like “Don’t Bother Me.” I especially admire the trebly production. Very solid and exciting.

Ism I Think I Love You / A7 7″

ISM’s annihilation of the PARTRIDGE FAMILY hit (“I Think I Love You”) couldn’t be more complete; manic velocity, unrestrained instrumentals, and vocals shrieked at top volume combine to create instantly unforgettable funnypunk. The flip is a bit repetitious, but it’s more than made up for by the vicious David Cassidy-Shirley Jones lampoon on the front cover. Hysterical!

Blitz Telecommunication / Teletron 7″

BLITZ slips into the tarpits of new wave disco with this single. The problem is that “Telecommunications” is bad discoid synth-pop—uninventive, wimpy, and with no good melodic hooks. The flipside is more interesting, but it falls into the trap of being artsy. I’m not opposed to a change in direction, but BLITZ sure missed the boat on this one.

Blitzkrieg Animals in Lipstick EP

While I enjoyed the workmanlike Lest We Forget EP, BLITZKRIEG’s mid-tempo, hard-edged punk approach wears thin on this record. Their anti-vivisection stand on “Conscience Prayer” is well taken, but the tirade against Britain’s economic woes, “Land of Failure,” seems to be the only moderately exciting cut here. All in all, fairly generic.

The Blood Megalomania EP

The BLOOD may not be geniuses, but their debut A-side rises from the morass of Oi-punk and delivers a breakneck attack on religious excesses, complete with classical piano intro and flailing guitar riffs. While it’s good, the two tracks on the B-side are completely unnotable aside from their fast tempo and hard guitar sound. Still, it’s quite recommendable.

The Damned Generals EP

If you’re put off by the glaring deficiencies of the latest DAMNED album (Strawberries), this 7″ might be closer to your liking. The two B-sides are unsatisfying, but “Generals” could be the best pop song this band has delivered in a couple of years; a good emphasis on piano and guitar, along with politically credible lyrics, combine to create an arresting, well conceived track.

The Gonads Delilah, the Punk Epic EP

The unmistakable Max Splodge touch adds a dimension of class to this third funnypunk single by the GONADS. “Lager Top” and “Sandra” are the kind of rowdy songs, complete with an abrasive guitar sound and Oi choruses, that make for great beer-time fun, if very little else. Gary Bushell’s presence here may be this EP’s biggest drawback.

The Mob Let the Tribe Increase LP

After two serviceable singles, the MOB must be congratulated for compiling a subtle yet affecting album’s worth of political pop ditties. This record may be inconsistent melodically, but the fourteen songs here have strong lyrics component and a simple instrumental approach reminiscent of the early MEKONS. This may not be thrash, but it is the kind of material that definitely grows on you. Good stuff.

Social Disease Today EP

Pleasantly buzzy guitars liven up this three-track EP of mid-tempo punk anthems from SOCIAL DISEASE. “World at Ransom” is a moderately catchy composition with an intriguing riff, but the other tunes don’t rise to that standard, despite some wonderfully garargy production values. Above average.

Twisted Nerve Five Minutes of Fame / Strange Sensation 7″

An unnotable amalgam of punk and post-punk influences, this latest single from TWISTED NERVE features a very distanced guitar sound reminiscent of late-period UK DECAY. Unfortunately, the material here seems monotonous, and an occasionally interesting effect doesn’t rescue the record from ordinariness.

The Adicts The Sound of Music LP

A fabulous cover design on the ADICTS’ second album doesn’t help an affable, yet insignificant, collection of pop-rock ditties reminiscent of a cross between the early ADICTS and ADAM & THE ANTS. The single (“Chinese Takeaway”) is catchy enough but most of the songs have a cloying style and no thematic depth or personality. It’s OK for parties, I suppose.

No Choice Sadist Dream EP

This offbeat record displays a good hand for social satire on the title track, which is basically a spoken poem over an acoustic backdrop. The flipside, however, compensates for a throwaway number with a vaguely wimpy, but nonetheless engaging pop-punk composition (“Nuclear Attack”). Interesting.

The Partisans The Partisans LP

Both consistent and powerful, this debut album by the PARTISANS contains a bevy of fine composition exploring themes of social protest and youth rebellion. An exciting version of “17 Years of Hell” accompanies new streamrollers like “No U-Turns” and “I Never Needed You”—possibly the best material this band has ever committed to vinyl. A lyric sheet would have been appreciated, but it’s more than made up for by the twelve straightforward, unpretentious punk anthems here.

Red Alert City Invasion / Negative Reaction 7″

Noisy and somewhat annoying, this latest effort by RED ALERT fails to approach the standard set by themselves or most other “skunk” bands recording in Britain nowadays. Both compositions here are musically undistinctive and, surprisingly, quite messily produced.

Screaming Dead Children of the Boneyard Stones cassette

A primitive, garagey sound permeates this 6-song cassette by horror rockers SCREAMING DEAD. Perhaps not as stirring as their Valley of the Dead EP, this tape still contains abrasive standouts like “This Is the End of the World” and “God of Love.” It comes complete with a ghoulishly illustrated booklet and a SCREAMING DEAD button.

Code of Honor What Are We Gonna Do? / What Price Would You Pay? 7″

Strong (and occasionally annoying) heavy metal influences punctuate both sides of this hardcore offering by SF’s own CODE OF HONOR. “What Are…” grapples with the important issue of passivity in the current punk scene, while the somewhat slower B-side addresses a variety of societal ills. Highly credible and articulate lyrics.

Butcher On the Ground / Grow Up, Don’t Blow Up 7″

Haunting guitar progressions and an impressive wall of noise distinguish both sides of this debut single by BUTCHER. While “Grow Up” wins points for its breakneck, amphetamine-paced instrumental attack, the flip maintains more dramatic power and distinctiveness. Good, rowdy hardcore energy throughout.

Fallout Conscription EP

The six short compositions on this EP suffer from badly mixed, garage-style production values, with the guitars pushed way into the back. Too bad, because the subjects covered on this record demonstrated a high level of political astuteness and credibility. “Conscription” and “Laughable Attack” are especially topical.

Malcolm McLaren Buffalo Gals EP

If you enjoyed the classic 12″ by GRANDMASTER FLASH, chances are that you’ll favor this scratch version of “Buffalo Gals” by SEX PISTOLS creator and music entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren. Demented, confusing, and very funny, this collage of tape loops and dubs definitely hits the mark.

V/A Wessex ’82 EP

Four punky bands from Wessex participate on this strong compilation EP. The SUBHUMANS connect with “No Thanks,” their vitriolic commentary on “making it” in the music biz, while the PAGANS’ track (“Wave Goodbye to Your Dreams”) provides the high-velocity excitement here. Even the A-HEADS mix a satisfying melodic approach with their anti-government tirade. A very fine effort.

The Saints Out in the Jungle LP

The SAINTS’ current album is bound to be a disappointment to some and a surprise to all. The mid-to-slow-tempo numbers use acoustic guitars and even brass section at times, and the slick recording actually does justice to solid compositions like “Follow the Leader” and “Curtains.” Quite frankly, though, Out in the Jungle qualifies as nothing more than competent light rock—nowhere near past triumphs like “I’m Stranded.”

The Three O’Clock Baroque Hoedown 12″

Psychedelic pop without the acid flashbacks. While I prefer the guitar-heavy sound of earlier vintage SALVATION ARMY/THREE O’CLOCK, infectious songs like “With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend” and “I’m Wild” stand out as peaks on this EP of comparatively spare, vocal-oriented melodies. Some might find this record cloying, but it’s still recommendable.

Fastbacks Play Five of Their Favorites 12″

This refreshing, buoyant platter of pop-punk would have been highly recommendable even if it didn’t have one of the best songs of ’82 (“In America”) on it. Seattle’s FASTBACKS rely on amphetamine velocity and memorable songwriting to fuel their better compositions (“No Lethal Hope” and “Wait”), and on ingenious changes of pace for the stunning “In America.” Enormous fun!

TSOL Beneath the Shadows LP

From their inception, TSOL’s finest efforts used both hardcore energy and a fiery dramatic tension to fuel their compositions. Sadly, there’s surprisingly little excitement or drama on their latest LP; instead, they’ve opted for a heavily atmospheric approach to hold together a set of weak post-punk songs. I will always admire TSOL’s contributions to the California punk scene, but I cannot recommend this record.

Varve Bamboo Curtain EP

San Francisco’s most provocative all-girl outfit has preserved much of their garagey charm on this debut single. “Bamboo Curtain” and “The Plan” retain too much artiness to connect as good pop songs, but “Erotic Fridgidaire” has a pleasant melody and a bouncy guitar riff to recommend it. Above average.

Abrasive Wheels Burn ‘Em Down / Urban Rebel 7″

More urgent and exciting than their debut 7”, this single boasts two vibrant street anthems which update the ’77-punk style into the ’80s. A powerful guitar mix combined with a slashing vocal attack merge especially well on “Urban Rebel,” even though the flip is almost as good. ABRASIVE WHEELS have become a definite contender.

Chelsea Stand Out / Last Drink 7″

CHELSEA seem to have fallen into a stylistic rut in their latest single. While the production factors are raw (a welcome change), CHELSEA have galvanized the hooks and choruses from their last two singles and album into an effective but unoriginal package. The lyrics, too, tend to degenerate into the predictable.