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Featured Release Roundup: August 13, 2020

Es: Less of Everything 12” (Upset the Rhythm) London’s Es released a 12” EP on La Vida Es Un Mus back in 2016, and now, four years later, the follow up appears on Upset the Rhythm. Es’s setup is drums / synth / vocal / bass, which makes them sound unique right off the bat. The bass tends to carry the songs’ rhythm and chord progression, but the synth player rarely doubles the bass line. Instead, the synth lines are ethereal, cascading melodically over the songs’ strong rhythmic backbones. The vocalist shouts rather than sings and this, along with the grimy bass sound, makes Less of Everything sound gritty and punk. If you like this kind of un-slick post-punk, Es’s unique approach and memorable songs are worth a listen.

LD-50: Lethal Dose Hardcore 7” (Symphony of Destruction) Lethal Dose Hardcore is the debut release by this Belgian hardcore band. The sound is stripped down US-style hardcore with nihilistic ferocity, the feral, distorted vocals bringing to mind John Brannon from Negative Approach at his most throat-shredding. The music isn’t as stripped down as Negative Approach, but there’s a similar punky catchiness here, as if LD-50 are at least as informed by driving, catchy UK82 punk as they are by light-speed USHC. Fans of Negative Approach, Last Rights, and DC’s Youth Brigade should take particular note as this has a similar feel, but regardless of what you compare it to, it sounds explosive.

Carcass: Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious 12” (Earache) Earache’s revolving reissue schedule again lands on Carcass’s landmark 1991 album Necroticism, so if you don’t already have the vinyl in your collection, now is as good a time as any to pick it up. In case you aren’t deep into Carcass, they started out as one of the most extreme and nastiest grindcore bands, but their sound evolved across their full-length releases. With such a diverse—but uniformly excellent—discography, Carcass fans might name any of their albums as their favorite, but Necroticism frequently gets the nod. It’s not unlike the melodic Swedish death metal that would take over the metal scene a few years later, but Carcass is less cheesy than something like At the Gates; Carcass’s riffing style is more angular and quirkier, not to mention heavier. I’ll leave it to someone more knowledgeable than me to say something new about this record, but I’ll just note it’s an undisputed metal classic and I’m stoked to have a few copies on the shelf.

Arson: Savage Butchery cassette (self-released) Demo cassette from this all-star UK group featuring several notable ex-members of, including Rob and Liam from Perspex Flesh, Campbell from Mob Rules, and Callum from No Form. That’s a strong pedigree for noisy hardcore, and Arson isn’t about to disappoint anyone coming here for more. The vibe is less arty and more straightforward than the aforementioned bands, which Arson stresses with a raw and gritty recording. There’s a desperate sound here that’s rooted in later Black Flag, but filtered through decades of more streamlined hardcore bands. It’s a sound I love, but I have to admit it, the most straightforward d-beat track on the tape, “No Light No Sound,” is the highlight for me, blowing past like a supersonic jet.

Public Eye: Music for Leisure 12” (Pop Wig) It’s funny that Public Eye’s first album was titled Relaxing Favorites and this new one is Music for Leisure, because those titles perfectly capture Public Eye’s off-the-cuff approach to punk. I’m sure they put plenty of work into their band, but the recordings—this new one in particular—have a carefree slacker vibe that reminds me of Pavement. The songs amble at stoned-sounding tempos and the vocalist sounds like he rolled out of bed hung over and walked up to the microphone. While the slacker vibe reminds me of Pavement, sonically this is more in line with something like Parquet Courts, particularly the way Public Eye balances pop song craft with more jammed-out, Krautrock-informed elements and even a bit of avant-garde stuff like the skronky saxophone in “The Duet” and “You’re Being Laughed At.” If you’re into thinking person’s punk that aims at an audience wider than Maximumrocknroll’s former readership, this is a good grip.

Huraña:  Brujas, Cholas E Inventadas 7” (Iron Lung Records) I’ve listened to this debut EP from Mexico’s Huraña at least five or six times now and I feel like I still haven’t wrapped my head around it. Iron Lung Records releases some of the most progressive, boundary-pushing hardcore out there, and while I wouldn’t call Huraña one of the weirder bands the label has ever released, there’s something unique about this band and this recording that has me intrigued. The EP has a strange sound with heavy delay on the vocals and lots of reverb on the guitar, making it sound like you’re in a big empty cathedral with sounds bouncing off the walls in such a way that you can’t quite tell which direction they’re coming from. The sound alone makes Huraña’s more straightforward songs stand out, but when they stretch out it gets even more interesting. The tom-heavy drumming and surfy lead guitar on “Mi Ggeneración” sounds like Christian Death covering the Dead Kennedys on Wretched’s equipment while “Fue Una Buena Noche” adds some eerie-sounding saxophone into the mix that somehow makes everything sound even creepier. Also, the vinyl version contains a cool cover of Las Vulpess’s “Me Gusta Ser Una Zorra” that isn’t on the digital version. This is one of those records that sounds so unique and new that I wasn’t even sure if I liked it at first, but experience has taught me that these are the records I keep coming back to and that stand the test of time.

Banshee: Livin’ in the Jungle 12” (Feeding Tube) This Boston band featuring members of a bunch of notable hardcore bands self-released a 12” back in 2017, and now they’ve moved to Feeding Tube Records—home of the true freaks and progressives of the New England scene—for this follow-up. In case you never checked out their debut, Caw!, Banshee sounds to me like a band fascinated with the Stooges and the MC5 but with a lot of 70s and 80s hardcore and punk in their DNA. If that description reminds you of Mudhoney, that makes perfect sense because Banshee sounds a lot like Mudhoney in places. However, while Mudhoney has tended to write songs that are, at their core, pop songs, Banshee is prone to jam out and explore different influences. For instance, one of the most memorable tracks here, “Dawn of Man,” is a five and a half minute raga that reminds me of Primal Scream or Happy Mondays in the way it takes India-by-way-of-60s-psych and forces it through a bombastic rock filter. Another standout, “Savage Man,” is pure Fun House with its bluesy riff drenched in fuzz wah, chanted chorus, and bleating saxophone. I’m probably coming from a similar musical place as the members of Banshee. I grew up on punk and hardcore and discovered the Stooges, psychedelia, and lots of other music once I grew up, mellowed out a little, and opened my mind. Livin’ in the Jungle buzzes with the same energy I got from growing my record collection’s width rather than its depth.

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