Featured Release Roundup: January 17, 2019
Parsnip: Feeling Small 7” (Anti-Fade) Second EP from this Australian band. With a minimally distorted guitar sound and broad melodies that remind me of children’s music, Parsnip are on the edge of being twee, but their music has enough heft and grit to hold your interest even if you typically stay within punk’s boundaries. The a-side is cheery and melodic while the b-side is for the punkers with its faster tempo and big crashing chords that remind me of the Boys or the Damned, though not as heavy. The mastering on this 7” is also loud and hot, which contributes to the aforementioned grit. If you like catchy, jangly punk like the Shop Assistants or the Vaselines I’d encourage you to check out Parsnip.
Kronstadt Uprising: The Unknown Revolution 7” (Antitodo) Reissue of this UK band’s 1983 EP, which originally came out on the Spiderleg label. While the computer-generated type on the cover gives this the look of early 90s European crust, Kronstadt Uprising obviously took a lot of influence from Crass. The snare-heavy drumming, bubbly bass, and snarling, confrontational vocals are all on point, and you’ll love them if you’re the type of person who has listened to Stations of the Crass more than once in your life. The two tracks on the b-side add spice to the mix, with “Xenophobia” using a fast, Ultra Violent-style oompah beat while the closer “End of Part One” slows things down, injecting some Amebix-style gloom without straying too far from the core sound. This EP rips. Antitodo has more Kronstadt Uprising reissues coming, so watch out for those too.
Red Delicious: S/T 7” (Slugsalt) Debut 7” from this Chicago-area band. The sound here is rough and loose early 80s-style hardcore with fuzzy, vintage-style production. The label’s description references YDI, which I hear in Red Delicious’s ferocity, but something about this EP reminds me of Finnish hardcore, particularly Rattus. It’s not a soundalike record, though, as Red Delicious incorporate moves from throughout hardcore’s history, including SSD-esque breakdowns on “Conquista” and “Luta Fraca,” mid-paced, Discharge-style (think “A Look at Tomorrow”) riffing on “Sumida” and “Garganta Quente” and some ripping fast Neos-style thrash on “Homen Amarrado.” If you like the scrappy midwestern hardcore that comes out on labels like Lengua Armada and Not Normal I recommend giving this one a listen.
Kieltolaki: Elämänvalhe EP 7” (Kick Rock) This one is a pleasant surprise. We hadn’t heard from Finland’s Kieltolaki since their 2015 12” on Feral Ward, so I’m pleased to see they’ve released some new music, and even more pleased to tell you it rips just as hard as the old stuff. Elämänvalhe has a beefy but raw sound that captures Kieltolaki’s trademark intensity. You get four tracks, two of which (the first and last) have a touch of Japanese hardcore’s grandiose quality. I wouldn't say they sound like Death Side, but the riffs are a little bigger and broader. The remaining two tracks are go-for-the-throat rippers that remind me of their countrymen Lama. It’s a short one, but it’s perfectly executed and off-the-charts ferocious. Highly recommended.
Mueco: Controlled Information 7” (Brain Solvent Propaganda) New 4-song EP from this Montreal d-beat band. Controlled Information is as well-executed an homage to Disclose’s Disbones era is you’re likely to find. Mueco drench the recording in distortion and fuzz, bark out the vocals like a rabid dog, and dress up their classic, Discharge-inspired riffs with light touches of additional complexity and some fast, Broken Bones-esque palm muting. There’s a fine line between sounding generic and sounding timeless, and I think Mueco are on the right side of that line. I’m not sure this will convince any d-beat haters, but Controlled Information is top-notch stuff for people who follow the genre.
Public Service: I’m Gonna Kill that Man 7” (Anxious Music) Debut 7” from this Scottish band, released on a new label connected to the band Anxiety (the one on La Vida Es Un Mus, not the Boston one). I’m a big skeptic regarding modern bands influenced by the post-punk classics, but there’s no denying Public Service’s power on this EP. While a lot of bands dress up boring punk songs with a chorus pedal and a disco beat, Public Service bring together the melodic flourishes of prime-era Siouxsie and the Banshees with the dark quirkiness of Christian Death. The atmosphere is more creepy than gloomy, and the main things that stick out on the first few listens are the chiming, John McGeoch-esque guitar playing and quivering, creepy-sounding vocals that sound a lot like Rozz Williams. More importantly, though, the songwriting is spot-on. For me, there are legions of post-punk soundalikes and there are bands like Pleasure Leftists or Savages (well, on their first album at least) that have as much substance as style. Based on this EP, I’m inclined to let Public Service into that club. I’ve been playing the heck out of this EP, and I hope that one day I get to hear what this band does with a full-length.
Brower: Buzzsaws 12” (Dig!) After an earlier cassette release here’s the debut vinyl from Brower, a one-man band featuring Nat Brower, whom you may remember from great power-pop projects like Nancy and Patsy’s Rats. I love both of those bands and I’m head over heels for Buzzsaws. While obviously indebted to 70s glam rock like T Rex, David Bowie, and the Sweet, these 10 songs are so catchy and energetic that I don’t pay attention to the stylistic trappings so much as the songs themselves. These are great pop songs, building you up through the intro and verse and giving you that feeling of sweet release in the chorus as you sing along. There isn’t a dud here but I do want to single out “My Father’s Name Was Cat” and “You May Know Me as the Kind of Guy Who” for high praise. Those also happen to be the two longest song titles on the record, which is an insignificant detail I have inserted here for no particular reason. Here's another detail: the record includes two different songs about saws, which I find a little weird. Besides 8 great originals, you also get two covers by the 70s African Zamrock band Amanaz, though they’re made to fit Brower’s formula, albeit with a little more hard rock influence than the other tracks. Plenty of people will find Brower saccharine, but if you’re a fan of Nancy, Dangus Tarkus, and Jeez Louise this is a no-brainer. Get your sugar rush.
Chronophage: Prolog for Tomorrow 12” (Cleta-Patra) After several cassette releases (which the band compiled on a cassette compilation I wrote about a few weeks back) here’s the debut vinyl from Texas’s Chronophage. While Chronophage has cleaned up their sound from those earlier tapes, they still play rough-hewn and loose pop music. Their recordings have a handmade quality that sounds like people playing together in a room, which stands in stark contrast to most punk rock I hear, which takes advantage of recording technology to sound as full and as a tight as possible. While Chronophage don’t sound retro, that quality forces me to go back further for good reference points for their sound, whether it’s to UK groups like Swell Maps, Television Personalities, and O Level, or American stuff like Pavement’s earliest material. While the whole thing is an enjoyable listen, my ears perk up when unexpected sounds crop into the mix, like the gurgles of electronic noise that pepper between-track transitions, the trumpet on “Racing,” or the double-tracked chorus of “Double Suicide.” Recommended if you want to hear smart people making loose, raw, and earnest music.