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(Wait — MRR #435? I thought you stopped doing a monthly magazine! Zinesplanation here.)

MRR #435 • August 2019

Abolitionist Ugly Feeling LP

A heavier mix of ’90s dude hardcore with an odd amount of FUGAZI-type time changes and chords. These guys have definitely progressed musically in the decade or so that they have been churning out aggressive rock-y hardcore. A turn off for me, though, are the vocals, which are spoken-screamed with no regard for the tempo or key of the music. I kinda prefer their much earlier output. The music was still ruff’n’tuff, but the singer sang along pretty well. I’m a prude, though. For those who enjoy testosterone-laden hardcore of yesteryear without being asshole bros (as their lyrics are still pretty sweet), this seems like a keeper.

  • Reviewer Ryan Modee
  • Label 1859 Records / Between the Days / No Time / Different Kitchen

Abusements Irritainment! CD

This band has spent a while steeped in the glory days of UK ’78. Yup, not UK82, but at their best, this channels the likes of EATER, the VIBRATORS, and (of course) the first CLASH disc. Lots of that mid-paced rock’n’roll/pub-rock-infused punk, and suitably melodic. My only real complaint (given that I’m partial to both UK ’78 and ’82) is that at sixteen tracks that are around three minutes each, this disc tends to drag on and on. Back in the day, you couldn’t get more than twenty minutes a side on the ol’ long playing vinyl before the sound started to deteriorate, which is still a handy rule for anything longer than a 7″ I’d posit.

Akne Straight Akting Cassette

All hail UK freak punk. Supremely damaged guitars, soaring maniacal vocals, and songs that truly defy description. This band from Leeds is truly astounding in both approach and delivery. Pure. Demented. Punk.

Alpha Hopper Aloha Hopper LP

A little too quirky to be hardcore, too heavy to be rock, and probably post-a-lot-of-things, this record might not be groundbreaking, but it’s pretty hard to pin down. Snotty, screamed vocals that sound straight out of the early ’90s sit nicely in the mix with AmRep-style noise rock. It’s busy enough to be interesting, but not so busy that it isn’t catchy.

  • Reviewer Pete Avery
  • Label One Percent Press / Radical Empathy / Swimming Faith

Autoclave Autoclave LP

The first thing I heard about AUTOCLAVE as a teen in the early ’90s was that they were an “emo” band, whatever that means! I mean I guess all music can be considered emotional? This is not paper-bag fall-on-the-floor flail, however! Featuring the otherworldly voice of Christina Billotte (SLANT 6, QUIX*O*TIC, CASUAL DOTS, etc.) and the wild guitar styles of Mary Timony (HELIUM, WILD FLAG, EX HEX, etc.) this is a DC supergroup in my mind, but this was their high school band I think!?? It definitely has a sincere seeking feeling, some sort of post-Revolution Summer dream haze, maybe that’s why the mailorder lumped it in with the early ’90s emo scene but I would place it in the realms of post-punk explorations if you must genre-ize every sound. For fans of ONE LAST WISH and WIRE?! Christina’s voice is truly beautiful, the lyrics are so perceptive and thoughtful and her basslines remind me of WIRE songs and Nikki’s and Mary’s chopped up guitars over it are a textural dream. They are able to create this urgent yet dreamlike quality that is quite a feat. This is a vinyl version of a CD that came out a few years ago that compiles the 10″ and 7″ with a couple unreleased songs, including a super sick cover of the Nintendo classic “Paper Boy!” This is truly the sound of my youth, a mixtape in my walkman skating round town, reading about the wild DC punk scene in Erin Smith’s Teenage Gang Debs and Tobi Vail’s Jigsasw fanzines and wanting to telepathically transmit myself to a zone where teenage girls knew about DEAD MOON and the WIPERS.

Bad Breeding Exiled LP

This record sounds like a cross between WHITE LUNG, RUDIMENTARY PENI, and DISCHARGE—three bands that sound almost nothing alike.The anarcho-punk vibes are heavy throughout the music, lyrics, and artwork, but unlike a lot of modern anarcho-punk that seems to go the goth route, this is a lot heavier, even verging into hardcore territory. The bass is turned up loud in the mix and become the main driver of the songs, and the guitar parts are experimental and chaotic, but manage to maintain punk. Something here for everyone.

Barren Marys Wired Wrong CD

This Philadelphia melodic punk band plays uptempo stuff that reminds me of early FACE TO FACE and ’90s-era NOFX. Think Fat and Dr. Strange. This was OK, but nothing stood out to make it rise above the pop punk heap. Still, a good band for the Philly pop punk locals.

Black Static Eye The Confession Box CD-R

Seven tracks of brooding, menacing, driving punk rock. Minus the vocals, it actually sounds very reminiscent of the dark rock that JELLO BIAFRA was producing during that era of solo collaboration records—particularly the JELLO BIAFRA/DOA combo, and not a million miles away from the GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, either. Technically this is a CD-R, but the production and packaging are pretty slick.

Blowback Great Again EP

Unfortunately, this is not new material from this excellent rock’n’roll-tinged hardcore band from Japan. Instead, this is the DC-based band that’s been kicking around for a minute, offering up six tracks of punky political hardcore with spot-on lyrics. The songwriting is good, not great, and sticking mostly to moderate tempos and straightforward traditional song structures, though the closing track (“A Brief History of Genocide”) flirts with reggae in an interesting, CLASH-y way. The vocals are nice and clear, so one can understand the lyrics, all of which feature right-on takes on issues like internet-based political radicalization, environmentalism, and, of course, fuck Trump. Not a record that’ll set the world on fire, but a strong release with an excellent message to share.

Bonefire Fade and Decay LP

Third LP from these Minneapolis thrashing metal-punk veterans’ project—BONEFIRE features members of MISERY, SOCIAL SCHISM (UK) and TROUBLEMAKER (CA). Snarling anthemic hardcore with a no-fucks-given attitude. Lots of catchy breakdowns, a tight double kick pedal that won’t let up, and bass grooves that add a lot of ingenuity to pretty standard albeit furiously charged compositions. The guitars are fuzzy, the vocals are gargled, the riffs are dirty. Everything sounds filthy and punk as fuck, but the morose bridges are taken with pause, and the recording was handled with a lot of care. Oh geez, and this is an Enormous Door mastering job, who up the ante again. So good. Fade and Decay is easy to get into, and features signature sounds from said members’ bands, while putting forth a unique, shadowy, and saturated new offering. I’m reminded of KILLING JOKE, INSIDE OUT, HIGH ON FIRE, VARUKERS and CHAOS UK, all at the same time. I mean…

Born Shit Stirrers Depressed Father’s Club CD

Short blasts of attitude from a crew of Brits living on the north coast of Japan’s southern island. (I’m talking about the big islands. Okinawa and Ishigaki are important and beautiful, but they aren’t very big.) Songs mostly clock in under the one-minute mark, and come off like KICKER and PUSRAD in a blender. Vocals are barked with a rarely rivaled irreverence, and this crew of expats relentlessly assails foreigners with a vicious wit. Top notch release from a group that manages the “tongue in cheek” vs. “fun as fuck” balance brilliantly.

Born Shit Stirrers Pure Shite CD

When I picked up a 62-song CD with unrelentingly negative (but really funny!) song titles, I thought for sure this was going to be some kind of RUPTURE clone. The BORN SHIT STIRRERS are definitely not that—they are something much stranger and much more interesting. The songs are mostly very, very short to be sure, but the band’s sound joins the speed and song structures of early DRI to the drunken chaos of UK82, especially DISORDER and CHAOS UK, and the acerbic wit and melodic sensibilities of SCREECHING WEASEL, with female vocals that sound very much like Stacey of MANKIND? and CALLOUSED. VILENTLY ILL are probably the most similar contemporary band I can compare them to, though the SHIT STIRRERS are a full band and are much less influenced by early USHC. The band is based out of Fukuoka, but is composed primarily of expats from the US and UK, which is an interesting dynamic that is primarily played out in the lyrics, which excoriate the punk scene, elements of Japanese society (especially bureaucracy), work culture, expat life. This disc collects all three of their studio recordings and a live set (“At Budokan,” heh) in one handy package, with art and lyrics included. If you want to know more, there’s a fucking hilarious mockumentary about the band called Born to Stir Shit floating around that’s definitely worth a watch.

Bracket Too Old to Die Young CD

My wife walked in on me playing this CD, and remarked that she both liked it, and that it reminded her (in terms of song structure, harmonies, et al.) of the BEATLES. Now, bear in mind, she hates pop punk, and the BEATLES are still the gold standard for pop. So, I don’t really have much to add. BRACKET, despite their championing by Fat Mike, and the grudging respect of my wife, have been the unsung heroes of pop punk for well over 20 years now. And apparently, they still have it, and then some.

Car Bomb Driver Chick-fil-A Is Closed on Sunday / Ordinary Guy 7"

This is garbage. I don’t even think it deserves a review. All you need to know is that the B-side, “Ordinary Guy,” is wildly problematic. The music also just plain sucks—the worst version of bar rock, cringy from start to finish.

Cave Curse Buried / Trash People 7"

I put this on expecting wild destruction à la LOST SOUNDS, but after listening to the A-side I would say it’s low on the “end of the world” synth punk destruction sound?! “Buried” sounds like a goth MODERN ENGLISH to me. Maybe it’s the vocals?! The B-side is more savage and maybe more true to what I have heard about this Bobby Hussy band, but the A-side is almost like a pop song! Like I can imagine KROQ playing it circa 1986?? I would even recommend it to you if you were a fan of more chorus pedal darkwave/goth stuff alongside that Memphis wave sound…

Celebrity Handshake This Is Real Life LP

You know, this doesn’t groove at all or fit into any cute category I can regurgitate back to you. It sounds like it was recorded accidentally onto your ancient Walkman while still in your backpack. It’s most certainly quite strange, and wild as hell. It’s like if a caveman on acid were attacking some random instruments with the amp settings all on 11, locked in a shitty bar overnight with someone who I think knows how to play the drums. This is a definite room clearer, a show ender, an immediate bummer, a reminder that life is too short, and I really fucking love it. The very last song has actual words that you can understand, but fuck that, you little shits aren’t going to make it that far.

Cement Shoes Too LP

Fresh, rocking hardcore tunes from Richmond, VA. Right off the leash they remind my Bay-Area-bubble-living ass how fuckheaded life in the South must be with “Unite the Right in Hell,” which actually sounds akin to Damaged-era BLACK FLAG. “Big men all die / Pig men all die / Alt-right all die / I’ll take your head / I’ll take yo’ hat!” Staccato caveman vocal delivery blurts over varied tempos, boosting the character of what could otherwise be a really good but pedestrian punk record. Bizzare but musical punk with a punchy, thick production and enough hardcore sensibilities to appeal to a wider audience. Totally into it.

Chardonnay Do You Have the Maximum Intuition Cassette

As an instantly addictive collection of references, the opening salvo from CHARDONNAY offers a journey far more advanced than a mere listening experience. You want high praise? I thought about HAWKWIND, WIPERS and COMPLICATIONS in the first track alone, and when they settled down into a barrage of gravel-voiced emotion, I found myself liking them even more. Self-described “LSD-beat” from New Orleans, this release is probably more rock and less fire than I would normally request, but damn the tunes are just gold throughout. It’s good to branch out from time to time…

Chrome Skulls The Metal Skull EP

This band out of New Jersey lays down four tracks of nonstop blaring D-beat in the vein of IMPALERS. They kind of sound like if a warhorse ran up to you, busted out some sick metal licks, and then galloped off to annihilation. They also sound like many other bands doing this kind of thing. That being said, this EP is solid as fuck so who cares if they don’t stand out from the pack.

CJ Ramone The Holy Spell… CD

I have to hand it to the man. Since the end of the mighty RAMONES (and let’s face it, even after Dee Dee, the songwriting took a deep dive), ol’ CJ has done a great job of both keeping that distinctive sound alive and helping refine it, rolling it seamlessly into the 21st century—albeit with a few guitar solos that would make Johnny roll in his fascist grave. Which is a long way of saying that this is fucking good. Far from being a sub-par RAMONES cover band, CJ’s songwriting is up there with Dee Dee’s contributions to the band when CJ was handling the bass duties. He is producing songs of the caliber of “Pet Semetary” and “Poison Heart,” and his tribute to the late, lamented Steve Soto in “Rock On” is a case in point. This is really fucking good. Even if he does now have a beard.

Constant Mongrel Experts in Skin / Shnuki 7"

Cunning, expert-level post-punk, bite-sized for your fearful pleasure. “Experts in Skin” ranks just as high as any hit from their recent show-stopper LP, purposeful punk concluding with a layered sax battle. The flip is poppier but prompts sly smiling rather than “lite” thoughts. Still makes me nervous, but you can dance to it. So good that it must be a joke.

Cyberplasm The Psychic Hologram LP

This record sounds like a DIY Brain Machine hijacked by anarchist hardcore punks and reprogrammed to rearrange your psyche. The concept of the record is that redemption lies in liberating the body from the mind to achieve freedom from dystopian, fascist control. The artwork includes a poster proclaiming, “YOU ARE THE INFINITE,” and “FREE THE BODY FROM THE MIND.” Brutal, blasting hardocre riffs and vocals appear intermittenetly, drenched in reverb and effects in a cyclone of chaos. This is not a noisy hardcore record. At least half the tracks are totally electronic and edge toward slow, sludgy, angry dance music. It always frustrated me that ATARI TEENAGE RIOT was so almost good. Glad to see this record taking a page from the same book but putting together something truly excellent and completely punk. The irony of the futuristic artwork and theme wrapped around such an archaic object as a vinyl record is not lost on this reviewer.


This is how you fukkn do it—bombastic and relentless D-beat punk that sounds totally original. Iceland’s D7Y tweak the formula just enough and in just the right ways: integrating the noise and the chaos into the songs themselves instead of just adding chaos for the sake of chaos like many bands are wont to do. But the main thing here is just the constant pummeling that D7Y delivers…it simply doesn’t stop, and just listening to this slab is exhausting. Absolutely top notch record in construction, presentation and delivery.

Dan Webb and the Spiders Be Alright LP

Pretty sure this is my first excursion into DAN WEBB AND THE SPIDERS territory, despite it being their fifth full-length. What you get is a polished slab of shiny, catchy indie-rock flavored pop-punk. The songs are perfectly executed—the hooks, choruses, harmonies, and guitar embellishments all hit just the right note. In its best moments, I am reminded of the elements that make the MARKED MEN so great. But something about this is leaving me a little cold; there just doesn’t seem to be much of an edge. I feel like I can visualize the car commercial that these songs could soundtrack.

Dan Webb and the Spiders Now It Can Be Told Vol. 2 CD

A collection of tracks recorded between 2015-2017, mostly previously released. This Boston band cranks out college-rock-meets-tuneful-punk-meets-indie-rock. Think early SOUL ASYLUM, DINOSAUR JR, and SUPERCHUNK with a range of tempos. It’s nice to have these tracks on one convenient CD. A very tuneful and underrated band.

Data Drums Asyndeta LP

DATA DRUMS finds Memphis’ Chuck Vicious operating outside of OSCARS, but without a step lost. I’ve always appreciated the DIY/punk that he’s released over the years, with the nowadays DATA DRUMS sounding more together and driven than I was expecting. No complaints here. Shades of early WIPERS may be the most obvious touchstone, but the tunes are uniformly cool, off-kilter, and uneasy in a compelling way.

Degenerated Downfall of Humanity / I Hate It 7"

Self-described psychobilly from Germany, 2019. Tough sell for me, gotta tell ya. DEGENERATED sound bloated and needlessly theatrical even by the standards of the genre they grease up to… It’s like they’re reducing rock’n’roll to the carnal core, but getting it terribly wrong with each strip-down attempt. A big miss.

Detroit 442 We Stand Defiant LP

Two guesses as to where this lot is from. We Stand Defiant comes with the perfunctory middle finger ethos (and cover art) and there really isn’t much there beyond that. Big guitar punk indebted to DEAD BOYS and the ilk: less brain cells, more bruised knuckles. Pure lash-out stuff, very ugly and tough, but not even a tiny bit memorable.

Enemy 4 Songs Cassette

Maximum brutality on this four-song banger. High speed, high energy, and devastatingly heavy Los Angeles hardcore that successfully harnesses California’s catchy early-’80s punk and dumps a colossal amount of tonnage on its collective back. Check the urgent stomp of “Glüm” (my choice track) and see if you’re still standing when it’s over. The EP from a while back was good, they were great when I saw them last year, but this shit? This thing is unreal.

Famous & Fallen Take Me Away CD

Despite the limitations of being a bearded trio, FAMOUS & FALLEN do a damn fine job of melding the best of melodic hardcore and driving pop punk. Not as fast or as shiny as GOOD RIDDANCE, or as poppy as SCREECHING WEASEL, but they are nevertheless firmly planted somewhere in the middle, and to more than good effect. Excellent musicianship, singing, and songcraft make this well worth tracking down.

Faux Co. Radio Silence Cassette

I mean, it’s not bad. But I feel like I’m listening to the 1971 California radio pop engine firing on all cylinders, and I don’t know why there’s this MAMAS & THE PAPAS rehash mixed in with my raging D-beat and my hardcore. Don’t get me wrong, Sweetheart of the Rodeo is an essential record (and it’s way more country than Radio Silence is), there’s just a time and a place.

Felchers Felchers LP

Solid hardcore punk record in the vein of BLACK FLAG, RKL, and fellow midwesterners ZERO BOYS. Surf-y drums, dynamic riffs, heavy reverb and treble on the guitars, and wreck-your-throat raw vocals. They catch you off guard, and keep you enthralled through all sixteen tracks, like mid-tempo rocker “Decimal” which features some weird horn or something. Maybe just a poorly played saxophone? Whatever it is, it’s punk.

Frenzy Frenzy 12"

FRENZY is a band with many admirable qualities: they’re consistent, hardworking, and they’ve got a unique approach to graphic design, but their greatest quality is that they understand their genre and style much better than almost any other band going, and they express that understanding by having fun! Go back to the noisepunk godheads like DISORDER, CHAOS UK and CHAOTIC DISCHORD, and you don’t find a bunch of po-faced sad sacks talking earnestly about issues or (even worse) preening and styling and thinking themselves superior to their audience. You find a bunch of friends taking the piss, enjoying beer and noize. I have never seen FRENZY not enjoy themselves onstage, and I’ve never heard a FRENZY record that doesn’t bring a smile to my face. To be fair, their lyrics do touch on serious and important topics, but they always leave plenty of room to honor the essential ridiculousness of the style. This, their first 12” record, is easily the best of their output so far: stripped-down and proceeding at a pace somewhere between lurch and lope, with the wildest solos yet. One of the best of the year so far for sure!

Frustrerad Shadow of Life Cassette

Clenched-fist kång fire from Belgium. They adhere to The Formula quite well: Euro D-beats, verse/chorus/verse with no funny stuff (maybe an occasional bridge), treble rebel recording, shouted earnest vocals…and a VARUKERS cover. I mean, it’s all here and they do it right.

Gongfermour Pop Dada CD

To be honest, seeing a CD-only release by an American band in 2019 land on my “desk” is the shit that keeps me up at night in a cold sweat, and this little bastard did not disappoint. I assume this was meant to sound like some Rikk Agnew-era goth punk, with their reverb-drenched rock and just plain odd synths, but it falls pretty damn flat. Oddly enough, there is a completely endearing, super adorable, absolutely unrecognizable cover of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” at the end, which kinda made me like these guys a whole lot.

Good Missionaries Pylons LP

A puzzling and primo UKDIY excavation tracked during the golden era, but now seeing proper release all these decades later. Whisper-celebrated and/or faintly chided for their own scattered offerings, GOOD MISSIONARIES are mostly thought of as a footnote to the more well-known ALTERNATIVE TV, the band from which they sprang. This outdoes any of previously available GOOD MISSIONARIES product, I says. Liners nail it: “the impatience and aggression of punk, but the wandering curiosity of experimental music.” Dubby meander, brat barking, horny skronking, punk that leaves dents. Nerd shit, but quite right to these ears.

Good Riddance Thoughts and Prayers CD

It’s been a while seen I’ve heard a current release for this Northern California band. Granted, they had disbanded and reunited in 2012. A catchy full-length that’s musically in the vein of labelmates NOFX and LAGWAGON, and strong vocals with a sociopolitical bent lyrically.

Good Shade Way Out LP

This fourth full-length release from Columbus, Ohio’s GOOD SHADE goes between extra fast, melodic power-pop and more tender, meandering ballads. The moments of glory are the simple, understated interludes between overwrought vocal melodies and multi-multi-layered guitar leads. While the band has a full lineup for live shows, all parts of the recording are written, performed, and recorded by one member. It’s an impressive accomplishment, but not likely to appeal to fans of punk.

Haram وين كنيت بي ١١/٩؟? (Where Were You on 9/11?) EP

This is the first record that’s ever made me cry. I felt a deep, personal connection to the concept, and the record’s power—both in terms of lyrics and musical brutality—left me mindblown. This release seems a bit more dynamic than their others: there’s some chaotic, interesting guitar parts on “Bomb in the Sky,” and a cool SACRILEGE-type galloping intro on “The Solution (Is Resistance).” The singer’s signature snarl sits on top of the mix, delayed and distorted in just the right amounts. My favorite track has got to be the last one, “Jihad, Jihadi.” The riff reminds me of something EXOTICA would do, and the lyrics sing like an anthem. It seriously gives me chills.

Hidden Spots New Me/New You LP

As expected, HIDDEN SPOTS fucking delivers. Sure, it’s pretty melodic, which isn’t usually my thing, but the passion and positive energy that oozes out of this record are pretty damned undeniable. Eric’s lyrics alone can read like a call to arms against monotony, bigotry, greed, self hatred, or whatever else in this fucked up world has got you all flustered. A punk should never feel alone in this shitty world, knowing there’s a person as caring as him down in Tennessee. You know, it’s actually pretty hard for me to review this slab, because even though I’m a fan, I know that with this being so melodic, and produced so well, many a proper punk full of angst and with a lust for bile won’t give this the listen that it deserves. Do yourselves a favor and pick this up, pin the lyric sheet up over your bed, and drink plenty of water.

Hip Priests Stand for Nothing CD

This UK band rocks pretty hard. Great riffs and choruses with a bad attitude. Along the ways of TURBONEGRO, MOTÖRHEAD, and early DAMNED. Although lots of bands give us relentless guitar rock’n’roll, this really hits the mark tune-wise. Great full-length!

Hygiene Private Sector LP

London’s finest purveyors of thematic post-punk where all the songs are ripped from the Guardian comments section, or perhaps the “In the Back” section of Private Eye. Brought out of retirement by the specter of Brexit and the likely scenario of Boris über alles, HYGIENE is the group England needs now—specially since they are fronted by a scion of the Commonwealth. Alongside at least three songs dealing with public transport in some way (“Replacement Bus” really captures all the frustrations of, er, having to catch a replacement bus), gammons, free marketers, and pedophile conspirators all come in for ire. For all the spartan rhythms and stark vocal commentary, though, the album connects most directly with the rousing singalong of the future potential folk classic “He Doesn’t Want to Pay His Taxes.” On this one they could be a CHUMBAWAMBA or MEKONS for today. Welcome back chaps.

Idiota Civilizzato Civiltà Idiota EP

The vocalist seems to be channeling INDIGESTI on this latest offering, and I’m therefore charmed. IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO is a Berlin-based band featuring punx from Spain, Australia, and Italy—the Italian vocalist does well to catch the ear of any discenring ’80s Italian hardcore fan. After a demo, EP, and LP, they impressively keep the quality high and awesomely idiotic! Four more excellent tunes for thrashing, accompanied by consistently amateurish cover drawing.

Index Originals Vol. 2 (1969) LP

INDEX is the sound of the doomed dream of the ’60s. Intoning wild sound sculptures with a bedroom garage stance, a space/earth/forest lens but also a lonely gas station feeling, a wood paneled rec room to return to. Some of it has the impression of the spun-out doom of certain live VELVET UNDERGROUND bootlegs but without the avant-garde—more of an outsider art perspective?! Style in a most devastating manner though, true mystery and horror embodied in those guitar tones, an other worldly clatter that destroys and rebuilds rock’n’roll for those looking for a new way to drive thru the apocalypse. INDEX were responsible for two highly sought-after private press LPs from the late ’60s with a wild mix of end-times-sounding cover versions and originals reverberating the desolate sound of Michigan through the ages! This LP is the second in a two-part reissue series (the first is a compilation of the original songs from the two ’60s LPs) whereas this is all unreleased reels found in a band member’s closet! I didn’t get the first volume because part of the appeal of this band’s records are the insane cover versions, and skipping those seemed callous to the collector?! I mean, their version of “8 Miles High” from the first LP turns the song from a hazy LA dream to a desolate Michigan mushroom nightmare, clangy and desperate and much more real… A totally different trip. I advise buying all of the releases immediately and feverishly consuming them! If this doomed unrestrained vision appeals to you I would also recommend checking out Laguna Beach’s the ELECTRONIC HOLE from the same era—another earth-shattering trip.

Indian Summer Cherry Smash 12"

30 years ago, INDIAN SUMMER (of Virginia, not California) recorded a four-song 7” that was never released. In that same year, Maximum Rocknroll said of the band’s tape, “Pretty upbeat melodic punk with a slight pop edge. ‘Why?’, the song which kicks the tape off, is the best tune.” It shall be said again. These four songs (plus a demo track that is a couple seconds long) sound very much in line with a lot of DC stuff from the time. More so the melodic hardcore side of things (and not so much the emo part), with their love for GOVERNMENT ISSUE being especially apparent. It’s a cool document and also worth a listen. “Why?”, the song which kicks the record off, is still the best tune.

Invisible Engine Try to Want Less CD-R

Eight songs of melodic, choppy Midwestern popcore with a lot of emphasis on lead guitar. The solid songwriting chops and earnest vocals are making me think of STRAWMAN (maybe it’s an Ohio thing) and in their finest moments (to these ears, particularly the song “Evaporate”) they sound like outtakes of Grant Hart-sung HÜSKER DÜ material. There are places where the guitar leads are a bit overdone—but with some trimming of the fat and a bit more focus on the buzzsaw melodies, INVISIBLE ENGINE could be quite a unit.

L.O.T.I.O.N. World Wide W.E.B. LP

This is the one. This is the moment that L.O.T.I.O.N. evolved from an interesting concept into a fully-realized, impeccably executed cyber juggernaut. The base of early industrial is still there (they’ll never not owe a debt to SKINNY PUPPY) but that skeleton is fleshed out here with a range of new sounds and textures, including thrash riffing (“New Prosthetic Metal Arm”), industrial dance (the KMFDM-ish “Gabber Punks of Dabs/Downed Police Helicopter”), and even downtempo electronica (the wonderfully out of left field “I.C.B.M.” with its club-ready female vocals). If you’ve been a bit dubious of this band’s earlier output, put that aside because this is a new-model L.O.T.I.O.N., equally prepared to conquer fetid punk dives and velvet-roped VIP rooms. It probably goes without saying, but this packaging is fantastic as well, utilizing a Soldier of Fortune mag-styled sleeve and insert along with a fantastic poster featuring one of vocalist Alexander Heir’s best works yet.

The Hirs Collective / Lifes Split Microcassette

I love rare formats, and I also love tiny things, therefore I wish the archive had tapes, or I wish I could just file this release between our 5″ and 1″ records. This cassette features one song from each band. LIFES opens with a short clip of the intro to PRINCE’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” and proceeds into a steady roar of grating, distorted, blasting guitar and plaintive screams. I particularly appreciate the lyrics of this song, which were inspired by the questions of a four-year-old girl about life and death. It’s actually pretty long for a grind song—it even has a bridge. The HIRS COLLECTIVE track has a very melodic opening with building tension, then the overpowering drums hit you with a stampeding thrust. The limitations of my microcassette player speaker means I can barely hear the guitar and bass, but it’s a consistent scrape in the background under partially sung, partially shouted, and partially spoken vocals. Ends with white noise beaming as if through a slowly rotating ceiling fan. The song is dedicated to all our lost friends, and the lyrics are very powerful—harm reduction politics and compassion as well as support. There are only 25 copies of this release, but it comes with a dainty lyric sheet with beautiful art detailing gloves, a photo of LIFES playing in the woods, and the HIRS name stretched out to appear as prison bars with blue femme hands with long nails gripping the bars, and the words “burn every prison” below.

Malcría El Reino De Lo Falso LP

MALCRÍA of Mexico City plays rhythmic, punctuated macabre punk with the demented tones of RUDIMENTARY PENI meeting the urgency and chokehold of SIEGE. The bass bombards forth, while the guitars sizzle under smashing drums with feral unexpected thunderous attacks. Songs are short and tight, filled with raw power and unbridled energy boiling simultaneously as a lidded cauldron ready to erupt. Very tense, very real. The Spanish vocals are screamed and megaphoned across the spiraling, flaying hardcore tracks. As the play progresses, shadows of FORÇA MACABRA, CONFUSE, PART 1, SEPTIC DEATH, and RAJOITUS rear their ugly heads. MALCRÍA has concocted a fresh stab of distorted, demented, threatening hardcore. Cool your head with this all summer, and into the fall crispness. Songs as crispy as dead leaves on fire.

Micro Edge 1983 Demo LP

Cool excavation of youthful Toronto hardcore from the erstwhile Ugly Pop label (who’ve assembled some quality archival works in the last several years). These recordings, supposedly compiled from not one but three early ’80s sessions, have been kicking around the cassette-trading/file-sharing underground for a bit and are now seeing their first proper release. The LP opens with a BL’AST-esque stomper before kicking into thrash-speed intensity. If This Is Boston-era GANG GREEN is your shit, then you need this. There have been some questionable ’80s HC reissues lately (NEGATIVE ELEMENT demos?) but MICRO EDGE delivers the goods quite pleasingly, and at 45 RPM there’s not much room for filler. The sixteen-page “skate mag” booklet includes no lyrics, though to quote the liner notes, the vocalist “had a knack for catchy phrases about cops, greed, parents, skating, and of course…assholes” so you’re probably not missing any heavy political dissertations. One-time pressing of 500 copies and already sold out from the label, so buy now or regret later, eh?

Moral Panic Moral Panic LP

Man, these guys come out of the gates swinging, with a faster-paced, almost frenetic number. This is punk rock. Sure, it’s catchy, but it’s got this nervous energy that keeps the listener on edge. They keep up the pace for the entire record. This thing just shreds. At times I’m reminded of the DEAD BOYS, only amped up a tad. And just for the hell of it, they throw in a PAGANS cover. Excellent record.

Musclegoose 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Musclegoose Mountain Cassette

High-energy golf-themed basement shit punk that is way too high-fidelity. This shit is supposed to be recorded with a toilet mic, and these Arkansas butt rockers spent the money on a studio for some reason. It’s weird, but it means that the legitimate chops on tracks like “Bad Boyz II: Men” shine through and the listener starts to think that MUSCLEGOOSE might actually be a real band (hint: they are). DWARVES chops with SPITS humor, and head and shoulders better than the throw away joke punk garbage persona that they present.

Musclegoose A Hot Dog Made of Us EP

Remember when punk used to be silly and tough and mercilessly antagonistic all at the same time? This weird EP channels the rawness of ’80s punk like CIRCLE JERKS or BORN AGAINST, plus something a little extra artsy. I haven’t heard anything simultaneously this smart and this dumb in a long time. It sounds like fun.

Negative Gears Negative Gears 12"

This is the debut vinyl aural blast from Sydney’s NEGATIVE GEARS. Six demented screeds bifurcated by one ’80s synth interlude—the whole thing goes by so quickly, that you can listen to the record on your tea break. There’s a melancholic undercurrent here (a bit WIPERS, a bit ICEAGE) that is tempered by an Aussie snarl not unlike GEARS’ peers like LOW LIFE and TOTAL CONTROL. I’ve listened to it a few times now, and I keep hearing new things to appreciate: a little guitar riff here, a synth line there, the lyrics that smack of disappointment in how life has turned out. The darkness that lurks in the shadows where the sun shines brightest. The beach punks drinking under the pier, the desert rat frying in a trailer.

Night Talkers Code 1079! LP

High-energy party-heavy punk rock’n’roll. Screaming guitars up front at all times, and you can practically feel beer cans whizzing by your head as their brand of amped-up club punk reaches to NASHVILLE PUSSY to inspiration. NIGHT TALKERS sound instantly familiar, probably because they have existed as different entities with different monikers in different cities practically since the dawn of punk. But hard-hitting burners like “Trapped” are timeless.

Obedience MMXIX LP

If you paid attention to the 2016 demo, then you pretty much know this 12″ platter is going to be good. Well, it’s better than that. A ten-track juggernaut, with Dave’s vocals cranking out frustration and wisdom at a pace and ferocity that rivals ’82 MDC. There’s an amped up Oi! undertone that sneaks into the mix here and there, which only serves to make their unhinged rage a little catchier than it probably should be…and makes bangers like “Wall Me In” hopelessly addictive. For reference, this Austin band features members of TEAR IT UP, CONCRETE, SEVERED HEAD OF STATE and BREAKOUT…you know, in case you needed any convincing.

Pasha & the Kindred Spirits Demo 2019 Cassette

Lo-fi indie pop and/or region rock, or perhaps this is like the PROMISE RING if they got signed by Plan-It-X in 1998. Plus there are layers of whoa-ohs and lots of guitar leads, but the recording kinda makes it all just sound like a mess. I’m still listening here, and with all due respect to the artist/s, I promise that I’m trying. But the truth is that PASHA & THE KINDRED SPIRITS are a swooning turd delivered with marginally out-of-tune pretension. If you want to hear the sound of a jilted lover that just won’t go away, then this is your jam…I find myself wondering if I know anyone in this band and am gonna feel bad about this review (edit: just listened again, and it’s very honest).

Pink Guitars Hand CD-R

At their height, this Buffalo, NY recording project reminds me of the atonal spacious presentation of ARMIA’s Legenda, while most of the time it’s some feisty bedroom four-track punk with goooood riffs (“Above It All”) and some questionable vocals (also “Above It All,” unfortunately) that sound like they are going for ‘82 DC on a recording that is light years from ’82 DC in almost every way. If nothing else, PINK GUITARS keep me listening so I can try to find a way to describe what I’m listening to…this is something, you see.

Pleasure Leftists The Gate LP

In their first release since 2015, PLEASURE LEFTISTS return with ten brooding yet upbeat post-punk tracks. The songs are awash with emotion and interweaving layers of instruments, while singer Haley’s vocals cut through with dramatic melodies. The deathrock sound is still present, with a strong SIOUSXIE AND THE BANSHEES, ’80s-style undertow. What the band gains through restraint and thoughtfulness here leads to a sound that is solid, but a bit less adventurous than their original 2015 full-length, The Woods of Heaven. Recorded by Stan Wright of ARCTIC FLOWERS, it’s beautifully and intentionally produced without sounding over-produced.

Preening Gang Laughter LP

Sputtering muscular no wave sax/drums/bass trio—No New York fans take note! This has that downtown New York sleaze funk jazz fuck urge down. But maybe with the politics of the CAMBERWELL NOW?! If GANG OF FOUR was free jazz? Mostly because of that bass sound. An Oakland abstract anti-gentrification-art-against-work sound. Alejandra’s vocals rule; she should definitely be the singer of all bands! No joke! Max’s wild wail interspersed with her vocals is some sort of wild planet where D BOON sings back ups for CASTRATION SQUAD, but it’s free jazz. This sorta sound could be punishing, but instead it’s a pleasure. Why not?!

Primitive Hands Bad Men in the Grave LP

The cover (which is awesome) has you expecting a cowboy/western edge. Think Clint Eastwood and spaghetti westerns. Think cowboy surf. Add vocals. Now add some distortion. But it’s not one dimensional. Subsequent tracks get a little fuzzy. This is rock’n’roll. It’s crazy catchy and a little uncomfortable at the same time. That’s a pretty sweet combo. Just a few songs in and you realize that this goes well beyond some cowboy shtick. This is for reals. Man, they finish a great record with perhaps the best song, which is very RADIO BIRDMAN-like. I don’t know how long they’ve been at it, but Alien Snatch continues to deliver the goods.

Primitive Teeth Plastic Cassette

Five tracks of dark but high-energy punk, with songwriting that sounds like it draws some influence from melodic Scaninavian punk, and dramatic vocals a little like X. The unconventional post-punk drumming adds a lot to the sound, and catchy minor chord progressions create tension and anxiety. Includes most of what you’re likely looking for in a dark punk tape, with some cool and spooky special effects right at the end of the final track.

Private Anarchy Central Planning LP

Sparse, intricate weirdo art pop, sounding more a labor of necessity rather than straightforward love. Spiderweb guitar lines perform an off-kilter dance around loose-limbed, jazzy rhythms. There’s a subdued quality to the whole thing, like if you imagine David Thomas from PERE UBU making demos in his bedroom, but trying really hard not to wake up his roommates. There are eleven songs, and if you often stay up late listening to college radio, you’re sure to hear some of them eventually.

Proletariat Punch Crapitalism Cassette

If my first thought is “hmmm, kinda has a feisty Spiderleg Records vibe,” then things are going well, right? PROLETARIAT PUNCH is primarily (I think?) a recording project, and they’ve been cranking out offerings for almost a decade. This one sticks with me more than last year’s Intifada EP; they charge full-speed through every track (there are just four), and at their tightest moments manage to exude a touch of PENI lurking under a pounding early DISCHARGE beat. It’s a relatively simple formula, but it really works here. Recommended.

Pscience Pscience LP

Truly delightful synth punk snot from New Orleans, featuring cretins from killer groups including BLACK ABBA, TRAMPOLINE TEAM, BUCK BILOXI, GIORGIO MURDERER and so forth! I love it when it’s the same people in all the bands! Clear evidence of a creative scene volcano hive situation. PSCIENCE is a lo-fi dream with throwaway dollar store guitar sound and synths from a bargain basement new wave-scape. This is not savage synth punk like say, SCREAMERS or LOST SOUNDS, it’s more like that footage of the B-52S playing a house party in 1979 or whatever?! Falling apart good times is all you can ask for as the world shudders to an end. This is great! Gimme more.

Rashōmon 病原菌X (Pathogen X) 12"

I certainly love guitar leads and frenzied hardcore, so DC’s RASHŌMON speaks my language. Those of us asking for more since their slick demo tape a couple years back have gotten as good of an answer as we could’ve hoped for. Dual riffs are blissful and radiant, sometimes swerving toward discordant and reminding me of ARTICLES OF FAITH. But this could just as easily been plucked from the Bloodsucker roster, as there is a definitive Japanese hardcore influence, made most obviously apparent by the Japanese vocalist. The warm, dry production highlights the glorious guitar and vocals, but the serious drum mastery deserves to not go unnoticed. Innovative drum fills and transitions are easter eggs scattered all throughout these six tracks. I’m sorry, but I just don’t care about the novel etching on the flipside of the disc, but I can simply ignore that in this case because the record is so damn great!

Rat Fancy Stay Cool LP

This is super sugary ’90s bedroom pop. Way outta my jurisdiction, as this comes off more like a low-budget, even more jangly JULIANA HATFIELD than I’d like. This release flirts with noisy rock at times, but the sugar shines through. This is well done, if you are into the sweeter candy styled stuff.

Romskip 05 EP

Track one and I’ve got mixed emotions. I find the vocals a bit much. I feel like he’s trying too hard. Musically, it’s pretty cool. It’s deliberate and plodding, but catchy as hell. The bass really draws you in. It’s almost kind of funky, but with an eeriness. There’s a lot going on, which doesn’t always work for me. By track three, they’re starting to mix in some backing vocals. Overall, I think I like it, but I think maybe they take it just a little too seriously for me to really get on board. I dig that the vocals are in their native Norwegian. Shout out to Bergen, one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Salty Dry-Rub Cassette

How do you describe hipster punk delivered by actual nerds? Not ironic nerds, but people who are nerds because they have no other choice in life. Dry-Rub is synth heavy, there’s the VERUCA SALT vibe that dominates (it’s really a WIRE / BUZZCOCKS vibe, but that’s a different decade and a different story), and there’s the overwhelming feeling that you’re own perception of cool is getting completely skewed by listening to SALTY. Decidedly un-hip hipster garage/psych music that should be for the masses.

Sendo Fogo Sobreviver a Lutar CD

Ripping fastcore, the way you want it and they way it should be delivered. São Paulo’s SENDO FOGO slow it down to a punishing pace when necessary, and it just makes the controlled insanity of bangers like “Abaixo Do Chão” come off even more face-melting. Blasts drop in a few times, but at its heart this is a no-bullshit fast hardcore record—carrying on the Brasilian tradition of bands like DISCARGA, MAYOMBE, MERDE, and the like. Eleven songs, twelve minutes. Killer.

Shit Coffins Termination LP

This is a purely incredible record, made by some of the sharpest punks in the game. To put my love for it into context: When I was in high school, I discovered BORN/DEAD, which completely rocked my world and sort of shaped my taste in hardcore punk—catchy, rocking, versatile, political, with muddy guitar tone and barking vocals. If that band had continued, and got better and more experimental, you would have SHIT COFFINS. The guitar riffs are unrelenting, I heard a little TOTALITÄR in the D-beat parts, a little CHAOS UK in the mid-tempo punk parts, and maybe a little DROPDEAD in the hardcore parts. Nothing but pure chaos on the drums. The lyrics, sung with aggressive desperation, read like a book. They seem to center around carried pain, possibly trauma. “I close my eyes and it’s all I see / Presence is fear / consuming the past – fervency of now / This darkness will last.” The song “Benchmarks” has lyrics that I thought were actually pretty positive: “There is not hope beyond what you can hold / Life is loss / Hold onto hope no matter the cost.”

Speed Babes Tape:Pink Cassette

Third dose this month of garage-esque punk from What’s For Breakfast? Records. Karoline says “it kinda sounds like that wave of commercial almost-punk that was popular fifteen years ago. Like, not the HIVES, and not quite FRANZ FERDINAND, and maybe REIGNING SOUND sometimes.” And you see, that’s why I ask Karoline’s opinion: because she fukkn nails it. Quirky jams from Chicago’s prolific SPEED BABES, every track is catchy (well, almost; see below) and the above non-descriptors should give you a pretty good idea of what they are slinging. A few breath-y slow/quiet tracks for good measure (the burners are way better though, “Start a War” is a clunker supreme).

Spit-Take Falling Star 12"

This is absurdly poppy pop punk that hints at indie rock. Ranging from slow, melancholic, bummer tunes like the opener and closer to up-beat, melancholic, bummer tunes like “How,” to melancholic, bummer, pop anthems like “Five or Six,” this record covers a small amount of ground. Sung vocals that get pushed every once in a while play with simple guitar melodies on what is a pretty forgettable record.

State Drugs Takings & Leavings CD-R

This CD collects STATE DRUGS’ recordings from 2015-2017. They excel at the end of melodic hardcore/pop punk that would have been called college rock in the ’80s and ’90s. And indeed, they wear their influences on their sleeves, with a workmanlike cover of the REPLACEMENTS’ “Left of the Dial.” At their best, they remind me more than a tad of the MOVING TARGETS and the NILS. Excellent indeed.

Steve Adamyk Band Paradise LP

I love STEVE ADAMYK. If I liked guys and he liked guys and I wasn’t so much older than him, I’d probably ask him to marry me. Either him or Bobby Martinez. Anyway, you get here just what you’ve grown to expect: extremely catchy, infectious power-pop. As soon as you put the needle down, you start bouncing your head. It’s immediate. These dudes just consistently deliver. It’s catchy and melodic and all that, but don’t think that must mean that this isn’t raw rock’n’roll. Great record.

Strawberry Cinder Block Slice of Life CD

Here is a one-person death-grind metal-punk project out of St. Charles, Illinois. This is the kind of shit you hear late night at the rock bar when the metal dude is working. It’s got enough guitar squeals to make you make you puke up hoppy micro-pint, too. It’s also got an anime theme in the cover art and between-song samples, which I don’t really know what to make of. All and all, this one ain’t great, but it could be much worse.

Strung Out Songs of Armor and Devotion CD

I’m not ashamed to confess that I’ve always had a real soft spot for STRUNG OUT. Over the last three decades they’ve pretty much perfected that seamless blend of metallic driving melodic hardcore, complete with the twin guitar solos, false harmonics, and layered vocals. Imagine the IRON MAIDEN Killers line-up covering NO USE FOR A NAME’s ¡Leche con Carne! Or BAD RELIGION having a go at the best of THIN LIZZY. Yup, it’s that good, and it still works.

Suck Lords True Lords Music EP

These Portland maniacs went and got really fukkn raw on their new EP. Blown-out garage hardcore mania fueled by speed and paranoia, these eight songs are onto the next fight before you even know you got your ass kicked. SUCK LORDS swing hard, and the riffs crawl under your skin, but everything just happens so damn fast. Like NEON CHRIST fast. Take NOSFERATU as a lazy modern comparison, but the shit here sounds like no other game in town. Yeah…it’s good-ass shit.

Tandoori Knights Temple of Boom EP

I’m sure this is already sold out, as it features King Khan and Bloodshot Bill (not Barbecue Bill, as I have written down here in my notes), so act fast, if that’s your thing. I think you kinda know exactly what to expect with this. Super bare-boned, early BILLY CHILDISH-inspired, distorted even though it’s acoustic, wonderful harmonies, yet still ridiculously simple. I feel this shit gets more credit than it deserves, but at the same time, it’s really fucking good. Yeah, I wanna be a snob and hate on this real bad, but I just can’t do that.

Telekrimen Culto a Lo Imbécil LP

Kitchen-sink punk noise from Mexico City. TELEKRIMEN are about as “garage punk” as a band like early LOST SOUNDS were, which is a wonderful thing: dark and bloody punk with a recognizable ’60s garage foundation, but damaged enough that it mutates into something more interesting. The less-compelling moments (barely-beyond-trad surf and R&B swipes) are basically just workouts designed for live gyration rather than at-home pondering, so sweat appears to be of more concern that brains here. Fitting as they probably kick ass live.

The English Language Paranoid Imagination Cassette

Early-’90s grunge/college/indie fully reborn and reincarnated. I mean, it’s been almost 30 years, so TAD is classic rock at this point (“Stairway to Heaven” was only eight years old when Pay to Cum dropped, so there’s that for perspective). Some surfy Laurel Canyon bits break up the distant guitars on what could essentially sit alongside EUGENIUS or any number of then-retro sounding bands. So yeah…here’s some kids from 2019 trying to sound like drugged out kids from 1990 who were trying to kick 1970 butt rock in the butt. Is it good? Yup, it totally is. They do exactly what they set out to do. Choice cut: “Misery.”

The Functional Citizens Game Night CD

I’m not alone in thinking (well, Ben agrees with me at least, and he should know) that the apex of the mighty SCREECHING WEASEL was Anthem for a New Tomorrow. Wittingly or not, this trio have spent an eon or two steeped in it, channeling its excellence in this here offering. I rest my case.

The Idiots Schweineköter CD

Metallic, cheesy rock with embarrassing lyrics by “scene veterans” with a long list of boring and irrelevant punk credentials dating back to 1978. “Hey you bastard listen to me / I fuck your face / I shut your mouth / I fuck your brain / Your time is up” So bad!

The Sissies Milksop Cassette

Beer and shitty bars and rock’n’roll…it all still tastes good together. We’re talking the BRIEFS and/or Surfer Rosa era-PIXIES by way of AMBOY DUKES and/or STOOGES, but with a NINE POUND HAMMER “yeeeaaaahhh” cranked way up in the front of house monitors. All of these ingredients are delicious, and the pained/strained vocals are the gravy. I kinda don’t want to like this, but I totally do.

Toyota Toyota LP

Total mongoloid math punk here. Hyperkinetic jazzcore spurts with deadpan staccato robot vocals. If I time travelled to six months ago and told you that in August 2019 and beyond, the latest thing would sound like a DEVO simulation robot programmed by PRIMUS, you’d tell me “so what, URANIUM CLUB have like five albums already.” Rock with no roll for the age of the electric vehicle hot rod rumble where neon-clad Prius-rockers play chicken for cryptocurrency, not pink slips.

UK Subs Subversions II CD

A second album of newly recorded covers from these UK punk old timers. Still a great band after all these years, we are treated to versions of “Immigrant Song,” “Search and Destroy,” “This Is Rock ’n’ Roll,” and the uptempo version of “We Will Rock You” as well as eight other tasteful oldies. It’s a lot of fun, and it sure beats the usual “live cover” on the flip side.

USA/Mexico Matamoros LP

Actual noise rock royalty on this one, with King Coffey (BUTTHOLE SURFERS) behind the kit. Throw in a couple of dudes from SHIT & SHINE, and prepare yourself for a beating. Pure and purely demented Texas noise rock, emphasis on the “noise” descriptor. There are layers of magic lurking under the crumbling cacophony of destructed and distorted sound masquerading as “songs,” laying waste to boring genre adherence just as they lay waste to theories of repetition as music. Regurgitating the ghost of KILLDOZER as a psilocybin aficionado roaming Austin alleys at 4:00 A.M. Game over, kids…the grown-ups just won.

V/A Kinda Sorta Music 2019 CD-R

20-band compilation CD-R—a format that I simultaneously curse and adore. The disc starts with garage punk, then raw hardcore, then blackened grind/crust…so you know you’re in for a wild ride. There’s weird industrial (FUTURE SCUM), pure noise (O.S. D’VIL, OLIGARCHY OF MEGALOMANIA), shit-fi garage (the GREAT SADDNESS), psychedelic drum machine party punk (HURT HAWKS), some lost BAUHAUS shit (UFO WHISPERER) and plenty of straight hardcore and/or punk burners (the RIGHT, DEAD BABIES). Literally something here for everyone, and I missed more than a few highlights in this review. Kinda Sorta Music is all over the place in the best way, and well worth the two or three emails to that it might take to get a copy into your own hands.

V/A A Tribute to Punk 2xCD

On the face of it, there’s not a ton of appeal to a collection of 25 punk covers from bands that are punk-adjacent at best. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but this was actually a pretty easy listen. Mostly hailing from Europe, the bands included cover a wide range of styles that includes dub, cumbia, ska, tango, and the latest weird iteration of GUTS PIE EARSHOT. Highlights include DUBAMIX (anarcho-dub!) offering up a DJ SHADOW-esque mashup of CRASS, the CLASH, DEAD KENNEDYS and BERURIER NOIR, an impassioned take on “The Guns of Brixton” (“Armas de Barrio”) from Spain’s ESKORZO, Italian band ARPIONI proving that “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” is a much better ska song than it is a pop track, and KUMBIA QUEERS high-energy, tounge-in-cheek cover of LOS VIOLADORES’ “Una, Dos, Ultraviolenta.” As you can tell, most of the covers are of the CLASH and other big names, but there are some pretty cool curveballs as well. As a whole, this isn’t something that you’d play for your crustier acquaintances, but if you need a record to put on when you’ve got squares over, this is a pretty good choice.

V/A Chain of Karma CD

Break out your bandanna and knuckledusters, this CD is a cornucopia of metallic/NYHC-style hardcore bands from Japan. Six bands, each offering three tracks apiece, so you get a good dose of material from the bands you know, and a good sense of what the others are all about. The disc opens and closes with its strongest material, kicking off with the SUICIDAL-loving mosh masters CYCOSIS and closing with the Burning Spirits-meets-CRUMBSUCKERS crossover of SAIGAN TERROR (best known for their super-elusive EP on Bacteria Sour). In between you’ll find straightforward trebly hardcore from B SIDE APPROACH, some particularly weird joke-y black metal-style stuff from the reliably strange HARD CORE DUDE, some super-catchy riff-centered mosh from GAMY, and some very metallic and technical stuff from EEVEE. Not as great as some of the other Hardcore Kitchen samplers from the past (I highly recommend Destructive Decibel Domination and the N.E.K/ADA MAX split) but there’s plenty to like here, especially if you’re a fan of the heavier side of hardcore.

V/A Bekannt & Beliebt (28 Bands Spielen Notdurft) CD

The subtitle of this (so far as I can ascertain) all-German compilation translates to “28 Bands Cover NOTDURFT.” ’Tis all in German (both the liner notes and the singing, not to mention the names of the vast majority of the bands), so I really have no idea what they are going on about. But it does sound pretty damn good. CAMINOS quite wittily/cleverly weave in the defining riffs, melodies, and solos of “Holiday in Cambodia” into their track—the majority of which sounds nothing like the DEAD KENNEDYS stylistically. UGLY HURONS do the third-wave pop punk-with-horns ska thing very well, while the POST-ROFT offering wouldn’t have sounded amiss on the UK DECAY long player. The highlights for me are definitely HANS AM FELSEN, who sound like the driving melodic punk with male/female twin vocals of PARANOID VISIONS at their height, along with two of the synth pop offerings from EIN JAHR and GEN NULL, the latter of whom bring to mind the best of CAPTAIN SENSIBLE’s solo offerings. I’d never heard of any of these bands prior to this disc, but am delighted to make their acquaintance, for sure.

Warsh Demo Cassette

Forceful hardcore punk. Shouted female vocals, some excellently weird riffs and construction, and it’s generally tough as nails. WARSH hit that typical stomp just enough to lure in the flavor-of-the-month kids, but it’s just a trick they’re gonna use to smash your face with a deadly buzzsaw guitar and insanely good tracks. It’s like NO THANKS planted “Fuck Everything” on Prince Edward Island (that’s in Canadia, the way eastern part) 35 years ago, and WARSH just waited until it had fully matured. Highest recommendation.

Western Death Sick Century CD

The meaty chugs of mid-’80s NYHC clashes with melodic gruff vocals and wailing leads, while the heart of Sick Century is high energy catchy ’core along the lines of SNFU or BOUNCING SOULS. Worth noting that these kids hail from Medicine Hat, Alberta—a town the cops quite literally tried ran us out of on tour in ’96, but that was a different century. This century is a sick one. See what I did there?

Wild Billy Childish and CTMF Brave Protector LP

Devised and released to coincide with CTMF’s recent shows in Oakland, Brave Protector serves as semi-souvenir from that weekend-long happening, which I saw and thoroughly loved. The album is a recently-recorded re-up of many BILLY CHILDISH favorites, spanning several of his prior bands, all performed with enough immediacy to prompt spit-take. I’m a lifelong fan, having long ago committed many of these songs to memory with almost sickening devotion, and I still think this performance and collection is urgent and fuckin’ ace. A personal sweat affair too: hand-stamped, artist-assembled, probably long gone by the time anyone reads this review. There will surely be more to come, and it’ll be better than just about everything else.

Yleiset Syyt Sininen Hekuma EP

Did you know that despite the increase in both the price of everything and in digital listening, that the 7″ EP is the perfect hardcore punk format? Sometimes I wonder if it’s still true, and then a record like this comes along and reaffirms everything I think I know and live for in a punk record. Six simple and frantic blows in perfect succession, leaning on a tight and confrontational delivery, lacking absolutely nothing. The first track is a nice lesson in drum fills. Limited to 200 copies, so hurry!