Featured Release Roundup December 10th 2020
Moment of Fear: Covid Sessions 2020 7” (Beach Impediment) Moment of Fear is a new project from Tony Bartek (Religious War, the Corpse, Rotten Cadaver) and their debut release, Covid Sessions 2020, is on Beach Impediment so you know it’s good. When I dropped the needle on “Asphyxiation,” the first thing that struck me was that Bartek’s vocal style reminded me of Out Cold, which is high praise from me. Like Out Cold, the music is gruff and aggressive, but with a heavy, oi!-ish groove a la Negative Approach, and a sense of catchiness that’s just enough to make the songs interesting and memorable without sounding cheesy. While the entire EP is in that vein, each song opens up to a wider sphere of influences, culminating in the metallic, nearly 5-minute “Target for Killing.” That song’s fist-pumping riff reminds me of Kill by Remote Control-era Toxic Reasons, but the double bass drumming, catchy guitar hooks, and mean sensibility mean tug the track in a bunch of different directions at the same time. As with most everything on Beach Impediment, this is my kind of hardcore: angry, smart, inventive, and ambitious.
Nutrition: No EP 7” (Neon Taste) This band from British Columbia had a demo in 2018, and No is their vinyl debut. I remember reading that Nutrition featured members of Bootlicker, though I’m unable to find that information now, so it could be wrong. While Nutrition still plays hardcore, the style is very different from Bootlicker. Jeff told me he liked this record and used the word “sassy” to describe it, which hits the nail on the head. The riffs are straightforward, but with a butt-shaking swing to them, and the vocals are snotty but still deep and gruff. Those elements, along with the catchy, note-y guitar parts, remind me of the Shitty Limits (one of my favorites!), while tracks like “Sore Thumb” and “City Wide” sound like Hank Wood & the Hammerheads, particularly when the singer adopts that distinctive Hank Wood cadence. Like both the Shitty Limits and the Hammerheads, Nutrition plays punk that’s stripped down and aggressive enough for the hardcore folks while bringing in enough ’77-style punk catchiness to make the songs stand out. Recommended if you like that vein of punky hardcore / hardcore-y punk.
Various: Killed by Meth #5 12” (It’s Trash Records) For the past several years, It’s Trash Records has been pumping out these Killed by Meth compilation LPs full of tracks by current garage-punk bands from the North American rust belt, a largely economically depressed area around the Great Lakes that takes in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and extends north into Ontario, Canada. While the bands that appear on the Killed by Meth compilations overlap with what I think of as the Total Punk world, the vibe that emerges is different than Total Punk’s sunnier, Floridian take on the style. Maybe this is me projecting, but it feels like bands on these comps are grittier, more stripped down, and more in touch with the gray skies and crumbling post-industrial landscapes of their part of the world. I’ve listened to every volume of Killed by Meth, and this 5th entry might be my favorite. While the earlier volumes felt more eclectic, Volume 5 feels more uniform and more of the tracks rely on pop-style songwriting (though there are exceptions, like Archaeas’s sax-laced Flipper-style dirge). Standouts include tracks by Erik Nervous (who never disappoints), Silicon Heartbeat’s Lost Sounds-esque synth-punk, Doppler Radar and the Local News’s New Bomb Turks-esque riffy garage-punk, Mononegatives’ jittery, drum machine-fueled egg punk, and the Stools’ primitive proto-hardcore. If you’re into a broad range of garage-punk styles, this, like all the other volumes of Killed by Meth, will introduce you to a few new favorites and serves as a fine listen on its own.
Lazy: Rock n’ Roller b/w Am I Dreaming 7” (Reminder Records) Reminder Records digs up another long-lost power-pop gem, this time from Washington, DC’s Lazy. Stylistically, Lazy sits in the space where punk, glam, and hard rock form a brackish water… this is the space where I would put anything from the UK punk band the Boys to the Heartbreakers to early Motley Crue. It’s a style that I love when it’s done well, and these two tracks from Lazy are good enough that one might call them lost classics. If you like your rock and roll riffy, fast, sleazy, and with a big ‘ol spoonful of pop sugar, this is a strong addition to your fire box of anthemic hit singles.
The Daze: I Wanna Be a Star b/w At the Seaside 7” (Reminder Records) If you love power-pop from the late 70s and early 80s, check out every release on Reminder Records. They only have a handful so far, but they have brought nothing but straight fire, digging up the best in obscure music from that golden era. Their sweet spot is bands who recorded (usually at cheap studios) during the punk era and absorbed some of punk’s brashness and its faster tempos, but whose songwriting reaches back to earlier eras of pop, glam rock, psych-pop, and bubblegum. Birmingham’s the Daze are a perfect example. They recorded this single on a 4-track in 1979, and its loud guitars and sprightly tempos sound very much of the era. However, the songwriting is poppier and more ambitious, reminding me of 60s and early 70s groups who fall into the above categories. They sound to me like the early Television Personalities and early Cock Sparrer had an unlikely but beautiful baby, inheriting the former’s psychedelic qualities, the latter’s hooky, Slade-inspired glam influences, and impressive pop songwriting chops from both sides. In a ProTools studio it might be too much, but with a gritty 4 track recording, it’s all I want to hear. Both sides are bangers, too. Get this!
Chronophage: The Pig Kiss’d 12” (Cleta-Patra Records) The Pig Kiss’d is the second LP from Austin, Texas’s Chronophage, who have been developing a buzz in the punk underground over the past few years. I liked everything I’ve heard from them, but this week The Pig Kiss’d really hit me. The first few times I played it, I had it on in the background while I was working and it wasn’t doing much for me, but once I gave it an attentive listen it clicked and I think I’ve played it 6 or 7 times in the past 24 hours. The sound on The Pig Kiss’d is a logical progression from their earlier material. Stylistically this is still rough, ramshackle, and arty pop music, but across each release (particularly since they’ve made the jump to vinyl), Chronophage has grown more refined and more eclectic. As before, I’m reminded of touchstones like the Swell Maps and the Fall, but what separates Chronophage from other bands in this vein is that they sound so American. If you look at a band like the Shifters or even early Pavement, there’s an undercurrent of anglophilia, but Chronophage sound like they’ve listened to a lot of Neil Young, Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters, and 70s album-oriented rock. Those influences (if they are influences) get chopped and screwed and come out weird, but it feels to me like they’re there, and they bump up against the artier approach I mentioned in interesting ways. The songs are cool, the production and arrangements are beautiful, and the overall approach is unique, so if this style of arty underground pop interests you, Chronophage should be on your radar.
Lockheed / Affect: Split 7” (Blown Out Media) Classic-sounding 6-song split 7” from these two raw punk bands. Lockheed is from California, we’ve raved about them before, and these three tracks don’t disappoint at all. Their sound is in that fast and brutal mode with complex riffing, and will slide comfortably into your collection if you’re into bands like Scarecrow and Public Acid. The guitar sound is blown out in a Disclose kind of way and the vocals snarl in a Poffen-influenced style. As for Sweden’s Affect, they have a looser, rawer sound in the early Disclose mold with vocals modeled on Kawakami’s. In contrast to Lockheed’s rhythmically denser style, Affect deals in cascading sheets of noise. I’m feeling the Lockheed side more at the moment, but this is a quality pickup for any raw punker.