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MRR #439 • December 2019

Bad Jesus Experience Kaikki On Hyvin LP

A few weeks ago, I had to choose between a Hungarian band playing at a bar in Oakland and a Finnish band playing at a bar in San Francisco. Life is hard. I chose the Hungarians only because I was more familiar with them, and while I don’t think there was really a “wrong” choice to be made, listening to this BAD JESUS EXPERIENCE record really makes me wonder what I missed out on. Discordant intensity—stark, cold, erratic, desperate and unbelievably fukkn’ powerful. It’s like an otherworldly collision of ’00s European metalcore (ACME, AKEPHAL), chaotic ’90s California screamo (HEROIN, MOHINDER) and Scandinavian bands like BURNING KITCHEN and TO WHAT END?, and I just keep trying to figure out what in the world they are going to do next. Note to self: next time go see the Finns.

  • Reviewer Robert Collins
  • Label EQ Studio / Mogahead / Nunchaku Punk / Vapaa Paiva

Bato Ravages of Time EP

Ripping hardcore out of Virginia that brings CAREER SUICIDE to mind. It’s all fast, with the attitude of MINOR THREAT, THE FIX, and other staple early ’80s US hardcore bands. The MVP is the drummer, who holds it down and hits heavy throughout the records, sprinkling in plenty of those JERRY’S KIDS-style rolls. My favorite parts of the record are when it comes up for air: the slightly slower and groovier fifth track “Better Way,” and the breakdown at the end of “Delusional.” Mosh worthy, indeed.

Batshit Crazy Bat$hit!crazy. CD

This band claims influences of BLACK FLAG, MISFITS, and SCREECHING WEASEL but I’m just hearing screamo and melodic emo. Think Warped Tour circa 2010, which isn’t meant as a put down. Not my go-to genre, but this is decent, especially if you are in high school and wear lots of black.

Besmirchers Hate Your Life LP

These guys don’t even need my help trashing their record. The campiest kind of self-loathing and abuse on display, lyricly and aesthetically. The singer’s face is doused in blood in every photo I can find. Multiple creepy young-girl-in-panties images and song titles like “Inhalant Assailant,” “Dirty Panty Tourniquet,” “Needles in My Feet” and “Pocket Pussy.” The band name is awkward and the tunes aren’t memorable at all. It’s just so dumb and bad in every way.

Black Egg Mind Control Losers Cassette

Oh yeah, this one is the real. Space age desert drenched psychedelic garage madness. Just when you think you’re on board, you hear “I don’t know who the fuck I am / I wanna die / I think I’m losing control of my mind, I wanna die / Say / I wanna die!”, and then you strap yourself in, because the opening title track is only the start. Paranoia-drenched OBLIVIANS-type jams that just sound so damn alive that all I want is more. More mystery, more rock, more of that plodding repetition that sounds like a clear, cold sky seen through the honest filter that only reality-through-drugs can truly expose. And mystical feelings aside, the jams are gooooood punk, like really good. Like you-wish-you-wrote-it good. But you didn’t, so just listen and you take yourself to that place. It’s a glorious place, and there aren’t many of us here, but make yourself welcome.

Blood Loss Who’s to Blame? EP

Blood Loss is carrying the torch of Denver Hardcore from bands like CADAVER DOG, CIVILIZED, and CITY HUNTER with this pulverizing 7”. The music, the lyrics, the production, the artwork, it’s all gritty and dark as hell—a common theme in Denver that gives the scene its personality. What sets BLOOD LOSS apart from those bands though, is the grooviness. Tracks like “Who’s to Blame?” and “Double Life” have a very YOUTH OF TODAY-type moshy feel to them. But like NO TOLERANCE, BLOOD LOSS takes a much darker approach to that style. Much of that comes from the lyrics, which are super angry: both at the world and at the person screaming them.

Bootlicker Nuclear Family EP

Sick Canadian hardcore with a D-beat backbone, but a fair dollop of GBH and UK82 in the mix alongside the obligatory nods to DISCHARGE. The recording is very well done, and appropriately blown-out and live sounding, but very well-mixed and bright as well. The band’s energy levels are extremely high throughout, driven by the enthusiastically menacing vocalist and the ripping attack of the bassist. The whole record is consistently good, but it all comes together just so for the record-closing “Slasher”: an unrelenting assault with an immaculate break and one of those two-note Scandi-style solos that work so very well when they work at all. Extra kudos for the lovely silkscreened sleeve and lovingly cut ’n’ pasted artwork.

Bothers LP

I know this record is billed as a garage-y, WIPERS-doing-hardcore release, but to me there’s something Oi! about it. I think it’s the rock’n’roll style chord progressions with heavy distortion (there’s even a little MOTÖRHEAD-style lick in “Brain Matter”). I would say it’s like ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE with John Reis (DRIVE LIKE JEHU, ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, a bunch of other stuff) on guitar. The lyrics read like a bad acid trip: introspective in a dark, twisted kind of way. Some standout lines include “Infant feeding from the arms of the gutter,” “My brain’s ain’t straight / I can hear it bleed,” and “Disappeared in a fistful of wet brain matter and glue.” I’m also a sucker for a good, catchy chorus, and “No Trust” has one of the best I’ve heard all year.

Bullmoose Hot Garbage CD

Sports bar hard rock / safe metal with occasional pop aspirations. Not punk in the slightest. Been a long while since I dipped my toes in this sickly pond, but the stench here jogs my memory enough to cringe. Capably performed with pro-production slickness, but sadly imparting zero edge and negative soul. Hard pass.

Cliterati Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies LP

I feel like after a few releases, Portland’s CLITERATI has finally made the record that they were so close to delivering with Nuked At Birth and the VIOLATION WOUND split. Searing hardcore punk tinged with ’00s coliseum D-beat and fist-banging metal, all delivered with fire and with a positive fury that does more than talk about how fukkd everything in the world is. There’s beauty in the anger, and Ami’s vocals on tracks like “Trans is Beautiful,” “Unfuck the System,” and “Latinx Taken” are perfect examples of turning anger and frustration into power. Sonically, Ugly Truths / Beautiful Lies is a straight ripper. Period. But the full package (including Sugi’s cover art) is what really puts CLITERATI over the top. Full endorsement.

Cockwomble CD

The eponymous debut full-length, from the brain of singer/songwriter/guitarist Ali Gavan. I’d previously heard of him as the producer and engineer of ROBB JOHNSON, so it only makes sense that he’d put his own prodigious talents to work on original material. Full of (political) venom, snot, snark, and bite, COCKWOMBLE present themselves as if SCREECHING WEASEL or early PROPAGANDHI were performing a HUMPERS tribute set. Equal parts melodic pop punk, garage-y rock’n’roll, biting political satire, and black humor. What more could you ask for (other than the next ROBB JOHNSON long player, of course)?

Control Freaks She’s the Bomb LP

This local band is the latest Greg Ripoff combo. A fun garage punk romp with dual male/female vocals. On their second full-length, they have a new woman on co-vocals, and the songs are short simple, and catchy. A fun band live as well, if you can tolerate an insult or two.

CR Dicks Go In LP

These Iowa noisey garage punkers channel equal parts CRIME, the OBLIVIANS, and most directly JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION. It’s not as horrible as you’d think from the awful band name and cover art, but ain’t all that either. Give it a spin if you dare.

Crush Crusher Q: Are We Not Muppets? A: We Are Maniacs! Cassette

Some people like their punk high-end and frantic. If you are one of those people, then Oklahoma City’s CRUSH CRUSHER are your new favorite band. The CRUCIFUCKS cover fits right the fukk in, which might give you a nice starting point, and the primitive ’70s-style Midwest punk showered in jangling guitars dominates in the best way. This is music born in basements, this is music that is never meant to leave basements. Never mind the pink cartoons on the cover, and get to ripping.

Das Drip LP

This full-length release from Raleigh, North Carolina’s DAS DRIP is about as nuts as a record can sound and still be called hardcore, rather than noise or art punk or whatever other label people use to talk about something that sounds like the feeling of getting beaten up, but in a good way. It’s furious and spazzy, blending unlikely elements into a whirlwind of twang, squeal, relentless yelling, and a generous dose of brutally fast drumming. There is something creative and vital here besides just anger. A potent antidote for the monotony of boring, macho hardcore!

Disjawn Loud Kush Assault EP

Even I have to admit that noize punk/crasher crust/etc. is pretty ripe material for parody, DISJAWN definitely lean in to those openings hard. Not that they’re taking the piss entirely, just that they’re a band with a sense of humor about what they’re doing and how they’re presenting themselves. Or maybe the just got the giggles from all that weed they’ve been smoking, I dunno. Either way, this is a fun enough noizy crasher record, with the obligatory reverb on the vocals, coupla suspiciously familiar sounding riffs, mostly fast but one slower number, etc. You know the drill. It’s all good.

Existence Into the Furnace EP

EXISTENCE of Stockholm fuse melodically charged, metallic Scandi-death metal riffing with an overt NYHC style. Imagine if AMORPHIS or KATATONIA had mixed it up with 25 TA LIFE, CRO-MAGS, and MERAUDER. The riffs are intoxicating, and the grunting and barking vocals are totally menacing. There has been a resurgence of deathcore as of late, and I’m kind of drawn to it again. Thinking of the MOMENT OF TRUTH/KRUELTY split… EXISTENCE here joins those rank beats, while retaining unique thrashing compositions that blend harmonizing ethereal death metal and Neanderthal pit-core. Themes include the struggles of fascism in Sweden and abroad, and also delve into cathartic perspectives on realizing one’s mistakes. Heavy on many levels, and a sonic rager.

Faultfinder Brother’s Milk LP

Looks killer—dark, brooding, mysterious…makes me think it’s gonna be pretty heavy. I like heavy. The lyrics set the tone before the needle even drops, as I peruse “Cum In Me, Bro” and “Moist Clue,” taking everything in before I succumb to the sounds, and then it starts. More pained, more frustrated, more overwhelmingly negative that I even thought. Awkward guitars like a drunk NEUROSIS outtake, layers of vocals that bluntly make me feel uncomfortable, and an uncanny ability to keep control of a pace that so desperately wants to let go, but mercy is nowhere to be found on Brother’s Milk—it’s all awkward. At its roots, this is simply a heavy rock record, but those roots have borne something so much more ominous. Crushing tonnage in word and execution, it’s an exhausting listen from start to finish.

Golpe De Gracia Cementerio Interior EP

Seems to be a skins ’n’ punks affair, but the snotty lead vocal carries it more toward the punk side, which works better for me. The two definitive Oi! clues are the gang choruses and a couple skinhead guys pictured on the lyric sheet. Overall, more scrappy vibes than tough. Not much else to report about this Madrid band outside of a few likeable guitar and vocal hooks. Could just have easily emerged out of L.A. from Silenzio Statico or Verdugo Discos.

  • Reviewer Matt Badenhop
  • Label Punk Machine / Torture Chamber / Tough Ain't Enough

Healthy Competition Vol. 1 Cassette

Quirky überdorks retaliate, freek punks unite, true weirdos activate, challenging music bring to the fight. Imagine some Rough Trade talent scout meets D. Boon and/or Will Shatter at a TEENAGE JESUS gig in ’78 and says, “yo, check this fish-needs-a-bike single BLURT is gonna release in three years” and those California dudes just run with it. Weird, right? I don’t think Rough Trade employees said “yo” in 1978, but you get my point. Also, I’m guessing HEALTHY COMPETITION, being from Minneapolis, have seen URANIUM CLUB more than twice. Bloviating aside, this demo is really good, and sets a dangerous expectation for future success.

Holy Shit! Not My Tempo EP

Almost twenty years on, and Milwaukee’s HOLY SHIT! only seem like they are getting faster on the eight-track Not My Tempo. Midwest hardcore sensibilities come out on “Learning How to Fight,” with Eric’s double snare taps dominating the verses. DIE KREUZEN comparisons are not out of line here (not just the geographical similarities), and they still can’t seem to write a simple track if their lives depended on it. ”Climbing Up Butter Wall” with the weird ass time changes, “Shut Up Matty” with the herk/jerk in the verse, the churn of “BBLLOOWW,” it all puts you on edge and refuses to let you just rock. HOLY SHIT! are about making you feel weird. Extra points for making every non-sonic aspect of all of their records seem like an adolescent attempt at “baby’s first punk seven inch,” with lyrics about stupid friends and doing stupid shit and high school-caliber cover art pretty much across the board. It’s all part of the charm…and also, Tony is so out of tune in “Narrow The Goal,” that it hurts my brain. See? Even after I talk about how great they are, HOLY SHIT! still leave me with a nice “fuck you,” and I appreciate that.

ISS Alles 3rd Gut LP

Sharp North Carolina damage that sounds like it’s coming from an entirely different dimension. Doses of CHROME, early Goner, ERASE ERRATA, FLIPPER, EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN—ISS are all over the damn map, with slow nihilistic dirges, fast and snappy garage power jammers, and a tendency for dark pop in the face of super fukkd up sax solos. In a world of by-the-books, flavor-of-the-month bands (and genres) taking the DIY world by storm, it’s refreshing to hear a record that is just going where the sound takes it—also, this record is extremely fucking punk. And punk is still cool. Choice banger: “Outta My Gourd,” if only because it stands out as a neanderthal slammer in a field of weirdness.

Juggling Jugulars Insurrection CD

Thirteen more aggressively melodic punk songs from a band that’s been at it for thirty years now. A solid, clearly-produced sound with a nice guitar melody here, strong backup vocal there. Direct calls to action against borders, cops, capitalist control, and even old washed up posers! Their dedication to anti-fascist DIY punk cannot be understated. I missed the last couple of releases, so I’m taking this as a friendly reminder that Finland’s JUGGLING JUGULARS remain a reliable inspiration.

Kina Troppo Lontano e Altre Storie LP

Matt, Ken, and Andrew put KINA into historical context last month while touching on three other LP reissues from one of Italy’s most often overlooked but arguably essential acts. This one is a reissue of a 1996 CD that was in turn a collection of the Troppo Lontano EP (1987) and splits with the ACT, HOETH CASTLE and the SPHERE recorded between ’87-’91. While the off-the-rails Italian rage is tempered slightly, and Billy Bragg and/or HÜSKER DÜ-styled acoustic numbers appear on both sides, this is still an essential blast that chronicles the birth and growth of a band who’s importance is probably more pronounced in hindsight than it ever was at the time. Perhaps it’s precisely the acoustic tracks and the temperance that make this one so good. Not every band warrants the reissue treatment, but KINA most certainly does.

Kizza Ping Först River Man Allt LP

Despite the unpromising band name, Linköping’s KIZZA PING recorded some notable punk music during the first couple years of the ’80s. This LP compiles “Männen” and “Lär I Tid” from their lone 45, along with seven more vocal-driven punk tracks with keyboards that add up to a worthwhile album. New Wave influences pushed KIZZA PING into doing something more complex sounding than your basic stripped-down teenage punk, and thankfully there’s still a jagged edge to the production, so let’s call it post-punk! While this label frankly suits them best, I still feel like “post-punk” has become too much of a generic signifier to flop onto KIZZA PING without acknowledging their consistently great songs. I’ll describe it as a cool cross-section between HAGAR THE WOMB and country-mates LIVIN SACRIFICE. I once ate halfway decent pizza in Gothenburg, but I’m not convinced that there can be any true Kings of Pizza that far north of Italy. That being said, this is a great document of old Swedish punk, and I’ve added it to my wantlist.

Laika’s Orbit Chosen No Ones LP

This band was new to me, but big surprise, they’re on Dead Broke Rekerds and they’re excellent. Somehow, those two qualities tend to walk hand-in-hand. LAIKA’S ORBIT is a four-piece power pop band from Western Mass, whose songs tend to circle around relationships, emotional well-being, and hooks big enough to snare a whale. When I first put this on, I was in a truly shitty mood, but by the end of these twelve tracks, I’d forgotten what was upsetting me in the first place. The singer of this band has such range and soul to his voice. While I don’t think he’s an Aussie, he reminds me quite a bit of the crooner from ROYAL HEADACHE, only without the slight reverb-y vocal effect put on. Towards the end of the record, they slow things way down with an acoustic romp called “Fryolator.” If this record was balanced the opposite way (heavily unplugged and with only one full-band electric song), I don’t think I would care for it much. But this rogue break from standard orbit is a welcome change of pace that I didn’t even know I wanted. “Laundromat” is the surprise standout for me. Not so much for the lyrics, pacing, or tempo—though those are all selling points. It’s the fucking guitar hooks. Something about the palm-muted riffs followed by ascending power chords really wins me over. Great record, definitely worth seeking out and spending some time with.

Los Huaycos Savage Monstrosities LP

I fucking love the Spanish language in punk. I don’t know what it is, but it sounds so primal and raw. Every year, I swear that I’m going to bone up on my languages in order to understand much of my record collection. Oakland’s LOS HUAYCOS has been tearing it up for some time now, with their mix of classic Spanish thrash and gnarly skate rock. They remind me of DESGRACIA JUBANIL or LOBOTOMIA combined with something off the Skate Rock Volume 3: Wild Riders of Boards comp. Shreds from start to finish. Pick it up.

Miami Death 2 Cassette

Holy shit this is a monster. Washes of deadly noise interrupted by bursts of some of the most disgusting grind and powerviolence I have heard in years. Everything is presented in the context (not the confines) of a burly hardcore band, with intros and breakdowns that make me weak at the knees, and then they blast off (or implode?) the moment you start to feel comfortable. Germany’s MIAMI DEATH 2 are a complete assault on the senses.

Mortalis Enemigos EP

This is a really cool record. On the surface Tijuana’s MORTALIS (“Mortal”) play straightforward, chorus-laden Oi!-ish punk with simple mid-tempo rock riffing, but these four tracks have a really strong yet odd recording quality, with slightly buried and distorted vocals, and an off-kilter noisiness that leaves everything slightly off balance. Early hardcore and punk always had these kind of happy accident recordings, where the learn-and-make-up-as-you-go nature of things led to unique recordings that defined the band as much as their music. People seem to copy and mimic them with abundance now, but this somehow feels more organic. There’s also something remarkably just laid back, and mid-gear-throttling-about-the-songs-themselves that gives the record a unique quality. The lyrics are entirely in Spanish with no translation, so it’s a mystery to me, but the artwork of Enemigos (enemies) has Indigenous people disemboweling Conquistadors on the back, so at least some of the message is clear.

Motormouth Mabel Knife Trash EP

Not to be confused with Motormouth Maybelle from Hairspray, this EP is three squealing, distortion filled songs. Rapid fire drums punctuating the wild guitar thrash. There is lots of angst and some pleading from the singer. It’s fast and furious and over before you even know what’s happened. So you flip it over and start again. At least that’s what I keep doing. Cool stuff.

Musclegoose No Country for Old Buffet Cassette

I wish the name weren’t so dumb, because the band is damn good. Tinges of ’90s Sacto punk (LIZARDS, SEWER TROUT), but it also reminds me of the Middle America scenes where you can actually do whatever you want because none of you are cool anyway. So who fukkn cares if you are equal parts JESUS LIZARD and KRUNCHIES? You’re from Arkansas, and no one except some middle aged twerp in California is going to take you seriously anyway. But I do, MUSCLEGOOSE…I truly do.

Needle Cassette

Ripping grindviolence with obligatory metallic intros. File alongside Gulf Coast Power Violence fodder, and when things get a little too chaotic and disjointed? Well, that’s pretty much the point of extremity. Choice cut: “Inter-Dimensional Game of Suffering,” if only because that guitar break is so unbelievably sick.

Ξέρα (Ksera) / Noma Split EP

Filthy low-end grind from NOMA (the first track is titled “Mincing the Agony,” and they just go from there). Only slightly more nuance from Ξέρα (KSERA), with three (untitled) tracks of harsh start/stop hardcore that relies heavily on whirling guitars and loose, erratic construction. Both bands hail from Greece, and both sides of this split led me down rabbit holes to hear more (the NOMA split with Canada’s RAMPANCY is especially worth seeking out).

Overrides Brain As a Fist CD

Anthemic, leather-clad punk from Southern California, half beach / half gutter varietals represented. The songs are uniformly catchy with a vague hard stance, recalling shite like BELTONES or other pop-tinged semi-toughies. “Offended By Everything” seems pretty indicative of 2019’s lyrical laziness: complaining about other people complaining. Surely there’s something more interesting to tie your creepers in a knot about…

Poizon N.W.O.P.H.M. LP

I was just asked what I was listening to and when I replied “Poizon” I got a sideways, raised eyebrow look. I guess that’s the fun of naming your band something this stupid. POIZON is from Houston, TX and features x-members of SUGAR SHACK, WEIRD PARTY, THE SECRET PROSTITUTES, FATAL FLYING GUILLOTINES, etc. The music is very ‘90s garage-y punk with a heavy bass sound, angular guitars and sing-songy vocals. It’s catchy and driving. Bands don’t seem to play this kind of stuff anymore. The inclusion of a cover of EASY CURE’s “I Want To Be Old” is nice in its execution as well as its sentiment. Well done. The rest of the record is great too.

Panico / Psicosis split CD

This is an amazing time capsule from mid-’80s Peru, joining the demos (and some live material) from two of Peru’s finest early hardcore bands. PANICO were a very short-lived band with a surprisingly sizeable legacy, as their 1985 demo tape inspired a great deal of bands to follow. Musically, it’s an alchemical soup of ur-hardcore, influenced by the likes of DISCHARGE, R.I.P., and IV REICH, played with a great deal more passion than technical ability, though the live tracks show that the band progressed a good deal in that regard in a short amount of time. Still, the demo recordings are all the better for the beginner’s mistakes that are left on tape. Unlike PANICO, PSICOSIS are in fact still around today, though they’ve matured a great deal since these first primitive recordings. Indeed, their stuff makes PANICO sound practically over-rehearsed, with a drummer who can just barely keep up (there’s a great moment where one track ends and he gives the crash cymbal a big hit, seemingly because he just realized he hadn’t touched it once through the actual song), but it is remarkable regardless, with the kind of manic, feral energy that you find in the early Italian stuff. The yelping, frantic vocals in particular are reminiscent of Zazzo/NEGAZIONE. The tunes are super short and simple, but delivered with remarkable intensity. The packaging is fairly sparse, but does feature an interview with the guitarist of PANICO and a brief history of PSICOSIS in Spanish. No matter how much or how little punk may speak to you in 2019, there is such a wealth of amazing reissues that one always has something fantastic to be introduced to. I am thankful for that.

Quaker Wedding Demo Cassette

Backpack clutching, back-and-forth swaying, gruff vocal singing, melodic JAWBREAKER liking throwback punk rock that harkens to a time and place that I consciously chose not to participate in. There’s nothing bad about QUAKER WEDDING, and all opening sentence tongue in cheek jabs aside they are totally better than just fine at this thing, but…I keep waiting for something to grab me, and nothing does.

Rat Trap Demo 2019 Cassette

It’s 2019. It says so right on your own tape. You can’t open your demo with a cover of “Wild Thing.” Like, I don’t know if there’s been actual legislation passed that has codified this cultural understanding into law, but…seriously? Just don’t do that. You set the zero bar so damn high that I don’t even know if the rest of your demo can possibly get me back to where I was when I pressed play. But I listen anyway…and grudgingly, I have to admit that despite your ill-advised opener, RAT TRAP, I am now on your team. Knuckle-dragging hardcore punk at its most primitive: loose, ugly—the kind of music you want people to hate. And I’m sure that some of them do…so you win (for what it’s worth though, I think y’all fukkd up the opening riff to “Wild Thing”).

Råttanson I’d Much Rather Be With the Noise LP

I wish there was more noise on this release from this Swedish combo. There’s a lot of ’60s ROLLING STONES worship going on here. In fact, it makes me want to hear some ’60s STONES, which isn’t even my favorite era of them. A dash of ’60s organ and some ’70s power pop in the mix as well. Probably best for the ’60s fashion crowd.

Reaktio Minimum Rocka&Billy CD

Soooo… REAKTIO were a Finnish punk band that lasted all of five glorious months in 1979, before changing their name to STALIN and issuing one of the greatest early Finnish hardcore punk EPs, then changing their name again to NUKKETEATTERI in ’81, and then putting out a couple more bangers before fading away. In the interim, STALIN got a swank reissue, as did the first (and best) NUKKETEATTERI EP, but REAKTIO, having only produced a handful of homemade cassettes, remained unheard. Now, 40 years after the band’s brief existence, the members have reconvened and recorded fifteen tracks of vintage Finnish punk. The thing is, it’s fuckin’ amazing! Like, I was shocked to find out this is a recent recording. Stylistically, it’s just what you’d want, just as much influenced by the SEEDS and BLACK MONKS as the PISTOLS or CLASH, and unafraid to deploy harmonica, kazoo, cowbell, and even a flute! That being said, the core of the band centers around two guitars, one pretty clean and one equipped with some Pebbles-style garage fuzz (the fuzzbox enables some nasty solos later along the disc) and the snotty vocals (how is this not the work of a teenager?!). Does it end with a ten plus minute psychedelic jam with tons of solos and a flute riff for a chorus? You better believe it does! Too good, this record is punk as fuck.

Scum Guppies Total Release Cassette

Hell yeah! Maximum energy and truly fukkd garage that wastes just a few minutes of my life before fucking back off to Cleveland. Damaged and full of shit-hot rock’n’roll, just the way Rust Belt punks are rumored to deliver their goods (the rumors are true). It’s like Carl Perkins got kidnapped by the NEOS and then spawned East Bay Ray in the middle of a time warp ’60s California desert acid experiment. The shit is wild, the shit is fast, the shit is out there, can you dig it?

Shaka-STD Cassette

Whooooooaaaaa kiddies, slow down and take a look at this shit hot fire from America’s Heartland. Another mandatory offering from Oklahoma, as SHAKA fukkn rage their way through breakneck off-the-rails thrashcore of the purest variety. I mean, the drummer changes beats in the first track simply because they can’t keep up—the shit is that fukkn fast and theymatch the speed with riffs and power and I’m just floored. Reminds me of CANKRO, but it’s faster, and that’s saying something. Can people stop talking about New York and L.A. and shit and start looking at the true freaks? Because I’m telling you, punk, the freaks are our only salvation.

Sicko In the Alternate Timeline CD

So SICKO is back together, or maybe not—they did just play recently. I used to see this band in the ’90s during pop punk’s golden era. This is a “best of” collection, and it’s a pop punk ripper. Very cool energetic pop tunes that stay away from the RAMONES worship thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. A good starting point for the pop punkers who don’t know this Seattle band.

Snakes 5 Song Demo Cassette

Chaotic and aggressive hardcore is king. I mean, this is obvious. But when a band settles into melody, I want to hear HÜSKER DÜ and MOVING TARGETS, and that’s exactly where SNAKES land, with tinges of FUEL (and/or Dischord) in the mix to keep me guessing before they launch into more power. They maintain the balance well, and SNAKES spend five short tracks making their point and then exiting confidently.

Snuggle! Holiday Heart LP

If this is your first introduction to SNUGGLE!, you’ve arrived at just the right time. I don’t say that to disparage any of their previous recordings (their full-length on 1-2-3-4 Go! is pretty fantastic, and they have a split with BENT OUTTA SHAPE), but more to heavily prop up this new release. Years ago I was neighbors with Jerome who sings in this band, which we found out by watching an abandoned squat house burn down in our shared alleyway together. I think the correlation here is that this band would watch the destruction of something so anti-capitalist, and still manage to pen an uplifting yet mournful anthem about it. The best I can think to describe SNUGGLE! is crust-informed pop punk. They have the speed that a lot of bubblegum punk lacks, but paired with sincere as fuck emotional lyrics about the human existence. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to see them play several times over the years, and am so happy there’s finally a recording of their song “Twinspeak.” The lyrics to this track are so emblematic to the comparison I made earlier: “Won’t let this be a crash and burn / From lift off, to return / Smoke rings fill the sky / Calligraphy to a night that understands / Understands gibberish.” It’s Aaron Cometbus’ modern day CRIMPSHRINE, but sung by a strong voice that’s raspy, nasal, and guttural. Sometimes Jerome’s voice breaks in a charming way that makes me think of what Bobcat Goldthwait would sound like fronting a punk band. They’re fucking great, and I’m stoked that we’re closing in on 2020 and there’s a new SNUGGLE! record in the world.

Soga Demo LP

A trio of “all-star” punks from Mexico City make a seriously satisfying racket. SOGA (“rope” en ingles) shines through short punk-as-fuck guitar solos and rage-inducing rhythmic clatter. Each member contributes to the singing, shouting, and screaming—separately and in unison—solidifying a powerful collaborative outrage. “Fiambre” is my pick for most fucked and ferocious, while “Vil Migala” gets honorable mention for being a sped up and not-crass UFO Dictator. If you’ve been endeared by the likes of CREMALLERAS, TERCER MUNDO, or RIÑA it would be a huge mistake to skip this one. I’m generally skeptical of demos being put to vinyl, but this one was a no-brainer.

Sore Points Not Alright EP

Slovenly Records and Sticker Guy Pete never fail to release some no-frills, hard rockin’ garage punk. Vancouver’s SORE POINTS are no exception and rage here through four songs that could compare to the best of the INFECTIONS, USERS, or Canada’s SUBHUMANS. “Not Alright” is a current personal anthem, but “Not Coming Back” is the one that kills it for me. Thanks Pete.

Teenage Bottlerocket Teenage Bottlerocket vs. Human Robots EP

A four-songer from the TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET camp. Two songs from the band, including the new uptempo classic “Olivia Goes To Bolivia.” The second 2 songs are Ray and his son Milo dishing out some barely teenage angst music. This band can do no wrong for me.

Territories The Lockdown 7" Flexi

This single-sided flexi addresses gun violence in schools, and is a very catchy, mid-tempo, singalong number. It’s like a mix between the REPLACEMENTS and NEWTOWN NEUROTICS. Nicely done.

Territories Quit This City / Defender 2x7"

The A-side is a rock anthem-like number that’s super-catchy, but ultimately delivers a rather depressing message about the grittiness of life. It’s nicely done. It’s got a certain BOUNCING SOULS quality to it. The B-side is a more straightforward street punk number, but equally as enjoyable. These guys are big on harmony. This is worth making an effort to find.

The Divided World You’re Living In LP

Containing ex-members of BONECRUSHER, Orange County’s the DIVIDED debut plants firmly in anthemic punk, landing somewhere between the rowdy singalongs of classic street punk, and the guitar-driven Loggerheads-era DOA, with rock influences similarly strongly affixed atop a sturdy frame of straightforward punk blasting. Ten tracks that hurl gravel-tinted vocals hollering and crooning over melodic riffs, an anchoring sturdy drum beat, and occasional flourishes—a searing guitar lead and solo, a drop out for some bass soloing, and other small touches that echo the great ’80s/’90s OC sounds of yore. BONECRUSHER’s early recordings remind me a lot of PERSONALITY CRISIS, and the same swagger and unique vocal quirks surface here at points, though this is much more bright and upbeat, and just a really strong punk record with catchy songs that stick with you after the needle lifts. Lyrics are stories told of love and loss, snippets on hard work, toil, and surviving. Legendary punk photographer Ed Colver supplies stage-setting cover photos of chain link fences, empty beer cans, abandoned buildings, and spray painted walls. A great balanced recording makes this a good bet for punks who clamor for songs, melody, and singalong mixed with a little gristle, but the songs are strong enough that there’s a pretty good chance that after a pint or three at their show, anyone would leave with a copy under their arm. Solid!

The Drowns Hold Fast Demons 12"

Really, really mediocre Oi! pop pressed on a really wasteful one-sided, digitally-printed, partially transparent piece of slop. Seems more like a business card for Pirates Press than an actual release. I’m not super familiar with this Seattle band, and maybe they have a lot to offer, but it sure ain’t showing here. For fans of mid-period DROPKICK MURPHYS or BOUNCING SOULS. Kill me.

The Freeze Calling All Creatures LP

I never have high hopes for reformed hardcore bands, especially when it’s been this long. Unfortunately too much gets lost over time and somehow the band simply forgets what they were all about and why people liked them. That said, THE PROLETARIAT’s new music kills, so there’s always an anomaly. This LP has some moments. Cliff Hanger’s lyrics and delivery are bratty, goofy and paranoid. The music is upbeat, if a bit too busy. This isn’t THE FREEZE of my youth, but there is still some fun left in these aging punks.

The Gerbils Are You Sleepy LP

So this is the 20th anniversary release of this album on Elephant 6. I can’t say I knew this band, as I never really followed this label during my 90’s lo-fi tolerant days. This band did include members of NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL, who recently had no problem selling out good sized theaters on their reunion tour, though their main songwriter was not in this band. Anyways, this reminds me early PAVEMENT with more going on. One for lo-fi enthusiasts.

The Illiterates Demo Cassette

Adolescent New York punk that properly uses a tried-and-true formula: simple box riffs, honesty, and energy. The cover of BAD RELIGION’s “Along the Way” helps to place which brand of punk they are going for, and while it’s easy to imagine these kids developing into a style that’s more “commercial” and less “punk,” in their current manifestation it sounds like some teenagers bashing shit out in the garage. The ILLITERATES (all fourteen and fifteen years old) are the first band on Poop Stick records, started by a nineteen-year-old to chronicle the young bands in his hometown (respect).

The Restarts Uprising LP

The RESTARTS are at it again with gurgling, snotty, two-fingers-in-the-air London punk. Kieran hisses forth with an insane inferno in his throat. This record is as catchy as anything the band has done—I loved the System Error-era songs when I saw them in NYC a few times. But also, under its streetwise romping-stomping, there is sharp blade of political vitriol. The record starts with a quote from Great Thunberg on panic versus hope. In all its pop punk nature and bright ska riffing, they return with a blistering, diminutive, punchy, outspoken brain beater. For fans of INFA-RIOT, CONFLICT, COCKNEY REJECTS, and even the RESTARTS! Favorite tracks: the snarling and powerful “Out and Proud,” and the glimmering macabre “The Fork.”

The Shame Friendly LP

I reviewed these guys’ first album some time back, and if you’re a fan of that one, I can’t say they’ve really excelled or regressed since. They’re plodding along, doing some just OK songs about football and beer. Features a member of Tulsa legends BROTHER INFERIOR, who I never really cared for. “The Struggle” is about the best here, reminding me of THOSE UNKNOWN. I’d compare them to some of the ’90s TKO bands on their 200-band CD comps. If you’re looking for a really so-so night out at an Oklahoma pub with your mates, look no further.

The Thirsty Pirates Four Song Flexi 7" Flexi

If you look into this band’s history on the internet, you’ll find some pretty interesting and cringe-worthy stuff. This is aged punk with band members deeply entrenched in Chicago and New York punk history. It’s not a pretty sight, but this nifty two-sided flexi has an undeniable KBD charm. Comically offensive fart joke-caliber lyrics sung gracelessly and out of time over lo-fi garage punk clanging. Not garage like the ’60s, but like in actually dirty grease stained car parks. Reminds one much of early MENTORS, VOM, or the CHILD MOLESTORS. Good stuff for bad folks. Slurp it up.

Thigh Master Now For Example LP

Excellent guitar pop from this Australian band, doubling-up and over their cool debut from a few years back. Having seen them perform a smattering of these tunes a few times on their recent US sojourn, I can definitively note that the various isms relative to that lauded Flying Nun sound — the one they’re most often saddled with — all just chime a wee bit harder in their hands. There’s this real-deal buzz underneath their tunes that makes itself known at well-planned intervals, never allowing things to get too terribly saccharine or to move too far away from their core — relatable, acerbic DIY pop scrappiness, big as some of the hits may be. Assuming you’re on board with the wares of now-time compatriots like PRIMO or TERRY, all aboard here…I find this lot maybe most impressive of the pack.

Total Losers (Do You Remember) Youth Energy? Cassette

Talk about an appropriate title. (Do You Remember) Youth Energy? captures adolescent innocence and unabashed fury, and somehow in their homage they manage to harness the adrenaline as well. And the adrenaline is key. Think early BAD RELIGION or DOA, delivered with honesty and precision. This Finnish act does what they do shamelessly, and I love them for it.

UBIK Next Phase LP

Blending snotty ’77 punk, spooky darkwave, and playful anarcho-punk sounds, UBIK delivers a refreshingly fun and inspired take. Dueling minimalist guitar and bass lines combined with overlapping vocals on the track “Peter Dutton is a Terrorist” offer up a catchy but earnest anarcho-punk vibe, while other tracks feature graveyard-ready, reverb-drenched vocals, and yet others offer a more straightforward hardcore attack. Definitely something for everyone here, but their songwriting and originality shine brightest in the anarcho-punk moments.

Under Attack Through the Blade EP

This six-song 7” is as stripped-down as it gets for hardcore: no chugging, an appropriate amount of breakdowns, and generally pretty punk. It fits well with mid-2000’s crusty hardcore bands. The lyrics seem to center around disdain for certain individuals, mental anguish, and getting screwed over. My favorite track is probably “Dirt Nap,” which I think kind of starts out with a UK82 vibe, which goes into a moshy part with the anethemic lyrics, “Existing is terror / Why fuck why / Swallow the barrel / I must die.”

V/A Vent the Spew Vol. 1 LP

File under “I guess you had to be there.” This is a collection of Columbus, OH-area bands from 1993-95. A reissue of Burnt Sienna Label recordings featuring multiple tracks from five bands: PET UFO, CLAY, MOODY JACKSON, MY WHITE BREAD MOM, and HAIRY PATT BAND. On the upside, this is punk from a self-described “Cowtown” and it’s thrash-y and decent.

V/A DGHD-50 Cassette

Why not celebrate your 50th release with a 30 track compilation? From freakout synth jams to jerky garage punk to… well, there’s lots of jerky hi-energy garage punk, but that’s fine. There are also several tracks that scream early ’90s college/alternative rock (SAWA MELON, RIOT PUNCH), but they scream it really well, and there are legit hardcore slammers like LECHE in the mix, too. Packed entirely with bands I had never heard of, including MEAT SWEATS, WASTE MAN, COUNTY BOYS, LUVWEB, UNCLE JESUS, BETTY GOOP, PROM THREAT and waaaaaay more. DGHD-50 packs a shockingly favorable ratio of excellent : interesting : forgettable for a compilation with 30 new-to-me acts. “Commodity” from LATE and KNIFE HAND’s “Big Rig” are among the killerest cuts I’ve heard this month.

V/A Red Scare Industries: 15 Years Of Tears And Beers CD

I guess if I’d have stopped to figure it out/think about it, I would have realized that Red Scare is only fifteen years young. It seems like they’ve been around forever, but I guess it makes sense that they are the sound of the new millennium. Certainly, they have consistently proven to more than emulate, and indeed, to help define what the more melodic end of punk and hardcore actually sound like over the last decade and a half. If Epitaph and then Fat both gestated and represented that 90s sound, Red Scare have picked up that blazing torch, reassembled and reinvigorated it, and hurled it headlong into this century, and then some. To celebrate, there’s fifteen artists, from the current Red Scare roster, with one track apiece. It’s hard to pick out standouts when the whole damn pack itself is leading, but I’ll mention my two faves. BRENDAN KELLY AND THE WANDERING BIRDS add a suitably genius twist to a LILLINGTONS standout, managing in this incarnation to channel the best of CAPTAIN SENSIBLE and ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE in a wonderful electro-pop gem, while THE BOMBPOPS channel BLINK 182 at their pop punk perfect pinnacle. Then again, it’s not as if the likes of the COPYRIGHTS, ELWAY, GARRETT DALE and RAMONA are also-rans. fifteen years to date, not a misstep to be seen, and they’re still reaching for the stars. Long live the comrades at Red Scare.

Witch-Hunt Darkened Anthology 1992-2002 CD

The bio included with this disc tells me that WITCH-HUNT was founded by two brothers in 1992, but had zero original members by 1997—which is kinda weird, but I digress. The anthology offers fifteen cuts of ferocious and honest death metal that spans their recorded output from a raw two-piece demo in ’93 to a keyboard-heavy black metal offering from ’02 that sounds like HECATE ENTHRONED. The best era fell in the middle: more technical, yes, but that’s just to say that they eschew the knuckle-dragging style so common (and commonly revered) in the genre, and concentrate on shredding. I’ve seen the name tossed about over the years, but this was my first taste, and it was delicious.

Without Empathy Cassette

Oh hello, grindcore. Thanks to the Heartland for breeding the discontent that created this ten-song cassette, because the grind is so filthy, I think most coastal elites won’t be able to handle it. I can, of course (barely). Duh. Because these are my roots, and I understand, but still… damn. Armed with a colossal low end, samples, and a ton of hatred, bassless Oklahoma duo WITHOUT EMPATHY waste no time getting straight to the brutality. The chugs alone should be enough to sell any purist (and/or punish any poser), but hold onto yer pantaloons when WITHOUT EMPATHY open up, because this one is an absolute motherfukkr.

Особые Условия (Usobye Uslovia) Страх Уйти Без Сожаления Cassette

Brilliantly brooding Oi!/goth with equal parts BLITZ and MISSION waging a war for a place in your cold dark heart. North Americans who went googoonuts for SYNDROME 81 earlier this year take note, because as good as those French punks are, Russia’s ОСОБЫЕ УСЛОВИЯ (USOBYE USLOVIA) are absolutely the real fukkn deal. This release is from 2016, but somehow that makes me even more excited.