Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

Send two copies of vinyl (one for our archive, one for the reviewer) or one copy of CD-only or cassette-only releases to PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609 USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no releases outside our area of musical coverage, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from! All vinyl records received are added to our archive, which since 1982 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

Abaddon Jarocin ’84 LP

With authoritarianism and fascism surging across the globe, we probably have more to learn from the Soviet Bloc-era punk bands now than at any point since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Captured live at the one state-sponsored rock festival of the year in the Polish People’s Republic, this recording captures the band in their nascent stage, nearly a year before their first cassette release and two before their definitive Wet Za Wet LP (many songs from that album appear here, including standouts like “Apartheid” and “Kukly”). The elements that made them great are all on clear display here: the charismatic vocals, the martial rhythms, the heady and diverse songwriting that careens from reggae/ska to fluid blues-rock solos to driving hardcore. As the recording is sourced from a nearly 40-year-old tape there is a bit of occasional warble and some very minor dropouts but given those circumstances the mastering job is really impressive and on the whole it sounds fucking great. As there’s no crowd noise at all, this could easily be passed off as a live in studio session, a plus for those who would usually avoid live recordings. All the text is presented in Polish, but the beautiful gatefold features tons of photos from the festival and even the typed lyrics that had to be submitted to the censors in order for the band to be able to perform (a chilling glimpse of a potential future to be?). Warsaw Pact are doing amazing work, this and all the label’s other reissues are well worth your time and support.

Android Chapter 001

The vocal patterns remind me of HANK WOOD (with some obvious nods to WHITE PIGS), the changes of pace remind me of HOAX, and the lack of interesting riffs backed with a major outpouring of adoration from people on the internet remind me of GAG. There are six songs here but it’s actually four if you don’t count intros and interludes, although the interlude could’ve actually been the best track here if they had kept jamming it. The art’s pretty cool and if you missed out on punk in 2013 you may think the music is as well.

Basic Dicks Dick Tape

There’s a lot to uncover here, and all of it good. Rock-solid drums and a forceful bass maintain the necessary foundation so the other three can unleash. The guitar downstrokes are like a machine, with single-note melodies and a lead that takes up most of “Slap,” and are likely the sonic focus of the release for the casual listener. For the front of the band, I don’t know whether to concentrate on the power of the dual femme vocals or the visceral wit of the content, but they are part and parcel—fury sometimes hits the hardest when it’s demeaning and tongue in cheek, and this is where BASIC DICKS excel. The attack is smart and spot on, assailing the male narrative as it relates to (or defines) assault, objectification, and the narrative itself.

Duck & Cover Two Shots EP

This is good, though I wouldn’t say great, garage rock’n’roll. Oddly, it’s the relative talent of the musicians that keeps it from making that hurdle from good to great. They’re possibly too talented for their own good, which leads to some extracurricular solo performances that just have never done it for me. If you take a good rock band and throw in some extra guitar licks and/or drum solos and you’ve almost got metal. Track number two is a sort of rock ballad that strikes me as a nod to their Northeast roots. It’s the third and final track, “Unlucky 17,” that is the highlight for me. More stripped down and straightforward, it’s also extremely catchy and melodic.

Foc La Fera Ferotge LP

This first album from an intriguing band direct from Barcelona, featuring frenetic drums, a noise guitar with small melodies and the intensity and unevenness of spoken Catalan vocals. This band sounds like a manifesto, an urgent and necessary call. As if CONFLICT heard noise in 2020.

Fragment Serial Mass Destruction EP

I recall giving this band’s 2017 12″ a fairly lukewarm review, an action that won’t be repeated today. Been hearing quite a few mediocre to bad “crasher crust” records lately—this is definitely not one of those! The noize is there, alongside the de rigeur vocal reverb and B&W DISCHARGE/DISCLOSE graphic design scheme but the songwriting elevates this record well past its contemporaries. These five tracks fly by at 45 RPM, with impressive use of dynamics and tempo changes, memorable riffs and choruses that stick with you long after the needle has left the vinyl. The shuffling stench-core derived breakdown that closes the EP is just fantastic. This is a keeper!

F.U.P. Noise and Chaos LP

It is incredible just how many absolutely fucking fantastic bands existed on the periphery of the Japanese hardcore scene, and it is equally delightful that so many labels and archivists are taking the time to reveal these bands to the world and preserve their works and legacy.  F.U.P. were a fixture in the Sapporo scene whose entire discography appeared on demo and compilation tapes save two tracks on an MCR local compilation flexi (those are invaluable resources when it comes to finding “lost” and overlooked Japanese bands). Their sound is unusual for the late ’80s/early ’90s when they were active, very primitive and dark with a DISCHARGE-derived backbone and aggressive growled vocals à la Masami or Cherry.  Perhaps inevitably some of the recordings are a tad limp and can only be perked up so much by remastering, but plenty of these tracks hit hard as fuck and it’s plenty novel to hear a Japanese band that straddles the line between crust and aggressive hardcore at a time when ACID, MACROFARGE and NIGHTMARE were all active. The packaging is fairly bare-bones (would have loved to see the sleeves and inserts of all the demos and such) but that’s a minor complaint when the record is such a blazer.

Hakan Tempuras Never Come / Mr. DNA 7″

This is right up my alley. Two songs, including a DEVO cover, each clocking in at under two minutes? Yes! If it’s good, I can put it on again. If I don’t like, I got away with not too much commitment. Up-tempo and catchy, super head-bouncy melodic, straightforward coming right at you, this is the complete package. These guys are all about business. Each song starts, they whip you into a frenzy, and before you can finish, the song is over, leaving you wanting for me. Nice work. They’re from Italy, if you pay attention to stuff like that.

Holehog Radiation Blues cassette

Nothing less than exactly what you expect from just one quick look at the cover, Sacramento’s HOLEHOG offers up nine bursts of street punk with studs ’n’ snarls. UK (like GBH) collides with US (like DEATHREAT) with zero bullshit and riffs for days and the only thing sharper than the sonic delivery is the honest intensity in the vocals. Members of SSYNDROM, MONSTER SQUAD and others for those keeping track, but HOLEHOG are making a pedigree all their own.

Low Card De La Muerte El Paris Savage Video Violence CD

Nagoya’s LOW CARD DE LA MUERTE have been raging outside of the North American consciousness for years now, but hopefully this monstrous full-length will put an end to that and place them firmly on our radar. It’s hard to describe how much energy there is crammed into this little piece of encoded plastic, but the songs explode off of the disc and never (ever) let up. Their blazing hardcore has elements of early ’00s thrash, delivered with an ear toward their Japanese forebears and tongue firmly planted in cheek. Songs like “Massgomi Operations” leave you breathless after a sub-30 strafing and “VxAxCx” shows their mastery over weirdness, making the sheer bizarre insanity of the construction sound like it belongs. Fifteen tracks (in fourteen minutes) followed by a ten-song rehearsal recording that could easily stand as its own separate (and equally killer) release. The rehearsal takes are raw, even faster, more straightforward and pack just as much energy, which gives the entire full-length a feel like you’re listening to a band splitting a set with…themselves. I am seriously blown away. 2018’s El Paris Radio Massacre Sessions disc was great, but this is one of the best releases I have heard all year.

Mad Rollers I Need Your Love / Did You See 7″

Inspired by bands like the BRIEFS and the EXPLODING HEARTS, these guys pump out a couple of power pop numbers that will take a total of a little less than six minutes of your time. While I wouldn’t necessarily put them in the same league as either of the aforementioned bands, I would say that this record is super solid and it will end up spending a little bit of time on my turntable. They’re from Italy, if you pay attention to stuff like that.

Man-Eaters Carbona Guerilla demo cassette

Hard to call this a mere demo since it’s already been given the pro-tape treatment by Pissed Off! in Malaysia, but here’s the latest from the TARANTÜLA/CÜLO family tree (technically the “latest” would be the Gentle Ballads… LP on Feel It, but I’m referring to the band itself). These kids have now doused themselves completely with rock’n’roll fluid, and perhaps this band is the match. Comparisons to ANNIHILATION TIME are inevitable, though our Windy City friends lean more heavily on a straight-ahead, four-on-the-floor lifestyle led by a relentlessly reverbed lead guitar. Punk disappearing in the rearview mirror, drugs and volume abound…this is primo gutter rock.

Manic Ride Taking You Down With Me EP

Sick hardcore with metallic touches outta Sweden that blends several notable influences including the ACCUSED, AGNOSTIC FRONT and countrymen DS-13 into an agreeably violent whole. Cool mosh parts and divebombs abound with unusually insightful lyrics shouted over it all, occasionally backed up by righteous gang choruses. It’s not a revelation by any means but it’s a great debut from a band that’s probably killing it live (or would be under normal circumstances anyway).

Moron’s Morons Looking for Danger LP

This wonderful Polish band releases their first full-length of wild, ferocious and simply amazing chaotic rock’n’roll. It is impossible not to think of ANGRY SAMOANS as a reference but it also reminded me a bit of ANNIHILATION TIME. Advice? Listen loudly!

Negativ Epicrisis

Epicrisis is a good punk record. It’s nasty, savage, noisey, short and intense. Contains insanity, angst and power. They operate with back-and-forth dragged riffs and tupa-tupa rhythms that never really turn into chaos, but flicks with intensity. Their sound is perfect for a guessing game regarding their influences, as it is rather a conclusion of a well-curated personal collection than exact references lifted into their songs. Somehow they remind me of DAWN OF HUMANS from recent times, but without the visceral art edge. Yet they fall for the same uniforming trap so many contemporary records do. While it is done by all the right people, talent shines through it, and yes it is a great piece of work, but it tells more about the current state of international hardcore punk than their own enviorment. The lyrics are about personal fears, a society that is constantly surveilled, but who cares anyway, because they are here to consume, live in cells called as homes and exist to work what serves their slave-holders. Then we have the music which is while being great—it truly is—does it dare to be not perfect? It screams fuck you, but does it mean that as well? It is unfair to pour on NEGATIV a problem of an era. My direct message is: Epicrisis would be way better if it sounded different from a great amount of current records. To be fair, I like this record because, at a deeper layer, among the psycho tension, it sneaks in creepy melodies as if Rikk Agnew and Nick Blinko were trying to write a ballad. NEGATIV has a natural impetus, being constantly present in each of their songs. The tempo sounds as it could be faster which creates expectations for the chaos to burst out, while it never happens and chaos is created in the listener. Well placed, sudden changes in pace and riffs create uncertainty that lends excitement to the music. The vocals confused, bile splattering, phlegmatic style mixes perfectly with the sharp, dystopian-vibe of the music. Most likely if you do not listen to this record for hours straight, you will just think: it is ugly and destructive; how sick punk records are.

Rigorous Institution Despotism / Survival 7″

By the third EP of RIGOROUS INSTITUTION, it should be obvious that they dig moody, black mass-vibe crust like AMEBIX. Within a short timespan and discography they mastered the creation and control of their atmosphere, just as a magician seducing its audience. As far as my interest reaches they are original with choosing a rare reference in today’s music. How are they more than a present interpretation of something from decades ago? RIGOROUS INSTITUTION not only layers their music but each layer functions different from the other. The keyboards could back up moody dream-pop songs, even if they are frightening; the guitars run between BLACK SABBATH-ish clean riffing and total, unidentifiable cacophony. As the layers live their own separate lives that add up well, the music’s main goal transforms to create an atmosphere than to entertain as a catalyst for body movement. Which feature can alienate those who are not looking for a big act. I still want to hear more.

Sial Tari Pemusnah Kuasa LP

This is the forth release from Singapore’s SIAL, remaining consistent, it picks up where Binasa—their previous 7”—ended. The same consistency solidified the sound of SIAL that is both their own and now is familiar to the listeners, though portioned on short records, it never gets boring. It tastefully combines rolling dynamics, occasional D-beat pump, echoed yet frantic vocals, guitars distorted enough to footnote noise, but held back as well to actually hear the sense of riffs, which balance between easy to interpret, direct attacks and more tense parts to bounce the whole room. This is a formula in modern hardcore, but SIAL took the effort to tailor it custom. The second half of the record takes careful turns to psychedelia; some songs are even chant-like, which is refreshing since it is constructed in an interesting way. All along we discuss here raging hardcore, still SIAL seems to be highly self-concious, what might control the chaos of their music, although they never sound artificial, but their inner angst is matched with certain relics of hardcore/punk and the creatively mixed substance is poured into a frame. Beyond the sonic facts, SIAL is able to make their music more than a case study of hardcore, as the record spins, their power takes over the atmosphere, which is tense enough to grab my focus on their energy. The record has an unnatural power, therefore what is best in SIAL, is what their record summons, not what is actually recorded. Could a band ask for more?

The Uncivil Society Spectral Semiotic Sound CD

Extremely fucking confusing full score one-person production that “strives to recreate Phil Spector’s wall of sound” while acknowledging in the accompanying zine that Spector himself was a complete prick. Oh…and somehow the artist (“GORILLA X”) approaches the project through the lens of MINUTEMEN’s Double Nickels On The Dime. Spoken lyrics as astral poetry makes the release sound simultaneously advanced and amateurish…but mostly confusing. It’s a psychedelic space journey version of all of the above, with extensive notes, lyrics and images to help guide you.

Ut In Gut’s House 2xLP

While UT formed as part of the somewhat amorphous late ’70s New York art and music scene that was eventually pegged as No Wave, they’ve always been an outlier within the context of common narratives and conceptions of that (anti-)movement—a downtown Manhattan trio who were most active after they had relocated to London, and who started out in 1978 (the year of No New York) but didn’t release their definitive albums until the second half of the ’80s, years after many of their No Wave peers had gravitated to other avenues like free jazz or modern classical. But the guiding principles of No Wave were those of rejection and opposition, which were duly reflected in UT’s dismantling of some of the most basic tropes of being a modern “rock band,” with a songwriting process rooted in collective improvisation, and members Nina Canal, Sally Young, and Jacqui Ham all rotating between instruments and microphone duty from track to track. The off-kilter vocals, wiry, detuned guitar scrape, and skittering drums of the group’s 1987 LP In Gut’s House imagined the possibilities of a union between the MARS/DNA-oriented Downtown 81 school and early Rough Trade-backed UK femme-punk practitioners, resulting in a bleak, art-damaged sprawl not far removed from that of their Blast First then-labelmates SONIC YOUTH. There’s plenty of friction and atonality in the more abstracted, noisy tracks like “Hotel” and “Landscape,” but In Gut’s House just as often gives way to more subdued explorations like “Shut Fog,” which mixes scratchy violin and sparse, tom-heavy drumming to a haunting RAINCOATS-ish effect. A little too late for No Wave’s heyday and a little too early to follow SONIC YOUTH down the path toward alternative nation superstardom, UT were essentially undeserving victims of time with this record, but it’s a true late ’80s post-punk classic now conveniently reissued for 2020 consumption.

World Peace Towards a New Supreme Understanding EP

Ten tracks of drums and bass powerviolence/grind with a median average song length of 30.4 seconds. The lack of guitar leaves the sound a bit thin even with such burly bass and drums. The power comes from non-stop speed, slow parts that don’t drag on and fairly technical playing. It gives the aura of powerviolence for macho hardcore heads and makes me imagine one third of XIBALBA covering something off of Trapped Inside by LACK OF INTEREST.

Abwärts Amok Koma LP reissue

Reissue of the 1980 debut LP from ABWÄRTS, the influential West German post-punk group whose original lineup splintered not long after this album when half of the members defected for EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. Much like early WIRE, ABWÄRTS relied on an urgent efficiency built around acute-angled guitar, buttoned-up rhythms, and tense/terse vocals—in particular, “Karo 1/4 08/15 Hoch 2” is 30 seconds of econo-punk agitation so close to the primary source that it might as well be a German-translated Pink Flag outtake. There’s enough detours that set Amok Koma apart from mere WIRE flattery, though, from the clattering, deconstructed “Monday on My Mind” (after the EASYBEATS’ ’60s smash “Friday on My Mind”), to the female vocals and mechanical stutter of “Bel Ami” that lean closer to ABWÄRTS’ Neue Deutsch Welle contemporaries like CARAMBOLAGE, to the group’s twin experiments with buzzing synth and processed violin squall in the more decidedly art-punk “Unfall.” This record is considered an ’80s Deutsch underground classic for a reason, and this is the first time that there’s been a pressing of it available outside Germany, so if you’re not already in the know, there’s one less barrier in your way now. (Weird side-note: for the reissue, the iconic original cover art was replaced by a completely different take as done by, uhh, Robert Pollard of GUIDED BY VOICES?)

Belly Jelly What It Is EP

Someone has idolized CONEHEADS and now we have another bedroom punk project about cell phones and whatever else. I wish I had a joke to tell about this band but all I can say is that “BELLY JELLY” just seems to be the butt of the joke about modern punk. If squiggly chipmunk DEVO t-shirt computer simulation punk is your thing, then gorge yourself. I appreciate the Bay State representation with the NERVOUS EATERS cover and the pace change on “Big Questions” is good but god damn this all sounds like Mark Winter scratching his pubes.

The Chisel Deconstructive Surgery EP

Here we, Here we, Here we fucking go; the CHISEL boys are here to kick your head in and neck your pint while doing so. Lightning fast, convulsing with an anger that only growing up in Blackpool can give you, this blistering EP stomps from track to track with a palpable sense of malice and righteous fury. Class warfare, the sad decline of the seaside town and the great British tradition of a pint and a fight are all covered, and backed with thunderous drums, hefty bass and riotous guitars. One of the best of the year so far.

Chubby and the Gang Speed Kills LP

The impressive cover from this London band’s debut full-length album has already totally caught my attention. Sound like exactly everything I have heard all my life—it is energizing, fun, aggressive with a few breaks for melodies and melancholy, like COCK SPARRER. As if SLADE had met MOTÖRHEAD in a perfect space-time.

Cran Samedi Minuit EP

CRAN is a French band that, at best, is trying to do some sort of melodic, more thoughtful Oi but end up sounding like a confused up-tempo goth band with shouted vocals. The artwork is bland, two of the three songs drag on forever and I don’t think the drummer plays a single fill. In CRAN’s defense I’m not cosplaying as some wanna-be skinhead who could somehow conceive this as good. Giving it multiple listens for the sake of a fair review was one of the more arduous parts of my day.

Crush Crusher I Wish Punk Was Dead cassette

A much delayed review for this 2019 piece of Bible Belt brilliance. Oklahoma City’s CRUSH CRUSHER sounds like a product of their environment, the result of their collective pasts. Frustrated and manic hardcore punk played with the conniving mystery that comes from needing to find alternate ways home sneaking through alleys, and the ferocity that is learned when you get caught. The songs (and delivery) are chaotic, with distant vocals as if shouted from a different room—the result is a primitive but massive sound that “bigger” bands struggle to replicate. Twelve tracks, clocking in around thirteen minutes with an indescribably weird CRASS cover as a closer. Recommended.

Cyclone Furies Cyclone Furies CD

My lads—twin boys, currently aged seven—have consistently, good pre-teen rebels that they are, asserted to their dad that they hate punk rock. This all changed last week while listening to the DAMNED’s Machine Gun Etiquette. Thus it came to pass that we were off somewhere and I was playing CYCLONE FURIES’ CD in the car…and the self-same music critics asked if this was punk, too. I assured them it was, and they repeated that they (still) like punk rock. This quintet isn’t quite up there with the majesty of that era of the DAMNED, but they definitely lean heavily on the early RAMONES, in terms of song structures, chord sequences, et al. And despite the addition of keyboards (hey, so did the DAMNED!), they carry it off well enough.

Dakiniz Raging Shouts CD

Spastic angular noise rock from France. Borderline ’90s emo with a bit of DRIVE LIKE JEHU and JON SPENCER in the mix. I couldn’t get into this. It’s so loosely arranged and drawn out I kept getting lost in the songs. Oh well.

Degollada Demo

DEGOLLADA is a new band from Buenos Aires with members of VENENO and FORRA, and just released their demo through Corona Rx, a label created during the quarantine. With a primitive and very effective punk sound, their influences are from German punk bands like DEUTSCHER ABSCHAUM. DEGOLLADA brings drumbeats and cymbals that sound like broken glass and a hypnotic and catchy guitar sound that blends perfectly with the vocals. Just four songs that are passed around as if they were just one. Anxious waiting for more material, hopefully soon!

Disable …Slamming in the Depths of Hell EP

Damn—a solid decade of disbeat noise from Atlanta’s DISABLE? I welcome it just like I welcome these six bursts of manic distortion into my life. It would be easy to keep cranking out amped-up, mindless D-beat distortion (and I wouldn’t mind), but DISABLE pays attention to the little things: the bit of weird chaotic melody before the stop in the title track, the start/stop that opens “False Flag,” turning “Death’s Head” into slow-motion robotic repetition instead of making it the mandatory mid-tempo stomp that every D-beat record seems to have. The closer, “Whistling Death,” is interrupted by noise, but it sounds like it was actually interrupted instead of some calculated electronics-not-music exercise to prove they aren’t just a run of the mill D-beat band. All of this is to say that DISABLE are, in fact, another D-beat band, but that they’ve used their ten years (and counting) in the game to create something different (and dare I say “interesting”) within the confines of the genre. Killer slab.

Fellini A Melhor Coisa Que Eu Fiz (84-90) LP

A collection of alternate versions and previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1984 and 1990 by cult Brazilian post-punks FELLINI, who formed out of São Paulo’s thriving underground scene in the mid-’80s. The group’s initial influences skewed toward greyscale UK post-punk in an early Factory Records fashion, with spindly guitar work, bass-driven melodies, sparse drum machine, and somewhat oblique vocals tracing similar lines as the ones drawn by the DURUTTI COLUMN, early NEW ORDER, and even JOSEF K, without really sounding overtly like any of them (see some of the earlier tracks on the LP, like “É Chato” or “Premonição”). And just as nearly all of the most interesting early post-punk bands ultimately needed to push back against what quickly became a too-rigid genre orthodoxy if they stayed together for any extended amount of time, with the ’80s giving way to the ’90s, echoes of Brazilian samba and Tropicália started surfacing in the still-stark FELLINI sound, with the incorporation of acoustic guitars, breezy vocals, and jazzy rhythms in songs like “O Destino” and “Por Toda Parte” that owed more to OS MUTANTES than, say, JOY DIVISION. That progression is made apparent in the way that A Melhor Coisa Que Eu Fiz is sequenced, but it’s also such a gradual and natural evolution that all of the tracks could have just as easily been the product of one recording session, rather than pulled from half a decade’s worth of material. This is a really solid and lovingly assembled anthology for a group that hasn’t gotten a ton of recognition in more Euro/US-centric narratives of second-wave post-punk in the 1980s, and well worth investigating if you’re unfamiliar with FELLINI and at all interested in dismantling that particular canon.

Fist Fight on Ecstacy The Next Batch EP

Drug-fueled SoCal metallic punk. The majority of the songs are fast, but they are most interesting when they slow down (“Being the Elite”). Vocals are just slightly off time some of the time, which gives them a realistic feel. Like a weird doll facsimile of a thing that you thought you liked until you saw the fake version. Maybe you work with some squares who know about commercial punk, like, just enough to know the difference between radio “punk” and BLACK FLAG and stuff. Well, this is what they think you’re into when you tell them you’re a punk.

Fragment Serial Mass Destruction EP

Maddening raw D-beat out of Nova Scotia that leans toward the ANTI CIMEX side of things. They take the Raped Ass sound, cut the guitar leads, and add blast beats, vocal echo, and even a breakdown into the mix. None of that, however, takes away from the crashing chaos that drives this record full speed ahead towards a sheer cliff with the brakes on fire. If you’re ready to take that ride, then give this a whirl.

Garrapata Demo

MRR continues to accept interviews, so please, someone, go out and ask GARRAPATA about the recording session of this demo, because it makes zero sense. The music is the lowest lo-fi noise-core à la KUOLEMA and PSYCHO SIN. The drums are as recognizable as listening through thick walls to how your neighbor destroys his flat. The tape sounds so dumb, if a group of people’s first introduction to music was SIEGE and without any skills or experience of playing on instruments they were set free to express themselves. It is best demonstrated with how detached the flow of their music. The fragmented, stop-and-go structure lets the instruments breathe, just as the vocalist does, making them sound as separated attempts to notify angry existence. Hard to process that someone reached out to this aesthetic in current times, yet it avoids being gimmicky. Real primitive music for the lovers of barbarian art.

Leather Lickers Spit EP

If you were in Melbourne, Australia and dug a hole all the way to the center of the earth and went straight on through to the other side, you’d end up in Cleveland, Ohio, which is in America. I have a degree in geography, you can trust me on shit like this. If the 9 SHOCKS TERROR compilation CD from Havoc Records is being played relentlessly in your car/van cause you’re too poor or stupid to buy anything else, if your reaction to someone pouring a beer on your head in any given situation is to punch them in the mouth, or if you still actually enjoy hardcore punk then LEATHER LICKERS may appeal to you. I honestly wish they played faster more often but beggars can’t be choosers.

Low Rats The Corner / Weird Tales of the Falling Down 7″

LOW RATS have a proto-punk meets ’90s garage rock style. Rockabilly-ish guitars with boogie-woogie piano playing topped by a crooning singer. “The Corner” is IGGY meets NEW YORK DOLLS, while “Weird Tales of the Falling Down” moves into the early CBGB’s meets Goner Records scene. The music is well-played with a bit of grit, and the vocals are drawling and whiny in interesting ways. Both songs are pretty catchy, too. Available in a super limited, handcut run of 25 copies. Probably too late.

Lvger Fvll Villain LP

Have you ever wondered what it’d sound like if HIGH ON FIRE’s Matt Pike decided to stop dicking about and get into full MOTÖRHEAD worship instead? Me neither, and as it turns out it’s a question that probably should remain unanswered; in the ether. LVGER’s debut full-length only clocks in at six songs but feels about six years; with several tracks pushing an agonising four minutes in length, the sheer lack of urgency or any self-control really begins to drag at stages. While the riffs are undoubtedly robust, there’s more than a little of the bootcut jean about this record and it’s hard to ignore. Not for me.

مراة بركان (Mara’a Borkan) Demo cassette

MARA’A BORKAN (“Volcano Woman”) is from Tunisia, with female members. Fortunately, this review does not have to emphasize the political relevance of the previous sentence, since A) I am fucking dumb regarding world politics, and B) MARA’A BORKAN’s music is just as interesting as probably their background story is. The sort of low-key, rudimentary metal punk, paired with determined, loud, yet trying to be melodic singing is just as a weird mix as it was to hear G.I.S.M. for the first time. The stripped-down, raw radicalism of the music reminds me of FIRMEZA 10 and how they interpreted the core idea of D-beat; here MARA’A BORKAN, no idea what to try to reference, but it’s loud, visceral and entertaining. The vocals tend to employ melody bends, familiar from ’00s bro-core, that here, out of context, are one of the most memorable vocals I have recently heard. The band builds their sound from a few elements, still they are able to make it dense, the rawness of the minimalism resounds in each song. The glue between the instruments is the devotion that shines through the demo. MARA’A BORKAN comes from an uneasy place to play punk and to be a woman that is translated to their music. Reintroducing the power of this subculture.  

Methmatics Methmatics LP

This band appears to consist of mostly aged punkers with probable knowledge of the Ohio classics they emulate, as well they should, since they hail from Columbus, home of the NEW BOMB TURKS. The PAGANS and RUBBER CITY REBELS, as well as non-Ohioans like the LAZY COWGIRLS can be felt here, but in a lukewarm Burger Beer sort of way. Totally competent, but never quite moving one from a shoulder dance from a barstool. Pittsburghers often hate on their neighbor state, but I’m pure Californian and this just doesn’t rock me out of the lazy Midwest coma it induces. Better luck next time.

Powerplant A Spine / Evidence EP

Demento synth noise from the creepy depths of a dank basement. The first song has an art-prog vibe, PUNISHMENT OF LUXURY meets DEVO with a BRYAN FERRY on ’ludes drawl. The remaining tracks are more direct in their delivery: post-punk but skewed and warped like a carnival mirror. The closing track, “Hurtwood,” sounds like the MISFITS channeling MAGAZINE—now that’s magic, folks!

The Shivvers The Shivvers LP

Break out the Rickenbackers and skinny ties, Milwaukee’s favorite cult power pop quintet is back on wax. This LP of vintage recordings was first released a little over five years ago, but with the apparent demise of the Sing Sing label had fallen out of print. Rerun Records’ welcome reissue is remastered and a good deal if you’re not looking to blow $50+ on Discogs. For the uninitiated, the SHIVVERS orbited the Midwestern scene circa 1980, releasing a classic single before disappearing into relative obscurity for the next few decades. Fortunately, the band recorded an album’s worth of studio material back in the day. Their sharp, ’60s-pop-influenced tunes were heavy on the hooks, and while production values are undeniably slick, the SHIVVERS shrug off the new-wave limpness of your typical KNACK/CARS wannabes by virtue of their sheer enthusiasm. There’s no filler to be found. Recommended for fans of the NERVES, early GO-GO’S, etc. I dare you to listen to “Please Stand By” once and not have it echoing in your head for the rest of the week…

Sirkka Kuluttava Kone cassette

I love Finnish hardcore, but I would assign the exploriation of the legendary scene on labels who help archiving and sharing those wonderful demos, recorded by teens decades ago. When I saw SIKKA is from New York and seem to refer on the classic sound my instant reaction was: here is another band with the annual renaissance fair for Finnish hardcore. Even if that was their master plan, fortunately it failed—and as experienced, in punk failures lead to great things. SIRKAA employees nonsense speed, short-tempered guitar parts mixed with occasional no wave-ish confusion, a mountain-high wall of feedback but they do it in a loose way and the extra space offers room for originality. Therefore they experiment a bit. They remind me of a less crazy CUNTROACHES or nosier PYHÄKOULU, if we have to name a classic. The primitivity is the difference, which lacks here, as SIRKKA has control over the notes they play, furthermore they are thoughtful with the noise they generate—therefore it differs, while does refer on predecessors, yet they don’t copy the exact aesthetics, but translate how they might hear these bands, which is the best approach to form your own sound. This demo is a real surprise.

Street Weapon Quick to Die EP

Multiple eras of ’80s New York street music are represented with nods to the ABUSED, A.F., and CAUSE FOR ALARM as well as breakdowns reminiscent of ALTERCATION and MADBALL. Aping the early NY sound isn’t exactly new or surprising but STREET WEAPON actually gains intrigue by doing a decent job of balancing the early and late ’80s styles without being tied down to anything. Ultimately the name is corny, the artwork’s forgettable and they provide another straight edge song about abandoning people with addiction issues but they’re also kids in high school so chalk it up to them being impressionable, possibly excitable boys. Buy it for a teenage punk in your life.

Taste the Floor Scam EP

The art reminds me of the Facts And Views 7” by UPRIGHT CITIZENS, while the music makes me imagine this is probably what RAW POWER’s most current albums may sound like. This is thrash with a skatecore vibe. Quick guitar leads, plenty of palm muting and almost non-stop blast beats which make it feel like it should’ve been out on Party Time or 625 Thrashcore records. The vocalist has a Roger Miret quality to him and all true intensity is lost in the double kick drum and super clean production.

Veneno Justicia Argentina

Justicia Argentina is the second release from this almost-new band from Buenos Aires and brings a brutal and evil sound, not often seen in the scene on this side of the globe. Just like DEGOLLADA, they also released their record during this quarantine here, by the label  Corona Rx. Imagine GBH but with a devilish voice and a delay pedal in eight songs, very well recorded in ten minutes. Compact and demolishing. We must keep an eye on VENENO and their next steps.

The Vibrators Hunting for You LP

This is a “first time on vinyl” release of this 1994 full-length. Don’t expect Pure Mania or V2 here. Hunting for You is tuneful rock and alternative which was par for the course in the ’90s, I suppose. This is well done with good production from these UK punk originals; it’s just a little light on punk.

Vile Reality Detached cassette

Sooner or later, someone was gonna hit “Vile” and “Reality” when throwing darts at the wall to choose their hardcore band’s name, and I’m glad it was these San Diegans, because this tape is fierce as hell and sounds like a band called VILE REALITY should. Six speedy cuts that generally come in around the 90s-second mark (“Immobilized,” which concludes the tape, is slightly longer) and bundle chuggy mosh parts, air-punching rocker moments and reverb-y, slyly psychedelic touches, topped off by the gruff-not-tough vox of Aaron McQueen. Deserves a vinyl release, although I appreciate the age of just pointing at things and saying “deserves a vinyl release” is not our current one.

Violent Christians No Speed No Punk cassette

Once again, we reach into the “hardcore band name imagery” lucky dip bucket and pull out VIOLENT CHRISTIANS, an Austin ensemble whose debut tape comes via the frequently good Roachleg. You could probably convince someone that No Speed No Punk is an authentic unearthed artefact from some Midwestern scene circa 1984, assuming that wasn’t their specialist subject to start with. “Body Bag” exhibits relatively melodic tendencies to kick us off, but thereafter it’s the kind of ramalama blowout where the vocalist nearly-but-not-quite falls over his lyrics, guitar solos enter and leave within a few seconds and at the end of “Up Your Arse” (these MFs said “arse”), a DIE KREUZEN-like shredder, someone asks, “Are we done?” Hopefully not!

Yambag Posthumous Pounce! LP

This is this shit that my jaded-ass reviewer ears are looking for: relentless fastcore. Guitars are clean and super fukkd up sounding, drums have a HELLNATION-meets-teenage-blastbeat awkwardness (and they are kinda recorded like shit in the most endearing way), and just 25% of the tracks top the 60 second mark. Put me in a space machine and send me back to 2001, but with all of the anger I feel in a 2020 reality, and boom I’m ready for some fucking YAMBAG. Choice track: “(O)Possum,” but there are seriously no clunkers to be found here. Thank you!

V/A Oi! L’Album Volume 2 LP

Libertoi, égalioi, fraternitoi! Nearly ten years after the first installment, Nantes-based label Une Vie Pour Rien has put out a second course of delicious Oi morsels from the francophone world. Absolutely zero fucking about here, as the first track from parisian stalwarts BROMURE is straight in with the saxophone, because is it really French Oi without it? Stand-out tunes from ULTRA RAZZIA, BOGAN, COUPE-GORGE, follow and if you like your riffs hard as nails, your vocals gruff and your saxophone inexplicably present then this is the comp for you. Marchons! Marchons!