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Featured Release Roundup: December 13, 2018

Annex: Melu 12” (Adelante Discos) Second 12” from this now-veteran Texas post-punk band. The band’s logo rips off Xmal Deutschland, and that nod indicates where Annex is coming from. The songs are dark and sparse in the manner of early goth, with lots of empty space in the production a la Cure records like Seventeen Seconds or Pornography. While Annex’s take on the style is straightforward, there are a couple of things I like about Melu. First, there’s a sense of expansiveness. Punk and hardcore songs tend to be densely packed with information, and particularly when you combine that songwriting style with a drummer who plays slightly ahead of the beat things can sound frantic and overwhelming. Annex take a very different approach, hanging on parts for a long time and spreading out across these songs like they’re a cozy living room. Some songs are instrumentals, though these songs don’t sound substantially different from the others; it’s like the singer just never bothers to start. The other thing I like about Melu is the guitarist’s strong melodic sensibility. The Chameleons are probably the most on-point comparison, but moments even approach Johnny Marr’s trademark melodicism.


Mere Mortal: Tartarus 12” (Quality Control) Debut 12” from this new UK metal band that draws their membership from the NWOBHC scene. While the band’s logo references Napalm Death, the sound is more thrash than grind (no blast beats), though it’s thrash of the heavier variety that edges toward early death metal. I’m reminded of Kreator’s heavier moments, but someone better versed in 80s metal could find more appropriate reference points. The vocals, however, aren't high-pitched wails, but instead are scary and demonic (but not guttural), giving Mere Mortal a cult metal vibe that keeps them well outside the zone of Power Trip’s more commercial thrash/hardcore hybrid. Speaking of hardcore, you can hear the members’ background in that genre in the huge, Cro-Mags-esque breakdowns that pepper these songs. “Scarecrow” in particular has a massive breakdown that will surely inspire spin kicks. Despite these nods, Tartarus feels like a pure metal record, and even if comparisons to records like Best Wishes or Humanity Is the Devil wouldn’t be out of place, this is still a step further toward metal than either of those. The riffs are there, though, the songwriting is great, and the production is gritty yet powerful. If you are interested in this style, I would highly recommended checking this out.


Natural Man & the Flamin’ Hot Band: S/T 7” (Neck Chop) Debut vinyl from this well-established project conducted by the Natural Man himself, Ian Teeple, whom you may know from his other gig playing guitar for Warm Bodies. While Warm Bodies displays Ian’s virtuosity, on this 7” at least Natural Man & the Flamin’ Hot Band feels like a party band. I’m not talking about a boneheaded frat party, but rather a hip party at an underground art gallery in a loft space on the Lower East Side in 1980. The music is energetic and celebratory, but an occasionally skronky saxophone or a choppy rhythm is always there as a sour accent to balance the sweet. While it’s similar to what the Contortions / James Chance were doing during the tail end of the No Wave era (or what the Cravats were doing in the UK around the same time), it feels like its own thing, like they arrived at this sound organically rather than by mining the past for influences. This won’t be for everyone, but I recommend it if you like your punk weird, quirky, and artsy. 


Baby’s Blood: S/T 7” (Neck Chop) Baby’s Blood are ostensibly from Finland, but Drew Owen’s hands are so all over this project it fits much more comfortably in the Sick Thoughts / DD Owen universe of projects than anything Finnish I’m aware of. If you’re a fan of Drew’s other work, this has everything you expect: nihilistic lyrics; big choruses that sound dumb at first, but after they’re repeated a few times seem strangely profound (see: “Everybody Looks Like a Fucking Idiot”); meaty, garage-punk-meets-HC riffs; and blistering fast tempos that never let up. This guy has this sound and style down to a science, so pick this up if you want to hear more of it… it’ll scratch your itch.


Decomp / Gaasp: Split 7” (Rust and Machine) Split 7” from these two Portland crust bands. Decomp has a sound that lives in the fuzzy area where hardcore punk meets crust and d-beat. With metallic, Japanese HC-inspired riffing and a noisy d-beat production style, they sound like a crustier version of what New York’s Headsplitters are doing. As for Gaasp, they also start with a d-beat foundation but spice their mix with some Motorcharged riffing and big build-ups a la D.S.B. I don’t think this will convert any d-beat haters, but it’s a solid fist-pounder for the crusties. 


Neo Neos: Kill Someone You Hate 12” (Neck Chop) Latest release, and the first on 12”, from this project. Neo Neos are punk maximalists with minimal production values, pounding out track after track of loose and cacophonous racket. Kill Someone You Hatefeatures a whopping 22 tracks, and it’s a total information overload in much the same way that the second Liquids LP (Hot Liqs Revenge, also on Neck Chop) was. As I’m listening, there’s plenty to get excited about in the gurgling cauldron of noise and feedback, but by the time I’ve played both sides of Kill Someone You Hate I feel like I’ve just binge-watched an entire season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… my reference points are skewed and my world is no longer my own. I realize I haven’t given you any impression what this record sounds like, but it’s less about the sound and more about the experience, so if you aren’t willing to go on the whole epic journey with Neo Neos it’s probably best you stay home.


Suburban Homes: EP3 7” (Neck Chop) So, when you saw the title of this record you probably thought to yourself “wait, I’m sure I have more than two other Suburban Homes records in my collection.” You’re right. EP3 is Suburban Homes fifth release to hit the shelves. In the Red was supposed to release the EP, but several years of production delays and a switch to a new label put everything out of whack. The sound here is what we expect from Suburban Homes. They sound a lot like Desperate Bicycles with their deadpan vocals and gloomy, late-70s-Britain atmosphere, but their lyrics address the brutal mundanities of 2010s life. Their sound (like late 70s Britain) can be monochromatic, so my favorite moments in Suburban Homes songs come when you get a sudden burst of color, which comes in forms like a chiming, Billy Childish-style guitar solo (like in “Magazine Version” and “City Life”) or an unexpected overdub of noise guitar (“Corporate Hijack”). Suburban Homes’ flash factor hovers around zero, but I’ve always loved punk rock that has this unpretentious, workmanlike quality. Each new Suburban Homes record is a pleasure, and EP3 is no different.


Chronophage: demo cassette (self-released) This tape isn’t actually a demo, but rather a compilation of four different recordings: three small-run demo releases and a recording of a live show. Austin’s Chronophage sounds like a bedroom project in the best way possible, like a few weirdos with some hand-me-down musical equipment and obsolete recording gear muddling their way through making their own music. While Chronophage doesn’t sound like an homage at all, they remind me of Swell Maps and Cleaners from Venus in their rickety, homemade approach to making pop music. Like those bands, the Velvet Underground seems to be a key influence on Chronophage, particularly the way their sound slides between rock, pop, and out-there experimentation; there’s even an interesting cover of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” buried somewhere on this lengthy release. If you’re a fan of sprawling collections like the Swell Maps’ International Rescue or the compilations of Cabaret Voltaire’s early, home-recorded material I don’t know of a closer modern equivalent to those releases than this cassette. 


All New Arrivals

Gaizin: S/T 7" (General Speech)
The Execute: Vol. 3 12" (not specified)
Chronophage: Demo cassette (self-released)
Lockjaw: Demos 1982-1983 12" (Antitodo)
Danzig: II: Lucifuge 12" (Mars Zombie)
Skitklass: Greatest Shits 12" (Pogo 77)
1st Offence: The Night the Punks Turned Ugly 7" (Vomito Punk)
Neo Neos: Kill Someone You Hate 12" (Neck Chop)
S.B.F.: Same Beat Forever 12" (Neck Chop)
Natural Man & the Flamin' Hot Band: S/T 7" (Neck Chop)
Suburban Homes: EP3 7" (Neck Chop)
Baby's Blood: S/T 7" (Neck Chop)
Blasphemy: Gods of War 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Various: Raise Your Voice Joyce 12" (Static Shock)
Annex: Melu 12" (Adelante Discos)
Dimesack: Says God Says Fuck You 12" (Blak Skul)
Sick of It All: Wake the Sleeping Dragon 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Craft: Terror Propaganda 12" (Season of Mist)
Redd Kross: Hot Issue 12" (Merge)
Redd Kross: Teen Babes from Monsanto 12" (Merge)
This Mortal Coil: It'll End in Tears 12" (4AD)
This Mortal Coil: Filigree & Shadow 12" (4AD)
This Mortal Coil: Blood 12" (4AD)
Bauhaus: Crackle 12" (Beggar’s Banquet)
Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy 12" (Atlantic)
Joe Hisaishi: Castle in the Sky OST 12" (URP)
Joe Hisaishi: My Neighbor Totoro: Image Album 12" (URP)
Joe Hisaishi: My Neighbor Totoro: Sound Book 12" (URP)
Joe Hisaishi: My Neighbor Totoro OST 12" (URP)
Joe Hisaishi: Nausicaa of the Valley Wind OST 12" (URP)
Eminem: Kamikaze 12" (Interscope)
Foo Fighters: Greatest Hits 12" (RCA)
Soundgarden: Superunknown 12" (A&M)
Tom Petty: Greatest Hits 12" (Geffen)
Smashing Pumpkins: Gish 12" (Caroline)
 

Restocks


Q: 2nd 7" (Lumpy)
Closet Christ: You're in My World Now 7" (Lumpy)
Eke Buba: S/T 7" (Lumpy)
Agnostic Front: No One Rules 12" (Radio Raheem)
Cock Sparrer: Shock Troops 12" (Pirates Press)
Grief: Dismal 12" (Fuck Yoga)
Life's Blood: Hardcore AD 1988 12" (Prank)
Natterers: Head in Threatening Attitude 12" (Boss Tuneage)
Orchid: Chaos Is Me 12" (Ebullition)
Kids: S/T 12" (Radiation)
Kids: Naughty Kids 12" (Radiation)
Tragedy: Fury 12" (self-released)
Verbal Assault: Trial 12" (Atomic Action)
Warzone: Open Your Eyes 12" (Revelation)
The Swankys: This Is My Lifestyle 7" (Crowmaniax)
The Swankys: Never Can Eat Swank Dinner 12" (Rat)
Rikk Agnew: All By Myself 12" (Frontier)
The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient 12" (Secretly Canadian)
The Fix: The Speed of Twisted Thought 12" (Touch & Go)
The Cure: Pornography 12" (Rhino)
The Cure: Seventeen Seconds 12" (Rhino)
Sleep: Holy Mountain 12" (Earache)
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks 12" (Rhino)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik 12" (Warner Bros)
Rancid: Let's Go 12" (Epitaph)
Sigur Ros: Agaetis Byrjun 12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool 12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: OK Computer 12" (XL Recordings)
Pavement: Wowee Zowee 12" (Sub Pop)
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff 12" (Sub Pop)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress 12" (Sub Pop)
Motorhead: Overkill 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: Another Perfect Day 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: Ace of Spades 12" (Sanctuary)
Metallica: And Justice for All 12" (Blackened)
Metallica: Kill 'em All 12" (Blackened)
Led Zeppelin: I 12" (Atlantic)
Led Zeppelin: II 12" (Atlantic)
Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffitti 12" (Atlantic)
Green Day: Dookie 12" (Reprise)
Dr. Dre: The Chronic 12" (Death Row)
Snoop Doggy Dogg: Doggystyle 12" (Death Row)
David Bowie: Low 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust 12" (Parlophone)
Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath 12" (Rhino)
NOFX: Heavy Petting Zoo 12" (Epitaph)
Entombed: Left Hand Path 12" (Earache)
Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique 12" (Capitol)
Beastie Boys: Check Your Head 12" (Capitol)
Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty 12" (Capitol)
Blink 182: Enema of the State 12" (SRC)
Brand New: Your Favorite Weapon 12" (Triple Crown)
Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky 12" (Peaceville)
Jimi Hendrix: Axis Bold as Love 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella)
Lana Del Rey: Born to Die 12" (Polydor)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn 12" (Interscope)
J Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive 12" (Roc Nation)
Michael Jackson: Thriller 12" (Epic)
A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Merauders 12" (Jive)
Misfits: Die Die My Darling 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Legacy of Brutality 12" (Caroline)
Avett Brothers: Magpie & Dandelion 12" (Universal)
Ol Dirty Bastard: Return to the 36 Chambers 12" (Elektra)
Outkast: Stankonia 12" (LaFace)
Mumford & Sons: Delta 12" (Glassnote)
SZA: CTRL 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)

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