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.

Reek Minds End of the Trail EP

Fed-up-with-everything hardcore that is in a near-constant state of shapeshifting, yet never loses its momentum or fury for even a second. They can do both stream-of-consciousness songs that are memorable and make sense, along with ones with more discernible structures that are equally memorable and well-written, and are both tuneful and raging as fuck at any speed. The vocals are a nice burly snarl, with a nice raw sound to match. Please, please, please play the Bay Area.

Sad Neutrino Bitches Weltraumendspurt EP

Dare I say that this freaky record sounds a little like CRASS’ “Bata Motel” if it didn’t take itself nearly as seriously, took a bunch of psychedelic drugs, and decided to be on a rock’n’roll EP. Just focus on the vocals and the drums. Some less out-there references land in the neighborhood of a more gleeful version of BLATZ or the CRUCIFUCKS. I think the band says it best themselves: “The songs are about being ugly, being pissed, being not clever or too sad to fuck.” True weirdos fully embracing the meaning of punk and gifting this gem upon us as a mere side-effect of their rapture.

Screaming Females Singles Too LP

B-sides and rarities compilations are always a mixed bag, and this collection is no different. Some of the early 7″ tracks suffer more than benefit from their lack of recording quality. “Arm Over Arm” and “Zoo of Death” from 2006 certainly hint at what SCREAMING FEMALES would become, but they’re better off as a curiosity than an example. However, “Pretty Okay” from their 2008 split with FULL OF FANCY might be the standout track on the comp and still makes it into their live set not infrequently. The most unique inclusion is a remix of the droney “End of My Bloodline,” with new rapped verses by SAMMUS and MOOR MOTHER. It’s a killer track, despite sticking out like a sore thumb from all of the other lo-fi garage punk tracks. This would likely not be a great introduction to the band for a newcomer, but there is more than enough quality music here to make this a necessity for veteran fans of the band.

Silk Leash Troublesome Thoughts cassette

Artsy noise punk from Maryland. Four songs that kinda sound like if PG.99 or ORCHID got rid of the noodly guitar parts and had a more aggressive singer. The band’s Bandcamp informed me that the release is actually called Troublesome Thoughts, as it’s not listed anywhere on the cassette.

Sniper Culture Combat Rock EP

Judging by the cover, what would you think? Well, Oi!-influenced hardcore is cognitive dissonance. I get the fetishized ultra-violent skinhead vibe, male gazing a male fantasy but Oi!, after all, is pub rock and power pop about working the worst shift and fighting, and it’s hard rock with your neighbor yelling at its tough sound. These bomber jacket and combat-obsessed bands are more influenced by Romper Stomper than BLITZ. If I were blindfolded and not aware of the title of the record nor the weightlifting dude on the cover, i’d say the following: SNIPER CULTURE sounds like a contemporary hardcore band who were too lazy/troubled to bring their own gear to the show, so they borrowed everything from a CHAOS UK/DISORDER-worshipping band, left all the settings unadjusted, and just started to play their simplified, but arrestingly groovy hardcore. Reminds me of URBAN WASTE who, without context, are more a noise band than New York Hardcore. Repeated listens help dig through the layers of noise. The tempo changes smoothly between lose-your-shit-fast and push-the-whole-room-mid-tempo. Then it all ends with a cover of “Bloodstains.” This is good, and if this is only the beginning, then it is even better.

Soft Shoulder Aerosol Can Stand EP

The connecting concept across both originals here are repurposed shards from the FALL and the HOMOSEXUALS, each serving as springboards for the fast/easy/cheap immediacy on display. Hard to argue with knock-’em-dead shit like that, though it’s merely the seed, not the whole plant, from which SOFT SHOULDER sprouts nicely. All told, it serves their mad scientist tendencies quite well. Have a go, you’ll live longer.

Street Gurgler Primal Business LP

Tough, no-nonsense punk that includes a bit of a lot of things: stompy Oi!-influenced tempos, lyrics pronounced with anarcho-punk conviction, screamin’ psych-metal guitar riffs, fast circle-pit-worthy interludes, and even some freaky sound effects. This record is excellently punk while emphatically defying subgenres and labels. Refreshingly free and original, it shares the sensibility of early punk trailblazers. The closest comparison I can make is that it sounds like a less-panicky and more psychedelic version of DIRT, with higher production value. Even comes with a cool newsprint poster.

Stupid Fascist Citizens Divided demo cassette

STUPID FASCIST are from Green Bay, WI, and are a self-proclaimed “leftist political hardcore band…made up primarily of old school ’80s punks with an impressive back catalog.” I couldn’t find any info on what bands the members used to be in, but regardless it is awesome hearing older punks still fuming with aggression and channeling it into a fast hardcore punk band. Three songs on this demo, which I think are collectively over in about the same amount of time as the cobbled-together “propaganda reel” that starts the tape. The attached note informs me that the band is finishing up work on a debut LP. My interest is piqued. Bring it on!

Sun Cousto Satan and I Walk Under a Rainbow LP

Satanic VASELINES fans from Switzerland made a record! Playful DIY pop death for girls that are bored of VENOM? The guitar sound reminds me of NÜ SENSAE: kind of dirge skreee but this veers into cool bedroom-sounding naive pop ’80s tape trader sound too?! Less grrrrunge, more a wild journey with Satan! It reminds me of Scottish indie pop groups! Falling apart charm. They definitely have the self-aware cynicism the VASELINES had that is so absent in so many of their followers. This is not twee! Investigate!

Therapy Omen EP

Fucking huge sounding, super energetic D-beat-based hardcore, what the fuck is not to like here? Hard to decide what to highlight first, the sick vocals or the crazed drumming or the raw riffage. While there’s a bit more of an experimental spirit in the margins here compared to their earlier releases, confined to some trippy song intros and breaks, please rest assured that the backbone of pure fucking hardcore remains firmly intact. San Diego’s THERAPY are exemplary of the DIY spirit in 2020: performing a ton, putting on gigs, and always hustling for both their band and their scene. It is a tremendous comfort to me that while over-hyped mediocre trend bands will come and go, there will always be bands like THERAPY keeping it real where it counts. Mandatory for fans of the style and for hardcore lifers in general.

Uzi Cadena de Odio LP

I am an enthusiast about the current Bogota punk scene. I am impressed by everything I hear coming out of there, and this band is no different. Aggressive vocals, intense lyrics, distorted guitar, and creative drums—the golden ticket to UK82 land! This first LP that has been released demarcates a territory in the current punk scene, and puts Bogota on the map once again.

Les Vandales Power EP

I gather that this French band was active in the mid ’80s and reformed recently. This new record features the singer from those days and a gang of new members. To start with a compliment, I love that the minimal text on the packaging features strong political stances against common societal ills including capitalism, sexism, and homophobia. Sadly, there comes a time when one must put needle to vinyl. The vocals are pretty cool I guess, well-articulated and strongly delivered, but the music is that kind of identity-free, slightly metallic hardcore that so many re-formed and/or older bands end up writing. At least, unlike many in a similar position, their hearts are in the right place.

The Wilderness The Wilderness III LP

A reissue of this Slovak band’s limited press ten-song 2016 LP that quickly evaporated to collector circles. This balances some real rock’n’roll-based punk (think HEARTBREAKERS, RICHARD HELL, the SAINTS, etc., with some grimy guitar slinging) but with sharp creative reinvestment/updating à la CIRCUS LUPUS, and the unpredictable edge of great Eastern European punk albums. The creative turn here also seems rooted in older rock sensibilities, with some of the late ’60s weird post-Sgt. Pepper’s musical adventurism. It’s a remarkably taut and full recording, launching it over the band’s previous outings. While sung entirely in Slovak with no translations provided, a cursory translation leads with “This city is overrun with black cats.” Sturdily packaged in a thick-cut cover, insert, and obi strip, The Wilderness III is an engagingly deft balance of a lot of eras of punk, confidently delivered, and crafted with enough creativity to warrant repeat listens. Cool!

Zygote 89-91 CD

Wow, this is much cooler than I had expected! It is no mystery that ZYGOTE is composed of members of AMEBIX as well as the SMARTPILS. When I first heard A Wind of Knives in the late ’90s (after getting into AMEBIX), I found it much more post-punk, to the tune of KILLING JOKE and even parts early JANE’S ADDICTION. The first half of this CD is much like that jangling industrial post-punk expression. Decent production with muffled gloom and hypnotism. The second half is a live set whose quality is as clear and on the same level as the demo. The low grinding vibe of AMEBIX is much more prevalent here on this raw offering of a more minimal post-punk project versus their single full-length album.

2 Lazy Boys The Recline of Western Civilization LP

East Bay label Deimos nails it in their promo blurb: “Calling back to the Geek Fest era of the Oakland punk scene!” And boom!—2 LAZY BOYS go instantly from a bizarrely compelling alt/indie/art twee trio to fukkn visionaries. It’s all about context….like when you sink your teeth into tracks like “Suck a Day’s Dick” and the true-crime story “Juggalos vs. Nazis.” Unquestionably flawless songwriters, with an air for irony and lyrical irreverence that pairs nicely with hit after would-be hit. This is not the record I would expect to even like, much less gush about, but this soft pop with a country/folk tinge (and one burst of chaotic hardcore on each side) has me hooked. “The day’s a selfish lover / The sun never shines under the covers / Then you wake up feeling sad.”

Acruz Sesper / Acruz Sesper Trio The Cell / The Days Go By Like Broken Stairs LP

SESPER is a reference of art, skateboarding and music in the Brazilian underground scene. It would be hard to describe who he is without making it too long, but he’s well-known for his different bands, art projects, and now a double-release of a one-man-band and trio project. The Cell is the more introspective album, recorded by himself, and has a darker lo-fi sound with keyboard synthesizer and programmed drums, dark wave shots and post-punk. The Days Go By Like Broken Stairs by ACRUZ SESPER TRIO has more people participating, and travels back to the ’90s with a shoegaze-punk touch; perhaps if SWERVEDRIVER had listened to Youth Crew in their childhood. I got no doubt the songs on this album could easily be on skate videos.

Armor Some Kind of War EP

Direct from Tallahassee, D-beat-ish punk with a twist of new punk sounds. It’s impossible to stand still while you listen to these musical jewels; it transports me to a basement show packed and with aggressive pogo in such a small place, you can smell and feel the sour. There wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t feel like breaking everything, that beautiful feeling this kind of punk can trigger.

Asid Pathetic Flesh LP

Pathetic Flesh is ASID’s first vinyl outing after a handful of tapes. From the UK, they play the kind of brutalizing, fest-friendly pogo that WARTHOG and S.H.I.T. do. It’s fine on record—it works better as a DISCLOSE-esque wall of noise than anything else—but I bet it rocks when you’re surrounded by 300 other people at a big gig.

Asocial / Distrust Live at International Youth Center 28/4-84 CD

Here’s a CD reissue of a split live tape that brings the noise all the way back to the beginning. This unrelenting käng chaos will have you dunking your head in model airplane glue and spray painting “DISCHARGE” on a police station wall. The recording is from a live show they played together with MOB 47 in 1984 and doesn’t sound much different from a lot of the studio recording from that era. It’s raw and noisy, but you can hear everything well enough, for D-beat. It also features some live bonus tracks from each band that I assume are from the same show. This isn’t just some collector’s item for Swedish raw punk completists, it’s great for anyone who hates music.

The Bedrooms Passive Viewing LP

Tautly-wound, propulsive post-punk from Portland. The guitars jangle swirling melodies around and in between a blanket of spiraling NEW ORDER synthesizer. There are obvious nods to the CURE, JOY DIVISION, and particularly the semi-recent UK act SAVAGES, but through a distinctly Northwestern filter. We could spend all day distilling the influences, but let’s get to the point: the songs themselves are charged with a poetic charm divined through the spirited, powerful vocals. They afford the BEDROOMS the one quality that can make a group more than just a group of friends with musical chops and the right record collection: personality. The crime is that there were only 200 copies pressed of this album that deserves to become an instant classic.

Cheap Perfume Burn It Down LP

I’ve got a coworker who totally wears way too much cheap perfume. She practically showers in it, and I have to give her a wide berth whenever we pass in the hallway so I don’t suffer a headache the rest of the day. This record is the antithesis of that anecdote—it’s something that I would happily douse myself in in any setting and never worry about getting migraines. CHEAP PERFUME are a four-piece feminist as fuck band with fast dancey songs about rape culture, virtue signalers, nazi punching, and a JOAN JETT cover. While I feel so incredibly lazy in making this comparison, some of the songs (“Time’s Up” in particular) sound a hell of a lot like BIKINI KILL or LE TIGRE. Definitely has that kinda blown-out, screechy, female howl to the vocals. And yet the next track, “Fauminism,” is taken down several notches and delivered in this bouncy, pop punk, bubblegum package. I’m really into singing sweet harmonies about shitty false feminism. Great record. I love it.

Circle Pit Pushed to Revenge CD

Ripping beer-soaked Texas thrash metal. CIRCLE PIT is from Austin, and what do they sound like? They sound like a thrash metal band from fucking Texas. Real heavy on the Four of a Kind-era DRI, creeping into Thrash Zone even, these rippers go easy on the solos and only slow down for the occasional pit-activating chorus (I’m talking “Killdozer” here). Vocals reach back a couple of decades for influence, skipping modern screams and landing in the late-’80s thrash department—it suits them well. Get fucked up, go hard, wreck shit, this sounds and feels real.

Comet Gain Fireraisers Forever! LP

For the uninitiated, COMET GAIN has been at it since the mid-’90s, crafting their own kaleidoscopic cut-up sound that draws equally from C86-style indie-pop, the hip-swinging stomp of Motown and Northern soul, raw ’60s garage, and technicolor mod beat. Fireraisers Forever! is perfect micro-synthesis of the full COMET GAIN spectrum—there’s the punky pinned-in-the-red rave-ups (“Werewolf Jacket” and “We’re All Fucking Morons”), some cracked psychedelia (“The Girl With the Melted Mind and Her Fear of the Open Door,” which sounds like the TELEVISION PERSONALITIES if they’d been raised on Slampt Records instead of SYD BARRETT), and sunny jangle-pop strum in the mid-’80s Sarah/Creation Records mold (“Mid 8Ts” and “Society of Inner Nothing”), all expertly executed, never falling into the trap of hollow pastiche. The greatest band going; hope they keep it up for another twenty years.

Cross Control Outrage Culture EP

This thing starts so dark and ominous that I checked the RPM indicator on the label twice before CROSS CONTROL dropped in with a wall of ’core that brought me to my knees. This is straight-up, no-bullshit mosh-heavy hardcore à la early Bridge Nine (and, before that, New Age Records) with a commendably inward lyrical insight. The crew vocals are in full force, and even though this LA outfit is pure devastation when they take the reins off and let it out, I think it’s the fast parts justified with the unreal low end that makes CROSS CONTROL stand out. Extremely fukkn solid debut release.

Davová Psychóza Emancipácia CD

This is the legendary Slovakian punk band’s sixth album as far as I can tell. 1991’s Antropofóbia is still one of my favorites from the region, and they seem to have retained much of that sound and spirit to this day. Except now it’s more melodic, or…emo? Only sometimes—they strike a reasonable balance between shredding and bringing things down to a more sensitive tone. The lyrics translations (on the very tiny lyrics sheet) reveal a really distinct poetic quality I often find in melodic Eastern Euro bands I like. I don’t think I can sell this to today’s hip punks, but if you like European essentials like JUGGLING JUGULARS, POST REGIMENT, or even LA FRACTION, then you should pay at least some attention to this band. Punks from the region certainly already know to pick this up.

Death Ridge Boys (Don’t Let Them) Divide Us / Working 7″

You could easily file this under the “Hairy Guys Playing Oi!” category, but that would be a great disservice and you’d only be robbing yourself of a real kicker of a record. This is the guy from TALK IS POISON’s anti-fascist working class street rockin’ quartet from the mean artisan-coffee-drenched back alleys of PDX. The title track here is a complete “War on the Terraces” vegan leather boot stomping anthem. “Working” is little more of a hard rocker: regaling the woe-filled tales of clocking in yet another hard day at the bicycle collective. All jokes aside, this a scorching little platter with well-thought out lyrics and is well worth your wages.

Desperfecto Quanta Gerra EP

Quanta Gerra is the first vinyl release by DESPERFECTO, an utterly raging hardcore band from Chile who formed in 2013 and plays DIY punk the way it’s meant to be played: crude, angry, incredibly catchy, anti-everything, and raw as hell. The packaging is top-notch, with a lovely silk-screened pocket sleeve and photo insert, and the band’s message excoriating the exploitation and oppression of South America is on point. Needless to say, I love this record!

[di: unru:] Misophonia LP

This is definitely something I’d flip past in a record shop and never consider picking up. I’m not even completely sure how to say the band’s name due to the punctuation surrounding it, as well as my limited knowledge of German and Finnish words. But holy smokes, I’m glad I have it now because this band rules. It’s synthy darkwave with strong and aggressive vocals, fantastic synth lines, and some real ace drumming. I sometimes am really turned off by ’80s-style bands because they overuse synth, and/or make the drums sound electronic. I’m not into EDM no matter what decade, so I definitely don’t want that mixing into punk subgenres. This band from Helsinki bridges the divide between JOY DIVISION and KILLING JOKE to stuff like WHITE LUNG and PLEASURE LEFTISTS. What surprised me as I looked over the lyric sheet was that while I loved the lyrics to “Flaws,” a song about body acceptance, I ended up thinking it was the only clunker on the record. It’s way slower than the rest of the tracks, is missing their awesome driving drums, and I wasn’t into the reverb on the vocals. But the song right after that, “Kick the Habit,” which I thought the lyrics were just all right, ended up being the most catchy on the whole record for me. I’m really into this record and stoked to have it in my collection.

Enzyme Howling Mind 12″

You know what’s up here—manic non-music hitting you like a hammer. Rapid-fire drums only seem to stop between songs, firecrackers exploding through the mix erratically while everything else is either distorted or flanged to oblivion. It’s a complete assault that will exhaust even a casual listener (try seeing it live), but the thing that sets Australia’s ENZYME apart is the fukkn tracks. The title track is an insanely catchy pogo banger, followed by “Decadent Hogs,” one of the most relentless scorchers of the last decade that’s still catchy as fuck. The bass is the regulator, holding everything in place and directing the chaos…not an easy task when the chaos you’re a part of just hoists the banner of noise punk higher and higher. CONFUSE? Sure. DISORDER? Naturally. But ENZYME has evolved.

Erik Core Last Call LP

I’ve never been a big fan of acoustic punk, but it seems to be coming up more in my life lately. I witnessed an excellent set by my friends’ band RENT STRIKE the other night, showing me there can be some merit to the genre. Not having much to compare this to besides the aforementioned band, BILLY BRAGG, AGAINST ME!, DAVE DICTOR, or that time my old band got our equipment stolen and we had to wing it, this is a fairly entertaining album of socially aware and politically charged music. “Jacked Up” and “High Noon” are my faves, featuring a heavier country sound and biting commentary about my old home town. Erik has been around the Bay for a long time, and this record is even mastered by the guy from the LEWD and METAL CHURCH, so dim the lights, pull out the incense and bourbon, and give it a try.

Fetus Eaters Fetus Eaters LP

This single-sided LP rips it to festering bloody bits with some sickening old school death metal out of Los Angeles. The goofy song titles and in-between song samples indicate that this is one of those “funny” bands. Usually, funny death metal bands make me want to barf, in a bad way. Death metal is serious fucking shit, dude! But this band sheds so hard I can’t deny it. I guess my rotten pustule heart can stand to laugh a little every now and again. Cover features babies being eaten by skeletons, now that’s funny.

Fire Heads / Sex Scenes split 12″

Whoa. FIRE HEADS are blisteringly fast and aggressive, yet carry an anxious melody throughout. I instantly loved their side of the split. It’s parts sloppy, meandering, and gripping. It’s also all parts a punch to the face. The singer screams along with driving beats, while symbols constantly crash around them, and quick riffs are pummeled through the guitars. At times there’s a fuzzy distortion on the vocals that makes them seem ever more out of control. Though their main appeal is their ability to manage the ever-present chaos, which slows down for brief measures just to allow a tiny bit of breathing room among the wonderful noise they’re making. The SEX SCENES side is some pretty straightforward tough guy hardcore with songs about Elder Gods. I appreciate their horror-inspired lyrics, just don’t care one way or the other for the songs.

Forra Mostrame Lo Peor EP

If I didn’t know this band before, just by listening to it, I wouldn’t know if it was recorded recently or in the ’80s anywhere in South America, like MARIA T.TA Y EL EMPUJON BRUTAL’s missing record. But in reality it was recorded in 2018, and more importantly, by Latina immigrant women living in London and supporting The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS), a London-based feminist organization. A primitive punk, raw guitar, aggressive vocals and a muffled recording effect.

Fuga Sin Frontera Sin Nación cassette

Fast but with perfect speed, raw punk and—why not?—D-beat. The name of this Californian band’s EP is as good as the record itself: “Sin Frontera Sin Nación” (No Borders and No Nation). The drumbeat makes all the difference here, it will catch you right at the beginning, but the guitar comes sharp as a knife and stabs you in the middle of the stomach, you can feel the despair. It’s a perfect combination of LOS CRUDOS and DISCHARGE.

Gipsy SS Intergalaktikus Fajtalálkozó EP

Remember what AMDI PETERSENS ARME did to stadium crust somewhere around 2000? Well, perhaps distortion-drenched noise punk D-beaters are about to take a back seat if this Hungarian band has the same impact…and if people will simply listen, then I’m sure they will. Smart, chaotic, catchy, freaky, erratic and damaged post and/or art punk injected with an absolutely unreal energy that leaps out of the grooves. Dirty (not distorted) guitars struggle to follow drums that are determined to steer clear of anything close to a “normal” beat while the bass often takes the lead—and all that madness makes it hit even harder when they all miraculously fall into the same groove (it doesn’t happen often, which just makes it more special). GIPSY SS sound like no other band, which just a small part of their appeal—they grab you and swing you around your own damn head…this is the energy that punk needs.

Heavy Breather Worser LP

Can you imagine a convergence of PINS OF LIGHT, CRIMINAL CODE and Hidden World-era FUCKED UP? Massive guitar-driven rock, gruff earnest vocals sharing space with ever-present guitar leads and I’m gonna call myself crazy here, but every so often that fool sounds like Rollins. I basically kept this one spinning off and on for a few hours, and I think my only complaint is that HEAVY BREATHER is essentially mono-tempo…but it’s a good-ass tempo. “Same Blood” is the go-to track, except that it ends just when I want it to drive that damn chorus into my brain for an hour. So I listen again.

Leper Frail Life 12″

This Umeå group has arrived unannounced with a nine-track hardcore punk rip fest. While LEPER is more vocally burly and more adventurous with composition, they leave a TALK IS POISON-like impact on me. Most tracks remain around or under the minute-and-a-half mark, save for a couple like “ICBM” and “P&D” that take a little extra time to establish a mid-paced hook among what are otherwise mostly fast songs. Sung in English, with plenty of air-punching “oofs” and “aaaaghs,” plus top-notch gritty hardcore production and typewriter/high-contrast photo-style layout. Any longer and they’d be overstaying their welcome, but this is just the right dose. Surely they’ll be doing the Euro-fest circuit immediately.

More Kicks More Kicks LP

This three-piece from London delivers some solid power pop with a bubblegum sheen. You get a very polished and clean recording all the way through, which can feel a little clinical, but there’s a fair amount of fuzz here, as well as occasional vocal distortion. The bass comes through really strong, almost too heavily in the mix. Overall, I think the tracks are well-balanced and inspire singalongs on the first spin. Guitar is piercingly clear, though not as gritty as I’d like it to be. They sound like mod revival and more on the ’60s garage end of the power pop equation. Typically I’m into stuff with faster riffs when it comes to this genre, but I like it just fine. Though it’s not credited on the the liner notes, it sounds like there are keys on the track “She’s a Reaction,” and it’s a nice melody to fit in. My favorite song is “I’m on the Brink,” though I still do wish it was just a smidge faster. Cool band, good way to start off sunny days.

Möwer Möwer LP

MÖWER are loud, dirty MOTÖRHEAD worship from Pittsburgh. You can practically smell the live show through this record, and it reeks of cheap beer and day-old cigarette smoke. The grinding guitars and vocalist’s horrifying cackle on “Outlaw Heathens” let you know the kind of thrashy horror show you’re in for just after it’s too late to save yourself. This Japanese version of the band’s debut on Splattered Records is the definitive, must-have edition. For one, they up the artwork 1000% by adding Death riding a motorcycle and proudly declaring themselves “Motor Speed Punks from Hell,” in both Japanese and English. The two added live tracks are also the perfect enticement to grab this as soon as you find it. This is the kind of album you learn to sing along to if you want to develop that perfect “I live above a bar” snarl.

Notches New Kinda Love LP

Very ’90s-sounding indie rock. I loved this genre back then. I’m thinking SUPERCHUNK, ARCHERS OF LOAF, and even a little SAMIAM. New Kinda Love is this New Hampshire trio’s third LP. First time I’ve heard them. Dead Broke has become a pretty reliable label for us melodic guitar punk types. Great full-length.

Novotny TV Tod, Pest, Verwesung LP

This is a reissue of this German band’s 1996 album. Musically, it’s all over the place: kinda surf-y, rock’n’roll-y, twangy, mixed with ironic (?) crossover riffing. The vocals sound strained and intense: spitting lyrics that are critical, ironic, and “funny.” If you don’t understand German, this might be your new fave band, as they sound like CRAZY SPIRIT’s boring cousins that didn’t go to art school but are instead trapped in the most tedious of suit-and-tie office jobs. If you understand German, you’ll need to be a fan of humorous punk lyrics that rhyme.

Nowaves Good for Health Bad for Education LP

This is darkness in the right way. What I mean to say is that NOWAVES sound like they exist in a shroud and/or shrouded by smoke—sounds composed in the physical and metaphorical recesses, presentation that struggles to harness a primitive determination. NOWAVES will certainly appeal to goth revivalists with cuts like “Empty Sorrows” that focus on the synth and that ’80s dancefloor swing, but it’s all in the context of a record that mostly lands somewhere between EA80/GRAUZONE and WIPERS. Although the record is not overly layered, I notice something new every time I listen (WARREN ZEVON meets the CURE vibe on the title track, for example), which only encourages me to listen more.

偏執症者 (Paranoid) Complete Paranoid Discography 2012-2017 2xCD

A fuckload (i.e. 50) of tracks on two CDs, housed in a nice digipak with an info booklet. I’m a little confused about the whole thing, with what sounds like English lyrics but with song titles in Japanese by a Swedish band. I’m guessing it’s an aesthetic choice, but I might just be a poser who doesn’t know shit about fuck. As a discerning fan of some noisy D-beat or Mangel or whatever, I still gave most of it up to collect late ’70s/early ’80s punk 45s! There’s only so much storage space in an affordable Bay Area flat, you know? And that was before PARANOID really came on the scene, so I own zero of their records, which makes me the perfect review candidate. I did not listen from start to finish because I don’t have enough alcohol and painkillers on hand, but skipping around randomly reveals that PARANOID is a capable noisy D-beat band with very effective imagery, and the occasionally referential nod to DISCLOSE or DEATH SIDE or any number of other noisy or Japanese things. My highlights are the MISFITS cover and STREBERS cover that isn’t on here (“2 Skott”), cuz it proves we have influences in common besides bands that start with D. So yeah I’m a bastard, but if you are a completist or need all fifty PARANOID songs ever in one package, then your prayers are answered. Jokes aside, Black Konflik = top quality.

Partial Traces Low Definition LP

PARTIAL TRACES are a Minneapolis supergroup of sorts; members of the SOVIETTES, BANNER PILOT, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS, etc., who mostly previously played together in the band GATEWAY DISTRICT. The punk pedigree suggested by such a lineage is certainly present on Low Definition, but you have to listen for it. It’s mostly found in the tight arrangements and lack of extraneous fluff: musically, the album skews predominantly towards the indie rock end of the musical spectrum. Chiming, melodic guitars and washes of synth provide the stirring backdrop to songs rife with the melancholy of a life lived. Maybe it’s the Twin Cities connection, but I’m drawn to compare this band to the REPLACEMENTS. I’d bet money that this is probably the most mature-sounding record reviewed on Maximumrocknroll.com this month; make of that what you will.

Pobreza Mental Ya No Me Pertenezco EP

POBREZA MENTAL plays hardcore punk in the stumbling chaos vein of WRETCHED, CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS and Colombian bands such as IMAGEN and HP.HC, albeit not nearly as lo-fi and rudimentary as the two latter bands. The vocals shout to the point of breathless anger. The drums hiccup, pummel and degenerate into a crashing mass of cymbals. Every now and again stray guitar notes emerge from the claustrophobia to punctuate the rest of the wild sounds. Almost every song gradually builds from a mid-tempo creepy crawling rumble to an all-out glorious blast. The songs are about not belonging, the feeling of having nowhere to go as cities continue to gentrify and other depression and anxiety oriented fare. Ya No Me Pertenezco is an all-around perfect hardcore punk EP.

Potty Mouth SNAFU LP

POTTYMOUTH already had a very strong debut in 2013 with Hell Bent, but this album is such a massive improvement that the wait was fully worth it. The magic and chemistry they display here after taking their time to tour and yell at record labels has paid off in this cohesive magic disc released on bassist Ally Einbinder’s Get Better Records. Each menacing track clings to the next like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. The transition between “Starry Eyes” and “Liar” sees vocalist Abby Weems dive into the deep end from a soothing, gentle crooner to a fully aggressive presence in a matter of seconds. The deliberate care taken into placing each track on this album has created a solid Jenga tower of tough ass punk that will stand tall for a long time.

Reclaim Break EP

Pretty damn good hardcore from California’s oft-neglected High Desert. These guys clearly know their NYHC as much as any other hardcore band in 2020, but they draw upon turn-of-the-millennium bands like CARRY ON and COUNT ME OUT too, especially on opening track “Bloom.” RECLAIM’s sadly terrible cover art will probably doom them to a localcore dungeon, but the tunes are pretty great. Recommended for ardent scene supporters and more discerning hardcore fans alike.

Sacred Paws Run Around the Sun LP

Scotland’s SACRED PAWS has been one of my favorite bands in the world since releasing their debut 12” in 2015, and their 2016 LP Strike a Match is, in my humble estimate, among the very best records of the last decade. All this adds up to 2019’s Run Around the Sun being much-anticipated in my household, and I am happy to announce that it doesn’t disappoint. The SACRED PAWS formula remains firmly in place on this sophomore album: danceable post-punky pop music with joyful African highlife-inspired guitar parts and terrific vocal melodies and countermelodies. This album has a few surprises (horn parts!), and is a bit quieter than its predecessor, but is overall another masterful entry into both the SACRED PAWS and the Rachel Aggs (also of SHOPPING and TRASH KIT fame) discography.

Scarecrow Revenge EP

Swedish D-beat-inspired hardcore from Raleigh, NC? Yes, but SCARECROW carves out a niche of their own. The admirable TOTALITÄR-textured guitar/bass tone is achieved, and there’s a comparable intensity, but I’ll end that comparison there. The rhythmic punctuation and scathing rapid-fire vocal style elevate this EP to top-tier status. Lyrics avow all the damage we’ve inherited and what it looks like to cope with grim realities like children stolen from their loved ones and caged by the state, mental health struggles, the carelessly trashed planet, and the never-ending occupations fueled by American exceptionalism. Goddamn, shit is so fucked, but the rich language used here comes off more authentic and relatable (and frankly more inspirational) than typical “fuck society” tyrades. Long live the eight-song 45 RPM punk 7”. Definitely recommended.

Shotwell Dead Bats CD

I challenge you to find a San Francisco DIY institution more honest, more real, than SHOTWELL. Jimmy Shotwell has been a fixture and a presence for what feels like forever, and in SHOTWELL’s 25-year existence they have gone through countless iterations and incarnations while he somehow makes me feel like it’s 1996 every time I run into him. Musically, this is perhaps the strongest SHOTWELL release since the MIAMI split (which is—gulp—almost 20 years old). The ska parts are aggressive, the hooks are scraped off the streets, and the lyrical bite is as on-point as it’s ever been, weaving social, personal and political into one suffocating blanket. “Mystery Trip” is the choice cut, a painfully dark number that will be the most lighthearted number on the disc if you don’t look deeper. Rhythm section (currently Steve/GITS on drums and Fucko/STRYCHNINE, NAKED AGGRESSION on bass) is perfect, laying the foundation for a sonic journey through the sometimes filthy streets and often uncomfortable history of San Francisco.