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Featured Release Roundup: April 12, 2018

The Shifters: S/T 12” (Future Folklore) Debut 12” from this Melbourne band. Their previous 7” on Market Square sold out in a flash, and I believe these tracks actually come from an earlier cassette full-length. There’s no getting around the fact that the Shifters owe a heavy aesthetic debt to the Mekons and the Fall (they even crib the lead guitar lick from “Older Lover” off of Slates on one of these tracks), but they sound uniquely Australian too… in fact, moments remind me a whole lot of the UV Race, perhaps because they use melodica prominently. Like a lot of the best Australian bands, there’s a sophisticated sense of songcraft and musicality that you might expect from a big indie band, but the whole thing is very homespun, DIY, and uncommercial at the same time. It’s no wonder that so many Australian bands are catching our ear in the US, because this combination seems all but unique to Oz, and the Shifters are a perfect example. As for the songs, I think they’re totally great. They’re definitely mellow, but there’s a tension that keeps these songs, despite their relatively slow tempos and almost uniformly quiet demeanor, from sounding lazy or boring. Again, the tone is very much like dark and tense fall songs like “Older Lover” or “Iceland,” or perhaps like the second and third Mekons albums (when they really started to find their voice and come into their own as a band). I’m probably not doing a good job of selling this record to the die-hard punkers, but if you’re looking for more than just aggression and/or grandiosity in your music I really can’t recommend this highly enough.

Fetish: S/T 7” (Beach Impediment) So, this debut 7” from Portland’s Fetish is pretty much a tease, but boy is it an effective one! If you haven’t heard, Fetish consists of three former members of Poison Idea (including Thee Slayer Hippy and Vegetable) and three members of Long Knife (the world’s premier Poison Idea imitators), and (perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not) manage to beat any and all post-Pig Champion versions of Poison Idea at their own game. Even though the lineup leans heavily on the War All the Time version of PI, the a-side, “Take the Knife,” sounds more like Feel the Darkness-era… it’s an explosive hardcore track for sure, but it also has a really striking sense of dynamics that I associate with Feel the Darkness. PI were great songwriters, but they were also the masters of arranging a hardcore song, and “Take the Knife” shows that that ability to manage the bells and whistles is alive and well with Fetish. Then there’s the b-side, which is a cover of Love’s song “A House Is Not a Motel,” and while it’s a significant downshift from “Take the Knife,” it hints that there will be a sense of depth and ambition to Fetish’s music and that we can count on them to deliver more than just a bunch of crowd-pleasing thrashers. Yes, this EP is a frustratingly short tease, but the rush of adrenaline it provides has me waiting with baited breath for the full dose that is hopefully to come.

Physique: Punk Life Is Shit 12” (Iron Lung) One-sided 45RPM 12” EP from this band out of Olympia, Washington. Iron Lung is generally known for releasing hardcore that’s on the bleeding edge of the genre, so when they release a record by a band that is a little more straightforward you know it’s going to be something special, and that is definitely the case with Physique. Actually, I think that IRL’s description, which makes this seem like straightforward Discharge / Disclose worship, undersells this record because there’s clearly a lot more going on here than aping the classics. Yes, Physique obviously owe a heavy aesthetic debt to Disclose in particular (which you can tell not only by their artwork, but also by their strangely industrial guitar sounds, which recall Disclose’s Disbones era), but to me they sound like a more modern hardcore band bouncing their ideas off of some of Disclose’s. One thing that always struck me about Disclose is how simple and stark their songs and arrangements were. Their songs remind me of Japanese calligraphy—where the entire piece is made with just a couple of deft, confident brush strokes—and the almost Zen-like minimalism of the composition creates this rich contrast with the equally extreme maximalism of the production. Physique, however, take a much more baroque approach to the songwriting process, and these songs tend to have much more elaborate riffs and more complex arrangements than Disclose ever had… so, rather than Disclose’s minimalist / maximalist dialectic, here you just kind of do your best to navigate the maximalism, and rather than meditating upon the waves of noise you duck and dodge them like jump-scares in a horror movie. So, even though this may sound like a Disclose record at first listen, the experienced d-beat connoisseur will tell you it’s something entirely different, not to mention an exciting and noteworthy contribution to the genre.

Witchtrial: S/T 12” (Beach Impediment) Demo-on-a-12” from this new all-star band out of DC featuring members of Warthog and Protester among many, many others. However, if you’re coming to Witchtrial looking for the raging hardcore of the aforementioned bands you are going to be disappointed as Witchtrial is pretty much 100% metal to my ears. Interestingly, though, I can’t really place the exact style, though that could just be because I don’t know metal nearly as well as I know hardcore. The cover of the record reminds me a little bit of Morbid Tales, though, and the music does too in some respects, particularly the non-intuitive changes in tempo (some of which, like Celtic Frost, are like the auditory equivalent of trudging through wet sand). There’s a lot of rock and roll in Witchtrial’s sound too… some of the riffs are very Motorhead-esque and the singer’s rock and roll drawl and Rob Halford-esque falsetto wails both invoke the more rocked-out end of metal. I do find myself wishing it were just a little more extreme, like I want the band to be faster, heavier, weirder, or just more over-the-top in some respect, but if you’re looking for metal that’s a little more measured and cerebral this might tickle your fancy.

Riki: Hot City cassette (Commodity Tapes) Debut release from this new wave / synth band out of LA. The description pretty much says it all when it compares them to Depeche Mode, Belaboris and Strawberry Switchblade… like those bands, Riki contrast cold, synth-based rhythms with big pop hooks and the results are pretty darn infectious. To my ears, there are basically two ways to approach this style… you can make krautrock-esque zone out jams or you can make pop songs, and Riki are decidedly in the latter camp, and they’re damn good at it. If you dug those Siamese Twins records from a few years ago this will be right up your alley, but moments are so hooky that they remind me of Madonna’s first album more than anything I can think of from the punk world. If this band keeps putting out music this good they are going to be freaking huge.

Yves Bernard: demo cassette (Future Folklore) Really cool demo from this French project… actually, I’m kind of surprised that it’s being sold as a demo as it’s quite long and fully realized in my opinion… the songwriting, recording, and artwork are all top-notch and really cool. I would call Yves Barnard, broadly, synth-punk, but they (he?) definitely have a unique take on the genre, combining the quasi-industrial elements of Metal Urbain with poppier elements, some of which have a dark pop-garage, Marked Men-type of thing going on and some of which go in more of a Screamers-type direction. The drums are all acoustic, and the vocals are in this sing-speak style that really accentuates the paranoid quality of it all, not to mention the French-ness. For as familiar as some parts of it sound, it all adds up to something really unique. Perhaps this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re intrigued by the above references give it a try… it’s well worth hearing.

All New Arrivals

Bad Example: Tethered in Deviancy cassette (Not Normal)
Voivod: War and Pain 12" (Metal Blade)
Physique: Punk Life Is Shit 12" (Iron Lung)
Geld: Perfect Texture 12" (Iron Lung)
Morbid Angel: Heretic 12" (Earache)
Various: I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas 12" (Merge)
Wye Oak: The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs 12" (Merge)
Between the Buried and Me: Automata I 12" (Sumerian)
Girlschool: The Singles 1979-1984 12" (Real Gone Music)
Scientist & Prince Jammy: Scientist and Jammy Strike Back! 12" (Real Gone Music)
Gorillaz: Demon Days 12" (Parlophone)
Plastic Cloud: S/T 12" (Allied Record Co.)
Various: Give Me Back (Scene Support Edition) 12" (Ebullition)
PMS 84: Easy Way Out (Scene Support Edition) 12" (Ebullition)
Fuerza Bruta: Verdugo (Scene Support Edition) 12" (Ebullition)
Martyrdod / Neolithic: Split (Scene Support Edition) 7" (Ebullition)
All: Pummel 12" (Porterhouse Vinyl)
Fireburn: Shine 7" (Closed Casket)
Yves Barnard: L'Oreille cassette (Future Folklore Records)
The Shifters: S/T 12" (Future Folklore Records)
Suss Law: S/T 12" (Extreme Headache)
Prince: Sign O the Times 12" (Warner Bros)
The Lawrence Arms: We Are the Champtions 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Riki: Hot City cassette (Commodity Tapes)
Sial: Demo cassette (Commodity Tapes)
The Cowboys: 3rd 12" (Hozac)
Uranium Club: Live at Arci Traun 12" (Castleface)
Rob Zombie: Hellbilly Deluxe 12" (Geffen)
Demon Fuzz: Afreaka! 12" (Music On Vinyl)
Ol Dirty Bastard: Return to the 36 Chambers 12" (Elektra)
Curtis Mayfield: Superfly 12" (Curtom)
Curtis Mayfield: Curtis 12" (Curtom)
Wolfbrigade: D-Beat Odyssey 12" (Havoc)
Disfear: Live the Storm 12" (Relapse)
Fetish: S/T 7" (Beach Impediment)
Witchtrial: S/T 12" (Beach Impediment)
Battering Ram: Let Me Fight Where I Lay cassette (Anonymous Cave)
The State: No Illusions 7" (Havoc)


Katastrof: S/T 7" (Beach Impediment)
Long Knife: Sewers of Babylon 7" (Beach Impediment)
Bell Witch: Mirror Reaper 12" (new)
Descendents: Cool to Be You 12" (Fat Wreck)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Quarters 12" (Castleface)
Charles Mingus: Mingus Plays Piano 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Razor Boys: S/T 12" (Hozac)
Sheer Mag: Compilation 12" (Wilsuns Recording Company)
Sonic Youth: Bad Moon Rising 12" (Goofin’)
Subhumans: Death Was Too Kind 12" (Alternative Tentacles)
Urinals: Negative Capability 12" (In The Red)
Yob: Atma 12" (20 Buck Spin)
7 Seconds: The Crew 12" (BYO)
7 Seconds: Walk Together, Rock Together 12" (BYO)
Exit Order: Seed of Hysteria 12" (Side Two)
Exit Order: S/T 7" (Side Two)
Gun Club: Fire of Love 12" (Porterhouse Prime Vinyl)
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: S/T 12" (Toxic State)
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream 12" (Secretly Canadian)
Zero Boys: History of 12" (Secretly Canadian)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress 12" (Sub Pop)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop)
Earthless: Black Heaven 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power 12" (Rhino)
Motorhead: Bomber 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: Orgasmatron 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: No Sleep Till Hammersmith 12" (Sanctuary)
The Cure: Greatest Hits 12" (Rhino)
Joy Division: Substance 12" (Rhino)
Rancid: Life Won't Wait 12" (Epitaph)
Rancid: And Out Come the Wolves 12" (Epitaph)
Operation Ivy: Energy 12" (Hellcat)
Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales 12" (Noise)
Prince: Purple Rain 12" (Warner Bros)
Turnstile: Non-Stop Feeling 12" (Roadrunner)
Converge: The Dusk in Us 12" (Death Wish)
Butthole Surfers: Brown Reason to Live 12" (Alternative Tentacles)
Alex Chilton: Like Flies on Sherbert 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Crass: The Feeding of the 5000 12" (Crassical Collection)
Frantix: My Dad's a Fuckin' Alcoholic 12" (Alternative Tentacles)
Leftover Crack: Fuck World Trade 12" (Fat Wreck)
Rubella Ballet: Ballet Bag 12" (Dark Entries)
Solid Space: Space Museum 12" (Dark Entries)
Subhumans: From Cradle to Grave 12" (Bluurg)
Subhumans: Time Flies / Rats 12" (Bluurg)
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets 12" (Astralwerks)
J Dilla: Donuts 12" (Stones Throw)
Heldon: Un Reve Sans 12" (Soufflecontinu)
Heldon: Interface 12" (Soufflecontinu)
Heldon: Stand By 12" (Soufflecontinu)
Arcade Fire: Funeral 12" (Sony)
Pearl Jam: Ten 12" (Sony)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn. 12" (Interscope)
Sylvan Esso: What Now 12" (Loma Vista)
Pink Floyd: Animals 12" (Columbia)
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill 12" (Def Jam)
King Crimson: Red 12" (Inner Knot)
Thelonious Monk: Monk's Dream 12" (WaxTime)
Meat Puppets: S/T 12" (MVD)
Meat Puppets: II 12" (MVD)
Chet Baker: Sings 12" (Wax Love)
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Mumford + Sons: Sigh No More 12" (Island)
Alice in Chains: Dirt 12" (Music On Vinyl)
Tool: Opiate 12" (BMG)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme 12" (Impulse)
Misfits: Legacy of Brutality 12" (Caroline)
Slayer: Reign in Blood 12" (American Recordings)
Broken Bones: A Single Decade 12" (Havoc)
Discharge: Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing 12" (Havoc)
Discharge: Why 12" (Havoc)
Discharge: Realities of War 7" (Havoc)
Discharge: Decontrol 7" (Havoc)
Discharge: Fight Back 7" (Havoc)
Discharge: Never Again 7" (Havoc)
Discharge: State Violence, State Control 7" (Havoc)
Final Conflict: In the Famly 7" (Havoc)
Kaaos: Riistinnaulittu Kaaos 12" (Havoc)
Neuroot: Might Is Right 12" (Havoc)
The Pist: Ideas Are Bulletproof 12" (Havoc)
Sacrilege: Time to Face the Reaper 12" (Havoc)
Varukers: One Struggle, One Fight 12" (Havoc)
Varukers: Another Religion, Another War 12" (Havoc)
Varukers: Protest and Survive 7" (Havoc)
Varukers: I Don't Wanna Be a Victim 7" (Havoc)
Varukers: Die for Your Government 7" (Havoc)
Varukers: Massacred Millions 7" (Havoc)
Varukers: No Hope of a Future 7" (Havoc)
Varukers: Led to the Slaughter 7" (Havoc)
Willful Neglect: S/T + Justice for No One 12" 12" (Havoc)
Blitz: Voice of a Generation 12" (Radiation)
Crude SS: Who'll Survive 12" (Radiation)
Daygo Abortions: Out of the Womb 12" (Unrest)
Dezerter: Underground Out of Poland 12" (Nikt Nic Nie Wie)
Exploited: Horror Epics 12" (PHR)
Exploited: Death Before Dishonor 12" (PHR)
Final Conflict: Ashes to Ashes 12" (Tankcrimes)
Lama: S/T 12" (Svart)
Lama: Ja Mikaan Ei Muutiunut 12" (Svart)
Rattus: WC Rajahtaa 12" (Svart)
Lewd: American Wino 12" (Puke N Vomit Records)
Raw Power: You Are the Victim 12" (Havoc)
Unruled: Time Is Running Out 7" (Skizophrenic)

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