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Featured Release Roundup: February 28, 2019

Shifters / Parsnip: Hip Blister 12” (Future Folklore) Brand new 6-song (3 songs from each group) EP from these two Australian bands who should be familiar to Sorry State’s followers. Shifters have put out a slew of records over the past year and I’ve liked them all, but I was less enthused with their debut LP on Trouble in Mind. Maybe they just work better in the EP format because I like these three tracks a lot. In everything I’ve written about the Shifters I’ve said they sound like a mix of the Fall’s early stuff and Velvets-influenced New Zealand bands from the early 80s, and that remains true here. If you liked their early stuff, you’ll enjoy these three tracks. As for Parsnip, their earlier records sounded a little different from one another, and this one sounds a little different from those. The first track, “Counterfeit,” is a nice power-pop tune with a Number Ones-esque walking bass line. “Dailybreader” has super high vocals that might test your tolerance for twee, while the record’s title track is a little more rocking and riff-based, making it my favorite track on the record. I’m not sure that Hip Blister is the place to start with either of these bands, but if you’re following all the hip new Australian sounds you’ll want to pick this up.

The Cowboys: The Bottom of a Rotten Flower 12” (Feel It) Latest full-length from this great band from Indiana. They have a confusing discography, but by my count The Bottom of a Rotten Flower is the band’s sixth (!!!) full-length album in five years, though only the latter three have seen vinyl pressings (their first LP on Lumpy / Drunken Sailor compiled the best tracks from their earlier cassette-only albums). The Cowboys resist the descriptions I usually write, because while I rely on a lot of band comparisons, they don’t seem to be working with their influences in the way most contemporary punk bands do, or if they are, then I’m not familiar with those influences. Instead, the Cowboys strike me as songwriters and players of the type you don’t see too often anymore. The have little pretense about them; they have no “image” and they don’t seem precious about the process of making and releasing records. Instead, they write song after song. Those songs are always good and sometimes they’re great. They also vary widely in style. The Bottom of a Rotten Flower has everything from Billy Joel-esque piano rock (“Now with Feeling”), Real Kids-style 50s-influenced power-pop (“Open Sores”), Smiths-esque rockabilly pop (“Happy Armageddon”), and a whole heap of energetic, punky power pop songs that remind me of 70s punk bands like the Undertones, the Lurkers, and the Boys. I like that there’s so much Cowboys material out there and that the band forces you to come to their music on their terms… it’s a similar approach to bands like the Fall, Guided by Voices, or the Stooges. The Cowboys don’t sound like any of those bands, but they have a similar relationship to their listeners. I’m sure it’s possible to enjoy The Bottom of a Rotten Flower as a simple collection of pop songs. In fact, I have a hunch that’s what the band wants you to do, but the Cowboy’s approach and demeanor are so intriguing and so foreign to our historical moment they’re worth paying attention to.

Man-Eaters: S/T cassette (self-released) Debut cassette from this new Chicago band feature members of Tarantula. Tarantula is on hiatus at the moment and Man-Eaters pick up where they left off. Over the course of the many Cülo and Tarantula releases these folks have locked into a distinct and memorable sound, and if you’re a fan, you should keep an eye on Man-Eaters. That being said, this project has a slightly different vibe. While “Nasty Bits” sounds like it could have been a Tarantula song with its melodic, Husker Du-esque guitar riff, most of the other tracks have a heavier, more rock-and-roll vibe that reminds me of the Dead Boys at their toughest and meanest. “Carbona Guerrilla” (great title!) and “Taste Concrete” are great examples of this style, and “The Electric Umbilical Cord” adds in some off-kilter rhythms and psychedelic elements into the mix. If you’re a fan of Cülo and / or Tarantula, you’ll want to pick this up.

Rosey Dust: Keep for Life 7” (Square Wave) Debut single from this power-pop band. The a-side is a big-guitar, classic-sounding power-pop track that reminds me of Big Star or Tim-era Replacements with its chiming guitars and energetic (but not punky) rhythm. Songcraft is important to Rosey Dust as “Keep for Life” is a long track with a lot of parts, but the song has a logical forward movement that sounds perfect for mid-80s alternative rock radio… if such a thing existed. The b-side takes a similar approach, but slows down the tempo a hair and ups the guitars’ shred and fuzz levels into the J Mascis region. I don’t think Rosey Dust is for the punks necessarily, but these are two superb power pop tunes.

States of Nature: Collide-A-Scope 7” (self-released) Debut EP from this Bay Area, California band featuring former members of Sterile Mind. States of Nature’s sound reminds me of the post-hardcore I was listening to in the 90s, particularly Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi, and Jawbox. Like those bands, States of Nature use inventive rhythms, have complex and dynamic arrangements, and have a penchant for the occasional big, Nirvana-style chorus. The production is powerful, the playing is top-notch, and it scratches that itch for complexity and ambition you might develop after a few days of listening to nothing but primitive d-beat. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned bands give this a try… it rocks.

Redness: Killer Bees 12” (no label) Redness is a little-known art-punk band from Cleveland, Ohio, and this record is a reissue of their 1980 7” expanded to a 12” for maximum fidelity. Killer Bees is some of the most out-there art punk I’ve ever heard. As the label’s description notes, you can hear traces of influences from weirdo touchstones like Captain Beefheart and the Residents, but Redness sounds way more homemade, chaotic, and confrontational. “Gran Torismo” and “Creme Rinse” contain traces of melody, but “Little Debbie” and “Primitivjam” sound like the most out-there krautrock experiments minus any trace of musicality or technical ability. The mix of instruments sounds almost random, with horns and synths sharing space with drills, saws, and god-knows-what percussion. If you’re looking for the weirdest of the weird, look no further. You’ve found it.

All New Arrivals

Fried Egg: Square One 12” (Feel It)
The Cowboys: The Bottom of a Rotten Flower 12” (Feel It)
Parsnip / The Shifters: Hip Blister 12" (Future Folklore)
U-bahn: S/T 12" (Future Folklore)
Man Eaters: S/T cassette (self released)
Rosey Dust: Keep For Life 7" (Square Wave)
States of Nature: Collide-A-Scope 7" (self-released)
Redness: Killer Bees 12" (euro import)
Didaktische Einheit: Dosis 6 cassette (ZZK Tapes)
Count Me Out: 110 12" (Indecision)
Count Me Out: Permanent 12" (Indecision)
Hard Stance: Foundation: The Discography 12" (Indecision)
Warfare: Declaration 12" (Triple B)
Kicker: Pure Drivel 12" (Tankcrimes)
One Step Closer: From Me to You 12" (Triple B)
Various: Trouble with a Capital T 12" (Panhandle Punk)
Albert Ayler & Don Cherry: Vibrations 12" (Org Music)
Arctic Monkeys: I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor 12" (Domino)
Arctic Monkeys: Leave Before the Lights Come On 12" (Domino)
Arctic Monkeys: Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair 12" (Domino)
Arctic Monkeys: Cornerstone 12" (Domino)
Arctic Monkeys: Crying Lightning 12" (Domino)
Social Distortion: S/T 12” (Music On Vinyl)
Def Leppard: Story So Far 12” (Universal)
Claypool Lennon Delirium: South of Reality 12” (ATO)
Cop Shoot Cop: Ask Questions Later 12” (New Red Archives)
Cop Shoot Cop: Release 12” (New Red Archives)


G-Zet / Bradbury: Split 12” (euro import)
La Urss: Nuevo Testamento 12" (Discos MMM)
Durs Coeurs: Dur Dur Dur 12" (Discos MMM)
Agnostic Front: United Blood 7" (Bridge 9)
Gorilla Biscuits: S/T 7" (Revelation)
Crippled Youth: Join the Fight 7" (Revelation)
Torso: Build and Break 7" (Revelation)
Agnostic Front: Live at CBGB 12" (Bridge 9)
Bathory: S/T 12" (Black Mark)
Bathory: Under the Sign of the Black Mark 12" (Black Mark)
Agent Orange: Living in Darkness 12" (Drastic Plastic)
Against Me!: As the Eternal Cowboy 12" (Fat Wreck)
Bolt Thrower: Realm of Chaos 12" (Earache)
AFI: All Hallows 10" (Nitro)
CIV: Set Your Goals 12" (Revelation)
Texas Is the Reason: Do You Know... 2x12" (Revelation)
Misfits: Walk Among Us 12" (Rhino)
Turnstile: Time & Space 12" (Roadrunner)
Turnstile: Nonstop Feeling 12" (Reaper)
Julien Baker: Sprained Ankle 12" (6131)
Negative FX: S/T 12" (Taang!)
Warzone: Open Your Eyes 12" (Revelation)
Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody OST 12” (Hollywood)
Eric Church: Sinners Like Me 12” (Capitol)
Eagles of Death Metal: Death by Sexy 12” (Downtown)
Mumford & Sons: Delta 12” (Glassnote)
Greta Van Fleet: Anthem of the Peaceful Army 12” (Republic)
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats: Wasteland 12” (Rise Above)
Death Grips: Year of the Snitch 12” (Third World)
SZA: CTRL 2x12” (Top Dawg)
Childish Gambino: Awaken, My Love 12” (Glassnote)
Bright Eyes: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning 12” (Saddle Creek)
Michael Jackson: Thriller 12” (Epic)
Jimmy Eat World: Bleed American 12” (Geffen)
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly 2x12” (Top Dawg)
The Avett Brothers: Magpie and the Dandelion 2x12” (Universal)
The Lumineers: S/T 12” (Dualtone)
Smashing Pumpkins: Gish 12” (Caroline)
Foo Fighters: S/T 12” (Roswell)
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy 2x12” (Sony)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12” (Roc-A-Fella)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland 12” (Columbia)
The Strokes: Is This It? 12” (RCA)
AFI: The Art Of Drowning 12” (Nitro)
Misfits: Static Age 12” (Caroline)
Tool: Undertow 12” (Volcano)
Outkast: ATLiens 2x12” (LaFace)
Black Flag: Six Pack 7” (SST)
Husker Du: Flip Your Wig 12” (SST)
Brand New: Deja Entendu 2x12” (Triple Crown)

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