MRR #432 • May 2019

Active Minds Religion Is Nonsense 10″

How appropriate that ACTIVE MINDS have a review in the final print issue of MRR, as a band that seem to have been flying the flag for DIY punk and hardcore almost as long as the mag has been around (or at least as long as I remember!). This is just the latest in a vast discography of fiercely political hardcore punk in a variety of guises, whether DISCHARGE worship or melodic LEATHERFACE type fare, but always with a message first and foremost. Several of the songs on this record are based loosely around the titular theme of religious hypocrisy and exploitation of children. Did I mention it comes wrapped in a printed ACTIVE MINDS patch?! It really does my heart good to know that these folk are still at it, still active.

Arteries Arteries LP

Portland’s ARTERIES take everything we know about the last 40 years of punk, and distill it down to a concentrated liqueur of all the best elements. Freaky and experimental, they weave otherworldly anthems with haunting group vocals, effervescent synth effects, persistent post- punk basslines, and unexpected turns. It brings to mind the unlikely combination of sounds like the SCREAMERS and LOST CHERREES. Members of Portland’s RED HERRING and RAW NERVES. I am blown away by how great this is.

Śmierć Godzina Pusta 12″

This is a project created by Polish punks living in Sweden who wanted to pay tribute to the works of Polish poets and bands. While I’m not well-versed in most Polish arts (which is a shame), I can still find something to appreciate in the thoughtfulness given to presenting the lyrics and explaining a bit where they come from. While I don’t understand the lyrics, which are in Polish, the notes about their sources, such as the works of DEZERTER, HOMOMILITIA, and poet Adam Zagajewski, are in English. That being said, I feel less inspired by the band, with its pretty straightforward punk riffing and melodic vocals. The vocals by Ninka are often left to carry the melodic weight of the band, and they often do not feel like enough to help them stand out from the herd.

B.Polar and the Spacefuckers We Not Come in Peace EP

Ah shit! Usually when we get cover art containing a dystopian robot scene it almost always sounds like a third-tier MAN OR ASTROMAN?, or some dumbfucks who think they sound like DEVO (they never do). B.POLAR AND THE SPACEFUCKERS sound like fuckin’ punk and hardcore, though. Dude is screaming his head off about enslaving the humans, crop circles, the emotionless void of a robot brain, and getting the fucking Alpha Centauri skinheads off of your planet!! The backup vocals sound robotic, and the songs have some weird changes in them to keep it interesting throughout. Definitely a surprise and a rager.

Balladmen Dear Old-Fashioned Rhythm LP

I find it a little disheartening that my last print reviews for MRR should start out this way. I know that over the years, I’ve been pigeonholed into the garage rock sphere, but I’ve been writing for this magazine for 29 years, and I can say to most: “I was a punk before you were a punk, punk.” This is roots rock music with an emotive singer who unfortunately reminds me of EDDIE VEDDER. It’s slick and well-played and Japanese and might come across better if I wasn’t feeling so nostalgic. But the heavy grunge vibe is just too much.

Betty Machete and the Angry Cougars Stay in Your Lane EP

It’s not just a clever name, this band is pissed off. Remember how in the ’90s, there were all these bands infatuated with the DWARVES and playing punk songs as fast as humanly possible? This band fits right in with all that crazy-off-the-rails madness. Half shitty CIRCLE JERKS, half shitty JUDAS PRIEST. All songs about anger, revenge, and destruction. This shit is crazy. But if you need a good soundtrack to blow off some steam and drive like a maniac, this is your ticket.

Black Camaro Protocol of Dreams LP

Wow, what an unexpected record. The first track starts out with a Two-Tone/DEXY’S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS-style ska / soul punk vibe. Things progress into more early aughts OH SEES psych-pop, with weird sunshine pop vibes like ARIEL PINK. From there, it’s like hard- wave OINGO BOINGO—they really are going there. Not sure what the typical MRR fan would think of all this, but it’s cool to hear people testing the waters with always poppy but somewhat unconventional results. On red wax with insert.

Black Uniforms Faces of Death CD

Splattering metal punk from the Scandinavian hive of hardcore: Malmö, Sweden. BLACK UNIFORMS play motörcharged D-beat raw punk for all the moonlight rambling crashers. You get G-ZET, INEPSY, NAILBITER, and DIS-BONES style bammers, and heck, it even sounds like AMEBIX at times. This CD has both the original 1989 version of Faces of Death and the 2001 remastering. You know you want it!

Blackcat Manor From Here on Out CD

This midwest band plays punk metal. This five-song EP is sometimes screamo and sometimes sung vocals, with lots of musical chops and twists. Although I like somewhat similar bands like STRUNG OUT and PROPAGANDHI, as well as metal in general, this just sounds too generically thrashy for me.

Bloodshot Bill Come Get Your Love Right Now LP

The seventh album from this Montreal one-man-band guy. It sounds old-timey, with a country-ish ELVIS PRESLEY twang mixed with a TAV FALCO sound. The music is rough and raw and has a great sound. Catchy, fun, and sultry.

Bombanfall Åsiktsfrihet CD

It is remarkably bittersweet to be writing my final reviews for the print edition of MRR, but what a distinct honor it was to receive this reissue of one of the greatest Swedish hardcore EPs ever…that was followed up by nothing. As far as I’m concerned, this is pretty much the epitome of Scandinavian hardcore that captures both a melodic legendary folklore sound, and despairingly raw punk fueled with grandiose, godless hammering. Unless you want to spend $150 on one of mine, you absolutely must pick this up. It’s pretty much a flawless, organically played, sincerely furious, monstrously echoing, pulpit-orated, masterpiece of extreme/DIY music history, which inspired so many future compositions. I know that’s a lot of praise to print. Well, here’s my chance.

Chachi on Acid / Butch Haller and His Chesterfield Ramblers Split EP

This is a funny one. Two bands, each offering up a single song, and it happens to be the same song: “Everyone’s a Urinal.” Is this a famous song that I’m not familiar with? Fuck, this is bugging me. Anyway, the CHACHI ON ACID version is a fairly straightforward punk version of the song. It’s catchy and well done. But the BUTCH HALLER take is a twangy country / rockabilly number. It’s also catchy and nicely done. Now if I could just figure out the mystery of the song.

Cankro Reflexo da Verdade EP

This record is pure evil. It has literally everything you want: moshy breakdowns, tupa-tupa beats, reverb-y vocals, DISCHARGE- esque D-beat riffs…just everything. The most obvious contemporary comparison that comes to mind is DESTINO FINAL, but this 7” seems punchier than what that band put out. This record would definitely hold up to MURO’s Ataque Hardcore LP.

Catch As Catch Can Garst / Won’t Deny 7″

Here’s a previously unreleased 2016 recording by this German garage punk outfit that’s been at it for a few years. On “Garst,” distorted vocals, ’60s organ pulses, bouncy beats, and surfy guitars all meld together to form a rough yet groovy number that’ll make you wanna scream and do the pony. “Won’t Deny” is in a more psych vein, while not getting too trippy, and staying in the surf / garage vein. A one-sided, yellow vinyl 7” with a riso print cover that’s worth checking out.

Clarko I Just Wanna Pay / Medeocre Man 7″

One can almost picture CLARKO hard at work in his basement as they hear these two stripped-down, sarcastic and angsty yet bouncy solo new wave ditties. “I Just Wanna Pay” is driven by punchy synth bursts and light square wave hits, while “Medeocre Man” is more guitar-driven and a bit more brooding, as our protagonist lashes out at his subject with lines like “Your life is stupid / And I am poor!” This is one of five records in Iron Lung Records’ new Systemic Surgery series, and is now sold out.

Collate Communication / Selective Memory 7″

Portland’s COLLATE continue with their angular and distinctive sound. With idiosyncratic guitar and punctuated vocals, it’s like a KRAFTWERK and GANG OF FOUR mashup. “Communication” is almost robotic, with an occasional release, followed by an epic, noisy, and tangled flop at the end. Flip to side B. “Selective Memory” is strange funk with infrequent shouts, and the striking of clean, unfiltered guitar. Art school dropout punk right here.

Cronander Trapped CD

Oakland’s CRONANDER fucks around with skate thrash, with heavy touches of metal and classic rock thrown in the mix. The vocals deal with the utter and complete dissatisfaction of modern daily life, adding no hyperbole and pulling no punches. Like, there’s an anti-cop song that the singer claims he wrote at age ten, and that same bluntness permeates the lyrics throughout. If you go to a skate park and see a dude skating in tight, faded blue jeans and a THIN LIZZY shirt, give him this CD and y’all will probably spend the afternoon stoned. Members of ANNIHILATION TIME and ANS.

Diät Positive Disintegration LP

Four years following the excellent Positive Energy, we are presented with the dense Positive Disintegration. The overall tone here is sullen and tragic, distinctly marked by a subdued, deadpan vocal style and repetitious rotating rhythms. Build-until-release style songwriting, pulsating and throbbing drum sounds, but they’re still a “rock band.” Simple guitar hooks act as choruses, and the vocals appear almost as a support to the strong rhythm section, but it’s important to note the relevant lyrical themes. Relatable, biting criticism and satire of our social circles, ourselves, and the society that we wish we weren’t inherently a part of. Predictably, my favorite is the most uptempo “Foreign Policy,” which has an unmistakable CHAMELEONS vibe, and appears to be a critique of the way their fellow Germans approach Palestinian struggle (cue applause). It’s hard not to think of TOTAL CONTROL, though DIÄT feels a bit more focused (just to be clear, I’m not choosing either one). This album doesn’t smack you in the face like the last, but if you show up, it might sneak up behind and drag you into a dark pit of hellish reality.

Don Gatto Sawdown CD

Ummm…tough guy hardcore mixed with mall punk? Or maybe this is just mall punk now. Heavy guitars and drums with brutal-dude vocals. It’s shocking how it sounds so metallic and tough one moment, and super poppy the next. They must really be trying to make it, with eighteen sponsor logos on the rear cover. Four tracks from this Hungarian band.

Freak Ritual Death EP

Stark raving madness from subterranean Los Angeles, circa 2015. Ya see, Ritual Death was FREAK’s lone offering, these sounds heretofore available only via a handful o’ scattered demo tapes. Vague Absolutes, in their infinite and drool-prompting wisdom, pressed 107 copies (!) to 7″ wax, which is at least 393 too few if ya ask me. FREAK’s fury and filth—gutter-level blood-drip ugliness—is so expertly communicated, so literate, that you’ll think you’re dreamin’. Thug vocals, bashing rhythm, slither riffing, real grime, too punk. As with the wondrous (and FREAK-related) INDEX demo that Vague Absolutes excavated a few years ago, here’s a bright fuckin’ light on a band that’s far too sick to ignore. So fucking good! Probably a goner by the time you see this, but know that it exists and know that it fucking destroys.

Fried Egg Square One LP

This is one of the best releases I’ve heard in 2019. Imagine Damaged-era BLACK FLAG, with vocals that sound like HOAX, and some VOID-esque riffs thrown in the mix. The whole package—the music, the lyrics, the album art—sort of has this sense of yuckiness to it: the discomfort you might feel from, say, stepping in puke. Two things really bring that out: the sporadic BLACK FLAG-y single-note lead riffs, and the raw screaming of hella self-deprecating lyrics such as “Tongue turns to jelly / The thoughts in my belly / Fist to my forehead / Frustration” and “Existing for existence’s sake / Consuming for consumption’s sake / When it comes to things / I only take.”

Fuerza Bruta Somos el Mal EP

A thing I don’t do often: sit down and listen to a modern (or old) Oi! record. The Lord of the Rings-like orchestral instrumental is an appropriate introduction, as there’s an epic dual-guitar approach to all three tracks. Without relying on cheesy Oi! tendencies, FUERZA BRUTA is just pure honest and tough punk sung in Spanish, with huge gang vocals and good hooks. I even perceive a hardcore influence in production and delivery. Good-lookin’ old school styled glue pocket sleeve, too. Get it and get trampled.

Gattopardo Cleo EP

Enigmatic post-punk from São Paulo. “Cleo” could have easily fit on the Rough Trade roster in 1979: jangling, clattering funky post-punk, with a smattering of sax. On the flip, “As Bruxas” takes the listener down a BAUHAUS doom spiral: a darker sound introduced by more chorus on the guitar lends the whole thing a more gothic vibe. A great introduction that left this listener wanting more. There’s an album from 2014 that I will be investigating forthwith.

Greg Antista and the Lonely Streets Shake Stomp and Stumble CD

This tuneful band has a lot of SoCal history, with ex-members of JOYRIDE, MANIC HISPANIC, CADILLAC TRAMPS, and DI. This also includes a song by Steve Soto, who was also in JOYRIDE. This reminds me of the country side of recent SOCIAL DISTORTION, with nice harmonies and instrumentation. Not for thrashers, but this is pretty good stuff for the aging punk circuit.

Hez Problemas EP

Oh fuck yeah! Dark, atmospheric punk from Panama that doesn’t rely on bullshit deathrock and goth tropes to carry their songs. And this is one of few bands to successfully use delayed vocals to aid mood instead of as a crutch. Nothing here ever goes faster than mid-tempo, but each song still maintains an intensity that most punk bands would die to have.

Homeless Cadaver Fat Skeleton / Art. Eat It. 7″

Each track has a different vibe, and each is an instant classic. “Art. Eat It.” is a two-riff dirge, punctuated by electronics, and the title repeated as a dreary one line chorus. “Fat Skeleton” is more upbeat, just as simple, and hopelessly catchy. Ohio vibes abound (DEVO and / or Wheelchair Full of Old Men), and I’m pretty sure these kids have heard the SPITS before. Beefy guitars and extra confidence in the “don’t give a fukk” department—I think I’m gonna enjoy this Systemic Surgery series from Iron Lung Records.

Inkwizycja Stare Fotografie LP

Here’s a reissue (first time on vinyl) of this long-running Polish band’s second album from 2002. Stylistically, it’s loose with discordant jamming elements countering some of the melodies, mostly slow to mid-paced, and a gruff vocal delivery. While I acknowledge the historical significance of the band in the Polish punk scene, this album doesn’t do much to keep my attention. Much of it just sounds like alt-rock.

Invisible Teardrops Endless Winter LP

“96 Tears”-type organ pumps furiously over this teenage dream circa 1965. It has a real Naugahyde diner seat ambience, Archie comix, faux maple syrup, battle of the bands in the high school cafeteria—a nostalgic veneer kept on rather than fucked with. The final song on the LP gets a little wild, but it reminds me of a strange and not-enjoyable- to-me combo of the MISFITS and SCREECHING WEASEL. Pop punkers that are riding the Burger Records wave?! The teenage talent show band stuff is fine—a gentle dream, an estate sale photo of a time that never really existed—but I think I would rather listen to a Pebbles comp than this. The lyrical and song ideas are evocative and cool, but the musical execution is sorta AM radio oldies post-Happy Days.

Genital Juggling / Jodie Faster Split LP

Don’t judge a book by its cover, lesson one: this fukkn record. The stupid cartoon claymation cover would turn most punks off before they even saw the band names, and I confess that I never would have given this slab a second thought if it were not my punk duty to do so. And holy shit did I eat my thoughts as soon as JODIE FASTER started cranking through five absolute rippers that sound like nothing at all except (apparently) JODIE FASTER. A raw drum attack that reminds me of RUDIMENTS, a penchant for don’t-give-a-fuck combined with serious chops à la SCHLONG, open chord clean guitars like JASPER THREAD, and an overall purity in their ferocity that I haven’t heard since I saw ROLEX last year. I didn’t want to turn the record over. But I did. And GENITAL JUGGLING delivered the same energy on the flip—just as much irreverence in their song construction, but with a SoCal hardcore tinge, and aggression replacing the quirk on the A-side. Listen to all of the records, punks—even the ones you think aren’t up to whatever your bullshit “standards” are—because chances are good that you are wrong. This record is definitely right.

Kicker Pure Drivel LP

Driven by totally lethal, near-perfect buzzsaw guitar leads, KICKER’s third LP narrows in a little sonically closer to some of its UK82 anarcho-punk inspiration—CRASS, SUBHUMANS, and just a pinch at times of RUDIMENTARY PENI weirdness—by thinning the recording in the right places, and drawing back to an apropos, basic sturdy drum sound while still giving their inventive bass lines space to meander. Pete the Roadie’s (now even more) gnarled vocals spew and swagger over the top, flopping comedic and ironic missives that retain a distinctly personal feel. While some are sarcastic disbelief about common punk topics like nuclear annihilation, the inanity of mass media, or killers in the news, most are red-card day-to-day things like not being able to sleep, wankers on the bus, and escaping the city. The charm of these ten sarcastic songs is that while they offer no solutions, they do provide relatable camaraderie in shaking your head, raising your fist, and singing along in mirth and outrage as you spill your beer. “Goodnight and Fuck Off,” the quasi-soul hallraker that ends the record, might tip the hand that a member of SCHLONG has joined the band (!). Packaged in a nice gatefold sleeve with colored vinyl, there are fewer catchy hits here than their previous outings, but the ten tracks trade off for far more settled consistency in one of their strongest footings.

Kristen Resning Tillbaka Till Wittenberg EP

Swedish prim-punk! Tillbaka Till Wittenberg enshrines fine trash without falling prey to misguided blues attempts, making this already a winner by Euro g-word punk standards. Six crunchy barbs, nary a dud in sight, including some vague swipe at JACK AND THE RIPPERS. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Levande Begravd release I’ve encountered, this being no exception. Ace crap for your bombed brain.

Liquor Store Scumbag / We Buy Gold 7″

Since I do study the record sleeve while listening to the music, I got a good laugh. © 2020, hahaha. Since it’s only 2019, I suppose that means this music is freely available all year for all your projects, films, and commercials. Go crazy. LIQUOR STORE have a laid back, decadent rock’n’roll vibe. The music is stretched out and catchy. The lyrics are not that brilliant: “Swimming with the fishes / Never wash the dishes,” from the A-side. The two songs go on a bit too long, but are still enjoyable.

Low Forms Gaze to Bow / The Watchful Eye LP

This is an interesting concept for a record, and the band pulls it off well. It’s one album, but both sides are presented as two different suites of music, showcasing different facets of the band’s presentation. “Gaze to Bow” is slower, atmospheric and contemplative, focusing their energy in a way that feels like a long drive across the plains. There are only three songs, and they all blend into each other seamlessly and beautifully. “The Watchful Eye” has a more upbeat and poppy sound which can kinda fall into the camp of REPLACEMENTS, RVIVR and the stomp of TOYS THAT KILL. The four songs on this side also blend into each other, but they stand alone as different songs with their own hooks and melodies. Even though both of these sides are fairly different from one another, I think they both complement each other well, and it has a really good feeling overall.

Low Life Downer Edn LP

Bleak anthems that evoke a late-’80s post-hardcore musical landscape: dark shards of guitar and vocal intonations, with desolate lyrical incisions into the void of macho culture… A total sound, a wall of guitar where there’s something for people that want the big guitar sound somewhere between the CULT and BIG BLACK, but also require a punishing hardcore pummel. The post-punk flange sound is stripped of any aesthetic pose and used as another aural weapon. There’s a weary fury to this: what are men for, what destruction do they do to those stuck around them in the stands of sporting grounds, in the family home? There’s no respite to the totality, no answer, just a lived experience expressed through sound.

Meinhof The Dying Light LP

Terrifying D-beat anarcho-crust with a formidable low end and a clear soft spot for thick hardcore. That they aren’t scared of an open E and a prolonged chug is not what makes MEINHOF so good; it’s that they avoid all of the trappings associated with heavy hardcore by making everything sound punk. The instrumental “The Anarchist” that opens the B-side is a perfect example—massive ringing stadium crust that sounds filthy and dark, and leads right into “No Hope No Change,” a relentless fist-in-the-air motorkång banger. Vocals are biting and desperate, with an urgency that defies the decade plus that MEINHOF have been in the game. Colossal production gives them an even bigger bootprint, and makes this a “stand up and pay attention” release from start to finish.

Mental Fix Bricolage CD

I guess it feels like I’ve heard them countless times before, even though this Montreal band was a new discovery. Gruff and melodic punk rooted in the greats, with massive sounding guitars and carefully crafted backing vocals—it just sounds like sweat and sing alongs. Early DILLINGER FOUR, AGAINST ME!…you get the drill, and so do MENTAL FIX.

MENTIRA Autointitulado 2×7″

Electro-darkwave duo from Barcelona. Simplistic bass with shouty vocals spattered over a sparse Casio melody, and it’s pretty cool. “História Sem Graça” is an obscure, early ’80s techno tune—equally sparse, and equally rad. It comes with the Guerra flexi, which has a lighter more pastoral sound, with vocals dreamier than the 7”—almost like the vibrations of spring. It’s just off-kilter enough to lighten the melodic drone, and keep things from getting stagnant.

Mercenárias Baú 83-87 LP

More material unearthed from the Brazilian masters of post-punk, courtesy of the splendid Nada Nada Discos. Twenty great quality demo and live tracks, and often even cooler, rawer versions of previously released ones. The live tracks from “Hardcore Rock Night” on side B especially demonstrate the sheer power and genius these women were capable of. Angular beats, massive hooks, enchanting melodies, confrontational harshness—they really could do it all. And the dreamy photo booklet layout reveals just how larger-than-life this band was. Mandatory for both fans and newcomers.

Mutant Scum Mutant Scum LP

Ambient tribal drums start this LP off, before breaking into galloping, hard rock rhythms that channel HIGH ON FIRE, DAMAD, early COC, and Connecticut crust-core slayers REACT, with a fine combination of southern blues guitar and death metal. The vocals are grimacing, strained, and well in key. A mid-paced guttural banger that, from aesthetics, I expected to be way more goregrind thrash. This LP has catchy diminutive chords, straightforward punk-tinged heavy metal, and excellent dense production. I’m quite impressed. Songs about wizards, sewers, creatively metaphoric environmental messages, and our subsequent mutations from its demise. Cool ’80s toxic horror cover art—this version of the vinyl is green, but like opaque Ninja Turtle green, a vinyl color I had yet to see.

My Favorite Martian Martian Chronicles, Los Angeles 1990’s CD

Way too poppy. The relentless upbeat beat is killing me. MY FAVORITE MARTIAN is Al Bloch’s post-CONCRETE BLONDE and WOOL band. The music is a blatant reminder of the ’90s when every band was trying to and thought they could “make it.” It’s slick, peppy, and anthemic, with little originality. That this band was from Los Angeles is probably no surprise. Not to mention their harder-edged cover of “Pablo Picasso” really misses the point of the original.

Night Slaves III LP

Ten somber, atmospheric epics that rarely clock in at less than four minutes, yet hold my attention the whole way through. A common-enough denominator—though nowhere near the whole picture—might be some of DEPECHE MODE’s slowest points, with even more sparse percussion for the most part. A few songs are driven by melancholy organ, with a choir of soulful backups to match, while others by (electric) piano or fuzzy synth. The vocalist has a distinct baritone, and the main instrumentalist, David Kane, started making electronic music in the late ’70s, but except for the aforementioned synth, most of the electronics here are part of the ambiance rather than in the foreground. That these intricate and moving songs were created mostly by two people is an even greater accomplishment.

Old Firm Casuals Holger Danske LP

This band clearly understood what people would think about a Viking-themed record with runes all over the place, and song titles like “Motherland” and “Thunderbolt,” because they’ve got reassurances in the lyrics and lyrical annotations, and there’s a reiteration of their anti-racist stance in the liner notes. I suppose it’s an attempt to reclaim old Norse imagery from the fascists. While the record is mostly the kind of catchy street punk / lite Oi! that the OLD FIRM CASUALS are known for, I really fuckin’ enjoyed the first track, which has a killer mid-period POISON IDEA feel. There are also some pleasant acoustic interludes, and some Hammond organ layered into the sound on the more epic-sounding tracks that really works. The very straight-faced, near-ballad about a zombie apocalypse that closes the record is unbelievably corny, but on the whole (outside of the very questionable graphic design choices), this record is not terrible.

Pandemix In Condemnation LP

Blending perfect amounts of artsy peace-punk weirdness and brutal aggression, Boston’s PANDEMIX deliver a sound that is all at once angry, transgressive, fun, and exciting. This record reminds me why I love punk: it’s got some real out-of-the-box peace-punk moments, dissonant chord combos, irresistible melodic hooks, dark creepy riffs, and fast hardcore parts. The track “Synthetix” juxtaposes full-blast hardcore riffs with a punchy, CRASS-like mid-tempo interlude, while “Column of Light” is a slow and scathing screed, with just vocals and guitar. Pretty much something for everyone. Seriously, do not miss out on this!

PERRA VIDA Célebres Plumíferos EP

This Peruvian band plays excellent straightforward hardcore punk that most often keeps a 1-2-1-2 pace, with semi-frequent breakdowns and some slower moments, and you get a sense from the vocals that she is putting forth these words because she has no other choice. The drums are varied enough between, and over the course of, each of these five songs, that they all sound distinct, and make their individual marks on this record. The nice bouncy bass tone rounds out their sound well, too. Very excited to see what’s next.

Postage Let Go 7″ flexi

This one is definitely in the catchy pop punk category, but it’s delivered in a way that isn’t overly sticky. Imagine a pop punk record from a band that didn’t have aspirations to make it in the mainstream world. That may sound like a weird thing to say, but I think that sort of captures it. It’s isn’t over-produced or have the vocals on top of everything else. Good job, guys.

Powersolo Backstab / Nedtur 7″

The second TAV FALCO-sounding band I am reviewing this month. I understand it. He’s got a cool style. This one is from Denmark. Two songs of garage-y rock with a lo-fi dirty attitude. The A-side “Back Stab” utilizes “motherfucker” quite a bit. “Nedtur” is in Danish, so it could also be using that word for all I know. Even still, the songs are catchy and edgy. Interesting stuff.

Priors Call for You EP

Montreal buzz’n’scuzz. The title track recalls the streamlined charge of the POINTS: totally breakneck, modern and impressive. The tunes on the flip twitch a bit more, particularly “Swelter,” which may be the crown jewel of the affair. No subtlety to be seen, just pure drive. A nice jaunt for the chemically-enhanced in our readership.

Quarantine Regressive Thoughts 2xLP

A worthwhile compendium of the complete recorded output of this mid-’90s Glasgow trio, including the Automatic Negative Thoughts LP, Junction 10 EP, and assorted compilation tracks, compiled by longtime stalwart label of the Polish scene Nikt Nic Nie Wie. The band’s music spanned from more direct, driving hardcore type songs, to more melodic, almost JAWBREAKER influenced sounds, but always with passionate, angry vocals, and lyrics that were both critical and hopeful at the same time. Much like ACTIVE MINDS, who I reviewed earlier this issue, the members of QUARANTINE are punk lifers who remain as dedicated to DIY punk and hardcore now as they were then. It’s great to revisit this material that may have been overlooked by some at the time.

Redness Killer B’s 12″

Haha, I heard this was in my box, and was wondering what was up. I’ve got the rare-o 7″ from this mysterious, late ’70s Cleveland UBU-adjacent outfit. Artpunk with the emphasis on the art. I was hoping for some extra material, but it seems it’s a straight reissue of the six-song 7″ as a 45 RPM 12″. Presumably, the “label” (who put this out?!) couldn’t find a pressing plant willing to put, what, ten minutes on a side? A pretty incredible artifact, and there’s even a couple pure aggro punkers, albeit with electronics (and trombone!!), and plenty of disgruntled ’70s Ohio basement electronic shenanigans. Maybe I can finally get big bucks for my spare EP. This one’s a killer, definitely one of the more fucked, abrasive US DIY records.

Sanctus Iuda Disco 2xLP

A 30-song semi-discography of Poland’s SANCTUS IUDA’s (“Saint Jude,” the patron saint of lost causes) recordings from 1995–1998. Their sound is grounded in thick, mid-tempo Euro-squat crust like HIATUS or FLEAS AND LICE, with oversaturated guitar distortion capped with caustic, berating vocals. The tempo occasionally quickens to speedy hardcore bursts, while their later recordings slow to a crushing churn, but the remastering here hammers a nice consistency to the variance. Sides A and B chronologically present their split EPs with the SARCASM, SHARPEVILLE, REGENERACION, and DOG ON A ROPE, along with the otherwise-unreleased material (mostly live songs and covers) from their 1996 ABC cassette. Side C has darker, sludgy unreleased demos for an aborted second LP, that treads the slower AMEBIX / NEUROSIS / GODFLESH gloom, twisting around the thrash blasting. These four tracks are pretty hot, as they edge on that late ’90s pocket of experimental, heavy bleakness, with caustic vocals raking over the top of everything. Side D is an unreleased 1996 semi-techno remix of songs from their first LP (the only recording not included here), by a member of SARCASM, that weaves in samples and deconstructs everything to interesting but only questionably essential results. While you could pick up the band’s original records for equivalent cost, this collection is packaged in a nice gatefold with tons of grainy band photos, record covers, and an extensive booklet with a Polish-language history of the band—but is oddly deficit of lyrics or other artwork that really signify to people unfamiliar with the band, or the Polish language, what they’re singing about. Polish labels have been impressively and wonderfully attentive to documenting their scene history, but sometimes as they upgrade everything from old cassettes or make an efficient package of old vinyl, they forget that not everyone has always been around to follow along, or how leaving the lyrics and meaning by the wayside works on the assumption that everyone still understands the impact of those lyrics, and subscribes to those ideas meaning—and the state of the world in 2019 underlines that the ideas still need to be hammered home.

Bad Wig / Sin Bad Split LP

Two Milwaukee pop punk bands team up to give us a super fun pogo-inducing album! SIN BAD deliver a more power pop sound that might be equitable to GATEWAY DISTRICT or WORRIERS. BAD WIG is still very much pop punk, but has heavy garage elements. A mix of OBLIVIANS, REIGNING SOUND, and DINOSAUR JR can be heard in their songs. They also toy with some emo elements, so their sound chills out every once in a while. Start with the SIN BAD side for the sugar high and end with BAD WIG for the slow headbang. Great record! Milwaukee has always and will always rule. Don’t listen to the haters!

Slant Vain Attempt EP

Given that members of SLANT play in South Korea’s SCUMRAID, you would expect their first EP to be drenched in noise. You’d also be wrong. This is a pretty straightforward hardcore outfit that stands out from the pack of USHC revivalists due to both vocalist Yeji’s harsh, raw shouting and the band’s strong attention to detail. Songs like “Scorn” are more dynamic and punishing than a lot of bands mining the same territory. Fucking great.

People’s Temple Project / Sleeper Wave Split LP

This split LP features two frantic, emotional hardcore bands. PEOPLE’S TEMPLE PROJECT play stuff in the vein of JOSHUA FIT FOR BATTLE or FUNERAL DINER. Sometimes fast, heavy, and slightly spastic; sometimes slow, heavy, and melodic. Sometimes quiet and introspective. On the whole, it’s not quite as heavy or fast as those late ’90s bands, and it feels like it lacks the hardcore background that those folks had. On the other side, SLEEPER WAVE plays similar stuff, but sometimes leaning more towards that poppy, ALGERNON CADWALLADER, twinkly bro-emo sound, and at other times falling more heavily on the hardcore side of things. They also mix in the quiet meandering parts, but they are far more jazzy. Not groundbreaking, but certainly not bad.

Soloist Anti Pop Totalization Soloist Anti Pop Totalization LP

In the 432nd and final issue of this magazine, we are still asking the age-old question: “What is punk?” Is it the chaos punk at the bar drinking corporate beer while high-fiving his friends and not giving a flying fuck that the serial rapist still comes to their shows? Is it lesbian separatists who attach contact mics to filing cabinets while they saw them in half? Is it historical reenactments of D-beat cassettes from 1982? Is it a guy from Japan making minimalist synth in his room? We may never have a definitive answer that will please everyone, and this synth guy probably doesn’t even consider himself a punk, but he sent his record to a punk magazine, so here we are. Anyway, SOLOIST ANTI POP TOTALIZATION is completely synth- and noise-based, recalling the early industrial era, when everyone was still trying to figure out their sound with limited technical capabilities. S.A.P.T. draws influences from DENDO MARIONETTE, PUBLIC IMAGE LTD and CABARET VOLTAIRE with almost monotone, barely affected vocals. Rarely abrasive, but it has a good, harsh beat. Is it punk though? Ask me if I care.

Someday Best III (The Empress) EP

This is a young emo pop punk band from South Dakota. Sound wise, this is along the ways of GET UP KIDS and TAKING BACK SUNDAY. The vocals are pretty off on this three-song release. Like way off, in a hitting-lots-of-bad-notes way. Oh well.

Art of Burning Water / Stuntman Split EP

France’s STUNTMAN bring us some pummeling metallic grind. This is a band that can do the hair-pulling sludge agony just as well as they do the machine gun maelstrom. Grindcore forever! The UK’s ART OF BURNING WATER throw down a little bit of proper powerviolence—maybe too little. My issue with their side is that the first and longer song is OK, but it’s more like a buildup / intro song. Then the second song is fucking sick as shit, but it’s only like twenty seconds long, and that’s the end of the record. It’s like, dude, you gotta save that intro song for the LP. That being said, it’s still a pretty cool listen.

Tazer Human A+ EP

The cover art is somewhere between prison art and high school drawing competition: a centaur straddles a police car as two puzzled police officers point their weapons his way. This disc contains some choice dollar store guitar ’n’ keyboard punk, with nods to KBD klassics. Sneering Danish synth punk that errs on the side of the sick with songs about mechanical human attributes from the womb to the tomb. If you are a Florida’s Dying mailorder freak, this is definitely callin’ your number.

The Because Get Out Through the Back Door LP

At every turn on this LP, the BECAUSE channels the same humid yet sensitive roaring that I equate with noteworthy vintage acts via (ahem) No Idea Records and the ilk. Their devotion to the form is quite studied: there’s this barreling sound, anthem-focused, tension-and-release style. Trouble is, there’s no teeth, no deviance, barely anything punk beyond their mid-tempo charge. Underwhelming.

The Blankz Getting Over You / Barfly 7″

I feel like a BLANKZ single comes in every month. Prolific! “Getting Over You” is really slick pop punk of the Fat Wreck variety. The new wave keys seem to be the only deviation from the force-fed processed punk here. “Barfly” is more of the same, though fares a lil’ better, and actually reminds me of HEAD if they were going the tuff-guy route. Still, it’s too artificially sweet for me to choke down.

The Cavemen Lowlife EP

I’m not sure why, but this record has a sort of Rip Off Records feel to it. Maybe it’s the black and white paper sleeve. Maybe it’s the relatively lo-fi production. If you’re a fan of straightforward punk rock that is raw and gritty, but still catchy and melodic, this is definitely for you. The B-side even gets a little swampy, but doesn’t lose the feel of the other cuts. This is worth going out of your way to find.

The Cowboys The Bottom of a Rotten Flower LP

Holy pop, Batman! A new one from Bloomington Indiana’s COWBOYS, and it’s all pop. Somehow, they seem to channel more of an Anglo-centric UK sound, recalling some end of the ’70s first- wave poppers with a mix of straight riff o’ rama à la PROTEX/ UNDERTONES, and more angular sounds like XTC or THE JAM. The best part is they stay true to form, and these songs all top out around three minutes, so if you’re not feeling one song, it’s only about a minute to the next. Comes with a cool fold-out poster and the hype sticker is penned by Eddie Flowers of the GIZMOS.

The Embarrassment Celebrity Art Party 12″ reissue

One of the best examples of nervous college art damage to have graced this meager continent! The title track is a sprawling, taut catchy masterwork of tension, and VU / FEELIES / early TALKING HEADS / COME ON incantations that should make you wanna fervently consume this immediately! This wild scene was happening in Wichita in 1981! The cover art has killer George Grosz meets Zap Comix damage which is adds to the fact that this is a perfect 12″! Each song creates its own world you will want to root around in or observe ironically from yr detached, too-smart-to-art student drop out mind. This is pop music that deconstructs punk! Why not grab this reissue and use it as a guide book to do the same?

The Empty Bottles No Sense for the Cause CD

The punk duck from that old Bubble Yum commercial is all grown up (with a red mohawk this time), sporting an Antifa neck tattoo on the cover of this CD (I can get down with that), and presumably drinking with the boys at the pub or whatever (ehh…). The music is barely-tolerable bar punk, where one moment is indistinguishable from the next (except for the gang vocals, which make me prefer their default state of monotony), and their song “Overpopulation” regurgitates that stupid liberal eugenics myth. At least there’s a funny song about Lars (not that one, the other one) selling out because he shaved his head.

The Minutes Moving Target EP

Pissed off political punk with the look and feel of the late ’90s AUS-ROTTEN or early ’00s BORN/DEAD scene. What sets it apart, though, are sprinkles of fun throughout this five-song 7″. Some of the lyrics and song titles are tongue in cheek, such as “Feeling Stabby” and “Armchair Zealot.” There are also also parts with double hits on the snare that give a surfy feel, short guitar solos here and there, and a MISFITS-esque “whoa-oh” part on “Feeling Stabby.”

The Premonitions Give Back What You Take / Sun Goes Down 7″

Those gosh darn ’60s, lemme tell ya! The PREMONITIONS kick a fair amount of rear end on this lil’ jukebox jewel: the A-side’s a total workout, obviously indebted to PRETTY THINGS or CHANTS R&B, while the flip’s a fuzzier, mod-leaning hipshaker with prominent organ grindin’. Really head & shoulders above the overt retro-raunch that’s hit MRR in recent months, so good on ’em for not sucking the dog. Worth a lookie-loo for all you daddy-o-diddley dude-a-bopper turkey dorks!

The Pugilistics Another Round! EP

The PUGILISITICS from Arizona follow their 2005 debut EP with a new four-song bout of tenacious old-school hardcore threaded around a melodic core. The songs vary in attack from mid-tempo to fast singalong anthem to ELVIS or MISFITS-inspired howlers with solid, pro musicianship weathering the twists, but patchy vocal delivery never quite finding its footing between or sometimes even within the songs. “Reflections” pounds with harshly barked and yelped vocals; “The Scene,” with its sung choruses, comes the closest in feel to a classic old punk anthem calling for scene participation; “Red Flag” is a mid-tempo boiler that brings to mind HVY DRT in the quirky line-to-line changes in the singing; “Stalkin” is a horror-punk crooner akin to GHOUL SQUAD or CALABRESE. No lyrics are provided, Winston Smith-inspired type cover collage, numbered and limited to 100 on white vinyl. A fun listen, but a few more rounds tightening up the recording, delivery, and presentation might deliver an actual KO.

The Sleeping Aids & Razorblades Parallax View 10″

This Japanese power pop punk band has been around for five years or so. I can only assume they got their name from the EXPLODING HEARTS song. New wave power-pop with keyboard in the mix at times. Vocals in English, the songs here are pretty solid along the ways of later BUZZCOCKS as well as CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH vocally. Fans of Snuffy Smiles type pop punk will like this.

The Whittingtons Human Beingz EP

Recorded in 2016, released in 2017, reaching Maximum Rocknroll in 2019, the ’90s band the WHITTINGTONS are back together or finally got off their asses to make some new music. It’s punk with a hard rock edge. Aggro, macho, and trashy, but catchy. If only they could resist the guitar solos. Regardless, I like it.

Cloud Rat / The World Is a Vampire Split LP

A beautifully played piano starts out the CLOUD RAT side, coupled with delicate, warm, and haunting vocals. This seamlessly tumbles into ruthless, crust-stenched, abysmal riffs, with high and tight drums. This dark, dense, churning, hexing grind and crust reminds me of the terrifying sounds of EBOLA, the fury of INITIAL STATE, the metallic bewitching nature of CETASCEAN, and the chaotic maelstrom that came with SKARP. CLOUD RAT is all things steady punk D-beat, blasting grind, and blackened metal sorcery. THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE calms the nerves with pulverizing, heavy drudge metal. The vocals spew forth like a cindering furnace, and the chords are subtly disharmonic, creating an off-kilter, unsettling hypnotic rhythm. Calculated but surprising effects pierce through the thick tones. Parts indie rock, parts cacophonous doom punk—I’m really digging this side too! The last track is a brilliant cover of TEARS FOR FEARS’ “Mad World.” Yes! This split is definitely recommended for the dismal, strange, and curious.

Thetan Abysmal LP

Life ain’t easy for a two-piece band (I should know, I hung out with POPULATION REDUCTION for like a decade), but Nashville’s THETAN are absolutely making it work. This bass-and-drums duo offer up a grip of gnarly powerviolence-influenced tracks that alternately rage and sludge, highlighted by some remarkably nimble bass playing. The lyrics are super bleak, even for the genre—which is a plus in my book—and that desperation is conveyed very effectively by the frenzied vocals (Dino from DYSTOPIA-esque at times). It’s worth noting that this outer rim of this LP is etched, which is very cool indeed.

This Means War Heart Strings LP

They look like skinheads. They sound like (early) FALLOUT BOY meets AVAIL, and then near the end of the first side, there’s one really exceptional track that sounds like the DARKNESS or JET (it’s called “Off With Their Heads” and I’m not gonna lie: I like it). Slick, polished, professional, radio-friendly alt-rock.

Tics Agnostic Funk 12″

Eight tracks of jagged funk-punk from this Cologne group. Quirky, stop-start rhythms plus wandering bass-lines punctuated by hyper-speed funk guitar form the foundation for these terse, varied ruminations on modern society. The songwriting is complex, the playing polished and accomplished—a potent mix of fIREHOSE, TALKING HEADS, and BADGEWEARER. Fantastic stuff.

The World Is a Vampire / Torture Garden Split EP

Here are two bands out of New Orleans that want to fuck up your reality. TORTURE GARDEN brings some deadly D-beat crust that is both furious and mournfully melodic. They keep it extra heavy, with just the right amount of driving, epic crust. THE WORLD IS A VAMPIRE seems like a band that I would not like at all. First, I hate that song they’re named after. Second, this sounds like some goths trying to play freaked-out, blackened D-beat. It all just seems like it should be an awful disaster, but somehow it all works, and this band is fucking awesome! If you’re a grim weirdo, then check this out.

Trashley Joyful Angst LP

Electroclash dance punk from Paris that keeps the guitar, bass, and drums high in the mix, and doesn’t stray too far into the electro end of the spectrum. Impassioned group vocals and melodic riffs bring to mind the chaos of early ’00s synth punk. Lyrics in English that sound cool, but don’t totally make sense. Probably pretty incredible to see this band live, if they keep up even half the energy level of this recording.

Už Jsme Doma MEdley YOUdley – SEStrih BRAtrih LP

Long running Czech punk/prog band who started when their region was still under communist rule in the ’80s. This live LP is a celebration of their 30th anniversary, and spans much of their career, bringing back past members to play on stage with them. It sounds like a party, with so much instrumentation (the usual standbys as well as flute, piano and sax) and gang vocals. It took me a minute to get into this, but I like it. There are traces of early anarcho-punk (in the vein of DE KIFT and the EX), prog-rock, weirdo shit (like the RESIDENTS, BEEFHEART) and so much eastern European punk that I am not properly schooled on. The whole thing is played rapid-fire with no breaks between songs and no space to catch your breath. It’s entirely impressive for a bunch of old farts, and it sounds like such a fun show. Consider me impressed.

Uraken Perfection EP

France’s URAKEN serve up a heavy mix of hardcore, crust, sludge, and powerviolence that is reminiscent of some of Southern Lord’s faster acts on this reissue of their 2017 demo. While none of their style is particularly new or innovative (anyone else remember when it seemed like every other band was crust-infused?) it is varied and punishing enough to avoid a monotonous listen.

V/A Peace, Unity, Noise And Having Fun: Tekken Tribute & Remixes LP

So this compilation LP is apparently a tribute to the French fastcore band TEKKEN. I regret to announce I was not familiar with TEKKEN the band, but it looks as though they were around in the late ’90s and early ’00s, and with some video research, I have realized that they were pretty good! If you like to blast off with CHARLES BRONSON, SPAZZ, DAMNABLE EXCITE ZOMBIES, AGATHOCLES, or even FANTOMAS, or any bands that were forming when fastcore was really breaking into its stride, I have this recommendation for you! There’s also some really bizarre MIDI carnival music, which I must admit I am entertained by, if not perplexed.

V/A Live Your Gimmick Vol. 1 CD

Four-band comp that goes like this: 1) The DRIVIN’ BEATS play early ’80s sounding late punk vs. early college radio rock and/or legit new wave rock ’n’ roll; 2) SOURPUSS sound like if the SPITS were trying to sound tough and/or offensive—also if the SPITS were actually a bad grunge band; 3) The DOWNSTROKES are classic ’80s Midwest punk; 4) The XILES are like the SEX PISTOLS if Johnny’s exaggerated accent kept falling out of line and / or any heartfelt, determined bar punk band in any town in North America—and “American Nightmare” is the best song on this comp. That is all.

Vidro Allt Brinner 12″

This is the last piece of wax that I will review for the last regular print issue of MRR, and it is pure fukkn fire. Biting and fierce Swedish hardcore punk with terrifying female lead vocals, and an affected flanged guitar that borders on destruction for the entire recording—especially the leads. VIDRO are just pure ferocity: urgent, desperate hardcore punk that doesn’t really sound like anything except themselves, and there is an approach to the (de)construction and presentation of their songs that is enviable. To take a formula that is known and manipulate and manage it until it becomes your own is in itself an art form, but if you also create a total motherfukkr of a record in the process, then you have my respect. So I finish my last review just wanting more, as it should be.

Vlack The Way of the Cross CD

This one is hard to nail down. VLACK are big and “rock” sounding, but there’s a dark vibe that reminds me of under the radar monsters like ANGST or MY DAD IS DEAD—even while they are playing what is basically ’80s college alt-rock. I spent the entire disc trying to figure out how to categorize it, and that says a lot on its own, right?

Wimpy Dicks Kill Chain CD

This band has been around since 1980, with the singer/bass player being the lone original member. From San Luis Obispo, they play sloppy mid-’80s skate punk, a lot like the wave that included the FACTION and JFA. Although I give them props for sticking to this genre for so long, I didn’t like this at all. The vocals try to jam in too many words to fit the music, and the uneven playing and song mixes don’t help. Admittedly, I’ve never been a skate punk guy, but I do like it when it’s done right.

Wlochaty Wlochaty 2xLP

Poland’s WLOCHATY (“Hairy”) originally released this nineteen-song recording on cassette in 1994, sold an astounding 20,000 copies, and then re-released it on vinyl in 1995 as a condensed fifteen-song LP, with an added saxophone track (?) in the mixes of the songs. This deluxe, double-LP version presents the original recording—without sax—with strong remastering, deluxe presentation in a gatefold sleeve, and lyrics in English and Polish. As a debut record recorded 25 years ago, this long-standing veteran band was still defining their sound, but this classic is such a expansion on the genetic blueprints of the crucial elements of Polish hardcore: pogo-ready punk stormers, odd experimental avant-garde turns, unexpected reggae influences, melodic acoustic passages, brute cold wave harshness, and scathing hardcore as their vocalists ramble and shout poetic, thoughtful political lyrics. Tandem choruses by male and female backup screamers punctuate and stoke the chaos. Engaging, challenging, and ultimately rewarding—a fantastic re-release!

Zero Gain Modern Blues: The First Five Years CD

Killer working class French punk rock. Hints of LEATHERFACE and EA80 peek through this 24-song collection (from releases spanning the last five years, as the title suggests), while ZERO GAIN settle into their own distinct style. The more I listen to these tracks, them more the band sinks into me, and there’s something wholly refreshing about hearing a band construct important sounding songs. Listen to “Runnin’ on Empty” (not a cover), and you’re taken back a decade or more, not in the sound, but in the feel of bands like BORN DEAD ICONS, J CHURCH or LA FRACTION—they punched you in the gut and they stuck with you. They were a new band to me before this disc, but I’m totally sold.