Reviews

For review and radio play consideration:

Send two copies of vinyl (one for our archive, one for the reviewer) or one copy of CD-only or cassette-only releases to MRR, PO Box 3852, Oakland, CA 94609, USA. Maximum Rocknroll wants to review everything that comes out in the world of underground punk rock, hardcore, garage, post-punk, thrash, etc.—no major labels or labels exclusively distributed by major-owned distributors, no releases outside our area of musical coverage, no reviews of test pressings or promo CDs without final artwork. Please include contact information and let us know where your band is from! All vinyl records received are added to our archive, which since 1977 has grown to become the largest collection of punk records in the world.

Affect / Löckheed split EP

Two bands, one common goal: to make noise not music! AFFECT comes from Sweden, the land of kängpunk, but they could have easily come from Kōchi City. They deliver three songs of pure fuzzed-out, chaotic DISCLOSE worship with ripping shouted vocals that hit the sweet spot. LÖCKHEED comes from Portland, the land of neocrust, but they sure could have come from Sweden. Their three tracks are less chaotic but go straight to the jugular with their vicious kängpunk attack done in a perfect manner. Overall, a great split between two bands that complement each other really well. Do you wear ripped-up jeans with tons of patches? I guess you’d better get this one.

Bashford Greener Grasses LP

With a recording shamelessly EQ-ed to Nevermind, BASHFORD manages to occasionally crawl out from that early ’90s shadow on Greener Grasses…but apparently direct light is too much. This is pure pre-commercial grunge with an extra dose of hate in the vocals. They nail it, to be clear, especially when they pick up the pace a bit.

Big Bopper New Mutations cassette

Spastic scrap/crap bursts of punk from somewhere in Texas. It’s hard to tell if the anonymity that is BIG BOPPER is an actual band or another one-man solo basement project spawned by quarantine. Regardless, it’s catchy, and its pointedly sardonic humor is infectious. The cover art of BIG BOPPER’s discography and the overall sharp spaz vibe lands it in the Lumpy Records camp, which is a great endorsement.

C4 Chaos Streaks EP

I always have room on my plate for a helping of hardcore that, quite frankly, revels in its own ignorance. I’ve written about this before; there is a push-and-pull between brains and guts in punk and especially hardcore. I have nothing but love for fellow overeducated bookworm punks, but sometimes you just want to throw something that lives up to its name. Boston’s C4 is simply explosive. They hate techno and mock BOB DYLAN, because nothing matters except riffs that make you go absolutely dumbass and dive bomb off a stage assembled in a church rec room. This is hard-hitting perfection, slamming hardcore that further proves the point: ignorance is bliss indeed. Get over yourself and turn it way up.

Crispy Newspaper Ой Дуораан LP

Cool release from Siberian band CRISPY NEWSPAPER, who write songs in their native Sakha, a Siberian Turkic language. The songs are short blasts of politically-charged righteous anger that are sonically rooted in US hardcore but energetic and passionate enough to stand out on their own. Lyrical themes range from traditional punk fare like trouble with authority and personal freedom to political violence like the Charlie Hebdo killings. Most interesting are the moments of insight into local issues, like the desecration of Sakha land detailed in “Алроса,” and standing up against a rich and disconnected political regime in “Тобурах.” It’s fascinating to hear from members of a culture that is so geographically remote but still experiencing many of the same issues that punks everywhere can relate to. Great release that is highly recommended.

Danny’s Favorites There Still Punk cassette

English was my weak subject in college. I sometimes think I overcompensate for that now. Are they just trying to bug me with the There Still Punk title? Or are they being funny? It’s mostly irrelevant, I suppose, as it really has nothing to do with the music I’m listening to. I’m digging this. It’s melodic and up-tempo and catchy and the lyrics are pretty funny. This is my kind of thing. It’s got a sound that blends early punk and power pop nicely. They’re obviously not the first to do this, but their sound is one I like. And I’ll always be a fan of anyone willing to take on the Mormons. Looking at the credits, it looks like there are only two band members here, with Trevor Lake responsible for everything except the drums. This is worth looking for.

Dr. Sure’s Unusual Practice Remember the Future? Vol. 2 & 1 LP

It appears as though this Melbourne act has been kicking around for a few years now, but this is certainly the first I’m hearing of them. But given this project’s name and song titles like “Super Speedy Zippy Wipper,” I had a sinking feeling that getting through this was going to be an uphill battle. And I wasn’t wrong. To be fair, the ten tracks on this LP are impressively crafted songs that are a bit post-hardcore and a bit post-punk, and the production comes off as very professional. But this sounds like the KILLERS playing DISMEMBERMENT PLAN songs to me. And I know that punk lyrics aren’t generally the most subtle, but lines like “Chasing infinite growth in dirty energy / But there’s no infinite growth if it’s clean and free” are really hard to take when presented in such a clever-rock context (even if I totally agree with the sentiment). I get the impression that others would like this stuff a lot more than me. So, maybe give it a go—you’ll probably be able to tell within a song or two whether or not this is for you.

Exilent Beyond Reality LP

A story about life under capital in the present told with a tour de force of violent and dark songs by this band from Hannover in Germany. EXILENT specializes in apocalyptic and heavy crust, and knows how to be metallic enough when needed, like on “System D,” or a brutal thrasher like on “Common Blindness,” or more ethereal and dense like on “Hammock.”  This band turned ten years old in 2020, so this album is a good gateway to their sound if you don’t know them yet.

Fake Fruit Fake Fruit LP

Indie/pop gusto galore, Oakland, CA’s FAKE FRUIT make a lovely splash with this debut album. Stringy guitar lines, sparse drums, and bass-led tracks range from the quiet and melodic (“Swing and a Miss”), to the more upbeat and confrontational (“Yolk”). The center piece that is Hannah D’Amato’s vocals shines throughout—a spoken style like COURTNEY BARNETT with the edge of PYLON.

Fashion Change Coward cassette

Nasty collection of raw punk scabs from this Seattle band, recommended for fans of VILE GASH and HOLOGRAM. As soon as you push play, the fast 1-2-1-2 beats start with harsh, almost blackened vocals and blistering, relentless guitar right in your face/ears. “Medicine” slows it way down with a crawling menace of a beat, shrouded in feedback before it speeds up again and ends with a textural sheet metal guitar “solo.” A short intermission comes in the form of “***** *******,” a warbly, non-English language classic thrift store ballad wrapped in Tascam hiss. It’s a mysterious breather before the ripping starts again. Final track “Coward” is a pounding hate crush with lyrics like, “You’re just another coward” and “Detestable—a waste of human life.” Oof, I would hate to be on the receiving end of that one. Misanthropes, check this one out.

Ford’s Fuzz Inferno Flog Yourself With Fuzz EP

This is the second EP from this pair of ancient Dutch punkers, and it’s a fairly good listen, if not at all being my thing. These two gents have played in WASTE, BETTY FORD CLINIC, and SCOUNDRELS, some of which you may have heard of. It’s fuzzily distorted and catchy as all hell, maybe like a punker and meaner CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN, MUDHONEY, or SMASHING PUMPKINS. It’s definitely worth a whirl. Yay.

Game Legerdemain 12″

GAME’s No One Wins LP from 2019 was and is one of the best hardcore releases of the last half-decade or so, and this successor—six songs at 45rpm—is hot on its tail in that respect. The internationalist London quartet (who include Polish vocalist and Quality Control label owner Ola Herbich, and Jonah Falco of FUCKED UP, et al. on drums) have dialed up the already profound metal factor: the title cut, which opens Legerdemain, moves to a hardcore beat but is Motörcharged in that glorious early ’80s NWOBHM gumby way, Callum Baird’s guitars especially. “The Caricaturist” is the catchiest number on here, and “Shard” the chuggiest, with Nicky Rat’s bass cutting through big time. Lyrics—five songs in English, one in Polish—are political in an allusive, as opposed to directly referential, way. You won’t learn anything from Ola’s words (screenprinted on a tasty A1-sized foldout poster, by the way) but there are dozens of choice individual phrases crammed into a stone killer 12”.

Hounds of War Hounds of War demo cassette

With an intro featuring gunfire, you already know it’s going to be a good one. HOUNDS OF WAR is Claire Vastola and Max Parker, both from the excellent SUBVERSIVE RITE, one of the best SACRILEGE worshippers out there. This time around, they unleashed a three-song demo of metal-tinged hardcore punk with hints of DIRT and VICE SQUAD. The demo goes by quickly but the songs certainly get stuck in your head, as every song is fun from beginning to end.

Kirkby Kiss Listen Closely CD

Dramatic post-hardcore from New Jersey with sludgy, guttery vocals and suspenseful breaks throughout. There is a level of anticipation to KIRKBY KISS that is waiting for something to break—when it finally releases, there is a feeling of relief. Solid hardcore with post-hardcore moods and solos. Songs cut off in an intense way and it is appreciated as not to drag on. Like I said, KIRKBY KISS plays with a lot of build and suspense that dive bombs or bursts into some calamity at the end. These careful structures containing an intensity of underlying fire is undeniably heard. I Listen(-ed) Closely and here are all sorts of levels of street punk, blue-collar hardcore, Oi!, and post-punk. Digging their combination of all these subgenres with sincere grit.

Lappen The Lappen Supergroup cassette

Mid-tempo punk from Leipzig, Germany. These songs are pretty catchy, but it’s a little difficult to pigeonhole exactly what they sound like. It’s like an Oi!-inspired egg-punk band, or an egg-punk-inspired Oi! band, if you can picture either of those. Nine-song cassette which is over very quick and inspires an immediate second listen.

Mižerija Mižerija demo cassette

The defiant and danceable sound of ’80s ex-YU post-punk, updated for the new dark ages by a group of punks affiliated with the Nigdjezemska autonomous space in Zadar, Croatia. Doomtown’s assertion that this is “likely the poppiest-sounding” thing they’ve put out is a bit of a red herring—relative to Scandi-hardcore copycats, sure, but it’s not like MIŽERIJA is TALULAH GOSH, either. There’s definitely a strong melodic pull in these four tracks, though much like that first HONEY BANE single, the hooks embedded in MIŽERIJA’s anarcho-pop jabs are further wrapped in razor wire, with nagging, klaxon-call guitar (especially on the perfectly paranoid-sounding “Izolacija”), driving deep-set bass, frenetic drumming, and intently shouted femme vocals, warbled with blown-out echo as if captured via a clandestine tape recording from under the floorboards. Very sick. 

Never Ending Game Halo & Wings EP

On the surface this is some pretty cookie-cutter “tough guy hardcore.” It checks all the boxes. Breakdowns? Yep. Gang vocals? Sure. Lyrical content about being “hard”? You bet. Metallic riffs? Goddamn right. Borderline hokey drawing of some tattoo-like art on the cover? Of course. All the red flags are there that would turn me off to a record like this, but there’s something about this that I don’t completely loathe. I can’t quite pin it down, though. I wouldn’t go out of my way to put this on, but I wouldn’t turn it off if it was playing. I suppose that’s a win.

Peacemaker See You Dead / Greed cassette

It’s truly a gift to be able to make antisocial hardcore bile come across like top 40 hits, and Milwaukee’s PEACEMAKER has it. These two songs are unabashedly hateful and also catchy as hell, reminding me of some of Drew from SICK THOUGHTS’ best efforts of the last decade. “Alright folks, that was ‘Need To Know’ by DOJA CAT, and now here’s a real toe-tapper from PEACEMAKER, ‘See You Dead’!”

Pestigor Nurgle’s Rot EP

Latest release by this Warhammer-themed hardcore punk band from Denmark. B-thrash chainsaw guitar parts with some classic metallic ’80s UKHC vibes. Non-polished, nasty, and gritty-as-fuck apocalyptic hardcore you can smell the stench of from miles away. Appropriate background music for the filthy, disgusting, devoted mutants of the chaos god, Nurgle.

Adam Roth and His Band of Men Down the Shore Original Soundtrack LP

A very nice reissue of this 1981 film soundtrack. The film is a trashy, low-budget teen sex flick more commonly known as Beach House. The music sounds much more professional. ADAM ROTH AND HIS BAND OF MEN, which includes Adam’s brother Charles, play very catchy power pop. The songs are punchy and fun. The title track lays out the plot humorously as a good movie theme should. Bonus fun fact: one of the songs on this LP, “Judy Won’t You Dance With Me?,” was co-written by Denis Leary. The film is silly fun and the soundtrack rocks.

Silicon Heartbeat Implant EP

This 7” is an improvement from SILICON HEARTBEAT’s last tape, but it still doesn’t quite tickle my funny bone the way I like it. Although he leans into the sci-fi punk trappings harder than most, it still sounds like a garage punk dude doing the one-man band thing, not like CHROME, which is an obvious inspiration. It’s hard to break those garage chains! CHROME didn’t give a fuck about garage rock (‘cept maybe “A Question of Temperature”); they were too busy taking acid and dressing up their mannequin friends for the cocaine orgy. Anyway, this record is alright, but it sounds like JAY REATARD just chugged some Robos and LOST SOUNDS is gonna take it easy at the show tonight, maybe skip last call and go home early. Hell, tomorrow’s gonna be a long day and we’re not getting any younger.

Suffocating Madness Destroy Me EP

Roachleg out of Brooklyn is a crucial living archive of the current wave of gutter scum world-ending hardcore coming out of New York, and this release is a perfect example of why. Clocking in at four tracks in just over five minutes, SUFFOCATING MADNESS is relentless metallic D-beat from hell that satisfies as it crushes your lungs. The short runtime is good, too, because the production here is hot, like ear fatigue hot from the wild cymbal work alone. Throw in the furious blown-out riffing and cavernous vocals and it’s a lot to take in. In a good way. Brain-erasing hardcore punk just the way it should be played.

The Telefones She’s in Love (With the Rolling Stones) / The Ballad of Jerry Godzilla 7″ reissue

The TELEFONES were early punk pioneers, sometimes known as Texas’ first new wave group. Their sound pulls from a ton of different backgrounds—classic rock songwriting, new wave instrumentation, and punk ethos. This single is the group’s most well-known, and for good reason. The A-side, “She’s in Love (With the Rolling Stones),” is an upbeat number carried by a wailing saxophone line. “The Ballad of Jerry Godzilla” has darker undertones, playing much like a MODERN LOVERS track. This is worth checking out.

Toys That Kill The Citizen Abortion cassette

The debut from one of San Pedro’s best, given a cassette reissue for its twentieth anniversary. This album is still as great as it was when it originally came out. Rising from the ashes of the juggernaut that was F.Y.P., TOYS THAT KILL continued down the path of their predecessor by churning out snotty, fun pop punk that could have fit right in with the body of work of the previous band, and while Todd Congelliere’s vocals are unmistakable, it’s the addition of Sean Cole splitting up the vocal duties that really adds that extra element needed to not just write off this record as a new F.Y.P. album. Though twenty years have passed since this originally was released, it still sounds fresh, which is a feat especially when you consider the musical landscape twenty years ago—the mark of not only a great album, but a great band. If this album is not already in your collection and you’re down with cassettes, go get a copy now and hurry, because it’s limited to only 100 copies!

The Wirtschaftswunder Salmobray LP reissue

This is a reissue of a Neue Deutsche Welle group with the least number of German members in the scene, consisting of a Czech guitarist, Italian vocalist, Canadian keyboardist, and a German drummer. The tunes oscillate from melodic on the opener “Analphabet” to abrasive and experimental on “Die Leute Sind Interessant.” The keyboards are at the helm on this one, with a dirty and distorted electric piano sound like the SCREAMERS, and the vocals more wacky and out-of-key.

Ztuped Are You Stupid? EP

ZTUPED really carries the torch of DC punk into the 21st century. They wear their influences heavily on their sleeves, but expand in slightly new directions. Their sound is more muscular than BAD BRAINS, more intense than MINOR THREAT. In true DC punk fashion, there are six tracks forced onto a 7”, each more blazing than the last. It’s quite a bit of raucous fun. Surely not one to miss!

V/A Tarantula Tapes Presents: Tracknaphobia, Volume 1 cassette

A format that I am absolutely always a fan of, an introductory mixtape/sampler for a record label. Tarantula Tapes is a Canadian-based cassette label that began as a “pandemic project” for the people who started it. This cassette marks their one-year anniversary of being a label. My sincerest congratulations! Now onto the music! While not everything on this 21-song cassette is exactly my cup of Caesar (that’s what everyone drinks up there, right?), I love the idea of an eclectic, all-over-the-map tape label just putting out music because they believe in it and are helping cultivate their local scene. We’ve got catchy pop punk, rockabilly, some rendition of hardcore, twangy lewd folk-country, instrumental surf, heavy stoner rock, and that’s all just on the A-side! When I was younger and starting my record label, I used to make tapes of my releases and keep them on me at all times, giving them out to anyone vaguely alt-leaning. Skateboarders, mall punks, ween-bags in ironic punk-adjacent shirts, all in the hopes that it would get people more excited about the killer bands we had coming out of my hometown. I imagine this technique would be a top-notch move in Barrie, Ontario, and if this mix were given to young budding punkers, it would likely have a huge impact on them. Being from just south of the border and regularly touring through Canada, I definitely plan on hitting up Barrie once that is a possibility again.

Abi Ooze R.I.P. EP

We may be more than a half-decade out from its heyday, but the NWI scene is still pretty potent. Not only are veterans like LIQUIDS still churning out vital releases, but there seems to be no shortage of cool new acts popping up, like this recording project from Hammond’s Jade Baisa (who’s actually played in LIQUIDS and is backed here by Mat Williams on drums). This EP contains eight tracks of lo-fi punk covering a variety of sounds—some fashionable, some less so. A track like “ABA” sounds like C.C.T.V. mixed with the manic multi-tracked vocals of JUDY AND THE JERKS, and the ramshackle garage-y punk of “Liquidate” sounds not unlike those great early NOTS singles. But she’s also not afraid to slow things down or get poppy. The opening track “Into” has a borderline CRIMPSHRINE vibe, and it’s followed by an earnest slow rocker that reminds me just the faintest bit of some of the emo bands that you’d hear in the late ’90s. I don’t mention that as a slight, more so to point out that the track (and most of the record) is played with a sincerity you don’t really get much these days. It’s actually kind of refreshing and, when paired with good songwriting ideas, makes for a neat record. Unfortunately, this appears to be the final release from the project (hence the title). Bummer.

Black Mercy For the Man That Has Everything EP

Pretty stunning debut release from a crew of Austin veterans. Gruff, aggressive sounds that owe a heavy debt to ’90s emotive DIY (think JOHN HENRY WEST by way of ’80s Dischord?) without giving up the quest for fast, raw intensity, fronted by a set of pipes that land like Jerry A. on a heavy diet of DEATHREAT. Short, wild bursts (eight songs on a seven-incher—that’s some real ’90s shit) mashing all of the discordance and rage into those tiny-ass little grooves.

Boss Cash ‘Em In / Red Signal 7″

The second single by glam-punk hooligans BOSS arrives three years after the first, with under five minutes of music to show for it, but that’s no bovver ‘cause this 45rpm, two-song, thank-you-and-goodnight format is the canonical vehicle for this sound. Also, most or all of the members have been busy here and there: Jonah Falco’s recorded a stack of bands and played on releases like the sick new GAME 12”, Maxime Smadja has, well, also recorded a stack of bands, even if there’s no sign of a new RIXE record (are they still going?). “Cash ‘Em In” is the pick of the pair here, with a spoken intro by Callum of the CHISEL before a riot of muscled-up boogie and wicked guitar phasing; B-side “Red Signal” is heads-down junkshop glam with great, impetuous “whoo-oo!” backing vocal interjections.

Deep Trench Deep Trench demo cassette

At first glance of the name, the cover art, and the opener’s instrumental, I thought this was some experimental, sci-fi shit—but I was way off. This is a grunge heavy-hitter served up from none other than Olympia, WA, with little else I can find on the band except that it features members of DOGJAW and RVIVR. The screaming lyrics come off like HOLE’s Courtney Love on Pretty on the Inside (controversy aside, just think of the voice). “Little Minds” is a good taster of the power within DEEP TRENCH.

The Front Criteria Sessions EP

The internet has been a great archival tool, if nothing else. I find it really comforting to see an otherwise lost-to-time band such as this Miami power pop act able to document their 1980–1983 lifespan—even just on Bandcamp. This doesn’t simply feel like a vanity project, though. The tunes are good! If the DICTATORS had cleaned it up, they might have sounded something like this. These tracks are squeaky clean, but driving and melodic. The harmonies are on point, which is crucial, and there is even some interesting use of dissonant guitar leads on tracks like “Holiday Weekend” (the standout here). There is always a fear of losing music like this, of losing bands entirely as if they never existed. This probably won’t blow your mind like some unearthed gems, like when the world finally caught on to DEATH, but I’m happy to see releases like this. The FRONT were here, they stood in recording studios and on stages, and they recorded music and it sounded pretty damn good. We could all hope to be remembered to the same degree.

Fuse This Segregation Will End 12″

New LP of hardcore fury from Lion City. Unique blend of classic ’80s NYHC with UK anarcho bands, and yet still having a contemporary, up-to-date-sounding approach. For fans of stompy breakdowns with raw and raging fast parts that also won’t let us punks down. Artwork by Nicky Rat.

Richard Hamilton Kiss Touch 2000 cassette

Longingly lonely romantic pop rock songs from the prolific Clevelander RICKY HAMILTON. Hooky synthesizer melodies that you don’t mind getting stuck in your head. It lands somewhere beyond where post-punk ends and indie starts. Reminiscent of post-Seamonsters WEDDING PRESENT, where a cover “Montreal” would fit seamlessly into this album.

Impulso Impulso cassette

I love Italian hardcore and was stoked when I got this one to review. There is a quality in Italian hardcore that is undeniable: the ferociousness. IMPULSO comes from Trento and they are filled to the brim with rage on this cassette. They play furious hardcore punk but with a modern stompy edge that could turn any pit into a mosh-fest. They occupy a place sonically somewhere in between WARTHOG and S.H.I.T., but sung in Italian for extra drama in the good tradition of WRETCHED or CCM. Just listen to the follow-up album Costante Ossessione and you can get a clearer picture of this monster of a band.

Man-Eaters Twelve More Observations on Healthy Living LP

Chicago’s bad boys of rock return to slay with their second LP! I don’t know if that’s really accurate, but it starts out this review with a nice bang. Members of CÜLO, TARANTÜLA, etc. give it another go as their hard-rockin’, head-scarf-wearing ’70s cock-rock alter egos. The combination of classic-era hard rock and punk is nothing new these days—bands like JACK SAINTS, FANTASY LANE, MÖWER, and most noticeably ANNIHILATION TIME have tread this well-worn path before. With BLACK FLAG, SAINT VITUS, and the OBSESSED as their godfathers, these Chicago gents do a fine job of dirtheaded guitar worship. It feels like MAN-EATERS are a little more on the tongue-in-cheek parody side of this genre though, and they definitely fall more on the THIN LIZZY side with lots of boogie guitar licks and high struttin’ ‘tude. My complaints here are that the guitar is not loud enough and the effects on the vocals are annoying as fuck. It’s a little too long for my attention span, but the artwork is cool and they’re probably a hoot(?) live. Smoke it…get high.

Nisemono 偽者 Nisemono 偽者 demo cassette

New York City’s NISEMONO 偽者 may be a new band, but the players are veterans in the scene. This mighty duo shares members with the likes of L.O.T.I.O.N., DOLLHOUSE, and WARTHOG. Did I manage to get your attention now? Good! This demo has six tracks of hard-hitting hardcore punk with obvious Japanese hardcore influences, and Scandinavian ones as well. Feels like an alternative continuation to NOMAD (an earlier project of one of the members) as the same mindset is there, just with less fuzz and dirt. A quick search about the name reveals that it means “fake,” but there is nothing fake about them.

Onetwothree Onetwothree LP

Although they didn’t actually start a band together until 2018, Madlaina Peer, Sara Schär, and Klaudia Schifferle of ONETWOTHREE initially crossed paths as participants in Switzerland’s late ’70s/early ’80s punk scene—Klaudia played bass in KLEENEX/LILIPUT, Sara fronted TNT as a teenager and later joined the KICK on bass and vocals, and Madlaina was a member of NOKNOWS (with whom I’m completely unfamiliar; they seem to have never recorded). Onetwothree is a celebration of rhythm and the negative spaces created within it, primarily structured around the interplay of minimalist, elliptical bass grooves (from all three women!) and sung/chanted lyrics parsed into almost haiku-like phrases, with modest support from a drum machine that never really breaks out of the most basic “demo” setting and sparing strikes of guitar and keys that weave in only as necessary. Sleazy mutant disco synth pushes against the ESG-like hypnotic bass throb of “Give Paw” and lands right at the feet of early solo LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX, while the even more austere bass/vocals brutalism of tracks like “Adventure” or “Buy Buy Buy” (with its “buy this and this and this and that” incantation) is basically a dead ringer for SNEAKS. ONETWOTHREE could have easily just rebooted the classic Swiss wave of TNT or KLEENEX and offered up, like, “Hedi’s Head Pt. II,” and the femme/art-punk heads of today would have lost their collective minds over it, so the fact that they chose to honor the joyfully anarchic and liberatory spirit of their musical pasts in such a radically deconstructed context—even if it doesn’t quite reach the same giddy highs—is really the punkest move they could have made. (Madlaina Peer passed away at the very end of 2021, shortly after the release of this LP; rest in power.)

Phantasmagoria / Sectss Nyk Lives split LP

Wildly dark apocalypse split featuring the work of Nyk Radar, who passed away last year. PHANTASMAGORIA dishes out a heavy CRAMPS-influenced assault, supremely damaged in a “who’s that band of zombies playing in the dungeon” kind of way, and Radar’s yowl will slide under your skin like a needle. SECTSS (with Radar on guitar) are a more primitive beast, with Radar’s guitar piercing through the mix with a death-surf vibe. There’s nothing pretty about this split, neither the premise nor the execution, and there’s a (black) magic quality to an artist being able to reach from the grave…and grab you by the throat.

Plastics Plastic World EP

God, this is good. Pummeling and crunchy, with winding riffs that dart around with speed and precision, and hollering vocals that reverberate off the walls with chilly stoicism. If societal collapse has brought us anything, it’s brought us the best global hardcore scene in history. Let’s be grateful for that silver lining on a toxic cloud. This stands strong amidst the newest crop of art-tinged hardcore bands that smartly knits post-punk angularity with ’80s-indebted ferociousness to great effect.

Print Head boringboring cassette

One of the like six or seven cassettes this project released in 2021. If you’re unfamiliar with PRINT HEAD, the anything-goes no-fi recordings of prolific Canadian Brandon Saucier, this is probably as good a place as any to start. The five tracks on this release are easier to digest than the potentially daunting (though very excellent) 25-track compilation cassette that Discos Peroquébien put out last year, and it’s less likely to rankle than his cassette of PARQUET COURTS covers. And you’re getting a pretty good idea of what PRINT HEAD is all about—minute-long vignettes exploring a variety of punkish sounds. The first few tracks hew a little closer to the garage-y end of the punk spectrum with a touch of DEVO-core (you just can’t get away from it these days!), but it’s never really eggy—think if early TYVEK was a little more herky-jerky. And the rest of the tracks take some of the tunefulness that you’d find in mid-’90s GUIDED BY VOICES and weds that to the concrete-slicing jazzy funk-punk of early MINUTEMEN. Really compelling stuff—give it a go!

Systema Última Guerra LP

From the infamous hub of punk in Colombia known as Casa Rat Trap comes yet another great punk band, SYSTEMA. They live and breathe punk there, and it shows in the endless pit of talent they keep putting out on a consistent basis. SYSTEMA gathers members of AMENAZAS, MURO, DOOMSDAY, SINNACIÖN, and ALAMBRADA, all coming from Rat Trap. Última Guerra sounds like a Colombian punk singing for a Finnish hardcore band from the ’80s. If you like your hardcore angry and raw,then go get this one!

Tupperware Finicky EP

These Olympia punks (on a Wyoming-based label) have a knack for putting out releases where the artwork depicts the sound perfectly. The maze-dwelling, mace-wielding cretin from their previous cassette has been revealed as but one of many “X”-eyed demons, who have now progressed to menacing the world at large. The fact that they chose to illustrate their kitchen-convenience-invoking moniker sword and sorcery style also cracks me up.  Musically, much like the last one, this messy and manic hardcore tape is over before you know what hit you.

Wild Wings Foil Landscape LP

This ham-fisted Ohio power trio rocks big and burly, with elements of hard rockers like MOUNTAIN and PINK FAIRIES. They also have an early ’80s punk vibe sounding like ZERO BOYS or GEZA X. You can tell they rock hard in a live setting, as the sweat and hair would be flying gratuitously. Pick it up. Smells not included. 

The Antelopes Breaking News cassette

Early ’80s UK collective the ANTELOPES have a colorful and winding history, ending their brief run as CLASS OF ’76, but unfortunately the music doesn’t compel one to follow all the membership twists and turns. Musical history is always worth the effort of excavation, but the tunes themselves don’t quite deliver. There’s clumsy attempts at smoky Eastern European late-night tavern jazz alongside awkward stabs at disco and power-to-the-people funk. On “Mississippi Line,” these Brits lay down an awful blues pastiche that makes the ROLLING STONES’ most ham-fisted takes seem legit. The dubwise post-punk of “Hour of Light” is pleasant enough, but it’s followed by the schmaltzy mush of “Keys to the Kingdom” that warbles on for six long minutes. As evidenced by this collection, not all the unearthed post-punk that glitters is gold.

Bärchen und die Milchbubis Endlich Komplett Betrunken LP

A new collection of the (almost) complete works of early ’80s German group BÄRCHEN UND DIE MILCHBUBIS, who brought a playful naivety and shambolic charm to the Neue Deutsche Welle—their smiling teddy bear mascot was like a knowing wink that they were operating on a different wavelength than, say, D.A.F. or MALARIA! The stripped-down, melodically off-kilter bash of their 1980 debut EP Jung Kaputt Spart Altersheime was very much of a piece with their Hannover scene peers and labelmates HANS-A-PLAST, and by 1981’s follow-up LP Dann Macht Es Bumm, BÄRCHEN UND DIE MILCHBUBIS had developed a more fully-realized sense of self, one that artfully encompassed 39 CLOCKS covers (taking the VELVETS-gone-electro drone of “DNS” and turning it out like NICO fronting KLEENEX), sparse drum machine pop (back to that local 39 CLOCKS connection!) breaking into a full-on pogo charge on “Manager”, solemn, brittle post-punk (“Tiefseefisch”), and proto-twee/C86 jangle (“Muskeln”), all without fully abandoning their initial wild, freewheeling punk spirit (see “Pogo Liebt Dich” and “Spaß” for proof positive). One of Dann Macht Es Bumm’s fourteen tracks got left behind on what is otherwise an exhaustive round-up of the MILCHBUBIS discography (where’s “Hab Doch Keine Angst”?!), but there’s a handful of live tracks circa ’80–’83 and a 2021 re-do of “DNS” to make up for it; more than enough bang for your buck.

Big Jar of Mayo Cassingle cassette

This is actually quite good, but the name and packaging are way dumb, so I never would have heard it if not assigned for review. Everything’s a bit warped here, and I’m hearing something like if the FREEZE were art-punks with a splash of modern snot along the lines of LIQUIDS. Two solid songs in a little over two minutes. Mayo is fucking gross, though.