Reviews

MRR #14 • June 1984

Liberté? / A State of Mind Don’t Vote… Subvert split flexi

A five-song statement on the drawbacks of participating in what they consider to be the farce of electoral politics. It includes chants, rap, funk, poetry, and thrash, all performed with gusto by a variety of shifting personnel, an arrangement which epitomizes their anarchist approach. Unique and timely.

Anarchy Delacine LP

These guys started out doing bad covers of good English ’77 punk songs, but now they’re doing bad covers of bad songs, including their own. Here, they mix older-style punk material with awful rock compositions, and the gutlessly produced results are boring as hell. Please don’t judge Japanese punk on the basis of ANARCHY’s releases.

Animal Farm Model Soldier / John Julie 7″

For some reason, ANIMAL FARM sounds like a punkish band from the ’79 era (e.g. the SHAPES). They have a certain quirky melodic quality, a clever wit, and a cleaner guitar sound than one normally finds today. “Model Soldier” is a sarcastic look at enlistees; the flip seems to be a continuation of the Jilted John/Julie story. Neat-o.

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.

Blut+Eisen Fleisch Rollt / WSWUF 7″

This vinyl offering from a new German band contains one fast punk song with a nervous, screechy guitar ending (“Fleisch Rollt”), and one hot little thrasher with a sudden chorus and more sharp guitar parts. Good.

Broken Bones Crucifix EP

Every song on BROKEN BONES’ second 7” is a pile-driving metallic thrash cut with good vocal and instrumental hooks. In retrospect, it’s clear that Bones played a major role in DISCHARGE’s early greatness, and if he can control his tendency to do too much guitar wanking, his new band should overwhelm the current incarnation of DISCHARGE.

Broken Talent Blood Slut EP

Ultra-primitive garage punk form the wilds of South Florida. Although the production is excessively raw and trebly, I find BROKEN TALENT’s combination of raunchy guitars and screechy singing rather appealing. “My God Can Beat Up Your God” is a classic satire about religious chauvinism, but what the hell is the title track about?

Bum Kon Drunken Sex Sucks EP

Raw thrash emanates from Colorado’s BUM KON. They have a frenetic instrumental attack and intense vocals, but the generally poor production doesn’t always highlight their potential—note, e.g., the variation between the muddy title song and “The Draft,” which has a much hotter sound.

Clockwork Soldiers Wet Dreams EP

The title song is a hilarious trashing of the EVERLY BROTHERS’ classic “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” with altered X-rated lyrics. The flip contains one slow, tuneless Oi cut (“In the Name of Science”) and a much better speedier number (“Suicide”). The production is absurdly muddy, and the B-side label has the wrong song order.

Codigo Neurotico Totus Tous EP

A pleasant mixture of fast- to medium-speed punk and one thrasher (“Pega a tu Mama”) can be found on CODIGO NEUROTICO’s first release. Nothing here is mind-blowing, but some songs have catchy choruses (like the title cut and “Quema Tanques”) and the guitars really growl at loud volume.

Cold Dance No Glamour in Industry EP

Compelling female vocals of haunting persuasion highlight this melodic outfit called COLD DANCE, whose sound touches base with a SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES flavor. Gloomy but brave, with a persistence of moody guitar noises that beat with booming frequency. Interesting and effective.

Crash Course Wanna Be Like You EP

The finest example of late-’70s-style punk rock I’ve heard since LAS VULPESS’s 45. All of the songs here are unusually fast and rousing (except the slower fist-shaker, “Break Down the Walls”), with anthemic choruses and some shredding guitar leads. An epic Swiss EP.

Dead Kennedys A Skateboard Party LP

Contrary to the claims of a crooked East Coast distributor, this is not an “official” DEAD KENNEDYS studio album. It is a bootleg, recorded live off a radio broadcast in Munich, Germany in December 1982. The copies with the white cover have better sound quality than the copies with the blue cover. Either way, buy at your own risk.

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.

Deviants In the Bathroom cassette

A six-song debut by a local band that contains at least one former member of INTENSIFIED CHAOS. The music is in the classical punk style, with both English ’78 influences and US surf sounds. It won’t set the world on fire, but it’s good clean fun.

Die Kapelle Nulpunkt EP

Solid Danish post-punk. Good bass and drum interaction and quality guitar work are in full display on DIE KAPELLE’s debut EP, and the songs are also pretty good (especially “The Kingdom of Despair”). MARCH VIOLETS fans should appreciate this, but punks might be put off by the overlong tracks and underemphasized guitar sound.

Die Toten Hosen Schöne Bescherung EP

A remarkably enjoyable X-mas 7” from DIE TOTENHOSEN. The title cut has a silly spoken intro before breaking into their well-known brand of melodic funnypunk; “Willi’s Weisse Weihnacht” is slower and not particularly impressive. But “Knecht Rubrect’s Fahrt” is the really outstanding track here, with its clean, heavy instrumentation, indefatigable sing-along choruses, and hilarious theme.

Dr. Know Plug-In Jesus LP

Mystic describes these guys as a “hardcore speed-metal death band,” and I can’t improve upon that summation much. DR. KNOW plays fast thrash and semi-thrash with heavy metal guitar leads and depressing, horror-inspired lyrics. They’re tight as a drum and undeniably powerful, though some of the aforementioned metal parts are excruciating. In the L.A. STAINS tradition, but quite a bit better.

Electric Peace Tell Me You Hate Me 12″

BYRDS-style neo-psychedelia—minus the 12-string guitar—meets DUANE EDDY-ish twanginess. Despite the singer’s sometimes annoying vocals, there’s interesting stuff on this half-sided picture disc, especially “Sniper on the Rooftop.”

Erazerhead Summertime Now / Tonight 7″

More RAMONES-y punk-pop from ERAZERHEAD. “Summertime Now” is a fast, danceable paean to summer with tasty guitar backing; the flip is a much weaker pop ballad with a dull sax. A 50/50 proposition.

Exploded Painetta Pallossa cassette

A defunct band from the small town of Korpilahti in central Finland. The EXPLODED have a raunchy mid-tempo instrumental attack and gravelly Oi-style vocals (like those of Maho Neitsyt). This primitive but unremarkable tape is already sold out.

Fang Where the Wild Things Are LP

There are two kinds of bands in this world—those that appreciate any help which others offer, and those that whine and complain when others don’t give them the attention they think they deserve. Unfortunately, FANG falls within the latter category, and it’s a mighty test of my fairness to say anything good about the spoiled, self-centered babies. Even so, their album contains the same humorous mixture of fast semi-thrashers (like “Road Kills”) and slower, droning numbers (like “Suck and Fuck”), so if you liked Landshark, you’ll go for this as well.

Feederz Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? LP

An audio version of the Situationist philosophy, whose message is “subversion can be fun.” And indeed it can, as this album demonstrates. Musically, it’s very diverse, combining fast semi-thrashers with undistorted guitars (like “Imitation of Life” and “Subscription”) with a variety of theatrical pieces (like the schizoid “Gut Rage” and the creepy “1984”), all marked by Frank Discussion’s sneering vocals and sarcastic humor. Undeniably entertaining and provocative, arguably brilliant and revelatory. A classic.

Fiends We’ve Come for Your Beer LP

A very impressive potpourri of “redneck” rock, garage metal à la STOOGES, punk, and parody makes this FIENDS debut a must-have. Instead of parroting the form of various genres of rock ’n’ roll, these guys manage to transmit its cocky, devil-may-care spirit. The guitars are loud and punky, and the decadent humor that shines forth on jams like “Riot in the Men’s Room,” “Battle Axe,” and “Rock All Night” simultaneously promotes and pokes fun at adolescent “drink-fight-fuck” fantasies. If you don’t think they’re a laugh a minute, you must be one of the zombies on the cover.

Funeral Oration There’s Nothing Left To Laugh About cassette

Tremendous explosions of maniac proportions that blisters as it smiles in triumph. Titanic nitro charges of frizzling speed and determined spunk packed by well-written lyrics snorted out in a raging fury. This entire effort reminds me of the NEOS. It is irresistible and crude, as it devastates with hammering force. A band that should not go unnoticed by compilers around the globe.

Gang Green Sold Out EP

If you don’t like this amazing slab of vinyl, don’t even pretend that you ever liked thrash punk. GANG GREEN’s assault is unbelievably tight and intense, and Mr. Doherty’s guitar work flails away mercilessly. “Terrorize” is particularly awesome, so nerds should steer clear.

Adiexodo / Genia Tou Xaous Sas Éfchontai Kalí Órexi split cassette

This tape is produced by Art Nouveau, an indie label/record store that specializes in distributing international punk in Greece. Side A contains tracks by GENIA TOU XAOUS (Chaos Generation), who have more of an older punk style and really garagy guitar work; They also do a couple of cleanly produced post-punk gems and one spychotic screamer. The B-side is by ADIEXODO, who’ve also adopted a late-’70s punk sound, but are younger and less proficient. Write to Art Nouveau for further information.

GG Allin & the Scumfucs Eat My Fuc 12″

Like it or not, GG represents the authentic spirit of “rock ’n’ roll.” After half a dozen 7”ers and an album, you’d expect him to mellow out, but he’s more primitive and disgusting than ever. I mean, the production on this garage release is almost as distorted as GG’s values! With a homemade drawing of an ejaculating member on the cover and reflective song titles like “Fuckin’ the Dog,” “Clit Licker,” “Drink, Fight, and Fuck,” and “Cock on the Loose,” this would make a perfect gift for Sunday School teachers all across America.

Guana Batz The Cave / Werewolf Blues 7″

This 45 is a vast improvement over their rather lame debut. The main difference is that there’s much more musical muscle behind their psychobilly this time around. “The Cave” is a hot guitar-picking number with screams; the other is a more traditional, less interesting track.

Half Japanese B.K.A. 10¹º Watts cassette

A live recording that mostly consists of long, extended jam-type songs. They integrate jazz and funk rhythms into a sort of cockeyed bluesy rock ’n’ roll format. Although they’ve come a long way from their charmingly psychotic teen-torture years, I personally wish they’d go back. Then again, most of us “grow up” sometime, for better or worse.

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.

Honor Role It Bled Like a Stuck Pig EP

A new thrash outfit distinguished by a clean, undistorted guitar tone, unusually youthful vocals, and some clever bridges. The overall sound is too thin to generate a spastic head-banging response, but some of the tracks have exuberant choruses (like “New Hope” and “I’m a Nerd”). Give it a listen.

Ill Repute What Happens Next LP

Aaargh! ILL REPUTE may not extend the thematic or musical limits of modern thrash very far, but this album is so fucking ferocious that it doesn’t matter. The band wails, the guitar screams, the vocals are really snotty and impassioned, and the production has an edge that further accentuates all of these advantages. A wicked release that’ll motivate you to try stage diving off of your kitchen table.

Indirekt Nieuws Voor Doven En Slechthorenden EP

A newer Dutch hardcore band. Their thrashers are distinguished by strong instrumentals, hook-filled choruses with alternating female/male vocals, gutsy female lead singing (like Julie from SIN 34), and progressive political themes; they also do slower punkers (“Hart…” and “Candlelight”) of which only the former has teeth. Though not as frenetic as I expected after Tim’s remarks about the INDIREKT material on the Bijna 2000 Jaar Geleden compilation (in MRR #12), this EP has a couple of mini-classics (like “Shell Helpt”).

Instant Agony Nicely Does It / We Don’t Need You 7″

A good new 45 from INSTANT AGONY. “Nicely Does It” has a bouncy medium-paced beat, a boss guitar riff, and ironic lyrics; the flip lacks the latter, but adds a better chorus. Both cuts definitely grow on you.

Instigators Blood is on Your Hands EP

A strong Britpunk release. Most of the songs are in the standard fast- to medium-tempo range, the lyrics are good, and the vocals are rather high-pitched, but it’s the quality guitar arrangements, some well-placed sound effects, and a clever bridge or two that make this EP stand out from the pack. “All Creatures…” is an exceptional track.

Interterror Adios Lili Marlene / Felices Dias en Auschwitz 7″

I was under the impression that INTERTERROR were a thrash band, but their well-recorded vinyl debut features two chunky classical punk cuts. “Lili Marlene” is a bouncy, sarcastic punked-out version of the old song sung by homesick German soldiers; the flip is a faster, more driving number with bitter anti-repression lyrics and a terrific join-in chorus. Highly enjoyable music with serious themes.

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.

Killdozer Intellectuals are the Shoeshine Boys of the Ruling Elite 12″

Jazzy-metal instrumentation, extremely gruff vocals, and smart-ass lyrics are the hallmarks of this debut from KILLDOZER. A lot of weirdness seems to emanate from up Wisconsin way, and this interesting release on the TAR BABIES’ label keeps with that tradition.

Koro 700 Club EP

Skin-ripping thrash chock full of blistering spasms that detonate this Tennessee invasion in the vein of CAUSE FOR ALARM or DRI. KORO thrusts a powerful convulsion of firing speed and rapid guitar screaming that swirls in furious catapults of overall chaos. This scorcher is hard to find.

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.

Live Skull Mr. Evil 12″

A loud, abrasive post-punk group with pretentious lyrics and a unique, metal-edged guitar sound similar to—but not as extreme as—that of BIG BLACK. Most of LIVE SKULL’s songs are measured, droning thangs (except for the faster “Boil”), but it’s the distortion and controlled feedback emanating from the two guitars that really lift them above the pack.

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.

Lumpen Proles She Wasn’t Home / Positive Thinking 7″

An unexpectedly good 45 by an upstate New York group. “She Wasn’t Home” is a tasty pop number with reasonably loud guitars and a strong ’60s-style chorus; the B-side is a moody, quasi-psychedelic cut with “heavy” lyrics, maaan. I like both, but the LUMPEN PROLES certainly won’t appeal to those who only like hardcore.

Lyres On Fyre LP

Although the superb re-recorded versions of “Don’t Give It Up Now” and “Help You Ann” alone almost make this album worth buying, a series of horrible cover versions (including “I Confess” and two KINKS kompositions—”Live Me Till the Sun Shines” and “Tired of Walking”) and uninspired originals conspire to undermine its overall value. Boston’s LYRES are potentially a great ’60s-style punk band, but except for a triad of gems (“I’m Tellin’ You, Girl,” “The Way I Feel About You,” and “Not Like the Other One”), they don’t live up to that potential here.

M.I.A. Murder in a Foreign Place LP

When I first heard this, I was a bit disappointed, but after only a couple more listens, those distinctive MIA characteristics clearly emerged—a tight, powerful instrumental attack, hooks galore, flashes of hot guitar work (especially on “Used to Know Me”), plaintive, evocative lead singing, intelligent themes, and some haunting background vocals (in “Modern Way” and “Boredom Is the Reason”). So you’d be a jerk not to go out and buy it, you know?

Major Conflict How Do Ya Feel EP

A New York band that doesn’t do thrash? Yes—this three-song release features metalish punk with poppy vocals and lots of guitar work. The best track is “Out Group,” which provides commentary on the local scene, and there’s also a good instrumental. Give them points for trying to be different.

Sekaannus / Massacre split EP

Vigorous Finnish thrash strikes again! SEKAANNUS storm out with a firing presto-paced assailment of tumultuous melodies, as the vocalist snarls out cries and wails in the tradition of TERVEET KÄDET’s Läjä. Brisk activity with plucking bass clamor provide this onslaught with a sound influenced by a combination of T.K. and RATTUS. MASSACRE’s compelling momentum blares out some potent dashes of powerful force, a harder approach with swift twists.

Michiro Endo ベトナム伝説 [Vietnam-Legend] cassette

The lead singer of Japan’s THE STALIN has put out a very well-produced nine-song tape that comes with a high-quality book that includes multi-colored photos. He does many ’60s songs here (like “Born To Be Wild,” “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” etc.), along with original compositions in styles ranging from intense thrash to straight metal to almost BEATLE-esque material, and the band (who sounds like THE STALIN) really crank it out. Excellent.

Extrem / Mickeyman Vorheilen Ist Besser Als Beugen split LP

The EXTREM side is extreme! Raucous cycloning mayhem from Austria, enough driving power and insistent quickness to hurl you into a venture of mega-speed craziness. Savage guitar grinds charge out a brutal slaughter of aggression and combustion, crammed into a wild seizure of raw energy. EXTREM escalate with each zooming slice. MICKEYMAN is Austrian reggae done well, and their punk song is basic and humorous. Don’t miss this album—the EXTREM stuff is drastic plastic.

My 3 Sons Starving Artist / In the Beginning 7″

MY 3 SONS is a young experimental band from New Jersey. “Starving Artist” is a droning metallic cut à la FLIPPER, and it’s quite good if you like that sort of thing; the flip is an overlong mood piece with chimes and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that I find unlistenable. Not really my cup of tea.

Nagy Feró És A Bikini Hova Lett LP

Unbelievable. How often have you heard shades of CRASS, DRI, RITCHIE BLACKMORE, traditional Chinese music, Hungarian folk dancing, violin solos, and abrasive electronic noises all on one record, let alone one song? A challenging breath of fresh air. I wonder what else is going on in Hungary? Is a new cult brewing?

Neurose Hard Core EP

This French record has exceptionally echoey, growling vocals and choruses, very engaging guitar work, and a crisp sound. Jeff thinks these guys are inept and annoying, but I particularly appreciate the strange song structures and the drumming, which seems totally out of it. Thrash that’s a bit “off.”

NRG Kulturel Forwaltning / Sort 7″

NRG is an immensely powerful mid-tempo punk band from Denmark. “Kulturel Forwaltning” is a chunky blast with an ultra-dense sound and memorable vocal parts that I love; the flip is slower but equally bass-heavy, and it has some nifty melodic guitar breaks scattered here and there. Terrific.

Out of Order Concerned cassette

A five-song demo of this young band’s crisp thrash style. OUT OF ORDER have both DC inflections and LA influences, and they play well, but without any special enthusiasm or uniqueness. Still, I expect that by the time they get vinyl out, they’ll have developed their particular peculiarities, so watch for them.

Poikkeustila cassette

For such a young thrash band, POIKKEUSTILA are pretty good. The guitar work is hot, as is the singing—those Finns have some of the most ragged voices—but the drumming lags behind a bit. If they get that hurdle cleared, they’ll be excellent.

Public Humiliation 1242 cassette

Some really garagy stuff can be found here, both in terms of production and style. PUBLIC HUMILIATION mainly offers punk rock with a simplistic beat, fun retardo lyrics, and an occasional freak-out (that they advertise on the lyric sheet as “wild solo”).

Rancid Vat Profiles in Pain EP

Fusing punk with noise damage, this release is much more accessible than I would have predicted, based on their earlier album. It features older-style punk riffs that sound nice and out-front, with really clear vocals, simple beats, and dissonance coming from somewhere. As the title might indicate, the songs focus on some of the nastier disappointments in life.

Ratos De Porão Crucificados Pelo Sistema LP

An intense album chock full of Brazilian hardcore. Most of RATOS DE PORÃO’s songs are adrenalin thrashers in the Finnish style, though some are ultra-fast (like “Caos” and “Que Vergonha”), and some have blistering leads (like “Sistema de Protesto” and the title cut), and others are slower ditties with more melodies or sing-along qualities (like “Não me Importo” and “Asas da Vingansa”). The bass-heavy production tends to muffle the piercing guitar tone, but raging blitzes like “Poluicão Atomica” and “Periferia” will shake your cranium.

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.

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.

Sacred Order Saturation Bombing cassette

Despite the controversy over SACRED ORDER’s supposed homophobic, sexist attitudes, the music on their new demo tape is an invigorating mixture of garage raunch, brain-damaged metal guitar parts, psychotic vocals, and funnypunk themes (as exhibited in songs like “Funky Mr. Penis” and “3 Testes”). I think SACRED ORDER sound like a gas, and it’s hard to imagine how anyone could take them too seriously.

Self Abuse (I Didn’t Want To Be A) Soldier EP

Despite SELF ABUSE’s good intentions, this is a boring example of current Britpunk. The songs have an awkward feel, the laid-back production disguises the existence of two guitars, and the overall effect is not very exciting. Maybe next time.

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.

Siege Drop Dead cassette

The best thing I’ve heard in a while! This tape has tremendous ferocity and boundless energy, delivered in an almost psychotic and wreckless manner, but without any loss of tightness. Siege has a nasty thrash attack with insane vocals and intelligent lyrics, captured perfectly by Radiobeat’s Lou Giordano. Get it—it’s great!

Some Weird Sin Sky’s the Limit 12″

Here’s one for diehard fans of the SAINTS and RADIO BIRDMAN. This new Canadian group has the same heavy yet tasty double-guitar sound, half-sneering/half-sung ’60s punk vocals, and high-quality songwriting as their Australian mentors. Aside from a couple of slow numbers (“Walls Are Falling In” and “Action”), these gutsy blasts are pretty damn irresistible.

Sun City Girls Sun City Girls LP

Live, they come out dressed in Indian madras bedspreads and masked faces like fundamentalist Islamic women, and launch into what sounds like the DOORS meeting SYD BARRETT. Unfortunately, this album lacks the charm of their visual presentation, and the “songs” are largely unstructured, like jazz or avant-garde stuff. For the way-out only.

Targets Schneller, Lauter, Härter EP

An exceptionally fine example of contemporary German hardcore, combining full-tilt thrash power with TOTENHOSEN-size vocal hooks, catchy instrumental arrangements, and some “on target” political themes (especially in “Geld regiert die Welt”). “Massenhysterie” is a choice cut that’ll have you singing along and waving your arms all over the place. The TARGETS contain former members of SLIME.

Tex and the Horseheads Tex and the Horseheads LP

Yet another example of one of this year’s new trends—cowpunk. In the tradition of GUN CLUB, BLOOD ON THE SADDLE, and the new MEAT PUPPETS, TEX & THE HORSEHEADS are taking countrified structures and attempting to infuse them with punk energy, and again the results are mixed. Songs like “Oh Mother” and “Short Train” are engaging amalgams with a driving beat, a bittersweet mood, loud but tasty folk guitars, and Texacala’s husky vocals, but their attempts at more traditional blues (JIMMY REED’s “Big Boss man”) and country (“Guitar Obsession”) fall flat.

The Autistics Saved by Technology 12″

“Ruined by Technology” is more like it. This record provides the best argument since the 100 FLOWERS album that garage punk outfits should dissolve rather than trying to “progress.” Here, the AUTISTICS seem to be aiming for the trendy rock ’n’ rolly dance audience with that addition of slicker production and a hokey sax. It’s a shame that they decided to discard the rawness instead of the idiocy (manifested here by “Asian Drivers”), although I do like “Mirror.”

The Barracudas Endeavor to Persevere LP

If you’re familiar with the FLAMIN’ GROOVIES’ Shake Some Action album, you’ll have a general idea what this third Barracudas long-player sounds like. They even look like the GROOVIES! Personally, I think a lot of the material here is pedestrian—it certainly doesn’t even begin to approach their best—but if you like that melodic, jangly-guitar folk-rockish genre, some of it might click.

The Boikottz Punk wird Leben EP

A not-too-exciting German EP in the mid-tempo punk tradition. The title song is boisterous and catchy, despite its well-worn sentiments, but the two cuts on the B-side lack distinguishing thematic or musical features (except for the cool bridges in “No Rights”). OK.

The Chesterfield Kings She Told Me Lies / I’ve Gotta Way With Girls 7″

The B-side cover is a bit light for me, but the original on the flip is real good. Even though there might be too much of that trebly ’60s Farfisa organ sound, it still manages to snarl its way through to a cool BLUES MAGOOS-type rave-up at the end. Great!

The Comes No Side LP

Totally intense! This band hits hard with a modern thrash style not unlike that of certain DC bands, in the sense that they are very tight and write songs with good hooks. (Jeff thinks they sound more like Holland’s AGENT ORANGE). Their powerful music is capped by great guitar work and the most aggressive, psychotic, ragged female screamer yet to appear on a punk record. Phew!

The Dead Nittels Anti New Wave Liga EP

Boisterous, growling hardcore from Austria. Named after a politician shot in office—sound familiar?—the DEAD NITTELS thrust forth a bombardment of rough-arsed exertion with raunchy vocals and intense punches of rapid momentum. This barking assault really shows some strenuous roars at establishing Austrian punk in a torpedoing exhibit of alert disorder and exhilarating rhythms. Exciting and young!

The Drooling Idiots Who Needs Tomorrow cassette

This new DROOLING IDIOTS tape doesn’t sound as melodic as their first thrash-oriented demo, and the production isn’t especially hot. But their lyrical content has really come on strong, with both “personal” and “political” themes that do beneath the surface.

The Epileptics Albino Cockroach cassette

It was hard to get past the overlong heavy metal intro, but the rest of this tape contains teenage garage thrash with exaggerated, high-pitched vocals and funny lyrics. The EPILEPTICS are obviously having a lot of fun here, even if they are a little on the retardo side, so people with wacko senses of humor will probably like them—except maybe Frank Discussion, who gets slagged off.

The Five Act of Contrition EP

The FIVE have some interesting ideas in the post-punk vein. On this new EP, they produce one lengthy, rhythmic track with rather annoying repetitive vocals (“How Many Times”), an offbeat cover version of MELANIE’s “Angel of the Morning,” and a cool psychedelic punkoid number with a faster tempo that holds the most promise (“Death Chord”). Worth a listen.

The Litter Distortions LP

This amazingly great ’60s album has been reissued as a bootleg, and it’s well worth seeking out. It’s rare when a band does cover versions better than the originals (like the WHO’s “Legal Matter,” to name just one), and then manages to come up with their own teen punk classics (“Action Woman”). One of the best ever ’60s punk releases.

The Lurkers The Final Vinyl 12″

As a long-standing LURKERS fan, I can only wonder why Clay decided to release mediocre material that only serves to tarnish the memory of a once-great ’77 punk band. Side one contains two unexciting post-punkish numbers (one being a lame cover of WILSON PICKETT’s “Midnight Hour”); side two features a commercial synth-pop thang (“By the Heart”), a hot already released punky blast (“Frankenstein Again”), and a decent slower punk-pop cut. Sad.

The New Colony Six Breakthrough LP

Although they ended up being nothing more than a schmaltzy pop band, the NEW COLONY SIX started their career in the mid-’60s with this mighty, near-perfect punk album. The group had a solid rhythm section, no-frills guitar breaks, and, most importantly, a domineering organ. They were also blessed with the ability to sing in harmony, which probably contributed to their eventual downfall, but the vocals here perfectly offset their crisp garage sound.

The Oppressed Oi Oi Music! LP

The slow- to medium-speed Oi anthems on the OPPRESSED debut album lack any sort of lyric originality, but stand-out tracks like “Gun-Law,” “Don’t Look Back,” and the hilarious “Skinhead Girl” add a certain dimension of personality to this release. Nonetheless, it could use a dose of energy and inspiration.

The Plague Catch the Plague LP

A great example of the true spirit of DIY punk, the likes of which haven’t been heard in many a year. The music here is primitive, stripped-down punk rock à la ’77-’78, recorded at the singer/guitarist’s house in two days with vocals sounding like they’re coming out of the closet and no remixes. On the plain cover, the same fellow describes the course of his socio-political self-realization, which ultimately led to the making of Catch the Plague, and the results are ten times more honest and relevant than 90% of the stuff produced by various modern “hardcore” cliques. “This Is the Punk” says it all.

The Scientists We Had Love / Clear Spot 7″

This 45 from Australia’s SCIENTISTS is a fine new example of their distinctive fusion of influences from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. “We Had Love” is a mini-classic with sneering CRAMPS-ish vocals, a pulsating rhythm, and a wall of feedbacking guitars in the true ’60s tradition; the less-impressive B-side has a garagy post-punk structure and some nifty slide guitar.

The Skeptix Return to Hell EP

Another well-recorded SKEPTIX release. They’ve contributed two more killer thrash numbers, one with some interesting drum parts (“War Drum”), the other with a metallic guitar solo (the title track). The EP is rounded out by a slower cut called “Another Day.”

The Unexpected Big Fat Ugly Bitch EP

Amateurish thrash and punk straight from a garage somewhere in the “garden” state. These teens have spunk and a good, albeit dumb, sense of humor, but don’t expect any musical miracles. “Hay Ho Ha” is the most intense cut; “Disgusting” is the most ludicrous.

Thee Milkshakes Showcase LP

Almost every time I go into a record store, they’ve got a new MILKSHAKES record in stock. Amazing! This, their first American release, has tracks from several of their earlier UK platters, and “showcases” their early ’60s R&B/instrumental/KINKS/Merseybeat sound at its best. Despite their self-imposed limitations, these ex-POP RIVETS are undeniably fun.

U.S. Chaos We’ve Got the Weapons 12″

Musically, this debut is prime-sounding ’77 punk, well played and well produced. Lyrically, it would make Reagan blush with pride about the great job he’s done brainwashing today’s youth. They’ve got jingoistic lines like “I’m an American—I stand tall and I’m proud / I’m an American—and I’ll shout it out loud,” and unfortunately they’re not kidding. Duh! Maybe they’ll do everyone a favor and join the Marines.

Undead The Killing of Reality LP

Medium-speed Britpunk is not my favorite musical subgenre, but this particular album really hits a responsive chord. The UNDEAD manage to hypnotize and enchant here with measured drum-heavy build-ups, double guitar power, and superior songwriting. Although almost all of these songs have a similar tempo, certain compositions (like the haunting “Listen to the Wallbeat” and the energized “Terrorist TV”) stand out as mini-masterpieces. Unexpectedly good.

Unter Den Linden Utom Våra Liv LP

Huh? Anyone expecting an album full of incredible thrashers like “Fat Boys” and “Little Boys” will be in for a shock after hearing this. Aside from the ripping “Arabenrein,” this LP reflects a synthesis of their earlier post-punk style and their recent hardcore influence, in that it weds loud, punky guitars to melodic mid-tempo post-punk compositions with sporadic and (mercifully) restrained sax accompaniment. Even so, I like it.

V/A Bands That Could Be God LP

Paradoxically, most alternative compilations are either too monodimensional or too multidimensional to hold the listener’s interest, but this Massachusetts collection put out by Conflict fanzine’s Gerard Cosloy avoids that common pitfall by presenting diverse yet forceful bands. What we have here is basically an engaging mixture of thrash bands with special intensity and/or quirkiness (MOVING TARGETS, the OUTPATIENTS, DEEP WOUND, SORRY) and highly structured neo-psych groups (BUSTED STATUES, the FLIES, SALEM 66, BEANBAG), although they really shouldn’t be classified rigidly. CHRISTMAS is too weird for me, but some of these bands are indeed Godlike. A worthwhile investment.

V/A New York Freakout! flexi

Three bands appear on this flexi accompanying a recent issue of the ’60s-oriented 99th Floor fanzine. PLASTICLAND produce their delightful psychedelic pop, and the FUZZTONES do a more-than-adequate cover of the MOVING SIDEWALKS’ song “99th Floor,” but it’s the VIPERS that deliver the coup de grace with a wonderfully fuzzed-out ’60s punk rave-up.

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.

V/A I’d Rather Be in Philadelphia LP

The non-hardcore equivalent of Get Off My Back. Not surprisingly, it ranges from the excellent (MOTHER MAY I’s moody psychedelic pop, PRETTY POISON’s haunting dance-oriented pop) to the decent (light ’60s-style pop by the IMPOSSIBLE YEARS, BOOK OF LOVE, and the RED BUCKETS, as well as BUNNYDRUM’s eerie post-punk) to the awful (SENSORY FIX’s annoying meanderings and the STICKMEN’s jazz-damage). The mixing and editing is courtesy of former LOS MICROWAVE David Javelosa.

V/A Code Blue cassette

A compilation put out by Last Rites fanzine that includes several Chicago-area bands (the NADSAT REBELS, R.O.T.A., A.O.F., OUT OF ORDER, NAKED RAYGUN, BIG BLACK), other Midwest acts (NO RESPONSE, S.U.M., DIE KREUZEN, SACRED ORDER, the FLESH COLUMNS, HÜSKER DÜ), and a couple of extraneous coastal bands. The NADSAT REBELS turn out some excellent songs, and are a new group to watch. About half of the tracks on this tape are live, so the sound quality varies accordingly.

V/A Hardcore 84 Fresno Compilation cassette

From that blast furnace they call the “Central Valley” comes this collection of bands on CAPITOL PUNISHMENT’s label. Besides them, the bands that appear here are THINK TANK, the PROBLEM FISH, PRIMER GREY, the PTL CLUB, HARSH REALITY, the SUBTRACTIONS, BURNIN’ BOB, DEATH CAMP, the MERE MORTALS, ASSAULT, KAOS, NO LABEL, the DIRT HEADS, and the WAWONA BOYS CHOIR. It mainly features modern hardcore sounds, but also includes some unusual stuff.

V/A The Sound of Hollywood: Copulation LP

A tremendous compilation of songs about the police, mainly consisting of Southern California bands that ought to know (except for the ostriches in WHITE FLAG). There are tracks from lesser-recorded groups like DR. KNOW, S.V.D.B., AMERICA’S HARDCORE, the GRIM, and NEW REGIME, as well as veterans like BLACK FLAG, G.I., and SADO-NATION.

V/A The Chosen Few Vol. 2 LP

Here’s a strong follow-up to the excellent garage punk compilation The Chosen Few. Again, we’re given some of the most primitive, demented, fuzz-drenched ’60s punk ever unleashed on vinyl. Like volume one, this is extremely consistent, and it should hold some surprises for even the most knowledgeable collector. Some of the groups include the SYNDICATE, the PRIMATES, TERRY KNIGHT, the LEGENDS, the PLAGUE, etc.

V/A Battle of the Garages Vol. II LP

The latest collection of neo-’60s bands to hit the record stores in recent months, and the second in a series. It’s about 50% lighter psychedelia and 50% punkoid stuff, with the gnarliest material emanating from the MIRACLE WORKERS, MYSTIC EYES, the ODDS, OUTNUMBERED, the FEZMEN, and the SHARP TURNS.

V/A Potential Migraine cassette

The recording quality here is pretty poor, so the potential of bands like CHUMBAWAMBA, the PASSION KILLERS, KULTUREKAMPF, the CHOIRBOYS, etc. is barely discernible. I know that a lot of the punks who put out such tapes are skint, but is it really worth the effort for anyone but fanatical fans? Maybe. I did like what I could hear of the INSTIGATORS, though.

V/A Angst cassette

Another Boston Tea Party tape from Denmark. An excellent collection of tasty bands featuring the awesome “Havoc Zest Appeal” by WAR OF DESTRUCTION, who terrorize with their unique stylings. Also present are Denmark’s RAZOR BLADES, ILLEGAL 80, and ACTINGS OF A MAD MAN, the forging thrash of BAYONET from Finland, and MELÖSA HEMORROJDER from Sweden. A nice dose of crafty melodies.

V/A Holland Hardcore cassette

A Dutch sampler that states “Never Mind the Quality,” when you shove in 70 tracks of pure brutal mayhem and sonic thrash appeal, the results are raw and rambunctious, as nine bands haul their way into the speed record books. The SQUITS, ZMIV, STANX, ZWEETKUTTEN, the VIKINGS, GLORIOUS DEATH, LÄRM, KNÄX, and LA RESISTANCE all break out with full-tilt raptures of intense velocity. Yes, yes, yes!

V/A Collection Privée EP

A rewarding French sampler with eight underground bands. The styles represented here are diverse—straight punk (LES ELECTRODES, DIVISION LECLERC, FUCK WAVE), ’60s punk (LES CORONADOS), garage punk (STAKANOV SS), thrash (MEMORIAL VOICE), garage thrash (LES STILLERS), and abrasive synth-punk à la the great METAL URBAIN (DISKOLOKAUST). The latter is my fave.

V/A Fornekad Existens cassette

Outside of HUVUDTVÄTT, the BRISTLES, ZYNTHSLAKT, and E.A.T.E.R., all of the other bands featured on this collection (SNUE-SLAPP HJÄRNA, SVEA-SKANDAL, FAXE, PÖBEL-MÖBEL, SS PLEKTRUM, and ANTI HUND-MINA) are new to us. Most of these younger bands do standard punk (though some do thrash), but none seem that memorable, especially considering the high standards set by the likes of E.A.T.E.R.

V/A Great Punk Hits LP

On side one of this compilation, GISM lashes out with their metallic thrash attack—with the accent on metal—and nasty vocals, EXECUTE do ripping thrash, and ABURADAKO cross thrash with the POISON GIRLS’ quirkiness. On the flipside, LAUGHIN’ NOSE have one Britskunk song and one that sounds Finnish, while the CLAY adapt the early DISCHARGE style, and G-ZET close out with a slightly more melodic and metallic UK assault. All in all, this album has excellent sound quality and some songs that’ll knock you out.

V/A Lärmattacke cassette

A nifty international compilation put out by Germany’s Anti-System fanzine. The sound quality is uneven, but it contains 40 songs by 20 punk bands from all over the world, including Germany (CERESIT 81, M.A.F., the SCAPEGOATS, ZÜNDELLÄNDER, DISASTER, KOMA), Finland (FUCKING FINLAND, TAMPERE SS, KUOLEMA), Sweden (the BRISTLES, ANTI-CIMEX), Italy (P.S.A., EU’S ARSE, the WRETCHED), Yugoslavia (U.B.R., STRES-D.A., and ODPADKI CIVILIZACIJE), South Africa (POWER AGE), Denmark (the RAZOR BLADES), and Poland (REJESTRACJA). Anti-System‘s purpose is to facilitate communication, not to make profits, so send away today.

V/A Lopun Alku cassette

A good quality collection of Finnish bands with an adequate sound quality. Some groups are very well known (RATTUS, the BASTARDS, and TAMPERE SS), others are not as familiar (MARIONETTI, HIC SYSTEEMI, PROTESTI, FUCKING FINLAND), and one is completely new to us (the quasi-pschedelic KAHLITTU VAPAUS). Most produce high-powered thrash (especially the BASTARDS), but my favorites are HIC SYSTEEMI, who have ultra-gruff vocals and a flair for writing join-in choruses.

V/A Outsider LP

Eight Japanese bands, all recorded live, appear in various states of sound quality here. Side one consists of older-style punk and some noise damage (MASTURBATION, FULLX, ROUTE 66, MADAME EDWARDA), while side two blasts forth with a more modern metal/thrash approach (GISM, the COMES, LAUGHIN’ NOSE, GAUZE). GISM is hot, but the COMES come off the best with their killer thrash. The cover is a CRASS-style package.

V/A Senza Tregua cassette

A collective effort by eight bands (CCM, the WARDOGS, I REFUSE IT, the USELESS BOYS, STATO DI POLIZIA, JUGERNAUT, TRAUMATIC, and PUTRID FEVER) from Tuscano, otherwise known as Gran Ducato—ergo GDHC. I’d lave to say that CCM sounds the hottest to me, with their outrageously distinctive vocals and unusual arrangements, but there’s plenty more to enjoy.

V/A Wir Schlagen das Imperium cassette

Ach, mein Gott! This is a surprisingly good-sounding collection of 47 (!) German punk bands, compiled by Flocky from Sputnick fanzine. His purpose is both to provide a more thorough picture of the punk underground in the BRD and to undermine the credibility and commercial success of larger labels like Rock-O-Rama and ARP. I’m not sure if he can manage the latter, since this is a limited distribution tape sold at cost, but efforts to put pressure on the more established indies from below are surely worthwhile. Plus, you get to hear some great, little-known groups here. Go for it.

Vertical Hold Angel Dust EP

VERTICAL HOLD is essentially a moody post-punk band with undistorted guitars, as the two songs on this EP’s B-side demonstrate. But “Angel Dust” is the really worthwhile cut here, with its loping tempo, punkier structure, boss background vocals, and clever bass/drum-oriented bridge.

Violent Apathy Here Today… EP

This debut EP from Kalamazoo’s VIOLENT APATHY is much slower and more metal-influenced than their cut on the Process of Elimination EP, but it has the same piercing guitar sound. Several of the songs here are too close to heavy metal for my taste, but “Bought and Sold” and “Scathed” have more screechy punk appeal. For BLACK FLAG rather than MINOR THREAT devotees.

Vorkriegsjugend Heute Spass, Morgen Tod 2xEP

Another extraordinary German hardcore band. VORKRIEGSJUGEND (who shouldn’t be mistaken for noise merchants VORKRIEGSPHASE) offer a potent mixture of tight, powerful thrashers with ultra-catchy choruses (like “Ratten” and “Haute Spass, Morgen Tod”) and slower, anguished sing-alongs (“Vaterland” and “Bombe”). If groups like this keep arising, Germany will become the new center of high-quality European punk in no time.

Wards Please Don’t Make U.S. Shoot the Pershing II EP

The WARDS maintain their politically oriented garage approach on their second EP. Musically, it’s more punky than thrashy, with a dash of art damage thrown in. Well worth it.

Upset Noise / Warfare? Vi Odio split EP

Another crudely produced Italian indie release with intelligent political themes. UPSET NOISE has a raw thrash attack that’s tighter and catchier than that country’s norm, and hence remind me of a bit of the great INDIGESTI. WARFARE? has a slightly slower English-influenced sound, except for one experimental number (“Anarchia I”). A good blend.

Warrior Kids Adolescent / Forces de l’Ordre 7″

In France, even the skin bands seem to have a skunk sound rather than the pure “Oi” approach, with its sandpaper vocals, and the WARRIOR KIDS are no exception. On this 45, there are two catchy mid-tempo numbers—”Adolescent” has a much better chorus, but the flip has a more innovative guitar intro that reminds me of CRISIS.

White Pigs Victims EP

The WHITE PIGS are a young Connecticut band. Although their themes are somewhat predictable and their music is in the straight-ahead thrash category, the production on this EP is appealingly rough and many of the songs have both highly memorable vocal parts and WHITE CROSS-like intensity (especially “Dropout,” “Screamer,” “Early Grave,” and “Kill Kop”). That’s a recommendation.

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!