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.

Pöls Agrieta el Asfalto LP

Love it when bands like Madrid’s PÖLS get me to listen to styles I haven’t been exposed to or cared about in decades, such as melodic hardcore. Along with Barcelona’s ACCIDENTE, this band has taken that suburban sound and infused it with themes of anarchism, animal rights, ecology, and self-empowerment. And they do it by mixing up youth crew energy, heavy breakdowns, lots of “wooaahs,” and even rap. The contrasting relationship between the girl and boy voices keeps you interested for the whole record. They also feel free to experiment with flamenco-ish ending in “Barcelona” and rap with the last song “Pöls.” Intense energy and creative songwriting. Get it on vinyl.

Rudimentary Peni Great War LP

Holy shit! For the first time in 26 years, RUDIMENTARY PENI have released a full-length, although Great War was recorded some years ago before the mysterious hiatus of the ever-shifting project. It works along the tracks of the 2009’s Wilfred Owen the Chances single, in which they take a more dehumanized bleak approach which just adds to the nightmarish sound that plagues their soundscapes. Once again the overlying theme and lyrics deal with anxiety and the ugly face of mental illness in this constraining world. The artwork is amazing as expected and has the ability to turn a record into wall art. One of the most amazing bands to come out of the UK´s anarcho-punk scene for sure, Nick Blinko has cast a shadow on punk music that will take a long time to disappear.

Skiftande Enheter Lögn / Bättre Förr 7″

The latest from Gothenburg’s SKIFTANDE ENHETER was this lathe-cut single in an edition of 50 (already gone) copies, so save for a future repress on a less bespoke format, if you don’t already have it, you likely never will. That said, it’s an ace pair of songs—having started out as a URINALS/DESPERATE BICYCLES-style primitive punk combo before taking up the mantle of heavily FELT-accented C86 jangle, we now find our Swedish DIY heroes putting a Nordic spin on the sort of darkly psychedelic garage-drone that would usually bear a Flying Nun logo. There’s smudged GALAXIE 500 fingerprints all over the molasses-slow strum and extremely Naomi Yang-worthy bass line of “Lögn,” punctuated by some organ-saturated and ever-so slightly VELVET UNDERGROUND-ed rave-ups, with “Bättre Förr” channeling the moodier side of the CLEAN’s scrappy, homespun pop trances. Evolution is real!

Slow Worries Careful Climb LP

Crisp, deftly performed indie rock that leans heavily on ’90s sonic motifs, in the shadows of TEAM DRESCH, SLEATER KINNEY, LIZ PHAIR, the BREEDERS, or SHUDDER TO THINK. If you told me this was a lost classic from that era, I’d be inclined to believe you. The recording, musicianship, and especially the singing is completely on-point. I admit to being slightly thrown off by how American the band sounds, despite being from Holland; I don’t just mean the singer’s accent (I have lived in Amsterdam and know that many Dutch speak impeccable English), but even lyrical references. If anything, this album is a little more polished than the usual MRR fare, but recommended for fans of the aforementioned groups nonetheless.

Stinkhole Mold Encrusted Egg EP

Behold STINKHOLE, the unwanted baby of LUMPY AND THE DUMPERS and MYSTIC INANE, left behind in a Berlin dumpster. This is some of the slimiest slime-punk around, with seven tracks of noisy, rudimentary outsider hardcore with a vocal delivery that sounds like a choke/slur/vomit combination. I honestly don’t know if the lyrics are in English or not because the dry heave singing is pretty hard to crack. This EP sounds like it was recorded in the basement of the building next door and is so lo-fi that it seems like the band taped over a random mixtape. Snippets of woozy easy listening and jazz sounds bookend some of these audio scabs. It’s not all just gross-out punk though: I distinctly heard a synth once on “Orange Juice,” and the credits list a trumpet. Final track “Slippin’ on Slug Slime” (let’s pause for a moment and appreciate the poetry of that title) has a cool one-bent-note guitar lead that gives it just the slightest amount of post-punk spice. I loved it. Just make sure to sanitize your hands after playing.

Toro Bravo Tik į Priekį CD

This Lithuanian band has been playing tight, melodic Oi! since 1997. It’s catchy sing-along fun and I have no idea what they’re saying, but you know it’s positive and non-racist. COCK SPARRER, PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES, and SHAM done all modern and bristle-free. It’s a fun bit of ruck and I’ll probably not listen to it again but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Į sveikatą!

Tritonic Port of Spain CD

A blistering aural soundscape of a concept album (of sorts). Equal parts hardcore, metal, math rock, indie, and a smattering of pop, it’s all stitched into a whole cloth with samples and sound collages. BOY SETS FIRE mashing it up with KILLING JOKE doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s a start.

Voice Imitator Plaza LP

Cool release from this group made up of Australian underground luminaries. VOICE IMITATOR has a few modes, but the songs are mostly based around taut WIRE-style post-punk rhythms, with sustained sheets of guitar and feedback like vintage SONIC YOUTH for good measure. There is a frequent high-pitched layer of synth noise that adds to the creeping build-up on tracks like “Chinese Hoax” and “Vilification Brunch.” The vocals on these rocking tracks come across as gruff and reverbed disaffected noise rock diatribes. There are also few unexpected surprises on this record, though. On three songs, the instrumentation is stripped down to slow, distorted electronics with spoken vocals on top, like a dread-inducing poetry reading. These tracks maintain the building tension that the more traditional rock songs have and sound like the quieter moments on a PRURIENT record. The final two tracks are remixes with heavier electronic instrumentation and work just as well as the rock originals. Strong album of serious, mature experimental punk.

 

The War Goes On Assisted Armageddon LP

Hailing from Copenhagen, THE WAR GOES ON is on their second album with Assisted Armageddon. Dark and catchy as hell punk rock that owes as much to the US as it does to the UK, but with a somewhat “pop” sensibility. They strive for big melodies yet have a gritty approach to them. If you know HJERTESTOP or NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS, you know what you are in for, as the members share duties in both bands. To sum things up, this album could be on Hellcat Records.

V/A Amenaza Mexicana cassette

Nice comp tape that grabs twelve current Mexican bands from all over the sonic DIY spectrum for consumption and consideration. A few bursts from the more polished and melodic side (RUFFLES, SYNESTHESIA, HOLLYWOOD BABILONIA) some raw hardcore (AUTOMATAS, BRIGADA ROJA, MALARI), bouncy punk (TRABAJO SUCIO, FLORES Y FUEGO), plus tracks from AFTERBOLTXEBIKE, COOPERATIVA PASCUAL, FILERO, and a killer low-end HC slammer from ROMPE EL CONTROL. Excellent quality throughout, from bands that were mostly new to me—which is why well put together comps (still) rule. Cheers to Rebel Time for making this one happen.

Artistic Decline Four Song EP reissue

I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for bands like ARTISTIC DECLINE. They emerged onto a crowded Southern California field and were too quirky to fit snugly into one of the many micro-scenes that dotted the punk landscape. Moody and tuneful and snide, ARTISTIC DECLINE surfed the same waves as SIMPLETONES, GEARS, and SECRET HATE. “Andy Warhol” is my pick hit, but out of the four songs here, the only semi-duff cut is the closing “Private Shack,” where the slower tempo doesn’t do them any favors. Still, a minor classic reborn, and here’s hoping their Random Violence LP gets the same treatment sooner than later.

Asocial Aldrig Som Er 12″

ASOCIAL’s history begins in the early ’80s in the Swedish hardcore scene. They pushed the envelope with great EPs of crust and D-beat, and an album, How Could Hardcore Be Any Worse, an absolute beast of noise that had a great and lasting influence on extreme music worldwide. The band has been writing new music since 2017, and this EP finds the band revisiting four of its classics and presenting four new songs. I have to admit I’m not really into bands re-recording their old songs, but in this context, they sound as raw and chaotic as the originals, and the new songs are pure mayhem. The EP starts with “Religion Still Sucks,” one of the best openers I’ve heard so far this year. “Krossa Nazismen,” “Mïlitardiktatur,” and “Samhällets Offer” are all incredibly intense. A must-have.

Blisterpack Empty Spaces cassette

A raw and eclectic set of songs on this EP. The opening track sounds like an homage to the KINKS, while later tracks are reminiscent of early cuts from THEE OH SEES or maybe some Paranoid Time-era MINUTEMEN. Although it may be hard to pinpoint the sound of this record, every song is still a lot of fun. What surprises me most about this EP is that it’s really groovy. Not in a peace-and-love kind of way, but a lot of the tracks are funky as hell in a JAMES CHANCE style. What’s not to like here? Punk ballads, scuzzy garage rock, and No Wave grooves. I’ll take some of that.

Cassie The Light Shines On LP

CASSIE was a short-lived Isle of Wight band. Their sole release, 1982’s “Change My Image” single, was about as perfect a new wave pop/bubblegum punk number as a band could write. Were it not for their mismanaged label’s inability to market the record, the single may have become the hit it deserved to be rather than languishing in obscurity. Fortunately, Reminder Records reissued that 45 last year, and now they have dug up the rest of the band’s recorded output for this compilation LP. While there’s nothing here as deliriously catchy as “Change My Image” (maybe aside from an earlier version of the song), the LP is still chock full of should-have-been hits. The fidelity across these fourteen tracks varies from rough studio cuts to even rougher demos, but the overall production is crunchy and immediate, highlighting the band’s energetic performances without getting in the way of the melodies. I imagine this could appeal to both grizzled punks and power pop wimps. Absolutely essential if you’re a fan of NIKKI AND THE CORVETTES, JOSIE COTTON, or early TEENAGE HEAD.

Celebrity Handshake Bottom Of Your Bucket LP

I swear, for the last couple years, this Portland, Maine trio has had a record reviewed every other month here at MRR. I keep on seeing the name and I keep on not listening to the music. Now, dear reader, I’m strapped into the chair like Alex in that one movie about clocks and oranges and my ears are being forced open with an intricate series of chains and hooks. And I’m here to tell you a secret: This shit sucks. For some reason, I thought these guys were on a HARRY PUSSY tip, which would have at least resulted in a distracting blur. Does CELEBRITY HANDSHAKE think that they’re the second coming of ART PHAG? Listen, once was enough, you wangheads. This is half generic garage punk and half lame-ass improv with bad—like really fucking bad—singing. There’s all sorts of constipated growlers this guy reminds me of but I already listened to the goddamn record, so I ain’t gonna waste any more time conjuring up a couple “sounds like”s. It sounds like shit!

Chron Turbine Yoga Injury: Discomfort in Seven Movements cassette

Eight jams from stoner and noise rock influences on this release. The tape starts strong with a tightly-wound instrumental song that sounds like a HELMET demo. Two vocalists, one of whom sounds like a mix of David Yow from the JESUS LIZARD and Aaron Beam from RED FANG, and one of whom sounds like bad Jon Spencer karaoke, sing separately on the rest. When the band gets into a propulsive groove, it’s good in the crunchy ’90s rock way. “Dying Elephant” has a catchy, repetitive refrain that got my foot tapping and head bobbing. I was then able to place the sound historically: this sounds like the bands that got swept up in the major label, post-Nevermind feeding frenzy of the early ’90s. Clean vocals, a little distorted chugging but not too heavy, and pop sensibility? Yeah, this sounds as familiar as any other second-tier band on a Geffen label sampler back in the day. A few of these tracks could fit in on modern rock radio, no disrespect intended. Full disrespect, however, to the songs “Hipster Taxidermy Fetish” and “Wet Look.” The vocals are a comical Jon Spencer impression with all the blues affectations that can only be handled by Mr. Spencer himself. I cringed through those two tracks and wondered what kind of band friendship or financial obligation got that guy the job. Other than those two tracks, decent if unremarkable release of what I guess is still called alternative rock.

Albert DeMuth / Thot Audit split cassette

A split cassette with some of the most gorgeous packaging I have ever seen on a cassette release. We’ve got a four-color screen-printed O-card (with a single print on the inside of it even though it is glued shut), a two-color screen-printed insert, two-color screen-printed labels on each side of the cassette, and it all comes in a two-color screen-printed (inside and out) folding chipboard slipcase. It looks absolutely amazing and I very much applaud the amount of work that went into this. Now onto the music. It took me a few listens to fully understand what was going on with this tape. The two projects featured here both had members of the NY-based band COTTAGING. ALBERT DEMUTH is a solo musician who plays slow and meandering minimalist music with lackadaisical poetic lyrics delivered in a lazy LOU REED kind of way. THOT AUDIT, on the other hand, plays more driving, artsy, indie-based rock music with some mathy, all-over-the-place kinda riffs jangling away throughout their side of the tape. Some cool post-punk/gothy moments shine through at times. All in all, a very cool-looking and sounding release once I spent the time to get past my initial confusion.

Detoxi In Laughter 12″

“Love is the lasting connection we make with others and nothing is as powerful, the laughter shared with one another.” This is the central theme in DETOXI’s new record, aptly titled In Laughter. Featuring members of the amazingly underrated deathrock act CATHOLIC SPIT, the ANCESTORS, and STALAG-13, these Californians craft a mix of UK DECAY and RUDIMENTARY PENI. One of the best modern deathrock bands out there.

Electric Chair Social Capital EP

Crucial hardcore in the form of a 7” hand grenade. If you like classic USHC, get this immediately. Six songs of fast, super-pissed punk with lyrics reflecting our current dystopia. Anti-police, anti-scenester, anti-human, anti-fascist diatribes against this modern life. Check out “Life is Hell”: “Birth is violence / Life is hell / You sell your baby on the black market / I hate the way they smell.” Tough! If you have stick-and-poke BLACK FLAG bars or the DEAD KENNEDYS logo, you may want to consider a future patch of skin for a little electric chair. Have you bought this yet?

Esperanza 1998–2001 LP

I’ve been waiting for this collection for a while now, and still I was speechless when I held it in my hands and dropped the needle. Imagine a band with such a massive impact who never ever released a record during their existence—an existence that spans just eleven songs. That’s it. And yet I feel like ESPERANZA grabbed all of the positive elements about turn of the century DIY hardcore and just refused to let go over the course of those eleven songs—maybe that’s just all they needed, or maybe the flames that burn the brightest just burn out faster. Fierce and uncompromising politics (“21st Reason to Kill [then-California Governor] Pete Wilson” as a prime example…and possibly the single best track on the record) and an energy level that was infectious, these kids just exploded when they played. And you felt it with every pore. Musically, their sound lands somewhere between MINOR THREAT and LIMP WRIST—but more developed and amped up than the former (yeah, I said it) and a couple of years before the latter really got rolling. It’s USHC to be sure, and you’d be hard pressed to find a finer demonstration of the genre…but it’s also more than that. This collection is everything that it should be—the tracks are given the proper sonic attention and the sheer sound alone is worth the price of admission, while the accompanying 20-page booklet follows the band through flyers and stories and images. In hindsight, ESPERANZA is even better and bigger now than they were at the time. Nothing but praise.

The Gordons The Gordons LP + Future Shock EP reissue

The twin gold-standards of ’80s Kiwi DIY, newly reissued and made accessible once again (as they should forever be). Christchurch’s GORDONS laid down a fully-formed statement of intent on their debut, 1980’s three-song Future Shock EP, with flares of white heat intensity sparking against an unyielding mechanical grind—plenty bleak and austere in a post-JOY DIVISION trajectory, but always fully visceral. The title track is a nearly five-minute pressure burst of jagged, lacerating guitar and increasingly desperate vocals, like MISSION OF BURMA in total panic overdrive, with “Adults and Children” taking the insistent rhythmic jabbing of UK post-punk acts like GANG OF FOUR to its harshest (and loudest) extreme. That caustic sheet-metal clang stretched and sprawled into some extended drones for the GORDONS’ self-titled 1981 LP, existing in the liminal space between the cold, foreboding soundscapes of WIRE’s 154 and GLENN BRANCA’s guitar-driven No Wave wall-of-sound, to eventually be followed by SONIC YOUTH’s own reinvention of the latter. Both the EP and LP were originally self-released by the band, but given a wider re-release (for the first, and until now, only time) by Flying Nun back in 1988, and the significance of that retroactive endorsement by the most influential of labels in the NZ underground is major—this is about as far as you can get from common conceptions of the “Flying Nun sound,” and the GORDONS will absolutely dismantle any mental hierarchies of such that you might have already formed.

Governess Never Coming Home LP

Jeez. I feel like I’ve reviewed this same band nine zillion times. TURBONEGRO was an interesting band, at least in the Ass Cobra days, because they had crazy record collections for influence, had members who were well-entrenched in the ’80s Norwegian punk scene with some of them being genuinely insane characters, they had the POISON IDEA connection, and they were doing something fairly original and funny after years and years of failure. Now some 30 years later, some Buffalo yahoos think they can slap on some stiff denim and runny eye makeup and think I’m even going to give a shit. GOVERNESS has the obvious DICTATORS and DEAD BOYS influences, and they are really decent musicians. They write some OK versions of glammy guitar punk and and put their pierced tongues firmly in butthole with the customary gay innuendo humor, such as on “Midnight Swordfight.” Fuck, I don’t know. Maybe if I was younger and less jaded I might be more aroused by this, but instead I’m left bored, tired, and limp in my jeans. Zzzzz.

Hüstler Hüstler demo cassette

An excellent, disgusting debut demo from NY deathpunks HÜSTLER through Sorry State Records. Hüstler is a healthy dose of visceral deathrock-infused blackened hardcore punk, where everything is well-balanced and you can tell they channel loads of influences on this one. From the coldness of CHRISTIAN DEATH to the strangeness of GISM and even SLAYER´s early work in the guitar work. Like being sodomized by Satan himself.

Ill Globo Check the Odds EP

My tolerance for puns is pretty low. So, I let out a bit of groan when I looked up this Melbourne band’s name to find out it’s a play on Il Globo, a publication that’s been providing news to Australia’s Italian community since the late ’50s. I’ll let that slide, though, because everything else about this release is great. ILL GLOBO burns through eight garage-infused hardcore tracks in about ten minutes. The songs are a nice blend of straightforward USHC (like CIRCLE JERKS) and some sunburnt Aussie punk’n’roll (like CIVIC). But the production here really sells it for me. I’m not sure if it’s a pedal or maybe a droning keyboard laid overtop (or both), but the overall effect is that the guitar sounds like a wasp stuck in the blinds. It’s great!

Josephine & Hershguy Stocky Tunes LP

The first listen I was getting a lot of sonic inputs from early K Records, SPARKS, post-post-art-punk, ROXY MUSIC, neo-No Wave, glam theater rock…almost in a disparate hi-talent show of the kids too cool and too talented for marching band. On second, third, and many more listens it all melds together into the singular voices of Josephine Network and Hershguy, refreshingly hard to put your finger on, but so good. It’s so unique that the album includes its own Stocky Yiddish Dictionary where I learned that “cockamun with a bissel hunnick” means “shit on you with a little honey.”

Mausoleo Absolución LP

MAUSOLEO it’s a post-punk band from Valencia. They call their sound “devotional punk” and certainly there’s a spiritual quest quality to their music: super melodic and dark arpeggiated riffs, deep and throbbing bass lines, and pounding drums. It’s Andrés Sanabria’s voice that gives the band an almost ethereal idiosyncrasy. Sonically, they thrive in the space created by their hometown’s ANTIGUO RÉGIMEN and the legacy of Spanish bands like DÉCIMA VÍCTIMA, or, at least in vocals and lyrics, GOLPES BAJOS. The record is great. “Mausoleo” is a hell of an album opener, somber and beautiful, “Paredón” quickly takes us to a sort of celebration of personal dismay. My favorites: “Sodomizado” with that irresistible SISTERS OF MERCY type of guitar riff and “Dogma,” with a crystalline guitar tone and a fast and interesting riff, like KILLING JOKE without the metal leanings. They also have a pretty cool cover of Valladolid’s punk band QLOACA LETAL. Get the vinyl, the artwork is awesome. You won’t regret it.

Monkey 101 Rusts, Smuts and Heart Rot LP

An album collecting early nineties recordings from this group, who released a single on Siltbreeze in 1990 and are not out of place among their label-mates of the time, like POLVO and GBV. Layers of everything-all-at-once fuzz, heaviness, noise, and reverb, with catchy indie rock tunefulness finding its way through the murk. When I hit play, the first comparison that came to mind was TRUMANS WATER. I stand by that, but with less BEEFHEART quirk and more of a SCIENTISTS/MUDHONEY rock’n’roll sensibility. Honestly, fans of anything I mentioned in this review will find much to appreciate about this record.

No Dope for the Kids No Dope for the Kids cassette

First off, respect to these Alabama kids for ripping off the NO HOPE FOR THE KIDS record so effectively that my lazy ass thought I was popping in a cassette reissue and I was confused when I heard the sounds. And the sounds, you ask…? Sonically, this hits like INTRO5PECT, or maybe ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE stepping into the future and piss-taking region rock. Ideologically, it’s nice to see a band voice anti-establishment and anti-corporate ideals while acknowledging the impossibly connected world and/or society in which most of us exist. Shit is complicated, and NO DOPE FOR THE KIDS doesn’t shy away from it.

Pedigree Connected? 12″

Coming through with a sound akin to EX-CULT on Valium, PEDIGREE has unleashed a monster of an EP upon the unsuspecting public. Beyond its loud and fuzzy post-punk exterior, this is complex music with a real cinematic quality to it. Each song is almost like its own little movie, conjuring up jittery images of frantic electricity webbing bleak dystopian landscapes. These tunes expand and contort in surprising and impressive ways as they unfold, like the awesome little bit of “Miserlou”-esque guitar play on “Blank Page” and the continuous escalation into madness witnessed on closer “The Nomad.” It’s strong stuff. Put this on and see where it takes you.

Planet Y Kniven for Struben 12”

Scrappy hardcore with just a bit of jangle from this Copenhagen band. A quicker and madder X with the spirit of DEAD MOON. The vocals and sharp guitars bring to mind Poly Styrene and the best of X-RAY SPEX or the VICIOUS. The nine tracks blast quick for a strong listen.

Sacripolitical Pandemic Sessions EP

This really isn’t very good. The music is plodding and not very interesting. The vocals are stiff and deadpan and the lyrics attempt to be witty but fall flat. It’s dads playing hardcore and that’s all fine, but what’s really interesting is reading the band’s history on the internet. SACRIPOLITICAL is a Marin County mainstay that’s been playing on and off since 1982! They’ve played with all your favorite bands in lots of long-forgotten bars, clubs, and in a glass warehouse with FANG!? They’ve been written up in this very magazine and were even interviewed on KPFA for the radio show. Sure, you’ve probably never heard of them, but their band history is hilarious and makes me nostalgic for another time. For that I think you deserve to give these people an honest listen, and maybe even throw them a couple bucks or chat them up at a future show.

Sexpill Anarchy and LSD EP

This EP starts with nuclear sirens, so you know you are in for a treat. Coming from Houston, SEXPILL is ugly-as-fuck hardcore punk like KURO on a bad hair day. The sound is disgustingly good if you are into noisy punk. And at some point, you realize that the sirens don’t stop, and go throughout the whole EP.

Spray Paint Into the Country LP

SPRAY PAINT is a scuzzy noise rock band from Austin, Texas, formed from members of another Austin noise band from the mid-2000s called WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. This is certainly the most No Wave-heavy release I have heard from either of the groups. Acoustic drums are almost completely stripped in favor of crusty, distorted drum machines. Melodies are replaced with metallic clangs and guitar feedback. Everything here feels more raw and primal than anything else. The record is spacy and moody rather than just purely aggressive. If groups like TEENAGE JESUS AND THE JERKS or DNA are your thing then this will be right up your alley.

SS/BLOCK Mob Violence EP

Amazing D-beat straight from Malaysia. This EP is the debut release of this band from Mentakab Pahang, and they’ve got a pretty cool demo that you should check out, too. Oh man, the sound. So raw, so furious, it makes my brain pogo against my skull. This EP is full of energy blasts, and with production values that accentuate their sonic attack, it feels like you’re listening to the constant and overwhelming noise made by some river rapids. The lyrics are highly political, as you might expect, being a punk in Malaysia ain’t easy at all. This band clearly likes DISCHARGE and delivers six songs within that frame, but their primal rage provides a distinctive sound. I really like the sing-along and shouty chorus of the track “Anti77-Fascist Society.” You should have this band on your radar, I hope they make an LP soon.

Toeheads Animal House cassette

TOEHEADS are an angst-filled Detroit band. There’s lots of screaming and jerky rhythms and anxiety-inducing beats. But they also have a lo-fi garage rock undertone. “Graveyard Walk” reminds me so much of CHEATER SLICKS. This would be perfect if I was still driving my dad’s ’80s Pontiac that had that great cassette deck in 2001. The sound reminds me of the perceived freedom of my youth. Give me more.

Toro Bravo Mes Tokia Karta CD

TORO BRAVO ramps things up real high and never lets up, cranking out superb, high-energy Oi! from start to finish. These six cuts are wildly catchy, but not once do I feel them fall into any of the typical “melodic punk” traps—instead, they use cold, sharp, Eastern European sounds to stamp their take on classic UK punk…and lots of hard-ass rock’n’roll. STRASSENJUNGS and ROSE TATTOO and COCKNEY REJECTS come to mind and fuck, this is so damn good.

V/A Asiztyt: Korrupted Beggar cassette

Another installment of a four-way split cassette on a 30-minute tape from Philippines-based label Prevail Records. The release self-identifies as “Cyber D-beat Crust Rumble,” and who am I to argue with that description? This time up we have DYSTOPIATE, who are a real nasty, crusty, black metal type of band. DESASTYR, who was also on the previous one of these comps I had heard, with more of their noise/No Wave weirdness. DISGARCHE, who are the most straightforward band on the comp, playing nasty crust punk. And finally, TERMINATOR1, who seems to be based in Hungary and is real nasty, lo-fi, sloppy crust punk. Same as the last volume, a tape run of 35 copies with little to no internet presence. If this is up your alley, act quickly!

A Culture of Killing The Feast of Vultures, The Cry of a Dove LP

Italian peace punks A CULTURE OF KILLING do an impeccable job in channeling the British anarcho-punk movement. Nostalgic feelings of listening to the MOB or CRASS run through every song on this record in a well-achieved way. Catchy and well-crafted songs about modern life in this decaying system. Taking the record name from investigative journalist Josy Josef’s dissertation about corruption in India’s democracy “Feast of Vultures,” it is filled to the brim with strong political views.

Ansiedad Cerebral Terapia Cognitivo-Conductual cassette

When it comes to no-frills punk, it’s always best to go the lo-fi way, allowing your chops (or lack thereof) to become an integral part of the message you’re delivering. Malaga’s ANSIEDAD CEREBRAL shares this piece of wisdom and offers nine songs full of sloppy and splendorous p-u-n-k. These guys have already made some racket with other bands (RATAS DE SUMATRA, LIMASSA, and MASS VOLUMEN), so they know how to write a hook or two. They’re actually so good at it, “Punkis de Gimnasio” or “Vive Rápido y Aterriza en el Geriátrico” could be hits in the next Matado Por La Muerte comp of Spanish-speaking punk. Their lyrics are usually extremely ironic, as they say, “designed to offend and undermine morale.” Quite a commendable enterprise in my book. The one that I replay all the time is “Rosalía,” with that raw and almost atonal guitar riff, a sardonic little hymn in honor of the Spanish pop singer. Short, sweet, sweaty, and to the point, get it on cassette for more lo-fi pleasure.

The Blips The Blips CD

A garage rock/pop supergroup of sorts—or so the one sheet claims. A bunch of pop punk singer/songwriters and multi-instrumentalists who have played and toured in a bunch of bands come together to write this debut effort, sharing instruments, and lead and backing vocal duties. It does sound pretty coherent, and definitely mining the vein of the ’60s-era garage Nuggets, and ’70s guitar garage pop à la FLAMIN’ GROOVIES. Definitely more driving pop than fuzz, which is absolutely fine by me.

Boiled Tongue / Shitload split cassette

Lo-fi noisecore solo project split cassette. SHITLOAD from New Orleans I have reviewed releases from before, and this is more of the same. Drum machine sounding like a machine gun, fast riffs over top. It’s a bit hard to differentiate from song to song since they’re all essentially in the same formula. Speaking of songs being difficult to differentiate from one another, BOILED TONGUE from Gulfport, Mississippi lists their tracks on this release as just “(Untitled 1-17).” If lo-fi grindcore, powerviolence, or other forms of aggressive music are your bag, then this would presumably be up your alley. Both projects mix elements from all different forms of brutality into a single package.

CDG Unconditional EP

The initials used to (perhaps still do) stand for CONDITIONER DISCO GROUP, and at one time this was certainly a group effort, but this EP is the solo output of one Jacyn N, also of (not sonically unrelated) labelmates COLLATE and the BEDROOMS. As succinct as you would expect from a seven-inch EP containing five tracks, there is no rationing of ideas within. Immediately, a danceable groove is formed around familiar (but not rote) staccato rhythms and nimble bass lines, embedding scratchy, trebly anti-funk guitar squall. This is the foundation for barked, Anglophone missives, like a dance party at the student union debate. MRR readers with superannuated record collections may find themselves feeling attacked by the track “Audiophiles”—not me though, honest guv.

Codigo Neurotico Totus Tous EP reissue

When a record starts with some Gregorian chants, you know it’s gonna turn out to be something else. Barcelona’s CÓDIGO NEURÓTICO makes exemplary first-wave punk rock: snotty, fun, with buzzsaw guitars, great basslines, and conceited vocals. The overall sound reminds me of Killed by Death bands in style and content, with very tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a healthy dose of adolescent humor, reminiscent of Spanish bands like SINIESTRO TOTAL or M.C.D. “Totus Totus” sounds like a WEIRDOS song played by KAKA DE LUXE, with a chorus that’s a real earworm. “Pega a tu Mama” has the ANGRY SAMOANS’ shock value energy. It’s dumb and it’s fun. “Quema Tanques” is a pure adrenaline rush with lyrics concerning WWII while “Las Malvinas” continues with the rush and war themes with an irresistible sing-along that you will have stuck in your head for weeks. “Cotolengo” is yet another manifestation of their incredible ability to create a gem of beautiful trash. You can get the 7” on red vinyl. Les sugiero que lo hagan.

Crack Cloud Pain Olympics LP

After a few years of small-scale but intense anticipation, CRACK CLOUD’s debut LP landed with somewhat of a thud last year. Was the muted reception due to the coronavirus and its accompanying shutdown? To some extent, no doubt. Even though they seem to have spurned the US so far (a move I grudgingly respect tbh), the Vancouver-based collective appear to be a galvanizing live band, at least according to the ‘toob. Not to mention their great/weird videos and of course the LP collection of their first couple EPs is some real (triple) fire (emojis). Despite CRACK CLOUD’s attention to detail on these meticulously constructed tracks, Pain Olympics is, at times, curiously underwhelming. But, due to the aforementioned virus, further listening has provided plenty of reward. “Post-Truth (Birth of a Nation)” opens with an authoritative take on CRACK CLOUD’s established style but takes a couple left turns into operatic territory. It’s sorta impressive but also kinda gratuitous. Hey, take a swing, I always say. Just try to make contact. But it’s an effective opener. “Bastard Basket” drills into downcast post-punk, while “Favour Your Fortune” is some kinda grime foray that, despite its boastful brevity, fails to land a punch. At first, “The Next Fix” resembles CRACK CLOUD’s electrifying early work but when the vocoded vocals come in, the song flirts with radio cheese and then a group chorus turns into the ARCADE FIRE and I try to comfort myself that it’s a Canadian thing (j/k, luv you loonies). An almost perfect DEVO imitation, “Ouster Stew” also harks back to their beginnings, and reveals how stale the recent batch of egg-punk has been. “Tunnel Vision” combines everything into the total package: it rocks, it’s danceable, it sounds great, it’s got those vocals with the weird cadence, hell it’s even got something resembling a guitar solo. “Angel Dust (Eternal Peace)” ends it all and confirms what you’ve always suspected: CRACK CLOUD are the dance-punk version of GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR. While not the world-beating collection some might have hoped for, Pain Olympics demonstrates that CRACK CLOUD is a force to be reckoned with, and you ignore them….at your own peril!

Dadar I’m a Töch EP

I don’t really know what a “dadar” is. Internet searches tell me it’s either a neighborhood in Mumbai or a type of Indonesian omelette. I doubt the band is going for either of those meanings. They’re not unlike an omelette, though—simple, maybe a little cheesy, but filled with enough interesting ingredients to be satisfying. Anyway, DADAR are a synth-driven garage punk band out of the tiny town of Rovereto in Northern Italy. This is their second 7”, and it’s got a couple of sub-two-minute originals on the A-side and a cover of a track by Italian art-punk band FHEDOLTS on the flip. The originals are good enough. “I’m a Töch” sounds like any of those BLACK LIPS copycat bands that popped up in the late ’00s, maybe with a little HANK WOOD thrown in, and “Calendarize” sounds like a reasonable facsimile of AUSMUTEANTS (in a good way). But I really dig this cover—the minimal post-punk synth melody and talk-sung vocals taken from the original sound great fleshed out with this band’s chunky garage punk sound. Definitely worth a listen!

The Diapers Diaper Full of Love CD

I’ve often used the “dad” term as a derogatory cut-down for the endless aged punker dribble unleashed on me monthly, but it is actually the truth on this one. Self-described as a punk band for kids that wears diapers on their heads and has a baby for a lead singer (no, it’s not the new DWARVES album), they play a cutesy kid/parent-friendly combination of the RAMONES and CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN that’s fairly tolerable. You get songs like “Under My Bed” and “ABC’s and 123’s” to meld along with your favorite Sesame Street jams. I am in no way encouraging procreation, but if you’ve already made such a mistake, you could do a lot worse than picking up this CD. All the money goes to support kids at the border, so skip the organic baby slop for a month and pick this up instead.

Duplo Dor Dor Dor, BB EP

DUPLO is the latest in a recent history of excellent output from São Paulo, Brazil. Some interesting sensibilities mixed up here: “Dance” is an approachable disco punk song with some interesting rhythmic touches, while the closer “Roda Continua” has playful surf touches of the CRAMPS using obsessive repetition to mind-melting effect before building up to an ecstatic meltdown. Paula Rebellato from RAKTA is playing drums and, as they go heavy on the delay pedal, there are some echoes of RAKTA’s more HAWKWIND-influenced days when they still had a guitar in the band. Solid debut.

Exek Biased Advice LP reissue

Originally released in 2016, Biased Advice is EXEK’s debut full-length and still stands tall next to their subsequent triumphs. There’s no getting around the fact that EXEK’s biggest initial inspiration was PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED, and “A Hedonist” is about as close to a perfect homage to said group as you could desire. It’s a testament to how good EXEK is that any and all comparisons to Lydon and Co. are swiftly rendered stale and reductive. “Replicate” is a masterpiece of seasick dub menace—an iceberg in this instance would come as a relief. A deep dive into a bottomless trench, “Baby Giant Squid” encompasses the entirety of side two and never loses its hypnotic sway or compromises the undercurrent of turbulence that roils throughout. On this epic cut, EXEK surfaces as sui generis. Kudos to Castle Face for reissuing this essential slab.

Gasp Stardonas EP

Discovering GASP’s Drome Triler of Puzzle Zoo People album back in the day—after the band was done, but a long time ago nevertheless—was a real light in the darkness for me. A band from (or at least adjacent to) the powerviolence scene who deployed all sorts of weird gloopy psychedelic shit and covered STRETCHHEADS! Somehow, they’re back after, it says here, sixteen years with a couple of new items, including this three-song 7”. “Husband is the Lake” is your go-to track if you want more of their chomping LSD grind; the other two are pretty far beyond “rock,” or the regular notion of it, although “Sign of Victor” feels a bit like something FAUST cooked up in a German commune circa 1971, all analog electronics and sludgy backmasking.

Gee Tee Atomic EP

We’ve got another winner from Sydney’s leading Gas Station Rock band, GEE TEE. Opening with lo-fi RAMONES-y vibes accented by warbly keys, “Kombat Kitchen” had me nice and cozy from the get-go. “Mutant World” serves up a buzzing garage groove. Laid-back title track “Atomic” sounds like it is wearing sunglasses while the world melts, and “Dudes In The Valley” ends it off by inducing both grins and the urge to start the record over again. Well-played.