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.

Anti Social Club Anti Social Club cassette

Spastic punk rock from Calgary. ANTI SOCIAL CLUB seems to refuse to pick which lane they want to be in. I hear elements of early American hardcore punk, Epitaph Records-style punk, metal-infused guitar licks, and there’s even some overly funky slap bass on one of the tracks. Vocals ranging from screamed hardcore call-and-repeat style to catchy “whoa-oh-oh”s. The LP of this looks to have been released in 2010, and this is the cassette version of the same record released by the same label, if this is up your alley and you missed a chance to get it on wax.

Besthöven / DHK split EP

Two heavyweights from the South American punk underground still waving the black fly high. From Brazil, BESTHÖVEN is a one-man army of Dis-beat that has been around since 1990. Fofão really nails the DISCLOSE-meets-SHITLICKERS formula and has done it on countless splits (including with DISCLOSE, FORÇA MACABRA, and WARVICTIMS, to name a few), and with this one is no different. Just pure D-beat worship done with such devotion that you will want to hear the full discography. On the other side, DHK or DESTRUYE HUYE KREA, from Peru, is another ferocious South American punk demonstration of anger and power. With a not as extensive a catalogue as BESTHÖVEN, they still show their full power on this one and hold up to the challenge of being along them. South American punk is alive and well, and as long as there is corruption, there will be the voice of punk shouting back.

Born Losers of America State of Mad CD

Three doses of old school t(h)rash punk from Washington (state), clocking in under three minutes and twenty seconds. Somewhere between VILENTLY ILL and “that local band who opened for that reformed third-tier ’80s band who played down the street that one time and were way better than the band you paid to see.”

Code of the Jaguar Coffee is for Closers / Pulsations, Shadows, Breakers 7″

I’m not certain, but I think this is supposed to be a sort of funny thing. My brother likes to say that the toughest guys in the world come from Philadelphia. If that’s true, I’m struggling to reconcile that fact with the fact that these guys are from Philadelphia. More than anything, there’s nothing that really grabs me about this. Mid-tempo new wave/punk/indie rock that’s kind of catchy, but also kind of kitschy. For some reason, they remind me of the BARENAKED LADIES. I found something online that tells me that someone from PLOW UNITED is in the band. I believe that PLOW UNITED came from PLOW, a band that produced one of my favorite singles of all time. It looks like there were 100 copies pressed on vinyl.

Contra Collective Unconscious EP

Not all hardcore needs to have a BFA these days—sometimes you just want uneducated bludgeoning force. Budapest’s CONTRA seems to have a fairly good grasp on what it takes to hit hard and fast and even pulls some melodic tricks in the guitar work to air out the otherwise fairly straight ahead metallic punk. The best part about these six tracks is the vocals which sound like a worthy descendant of the gritty bellowing BASTARD perfected back in the early ’90s. Where the EP falls just short is the recording. It’s all a bit too clean for my taste, and while that allows the craftsmanship to shine, I’d still like it to hit me more like the medieval cudgel depicted on the cover art than the stainless steel surgical tools the music evokes. Maybe I’m just a little filth pig, but a little extra muck would perfect this mean and muscly crew.

Dead Heat World at War LP

DEAD HEAT has delivered an excellent crossover album with World at War. From beginning to end, it feels like a throwback to early ’90s SUICIDAL TENDENCIES with a modern flair rooted in the hardcore scene. Oftentimes when bands attempt this style, it misses the mark and comes off a bit flat and sometimes hokey. Fortunately, that is not the case here. Thrash-y throughout, groovy when it calls for it, gang vocals that don’t scream “hey, we don’t need to be here,” pretty noodling intros that aren’t just noodling for the sake of it, but all with a deep-down punk aesthetic. Listening to this brought me back to my pre-punk days and made me nostalgic for riding my bike down to the 7-11 for a Slurpee while blasting a MEGADETH tape in my Walkman. This record is gonna get a lot of action on my drives to and from work for sure. Good shit here, folks.

Diensthund Horizont Aus Draht cassette

The album title translates to “Horizon Made of Wire,” and is mirrored in the wiry, stripped-down guitar licks and lo-fi feel. With its synth lines and frequent rests, this reminds me of the early DEVO demos on Hardcore Devo: Volume One, only heavier. There’s lots of negative space, and a general zaniness throughout this disturbing six-song Deutschpunk carnival ride, and I feel a little crazier on the other side of it…wait, what’s happening?

E.F.S. Songs of Waiting CD

This effort reminds me a lot of the early demo/tape-trading days in the UK in the early ’80s, both for the lo-fi nature of this effort (it sounds as if it was recorded straight into a cassette player/ghetto blaster, just by sticking it in the room, and pressing play/record, as we used to do in the good old days), and for its eclectic content. Very few “songs” as such on the nine tracks, and despite listing four band members with the traditional rock instruments (bass, guitars, drums), all but a couple of the songs lack all of said components. A lot of almost experimental noise, or just vocals and one guitar (playing one note at a time, no chords), and what seems to be improvisational noisemaking—certainly no “traditional” song structures, in the verse/chorus school of rock. Definitely a sparse, spare DIY effort.

Fashion Pimps & the Glamazons Jazz 4 Johnny LP

Twisted, expertly-played art-punk wotzit courtesy of known quantities from the long-lived Cle freak scene. The list of current/former bands of those involved would be quite lengthy but let’s note DONKEY BUGS, CLOUD NOTHINGS, and RAZAK SOLAR SYSTEM. The vocals have an undeniable SPRAY PAINT waver, but the music is slippery, wriggling like an angry eel. Dipping a handful of toes in synth punk while lunging towards noise rock spazzery, FASHION PIMPS are like KITCHEN & THE PLASTIC SPOONS moonlighting on the Subterranean Records roster.

Hits Cielo Nublado LP

HITS’ Sediment Seen cassette from last year was a perfectly melted hybrid of scrappy art-punk and spectral bedroom pop, and the Oakland trio’s new Cielo Nublado LP shifts that balance even further in the direction of the latter, with warm fever dream melodies over a sparse, shambling instrumental backing as if the MARINE GIRLS and DOLLY MIXTURE had decamped to Olympia for an early ’90s International Pop Underground convention. Minimal, electronically-accented drums and wandering rubbery bass hit at a series of uncertain angles, with guitarist Jen Weisberg’s vocals often multi-tracked to a haunting GRASS WIDOW-ish effect, most notably on “Drawstring Ties” and “500 Square Foot Labyrinth.” HITS have crafted a world where sprightly indie pop tributes to Alan Vega lead into to playfully stark, OH-OK-styled post-punk explorations (the repetition of the line “we are the specimens of the world” in “Trotting Lemmings” is brilliant and sounds like it was sourced straight from Athens circa 1983), and I can’t really think of another world that I’d rather live in.

Hounds of War Rabid March EP

Three-song EP from this band composed by Claire Vastola on vocals and Max Parker on all other instruments, who you might recognize from their work in bands like PROCESS, SUBVERSIVE RITE, or VERMIN. This is hardcore in the vein of the great UK82 bands; fast, big riffs galore, metallic tone, and metal guitar solos. A great EP full of combative fury, vibrant and too short for my taste, but hey, that’s life.

Imagine Leeches / The Jet Stars Aburaya split 7″

This is kind of genius. Aburaya, Oakland, CA’s Japanese fried chicken palace, teams up with Oakland’s kids’ music program 3 O’Clock Rock for some shameless self-promotion. JET STARS do “Aburaya Theme,” a surfy, breezy number clocking in at under a minute, perfect for use on Aubraya’s commercials. IMAGINE LEECHES do a garage-y ode to all the reasons they love Aburaya. They also remind you to “tip them for their labor.” It’s catchy, rockin’, and classy.

Kochise / Les Partisans Live split cassette

Split cassette featuring French punk bands KOCHISE and LES PARTISANS. Both sets were recorded live at the Le Foch bar in Chaumont, France, on May 17th, 1996, at a gig both bands played together. KOCHISE was a French anarcho-punk band originally formed in 1987 who even did a split with CONFLICT at one point. The recording on this is a bit muddy and warbly, but it’s hard to tell if it’s an issue with the tape duplication or if the original live recording sounds that way. LES PARTISANS, not to be confused with classic UK82 punk band the PARTISANS, formed in 1994 and I believe are still a band to this day. They play mid-tempo street punk/Oi! and have ska elements with a horn section sporadically squonking along with the catchy melodies. This side of the tape sounds much clearer and seems like a good representation of the band. A cool idea, solid-looking packaging, and nice documentation of a classic gig from the past.

Laxisme Premiere Sortie cassette

Fast, fun, and loaded with energy, LAXISME delivers a five-song cassette that is a little poppy, a little hardcore, and completely infectious. With bluesy howls to round out the choruses, I am already singing along to the French and German that I don’t know, wishing I were pushing through their crowd. Phantom seems to have their ear pressed firmly to the Berlin underground, and I hope they keep listening. More, please!

Tony Matura Riding the Secret Subway EP

This New York punk old-timer was a member of the mid-’80s band the OPTIC NERVE. They were a decently well-known 1960s folk/psych/garage revival band when bands like the CHESTERFIELD KINGS and the L.A. Paisley Underground bands were a thing. This, however, is a reworking of songs he wrote for his teenage Queens punk band SECRET SUBWAY in ’79/’80. The songs are catchy, with a ’60s garage feel that seems to have been a passion for TONY like many punkers of the day. The song “Nightmare” was supposedly directly inspired by the MISFITS after opening for them, and it’s maybe the best tune here, but sounds nothing like the Jersey ghouls. My only complaint is that the songs are a little stiff and slower than I’d like but, hey, that’s just my teen thrash metal mind speaking. Fans of bands like the NERVES or even the UNDEAD might dig this and, hey, these old dudes are dying off by the minute, so pay attention while you still can.

Müllheim Kron cassette

Five songs of wacky, drum-machine-driven, synth-heavy post-punk from Berlin. At least I think it’s a drum machine.  Unlabeled black cassette comes in a blank black O-card sleeve with a tiny sticker of the album art in one corner. Clearly, some research is necessary to figure out what we’ve got here. Hmm, the internet is absolutely no help, the band’s bare-bones Bandcamp is all that can be found, which makes it hard to even tell if their band name is spelled MÜLLHEIM or MÜELLHEIM. But wait, there is a booklet that comes with the cassette! Excitedly I dive in, hoping to unearth some sort of information. To my dismay, it is a fourteen-page mini-zine of scattered, stamped letter-art and no info whatsoever. It does look really cool though, and my intrigue is growing as I flip the tape for a third time. But wait, what’s this at the bottom of my box of cassettes to review? Three beer bottle labels peeled off of different German pilsners? Eureka! Handwritten letters from the band to Maximum Rocknroll

Label 1: “Hello, we are MÜLLHEIM. Berlin-based synth-punk from Berlin, Germany.”
Label 2: “Info: founded 2020. Band: Patient 1–Voc/Git. Patient 2–Bass/Synth. Patient 3–Drums.”
Label 3: “Thank you very much–MÜLLHEIM”

Finally, some information! I learned that…..well, I learned that it’s an actual drummer? Wait, what if Patient 3 is a drum machine?! Hmm, I guess I learned nothing except that MÜLLHEIM is absolutely incredible! I listened to the tape over and over while continuing to come up empty handed. Mysterious Guy Hardcore is dead, all hail Mysterious German Synth Punk!

Prison Affair / Research Reactor Corp. split EP

Frantic collision of energetic scrambled egg-punk from these two bands. First up is RESEARCH REACTOR CORP., who sound like mad scientists in the middle of an experiment going terribly wrong. I like their garage-punk-meets-oscillator terror sound and their teenage basement songwriting aesthetic. This sounds like a neon poster collection and a stack of fourth generation VHS sci-fi dubs on shag carpet. There is some definite CONEHEADS influence, although the vocals are harsher and howled over the tight, trebly arrangements. And “Human to Raisin” is a great song title. So the first side is a winner. Side Two features Spain’s PRISON AFFAIR, who also rule, but in a totally different way. These three songs are super-melodic jammers that sound like trashy ’50s rock’n’roll sped up with drum machines. Each track has constant guitar leads and catchy melodies for days. “Encerrado Contigo” is a blast of high-volume, nostalgia-inducing pop that sounds like the best parts of being a teenager. It’s so good. These are the kinds of splits I like: two bands who don’t necessarily sound that similar but fit together in spirit. Definitely a fun listen.

Rearranged Face A Rare Caged Fern 12″

The third release from Tomothy Records, continuing their locals-only focus on committing overlooked corners of the modern Los Angeles weird-punk underground to vinyl—one where entirely analog processes are used from start to finish for every component of their records, which are then packaged in exquisitely designed and printed sleeves, a reminder of what the term “DIY” actually meant before it was co-opted into a meaningless genre catch-all for bands trying to climb the status ladder. REARRANGED FACE shares at least one member with L.A.’s reigning Messthetics obsessives SHARK TOYS, and both groups definitely have a similar nervous, wound-up disposition. There’s some gestures toward DEVO in the anxiously hiccuped vocals, wavering synth lines, and deconstructed but thoroughly locked-in rhythms of tracks like “Titular Story” and “Dreadful Apparition,” but fortunately without any of the forced, egg-caked cartoonishness that too often accompanies a DEVO comparison in a post-CONEHEADS punk landscape, while “Chin Brute” works up some kicked-out disco beats and sharp cuts of guitar that could have been lifted from the other side of a split single with any number of late ’90s/early ’00s Southern Californian post-punk revival acts (GOGOGO AIRHEART, the RAPTURE, you get it). Certified flipped-out fun for art freaks and closet new wavers alike.

Romero Honey / Neapolitan 7″

Issued by Cool Death back in February of 2020, ROMERO’s debut was meant for a world that it has yet to see. The two perfect punk pop tracks that make up this 7” should be blasted on a joyride with friends, to a sweaty venue crowd, or over the speakers at a late-night house party. Alas, the actual world has precluded any such activities. Fortunately, these tracks also sound great blasting in your headphones to whatever safe solo outing you’re stuck going on. The A-side “Honey” is built atop the same trebly, mid-fi garage punk foundation favored by fellow soulful pop aussies ROYAL HEADACHE, but the structure that ROMERO erects is decidedly more new wave—the melodic guitar line that kicks in at the ten-second mark could have been pulled off  NEW ORDER’s Power, Corruption and Lies, and the singer belts out her lyrics like she’s channeling a mix of Debbie Harry and Fay Fife. It ends up sounding so bright and kind of life affirming. The B-side “Neapolitan” has more of a Stiff Records strut-pop vibe similar to what you’d hear from someone like the EXPLODING HEARTS or SHEER MAG. It maybe doesn’t quite match the highs of the A-side, but it’s still fantastic and serves as a nice complement. The greatness of this record is clearly the result of an ensemble cast, but it’s hard to deny that vocalist Alanna Oliver is the star. She has such a powerful voice and soulful delivery (apparently she cut her teeth in a BLUES BROTHERS tribute act!) that you can’t help but believe every word that’s coming out of her mouth. I hope more people can hear it. I imagine if these guys weather this shitty pandemic, more people will. One of the most essential releases to come out in the past few years!

Sindrome De Abstinencia Sindrome De Abstinencia cassette

Thrashing hardcore punk from the calles of Chile, as raw as it is pissed-off. They go hard, they go fast, and with the occasional blastbeat to add insult to injury. The vocals are ravenous and convey all the angst a release like this needs. Gets you in the mood to skate down the street in the middle of traffic. Get your bandanas or SUICIDAL caps out and go tag some walls!

The Stools Feelin’ Fine EP

Detroit’s the STOOLS have a trashy and bugged-out punk sound not unlike New Zealand’s the CAVEMEN, but with a tighter musicianship powering the more traditional garage styles behind it. The A-side tracks “Can’t Feel Good” and “Half Track Mind” clock in at a formidable speed, marrying ’60s-inspired flair with ZEKE-like tempos, which I dig. On the flip side, they go a bit bluesy on “Rockpile,” and then they go groovy, sounding a lot like NYC’s DIRTY FENCES on the closing chant of “Eyeball Crush.” Real rock’n’roll cretins will want to get happily involved with this modern Motor City mutation.

Toxic Waste Belfast LP reissue

Sealed Records is responsible for this vital reissue of Belfast, the 1987 posthumous album of the Northern Irish anarcho-punk band TOXIC WASTE. Formed in 1982 after a CRASS gig (so it goes), they immediately made the DIY ethic their own and began playing in a scene that included bands like STALAG 17. You have to think about the harsh context in which they created their noise, the Troubles, and all the political violence that the area experienced. Generating spaces of creative freedom and denunciation was of utmost importance and TOXIC WASTE did it under terrible conditions. They recorded some demos and participated in some splits and compilations with bands like ASYLUM, the latter released by the Warzone Collective, which also included a screenprinting studio, a practice space for bands, and a vegetarian cafe. After touring their homeland and Europe a couple of times, the band split up in 1986. Let’s go to the music. Side A contains tracks from their early recordings produced between 1985 and 1986 while Side B contains tracks from a later session between the band’s Roy Wallace and members of DIRT. The sound is furious and urgent, with a vital energy that magnifies the power of the internal dynamics of the songs, where there is enough room to pay attention to the band’s politicized lyrics, to sing along with them (the male/female vocals are incredible), and to degenerate into a good mosh pit when needed. I recommend above all the pair of songs that close the album, “Belfast/Plastic Bullets” and “We Will Be Free,” brutal and beautiful.

Anxious Pleasers Anxious Pleasers demo cassette

Seven-song demo cassette from the Great White North, specifically Hamilton, ON. ANXIOUS PLEASERS could easily fit in with other modern Canadian bands like PRIORS and TOMMY AND THE COMMIES, and musically they actually sound somewhere right in-between the aforementioned. Not as poppy/garage-y as TOMMY, not as heavy rock’n’roll as PRIORS, they fit right in that “best of both worlds” kind of sweet spot. A power trio of long-time recognizable Hamilton dudes who were in ROCKET REDUCERS, TV FREAKS, FLESH RAG, and surely a gaggle of others. My favorite to date, and even includes a PAGANS cover.

Beautiful Delilahs The Reason Why LP

An entertaining slice of Texas cowpunk/rockasilly from Austin players that have been around long enough to do it right. The guitars are just dirty enough and the vocals achieve the tobacco-shredded quality to keep this from being wimpy like a lot of this genre can be. You could see Texacala Jones hoppin’ on stage to belt one out with these boys, and at times they’re reminiscent of a young REVEREND HORTON HEAT or DEXTER ROMWEBER, and others maybe a less punk POISON 13. It’s all that punked-up WILLIE DIXON vibe like much of this ilk, but never quite as damaged or unhinged as I would like. Still a nice listen, though.

Blammo Onomatopoeia LP

A few years after unleashing their demo (or rather, Demmo) on the world, Atlanta art-punks BLAMMO are back with a pretty fab vinyl debut. A handful of tracks from Demmo reappear in new and improved forms on Onomatopoeia, and as a whole the trio sounds a little more controlled and concise this time around, but thankfully without completely tidying up the core elements of ramshackle oddness that are clearly hardwired into their collective DNA. The wildly tumbling rhythms and bassist Sarah’s jittered shrieks and sarcastically-edged yelps in “Get Along” and “Nickel” actualize the possible outcomes of PINK SECTION having come up through the New York no wave scene (or Atlanta’s punk underground in 2021; time is a circle), and “Im Nebel,” with its vocals entirely auf Deutsch, stark and trebly guitar, and a martial all-snare beat pushing everything along like factory machinery, is BLAMMO’s obvious love letter to the NDW/German-language post-punk tradition of bands like CARAMBOLAGE and LILIPUT. But even when they go comparatively linear, like with the barely minute-long “early K Records without the Peter Pan complex” primitive pop bash-and-twang of “Best Advice,” BLAMMO is still throwing plenty of signals to the weirdos. All of that, and limited to only 100 copies—things that future cult DIY obscurities are made of. 

Bulbulators Homo Polonicus LP

Imagine if the only bands you’ve ever heard were SWINGIN’ UTTERS, ONE MAN ARMY, and DEAD TO ME, but on top of that you’ve only had access to certain records from each. Now imagine that you took those influences and started a band of your own, but opted to sing in your native language instead of English and recorded an album that could potentially stand up against those records. Well friends, imagine no more, for that is what Poland’s BULBULATORS have managed to do with Homo Polonicus. If you enjoy any of the aforementioned bands, then I implore you to give this a spin.

Chain Whip Two Step to Hell 12″

CHAIN WHIP has been cracking punk skulls since 2018 in an attempt to mix the Killed By Death sound with grimy punk. The result is fast-paced, in-your-face hardcore in the vein of POISON IDEA meets the GERMS, and it has riffs for days. Also, it definitely has a huge upbeat quality to it, akin to Californian beach punk, and this time their sound is tighter than ever, putting the pedal to the metal speedwise. Two Step to Hell consists of six tracks: three of them are re-recorded versions from their 2020 demo, two are brand new CHAIN WHIP recordings, and one is a SUBHUMANS cover. So to sum it up, something old, something new, and something borrowed. What more can you ask for? Vancouver, BC hardcore at its best!

Dead Meat II EP

Meat-and-potatoes garage punk’n’roll out of London. As the title of the EP suggests, this is their second release. It’s also their second issued by long-running UK label No Front Teeth. Their Bandcamp page paints them as a modern KBD/Bloodstains act, but this sounds more like mid-aughts leopard-print shoes/bullet belt punk. It’s hard to find anything across these four tracks that really stands out positively or negatively—it’s a thoroughly fine record. It sounds like the NEW BOMB TURKS slowed down about 20% or one of those non-GG KING, post-CARBONAS bands where the songwriting isn’t quite up to snuff. The first pressing of the record comes packaged in a spray painted leather sleeve, so that’s something. If you’ve been jonesing for the sounds you’d get from some of the lower-tier Rip Off Records acts (not the easiest thing to come by these days!), this would probably scratch that same itch.

Dissuffer Sudden Threat cassette

DISSUFFER from Indonesia’s latest release is furious metallic D-beat mayhem. Perhaps due to the vocal style and the melodic approach of guitars along with the low-fidelity recording, it’s more reminiscent of black metal bands playing punk than HIS HERO IS GONE neo-crust territory at times. Dark metallic crust punk played by true punks.

Drah Brud LP

DRAH of Poland plays five tracks on a full LP, with very KILLING JOKE or even PESD vibes. Chords range from QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE to ZYGOTE—post-industrial downturned aggression. A lot of this is repetitive but in a drawn-out mathcore way. The bass recoils to GODFLESH and MORNE. The song structures are stagnant and struggling to break free. Perhaps that is the tension DRAH wants to build. I feel a bit stuck in a trap with each song. I also wish I could understand Polish, to be fair. There are moments that recall UNWOUND for a moment, but the pace is structured like a cold building and contrived, and I need to get out. I want something else to happen here in this maze. The last track “Czerwony” lets go a bit, but I must admit DRAH caught me under the weather, and this is not helping my migraine. The songs are good, but I want more, or any, harmonizing. I might want to edit this review heavily, but I’m not sure. I feel lost and at a loss with this one. The CAN soloing outro is cool. Oh, no reviewer copy? Sweet. It’s a sign.

Ford’s Fuzz Inferno Deniers of Fuzz Will Be Executed EP

This Dutch drums-and-guitar duo bashes out five garage punk bangers in about five minutes. This is immediately catchy and likeable, proving you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make something great. “Neon Sky” sounds like the SPITS and demands to be played at max volume. “What Do You Feel?” has Johnny Ramone power chords and a JAY REATARD-style chorus breakdown. The title track is an instrumental with surf rock drums that sounds like the soundtrack to something incredible. Every track is stripped-down, no-bullshit rock’n’roll, and it rules. There is a timeless quality to these songs, and each concentrated capsule of punk joy sounds like it could have been written any time during the last 50 years. Highly recommended.

Freon PYK demo cassette

A lot of punks can play fast, but it takes specialists for fast to come across as legible. St. Louis speed punks FREON know how to give every sound enough space to keep the proceedings in sharp focus at a clip that less capable bands would allow to just smear and blur to oblivion. The sharp-as-tacks approach tends to land with a bit more impact, and with vocals echoing the great agitator Doc Corbin Dart of the CRUCIFUCKS fame, this EP cracks like a damn whip. The songs are fierce, the music engaging and fun without ever sounding the least bit goofy. Off-kilter song structures veer away from same-y verse-chorus into stranger territory. Killer players—especially in the rhythm department—keep the ear activated throughout the twists and turns of the group’s snare-tight anarchy. Featuring members of other fearsome units such as BAD EXAMPLE, RÜZ, and the WARDEN, it’s no wonder these six tracks cut quick and deep.

Get Smart! Oh Yeah No CD

Lawrence, Kansas’s GET SMART! never finished these six songs when they were recorded back in 1987. They had released two albums when they began working on the third, but it never happened. When the band got back together last year, they got Steve Albini to finally mix them. The end result is a familiar sound if you are a fan of Lawrence bands. The music is poppy while being a bit off-kilter. The vocals have a relaxed quality to them. The songs are catchy. Music for living rooms and house parties. Fun stuff.

Heavy Metal V: Live at the Gas Station Fighting the Devil LP

I’ve never been too smitten with this band. I picked up their first LP back in 2016 after a punk distro or two said it was good, and, while I didn’t dislike it, it just never clicked with me. Mainly, I found the record confusing. With the bald over-the-topness of the songs and vocalist’s delivery falling somewhere between SLEAFORD MODS and the EDGE OF ETIQUETTE, I assumed that these guys were from the UK and probably fake, fake punk. But then I saw they were from Berlin—not a city or music scene known for its playfulness (or British accents)—so, like, what’s their deal? Turns out the band is made up of (at least) Jasper Hood (the BLACK JASPERS, SHAKIN NASTIES), originally from the UK, and Itchy Bugger (ITCHY BUGGER, DIÄT), originally from Australia. Jasper’s vocals don’t seem to be a bit (he sounds like this on every record he sings on), but maybe the band is. Whatever. I still didn’t love the songs and ducked out after that LP. Fast-forward to 2021: my compulsion to acquire every Total Punk record trumps my indifference to the band, and I grab this LP. Turns out it’s quite good! I think going in with that same indifference helped me to just sit back and hear this record for what it is—a collection of well-crafted songs that cover ’77 punk, glammy bubblegum, punksploitation, and contemporary weird punk. It’s good enough that I might even have to revisit their back catalog. If you only listen to one track, make it “Gebrannte Amore”—a cover of ELVIS’s “Burning Love” that they transform into a FIRST BASE-styled trashcan pop track.

Hooper / Spells Rock N Roll Swap Meet: Day 1 split EP

It’s a stunt release! Each band covers a song by the other and also plays a song written for them by the other band. What fun! Both bands have a ’90s indie rock sound. Their songs are earnest and heartfelt. There are harmonizing vocals and fuzzy, jangly guitars falling somewhere between SUPERCHUNK and J CHURCH.

Klonns Amon / Gehenna 7″

“New Wave of Japanese Hardcore.” This is what one can read on the enigmatic Japanese hardcore outfit KLONNS’ Bandcamp page. With eight releases to their name, this band is back with a killer 7″. The best way to describe this band is a Japanese version of HOAX; a grainy, disgusting mass of angry-sounding hardcore, fit for any violent moshpit. This 7″ includes two tracks: “Amon,” featuring Hate from MOONSCAPE, starts with a FRAMTID-esque build up but then explodes into mid-tempo hardcore à la HOAX. Then “Gehenna,” featuring Aisha from IGNITION BLOCK M, is another mid-tempo banger with female vocals to add a bit more flavour to the track. Definitely putting the hard in hardcore.

Lysol Soup For My Family LP

LYSOL has been unleashing its freak vibe for awhile now, but it’s been a couple years since we last heard the gutter-dancing slop the band traffics in. Soup For My Family comes off like the U-MEN squeezed through a Crypt Records strainer. While foregrounding turbo-charged garage-punk (“C-4,” “Can’t Win”), the quartet finds enough cracks in the sidewalk to maintain their cool and swing like a rock band should. LYSOL is the kind of band that can turn a basement hardcore show into a whiskey-soaked bacchanal. While still outputting tons of wattage, LYSOL sounds kinda raggedy, but in a good way—like all those hangovers were worth it. I can’t imagine the members of MUDHONEY wouldn’t listen to “Glasgow Smile” and break into shit-eating grins. Or you, for that matter.

Merked Merked cassette

Walking that tightrope between powerviolence and straight up grindcore, MERKED seems to fit right in the middle somewhere with a style that I have seen referred to as grind-violence. Seventeen tracks of pummeling, heavy, slow, and brutal followed by relentless and fast riffs, very few of which break even the one-minute mark. Pepper in a bunch of sound clips and you can surely recognize the recipe. For fans of NO LESS, IN DISGUST, and anything in-between.

The Moröns Today’s Special LP

Slick, rock’n’roll-tinged punk with some “whoa-oh”s and “oi, oi”s peppered in sparingly. If you removed the vocalist, I would swear that this was a DWARVES album that Blag had yet to put vocals on. I imagine that dudes who dress like Guy Fieri would fucking love this. For real. I’m not even talking shit.

Ponys Auf Pump Wirt Schon Wieder LP

Big surf rock guitars, synth leads, kazoos, riot grrrl power, and…was that a recorder? I don’t know what’s going on here—but I like it. “Kleine Maus” is maybe my favorite pick of the album, as it builds with fast guitar chops and big bass to a sing-along chorus with falsetto backing. Wirt Schon Wieder is the second full-length album from Berlin based PONYS AUF PUMP, and another gem brought to us by Phantom.

Rath & the Wise Guys Rude, Crude, and Socially Unacceptable CD

Big Florida dudes who make baseball jerseys with their band name on it. Beards, full-sleeve tattoos, probably an occasional cigar or a blunt when the kids have gone to bed. Retirement skate punk. Every song sounds like a cover of a cover band playing 2000s MOTÖRHEAD or DAMNED material with out-of-tune, off-time vocals. Yes, it’s real.

Skit of Resistance Unreleased Noisecore Live Recordings 1999 CD-R

Doesn’t the title tell you everything you need to know? Twenty-one minutes of D-beat-influenced noisecore recorded live and presented in questionable fidelity…which is exactly what you want, if you read this review past the title of the release.

Variolación Frenética cassette

I have reviewed several pandemic projects in the last few months, coming from different parts of the world, and they all share something: a feeling of brutal urgency to connect and shout out the current state of the world. And what’s more, they’re all great. VARIOLACIÓN does not escape this new paradigm. This is a four-piece hardcore band from Portland, Oregon, with components from other bands like PROHIBITED, TOTAL WAR, DEAD HUNT, and FALSE RITUAL. I love the nods to the past like that “Pretty Vacant” riff that opens the brutal “Sombra de Humo” or the repeated chorus of “Obsesión Mortal” reminiscent of OLHO SECO. Sonically, this is political hardcore that paints scenarios of everyday terror (misogyny, animal cruelty, war, etc.) through raw and primitive noise, very much in the vein of Mexican bands like M.E.L.I. and SS-20. “Massacre de Inocentes” has an ear-splitting guitar solo that is just fantastic. “Castillo Negro” has a pretty amazing First Wave of Black Metal riff vibe to it. To sum up, seven great songs from a band that hopefully won’t remain just a quarantine project.

The Wind-Ups Try Not to Think LP

A California project dreamed up during the 2020 lockdown, the WIND-UPS’ debut album presents an interesting brew of styles wrapped in fashionably weathered production and distorted ghostly vocals. The first few tracks have a post-punk/no wave feel, and then it suddenly gives way to some syrupy lo-fi power pop and RAMONES-y rock. At some point it leans back into more artsy territory, before finally ending off the record sounding like the BEACH BOYS on Quaaludes. The songs are brief, yet the album provides a lot to digest, and if you like the MARKED MEN, etc., this is for you.

Wineteeth Soft Bangers cassette

Debut full-length recording from Harrisonburg, VA natives WINETEETH. Navigating the oft-overused descriptive genre term the label uses to describe the band, I do not hear “garage rock” coming from this cassette. What I hear is more of an amalgamation of ’90s genres: a mixture of slower, distorted grunge-esque songs mixed with aggressive but crisp and clearly-recorded alt-rock. Feels almost like a period piece for the 1990s. The recording is super pro-sounding, with vocals sitting right up top. It wouldn’t feel at all out of place to me if one of these songs was slipped into rotation on an alternative rock radio station.

The Yolks Take Your Time / Tell Me Now 7″

The YOLKS are a funny thing for me. Sometimes, I think they just sort of sound like that band whose name escapes me right now. Other times I think they’re catchy as all fuck and the greatest thing ever. As I dive into the first track, this is definitely one of those second times. The A-side is kind of a folky number, but Jezus, it’s great. And it’s over in less than a couple of minutes. Perfect. The B-side is more pure pop perfection. Just excellent. Oh, I think that band I couldn’t think of is the STROKES. Limited to 100 on vinyl. I’m getting one.

 

V/A La Masacre Continua cassette

The great tradition of solidarity through punk compilations is one of the most profoundly beautiful, selfless, and powerful actions this type of music is capable of. Not only do they constitute forceful allegations in songs about, almost always, the repeated use of violence in social conflicts, they also map routes of musical scenes, establish lists of ethical companions in this twisted planet, and generate snapshots of crucial moments of youth culture. La Masacre Continua (“The Massacre Continues” in English) follows this line. It’s a fabulous compilation of 21 bands, mostly from the vital Colombian scene, but also from France, Spain, and the United States, united by language, all singing in Spanish, and by the urgent need to denounce the terrible state violence unleashed against social movements in Colombia this year, which has caused dozens of deaths. The selection of bands is impeccable, and just as a sample we’ll mention titans such as MURO, SYSTEMA, PRIMER RÉGIMEN, PORVENIR OSCURO, and LUMPEN. As for the sound palette, we have street punk, noisy hardcore, DIY lo-fi greatness, D-beat fury, Japanese-style madness, cavernous violent screams, powerviolence, and much, much more. Buying the cassette or downloading the album means supporting Colombia’s worthy fight against the state. You can also make a donation if you like. Either way, it is important that the message is heard. From Colombia to the world.

The Abstracts h.E.l.P. EP

First-issue of a 1980 session as performed by a band that came from the same place as some git named Billy Shakespeare. Ol’ Shakie put out a cracking debut and went on to take over the Globe (and then burned it down!), but what about these ABSTRACTS and how did they fare in the studio some forty-plus years ago? Not too shabby, it turns out. “Contrast” rides the same lorry as the NIGHTINGALES, the one that traffics in arch post-punk rock’n’roll. A total Messthetics masher, “Disco Beat” nails its sideways groove like one of the more straightforward HOMOSEXUALS cuts. “Make Up Girl” is no taming of the shrew, but things get a little more tempestuous on “In the Papers.” I’ll stop there as some leggings-sporting tosser mumbled “Brevity is the soul of wit” as he stumbled by—Marlowe, you have some nerve!

Am Ba LP

These Polish punks have been around since 1996, and Ba is their twelfth studio album. That’s a lot of years for a hardcore punk band given that most bands don’t last more than a couple of records. Recorded between 2009 and 2010, this long-overdue album finally sees the light of day, with twelve tracks of slick and catchy hardcore punk with some out-of-the-box moments including sax and accordion to add to the weirdness. Hard to describe but easy to listen to, give it a try if you are into the DEAD KENNEDYS or NO TREND. Thumbs up for AM and thumbs down for not being more well-known.

Be All End All Pact Music LP

South Florida’s BE ALL END ALL’s latest LP on Triple B sounds like a well-recorded, modernized powerviolence approach. Members of ECOSTRIKE and SEED OF PLAIN. For fans of TRASH TALK or the To Live a Lie catalog and the contemporary breed of powerviolence bands. Well-executed fast and furious yet heavy songs that end after around ten minutes.