Featured Release Roundup: April 9, 2020
Soakie: S/T 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) This geographically scattered band with members in the US and Australia had a demo in early 2008 that flew under my radar, so I’m glad La Vida Es Un Mus is getting their vinyl debut more attention. Musically, this is punky US-style hardcore with a strong pogo streak and a noteworthy vocalist. Rather than a scream or a growl, they have this articulated demon rasp, like a victim of demonic possession in a cheesy 80s b-horror flick. While it’s as gnarly and disgusting as someone like Sakevi from G.I.S.M., you can hear the words clearly, which accentuates Soakie’s catchiness. While I love Soakie when they’re ripping at hardcore tempos, they bookend the record with two tracks (“Nuke the Frats” and “Don’t Talk Back”) with dramatic mid-paced parts that would make any self-respecting punk venue explode into an orgy of squiggle slamming. If you’re into that great new Fried E/M record or the more hardcore end of the whole Midwest / Lumpy Records style, I recommend checking this out.
Muro / Orden Mundial: Sonido de la Negación 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Sonido de la Negación is a new split 12” featuring these two Spanish-speaking powerhouses, Colombia’s Muro and Spain’s Orden Mundial. First up is Muro, since they’re fresh in your mind given you’ve been spinning their latest LP, Pacificar, non-stop since it came out. If you like Pacificar, you will like this. These five tracks have Muro’s patented blend of dramatic tension-and-release and explosive swagger, and there is not a dull moment here. In my description of Pacificar, I mentioned Muro’s flexibility as a band, and on this record I love how “Desperdicio En Producción,” which has a melodic guitar lead that I never would have expected, gets followed up with “Inferil,” which has a nasty, unschooled Bones-style solo. Whether they’re melodic and structured or loose and unhinged, Muro is unstoppable. As for Orden Mundial, as much as I love Muro, I've been playing their side of the split over and over. The sound on their side is huge, with a dense, fuzzed out guitar that reminds me more of 90s AmRep bands than any raw hardcore I can think of. While two faster tracks bookend their side, my favorites are the two slower tracks in the middle. “Marginal” reminds of Flipper or the early Butthole Surfers stuff in that the riff is loose, noisy, and nasty, but also danceable. The song is just one riff played over and over, but it could be three times as long and I would still love it. Once “Marginal” primes you, they let loose “Vais A Sufrir,” which slows the tempo further to an industrial dirge, the danceability replaced with a No Trend-esque pulsation of hopelessness. There’s almost too much great music to handle on this record. 100% essential.
Algara: Enamorados del Control Total 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) One of the more mysterious releases on the La Vida Es Un Mus label, Algara is a band I know nothing about. Their lyrics are in Spanish, so I assume they’re from a Spanish-speaking country, but that’s about all I have for you. Thankfully I can describe the sound, which is minimalist, drum machine-fueled post-punk. The production is full of space, with the drum machine, bass, guitar, and vocals all occupying very different frequency ranges, giving this a cold, isolated feel. The drum machine’s program is minimalist, the bassist bangs out the chord progression in eighth notes, and the vocalist rants rhythmically rather than sings (though both Eric and Jeff described the vocals as “sassy”), so it’s up to the guitar to carry most of the melody. The guitarist plays simple, single-string melodies high on the neck, and while the melodic sensibility reminds me of Diät, the stark guitar sound is of a piece with the record’s minimalist aesthetic. Given how understated everything is here, it may take you a few listens for this to hook you, but as with most everything on LVEUM, your attention will be rewarded.
FOC: La Fera Ferotge 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Debut vinyl from this ripping band out of Barcelona who sings in Catalan. The label’s description references classic Italian hardcore like Peggio Punx and Indigesti, and that is an appropriate comparison as this has a similar sense of unhinged ferocity. Part of that is the vocal phrasing, but much of it is also because of the great guitar playing. While a lot of punk bands’ riffs consist entirely of power chords, FOC’s riffs are full of open strings and bent notes, techniques common in the early Italian hardcore scene. Check out the woozy-sounding intro to “Reacció” or the blistering “15” for great examples of what I’m talking about. Recommended if you like your hardcore loose and wild and/or if you enjoyed the recent records by Idiota Civilizzato.
The Serfs: Sounds of Serfdom cassette (Wasted Tapes) Sounds of Serfdom isn’t a demo, but a cassette full-length from this American band. The visual and auditory aesthetics might be familiar if you’ve jammed bands like Molchat Doma or Filmmaker who have put out records on the German label Detriti. There’s even a vinyl version of Sounds of Serfdom available on Detriti, giving this the ultimate stamp of approval for contemporary, YouTube-oriented post-punk. Musically, the Serfs are of a piece with the two bands I mentioned, but grittier and punkier sounding. Their way of combining danceable drum machine rhythms with broad, memorable melodic lines reminds me of New Order, though this is scrappier and much lower-budget than anything that band ever did. Sounds of Serfdom also works great as a full-length, floating between catchy melodies and more rhythmic bleep bloops in a way that keeps your ears excited.
Artcore #39 zine w/ Mydolls 7” A new issue of the long-running Artcore is always a cause for celebration in our zine-deprived world, and this time is no different. Sticking with the usual format, issue #39 is dense with text (but with a readable layout!) featuring a mix of older and newer punk. We get interviews with the Subhumans, Game, Exit Condition, Part 1, and others, a massive, 10,000-word feature on Canadian punk, and other huge archival features on Flipside magazine, 80s Southern California punk, and the ’79 mod revival. Recent issues of Artcore have also come with a bonus 7”, and this time around we have a reissue of the 1981 debut single from Texas’s Mydolls, with a John Peel interview tacked onto one side as a bonus. While I have Mydolls’ 12” EP, Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick, I don’t think I’d heard this single, and it’s a great slice of spiky post-punk with an electric piano that recalls the Misfits’ “Cough/Cool” single. As always, Artcore provides you with a package well worth your time, money, and attention.