Featured Release Roundup: April 16, 2020
Faux Départ: Vie Ordinaire 12” (Destructure) Vie Ordinaire is the 3rd release Sorry State has carried from Lyon, France’s Faux Départ, and it’s their best one yet. Faux Départ reminds me of North Carolina’s Personality Cult. Both bands combine Marked Men-style power-pop / melodic punk with post-punk angularity, and both have grown more sophisticated in their pop songwriting with each subsequent release. Also like Personality Cult, Faux Départ makes their recordings sound great, with a balanced mix that finds space for every instrument’s subtleties to come through while still maintaining a high energy level and a sense of rawness. Faux Départ is equally adept with a jerky, post-punk-influenced tune like “Le Casse” as they are with the closing track “Fantôme,” which offers a dramatic series of powerful melodies and great backing vocals that add to the song’s climatic feel. Fans of Marked Men, Personality Cult, and similar bands on labels like Dirtnap should give this a spin.
Reincarnate: Take It or Leave It: Demos and Rarities 12” (Splattered!) Splattered! Records offers up another NWOBHM reissue, this time featuring the obscure band Reincarnate. The b-side of this LP compiles their lone 2-track single, a heavy hitter than any fan of NWOBHM will enjoy. The charismatic vocals and intricate riffing remind me of peak-era Diamond Head, particularly on the heavier b-side track, “Metal in Disguise,” which I could imagine 80s Metallica covering in an alternate universe. While these two tracks are prime NWOBHM, the four demo tracks on the a-side are for completists only. These tracks sound like a more embryonic version of the band and have a rough sound, a spotty vocal performance, and what sounds like some minor issues with the source tape. If you’ve been dying to hear more than just the two tracks from the single, I’m sure you’ll love to hear these, but your average metalhead will stick to the two rippers on the b-side.
Dissekerad / Earth Crust Displacement: Split 7” (Rawmantic Disasters) In case you don’t remember, Sweden’s Dissekerad comes from the broader universe of Totalitär-related bands, and along with members of Makabert Fynd features Poffen from Totalitär’s trademark vocals. You won’t find any surprises on this side of split (not that you’d want any!), just catchy, well-constructed d-beat in the vein of Sin Egen Motståndare-era Totalitär. As for Germany’s Earth Crust Displacement, their two tracks come from the same session as their D-Takt Noize LP from 2017, and while I haven’t heard that record, these two tracks are solid, Totalitär-style d-beat that’s a hair sloppier and noisier than the Dissekerad side. The drummer has a penchant for long, insanely fast snare rolls, putting them at the end of nearly every bar. With straightforward d-beat it’s all about a band’s particular quirks, and at least for these two tracks that seems to be one of Earth Crust Displacement’s signatures.
Heavy Nukes / Earth Crust Displacement: Spit 7” (Rawmantic Disasters) Sweden’s Heavy Nukes delivers four new tracks of total Shitlickers worship here. If you haven’t heard the Shitlickers you should rectify that, but think blistering fast metallic riffing and raw, blown-out production, like you took Anti-Cimex’s Victims of a Bombraid and turned both the “speed” and “gloom” knobs up a few notches. As for Germany’s Earth Crust Displacement, their three tracks differ from the songs on their split with Dissekerad, having a faster and meaner, Shitlickers-esque vibe. The last of their three tracks is a cover of the old German band MxVxDx and that one has an epic, almost orchestral tone to it that reminds me of the grandest moments on Discharge’s Why? 12”.
Street Weapon: Quick to Die 7” (Not for the Weak) Debut 7” from this band out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. According to the label, most of the band members are barely out of high school, which rules. While I listen to a lot of old guy hardcore that’s very conscious of how it exists within the larger historical framework of punk and hardcore, Street Weapon seems more genuine and unaffected, like they’re just shooting from the hip and throwing together elements of stuff they like. I hear elements of Negative Approach-style oi!-tinged hardcore, New Breed-style NYHC (particularly in the breakdowns), a hint of thrash metal in the riffing, and some of that Gag / Bib-style hardcore that’s all about catchy mid-paced riffs. Even with all of those elements, Street Weapon doesn’t sound schizophrenic, but open-minded and un-self-conscious. If you’re into the more 80s-inspired end of the capital H Hardcore scene, check out what the younger generation is up to.
Vile Reality: Detached cassette (self-released) Detached is the second cassette release from this ripping band out of San Diego, California. Vile Reality reminds me of one of my favorite bands from the 00s, Socialcide. (Fun fact: Sorry State was all set to put out Socialcide’s next record, but unfortunately the band dissolved before that happened.) Like Socialcide, Vile Reality plays a fast and negative take on classic USHC (not as fast as Siege or Deep Wound, but faster than average) with a touch of classic NYHC, which comes out on mid-tempo tracks like “Control.” The riffing and songwriting are top-notch; while these tracks are pure hardcore, there’s something about the way they’re constructed and played that makes you want to stand up and thrash around your record room. Another unique thing about this record is the subtle industrial undercurrent that comes from little touches like the unique distortion on the vocals (which sound like Pushead from Septic Death) and the spacey wah-wah guitar sound at the end of the closing track, “Immobilized.” It’s too bad this isn’t on vinyl, because this is top notch hardcore.
The Cowboys: Room of Clons 12” (Feel It) Indiana’s the Cowboys seem to be establishing themselves as the Guided by Voices of modern DIY punk. While the most obvious similarity is the volume of music they release (Room of Clons is, depending on how you count, their seventh or eighth full-length in six years), the similarities don’t end there. Besides the evident ability to write hook after hook, the Cowboys have a lack of fussiness that reminds me of GBV. While a lot of bands work very hard to make everything they do conform to some grand vision (whether it’s one they’ve developed or one they’ve swiped from another artist), the Cowboys seem to write and release music with the same nonchalance with which I make and eat sandwiches. While the recipes are all great, their ingredients differ from track to track—on Room of Clons alone you’ll find acoustic and electric guitar (the latter of which itself employs many different effects from track to track), piano, synths, and even kazoo. The songs also reference different genres, from the quirky new wave of “Wise Guy Algorithm” (which sounds like the Undertones meets Dow Jones and the Industrials) to the Bauhaus-esque goth-glam of “The Beige Collection” to the piano ballad “A Killing,” to the Kinks-style barroom jaunt “Ninety Normal Men,” to… well, I could keep going but I think you get the point. Just to extend the GBV comparison, the critical cliche is that their records are inconsistent, but I’ve never been one to go through an album track by track assessing whether I like each song. I’m sure there are people who could do that with Room of Clons, but I prefer to bask in the album’s eclecticism, to enjoy it like a travelogue of sounds, genres, and styles. I hope (and wouldn’t be surprised if) the Cowboys eventually have their own tribe of super-fans who immerse themselves in the band’s catalog with the devotion people give to bands like GBV, the Fall or the Grateful Dead. When that happens I’ll be gloating, telling the newbies about how they toured through North Carolina just about every year, never playing to more than a few dozen people but always ruling, and what a pleasure it was to digest their eclectic and brilliant discography as it came out. And, by the way, god bless Feel It Records for serving the cause for the past several years, enabling us to watch this long and rewarding story unfold.