Angela's Staff Pick: December 15, 2022

Hi Sorry State fam! How is everyone doing? I’m leaving in a couple days to go to Ohio to see my family, so the pre-travel stress is in full effect. I’m not much of a planner, but I do lie to myself quite frequently about how this year is going to be different. It never is. So trust that I will be running around panic packing a few hours before I go to the airport, and frantically downloading music at the gate. Ugh, let’s get right off that topic.

At least a lot of cool shit is happening in Sorry State land! One of those things was the release of the ISS Spikes+ compilation album. It’s also my staff pick. I feel like I’ve really missed out because I hadn’t heard any ISS until a couple months ago on the American Idylls compilation that Sorry State released some time ago. So, the Spikes+ record allowed me to take a shortcut through their discography, and now I’m kinda working backwards and listening to individual releases.

Dude. I really love this record. It’s is a great way to get up to speed with a band you’re not that familiar with. It’s also a great way to journey through the many styles of ISS all on one convenient record. That’s all great but it makes it challenging for me to streamline my thoughts on the music.

Simply put, it’s just fun as hell to listen to and I really click with the music. I can’t imagine anyone (within reason) not enjoying the hell out of the anthemic opener, Spikes, Too Punk for Heavy Metal, or Wanna be Dated. All are fun, high-energy tracks. But there are many twists and turns on this compilation. You also get some darker, new wave sounds in songs like Sexts and Guidance, and more hardcore belters like Facemask. Basically, Spikes+ is like getting a gift basket of a bunch of cool stuff.

Prior to digging into ISS, I wasn’t aware of their use of samples from punk and other genres to construct new songs. So, its been fun for me to pick up on bits and pieces of some of the songs I recognize. I’m pretty sure I heard Siouxsie and the Banshees, and I definitely heard the Cure, Public Enemy, and the Dead Kennedys. And much more where those come from.

I think the use of sampling is a great way to enhance a song, but it’s also just a smart way to engage a new audience. That said, it’s definitely not something they have to rely on. It’s just another tool, and ISS happens to be really skilled at using it.

Besides that, there are some great beat drops, and catchy lines. The vocals are fantastically diverse, ranging from sometimes snotty, sometimes mean, sometimes serious, sometimes not. The lyrics are clever, and the the songs are thoughtfully and creatively structured. ISS has a talent for knowing what should go where. That sounds like a really caveman way to describe a difficult task, but it’s all I got.

Collectively, ISS Spikes+ is a bundle of energetic, dancy, punky, noisy, sometimes chaotic, sometimes more stripped down, but never ever boring songs. If you haven’t gotten your hands on one, I strongly recommend you give it a shot. Take a listen below!

As always, thanks for reading.


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