Reviews

Alex SN

Froggy & The Ringes Soft “G” EP

Who said garage is dead? FROGGY & THE RINGES are here to prove them wrong. Their style is like an uncut gem. You hear repetitive rock’n’roll riffs played to exhaustion, topped with sharpened guitar solos and a voice closer to street punk/Oi! than garage. Something like if they would’ve been listening a lot to the early HIVES records and then tried to play similarly while high on speed. In brief, a predominance of mid-tempos, dirty sound, an aggressive vocal style, and unhinged, humorous lyrics, that make Soft “G” a good and different record. For sure deserves a listen.

Screaming Fist Templanza EP

This is how you do it. People from TORSÖ, VAASKA, and NEGATIVE STANDARDS (among others) doing rough D-beat with raw sound and political lyrics in Spanish. It’s a perfect combo: manic drums that don’t follow the same beat for more than twenty seconds, loops of skilled riffs punching your head over and over, and a voice that glues everything together. The strong personality of the vocal style supports the whole composition, with an attitude of “we’re gonna eat you alive” that has won me over. The dusty treatment of the guitars fits perfectly too, creating an aura of old and cheap punk, a harsh texture that’s really charming. Nothing new here, but there’s no need, SCREAMING FIST delivers catchy and rash hardcore punk just fine.

White Stains Make Me Sick LP

I don’t really know where to begin. I expected great things from this band, but Make Me Sick has knocked me out. Why? Because it is the perfect punk record. It sounds like a street fight, lost beforehand, between a gang of scrawny and stoned punks against the local jocks. Like one of those weeks when everything goes berserk, life beats you down, and you just need to vent your bad blood, go out, roll up the lapels of your jacket and look hateful at your neighbors from above your sunglasses. Look hateful at old women dragging their purses across the sidewalk; at the children who play in the park; at the families who are out for a walk and look like the people in those disgusting car commercials. It sounds like a society reject, drinking cheap booze straight out of a brown bag in the snowed parking lot of a lonely gas station in the middle of a boring and dead suburban neighborhood. It sounds simultaneously urgent and carefree, loose, like a threat veiled with indifference, as if you were trying to look unworried, but something is devouring you alive. The guitars wobble back and forth, like in an eternal question/answer dynamic. They sound like razors being sharpened, like a whistle loaded with intention, of bile and poison. It reeks of alleyways, basements, train stations, liquor store back rooms, squats. It sounds as if ’77 punk met Midwest ’80s hardcore punk. Provocative but decisive. A maelstrom of noise and drum rolls. Albeit they pretend to look as amateurs, you can see years of experience behind each song. I can imagine the singer, hanging from the microphone, falling and rolling over the stage, spitting at the public. The guitarists, concentrated, immersed in their own world, intercalating those barrages of distortion, as if they were passing a ball from side to side, deliriously, sickly, as if the riffs were a hot globe that burned their hands. At times, the songs contract, concentrating all its strength in palm mutes and dry blows, just to suddenly explode soon after, provoking sonic avalanches. At the second listening, I already knew it would end up being one of my favourite 2020 records. For true punks.

Big Laugh Manic Revision EP

I reviewed this record for Undergrounz Zine the first day it came out ’cause I thought it was too much. I think I must’ve listened to it twenty or so times in a row. It’s kind of a cyclic album; the instrumental fade-out in the last song, “Fazed,” works as a transition to the epic drums that open the EP in “Imposter.” The whole vibe of this reeks of the ABUSED, from the artwork, which pays tribute to the Loud and Clear aesthetic, to the sound. Or, better, the ABUSED meets This is Boston Not L.A., because BIG LAUGH merges heavier passages with more fluid ones, but always without losing strength and presence. I said it before, I’ll say it again, their strength is how they managed to combine that overfall of dizzy, hectic guitar riffs and omnipresent drum work, hard as nails, that sweeps everything else with the power of a cascade. BIG LAUGH is the best example that Milwaukee hardcore is alive and kicking.

White Stains White Stains demo cassette

WHITE STAINS is one of the best things 2020 brought along. Their new LP is simply sick, and this was a great preview. I didn’t pay too much attention when it came out, but after getting hooked to the LP, I came back to it. These three songs sound as if no time had passed since the early ’80s. I think there’s a strong vibe of BLACK FLAG’s “TV Party” or “Six Pack,” especially in the last track, “Quarantine.” That’s the general spirit, punk in its purest form, unpretentious and raw, just old-fashioned hardcore punk, like a basement version of ADOLESCENTS or CIRCLE JERKS. Cannot dig this more.

Liquid Assets Offshore Accounts cassette

Now we’re talking. A Canadian band of weird hardcore punk à la SCHOOL JERKS or BRUTAL KNIGHTS, releasing a cassette on a Malaysian label? Honestly, it checks all my boxes. The strongest part of LIQUID ASSETS is their sound. A vintage, rare garage sound, backed by simple yet effective riffs and a crabbed, unintelligible mumble instead of vocals. The kind of deranged music you freaks would dig, as if it came out of the cell of a psychiatric hospital. The songs are really short and straight to the point (just two of them last more than two minutes). Half of the time you feel like you’re in the basement of a bunch of suburban misfits, improvising over old GERMS records, smoking pot and getting drunk while recording everything you play. In short, this is a great record, really witty to hear, and I suppose, even funnier to have recorded it.

Isotope Isotope LP

It’s Christmas again. A perfect time to spin dark, obscure music. Exactly the kind of sound ISOTOPE delivers on their self-titled debut LP. Eight songs of raw, apocalyptic D-beat in the vein of Japanese hardcore legends BASTARD. But, instead of straightforward and short compositions, they wander the realms of metal and crust, daring to go one step beyond. I personally prefer the faster, frenetic parts, but everything is played and assembled well enough, so it works just fine as a whole. Isotope is a pretty good record that will make fans of the genre vibrate with its aggressive palm mutes, sharp, metallic guitar licks, repetitive and solid riffs, and solvent lyrics. Give it a go.

Sex With a Terrorist S.W.A.T. demo cassette

There is a rule in films that say you have to trap the viewer in the first thirty seconds of footage. I don’t think S.W.A.T. are filmmakers, but they know for sure how to apply that principle. The opening riff immerses you in a crumpled sound, a crossover between LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS, VOID, and SCHOOL JERKS. This is weird punk, receiving direct influences from the Californian hardcore punk tradition and turning it into a fresh sound. Something fast, with breakneck riffs, but with enough space to experiment and improvise. Especially on “Screenshot Hardcore,” the last song of the demo and the longest, with strong vibes of the last OILY BOYS record. This is an album that requires several listens for one to capture its true essence. A great first impression. I’m looking forward to more releases.