12" Reviews

0% - God Hates Young People 12" (Mastermind) (15 euro)
First things first: the title. I have two issues with it. For one Nietzsche declared God dead over a century ago. Haven't the Danes heard? Had God existed, then he would definitely not hated the young for our day and age clearly favors them over the old. It hates the old and one is considered old ever younger. If I tell people I don’t own a smartphone, they’re ready to sent me to a nursing home. So I’m curious what made 0% come up with this title. Neither the titlte track nor the rest of the record gives much of an explanation.
0% hail from Kopenhagen and have been around for a couple of years now. They released a handful of cassettes before this record, their first output on wax. The band is a three piece. Peter Bonneman, best known for once being in the late great Amdi Petersen’s Arme, is on guitar and vocals. 0% are not a hardcore band though and those looking for speed and agression will not get their kicks here. For those who’ve been listening to Peter’s later projects, however, there’ll be plenty to like. ‘God Hates Young People’ is a diverse record. Cramming it in the confinements of one genre, wouldn’t do it justice. Overall the band plays garage rock oriented songs. I like the guitar playing a lot. It moves from dreamy to angular hooks. There are Velvet Underground as well the Seeds like moments throughout the record, whereas ‘Shark Song’ and ‘Gonna Die’ have a more punk edge. The title track is a country song! A broad palette indeed.
Not every song on ‘God hates young people’ is as good as the next. Some suffer from weak lyrics, either explained by the language difference – all songs are sung in English- or my lack of understanding and/or humor. One song for example is called ‘Pants on fire’ which is about, you guessed it, someone’s pants being on fire. The music is cool, but the subject matter and lyrics are stupid and not funny (to me). Although tedious at times, it doesn’t ruin the record. However I do feel like it could have been much better had more time and effort been put into the lyrics, a bit of a missed opportunity. In the end ‘God hates young people’ is a captivating listen though. It displays 0%’s versatility and is anything but a predictable listen, something rare in this age favoring the young with their constant crave for the new and easy to digest. The record looks great as well. It comes with a foldout insert with artwork and pictures. I love all the comics even though I don’t understand them; they’re in Danish. For those shocked by the text, ‘Slut’ means ‘End’ in Danish so no need to get your feminst banners out. Just enjoy the record instead.

Absurdo - Demo 12" (Self-Released)
This right here is Absurdo's 2010 demo tape pressed to wax by none other than the band themselves. With twelve songs and a better recording than their debut Ep, it's sort of strange to qualify this release as a demo, yet it was originally released as such. For those not yet in the know Absurdo are a Spanish band playing fast hardcore punk with vocals in their native tongue. What makes Absurdo for me are their energy, Hector's manic vocals, good song writing and a thin guitar sound without distortion. Put those four things together and you have a hardcore band that is able to convey urgency and produce memorable songs at the same time. Sadly that's a combination not found much among hardcore groups these days. In the early 1980s playing fast was an act of defiance. These days playing fast has become part of the style at best and a convention or rule to be followed at worst. What I'm getting at is that playing fast, no longer cuts it. I want more! Good thing Absurdo's songs have hooks, quite the accomplishment with most of the songs being as short as they are! The band isn't all about playing fast though. They occassionally give the listener a chance to catch breath with songs like 'Monstruos de Hierro', which is wise. He or she might have a fainting fit without. It furthermore helps to keep the listener's attention.
Another important feature of Absurdo is that they're getting a message out. They're very political, which is something that seems to generally be spat on by punk bands worldwide bar Spain. This is a matter I still can't wrap my head around. Why is it that anarchism still seems to make sense in Spain while pretty much every person labeling him- or herself an anarchist in these parts is an idiot? I'll probably never know. The record comes with an insert containing the lyrics in Spanish as well as translations in English. The general theme of the songs is modern life in an industrial city e.g. Barcelona and the emptiness, loneliness and pointlessness that comes with living in such a place. I'm surprised how bleak the lyrics are, because these guys came across like very positive people in their MRR interview from a few years ago. I guess playing these songs gets their anger and frustration out. Good!
I've been told Absurdo are amazing live and am still bummed that I did not see them on their last European tour. Their shows were not advertised anywhere! Hopefully I'll get another chance to see this outfit live somewhere down the road. Another Euro tour would be rad, but I'd settle for a new record as well. It's been too goddamn long!

Angkor Wrack - Built to Kill Lp (Mastermind) (13 euro)
Second Lp by this spacey punk outfit from Copenhagen, Denmark. Their previous record 'Puma Punkur' – supposedly a reference to some scifi show I am not familiar with - found a nice home on my record player. 'Built to Kill' is musically much like the band's previous 12", but there's one big difference. They've added a new singer to their line-up. He already jumped in on their split with the Monoliths, which I was quick to dismiss because of the vocals. I hoped his input would prove to be a one-time-thing.
'Built to Kill' opens with an instrumental jam in line with 'Puma Punkur'. Their music might be best described as damaged lo-fi mechanical space punk, a genre that's without a doubt as close to my heart as it is to yours. So far so good. On the second song the new vocalist unfortunately makes himself heard again, leaving my hopes shattered. Klaus' vocals are guttural and throaty, conjuring previous metal projects in this reviewer's mind. I know some of you appreciate metal at least as much as damaged lo-fi mechanical space punk, but not me. The guy who previously handled vocal duties in Angkor Wrack was on more of a muppet zombie trip, in places bringing to mind FNU Ronnies, a band Angkor Wrack should consider its peer. In my opinion Angkor Wrack's previous singer was a better fit with their music, but clearly they think differently and since it's their band, I'll just have to live with the path they want to take. After all, I'm just a turd writing about music, and an old cynical one that does not like change at that.
All joking aside, I appreciate a band branching out, trying new things. Giving this record several spins made me appreciate Klaus' vocals more. His voice gives the music a more sinister and claustrophobic atmosphere. Image him as a mean-spirited extra terrestrial still covered in slime shortly after leaving the leftovers of his just hatched egg and everything starts falling into place. The new vocalist makes Angkor Wrack a nastier band than they were before, which fits their whole apocalyptic futurist theme. The artwork is a great case in point. The cover shows bad nazi-inspired realist art with homo-erotic undertones. Angkor Wrack forsees blonde masculine soldiers only wearing blue jeans shooting heavy machine guns from the top of a castle in the future. Interesting! If you liked Angkor Wrack before, you should give this record a shot. Maybe you, like me, will have to get used to the vocals, but in the end the whole package will win you over. 'Built to Kill' is a grower and as any music lover knows, those are generally speaking the better records. Now get this Lp, some blue jeans and start working out so you can show off your abs once the true Messiah makes his come-back and the final battle between good and evil commences. See you on the battle field!

Anti-Sex - Un Mejor Futuro Lp (Thrilling Living, World Gone Mad, Cintas Pepe) (12,50 euro)
Mexican three piece consisting of ladies only. Is it me or is Mexican punk reclaiming its place in the international punk rock arena? Maybe I’ve just not been paying attention or not been looking in the right places. Whatever the case, it’s always cool to hear bands that aren’t from the western heartland play hardcore punk. They seem less prone to following trends which is a plus of course.
Despite visiting Mexico last year I wouldn’t dare say I know much about the country. I remember there being a lot of indepent farmers growing coffee and corn, great burritos and a lot of sun. That’s the tourist’s Mexico, not the Mexico these girls exist in I asumme. There’s also the Mexico of huge polluted cities, corrupt police and politicians and raging drug violence. That’s the Mexico that comes to mind playing Un Mejor Futuro. I can’t fully grasp what these 10 songs are about for all lyrics are sung in Spanish, but the message seems to come from the heart in a very direct way. Although a total platitude, I’ll go on the record and state that this music is RAW, hella raw. Now I know raw punk was all the rage a couple of years ago, but I didn’t care for most of the bands sailing under that flag. Let me tell you, Anti-Sex are on a whole different level. It’s in the playing, the recording, in the vibe. Those having clear cut ideas of how a band should be mixed better stay away from Un Mejor Futuro for it is a mess, and a good one at that. The cymbals are loud and shrill creating a near constant hiss, the toms sound like they’re made out of carton and the snare keeps the rhythm’s pulse going with hits that sound like they’re forced through your skull. The guitar and bass are hard to keep apart, mostly a blur but the riffs come through. Over all this ruckus the singer is delivering her vocals. Her voice is somewhere inside the music as opposed to mixed in front of it, adding to the directness of the listening experience. This Lp has the appeal of a demo tape or better yet a live show, which is great.
The artwork is quite interesting to boot. It reminds me of Ghost in the Shell a bit. Does that make me a nerd? Grace told me there are references to classic harcore releases in the imagery, but I am yet to find them. Either way I always appreciate it when you can tell effort went into artwork. This is clearly the case here. The record comes with an insert with all the lyrics and a lot of doodles. Cool shit. I wonder why they’re called Anti-Sex. That’s a pretty confrontational name, no? The lyrics don’t seem to delve into the subject, but again, I don’t speak Spanish so I might be missing it. In short this record should be picked up by anyone interested in the contemporary international punk scene and/or bands doing it raw and giving it to you straight. Solid stuff.

Arse - Primitive Spieces 12" (Erste Theke Tonträger) (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

Aspirina Infantil - El Reino De La Stupidez Lp (Metadona, Beat Generation)
After several 7”s and a flexi Aspirina Infantil return with their debut 12”. 'El Reino De La Estupidez' is the first record I hear by them. This band hails from Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediteranean Sea with about 800 000 inhabitants. The place has produced an impressive number of good punk rock bands, labels and records over the last years putting most of us punks to shame. Worth mentioning in this context is Trance, which Aspirina Infantil shares half its members with.
Aspirina Infantil plays energetic punk rock with a hardcore bend sung in Spanish tongue. The drumming is fast giving the songs a hardcore feel. The vocals however are mostly sung and the guitar throws in plenty of melodic leads, which would make me label Aspirina Infantil as a punk rock group in the end, one that likes to keep their pace high though, mind you. Several listens in I think 'El Reino de la Estupidez' is a strong and diverse record. Aspirina Infantil keeps things interesting throughout by creative song writing. Although generally playing fast the band employs a lot of tempo changes, which keeps the listener occupied. One of the reasons most punk rock bands don't do well on the 12” format is the lack of dynamic in their songs. Aspirina Infantil clearly have that covered though. They slow things down a bit on the B-side, opening with 'Si Tropiezo', in which the band gets close to the sentimental, which somehow does not bother me. I wonder what the song is about. Lyrics are included, but they're all in Spanish, which I unfortunately do not speak.
All in all 'El Reino de la Estupidez' is a nice punk rock record with lots of melody and hooks. Its sixteen songs are catchy and are bound to urge a live audience to slam dance or head bop depending on the person's age and need for violence and destruction. Seeing this band live must be fun. Maybe I should go to Mallorca sometime. There are great things happening there and Aspirina Infantil is part of that greatness. Get a local scene like Mallorca going and then start whinging punks!

Bad American - Pretty/ Ugly 12" (Bad Recordings) (12,50 euro)
This Philly hardcore band released a good Ep a year or two ago and has been working on this 12” Ep since. It took a while before ‘Pretty/Ugly’ actually saw the light of day, but here it finally is. Bad American recruited a new drummer since their last record, but it’s not just the line-up that has changed. The band also developed a slower and heavier approach to their song writing. If this is due to the new member is not known to me, but it makes for an interesting difference with their previous material. While Bad American was mainly playing fast on their debut Ep, this eight song 12” contains several mid-paced stompers as well and it’s during these tracks that the band really gets to shine in my opinion. What made me like Bad American before remains intact on ‘Pretty/Ugly’; their anger. This band sounds PISSED! This can mainly be attributed to singer Ray’s vocals which are harsh and raspy. He has the kind of vocal style that makes one wonder if the guy can talk at all after doing a live set. Heavy bass riffs and drumming form the solid foundation for the music on this record. During the slower tracks guitar player Cobra moves away from the riffing and adds an extra layer of guitar cries, which gives these songs a dirgey vibe I quite enjoy.
The record kicks off with ‘Dirty Waters’, which might be the best song on this 12”. It’s a heavy track with great mean lyrics, but somehow it doesn’t work too well as a record opener. Perhaps it would have been better to start off with a fast one that immediately grabbed the listener by the balls instead? At times Bad American gets so tough the band almost brushes shoulders with some noise rock. ‘Pre-Load’ is a good example of this. It’s the singer screaming his lungs out over a slow three chord riff covered in guitar wailing. Apparently the inspiration for this ‘song’ came from Ray’s workplace. It doesn’t sound like he’s having too much fun there. In the end Bad American is a hardcore band though. Let there be no doubt about that. The collage artwork of the sleeve, which is a nod to the Freeze’s ‘Land of the Lost’, should be considered a sign of their love for classic hardcore even though Bad American isn’t the least bit reminiscent of those Boston vets. All in all Pretty/Ugly is a brutal hardcore record done by guys who should have known better than to start this kinda band, but did it anyway. You got to love them for that.

Bad American - American Dream Lp (Shogun) (12,50 euro)
First full-length by this hardcore outfit from Pennsylvania, which already had several 7”s and a 12” Ep under its belt. As so many things in life this review comes way way too late – I'll spare you any further guilt - making it unavoidable this thing turns out as a retrospective. So let's look over that shoulder a bit. 'American Dream' came out when Hoax was still reigning supreme in the American hardcore scene. You can hear that on this record. Bad American took a turn for the heavy. Most songs rely on brutal and pounding riffs. The slow repetitive and mosh pit inviting 'Black Rats' and 'Strange Bird' are cases in point. They're signs of their time as well as songs that must have gone hand in hand with serious blood spilling on the dance floor. Punks spinning Gag and Hoax records will find pleasure in these tracks.
Those are not songs that particularly appeal to me however. Bad American is at its best when Cobra leaves the blunt riffing to the burly clattering bass and adds a layer of feedback and chaos with his guitar not unlike Sex Vid used to do before adding a second guitar player to their line-up. This happens less than before on 'American Dream', but when it happens, it's still good. Bad American's other strong feat, Ray's vocals, are still intense. His mean screeching delivery works wonders. The lyrics here are personal and although the content is consciously kept vague, topics like depression, alienation and anxiety are all touched upon. This should come as no surprise considering Ray's labeled doing a band as free therapy.
In the end 'American Dream' is a mixed bag. I think it would have been stronger if some fat had been trimmed and it had been released as a 10 song 12” Ep. It's near impossible for a hardcore band to carry a full-length. 'American Dream' suffers from its duration on the one hand and its reliance on slow and heavy riffing on the other. Changing pace in between songs would have made the record more diverse and therefor a more captivating listen. Cobra's been the best to me and I really want to like this record, but ultimately I feel like their previous releases showed a better side of this band. Obviously this is a matter of taste. If moshing is your life and you love to punch your fellow skinhead and sports gear wearing friends in the face in your free time, this record might find a nice home on your record player.

Bad Breeding - Divide Lp (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
Second 12” by this London hardcore band I wrongfully filed away as another spineless noise band at first. Will I ever learn? Much like say Perspex Flesh, Bad Breeding are part of a UK hardcore movement, for lack of a better term, that’s been exploring the genre’s limits. By this I mean these bands moved away from the straightforward template most 1980’s originals utilized. Of course that’s a simplification. Flag’s earliest incarnation doesn’t sound like the Flag that pulled the plug and Hüsker Dü and the Minutemen don’t sound alike at all yet are both considered hardcore bands. All that said, when we’re talking hardcore, we generally speak of bands with an angry dude – call me sexist, I don’t care – on the mic, and a band that attempts to play riffs and rhythms as fast as they can without restraint or attire. Bad Breeding are not that kind of a hardcore band. Their songs are way more thought out, way more complex. Their songwriting is unconventional for a hardcore band. The composition is often more rooted in post-punk than in hardcore actually. The production however is so brutal no one would label this music as post-punk. Bad Breeding changes pace from song to song, but they’re always heavy kinda like a steam-roller shifting gears: regardless of its velocity it will crush you. The drumming is intense. The burly bass clatters away and carries the riffing while the guitar adds a layer of noise, hiss and feedback. Bad Breeding’s singer has got a good throat. His lyrics are vaguely political in a society accusing way, but I’d argue they mostly cover alienation and depression as a result from living in a post-modern world. In between tracks soundscape like intermissions give the listener some room to breath only to get pummeled by the track that follows.
This record is well written, well plaid and demands multiple listens. It also looks great. Effort has been put in the artwork. There’s a neat lyric sheet included as well as a manifesto/essay about the current political situation in the UK which focuses on Nigel Farage. Brexit perhaps made people more politically charged and outspoken?
So what’s possibly not to like? Well, I’ll be a taoist about it. Everything one gains also has its costs. Complex song writing takes away from urgency. Thought and primitivity are opposites. That said I can always reach for a USHC classic if I crave for something direct. I appreciate bands like Bad Breeding’s guts for taking hardcore into new directions. Without bands like these hardcore would be infinite repetition and an attempt to live in the past. Unfortunately I’m afraid I am more of a conservative than I’d like to admit. What I’m basically saying is grandpa needs some time adjusting, okay! Give him some time.

Barcelona - Un Ultimo Ultrasonido Nació Y Murio En Barcelona 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
Wow, how can I not have been paying attention to this band before? I’ll admit I’ve been dismissive of a lot of hardcore from Spain over the last couple of years. Reasons include there simply was so much of it that at times I felt overwhelmed and just tapped out. Furthermore a lot of the Spanish bands failed to make an instant impression on yours truly, leading me to file them away as yet another raw punk band playing a dbeat. I did the same with Barcelona but clearly jumped to conclusions as I so often do. Listening to this 12” makes me realize what a dick I’ve been for doing so. Then again, aren’t we all guilty of this kinda behaviour in an age marked by oversaturation and an economy selling needs first and products after? He who is without sin cast the first stone, alright!
It seems to me Barcelona plays anti-music, an estimate confirmed by the title of opening track ‘Aprender no sirve de nada’ meaning ‘learning serves no purpose’. I’ve thrown some of the band’s lyrics included on the back cover through google translate and get the impression Barcelona’s message, if you can call it that, is overall very bleak. Most of the lyrics are political  although abstract and at times even existentialist. Instead of telling what to do and not do, they give the listener a sinister sketch of the world we live in today. The band’s singer serves some sharp nihilistic tantrums of which some are almost poetic: “La paz destruye mi mente/ La guerra destruye mi vida/ Esto es Espana” or “Me dices que me quieres y me quiero matar.” Her shrill snarling voice attempts to sneak its way through your ear canal to claw at your brain once inside of your skull. This girl has a nasty delivery.
The music or non-music is pure destruction with lots of low end and weird riffing. It’s headache inducing like Rusted Shut, but Barcelona are definitely achieving this result from more of a hardcore angle. My knowledge of early Spanish hardcore is very limited and I bet Barcelona are paying hommage to some of its founders, but to me this record sounds very refreshing although in a rather cheerless way. What’s there to be cheerful about in a world where terrorism is used by government as an excuse to limit its citizens’s freedom, all action feels useless, everything’s going to shit and each day is only a temporarily escape from death’s ever reaching claws, Barcelona might ask. On some days I agree. This is a very heavy record that’s not for the faint of heart. The artwork is great to boot. Those looking to get their ears destroyed, their minds twisted and their lives shattered need look no further. ‘Un Ultimo Ultrasonido Nació Y Murió en Barcelona’ has got it all.

Bend Sinister - Tape2 (Homeless) (15 euro)
Okay, first things first. The name of this band, like the Fall album, refers to a book by Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov – the guy who wrote Lolita indeed. It is supposedly a dystopian novel. Note to self: I gotta read this book – I am trying, but goddamn Nabokov’s writing is dense! There are several ways to approach this record. One is the way Homeless Records is selling the thing. That is presenting Bend Sinister as the band that later became the A-Frames. This is fact. Erin, Lars and Min would indeed later form the A-Frames. I was schooled as a historian though and therefor consider a rear view mirror perspective suspect. You see, when these guys were pumping out the tracks found on this Lp, they did not yet know they would later be in a band called the A-Frames. They existed in a world in which the A-Frames were absent. So to look at Bend Sinister as the band that preceded the A-Frames in my opinion is reductive. It’s true. It probably helps sales, but there’s more to it.
Instead of trying to trace the seeds that would later come to flower in a next project in Bend Sinister’s material, I’d rather approach these songs as an end in themselves – yes, ‘Better Now’ and ‘Yeahyeahyeah’ have similarities to later A-Frames songs, but that’s beside the point. Bend Sinister does not need the A-Frames as a justification for all twelve of these tracks are great and well worth your ear without. Whenever I listen to ‘Tape2’ I think to myself: “This is the kind of band I’d like to be in.” I wouldn’t even care if we’d release records or do shows. Just making noise in the practice room and recording jams would do the trick for me. Bend Sinister however did tour and according to the insert they released two singles and one CD-R in the late 1990s. Two tapes of recording sessions that never got to see the light of day before are now available through their bandcamp. Homeless jumped on them and released 'Tape2' on vinyl. The world should be grateful. Will the first tape also make it to vinyl? I don't know, but I sure wouldn’t mind.
But what does the music sound like? Namedropping is a drag, but think demo recordings of the Lamps minus the silliness, a 90’s garage rock sound with 90’s noise rock songwriting. The Brainbombs come to mind on long instrumental tracks for Bend Sinister too knows how to drive a riff into the ground. However the atmosphere isn’t as dark and the production not as brutal as the Brainbombs’. There’s a lot of high end in all these songs and little low end. The band actually didn’t have a bass player during the recording of the songs on side B. The guitars are shrill and dirty. The production is minimal. The tracks sound like they come straight from rehearsals. They’re messy and primitive. They are what rock and roll should be. No restraint, just wild music. In that sense Bend Sinister is almost A-Frames’ opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I love the A-Frames, but their sound is calculated and precise, almost conceptual. Not Bend Sinister. What I appreciate most about these songs is how unhinged they sound. So there are multiple good reasons to grab this record. Regardless of which road you pick, the destination is already clear: the purchase of this record! So why wait?

Big Crux - Ponchito Lp (Not Normal) (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

Bill Bondsmen - ...--. .-.-.- ... .-.-.- / -.-----..- .----. .-. . / ..-. ..- -.-. -.- .-.. 12" (Burning Sensations) (8 euro)
The story about this release is an obscure one. Some Dutch punk released two 12"s by Bill Bondsmen (of which this is the better) but somehow they ended up in his attic and most never got sold. To my knowledge the kid in question is still alive so why he never parted with these 12"s is a mystery to me. Perhaps they were of too much emotional value, perhaps he was told not to sell copies by voices in his head (it really was the band telling him not to (eds.)). Either way this 12" is some of the Bondsmen's best material and it's a shame that this release hasn't been available to the masses before. I don't feel like going into detail about this band's sound. They play intense hardcore. That's for sure. I've said it before, but I think Gaby's vocals are some of the best to be found in hardcore today. Most consider the "Swallowed by the World" Lp Bill Bondsmen's strongest release, but those who do obviously haven't heard this record. It's meaner, rawer and harsher. It has the sound the band had before the Lp came out and the songwriting qualities that the band got recognition for on their full length and succeeding single. This should be the Bondsmen record for those of you with a short attention span, because it delivers seven perfect hardcore tunes. Long live the 12" Ep! This might be the best Bondsmen record around. The artwork looks stupid, but rad.

P.s. Sailors, fill me in on what that morse code stands for. I wonder.

Bill Bondsmen - Until the Razor Cuts Lp (Mastermind) (13 euro)
Review up soon...

Bits of Shit - Cut Sleeves Lp (Homeless) (12,50 euro)
Bits of Shit hail from Melbourne, Australia. The band just returned from a fierce week of touring the US and I heard they were blast live through one of my many trustworthy confidants. Yes, I have ears all over the punk rock world. The band released its first record, a 7” , back in 2010, but supposedly they’ve been playing for many years. Their debut Ep went by largely unnoticed outside of Australia as far as I can tell. By the time I came to appreciate the record it was already long gone. Now there’s ‘Cut Sleeves’ to give all of you fellow sleepers a chance to get hip to the sounds of Bits of Shit after all.
That these boys are from the land down under is undeniable from the moment their singer Danny opens his throat. His snot drenched vocals in thick Australian accent are great and might just be what I like about the band most. Danny sounds juvenile and spiteful and I bet he’s showering kids in the front row at shows with his spittle. Good for them. It’s hard to believe it’s actually a guy over thirty you’re hearing through your speakers. I’ve got a feeling we’re dealing with one sassy bloke here. The vocals – howls would be more accurate in places - have the same appeal to me as those of Mike Hudson, but I’m also reminded of Ron House perhaps because of a shared sense of wit. Google those names and you’ll scold me for being a follower of the Distort cult, but I honestly didn’t even know Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments came from the Ohio city thousands of hardcore boys fantasize about thanks to a certain fellow countryman of this band.
Musically Bits of shit play scummy punk rock with a classic feel. Their songs move from fast to slow in a very undisruptive manner. The fast songs are straight forward punk rockers while the slower ones have more dirge to them. It’s in those songs that the guitar playing gets more upfront. Andy really flails away on the strings when he gets a chance to. The guitar subtly demands attention by doing minor variations on the main riff in instrumental opener ‘F’, a jam I can see Bits of Shit open their set with. Things get even wilder and dissonant on ‘Traps’ and ‘Reign’, the second and last instrumental of the record. Most of the songs on this record are built around fairly simple riffs - some counting a mere two notes – carried mainly by the bass playing. The bass sound is forceful and it really drives the songs, which I love. The guitar sound is buzzy and sharp. At times the guitar player does simple riffing, but I like it most when he moves away from a song’s foundation and gets wild and crazy. He is also the one who should be credited for the beautiful xylophone sounds that can be heard on ‘Red Blade’, which probably is the calmest song on this record. ‘Cut Sleeves’ gets wrapped up by a song called ‘Intro’ which is a bit backwards, but you can’t really blame the band. They’re from Australia after all. I could have said an intro at the end of the record is like the world upside down which although funny, would have been a lot less offensive.
This is a perfect punk rock record that doesn’t get boring or tedious at any point which is quite an accomplishment with thirteen songs of which a few get close to the five minute mark. I’d call this Lp flawless if it wouldn’t make me feel like a shady salesman. The only thing bad about his record is the artwork, but I read on the band’s website that they were really excited about it. It’s their record so who am I to disagree? Get hip to these Australians already. You know you want to.

Brain F - Sleep Rough Lp (Static Shock)
Review up soon...

Canadian Rifle - Visibility Zero Lp (Residue, Squirrel Heart)
Year Zero is Canadian Rifle's first full-length. This Chicago three-piece plays music that could be labeled as melodic punk rock. The overall production of this record is quite raw. Adding to that are the vocals of both singers. They’re pretty harsh. The lyrics tend to focus on the bleaker side of life. "All good things leave and all bad things stay and multiply." There's not much cheer to be found on this piece of wax, but the songs aren't whiny and are delivered with conviction. Unlike their previous 7"s this Lp doesn't offer any hits, but that doesn't mean the songs aren't good. They are, but consistent full length is just a whole different bag than a good 7". I think Canadian Rifle delivered a strong melodic punk rock record with Visibility Zero. So if melodic punk rock is your kinda thing I'd recommend you to pick this one up. This record won't kick your teeth in, but is a nice listen just as well.

Cardiac Arrest - In the Mouth of Madness Lp (Even Worse, Way Back When)
Yes, the Lp that has kept straight ahead USHC hardcore lovers worldwide in anticipation for close to a decade finally sees the light of day! Who would have thought? I think pretty much everybody involved with this project, has doubted if it would come together at one point or another. Turns out it did! Cardiac Arrest were among the most praised 1980's throwback USHC outfits of the mid 2000's. They were part of the scene around Richmond, Virginia's No Way Records. Both the band's Ep's were well received at the time. A full-length was the logical next step. Supposedly the band started working on 'In the Mouth of Madness' shortly after 'Life's A Dead End' came out in 2006, and yet the record only came out anno 2014, turning the project into a running gag among St. Louis punks in the years in between. I'll do the math for you. It took eight (!) years for this record to come to be. Whether that is amazing or downright strange is for you to decide, but one can not deny that it showcases some serious commitment and persistence on the band's part.
The big question of course is: was this record worth the wait? I find this hard to say. 'In the Mouth of Madness' serves the listener eleven tracks of no thrills 1980s inspired USHC with an obvious nod to some of the Boston greats and 'Pick Your King'-era Poison Idea. It's not all that different from the band's earlier material. This record is good for what it is. Those who've been craving for new Cardiac Arrest material will not be disappointed, but it will not convert those unimpressed by the band before. The questions you should ask yourself is: Do I want to hear a new Cardiac Arrest record? Some won't, some will. I'm sure these guys don't care either way. They're probably still amazed that this whole thing came through at all.
Had this record been released six years ago, it would probably have caused more of a stir in hardcore land. Today it leaves less of an impression. 'In the Mouth of Madness' came a day after the fair. No Way Records is gone and the 1980s USHC revival, which was all the rage ten years ago, suffered from a severe backlash and had to make room for 'mysterious guy hardcore', which by now is out of vogue too. Funny how styles come and go. That's fine. There'll always be people that want to hear new bands play straight forward hardcore that one can scream along and build a pit to. That's a good thing. Those fellars already know they need this record. If you're one of them and haven't obtained a copy of this Lp from the band on their recent Euro tour, you can now pick it up from me. So why don't you?

Citric Dummies - The Kids are Altright Lp (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

Clever - Kewdi Udi 12" (Homeless Records) (15 euro)
Debut record by this new Brisbane outfit. Clever gets props from none other than Kitchen's Floor's Matt Kennedy on the promotional sticker on the front of this thing so my expectations of 'Kewdi Udi' were high. This band shares members with Per Purpose, who were also playing highly technical post-punk, but Clever sound way more aggressive than I remember Per Purpose ever being. Clever's guitar riffs are static, the bass sounds fierce and delivers its riffs tightly. The interaction between four and six string is cool and makes 'Kewdi Udi' an interesting listen. Clever's music overall is dense as hell. There's a lot happening in one song and you're gonna need a couple of listens to fully realize what's hitting you. 'Goat from the Badlands' and 'My Head', respectively A- and B-side closer, are my favorite tracks on here, because the band takes a break from their rather frantic pace and creates some room to build a song exchanging intense sonic explosions with quiet brooding breaks.
Like many of Homeless Records recent releases 'Kewdi Udi' has me thinking of the early 1990's, before Cobain shot himself, when I was still listening to music I won't admit listening to unless you're gonna waterboard me. This record is well played and well recorded, probably in a studio. Is there something wrong with that? Not necessarily. I know a lot of people have a soft spot for everything coming out on Sub Pop, Amphetamine Reptile and what have you way back when, but most of those bands never tickled me the way I need to get truly aroused. I like it when a band is a bit messy every now and then. Clever are anything but, which is impressive, but not exciting. At least not to me. I bet this band is devastating live though. So you decide whether 'Kewdi Udi' is a record you want to hear. I'm going to keep spinning it and hope 'Goat from the Badlands and 'My Head' will turn out to be a gateway to fully appreciating this 12” Ep.

The Coneheads - Lp1 (Erste Theke Tonträger) (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

Cuntz - Solid Mates Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Second longplayer by these Aussie creeps. Supposedly Solid Mates was already recorded when Aloha, Cuntz' debut record, came out. It took about a year before it actually saw the light of day. People went apeshit for Aloha. I loved it too, but after spinning Solid Mates multiple times I've come to the conclusion that Solid Mates is the better record. It is rather different. Aloha could have been a sonic experiment, a bunch of drugged out weirdos recording a jam session at their practice space. It was basically one big violent and depressing mess. Solid Mates on the other hand sounds playful and fun; playful like a mongoloid child smashing other kids' toys leaving them in tears, fun like a perverted joke that makes most guests at the party turn their heads away disapprovingly except for your uncle who never says anything and you know is seeing a shrink. He is laughing hysterically, because he had one too many. Although I will stand by my statement that no band has ever sounded like Flipper or will ever sound like Flipper, Solid Mates is tapping from the same black humor and nihilism filled barrel as the one your favourite San Fran nuts got drunk on. Cuntz are doing their own thing, but are coming from a similar place, ya know.
Overall the ten track on Solid Mates are more focussed than Cuntz' previous material. This record contains songs making Solid Mates more of a punk record as opposed to Aloha, which was just noise. It was one big mess and a perfect one at that. Cool. Sure. But it's great to hear Cuntz develop into something else. Instead of going for the same formula, as many bands do, they've redefined themselves on this record. Don't let this scare you off though. Those who liked Aloha should definitely give Solid Mates a shot too. Few will be disappointed. Both records have their own appeal and in the end, you really need them both. Preferring one over the other, is actually totally unnecessary, but hey, that's the way this review turned out. To me Cuntz remain one of the most impressive bands Homeless Records put out in the last years. I'm really looking forward to the release of their first single on Total Punk. Now let's hope these guys won't throw in the towel before coming to Europe like Bits of Shit did.

Cuntz - Force the Zone Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Third album in two years by this Melbourne outfit. Pretty impressive! Upon first listen 'Force the Zone' sounds more like 'Solid Mates' than 'Aloha', making it an obvious follow-up to the former. Cuntz' singer still steals the show. He sounds retarded and wails his lyrics angrily. The guitar still sounds shrill and playful and both drums and bass provide these twelve songs with mongoloid pounding rhythm. Cuntz are often described as a noise band, but they aren't that noisy and hardly loud. If it hand't been for their singer they wouldn't have sounded all that violent either. The combination of the music and the vocals is therefor an odd one, one that would not have made sense on paper, but turns out great on record, which is the only thing that counts in the end  for nobody is listening to songs on paper.
'Force the Zone' confronts your humble reviewer with his verdict of the Total Punk single these guys did in 2014. Although not a bad record, it didn't live up to my expectations and left me somewhat disappointed. Especially 'Cooked' struck me as a weak track. The flip made up for it, but if you're going to release a single both tracks should deliver, right? Anyway, I put this record on my record player and guess which song opens the album? That's right; 'Cooked'. Wait, it gets better! The record also gets wrapped up by the track! Are Cuntz fucking with me here? How am I to talk my way out of this? Simple! Cuntz aren't really a song band. They do better on 12” and as a record opener and final 'Cooked' makes more sense than as a song on a single. 'Cooked II' is actually such a mess it is barely definable as the original track.
What strikes me about 'Force the Zone' is the contrast between its two sides. The A-side is more or less what you've come to expect from this band. Its seven songs all more or less have the same tempo and although 'Chinese Dreamboat' and 'Factory Floor' are stompers that'll stick with you, they're not breaking any new ground. Although I love that the last two songs on this side of the record are called 'Nah' and 'Nah Man', the whole thing passes without leaving much of a mark on yours truly. The flip however is a whole different story. It opens with the repetitive 'Grill', which is my favorite song on 'Force the Zone'. It reminds me a bit of 'Lost' of their debut album. After 'Grill' Cuntz serve us fast punk rocker called 'Mould'. There's more change of pace and weirdness on this side of the record, making it the better of the two and 'Cooked II' is the perfect non-sensical finale. So 'Force the Zone' has two sides to it – get it? The A-side is accessible. Its songs are as good an introduction to this band as any of their material. Things get weirder and wilder on the flip bringing to mind the crazier tracks on 'Aloha' which is the way I like this band best. That won't keep me from playing 'Chinese Dreamboat' and 'Factory Floor' though. It really boils down to what you're in the mood for. All in all 'Force the Zone' is another good record by your favorite four Melbourne misfits. If Cuntz stay on the pace they've been on so far 2016 should see another Cuntz album released. It should go without saying I'm looking forward to that.

Dan Melchior - K-85 Lp (Homeless) (14 euro)
Review up soon...

Deaf Wish - Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
“I just wanna say Africa in a song, Afffrica.” That's the haunting line Deaf Wish opened their debut Lp with back in 2007. Somehow that line always stuck with me. I'll admit I was a late convert to this band. I remember reading a review of 'Reality and Visions', the band's second 12”, on Terminal Boredom years ago and thinking to myself: “Why have I not heard of this band before? This sounds like something I'd drool all over.” This turned out to be correct.
Hearing this record has me immediately reach for a Hüsker Dü comparison, but I feel like there are way more subtleties and influences to this band than a kid that did not grow up in Australia in the late 1980s and early 1990s can possibly grasp. Like the Hüskers Deaf Wish know how to craft songs with hooks without sacrificing fervor or grit. Aggravated vocals make sure the tunes do not become too nice and accessible. Deaf Wish are really intense. Melody, feedback and fiery vocals perfectly fuse on this record. The sound bits between songs give the listener some much needed space to catch breath. Samples easily become tedious intervals one has to sit through to get to the next song, but the clips on this record actually add something to the listening experience. They contribute to the overall atmosphere. Although there's clearly a firm aesthetic at the root of Deaf Wish's music, they take different angles with their songs. Opening track 'Green Flame' is a wild, dirgey and violent punk tune, whereas 'Freeze the Sound' is basically a ballad heading for disaster. This record is diverse without losing its consistence. It's a great release. It's the kind of record that will give you goosebumps whilst listening to it late at night. It cuts straight through your skin, into your soul. Yes, it's that good.
I'm glad Homeless Records made this record available again. It was out of print for a few years. This edition is on beautiful green vinyl. Deaf Wish seemed to have fallen apart after their third full-lenght and the European tour they did to back it. However, a new Ep came out on Sub Pop last year so it seems they're still a band in one form or other. Catch this bunch live if you ever have the opportunity. I'm still figuring out a way to live with myself after passing up on a show of theirs in my hometown. Although I'm glad this group is still around, their early stuff remains their best material. Some say this Lp is their strongest release yet and I might just agree.

El Zombie - Life is Bli$$ Lp (Self Released) (12,50 euro)
Debut Lp by this two-piece hailing from Urecht, my city of birth. Their first single came out in 2003 so these guys have been playing together for over 15 years without pretty much anybody taking notice. On the one hand that says something about El Zombie’s ambitions; world domination is not on their program although René, one half of the outfit, keeps telling me selling these records will make me rich. On the other hand it tells you a ton about the way the Dutch treat their own bands. Being a local support band in the Netherlands equals people talking loudly through your set if they leave the bar at all. It took me years to realize how stupid it is to think good bands are from somewhere else and I still haven’t shook off the notion entirely. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy in a way. If you don’t give local bands a proper chance, you’re never going to be into them.
So what’s the music like? El Zombie are Utrecht’s self proclaimed trash duo. The 12 songs on ‘Life is Bli$$’ are indeed trashy, minimalistic and underproduced. The drums are simple, the guitar dirty and mean. The songs mostly consist of a beat and chords with the singer singing over them. I like that he’s not trying to spice things up with solos. There’s a saxophone on ‘The Runner-Up’ which works well and gives the song a cool twist. Garage rock is no longer a label that means much, but El Zombie has a perspective on music not unlike some of the great garage bands of the late 1980’s and 1990’s such as the Cheater Slicks and Australia’s Feedtime. Crypt Records is also an obvious reference here. El Zombie’s songs grind along in a similar vein as those by the Slicks and their singer’s delivery is similarly detached and life rejecting. The blunt repetition of the title track brings to mind Feedtime’s minimalistic approach to songwriting. Now, El Zombie do not sound like these bands per se, but I imagine them growing up on the same kinda listening material: old blues as opposed to classic punk rock.
The Cheater Slicks and Feedtime are gods. Can El Zombie hold a candle to such greats? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s all that important. What is, is that I like this record. Even though I don’t drink, ‘Life is Bli$$’ strikes me as the perfect soundtrack to your morning after a night of heavy boozing. Chances are El Zombie will sit on a pile of these 12”s for the rest of their lives, because nobody around here cares for bands like these. If that’ll be the way things pan out, I’m sure they’ll be fine with that for they never cared about success to begin with. Most great artist made their art for the sake of it. In this sense El Zombie is in the right company. These guys know the Dutch music industry is a shithole and decided it is better to stick to your practice room complex and do the ocassional support for an international garage rock band coming through town for some free beers. Those who get it will. Those who want a guitar and drum duo to be the next White Stripes won’t, but who cared about that band anyway? ‘Seven Nation Army’ is the track the Dutch darts champion plays as he hits the stage so go figure!

Es - Object Relations 12'' (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

Farang - 12" (Bad Vibrations) (12,50 euro)
Alright, I'll come right out of the gates and say it. Lately hardcore punk bores me to tears. Whether this is because of the state punk is in at the moment or is all me is for you to decide. Clearly I'm getting older, greyer and more bitter, but that hasn't kept me from appreciating a good hardcore punk record. Although these seem to become sparser by the year, they are still being released, making the whole record hunt and research worthwhile at the end of the day. That's what I can convince myself of on a good day anyways. So rest assured, unlike some of the early hardcore adopters, you won't hear me saying hardcore died in 1983 or any year for that matter.
This 12” by Toronto's Farang is a perfect example of a good hardcore punk record in our day and age. What makes this record perfect is that there's nothing retro about Farang's music nor is the band tapping into any particular punk niche that's en vogue today – but who knows about tomorrow? This already makes Farang an odd duck in today's musical landscape. I've perhaps spent hours of my life debating whether creativity is as important a feature as quality. This is an interesting subject in music, whether punk or not, as well as any other art form really. A tricky subject for what is quality? There are plenty of bands around with some good songs in them. There are plenty of bands that are able to conjure the greatness of the founding fathers of hardcore punk, who each of us came to love for one misguided reason or other, to some extent. However, there are very few bands that are able to evoke the excitement of hearing fast angry music for the first time. This is what Farang achieve on their debut record. Of course the band has its influences. Every band has, but Farang doesn't remind me of any particular group. Their songs are fast and full of energy. Their singer is in your face. What really sets this band apart is the guitar playing, which is angular, dissonant and complex without initially coming across as such keeping the song catchy and abrasive throughout. One could argue Farang is rewriting the books, but I'd retort with: “What books are you talking about? Why do they need to be rewritten?”
So yeah, a great record. The whole thing is DIY as fuck to boot. The vinyl comes in a disco sleeve with artwork glued onto it and an insert including an image to cover the disco sleeve hole up. The band released this record themselves, which is why you don't see it around much. Bands generally are not the best promoters, a good thing because I'd rather have them write songs. Ivan used to play in both Kremlin and the School Jerks so you know this guy has been around the block. If there had been a wee bit of internet sensation backing this record, people would be drooling all over it, but since they never butchered a chicken live on stage, barely anybody knows they exists. You can do something about that right now though! Do yourself a favor and pick this record up and tell your poser ass friends it rocks, okay!

Faux Départ - Au Pied du Mur Lp (Super Cocktail, Tossin, Lose and the Caves, Colilla, Doomtown, Roll Mops, Mutant) (12,50 euro)
The year is 2018. I listen to more jazz and hiphop than punk rock. My hair has been turning grey for years, but remarks about its color fading have been inreasing recently. Chances are I’m getting old… or am I? I can still get excited about a record like ‘Au Pied du Mur’ by Lyon’s Faux Départ so maybe I’m alright.
Punk rock has never lost its original potential in my book. Sure, its pages have yellowed, the ink is fading a bit and there are coffee stains all over the thing, but the words in it still ring true. What punk was originally and still is about (to me) is people creating with whatever means they have at their disposal. On ‘Au Pied Du Mur’ Faux Départ proves a band can still write meaningful and good songs with limited means and little talent in 2018. By the way talent is a myth best left to jury shows with turning chairs. It has no place in punk whatsoever.
After a well received demo tape Lyon’s Faux Départ, meaning false start, make their return with this 12’’. It contains 11 songs amongst which I have not been able to find a stinker, which says something coming from a hater such as myself. Those who’ve not heard Faux Départ yet, all you need to know is this French three piece play catchy punk rock without pretention. I know these guys know what’s hip and happening in contemporary punk, which makes it all the better they don’t seem to have given that any thought writing this record. The bass and drums are bouncy and simple. The guitar, which reminds me of the Giant Haystacks in places, is mostly in the same vein, but does give some songs just that extra twist they need through a surfy interlude or short solo. All lyrics are written by guitar player/singer Pascal and they are in French. A lyric sheet is included for those interested in brushing up their foreign languages. I can only piece bits together with my six years of high school French, but titles like ‘L’aventure est mort’ (Adventure is dead), a statement I endorse wholeheartedly, makes me think Pascal is on to something. ‘Tout va bien’ (all is well or I’m fine) covers depression and a lack of motivation. The lyrics seem to come from a mind that can’t help but consider the glass half empty, a state of mind I am more familiar with than I’d like to admit, which is in huge contrast with the upbeat vibe of most songs on this record. Of course there are angry moments on ‘Au Pied Du Mur’. There should be. It’s a punk record after all. However listening to this playful record somehow leaves me with a feeling of optimism. Perhaps their music does the same for the members of Faux Départ. I like that idea. If that’s the case, and it might as well be, it’s probably no coincidence ‘Au Pied du Mur’ is wrapped up by ‘Grand départ’, an upbeat anthem if there ever was any. From what I understand the song outlines a life with less worries and other mental struggle and more romantique et aventure. Ending on a positive note indeed. I like this record and the fact I can appreciate it makes me feel a bit less of a cynical cunt. If you care about punk rock in 2018, you will enjoy this 12”. Part of me hopes it reaches youngsters all over Europe and will make them start their own crappy bands. Play it loud and then go outside to skate or whatever it is you kids are doing today.

Gas Rag - Beats Off 12" (Even Worse)
After two 7”s, of which one was their demo pressed to vinyl, Chicago's Gas Rag return with a 12”, the format hardcore bands generally steer clear of. Some say that hardcore should only be released on the magnificent 7” format. I get that, but it's obviously purist horseshit. I'm not falling for it and neither should you.
'Beats Off' delivers eleven new stomping hardcore tracks. The drumming is loud and primitive. Is this drummer man or ape? Is that a dbeat I'm hearing? Everything seems to be qualified as such these days and I still don't get what it means. Guess what? I don't care! These riffs are fast and wild. The guitars sound shrill. Dirty short feedback laden solo's are included in many songs, which works out well. I don't remember the guitar player doing that all that much on previous records, but maybe I just haven't been paying attention. The bass player isn't doing anything particularly interesting, but the low end keeps the songs from sounding canny. Gas Rag's main appeal to me is their singer. He sounds wild. He's almost barking, but without desperately trying to sound like Choke of Negative FX. Good. Too many bands are going for that and it has become beyond boring. Gas Rag's singer's delivery forunately is anything but contrived. It's blunt, angry and in your face. Animalistic!
I had expected these songs to be about getting fucked up and burning the city hall, but instead Gas Rag covers some standard fair semi-political hardcore themes. Nothing too thrilling, which is somewhat disappointing. Then again the lyrics are not what's important here. It's the overall vibe of this band that makes them great. Gas Rag sounds violent and destructive. A Gas Rag set is bound to be mayhem. I bet they leave a nice bloody and sweaty mess after each show. Someone once labeled this brand of hardcore as music for glue huffers, but I wouldn't know if that's accurate for I've not sniffed any glue since my days of curiosity in primary school. But even without any glue up my nose I thoroughly enjoy this record. I don't know if that's because it's really good or just a breath of fresh air after a few years of craze about shitty bands. Gas Rag are not pulling any tricks. They just play fast and violently. This 12" delivers. You can count on Even Worse Records for music like this. Supposedly one of the guys of Cülo is also in this band which would explain the excessive use of dick imagery on the sleeve. Very classy. I have no idea what'll be next for this group, but I'm hoping they'll make it across the pond sometime soon.

Ghastly Spats - Spinozism Exorcism Lp (R.I.P. Society) (15 euro)
Boy, has the wait for this record been long. It must have been late 2012 when I picked up a good number of copies of Ghastly Spats' debut Ep, released on their own label Heinous Anus. Lincoln already told me the band was working on a 12” back then. It took the Ghastly Spats another three years to produce 'Spinozism Exorcism', only their second record yet. The band's debut Ep was a fairly clear cut post-punk record soaked in depression. It had me reach for a comparison to the Fall, which although not unfair does strike me as somewhat lazy in retrospect.
Ghastly Spats definitely developed their sound since the release of their debut. They clearly grew as a band. I suspect their change of course was partly dictated by a combination of shroom consumption and acid dropping for Ghastly Spats sail into shambolic and cacophonous art punk territory without restraint on 'Spinozism Exorcism'. This record is a sonic mess that would fall apart if it hadn't been for the simple at times stupid throbbing bass lines. The rest of the band's line up seems committed to ruin the bass player's every attempt to keep the songs together. You wonder if her fellow band members tease her a lot. Both the guitar and the synths aren't giving any of these eleven songs much structure and making matters worse – and by worse I mean better – there's a saxophone wailing throughout pretty much every song. People say watching Flipper live would make one wonder whether every band member was playing a different song, whether they even heard the rest of the band. 'Spinozism Exorcism' has that same kind of vibe. Ghastly Spats' music is not pretty, far from it actually. Although not violent in a hardcore kind of way, there's a sense of destruction in their tunes. Destruction of the rules to song writing? Destruction of what's left after the apocalypse? Destruction like Destruction Unit destroys.
This record was more than worth the wait. I'm glad it got to see the light of day and am even more happy I got copies through Sydney's R.I.P. Society. Those interested in art punk annihilation, should not hesitate to pick 'Spinozism Exorcism' up. File this next to your Urinals and Spray Paint records. Amazing stuff.

Glue - 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
This record by these Texan hardcore punks came as a surprise to me. After not hearing from Glue for 4 years I jumped tot he conclusion the band was no longer among us. I stocked Glue’s demo Ep a couple of years ago and missed out on their proper debut on Katorga Works that appeared a year later. This was 2013 if I am to believe Discogs. Fast forward to 2017 and Glue releases a 9 song 12” on La Vida Es Un Mus backed by shows in Europe, which I of course missed. Why the radio silence one may ask – I did. Well, half of these guys are also in Institute, who released two quite excellent full-lengths on Sacred Bones Records and toured extensively in the years between this 12” and Glue’s previous release. Apparently one of the band members also does time in the Impalers, a band I never cared about, but seems loved by anybody sporting a Discharge patch and a soft spot for the dbeat, making Glue a prolific assemblage of musicians that know a thing or two about punk, a good start and a promising one at that.
Glue plays mid-paced meat and taters hardcore punk. Nothing new, but very well executed and a perfect sountrack to mosh to. The sound is noisy: fairly simple and stomping drums with loud and shrill cymbals and snare, burly yet punchy bass lines, mean souding guitar work with feedback in the right amounts and the right places and of course solid riffing. You can tell these guys know their instruments and both bass and guitar player have moments in which they show their skill. Only the attentive listener will take notice though, because these guys know better than to let the anger and directness of the tunes take a backseat to their musicianship. On top of all this musical goodness barked vocals are delivered by what sounds like a mad man with anger problems. There’s a lot of hate coming from this guy’s lips. Subjects like depression, reproach of other people and criticism of society as well as our day and age are all addressed. Again, nothing that’s not been done before in hardcore, but still relevant as ever. The transition of the A-side to the B-side is a soundscape by Pharmakon, which is a cool touch. In theory I’m all for experiment and genre crossing, but in practice you often wish people would have stuck to what they know. The Pharmakon collaboration is a subtle one and it works. The artwork should be addressed too. The cover looks like a painting of a picture. Meta! Not unlike like a musical style that’s rooted in the 1980’s being reproduced, copied perhaps, in a completely different setting over 30 years later. The insert looks rad and I love the band’s appeal to make thanks a threat again. In short, this is hardcore punk as it should be played. No rewriting the  books, but if hardcore is plaeyed this well I don’t see reason to complain. Anyone still caring about angry and loud music in the 21st century could do worse than pick this one up. If you're still recovering from Gas Rag's break up and thought that Straightjacket Nation 12" on La Vida Es Un Mus was the shit, chances are you'll find yourself a winner in this one too.

Golden Pelicans - 12" (Total Punk) (12,50 euro)
After three singles, Golden Pelicans move up in the world of vinyl and make a jump for the 12” format. This record doesn't bring much to the plate that couldn't already be heard on the singles, but that's not a bad thing. The Golden Pelicans already proved they have a knack for writing catchy garage bangers on their 7”s and they continue to do so on this nameless 12”. What you´ll find here are eight new punk rock jams by your favourite Florida garage punk outfit. No surprises, but plenty of kicks and thrills and wasn´t that what got you into punk in the first place?
What I like about the Golden Pelicans is the total absence of pretention. What you see is what you get with these guys. From the moment the singer opens his mouth, you know you are listening to a punk rock band. There can be no doubt about it. People seem to whine a lot about all garage punk sounding the same these days, but that's just critics talking. A good song is a good song is a good song and the Golden Pelicans will serve you eight of those right here. Call it garage punk if you want, do know these cats lay the emphasis on the Punk – that's right, with a capital 'P'. No guitar noodling or psychedelica on this record. Just songs and hooks. The Golden Pelicans keep it plain and simple. They easily get away with it just by the sheer quality of their songs.
The snotty vocals and obnoxious delivery had me sold on this group from the get-go and it should come as no surprise the singer still delivers the goods on this record. Although not reminiscent of Redd Kross musically, Golden Pelicans' bring that band to mind. I feel like Erik could spit out: “Notes and chords mean nothing to me” at any point, you know. It would make total sense. Furthermore both Redd Kross and Golden Pelicans deliver punk rock snot impossible not to like so there's that too. Sure, they do it in totally different ways, but the result is the same: I'm hooked. I could try to come up with something sophisticated to say about this record, but it would be out of place. Just get the thing, play it loud and get those hips moving already.

Golden Pelicans - Oldest Ride, Longest Line 12" (Total Punk) (12,50 euro)
Second 12” by this Florida punk rock outfit. 'Oldest Ride Longest Line' is tougher, harder and most of all more rocking than the band's previous 12”. The difference is most obvious in the guitar work and the pace of the songs. There are guitar solos in abundance and these nine songs seem a bit slower than their earlier material. Honestly I find it hard to label this as a punk rock record and if it hadn't been for the vocals, lyrical content and overall attitude of the Golden Pelicans, this is not a record I would be into. My guess is the Pelicans are paying hommage to rock bands they love and I always considered myself too cool to listen to on this 12”. I'm thinking AC/DC. There's probably a good dose of MC5 in the mix too. Is it a southern thing to love the rawk? Might be...
Sometimes I think punk boils down to nothing but attitude. I don't want to turn this review into an essay defining punk for that's something to make up for yourself. However I think some bands sound punk, but aren't, whereas other bands that don't immediately strike one as punk when you hear their music, are punk as fuck.
It's up to you where you draw the lines, but to me juvenility, or better yet rejecting to grow up and compliantly do whatever the world wants you to believe being an adult embodies, is an important feature of the music genre that both ruined and saved my life. Better believe Golden Pelicans have got the juvenility covered. These songs address topics such as falling asleep in a tractor tire on the side of the road, which I assume one does not do sober, rides on the Midway Fair, maggots and tape worms. I was somewhat surprised there's a lot of self-loathing in between the lines. Golden Pelicans always struck me as a Rip Off Records like party band, but their lyrics are actually pretty gnarly and depressing. I wonder how this translates live. Unfortunately I missed the band when they played Groningen last year so I can only assume their shows are short, loud and wild and probably a lot of fun. According to Rich, their drummer, the Golden Pelicans intent to return to the European continent soon. I hope to catch them live next time. See you there!

Good Throb - Fuck Off Lp (Superfi, White Denim)
After two solid 7”s London's Good Throb move on to the next format on the road to achievement; the much feared 12”! The band pulls it off rather well. What made Good Throb worth your time in the first place remains intact on 'Fuck Off' – funny how that title would have been generic if any other band had used it. Good Throb's singer is as upfront and in your face as ever. I'd really like to see this band live if only to witness Ellie's stage antics. At the foundation of Good Throb's songs is still the stripped down drumming of Louis and clattering aggressive bass playing of Ash-Tray – lovely name by the way. The bass lines drive the songs while Bryony plays jangley at times dissonant guitar chords that sound lost inside the song. Some say this band sounds like No Trend, but obviously no band sounds like No Trend. I'm sure these kids have heard their tunes though. Catch my drift?
Although Good Throbs characterics have not been altered, the band isn't afraid to try new things on 'Fuck Off'. Especially 'Pale Grey Suits' is an odd song. The band's songwriting process apparently isn't all that thought out so I'm guessing they didn't decide to go for experimentation. The songs just turned out this way. It makes for an interesting listen. Although not every song is as good as the next, there are some strong tunes to be found on this disc for sure. Personal favorites are opening track 'Acid House' and 'Crab Walk', in which the line “Do you want to go for a drink sometime?” is repeated several times rather retardedly throughout. Somehow that line sticks. Overall the A-side is the better of the two, but it's not an either or kind of matter, now is it? Plus 'Crab Walk' is on the flip so no need to damage the B-side with a screwdriver like you did with the Faith side of their split with Void.
As I listen to this record more, the thing grows on me in its entirety. Most importantly Good Throb are doing something no other band I know of is doing. That should be reason enough to give this record a shot. If you want a band to sound 'tight', it'd be wise to pass on this record. If you're not such a square however, you'd better pick this one up, fuckface. It's pretty damn punk, mkay. Classy artwork too.

Gotobeds - Poor People are Revolting Lp (Erste Theke Tonträger) (12,50 euro)
Although this is not Gotobeds first release, there's no reason to be ashamed if you haven't heard of this Pittsburgh outfit before. The Gotobeds have been around since 2012, the year they released their excellent demo tape, but the material they released before this full-length was all in small runs and few copies made it to the European continent. It took me several months of persistent e-mail traffic before I actually held a copy of their demo cassette in my hands, but it was worth the hassle. The 'Fucking in the Future' tape had me think of the Wipers with Kevin Boyer on vocals at the time. In retrospect it's hard to remember what made me reach for that comparison. Although Eli's shouts bring to mind Tyvek, Wipers worship this definitely is not.
It's hard to describe the Gotobeds. Supposedly there are indie influences to be heard on this record, but I didn't pick up on any of that. A friend of mine told me these guys sound like Pavement, but Pavement strike me as wimpy and Gotobeds are not. This band is about the songs. Their sound is optimistic and warm yet pensive. The guitar playing on 'Poor People are Revolting' sticks out. It's fun and playful. These ten songs bring to mind my many early afternoon train rides home after working a night shift. Fighting sleep with thoughts drifting, melancholia and nostalgia on my mind and a joyful sense of futility underneath it all making me smirk. You can tell these kids are a bunch of smartasses by their lyrics, which are witty and ironic. Song titles take stabs at punk rock clichés and show these blokes know their history. Heads off to that!
'Poor People are Revolting' is a record I find myself returning to on a regular basis. It's personal, a record you can come home to. Vinyl's answer to your favorite sweater? Something like that. This is the Euro pressing which contains two songs that are not included on the 12XU version. That's the good news. The bad news is some songs were scratched to include those so dedicated fans will have to track down the US version as well. Embrace the crave I say! Word on the street is a Lp on Sub Pop is in the works so stay tuned for that.

gSp - girlSperm 12" (Thrilling Living) (15 euro)
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Haram - When You've Won, You've Lost Lp (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
After a much praised Ep on Toxic State Records, New York’s Haram return with a 12”. When I first heard of Haram I thought the band was a shtick along the lines of Fearless Iranians from Hell. This is not the case, but it’s interesting that was my first thought. Haram are fronted by Nader who is a punk of Lebanese descent. He sings in Arabic, the language Muhammed spoke the words of Allah in. Punks are known to be very critical of religion. Yet Haram got nothing but love from the more political corners of the punk rock spectrum. I considered this hypocritical, because I was under the assumption Nader is a Muslim. After some research I realized I had no justification for that whatsoever. If anything Haram claims a narrative inside of punk for Americans with an Arab background. Not every Arab is a Muslim and not every Muslim is a terrorist yet these terms are used interchangeably in common discourse, which is fucked. What’s even more fucked is that I turn out to be guilty of this myself…
Arabs have been demonized in the Western world since 9/11/2001. Nader experienced the persecution and stigmatisation of New Yorks Arab community first hand living in the city after 2001. In the MRR inteview with the band Nader speaks of trauma yet what he means by that remains largely unaddressed for some reason. I assume this is because the reader is supposed to know already. However I did not. After some internet research I got a clearer picture of Nader’s story though. It sure ain’t pretty. I like how this record made me investigate. It’s something I always loved about obscure music, but lost with time. Some of Nader’s personal experiences are addressed in the songs here. He mainly sings about being an outsider, which is something I can relate to be it for completely different reasons than his. The song ‘Not a terrorist’ is about dealing with the stigma of terrorism as a child. ‘American Police’ takes a stand against persecution by state power. ‘The Prophet’ addresses Muhammad. Although the lyrics are minimalistic, haiku like, the song is critical of the violence of extremist Islam.
What about the music though? For those who’ve heard Haram’s Ep, this record might be a surprise. The 7” had a gothy/anarcho guitar sound, but that’s out of the window here. The six string is way rawer and more in your face than on the Ep. What strikes me most about this recording is the rhythm section though. Such raw drumming! That snare is brutal! The bass is moving all over the place, sometimes following the guitar riffs, but just as often walking away from those to walk a path of its own. ‘When you’ve won, you’ve lost’ is an urgent hardcore record throughout. If the music doesn’t suffice, Nader’s vocals will make sure you’re thoughts won’t be wandering for the period the needle is in the grooves. At first I was suspicious of this project. The attention they got for Nader being Arab struck me as a typical contemporary internet hype bullshit. I still think this ‘exotic’ appeal is one of the reasons this band is as known as it is, but there’s more to it. I feel like a tool for dismissing Haram partly because of my resentment for identity politics. ‘When You’ve Won, You’ve Lost’ should appeal to a wide array of punks. If you’re into raw hardcore punk, this is for you. If you’re into experimental songwriting, this is for you. If you’re into hardcore that’s well played, this is for you. If you want a band to have something to say, this is for you. Don’t be a condescending cynic, give this record a chance. The thing even looks great!

Hartle Road - Maxx 12" (Arkam Records) (12,50 euro)
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Hassler - Fed, Worked and Watered  Lp (Cut the Cord That)
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Hjelle - Högts Middelmattig Lp (Jared Sin) (12,50 euro)
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Hjelle - Fan Ta NPM Lp (Jared Sin) (15 euro)
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hMAS - Fear God Honour the King Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Let's kick this one off with a statement. Punk rock needs more stories, myths, legends, more narrative. A band is more than a group of people churning out songs. Every band has its own story, its own context. Knowing a band's background can make you appreciate their music more. People like to pretend otherwise. “It's just about the music”, they say. That statement looks noble enough upon first glance, but anyone with half a brain will realize it's bullshit after some closer examination. Doesn't Black Flag sound way more intense after reading Get in the Van? Don't the Germs seem like a way wilder and crazier bunch after reading Lexicon Devil? Damn right!
For the same reasons Fear God Honour the King only started to make sense to me when I removed the vinyl from its sleeve. The package coming with this record gives the listener a lot of info and context about hMAS, always a nice touch, in this case all the more so because I literally knew nothing about this band. So here's what I gathered. hMAS hailed from Tasmania. Ben and Duncan started out as a two piece with drum machine in the early 1990s. They soon found a drummer, Matt, through an inspiring add included on the insert. hMAS were an important band in Hobart, their hometown, in the day. Not giving much of a shit about what was going on outside of their local scene, these guys came up with a sound that doesn't bring to mind any particular band even though they apparently took cues from Devo and the Pixies. Not shying away from experimentation hMAS' songs are noisy, catchy and fun. My favorite track is 'Friend is Dead', but opening song 'Extravert' is a winner too. There's an amateur charm running throughout this entire record. hMAS sound more like a bedroom project than a proper band even though eventually clearly becoming the latter. The insert accurately describes this record as “a collection of transmissions more than an album.”
Furthermore there are descriptions of shambolic shows with just Ben and Duncan on stage, fucking up their songs, smirking at each other, an image that brings a smile to my face. This record is like a time capsule, a secret gateway to a time before the internet, a time I am too young to have witnessed. Things have without a doubt been over romanticized in the twenty years since these songs were recorded, but that doesn't make the stories any less good. This is a cool release documenting a band that probably no one outside of Hobart would have know about if Homeless didn't press these song to vinyl.

Hoax - Selftitled Lp (Adagio 830, La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
This band was undeniably the hardcore outfit most talked about in 2013. Hoax have been at the center of attention in the hardcore scene ever since the release of their first Ep. People were going insane about its opening song 'Faggot'. That was a heavy and strong track indeed. However I always thought it was revealing you never heard anybody about any of the other songs included on the band's debut. That pretty much sums up my problem with this band. They do what they do well at times, but fail to capture me overall.
The Hoax craze that kept hardcore land in its grip for over a year further increased my aversion to the band. People were talking about Hoax a lot, but I never felt like there was all that much to say. I'll admit that's partly because I prefer to loath anything popular over agreeing with the masses, but at the same time I feel like I did really give this band a chance. I own their first three records and even went to see them play on their European tour in early 2013.
I am writing this review several months after this 12” came out. It seems Hoax is no more. The craze has died down. After the hype faded away, my hate also tempered a bit. I can listen to this record from a different angle now. I can approach it less spitefully. This record is heavy, ugly and violent. Perhaps it's a good thing kids lost their shit over this group. They're a perfect band to built a mosh pit to, beat your friends' teeth out to, punch strangers black eyes to. These twelve songs showcase a lot of anger. The band delivers some powerful riffs and the vocals sound brutal. However, what the guy is growling about largely remains a mystery and after a few tracks his delivery starts to sound really bland. There's too little dynamic in the vocals to keep me engaged. That also applies to the music. In the end there's little that sticks, which ultimately makes this record a forgettable listen for me.
I feel like Hoax was more about aesthetic than about actual music, an art project if you will. They took a formula, worked it and became what they were aiming for. They did this well. This approach however, left little room for exhibiting personality unfortunately. That's what this record lacks. Why the rage? Why the anger? These questions remain unanswered. All you know is the band is pissed. This leaves me unsatisfied, but maybe you could care less. If a record embodying anger sounds exciting to you, this could be your jam. I want more than a concept from a hardcore band though. No amount of blood at a live show can make up for lack of character. The packaging on this thing is top notch. I do have to give Hoax that. The aesthetics are definitely taken care of. Too bad that's where it ends.

De Høje Hæle - Skal Vi Aldrig Videre? Lp(Hjernespind) (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

De Høje Hæle - Kold Traet & Bange 12" (Hjernespind)
It's been a while since we heard from De Hoje Haele, which is Danish for 'the High Heels' if I'm not mistaken. Their last record was the 7” on Burka for Everybody which was a bit of a letdown to me. Two of the three songs on that record I already knew from their tapes and although the new one was nice, I think the recording wasn't too great. Both the band's debut Ep and first Lp however were really good records. 'Skal Vi Aldrig Videre' was without a doubt my favourite album of 2010. These three Danes are amazing songwriters. They have an extremely minimalist approach to their music. Both the bass and the guitar are straight plugged into the amps. No pedals, no effects, no distortion. The drummer plays a simple drumkit. And yet, despite all of this, De Hoje Haele are able to create a sound of their own, which I would describe as fun and laid back. This is perfect music to do nothing to. Music for stoners? Perhaps, but I don't smoke and love this band just as well. Music for slackers would be more apt, I guess. I can identify with that. De Hoje Haele write short and catchy songs that show a lot of creativity. The guitar playing is super playful. Magnus can play that six string. I love the little leads he does in each and every song. Myre's bass playing is the driving force of the band. The bass guitar sounds warm and full and matches Magnus' shrill guitar playing perfectly. This one sided 12” serves the listener four new tunes. The last one, 'Der Er Ingen Som Forstär Hvad Der Foregär Inden Under Mit Hår' – don't ask me what it means – is the hit to me. Perhaps it's because the 'Ja, ja, ja, ja' bit is the only part of this record I can sing along to. The main bass line in this song is really cool too. They made a clip (with their new drummer) for the second track 'Der Er Mange, Der Siger Miget' you can check on youtube. Fun shit. It's good to have these guys back with a new record. Although it only contains four songs it's worth picking up, because they're four good songs. I do wonder what made them release these tunes on a one sided 12” though. Why not release a 7” Ep with two songs on each side? It would have made more sense to me. Plus it'd have been cheaper to ship. But then again that's probably not a thing these guys break their heads over. They just want to hang and play and that has its charm. I finally got to see the band live at an independent music festival last year and they were great. If you get the chance to see them, make sure you get your slacker ass of the couch. I'm sure they'll be touring again soon enough.

Imaginary Dictionary - You Can't Spell Dictionary... Without Dicks 12" (Hardware)
Imaginary Dictionary is the new band of Vanni and Boens, former members of the late great Vogue. Remember Vogue? For a while they were considered the hardcore promise of the Benelux. A return to the great days of Restless Youth and Dead Stop was announced, days I missed out on, because I was still rocking out to nü-metal at the time. Vogue were a great band. I only saw them play once, but it was the best shitty set I ever saw. Many fascinating rumors have been circulating about the people Vogue consisted of, but I'll not get into specifics here. This review is bound to get too long as it is. Anyway, these rumours always made me think of Vogue as an anomaly; true weirdos playing violent music, because they have to, not giving a rat's ass about anyone's opinion. They'd probably hate your guts for having an opinion at all.
Vogue's demise came as a surprise to me. I was disappointed. However, it was inevitable that these guys would return to the hardcore arena one way or the other. It was only a matter of time before we'd hear Vanni's riffs and Boens' sweet voice on record once more. That time is now. The vocals and mean nihilistic lyrics were one of Vogue's main appeals so it's a pleasure to hear Boens back on the mic. A quick glance at the lyric sheet, will make clear that his perspective on life hasn't changed one bit since his Vogue days. The tone is immediately set in opening song 'Mutant Bastards' with lines like: “If you want a message forget it! If you think I yell this because it is important: fuck that. That shit is pointless.” Lyrics like these still make my heart of stone get all fuzzy and warm and this record is stuffed with them. Hardcore has to be bleak and this 12” definitely is. Hate is often feigned, but you can tell the real thing from posturing. Vogue was the real deal and so is Imaginary Dictionary. These guys are down on life. Nas' “Life's a bitch and then you die” seems to be a line they live by. I make this reference because Vanni and Boens declared their love for hiphop in a MRR interview once and I think you can tell rap is an influence in the lyrics.
Musically this band isn't far removed from Vogue either. They're loud and agressive. The riffs are heavy. Most songs are mid-paced, although things are slowed down in places. All in all it's save say that if you liked Vogue, you'll like Imaginary Dictionary too. That's nice, but I'm curious where things will go from here. I don't really know what to think of the artwork. The idea is cool, but the execution so-so. The character cutting his own dick off on the back of the sleeve should definitely have been on the front though. As if these nuts would care what I think about their artwork... Good for them! Go catch Imaginary Dictionary live if you can, because even if they suck they're still pretty damn great.

Infuse Huddle - Lp (Mastermind) (13 euro)
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Isotope Soap - Pinata Chaos 12" (Levande Begravd) (12,50 euro)
After hearing the mp3’s of Isotope Soap’s debut Ep – someone hook me up with a copy – my expectations for this 12” were high. Isotope Soap plays fun and catchy synth punk that relies on synth melodies, drum computers as well as spacey sound effects. The music is actually more interesting than that description probably has you think. Playing punk rock with a synthesizer is en vogue and the term synth punk can of course go many ways. Where does Isotope Soap exist on the synth punk spectrum, you ask? Fuck if I know! They’re less apocalyptic than the Lost Sounds, more playful than the Screamers, less dark and futuristic than Angkor Wrack, and I enjoy them a great deal more than the Ausmuteants. Does that give you an idea? Isotope Soap’s sound is timeless by which I mean that although these recordings were made in this century they could as well have been done in the seventies of the previous one. That’s a good thing.
Apart from that these Swedes have a couple of other things worth mentioning working for them. One is their name. It rhymes, we all know the term from chemistry class, but no longer have the slightest clue what the soap was for. Hell, I don’t even know what an isotope is! The band name is lifted from a Geza X song, a group obscure enough to make it cool to refer to unlike naming your hardcore band after a Minor Threat or Black Flag track. Geza X’s music might actually be a good reference for Isotope Soap’s music. I find this hard to say for I don’t know his stuff half as well as I should. Another thing in favour of Isotope Soap is that this record is released on a small DIY label also from Sweden called Levande Begravd, which is ran by a punk rock enthusiast who decided to release records next to his zine writing under the same name. For this we should be thankful. Without labels like Levande Begravd bands like Isotope Soap would probably never make it to wax. Marko, Gabriele of Goodbye Boozy Records and let’s not forget the Ken Man are guys still releasing local bands for the sheer reason of enjoying their tunes. The business aspect doesn’t seem to enter the equasion, which is a much needed approach to releasing records in a punk scene that’s commercialized and gentrified to an ever greater degree.
None of this has anything to do with the music that can be found on this piece of plastic, but just take it from me that the sounds are good. Based on the quality of the tunes, there’s no justification for certain records being on your shelves and ‘Pinata Chaos’ missing. Since you’re a person who cares about quality, I know you’ll be more than willing to fix this. Whether you’ve got a hard on for Los Reactors for years or have been playing the BB Eye 12” on repeat for months, you’ll find plenty to like here.

Janitor Scum - Scenes from the Grocery Lp (Lumpy Rex) (12,50 euro)
This record opens with what turns out to be a sample, one I can’t place, but the guitar immediately brings to mind Big Black’s ‘Bazooka Joe’. After this brief procrastination Janitor Scum present themselves in all their naked glory for he duration of a full 18 minutes, the length of this 12” as the cover of ‘Scenes from the Grocery’ already foreshadowed. For the dedicated followers of the Lumpy Rex catalogue unfamiliar with Janitor Scum this band will not bring surprises. ‘Scenes from the Grocery’ will therefor probably be considered a pleasing and enjoyable listen by most of you. Like many of the bands on the Lumpster’s label Janitor Scum plays punk rock with a more than obvious nod to Devo, a trend in contemporary DIY punk for which Mark Winter might be the sole person to blame or thank depending on whether or not you’re on board. I know people are whining about the sameliness of the Lumpy bands, but I try to think of it as a group of musical outfits tapping into the same influences, which is nothing new in punk anno 2017. Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love.
If I had to draw a Lumpy venndiagram Janitor Scum would exist where C.C.T.V. and the Muff Divers meet.  Like the latter Janitor Scum employs a drum computer, a completely coincidental similarity to Big Black, who have somehow sneaked their way into this review. On tracks like ‘Downtown’ the bass playing is so fast and tight I wonder whether it’s also machine-made. The included information does not give a decisive answer on this front so you’re either gonna have to figure this out by listening to this record yourself or trust my deficient frame of reference. Come to think of it Janitor Scum could very well be a one-man-effort (editors: it is. A proper look at the sleeve would have told you as much, stupid). What’s most striking about this record is the layered odd guitar work, which is trebly as fuck and the spastic vibe of the fast songs, which will be like a pure caffeine drip to fellow coffee addicts. On the slower songs Janitor Scum shows a catchier side. Final track ‘the jogger man’ is an earworm of a song and I was also very charmed by the playful instrumental closing the A-side.
Before wrapping this review up the artwork should be addressed. I like the cover of this thing. It reminds me of the Unity Lp on Digital Regress. The sloppy track list on the back of the sleeve is a total charmer. This record comes with an insert containing no information about the band whatsoever. Instead a shitload of strange and somewhat unsettling advertisements are showcased. Pretty cool. ‘Scenes from the Grocery’ will please people who are already madly in love with the Lumpy catalogue, but I’d also urge the cynics tired of the Devo revival to give this record a shot, because although it sticks to that formula, it's got enough personality to make the listen worthwhile. It’s a fun record! Check it out!

The Kurws - Alarm Lp (Red Wig ,Et Mon Cul C'est Du Tofu?, Jacob) (12,50 euro)
Review up soon...

The Landlords - Fitzgerald's Paris Lp (Feel It) (15 euro)
Review up soon...

Limp Wrist - Facades 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
It’s been 8 years since we last heard from Limp Wrist. It’s good to have them back. Scott’s guitar riffs are intimidating, Andrew’s bass is rumbling, Paul’s drumming is relentless, and Martin’s vocals are on fire. From Crudos to Limp Wrist to Needles to N/N Martin always sounds angry and sincere. He’s one of the great hardcore vocalists of our time, our generation, our era? Who cares? He’s great is what I’m saying. This record is too. My favorite tracks are ‘Thick Skin’ because of the guitar howls and stop/starts, and ‘They tell me’, a mid-paced anthem with an instantly memorable gang vocal chorus in which I also hear a girl: “Left, right, left, right, they keep pushing, left, right!” The song seems to be over until Martin says: “I’m not finished yet” and another verse follows, a cool twist. After giving ‘Facades’ a couple of spins, I’m impressed how well written these hardcore songs are. You can tell the band knows the genre inside out, studied it hard and therefor is now able to write tunes that sound powerful, classic and fresh, which is no small feat for a hardcore band in 2018. On the hardcore front this record doesn’t disappoint one bit.
Limp Wrist wouldn’t be Limp Wrist if there wasn’t more than just good hardcore song writing going on however. An openly queer band playing a musical genre that’s male dominated and is as homophobic as the society it claims to reject is subversive in origin. Limp Wrist’s members are in your face about being queer and no straight hardcore kid is going to buy this record without having to acknowledge this. The sleeve shows Scott touching Paul’s ass, who is strapped in some kinda leather outfit. Martin is wearing a leather cap and is not wearing a shirt exposing his impressive amount of chest hair. To say the cover is explicit would be an understatement. The record comes with a booklet containing the lyrics as well as articles on queer history and queer art from several different people who identify themselves as queer. Lots of leather, hair and penises as well as indepth writing. You can tell a lot of work went into the booklet and I’d be lying if I’d say I didn’t feel somewhat uncomfortable scrolling through it. Of course that’s part of the point. I never know when this band is serious and when they’re making a joke. The one time I saw Limp Wrist live Scott was wearing a pyama on stage and Martin’s stage banter was part tongue in cheek. Titles like ‘I love hardcore boys/ I love boys hardcore’ are hilarious, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to laugh… It makes Limp Wrist all the more fascinating. Hardcore punk should be confrontational, confusing and challenging and Limp Wrist checks all those boxes.
Most debate surrounding this release however is not about the band’s message or imagery, but the three dance tracks on the B-side made by Scott. These were praised for representing a part of queer culture in Maximum Rock ’n Roll, making them part of the story Limp Wrist wants to tell. Fair enough. I played the songs a couple of times and don’t mind nor care for them. I’ve got no frame of reference for dance music whatsoever so whether the tracks are good or not I can’t tell. Some say they should not have been on this record. In the end that’s nobody’s call but the band’s. I like that punks seem upset about them for ruining their perfect hardcore record. In fact I am a bit disappointed the tracks are kept seperate from the hardcore tracks instead of being mixed in between them. That’s pretty considerate for these guys, don’t you think? I guess they’re getting older too.

Lumpy and the Dumpers - Huff my Sack Lp (Lumpy Rex) (12,50 euro)
First proper 12” by these St. Louis miscreants. When this band appared on the scene Martin wrote all the material, but by the time of this release the group had been a proper band for while. I remember the Dumpers being interviewed in Maximum Rock ’n Roll and mentioning they sometimes overruled their dictator-like band leader. When I first heard ‘Huff My Sack’ I thought it was a bit stale compared to the singles collection Lumpy and the Dumpers released on three different continents. No saxophone… it struck me as less artsy, but more straightforward is probably a better description. The recording quality is low, making this a raw record. The guitar is loud in the mix. It’s hard to hear the bass and Lumpy struggles to make himself heard. The treble heavy elements of the drum kit make attempts at cutting through your ear drums. A nice detail I just picked up on is that every track on ‘Huff My Sack’ opens with the drummer counting off, which gives the whole thing a bit of an unpolished live vibe.
The title track opens the record setting the bar high for what’s to come. The guitar riff is ugly. So are Lumpy’s vocals. The song is about wanting to hang your ball sack above someone’s face. Nice! There’s very little eroticism to the deed described. ‘Huff My Sack’ is one of the better tracks here, next to a Slime cover, which the band gives its own spin, ‘Nix Nix Nix Nix’ and record closer ‘Spider Bite’. All 9 songs are in your face. Stomping rudimentary guitar riffs and gnarly idiotic vocals are the hallmarks of this outfit. What I appreciate most about this band however is Martin’s lyrics. Lumpy sings about genitalia, puss, snot, cum, filth and more such pleasantries without getting generic. Lumpy and the Dumpers are offensive in the way I want a punk band to be. They’re obnoxious, juvenile, distasteful, but most of all they’re fun. The attitude does not seem self-conscious in the least. Furthermore the band is not out to offend the political correct. Those out to bait, should do their thing, but it mostly bores me. Being offensive without an agenda is more fun.
The record looks as shitty as it sounds, which I mean as a compliment. The cover sticks to the title: it shows a character drawn by Martin showing his balls. The artwork is screened by the band. It’s very DIY, which I find charming. I spoke to the Lumpster shortly when he and his Dumpers were touring Europe – yes, I am that cool. He praised how great a job Paco of La Vida Es Un Mus had done on their latest record, ‘Those Pickled Fuckers’. I said it looked cool indeed, but I kinda preferred how crappy the print job of ‘Huff My Sack’ had been. There are ink stains all over the sleeve and the print is fading in places. I like that. A guy who ordered this record from me didn’t and called me out on selling such low quality material. He also told me the look was, and I quote, “not punk”. I begged to differ. I still wonder where my responsibility enters that story. Perhaps I should have made an attempt at making the sleeve look better. Suggestions and requests for doodles will be taken into consideration, but people should really just quit their consumer whining and enjoy a good hardcore punk record like this. Those who don’t get it can piss off! Go list your record collection on discogs or something!

Lumpy and the Dumpers - Those Pickled Fuckers 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
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Marxbros/ Travolta - Split Lp (Lone Cult, To Live a Lie) (12,50 euro)
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Los Monjo - La Vida Que Todos Envidian 12" (Trabuc, Discos MMM) (12,50 euro)
After a slew of 7”s Los Monjo return with this 12” Ep. I still remember when Los Monjo and their sister band Putas Mierdas appeared on the scene, stirring an immediate sensation for new bands from Mexico. Hardcore was a fairly new phenomena in my life. I was still frantically investigating it, getting my hands on the releases of whatever band I could relate to. The teenage angst, frustration and anger contained in the lyrics of bands such as Cut the Shit drew me to the style. My main focus was USHC, because I could understand its lyrics. When Los Monjo's first releases came out, people were going crazy about them. I didn't care, because I don't speak Spanish.
In retrospect I missed out. No surprises there. Los Monjo plays great gritty hardcore punk. There's a sinister atmosphere throughout this record that taps into the bleak everyday life of a Mexican punk. These eight songs are driven by tightly pick played bass lines. The four string is really stealing the show on this record. I can't emphasis enough how much I love the bass playing here. The drums move from primal beating to drum roll to drum roll. The drummer is throwing around rolls like nobody's business. It's great. Topping it all are the vocals, which are gruff and give Los Monjo just that extra rawness giving 'La Vida Que Todos Envidian' a classic feel.
Although every song on this record is a keeper, 'Rock Basura' is definitely one of the standout tracks, an anthem if ever there was any. The guitar delivers a simple but great solo underneath which the bass travels around the scales. You'll find yourself screaming along to the chorus of this song regardless of knowing what the words mean. This is heartfelt music played by kids who consider punk more than just a hobby. It's their life. 'La Vida Que Todos Envidian' is a great punk record full of hooks. I wish I knew what the lyrics were about. I tell myself my Spanish is improving as I desperately try to decipher Spanish lyric sheets so maybe someday I'll understand this one.

The Monoliths - Lp (Mastermind) (15 euro)
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Muff Divers - Dreams of the Gentlest Texture Lp (Lumpy Rex) (12,50 euro)
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Mülltüte - 12" (Irrk Products) (12,50 euro)
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Narcosatanicos - Lp (Mastermind) (13 euro)
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Narcosatanicos - Live at Gutter Island Lp (Mastermind) (13 euro)
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NASA Space Universe - 70 AD Lp (Feel It) (12,50 euro)
NASA Space Universe have proven themselves to be one of the most productive hardcore bands in recent memory, which alone should peak interest. After several years, 7”s and 12”s the band is throwing in the towel. 70 AD is their swansong. On it these SoCal creeps stick to their original formula encapsuling gritty and ugly hardcore. That doesn’t make this record redundant however. It might actually be their most focused effort to date.
70 AD delivers ten tracks of dense hardcore with nasty vocals. NASA Space Universe have often been compared to Die Kreuzen. Kevin’s vocals do indeed bring to mind Dan Kubinski’s sharp and screechy delivery, but there’s more to the comparison than that. Both bands have musicians – ugh… - that are more proficient at their instruments than your average hardcore band, but they keep it hardcore by making strong riffs and mean vocals the backbone of their songs. Thank god! I remember an interview with the band in Limited Readership years ago in which the Die Kreuzen resemblance was brought up. Although the band considered it a flattering comparison, they said they weren’t as technical as Die Kreuzen by a stretch, which was very humble. I also remember the songwriting process was talked about and thought it was interesting the band had never played a cover. All their songs came from jamming for hours and taking bits and pieces from their sessions to put together a song.
Like post-Cows-and-Beer-era Die Kreuzen, NASA Space Universe will probably not appeal to kids playing Black Flag’s First Four Years on a daily basis, which is fine. It’s an ungrateful job for a hardcore band to develop themselves beyond their influences and carve out a niche of their own in a genre that’s mostly stuck in nostalgia. It’s shooting yourself in the foot in a way, but was there ever anything more punk than hurting yourself to make a point? I think not. This record is a monument to the possibilities of hardcore punk that are sadly explored by only few bands waving the USHC flag. It’s unfortunately a contradiction that’s part of hardcore’s heritage that will probably keep the mass of hardcore lovers rather looking over their shoulder than to the horizon in front of their stupid face. I highly appreciate a band like NASA Space Universe for not giving a shit about that and strutting their own uneven path. If you’re not yet familiar with this group 70 AD is a great point to start. Those already hooked should pick this one up as well. It’s probably their best record music- and artwork wise, because, let’s be honest, some of their previous releases looked like utter shit.

The Night Terrors - Back to Zero 2 x Lp (Homeless) (25 euro)
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The Night Terrors - Spiral Vortex Lp (Homeless) (14 euro)
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No - Great Space 12" (Static Shock) (12,50 euro)
Second 12” Ep by this London hardcore outfit. No are tough to label. They don't bring any particular band or era to mind. Unlike most hardcore bands No doesn't dwell on the past, which is admirable. I'd put them in the same corner as Perspex Flesh for this reason. No's style could be described as contemporary hardcore, a term I just made up to sidestep 'modern hardcore', which always struck me as a genre best left ignored.
When listening to 'Great Space' it's the relentless riffing that strikes me most. The guitars are loud and dominant, but the bass takes some interesting excursions easy to discern. Although I'm no connoisseur when it comes to recording, the band has a distinct sound that strikes me as well thought out and fitting. Dense, harsh and mean are words coming to mind. Every element of the music gets its proper dues. The band moves from fast to slow flawlessly. They shine when they slow things down, but if this is record only consisted of slower songs it would not have had the impact is has now and would not have been as appealing. It's the balance between fast and slow that makes it work. The ying needs the that yang and other such taoist wisdom... My only complaint are the vocals. The guy sounds pissed. He has a hoarse as hell voice and a nice and raw delivery, but it all gets a bit monotonous after a while. The lyrics are on the better side of negative though and with seven songs clocking in under fifteen minutes the singer hardly outstays his welcome. In fact I'd argue this record would have benefited from more length, because it took me several listens before it resonated. It's over so goddamn soon. Arguably the nature of the beast, but in today's society of instant messaging and zapping I feel like many might miss out on a release like this. Then again, that's their loss.
I've given this review a lot of thought and feel like I might lack a proper frame of reference for this one, but what counts in the end is I like 'Great Space'. It is an intense hardcore record that's on its own track, which is something that can't be said for most hardcore releases today. No just released another 12” on La Vida Es Un Mus. I've read nothing but good things about it so far so check it out if you haven't already.

Nolls - Strange Attitude Lp (Lucked Out Tapes) (12,50 euro)
After a pretty cool single that remained under most's radar, this Finnish duo returns with their first full-length. 'Strange Attitude' doesn't immediately bring to mind any particular bands, which is a good thing. If there are still places on this planet where it's an option to ignore world affairs, Finland would be a top three contender next to Siberia and Antarctica in my book. Point being that unlike the States, Finland is probably not spilling over with bands copying Devo right now. I like to think of Nolls as two friends living in their own outsider bubble, playing the music they want to play, figuring out how to along the way.
'Strange Attitude' is a combination of soundscaping and melancholic pop songs. Whether this record should be labeled as punk rock is up for debate, but you might as well. It's definitely DIY and against the grain. I would reach for indie if that term hadn't become as meaningless as 'hipster'. Nolls pop songs sometimes bring to mind Jay Reatard's later solo work for one because of the vocals, but also because of the sadness underneath their more upbeat moments. We're talking reminiscent of, not aping, alright? 'Nerve' is the track that sticks with me after each listen. The meandering soundscapes consisting of pensive instrumentation, tape hiss and other such white noise make for interesting breaks from the songs. During these dreamy interludes your thoughts drift away, but once a song kicks in, you're drawn in again. This contrast makes the record an interesting listening experience.
With 'Strange Attitude' Nolls created an enjoyable record that's clearly not for everyone. Not playing anything hip, coming from a country that's only known for its wild drunken hardcore bands from the 1980's and releasing your record on an unknown label, makes this a fringe record in more than one way. Although there's some romanticism there, that unfortunately doesn't help getting your name out there. I'm sure these guys could care less though. Good for them! I hope their music reaches the kids who crave for this kind of stuff. Maybe it'll inspire them to do something of their own as well. We could use a little more of that if you ask me.

No Slogan - Aversion Therapy 12" (Residue)
At first No Slogan didn't do much for me. I heard one or two of their Ep's before and was not impressed. It took this 12" to turn my head. I dismissed these guys way too easily. No Slogan delivers a solid release with this 12". Their singer's gruff vocals add up well with the tough and raw sound of the music. Although a second guitarist often feels redundant to me No Slogan makes it work well. The lyrics are pretty bleak at times yet they are always delivered with both passion and conviction. It's hard to describe what makes this record so great, but it is. No Slogan just have the songwriting down. If you like classic hardcore punk (with an emphasis on the punk) I would recommend you to give this one a hear. You won't be disappointed. I can listen to the song "Death of Cool" all day.

Nueva Autoridad Democrática - 12" (Solo Para Punks)
Alright, I'll be honest with you, I find it impossible to keep up with bands coming from Spain, hell Barcelona alone. It should go without saying Spain has been at the front of contemporary hardcore punk for the past years smugly fetching the torch from the weakening hands of Sweden and Denmark. This 12” by Madrid's Nueva Autoridad Democrática, their vinyl debut, is on the anthemic side of hardcore punk coming from Spain, putting emphasis on melody and ignoring the dbeat. It's more punk than hardcore, but I'd still label it as hardcore punk, ha.
Nueva Autoridad Democrática's demo tape blew me away. Its songs struck me as timeless and classic. When the band's 12” came out, I gave it a couple of spins, but it failed to make an impression. Main reasons was most of the songs were also included on the demo although the band of course rerecorded them for this release. I received this 12” in a big batch of other records and because those were all new to my ears, they got more time on the record player eventually leading to this 12” remaining criminally ignored by yours truly. Nueva Autoridad Democrática got swamped by their fellow country man. Sad but true as the Metallica lyric goes.
My neglect for this record doesn't say a thing about the music it contains. Nueva Autoridad Democrática delivers ten strong punk rock tracks on this 12”. The songs have hooks and the vocals are lively and melodic. Particularly striking is the bass playing. The bass player sure loves slides. He doesn't docilely follow the guitar riffs, which I appreciate. The mastering on this one is balanced making no instrument nor the vocals predominate. No rewriting the books here, but a good hardcore punk record all the same. I was bummed most of these songs were included on the demo tape, but let's face it, you didn't hear the demo so each one of these songs will be new to you. So do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

Obediencia - Erosión 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
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Olimpia Splendid - 12" (Fonal) (10 euro)
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Las Otras - Devolver El Golpe 12" (Discos Sense Nom) (12,50 euro)
After a much lauded 7” Ep, Barcelona's Las Otras move up to the 12” Ep. 'Devolver El Golpe' is released on the band's own label Discos Sense Nom, which employs the symbol of the squatting movement as its logo. That gives you a clue of what you're in for; political hardcore in Spanish tongue.
Las Otras play bare hardcore punk. All 9 songs on this 12” are fast and direct. They all clock in around the one minute mark, making this a proper 12” Ep, not a full-length by a stretch. There's no adornment here whatsoever. The drumming is loose and loud, the guitar playing simple and direct. Most striking is the harsh snare drum sound, which dominates the drumming to the point of drowning the rest of the kit out. In a way I like that. It demands attention. Both the snare and guitar are shrill, which leaves the burly bass to cover for the low end. The four string plays a fairly subtle role in Las Otras' trebly sound. It generally supports the guitar playing. It is in the songs where the bass crawls away from the riffs however an extra layer of impending doom is created. Final song 'Rivales' is a good example.
Las Otras' vocalist is upfront. Iéri mostly screams, but there is room for melody in her vocals. Her words are included in both Spanish and English on the insert. Thumbs up for that. Leftist, I'd say anarchist and feminist politics are covered. The band consists entirely of women. There's a lot of anger in the lyrics. It strikes me as sincere and not just a pose. Several songs are literally calls to arms. Opening song 'Tragedia' for example ends with the line “es hora de luchar” meaning “it's time to fight”. It's cool the songs are calling for action. Political lyrics are often mere analysis, which borders on academics, which is boring. Although I'm not sure if I agree with the lyrical content - cynical as I am, I do appreciate a band wearing their conviction on their sleeves. That seems a rarity in today's cynical world. One can bicker whether or not the themes addressed here are current, but Las Otras make them sound relevant. The more I listen to this record, the more I hear subtle twists in its songs. It's a cool and urgent release worth picking up. Nice artwork too.

Patsy - LA Women 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
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Peluqueria Caninan - Jovenes Promesas Lp (Going Underground) (12,50 euro)
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Perspex Flesh - 12" (Static Shock) (12,50 euro)
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Perspex Flesh - Ordered Image 12" (Static Shock) (12,50 euro)
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Piece War - Apathy Lp (Square One) (15 euro)
Debut record by this New Zealand post-punk duo. First time I read about this band was on a blog by someone whose opinion I hold high, meaning it was not yours. The record got a lot of love so I figured I should get myself a copy. There turned out to be a catch though: ‘Apathy’ was released by the band on lathe cut in a very small number, less than 50 if I recall correctly. It was therefor clear I would never own this record hardcopy. I probably cursed contemporary bands’ release ethics out loud in front of my laptop screen at the time; small pressings make for ebay and discogs gold and a band can create attention for their music this way. This happens all the time and for those considering this path please take notice that it is lame. The fact that New Zealand does not have a record press and chances of this band reaching some guy in the Netherlands probably didn’t enter the band members’ heads when they released the record, were things I did not take into consideration. My bad! My cynicism tends to get the best of me from sometimes.
My interest for Piece War was peaked though so I wanted to hear the songs. Fortunately I was able to find the record on mp3 online. I uploaded the tracks on my Ipunk and remember playing the record, but it did not make much of an impression initially. It took another couple of months before I came around. I remember listening to ‘Who will love you now’ late at night cycling home after work. Out of nowhere I was sold. The song proved to be a gateway into ‘Apathy’ as a whole.
Piece War have a minimalist approach to songwriting, but sound like a full band. In fact I didn’t notice the band consists of no more than two people until I read it on the insert. “Wait a minute… The insert?”, I hear you think. Yes, dear reader, I was able to get myself copies of ‘Apathy’, because Square One Records rereleased it on 12”. How else could I be selling the thing, dummy? But back to the music, the guitar playing on this record is great. Sometimes the guitar does single notes, sometime chords and sometimes several tracks are delivered over each other. This keeps Piece War far from the pitfall of many two pieces: a lack of diversity which makes the music sound bland after a couple of songs. Another thing the band has working for them are the vocals. Tina and Baba often sing together creating harmonies. There’s something vulnerable about the way they sing. The mood of the lyrics is mostly sad and melancholic, but there are moments where the band is calling out an unnamed other for things done too. Although not all lyrics are included on the insert, you can figure the words to the songs out without problem. Sadness strikes me as the overall feeling ‘Apathy’ communicates, but there’s beauty in that sadness. It’s that beauty that’ll stick with you after the needle leaves the vinyl. I know this is gonna sound pretentious but ‘Apathy’ is a perfect soundtrack to empty and hopeless days. In between the lines and notes the listener will find solace perhaps even hope although not of the Obama kind. But what was that really worth anyways? ‘Apathy’ will offer you more than any president can.

Pinku Saido - Poketto Lp (Mutant)
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Pustostany - 2012 Lp (Pouet! Schallplatten, Sweet Rot) (12,50 euro)
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Reacharounds - Living in the Fulture Lp (Push and Pull) (12,50 euro)
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Reacharounds - Hunter Gatherer Lp (Push and Pull) (12,50 euro)
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The Real Energy - Beyond Delay Lp (Erste Theke Tonträger) (12,50 euro)
Hmm, the Energy seems to go by the name of the Real Energy these days. My guess is they got involved with some other more serious band that was also called the Energy that threatened to sue. That made the Ropes change their name back to the Repos, right? Oh world, how small have you become. Make no mistake though, this is the one and only Real Energy!
The Energy has always been hard to peg down and 'Beyond Delay' serves some new surprises. The group seems to reinvent itself with every release – like Madonna. One constant, and the band's main appeal to me, are Arthur's careless vocals and sick lyrics. I was once told by an insider the guy would never come to practice, because he hated to leave the house. 'Brain Sick Beyond Repair'? It might very well be the case. Someone once said that Chris Erba could make a mariachi band sound vicious, well, Arthur would make a straight edge youth crew band sound like a heavy drugger outfit. On 'Beyond Delay' the guy sounds even further removed from us squares than before. Out is a lot of the in your face hatred that made the Energy's first album so great. In comes a conscious that does not consider emotion an option at all. There's a sense of elevation in the carelessness displayed or is it sadness I hear in some songs? Not sure... The music matches the vocal development. The guitar drifts away from the songs all the time in a hallucinogenic way, creating a trip-like atmosphere. There's a lot of psychedelic soloing happening on this release.
When I heard the first Energy record I was swept off my feet. It was one of those records that came out of nowhere and immediately grabbed me. 'Beyond Delay' might not be as mind blowing as the band's debut record, but how could it be? All the same, I think the (Real) Energy is at least as good as some other Houston outfits, which have been causing a stir in punk rock land. Yes, I'm talking about you, Secret Prostitutes, but I forgive ya! 'Beyond Delay' is an interesting listen and the opening song has already firmly rooted itself in the remains of my brain. The artwork is really nice and fitting too. Perhaps I just came to love this band so much that I enjoy this record despite it not being as good as their first. At the very least 'Beyond Delay' is a challenging punk rock record, but it might as well turn out to be a future classic. It's got the character for it. Supposedly this will be the band's last record. Shame...

Red Red Red - New Action Lp (Big Neck) (14 euro)
When the Piranhas called it quits in the early 2000s, their drummer Ryan started a new band called Red Red Red in which he took up vocal and guitar duties. I discovered this band’s first record, ‘Mind Destroyer’, rather late – after reading a review of this Lp actually – and it really impressed me. ‘New Action’ is quite a different record and I had to get used to that. This Lp is all over the place which might have something to do with the addition of a second guitar player. The band is constantly shifting gears, jumping from one idea to the next and all of this is happening in the span of one mere song. ‘New Action’ is definitely not a record that lets itself be labeled easily and I had to listen to it quite a bit before I felt like could say anything at all about it. One thing this record definitely isn’t is predictable or stale. Red Red Red is primarily a guitar band. There are many guitar solos and the band uses a wide range of effects throughout the eleven songs on this record. At times Red Red Red get close to being a bit wanky, but the band doesn’t lose its immediacy at any point so I guess they get away with it. At no point does the band lose itself in ego stroking guitar magic though. There’s simply no time for that. Red Red Red is changing pace all the time and they keep things moving in all directions simultaneously. I guess these songs would be best described as wild and chaotic. Apart from the constant guitar mayhem something that really stands out are Ryan’s distorted vocals which are aggressive and in your face. Like on ‘Mind Destroyer’ Ryan also plays saxophone on some of the tracks here. I know some of you punks hate the instrument, but I think it works well for this kind of music. It makes the whole thing even more of a mess. My favourite songs are the last ones on the B-side, because they seem more focused somehow. Ryan’s former band mate Bumbo jumps in on bass on two of these. The four string takes a prominent place on these tracks so of course they grabbed my attention – being a bass player and all. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a ‘Detroit sound’, but it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Red Red Red shares their habitat with Human Eye. Obviously they don’t sound the same, but there are definitely similarities. If you like to keep things clear and simple, this Lp is not for you. With that said this is a pretty cool record by a band that isn’t afraid to try things, which is something that should be applauded in the clone filled wasteland that is rock and roll these days.

Sacred Shock - You're Not With Us 12" (Residue)
Sacred Shock’s selftitled debut on Schizophrenic Records blew me away last year so my expectations for this release were high. Does this record live up to those? Certainly! In fact it’s even better than their 7”. The drums sound a bit different on this record than on their previous release. It’s less heavy on the cymbals, which I personally had to get used to. What makes Sacred Shock a great band is their amazing guitar leads. They’re both catchy and heavy at the same time. Sacred Shock’s singer also adds to the band’s unique sound. His vocals are brutal yet melodic. An uncommon combination. Nine tracks on this 12” of which one is a cover of Headcleaners “Kill The Royalties”. They definitely have their own take on this song though. Sacred Shock is a contemporary hardcore band I am really excited about and they deliver a flawless hardcore record with You’re Not With Us. This is one of the records I listened to most in 2009.

Sewers - Hoisted Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Apparently I was the only one who didn't hear this band's demo tape, but I was told it created quite a stir in certain circles. 'Hoisted' is my introduction to Sewers. Consider me impressed. This is a solid record especially for a debut. In a way I'm glad I never heard their demo recordings, because it would probably have diminished the impact of this full-length.
Although the music is disjointed and odd, people have labeled this band as noise rock far too easily. Reason for this categorization is probably the vocals. It sounds as if Sewers' singer is unwillingly working his way down the lyric sheet. Either that or the entire recording session of his voice was done while he was stretching out after several days of sleep. There's some feedback – almost obligatory these days, isn't it - but it's not demanding much attention so Sewers stay far removed from the trite overuse of squaeling guitars today. The music is actually pretty bare. The guitar has a garage sound in places. The guitar does riffing here and there, but mostly jangles away to make things more of a mess. This record contains ten songs. The band calls them compositions on the insert, ha! Crazy kids! The guitar messes around over plump drumming and bass playing which fits the vocals. This description might have you think of LA's Lamps, but Sewers sound more down and out than Montey Buckles and his men. They don't share Lamps' triumphant stupidity. This music sounds like an enormous mutant slug waltzing over a city leaving hundreds of homes destroyed in its slime tracks, without even the slightest realization that actual people lived under the roofs just pulverized. It's violent without the intent to be. It's stupid without realizing it unlike the Lamps who are smart and act stupid. Big difference. While spinning this record I also keep getting back to early Drunks with Guns. Sewers don't sound anything like them, but they have a similar dragging and threatening vibe somehow. There's a clear cut potential of violence in these tunes.
This is a perfect record to enjoy a late night headache to. Mitch Cardwell described Sewers as 'A must for shut-in assholes that think they know everything.' I approve this message from this laptop screen and will get myself another cup of coffee as I hear the drunks outside have a good time.

Sewers - Weight Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Second Lp by this Brisbane outfit. What immediately struck me about Sewers is their singer's delivery. The guy sounds like life hasn't done him any favors. He doesn't seem happy to be around or alive for that matter. No joie de vivre can be traced in his wailing. His voice embodies the repulsion from the post-modern grind most of us experience every day, working a job that bores you only to make rent and escape your shitty life through substance abuse over the weekend. You never asked to be born, yet here you are for better or worse in good times and bad. Shan's lyrics are vague and fragmentary. The overall feeling they leave me with is less enthusiasm for today than before I started reading them. Mission accomplished there!
Moving beyond the vocals, Sewers' music is extremely draining, sinkhole style. It's the perfect soundtrack to the agony their singer is reveling in. Although I liked this band's previous record, 'Hoisted', I have a hard time conjuring what it was like. 'Weight' strikes me as more mature musically though, especially in the guitar department. The music still is fairly stripped down, but the guitar gives these eleven songs a haunting sometimes deranged vibe. The bass on the other hand mostly plays simple inept riffs, creating a foundation that brings to mind an overweight drunk - the singer perhaps - stumbling about kicking things over along his way to... nobody knows. The way the rhythm section, guitar and vocals interact creates an unsettling but distinct atmosphere. Music for good times this definitely is not, but 'Weight' will undoubtedly fit a darker mood, or better yet, will bring one about. This record will do the exact opposite of cheering you up. My only complaint here is that 'Weight' is a bit long. It outstays its welcome so to speak, but then again, that's rather fitting, isn't it?

Shovels - Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
I never heard of Shovels before I received this record in the mail. What immediately struck me was the artwork which seems to be a merge of the cover art of the first De Hoje Haele Ep and those odd dream catcher like figures the serial killer in True Detective is leaving all over the place. Too far fetched? Anybody familiar with those two references will have to acknowledge I'm being spot on here!
Shovels hail from Melbourne Australia, the city Homeless Records calls home so their pairing up is no surprise. This band fits in well with the recent Homeless catalogue. Shovels play a dark and brooding type of rock that's comparable to label mates such as the Stickmen, though more demure, and the Stabs, though far less vicious and mean. Shovels remain calm throughout this entire record. They have a fairly clean sound. The tunes are slow and droney and revolve entirely around the instrumentation. Although vocals are included, they are sparse and nowhere take the fore. Several of these eight tracks are actually completely instrumental. The bass drags the songs along and leaves space for both the drums and the guitar to give the songs color and character. That this will be the division of roles is clear from the very beginning of the record. The intro of 'MB Jacket' serves the listener a simple bass riff over which the guitar noodles while the drummer is doing some near virtuoso stuff. This only lasts seconds after which the song returns to its stripped down foundation. Shovels are very competent at building their songs up and then break them down again. They are not afraid to take their time, a sign of confidence totally granted as any close listener will recognize.
This is an impressive debut. Although more about atmosphere than about songs, it serves a number of tracks that will stick with you and haunt you without you even realizing perhaps. I feel like music employing sparse vocals nests itself in your brain in a more subconscious way than music that revolves around singing. Although not upbeat by any standards, Shovels aren't depressing or negative. Dark is probably the properest adjective. Dark and subtle. This is a good record, but be warned. It's definitely a grower.

Sida - Lp (Population, Le Turc Mecanique, Et Mon Cul C'est Du Tofu?) (12,50 euro)
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Singvogel - Disneyexorcist Lp (Mastermind) (12,50 euro)
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Sin Motivo - El Desierto Lp (Erste Theke Tonträger) (12,50 euro)
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Smelly Tongues - Slack Heep Lp (Urinal Cake) (12,50 euro)
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Snakerun - Onesided 12" (Bedside) (12,50 euro)
This band is not to be confused with the Australian hardcore band that used to go by the same name. I never liked that band. This Snake Run came from the Northwest of the States. This 12” is basically their demo tape from 2004 pressed to vinyl plus one extra song that was contributed to some compilation. Pressing demos to vinyl is an omnipresent phenomena in hardcore I've criticized before so I'll spare you my bitching this time. This record is an exception to the rule however. Why? Because as far as I know the tape wasn't distributed all over the place so many might never have heard these songs. They've been available on the net forever, but I had never heard of Snake Run before this record came out last year. So I'm glad Bedside made these song available on vinyl if only for that egoistic reason.
These seven hardcore tracks are rock solid and put many records that have been released after 2004 to shame. Although less complex than contemporaries such as Cold Sweat and Sex/Vid, I have no problem with placing Snake Run next to them. Time-wise this demo fits in exactly between the demise of Cold Sweat and the rise of Sex/Vid. Of course this band only released a demo tape during their short existence so they can't claim a legacy like the bands mentioned above, but they share their time and place. Is it a coincidence all three came from the Northwest? Perhaps... Another thing these three bands have in common is their blind hate and deep self loathing. The songs are rough and the lyrics harsh, bleak and nihilistic. I believed Sex/Vid and Cold Sweat each time I heard them and I believe Snake Run's singer when he screams he's had all that he can take. It's a mentality that can't be faked even though many have tried and a quality I miss in a lot of hardcore bands as of late.
Bedside Records plugs this record as Damaged-era flag with Choke on vocals, which is a bit misleading in my opinion. Terry does have that Boston bark, but there's no Ginn on guitar here. The guitar does run wild on the final track 'Get Away', but apart from that song there's not much dissonance going on. These guys can play though. Especially the bass playing is very inventive. Terry's vocals and lyrics are really what makes this band for me though. If you put this record on without expecting a second Flag, you'll find yourself listening to an impressive hardcore band that would almost have been forgotten. This a really good hardcore record that should appeal to those who like their hardcore mean and negative. Is it just me or are bands like these rare these days? Forget about fucking Hoax. This is the real deal, kids.

Soviet Valves - Death Trumps Romance 12" (Vertex) (15 euro)
Post-mortem release from these punk rockers from Perth, Australia. The initiated already know of this band through their excellent Ep on Smart Guy Records that dates all the way back to 2005. Because the band's singer Milos left the continent for Londen to pursue a career in architecture, Soviet Valves unfortunately are no longer a band. Quite a shame. Yet it's cool Vertex released these six songs for our listening pleasure despite the band's current status. I'd describe Soviet Valves' music as punk rock, but there are garage and post-punk leanings in their sound as well. There's something very English about this band. Literally! This record reminds me of the handful of Buzzcocks songs I love. Bands claiming the 1977 tradition are mostly catchy at best, boring at worst and nearly always weak extractions of the classics. Not the case with Soviet Valves. They do have that 77 vibe, but they take influence from far more corners making their songs sound refreshing and anything but retro.
Soviet Valves have songwriting chops like few bands do. Their dual guitar attack is solid and creates a full sound. I only realized the band does not include a bass player after seeing live footage while I'm always harsh on groups leaving the four string out. The guitar players deliver hook after hook. The drumming is relying heavily on fast hi-hat, snare combinations, which gives the songs a bit of a hardcore fundament. Last but not least, Milos vocals are impressive. He can deliver agressive snappy vocals over punk rock songs such as record opener 'Zip' and title track 'Death Trumps Romance', but carries a more sentimental song like 'Crossover Angst' flawlessly too. This guy can sing!
This 12” is a great record and looks great too. Six songs might sound a bit little, but with tunes of this quality it's a shortcoming easily forgiven. It's a shame these guys never reached a wider audience, because based on these six tracks they were definitely on par with some of their fellow country man that did get caught in the public punk eye. That's how it goes. I've been told the band's debut Ep is still available from SmartGuy. Make sure you pick up both that and this record up.

Spray Paint - Clean Blood, Regular Acid Lp (Monofonus Press) (12,50 euro)
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Spray Paint  - Dopers 12" (Monofonus Press) (15 euro)
Fifth 12” by this Austin three piece that by the time of this writing has spread out all over the globe. If I’m not mistaken each of these guys now lives in a different city, one of them outside of the United States. Yet they all remain active as musicians and are somehow able to keep producing Spray Paint records of some sort, the most recent additions to their discography being collaborations with Ben Mackie of Cuntz, Dan Melchior, Protomartyr and Ben Wallers also known as the Rebel, the guy behind the Country Teasers. Those are some names, but so is Spray Paint these days. People oughtta recognize!
The A-side of this record delivers 4 songs in line with what one has come to expect of this outfit. Stripped down, angular, dark art punk that might be the product of acid trips gone wrong as well as acid trips gone well. The lyrics consist of non-sensical, non-sequiturs that always struck me as bits of overhead conversation stringed together. They’re not sung. They’re spoken, mostly by Corey, but I remember all band members doing vocals when I saw them live. “He worked me like a dog/ That was what I was paid for” is a good example of the weirdness the words here convey. And what to think of the repeated line: “It’s time to put the dog down” in ‘Signal Master’. My favorite line by far however is: “The late night speed…/… was a bad idea” in opening track ‘Bad Times, because I like to think that’s personal experience talking. People have compared Spray Paint to other outfits, but I don’t think they sound like any other band in particular. I do consider them fellow travelers of bands such as Lamps and Mayyors, whose Chris Woodhouse actually recorded this record, and think there’s also a bit of the Fall in the mix, but I tend to reference Mark E. Smith in places few else would. The more art oriented releases on Homeless Records could function as a pretty accurate reference point as well.
The flip is an interesting change from the A-side. It contains some extremely minimal tracks. Both ‘Goth Apologist’ and ‘Anyone Else Want In’ make use of the repetition of a single note throughout the entire song. Somehow this gives the songs a futuristic vibe. The pulse of ‘Anyone Else’ has me thinking of a deserted factory building in which a single light bulb lights up and fades out in response to the sound. Things are taken even further on ‘Gravity Drainer’, a fitting title I must say, which could be described as an ambient track. The afore mentioned Chris Woodhouse is credited as the guy behind the delay and manipulation on this one. ‘Gravity Drainer’ is a well picked record closer. I imagine it playing under the final scene of a scifi movie in which our hero looks over his shoulder from his space shuttle to have one last impression of the desolate planet he’s about to leave behind. My science fiction credentials are negligible – some Philip K. Dick, not much – but many science fiction writers would argue that reading is not a requisite for writing so I’m playing by their rules here. The picture he sees could well be the artwork on the back of this record, which is beautiful as is the cover. Another great release by your favorite Austin band no longer located in Austin.

The Stickmen - Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
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The Stickmen - Man Made Stars Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
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Straightjacket Nation - Lp (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
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Subtle Turnhips - Redhair with Some Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Third full-length by these French art-punks yet I had never of this group before Richie send me copies of 'Redhair With Some', which amazed me. I mean, France is right around the corner. My fellow countrymen travel there with mobile homes behind their lease cars in droves each summer and yet nobody has ever returned from the country of baguettes, vin et fromage to inform me about the existance of this musical outfit. C'est ridicule!
Subtle Turnhips' music is hard to descibe to say the least. Here's what I came up with. Imagine a French Brainbombs preferring angular songs with super odd timing and chord schemes over brutal riffing and you're close. That's right, that means Subtle Turnhips don't sound anything like the Brainbombs and yet that description totally makes sense. Both groups do have a knack for repetition and songs like 'Reissen' have a similar drain as your favorite Brainbombs' tunes. However Subtle Turnhips also have a more upbeat side to them. Some songs are poppy and remind me of some UK DIY outfits as well as that Rays Lp on Trouble in Mind. The thirteen songs on this record are inaccessible and off. Like your favorite San Fran miscreants Flipper, it sometimes seems like each musician in Subtle Turnhips is playing a different song. The band's guitar players either weren't blessed with a feeling for melody or have given it their all to erase every bit of feeling for melody they were gifted with from their brain. I don't rule out drugs were involved in this process.
Subtle Turnhips are a diverse and interesting group from France I hadn't hear of. You probably didn't either. True story: one of the band members once wished me luck selling their new record, because all of their releases sold like shit according to him. Who doesn't appreciate self-knowledge combined with a sense of humor? In a just world this band would get recognition, but they know as well as I do we're living on a forsaken ball of dirt God turned it's back on centuries ago. Counting down the days until oblivion will be more endurable with this record playing in the background so what's keeping you from placing that order, you freak?

Sucked Dry - Dog Children Lp (Not Normal) (12,50 euro)
After two 7”s of which one was their demo pressed to vinyl, Kansas City's Sucked Dry return with an hardcore filled Lp. Sucked Dry started out as a very straightforward hardcore outfit humbly kneeling at the altar of 1980s USHC at the end of last decade. Their demo contained seven tracks of no bullshit hardcore. The record reminded me a bit of early Direct Control, which is not a bad band to be compared to if that's the style you're going for. 'Falling Apart at the Seams' showed a lot of rage and the music was fast. The band's sound started to change on their next release, which struck me as heavily influenced by the Youth Attack revival going on at the time, which made me ignore the record back then.
In retrospect that might have been meticulous considering 'Dog Children' is a record worth hearing. On this release Sucked Dry combine influences from all over the hardcore spectrum, taking cues from corners I personally am not familiar with. Although I'm generally in the dark about powerviolence I'm pretty sure Sucked Dry are pulling of some powerviolence moves. Tempo changes occur throughout most songs. The band moves from lightning fast hardcore to slow dissonant dirges loaded with feedback bringing to mind the much underrated Walls. There's the same kind of torment in their songs as well. Sucked Dry however keep both their feet solidly rooted on hardcore soil, whereas Walls moved away from any such solid ground ending up sounding like nothing but their ugly selves.
Although this record has no consistent overall sound, it's vicious, nasty and dark throughout. Sucked Dry's combining of different genre niches makes for an interesting listen, but fails to fully draw me in. For this it lacks focus. Instead of an album 'Dog Children' is more of an excursion through a hardcore landscape. It's a captivating tour de force with a lot of cool ideas, but after the needle leaves the vinyl there's not much that sticks with me. Somehow 'Dog Children' doesn't resonate with me. Whether it is me or the record that's to blame, is up for you to decide. I'm putting my money on the former and will keep spinning 'Dog Children' until that magical moment everything about a band or record mysteriously falls into place. I'll keep you posted.

Terry - Terry HQ Lp (Upset the Rhythm) (12,50 euro)
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Terry - Remember Terry Lp (Upset the Rhythm) (12,50 euro)
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Terry - I'm Terry Lp (Upset the Rhythm) (12,50 euro)
Third and supposedly final record by these Australian cats. Someone told me Terry was a concept band and ‘I’m Terry’ wraps up the plot the project was intended to run, which was news to me. That can mean two things. One: I was misinformed, a tempting explanation in this age of ours which saw the coining of terms such as disinformation and alternative facts. Two: I am out of the loop. Now, everybody knows I am out of the loop, but if I did indeed miss Terry was a concept band somehow, I wonder where I missed it. Could a closer look at their releases have given me the needed information? Their Facebook page? An interview in some (online) publication? Where do people get their punk rock information these days? I don’t know anymore and like to pretend I don’t care, but sometimes I’m clearly missing out on things and quite frankly that bums me out.
If this is indeed Terry’s last release, the band is leaving an impressive discography behind. Three 12”s and two 7” Ep’s in less than three years is an insane amount of records in a very limited time span! Based on things I did read about this band, opinions about their releases seem to have been diverse. Some liked their 7”s better than the 12”s, some actually preferred the 12”s. Then there was bickering over which of the 12”s is best. I applaud the disagreement. Perhaps there are still people trying to come up with ideas of their own? Wouldn’t that be nice?    Personally I considered ‘Terry HQ’, their debut Lp, their magnum opus, but that was until ‘I’m Terry’ saw the light of day. Although I’m not comfortable saying this record is better than their first (yet?), it definitely is up to par with the debut. What sets Terry apart is their razor sharp lyricism, strong songwriting and charming quadruple male and female vocal approach. Amy, Xante, Zephyr and Al all sing. Sometimes it’s as if the members are having a conversation over the music, while at others it’s as if they’re reciting poetry, all the while always creating beautiful vocal melodies and harmonies. Lyrically there’s some poetry to Terry as well. I defy the term poetry. It reeks of pretension. Although I enjoy some poetry, I consider what I enjoy the exception to the rule. With that out of the way, I appreciate the poetic tendencies of Terry’s lyrics. The band has a way with words that’s mysterious and captivating. The Fall are not a good comparison here, but what I like about Mark E. Smith’s lines is that although I don’t get what he’s saying, I feel like he’s saying something that should be said, something important. I don’t get what Terry is trying to get across either, but somehow I feel like it’s something beautiful. Does that make sense?
My musical frame of reference is probably too limited to come up with decent comparisons for this band, but the Velvet Underground definitely come to mind. Although a rock band in essence, Terry experiments with the use of instrumentation, employing keys, strings, chimes and other such musical instruments I do not know the correct English words for. One song is different from the next making ‘I’m Terry’ an interesting listen throughout. The 10 songs are playful and dreamy. They have an almost childish naivety and friendliness to them. Personal favorite is ‘The Whip’ with its infectious chorus, but there’s really not a bad track to be found, which makes this record mandatory listening material.

Trauma Harness - Halloweens Songs Volume One Lp (Lumpy Rex) (12,50 euro)
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Überkroppling - Godt Jul Lp (Mastermind) (13 euro)
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Una Bestia Incontrolable - Metamorfosi Lp (La Vida Es Un Mus) (12,50 euro)
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Unholy Thoughts - The Attic Lp (Even Worse)
The hardcore scene in Richmond, Virginia had the world in its firm grip medio last decade. No Way and Grave Mistake Records were labels on everybody's lips. They were releasing hardcore record after hardcore record. Youngsters all over the world were going ape shit over this new wave of bands. I was one of them. This scene made boys and girls start their own hardcore bands all over the western world. Although cool at first, it came to the point that every mediocre hardcore band from Shitville, got presented as the next coming of the Fix. So of course there was a backlash and people started hating. Wasted Time and Government Warning, the area's two most prolific bands, threw in the towel around that time and No Way Records fell into a deep, deep sleep. Everything went quiet on the Southern front.
That was until recently, because with Unholy Thoughts Richmond seems to be back on the hardcore map. This five piece shares members with some of the bands referred to above, but I'd rather not list them. Unholy Thoughts are not like any of them really. Although the band is definitely playing hardcore music and there's no denying they're taking cues from some of the 1980's greats, Unholy Thoughts is tougher and more rocking than your average No Way or Grave Mistake band. The bass playing in particular is pretty fucking heavy.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that this Lp is released on Even Worse Records, who have already served the world some rockin' 80's-inspired hardcore with both Funeral Shock and the Runnamucks. However, I personally prefer Unholy Thoughts – although in all fairness I never really gave Runnamucks a shot. To be frank I don't like 'rock'. I like my guitar solos filthy and short instead of wanky and long. What keeps Unholy Thoughts from falling flat is that the songs are still basic hardcore tunes at their core, built around simple straight forward riffs. There are parts where the guitar starts soloing, and those of you that get boners over guitar magic might get that tingly feeling in their pants during such little excursions. Myself, I like this record despite its rock leanings. The vocals and topics adressed are nothing out of the ordinary, but all the negativity contained in these thirteen songs seems sincere. Ricky's raspy voice sounds desperate as hell, and some of the one-liners that stick out on this record are pretty damn bleak. A band with lines like 'jaded by human contact/ nothing really to say' can't do wrong in my book. Thumbs up for coming up with a cool recognizable logo for your band that doesn't fall back on anything already around.

Valley Boys - Demo 12" (Cut the Cord that...) (12,50 euro)
This Toronto hardcore punk outfit's demo has been on heavy rotation on my Ipunk, but I only got my hands on copies of this 12” fairly recently. At first I thought this was Jonah Falco's new band, but it turns out he's not the one playing guitar on this record at all. Hell, he didn't even record or mix it! So Valley Boys are from Toronto, but have nothing to do with Jonah Falco. Their music, however, resembles Career Suicide quite a bit. Although Valley Boys are not as fast as Career Suicide nor is their singer as in your face as Martin – they do both have a raspy voice - both bands have a gift for writing anthemic hardcore punk songs with an obvious nod to early 1980's classics. It's nice Valley Boys change the tempo in between songs. What they sound like? You know the drill. Beefy clean guitar riffs with the occasional solo, simple at times even stupid drumming and snotty vocals. Yes, it's been done before, but I still like this kind of music a whole lot.
One of Valley Boys' main appeals is their vocalist. The vocals work well with the music. They're complimentary,  breathe the same vibe. The singer has a cool delivery. His lyrics focus on depression, but there's a lot of wit in between the lines making this record anything but a downer. Almost every song is about life being shit. How could I not love this record? All ten tracks here are simple and catchy as hell. My favourite songs include 'Pills' and 'Side Effects', which is basically the singer screaming out the side-effects of the medication he's using. I also love both 'Shooting Politicians' and 'Feeding Time' for their dumbass one-two drum beat. If you like catchy hardcore punk, you can hardly go wrong with this one. One minor complaint is that I would have liked the bass to be louder in the mix. The guy pulls of some cool lines, but they're barely audible. The record sounds a bit too trebley in my opinion, but what do I know? The songs are good and that's what counts. Apparently these guys just did a new four song Ep, which I really want to hear.

Vexx - Wild Hunt 12" (Upset the Rhythm) (12,50 euro)
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Violence Creeps - The Gift of Music 12" (Total Punk) (12,50 euro)
After several obscure releases, tapes, a flexi and a 7”, Violence Creeps publicly expose their hideous selfs through this 12” on Total Punk now available for consumption by the ever craving punk rock masses. ‘The Gift of Music’ contains 6 songs. Violence Creeps are an anomaly in today’s hardcore punk scene. They don’t fit any specific nook of the genre although I should mention that there’s a bit of a late 1980’s weirdo rock influence to be heard in these grooves. Instead of aiming for an already existing sound, a band to mimic or a rule to follow, Violence Creeps have come up with something their own. Imagine a junkie drunkenly roaming shelves in a supermarket picking items at random, going home, throwing all ingredients in one big pan with this strange result that against all odds tastes magnificent. That junkie is this band, the supermarket is punk history and the dish Violence Creeps’music. How’s that for an analogy? Jesus Christ wouldn’t have done it better!
What strikes me most about Violence Creeps’ music is the bass playing. It’s very creative. The bass player is not following the chords. At times it’s as if the bass is playing his own song seperately of the rest of band. The lines are moving all over the place in a way mirroring walking bass lines in traditional jazz. This gives the songs a staggering and aimless vibe, a drunken and playful charm. Then there are Amber’s vocals which are biting. She sounds angry pretty much throughout the entire record. The lyrical content here is mostly negative and reproachful in nature. The sentiment is generally depressing as hell. An example: “Nothing is right/ there’s nothing left/ promising start/ ends in death/ there’s no more hope/ it’s history/ when I’m gone/ YOU WON’T MISS ME!” Anything but upbeat, but Amber somehow gives the lyrics an edge that cuts the listener and leaves him bleeding. Snarky stabs are made at others as well as themselves, which is the only credible way to take a piss. Laughing at others without lauging at yourself, the world and your petty existence is best left to infotainment on Comedy Central ridiculing Donald Trump and others who enjoy kicking in open doors and scoring a goal in the absence of the goalie. My favorite track is probably the final. It’s called ‘(Everybody says) Fuck you’. In this song Amber actually sounds defeated and disappointed. The words: “Everybody says fuck you/ but nobody fucks me!” I find that very funny and can’t believe I’ve not come across this joke before. The other song on the B-side is supposedly a Soft Cell cover, but I don’t know what to believe of the info on the insert here. According to the same piece of paper the band consists of three bass players and a fourth member, Max, playing “whatever”. Violence Creeps are a great band and this is an excellent record. Simple!

Violence Creeps - Soul Narc Lp (Digital Regress) (15 euro)
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Vital Idles - Left Hand Lp (Upset the Rhythm) (12,50 euro)
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Walls - The Future is Wide Open Lp (De Graan Republiek)
This is Walls’ second full length. This Seattle band came from the ashes of Cold Sweat which was one of the best hardcore bands on this side of the millennium. That should stand for something. Because Cold Sweat’s singer Shaun moved to Texas shortly after the release of their second Lp ‘Blinded’, the band saw itself without a singer. They soon found a replacement in Alston, but decided to give the band another name now that they had a new front man. Walls was born. The band soon turned out to be an entirely different creature than Cold Sweat had been. Whereas Cold Sweat was a hardcore band – and what a hardcore band it was -, Walls incorporated a wider diversity of styles into their sound. A continuity between the two bands is the overload of ugly dissonant guitar work and the incredible negativity of the music in general. There is nothing but hate going on with both bands, but where Shaun seemed to focus his anger on the outside, Alston also has a soft spot for self loathing, but after putting himself down he still has plenty of rage left for the rest of the world. His lyrics are harsh and bleak, his delivery violent and frightening. Walls’ sound is brooding and the music is downright scary at times. The band is still heavy as hell like Cold Sweat was, but there is more room for slower and sludgy parts. This band is able to drain you of your will to live like few bands can. I remember two reviews of the first Walls Lp that hit the nail on the head. One read that every time the reviewer span the record, he felt like there was a monster staring at him from the dark corner of his room waiting for the right moment to leap onto him and eat him alive. The other read that the record never failed to make the reviewer feel miserable. Those two references are accurate and should give you a pretty clear idea of what you’re in for here. ‘The Future is Wide Open’ is a very powerful record by an amazing band bringing thirteen new unsettling songs to the listener’s ear. In my opinion this is their best release yet and I liked everything the band did before. Be warned though. This music is not for everybody. It suits me fine however. I can already see myself trembling and twitching on the couch at 3 am, because I drank too much coffee again and now I can’t sleep or read, because my attention span has evaporated. All that’s left to do is play this record, stare at the wall and let the music consume me. I already feel a headache coming up. It sure is good to have things like these to look forward to.

Warm Bodies - Lp (Erste Theke Tonträger) (12,50 euro)
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Wetbrain - Acoustic Lp (Start Sucking, Tape & Compacts) (12,50 euro)
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The World - First World Record Lp (Upset the Rhythm) (12,50 euro)
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Wymyns Prysyn - Head in a Vise Lp (12,50 euro)
Wymyns Prysyn have been around for close to a decade. This Atlanta three-piece appeared on the scene in 2010 with a demo tape containing 12 songs, enough to be considered an album, around the same time as Houston’s Women in Prison which got me if nobody else confused. Whereas Women in Prison are no more Wymyns Prysyn are still going strong which makes the world around us a wee bit more graspable if not for you than at least for me.
After several 7”s Wymyns Prysyn released ‘Head in a Vise’, their first proper full-length. Wymyns Prysyn exist somewhere in the realm between post-punk and punk, but you can hear these guys have, say, Gauze records in their collection. I’m not saying their music is reminisent of Gauze, far from it. My point is you know these chaps have a broad musical frame of reference that includes hardcore and other obscurities. The band’s singer and bass player, Josh, better known by his alias Larry, has been running a solid distro supplying Atlanta creeps with plenty of weird sonic adventures for a couple of years now, which backs my statement. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, all very interesting, but what’s the music like?” Well, the songs are very well written. Most noticable to me is the guitar work, which is static and angular making the atmosphere of this record very tense and sorta claustrophobic. These 12 songs reek of anxiety, defeat and depression without resorting to anger much. Instead the lyrics are introspective and bleak. They seem cathartic. The anger that is conveyed is mostly aimed at the self. Vocal melodies are strong and will make you walk around town with uplifiting lines like: “Please don’t talk to me/ I can’t do anything without drugs,” in your head. Less catchy, but easily as enjoyable: “It all adds up to nothing/ Birth death, work death/ in between it was a mess” later on followed by: “Cos it all adds up to nothing/ You fuck, you come."
At the time of my writing this 12” has been out for 3 years and I realize in shame that it’s the first time I’m reading the lyric sheet, which by the way looks great. Josh has done the graphics for all Wymyns Prysyns’ releases. I really dig his style and appreciate punks doing art. His graphics are different and make Wymyns Prysyns records recognizable. I can’t believe this record came out in 2014. Jesus Christ, does time fly. Word on the street is a second 12” has been in the making, but I don’t know if that’s still in the pipes. If you’re interested in hearing other projects these guys are involved with, I highly recommend seeking out Uniform, which basically is Wymyns Prysyn and some other dudes. 'There's no excuse to not be on board with Wymyns Prysyn yet. It’s 2018 for fuck's sake!

XYX - Teatro Negro Lp (Monofonus Press) (15 euro)
XYX used to be a Mexican bass and drum two-piece. The band's first two 7”s caught the attention of serious music critics as well as underground fanzines. It took a long time before Teatro Negro saw the light of day. The band rerecorded their songs several times. After finishing the recording process it was hard to find a label interested in releasing the Lp, because the band had already stopped playing by that time. For a while it looked like Teatro Negro would never see the light of day. I had already submitted to the harsh reality that I would never hear XYX's full-length, when I read that the record had been released after all by Austen's Monofonous Press, a label I had never heard of, which to my surprise still had copies of the record available.
XYX's music is hard to describe. Dreamy, melodic and atmospheric at times, violent, chaotic and dangerous at others, it feels extraterrestial, alien to this world. Those who fell in love with the amateur charm of the band's earlier material, might have a hard time getting into this record. There's nothing sweet or cute about Teatro Negro. Most of these songs actually have a very violent and threatening tendency. Mou's primal drumming and Anel's agressive bass riffs and brooding vocals will suck you into the LSD induced reality that is XYX. What a trip it is! Don't be mistaken though, this band is mainly about songs and there's plenty of melody on this record as well.
XYX really turned into a monstrous musical duo, a beast of a band more powerful than most. It's really impressive how Mou and Anel are able to build songs this powerful with just the two of them. Even more astonishing is that the tunes don't get predictable at any point despite only having two instruments at their disposal. Not only have these two gotten better at writing tunes, it is also undeniable that both Anel and Mou got a lot better at playing their respective instruments as well as at playing together.
Anel once said she thought the Lp recordings would probably alienate a lot of XYX's early fans, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. True, Teatro Negro shows a different XYX than their singles, but in my opinion we're dealing with a superior incarnation here. I highly recommend giving this record some serious time on your record player. Even after listening to it many times, it still feels new and fresh to me with every listen. This is the kind of record that gets better with each spin and grows on you to the point that it becomes part of your being and melts into unison with your soul. If this band had stuck together, I'm sure they would have been picked up by some big players in the music bizz, but Anel left for Austen and Mou's still in Mexico leaving potential managers, bookers and promoters with nothing to sell. XYX are gone, but this amazing record will be here forever. I'm going to give it another spin right now.

Yes, I'm Leaving - Mission Bulb Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Review up soon...

Yes, I'm Leaving - Slow Release Lp (Homeless) (15 euro)
Review up soon...
Yung - Falter 12" (Mastermind) (15 euro)
Review up soon...

Various Artists - Does It Hurt? Lp (Thought Crime)
Compilation records are often dismissed and not whithout reason. There are always bands on it that you really don't want to hear. Or the contributed songs are all shit, because the bands want to save their best tracks for their own releases. The list goes on, but none of these reasons apply here. Sotatila, Dumbstruck, Charlie, No Slogan, Ruidosa Inmundicia, Yellow Eyes and Narsaak all handed Berlin's Thought Crime Records a few unreleased tracks and the result is a pretty diverse hardcore compilation. There's literally something for everyone on this record. If you're into one or two of these bands, you should give "Does it Hurt?" a chance. Personally I really like the No Slogan and Sotatila songs. I had never heard Yellow Eyes before and they were a nice discovery.

Various Artists - Tarantisimo Summit Volume Number Three Lp (Alx Nva, Johnny Lzr, Xunholm, Gary Wrong) (Bat Shit) (15 euro)
This is the third volume in the Tarantisimo Summit series. What the story here exactly is, I do not know. The first Tarantismo Summit – notice the lack of the extra 'i'- was released on Rampage Records in 2008. There's nothing I know about that label nor do I know why Bat Shit continued a series Rampage Records started. Maybe Rampage is Blaise's old label? Maybe it was just an inspiration? I never heard the first record in this series, but it's safe to say that this format was born on Tarantismo Summit I.
These compilation records are basically line-ups of several one-man-projects playing otherworldly music. One-man-projects are not one-man-bands, mind you. Mr. Bat Shit is somehow in the know which individuals in bands have more material in them than their bands allow and spend their lonely nights strungout behind their home recording sets. This time around Gary Wrong and one of the guys in E.T. Habit contributed songs if I'm not mistaken. The line-up is actually shrouded in mystery. Gary Wrong is the only one mentioned on the sleeve that I know of. The other artists have strange names such as ALX NVA, Johnny LZR and Xunholm. I'm not making this stuff up. Some research traces these names back to prominent bands in music's margins today. Curious? Do some research yourself.
These tracks are not conventional rock music. There's a lot of use of electronics, drum computers and synthesizers going on. Samples. Vocals are sparse and when they're present they never really draw attention. The music isn't noise though. It's not scarred by feedback nor is it vicious in any way. I'd almost call it minimal ambient, but it's a bit too disturbing for that. Very weird stuff for sure and to be honest not something I'd be listening to had I not bought this record out of curiosity. Does that mean this record isn't any good? Hell no! Take it as a sign of my narrow mindedness instead. I find this record perfect for late night reading. It would work as a soundtrack underneath a cheap science fiction movie too. The artwork fittingly taps into other wordliness and looks great. I always love Ilth's stuff. I hope his band will do another record sometime or are they done for?