Reviews

Last Laugh

Hand Grenades Demos to London 12″

Incredible reissue of a 1979 7” with two extra unreleased tracks. The title track is absolutely incendiary: wild tense DIY skree that yes has some SWELL MAPS tones, but is probably one of the coolest Wanna Buy a Bridge-y songs I have heard. Anarchic nervous energy captured so totally: the guitar sound is perfect, otherworldly somewhere between an alarm and some ENO sound effect, then the way the rhythm section sort of rumbles and shambles creates this total sound of claustrophobia and freedom. How do you even do that all at once??? The vocalist sorta hits that HOMOSEXUALS note in a way you won’t be able to stop consuming. It’s wild how English this sounds for a NYC band, it just doesn’t sound like their contemporaries at all to me? But the first song sorta makes me think of a photo of the Lower East Side circa 1980, so what do I know. Just a total magic snapshot of one of the coolest sounds created in the wake of punk! The unreleased songs are incredible.

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 Insults The Insults LP

All INSULTS records should come prepackaged with a snot-rag. You will rue the day you cut the sleeves off your shirt after taking a couple spins around the block with the INSULTS. Apparently these are their final recordings from 1980 (a.k.a. the beginning of the end of the American empire). While nothing here supplants the immortal “Population Zero,” you couldn’t ask for a better guide to being a no-count during the late ’70s. “I Hate…” is like a punk 101 course that can be completed in under two minutes. But then the charming “Are You Lonely?”—a sweet/sour tug-of-war like a proto-REPLACEMENTS—proves that these dicks have hearts. “Romilar Romeo” could be a SIMPLETONES outtake. “Trans Am” lampoons the red-blooded patriots that swarmed all over conservative suburban California, soon to be running the country (into the ground). Punk has always been the canary in the coal mine, only with better riffs.