Never Understand

Ellen Ripley Body Pact cassette

Sonically advanced, self-described “anarchist space pop” from Sweden. A synth-heavy Krautrock excursion with commanding vocals that listen like activist poetry while driving guitars meander casually though the five tracks on Body Pact. Sometimes you listen to a band and it’s clear they are telling you something, but I hear ELLEN RIPLEY and I’m compelled to listen because I feel like they are saying something…and that’s a different thing altogether. “We are made smaller / Our voices become harder / We cry more than we sing but say nothing more than anything.”

Hotet Död Framtid EP

Fast and melodic Scandinavian punk with everything you could possibly want from this genre: dueling male/female vocals that are impassioned and charmingly a little off-key. The title of the record translates to “Dead Future,” and despite the catchy melodies, the lyrics have a brooding, cynical undertone that perfectly sets of the upbeat sound. Definitely something to check out for fans of the canon of Scandinavian melodic punk bands, or melodic punk in general.

Ond Cirkel Svavelvinter / Vilda Syrener 7”

I’m used to reviewing a lot of Swedish punk bands and mostly D-beat-driven kängpunk. I was surprised to hear a band from Gothenburg that slows it down and aims toward post-punk, a really, really dark post-punk. OND CIRKEL combines the best in post-punk, darkwave, and shoegaze to form a “vicious circle” of reverb-drenched obscure raw emotion without ever stepping into the genre’s clichés. The lyrics are in Swedish but one can be steered to feel the reverence in the vocal delivery and let the mind wander. A great 7″ for those dark, cold, gloomy nights.

Sex Cuts Cop Bait cassette

SEX CUTS is a four-piece out of Gothenburg, Sweden who refer to themselves as “anti-genre.” More accurately, though, they play po-faced, political post-hardcore. Cop Bait is their debut cassette…and it gets off to a rough start. Opener “Designer Thoughts” is an anti-“cancel culture” song, with lyrics that read like talking points for an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show. I’m pretty sure this isn’t their intention—they otherwise stick to pretty typical political punk grievances—but the chorus of a song maybe isn’t the right avenue to float a nuanced take on what is quickly becoming a core principle of the Republican platform. Anyway, this soured me on the rest of the cassette, which consists of five more tracks that sound like murky variations of  “Polish” by FUGAZI sans any of the melodic elements.

Slugs Human Warmth cassette

Slimy garage shits from Göteborg that strip so many layers that I could be listening to EASY CURE demos as easily as leather-clad THUNDERS outtakes. Mid-paced stompers heavy on single-note guitars…the beauty in simplicity cannot be overstated.

Slugs Long Live the New Flesh cassette

Pretty damn great sleazy, leather-clad GBG garage punk. Maybe a little SPITS-like mainly for the vocals, which could also owe a bit to Wendy O. One could easily see this band on a bill with New Zealand’s the CAVEMEN; it’s nice and dirty, primitive, and would fit nicely on a Killed By Death volume. “Drug Eyes” and the Videodrome-inspired title cut rise to the top of this cesspool of punker joy, and it comes to a close with the wonderfully droning post-punker “V.A.T.” Shower-worthy bliss for shure.