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.

Alambre de Púas Venganza cassette

Second demo tape of ALAMBRE DE PÚAS from Chile. Standard quality of their current scene, with sonic similarities: they play beat-driven, simplified hardcore punk, using frantic vocals and restrained tension. The buzzing repetition recalls a distant noise of a rolling chainsaw. In some of their moments they reminded me of the BOBBY SOXX 7”, with the evil mid-tempo mania, and MASTURBATION from Japan with the unsophisticated yet melodic approach. This tape feels like a puzzle piece for the recent Chilean scene. Alltogether they testify that genuine hardcore is played all around the globe at the same level and intensity. Many creators have been acknowledged as part of a movement instead of honored independently. Time will tell if ALAMBRE DE PÚAS remain over the surface, but listening to their demo makes me appreciate their scene the same as I do the band, and via I appreciate how colorful the subculture is. Maybe I will not remember one single riff soon, but while playing the tape I think punk is fucking sick and sometimes this is enough.

Concrete Lawn Aggregate LP

The plan is in place. Full destruction, full rejection. CONCRETE LAWN are the children of the “I wasn’t even alive back then why should I care?” generation, ready to invert that fucked logic til the blood rushes to your head, figuring out the cogs and wires not too far beneath the surface, jamming them up with piss, snot, vinegar, all in real time. No shit they don’t like it. This is far from a one-note group: Once I watched them murder (in a good way) a TALKING HEADS cover while an old man got me in a headlock and tried to kiss my neck. Maddison recently finished high school and was, I believe, sixteen when this group began. In fact none of them have burnt up much of their early twenties yet, but to be sure none of that shit matters and they certainly do not care for your creepy overtures either. Not going graciously. With furious posture and cavernous echo, this LP is a wicked, expansive progression from their quick ’n’ dirty demo. New young boots on that timeworn twist we know from the best of LA’s Dangerhouse groups they’ve been compared to already, lurching violently towards the gothic without any of the histrionics, from a GERMS-y buzz to screeching nighttime howls. There’s scheming outrage at Australia-as-a-façade, of course, railing against the climbing death toll of a colony gone forever berserk. Look, if we have to go with “snotty” here, like everyone else, then OK, sure, but only because snot is highly concentrated, a little bit naughty, gross but delicious. Put this on your tongue when everybody is looking.

The Cool Greenhouse The Cool Greenhouse LP

If you’re already hip to this name via the London and Landlords singles or Crap Cardboard Pet EP (the latter making the COOL GREENHOUSE, to date, the only British act to have been released on Lumpy Records, which seems like it counts for something even if I don’t know what exactly), then you’ll know it’s not a band but a person, Tom Greenhouse, with a drum machine. No longer! Here is The Cool Greenhouse, a debut album which turns the COOL GREENHOUSE into a full group, human drummer and all. It’s a bit more hi-fi than Tom’s previous outings, but still agreeably shonky, with the fucked-sounding garage organ remaining in place (now played by Merlin Nova, daughter of THIS HEAT’s Charles Hayward, dynasty fans). Foremost, though, the sense is of a vehicle for Tom’s lyrical outlook: there are a lot of words here, and with most songs between three and five minutes things could have dragged if his verbal rambles didn’t take so many sharp turns and drop multiple inspired lines. A peach of an album upholding the legacy of Jonathan Richman, the FALL, ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER, the YUMMY FUR, the COUNTRY TEASERS and the totality of early ’80s UKDIY.

The Cowboy Wi-Fi on the Prairie LP

Sophomore album from these former HOMOSTUPIDS folks. I have wavered on this lot’s prior efforts but am firmly on-board here. Wi-Fi On The Prairie seems a hell of a lot more focused, which is not to say there is a lack of flailing—their (very) specific attack is just executed perfectly. Can you be blind wasted and still completely “lock in”? Every cut here points to the affirmative: all-guitar steamrolling punk, seriously powerful sounds with occasional off-rail absurdities. A tough one to shake as well, repeating spins required. One that will probably rear its head come annual best-of time, assuming any of us live that long.

Dangereens Tough Luck LP

Jingly jangly piano! Jingly jangly guitar! Jingly jangly trumpet and sax! This is some sharp and full-bodied rock and/or roll from Montreal, which seems to have a never-ending supply of great art seeping out from it. This is the kind of rock that you may initially be struck with the inclination to say “Hey! They’re ripping off…” and then realize you can’t actually pick the band. It sounds familiar, but that’s because this collection of musicians is just that good. There’s some glam, some garage, some power pop, and a whole lot of frantic energy. The first line of the album is “Here I am,” and from that point on, you’ll feel like you’re on a musical journey with a very showy guide. Check out “Streets of Doom,” for a foot-tappin’, booty shakin’ sampler of the glory.

Dirt Box Disco TV Sex Show CD

This quartet has been around for a decade now, and apparently, this is their eighth full-length effort. Apparently I haven’t been keeping up with the “new and trending” for a while. Their promo one-sheet lists the BONZO DOG DOO DAH BAND as one of their influences (along with the likes of KISS, RAMONES, DAMNED and KERBDOG), so that was an instant thumbs up. Even better is their glorious blend of glam, pop-punk and rock’n’roll. Indeed, being Brits, it’s perhaps hardly surprising that they have much more than a passing musical resemblance to both SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS and COCK SPARRER (at their Shock Troops finest—including “Out On an Island”). Can’t really give ’em much more superlatives than that. Singalong choruses, excellent melodic twin guitars, and layered vocals, and some killer tunes. Not so sure about their threads, or stage monikers, but I guess you can’t have it all.

Galore Galore LP

The first album from GALORE, a San Francisco quartet conceptually descended from a musical lineage that can be traced back to the VELVET UNDERGROUND, as well as the PASTELS, BEAT HAPPENING, and any number of C86-era greats after them—jangling and melodic, but also charmingly imperfect and a little rough around the edges. The LP’s most sprawling tracks like “Deja Vu” and “Henry” (still only about three minutes long!) tumble along slow and sweet like molasses, all unhurried beats and understated chiming guitar that’s so stripped down that it almost fades into oblivion, grounded by the occasional tambourine rattle or xylophone strike. That languid vibe is countered by a much more raucous streak, especially in the spiky “Lydia” and “Shiver,” that strikes the sort of balance between sharp, staccato post-punk and spartan pop perfection that modern OZ DIY bands like TERRY and PRIMO! have absolutely dominated lately, although they could be facing some serious cross-Pacific competition from GALORE now—an auspicious beginning!

Maldición Enjaulados EP reissue

This review should focus on the quality difference of the actual media, since Enjaulados has been released on tape and lathe cut 7” forms in 2017 already, followed up now by Rock SVB’s take with a vinyl version from 2019. If this is your first encounter with MALDICIÓN, or you look for mirroring your own opinion: They are from Santiago de Chile, proving again what a fertile ground South America is for contemprorary hardcore. In their elements MALDICIÓN does not reinvent the wheel. The vocals are echoed to devilish scary, the music is subordinated to create a primitive beat at the edge of pogo punk and dumbed down black metal, something that has been familiar in international hardcore. When I hear such, the test is whether its repetition can hypnotize me into focusing only on the power and movement of the music, perceived by my body, instead of thinking on the actual notes. Based on that, it is not weird this record has been released three times already. It has the kick that lets me believe the familiar sounds belong to MALDICIÓN, instead of solely being lifted gimmicks helping the band to trick its audience. The straight-ahead, vicious power is coated in perfect rawness that still has some distorted edge, but nothing is overdone. It’s a safe pick to spin this record, if you do not like it, still it will not hurt, if you are in the mood for primitive pumping hardcore they are also great addition to the spectrum of current sounds.

Narrow Adventure 1981-83 cassette

Essentially an early incarnation of the Paisley Underground-adjacent outfit WEDNESDAY WEEK but with Kjehl Johansen of the URINALS on bass, NARROW ADVENTURE was very much a product of the Los Angeles underground that they occupied from 1981 to 1983, coming out of an art-minded late-’70s punk tradition (Dangerhouse, et al.) that was giving way to the ’60s-enamored psychedelic jangle of bands like the BANGLES by the early ’80s. This archival collection is the first proper documentation of the group’s recorded material, as they never officially released anything before the line-up and name change to WEDNESDAY WEEK, although a few of the songs here later resurfaced in much more polished and new wave-oriented takes on the latter’s debut EP in 1983. NARROW ADVENTURE’s just slightly off-center approach to minimal DIY pop often comes across as a Californian counterpart to what OH-OK were simultaneously doing out in Athens, Georgia, particularly in the playfully harmonized dual vocals from sisters Kristi and Kelly Callan and the flashes of post-punk angularity in tracks like “Prop 2” and “Anyone Like Me,” although there’s also enough straightforward, sugar-sweet hooks in the mix that they could have easily had the same level of success as their L.A. peers the GO-GO’s if things had only played out a little differently for them. And on that note, it’s kind of unfortunate that this anthology will probably suffer at least some blanket disinterest resulting from being on a label generally thought of as an assembly line for goofball garage rock, but I’d love to be proven wrong there. Supreme ’80s cool-girl sounds, don’t write it off because of that ridiculous hamburger logo on the back!

Parsnip Adding Up EP

Ah, for some levity! These are sunshine people and the garden gourds are growing. I know that a PARSNIP is not a gourd, but bands like this do not grow alone! This great pop group has flourished since 2016 amongst the mulchy multi-member goodness of other Melbourne groups like BANANAGUN and SCHOOL DAMAGE and wow yes, significant others. Deep roots in acid-laced soil aided by budget fertiliser, their cutest single yet does further deep dipping into a psychy landscape that we already got a sample of on their last LP. Their reworking of “Treacle Toffee World” by FIRE is especially resplendent. PARSNIP’s cheery bounce doesn’t jar in this seemingly endless crisis time because it feels grounded, smiling but still ready to call out the “Crossword Cheater,” because what’s the point if you can’t play fair? Like the friend that really gets it, but still invites you to ride a brighter wave.

Pionier Seriös Berlin cassette

This document is new to me, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have it in hand. Purportedly released as a promo only in 1981, the Berlin cassette by Germany’s PIONIER SERIÖS is an amalgamation of avant-NDW, repetitive beats and damaged synthesizers providing the background for a constant stream of spoken/chanted vocals (or manic howls, and always in German), the whole thing giving way to soft industrial dirges and no wave madness over the course of half an hour. True and genuine experimentation, not at all contrived, an exploration through and of sound, thankfully unearthed and repackaged by ZZK Tapes. Killer!

Side Action Saykopatik Hula cassette

The Gauguin-esque cover is great—it suggests a rare creativity that is playful, fun, violent and cool. Then the music starts, soon all the noisy cacophony falls on the bass and I find myself at the imaginary scene of the cover. It’s hardcore, fast and simple, right when it got to be, although loud, distorted and rudimental enough that it sounds fresh. As if SIDE ACTION uses the tools of their environment instead of replicating its relics. The dynamics between vocals and music feels as if the former were on a higher RPM than the rest of the band. Together it’s brilliant noise, the atmosphere of the record is buzzing, while their chaos is controlled. Sometimes things are just so simple yet meaningful—and joyful they target our feelings instead of our intellect. Those gathered thoughts are personal and feel silly to share it with the public. So it will become a strange secret which in a way shared between you and the band. When outsiders feel to be connected to strangers due to a band, something special has been created.

V/A …So This Is Progress? 001: Spring 2020 flexi 7″/zine

The zine is just as much a photo essay as it is the story of the creator’s move from Oxnard to outside Columbus, followed by discovering what was happening punk-wise in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and NYC, documenting it all with disposable cameras. Whether shots of bands or friends, the euphoria of the punk show—and in particular experiencing it in a new place—is captured and conveyed in a way that made me feel the excitement vicariously (perhaps especially since gigs are on hiatus until who knows when?) The five bands on this comp—all great, scuzzy hardcore with some grind-leaning moments, all except Pittsburgh’s PEACE TALKS being from Ohio—also fit into the greater narrative of being representative of making DIY punk happen in their given cities. Even with the bar for 7″ comps being somewhere in the Earth’s mantle, this is a keeper. Just press number two to actual vinyl, please!

Abraxas Promo cassette

Just two tracks at three minutes of raw furious hardcore from Charlottetown, PEI. “Left Behind” has a head-bobbing D-beat pulse, but I prefer the busy riffing and frantic phrasing on “Enough.” Cymbals clatter high in the mix, which is both a good and bad thing. Fans of such fidelity will say it improves the noise factor, but I’d like more guitar. These Canucks aren’t showing anything new but it’s still promising for a promo.

The Archaeas Rock n Roll / Replica 7″

This Kentucky gang knocks it outta the park on the first pitch. ARCHAEAS’ sound centers on skull-streamlining—full forward-motion guitar riffs, rhythms jabbing outta the garage but careening too wildly to be saddled with that tag. Feels freer, younger, druggier and more genuine than much of what ya hear as of late. A cool and true two-prong hit here—A-side’s the good-time, B’s the head-crack—jammed with enough spirit to make the shittiest over-it puker smile through the chunks.  Cannot wait to hear more.

Alice Bag Sister Dynamite LP

ALICE BAG was one of the initial architects of LA punk and has had a hell of a life since, incorporating education and activism as well as music. Her 2011 autobiog Violence Girl is a crucial read in this respect, but if your current go-to reference point for ALICE is her stint as frontwoman of the BAGS, that’s still a more than serviceable foundation for getting max enjoyment out of Sister Dynamite, her third album under this name. It’s decidedly punkier and higher tempo than its predecessor, 2018’s pop- and ska-flavoured Blueprint, although her backing band and production crew remains pretty much the same. The thread back to that early Dangerhouse Records sound is fully, pleasingly audible, despite the (relatively) slick musicianship and new wave sheen, and there are Spanish-language songs (“Subele”) among paeans to queerness and denunciations of privilege.

Bedwetters Anonymous Have U Experienced Discomfort EP

Recent demo cream pressed to vinyl for posterity. Claims of WEIRDOS inspiration seem warranted here, as this is a fairly hi-fi take on that classic rumble-and-burst sound. Vox alternate between maniac-froth and nonsensical annoyance, but they somehow always find a way to fit. Five tunes total and worth a look-see.

Bloodshot Bill Get Loose or Get Lost LP

I’m not too familiar with the countrified one-man rockabilly stomp of this Canadian crooner, but I see that he’s collaborated with a who’s who of modern garage rock heavyweights. Much less unhinged and more restrained than personal favorites of this genre like the mighty HASIL ADKINS or even contemporaries such as LIGHTNING BEAT MAN, Mr. Bill (lol) adheres to a more traditional and stiff variance of Sun Records worship. It’s quite good, though, with scratchy, old timey production effects that could have this being sandwiched between CHET ATKINS and DUANE EDDY without making a staunch purist cry fowl. This reminds me of some of the stuff ex-skinheads were getting up to in the ’90s and being that is when he got his start, I might not be far off in my comparison. What are you waiting for? Grab your gal of any or non-gender variance, jump in your jalopy and head to the hootenanny.

Broadway Calls Meet Me On The Moon / Call It Off (Acoustic) 7″

This 7″ is one of those releases that exists just to signal to fans that the band is still doing that thing they liked back when. It might pull in a few new people here and there, but it’s mostly a nostalgia call for older fans. There’s no experimentation or anything really new here in this love song single. That said, it is very well done and shows they’ve put in their hours doing their thing. “Meet Me On The Moon” is the pop-punk, BOUNCING SOULS sound that BROADWAY CALLS has always had, just slightly fresher. The B-side is an acoustic version of “Call It Off,” the first song off the band’s first album. The vocalist seemed unsure how to make the whoa-oh-ohs of the original work all slowed down and acoustic, but he tries…

Caveman and Bam Bam Gotta Dance EP

Appropriately primitive modern garage rock. The title track also has some pop stylings and distorted vocals. Side B starts with a harder edged sound and more screaming on “Enuff Is Enuff” and ends with an instrumental tribute to Dick Dale that is very low on surfiness. CAVEMAN AND BAM BAM play basic rock stuff that is probably enhanced live by the fun costumes.

CB Radio Gorgeous Mid Fit EP

Wild, whirlwind punk via Chicago that collapses time and space between the Dangerhouse-led sound of Los Angeles circa 1977-79 and the modern Midwestern weirdo underground of DEVO/SUBURBAN LAWNS devotees that had Northwest Indiana fixed at its epicenter—there’s some personnel overlap with CCTV here, tellingly. Bass and drums lock into hyperkinetic pogo-worthy rhythms topped with urgent, slashing guitar, while frontperson Anna pushes into the instrumental tussle with a series of shouts, yelps, and KLEENEX-esque non-verbal vocalizations (check that “woo ooh ooh” refrain in “Mid Fit”) that are a total joy. Blistering and barely contained; I’ve never said that a record “slaps” before, but this one truly does.

Dissekerad / Earth Crust Displacement Split EP

Two tracks of whirlwind Swedish kång from DISSEKERAD. The pedigree here is formidable (I’ll just mention AVSKUM and TOTALITÄR, because that should be more than enough), and the goods are worthy. A classic mid-paced cruiser starts off their side, and then they open it up with “Mardömmen Startar,” a pure fist-banging rager that leaves me reaching for 2015’s Mörkret Tilltar LP for more action. Germany’s EARTH CRUST DISPLACEMENT takes a little of the nuance out of the mix, opting instead for a relentless high-speed D-beat crust assault. Noisier guitars, and they don’t even take the time to warm up your ears with an intro—they just fucking unload. I like the combination of the two bands—different but equally effective approaches to a tried-and-true genre. The split EP is a much-maligned format (and perhaps rightly so), but this one is worth its weight in wax. I expected nothing less from either band, and they both delivered.

Enfermo Protesting Suicide Revolution demo cassette

The tape starts with a strange prologue that might be from a movie, than immediately turns into blow-out raging hardcore, instantly erasing all previous guesses of the intro. The recording is over-driven noisey (that sort of “let’s get something really quick, since we should record, doesn’t matter if this is the lo-fiest equipment” distorted) which pairs well with how ENFERMO is super urgent, bile-splitting frustrated. This atmosphere suggests that this demo had to be made no matter what. They remind me a bit of ORDEN MUNDIAL, but with less USHC influences, as ENFERMO does not include groovy bridge parts, instead they are busy with constantly fucking shit up. Their song “Inocencia Perdida Por Malas Experiencias” has a looong howl that is ridiculous, both funny and brave, the self-confident approach of the songwriting later repeatedly demonstrated. It’s a great demo and I wish to hear more from the band. The Chilean scene is on fire!

Gino and the Goons Do the Get Around LP

This is that RAMONES-based drunk punk “bad boy” thing that feels dated and unnecessary except when the SPITS do it. I’ll even give a pass to PERSONAL AND THE PIZZAS, because at least their gimmick includes pizza. It’s the musical equivalent to a comedian still trying to do Andrew Dice Clay bits in the year 2020. It’s like meeting that guy at a party that says “women are things!” and when called on it tries to explain, “I’m just being offensive, cuz that’s punk!” This Florida trio seems to think they’re doing a STOOGES impersonation, but it somehow comes off simultaneously as try-hard and lazy. “Prissy Missy” especially misses the mark, just kind of feeling like a sweaty old man hitting on every girl he sees with heavy panting and “come on baby, let’s step out and talk” creepiness. I wouldn’t want to be alone with this band, because I cannot stand for another lecture on how “PC” everyone’s gotten and how music’s “supposed to be fun!”

Green/Blue Green/Blue LP

An album of catchy, modern-style new wave post-punk featuring Annie Sparrows of the SOVIETTES and Jim Blaha of the BLIND SHAKE. The guitars and drums chatter with the bass pulses. The music they make is jumpy and jittery then it mellows out for a song before getting all excitable again. The female and male collaborative vocals sound great together and remind of a more polished LOST SOUNDS. I like it.

Karkki & the Car Keys Big Ball of Fire EP

We’re early into this thing, but I’m having mixed feelings. It’s mid-tempo and catchy and it definitely has some things in common with bands that I quite enjoy (SUZY Y LOS QUATTRO, DIRTY CUPCAKES, EPOXIES), but it is also leaving me feeling like it’s not quite complete. If you’re a fan of female-fronted alternative pop music (maybe even power pop) this could be for you. From Finland, it also reminds me a tad of PLASTIC TONES, another female-fronted power pop band. Listening through a third time, I do feel like it’s growing on me.

Last Agony Systematic Murder EP

Wow. The first vinyl offering from Toronto’s LAST AGONY drops like a thundercloud, three off-the-rails crash bombs on one side and a metal crust epic on the flip. A complete wall of sound, howling guitars and oppressive vocals masked by natural distortion delivered by intensity and not an EQ knob. This is what happens when D-beat is pushed to its absolute limit, and the result is incredible. Highest recommendation for fans of that great span between EXTREME NOISE TERROR and KREIGSHÖG.

Milk Bath Milk Bath LP

This is straightforward, up-tempo, super driving punk rock that’s just a little noisy and pretty spastic but still totally catchy. They’ve got that WIPERS or HOT SNAKES down-stroke rock thing going on but with screamed vocals that are pushed real hard. Outside of the couple spacy ambient guitar track, every song on here is a rager. It’s not necessarily hardcore, but it’s not not hardcore. If you’re confused, check it out for yourself because this shit smokes.

Murder for Girls Done in the Dark CD

It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to write a bad review, especially when it comes to a band whose members are primarily female. I definitely did not like this and I’m even tempted to say it’s bad. The main vocalist sings off key in almost every song and sounds like a mix of Courtney Love and Corin Tucker. The secondary vocalist is much better, but lacks timing and conviction. The worst part of this band is that they’re boring. Just very bland delivery of the lyrics and the accompanying music is never very exciting. Of the nine tracks on this release, my least favorite is “Goth Girls,” and unfortunately it’s the longest song, clocking in at just over four minutes. What I dislike the most is the lyrics. For most of the verses they’re trying to squeeze too many syllables into each line. The chorus allows for some breathing room, and I even enjoy the backup vocals here, but overall the song sucks and it’s pretty cringeworthy. I was very underwhelmed by the entire release. The most interesting thing about it is that it was recorded, produced, and mixed by Tommy Stinson, but even that couldn’t save it for me.

Neutrals Rent/Your House EP

I will get straight to it: NEUTRALS nail it here! The centerpiece tunes are all crisp guitar shocks, thematically serving as a “State of the Bay” address (though equally applicable for any urban locale), detailing the frustrations of paying impossible rents while being utterly surrounded by brutal, punishing assholes. “N.O. 1982” shows more mod-punk influence than any tune I’ve heard from them thus far (sayin’ somethin’), even as it rallies against retro-centric ideals. Also…an EXPLOITED cover? Bold move, but totally victorious! NEUTRALS cram more thought and passion into this short-form set than most peers could hope for in an album. Proceeds from sales donated to both Border Angels and The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, which quite obviously rules as well.  Very highly recommended.

Numbskull Action Mutate With Me cassette

Minimalist, lo-fi rock’n’roll punk with a snotty streak and a refreshingly healthy dose of self-awareness. This release really hammers home the point that it’s not fancy equipment or production acrobatics that make a punk record good. There are some real standout tracks on here, and no shortage of infectious rock’n’roll riffs, no-bullshit vocals and screaming guitar leads. Mutate With Me adds something new and weird and even a little exciting to the sounds of the early Rip Off Records catalog. Definitely worth checking out for punks who like to do a degenerated version of the twist or those willing to give it a try.

Old Death Nothing Right EP

A three-song EP from this new Portland band with ex-members of SOME VELVET SIDEWALK, OSWALD FIVE O, and BILLY JACK AND THE HIPPY TEMPTATIONS. This is a dive bar cruncher. Gritty, reminiscent of US punk circa 1984. Hearing STOOGES, SICK PLEASURE, and DWARVES in the mix. Thumbs up.

Östro 430 Keine Krise Kann Mich Schocken (Die Kompletten Studioaufnahmen 1981-1983) LP

A key band in the German Neue Deutsche Welle movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, the all-female Düsseldorf quartet ÖSTRO 430 had punk ambitions that were somewhat blunted by their more bouncy, day-glo pop tendencies—no guitar, lots of keyboard, bursts of saxophone, hooks all over the place. Keine Krise Kann Mich Schocken is a complete anthology of the group’s studio recordings, collecting their two LPs from 1981 and 1983 (both long out-of-print and only ever available as German pressings) with a handful of previously unreleased takes. Much like ROMEO VOID or the French band EDITH NYLON, ÖSTRO 430 paired their punky new wave with lyrical themes that were far more subversive than the upbeat danceability of the songs might easily let on, detailing concerns (in German) focused primarily on sex, feminism, and gender roles in a modern world. The material from the first album Durch Dick and Dünn is generally more sparse and ramshackle, including the group’s exemplar jam “Sexueller Notstand” which puts down ineffective lovers over a foundation of anxious drumming, budget-sounding keyboards, a perfectly minimalist bouncing bass line, and just a touch of wailing X-RAY SPEX-esque sax. By the time they followed up with their second LP Weiber Wie Wir, the keys had caught up to the synth-pop zeitgeist of the ’80s and gotten more slick and prominent, but there’s generally enough moments of raw tension like the dark, driving “Normal” to save things from fading into total new wave blandness. Definitely of interest to students of the international femme-punk underground!

Red Gaze Primitive Instinct cassette EP

RED GAZE is from Austria. They point out their lyrical abstractness in dialectic utopias, in political privacy and reference CRISIS and INSTITUTE. The rhythm section is charging ahead with the bass holding the whole thing down. These three songs make me think of DIÄT if they had played faster. RED GAZE live is high energy!

Riot Cop The Violence CD

Cold, insistent anti-cop, anti-fascist punk from Portland. RIOT COP’s catchy, almost pop songs are the main selling point here (aside from the message). Seventeen tracks filled with hooks and a constant galloping pace, these are dark anthems for a new age. Guitars have an early Posh Boy vibe, but sound like they’re played through a 20-watt Gorilla amp (that’s a compliment) and the vocals are like (early) NAKED AGGRESSION’s repetitive call to action. A timely release, if nothing else.

Stuck on 45 RPM CD

Debut eight-track release from this Austin, TX trio. Stripped-down, melodic punk that sounds like it came out a good 40 years ago. MAD PARADE, REALLY RED, that kind of vibe. Which, for some reason, sounds rather refreshing these days.

Tiananmen Squares Nothing Can Kill the Grimace CD

Fuck me, this is really fucking good. Nothing Can Kill The Grimace may even be the third release from this Omaha trio. According to Bandcamp they have a couple others that aren’t this one, and have been doing their thang for half a decade now. And said thang is fantastic. They do a wonderful job of channeling some of the best of late-’80s/early-’90s Yank punk. Think SCREECHING WEASEL, FIFTEEN, and OPERATION IVY. Gruff and melodic, and bloody soulful it is, too. Cover versions of NOFX and the CIRCLE JERKS are another fair pointer. With gusto!

Total Rejects Total Rejects LP

This is pretty rad. A not-at-all-modern-anymore noisyasfuck take on the garagecore genre permiates this band’s tainted soul. With the amount of screech and distortogration dripping from this wax, I want to immediately cry “Japan!” typing out random blurts of TEENGENERATE, Bag of Hammers-era GUITAR WOLF and even CONFUSE and GAI. This would sorely miss pinning this band to the mat in any kind of style or substance though. From their photos, the thin moustached hipster look of fourteen years ago has not been lost, but seeing that these gents are from Russia, I am left humbled by their mighty Euroness and ten-years-behindness. Total Rejects begins and ends with a spooky synth soundtrack to a Russian monologue not of my easy deciphering but surely having clues on how to control the president. Sandwiched in between are wonderfully angst-ridden psalms easy for one to slam spit or dance to, often precluded by a Ginnlike squeal of feedback. The REATARDS might be an easy go-to comparison but this mind is whisked back in time to days and lost evenings listening to the likes of the CARBONAS, BEAT BEAT BEAT, GAYE BLADES and the late BOBBY UBANGI if only for their spirit, attitude and facial hair stylings. Love it. Buy it!

Totenwald Forward to the Past EP

Holy shit, I just stepped foot into a smoky, European, strobe-light-ridden ’80s new wave club. It’s 2:00 AM and shit is just starting to pop off. This is clearly one of those word-of-mouth, “ask a punk” spots that operates by its own rules and closes whenever people are done dancing and drinking. Maybe I’ve just arrived after reapplying my SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES level amount of eye makeup from sweating it out at another club. Or maybe I don’t start my night until after the witching hour. TOTENWALD (German for “Death Forest”) is the band owning the stage, and they are a time machine. One of their songs is even called “1984,” just a year before I was born but I feel like I’m right there with them 36 years ago banging our heads against the Berlin Wall. I think a lot of people are going to want to compare this band to X-RAY SPEX because of the female vocals and saxophone(!), but I think that’s unfair. They’re dark, gothy, distorted, synthy, angry, dancey, and radical. Also, just go look at pictures of them right now. Every one (including live clips!) genuinely looks like it’s from the ’80s, but this record actually came out in 2020. This four-piece is from Berlin and the past and the current timeline. Even the art packaging on the record is super fucking new wave punk. It rules. I definitely recommend entering this club. Just make sure you brought enough clove cigarettes and eyeliner with you.

UK Gold Epigram No. 2 LP

This is the debut album from Olympia trio UK GOLD. The sound is sparse, clipped, and seems fully intentional. Slightly overdriven guitar works in lockstep with angular, anti-funk drums and bass, all instruments clearly defined and contributing to the argument put forth by the vocals: righteous indignation, complaint, disappointment? There’s a strident confidence to the songs not dissimilar to later-period DC acts such as BLACK EYES, or maybe HOT SNAKES, or even the muscular noise-rock of SHELLAC; at a stretch, HELMET in 4/4 time. Nothing here is disguised by feigned amateurism or low fidelity production—everything is exposed in the glare of their post-punk that rocks.

Vile Spirit Scorched Earth LP

Scorched Earth is VILE SPIRIT’s debut LP led up by a demo. I knew and enjoyed the tape, due to its similarities to UNITED MUTATION. The LP, too, contains weird, even horror-esque excipients, haunted sore-throat vocals on music so detailed it becomes an unifying entity, that behaves in various tempers throughout the record. The edge of capital hardcore is deadened by shifting the hardness of the performers on the circumstanstances they perform against/about. Which makes the music tortured, but backs up the dense sound while avoiding any ridicule. The music is heavy because life is tough, instead of the members acting jock-ish. While the vocals are laid in mid-tempo, the instruments do not slack on their layers: The drums wonder into restrained blast-beat territories; the bass is distorted into a pulp filling up all empty spaces, binding the sound as glue; the guitars avoid both metal riffage and simplified three-chord hardcore notes; rather they function as a tidal wave, both loose and large. VILE SPIRIT is playful with pace, even if the artwork suggests some kind of still-in-the-basement, emphasis-on-core ’90s metallic hardcore. Scorched Earth is not an endless loop of chugga chugga, rather they imperceptibly mix with speed, blending different moods on a scale of hyper and almost zero tempo and remain confident no matter how shaky or swampy their ground is. Lately I have lost track of UK hardcore bands, no longer know whether this is still the new or now the neo wave of British bands, but due to the different references and execution, VILE SPIRIT differs the listening experiences I recall from their peers. If you tend to feel as the creature on their cover, you just as likely to enjoy the record. It’s a solid one.

V/A Th’ Gunk Stunk cassette

Experimental dirges, shit-fi noise and general sonic fuckery abound on this tape. Starting with a dose of formidable monotony from BONELIST, Th’ Gunk Stunk only gets weirder. Nine tracks in total, mostly enough outside the typical fray that it takes serious processing to even decide where to file them in your brain. One track is BRAINBOMBS through a Wheelchair Full Of Old Men filter, then before you know it you’re listening to no-fi no-wave DIY synth damage. As a sonic journey, this is exactly what you want out of a compilation tape.

V/A We Were Living in Cincinnati LP

Ohio’s punk pedigree simply cannot be fucked with, yet Cincinnati never gets nearly as much lauding as most of the state’s other major burgs. HoZac (with help from an esteemed CHROME CRANKS member) aims to change all that with this collection, assembling a wide swath of pretty killer punk to get our scholarly heads a-scratchin’. Lotsa seldom-heard stuff here—a even split between stray single Killed By Death style excavating and wholly unreleased nuggz. BEEF’s “Nosedive,” a rescued live recording from ’78, finds the obnoxo-teen singer mimicking some air-show sounds…What’s not to fuckin’ love? There are some recognizable names as well: the CUSTOMS, the ED DAVIS BAND and even TEDDY AND THE FRAT GIRLS, whose inclusion here strikes me as a tad dubious, but if a technicality allows the now-generation to hear “Clubnite” again, I’m all for it! The great and hyper-detailed liners really convey a whole lotta punk love for this city and scene as well. As if all this were not enough, there is a download component that serves up an additional fifteen tunes—more punk Cin-sanity than anyone would ever need! Top to bottom, an ace collection and document of under-reported punk racket.

Acid Baby Jesus Selected Outtakes 7″

Two early versions of songs that were renamed when they appeared on 2014’s Selected Recordings album. ACID BABY JESUS are from Athens, Greece. They incorporate some of their hometown’s traditional musical styles into their psychedelic garage rock. The result is droning, repetitive and slow with an unique atmospheric feel. I can picture lying on a rock by the ocean as the clouds move slowly overhead while listening to these songs. Groovy.

Cheryl Killer Kiss / It’s Me 7″

Reminder Records is the new reissue label from one of the minds previously behind the similarly-focused Sing Sing, and among its first archival rescues is the lone single from the singularly-named CHERYL (a.k.a. Cheryl Powling), a London-based pin-up model who originally released these two trashy bubblegum-punk/power-pop rave-ups in 1981. “Killer Kiss” channels the ’60s-via-’80s bad girl sass of occupants of the Bomp! universe like NIKKI AND THE CORVETTES and JOSIE COTTON, while the more frantic flip “It’s Me” is all punky new wave jitters, arguably eclipsing the A-side with some extra-punchy snare standing in for handclaps and CHERYL’s loopy vocals that are almost closer to Su Tissue than Ronnie Spector. Absolutely giddy, disposable pop fun, perfectly suited to sneaking a flask into the roller rink and making out with some leather-jacketed troublemaker in the parking lot.

Cyanide Tooth Midnight Climax Operation cassette

If I were to create the Cold War-era industrial subgenre, then New York’s CYANIDE TOOTH would be the flagship act. Dark, disorienting sounds treated with newsreel voice-overs, aural assemblages that predate the world of laptop-push-a-button “noise” in both approach and execution. And ultimately, it’s the execution here that sets Midnight Climax Operation apart. The climax (wordplay intended) of the tape is the churning repetition of the absolutely filthy burner “Techno Animus,” and the entire B side is taken up by a 25-minute disorienting collection of sounds and samples that leaves you exhausted as it whirrs to a halt. I wrote years ago that CYANIDE TOOTH would become a force when their vision was fully realized, and that time has come.

Didaktische Einheit Dosis 6 cassette reissue

More seminal avant-Euro sounds unearthed by the folks at ZZK, Germany’s DIDAKTISCHE EINHEIT lands somewhere between early ABWÄRTS and a damaged no wave/Krautrock experiment. Furiously cold and abrasive sounds, deceptive in their sheer subtlety, all recorded live in Holland and originally self-released in 1982. DIDAKTISCHE EINHEIT was short lived, but their output was formidable (at least six cassettes in 1982, before their lone LP the following year), and their ability to manipulate the act of experimentation should not be ignored. Highly recommended reissue.

Distants ii 12″

This 12″ features one side with five generic, gruff-vocalled pop-punk songs and a second side with a nice-looking screen print. The B-side might be the better one. This sounds like when a band tries to copy a band that tried to copy JAWBREAKER. So sure, easy way to go is to say it sounds like SMALL BROWN BIKE. It’s melodic, it’s kind of bouncy, but it lacks the solid hooks that this kind of music demands.

Eastie Ro!s The Peel Sessions 10″

These cheeky German chappies never actually recorded a Peel session, bless their hearts. But who’s to say that if John Peel was still alive, that he wouldn’t bring them into the studio? Six songs of scrappy, garage-inflected power pop with German vocals. Though clearly indebted to the more tuneful bands of punk’s heyday, EASTIE RO!S have much more in common with more recent Australian practitioners of the style, falling somewhere between the instant classic riffs of ROYAL HEADACHE and the casual, sun-baked EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING approach. Great stuff, I have to say. Peel would approve, I think.

Fuerza Bruta Verdugo CD reissue

I don’t know about you lot, but I, for one, am sick to bastard death of this trend of anaemic pop punk dressed in a cheapo relco button-down, creases from the packet still visible, being passed off as skinhead music just because the lyrics mention “the pub.” Thankfully, there are bands like FUERZA BRUTA kicking the teeth out of establishment with their unique blend of back to basics hardcore-tinged (proper) Oi. Blunt-force riffs, furious vocals, all underwritten by a rhythm section as tight as properly-laced derby boot. Vital stuff.