Featured Release Roundup: February 14, 2019

Andy Human & the Reptoids: Psychic Sidekick 12” (Total Punk) 2nd LP from California’s Andy Human & the Reptoids and a rare long-player for the Total Punk label. While Andy Human’s singles are gut-punches of catchiness, Psychic Sidekick spreads out and emphasizes the band’s looser side. Most songs are built around steady drumbeats and bass pulses, overlaid with squelches of synth and (often heavily effected) lead guitar. The vocals and lyrics can feel like an afterthought, but that’s OK because those long, meandering synth and guitar lines are the star of the show. If your record collection has a ton of ’77-era punk records and 70s Krautrock, you’re right in the sweet spot for being bowled over by Psychic Sidekick. Interestingly, the songs on the a-side feel a little snappier and more upbeat, while the tracks on the b-side churn more slowly. That is except for “You Like Your Job,” whose propulsive, Delta 5-ish bass line makes it the record’s standout track. While Psychic Sidekick isn’t as crude or confrontational as the typical Total Punk release, if you like the more psychedelic end of the garage spectrum (Destruction Unit, Ex-Cult, that recent Timmy Vulgar LP on Mind Meld) this is well worth a listen.

Zyanose: Chaos Bender 12” (Distort Reality) Brand new 8-song, one-sided (the b-side has a rad looking etching) 12” from these Japanese noise-punk / crasher crust legends. I know that some people think crasher crust is a genre whose parameters are so narrow that every release sounds the same. I can see where people are coming from with that opinion, but I can’t deny the power of a well-done release in this style. Further, while Zyanose aren’t as innovative as, say, D-Clone, they’re far from generic. While a solid 75% of the record consists of the explosions of maximum intensity I think of as crasher crust, Zyanose’s true artistry lies in how that 75% sits against the remaining quarter of the record. Each of these eight tracks has something to make it unique—it might be an oddly pitch-shifted vocal, an unexpected rhythm, a particularly abrasive noise texture, or a dramatic tempo change—but there’s always enough to ensure that each track is memorable and not a throwaway. Further, these moments serve as a counter-point to the blaring noise-punk, preventing that feeling of monotony it’s so easy for extreme music to drift into. So, move along if you have no interest in the style, but if you’re on board, this is an excellent record.

Hyena: S/T 12” (Bloody Master) Debut vinyl from this Atlanta hardcore band featuring members of Mercenary and Bukkake Boys, and if you liked those bands, I’m sure you’ll love Hyena. The style resembles what those bands did… a certain brand of meat and potatoes hardcore free of stylistic pretense and cool guy posturing. The music is uniformly hard and heavy, but Hyena makes room for plenty of interesting little moments like the anarcho-tinged “War,” the wicked fast drumming on “Culture of Violence,” and some memorable lead guitar on tracks like “Narcissist” and “Plagued.” Really, though, after listening to this LP all the way through, you’re not left remembering those moments so much as the monolithic intensity of the whole record. I can’t imagine that Hyena will become the next hype band (though the cool artwork and limited 220-copy pressing could make this a hard to get record), but this LP will appeal to precisely the people who aren’t chasing the hot new thing.

Chow Line: Demo No. 4 cassette (Edger) Fourth tape from this Portland band and damn it smokes. Seriously, someone press this to vinyl, stat! Chow Line remind me of other Portland bands like Suck Lords and U-Nix in that they’re capable of playing very fast, but they also have a tougher Poison Idea-type element to their sound. Everything is tight and snappy, the recording is perfect, and the vocalist has a burly, Jerry A-type shout/bellow. While a lot of tape releases can seem half-baked or thrown together, this one feels like a proper EP with a deliberate and exciting build-up across the tracks. The mid-paced churn of “Hell” leads into the faster “Crisis,” which sets the stage for my favorite track on the tape, “The Train.” Usually it’s the mid-paced parts that stand out on a hardcore record, but “The Train” is the fastest track here, sounding like Pick Your King-era Poison Idea trying to match Siege’s blistering tempos. The tape ends with “False Death,” where double bass drum (the only place it appears on the tape) ratchets up the intensity one final notch. You wouldn’t expect it with an unassuming title like Demo No. 4, but this is one of the best hardcore releases I’ve heard in recent memory.

Zounds: Can’t Cheat Karma 12” (Sealed) Zounds’ five 7” releases have been repackaged numerous times over the years: a 1983 LP on Italy’s Base Records, CD collections in 1993 and 2007, and even a 7” box set on Broken Rekids in 2011. This collection on Sealed Records doesn’t add much aside from super cool new artwork and a rad poster insert, but you won’t find me complaining that some of the best anarcho punk ever is back in print. Zounds’ first single, Can’t Cheat Karma, is a top 5 Crass Records release for me. One of the most musically sophisticated and capable anarcho bands, Zounds made chart-worthy music for the punks, and the three tracks from Can’t Cheat Karma are all hits that will inspire a singalong at any gathering of spiky punks. If you haven’t heard them before the choruses will hit you immediately, but as the tracks sink in you’ll notice all kinds of subtleties, particularly in the guitars, which dance across the beat with the grace of a seasoned ska or funk player. Amazingly, Zounds got even better on their second single, Demystification. The title track is the band’s best song, brooding pop that brings in subtle organ sounds to make the track both fuller and more delicate. The b-side, “Great White Hunter,” is probably Zounds’ best song other than “Demystification,” with a big classic rock riff anchoring the track. Their final three singles don’t get as much attention from punks, but they’re full of moments of equal brilliance. The a-sides to their final two singles both had a Smiths-esque rockabilly jangle different from anything the band had done before, but equally brilliant. As you can tell, Zounds are one of my favorite anarcho bands and the thirteen tracks here are long since burned into my memory banks from repeated play. If you don’t already have these songs on a physical format, this beautiful looking and great-sounding reissue will do the trick just fine.

All New Arrivals

Zyanose: Chaos Bender 12" (Distort Reality)
Andy Human & the Reptoids: Psychic 12" (Total Punk)
Chow Line: Demo 4 cassette (Edger)
Zounds: Can't Cheat Karma 12" (Sealed)
E.D.S.: Probation cassette (self-released)
Anderson.Paak: Oxnard 12" (Aftermath)
Panda Bear: Buoys 12" (Domino)
Xiu Xiu: Girl with Basket of Fruit 12" (Polyvinyl)
Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody OST 12" (Hollywood)
LCD Soundsystem: Electric Ladyland 12" (Columbia)
Greta Van Fleet: Black Smoke Rising 12" (Republic)
Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream 12" (Virgin)


Constant Mongrel: Living in Excellence 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Disclose: Tragedy 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Exotica: Musique Exotique #03 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Forra: Mostrame Lo Peor 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Nueva Fuerza: Hitos Y Derrotas 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Sial: Binasa 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Bad Religion: Into the Unknown 12" (Euro Import)
Physique: The Evolution of Combat 12" (Distort Reality)
Greta Van Fleet: Anthem of the Peaceful Army 12" (Republic)
Siouxsie & the Banshees: The Scream 12" (Polydor)
Uncle Acid: Blood Lust 12" (Rise Above)
Childish Gambino: Awaken My Love 12" (Glassnote)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn 12" (Interscope)
Weezer: Blue Album 12" (Geffen)
Jimi Hendrix: Axis: Bold as Love 12" (Columbia)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland 12" (Columbia)
Brand New: Your Favorite Weapon 12" (Triple Crown)
Smashing Pumpkins: Gish 12" (Geffen)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella)
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King 12" (Inner Knot)
Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 12" (Merge)
Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters 12" (Manifesto)
The Strokes: Is This It? 12" (RCA)
Outkast: Aquemini 12" (LaFace)
Outkast: ATLiens 12" (LaFace)
Misfits: Collection II 12" (Caroline)
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 12" (RCA)
Husker Du: Metal Circus 12" (SST)
Deftones: White Pony 12" (Maverick)

Leave a comment