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(Wait — MRR #435? I thought you stopped doing a monthly magazine! Zinesplanation here.)

MRR #434 • July 2019

1919 Futurecide CD

The latest full-length from Bradford post-punk legends 1919 slinks forth with catchy melodic abrasion. Harmonies as mesmerizing as the CHURCH; serpentine cradle-shaking akin to BAUHAUS; contemporary angst reminding of the ESTRANGED, MOIRA SCAR, and SEX GANG CHILDREN; the twitching ennui of MIDNIGHT OIL; and even the pop spin cycle à la CULTURE ABUSE, with a slack standard of SUEDE. 1919 have composed at times an optimistic, albeit still-life and morose effort that’s smoother than their tribal ’80s death rock sound, exploring a goth-gazing that is absolutely worth checking out. Introduce yourself as if they were the newest sensation in this darkwave movement, as if they weren’t around 35 years ago already nailing that fresh pine coffin.

Big Night In Super Dualism LP

Basic punk rock’n’roll, with the emphasis on basic and rock. Sure, this isn’t paint-by-numbers barre chord punk for teens, and it’s certainly fairly passionate and believable, but it’s kinda like a mix of ‘80s KISS riffs, tougher-than-most Midwest emo from the ‘00s, cheap beer, perfect denim vests, and an attempt at accessibility. As a side note: somebody threw down some serious coin on this thing. Full-color gatefold with 3-D inner artwork and free 3-D glasses. Extra points for mentioning Jeppson’s Malört liquor, but this is a hard listen, even for a diehard fan of Ace and his riffs.

Brandy Clown Pain / Rent Quest 7"

The worst job I ever had was working for a balloon wholesale company. As a result, I don’t like clowns. A song called “Clown Pain,” whether or not about literal clowns, strikes a positive chord with me. “Thank you for my clown pain.” Of course, I can relate to “Rent Quest” as well. BRANDY’s music is dirty and throbbing and relentless. It leaves you anxiously on edge. The vocals are rough and pleading. The whole thing is perfect.

Buffet All-American LP

For real: if this is what the crossroads of modern “noise rock” and throwback “emo” and “hardcore” sounds like, then I am fukkn sold. I’m reminded of WHITE TRASH SUPERMAN (high praise) as much as infectious and high-energy early ’90s college radio punk or classic Midwest hardcore—think early Homestead Records delivered with the ingredients that made ADOLESCENTS’ blue album. You recognize everything here, even though you’ve never quite heard it like this…and BUFFET are having fun. And it shows. Full endorsement.

Bulbulators Aut Punk Aut Nihil LP

Starting your LP with a straight lift of HÜSKER DÜ’s “I Apologize” is a really good way to get my attention. After that hook, Poland’s BULBULATORS drop a baker’s dozen of catchy Eastern European punk, with a shameless ear for the addictive and anthemic. “Żywe Trupy” is perhaps the most extreme and/or perfect example, and my mono-linguistic self is singing along in a Polish language that I do not understand as soon as the first chorus drops. Recorded in 2007, but given the vinyl treatment for the first time by Combat Rock and perennial Polish punk historians Pasażer.

Condor Singles 2017-2018 LP

You probably know that this is a RIXE (and ex-YOUTH AVOIDERS) member’s solo project—and it’s pretty apparent on the surface—but this has more of a melodic punk sound than Oi! The dude writes amazing songs that I can imagine pretty much anyone liking, regardless of preference. I must point out that aside from his penchant for writing a hook, the reason we’re all enamored by this is the perfectly balanced production. Raw, gritty, and clear, with a dreamy kick-and-snare thud that you feel as much as you hear. “Chacun Pour Soi” is basically an amped-up FLOCK OF SEAGULLS song and is highly addictive, “Condor” shows hardcore roots, and “Vengeance” is a spot-on cover of a deep cut on the 1984 The Second compilation (I used to put this song on a lot of mix tapes, so this is quite validating to hear). I imagine this record is doing fine without my praise, but for whatever it’s worth, you all should get it. This 12″ compiles two short tapes that are likely very limited.

Device Anthology 1997-2000 CD

These thirteen songs encapsulate the entirety of this French hardcore band’s existence: including a demo, two split EPs and a CDEP. A trip through the fliers on the inner sleeve might make for some good insight into their sound: HATEBREED, FLOORPUNCH, BLOOD FOR BLOOD, BLOODLET, FOUR HUNDRED YEARS, and MILEMARKER. Well, those last two make no sense, but whatever. They mostly stick to some real normal sounding tough guy hardcore, with bits and pieces leaning toward an EARTH CRISIS type metal guitar, and little hits at emotional hardcore (“Long Day” has these long emotional parts that are the real winner here). The sound is unfortunately not so great all around, with the demo being a particularly rough listen. It’s also a bit hard to believe that they printed the lyrics, as some of them sound like childish rantings.

Dezerter Nienawiść 100% 7"

While this might not be as raw, or pleasantly rough around the edges, as their earlier output, I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t say it was still passionate, punk as hell, and completely vital. Musically, it seems like a good mix of ’84 TSOL without all that reverb, some delay-heavy post-punk with a pinch of crust, topped off with some oddly-placed pop sensibilities. The lyrics, sung completely in Polish, are still totally anti-fascist, with a slight bend towards some dark-ass ambivalence. Sure, they aren’t the kings they once were back in 1981, but they have certainly aged really well. Despite my raised eyebrow over the fancier, modern rock production, this is a killer release from some goddamn stalwarts. Totally dig this.

Discript 未知 Cassette

It is an honor to review this exhumation of a 1993 project by BEYOND DESCRIPTION’s alter ego. DISCRIPT play pulverizing, heavy D-beat fury with muffled riffs, china hits, cybernetic effects, putting forth themes of dissatisfaction with society and its inherent rudeness, all sung in Japanese with vapid flavor and viscous flow. Reminds me of the VARUKERS channeling CORRUPTED. Or an old obscure Swedish HC favorite VISIONS. What an intense combo—and DISCRIPT is killing it after 25 years of grimacing slumber. Sonic terror level red. If this were any louder I’d be knocking shit off the speakers. Five tracks of sheer awesome grunting bestial Japanese crust that have left all metal-grind preceding reputations in the dust.

El Banda Wiatr Sieje Nas LP

Twelve years after their first LP, this highly regarded Polish outfit gives their third album. I imagine much of the magic and poetry is lost in translation, but from what I can tell, the major theme here is a very elaborate and nuanced fuck you to the patriarchy (often addressing fat shaming/body policing). Standard song structures are pretty much completely thrown out, and the arrangement of short and long songs force a pushing and pulling feeling across the album. They really like to drag a riff out to create tension or drama; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a vocal-forward mix, an intentional choice to put the message in the forefront, but that’s not to detract from the abundance and variety of melody coming from the rest of the band. The beginning of the record was a bit of a slog for me to get through: a minute and a half intro that sounds like an actual NOFX gallop into a three minute drumless monologue-style part…pretty emo basically. I do believe though that it’s my own problem for not knowing Polish, and not the band’s problem. The record is full of melody and a viciousness that is unrivaled by most melodic hardcore records I’ve heard—see for example “Wściekłyszpaler,” which was on their previous EP, and has a cool and recommended music video about the huge anti anti-abortion protest in 2016.

Fealty Peace Is Our Problem 7"

I know this shit is almost a year old now, but uuuugggghhhh FEALTY are so good. The 2017 demo was beyond crucial, and 2018’s Peace Is Our Problem only tightened their grip on dominance. Uncomfortable and in-your-face bombastic anarcho punk, heavy on the low end and desperation, this New York trio sounds like you feel after a fight you didn’t know was coming. You’re confused, full of adrenaline…and ready for more.

Fleshies Introducing The Fleshies LP

Yes yes yes! I think you should know that, although I am indeed a huge FLESHIES fan, I came pretty damn late to the party, and I don’t have a proper excuse. Their trademarked loud’n’ugly noise, ramming headfirst and at lightspeed into downright lovely anthemic ballads and a penchant for DEVO-esque quirk and spazz is right up my alley. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great album, but a lot of the precious goof is missing. The sweet, tender quirk-and-jerk just aren’t in full force. I could chalk this up to a bad mix, as not only the drums, but also John’s absolutely killer strained rat vocals are buried pretty damn deep in the mix, or maybe they are just embracing their darker, tougher exterior in these trying times. But all in all, this is an entirely rad slab; I just found myself seriously missing those fucked up tics that sets this stellar band apart from nearly every other loud-ass rock band on the planet.

Frites Modern 6 Met 10"

Pretty bold move to open your debut EP with a cover of the Sesame Street theme song, huh? (Though I guess it has the effect of making the rest of your songs seem that much harder in comparison.) You might recognize this Dutch trio from the Welcome to 1984 comp, sandwiched there between the STALIN and UBR. The 6 Met EP was originally released on cassette in 1983; this first-time vinyl press was done for last year’s Record Store Day. There’s a distinct UK82 feel to the driving rhythms, eminently catchy riffs and singalong refrains—think GBH or SKEPTIX—but like the best UK-influenced Euro HC bands, FRITES MODERN ramped up the intensity for some real classic tracks like “Jeugdjournaal” and “Leugenaar.” Nice crisp recording, too. Grab this if you can!

Frontier Club Speaking in Cursive 7"

FRONTIER CLUB is an odd name for a band from Southern California, as it brings to mind that old timey SoCal record label that put out Group Sex and the Blue Album? Would you ever name your band “Slash Team” or “Dangerous House”? Anyway, this isn’t FRONTIER CLUB’s first record, so I’m sure somebody’s already picked up on that. As it stands, this slab is much more post-punk than CIRCLE JERKS, or even TSOL. Plenty o’ sharp guitars, plaintive vocals (just enough emoting to keep it interesting), and lockstep drums and bass. Good shit. The guitar on these three tracks is particularly tough and muscular, but still a little dark, a little gothic, and a little mysterious—kind of like a jock who works out two hours a day but also wears a beret and a black trenchcoat or, alternatively, Xena Warrior Princess. Similar to the WYNONA RIDERS, but with different singing and much more contemporary than that band ever was. Less dreary than it could be, more fun than it should be. Like it.

Game No One Wins LP

London jangling punks GAME play scathing, hexing, barking hardcore in the style of MUSHROOM ATTACK, the COMES, the STALIN, CHARGE, NEGLECT, and NO STATIK, orated with Polish and English command. Vocals are punctuated with pounding harsh rhythm, while the songwriting varies from anthemic circle pit hardcore to thrashing ’80s punk metal. This LP is powerfully energetic, with surprising changes yet flowing evenly from start to finish. Encapsulating, hasty, bewitching and in complete control. Its production is perfectly clear, as well as engineered to accentuate what makes GAME on top, making it an immediately engaging listen. Bizarrely kvlt art by Nicky Rat.

Giggly Boys Another Close Call 7"

This two song 7″ barely makes it to four minutes in total. The A-side is an uptempo melodic punk number in the vein of MASSHYSTERI, with a reverbed out Mark E. Smith soundalike on vocals. The B-side is a little more garage-y, a little more rock’n’roll, a little catchier, quite a bit shorter, and probably the better of the two. This stuff sounds similar to their previous output, but a little more polished, and I mean that in a good way.

Gitane Demone Quartet Substrata Strip CD

Gitane Demone will be best known to readers of MRR from her time with CHRISTIAN DEATH, but she has had a long career as a vocalist. I was excited to check our this album after seeing that it features Paul Roessler, along with one of my favorite guitarists, Rikk Agnew, but punks hoping to hear some classic Agnew chops may be disappointed by the showtunes goth presented within. Demone’s powerful singing is the focus here: the darkly operatic cabaret songs resonate around occult-sounding themes. For this listener, the album sits way too far outside MRR territory, residing more in the Wiccan steampunk zone.

Hash Redactor Drecksound LP

A spun-out frenzy with smears of MARK E. SMITH vocals lift over a wild sorta FALL / GUN CLUB / SCIENTISTS guitar collision, and the sickest rhythm section in modern punk. This is a dense total sound, tastefully stealing from both classic Manchester and L.A. punk as needed! What else is there to do in these end times we are stuck existing within but make a sound that reflects your record collection with your friends? HASH REDACTOR features the rhythm section of NOTS and a couple EX-CULTers too, so Memphis maniacs you already know you need this right? It swaggers and goofs in a most endearing fashion: off-kilter and groovy, like trying to leave a crowded party and drunkenly walking into a swamp. One of those records where you wish the label had sent a reviewer copy!

Jonny Manak and the Depressives Anybody Wanna Skate CD

I’ve seen these guys a few times, but this full-length really bumps them up a notch or two for me. Well-produced punk rock’n’roll that has an early SAINTS quality. Maybe they’ve gotten more garage over the years? There’s still a touch of pop punk here, but as a whole, this rocks pretty good.

Judy and the Jerks Music For Donuts EP

Watching JUDY AND THE JERKS play was one of the highlights of 2018! What a group! It’s a true and total brat attack like SIN 34 and Thrasher Skate Rock comps, but in a dream not a drab reenactment broscape. This is a sick hardcore 45: it sounds like the Hardcore California book in a cool and refreshing way, like stealing a soda on one of these end-of-the-world hot days. It’s a pleasure and it’s a punch in the face! You will like the feeling, you will imagine yourself in the crowd of Decline while listening to it… Every song is perfect, furious bratty hardcore for true punks. Can’t wait to get the LP!

Knowso Like a Buzz / Physical Freak 7"

The ’90s revival continues. KNOWSO perform robotic, kinetic nerd punk: descendants of DEVO, but with a sound that’s part NOMEANSNO, part SERVOTRON. The two short songs here form a perfectly digestible snippet of pocket-protector punk.

Latte+ Next To Ruin CD

This Italian pop punk band does the QUEERS / SCREECHING WEASEL thing. They have no problem pulling it off, as this is pretty solid. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really stand out in this well-populated genre. I’m sure they are great for the locals though, and this does have some gems. However, to their credit, this is their eighth album in twenty-two years. Best for RAMONES-esque punk completists and locals, but not a bad CD.

Neck You Don’t Think It’s Evil… LP

This is pretty straightforward punk’n’roll, and some might even call it pop punk. Guitar, bass, drums, vocals; mid-tempo and super catchy. It sounds like all members help out on the vocals, which creates some nice harmonies, and enhances the catchy factor. The song lyrics are mostly goofy and silly. It’s a fun record, meant to be enjoyed casually and not seriously. As soon as I put the record on, I was reminded of the old Seattle band HEAD.

Neutrals Kebab Disco LP

What is there to say about a record that somehow evokes the view from a teenage bedroom in some Scottish new town circa 1982 at the same time as a modern mall food court in modern-day San Francisco? Tightly wound sounds formed in the nucleus of UKDIY and the post-JAM mod revival—the music is nostalgic: painting a picture of youth trying to escape a drab existence thru art school or technical college, dreaming of Italian adventures as their friends become motorcycle cops and hippies park their BMWs where their revolutionary dreams once were. This record is a crafty cigarette in a stairway outside an indie disco that plays STRETCHEADS into SHOP ASSISTANTS. This record bridges Glasgow in some mystical undetermined past with San Francisco in a very non-nostalgic present. Allan McNaughton’s very distinctive vocals will sound familiar to fans of GIANT HAYSTACKS and AIRFIX KITS, but this record has less of a D BOON paint coat than those groups, and more of an UNDERTONES 45s and cheap charity shop parka glow. Comes with a super sick lyric booklet, which is a true visual delight. Recommended!

Norms Hülye Hardcore 12"

File this one in the “must listen” column, and brace yourself. It sounds weird, it sounds like pure chaos, it sounds….well, just listen. All of the ramshackle fury of early ’80s Italy tempered with ’00s fastcore, and a thick, noisy delivery. I could listen to this a thousand times and not get bored…the guitar is weird, the vocals are weird, the guitar overdubs are ever weirder—it’s just…off. Which means it’s just…right. These Budapest kids have never let me down, but I wasn’t expecting to be this floored. Highest recommendation.

Not A Part Of It Defiant Indifference EP

While not expanding the boundaries of punk, this is certainly not bad. It’s fast as hell, catchy, political, and sorta rad. Snotty, gravelly vocals give this dudely pop punk a street punk edge. Not necessarily barking up my tree specifically, but it seems like it’s probably a tree close by a tree in my neighborhood. I feel like this would have been a solid release on an early ’90s Epitaph roster, and I would have totally dug it.

Nots 3 LP

Third (duh) album from Memphis’ NOTS, now a trio (duh again). NOTS’ unique take on punk—wild psych tinges and tight post-punk rhythms, always driving in inventive directions—is one of my faves in recent memory, and 3 finds the band operating at their most economic. The songs are more exacting and, coupled with a recording / production that peels back much of the shadow and effect from prior releases, their finest batch to date (see “Rational Actor” and “Woman Alone” especially!). These slight adjustments in attack and presentation all come together to propel a more natural sound, albeit one still permeated with drum pound, synth bleating, and guitar workout. I’m also really struck by Natalie’s vocals here as well: she has never sounded better or punker on record. While I’ve been on board with their prior releases, I flat-out fuckin’ love this one. Highest recommendation.

Protruders Poison Future LP

A loose and odd duckling from Montreal. PROTRUDERS try their hand at all manner of agitated sounds: A pumpin’ take on trad’ rock’n’roll that’s instinctively punk and off in the right sorta way. Their attitudinal reference points seem to (mostly) sprout from the world of Cle’ proto-punk, with “Wrong Way Sign” (the six plus minute centerpiece) recalling so much MIRRORS or ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS magic that I’m liable to cite that alone as worth the price of admission. After repeated listens (yes, it prompts them), I dig the longer, room-to-roam moments over the more direct numbers, but even the chopped and speedy “Stabilizer” crumbles coolly. Quality beef here, folks, ’specially for the zonked hairballs out there.

Ramoms Problem Child EP

RAMOMS are the mom-punk RAMONES. Wincing yet? “Gritty Is A Punk” replaces Judy with the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot. Oooooph. “Boogie Not Snot” is not a reworked “Carbona Not Glue,” but instead a cutesy gross-out on “Blitzkrieg Bop.” A faithful phone-in of “Rockaway Beach” rounds things out. Pure cringe-inducing novelty.

Reckoning Force In My Head EP

A completely ripping follow-up to this Virginia band’s 2017 release. While not particularly sounding like LIFE’S BLOOD, these six tracks charge with the same ’80s hardcore center, a savagely spit vocal assault, and quick guitar-driven breakdowns. The vocals give it a little bit of the spastic feel of YDI, as they struggle to fit all the rage in, while the music brings to mind a lot of well-played, turn-on-a-dime late ’80s Canadian hardcore such as YOUTH YOUTH YOUTH or FAIR WARNING, where musical chops both embellished and tempered the chaos. Anger simmers this one over to the right point though, with totally pissed lyrics and dark, stippled artwork of cages, mental and otherwise. The notebook-scrawl lyric sheet was a tough read, but otherwise, great EP!

Social Distortion Poshboy’s Little Monsters 12"

This six-song EP collects all the material from the 1981 session that yielded SOCIAL DISTORTION’s first record, the Mainliner single. (Interestingly, that debut was originally planned as a 12″ and made it to the test pressing stage before being downsized due to disagreements over the artwork.) You’ll find formative takes of tracks that were rerecorded for other releases (“Justice for All” renamed “It’s the Law” for 1988’s Prison Bound). In fact, all these early versions have appeared elsewhere themselves, so there’s nothing unreleased here. But it’s nonetheless cool to revisit this stuff — “Playpen” and “Moral Threat” are two of the band’s best early tracks. Worth checking out if you don’t have the Mainliner (Wreckage from the Past) LP already.

Horrible Pain / Sulfuric Cautery split LP

This one-sided 12″ is just oozing with mincecore contempt, and is sure to make your head pop like an infected pustule. HORRIBLE PAIN out of Winnipeg barfs out some sickening, bile-grind that hates music, and has no time for anything but full-blast filth. UNHOLY GRAVE fans take note: Dayton, Ohio’s SULFURIC CAUTERY likes music even less, and rolls right over you like a tidal wave of medical waste. There is megaton distortion, foul growls, and a machine gun snare drum tuned so high, you’ll wish you were never born. I recommend this for the most deranged grind freaks only. Everyone else should stay well away.

  • Reviewer Mike Battleaxe
  • Label Acid Reflux / Blast Addict / Feel Good Grind / Grindfather / Syrup Head

Teenage Bottlerocket Stay Rad! CD

One of my favorites. These Wyoming guys have been dishing out the quality pop punk for close to twenty years, and this is their first full length of originals since the passing of their drummer Brandon in 2015. Another full-length packed with RAMONES-influenced pop punk, with a few hard rockers and slower tunes to mix it up. Great album, great band!

The Hamiltones The Shape of Walter EP

While it’s not relevant to the music, this is one of the funniest record names I’ve heard in ages, and the accompanying picture sleeve is perfect. It’s all about the instrumentals here, as all four songs are instrumentals. While most of it is ’60s influenced surf, different songs have different feels, including upbeat and almost funky, or dark and eerie. There’s even a cover of “Without You,” a ’70s ballad made famous by HARRY NILSSON, but also recorded by BADFINGER and AIR SUPPLY. You’re in great company, guys. Solid release. Blue vinyl.

The Smog In The Wasteland / Dusty World 7"

Second single from the SMOG: a burning bright light from Japan’s now-time punk scene. Their prior single checked all my obsessive boxes: ace design, an absurdly limited pressing, and excellent songs, each traipsing across both spirited DIY and razorblade punk in a way that made it difficult to pigeonhole. This second single follows in line but in much more confident fashion. There’s this dark, forward-falling sound in the SMOG that recalls heavies from Tokyo Rockers, but then “Dusty World” appears and their sound brightens toward near-danceable post-punk. The shift is not jarring at all, just serves as an indication of adaptability and proof that they’ve got plenty to play with. Another drool-worthy offering. Seek this out!

Tiger Touch Hawthorne Boogie / Berlin City 7"

This is the second 7″ from these Portland rockers. A couple hard rock punk crunchers in the MC5 and STOOGES-influenced vein, and in more current terms, think TURBONEGRO. Cool stuff, and “Berlin City” is an instant classic!

Trinity Test Trinity Test LP

These are the bands that LEFTÖVER CRACK has spawned. Abrasive but catchy “fukk you” attitude, but totally melodic, and the chorus of “Nothing Left” demands a singalong, just as the right channel guitar begs to be turned down in the mix because you can’t hear anything else. I don’t say this often in these pages, but Minneapolis’ TRINITY TEST are starter punk for newcomers. If you’ve been in the game for more than a few months, then you’ve likely already moved past these sounds. Not to say that they aren’t important and/or relevant, just to say that this old man isn’t moved by them.

Uliczy Opryszek FC St. Pauli Do Boju EP

As you may have guessed, the title track is an ode to every punk’s favorite German football club. Definitely more on the rollicking tuneful punk side of things than straight up Oi! Even though I can’t understand what they’re singing about (or maybe because?) I have come to a realization that this style of music just sounds really good in Polish.

V/A Fast Beats In A Slow Town Volume II: The CCHC Demos Edition (1987-1991) LP

A sequel of sorts to the first volume: the S.U.S. / ONE TRICK COBRA split EP, also released by the long-running TFC Records in 2009; this is a seventeen-track collection of largely raw demos, practice recordings, and a few live tracks from mostly unknown and unheralded late ’80s Corpus Christi, TX hardcore bands. DEMORALIZED, SUBVERSION, BRUTAL POVERTY, PURE HATE, JOYWAN, the KRAYONS, KILLJOY, the HERSHEY SQUIRTS, BIG MOUTH, and POETIC NOISE contribute one to three lower-fi songs apiece. In a way, it could almost be a snapshot of anywhere in the US at that time, though the speedy turns of ultra-quick thrash—a Texas hallmark cemented by the likes of DRI, DRESDEN 45, and MANCHURIAN CANDIDATES—do both date and location stamp the recordings. There’s a wonderful nascent energy here, with SST / CRUZ records-style quirkiness, deigns to ’80s singalong hardcore, thrash, and melody all being stirred in self-expression without any pretension beyond playing a vets hall as an opener for NO FRAUD or DESPERATE MINDS. And that rules. It’s like a paean to a simpler time where people didn’t really do bands with much ambition beyond having fun and entertaining their friends, because the overarching larger hardcore scene had collapsed and a smaller, stronger DIY culture hadn’t splintered and solidified to a point to give you many more options beyond that. So these tracks ring pretty earnest and fun. You might not find your new favorite band here, but you’ll hear a lot of bands that remind you of that friend’s band that was pretty good but just did a demo you totally wish you still had a copy of. Pressed on mottled transparent brown vinyl, and includes a brief insert with short band descriptions and photos. Fun listen.

V/A Into The Outro: Swingin’ L.A. Sounds LP

This is an interesting compilation of L.A. bands. The genres include garage, surf, pop, metal(-ish), and there’s even a RAMONE (Richie). The LP flow is a bit disjointed, and some tunes are too slickly produced, but there is probably at least one song everyone will like. Some of the standout bands are KID FLAMINGO, the 7 AND 6, the NIGHT TIMES, the AZMATICS, the OSTEOBLASTS, the TURBULENT HEARTS and the SLOP.

Weird Numbers Minotaur Dreams EP

If you are familiar with L.A.’s power pop punk band MANIAC, then you will instantly recognize Zache Davis’s fuzzed and angular vocals. He has such a signature sound I don’t think he could (or should) ever shake it. “Dolphin Encounters,” “Minotaur Dreams,” and “Switching the Code” all are heavy on power pop downstroke, with well-crafted hooks and earworm melodies that give their melodic pop punk a fuller and more complex sound. My favorite on this EP is “Obsolete Man,” which is the sweetest of the bunch, with full weaving angular melodies and just a damn good pop song. WEIRD NUMBERS is a modern twist on retro power pop, and it’s solid. This particular arrangement of Zache Davis (MANIC, GIRLS), Colin Griffiths (GIRLS), and Ethan Jocobsen (TOURIST) is a Seattle outfit. However with Zache’s roots in L.A., I have a feeling that they’ll be cruising up and down the West Coast soon.

Whisper Hiss Everything Must Go EP

You know, their band name pretty much hits the nail on the head on how I would define their sound. Soft as a whisper, with the wheeze of a hiss. Heavy on feels, WHISPER HISS offer up soft-edged darkwave post-punk, that’s dark with a heady innuendo of uncertainty. All the melodies are carried by synth and thick bass, and guitar is absent to their binary sound that is only punctuated with vocals. And I’ll be honest, I was waiting for them to really bite into it, or perhaps unravel, but they stayed steady on a slow-weaving and steady course with “Everything Must Go,” “Telepathy,” and “Undone.” The only song that seemed to veer into looser, weirder, and more screamy territory was “Wake-Up Call,” which of course is always well-received on my end. Very chill post-wave punk for these Portlanders.

Wipers Live at the Met, December 31, 1982 LP

Previously unreleased WIPERS live soundboard recording from 1982; seventeen songs including two that aren’t on any of their other records? I don’t think I could imagine a better description for an LP. And it delivers. Though recorded on the eve of the sessions for their Over the Edge album, this set draws primarily on classic Is This Real-era cuts (“Dimension 7,” “Potential Suicide,” “Tragedy,” etc.) and obscurities like the fantastic “Something to Prove.” I celebrate the band’s entire catalog, but Live at the Met is the WIPERS at their most straightforward, catchiest, punk-rock best. Absolutely essential. “This is for all you aliens…”

Witchtrial Witchtrial LP

What do you get when you mix the more “extreme” NWOBHM like VENOM with modern D-beat like IMPALERS? Washington DC thrashers WITCHTRIAL is what! As you probably guessed from their name, this band is heavy fucking metal that runs an influence gamut that includes SLAYER and CANDLEMASS, among others. That being said, the D-beat vibes persist throughout, making this one a dangerous gateway for punks who dabble in metal. Be careful with this stuff, kids. It’s all fun and games until you’re forking over $80 to see JUDAS PRIEST and DOKKEN on a Tuesday night. Highly recommended!