Reviews

MRR #22 • February 1985

Appliances SFB SFB LP

These guys have been around for a while and have a couple of records out. Once you get past the singer (who sounds too much like Jello Biafra), you get a pretty good band with lots of different textures. They still sound a little like early BAUHAUS, but the sound here has some rough edges that sort of remind me of the EMBARRASSMENT.

Asexuals Be What You Want LP

The fact that I viciously slagged the ASEXUALS for their lyrics to “Contra Rebels” in a recent review helps to disguise that I’ve always really liked their music, both on the EP and in the offending song. And now that I’ve learned that I’ve unjustifiably criticized them for said lyrics, which were apparently meant satirically, I have no qualms about admitting that this is an impressive album combining ’77 punk structures, fast tempos, and strong choruses. I apologize for the mistaken interpretation, but the lesson to be learned from it is that poorly composed satire can easily be misconstrued as dead seriousness.

Bad Religion Back to the Known EP

After releasing that ridiculous Into the Unknown LP last year, most bands would have broken up and hid their faces forever. But these brave fellows buckle under and come back with this five-song EP that has them on the road to recovery. While nowhere as good as their debut, it’s a promising restart. (New band has Greg Hetson of CIRCLE JERKS.)

Beat Happening Our Secret / What’s Important 7″

This one’s a real left-handed gem. Basically, they’re a pop band from the Northwest who are saved from the wimpy pop graveyard by a cool and grungy production from Greg Sage of the WIPERS. One side sounds like JONATHAN RICHMAN on acid and the other like YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS punking out. Great!

Boy Dirt Car Catalyst cassette

This is a very strange, Dada-esque band from Milwaukee who use dildos for percussion and are heavily into pyro. There are even punk and heavy metal bands who ask them advice on how to blow up things on stage. Music here is slower and more dense than on their first cassette, Gravel on Urine. Lots of found vocals and scraping metal.

Budcore What Happens Next cassette

This label, Mutant Baby, is obviously heavily into garage satire. Raunchy music and equally nasty lyrics are the vehicle for anyone to say anything musically—a truly democratic form. And BUDCORE certainly exercise their rights. But as the CRUCIFUCKS have suggested, “Democracy Spawns Bad Taste.”

Carnage Face the Facts LP

Could any band intentionally be this, bad? On first listening, I thought it was unintentional—that they’re just plain bad. But now I don’t know. It’s so offbeat, even on the simplest of punk beats, that they’ve got to be trying to be this bad. Does anybody out there know the answer? Good lyrics, though.

Das Damen Too Hot for Hollywood cassette

What’s this? A new Australian discovery? A mid-’70s guitar band? A neo-Mod outfit? Actually, it’s our buddy Lyle Hysen (ex-MISGUIDED) and friends turning in a pretty neat, rockin’ set of three songs, except for the offbeat drumming. (No, no—just kidding, Lyle!) Fun.

Die Toten Hosen Unter Falscher Flagge LP

Basically, this German group mines that same lode that EDDIE & THE HOT RODS did years ago. Still, with the hard-charging guitars and nifty melodies you might find yourself singing along to these full-throttle rockers. This band has a simple but good formula on this record that works.

DYS DYS LP

Well…forewarned is forearmed. So beware that DYS, like SSD, have changed and, yes, it is heavy metal. And yes, there is a ballad on this record. While far from being the worst metal record I’ve heard, it doesn’t set the world on fire, y’know? I mean, if you’re gonna do a goddamn heavy metal record…GODDAMN IT, make it knock down people, make walls shudder, and make it have women take their kids off of the streets because of it, for chrissakes! Look, if you need to hear the old DYS, change the speed to 45.

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.

Hüsker Dü New Day Rising LP

What more can be said about these guys—even traditional rock critics like them. That shouldn’t be held against them, though, because they have more brilliant ideas up their sleeves than 50 normal bands, and they can play rings around the competition. Here, they come up with yet another platter full of classics that combine innovative structures, every exciting species of guitar noise, loads of intensity, and diversity of mood. Ace all the way, and “The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” is amazing.

HIijokaidan Viva Angel LP

Hey, Tesco, heard any good “industrial” stuff lately? Well, you’re missing out on this one! HIJOKAIDAN (ESCAPE EXIT) is absolutely bizarre, distortion gone mad. Wild little noises playing havoc with your ears as sometimes frenzied vocals splurt out psycho noise. Has the makings of a great soundtrack recording. You know, this went into Tim’s trade pile, so you better call fast; it’s from Japan to boot!

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.

Instigators Nobody Listens Anymore LP

Simply one of the finest efforts I’ve heard in ages, a five-star rating for those of you who rate. The INSTIGATORS combine such a harmonious charisma in the music they create that the rhythms stay with you, bouncing through your head. Well-structured musical slices utilize crafty guitar work, pulsating bass boomage, drum smashings at the right moments, and a very unique vocalist whose voice travels with the music. Strong lyrical melodies have you humming along in no time. With each play, you’ll discover more magic and be totally hooked. The INSTIGATORS are a band to notice.

Insurrection Insurrection cassette

Self-examination and resulting rebellion are the lyrical themes of this Down Under band, delivered in a punk/Oi style that’s simple but effective. Then, suddenly they leap into a thrasher with a female screamer. Then back to older, traditional punk sounds. I liked the exception the best, but maybe they need the slow curves to set up the fastball.

JFA Mad Garden 12″

This is where JFA comes back to releasing fast thrash with no apologies. “Mad Garden” is a tribute to the Madison Square Garden in Arizona, a wrestling arena/punk rock club that now sells plants. And I highly approve of the punk cover of the Charlie Brown Show theme.

Junk Schizo Crime of Existence EP

Quite an unusual record. While it’s definitely got its punk and hardcore aspects, there’s a lot of originality in rhythms and structure. Apparently, these guys shun the local scene, and it shows in their lack of imitation—the best Japanese record I’ve heard in awhile.

Killdozer 85 There’s No Mistaking Quality LP

This is not the same KILLDOZER from the Midwest that released Intellectuals… Instead, this is a debut by an enthusiastic NY thrash band. Give these guys some time and I’m sure they can come up with a psychosis that could rival even the BUTTHOLE SURFERS. Mix equal parts of thrash, psychedelic, country, noise, and ten pounds of mud, and you start to get the picture.

Kuolleet Kukat Isoveli Valvoo EP

Raw, heavy guitar dominates this seven-incher with stern, powerful riffs. Not thrash, more of a hard, grinding sound as this Finnish band bites down four meaty melodies with RIISTETYT-type vocals. Turn this up and the distortion zooms out of the speakers. Wild and frenzied, this is a different type of punk release that still holds that sharp edge.

Kyah Shan Shan EP

A four-song, all-female release. The songs are in a snappy pop/punk mode with hyper vocals (the COMES vocalist is soon to join the band). When I say pop/punk, I don’t mean in a light sense like, say, TOY DOLLS; these songs are more complex and jazzy, yet maintain a pop structure.

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.

Les Coronados N’importe Quoi LP

Some records are pretty unmemorable. In fact, I just played this one and can’t remember shit about it. No, actually there were a few pretty rockin’ moments for this ’60s-influenced-yet-more-’77-style band. Pretty poppy though, with the accent on rhythm guitar.

Lustfinger Harte Männer Tanzen Nicht LP

A brawny type of German punk that switches easily from German to English lyrics. Some of the rhythms remind me a bit of the PROLETARIAT, but they still show a lot of diversity in their sound. All in all, a good ’79-style punk record.

M.W.A.B. Angus Yung / Is Michael Bum an Apple? 7″

A tough-sounding rhythm-box punk record, harkening back to a more diverse era. In fact, these guys do date back to ’79 (though they admit they didn’t learn to play till ’81). Interesting. (Usually, this is a code-word for “bad, but they tried to be different.” In this case, it’s genuinely cool.)

Massacre Tuho EP

Gritting Finnish hardcore with a raw edge. More heavy power than thrash, with whining background guitars and lots of crackly distortion. More of an English sound, but the prominent Finnish vocals are the high of the mix, with pounding drums and cranked guitars in the distance. Good stuff; a good recording could help this one. Still, the effort has the possible thrust needed.

Mellakka El… EP

I haven’t been real thrilled by most of the recent Finnish hardcore releases, since they’ve tended to be sloppy and/or overly generic. And even though MELLAKKA don’t offer too much that’s new in the thrash sweepstakes, they do it well. Tight and well-recorded for a D.I.Y. project.

Metal Virgins Animal People LP

Dig sends me this gem. I expected something completely different, instead I get this power thrash attack with a UK punk sound. Solid, driving drums smack with kerranging guitar changes and interesting vocals. Really something good in a different vein, has similarities to a lot of the new Japanese bands. “Rubber Dolls” is a great blistering barrage of mayhem. Fun!

Mystery Girls Missing in Action 12″

A six-song job that’s quite enjoyable. Since the vocals are largely female harmonies (two of three band members are femmes), there is a pop “girl group” sound of sorts. But the instrumentation, while still pop R’n’R, has more of a ’77-’79 bite, which makes for a pretty neat combo.

N.J.F. Wounded Knee EP

One side has three excellently produced and delivered, driving thrash numbers with a hot female vocalist. The B-side, “Wounded Knee,” is a more percussive, slower, but tough song with some really gruff male vocals. A good one. (N.J.F. stands for NEGRO JAZZ FUNERAL, not NEW JERSEY’S FINEST.)

Gas / Niku-Dan split EP

GAS is sort of a Japanese SIOUXSIE-in-more-pain-than-usual, with an accompanying hard post-punk backup. But watch out for those rock guitar solos and wah-wah pedals! NIKU-DAN (MEAT HUNTER) is heavy on complex structures, high production, and atmospheric hard post-punk. All you “hardcore is passé” BIRTHDAY PARTY freaks will like it. I don’t.

Olho Seco Isto É Olho Seco EP

A new EP’s worth of chunky thrash from one of Brazil’s premier hardcore outfits. There’s one studio side featuring both their excellent “theme” song, with its distinctive guitar riff, and another piledriver; the flip contains three less-appealing, roughly recorded live cuts. But since the studio material is killer stuff that satisfies all expectations, you should look for this one.

Abortti 13 / Pyhäkoulu Lapsuusmuistoja split EP

Two Finnish bands of very different styles share this one. ABORTTI 13 is a slower, grinding guitar band, although they do play one faster punk song here. PYHAKOULU, on the other hand, is a manic thrash outfit, heavy on shredding vocals. They will be one to watch.

Raw Power Screams From the Gutter LP

Containing a good many of the songs from their under-produced Italian LP, these new recordings are a whole lot better done, and should help these lads out a lot when they return to tour North America this summer. There’s an increasingly heavy metal guitar influence, but the pounding thrash still predominates.

Roky Erickson Don’t Slander Me / Starry Eyes 7″

The fog has lifted and ROKY is back. Or has it? ROKY sounds wide awake on this one and he’s got his Texas bar band racing to keep up with his nasty vocals. He’s sacrificed much of his psychotic edge to get a more controlled sound here, and fans of CREEDENCE rock should snatch this up. The flip is a smoother re-make of an earlier song he did.

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.

Shockabilly Vietnam LP

Another one from the SHOCK-heads! These guys are to music what Hershel Gordon Lewis is to gore: cheap and great. Besides the fuzzed-out spazz cover of “Born of the Bayou,” we get treated to a wonderful cover of “Nicaragua” sung by Ed Sanders. The best thing is the poster inside that chronicles their last tour of the US and Canada that’s so strange you’d think they were making it up.

Steps Universal Studios cassette

Jeff Bale threatened to do this review himself unless I gave this a rave review. So I guess I better…. It’s excellent ’77-style punk with SoCal ’81 tinges, making for some hot, melodic, and tuneful pop-punk. (Jeff…good enough?)

Stevie Stiletto and the Switchblades 13 Hits and More cassette

We received three tapes simultaneously from these guys, two of which were released last year. This one, though, is typical of their sound, which is driving, melodic punk done at a rapid-fire pace—it’s really tight and catchy. Lyrics are sort of in a sicko BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN mold. Professional sound.

Subhumans USAT4 Live San Francisco cassette

A very hot performance from their US tour of last year, but unfortunately the sound quality makes you feel like you’re in the bathroom at the On Broadway instead of up front. Actually, it’s not quite that bad, but it isn’t good enough to do this band justice.

Subliminal Fault Girls Behind Bars cassette

Brian Edge sez “soothing after a hard day’s thrash,” “eclectic.” This band has a ’75-era garage sound—audible lyrics, driving rock, pre-punk feel. Can you judge a band by its covers? VELVET’s “Pale Blue Eyes” and BYRDS’ “Rock ’n’ Roll Star.”

The Congo Eels Around Midnight 12″

A big, noisy psych sound from this Philadelphia group. The tunes are propelled by a driving sax that manages to stay out of the way when it’s important. Put these guys on the same bill as the LYRES, FUZZTONES, and NOMADS and the room would explode in spontaneous combustion.

The Delmonas Comin’ Home Baby: Vol. 1 EP / Hello We Love You: Vol. 2 EP

Liner notes say these three lasses are backed instrumentally by the MILKSHAKES, though on their Vol. 2 EP (nearly the same front cover as Vol. 1), it shows them posing with their instruments. Anyway, both 7”ers are chock full of great girl-group trash…without sounding self-conscious or too pop. A delight!

The Nirvana Devils / The Legendary Golden Vampires Some Foreign Shore / Pure Fun 7″ | Creeping Poison / Rebel Woman 7″

This is great! These two releases are both from Germany and both attempt a fun sort of pop/psychedelic sound. It isn’t until you look really close at their pictures that you can figure out that they’re the same band. The DEVILS’ record is more fun in the area of LILIPUT or the REVILLOS, while the VAMPIRES give a heartfelt, humorous nod to early VENTURES-inspired spaghetti-Western themes; the flip is like the LYRES and DMZ.

The Libertines Everybody Wants to be My Sister / Swayback 7″

A smooth and murky pop single in the area of BIG STAR and RICH KIDS. The B-side wears better over time because it doesn’t try to hit you over the head with a hook. With bands like DUMPTRUCK, LOVE TRACTOR, GREEN, and now these guys, there’s an encouraging sign of underground pop bands who don’t feel it’s necessary to wimp out to be good.

The Offs First Record LP

Misleading title, as they put out three 7”ers and have tracks on compilations, too (Deaf Club, etc.). Early OFFS were the raunchiest band in SF, heavy into VELVET’s white noise. They later got “funky,” and ska predominated. This LP represents their latter period (disappointingly), where slick production and saxophones are up front. Find the 45s.

The Spores Meat Biproduct EP

With a side “Shit” and a side “Fuck,” it isn’t too hard to figure out the gist of their style; as the run-off groove says, “The SPORES are a bunch of fun guys!” Here, they’ve managed to take the better elements of English funnypunk and fuse it with a raw Canadian sound. On the title track, they sound something like Dave MDC singing with ISM.

The Stalin Fish Inn LP

Putting off their venture into haiku til the next release, this eight-song job is more like their slower previous material, but more sparse and less powerful. There are even funk rhythms mixed in here, and overall, I’d have to say that the “magic” seems to be gone from this particular outing. (Comes with a flexi that sounds better than the album.)

Time Zone World Destruction / World Destruction 7″

Another “unity” appeal from AFRIKA BOMBAATAA, this time in conjunction with John Lydon. The result is a rap/punk modern-day “Eve of Destruction.” Infectious, but Mr. Rotten doesn’t seem quite believable to me.

Toiling Midgets Dead Beats LP

This is a posthumous release from this experimental guitar band. The two guitarists weave a chiming type of rhythm with burning, fuzzed-out leads that, together with rock-solid drumming, beat a lot of English bands to the punch. Mostly instrumental, these tracks should appeal to fans of SISTERS OF MERCY or JESUS AND MARY CHAIN.

United State Automaton / Glass Night 7″

Both sides have their catchy, drawing aspects—slow, grinding, powerful, dark tunes, skillfully and menacingly done. At times, the female vocals get a bit too “pretty” for me, but overall, for this kind of material, it’s good.

V/A Billboard Vandals cassette

Four bands share this first release by Depression zine. LATIN DOGS (political thrash) and TOXIC ATTITUDE (garage thrash) are both recorded live at a “lawn party.” THE LIPS ARE BACK (older punk) and EDDIE & THE WOLFGANG (garage) round out the release. LATIN DOGS are definitely the best of the lot.

V/A Phantom Takes cassette

This is a really quick overview of the SoCal industrial/difficult music scene. You get just about everything on this tape, including psychos like JOHN TRUBEE, DEBT OF NATURE, and BRENT WILCOX to CABARET VOLTAIRE/CHROME-sound artists like PIERRE LAMBOW and RANDALL KENNEDY. Comes in a real classy cardboard package with booklet.

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.

V/A Cleanse the Bacteria LP

Pus and I often have minor musical differences, so I was hoping for the opportunity to take a friendly swipe at the old headbanger’s international thrash-oriented compilation. But I’m having a hard time because it’s a fucking good record. Some of the groups here are among my favorites (like 7 SECONDS and MOB 47) and the selections are usually up the best of each band’s standard, so I’ll just have to bite my tongue and get into these vicious slabs of cranium-crunching mayhem, etc. Kudos to GENOCIDE EXPRESS, SIEGE, and even HOLY DOLLS.

V/A Compilation EP

It’s that punk/Oi (skunk) sound that’s so popular in France. Here we have a muddily recorded indie release with four bands, two of which produce mediocre examples of the genre (DISTURB and TOXIK), one a good example (OFFENSIVE), and the other an excellent example (KIDNAP). The song by the latter is “1984,” the song Jeff wanted to put on our Welcome to 1984 LP.

V/A Eat Your Head 2xLP

The Melbourne, Australia equivalent to Bullshit Detector, where you get good recordings by eleven of Australia’s hottest hardcore performers. The prizes include double tracks by CIVIL DISSIDENT, who undoubtedly are one of the three best Australian bands, and intense stuff by I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVY, who thrash it with humor. Plus excellent tracks by END RESULT, VICIOUS CIRCLE, BODIES, MURDER MURDER SUICIDE, and more. A very quality effort, you can see the heart behind this!

V/A 4 Per Ⓐ//ⒶⒶ Per Tutti EP

Like most compilations, a little spotty. RAW POWER starts off and blows away all the competition. Their sound here is sooooo much better than their first LP, as they showcase their breakneck stop-and-start sound with vocals literally spit out through your speakers. RAPPRESAGLIA and PEDAGO PARTY both go for a more popular thrash sound. The other band, RIVOLTA DELL’ODIO, has a slower art-damaged sound.

V/A Fun’s Not Dead LP

Action packed chaos grooved into spasmic colored vinyl. Quick charges of lightning-paced thrash with jubilant tempos and grinding assaults featuring eight German bands doing fourteen sonic bursters. INFERNO, ROTTING CARCASS, CERESIT 81, BOLKOTTZ, WOT, MANIACS, and more deliver some crucial sounds that exhilarate to the fullest.

V/A Hold Up Omnibus 8″ EP

Some very poor recording mars what were probably some very exciting live moments for the four bands that appear on here; SYSTEMATIC DEATH, GHOUL, GASTUNK, and the CLAY turn in several tracks each, but…too bad.

V/A Really Fast Vol. II LP

Incredibly powerful Swedish compilation that features 37 songs by 14 bands. Hard-hitting with lots of thrash rhythms, you’ll experience variations of hardcore from fast, turbulent explosions to raw, gut-crunching scorchers. Furious fun from INGRON HUTLOS, MOB 47, NYX NEGATIV, ASOCIAL IRTS, SOTLIMPA, KRIXHJALTERS, DISTRUST, and more. This is one to check out. Really good.

V/A We Don’t Want Your Fucking War! LP

I hear this is the first of many politically oriented “unity” HC compilations to come out of Mortarhate. (I think it’s Mortarhate; it’s hard to tell from the disc and cover.) It’s an admirable sentiment, unifying activist punks with other movements, but it’s not the sentiment alone that’s good here. The tracks shred. Excellent, it includes BROKEN BONES, POTENTIAL THREAT, INSTIGATORS, VARUKERS, LOST CHERREES, MALINHEADS, DEZERTER, and lost more, many previously unreleased.

Vipers Outta the Nest! LP

While this is undoubtedly ’60s punk revival time, this particular approach leaves me somewhat unexcited. It’s on the pop/folk-rock side of the genre, with a little too much cuteness and too many “girl” songs. There are some rough edges (good!), but they’re few and far between.

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.

Voodoo Idols Temptation LP

The IDOLS are from Florida and have had a couple of singles out before, most notably “We All Dig Nixon.” With this new LP, they blend a disjointed MINUTEMEN-like thrash with a nasty swamp punk sound. They also have a nice way of using a saxophone over the din to create a full-bodied sound.

Youth in Asia Pulling Out the Plug LP

Yet another eclectic punk band signs on to Mutha Records. This one has an older style US garage/punk sound, but with elements of metal, pop, etc., weaving their way in. Sometimes it works, sometimes not (especially the electronic keyboards). Different.