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.

Newborn Naturals Newborn Naturals LP

A band from New York City that immediately brings to mind a JOHNNY THUNDERS/HEARTBREAKERS style does not make me happy. NEWBORN NATURALS’ songs are straightforward, basic rock’n’roll played with distorted guitars and a driving drum beat. The music is accompanied by drawled, nonchalant vocals. It is what it is. The songs on this LP were recorded between 1998 and 2004, a time when THUNDERS worship seemed at its height. Most of the songs are previously unreleased, a few appeared on 7”s.

Outfaced Outfaced demo cassette

This is some really classic-sounding hardcore mixed with a gruff vocal performance. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve heard some version of this a thousand times, but I’ll be damned if this band doesn’t pull it off really well. If you’re in need of six minutes of pure aggressive energy,  maybe something to put on while you angrily cook dinner, I fully suggest you give this tape a go.

Pasha & the Kindred Spirits Their Screens / B-Sides cassette

NYC quintet giving it the DIY try. A-side is the Their Screens EP, while the B-side is five unreleased songs that were recorded in the same session. Think of a lo-fi version of PARQUET COURTS with their emotional lyrics, or even MODEST MOUSE’s groaning, tortured guitar riffs. This also has that early-aughts indie rock sound (without the polish), if you’re looking to reminisce in real time. The energy is there, if this is your thing.

Pronto Pop y Basura cassette

Not sure why we at MRR HQ are climbing aboard this bandwagon two years after its release, but Pop y Basura is a near-perfect freak punk release. And you need it. High-speed, high NRG solo synth punk from Mexico City, with direct ties to Canadian punks PURA MANIA and Venezuelan D-beat masters FRACASO…but PRONTO is something else entirely. Desperate HC/punk vocals fronting distorted drum machines and first wave keyboards, this is pure, powerful, primitive electronic destruction. Synth punk has rarely, if ever, sounded this fucking punk. And I love it. You will love it too.

Qlowski Quale Futuro? LP

First, the future was denied. Then a different one was fought for. Then realist capitalism settled among us and absorbed and neutralized any hint of rebellion until it flattened reality and returned us to a path that is, in fact, a dark tunnel to nothingness. Nihil. The London band QLOWSKI wonders what future or futures can be envisaged under the current circumstances. And they do it with an impeccably well-constructed work, full of urgent, edgy, tense songs that use the tools of post-punk and new wave to create little treatises on the things that matter: the everyday vignette that glimpses a potent poetic image, frustration and weariness transmuted into dreams that invade real life, noise as a knife to tear the veil of suffocating reality, creating cracks for desire, possibility and hope to seep through. It is truly beautiful. Referentially, you can detect the early OMD melodic spirit, the cubist punk edge of SWELL MAPS, the majestic simplicity of New Zealand punk, the dark romanticism of after punk. The references are just that, references that serve to orient you in the hanging garden of QLOWSKI, a garden full of pleasures oscillating between melancholy and the golden light of twee, whatever that may mean to you. Two good songs to enter this world are “Larry’s Hair Everywhere,” with that wonderful noise freakout in the middle, and the track that closes the album, a Lynch-esque tour de force, “In a Cab to Work ft Les Miserable.”

Rejex Feel Nothing demo cassette

Kick-ass hardcore punk band from Moreno Valley, California delivering the goods to any old school hardcore aficionado. They sound like MINOR THREAT on speed. “Feel Nothing” is a four-song demo that clocks in at 1:37. They like to go fast and go hard. Bonus points for the production that sounds like it comes from the ’80s. And just like that, the demo ends and you are left wanting more!

Schizos Come Back With a Warrant EP

SCHIZOS return faster and meaner and less like a JAY REATARD ripoff and more like the CANDY SNATCHERS at their most drugged and dangerous. The whole packaging is a parody/tribute to LYNYRD SKYNYRD’s first and best, down to the cigarette pack poster. I know everyone at MRR digs SKYNYRD as much as I do, so look out for this to make some year-end top tens. SCHIZOS continue their knack for song title mastery with “I’m Always First” followed by “Gross” followed by “Ugly.” Genius! Each song gets better, culminating in the title track which is like the best, punkest, meanest version of “Gimme Back My Bullets” you’ve never heard. Cheers, broken bottles and trashed halls await. It’s past my curfew.

Slogan Boy Slogan Boy demo cassette

This tape is just a pure bit of fun and chaos. It’s demo tracks, so keep in mind they are unpolished, but this still rocks pretty hard. The highlight of the bunch has to be their cover of VOID’s “War Hero,” which is worth checking out if nothing else. There isn’t much else to say. Give it a listen!

Stay the Fuck at Home This City is Headed for a Disaster… cassette

STAY THE FUCK AT HOME is a New Orleans one-man thrashcore project that I’m assuming started during the quarantine. The vocals are a total homage to INFEST and the instrumentals are a variety of thrash metal, crossover, Southern rock, breakdowns, and whatever he feels like playing at the time, but there is always some spastic fastcore popping up in each song. The level of irony in the band name, song titles, and musical shifts make this a fun record instead of just a mash of weird choices. This one is hard to define but easy to listen to. Great house-moshing music.

Twompsax Disgusting Me Out cassette

Hot on the heels of her excellent solo debut, Oakland-based artist Cher Strauberry is back with a seven-song cassette of 4-track recordings, this time under her TWOMPSAX moniker in preparation for a late 2021 tour. If you’ve been a fan of Cher’s work thus far, this is more of what you love—minute-long bursts of the lowest-fi punk (equal parts garage-, egg-, pop-, and hardcore) interspersed with odd snippets from ’90s movies. If you haven’t been a fan, you need to get with the program! One of the most essential voices in contemporary punk!

Velvet Horns All Heart, No Bullshit cassette

This kinda reminds me of some kind of Plan-It-X band, only louder and punker. You can tell by listening that they’re having fun playing and that in turn makes this a fun listen. The band features Mattie Jo from RVIVR on bass and backing vocals, and that’s a bit of a shame, because I enjoy their vocal stylings and just wish that they sang a bit more, but I’ll get over it. All in all, a fun listen, and the five songs here just seem to fly by. Cassette is limited to only 30 copies, but hey, that’s why we have the internet, right?

V/A He’s Bad! 11 Bands Decimate the Beats of Bo Diddley 6×7″ box set

Garage goes to the future. Black Gladiator’s fuzz-covered tribute to “the originator” features a mix of covers and what could better be described as DIDDLEY-based sound experiments. About half of the tracks are pretty straightforward, while songs from acts like ATOMIC SUPLEX and ANDY CALIFORNIA take the primitive stomp to more imaginative places. Highlights include HAUNTED GEORGE’s shamanic interpretation of “Mummy Walk,” an epic two-parter from TRUE SONS OF THUNDER, and, of course, “Down Home Special” from GINO AND THE GOONS. After all, it was GINO who sent me the dime bag of actual dirt from BO DIDDLEY’s grave with their 2018 Rip It Up LP. Anyway, if you like old-timey rock and also techno, this record was made for you.

Artistic Decline Random Violence LP reissue

German label No Plan digs up an interesting relic from the fringes of hardcore history with their reissue of ARTISTIC DECLINE’s lone 1987 LP. This is a sprawling, all-over-the-place record that ranges from artsy post-punk to sharp SoCal hardcore, with noisy bits and goofy KBD-esque numbers mixed in for good measure. The songs are a real mixed bag, and it’s all pretty solid. “One Shot” would go great on a mix tape between the NUBS’ “Job” and “Dad I’m In Jail” by WAS (NOT WAS). They remind me of HC pioneers MIDDLE CLASS on the speedy “Media Lies,” and I might not notice if someone slipped “Hinkley and the Law” in while spinning the first BAD RELIGION LP. You get 29 tracks including some bonus material, all wrapped up in a sleeve with the LP’s original Pettibon artwork.

Billiam Billiam Cassingles Club 2020 cassette

Goofy synth punk fun from this Melbourne solo project. This tape collects the twelve cassingles BILLIAM released in 2020, which is a pretty impressive run for such a crappy year. Most of the tracks are pretty straightforward mixes of lo-fi synth, garage guitar, and cheapo electronic drums. There is enough personality here to keep things interesting, and the vibe here is laid-back and good-natured with songs called “Flemwad,” “Crocodile Sandwich,” and “I Need a Robot.” They are all about exactly what the titles suggest. BILLIAM fits in nicely with labelmates RESEARCH REACTOR CORP. and GEE TEE, as well as vintage ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE. For egg-punk nonbelievers, this won’t change your mind because I could see it coming across as annoying. But if you are in the right frame of mind for some simple DIY fun that sounds like a guy making novelty songs with a keyboard, BILLIAM is a good time.

Body Cam Booked flexi EP

Very convincing early hardcore vibes from Nashville’s BODY CAM. I’m picking up traces of influence that range from NEGATIVE APPROACH to MDC, and if someone told me this was a “lost” relic of classic ’80s punk, I’d probably go for it. I don’t know if this was intentional, but to me this hits the mark, right down to the artwork. Archetypal angst.

Chrome The Visitation LP reissue

CHROME’s 1976 debut LP sounds like coke sweats made flesh, like paranoia dripping from a ravaged sinus cavity, like the ’70s got sucked into a blacklight poster and emerged from a wormhole on the other side of the galaxy. It seems improbable that CHROME could exist without Helios Creed’s guitar wizardry front and center (or panned hard left/right), but this first version of CHROME has plenty to offer the wayward weirdos of the world. Like a speedfreak SILVER APPLES, “How Many Years Too Soon” comes thundering in on a jet plane and the panic rock only escalates from there. Someone left The Visitation out in the sun for too long—it’s got such a peculiar flavor, like it’s curdled but still delicious. Coming off like a degenerate PERE UBU, “Return To Zanzibar” is a moody garage-rocker that got kidnapped by space pirates armed with radio samples and primitive synthesizers, while “Caroline” is a pit stop at the sleaziest club in the quadrant. “Riding You” opens with a windblown sound piece that you’d expect to hear on a new age meditation tape, until it turns menacing like something nasty is coming over the horizon; the song itself is a slinking, winking rocker as if ALICE COOPER tried to write a disco track to impress someone. “Kinky Lover” takes that sound to its logical conclusion and only WICKED WITCH could dare draw back the heavy curtains that shrouds it. Sure, GEORGE BRIGMAN could have written “Sun Control,” but would he have bothered to add the backwards tapes and the chirping synths? CHROME creator Damon Edge is going for broke on this album, playing half the instruments and taking charge of the mic like he failed the KING CRIMSON audition and now he’s into punk so watch the fuck out. Final track “Memory Cords Over the Bay” perfectly sets the scene for Helios Creed to enter, stage left (hard-panned).

Deodorant Aluminum-Free cassette

DEODORANT bridges the gap between hardcore punk and JAMES BROWN. Their funky grooves will remind you of the MINUTEMEN and JAMES CHANCE, but their snarky vocals will hark back to memories of DEAD KENNEDYS. Oh, and the band is absolutely unafraid to throw a little country twang in the mix. If that sounds like a complete mess, you wouldn’t be wrong. This EP is all over the place, the recordings are pretty much demo-quality at best, but hey, it’s a raucous bit of fun, so who really cares?

The Drin Engines Sing for the Pale Moon cassette

Cassette-only mystery music from Cincinnati, OH. I imagine this was developed as a COVID-enforced winter project of long days alone with a four-track, and you can hear the masonry of them building each song brick-by-brick. Stylistically, it’s experimental, touching on an erudite record head’s exploration of motorik rhythms, coldwave synth sines, dub-heavy production, and propulsive post-punk basslines, notably the chunky riff that gives the second tune “Guillotine Blade” all of its life. The album leans on developing a mood through textural soundscapes and less on classic songwriting, but when a catchy chorus or a well-honed hook appears, that’s when this album really works and has that CLEANERS FROM VENUS feeling of it being more like a live band rather than recorded alone. If this was released as a two-song 7” containing the tunes “Down Her Cheek a Pearly Tear” and “For the Tsarina” on the flip, I’d be reaching for my turntable to hear those two over and over.

Futurat Incinerat cassette

A perfect collision of modern freak punk stomps and early fuzzed-out grunge. Imagine MUDHONEY + LUMPY. Recording is blown to shit and everything feels like it’s studio-tweaked to death in the best way. Russian punk on an Australian label—up all the international punks!

Hans Condor Breaking & Entering CD

Hard rock out of Nashville, TN. HANS CONDOR is heavy riffs and tough guy posturing. The songs are rough and the vocals are spit at you. The titles speak volumes: “Pent-up Aggression,” “Blood on the Rug,” “Instant Gratification Generation.” I am glad they have an outlet, but I don’t have time for this kind of stuff these days.

Lawful Killing Early Learning: The Complete Recordings cassette

The UK punk explosion right now is out of control, and this release beautifully documents it at its best. The throat-shredding vocals, the tornado riffing, the cheeky nods to NWOBHM and thrash all come together in a hyper-political burst of rage and hooks in equal measure. There are some members of other heavy hitters on display here, from loads of bands including CHUBBY AND THE GANG and STATE FUNERAL, and it all gels beautifully. Ripping hardcore, top of its class, not much else to say but give it a listen.

Mustat Kalsarit Yö cassette

MUSTAT KALSARIT is a peppy lo-fi band from Finland. Their music is catchy while being linear and earnest. It is heading somewhere and will arrive on time. The vocals enhance the musical sound. The combination of male and female harmonies sung in the Finnish language creates a unique aural experience. “Ulmaan” (“Swimming”) is a distorted rocker. “Harmaata Massaa” (“Grey Pulp”) is my favorite. It has a cool rhythm with an interesting guitar sound and the vocals have a more stern cadence. I like it.

No Fraud Straight Lines Crooked Morals LP

It’s hard when you’re a legendary band and you make a new record. How can a band like NO FRAUD not be resoundingly panned for making a record that’s “not as good” as their tape that came out 35 years ago? Well, a record like Straight Lines Crooked Morals is a pretty good fucking start. Fast-as-shit and wildly erratic, this is a formidable hardcore punk juggernaut with a healthy dose of irreverence. The achievement for a band with a revered legacy making a “new” record is when the listener goes “damn, this is sick” and kinda forgets that they’re listening to the band that wrote “Fuck Your Shit” in 1984. And that’s where my mind was when I was blasting “Trendy Fuck” in 2021, so well done. Twenty blasts of ferocious Florida hardcore punk.

Penetrode Penetrode cassette

First full-length release from these Philly hardcore freaks. The more I listen to this, the more I like it. While all rooted in noisy, dark hardcore, the songs are all very distinct from each other and occasionally go from fast punk to slow dirges, like on “Psychic Death.” There are some sonic similarities to bands like GAG and NERVOSAS, but the real stand-out here is vocalist/artist Bootsie. The vocals go from sung to shrieked to spoken and back again, with a distinctive yelp at the end of many lines. They’re great and sound confident, passionate, and exciting. Every song is a banger, but I keep going back to “Ebb & Flow.” It’s got layers of negative bummer punk distortion with a catchy opening riff, time changes, dissonant vocals, and lyrics like (I think), “Pick me up and spit me out.” It’s basically everything I want in a punk song. Check it out—this is a killer tape from a killer band.

Rebuilder Live From 2021 LP

Hmmm…this is a live album. Not just a live album, an album of a livestream. I don’t know if this is/was necessary. I mean live albums are generally, to me at least, an ego stroke at best. They don’t usually sound that great, don’t usually capture the energy of actually being at a show, and are most of the time the last gasp of a band trying to keep it together. All that said, I guess if you are a huge fan of REBUILDER, you’d enjoy this. Again, I’m not sure this was necessary to release, especially on vinyl, given the current situation. Perhaps this should have remained a livestream and another band could have released an actual album of recorded material on LP, instead of a live set from the internet.

Screensaver Expressions of Interest LP

This might be the debut LP from these Naarm/Melbourne post-punks, but SCREENSAVER has existed in one form or another for a half-decade. The project started back in 2016, initially conceived as a way for Chris Stephenson (SPRAY PAINT) and Krystal Maynard (SWIM TEAM) to connect while being in an extremely long-distance relationship. Chris was based out of Austin, TX at the time with Krystal in Australia, and they would send each other recordings. Chris eventually joined Krystal Down Under, they recruited a rhythm section, began playing shows in late 2019, and started recording this LP just before COVID shut the world down. Thankfully, they were able to continue collaborating through their country’s various lockdowns to bring us this record, which is a very good one! Over these ten tracks, you can expect synth-heavy post-punk with a Krautrock backbone. It’s on the gothier end of the spectrum, thanks in part to Krystal’s excellent NICO-esque vocals, but it’s not quite as dark as, say, fellow Aussies NUN. It’s hard not to compare it to TOTAL CONTROL—a track like “Skin” even sounds like it could have come off Typical System. But where TOTAL CONTROL dips into harsher punk sounds from time to time, SCREENSAVER prefers to mix things up by going a little pop every so often, giving this album more of a new wave sheen. Just an immensely listenable record! For fans of CLAN OF XYMOX, GARY NUMAN, or early HUMAN LEAGUE.

Self-Immolation Music Psychedelic Unknowns cassette

This Leeds band returns with a second cassette of UK psychedelic shoegaze. RIDE, SPACEMEN 3, JESUS AND MARY CHAIN, and a little VELVET UNDERGROUND thrown in. It’s not really spectacular and not my go-to kind of lysergic background noise (ROKY, BUTTHOLE SURFERS) but they do it quite well. There are some excellent long drone-out moments and everything is buried and sounds like it’s been amplified through a wet tube sock. Cool RAMONES cover. Good for some kicks. Check it.

Speedway S.O.F. EP

I don’t know what it is about this record, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. Musically, it’s definitely got strong youth crew vibes, but it sounds fresh. It doesn’t sound like a note-for-note rehash of the Revelation Records catalog circa 1988–89. Perhaps it’s the vocals that set it apart from other bands of its ilk. Kinda screamy, yet with a hint of melody. Almost like if the dude from the BRONX was in a hardcore band or something like that. I really dig this EP and can’t wait to hear more from this group.

Suburban Lawns Suburban Lawns LP reissue

Outside of DEVO, is there any band that has provided more raw material for this millennium’s reboot of oddball new wave than SUBURBAN LAWNS? And yet, this is somehow the first true resurrection of the lone LAWNS full-length since its original release in 1981—I’m not counting that gimmicky 2015 Futurismo pressing with garish splattered vinyl, swapped-out cover art, and 1983’s Baby EP tacked on, and neither should you. Obviously, “Janitor” has been a secret handshake between art kids infiltrating punk for a solid four decades now (I had a teenage freshman literally yell play ‘Janitor’! at me a few years ago while I was DJing at the art school where I work and it warmed my heart), with its halting, spring-loaded rhythm, some truly surreal lyrical juxtapositions, and Su Tissue’s effortless swing from deadpan monotone to exaggerated cartoonish squeals in a two-and-a-half minute display of sonic dada. Does the whole LP reach that same flipped-out high? Controversial opinion, but not exactly—I could do without Vex Billingsgate’s kitschy “lounge singer on ludes” croon in “Not Allowed” (the eternal question: if you had Su Tissue as a vocalist in your band, why would you let anyone else get in front of a mic?), or the detour into ska with “Mom and Dad and God,” to point two very specific fingers. But some of the deep cuts here are really just as weird and wonderful as the sainted “Janitor,” like the stop/start, one-chord post-punk austerity of “Unable,” or “Intellectual Rock” doing wound-up nerd-wave like a West Coast iteration of DOW JONES AND THE INDUSTRIALS, or how the band’s L.A. roots clearly show through on the Dangerhouse-ish duet “Anything” (with Su at her most vocally Betty Boop). A perfectly imperfect classic; here’s to hoping that teenage art school students will still be yelling for “Janitor” in another 40 years. 

Ultrasónicas Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica LP reissue

A much-needed and vital reissue of an absolute classic of the Mexican underground. Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica was released as a 10″ in 1999 by the Spanish label Munster and released as a CD in México in 2004. It is a jewel of adolescent spontaneity, absolutely transgressive for the timorous and ultra-conservative Mexican society at the time of its release (here, I include the very macho Mexican rock and punk scene of the time). An all-female group that soon formed an outrageous and free gang that took garage (the SONICS, the PLEASURE FUCKERS, THEE HEADCOATEES), surf, and the most outlandish rock’n’roll as basic blueprints for a sound that not only refreshed the stagnant México City scene, but also opened the way for women in the rock scene. Side A has the more polished versions released by Munster, while on Side B we can listen to the versions of their mythical low-budget demo. There are also bonus tracks and inserts with photos and memorabilia for the fans. I feel I’m selling short the importance of this album for the music made by electric guitars in México. The most fun band this country has ever produced. Get it now.

Vains You May Not Believe in Vains But You Cannot Deny Terror EP reissue

Before you even get to the music, all the branches that sprout from the VAINS’ tree make an intriguing story, like a hidden history of West Coast punk-related rock. Made up of three Seattle-area teenagers, VAINS existed for less than a year, but they planted a (black) flag and led the way for future generations with their sole release, a 7” EP comprised of “three action hits.” How this single came about is one of those great rock’n’roll stories that seems too good to be true. In 1980, local music equipment shop American Music had a special promotion in effect—purchase $3000 worth of gear and the store would cover studio time and then press 1,000 copies of a single. Now, 3k ain’t cheap, even by 2021 standards, so VAINS must have been sporting a snazzy set-up. But instead of recording some wack KISS covers, VAINS laid down a grip of chunky, meaty punk that sits somewhere between DOA and the DEAD BOYS. They wrapped these songs in an excellent picture sleeve that featured yearbook headshots of fellow “school jerks” on the back. Maybe they didn’t go to high school with James Dean, but they did cut class with future members of the U-MEN and SILLY KILLERS. VAINS were just beginning their pedigree, which soon encompassed the FARTZ and, further down the road, some L.A. glam-rockers called GUNS N’ ROSES. Yes, bassist Nico Teen is also known as Duff McKagan and he remains the only cool member of the former Biggest Band In The World. All the people who were waiting so many years for Chinese Democracy need to bust out their Crosleys and get VAIN in the cold November rain.

Weird Crimes Three Songs cassette

This is a short mix of post-hardcore from Portland punks WEIRD CRIMES. On paper, I feel like this tape should be everything you want. Three well-crafted, hard-hitting tracks that don’t overstay their welcome. A short blast of ferocity. In that, this cassette succeeds to the max, but something about how this release is mixed is extremely off-putting. It’s like listening to a record through the wall you share with your annoying neighbors. It just doesn’t hit with the intensity you want to be hearing. That being said, everything besides that aspect of this cassette is on point. 

The Yeasties Here for Flesh cassette

This St. Louis punk outfit is back with their second release, which is also apparently their last. The group is a bit of a Midwest supergroup with Olivia Gibb (WARM BODIES, BB EYE) on bass, Bethany Lumsdaine (co-creator of Bloomington, IN fanzine Shut Up and Listen) on guitar, Shannon Boyer (ROYAL BRAT) on vocals, and Shawn Durham (who apparently drummed for SNAIL MAIL at some point). They’ve reigned in their sound a little bit since their last cassette, which was pretty raw and wild, and end up with a more deliberate sounding collection of tracks. And, yeah, they clean up nicely! The three originals remind me a lot of the garage-ier Alicja-sung LOST SOUNDS tunes (sans synths), particularly in the vocals. They also do a sick cover of “P-E-R-V-E-R-T” by St. Louis first-wave unknowns the WELDERS. It’s a really cool cassette—wish we’d gotten to hear more from them!

Zodiak Move Like Water EP

Based in Tokyo, Japan, ZODIAK is as raw as you can get! And you will read the word “raw” a lot in this review. After their debut TKY 2020 and a split with Macedonian noisemakers DISEASE, they turn the amps to eleven once again. This EP has five furious and straight-to-the-point songs featuring noise addicts from bands like MORPHEME, ODIO, and DROPEND. With such a a line-up, one can expect extra raw and extra noisy hardcore punk with influences from SHITLICKERS to CONFUSE. LIFELOCK and MASS ARREST members also make an appearance in the song “Wax Wings.” It has all the ingredients for a great noisy raw punk EP, so if raw is what makes your juices flow, there is plenty in here for you.

Asalto / Atropello! split EP

Split lathe-cut 7” with two sonically different Brazilian hardcore bands. ASALO brings mid-tempo punk with clear production. While not necessarily catchy due to shouted vocals, the melodic major chords and bouncy bass sound like they could be on Fat Records, and I could see ASALTO fitting in on the Warped Tour. ATROPELLO! has the more interesting side to me, with three short blitzes of shrieking, blazing fast hardcore that sounds like a Brazilian 97A. They rip through three songs in about a minute and a half and leave me wanting more. Interesting pairing on this split, although I’m not sure the same listener would be into both bands. As of this writing, there is one remaining copy so snag it if you want it!

Bart and the Brats Livin’ in the Future EP

BART & THE BRATS is the one-man project of Bart De Vraantijik, and it sure as hell pulls a lot of weight for one man. Just three short tracks of tough, muscular rock’n’roll, the record almost feels like classic rock with its bluesy guitar licks. One part AC/DC, another part RAMONES. Nothing particularly special or innovative; this can feel a little run of the mill, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had if you’re into that classic late ’70s punk sound.

The Chisel Retaliation LP

It’s grim up north, and few articulate this better than the CHISEL’s seasider songsmith Cal Graham. Over a blistering 30-minute debut, ably backed by a motley crew of London punk luminaries, his stentorian vocals explore the crushing mundanity of working class life; from small-town bullies, post-Thatcherite social decay, and police brutality. However, despite sounding like he’s permanently just had his pint spilled, there’s a relentless defiance, and sense of solidarity that runs throughout Retaliation like a stick of Blackpool rock, twinned with the kind of soaring guitars and thunderous drums that would make BLITZ or the PARTISANS proud; it’s a joyous affair. An uneasy truce between the best bits of Oi!, UK82, even a dash of anarcho and hardcore too, the CHISEL’s debut occupies the same space as that moment after a last-minute winner hits the back of the net and the ecstatic embrace immediately following could quite easily become a headlock; vim and vigour, piss and vinegar. An instant classic.

Detox Sects and Violence cassette

Timelessness is a hard mark to hit, and one that can never be forced or faked. Lebanese thrashing punks DETOX stumbled into a timeless sound just by being themselves, and the results were pretty exhilarating. This tape rips through crossover hardcore with a crispy almost-anarcho tinge, rarely pausing even to take a breath. It’s a shame, really, that this material was recorded in 2009 and the group has since disbanded. Now is a perfect time for this blend of rock’n’roll swagger and thrash—kudos and gratitude to A World Divided for unearthing this stone classic.

Enact Promo 2021 cassette

Two songs here from this Portland, OR-based band. The first song is a pretty basic run-of-the-mill hardcore song. Gang vocals, pick slides, “fuck you, you can’t hold me down/back” lyrical content, etc. The second song, however, is where this tape does its job and gets me interested in hearing more. “Rose” is about a grandmother who has passed away. Musically, it’s much more melodic than the first song, and lyrically and vocally you can tell that this song means a lot to the person singing it, as it should when writing and singing about something personal. The lyrics in the song that are sung in Spanish are what really hooked me, especially the chorus, as it is something I’ve heard my wife say to our child for years. My only gripe here would be that I would have liked to have heard maybe one more song, but that’s on me.

Fracture Jualas cassette

Philly’s FRACTURE returns with their second outing after the fuckton of hardcore onslaught of their first release and it’s on cassette again like all good punk. They punish with almost ’80s SoCal-style skanking rhythms and lyrics sung both in Spanish and English, sometimes all in the same song. They rage along like a less raw LOS CRUDOS or RAYOS X and are definitely a couple bucks well spent. Next… 

Gorilla Knifefight The Cassingles cassette

Well-done, straight-up Midwest hardcore that pulls all the punches. There’s six tracks, of which maybe one lasts longer than a minute. It’s tight, lo-fi, sarcastic, dripping with attitude. Basically, all the good stuff. This tape should be your fix for the week. Five minutes of nothing but ripping tunes and cathartic energy.

Horrible Girl and the Hot Mess Do You Know Who Your Friends Are? CD

When I got this album to review from this Greenville, South Carolina band, I had just finished reading A Punk House in the Deep South, which is a collection of interviews from the former residents of the 309 punk house in Pensacola, Florida, compiled by Aaron Cometbus and Scott Satterwhite. The book told tales of the independently creative, politically-minded, artistically mischievous, and musically-focused denizens of the legendary Southern punk house. Maybe it was (roughly) similar Southern geography, part timing, but more so part similar attitude, but I held the book and album with akin spirit. Highly energetic, brutally honest, and the right amount of rough production make the punk anti-pop songs authentically relatable, with a singer that reminds me of a younger Nico de Gaillo. It’s filled with enough tales of broken relationships, bad jobs, bad drugs, a day-to-day on the fringe, and relational escapades to fill a book.

Kometa Eierschneider cassette

Not to be confused with the Finnish band of the same name, KOMETA hails from Vienna, Austria and aims to rip a new one in the patriarchy. I was a little thrown off by the surfy instrumental opener—it’s fun—but maybe I missed the point. In bluesed-up post-punk styling, the angst and struggle picks up on the other three tracks, with lots of duality in the vocals, distorted and clean guitar channels, and a crunchy, blown-out bass to ground it all. Including their 2013 demo, this is their forth release, and comes out in anticipation of their debut LP, to be released within the year.

Los Chicos 20 Years of Shakin’ Fat & Launching Shit by Medical Prescription CD

This is starting off just right for me. “We sound amazing, but we look like shit.” LOS CHICOS are from Spain, if you believe what you read. That’s perfect, cause these guys would be right at home at a Wild Weekend-type festival. They like to focus on the pub rock label. I think I prefer garage rock. You’ll also need to throw in some country, even rockabilly. Oh, and there’s some power pop. These guys hover around mid-tempo and catchy is definitely part of the equation. This really is good stuff.

Maximum Joy Stretch / Silent Street-Silent Dub 12″ reissue

This is a reissue of the classic 12” single every avowed post-punk head should have in their bins. Formed from members of the classic Bristol bands GLAXO BABIES and the POP GROUP and fronted by the effervescent shouts and screams of Janine Rainforth, the group was a continuation of those two groups’ deep funk and dub roots. Scratchy guitar and a crisp upfront street-beat drum sound, it’s no surprise this was a co-release with 99 Records (NY label home to dance punk favorites ESG and LIQUID LIQUID). If you have an aversion to slap bass, this is definitely not for you, but the rest of us will keep the dancefloor warm for you ‘til it’s over.

Nukke No More Peace LP

Now we’re fukkn talking, punks! Absolute fucking D-beat rager from Portugal’s NUKKE, with gratuitous metallic leads from a guitar EQ-ed to SICKOIDS 2012 (if that reference falls flat, then please refer to the band SICKOIDS and the year 2012…then you’ll understand). As with so many of the greats, there are undeniable hooks buried in this bombast, songs like “T.S.F.L.” that will get stuck in your head for days but are still complete audio destruction. No More Peace is 100% top quality fire—easily one of the best records I’ve heard all year!

Nunofyrbeeswax Stratotoaster LP

Proto-punk, garage, lo-fi, poppy—hell, it’s just that Berlin sound! Serving up hot tracks from their clattering Stratotoaster, this album is all fun: driving percussion that’s way up front in the mix, and dreamy femme-vox ride over a variety of sounds, like a stand-up bass-walk from “Glitch,” or tambourine, cowbell, and horns on “Wax Bux.” No track sounds quite like the other, so it’ll keep you listening. This reminds me of releases from fellow Berlin label Phantom, if you’re interested in more. Get yrself exposed.

Oscuridad Eterna Macabre demo cassette

OSCURIDAD ETERNA has a fitting band name: “eternal darkness.” From Istanbul, a place not very known for darker music, they managed to exceed expectations with their debut Macabre. Recorded by two sole members during quarantine, this macabre twosome (members of UGLY SHADOWS and TATLIN EFFECT) crafted four songs filled with despair and clouded by bleakness. Simple yet effective post-punk with emphasis on goth and a production that ties everything together, a stroll through the ’80s and back to the genre’s glory days. Go get this if you are into chorus pedals and darkness.

Patologia Ciąży Dziennik Trwa LP

PATOLOGIA CIĄŻY was playing around Poland between 1982 and 1984. They unfortunately never released a record, but recorded these demos in their rehearsal space. Their name translates to “Pregnancy Pathology,” which does not accurately reflect their sound. The songs are upbeat and catchy in a post-punk way. There is a sense of urgency and impatience. Yet, there is also, dare I say, a professional style to the band. They were getting airplay on local radio and playing festivals around Poland. It’s the great naiveté of the early days of punk when you were just playing some rock’n’roll, and though you were much better than what was popular at the time, unfairly most people never got to find out. The lyrics undoubtedly are political (if only I understood Polish) with titles like “Niemądre Pytania” (“Unwise Questions”), “Godzina Policyjna” (“Curfew”), “Atomowa Śmierć” (“Nuclear Death”), “Paranoja System” (“Paranoid System”), and “Bez Przyszłości” (“No Future”). The later song incorporates the riff from the SEX PISTOLS song of the same name for a fun ending. This is a great collection. I am so happy to finally be introduced to PATOLOGIA CIĄŻY. You should be too.

The Prime Directive The Game EP

Three Palm Desert nerds bring you a four-song EP of Star Trek TNG-themed trash punk! What—doesn’t sound like your bag? Well, you’re probably right. But I’ll say this—it’s way less gimmicky than I was expecting and actually kinda good. It reminds me of those NO BAILS records that came out in the early 2010s. But instead of singing about ‘80s skateboarding games, Werther’s Originals, or whatever the shit, these guys are writing songs about some of the sillier TNG episodes. It’s never as infectiously dumb or hook-laden as NO BAILS, so I don’t think it’s going to win over any non-Trek fans. But it’s not quite a novelty—like, out of context you wouldn’t know it’s Trek-themed unless you really paid attention to the lyrics and knew a lot about the show. If there’s ever a Next Generation update of the ‘90s garage punk comp Fuck You Spaceman!, a track like “Skin of Evil” would fit on it nicely. Anyway, these guys seem aware that their potential audience would at best fill a runabout, so this is only being offered in a lathe-cut edition of 47. But I guarantee that the 47 people who end up with this thing are gonna be stoked.