Reviews

MRR #18 • October 1984

100 Flowers Drawing Fire 12″

This new 100 FLOWERS release combines their usual rhythmic post-punk stylistic devices with a somewhat rawer production. They’ve always used guitars in an awkward, interesting way, but here there’s more overall rumble and punch that I would have anticipated. Pretty good.

Youth Brigade / 7 Seconds split flexi

A bonus in issue #4 of England’s Black/White fanzine. Both songs (“Sink with California” and “Colourblind”) are already released, so the flexi itself should only interest collectors, but it’s good that someone took enough initiative to expose these two great US bands to a rather insulated British audience.

Anti-Momb I Don’t Care What You Think cassette

This release doesn’t come off as well as the band does live. Somehow here, the vocals seem almost annoying, and the instrumentation lacks the power they can display. Still, it’s not horrible by any means—just not as good as it could have been.

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.

Blatant Dissent Paint Scenarios cassette

Chunky ’77-style punk from Northern Illinois. The speed is medium and the song structures are appealingly basic, but BLATANT DISSENT’s disarming live humor doesn’t really survive the transition to tape and their sporadically exciting guitar parts are unfortunately muffled by the bass-heavy recording here. More excitement needs to be generated next time.

Butthole Surfers Live PCPPEP 12″

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

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.

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.

Death Sentence Demo ’84 cassette

A very classy, powerful power thrash outfit that doesn’t resort to metal riffs. If anything, they owe more to earlier punk, but they’re firmly rooted in modern sounds, blasting it out with strong lyrics and hooks to boot—”live” proof that Vancouver is not dead. Hot!

E-13 No Mercy for Swine EP

Garage thrash from the Pacific Northwest. The production quality is very primitive, which adds oomph to E-13’s raunchy attack. There’s nothing radically new here, but their adolescent snottiness, goofy guitar parts (in “Eddie” and “Humor Demons”), and trashy sense of humor remind me of early JFA, and that’s good. Unappetizing cover, too.

English Dogs Invasion of the Porky Men LP

Missed this one last issue. Maybe that had to do with the lame cover, but the contents aren’t bad at all. While they do sound like GBH-clones (early period), they do it well. Lots of power and drive, with lyrics that are more intelligent (or intelligible) than their mentors.

Erazerhead Take Me to Your Leader LP

Originally a lighter-weight RAMONES pop/punk band, they’ve gotten even lighter (BEATLES, STONES influence) with a folkish influence. Simultaneous with that though, is what I’d call a BUZZCOCKS influence of occasionally great hooks and melodies, and “noise” freak-outs. Bizarre.

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.

Folk Devils Beautiful Monster / Nice People 7″

The second 7” by this band continues along with their accent on heavily rhythmic, rockin’ melodies. There are tinges of more “erratic” groups like the FALL or BIRTHDAY PARTY, but the approach here is more straightforward. B-side rocks hard.

Asbestos Rockpyle / Happy Schizoids split 7″

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

Inca Babies The Judge / Bus Breaker 7″

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

Kaaos Ristiinnaulittu Kaaos LP

Next to the LAMA LP, this is probably the one Finnish release that captures the best elements of rhythmic chord changes, whining guitar licks, and howling vocals. Frenzied compositions rip through thrash and punk, with some metallic overtones. KAAOS have been at it for some time, and this release shows their ability.

Kill Ugly Pop Gator Breath Riot 12″

For the most part, three of the songs here fall into a CRAMPS/BIRTHDAY PARTY beat—sparse and rhythmic, but on “The Ballad of Vincent Croft,” they really take off, sounding very much like NAKED RAYGUN. All in all, it’s pretty rockin’ stuff.

Last Rights Chunks / So Ends Our Night 7″

LAST RIGHTS, who are already defunct, showcase a chunky, mid-tempo punk attack on this 45. The guitar sound is dense and heavy, the tunes are eminently suitable for singing along, and their controversial singer Choke (ex-NEGATIVE FX) has a mean voice. It’s hard to determine what the songs are about, but they nonetheless improve with each listen.

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.

Mission for Christ Pennies from Hell / (Dub) 7″

Abrasive, droning noise with a heavy bass and some disorienting guitar frills. The A-side highlights the less-than-joyous vocals, whereas the flip, true to its name, focuses attention on the dissonant, repetitive instrumentals. MISSION FOR CHRIST sure knows how to make people feel alienated, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

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.

Pandemonium Wir Fahren Gegen Dreck LP

Gritty, grinding guitar scratchings wail in total banzais of chaotic thrash attacks. PANDEMONIUM tries to play as fast as possible, which doesn’t always work to their favor…but when it does, it’s a howling barrage of mayhem. Good slow, driving intros, with heavy bass haunting this sonic assault.

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!

Picture Frame Seduction I’m Good Enough (For Me) EP

While nothing brilliant or startling, it’s good to see some fresh blood on the UK indie scene. Most real “punk” seems to really have gone underground (in the face of commercial onslaught), and hopefully will now be reappearing on small label vinyl, as this young thrash combo here.

Poison Idea Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes 12″

Despite all rumors and confusion, POISON IDEA rages with rapid-fire, foaming bites of outrageous energy. This is what you’ve been waiting for. This band deals out the goods with frenetic, hammering madness and rabid intensity thrash-style compositions.

Portion Control Go Talk 12” / Rough Justice 12” / Raise the Pulse 12”

These guys are prolific as fuck—with count ’em—five records in the past year. Does the term “dancable” turn you off? Tough toenails, cuz this is savage shit! The vocalist barks commands as the electro-beat grinds your ass into mandatory movement. Fucking awesome…

Post Mortem Against All Odds EP

Another young Brit thrash outfit. Again, nothing dramatically new here, but their energy is a welcome relief to the “rock star” UK bands. Their female vocalist, Lorraine, belts ’em out in fine fashion. Keep growin’, kids.

Prisoners of Conscience Screaming for Help cassette

A very abrasive one-man punk band with a rhythm machine that strongly advocates a political pacifist course of thought and action. Both the lyrics and music are intense and non-wimpy, with good guitar. No trendy politics here at all, and John Dwyer backs up his intelligent lyrics with an extensive reading list and the addresses of many organizations. Recommended.

Ralph Nielsen & the Chancellors Scream EP

Billed as “the wildest rock ’n’ roll song ever,” the title track of this 1959 release is pretty wild R’n’R, but doesn’t really hold up with today’s frantic HC. I’ve also heard some wilder ’50s stuff, but this ’50s bar band (not unlike the Northwest’s WAILERS) does kick ass. The two B-side tracks are more rockabilly/R’n’R, a bit like the EVERLY BROS.

Ramones Too Tough to Die LP

While not the “thrash” LP I had heard rumored (there is one thrasher), it is definitely more of a rocker than their previous outing. What’s even more interesting is the fact that the RAMONES now have a few “political” songs; actual “peace” songs. Take that, you wimps!

Reptile House Origins of a Sad Man cassette

This tape contains four long, slow, and rather dreary songs. It’s intentionally that way, but this doesn’t necessarily help the situation. While melodic and tight, the overall mood is of depression. I get enough of that in real life.

Ring 13 Nothing New, Nothing Learned cassette

While eclectic musically, the various melodic styles on this tape still maintain a “punkness” to them. This is not only in its edge and aggressiveness, but also in the lyrics—so there’s lots of potential with this band, as long as they keep their sense of outrage.

Ring of Fire Common Enemy 12″

Here’s a potentially hot release almost ruined by lackluster production. The vocals are psycho, the songs have interesting, off-kilter structures and some catchy sing-along parts, and the clean FEEDERZ-style fretwork is unusually imaginative, but the wimpoid guitar sound here severely detracts from RING OF FIRE’s overall impact. It’s too bad, because these guys also have a lot to say (as in “Read a Book,” the title cut, and “Sex Song”). Their future looks bright, though.

Samhain Initium LP

Despite the fact that my copy sounds like it was pressed on emery board, I have nothing but glowing adulation for this effort. Glen Danzig’s world-view as a butchershop cum comic book cruises us hot rails to hell in swirling but occasionally uneven production. His forceful crooning is as spine-tingling as ever, and the mid-tempo attack is ever so refreshing for this aging beefbag.

Solution Unknown Justice for All cassette

Pushead says they sound “BGK-influenced, but they don’t finish their songs,” and that they have “full Tesco lyrics.” Jeff says the vocals “don’t mesh too well,” and that they’re “like MDC.” with better recording, which they hope to do, we’ll know more about these guys. “Come to the Phone” is a classic.

SSD How We Rock LP

Various thoughts that came to mind while listening: I’d like this a lot more if all the squiggly rock guitar solos were half as long / The lyrics are still good / There’s “power” here, but where’s the spark? / The band really likes the record / “Musicianization” (thanks, Ken Lester) will kill punk rock / This is a short album, but looong / The cover says it all (who’s Alan Barile, David Spring? / This isn’t fun, but would it be better at 45 RPM? / There—I did this without once saying “heavy metal.”

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.

Sune Studs Och Grönlandsrockarna Vår Dagliga Död EP

On their second EP, Sweden’s S.S.G. reveal a startling schizophrenia. The A-side contains two irresistible tuneful numbers with sing-along choruses and a variety of crude yet fetching guitar segments, whereas the flipside contains a pair of hookless, dull songs. I guess it’s just one of nature’s many mysteries.

T.S.T. Sweden 12″

Medium-speed thrash and fast punk are T.S.T.’s tempo territory; catchy sing-alongs are their lyrical lode. This eight-song job rocks steady—even their cover of DION’s “Teenager in Love.”

The Cheepskates Run Better Run LP

Although people I know found this album disappointing, I really like it. The CHEEPSKATES may have that poppier, organ-based sound that some of us ’60s punk fanatics don’t approve of, but they’ve retained a loud guitar assault and the ability to build up to a wall of sound when necessary. They also happen to write great tunes that stick in your head, so I don’t see any problem at all here. Recommended.

The Cramps Blind Vision EP

A four-song “live” release out of Australia that may or may not be a boot. It’s typically raunchy CRAMPS material, and finally contains a recorded version of “Five Years Ahead of My Time,” which they’ve been covering for years.

The Crucifucks The Crucifucks LP

A whole LP’s worth of Doc Dart’s “Jerry Lewis” vocals, spitting out all their satirical, biting songs, is a real treat. Not only are all their classics here from their earlier tapes, but the “recordings” interjected between songs are worth the price alone. Hot, weird, and intense political punk!

The Gun Club Sex Beat ’81 LP

Never known for being a great live act (too drunk to rock), this line-up of GUN CLUB (same as on the first LP) must’ve had an “off night,” cause they hold it together pretty good. While not nearly as great as that classic debut album, this ’uns perty gud.

The Legend The Legend Destroys the Blues / Arrogant Bastards 7″

Don’t be fooled by the cartoon of the guy in a RAMONES T-shirt on the back cover, or the frantic maniac on the front cover: this is not wild shit. It’s more of a BIRTHDAY PARTY-type minimalist rock. Well done, but not crazed.

The Membranes Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder / All Skin and Bone 7″

The MEMBRANES hold a stylistic position somewhere near the likes of the METEORS and the INCA BABIES, but they rely less upon a recognizable rockabilly format and more on a raucous post-punk sensibility. Otherwise, one can compare their trashy, guitar-heavy approach with psychotic vocals. “Spike Milligan…” is up-tempo; the flip is a longer, droning number.

The Omlits Live in Tijuana cassette

Recorded in ’81, we find ourselves in an Orange County invasion of Mexico. While the sound quality is not so hot, the burritos were. The music, on the other hand, maybe should have not made the trip. “Meester, you wanna buy my tape?”

The Raunch Hands Stomp It EP

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

The Replacements I Will Dare 12″

The title track is a shuffling, bouncy pop ditty with a strong hook that could be a commercial hit if it was marketed properly. The flip contains a guitar-heavy version of T. REX’s “20th Century Boy” and a live, countrified adaptation of “Hey, Good Lookin’,” neither of which really add to the originals.

The Swingers Witch Doctor Blues / Right Between the Eyes 7″

Ugh! White honkin’ and blues with a sax. After all the good/great releases on Mutha, this one is a real letdown. It’s not bad for the genre, it’s just that the genre is so “old.”

The Vermines Bad Childhood LP

Some well done and well produced pop/punk, with occasional gnarly thrash interspersed (like the title track). Some of their obvious influences are the RAMONES and UK SUBS, and maybe some of the ’77-ish Australian punk bands. This band rocks.

The Zolge Over Alive flexi 7″

An exciting dose of live Japanese punk. This outfit has some potent riffs with hummable songs structures, but a studio recording of this material would be great. ZOLGE should be an exhilarating live band; the power on this record is raw and potent.

Tin Can Army Tin Can Army cassette

Since they’re not happy about their split LP, or the label, this band has put out their own tape. I imagine that they’re not really happy with this either, as it’s not a “garage” or “live” recording (which they feel is “real” punk), but is more studio stuff. Personally, even though the drum and bass could be fuller, it’s an excellent tape. Punk and thrash.

Undertakers Danger in my Mind / True to Me 7″

A foot-tapping pop-punk release from Australia that reminds me of the halcyon days of British hard pop (1979-’80). I’m a sucker for good melodies backed by loud guitars, and “Danger in My Mind” fits that bill well. The production could be rawer, and the B-side is almost post-punky, but this still deserves a listen.

Unruled Time is Running Out EP

There’s more than a strong touch of early GBH/DISCHARGE-style vocals and sound on this EP, though the music is a bit more melodic in places. There’s good power on these three songs, but not the wall-of-sound of the aforementioned bands. Good debut.

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.

Urbicide They Finally Let Us Have a Gig cassette

This is a live recording of this new outfit. Their sound is a metal/punk amalgam, with some thrash thrown in for good measure. Nothing new happening here, as can be judged by their one cover (WIRE’s “12XU”), but it’s done with some degree of authority and power.

Useless Boys Dreams Dust Factory cassette

Dedicated to SKY SAXON, ROKY ERICKSON, etc., you may know what you’re getting into. Actually, while there is a definite ’60s punk sound here, there are aspects of more modern forms of punk too, making it interesting. It’s unfortunately not wildly psychedelic, the guitarist doing mainly some “mood” stuff with all his echoes. Gimme the real thing.

V/A Boulders, Vols. 9 & 10 LPs

The two latest volumes of this ’60s punk series contain largely good stuff and little wimp-rock. While the sound quality isn’t as good as some series, the material is still of the impossible-to-find type, making them indispensable for collectors. Volume 10 contains a purported Jerry Mathers (the Beaver) punk release—bizarre.

V/A Nardcore LP

Yet another Mystic compilation album! And again, it’s a hotly produced disc featuring material that ranges from the inspiring (RKL) to the uninspired, though most is good. This one features relative oldsters like ILL REPUTE, AGGRESSION, DR. KNOW, and STALAG 13, as well as newcomers such as SCARED STRAIGHT, RAT PACK, HABEAS CORPUS, FALSE CONFESSIONS, and AFU. There’s somewhat more punk (vis-à-vis thrash and speed metal) on Nardcore, but the most noteworthy developments are the apparent strength of the “straight edge” philosophy in the Oxnard area and the reappearance of the sublimely inane ROTTERS. Good show, Doug!

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 10 LP

Volume 10 of the Highs series covers Wisconsin. There’s too many bluesy rhythms, pumping saxes, and DYLAN rip-offs for my tastes, but heavy fuzz guitars from the likes of the SHAG and the WANDERER’S REST, and unbelievable rave-up at the end of the MOSSMEN’s cut, and some sharp British Invasion-style singing by JACK & THE BEANSTALKS are definitely worth hearing.

V/A Highs in the Mid-Sixties, Vol. 11 LP

Awright, baby, this is part one of the Texas entry into the Highs series, and I think it’s the standout so far. It’s even better than the much rarer and highly-touted Flashbacks volumes. LARRY & THE BLUE NOTES do an incredible blast, as do the BUCCANEERS, KIT & THE OUTLAWS, the BY-FIVES, and NOBODY’S CHILDREN. (Note; CHAZ & THE CLASSICS’ amazing psychedelic punker is the third song on side two). Total gold.

V/A Pebbles, Vol. 14 LP

No “theme” or “geographic” orientation here—just a smattering of more obscurities from the seemingly endless ’60s archives. No real losers here, and the highlight for me was the GOLDEN CUPS cover of “Hey Joe.” Just what we need, right? But this has gotta be the ’60s equivalent of a thrash version!

V/A Scum of the Earth LP

Yet another ’60s punk compilation, this one primarily dealing with the pre-psych influence on the genre. What this means is a lot of ’64 or so sounding stuff, with an accent on surf, R&B, and British Invasion garage sounds. Not as wild as I’d hoped.

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.

V/A Complication: A Danish Compilation LP

This recent Danish compilation is a real letdown. While it does contain some hot tracks (one by WAR OF DESTRUCTION, another by ELECTRIC DEADS—same one as on MRR’s comp), a decent SODS cut, and one passable FRESHLY RIOTS track, the rest is post-punk/new wave drivel that’s unlistenable. Too bad.

V/A Get Lost cassette

A very lengthy compilation that alternates between studio demo tracks and barely recognizable live recordings. There are a few better-known bands (SUBHUMANS, DESTRUCTORS, BRISTLES, HATES, etc .), and a lot of younger outfits (DECEASED, ACID ATTACK, NO BRAIN CELLS, DEATH ZONE, and countless others). It’s a decent buy, if you can stand the changes.

V/A Kloak Skrål 2 cassette

This compilation is put out by a Swedish alternative studio that supplies free time for recording. This contains hot stuff by E.A.T.E.R., NYX NEGATIVE, BRISTLES, GUNNER ZIDE, AVSKUM, S.S.G., SIX-TEN REDLÖS, and SVEA SKANDAL. Some of it has been already released on vinyl, but it’s still a good representation of today’s powerful Swedish punk/HC.

V/A Larmattacke 2 cassette

An intense thrash tape, with mostly German bands (TODISCHER, M.A.F., SCAPEGOATS, SYPHILIS, LOBOTOMY, SAOBOYS, etc.), some from Holland (FUNERAL ORATION, M.O.G., MURDER INC. III, etc.), England (PANIC STRICKEN), US (DIET OF WORMS, SADISTIC EXPLOITS), and Sweden (CRUDE SS, AVSKUM, MOB 47). Sound quality is basically good.

V/A Pebbles, Vol. 15

This one concentrates on the Dutch scene (’65-’68). Just as today there is great punk in Holland (BGK, PANDEMONIUM, etc.), there was a flourishing scene back then, too. We’re given some hot tracks by the OUTSIDERS, MOTIONS, JAY-JAYS, etc., and a few klunkers, but it’s overall a worthwhile addition for collectors.

V/A The Raw Power of Life cassette

Some pretty well-known bands from around Europe are featured here: INFERNO, NEUROTIC ARSEHOLES, NUCLEAR, M.A.F., RAZZIA, and J.R.’s MOTHERFUCKERS AND THE HOLY GHOST from Germany; PANDEMONIUM from Holland; DESTRUCKTIONS and RATTUS from Finland; ANTI-CIMEX from Sweden. There’s some live, some studio—my faves are RATTUS and PANDEMONIUM.

V/A Rising From the Ashes cassette

A four-band comp of current NZ bands, one (FIVE YEAR MISSION) that goes as far back as ’79. K-4 are pretty experimental, à la PREFIX, CORRECTIVE TRAINING are fairly standard ’78 punk, REX THE FISH have a female vocalist and a moody post-punk sound, and the aforementioned FYM, who are the speediest, but are still within a traditional punk beat.