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.

Strangelight Adult Themes LP

This thing is hot, front to back, like if you thought there was going to be a track in the middle of the B-side that let up, you’d be wrong. Its straight WIPERS/HOT SNAKES love but with a little bit of a heavier, hardcore feel. That’s not to say that it is lacking in hooks or catchy riffs, but the rougher/angrier vocals and darker feel to the rhythm section give a little more weight to the driving, downstroke guitar attack. The only downside is that unfortunate effect on the snare drum (slap echo?) that’s hard to unhear once you’ve noticed it.

Tetanus Tetanus cassette

Sonically schizophrenic and riddled with digital fuckery, this tape from TETANUS was created in the wake of a couple other Charlotte bands that succumbed to the lockdown restraints of COVID-19. Bullhorned shouty vocals cover all six noisy tracks, including the sped-up rendition of the MENTALLY ILL’s KBD classic “Gacy’s Place” that closes it out. Chalk it up as one of the more pleasant repercussions of the pandemic.

Three Second Kiss Everyday-Everyman LP

A reissue of the second long-player by this Bologna, Italy trio. Tightly-wound and jagged post-rock heavy on palm mutes and unexpected turns, not unlike FARAQUET or any of the great math rock bands from Louisville, like RODAN or JUNE OF 44. Great production by Iain Burgess on this one, too, turning each instrument into a weapon. Great stuff.

Waste The Lost Tapes: Oudenbosch HC 1981–1983, Vol.1 EP

Any self-respecting Dutch punk aficionado will be aware of WASTE’s History Repeats EP, but it easily may have slipped under the radar of fans of NITWITZ or FRITES MODERN. These five tracks dredged from the archive are rehearsal/live quality, and the fidelity reflects that, but the songs are good and the spirit is lively enough to make this worthwhile in my view. WASTE’s style is a cool blend of melody and aggression, really lifting up the FRITES MODERN comparison for me. Borderline hardcore but nowhere near the speed or density of BGK or GEPØPEL. I have zero graphic design skills so I’m not saying I’m capable of making better cover art than this, but like…maybe ask a friend or something? Simple layouts can be cool but blown-out and pixelated cover art in 2021? Shame. Cool record, though.

The Zeros In the Spotlight / Nowhere to Run 7”

The ZEROS have been at it since the mid/late ’70s. That’s over 40 years. That blows my mind. Most bands that fall into that category aren’t what they used to be. There’s an energy to really good punk rock that comes from its youth. That doesn’t mean they can’t create excellent music; it just means you shouldn’t expect it to have the sense of urgency that comes with youth and being new. I’d say these guys get that. These are well-crafted songs that are played well and great to listen to, but they’re not trying to create fake youthful rage. With harmonicas and a fair amount of lead guitar work, there’s a certain Americana feel to the first track. The B-side is more straightforward punk rock that reminds me of the LAZY COWGIRLS. This is good shit.

V/A Fuselage cassette

Austin indie/post-punk project with a ten-song cassette featuring “guest” vocals from their friends…it’s a good concept, and the result is something that sounds more like a comp than a “release.” From the dreary indie shoegaze of “Needle” (ft. MIND SPIDERS’ guitarist) to the dark “Absolved” (I’ve lost my faith in God) and the angular post-punk of “I Chase Cars” (ft. WARP’s Tika Hall). Throw in a couple of instrumentals, and a poem set to music (“Early Morning Cigarette”) and I’m going to want to spend some time with this one. Also—I stayed in the drummer’s mom’s house like twenty years ago…punk is weird, y’all.

The Ar-Kaics Live in the Shit LP

This is a live recording captured from a February 2020 show in their hometown of Richmond, VA, right before live music shut down. The frantic intensity of the performance comes out and smacks you with a quick pace as each song rushes in right after the next in a perfect garage punk cadence. It’s a tight, quick set and all the slightly off notes and tuning only add to the authentic energy of it. There’s a good mix of old and newer songs with an excellent unreleased new track, “Outsider.” An excellent addition to their growing catalogue.

Beex The Early Years: 1979​-​1982 LP

As its title implies, this LP is a collection of ten early tracks from foundational Richmond punks BEEX, who formed in ’77 and have existed in various states of activity since then, even after original vocalist Christine Gibson passed away in 2007 following a fight with cancer. The group’s first two singles are already established KBD/Bloodstains classics (US division) and they’re presented in full here, along with some previously unreleased and equally killer studio material from those recording sessions, which is honestly the real sell. Gibson’s voice was BEEX’s secret weapon, a slightly raspy melodic snarl that gave some much-needed color to the band’s otherwise fairly straightforward late ’70s approach—“(My Heart Goes) Beat Beat” wanders along the tougher outer edges of power pop (think the SHIVVERS if they’d carried switchblades in their back pockets), the fiery “He Obliterates Me” sounds like a more rock’n’roll, CBGB-spawned version of the AVENGERS, and her increasingly desperate wails in “Guyana” push it beyond dozens of the era’s similarly inspired punk responses to the Jonestown massacre. A worthy history lesson, so study up. 

Castillo Faded Memories 12″

I greet each new Mendeku Diskak with a fervour matched only by a kid knowing they’ve got a pair of Copa Mundials wrapped ‘neath the auld tannenbaum on Crimbo morn; they simply do not miss. This 12” from CASTILLO is another in a long list of belters. Another sensational project from Alex Zambrano, the mastermind behind COMBAT FORCE and REPEAT OFFENDER, dancing merrily between sheer lumpen heft and melodic riffs you can imagine a binman whistling. It’s got hints of the ROYAL HOUNDS, the vocals especially sounded like you’ve spilled their pint, as well as RIXE and MESS, too; it’s a stomper from start to finish. Please sir, I want some more.

Cemented Minds Colostrum 10″

There is no doubt that hardcore punk is a very malleable genre and bands can slowly venture into other sub-genres as time moves along. Loads of hardcore bands slow down on the aggression and tune into their emotions overtime. Hailing from France, CEMENTED MINDS have within their ranks hardcore punk musicians from bands like AMANDA WOODWARD, NINE ELEVEN, and AUSSITOT MORT, but on this project they went into a post-punk mode. Colostrum is their five-song debut, a collage of post-punk melancholia that still retains much of the hardcore energy and can very well please any fan of the aforementioned bands and post-punks alike.

Clusterfux The 7”s cassette

Compilation cassette compiling all recorded CLUSTERFUX tracks from 2004–2007. Two recording sessions that became sides of three split 7”s with some leftover tracks all included here. CLUSTERFUX seem mostly like a thrashcore band, but some of the unexpected genres I hear when I listen to this makes it feel as if the band is somewhat living up to their name. There’s some crossover metal riffs, some rip-roaring thrash metal solos, vocals going back and forth from sounding akin to DRI to sounding like they’re recorded for a crust punk band, and even sounding oddly screamo-inspired at times. Unexpectedly, I think some of the songs on the “You” side of this cassette rip harder than everything contained on the “Fuck” side, which is surprising since that side is all the tracks that didn’t make the cut on the band’s vinyl releases. A few of those songs sound more straightforward crossover thrash, which seems to suit the band the strongest.

The Critics The Critics LP

All I knew about this band going in was they were an early ’80s new wave band out of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. And my initial reaction was, “Cool! I love Aussie bands…but you don’t usually see them coming out of Newcastle. Wonder if there was some sort of scene there—better check!” That’s when I came across maybe the most endearing site I’ve ever seen on the internet. And it actually had some good info on this band! Turns out they existed from 1980–1983, and in that stretch they released two singles and recorded this LP. However, the LP was shelved in 1982 for unknown reasons, only to be uncovered in the last couple years and released here for the first time. Quite the story! But what about the record? Well, it’s certainly new wave…but it’s also never not odd (maybe the first track aside). The vocalist sounds like Mark Mothersbaugh doing an impression of Richard Hell, the guitar tone sounds like early IRON MAIDEN, and the vaguely post-punk atmosphere and the lyrical content remind me of the ADVERTS or the WIPERS. On top of all that, some tracks pair TALKING HEADS funk with hair metal solos, and others feature full-on glam histrionics. To get a good sense of its strangeness, give the seven-minute, multi-part epic “Alien” a listen—it’s worth it!

Deficit Staggering Toward False Light cassette

This is a one-man-band solo project for the drummer of Virginia Beach’s STREET WEAPON. You wouldn’t guess it at all with the non-bedroom project beefy production and big gruff sound. I’m feeling a lot of BLOOD PRESSURE and DIRECT CONTROL here, as well as some classic Midwest-by-way-of-D.C. bald-noggin roar. “Uphill” and “Fear of Nothing” are my faves here. I’m looking forward to the live full-band version of this. Cool.

Disable / Löckheed split EP

Who wants blistering D-beat kängpunk for disfukker? DISABLE kicks things off with grueling, distorted, mid-tempo hardcore punk. A classic style with slightly reverberated vocals à la GLORIOUS?, DISCLOSE, et al. Pace quickens and riffs thicken by the second track, a snare-pummeling composition called “Enola.” The bass here is a ghost-ridden chopper cycle of fire and mayhem. An awesome three tracks from DISABLE, who switch it up subtly and keep you mesmerized in raw, chainsawing fury for six solid and distortion pedal-immersed minutes. LÖCKHEED follows suit with a slightly more Vevarsle/Scandi-beat style, with the feeling of DISCARD, WARCOLLAPSE, or DISFEAR. Vocals are harsher, solos are higher and more dive-bombing. This heavy madness is the perfect compliment to Side A. I want to describe track two on their side as well, as things really climax with “Pill Mill.” Both sides share a parabolic structure but bring a unique offering of this classic style. The last track “Black Wings of War” takes the register even eerier, ending the entire EP with unsettling ominous death-beat. Mastered with the finely-tuned ear-slaughtering of Jack Control at Enormous Door. Strongly recommended for this gross world/your life.

Exek Good Thing They Ripped Up the Carpet LP

Archly romantic DIY pop shuffling, built from combination analogue and digital rhythms; distracted and/or stoned-sounding synth parts; textures and layers which read dub through the same lens as, say, YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS once did…this album from EXEK out of Melbourne is apparently half brand new shit (Side A) and half comp/split tracks (B), but it all flows with a lumpy singularity, a jumble with mumbling. The PHEROMOANS from England have a loosely similar line in post-punk/minimal synth low-key chaos, although EXEK doesn’t really go in for social satire in the same way. (They do have a song titled “The Theme From Judge Judy” though, which is something.) Recall their previous album, 2019’s Some Beautiful Species Left, being more linear on average than this, but EXEK does “spacey and weird” pretty well however they tweak their basic template.

Free Fall Nothing CD

A six-track debut effort from this Florida trio. They attack the old punk with an energetic, snotty attitude. Some fine lead guitar work, makes them sound not too dissimilar to early DEAD KENNEDYS with the FU’S guitarist, as they’re transitioning to STRAW DOGS. I guess that’s a very 20th century analogy, but what the fuck, that’s why they invented the information super highway, so you can look this stuff up.

Han Gan The Time Past cassette

Current D.C.-area folks playing ’90s-style D.C.-area post-hardcore with hints of Chicago-style noise rock from the same era. Four songs that give you the heavier, more punk feel of bands like SOULSIDE with the aesthetic of later ’90s stuff like SMART WENT CRAZY or Q AND NOT U. The second track is the best example, where jagged hardcore and staccato vocals mix with spacey synth parts and heavily treated drums. Would love to hear a studio full-length.

Hooks & Bones (Presenting) The Hook cassette

There’s a lot going on here. Brutal mosh metal beatdown hardcore drops out of the middle of a crossover thrash riff…and then the melodic singalongs in “SD 9.3” seem to come out of nowhere. Kinda like the solos in “Postman on Fire.” And then we’re back to a Milano Mosh for “Bucks & Bullets.” And so goes most of (Presenting) The Hook—’80s NY thrash, ’00s NYHC, dogpiles and spin kicks, old school metalcore, and sooo many crew backing vocals—and it all slays. Only five tracks, but there’s more action on this tape than on most double-LPs.

Impede Digital Hell cassette

IMPEDE from Australia plunks down five slabs of grizzly and haunting punk on this debut cassette EP. The band draws from a diverse pool of influences, and they’re all a bit on the dark side. If the title of opener “Melissa” doesn’t give its source of inspiration away, the high-pitched wail near the end of the song likely will. Shadows of Japanese and Italian hardcore are all over the tracks, and the intro to “The Swarm” goes straight into black metal. Check out the atmospheric evil of “Super Computer” for a taste of how interesting this tape really is.

Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters Waiting in a Corner LP

There isn’t much better than a really good Aussie punk record. It’s equal parts boozy grit, hazy dreariness, and urban beach angst. JACKSON REID BRIGGS & THE HEATERS have some of that going for them, minus the really forgettable band name. There’s a little SAINTS “Know Your Product” bigness of sound, a hint of RADIO BIRDMAN’s guitar theatrics, and a touch of the beautiful melancholy of “This Week” by CELIBATE RIFLES. Unfortunately, this is like the PAT BOONE version of all that, lacking the subversive kick and weirdness of all their possible influences. There’s no character or desperation here, nor even an accent present. There’s some moments like the aptly named “Feel It” where they almost get it, but it’s just not enough. They have a fuck-ton of releases and there is no lack of writing on them via the internet. I imagine you’re either a fan or not by this point. I’d sadly be in the latter group here.

Kaputt Movement Now / Another War Talk 7”

This Scottish sextet put out a pretty decent LP a few years back and this new single condenses all the good things about that album into an easily-digested, bite-sized nugget. KAPUTT composes manic music that has a sense of purpose. “Movement Now” is like SUBURBAN LAWNS sporting a CRASS sleeveless to the beach and now all the surfers wanna burn down the system. As counterpoints move in tandem—girl-guy vocals dodge guitar-sax licks—there’s more than a hint of ESSENTIAL LOGIC to “Another War Talk.” This release bodes well for future KAPUTT.

Last Night Dernière Nuit LP

A short record from French punks LAST NIGHT, Dernière Nuit is absolutely dripping with attitude. It’s off-kilter in a post-punk kind of way, aggressively in-your-face, and disgustingly thick. Vocals spit ferociously, leaving you hanging off every word. The only complaint is that the record doesn’t last longer. This is an LP that begs to be blared on the loudspeakers. An LP to annoy the house next door; hell, maybe the whole neighborhood. If you haven’t gotten a chance to spin this record, I implore you to ask yourself “where the fuck did I go wrong in life?” before hastily rectifying the situation.

Neighborhood Brats Confines of Life LP

Their first album since Claw Marks (one of the best albums in 2018) came out finds the band only getting more diverse in sound and higher in impact and energy. George Rager’s guitar and Jenny Angelillo’s voice are a brutal one-two punch through twelve tracks that will get a pit circling while covering topics of capitalism and housing, misogyny and sexism, commercialism and labeling. I’ve heard they are an insanely intense live show and I’m hoping they get to play some venues stateside soon.

Peste Negra Orquest(a) Los Rebrotes cassette

Argentinian cassette domination continues with this bizarre dose of freak wave and/or synth punk from the PESTE NEGRA ORQUEST(A). Harnessing the primitive melodic punk of early ’80s Latin America and injecting healthy doses of space sounds, they create a vibe on Los Rebrotes that makes these ears yearn for (more) punk that makes you move instead of punks rehashing second-rate darkwave. By the time I got to the middle of this tape, I couldn’t even think straight—it’s that good…and no matter how I tried, I wasn’t able to make it loud enough. Because I just wanted more.

Sarushibai The Melancholy of the Social Outcasts LP

With optimistic fire, SARUSHIBAI plays catchy hardcore like if you mixed TOY DOLLS with the COMES, DEAD KENNEDYS, the STALIN, KURO, and SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN. Everything seems to have a sing-along style to it while being wildly fast. The song titles have me terribly intrigued: “Forest of Lies,” “Full of Lies,” “Bottomless Swamp Side,” “Distorted Landscape,” “Is It Dawn Yet?” This LP is incredibly fun to listen to but seems dripping with intelligence and purpose. Like if SPARKS or T. REX was a punk band, you might get something like SARUSHIBAI. Sometimes sounding like the SAINTS, sometimes sounding like STEELY DAN, SARUSHIBAI always sounds like themselves. Super cool and trippy new direction in hardcore, for you, from Japan.

Shitload Unplugged cassette

Consistently pushing the inanity of noisecore to new limits, New Orleans act SHITLOAD may have outdone themselves. But before you look at a list of the (acoustic) instruments used to create this cacophony and turn away, I would like to offer this advice: just give it a chance. Yeah, the kazoo in between bursts is a little much (OK— it’s a lot much), but hearing everything piled on top of everything else is the same kind of complete sensory overload that makes walls of harsh noise so…comforting. This time it’s in the context (or spirit) of raw powerviolence through shit-fi, and the chaotic monotony works. I know that Bobby Paranoize, SHITLOAD’s sole member, is having a go at us here and that this was released in an edition of ten copies…but I’m going to hold onto mine. Even though, as the artist states: “This is a bunch of ridiculous bullshit.”

Six Sundays Rasputin Goes to Hell CD

These old chaps describe themselves as “dad-punk,” which is perhaps a nod to their age (and familial status), but they’re definitely not staid. By the sounds of this effort (ten tracks, all but two of the songs clocking in at  two minutes or less), it’s not so much that they’re fast, or necessarily hard, but more a harkening to the glory days (for some) of the mid-to-late ’70s. Kind of like somewhere halfway between the HEARTBREAKERS and SLAUGHTER AND THE DOGS, in both speed and attack. And pretty catchy with it, too.

Tunic Exhaling LP

Discography collection, or close enough to it for the sake of argument, from this Winnipeg trio. TUNIC plays—has played—various iterations of noise rock over the six years covered by Exhaling, which begins with the band’s three newest songs: “Fade Out” has me thinking of a Deathwish Records version of SWIZ, for better or worse. The scrabbly, jerky guitar style of their earlier releases, such as the Disappointment 7”, are agreeable enough, but TUNIC seems to have really hit their stride on 2019 album Complexion, with its big UNSANE-like walls of noise. There’s a whole new LP due this autumn and I’d be satisfied with a bit more of that and not too much concern about “progression,” whatever that is.

Upper Hand Iron City Hardcore 1988-89 LP

Excellent capture of Pennsylvania’s UPPER HAND’s last show, where they absolutely leveled a club called Sonic Temple in 1989. Off-the-fucking-rails East Coast hardcore that is way harder than most bands dared to be at the close of the Reagan era, this recording sounds amazing and helps make up for the fact that they never had any proper releases during their short existence. A record clearly released by fans (and one that will likely gain the band some new ones—like me), including a full-size zine with band history, and tons of flyers to accompany a ripping set that ends (appropriately) with FAITH, BAD BRAINS, and AF covers. There are only a few of these kicking around, highly recommended.

Words a Game Words a Game LP

This is a remastered reissue of the band’s only release. Originally a nine-song CD put out back in 1995, the era is pretty hard to mistake. Fall-on-the-floor emo in the INDIAN SUMMER/NATIVE NOD vein that still owed a lot of its sound to NATION OF ULYSSES. These songs aren’t bad, some are a little long, but you could take three of them and have a really good 7”. The problem is that the style of music is so reliant on a sense of urgency and place, that without a nostalgic connection or the ability to be there 25 years ago it falls flat. Again, not bad at all, take a chance on it, you may connect. It’s a very cool release for people who knew of the band or possibly are fans of their other stuff, as four of the five members went on to play in OWLTIAN MIA, with one of those also playing in the wildly underrated CANDYLAND CARCRASH.

Zorn Hardcore Zorn EP

No, this is not a new JOHN ZORN hardcore record! This is ZORN the ultra-Satanic metalpunk outfit from Philadelphia, and they are here to take your soul. After their self-titled EP, they unleashed four hymns to the horned one in a bastard metalpunk spawn of chorus-drenched guitars and devilish madman screams. To make it easier, you can put them in the same bag as homies DEVIL MASTER (ZORN’s singer is the main character in the “Black Flame Candle”). Lay down your souls to ZORN’s rock’n’roll!

V/A Demolition Derby Vol. 2 LP

A collection of raging rock-punk that includes the always great HIP PRIESTS, the DRIPPERS, BLACK GREMLIN, STACY CROWNE, GRINDHOUSE, and the EMPIRE STRIKE. Two tracks by each band in the vein of later TURBONEGRO, HELLACOPTERS, and MOTÖRHEAD. Euro bands on this Italian label’s comp.

Ataac Peligro de Muerte cassette

D-beat attack (pun intended) from Benidorm and Alicante, Spain. This was originally released in 2016, and this reissue on cassette is from September of last year. People from bands like PUNKO UK, TOKKŌTAI, and PEQUEÑA ORUGA MECÁNICA take part in this album, with eleven songs worth of visceral ruminations of the 21st century global violent psyche. The prison system, the absurdity of life, and the murderous desire of the capitalist system get all their due with the proper street punk rawness and D-beatness it deserves. Crispy guitars, shouty vocals, throbbing bass, pummeling drums, the works. Highly recommended.

Béton Armé Au Bord Du Gouffre EP

More great Oi! from the fine city of Montreal; not sure what they’re putting on their chips over there (cheese curds and gravy aside) but there’s been a steady stream of brilliant Oi! records which have been in near constant rotation for yours truly. It’s Oi! sung in French so certain parallels are naturally drawn with scene stalwarts RIXE, but I’d say this has more of a classic French feel, fans of the Chaos En France series will enjoy this thoroughly. And how fucking nice is it to hear some actual “Oi!”s in the chorus again? Fewer camo shorts and more “Oi!s” please, cheers.

Call in Dead / 2Amature DCxPC Live Presents, Volume 1 split EP

Two COVID-era live streaming performances put to wax. CALL IN DEAD starts their set with a shout out: “What is up, Facebook Live?!” and dropped into a mosh intro…then some gnarly hardcore delivered in stutters and slams. Growly death metal vocals and yo-yo hardcore shouts..and one ska intro. 2AMATURE is snottier—more punk and less hardcore. Like a raw, dirty version of a catchy punk band, but with wild (and excellent) East Bay Ray guitars. 

Christmas Bride Dark Romance of a Midnight Wanderer cassette

Davey Hart is this one-man band from Chicago, writing epic songs that don’t so much fit in any predefined genre as much as they make their own. The base seems to be a pop punk homage to ’90s Nitro/EpiFat bands with some theatrics à la QUEEN or SPARKS, and a touch of new wave, hair metal, and WEIRD AL. He makes this all fit without any sense of irony and with an earnestness that repudiates the humor.

Combat & Ruler The Loco-Motion / Action 7″

Third single from Tokyo band RULER (featuring members of TEENGENERATE, RAYDIOS, FIRESTARTER, etc.). This go-round they’ve recruited vocalist COMBAT, who’s apparently the drummer from the KANNANA SPEED CATS (she gets top billing on the 7”, which makes me think I should know who she is, but…I don’t). The A-side is a cover of the LITTLE EVA classic (written by Goffin/King), and the B-side is an original. It’s my favorite release of theirs thus far. This trashy—but not too trashy—take on “The Loco-Motion” is fantastic, and the original reminds me of what I loved about these folks’ previous projects. Give it a listen!

Dregs Built to Rot EP

Back in the ’90s there was a NYC squat band called the DREGS, a reference to the bottom of a beer. This here is ferocious sXe hardcore from Vienna reminding me in vocals of EXCREMENT OF WAR, in downtrodden darkness the NYC DREGS, in sheer power NO STATIK. These vocals are something so raw and ugly and furious. The breakdowns cannot be fucked with. The circle mosh moments are intense. The EP in summation is a brutal powerhouse of sXe HC rage. This is almost more intimidating than SLANT, of recent listening, and if it were a full-length it might very well be. Get this if you think you’re pissed-off. You’ll see you’re not as pissed-off as DREGS.

El Sancho How to Kill a Zombie EP

Three songs of mid-tempo melodic punk. I believe that everyone contributes vocals here as there is an obvious distinction between the vocalist on the first two songs, the vocalist on the third song, and the backing vocals. All in all, this is catchy enough; the main issue I have with this release is that it is a lathe-cut 7”. While I appreciate the fact that you’re going ahead with committing to put these songs to a physical format, I’ll never understand the lathe-cut gimmick. For the most part they’re expensive to produce, most times they are limited to only a handful of copies, and they don’t sound that great. I’m just nitpicking here at this point. Anyhow, this is limited to 25 copies, so I’d suggest trying to get one quickly if that interests you.

Fatherfigures Any Time Now…And High Time Too 2xCD

I have to say, this is fucking great. Which of course, doesn’t tell you anything. Well, other than I really like it. A lot. FATHERFIGURES are a new (though out of the ashes of FLIES ON YOU) quartet from the UK who gleefully take the “post-punk” moniker (think the likes of GANG OF FOUR, COCTEAU TWINS, early CURE, SISTERS OF MERCY, later period WIRE) and kick it around the park. Dark, sparse, poppy, brooding, melodic. All of that and more. It even comes with a bonus CD with remixes of half of the fourteen tracks on the actual CD, and it’s even more sparse, and dubby, and reverby, and makes the sounds sound even more like Metal Box-era PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. If any of this makes sense to you, dear reader, then you’ll understand just how excellent this is. Indeed.

Fotomatic Bipolarity / Take a Ride 7”

This 7” is so amazing. Two songs of minimalist post-punk with a phenomenal female singer. It’s hard to believe this is not from the late ’70s. Catchy as hell and great lyrics, too. “I’m so lost in time and space / Can’t find a place.” The B-side “Take a Ride” is one of those instant classic songs. The first time you hear it you can’t believe you haven’t heard it before. Then you want to play it for all your friends. Fantastic.

Goodbye World At Death’s Door LP

Twelve minutes of disgustingly hard thrashcore from the Youth Attack roster’s latest round of musical chairs: this bunch of middle-aged ’90s HC clingers-on and two slightly younger dudes appear to have made one of the genre’s high points of the ’20s to date. This isn’t to implicitly snark at newjack whippersnappers or some shit, just to note that GOODBYE WORLD is one brutal unit in word, deed, and aesthetic. Aaron Aspinwall, of the REPOS etc., kills it on vocals, although I suspect Mark McCoy to be the main lyricist here as they read like a more mass shooter-y continuation of his general vibe in FAILURES. (Not sure I’d call At Death’s Door a suicide concept album exactly, but most of its fifteen songs read like coded threats to some unnamed foe.) James Trejo’s bass sounds like I’d imagine being drowned in pickling vinegar feels and intermittent blasts of uber-metal soloing functions as light relief, at least in the context of this violently great record. I know it’s easy to roll eyes at the Youth Attack schtick but honestly, if you like hardcore punk this one is just undeniable.

Hellish View Reaper’s Hand EP

Once you put on this EP, you hear bombs dropping and sirens going off! You get the familiar feeling that you know what is coming. This is a good premonition if you are into DIS- bands. Starting off with a mid-paced song and soon erupting into a DISCLOSE-worship fest, this one is a no brainer. DISCHARGE, DISCLOSE, DISCARD. That’s all you need to know!

Hung Ups Panic Attack EP

This is what I think of when I hear the term “pop punk.” Melodic, snotty, simple. A lot of bands that do this style miss the mark for me a lot of the time; fortunately, this is not one of those times. Think SCREECHING WEASEL, the NOBODYS, etc. and you’re on the right track. Five songs on a 7”? Cool. Blag Dahlia once said “I’m not going to Salt Lake City;” well, I found something worth going for.

Life Once Flourished Here / Roäc split LP

ROÄC plays loose, grizzly crust reminiscent of MISERY, DEVIATED INSTINCT meets HIS HERO IS GONE, themes of desolation, despair, and a stark realization of darker days ahead. The pace remains gloomy and macabre almost throughout their side, harkening the ’90s finest metallic crust on the more composed and tight, less chaotic side; WINTER, the metric delivery of GODFLESH, the double bass pedal of BOLT THROWER…. but hotdamn, when they gallop off at a DEATH STRIKE pace, ROÄC rips. There’s a lot to offer on this side from the twelve-string acoustic guitar and tambourine to the pulverizing, more EFFIGY/AXEWIELD riff-driven tracks. You’re getting a lot for half of a split. LIFE ONCE FLOURISHED HERE delivers one track, “Land That God Forgot,” a sonic landscape of JACK ROSE-esque primitive guitar on the side of ALARIC or ATRIARCH. A melancholy and harmonic slightly prog or Krautrock escape under socio-political spoken word. Feeling a message and mood of AXIOM and BLACK KRONSTADT here as well, as the intro grows into a discordant hardcore attack. I think this is an important split LP for the eco-conscious free-spirit cruster—an ally to love and peace. Neither side disappoints.

Löss Tape 2019 cassette

More often than not, when I read “Swedish hardcore band,” I tend to think that it will either be TOTALITÄR-inspired kängpunk band or a more metallic ANTI-CIMEX-meets-WOLFPACK hybrid. Not the case with LÖSS, as they break that Swedish hardcore mold. They play simple and straight to-the-point, pissed-off GBG hardcore punk. Nothing more to add, so go get this one if you like the more primitive angry stuff. A band to keep an eye on!

Mesh Mesh cassette

Everything about this cassette is absolutely spot-on! A wonderful-sounding, self-recorded five-song tape from Philadelphia, PA. Super catchy, memorable, driving post-punk with just enough artiness peppered in to allow the band the ability to make the tape and sleeve look super cool. If I’m not mistaken, this seems to be a band born out of the smoldering ashes of underrated Philly powerhouse MINT, of whom I was an unbelievably big fan. Gotta have more! These five songs will only hold me over for so long!

Morbo ¿A Quién le Echamos la Culpa? LP

Twelve tracks of spirited and garage-y mid-paced punking from these Peruvian veterans. Following in the footsteps of legendary ’60s Peru rockers LOS SAICOS, MORBO has been playing their own unique brand of primal and direct music for over twenty years. The songs here encompass a range of different styles, with a lot of first- and second-wave flavor and some interesting surprises along the way. From the nihilistic dirge of “Poema de un Libro Escolar,” to the Spaghetti Western cowpunk vibes of “El Loco,” and even a weirdo synth track at the end, it’s a fun ride. Whenever I hear the great opening track “Aquí No Hay Nadie,” I can’t help but imagine that it’s being played by a band of angry, Spanish-speaking rat Muppets, but that probably says more about me than it does the record.

Niner Niner Destructo LP

Some poppy rocking indie stuff from Bakersfield going on here. I’m hearing a mix of SUPERCHUNK, MCRACKINS, and HOT SNAKES. A little garage recklessness in this sonic mess, but it’s somehow tuneful! Good heavy production too. Digging this a lot!

Ovens van Ondank Ovens van Ondank LP

Live 1983 recording from this below-below-the-radar Dutch group, who have otherwise been relegated to the demo-only dustbins of Euro post-punk history. I don’t usually go too hard for live records, but there’s not exactly an abundance of OVENS VAN ONDANK releases out there, and the sound quality of this set is surprisingly solid—if your tastes in DIY art-punk skew toward the unpolished and the off-center (as they should), the warts-and-all live translations of these eleven tracks will most likely only be an asset. Like their local Utrecht contemporaries COÏTUS INT., OVENS VAN ONDANK had that bleak, early ’80s Manchester-patented pallor of post-industrial decay, with a sound centered around driving, naked basslines, stern-yet-anguished vocals (in dual Dutch/English), and in this case, some of the most prominent use of accordion in a post-punk context this side of DIE ATLANTIKSCHWIMMER. Sure, the extra-moody “Paradijs” and “Vluchten in Waanzin” are about a Robert Smith backcomb away from proper goth, but even one close listen to the collapsing, almost No Wave rhythms of “Hout en IJzer” should reveal something much cooler and genuinely weirder at play here.