Going Underground

Burning Image The Final Conflict / Burning Image, Burning 7″ reissue

Bakersfield’s BURNING IMAGE was one of the original bands from the California deathrock scene and this is the official reissue of their classic single from 1984. The 7” has “The Final Conflict” and “Burning Image, Burning,” two songs produced by Chaz Ramirez, producer of SOCIAL DISTORTION’s Mommy’s Little Monster. Enough context. Side A starts all sinister and dark. “The Final Conflict” has an awesome guitar tone. I really enjoy the way the almost angular riff sets the unsettling space for the chorus, then those Spaghetti Western-style solos, and how it ends in almost full chaos. Amazing. Side B’s “Burning Image, Burning” riffing is pure Rikk Agnew beauty, both melodic and dissonant, always interesting and full of harmonics. The band really knows how to build tension and release within the song while making it catchy as hell.

Deseos Primitivos Deseos Primitivos LP

This is the premiere full-length LP from Oakland’s DESEOS PRIMITIVOS. With all but one clocking under two minutes, these songs don’t overstay their welcome. This record will shake you out of your complacency. Full of pit-worthy bangers, in keeping with early West Coast punk and proto-hardcore styles. Some songs have an almost anthemic quality, inspiring ESKORBUTO comparisons with shared vocal choruses that you can raise a fist to. A moment or two felt like a sped up version of the CURE’s Three Imaginary Boys, but that might just be me. DESEOS PRIMITIVOS play with many different sonic angles, and it’s a joy to hear their sound captured so effectively. A few songs are carried over from previous releases, and benefit from their reimagining here. These recordings feel cleaner and louder, while retaining the raw energy that makes this band what it is. Lyrics tackle  issues like colonization, gentrification, and homelessness. This release is one of the standouts of the year. If this has somehow slipped past your radar, be sure to remedy that.

Gunn Peace Love & Heavy Weaponry EP

Man, this is just the best shit. Record of the year. GUNN from Orange County plays gruff, no-frills American hardcore, with vocals not unlike HUMAN SUFFERAGE and GAS RAG. Side A packs three songs into three minutes, and “Slacker” distills an innate universal truth into its brief chorus: “I’m so sick of this shit / I just can’t wait to quit / All this shit is a waste of time / I just want to see you die.” On the B-side, GUNN slows down to a NO TREND or later BLACK FLAG swing for “Not Original,” then speeds up a bit for “Killing Time.” I was born and raised in Southern California’s endless suburbia, and there is no more appropriate soundtrack for the oppressive, brain-deadening sunshine than this song. An instant classic. Kings of suburbia. Long may they run.

The Smog Set in Stone / Lost My Mind 7”

People be loving the SMOG! This is the Japanese group’s third single and they’ve built a modest buzz based on their sharp, tuneful punk rockin’. “Set in Stone” threw me for a sec as it opens like GIRLS AT OUR BEST’s “Getting Nowhere Fast,” but then settles into a flavor profile that is closer to the JAM stirring a spoonful more garage into their mod stew. “Lost My Mind” gets slightly more angular and approximates what BLOC PARTY would sound like if they had any punk demos.