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.

Academy Order To Wilt Without Shame cassette

ACADEMY ORDER is a band from the Philadelphia area, formed in 2021. It features current and former members of DRILL SERGEANT, FIXATION, STUD COUNT, and FLUORIDE. This is their debut, six songs of deathrock with some prominent synth work. Think Southern California staples like 45 GRAVE or the mighty TSOL with a great dose of SKINNY PUPPY-esque synths. My fave track is “Slice of Life,” a song with just the right amount of darkness and abandonment to dance the night away. I think the tape is sold out, but you can buy the digital version or ask for another run of tapes directly to the band. It’s worth it.

Alien Nosejob HC45-2 EP

Australia’s ALIEN NOSEJOB gives us a quick dose of freaky hardcore with this collection of six rippers in eight minutes. Check out the cover art for a visual preview of what’s inside: colorful gore delivered via box-cutter surgery. Egg-punks, but real ones. Blood everywhere. Likewise, these short bursts of hardcore frenzy have a lot of moving parts and seem to be on the edge of breaking apart at any second. But they don’t, and that’s the exciting thing. These tracks have a lot of USHC influence like early BLACK FLAG, CIRCLE JERKS, etc., but with added trebly guitar fills and near-constant drum rolls that reveal hidden complexities upon further listening. Listen to this and enjoy a modern take on the classic hardcore blueprint: very fast, snotty, and great.

Brux Guerra Mental cassette

Mate. In four short tracks, BRUX has created one of the releases of the year. Pairing PMS 84-style UK82 chaos in parts, with SYNDROME 81 skeletal post-punk and a hint of Second Empire Justice BLITZ overdriven claustrophobia in others. There’s also some good-time skinhead rock’n’roll baby, courtesy of a few taut RIXE-style bangers replete with swaggering riffs that the sainted LOBBY LOYDE would be proud to have in his tight, denim-clad back pocket. All tied together with some ferocious vocals that assault the senses like prime-era ARMS RACE. Belting.

Bumbo’s Tinto Brass Band Cosmic Butter EP

When I get a review assignment for a release by a band I’m unfamiliar with, I try to go into my  first listen context-free to avoid bringing any bias I may have about members’ past projects.That was not the best approach with these guys. Had I done a little research, I might have been able to brace myself for the wild-ass din that blasted out my headphones as soon as I put on the Cosmic Butter EP. BUMBO’S TINTO BRASS BAND is centered around Detroit-area bass player Brian “Bumbo” Krawczyk, whom you may know from noisy art-punk bands PIRANHAS or DRUID PERFUME. As raw and experimental as those bands were, BUMBO’S TINTO BRASS BAND makes them feel straightforward by comparison. Most of the seven tracks on this EP (one of which is a cover of a RESIDENTS song) sound like at least two songs being played at once—one by a PREENING-like, sax-heavy No Wave band, and one by a smooth, STEREOLAB-y modular synth, avant-pop band. These guys are here to freak squares the fuck out! I appreciate that BUMBO’S TINTO BRASS BAND is out there making palatable yet genuinely experimental music in a time when a lot of other bands are content to rehash shit we’ve already heard. But I’m also like 80% square, so,  while I dug a few songs, getting through the rest felt like a chore.

 

Children of God Pain Clings Cruelly to Us EP

CHILDREN OF GOD build on past efforts to create one colossally epic track, presented as repetitive movements and separated by morosely quiet interludes. While the NEUROSIS comparison is perhaps more blatant here than on some of their output, especially when the final section kicks in at the five-minute mark, the foundation here is still an amalgamation of metallic hardcore and screamo…which makes the bludgeoning all the more poignant and makes simple comparisons feel especially lazy. These folks are on their own trip, and they are evolving (check the ferocity of the recent demo recording for reference). One seven-minute track slapped on one-sided wax with a Rorschach (test, not the band) screen on the flip. Worth it.

Chuzpe Terror in Klein Babylon LP

A compilation of demos and unreleased recordings from early Austrian punk group CHUZPE, this LP is a lasting document of old school punk in Europe. For being made up of mostly demos, the record is surprisingly high-quality. The tracks sound full and developed, but still rough enough to sound reminiscent of other late ’70s punk. If you’re looking for something to be nostalgic for then look no further. This is about as good as it gets when we’re talking about found recordings compilations.

Crack / Siberian Ass Torture split cassette

Split cassette of two current Japanese bands. SIBERIAN ASS TORTURE plays nasty mid-tempo noise punk. Their shorter songs are pretty cool, but the longer drone-y instrumentals lose my attention a bit. CRACK plays mostly very slow, repetitive, instrumental drone music but adds in noise elements with indecipherable screaming on top. All the songs on this split were recorded live. Not much information on this release or on either band seems to exist on the internet, and attempting to search for them just provided some very strange results, as you can potentially imagine.

Cyanide Cyanide cassette

This short EP comes directly from Tel Aviv. I have no clue about the Israeli punk scene, so it was really fun to listen to CYANIDE and their take on street punk. This is teenage angst in its purest form, nine songs played with earnest intensity by a bunch of teens with some kinship for BLITZ or the Killed By Death bands. It’s a blast. There is a short doc about the band, their life, and surroundings while they get ready for the release of this EP. You can easily watch online, it’s called “Dreaming Tel Aviv.” You can get the EP as a beautifully designed tape released by A World Divided, a collaborative non-profit label that promotes Mediterranean punk from places like Tunisia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, and more. You should check out their entire catalog.

Data Unknown Promo cassette

Excellent rehash of classic synthwave—the kind that was born out of a background in industrial experimentation—and punk. But especially punk. DATA UNKNOWN leans heavily on the drums (not just the “beats,” per se, but the drums…even if they’re programmed). Electronic freak-outs with shouted choruses, think CHRISTIAN LUNCH by way of TUBEWAY ARMY…or imagine early punks turning primitive classics like HUMAN LEAGUE’s “Being Boiled” into infectious, danceable punk slogs. All of the sounds feel old, but DATA UNKNOWN is the freshest thing I’ve heard in ages.

Dauðyflin / X2000 split cassette

After sharing (or destroying) a stage in Scandinavia back when gigs were allowed, these two pogo monsters consolidated their bond with a split. First off on the cassette is X2000 from Sweden, a creepy and eerie chorus-drenched beast of a band that hammers primitive hardcore like there is no tomorrow, complete with Spanish lyrics for that extra pinch of anger. Up next, DAUÐYFLIN from Iceland, who already have a name out there due to some releases through the excellent Iron Lung Records. This is dark hardcore full of pogo-inducing beats and an Icelandic coldness permeating the songs. If not for the lyrics, one might even think that these two bands were from Latin America. Overall a great split that shares a similar dark approach to hardcore. Will leave your “tupa-tupa” craving satiated.

DONORS Donors cassette

Heavy landscapes of noise interlace with layers of complex rhythm—a sound that makes one think of URANIUM CLUB, PRIESTS, and other modern punk outfits, merging eggy weirdness with the distorted noise of post-punk/early alternative scenes. But DONORS’ song structure doesn’t feel tied to the confines of a specific genre. A fierce individuality comes through in this cassette—a willingness to take chances creatively that makes for an exciting and dynamic listening experience. Hopefully they get to tour this around at some point, I’m sure their live shows are a full-body experience.

Expose Expose cassette

Probably the most aggressively lo-fi release you will hear all year. This tape is a slightly more melodic version of punk. It combines reverb and delay-drenched vocals with punchy riffs and the irresistible sound of a wailing saxophone in the distance. It’s rough around the edges in every way possible. Overall, this isn’t a bad way to spend fifteen minutes.

Grauzone Grauzone 2xLP

Even squares dig “Eisbär” these days, but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from digging as deeply as possible into this pioneering Swiss group’s oeuvre. Here, across the span of two LPs, all of GRAUZONE’s work is collected for dilettante and connoisseur alike. Encompassing their sole LP and numerous EPs, I don’t think there’s a bum cut amongst these nineteen tracks. (There’s also a box set version that adds a complete 1980 live set and the requisite thick booklet.) The territory that GRAUZONE covers is vast: hallucinatory scene-setting (“FILM 2”), cave-wave (“Maikäfer Flieg”), proto-indie rock (“Marmelade Und Himbeereis”), radio-ready pop (“Der Weg Zu Zweit”), romantic crooning (“Ich Lieb Sie”), NDW bangers (“Moskau”), piano-laced desperation (“Ein Tanz Mit Dem Tod”), U2-like triumph (“Ich Und Du”), noise-pierced post-punk (“Raum”). The listener is in capable hands as GRAUZONE performs all of these modes quite well. The result of this eclectic approach is to display that, despite their brief existence and relative isolation, GRAUZONE was a force to be reckoned with, and made music that stands the test of time.

Hyökkäys Antigobierno EP

HYÖKKÄYS translates to “attack”. And attack they do! This is pure Suomi hardcore worship played by Basque punks. Little is known about this band, which keeps things interesting, and one can solely focus on the music…erm…noise they make. Antigobierno is made up of eleven tracks, two of them are covers of HHH and KAAOS, and this mixture pretty much sums up their sound. Raw, primitive, and to-the-point. Another great gem from the Spanish punk scene.

Illiterates Illiterates LP

Imagine if the strong metal influence, basketball jerseys, and corporate co-opt never happened to hardcore in the ’90s. ILLITERATES from Pittsburgh have been hard at work keeping the grand tradition of making good, old-fashioned music-to-not-do-your-homework-to alive. Here we have twelve pure old-school U.S. hardcore blazers in the spirit of bands like JERRY’S KIDS, the F.U.’S, and ILL REPUTE, and it’s a job well done. My favorites on here are probably “LB Scheme,” “Stupid Privilege,” and closer “We’re Coming Out.” Turn your brain off and turn it up.

Indonesian Junk Living in a Nightmare CD

I believe this is the fourth or fifth effort from this (now) quartet, specializing in the mid-’70s era of the punk/glam/power pop end of the rock spectrum. Think the HEARTBREAKERS covering SLAUGHTER (i.e. SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS’ second LP, when they’d shortened their moniker and slowed down a tad, with more power ballads), with a touch of the BOYS thrown in for good measure. And yup, it is that good, and catchy. Not so much bubblegum, but rather the bubblegum stuck on the sidewalk and trodden in for a week or so…

Jane Doe Ensemble Pink Liquor / Respect 7”

Debut single from New York trio JANE DOE ENSEMBLE, featuring two experimentally-minded noise-pop songs that don’t just go outside the box, but set down stakes somewhere a few ZIP codes away from the box. A-side “Pink Liquor” starts out as a low-key waltz of jangly guitar, unsettling keys, and intersecting vocals (one voice nonchalantly sing-speaking, one voice offering sweeter and more melodic counterpoint), abruptly swerves into a brief, frantically-strummed and falling apart noise frenzy almost exactly halfway through its four-minute run time, and then drifts out on a gentle wave of abstract whirring keyboard. On the flip, “Respect” bobs and weaves with a little more art-punk abandon, guided by percolating keyboard and rattling percussion—think TABLE SUGAR’s loosest and most freewheeling side. There’s apparently an LP in the works, and I’m sure those extra inches will afford them even more room to go way out there.

Lost Cherrees Blank Pages LP

The LOST CHERREES story has been one full of unexpected turns, from member turnover, to genre evolution, to breaking up during a show in 1986, then reforming during the Napster craze of the early 2000s. It’s always fascinating to me when bands span decades, to try and understand what has kept them going, and fueled the creative fire for so long. In LOST CHERREES’ case, it seems that constant change has been a driving force in the forward momentum of the band. Bassist and founding member Steve Battershill has served as an anchor throughout all its incarnations. Politics are still at the forefront, with lyrics confronting issues like bigotry, animal cruelty, and sexual violence. Don’t expect this to sound like their early stuff, but a worthwhile listen for those who appreciate a more modern take on the genre.

Marjinal / Potbelly Fuck Borders split CD

POTBELLY’s ability to combine anthemic political punk with heavy thrash is somewhat disorienting, to be honest, and takes a few tracks to really settle in. Gruff melodic vocals, guitars that can belt out big rock club open chords and then drop with into single-note death metal speed riffing…and then sometimes they remind me of the Biafra/DOA collaboration (“Destroy All The Monsters” in particular)—they’ve been in the game for twenty years, suffice to say they have honed in on a sounds that is definitely theirs. Jakarta’s MARJINAL should be well-known to most as Indonesian activist street punks who have been mainstays in Jakarta’s DIY punk scene seemingly forever. The incorporation of folk elements (and instruments) into their hard-hitting and addictive punk is just a part of what sets them apart, MARJINAL is addictive and transcends comparisons. What if there were a band that got stuck in your head like DROPKICK MURPHYS, rocked as hard as FORWARD, and inspired an unparalleled level of international and inter-scene support and networking? Well, there is. Listen to “Negri Ngeri” every day.

Material Support Specter cassette

Specter is the most recent EP from ultra-political Pinoy punks MATERIAL SUPPORT. After the excellent full-length Terror Prone Nation, they are back at it with extra anger and a bone to pick. Five agitation anthems that touch on capitalism, cops, sexism, racism; the whole nine yards. Sonically, it is pure ’80s hardcore worship of the NYHC orientation. Simple and based on the message. A great EP to vent out the bitter taste of anger that life provides on a daily basis.

Mundo Infernal Nunca Más cassette

Just listen to that trashy guitar riff intro and how the whole band comes pummeling through. “Aniquilación de Este Mundo Cruel” is just eight seconds in and it’s already one of the most powerful moments I’ve heard this year in heavy music. Just wait a little more and enjoy those epic guitar leads. “Sin Control” follows on Los Angeles band MUNDO INFERNAL’S Nunca Más cassette. A show of brute force and savagery en español. We’re talking about beautifully crafted hardcore: lyrics lamenting the current state of the world, heavy tone guitars, chokingly disgruntled screaming vocals, and a ceaseless rhythmic attack. The record it’s too damn short, just four songs, and it leaves the listener wanting more. Awesome feeling, by the way. Nunca Más was released as a cassette with a limited run, but I urge you to get it as a digital album and play it as loud as you can.

Oof Is This Really Happening? cassette

Walking the tightrope between post-punk and No Wave, OOF from Brooklyn, NY does a really cool job of keeping some of their mid-tempo songs feeling really driving. While some of this project is a bit too much on the artsy side of things than I would standardly like, some of it resonates really well with me. The skronking saxophone and occasional somber violin come off very tasteful and not overbearing at all. The dual vocals each sound kooky in their own respect, both are capable of being very pretty yet also bizarre at the same time.

Paranoias Napalm Springs EP

Total mean-streak punk obliteration from Perth’s PARANOIAS, guided by lean ’77-’79 switchblade slash and early ’90s blown-out budget rock as they crash land into some raw, neo-Bloodstains snarl for the digital dark ages. They’ve offered up four gloriously unpolished sub-two-minute ragers (plus a more mid-tempo closer that barely cracks that mark) on Napalm Springs, recorded straight to tape for that authentic KBD murk, with frenetic and deliriously catchy—don’t call it “surfy”—Dangerhouse-worthy guitar, the clamor of bass and drums pushed beyond the red, and vocalist Hannah’s wired and almost helium-pitched yelps and shrieks, the latter which really seal the deal here. I get a similar rush from the unpolished nervous energy of “In the Bin” and “Medium Rare” as I did when I first stumbled across any number of ragingly shambolic early ’80s obscurities by the likes of the NIXE, SCHUND, RAKKETAX, et al. A real ripper!

Portabella Return to the Fountain of Olives cassette

Experimental, psych-tinged indie rock from this Spartanburg, SC duo. This collection contains frequently likeable lo-fi pop songs with whimsical journeys into synth exploration and nonsensical, lysergic lyrics. “The Wrong Way” sounds like a lost GUIDED BY VOICES gem in the best way: a jangly guitar confection with just enough bite in the refrain. Similarly, there are about six more enjoyable indie pop jams on this tape that hit the home-recorded indie sweet spot, even if they sound pretty close to their influences. For instance, the guitar solo on “Nothing Left” might as well be credited to J. Mascis for how close it sounds to DINOSAUR JR. And “Valley of Imploding Cups” sounds a whole lot like Slanted and Enchanted-era PAVEMENT. Now for the rest of the tape, I wrote the same note next to seven songs: “Sebadoh III outtake.” I like SEBADOH, and I like that particular album, but it has its share of shambolic, half-baked audio sketches that would be better left as demos. PORTABELLA seems to love this aspect of SEBADOH so much that half of this album sounds like a tribute to it. The vocals sound like Lou Barlow, the thrown-together, first-take approach to songwriting, the weird, left-field acoustic interludes, the occasional faux-angry moments. What is skippable on Sebadoh III is skippable here. PORTABELLA definitely has talent and ideas to spare. I am interested in seeing what happens when they step away from their record collections.

Ray Gun Jonesy cassette

RAY GUN is a trio out of Nashville who are sonically all over the map. This cassette (which I’m hoping is named after the cat in Alien) plays like a mixtape a friend with good taste might make you to let you know how much cool stuff they’re into. The cover’s collage even has the feel of something an artsy friend might whip up, really adding to the personalized mixtape vibe. Opening track “Ghost Machine” sounds like early TV GHOST riding a motorik groove out to a feedback freakout—it’s fantastic! “Black Candy” sees them turning a BEAT HAPPENING track into a HUNCHES-esque loud-quiet-loud garage punk ripper. There’s also an egg-punk track, a track that sounds like it could have been pulled off one of the more experimental mid-’80s SST records, a couple of synthy downer-punk dirges à la GARY WRONG GROUP, and even a straight-up FENNESZ-style ambient track—all extremely well done and tonally consistent. Good shit! Would love to hear an LP of this with some of these influences blended a little more seamlessly.

Repeat Offender Demo ’20 EP

Playing early U.S. hardcore that’s been spiked with a bit of the ol’ Oi! Oi! music, REPEAT OFFENDER terrorizes listeners with treble, distortion, and monstrous vocals on their first outing. Banging out raucous punk in the style of bands like NEGATIVE APPROACH and SSD, this new L.A. group packs equal parts melody and menace into their short and powerful songs. They really kick the shit out of you on a couple of these tracks, but I like this band best when they pull out numbers like the punky “Consequence.” Despite their ominous moniker, this 7” demo shows promise, and I’m not offended at all.

Siekiera Jarocin ’84 LP

Polish punks SIEKIERA are best known for their Nowa Aleksandria post-punk album, but before that genre switch they were an intense hardcore punk force. Jarocin ’84 is a legendary live recording that took place at the Jarocin Festival. The recording has two parts; the competition and the final set. Rumour has it that when they played there, the audience responded with the biggest pogo ever in Poland. This is a piece of Eastern European punk history, and even if you are more inclined to their later post-punk stuff, you should check this one out. A freight train of hardcore punk in the vein of CHAOS UK and DISORDER.

Smirk Smirk LP

This one is too upbeat to be classified as a pandemic project. Yet, I suppose when you start something in 2020 it is impossible to avoid the connection. Under that sunny exterior lurks some annoyance and frustration. SMIRK is the solo project of PUBLIC EYE’s Nick Vicario, playing jangly, bright, minimalist pop. The vocals are a bit bratty. My fave is “Goons on the Beach,” which I will assume is about watching spring break idiots on TV. Good times.

Xerobot Xerobot LP

This discography collection is a goddamn public service. Presented within: 37 tightly-packed spasms as songs; 37 claustrophobic angular conniptions in miniature; a sonic Xerox of an EKG traced in crayon by an epileptic genius. And yet, despite all that blather, this is the sound of a band climbing up the stairs, not falling down them. XEROBOT is so methodical it’s as if AD(H)D itself was made flesh, formed a punk band, and then practiced incessantly with BLACK FLAG-like dedication. And all of this happened in the 1990s in the state of Wisconsin. It’s like a fairytale told by the janitor at your high school who is actually a mad scientist during his off-hours. This is maniacal and borderline insane music made by very smart young men who had problems, fetishes, and phobias that they couldn’t adequately express—except within these minute-long explosions of precise motion that walk the razor’s edge between innocent, demented fun and downright psychotic behavior. I find this music exhilarating, exhausting and absolutely hilarious. Included for your edutainment is an informative booklet-cum-oral history (alas, a zine) that puts it all in perspective for you. Take some time to peer through this cracked periscope. Crucial release.

V/A Sweet Time RNR Comp 2xLP

This compilation double-LP was put together by Nashville-based Sweet Time Records after their annual Sweet By Sweet Time Festival was cancelled last year due to COVID. Label boss Ryan Sweeney complied 26 tracks on vinyl including local Nashville bands like SCHIZOS, MODERN CONVENIENCE, and SNOOPER, with outside standout tracks from PERSONALITY CULT, MIDNITE SNAXXX, ZOIDS, SICK BAGS, FRESH GRAVES, a great garage rocker from Johnny Otis Dávila of the defunct San Juan band DÁVILA 666, plus a ton more. It’s like an anthology for the syntho-weirdo-punko-garage scene. Also, all proceeds are going to support the venues that lost money from the festival cancellation.

Alement Onward EP

ALEMENT is a crust band from Philly with a hideously dark guitar tone, trashy riffs, raspy vocals, fun solos, and furious tempos. Think AXEGRINDER, AMEBIX, and the like. Just three songs on this EP from last year, but you can expect a hell of a ride. “Sea of Consequence” starts with a full trash assault, reminiscent of ENGLISH DOGS in its most violently-induced slam riffery. “Dwell” develops with even more metal-sounding riffs, with some cool mid-tempo choruses and gigantic breakdown worthy of a wall of death. “Onward” ends the EP in a darker tone. It begins with a drone-y and doomy intro, followed by an amazing demonstration of killer after killer riff and epic solos, a real tour de force.

Ammoniia Demo 1 cassette

While I freely admit that they almost lost me with the new school guitar mosh that closes the opening track, these Michiganders launch right into the devastating mid-paced slammer “Recalcitrant” and I’m back on board. AMMONIIA does an excellent job of harnessing late ’90s USHC’s discordant ferocity and injecting it into the stylish modern stomp, effectively creating something akin to the first couple of LARD records and/or mid-era SNAPCASE on mescaline. Likely these results are accidental, but I truly want to believe that someone set out to start a band that sounds like mid-era SNAPCASE on mescaline.

B.S.B. The End is Near EP

These guys from Poland are all riled up, playing thrashing and pounding hardcore with gang vocal choruses and some howling guitar thrown in. There’s nothing here that strikes me as particularly memorable, but it goes down smooth. Easy listening for hard-asses.

Char-Man Power of the Night LP

These self-proclaimed legends of Ojai punk (since 2003?!) feature Zarayn from LECHEROUS GAZE and his brother, along with Tony Melino from ANNIHILATION TIME. While being a much more restrained affair than the previously mentioned combos, this rocks in a good-time warm fuzzy way, like an Andy Shernoff-sung DICTATORS tune or the UNDERTONES. There are rougher moments like “War World,” but mostly this is all smiles and lukewarm cans of beer, and really, that’s not such a bad thing at all these days. Pick it up.

The Chisel Enough Said flexi EP

If there’s one thing you can categorically say about the CHISEL, it’s that they have not been sat about with their collective thumbs up their arse over the past year. Onto their third release proper, and still yet to have an actual live gig, they are undoubtedly a prolific mob. Comprising various elements of CHUBBY AND THE GANG, ARMS RACE, and the LOWEST FORM, it’s a proper who’s who of UKHC. They are also, very clearly, pissed-off. Pissed-off at muggy little cunts, at racists, at the Murdoch press, at divide and rule. It seethes with righteous Lancastrian fury courtesy of Cal Graham’s vocals which are akin to a lump hammer to the side of the head. Their sound is beefier than previous releases too, certainly more in common with that classic OI! sound we all know and love, even going as far as to record on the same piano that “Plastic Gangsters” was, as I am reliably informed. Rounded off with a joyful cover of the BUSINESS’ “Harry May.” Six minutes of flexi fun. Up the Weetabix skins!

Declaration What is the Reason for Tomorrow? cassette

This is the sold-out cassette from Singapore’s DECLARATION. The city-state’s punk scene is rife with incredible bands, including this one, formed by members of SIAL, DAILY RITUAL, LUBRICANT, PAZAHORA, C.L.A.W., the SCUDS, FALLEN WORLD, and VAARALLINEN. The album was recorded during lockdown and it sure shows. The paranoia and profound disbelief of watching the whole world paralized delivered in eleven songs of pure and raw D-beat, executed with vigor and respect for the DISCHARGE legacy. The guitar tone reminds me of Swedish D-beat, plus there’s some really cool riffs in songs like “What Is The Reason for Tomorrow?,” “Always Restricted,” and “Lifelong Subscription.” I urge you to keep checking out the Singaporean/Malaysian punk scene, it is full of delight.

Dumspell Dumspell LP

Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s DUMSPELL presents their unique brand of weirdo slacker punk for our listening pleasure. Well-versed in winding, dissonant guitar melodies and matter-of-fact vocal delivery, comparisons to VATS or NOTS come to mind. This is a no-filler record; every song feels as though it’s been crafted carefully, and explored fully. If this sounds up your alley, it probably is.

Dyatlov Wound Man / Barren Lands 7”

I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback by the full-throated, noise-soaked roar that leapt off this single. No slow builders, these Dutch. “Wound Man” never lets up, and is all the better for it. On “Barren Lands,” there is a jaunty organ off-setting the ferocious deathrock, but these guys are about as friendly as a hitman on his day off. To quote the promo blurb: “DYATLOV doesn’t care about rock‘n’roll or anything it stands for. DYATLOV doesn’t care about themselves. And most importantly: DYATLOV doesn’t care about you.” A-fucking-men.

Eat Shit and Die Recoil Finger CD

Snotty Massachusetts punks blast their way through twenty doses of blistering hardcore. Equal parts classic New England grind/crust and West Coast sample-laden, turn of the century ‘core…stripped-down, no holds barred, don’t-give-a-fuck fuck-you shit punk. And who can fuck with not giving a fuck?

Exit Stance Retch With Mother 10”

Anarcho-punk legends EXIT STANCE have a lot to live up to with their absolute classic Crime Against Humanity, one of the best EP’s to come out of the UK anarcho-punk scene. If not the best, certainly the angriest. After a shitload of bad luck, they called it quits in ’86 due to constant criticism…being judged all the time, attacked for not being perfect, people always wondering if we were conforming to the ‘”anarchist rule book”! Fortunately they came back from the dead, released Saying Nothing (But Speaking My Mind), and now Retch With Mother. The fire is still there, and by fire I mean the politically-motivated anger. Songs about sexism, animal liberation, and anarchist values. They sound like themselves: dark post-punk in a KILLING JOKE-meets-CRASS way. Some bands lose their ethos within a few years and conform to the “music machine,” but in some rare occasions you see bands like EXIT STANCE that stand the test of time.

Great Falls / Throes split EP

If you’ve been sitting around with your face in your hands thinking “I’m about to fucking lose it right now,” then this record might be just what you need. Seattle’s GREAT FALLS drop a noisy post-hardcore dirge directly onto your terrified skull, leaving you a quivering pancake on the cold asphalt. This is on the less emo, more freak-out end of the post-hardcore spectrum, taking notes from late-’90s NEUROSIS, DAMAD, and even a little BASTARD NOISE for good measure. This song made me stoked to check out more from them for sure. Boise’s THROES pick up the pace significantly and plow right through you with some full-blast, face-shredding, metallic grindcore brutality. Sounds like some kind of bulldozer death race into a mosh volcano. Give it a spin and flip the fuck out!

Herjaza Herjaza CD

Blasting proto-hardcore with some grind elements such as MIND ERASER but not as dark. More in the vein of LUDDITE CLONE or EIGHTEEN VISIONS. A cyclone of rage and fury. Vocals break out with desperation that could border on screamo, but rein and rasp back in just at the tipping point. In fact, that comparison dissipates track after track, creating an interesting crescendo of bitter hatred glazed with anguish. Compositions range from spaced-out psych-core to discordant metalcore breakdowns. Audiosiege, once again, brings a sizzling production to the forefront while accentuating the heavy hitting. Themes are angry for sure, but there is an irreverence in these songs from New York, that I as a native I can relate to. “Not If I See You First,” “Yeah, I Cuff My Jeans,” “Turd Eye Blind,” and “Sean Goes To Glee Concerts” being the most curious to me. There is a riff on “Ghost of Former Gods” that reminds me of MINISTRY’s “Scarecrow,” and I’m grooving on it. There are some really welcoming melodic vocal harmonies on the exit track too, which I am glad was not over-exhausted throughout. HERJAZA plays confounding powerviolence hardcore, with radiance and bizarre disturbing cover art by Alex Eckman-Lawn to boot.

Invisible Eyes Live at Glastonbury 2019 CD

I assumed they meant the Glastonbury Festival and since I don’t know anything about that, I checked the lineup for 2019. No INVISIBLE EYES listed. I guess they fooled me? The band also states: “Dan mixed this album whilst positive with COVID-19 with his head and ears exploding at war with the virus so it’s known as The COVID Sessions”. But who knows if that is true? Those pranksters. INVISIBLE EYES’ music is appropriate for a giant outdoor festival. The swirly guitars go off into extended fuzzy jams. The vocals are laid back and seem to be telling me a story, but I can’t seem to give them my undivided attention. Includes two previously unreleased songs.

Juicebumps Hello Pinky! LP

This is by far the quirkiest punk release I’ve heard all year. A mix of styles I can only describe as bubblegum post-punk. Recorded at the legendary Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco, the instrumentation employs freaky synths, crunchy drum machines, and wiry guitars. Overall, this is a really fun record. It’s ridiculously catchy; the type of riffs that get stuck in your head for a long time. A definite must listen for fans of TOTAL CONTROL or TROPICAL FUCK STORM.

Körd Värld Total Distortion EP

I love to find out about new bands that get you excited about punk again, and it’s even more exciting when you find out that it is made by hardcore legends. Total Distortion is a killer hardcore debut from the two-headed monster that is KÖRD VÄRLD, featuring Charlie Claesson (of ANTI-fucking-CIMEX) and James Domestic (of the DOMESTICS). They already play together in the “hardcore gone jazzy” hybrid PI$$ER, but this time they went all-out hardcore. Equal parts ANTI CIMEX and POISON IDEA, this debut is a great show of hardcore, and how Scandinavia was always one step ahead from the rest. Great to see veterans in the game teaching the kids a lesson in hardcore.

Last Gasp / Who Decides split EP

Two choppy East Coast HC slammers from WHO DECIDES—nice an’ heavy with searing lead vox, a formidable wall of guitars, and a solid swing that really shines on “Your Fault.” LAST GASP answers with three sub-minute burners on the flip. Higher vocals and a classically “produced” hardcore recording. Definitely cleaner and more on the ‘crew end of the spectrum…the breakdown in “Throw Concrete” lasts maybe twelve seconds, and is perhaps the perfect closer. Killer stuffs.

M.A.Z.E. II LP

It’s been nearly two years since we last heard from the Japanese band M.A.Z.E., and while they are clearly the same quirky post-punk-ish outfit from that last release, this latest LP is a much more manic affair. Their last 12” was composed of sparse tracks built around rubbery bass lines and minimalist chicken scratch rhythm guitar that served as a backdrop for the vocalist’s KLEENEX-ish yelp. While Eriko still brings that same energy here, she takes a bit of a backseat to the guitar, which has become the star of the show. Most songs are built around hot, circus-y licks with a borderline synth sound that might give the LP more of a new wave-y vibe were they not played at such a frenzied pace. Overall, this LP sounds decidedly more punk than anything they’ve put out thus far. The blown-out beginning of “311” could even be mistaken for TEENGENERATE until the vocals kick in and they shift into an odd post-punk rhythm. And that’s kind of the defining trait of this unique LP—a song starts, they seemingly settle into a groove, shift into a weirder variation of that groove, shift again, then start a new song after doing that for a minute and twenty seconds. It’s great!

Monty Vega & the Sittin’ Shivas Closed (No Fun) cassette

RAMONES-influenced rock that has a good bit of depth musically and lyrically. MONTY VEGA’s webpage cites paying musical respect to Joey and they also have a song entitled “Poor Dee Dee.” There’s a bit of GROOVIE GHOULIES here and the keyboards bring in some punk new wave à la the MINDS, which culminates in a great cover of “Goodbye To You” by SCANDAL. The social commentary video “Failed State” is worth checking out and furthers the case that this isn’t just a homage party band. Seems like this is a two-piece quarantine project, but post-COVID they should be back to a full band which gives me something to look forward to.

No Friends Band To All My Friends LP

NO FRIENDS BAND is Kevin Cascell, formerly of TRUMANS WATER. The songs on this LP were recorded between 1999–2007. It is one of those albums that sends me back in time to the ’90s. The songs are country-tinged, bluesy garage rock with a cantankerous attitude. Cascell’s vocal style reminds me of Don Howland and I like it. The more I listen to this, the more I want to flip the record over and play it again. Also includes some great covers of BOB DYLAN, DEAD MOON, and PERE UBU. Fun stuff.

The Only Ones Live in Chicago 1979 LP

OK, I’m a big fan of this era of the ONLY ONES. I probably would’ve loved this LP if it was just half an hour of Peter Perrett tuning his guitar, but in all honesty, this is a great live record. The recording quality is clear, and the mix just raw enough that you know it’s live. The band sounds great, hitting all notes and breaks with the cool, poetic irreverence that makes them so special. Released on the brink of the pandemic, the timing of this record couldn’t be better. If live recordings are the closest we can get to the show-going experience, albums like this one are a worthy substitute for the real deal.