Reviews

Beach Impediment

Condor Singles 2017-2018 LP

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

Dame Dame LP

Quality introduction for me to this Boston band. Stylistically, it’s eyeliner-ified ’80s new wave, with a layer of synth cutting through a thick, reverbed production that suits them really well. The album is largely punctuated by the frequent lead guitar lines and vocal-forward approach, although sometimes it feels like those two elements are battling for prominence. The opening track threw me for a loop (in a good way!), a lulling layered instrumental intro that releases into an uptempo surprise once the drums kick in. The overall presentation looks great opened up and spread across my coffee table. Striking artwork goes a long way! If you can’t get enough of the dark and dreamy punk, this will fit neatly into your rotation.

Game No One Wins LP

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

Haircut Sensation EP

Four no-bullshit hardcore tracks each clocking in under two minutes. HAIRCUT delivers high-intensity punk with a super clear recording that still somehow sounds completely inseparable from the context of a sweaty basement packed with freaks moshing and running into each other and knocking everything over. Like, one does not exist without the other. The vocals are totally excellent, in a slightly hoarse and screamy way, like a satisfying texture you can almost touch.

Haircut Sensation EP

When that two-step part comes back in with the ringing guitars on “Les Va a Tocar” I figured anyone with a spine would give HAIRCUT a nod of approval if they weren’t already moshing. The drums on “Seeking” hit like “High Places” by ZERO BOYS, and that’s tops baby. After the A-side I was like “yeah, this is fine” but the B has me wanting to hear it again. A good hardcore punk record.

Laffing Gas It’s a Beautiful Day in the Gulch LP

Everything from the music to the artwork reminds me of early ’00s Danish hardcore punk, except this is a current band from the middle of America—Bloomington, Indiana to be exact. Musically this is most reminiscent of AMDI PETERSENS ARMÉ, who were themselves doing their best rendition of first wave LA/DC hardcore punk, so LAFFING GAS has got some of that as well. The songs on this LP contain what you’d expect given those influences—tons of energy, snotty and engaging vocals, some quick, cool guitar skronks here and there but nothing too polished or fancy, thankfully. The riffs are good and the songs have enough dynamics to avoid being generic. The endless cycle of hardcore punk continues, may it live an endless life.

Larma Larma LP

If I fell asleep listening to TOTALITÄR (specifically Sin Egen Motståndare, not that that would even happen) and some prankster slipped this 12” on and woke me up, I might not even notice. Okay, that’s not true; I would, but it’s that authentic sounding. Maybe you’ll argue that makes this inauthentic, and maybe you’re not wrong, but achieving such a high level of TOTALITÄR-ness is quite the accomplishment in my book. I spot two SKITKIDS and one INFERNÖH guy, so that explains a lot. It’s like rabid Poffen-esque vocal phrasing, hypnotizing riffs, and urgent D-beating are all just built into the circuitry of these guys’ brains. Furthermore, they know how to augment the template just enough to distinguish themselves from other soundalikes. Eleven perfect and delightfully excitable tracks.

Long Knife Night of the Hunter / Rough Liver 7″

An absolute monster from Portland’s answer to Portland’s Kings of Punk. As on previous releases, LONG KNIFE wear their influences on their sleeve—POISON IDEA, heavy metal, Japanese hardcore—and they own every fucking note. These two tracks lean heavily on burning metal leads, which rocks (of course) and makes the record feel more honest. And on the subject of honesty, the lyrics read like Bukowski nihilism, taking heady stock of the reality you’ve made while keeping a cautious eye over your shoulder as a reminder of how real things can get. Living fast is fun, dying young is glamorous, but finding your place in the next chapter is the real challenge. LONG KNIFE isn’t dwelling on it, but you can feel the struggle fighting in the grooves. Great band, and this two song slammer might be their best release.

Loose Nukes Behind the Screen EP

Yesss. Fast, raw, snotty hardcore that isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is. I almost never play the ex-members game because it’s largely lazy rockstar bullshit and rarely relevant to the tunes, but people from DIRECT CONTROL, BLOOD PRESSURE, and DARK THOUGHTS are at the helm here, and despite the relatively straightforward sound, you can hear it. Songs about phones, paranoia, punishers, and of course, nukes. Please tour the West Coast.

Moment of Fear Covid Sessions 2020 EP

MOMENT OF FEAR does not let up on the assault for a minute. Three tracks of scorching, exhaust-fuming hardcore lacking any form of dazzle camouflage. Side A offers an in-your-face blast of aggression and frustration, with the vocals from Bartek (REACTOR, RELIGIOUS WAR) reminding me so much of those on the obscure MORAL SUCKLING LP. Strained, tense and harsh. Side B formulates a more post-punk somber sound, echoing a depression further in the distance, but equally to Side A: torn through by pissed off punk rockers. MOMENT OF FEAR is craggily, rough, scraping hardcore from what feels like a cold PNW ocean, although they are from Long Beach. Covid Sessions 2020 storms in and drags you out to extinction.

Muro Pacificar LP

Unsurprisingly, an amazing record. It seems like Bogota’s MURO has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue since their last LP from 2017, along with touring/live appearances to crowds of eager hardcore punks worldwide. Every aspect of Pacificar is appealing. Sound, layout, the printing of the sleeve, songwriting and its overall impact. “Fantasia del progresso,” “Clasismo domino…clasismo, estructural,” and “Mundo infesto” are some churuses that should provide lyrical context. I’m not going to do them a disservice by interpreting the meaning of their songs with my shitty understanding of Spanish. MURO sounds more unhinged this time around, like a not-sloppy WRETCHED. They play with different counts and timing in a way that adds intrigue and unique power. The approach is stripped down and direct thrashing punk, but there’s something epic going on. The angst is authentic and infectious. A rare band that lives up to the hype. I hope this virus succeeds at permanently debilitating the entire worldwide right-wing/fascist movements so we can contain it and start punk again and I can see MURO do their thing in the flesh. In the meantime, if you are a punk definitely buy this record.

Public Acid Condemnation EP

This one’s gonna be on a lot of fukkn year-end lists, and for good reason. You think that Condemnation is shaping up real nice when the trudge of “Nuclear Child” really settles in, and you think that they just dropped a ruthlessly dark and heavy beast. And then the music stops, and that buzzsaw kicks in and they are just fucking gone…you won’t know what even happened until “Flag Fetish” fades out and your ears are ringing and you’re wondering what the fuck kind of guitar solo you just heard. Rarely has the descriptor “urgent” felt more applicable, even (especially) as these freaks gear down for determined BATHORY-tinged stomps like “Electric Plague.” It’s a record that is wholly demanding from start to finish. And the demand is punishment. If you only have 90 seconds available to listen to hardcore punk music, I recommend the title track.

Vaaska Inocentes Condenados EP

Austin, Texas’ VAASKA play six ripping tracks of high-pitched, ’80s Finnish inspired hardcore, echoing brutal flavor and a buzzing guitar tone that is stinging, with confident lyrics in Spanish spat forth with furious power. Crushing hardcore along the lines of MELLAKKA, RAJOITUS, and LAMA. I can’t say anything bad about the release, and yet I struggle to find a particularly stand out thing about it. It clobbers with D-beat fire, and the tones are freakishly coarse static hissing. That’s the big takeaway. My hearing loss.

Vanity Rarely If Ever / We’re Friends 7″

Two energetic new jammers from this gang of NY rockers. On these tracks, VANITY have tempered the glammy, foot-stomping hooligan rock’n’roll of their previous efforts with an emphasis on melody and hooks. Leaning into their power pop tendencies, “Rarely If Ever” especially bounces along on ’60s jangle, to the point that MONKEES references kept popping into my head (not a bad thing, in my book). “We’re Friends” is on the tougher side, but this single demonstrates that VANITY has clearly outrun any references to a certain Chiswick group… except I’ve gone and made one, oops.

Witchtrial Witchtrial LP

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