Reviews

Tyler Sovelove

The Telefones She’s in Love (With the Rolling Stones) / The Ballad of Jerry Godzilla 7″ reissue

The TELEFONES were early punk pioneers, sometimes known as Texas’ first new wave group. Their sound pulls from a ton of different backgrounds—classic rock songwriting, new wave instrumentation, and punk ethos. This single is the group’s most well-known, and for good reason. The A-side, “She’s in Love (With the Rolling Stones),” is an upbeat number carried by a wailing saxophone line. “The Ballad of Jerry Godzilla” has darker undertones, playing much like a MODERN LOVERS track. This is worth checking out.

Ztuped Are You Stupid? EP

ZTUPED really carries the torch of DC punk into the 21st century. They wear their influences heavily on their sleeves, but expand in slightly new directions. Their sound is more muscular than BAD BRAINS, more intense than MINOR THREAT. In true DC punk fashion, there are six tracks forced onto a 7”, each more blazing than the last. It’s quite a bit of raucous fun. Surely not one to miss!

The Cowboy Riddles from the Universe LP

It’s almost hard to describe how much this record kicks ass. Across thirteen tracks, the LP wanders from just about every subgenre of punk, nailing everything from noise rock to garage rock in the best of ways. At times I hear the influence of bands like UNWOUND and POLVO, other times it’s a straight rip of JAY REATARD, done in the COWBOY style. It’s just lo­-fi enough to give the record a rough edge, but still polished enough to convey the intensity this record puts off. This is not the time to stand all high and mighty and be that picky listener. Put it on your to do list, mark your calendar, write it on your forehead for all I care; whatever you’ve got to do to remember this: listen to this fucking record.

Rock Set Piteå Kommun / Up in My Room 7″ reissue

A reissue of early Swedish garage punks ROCK SET’s 1979 single. As a piece of history, this record is astoundingly interesting. It feels ahead of the curve for something coming out in 1979. The instrumentals sound a lot like MÖTORHEAD mixed with the SEX PISTOLS, if that makes any sense at all. The vocals remind me of an overtly snarky MODERN LOVERS. I think this is a well deserved reissue.

Outfaced Outfaced demo cassette

This is some really classic-sounding hardcore mixed with a gruff vocal performance. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve heard some version of this a thousand times, but I’ll be damned if this band doesn’t pull it off really well. If you’re in need of six minutes of pure aggressive energy,  maybe something to put on while you angrily cook dinner, I fully suggest you give this tape a go.

Slogan Boy Slogan Boy demo cassette

This tape is just a pure bit of fun and chaos. It’s demo tracks, so keep in mind they are unpolished, but this still rocks pretty hard. The highlight of the bunch has to be their cover of VOID’s “War Hero,” which is worth checking out if nothing else. There isn’t much else to say. Give it a listen!

Deodorant Aluminum-Free cassette

DEODORANT bridges the gap between hardcore punk and JAMES BROWN. Their funky grooves will remind you of the MINUTEMEN and JAMES CHANCE, but their snarky vocals will hark back to memories of DEAD KENNEDYS. Oh, and the band is absolutely unafraid to throw a little country twang in the mix. If that sounds like a complete mess, you wouldn’t be wrong. This EP is all over the place, the recordings are pretty much demo-quality at best, but hey, it’s a raucous bit of fun, so who really cares?

Weird Crimes Three Songs cassette

This is a short mix of post-hardcore from Portland punks WEIRD CRIMES. On paper, I feel like this tape should be everything you want. Three well-crafted, hard-hitting tracks that don’t overstay their welcome. A short blast of ferocity. In that, this cassette succeeds to the max, but something about how this release is mixed is extremely off-putting. It’s like listening to a record through the wall you share with your annoying neighbors. It just doesn’t hit with the intensity you want to be hearing. That being said, everything besides that aspect of this cassette is on point. 

Bart and the Brats Livin’ in the Future EP

BART & THE BRATS is the one-man project of Bart De Vraantijik, and it sure as hell pulls a lot of weight for one man. Just three short tracks of tough, muscular rock’n’roll, the record almost feels like classic rock with its bluesy guitar licks. One part AC/DC, another part RAMONES. Nothing particularly special or innovative; this can feel a little run of the mill, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had if you’re into that classic late ’70s punk sound.

Gorilla Knifefight The Cassingles cassette

Well-done, straight-up Midwest hardcore that pulls all the punches. There’s six tracks, of which maybe one lasts longer than a minute. It’s tight, lo-fi, sarcastic, dripping with attitude. Basically, all the good stuff. This tape should be your fix for the week. Five minutes of nothing but ripping tunes and cathartic energy.

Tin Foil Two LP

TIN FOIL produces some quality Midwestern post-punk. It feels one part PROTOMARTYR and another part DEVO. There are points where I wish this record was a little heavier, but overall there’s a nice mix of psychedelic jangle and punk rock intensity. Across the runtime this LP doesn’t get stale for a minute. It’s a ton of fun so don’t skip it!

Elastic Heads Elastic Heads LP

Oh baby, nothing will prepare you for the lo-fi goodness this record is dripping in. Somewhere between JOY DIVISION and FUGAZI with a hint of something garage like the GORIES, ELASTIC HEADS are the dark and crusty answer to your prayers. There’s a good balance between groovy soft tunes and gnarly riff-fests. Relentless, raw, sometimes beautiful.

Preening Discography 2016–2020 cassette

A discography-sweeping release, this tape combines almost forty tracks of saxophone-crunching no wave goodness. It’s angular, lo-fi, everything you want out of this genre. Fans of MARS, DNA, and JAMES CHANCE will absolutely adore what this tape has to offer. The only complaint I have is there are just too many songs to keep track of here, but if you’re happy to skip through to the cream of the crop then you have nothing to fear.

qb qb cassette

QB is a new project from the Russian punks behind projects like FUTURAT and MATERIC. This tape is sonically as lo-fi as lo-fi can be. There’s a current of crunchy distortion running under every track. It’s straightforward garage rock and a raucous bit of fun, and hey, how cool to hear music like this coming out of Russia! QB doesn’t mess around and they make some kick-ass tunes on this tape, so there isn’t anything to complain about here.

TV Freaks People LP

This has got to be the best thing coming out of Ontario in recent times. It’s a noisy freak show of garage and hardcore. The band is tight enough to match the best of math-rock groups. I hear elements of THEE OH SEES and the BLACK LIPS, occasionally mixed with some heavier punk elements. Each of the ten tracks build on the other, getting better and better, finishing on a chaotically beautiful note. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check this out.

TV Dust Beep cassette

This tape is entrenched in a childlike post-punk sound. Its angular, somewhat out of focus approach is pulsating with punk grooves. Employing toy drum machines and noisy machines, there’s an element of playful industrial music that gives this tape a really rough feel. Some tracks even dip into electronic, psychedelic sounds, like the sinister “Believe,” which conveys a dark bit of angst. Overall, this is a really unique bit of experimentation, which is really what lo-fi recording is all about.

Gel Live! cassette

GEL, a hardcore group hailing from New Jersey, makes some totally bomb-ass punk. This tape isn’t technically a live record, but it was recorded live and has that raw feel to it. Clocking in at about twelve minutes long, there isn’t a moment that lets up. GEL came to fuck shit up, and fuck shit up they do. The band gives a truly primal performance. It’s almost animalistic. There’s not much diversity in the tracks, just a general face-pummeling, brain cell-destroying level of intensity. Fans of fast-paced hardcore will find a lot to love here.

Psychotic Youth The Bellevue Tapes EP

PSYCHOTIC YOUTH is an old school Swedish pop punk group. The Spanish label Snap!! Records was kind enough to collect these tracks, which served as demo tapes to the band’s 1991 record Be in the Sun. Overall, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The songs are pretty high quality for demos, the band has got a ton of energy, but it all ends up feeling a little too nice around the edges. The sound is caught between a RAMONES throwback and a proto-GREEN DAY. If that sounds like something up your alley, by all means give it a try, but otherwise I wouldn’t suggest it.

Thee Hearses Thee Hearses cassette

THEE HEARSES bring synth and darkwave influences that are truly unmatched. On first listen, this tape resembles bands like the SERFS or MOLCHAT DOMA, but they’re really working with their own sound. It’s choppy drum machine and synth-based music that really evokes the image of burnt out post-Soviet countries. It’s the soundtrack to an Eastern European post-apocalyptic nightmare. Anybody with even the slightest interest in really synth-heavy post-punk really has to check this out.

Lost Sounds Rats Brains & Microchips LP reissue

A fresh reissue of a garage rock classic. LOST SOUNDS, for those who don’t already know, was a Memphis garage band that formed in the late ’90s and featured the likes of Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout. They stopped playing well before Jay Reatard’s untimely death, but not before putting out a number of seriously cool records. The band relies heavily on somewhat cheesy synthesizers, which gives this record the quirky feel it has. It’s a total blast of some old school garage rock done right. Some might ask, did this need a reissue? I think so, if for no reason other than to highlight this totally badass record. Definitely worth it.

Street Eaters Simple Distractions EP

STREET EATERS is a Bay Area group that provides some of the thickest, down-to-earth punk I’ve heard in recent times. This four-track EP highlights the best aspects of the group, which happen to be playing kick-ass post-punk topped with a brooding vocal performance. Everything about this record is totally cathartic and powerful. I’ve heard this group has become something of an underground hit in the Bay Area, and with releases like this it’s no wonder.

S:Bahn Queen of Diamonds LP

S:BAHN is yet another punk band coming out of Melbourne that proves that the city helms one of the most exciting scenes on the planet. In tune with contemporaries like AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS or TOTAL CONTROL, there are elements of post-punk, hardcore, and garage rock littered across this record. There are moments of melancholy and slight moodiness which I think sets this group apart. I dig the spacey moments of well-developed and repetitive rhythms. If you’re into post-punk coming from Down Under, this is one of the best.

Very Paranoia Very Paranoia LP

VERY PARANOIA is a bluesy garage rock outfit that is equal parts sharp and on-the-nose. Their fuzzy guitar riffs are sometimes overshadowed by the gnarly, aggressive vocals that spit fury up and down this record. They pull influences from all over the garage rock spectrum, from Safe as Milk-era CAPTAIN BEEFHEART to the GORIES. You get what you expect from this record. If you want headbanging, hectic drums, and blues solos, this is it.

Coach Coach LP

Great little LP from Denmark. COACH rocks a classic punk sound with a horn section that shreds. The horns lend a slightly angular bent to the sound. Most tracks on here are a hell of a lot of fun. Between the fuzzed-out guitars and horn section, there’s a real energetic big band feel across the record. The band doesn’t make a big splash at any point on the record. It’s a slow burner, but one that pays off if you stick it out.

Paul Messis Win or Lose / Please Don’t Tell Why 7″

Somewhere between the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS and the ANIMALS, this single is deeply rooted in ’60s psychedelic rock. The A-side is a jangly, lo-fi California-style rock track that combines tremolo guitars with distorted synths. The B-side is a lighter acoustic ballad that easily could be a cut by the BYRDS or BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD. If you’re looking for some ’60s nostalgia, you won’t find anything that emulates that sound better than this.

Last Night Dernière Nuit LP

A short record from French punks LAST NIGHT, Dernière Nuit is absolutely dripping with attitude. It’s off-kilter in a post-punk kind of way, aggressively in-your-face, and disgustingly thick. Vocals spit ferociously, leaving you hanging off every word. The only complaint is that the record doesn’t last longer. This is an LP that begs to be blared on the loudspeakers. An LP to annoy the house next door; hell, maybe the whole neighborhood. If you haven’t gotten a chance to spin this record, I implore you to ask yourself “where the fuck did I go wrong in life?” before hastily rectifying the situation.

Stuck Change is Bad LP

STUCK is a Chicago four-piece that produces an angular brand of post-punk in the vein of bands like ARAB ON RADAR or URANIUM CLUB. As a debut record, this LP is sure to make quite the impression on the DIY circuit. It’s ferocious in sound and unrelenting throughout. Despite the record’s often pummeling riffs, there is still an overarching melancholy that is present on every track. Similar to bands like OMNI and PREOCCUPATIONS, frenetic off-kilter grooves are a constant motif for the band. This is a damn fine experiment in post-punk and noise rock. Not one to miss!

R.M.F.C. / Set-Top Box split EP

Another absolute banger of a punk record from Australia. This time a split record from two Sydney based-bands, both of which have a slightly quirkier style of post-punk that involves crusty drum machines and heavily distorted vocals. The R.M.F.C side is three short songs that speed through their runtime having an absolute blast on the way. Energetic, lively, and totally off the wall. The flipside with SET-TOP BOX is a much more lo-fi-sounding set of tracks that is shrouded in the strange analog sounds of 8-bit drum machines and vintage toy keyboards. Totally awesome release. Cool in every way!

Younger Lovers The San Pedro Sessions EP

A side project for GRAVY TRAIN!!! frontman Brontez Purnell, YOUNGER LOVERS are mid-2000s garage rock at its best. Recorded in a single night, these tracks are rough around the edges, aggressive, and to-the-point, like any garage punk that’s worth its salt should be. There isn’t much more to be said other than this 7” kicks ass if you’re into some gnarly blues-inspired punk songs.

Dead Meat I’m an Infection EP

I’m not a big fan of record descriptions like “no frills” or “back to roots,” but I think either of those are pretty applicable to this EP. DEAD MEAT pulls inspiration from punk classics like X or the GERMS, and they do it well. True to fashion, none of the four tracks are longer than two minutes; plenty of time to get your aggression in, but not enough to tire you out. Although this record is pretty straightforward and familiar for most, the songs are still catchy and gnarly enough to get your kicks in. Classic punk done right.

Knowso Rare Auld Trip / Psychological Garden LP

KNOWSO is a unique meld of off-kilter post-punk, new wave, and a dash of CAPTAIN BEEFHEART weirdness. Much like the first time I heard BEEFHEART’s Trout Mask Replica, I came away a little confused by my first listen to this record. It’s hard to pin down genre-wise, quirky as hell, and totally unlike most of what you hear in today’s punk scene. That being said, a few more listens to the record were enough for me to realize what a goddamn masterpiece this record is. Truly one of the most creative, unique, genre-bending releases of the year. The band has stumbled upon a punchier, noisier take on DEVO that still feels forward-thinking in the 21st century. It’s witty and sarcastic, but also profound, striking a nice balance lyrically. This is a highlight release of the year for me.

Hideous Sun Demon Development Hell EP

Hailing from Australia, HIDEOUS SUN DEMON absolutely kills it on this 7”, recorded at the legendary Flightless Records HQ. Four tight and punchy punk songs that spit attitude, what else do you really need? Occasionally mixing synths and other psychedelic noises, the sound is reminiscent of OMNI or PREOCCUPATIONS. The final cut “Australia” feels a little slower, more like JOY DIVISION. Overall, very excited to hear more from the group.

Fox Face End of Man LP

Milwaukee quartet FOX FACE makes a slow and soft but extremely sharp mind-melting version of Midwest punk. The band doesn’t rely on fast grooves or crushing riffs, instead allowing for the music to build in chaotic rhythm. No extra padding needed; just true guitar-led punk rock. The tracks on this LP are lyrically potent, describing our turbulent times in true sneering punk fashion. They take influence from a wide variety of punk bands all the way from VIOLENT FEMMES to SLEATER-KINNEY. Truly a very cathartic and timely release.

Trash Knife EP / EP LP

A collection of two EPs from Philadelphia band TRASH KNIFE. The first thing you will notice about this record is that the songs are tight as fuck. The band keeps in rhythm with the precision of a math-rock band and tracks flow one after the next with ease. The songs come down with pummeling chaos and frenetic energy. Think MELT BANANA meets LIGHTNING BOLT in some strange intersection of noise and hardcore. This is a really fun and energetic record. Enough to get you bouncing off the wall and furiously headbanging as any good record should do.

A Burning Bus A Burning Bus LP

A somewhat new project from punk-blues band BASSHOLES’ frontman Don Howland, A BURNING BUS released a few singles earlier in the decade but have just now got around to releasing their debut full-length. This LP is most definitely the noisiest and most lo-fi release in Howland’s discography. Really gritty and abrasive blues guitars are pushed even further by a tight bass and drum duo. Reminiscent of bands like the GORIES or THEE HEADCOATS, possibly even early WHITE STRIPES and BLACK KEYS. Released on the legendary In the Red Records, this is a record worth your time if you like your garage rock wild and loose.

Dark Web Decoy LP

It seems like whenever I discover a new punk record that’s exciting and innovative it happens to come from Philadelphia. This record is no exception. Extremely tight and punchy riffs and fast off-kilter grooves make this LP a totally fun way to spend 25 minutes. Mastered by Mikey Young of TOTAL CONTROL, you can hear the influence of Young’s jaded style of synth punk around the record. The vocals are sarcastic, almost taunting the listener. Spitting attitude, this is a release you don’t want to miss!

Frustration So Cold Streams LP

Legendary French post-punk group FRUSTRATION returns with their first LP since 2016. Keeping in tune with a sound the band has cultivated over two decades, this record is a dissonant, dark, and synth-based take on post-punk. Imagine SUICIDE meets JOY DIVISION mixed with elements of LCD SOUNDSYSTEM. These tracks take their time, building and falling with a lot of grace and dynamics. There are moments of quiet bliss mixed with moments of unrestrained chaos. A track like “Brume” brings a real industrial or almost No Wave sound in the vein of Filth-era SWANS. Those No Wave moments give the record a really abrasive and caustic feel. A unique and interesting release in the FRUSTRATION discography, definitely worth checking out, at least for the die hard post-punk fans.

Chuzpe Terror in Klein Babylon LP

A compilation of demos and unreleased recordings from early Austrian punk group CHUZPE, this LP is a lasting document of old school punk in Europe. For being made up of mostly demos, the record is surprisingly high-quality. The tracks sound full and developed, but still rough enough to sound reminiscent of other late ’70s punk. If you’re looking for something to be nostalgic for then look no further. This is about as good as it gets when we’re talking about found recordings compilations.

Expose Expose cassette

Probably the most aggressively lo-fi release you will hear all year. This tape is a slightly more melodic version of punk. It combines reverb and delay-drenched vocals with punchy riffs and the irresistible sound of a wailing saxophone in the distance. It’s rough around the edges in every way possible. Overall, this isn’t a bad way to spend fifteen minutes.

Juicebumps Hello Pinky! LP

This is by far the quirkiest punk release I’ve heard all year. A mix of styles I can only describe as bubblegum post-punk. Recorded at the legendary Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco, the instrumentation employs freaky synths, crunchy drum machines, and wiry guitars. Overall, this is a really fun record. It’s ridiculously catchy; the type of riffs that get stuck in your head for a long time. A definite must listen for fans of TOTAL CONTROL or TROPICAL FUCK STORM.

Blisterpack Empty Spaces cassette

A raw and eclectic set of songs on this EP. The opening track sounds like an homage to the KINKS, while later tracks are reminiscent of early cuts from THEE OH SEES or maybe some Paranoid Time-era MINUTEMEN. Although it may be hard to pinpoint the sound of this record, every song is still a lot of fun. What surprises me most about this EP is that it’s really groovy. Not in a peace-and-love kind of way, but a lot of the tracks are funky as hell in a JAMES CHANCE style. What’s not to like here? Punk ballads, scuzzy garage rock, and No Wave grooves. I’ll take some of that.

Spray Paint Into the Country LP

SPRAY PAINT is a scuzzy noise rock band from Austin, Texas, formed from members of another Austin noise band from the mid-2000s called WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. This is certainly the most No Wave-heavy release I have heard from either of the groups. Acoustic drums are almost completely stripped in favor of crusty, distorted drum machines. Melodies are replaced with metallic clangs and guitar feedback. Everything here feels more raw and primal than anything else. The record is spacy and moody rather than just purely aggressive. If groups like TEENAGE JESUS AND THE JERKS or DNA are your thing then this will be right up your alley.

Mononegatives Sure Shock EP

This 7” is really reminiscent of the new wave of LA hardcore bands like MEATBODIES or WAND. Heavy, pummeling riffs draped in a synthed-out wall of noise that just don’t let up at any point for any reason. The band doesn’t pull any punches here, just fast and loud punk. Simple as that. Perfect for headbanging your worries away or pissing off your neighbors.

Mister Espejismo EP

A debut 7” release from Milwaukee-based band MISTER that brings a special level of madness to Midwest punk. Their songs are short, sweet, and downright filthy. From the opening track until the end, this EP drips with youthful expression, teenage angst, and unkept rage. For all of its youthful energy it still demands a second listen, which will undoubtedly be even better than the first. The vocals spit distorted lines of seemingly existential dread while the instrumentation is frenetic and loose. Fans of bands like MURO and GAG might find comfort a familiar style of hardcore on this release. Much deserved praise to the band for an excellent EP.

Targets Existence Is a Mess, I Cannot Escape demo cassette

What words come to mind after my first listen of this demo, you ask? Disturbed, psychotic, nightmarish, motherfucking insane, maybe? Yes, all of those words do come to mind, but don’t let it scare you. This is the psychotic nightmare of a tape we’ve all been waiting for. Something that appeals to the GG ALLIN inside us all. The soundtrack to your bad acid trip. The tape you play to get pumped up for your satanic baptism. It puts you in an existential mood and inspires you to read a book about death. Wrapped in a lo-fi jumble of noisy guitars and distorted vocals, the demo quality only adds to the crusty vibe of the tape. Overall, it’s some of Denver’s finest hardcore. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys.

DeStructos Blast! cassette

This cassette is the answer to the age-old question, can you combine the sound of the JESUS LIZARD, MELT BANANA, and JOY DIVISION? Well, apparently you can, and it sounds goddamn amazing. The riffs are angular, thick with distortion, and catchy as hell. The vocals spit with attitude and remind me heavily of Siouxsie Sioux or the RAINCOATS. DESTRUCTOS prove here that they are one of the most creative and badass punk bands coming out of Philadelphia, and that means something because I’ve heard a lot of stellar bands from Philly recently. This tape is a melting pot of sounds from across the spectrum of punk and noise, and all of the sounds come together to create something really special and unique. Give it a listen, I promise you won’t regret it.

Final War Gimme Speed demo cassette

An aggressively lo-fi demo cassette. This is what I call a non-stop pummeling of the senses. Musically, it punishes the ear and assaults the mind. It evokes the smell of a sweaty basement, stale cigarettes, and split beer. Really, this tape is the closest I’ve felt to a DIY hardcore show since the pandemic started. It’s so in-your-face that you can’t escape it and that is really fucking cathartic. Like therapy for gutter punks. The band doesn’t pull any punches or take any great experimental leaps with their sound, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s fast, noisy, aggressive, wild, and that’s all we really need right now. 

Chiller Dread Creeps In EP

Straightforward hardcore punk that strays the line somewhere between MOTÖRHEAD and MELT BANANA. This is definitely a rough mix. The drums often overpower everything else and the vocals can’t be heard a lot of the time, but it’s hardcore so who really cares anyway? It’s all about the aggression and intensity, and there is plenty to be found on this EP.

The Primate Five / The Traditional Fools split EP reissue

A reissue of a classic West Coast garage rock record. This split 7” will get you nostalgic for mid-2000s garage rock. An ultra-lo-fi mix of surf rock and punk, heavily influenced by predecessors like THEE HEADCOATS, the MUMMIES, and the SONICS. The PRIMATE FIVE bring the punk and the TRADITIONAL FOOLS, featuring a young Ty Segall, bring the surf. It’s scuzzy and fuzzy and noisy and totally fucked-up, all in the best ways possible.

Zig Zag It Gets Worse EP

ZIG ZAG is South Florida’s answer to the GERMS and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. A pummeling wall of noise and the ever-present snarl of the front man are the defining features of this EP. The opening track begins with a sample of PINK FLOYD before moving into CAPTAIN BEEFHEART’s “Zig Zag Wanderer,” and I have to say I really dig the intro. Lo-fi, noisy, catchy riffs, and harrowing vocals. This is an EP I can get behind.

ISS Spikes cassette

A lo-fi punk release dripping with the sneer and attitude to rival CRASS. Yes please! North Carolina’s ISS is back again with a short cassette that is really restoring my faith in humanity at the moment. It’s lines like “You need a face mask on / It not only helps stop the spread of communicable viruses and diseases / But it also helps stop the spread of your ugly fucking mug to the rest of us” that really fill my heart with joy. The post-punk-esque vocal delivery and contorted drum machines give me flashes of SUICIDE, while the angular guitars remind me of UNWOUND. This is a must-listen in my opinion.

Virus Pathogens 10”

A record from 2019 with an album cover and title that feel strangely prophetic. Instrumentally, I want to say this record sounds like if FUGAZI took a wild foray into hair metal and then hired the guitarist from LEFTÖVER CRACK. Needless to say, it’s a hard record to pinpoint and I still don’t know where I stand on it. Part of me wants to love it and part of me wants to hate it. Give it a listen, all I can say is it probably won’t bore you.

Catalogue High Grey Effective LP

Some nasty art-punk hailing from France. There’s a wild mix of styles on this LP. It partly reminds me of Ty and Denée Segall’s side project the CIA with the heavy bass, toy synthesizers, and drum machines. On the track “100 Times a Day,” they sound a lot more like a math/post-punk band, in the vein of OMNI or SHAME. The track “Shoes” pulls off a quasi-OTOBOKE BEAVER-style of punk. While it’s a little hard to find the sound of the band, I still think there’s something really worthwhile here.

False Brother Uncanny Valley LP

A supremely dark and gloomy post-punk follow-up to their debut tape. Their sound follows closely to contemporaries like Australia’s TOTAL CONTROL and obvious influences like JOY DIVISION, but there is something uniquely beautiful and poetic about this LP. It’s simultaneously a record to put on with a cup of tea and the soundtrack to your trip to the Gulag. A nightmarish record to start your morning.

Termination Termination cassette

Last year when I heard the SERFS’ debut album Sounds of Serfdom, I thought “hell yes, this has got to be a sign that 2020 is going to be a great year,” but oh how I was wrong. This new album from TERMINATION, a Cincinnati-based supergroup with members from the SERFS, MARDOU, and CRIME OF PASSING has got me really worried because it’s so fucking good that it can only mean 2021 is going to be a horrific nightmare. This tape brings all of the wild experimentation of the VELVET UNDERGROUND to the melodic garage rock of KING KHAN. It’s fuzzed-out and noisy and totally brilliant. There’s really nothing more to be said except that this kicks ass and comes highly recommended. If you feel so inclined, cop a tape. All of the profits go to the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Verräter Verräter cassette

This cassette is completely drenched in reverb and dripping with attitude. The band is coming in with a sightly newer sounding version of hardcore, really in the vein of ALIEN NOSEJOB or UBIK. It’s slightly more spacy, but more frenetic and free with itself. If you’re not into that sound just wait until they whip out the synthesizer because that’s when things really get good. Tracks like “Narrow Minded” are just damn filthy with the distorted synth. If you do give this a listen you’re in for a ride to say the least, but I think it’s worth it.

Gargara Versus Jesus EP

The first thing you’ll notice about this EP is that the cover art is terrifyingly beautiful. It’s the type of image that will keep you up at night, but one you can also appreciate. I also think that’s a pretty apt description for the music on here. This is just some no-frills, zero-fucks-given, noisy hardcore punk coming from Skopje, Macedonia. There are four wild, caustic, and to-the-point tracks here, but none of them let up. The standout track is surely “Jesus Was a Bigfoot.” Really, there’s not much more to say. If you’re wanting some wacky aggressive hardcore then it doesn’t get much better than this.

Mentira Nada Es Sagrado LP

This is the debut LP from Kansas City hardcore band MENTIRA. The record bleeds chaos. It’s an overtly nihilistic and punishing listen. A real pummeling wall of noise that doesn’t let up for a minute of it’s half hour runtime. Reminds me of COACHWHIPS as far as the lo-fi recording. The vocals are delivered entirely in Spanish in a real demented and spacy howl. The best thing about this LP, though, is that it’s totally infectious and a record that’s gonna get stuck on repeat for me. This is one of those records that I have to say don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Give it a listen, then give it another.

Eat That Dirty Roach! cassette

Over many years I’ve come to realize that I do not give a shit about a ten-minute guitar solo. Seriously, if you ever find yourself on a stage slappin’ that ol’ six-string for longer than it takes to get through airport security, it might be time to become a banker or something. EAT, on the other hand, has no time for noodly guitar solos; in fact, I don’t think they’ve ever written a song that’s longer than two minutes. This batch of songs are short flashes of unrestrained noise and aggressively poetic lyrics. The band pulls off a really interesting mix of genres here. It’s partly pure No Wave and another part straight hardcore. Think the CONTORTIONS or TEENAGE JESUS AND THE JERKS if they were twice as fast and twice as loud. The drums are chaotic, the guitars are angular,  and the saxophone wails in the background. Honestly, I really hope this is where the Philadelphia punk scene is heading, because this cassette is experimenting with punk, noise, and No Wave in a really unique way.

Shrinkwrap Killers Parents + FBI = Cahoots LP

OK, now we’re talking. I went into this LP pretty skeptical because Parents + FBI = Cahoots kind of sounds like it could be some bullshit written by TWISTED SISTER, but that is definitely not the case. This is some dark synthwave in the vein of the SPITS, but really running wild lyrically. Just take a look at some of the track titles here. We’ve got “Just Shoot Me When You’re Ready” and “Dialogue Between a Vampire & Bloodless Aliens,” among others. The LP can be a little one-note in that almost every song has the same beat, but I still fully endorse giving this a listen.

Kaleidoscope Decolonization EP

This EP is the follow-up to KALEIDOSCOPE’s last release, the After the Futures LP, and it proves to be an even bigger middle finger to power. The band confronts colonization, greed, and imperialism in an angry punk kind of way, especially on the track “Decolonization” with the line “It’s decolonization or mass extinction.” Much of the album is reminiscent of ’80s L.A. punk. Think X or the GERMS, but the group occasionally gets a little more angular and noisy, which almost reminds me of ARAB ON RADAR. There’s also some more laid-back moments on the EP like the track “Girmitiya,” which pulls off a strangely hypnotic or psychedelic style of punk similar to CATHOLIC DISCIPLINE. I highly recommend giving this a listen and I’m looking forward to hearing more from these guys.

Gag Killing for Both Realities 3 ’92 LP

This is the latest release from Olympia hardcore band GAG. Vice once called GAG “America’s new hardcore heroes.” Normally that’s a surefire way to turn me off of a band, but I think Vice might actually be right about something here. This LP is the lo-fi, grimy, sweaty basement hardcore mixtape we’ve been waiting for. Let’s get something straight though, this isn’t another wannabe ’80s hardcore revival band, they’re doing something really fresh here. At their best on tracks like “No Cops,” “Meth Lab,” or “Warm Milk,” they sound like a slightly less technical but more frenetic NOMEANSNO, and there really isn’t a moment on the LP where the band is at their worst. All things considered; this is easily some of the best hardcore I’ve heard coming from the Pacific Northwest recently.

Loss Prevention Shoot to Kill EP

No-frills, straight-to-the-point fast hardcore hailing from Kansas City. LOSS PREVENTION pulls a lot of inspiration from other Kansas City hardcore bands like BETA BOYS or RED KATE, among others. The best way I can describe this is as flyover state punk—in that it’s a fucking awesome anomaly that there’s good punk music coming out of Missouri, but it’s definitely nothing boundary pushing or original—and that’s coming from someone who lives in a flyover state. Definitely a mixed bag of an EP, but if you’re just looking for something to bang your head to on a Tuesday this could be your jam.

Kasshuve Grisablod EP

This recent release from Swedish outfit KASSHUVE proves that all you need to make great music is pure aggression. In an age of ever-constant overproduced and glamorous pop songs, this EP stands out as an anomaly of fucked up noise. The vocals are delivered in a constant guttural scream. Piercingly overdriven guitars, thick bass, and pummeling drums. Its lo-fi recording aesthetic adds to the overall noisiness and fuzz. The EP is rough and raw around the edges in all the best ways. The band wears their influences on their sleeves, but still creates something hard-hitting and fresh.

The Celetoids Optic Nerve cassette

Optic Nerve is nine minutes of classic hardcore punk in the style of DEAD KENNEDYS and some old school UK anarcho-punk with a twist of cybersecurity conspiracies in a real paranoid schizophrenic way—but god damn I think this group of paranoid schizophrenics is on to something. This ain’t anything boundary-pushing. I’ve heard this brand of punk a thousand times, but we’ve all been stuck inside way too long and this cassette is cathartic as hell. Conceptually, Optic Nerve takes on big topics like the dystopian nature of our modern digital age and altered consciousness. There’s something for everyone here. Fast-paced caustic hardcore for the angry punks, and just enough conspiracy theories for the men in tin foil hats. Give it a listen, you won’t regret it.

Slevy Volumen 2 LP

There was a time in my life when I thought surf punk was for suckers. I heard one single and thought “what, are the BEACH BOYS smoking PCP now?” I’ve got to say, though, this LP has really changed my view on the genre. The album isn’t strictly surf punk, but about half of the songs here sound like they came straight out of Repo Man. The other half of the sound is deeply influenced by early European New Wave and punk bands. Think DECIMA VICTIMA or CAMERA SILENS. Instrumentally, the LP is pretty stripped back. Drums, bass, some overdriven or chorus-laden guitars, and a bit of synth occasionally. The vocals are delivered in a real grating growl that sometimes comes off as sweet in a TOM WAITS kind of way. I can’t tell you that this is an album that’s going to stay on repeat, but it’s pretty damn good, and worth a listen.