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.

100 Flowers Fascist Groove Thang / FGT RMX 7”

Of course I have heard of 100 FLOWERS, the latter-day mutation of the URINALS, but I’ve never spent time with their stuff. This single—which consists solely of a HEAVEN 17 cover and remix of same—does not make me want to go back and explore their catalogue. Try as I might to respect my elders, I just cannot muster any enthusiasm for this one, which sounds like the outro music to some ’80s teen comedy. Sorry, dudes—tried, can’t.

At Their Mercy Disavowed CD

Throaty, fist-clenched metallic UK hardcore. AT THEIR MERCY nods respectfully to the throne of ’80s UK thrash, but they run off with those influences and pick up some straight Big Four thrash along their way. The recording is massive (check “All That’s Left” if you doubt me) and the vocals are far beyond powerful—this is a classic and refreshing example of a band crossing between heavy hardcore and heavy metal. In other words, some old dudes (guitarist was in ’80s thrashers ATAVISTIC, and the others are no young bucks) showing the young kids what’s up, and I’m here for it…I just hope the kids are paying attention (and taking notes).

Better Off Dead / Nueva Generación split EP

NUEVA GENERACIÓN kicks off this split with two mid-tempo songs that walk the line between almost sliding into pop punk territory, but are just a bit too dark and slow to fully cross that line, “whoa-oh”s aside. BETTER OFF DEAD also contributes two songs which are faster and more upbeat than the songs on the NUEVA GENERACIÓN side, with a dueling female/male vocal combo that works together well. While both bands don’t take a similar approach to styles, the contrast works well.

Bootlicker Bootlicker LP

Playing hard and bouncy punk with a melting pot of influences, Vancouver’s BOOTLICKER is sharper than ever on this explosive full-length outing. Weaving classic hardcore and D-beat elements into their UK82-style songs, these guys come off as a bit more original that some of the more stringent ’80s-flavored bands that have been springing up as of late. This record from the CHAIN WHIP labelmates is loaded with catchy tunes (“Herd the Sheep”’ will get stuck in yer head) delivered with conviction through obliterated speakers. Taste the rubber, baby.

Campaña Del Terror Atropello cassette

This is the debut EP from a one-man Chilean project started by Luis from MISA HISTÉRICA and INCENDIO, edited as cassette by To Live a Lie Records. Imbued by the violence and strife of Chile’s recent socio-political climate, this pandemic bedroom-core document of fast-as-fuck D-beat and powerviolence with furious high-pitched vocals is a visceral chronicle of the South American country’s last two years of popular rebellion. The super-short EP reflects the frustration and impetuosity of the rioters with ten songs that cover the full spectrum of the experience: media manipulation, police violence, corporate greed, the terrorist violence of the state forces, and the burning desire of change. The sound is brutal and will leave your ears ringing, there’s this feral intensity akin to MOB 47 and that whole scene that I particularly find addictive.

Clibbus Horsesatelite LP

This CLIBBUS album has knocked me off-course during my inter-dimensional travels and I have crashed-landed onto an alternate Earth where the marquee bands are PRIMUS, ALICE DONUT, and VICTIMS FAMILY (on this planet, early WEEN is like NICK DRAKE). It makes a lot of sense that this power trio hails from Rochester, New York. Rochester has a notoriously eccentric punk scene, full of skateboarding weirdos whose parents huffed a lot of Kodak fumes and birthed strange progeny who enjoy flouting genre restrictions and get off on letting their freak flag fly fucking high. After a manic opening instrumental, CLIBBUS gets down to bizness on “Exploding Child,” complete with half-rapped singing as the MEAT PUPPETS jam in the background, and don’t forget to pause for the BEATLES-esque soaring vocal part, and you know this sucker ain’t gonna end without some ironic whistling to bring it all back home. This is prog made by the kids in high school who were so into their own trip that they seemed to vanish into a hole that was probably actually a portal to another universe. You know the type: they invent funny-to-them names like “Beefus D’Aurelio” and “Lettuce Head” and they’re suspiciously good at their instruments. It’s exhausting, but in a bad way, like climbing too many stairs when the elevator is broken, not the good way, like screwing in your roommate’s bed when they’re out of town. I like weird shit made by smart idiots, but still I can’t fully endorse these goof-offs. Yet, I can see an impressionable ne’er-do-well witnessing these guys shred a basement show and get the itch to quit hiding the freak flag under their straight clothes and to that I say, “huzzah!” You absolutely should not cut that brief DOORS piss-take six minutes into that one song, and yes, the public does indeed have a bottomless appetite for wacky, pitch-shifted vocals. They might be from Rochester 2021, but to me CLIBBUS will always come from 1989 San Francisco and right now they’re pumping quarters into a payphone on Mission trying to get on a NOMEANSNO bill. Maybe Jello will be into it?

Coach Coach LP

Great little LP from Denmark. COACH rocks a classic punk sound with a horn section that shreds. The horns lend a slightly angular bent to the sound. Most tracks on here are a hell of a lot of fun. Between the fuzzed-out guitars and horn section, there’s a real energetic big band feel across the record. The band doesn’t make a big splash at any point on the record. It’s a slow burner, but one that pays off if you stick it out.

Cosas Ilegales Cosas Ilegales 10”

Hard props for the opening twenty seconds of “Accidente,” because I can’t remember when I was this anxious to hear a record kick in. And while Mexico’s COSAS ILEGALES kicked it (a little) slower than I was hoping, I stuck it out and was compensated generously…with interest that I didn’t even deserve. Just a killer collection of infectious, damaged garage hardcore. Smart, sharp, and very dark punk that sounds like it just arrived from another planet to remind us what outsider freak music was supposed to sound like. I want these songs to be faster, but that makes me feel all anxious which makes me realize that they played everything exactly right because all I want is more the minute it’s finished. Consider me a convert…but there’s only 100 of these fuckers, so you better act fast if you want to join the cult.

The Daze I Wanna Be a Star / At the Seaside 7” reissue

Apparently, this was a real single back in 1979 and it’s highly sought after. I have no knowledge of that. What I can tell you is that it is a near-perfect example of the high-quality power pop that came out of that era. It existed in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, and many other places. This one happens to come from the UK. Two tracks and, as I mentioned, both border on pure pop perfection.

Demonios Chuecos Vol. 1–2 cassette

Started as a way to stave off the insanity during COVID lockdowns, DEMONIOS CHEUCOS is a one-man band from Mexico City, Mexico. I am absolutely blown away by this, and by the humble writings of Carlos about the entire process (found on the Bandcamp page). He goes in depth describing each of the songs, as well as the process of learning bass, drums, and how to record in order to make this project a reality. Catchy, ripping hardcore punk, start to finish. Most full bands would be lucky to end up with a finished product this good.

Execution Silently It Grows EP

From Melbourne, EXECUTION crawls out of the sewers to shatter the social fabric with Silently It Grows. A piece of violent and chaotic piece of hardcore rawness that is on the faster and noisier side. The frantic energy they exude comes close to the ’80s Italian hardcore bands like WRETCHED and CHEETAH CHROME MOTHERFUCKERS. A must for fans of pure chaos, non musica.

False Confession Resurrectionists LP

Hailing from Oxnard, California, FALSE CONFESSION brings a VARUKERS-speed punk attack with the clarity of FINAL CONFLICT and the ease of CHEM-TRAILS from Connecticut. This album may sound traditional, but in that way it sounds timeless. You could tell me this was an obscure classic from the ’80s and I’d believe you. Picking up ICONOCLAST, DR. KNOW, and CRUCIFIX power as well, maybe a bit on the melodic side of VOIVOD. FALSE CONFESSION plays fast and clearly from the roots of hardcore punk and Dis-bands. Vocals are sung and repetitive, but I mean that in a poetic way. Over all of the aggression, the message is sincere and stylishly delivered. Songs are also quite long and complexly composed for this style, which can easily be offered as a verse-chorus-verse stale slab. Thrash breakdowns here and there, minimal obtuse discordant riffs and solos, various themes about the shared planet and the personal psyche all create something a bit different that at first notice sounds expected. Fuck…upon further inspection, I now realize this band was a pioneering band of the Nardcore movement in the ’80s. I am sorry, I’m from the ’80s/’90s East Coast scene and was not aware. Now FALSE CONFESSION is actually starting to sound familiar. It happens, m’kay! I’m such a fucking idiot, I’m submitting this. Making punk an honest threat again. Good new album, guys! I especially like this plodding metallic track “Mortal Coil.” I’m here to tell you this band should not be forgotten! Like the other HERESY or something…apparently, they were good…ugh. I should be fired.

Guldsjakal Guldsjakal LP

This feels like a record where the weird/shitty production makes a mediocre band so much better. I could be wrong and Copenhagen’s GULDSJAKAL could be the most unhinged live band since GG AND THE SCUMFUCS, but judging by their band photo, album cover, and songwriting, I’m not really convinced. The songs are plodding riff rock with not much variation between tunes, but the strange reverb-filled production putting the mega rawwww noisy guitar up front and center really helps them out, taking this up to something akin to early LEATHER NUN mixed with GLUECIFER. The vocals echo in that growling, screaming mass stuck in a cave way, giving this almost a primitive black metal sound, maybe like the first BURZUM record. Is this a good review? Is this a bad review? Fuck, I don’t know, but this is worthy of a listen.

Highway Stacy Highway Staci cassette

Tyler from OCCULT DETECTIVE CLUB relocated from Fort Worth, TX to Chicago, IL and started a solo project under the pseudonym of HIGHWAY STACY. A bit of a mixed bag of genres on this tape. Mid-tempo post-punk/art-punk that occasionally has electronic EDM drum sounds and almost youth crew-style vocals on a couple of the songs. Confused? Don’t be, it works. The tape ends with a strange minimalist take on the classic ADOLESCENTS track “Losing Battle.” Apparently, this one-man band is looking to branch out and do a full band with these songs. Live in the Chicago area? Head over to the link below, check out the songs, and hit up Tyler.

Leopardo Malcantone LP

I picture LEOPARDO being some kind of hippy, freeform communal group. Their music is an eclectic collection of styles. There’s the usual instrumentation—guitars, bass, drums—but also banjo, synths, percussion, drum machine. It gives you a feel of people just bringing whatever they want to the group and seeing what happens. Yet, this record still seems cohesive. There’s poppy songs. There’s psychedelic songs. Some are slow. Some are upbeat. It’s a record for listening while lying down.

Mononegatives Apparatus Division LP

Smashing debut LP by this London, Ontario group. Twelve songs in just under a half hour—I like those numbers, those numbers bode well. And these are actual songs—Apparatus Division is modern punk done right. MONONEGATIVES posit a pretty straightforward equation: take ADVERTS-by-way-of-JAY REATARD, add a hint of CHROME, cut with some jacked-up A FRAMES, and you’re about halfway there. “Living in the Age” into “Neighbots” is as good a back-to-back as I’ve heard this year. “Trauma” is like hardcore punk TUBEWAY ARMY, but don’t assume it’s all android energy bouncing around, as MONONEGATIVES has got real rock’n’roll swagger behind the motherboard. After establishing a mid-tempo groove, “Circuits in View” erupts into a suitably swinging rave-up that hits like the speediest parts of ’77. “Career Attitude” is all pent-up energy but finds the space for a couple killer hooks, while “Today’s Adult” cracks a dozen egg punk shells in the time it takes to lace up your boots. Apparatus Division has got a perfect balance between rock grit and synthetic pulse.

New Skeletal Faces Sextinction 7”

Two doses of darkness from California. AMEBIX meets CHRISTIAN DEATH, with high howling vocals and a great metallic plodding pace to “Extinction of Bodies” that stays firmly planted on the weirdo/punk side of the spectrum. It just feels dark and dangerous. Sketchy. Could listen on repeat for an hour and not get bored….just did, in fact.

Outpatient Unreality cassette

There seems to be a crop of bands that are reinventing the early ’90s sound of “underground rock.” While a lot of these bands, to me at least, kind of miss the mark and end up sounding uninspired, OUTPATIENT isn’t one of those. Hooks, fuzz, “whoa-oh”s, a perfect marriage of early NIRVANA and the MUFFS. If I had one complaint it’s that four songs aren’t enough!!!

Public Body Ask Me Later / Public Body 7”

Acrobatic and mathy guitars lead the charge on this one, like on a URANIUM CLUB or LANDOWNER rec. Some of the instrumentation and harmonies throughout give off the same sorta inviting weirdo vibe as SUBURBAN LAWNS, which is always a plus. Both songs clock in at 3:36, somehow—whether this was on purpose or (probably) not, the end result is that I want more.

The Rabies (My Girl’s a) Hologram / Criminal 7” reissue

This is a reissue of the RABIES’ debut record from 1982. “(My Girl’s a) Hologram” is an extra-catchy power popper. It’s a fun tune. The flip “Criminal” is darker sounding and lyrically forward-thinking and engaging. Plus it’s also catchy, but more new wave-ish. This is a great record.

Snooper Fitness EP

C.C.T.V. is dead, long live C.C.T.V.! SNOOPER is a fairly fresh project from Nashville’s Blair Tramel and Connor “SPODEE BOY” Cummins, but in the absence of any context, one would be forgiven for assuming that the duo’s second EP was the product of a certain acronymous NWI combo, rising from the ashes of defunction like a neon slime-covered phoenix in pointy new wave sunglasses. Five pogo-prepped, attention-deficit tracks featuring writhing Hardcore Devo guitar lines, anxiety attack drumming alternately performed by a human and a machine, matter-of-fact femme vocals with a slight robotic edge, and that telltale Tascam warble—when they dial back the BPM count a bit, like on “DOG” (the most C.C.T.V.-patterned offering of the bunch), or the scrabbling and scratching “Pod” (is that a digital cowbell buried behind the breathlessly chanted chorus?), SNOOPER walks around the cracked egg punk shells that have been littering the DIY floor these last several years and comes up with something that might have more staying power.

The Social Lies Fuck the Scene / Kink Boy 7”

The social media-sphere kinda melted a bit when this record dropped…maybe because it’s so fucking hot. In less than three minutes of music recorded two decades ago, two Black kids from Alabama shoved a huge “fuck you” boot up the pretentious ass of (hardcore) punk by simply being themselves. The songs are simple, tough as shit, equal parts furious ’90s East Bay hardcore and LIMP WRIST—it’s not so much that they’re pissed, it’s that the SOCIAL LIES feel real. Not every “lost” recording from decades past needs to be unearthed and released…this one did.

Systema Sobrevivir demo cassette

This is the demo debut for Bogotá’s SYSTEMA. You can get it on cassette with some really cool artwork. These guys talk business and get to the point. They get mean, brutal, and raw while perfectly creating dynamics inside each song in order to release the right amount of aggression for those moshpit-inducing violent attacks we love. They remind me of the rough sound of ’80s  Italian hardcore and the primitive scorched earth approach of ’90s Mexican and South American punk. This is a beautiful and fulfilling aesthetic experience. We need a full-length now.

Tony Bluetile The EPs of TB CD

This mashup is almost too clever for its own good. The inestimable Mr. B is taking the vocals of various legendary punk (and the like) songs, and adding them to a bunch of ’60s/’70s music. More or less. So, the first two tracks are the vocals of CRASS’ “Do They Owe Us a Living” and “Shaved Women” put to some minimalist electronic music. Which actually works, and is interesting…in that the basic drive and beat and passion of those two particular songs remains intact. There’s then a couple of CIRCLE JERKS efforts put to some upbeat ’60s sounds, and then, so far as I can tell, IGGY POP’s vocal of “Lust For Life” with a ’70s brass-heavy funk backdrop, and then, I’m guessing, that same funk band’s vocal of some sort or other, over “Lust For Life.” Then there’s a similar treatment with BLACK FLAG. First there’s HENRY ROLLINS’ spoken word “Family Man” over some ’70s groovy freeform sound, followed by that same ’70s band (I’m presuming) singing over a BLACK FLAG instrumental track. Polished off with BLACK SABBATH’s “War Pigs” vocals over some other funky sounds. Kind of interesting, kind of too clever by half, and some of it lost on me, ‘cos I don’t recognize either the non-punk backing tracks, or the non-punk singing, over the punk backing track.

Venganza La Fiera EP

Another heavy-hitting Spanish hardcore punk record courtesy of Discos Enfermos, this time from Saragossa. Picking up where their Tu Patria LP left off, VENGANZA delivers the goods with La Fiera, a four-song EP that displays all the great qualities about Spanish punk: the anthemic quality, the fury, the rawness. A solid punk record for any fan of VAASKA and Spanish punk in general.

V/A Paul Henry’s Benefit Compilation cassette

Twenty-six-song cassette compilation benefiting Paul Henry’s, an art gallery and performance space in Hammond, IN that’s played an important role in nurturing the NWI punk scene. The cassette features tracks from a bunch of NWI bands and some other like-minded weirdos. You can expect plenty of the egg punk/DEVO-core you’ve come to associate with the area, but there’s also some more straightforward punk, ripping hardcore, shoegaze, power pop, and more. Not all the tracks are great, but all the bands are interesting at the very least, and the variety is nice enough in of itself to make for a compelling listen. The physical cassette, which is housed in a handsome cardboard outer box with artwork from LIQUIDS’ Mat Willams, will only set you back $10. That’s less than 40 cents a track! Definitely worth it, especially when you consider how influential the NWI scene has been to punk in general these past five years or so! Highlights include tracks from LIQUIDS, RESEARCH REACTOR CORP., previously unreleased stuff from C.C.T.V. and BIG ZIT(!), and a song called “Jesus Christ Super Hard” by a band called WATERWORKS. Label says tapes will be available until people stop buying them, so go grab one!

80HD Demo 2021 cassette

Do you have trouble with your attention span and love songs that average one minute in length? 80HD is the band for you! Just like the band name suggests, this new band from New York is a constantly shifting punk beast of spastic proportions. This ultra-violent demo features six songs of blistering fast hardcore in the vein of RIPCORD that go by as fast as they play. Just like a cup of coffee (or twenty!) in the morning!

Assault & Battery The Complete Session, May 1981 LP

One of the earliest documents of the legendary D.C. hardcore scene, The Complete Session, May 1981 is the first ever legit release of ASSAULT & BATTERY’s only studio recording. Featuring members that would go on to play in bands like GOVERNMENT ISSUE, ARTIFICIAL PEACE, and MARGINAL MAN, these guys helped to sculpt the style that would come to define that era. The songs are short and savage, showcasing some primeval examples of the ripping and stomping D.C. sound, and it’s pretty great. This record includes songs that were previously only available via bootleg along with some outtakes and instrumentals that have never been released until now, all transferred from the original 4-track master. It’s “missing link” hardcore from a crucial time, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Bad Kiss III EP

Four lo-fi punk tracks that sound like they were recorded in a bedroom in one day with a single mic. Basically, it’s awesome, inspiringly authentic, and true energy in all the right ways. It got me more stoked on music and life than all the other ultra-produced too cool for school stuff that’s posing around today.

Cell Rot Slowly Falls Apart 12″

Releasing a record this deadly in 2021 when (most) punks haven’t seen a live hardcore show in a year is…well, kinda mean. Crushingly heavy California hardcore, CELL ROT moshes as aggressively as they blast, with a dark undertone that makes you feel like you’re listening to something dirty. But you’re not. You’re listening to something joyful…it’s just the joy that comes when you realize that you will never win. Never. If you thought the Violent Spirals LP was devastating (it was), wait until you hear what it sounds like when CELL ROT Slowly Falls Apart

Cheap Meat Let’s Eat! cassette

All-killer/no-filler four-song debut from this quartet. Each two-minute track is a pile-up of great, knotty riffs and pummeling yet nimble rhythms. Top this winning formula with spiky, sardonic vocals that address both serious and frivolous subjects with a refreshingly jaundiced eye and you’ve got an EP better than most of the utter worthlessness committed to wax these days. CHEAP MEAT: less filling, tastes fucking great.

Choke It’s Hard to Talk Shit With No Fucking Teeth cassette

This is insane, clobbering, grinding hardcore chock full of samples and breakdowns. Crucially intimidating HXC from Oakland killing it on the blasts and mic. Recalling MERAUDER, KRUELTY, NEGLECT, DMIZE, OUT OF LINE, and INFEST…slam your head to this whirlwind of thrash and anthemic powerviolence. The rage really comes forth in “Blue Lives Don’t Mean Shit” (true) and “Talk Shit, Get Hit.” They even got Greta Thunberg’s infamous maddening distraught public statement on here, and covers of APARTMENT 213 and MADBALL! I don’t always go in for this style of hardcore, but holy shit, is this great. Rhythms are harsh as hell, surprising change-ups, inspired lyrics, and the message is clear. Various vocalists guest-spot on this tape. “You Suffer and React” (the song by the band) style jams on here with the five-second “You Failed, Now Die.” Yes, super fucking clear; like I said. And some slower beatdowns like “Why Should I Fear Death When I’m Already Dead Inside?” Valid. CHOKE sounds like a truly dedicated family member of hardcore. CHOKE will get a hold of your neck and mind. This is a fantastic tape for the assertion of contemporary punk grind and hardcore music.

Contempt Reacción EP

Do bootboys get the blues? A question that has eluded cropheaded philosophers for millennia, and CONTEMPT is here to offer some evidence in favour. Eschewing traditional Oi! fare of good-time lager-soaked bonhomie or explicit threats of steel-toecap-to-skull interfacing, it’s a more nuanced, cerebral take on the genre. This is also reflected in the tunes, soaring guitars, and dare I even suggest it, metal influences, showing a broader horizon than your usual Oi! records. That being said, it does retain the sort of grit and menace you’d associate, and a decent sprinkling of actual “Oi!”s to placate old farts like myself.

The Dumpies Flamed Out EP

These guys fall in the “they’re really nice people” category of music. Pretty unoriginal pop punk and garage from what looks like record collector types. I guess this series of records requires bands to record while fucked up. Whose brilliant idea was that?! If you’re not the GERMS, why would I care? Three uninspired originals and a cover. Why? It looks like they’re able to schlep this act all over the world and somebody’s watching so don’t listen to me. Zzzzzz.

Erik Nervous Bugs!! LP

ERIK dropped the BETA BLOCKERS for this LP; he’s going solo and the results are marvelous.  Eleven tracks of DEVO-worshipping, synth-laden Midwest garage rock which sometimes veers into absolute hardcore mayhem. Songs are fast, hooks are catchy, riffs are sick, guitar solos are quick and frantic, with a vital impulse to push things to the extreme which is very alluring and fun. This kind of sound’s been on a revival kick of sorts lately, I haven’t been that interested in it to be honest, but ERIK NERVOUS delivers. Just listen to the chaotic opener “Our Hungry Fruit,” ERIK never lets up the intensity throughout the record. This was released on cassette last year but now you can get it on red, white, or black vinyl. Be stiff!

Eyes and Flys Anxiety Tools / God’s Management 7″

Seeing as this is their fourth 7” in just over twelve months, EYES AND FLYS have certainly kept busy during the past year. And while I respect their work ethic, these guys’ music hasn’t quite hit the target for yours truly. EYES AND FLYS walk a strange borderland between partly-sunny near-goth and overcast garage-strum (a place called Buffalo, actually). Forsaking the punkier direction of the preceding singles, there’s an implied darkness and gloominess to these tunes, but it never settles into something truly compelling. The songcraft is definitely there, as you’ve got acoustic guitars and extra percussion jingles and jangles, but it remains on the other side of the river, just waving at me and there’s no thought of attempting a crossing. The B-side is some sort of heartland rock instrumental that wouldn’t be out of place on anything from a TOM PETTY record to a ’90s indie-emo platter on Caulfield Records. On the insert, in addition to the nice old-school touch of a phone number for contact, there is the inscription: “Getting by two songs at a time.” It’s a nice sentiment, but I think it’s time to make an album where this material might congeal into something worthy of its ambition.

Fixed Lens Fixed Lens cassette

Already (and justifiably) fawned over, the debut from Berlin’s FIXED LENS absolutely nails their dark goth energy, and they own the vibe instead of trying to create it. Maybe it’s looking back and reimagining with punk hindsight, but this duo makes a now-timeless sound feel brand new. I was weaned on this shit, and it’s great to hear something that doesn’t feel (at all) like a rehash. Dominant synths, barked vocals, haunting guitars, hard driving dancefloor beats that urge the tempo instead of forcing it. A powerful smash, especially as a debut.

Fugitive Bubble No Outside cassette

Second release from this Olympia band, and second to be issued by the Stucco label’s cassette-only imprint Impotent Fetus. It appears they’ve been whittled down to a three-piece since their debut, with the bassist taking over primary vocal duties, but I think it’s resulted in a net positive for the band. Where their last release sounded like a cartoony take on WARM BODIES (not a bad thing!), the six tracks on this cassette find them tempering some of that egginess with a little post-punk flair and ending up with a more distinct product. The vocals are more restrained and sing-songy, though still pretty monotone, and they’ve been double-tracked and reverbed, calling to mind LITHICS or later NOTS records. The guitar is a little cleaner and drenched in surf levels of reverb, but the band is still playing the same quick, nervy hardcore punk. It’s a familiar collection of sounds, but it feels like a novel assemblage. Cool stuff!

Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters Smashed Full of Wonder LP

Smashed Full of Wonder collects the complete recordings of London’s HANGMAN’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, who represented the Platonic ideal of the ’80s psychedelic garage revival as well as anyone from the era—if a static image of any random group of humans sporting teardrop Vox guitars and mop-top fringes against an op art background was capable of producing a sound, this would be it, and the fifteen tracks here are certainly caught between a Girls in the Garage rock and a Paisley Underground place. On the wilder side, “Out of My Head” paints a day-glo picture of a Grace Slick-fronted PANDORAS, the fuzzed-out stomp of “Pushing Me Too Far” delivers on the promise of the SEEDS nod in its title, and “Don’t Ask My Name (Just Call Me Jack)” is a frantic twelve-string jangle rave-up made for scuffing up one’s ankle boots. That particular trip gets mellowed out by the likes of the swirling psych-lite slowburner “Love is Blue” and the C86-to-the-max “Something About Today” and “Call Her Name,” with the latter pair being especially apt reminders that Dan Treacy of the TELEVISION PERSONALITIES was first responsible for making some of these songs available to the record-buying public (and don’t the kids just love it).

Limbs Bin Burnt White Elephant CD

After almost five minutes of ambiance and field recordings from the opening track, LIMBS BIN destroys in the way that only they (he) can. Twenty-five sub-sixty-second bursts of harsh noise and manipulated sound punctuated by samples and (audio) violence, all sewn together as one harrowing dose of sonic punishment with a couple of (merciful) interludes. Some folks know what they’re getting into with a new LIMBS BIN release…I advise the rest of you to strap in.

Paul Messis Win or Lose / Please Don’t Tell Why 7″

Somewhere between the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS and the ANIMALS, this single is deeply rooted in ’60s psychedelic rock. The A-side is a jangly, lo-fi California-style rock track that combines tremolo guitars with distorted synths. The B-side is a lighter acoustic ballad that easily could be a cut by the BYRDS or BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD. If you’re looking for some ’60s nostalgia, you won’t find anything that emulates that sound better than this.

The Mind Open Up the Window and Leave Your Body LP

This is the second album by Cleveland’s the MIND, a band capable of crafting beautifully gloomy gems of songs: vaporous, uncanny, and with all the hidden qualities of a Man Ray photograph. Their sound is really peculiar, it lives in the exact confluence of ’80s post-punk and early dream pop. The music feels like a monolith casting a shadow over a poppy field.  There is a dark psychedelic edge to the songs, reminding me of Chicagoans DA! or really early SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES. The band seems to really be hitting you straight from the unconscious with each song, and this is an LP that deserves to be played really loud late at night. A pleasant surprise.

Needles//Pins Needles//Pins LP

There is a lot going on here. To say this is just a punk record is doing a disservice to all those involved here, but to say this is a rock record isn’t a fair assessment either. Melodic and catchy are words that I’d freely use to describe this, and while there are hooks abound here, it’s got just enough grit to keep it honest. If this record isn’t in heavy rotation on rock stations across their native Canada, that’s a crime. Truly.

The Pulls The Damnedest Thing LP

This is the 20th anniversary re-release of this band’s debut album. From Pennsylvania, this trio cranks out some good buzzsaw pop punk. Similar to early BLINK-182, early ATARIS, or even SCREECHING WEASEL without the snotty vocals. Short songs with decent hooks over basic music. Solid full-length that deserves more attention this second time around.

Reglement Reglement LP

This was a little hard for me to get through. REGLEMENT is a two-person synth industrial punk band from France. Their music is a throwback in its primitiveness of beats and synth sounds. I feel like if my French was better (or even existent?), this would be more interesting, as the songs are focused around the consistent barrage of one member’s loud vocal tracks all sung/spoken with the same tone and inflection. While I love some primitive ’80s and ’90s electro punk, this goes on for far too long. If you purchase it online you can get the whole record sans vocals tacked on for nothing. Maybe more interesting? I do not have the energy. Early NINE INCH NAILS, STEREO TOTAL, NERVOUS GENDER, and a smidgen of METAL URBAIN. There, some very kind comparisons for those who care.

Scene Killers Rev It Up 12″

The debut EP from Nottingham, England’s SCENE KILLERS is a total ripper. Members of the CRIMINALS, the HIP PRIESTS, and TV CRIME come together here like a punk rock Voltron to bring us six songs of total punk rock’n’roll badassery. The kind of record that makes you wanna brown-bag a 40 and cruise around town at night smashing shit. There’s even a cover of the REPLACEMENTS’ “Color Me Impressed,” which is especially fun to listen to with singer Jesse Luscious’ trademark vocal stylings that give the song a nice little kick in the ass. I’ll be counting the minutes until these fellas are able to come stateside for what will undoubtedly be a hell of a live show! An extra tidbit for all you nerds out there: the record comes in a bunch of cool colors.

The Sinema / TV Generation DCxPC Live Presents, Volume 2 split EP

Second edition of this live series modeled after the ’90s VML singles. TV GENERATION offers three hefty doses of snotty adult punk; mid-paced, snarky stomps that include a song about Uncle Lou’s—the Florida venue set to receive the proceeds from the sale of this single—and a DAMNED cover. Appropriately sloppy (it’s a live series, kids!), and even the cover somehow has the same “dragging the grown-ups through the mud” pace. On the flip, the SINEMA starts their whirling metalcore track with a mosh call: “I’m alright! / Up all night! / Do you wanna fight? / Fuck the alt-right!” and I’m at least paying attention. One wild, noodle-riff-centric track that delves a bit too far into commercial alt-metal (for my taste) with the quiet sing-y bits…but redeems (slightly) with the sign-off: “Cowboys can suck my cock! / Fuck the alt-right! / I fucked up!”

Soft Shoulder Formerly on Fluorescent Paper LP

Latest LP from this Sonoran noise rock recording project, who have apparently been going at it for around fifteen years now. This LP is made up of fourteen tracks, most of which clock in under two minutes, and touches on noisy post-punk, dance-y synth punk, and No Wave. In its best moments it sounds a little like the A FRAMES with a late ’90s JON SPENCER production—in its worst, it sounds like the FAINT. I don’t know if I’ll be dipping back into this one, but the time I spent with it was enjoyable enough.

Step Forward Demos 1989-1990 LP

STEP FORWARD was the first “proper” straightedge band to come out of Sweden (I say “proper” because SVART PARAD had their foot in it as well, but never were established as a sXe band). Although very short-lived, they had a major role to play in Swedish hardcore and paved the way for REFUSED and FINAL EXIT. Their only two existing demos are finally being repressed with remastered sound, and with liner notes from Dennis Lyxzen along with a bunch of unseen photos. The members went on to form and play in impactful bands like FINAL EXIT, INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONSPIRACY, E.T.A., and REGULATIONS. The cover pictures four kids sitting on the front of a porch. First thoughts? MINOR THREAT. And yes…this has MINOR THREAT written all over it, from the cover to the vocal style to the sound, but an angrier and sometimes faster version. This record proves that Sweden isn’t just D-beat!