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 MRR, 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 1977 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

Mal Thursday / Neal Ford & the Fanatics / The Tree Every Night a New Surprise / No Good Woman 7″

I am 100% perplexed by the existence of this record. A current garage rock singer MAL THURSDAY inserts his vocals on two ’60s recordings—one unreleased and one released. Why? I am guessing because someone found the tape of this unfinished 1966 version of “Every Night a New Surprise” by the songwriter Steve Ames’s band NEAL FORD & THE FANATICS (you might know the song from the MOVING SIDEWALKS’ version on the B-side of their “Need Me” 7”) and wanted to finish it. Ego, convincing or whatever got MAL THURSDAY to sign up for the job. The recorders and mixers do a decent job blending the vocals in with the music, but as expected something is a bit off. THURSDAY has a tough-guy-type voice that doesn’t meld that smoothly with these ’60s musical sounds. Yes, that’s a picture of THURSDAY from 1966 photoshopped into the band photo on the cover. For the B-side “No Good Woman,” the original 1967 vocals are removed and replaced with THURSDAY’s. Since I know this song too well, the vocals don’t sound right. Again, I’ll ask: Why? Why not simply record the songs with your own band? This is titled Karage Vol. 1 so we have more of these to look forward to?

Mal Thursday Mal Thursday’s Greatest Hits That Missed CD-R

Part two of my series of MAL THURSDAY release reviews. This CD-R from 2018 is a collection of THURSDAY’s bands the MALARIANS (his 1980s band), MAL THURSDAY AND THE CHEETAHS (his 1990s band), the MAL THURSDAY QUINTET (his 2010s band) and plain old MAL solo (origin somewhere in between). Beside being a singer, THURSDAY has also run a record label Chunk Records, booked shows and DJed on various radio stations and websites. THURSDAY’s vocal style is macho braggadocio. The music leans toward the harder rock side of the garage rock revival. It works together when the songs are faster and higher energy. Some of the slower ballads seem to be reaching too much and “What’s Up Pussycat?” was not an appropriate cover choice. When the songs do click, like on “Get Outta Dallas!” and “A Taste of Five,” it can be some stomping rock’n’roll fun.

Tommy Bahama Boys Garage Inc. II cassette

Based on the artwork, the name, and the little BEACH BOYS sample at the beginning of this tape, I assumed I was in for some instrumental surf or fun pop music or something. Boy was I wrong. This tape is a truly confusing experience combining harsh noise with lo-fi novelty electronic driving drum machine punk. Call me crazy, but there’s a couple cool, nasty synth-punk songs buried in here if you take the time to dig them up. They seem to have dubbed themselves “seapunk” and “yacht punk.” I don’t expect either of those terms to really make it off the docks, but if tapes like this keep floating to the surface I will certainly keep checking them out.

The Usurpers Future Wars LP

This SLC band comes at you hard and fast with a socially conscious UK82 style and strong DIY spirit. They’re so DIY that you are provided with a full album download complete with make-your-own CD and tape covers free of charge on their website. Musically, it’s a cross between latter-day EXPLOITED and something that would be at home on the Pogo Attack comp of yore. The singer has an off-time shouty/talky voice that reminds me of the singer of the PIST crossed with El Duce. There’s a lot of material here with lots of unfortunately ever-relevant anti-cop lyrical content provided. Pick it up.

The Walking Korpses All Safe and Dead LP

Proving that modern-day Berlin isn’t just a bolthole destination for ketamine-hoofing 27-year-old ravers, the current incarnation of that city’s WALKING KORPSES kicks out glowering goth sludge with a lineup predominantly assembled from what we still call expats but are, I suppose, more properly known as immigrants. Some interesting characters too, including two fellas from SPK splinter group LAST DOMINION LOST; two of post-punk rippers DIÄT (one of whom also released this LP on his label); and singer Jason Honea, who took over vocal duties for SOCIAL UNREST in the mid-’80s and has done the same for WALKING KORPSES after a journey that’s taken him a long way from East Bay skatecore. All Safe and Dead rocks for sure, often relatively conventionally, yet always with a but—awkward, lumbering and clashing, even when a joint like “Autumn Light” bears heavy hallmarks of big coat UK post-punk. Honea’s yelp is closer to BIRTHDAY PARTY-era Nick Cave, with the strep throat of UNSANE’s Charlie Spencer lurking in the mix. Shades/shards of LAUGHING HYENAS, later CLOCKCLEANER and offensively underrated Scottish group VOM can be detected in these seven songs, with a transcendent expansiveness at times (notably final song “Healthy Teeth”) which you could call psychedelic, if psych was less about staring blissfully at the sun than screaming into fog while holding a broken wine bottle.

Born Shit Stirrers Lester LP

I wanted to hate this at first. “This is just another ‘we can just do offensive grindcore and no one can tell we have no passion’ record,” I said to myself. I was wrong about the passion and the genre. This collection of UK expats in Japan make some super fun, super concise punk jams. They’re the kind of immature and snotty that can only come with many years of experience perfecting immaturity and snottiness. Offensive for offensiveness’s sake is typically a pretty boring choice, and heavily featuring samples from American Beauty and featuring Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham on the cover seems to be just negatively provocative more than entertaining. However, there is enough going on here to shine through the less desirable choices made by the band. There is some legitimate instrumental and lyrical talent on display here, so taking a couple minutes to sample a few of their songs would not be wasted time. The first five tracks will barely cost you three minutes. “Smash Your Smartphone” rings like a classic X song, “The Worm” is a punk rock joy, and “Kurosaki” is a ska-tinged 90 seconds of movie dialogue before going straight into anarcho-punk aggression for another 30.

Dark Thoughts Do You Dream / It’s Too Late 7”

Fuck yeah DARK THOUGHTS. Maybe this isn’t the best thing to admit, but when a band has a fucking stupid name like DIARRHEA PLANET (great band tho), I tend to avoid checking them out. But on the flip side, when they have a really cool name like DARK THOUGHTS, I wanna check them out right away. So these dudes have been making me tap my Converse and wiggle in my tight black jeans since shortly after their first LP. This new single has the best song they’ve possibly ever written as the A-side. “Do You Dream” is a minute and 18 seconds of pop-punk bliss. It’s oh so easy to write off a band when you see the word RAMONES-core associated with them and it totally feels fucking lazy to even put that in a description if I’m honest. Though I’ll be goddamned if these guys didn’t exclusively listen to the Fast Four and MEAN JEANS before writing their own songs. It’s a perfect mix and I recommend buying all their records like yesterday.

Death Gasp Death Gasp cassette

Crusty hardcore punk from Pittsburgh, PA. Six track demo of driving, metal-infused, nasty crust punk. The dubbing of the tape makes it sound super lo-fi, but I also checked out the songs on their Bandcamp and the recording is much more clear than I was initially led to believe.

Fatal Figures X Minus One LP

Each time I listen to this record, I like it more. The vocals seem to be flying at 100 MPH backed by sped-up, slightly rockabilly-ish, noisy-as-hell garage punk. These days of staying at home and doing nothing don’t really require this type of angst, but I’ll take it anyway. That random, out of place, high-pitched note of feedback half way through “You Hardly Ever Crawl” makes me smile each time it catches me off guard. The inclusion of an UNWOUND cover and a BEGUILED cover poses an interesting insight into the band’s philosophy, and I approve.

Hotmom Stupid Vegan Band cassette

This is exactly what I want in a punk demo! Every song a nasty punk hit played fast and spastically on the verge of falling apart. This demo somehow embodies that feeling you get when first delving deeper into the world of punk, going from entry-level bands to the real deal. That feeling of excitement mixed with a tiny amount of fear. HOTMOM has me thirsty for more. Thankfully searching around on the internet I was able to find that they’ve got a slew of other demos out. Phew!

The Inhuman We Will Build / Cheap Novocain 7”

The INHUMAN was the short-lived one-man project of a Tucson, Arizona weirdo named Joel Schenkenberg, who recorded a demo of completely warped art-punk in his bedroom circa 1983. That tape essentially vanished into the black hole of history before two tracks were rescued for this single in late 2019 by Lumpy Records, leading haven for the 21st century iteration of American oddball DIY. Schenkenberg’s vocals are all sneering outsider paranoia, buried in a claustrophobic, sub-lo-fi mix of blown-out guitar, rudimentary synth presets, and drum machine drone circling the same orbit as COUNT VERTIGO, the electro side of 39 CLOCKS, the first couple of CABARET VOLTAIRE singles, and the more left-field early ’80s Subterranean Records groups. “We Will Build” is almost conventionally post-punk with its scribbly guitar solo and anxiously repetitive oscillating pulse, while “Cheap Novocain” slows to a doomed, dystopian crawl perfectly suited to a rasped incantation like “Anaesthetize your brain to pain / Drinking cheap novocain.” Total degeneration by way of the desert!

חרדה (Jarada) מעגל שנאה (Ma’agal Sina’a) 12″

Following their first album in 2018, JARADA comes back with this one-sided 12″ with eight hardcore punk, raw, chaotic, aggressive gem songs. This Tel Aviv band makes us feel the struggle to live in hostile territory, and brings us a cultural and political debate in their lyrics, both in Hebrew or English. If you like bands like EXIT ORDER and ARMS RACE, you should definitely listen to them.

Kürøishi Sound the Alarm LP

This LP was released in 2019 by KÜRØISHI (Japanese name translates to “Black Death”) from Oulu, Finland. At first glance, with Akihito Sugimoto’s artwork, people will assume it’s something along the lines of ’80s/’90s-era Japanese hardcore worship like SELFISH, but KÜRØISHI has an early-’00s melodic crust approach along the lines of WOLFPACK/WOLFBRIGADE and TRAGEDY. Quite often dismissed but perhaps this sound was pioneered by Absolut Country of Sweden-era ANTI-CIMEX in 1990, later progressing to WOLFPACK/WOLFBRIGADE or HIS HERO IS GONE touring Japan in the ’90s and getting influenced by bands like JUDGEMENT with some melodic harmonic elements—yielding a “Japanese HC influenced” style a.k.a. TRAGEDY. In reality, the sounds are influenced by not only the aforementioned bands but also Sweden’s and Norway’s extreme metal scenes from the mid- ’90s… So, with many people already having knowledge and a sense of what Japanese hardcore sounds like, this might not cater to punks with a preference for that approach, but those who’ve seen the “Japanese hardcore” references thrown around at crust shows in 2002 will definitely be able to identify. It’s easy to talk trash on a release for how inaccurately it represents the ’90s Japanese hardcore approach, but it’s also something that we might need more in this age of easy replication and overload of resources. Sound the Alarm sounds like it’s an honest output from what they grew up with but still having an appreciation of something they truly love. They’re from Scandnavia and the influences of that region’s hardcore and metal makes more sense than sounding like they’re from Tokyo in the late ’80s. The record also contains this great sense of imagination (perhaps it can be taken as a misinterpretation?) whether intentionally or not, creating something unique with wide possibilities. Guest appearances by members of PARANOID, VIVISEKTO, SYSTEMATIC DEATH, THINK AGAIN and others.

M Section Pastrami Salami LP

The “silly guy hardcore with schizophrenic musical styles and influences” is a genre much ignored and not one I have been presented with for quite some time. Having once been in such a band, I can understand (to a point) while also being thoroughly perplexed by the all-over-the-place-ness met with showboating musicianship as a chosen mission. Elements of jazz, country, metal, prog and of course punk are the backdrop for adult contemporary masterpieces with titles ranging from “Where’s the Beef” to the epic “Lobster Dog” whisked along by precision drumbeats, noodling guitar stroking and pop-punk whoa whoa whoas. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh sorry, pardon my nod. The reference points for me would be FAITH NO MORE, MR. BUNGLE and SUM41 so Santa Rosa’s burning. Give it a whirl.

Miscalculations The Perfect Candidate LP

This London group is sometimes art-gothy, sometimes pop-punky, but always energetic. It often has a similar energy as the A.K.A.S (ARE EVERYWHERE!), especially in the electro/keyboard-like noises focus, or the less ska-ey end of the SUICIDE MACHINES. “The Blurred Line Between Art and Crime” is a great track to dip your toe into. It’s a danceable good time that feels unstoppable as it plugs along with juggernaut strength. “Brutalist Parade” almost feels like it’s about to bring you to an industrial show in a secret warehouse somewhere right before ending the album on one final and abrupt shout. This is a hip wigglin’ electro punk album for those that can’t help but dance when given even the slightest inspiration to do so.

MSPaint MSPaint cassette

Maybe this is aiming for some Wax Trax!-style industrial damage, but the singer should straight up be in a COLD WORLD tribute band. It also kind of reminds me of this early ’90s British rave crew called the SHAMAN. Hazy political aphorisms rapped over some mild keyboard jams. It’s hard to take stock of the music because the vocals just make everything sound like open mic night with some LIMP BIZKIT fans tearing it up.

Off the Clock For You 12″

Another release from the fertile and verdant Vic City Skins mob, and with members who’ve done time with big hitters such as NO HEART and LAST CRUSADE among its ranks, there’s little surprise that OFF THE CLOCK deliver some classic hard-as-nails Oi! with hardcore influences that packs a steel toe cap kick to the knackers. Vocals are as rough as a badger’s arse, but just about stay on the right side of tolerability, and the riffs are as no-nonsense as they come. Music to have a pint spilled on you to.

The Persecuted Terrorist USA EP

These Austin punks know how to ruck it up UK82 style, making a mess of it for the squares and keeping their hair charged proper at evening’s end. Nice ’90s-style polico/street/drunk punk style graphics and an attitude right up there with early TOTAL CHAOS. Their singer has one of the best pirate growls as evident on mid-tempo numbers like “So Many Lies,” but they also have a nice SHAM sense of melody such as in the title cut. Numbers like “The Prisoner” would be welcome in any VARUKERS set, and the lyrics, while nothing new, are manic yet cerebral and well-written. I could see these folks on stage with the ELECTED OFFICIALS as well as in an ’80s London squat. A well-thought-out and packaged release.

The Prof. Fuzz 63 Owls LP

Peppy, organ-led garage rock with a monotonic singer. The high-pitched organ sounds and the low-register vocals match perfectly giving PROF. FUZZ 63 a more unique sound than the average 21st century garage band. The drumbeats and guitar riffs are simple and add just enough foundation. The RAMONES update “Sheena Is a Soccer Mom” is a bit too corny, but the two (!) FLIPPER covers are pretty cool.

Rocky and the Sweden City Baby Attacked by Buds LP

Latest release from ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN from Tokyo—Japanese hardcore scene veterans that have been around for quite some time with ex-members of BASTARD, SYSTEMATIC DEATH, and VIVISICK. With song titles like “Green Riot,” “Mary-Go-Round,” and “Weed Weed Weed,” ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN really show their  appreciation for weed. It’s still not quite legal in Japan but glad to see they’ve yet to get in trouble for constant dedication to the ganja for the past 20 years. ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN also impresses us with how fast and aggressive they sound despite consuming such a mellow substance. 420 hardcore bands with a similar approach include REAL REGGAE, another counterpart from Japan that sung about smoking weed. From the title of this record, you might imagine something in the stoner rock realm (along with some G.B.H. reference) but turns out to be a great Japanese hardcore punk record. In terms of sketchiness, their chosen expression is reminiscent of older MRR articles about how it was illegal to be a punk band in certain countries. Most people typically would want to play in a jam band or stoner rock but these guys remind us to not judge anything by its cover. This shows us a new possibility of smoking weed where not only you can play slow and groovy but you can also play aggressively and fast. City Baby Attacked by Buds sounds more like they’re on speed or methamphetamine than smoking weed—basically the DEATH SIDE style Japanese approach with epic, dramatic riffage and NWOBHM-influenced guitar leads. ROCKY AND THE SWEDEN continue to fight for their freedom of smoking weed not only by “burning spirits” approach but by “burning buds” with the same spirit. Great colorful artwork done by Masato Okano of NYC.

Spam Risk Spam Risk cassette

Chicago, IL brings us SPAM RISK, a weird/poppy post-punk band featuring noodly guitar work and vocals bordering on novelty-song style both in their delivery and the subject matter. A couple of the songs on here are super driving and catchy as hell. “Google Bookchin” is the real stand-out track on this seven-song debut cassette. Definitely interested in hearing more of this kooky stuff.

Tommy and the Commies Hurtin’ 4 Certain EP

They did it again! After the excellent Here Come LP in 2018, they come back now in 2020, once more with an amazing power pop, punk explosion. This power trio from Sudbury, Ontario gives us brilliant and cool classic punk, just like BUZZCOCKS but also something like the #1S. I can’t stop listening since they released this EP! A sad fact that it only lasts four songs; waiting anxiously for the next records.

Tralala Das Mädchen Mit Den Roten Haaren / Pubertät Vergeht 7”

The Bachelor Archives series has been doing a bang-up job of documenting and preserving all sorts of lost gems from Austria and Switzerland’s punk past (GLUEAMS! SCHUND!), and the latest installment is a reissue of the 1982 7” from obscure Viennese punky new wave one-single wonders TRALALA. The B-side “Pubertät Vergeht” absolutely dominates this one, and it sounds so much like early ’80s Austrian femme-punk cult heroes PLASTIX that I had to do some serious research to figure out if there was some personnel overlap between that band and TRALALA (there isn’t)—the loopy vocals that sound like Su Tissue in German, the choppy and off-kilter rhythms, it’s all there… which makes for a very sharp stylistic U-turn when it comes to “Das Mädchen Mit Den Roten Haaren,” with its upstroke guitar and clipped ska beat, male gang vocals on the chorus, and even a bassoon (?!). An odd pairing for sure, but worth it for that B-side regardless.

The Velvet Underground Loaded (Alternate Album) LP

This month’s VELVETS bootleg/cash-in: A vinyl pressing of tracks from Rhino’s “Fully Loaded” reissue of the band’s final proper album. It’s a true “alternate” in the sense that it’s a track-by-track replication of Loaded made up of demos, early versions, and a couple “alternate mixes” (plus a bonus outtake of “I’m Sticking With You” because, why not?). Aside from simply having heard the hits too many times, my main complaint with Loaded is that it’s just a bit too neat and shiny, for a VU record anyway… so this LP is a pleasant surprise. The trio of “Head Held High” to “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” to “I Found a Reason” that opens side B is especially warm and intimate, performed with a relaxed looseness that draws me in despite knowing those songs back to front. Allegedly limited to 300 copies, but I doubt it…

Zone Infinie Dégats EP

Saint-Étienne-based rock urbain outfit ZONE INFINIE is back with a new EP of soaring melodic streetpunk. Like their contemporaries SYNDROME 81 and LITOVSK, their post-punk flourishes temper the gruffness one normally associates with the scruffy bastards in streetpunk, and these nuances only help to add some light and shade to the proceedings. It’s a pleasantly mixed bag, especially for a genre that can lend itself to one-notedness too, with cacophonous drums and spartan guitarlines accompanying the more recognisably streetpunky vocals too. Worth a go.

AOL Gold Plus cassette

Issued on tape by the German label ETT last month, Gold Plus is a new version of the release announced at the beginning of this year. If my computer could be a band, definitely it would be like AOL—machine voice, great cool riffs, systemic drums. This Floridan band knows how to hack into the cybernet world, seven nice and short tracks easy to repeat all over again and again. Bring punk to beyond modern life, DEVO-core in your new and best way.

Die Atlantikschwimmer Kassetto Fix LP

Vinyl reissue of the 1983 demo cassette from the relatively unheralded Neue Deutsch Welle trio DIE ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER, who recorded an LP the following year for the Zickzack label (responsible for backing releases from German noisemakers ranging from EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN to ABWÄRTS to XMAL DEUTSCHLAND in the ’80s) before ultimately disbanding. That LP was essentially a Bavarian take on the bleak, monochromatic post-JOY DIVISION post-punk approach that was having a mid-’80s heyday among UK groups like the CHAMELEONS and the SOUND, and while that direction isn’t completely lost on the demo, there’s also a spiky, agitprop danceability that points to an affinity for GANG OF FOUR and any number of early Rough Trade singles, especially in dryly shouted vocals and snap-tight rhythms of “Warten” and “Abendvorstellung.” Even the more characteristically gloomy new wave moments here are given a spark from roughed-up demo presentation, which honestly elevates Kassetto Fix above the band’s solid subsequent full-length. Yet another choice Static Age-guided dig through Euro post-punk history, get in on it.

Barcelona Residuos del Ultrasonido EP

Might be my emergency exit from burning out—anyway—I consider hardcore as a form of art. Even if it defines itself as noise not music, still it is a sonic expression of emotions and thoughts. A reaction to complex processes thundering in each of us. Hardcore is best when unadjusted, each layer of the music freely and indivisually explodes from the players but when added together becoming a bit more than several syncronised performances. Historically the cacophony of hardcore was written on the account of untrained musicians, who employed enthusiasm instead of education, although we must not forget how confusing the world is even when you seem to be able to function in its array of bullshit. It is much more hostile when you are young and reckless to start a punk band, where these kids were matching their songs to their experiences. Art could help to conserve these feelings reflecting on terror of surreal reality. BARCELONA had an artsy edge from the beginning, especially with their cover art, but with Residuos del Ultrasonido the suspicion shifted to hard facts: while they are a pure primitive force of destructive and radical hardcore, they are not only attacking year end top ten lists but the borders of hardcore. It is strange how internationally appreciated they are, yet almost no one is ripping off their sound. While it is not an insoluble formula, it is a continuation of beloved pioneers of radical hardcore and it carries the signature soundmarks of BARCELONA. The bass is a loud pulp, punching the space of the music with its extension despite with its power; the drums remind us to the visceral driver in mankind to beat the shit out of bang-able objects to create rhythms that match with our inner tempo; the vocals are towering over the music, setting a direction with raspy, ferocious screams which later go as far as imitating dog barks; finally the guitars are tying many knots with the strings when not blasting head-deforming riffs. It is a short 7”, but packed with so many layers it instantly becomes a classic. There is some discussion over the cover art, which even if improvised at last minute or meticulously planned, works as a great, funny fuck you. I love how it recalls the infamous What The… cover. It also reflects on that art is not necessary some academic, always high-brow happening, but it could be dumb and funny, yet meaningful; it could be anything. Probably a lot of people would be distracted by the cover if this would be BARCELONA’s debut EP, but if this was only the beginning it would be a fair price to pay. Amazing record.

Blotchouts Lenora Guards the Egg cassette

Angular, dissonant, blip-bloops of no wave weirdness. Really fun, weird, artsy kookiness. BLOTCHOUTS from Mobile, Alabama bring us twelve songs on this newest release of theirs including a truly bizarre cover of JOHNNY THUNDERS “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” Much of this tape is too weird and long for me, but in the moments they lock into some driving grooves it is super cool. The band seems to have a ton of other releases so if this kinda thing is for you, you’ve got a lot of new tunes to check out.

Denim Ski Mask Justice EP

Wallop! This demo from a duo of Austrian recalcitrants ticks a lot of boxes for me—namely, it’s short, sharp and almost entirely lacks any fucking about whatsoever. Raw enough to cause salmonella, this is hard-as-nails Oi! stripped back to its component parts. Full of menace and the threat of aggro kicking off at any point, barely concealed within three songs that say all they need to in fewer than two minutes. Listen to this! You have been warned.

Geld Beyond the Floor LP

’Twas the prehistoric epoch of 2018 when GELD’s Perfect Texture LP kicked my ass through the top of my head via its solid gold meld of Scando-Japano HC abandon and psychedelic guitar excursions. Beyond the Floor dials down the psych tropes—little on this twelve-tracker zongs out quite like, say, “Parasitic Fucker” off the debut; maybe the gothy scrawling on “Forces at Work” approaches that level—but is every bit as deranged and dangerous. Written and recorded on “pills, meth, booze, weed [and] DMT,” so says the sales spiel: if this is the case, this Melbourne foursome are the opposite of sloppy drunks, cabbaged stoners or too-gone tweakers, rather a destructive forward line dosed on black market medicine by a shadowy team doctor. That is to say: fully sick in-the-red guitar tone, basslines that are sinister but groovy in the same way, say, Kira’s were in BLACK FLAG, foaming provoked-animal vox from Al Smith, maybe some bestial black metal influence in there but it’s such a barrage yer just guessing really… plus the lyric “Pubs open in my mind” and, if you were quick enough (which you weren’t, should you be reading this as a buyers’ guide), a really neat Jack Chick-parody comic packaged with the browny-gold vinyl. GELD are god’s-honest dons.

Ghouli Nothing cassette

Dark and angry hardcore from Richmond, VA. This is a really nice mix of different types of punk. I hear some early TSOL in there, some RUDIMENTARY PENI, even some HOLIER THAN THOU which makes for a cool amalgamation of early punk and death rock stuff, but they’ve clearly got the chops to blister through some faster songs as well.

مراة بركان (Mara’a Borkan) War / Revenge cassette

Two new tracks to follow up their previous tape, proving its quality was not novelty, more so MARA’A BORKAN is capable to write tense hardcore tracks even in a more organized headspace. Since these tracks are not restless, although angry and energetic, but it’s not a hot-headed mess. They have grown to be confident and deliberate. In exchange they introduce almost kraut-rockish repetitive hooks that pair well with the bouncy riffs and the still foreign melody of the vocals. They are great at keeping beats exciting, playing with emphasis and mixing hardcore with a bit of Arabic rhythms. While it is not at all challenging to enjoy them, the band expands the horizon of hardcore. The guitar sound has been refined, the sharp distortion is gone, in its place is a coiled, spooky patchwork of awesome riffs. They were great as a demo band, presenting fundamental angst, translating their environment to radical hardcore and they are great as a matured band too, who has nothing to prove. Instead, us listeners have to demonstrate that we appreciate unique bands from strange places. Tunis is a frequented resort for Europeans, one that is many miles away from the reality that explodes from MARA’A BORKAN’s music. I trust them and enjoy their tapes better than I would appreciate to be a dumb white tourist.

Meat Whiplash Here It Comes / Don’t Slip Up 7″ reissue

Super deluxe reissue of one of the greatest Scottish post-punk singles of all time that isn’t the first 7” by the FIRE ENGINES (from whom MEAT WHIPLASH swiped their name)! Originally released on Creation in 1985, the band’s one and only record reflected an almost exact sonic intersection of the dual ruling scenes of Scotland’s ‘80s underground, with the more scratchy and angular faction on one side, and wall-of-sound melodic noise-pop on the other. “Here it Comes” kicks up a cloud of feedback squeal and pinned-in-the-red distortion not entirely dissimilar to the controlled chaos of the JESUS AND MARY CHAIN’s “Upside Down” from just a year earlier, although MEAT WHIPLASH trade the Reid brothers’ shimmering ’60s-inspired pop tendencies (however buried) for something far more panicked and desperate. Equally obscured by fuzz but far less abrasive, the flipside “Don’t Slip Up” brings things in line with the shambolic sound of young Scotland centered around C86 bands like the SHOP ASSISTANTS, whose singer actually wound up joining MEAT WHIPLASH when they changed their name to MOTORCYCLE BOY in the late ’80s. Completely essential purchase if you don’t already own a well-loved original copy of this one!

Nightfeeder Rotten Demo cassette

Heavy crust punk from Seattle. They’ve definitely done their homework with this band. The songs all sound like you’ve heard them before, which either means that they wrote some catchy riffs or that their songwriting is damn good at aping the bands that have inspired them. I definitely hear some AUS ROTTEN-type hooks coming through with a few of them. Eight tracks in total, ending with covers of MISSBRUKARNA and the VICTIMS (Australia). The covers might be my favorite part as they not only do the songs justice, but it also seems to force the band to break out of the pretty standard crust sound of their originals. They play the different genres of punk surprisingly well.

Noi!se Price We Pay 7″

This is truly a document of how humans ate the earth. A one-song 7” by a oi!-inflected pop punk band from Seattle. Save the planet and think of all the wasted resources! Just because you can doesn’t mean you should! How many fans of this band are gonna play this thing more than once?! I assume the song is also on the LP or whatever? I don’t know. Maybe they aren’t pop punk?! It’s generic festival band music, package-tour-ready sounds for people that crave marketing gimmicks.

Regime Bury Them Now cassette

Blistering D-beat from Moscow, Russia. This tape rips and is pretty timeless. Nails this style dead on. Sure, it’s cliché to compare a D-beat band to DISCHARGE, but there you have it. Five songs will leave you wanting more.

Régimen de Terror Inherente del Poder EP

The first few DISCHARGE EPs seem to be the entire corpus of influences for RÉGIMEN DE TERROR. This could be dangerous—D-beat done poorly is almost always stale and limiting—but RÉGIMEN DE TERROR combines a sincere, explicitly anarchist approach and barebones production into a solid, enjoyable record. There’s nothing groundbreaking lyrically or musically here, but if you’re a sucker for OTAN or REALIDAD like I am, you’ll likely find this record charming and invigorating.

Siglo XX Siglo XX LP

A vinyl reissue of SIGLO XX’s 1981 demo tape originally came out a decade ago; that pressing is long out of print so a new edition should please budget-minded post-punkers. JOY DIVISION is the primary influence here, though while SIGLO XX replicates the prominent baselines, skeletal guitar work and overall depressive ambience of Unknown Pleasures, the claustrophobic intensity of Factory’s finest is absent. (OK, it’s rather unfair to hold up a four-track demo recording to probably the greatest post-punk band of all time; SIGLO XX’s proper vinyl releases during this era were more more fully-formed.) Worth investigating for completists, but don’t hold off for too long as this repress is limited to 500 copies.

Sniffany and the Nits The Greatest Nits EP

If fucked up bashed out guitar snot gets your brains blown out, if you run out the grooves in yr HONEY BANE ’n’ GOOD THROB 45s, if you seek lyrics that are savage class ’n’ gender disintegrations for pogo punks, then this is for you. It almost sounds like a weird combo of NO TREND and something on Crass Records in places?! I mean this is CRASS worship with a hardcore ferocity, so I think by now even reading my puny words you know whether you wannit or not… Do a runner!

Stray Bullet Din of Shit EP

An assembly of esteemed UK hardcore hardy perennials here in the form of STRAY BULLET, including but not limited to Crawford Mackay (CLOCKED OUT), Fergus Daffy (NO PULSE) and Brian Suddaby from umpteen bands of which RAT CAGE and HEAVY SENTENCE are the most recent, I guess. They’ve all found themselves in Sheffield with an urge to kick out careening, consistently brisk hardcore, bordering garage punk for the longest, closing number “Consider It Worn.” Sounds like some ’90s bargain bin relic to me, and that’s meant in a good way—bands like OUT COLD or NINE SHOCKS TERROR that are adored by small coteries of heads but whose releases can still be scored relatively cheaply. Chug-into-a-brickwall rhythm parts square up against high-pitched, almost-indulgent guitar solos and Mackay sounds as ready to blow his top as was the case during CLOCKED OUT’s existence.

Thievery Thievery cassette

Lo-fi hardcore from Victorville, CA. From the little insert included I have gathered that this was a short-lived project from 2005 that wrote four songs and recorded live onto a four-track, released it as a demo, and played one singular show. This is a reissue of that same demo. It’s pretty cool, sufficiently pissed. The quality of the recording makes it a bit difficult to discern exactly what they sounded like. The mind fills in those garbled gaps, tho. Musically it falls somewhere between powerviolence, fastcore, and some tough-guy beatdown stuff.

The Variations Fight Back! LP

Detour has unearthed a pretty obscure one here—the VARIATIONS were a London-area mod revival act circa 1980/81 undocumented on record until now. The first side showcases five studio tracks (sessions for a never-realized single) while the flip is comprised of bootleg-quality material from an Islington pub gig, including covers of WILSON PICKETT and “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.” Drawing threads from punk, pop, and R&B, the VARIATIONS had an amateurish but endearing sound. No lost classics here but “Social Climbers” and the title track in particular are charming tunes that hint at what the band could have done if they’d had the chance to develop. Following their split, vocalist Mick Winslow went onto front the SCENE, who managed to cut a trio of singles in the early/mid-’80s.

A Hanging Food for Rats cassette

Full-length album originally released by the band in 2009 on CD and now available on cassette. A HANGING is a crossover thrash band from New Orleans. Musically, there are a few songs that kick in and shred pretty damn hard. Unfortunately, almost every one has a slow, almost scrams-esque breakdown within it. That, combined with the very forced growling type of vocal delivery, puts me off considerably.

Atomic Energy Commission Post Fax Nation 12″

What am I listening to? FLIPPER reincarnated the right way? My War through a Midwestern art/punk filter? I seriously don’t know, but the caterwaul of “Waldorf Hysteria” and the erratic madness of “Garbage, Garbage USA” keep me asking why? Asking what? What if 1983 MDC tried to do a Confusion Is Sex act for a Halloween gig? Seriously punks, ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION is creating a sound for whatever this reality is. Maybe not the sound…but definitely a sound. Because this reality is definitely not right in the head.

Aus II LP

Icy, synth-saturated German post-punk in the tradition of MALARIA! or XMAL DEUTSCHLAND—expect severe rhythms driven by cavernous bass and tom-heavy drumming with only the most minimal presence of cymbals, coolly distant vocals that maintain a palpable edge of drama, and sparse, needling guitar applied with exacting precision. The level of restraint exercised in the more slowly snaking tracks on II (“Bilderflut” and “1000 Umdrehungen” in particular) is genuinely haunting and unnerving in a way that legions of chorus-pedal-dependent modern dark-punk groups have aspired to but never fully achieved, with AUS stripping their sound to such an elemental framework that the subtraction of anything else would cause the songs to just crumble into dust. Top notch!

Bad Cop/Bad Cop The Ride CD

Besides having the best band name in punk, this LA-based four-piece has some of the top harmonizers in the genre. I don’t know if it’s shitty societal conditioning or what, but I find myself having some resistance to new BC/BC records. Part of it might be that whole bullshit holdover from JAWBREAKER that if a DIY band gets successful, we’re no longer allowed to like them. And yes, I realize I’m addressing this on a platform for which is notoriously anti-major label. BC/BC continue to release on Fat, when I’m sure they could easily garner attention from those “indie” majors. It’s like I’m trepidatiously enjoying their music as if they’re going to pull the wool over my eyes and sign to something with a major parent company because they’re such great songwriters. However, once I get past that stupid fear, I really, really love the music they make. This record is more of what we’ve come to expect from BC/BC: catchy-as-fuck punk with empowering lyrics. Their songs are often calls to action like in “Certain Kind of Monster” wherein they cover immigration and the horrors of ICE keeping people in cages. In that track, they push the fact that no one is illegal, nor should they be pushed out of their homes. So many of the tracks see Stacey Dee taking over lead vocals which I love because her voice walks a razor’s edge between pure guttural grit and saccharine sweet harmony. She’s also often backed up by Jenny Cotterill’s powerhouse pipes. In the song “Pursuit of Liberty,” I’m almost certain that Linh Le is taking the helm on that one (I don’t have liner notes to reference). Every song is an inspirational earworm, convincing me that the world is worth existing in and that each one of us (the royal punk “us”) has the capacity to be anything we want. Through all of these depression-crushing tracks, they spell it all out in “Community,” and fuck do I miss that element of this subculture right now! I love everything about this record. It’s a major contender for album of the year for me.

Bootlicker Live in the Swamp cassette

For those of you unfortunate enough to not be familiar with BOOTLICKER yet, do yourself a favor and check out their slew of EPs already out in the world. Rip-roaring, relentless Canadian hardcore punk. This cassette is a live show recorded during the band’s last US tour. The recording is top notch and the band is clearly in the midst of their tour tightness. Some of the angriest and best hardcore punk going these days. This live recording sounds better than most band’s studio records. Pro-dubbed tapes with attention to detail on the artwork put this over the top. It even includes a cool looking obi strip on the outside of the tape shell. According to Neon Taste Records there is supposed to be two inserts within the tape but my review copy did not come with those.

Celebrators Wipeout! / Ex-Explorer 7″

The New Weird L.A. freak flag flies on this debut single from CELEBRATORS, which also serves as the first release from the new label spun off from local DIY space and recording studio House of Tomothy. A-side “Wipeout!” tangles with the sort of repetitive, mutant-rockabilly rhythm that the FALL were enamored with on their early records, augmented by the rapidly ticking pulse of a drum machine and various layered electronic blurts that ultimately tip things more toward a contemporary post-DEVO-core reality. On the flip, “Ex-Explorer” starts off similarly in a bass-centered flail with vaguely PERE UBU-ish yelped vocals, before quickly settling into a drawn-out and knotted instrumental outro that gave me some serious and wholly unexpected flashbacks to the mid-to-late ’90s Chicago/Louisville math-rock axis. Limited to 165 copies, housed in a stylishly risographed sleeve, how much art can you take?