Reviews

Goodbye Boozy

Aborted Tortoise Scale Model Subsistence Vendor EP

Frenetic, lo-fi rock’n’roll punk from Perth, Australia that sounds like a redux of the early 2000s—only this time around, the superficial brattiness has been replaced with something a bit more existential. Pulling a page from THEE HEADCOATS’ book, the crazed singing and super precise rock’n’roll riffs combine to deliver a contained mess that is wildly high energy without boiling over completely. The whole production sounds like it is about to burst at the seams, possibly owing to it being recorded and mixed on a four-track. You can try to imitate the effect of pushing a four-track tape recording to its mechanical limits, but there really is something special and (dare I say) nostalgic about the sound of the real thing. Recommended!

Belly Jelly What It Is EP

Someone has idolized CONEHEADS and now we have another bedroom punk project about cell phones and whatever else. I wish I had a joke to tell about this band but all I can say is that “BELLY JELLY” just seems to be the butt of the joke about modern punk. If squiggly chipmunk DEVO t-shirt computer simulation punk is your thing, then gorge yourself. I appreciate the Bay State representation with the NERVOUS EATERS cover and the pace change on “Big Questions” is good but god damn this all sounds like Mark Winter scratching his pubes.

Buck Biloxi and the Fucks Put You in the Gulag EP

It takes a special talent to write super catchy pissed-off songs. This EP contains three. Minimalist trashy garage punk with biting lyrics that cause you to sing along while also looking over your shoulder. The topics are mindless consumerism and herd mentality. “I Would Rather Die” uses the riff from “Nervous Breakdown” for a humorous anti-technology tune. The title track reminds you “Money is your shitty God.” Great stuff as usual from BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS.

Cave Curse Buried / Trash People 7″

I put this on expecting wild destruction à la LOST SOUNDS, but after listening to the A-side I would say it’s low on the “end of the world” synth punk destruction sound?! “Buried” sounds like a goth MODERN ENGLISH to me. Maybe it’s the vocals?! The B-side is more savage and maybe more true to what I have heard about this Bobby Hussy band, but the A-side is almost like a pop song! Like I can imagine KROQ playing it circa 1986?? I would even recommend it to you if you were a fan of more chorus pedal darkwave/goth stuff alongside that Memphis wave sound…

Dadar I’m a Töch EP

I don’t really know what a “dadar” is. Internet searches tell me it’s either a neighborhood in Mumbai or a type of Indonesian omelette. I doubt the band is going for either of those meanings. They’re not unlike an omelette, though—simple, maybe a little cheesy, but filled with enough interesting ingredients to be satisfying. Anyway, DADAR are a synth-driven garage punk band out of the tiny town of Rovereto in Northern Italy. This is their second 7”, and it’s got a couple of sub-two-minute originals on the A-side and a cover of a track by Italian art-punk band FHEDOLTS on the flip. The originals are good enough. “I’m a Töch” sounds like any of those BLACK LIPS copycat bands that popped up in the late ’00s, maybe with a little HANK WOOD thrown in, and “Calendarize” sounds like a reasonable facsimile of AUSMUTEANTS (in a good way). But I really dig this cover—the minimal post-punk synth melody and talk-sung vocals taken from the original sound great fleshed out with this band’s chunky garage punk sound. Definitely worth a listen!

Drunk Mums Adderall / Headshrinker 7”

What do they put in the kids food in Australia that makes them all grow up to be such lovely angular punks? This is a killer single full of good clean fun, delivered with the kind of booksmart smarm that’s practically omnipresent these days in Melbourne. The flip side “Headshrinker” ups the stakes with a little more fury without losing any of the charm. This is locked-in snotty rock‘n’roll just the way we like it.

Gee Tee Atomic EP

We’ve got another winner from Sydney’s leading Gas Station Rock band, GEE TEE. Opening with lo-fi RAMONES-y vibes accented by warbly keys, “Kombat Kitchen” had me nice and cozy from the get-go. “Mutant World” serves up a buzzing garage groove. Laid-back title track “Atomic” sounds like it is wearing sunglasses while the world melts, and “Dudes In The Valley” ends it off by inducing both grins and the urge to start the record over again. Well-played.

New Berlin Magnet LP

The new offering from Texas’ NEW BERLIN has this intense, black-and-white collage cover art that does not quite fit the music it contains. I’m not normally a stickler for consistency, but I don’t find these tunes fit as seamlessly as the songs on the Basic Function LP that I thought worked well in a stripped-down, BUCK BILOXI AND THE FUCKS kind of way. The Magnet LP tries out different sonic approaches from song to song and they don’t always jive together so well. You get fuzzed-out power chords but then jangly guitars and power pop licks, distorted vocals then earnest clear vocals, natural sounding drums then antiseptic fake drums—you get the idea. You don’t know which NEW BERLIN is going to show from track to track. You can’t deny the quality of some of these hooks and witty lyrical turns, but it left me with an uneven and unfinished feeling. That said, I really dug the DYLAN cover.

Protruders No More / It’s Not Easy 7″

The latest offering from these modern Montréalers with a serious affinity for the warped underground sounds that emanated from the mid-to-late ’70s post-industrial decay of the American Midwest—think ELECTRIC EELS, PERE UBU, MIRRORS, pretty much the entire musical output of the state of Ohio from that era. The tightly-wound “No More” actually sets its sights a little further west and several decades into the future with a frenetic, paranoid energy more in line with CCTV and the whole Northwest Indiana basement panic-core scene circa 2014-2016, as the rapid-fire, shouted chorus in a textbook snotty punk lyrical tradition (“I don’t wanna hear you / I don’t see you / I don’t wanna talk to you”) gives way to a skronky, sax-spiked breakdown for about half of the song’s entire two-minute run-time before snapping back into whiplash mode to cross the finish line. Following that, the mid-’60s ROLLING STONES nugget “It’s Not Easy” gets reimagined with a purely PROTRUDERS blown-out proto-punk swagger, all leather jacket and cigarette smoke sleaze as if Jagger and company had started out as a CBGB house band. Two killer cuts on a one-sided 7”, makes up in quality what its format lacks in practicality.

The Freakees / Research Reactor Corp. split EP

Goodbye Boozy seems to be cranking out these split 7”s lately. While I’m not generally a fan of the format, I think they could have done worse with this pairing. The A-side is two quick tracks from Sydney-based torch bearers of the NWI sound, RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION. And they are just excellent. RCC takes the CONEHEADS’ herky-jerk formula, adds some cartoonishness and menace, and leans a little more into that warbly direct-to-VHS-sounding production. I love it. The FREAKEES, out of L.A., give us two tracks of blown-out, bass-heavy garage punk that skews a bit more punk than garage. It reminds me of the band SCRAPER. Though, instead of deadpan, talk-shout vocals, you get an ear-splitting screech that’s reverbed to hell. I think these are pretty great tracks, but I found the vocals a tad much at times. But FREAKEES gotta freak, I guess!

Satanic Togas X-Ray Vision LP

More NWI-worship from Down Under! This is the first proper LP from this Sydney project after a handful of cassettes and a split 7” with GEE TEE. The group seems to be led by the same dude behind Warttman Inc., a cassette label that’s released stuff from like-minded Australian artists RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION, R.M.F.C., SET-TOP BOX, and the aforementioned GEE TEE. The TOGAS stand out from that crowd (and their NWI forebears) by leaning a little more heavily on some ultra-cheap synths and really letting their garage influence show. This album is full of good tracks, but definitely give “Skinhead” a listen. Not only does it showcase how they’re not just another CONEHEADS clone (it’s got kind of a WRECKLESS ERIC vibe, even), but it’s just so dumb and so great.

Sick Thoughts Poor Boys / Drug Rock 7”

SICK THOUGHTS are one of those bands, or projects or whatever, that people constantly talk about in terms of how prolific they are on the release front, but this two-song 45 is the first thing under this name for nigh on eighteen months. I guess we’ve all had distractions one way or another. Both sides are pretty on-point if you’re already down with the essential Drew Owen ethos, and even if not, they’re pretty insta-likeable uptempo punk rock’n’roll with power-pop-gone-metal guitar solos. It’s not polished or anything, but no kind of lo-fi either, especially compared to Drew’s recent album as DD DETH. Kudos for also being bold enough to have a drawing of a bunch of skeletons playing instruments as the sleeve art, despite not being an ageing psychobilly band.

Silicon Heartbeat Earth Static cassette

Beaming in from Kalamazoo, Michigan, SILICON HEARTBEAT (not to be confused with SILICON PRAIRIE) trades in gloomy, fuzz-soaked synth-punk. Suck the fun out of the SPITS or slip a sedative to LOST SOUNDS and you’d have something close to this EP. SILICON HEARTBEAT is competent enough, but the relentless monotone that defines each song can be a hard wave to ride, even on what is essentially a 7” (are there really only eighteen copies of this tape?). I’m guessing that this is a solo project and, thus, it rates on a sliding scale, but still, there’s little heat here. The digital download of Earth Static closes out with a perfectly fine ANGRY SAMOANS cover that is the aural equivalent of a flatline.

Big Hog / The Resource Network split EP

Indianapolis punks BIG HOG and the RESOURCE NETWORK team up for a noisy split worth your time. BIG HOG starts their side with math-y guitar lines and a bouncing bass sound with LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS-style vocals on top. They would have been at home on Load Records with short capsules of frenzied hardcore skronk, giving me some ARAB ON RADAR vibes with the dial turned more to hardcore than noise rock. There is quite a bit of guitar/bass interplay going on under the snotty hollering with an occasional laser gun noise blast that gives these songs an unpredictable and good weird quality. The RESOURCE NETWORK’S side is not quite as frantic, but it’s definitely interesting, too. These three tunes blend elements of hardcore and new wave with anti-consumerist lyrics that sound like spoken poetry in the verses. “Artificial Flavors” sounds like URANIUM CLUB with the spoken vocals over busy, tinny guitar lines and clean bass. The final track has more of a traditional American hardcore sound like mid-era HÜSKER DÜ with busy bass and guitar work and an anthemic refrain. Check this split out for two cool bands doing their thing confidently.

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.

True Sons of Thunder Age Old Effrontery EP

With a diverse roster of seasoned players from bands like the OBLIVIANS, MANATEEES, RAT TRAPS, and more, TRUE SONS OF THUNDER are a supergroup of divine debauched pedigree, serving up scummy lo-fi indulgence with the weight of heady hardcore. The opening “Shake Rag” is a depraved freight train of STOOGES-style swagger that contains a shout-out to two-thirds of EMERSON, LAKE, AND PALMER. “Plastic Bat Attack” includes a refrain that sounds like the attack itself and provides instructions for creating your very own plastic weapon. “Toob Sock” ends things off somewhat abruptly with an urgent cadence that would not be out of place on a HOMOSTUPIDS record. These guys stir up quite a din, check out their Total Punk LP for further proof.