Featured Release Roundup: January 23, 2020
Dayglow Abortions: Wake Up, It’s Time to Die 7” (Supreme Echo) Wake Up, It’s Time to Die is the first vinyl release of a 1982 recording session from this long-running Canadian hardcore band. Recorded between their ultra-rare Out of the Womb 12” and their high-water mark, the Feed Us a Fetus LP, the raw recording and loose playing give these tracks a more traditional US hardcore sound than the band’s two official vinyl releases. I know about half the tracks from Feed Us a Fetus, but the others are new to me. These new-to-me tracks find the band pushing their satirical lyrics to the limits of good taste. It’s hard to know where those limits were in 1982, but some of this stuff wouldn’t fly in 2020. It’s more than just empty provocation, though. “Whiter than Hitler,” for instance, points out the absurdity of the very idea of racial purity. Some people will love this because it’s provocative, some will think it goes too far, and some people won't care either way and will just appreciate the ripping vintage USHC. The vinyl version comes with a big booklet and it’s already sold out from the label, so if you’re interested you shouldn’t wait around too long.
The Cowboy: S/T 7” (Drunken Sailor) New 3-song 7” from this Cleveland project that released an LP in 2017 on Fashionable Idiots Records. The label’s description notes that the Cowboy features members of Homostupids and Pleasure Leftists, and if you know those two artists, you can hear the former’s weirdness and the latter’s catchiness seeping in here. The two tracks on the a-side both hover around the 90-second mark and sound like dirtied-up outtakes from Wire’s Pink Flag. “Swimming with the Fishies” is a breezy punk tune whose combination of snappiness and hookiness reminds me of classics like “Mannequin” and “Ex-Lion Tamer.” There’s an intriguing dynamic between precision and rawness that gets flipped for the longer b-side, “Way Out Beneath,” which seems to drift in and out of existence over the course of its three and a half minutes. Like any good single, this is good for repeated plays, but also has me eager to hear what the Cowboy does on their next full-length.
Nylex: Plastic for People 12” (No Patience) Debut LP from this Australian post-punk band. If you’re a fan of Pleasure Leftists’ or Public Service’s Siouxsie-inspired sounds, I recommend checking out Plastic for People. Nylex isn’t a Banshees tribute band, but they’re good at the things that the Banshees were good at, particularly creating shimmering, spacious arrangements that bubble over into a swirling, psychedelic boil. So much music in this style sounds cheesy to me; when bands go for a big, anthemic hook it often ends up sounding like emo or pop-punk, but Nylex remains tasteful throughout. While there are punkier tracks like “Forces,” most of the pleasure of listening to Plastic for People comes from subtle contrasts in rhythm, texture, and tempo. The guitarist is brilliant, creating memorable melodies without ever trying to cram in too many notes. Plastic for People has the energy of a punk record, but its subtlety and refinement remind me just as much of classic 4AD bands like Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil.
Armor: Some Kind of War 7” (11pm) Debut 7” from this band out of Tallahassee, Florida. I probably don’t need to tell you what Armor sounds like because they’ve been blowing up, but I will confirm they warrant the hype. Armor has the fuzzy, blown-out production of a great d-beat band, but their riffs and overall vibe remind me more of the skinhead-infused hardcore sound of bands like 86 Mentality and Violent Reaction. In other words, it’s fast and punk, but also tough and includes the occasional big breakdown. The playing is also great. While there are a lot of precise stops and starts, both the fast and slow parts have a swing and swagger that makes you want to move your body. Another winner from the ever-reliable 11pm Records.
Corvo: Live at Artifact cassette (Artifact Audio) We had the demo tape from DC’s Corvo a few months back, and here’s a new 6-song session recorded at Artifact Audio in New York. While the band still sounds raw, the recording here is big-sounding and clear, which makes this band hit even harder. Corvo combines elements of raw USHC like Armor with moments of fast and loose hardcore in the Deep Wound / Septic Death mode. I’m a sucker for that style, but Corvo keeps things spicy and original with moments like the United Mutation-ish “Rechazo Colonial” and the quirky rhythmic accents in “Pérdida” and “Ignorancia y Arrogancia.” They close things out with a cover of Void’s “Who Are You?,” which makes perfect sense given they’re from DC and have a similarly loose and sinister style.
Alien Nosejob: Suddenly Everything Is Twice as Loud 12” (Drunken Sailor) New LP (their second) from this Australian project helmed by Jake from Ausmuteants. Jake seems like one of those gifted musicians who always has a ton of projects going (he’s also in Heirophants, my personal favorites Leather Towel, and a bunch of others). While most of those have a particular style, Alien Nosejob seems to have no boundaries, with genre, style, and instrumentation often changing drastically from track to track, though most everything on Suddenly Everything Is Twice as Loud falls more or less under the punk umbrella. Several songs recall different eras of another eclectic group, the Television Personalities, with the plonky bass tone of “Blending In” reminding me of that band’s earlier stuff and the darker, more baroque “Rainbow Road” evoking their Painted Word album. Then there’s the Hardcore Devo-ish “Spin Cycle,” the Heartbreakers / Johnny Thunders-esque riff to “Emotional Rep,” and the New Order / Total Control-style closer, “Alien Island.” That’s already an eclectic list of comparisons, but it barely scratches the surface of what’s going on with this LP. Jake’s instantly identifiable voice and melodic sensibility holds everything together, so if you’re a fan of his other projects, odds are you’ll like at least a big chunk of Suddenly Everything Is Twice as Loud.
Nervous SS: Future Extinction 12” (D-takt & Råpunk) 14-song LP from this new project out of Skopje, Macedonia. According to the label, Nervous SS started as a solo project, and while mastermind Seksi recorded the drums, guitar, and vocals for Future Extinction, he brought in a friend to play bass. To me, Nervous SS sounds like pure Totalitär worship. Worship bands (if it’s fair to call Nervous SS that) can often be one-dimensional, but Totalitär covered a lot of stylistic ground over their career and Future Extinction references nearly all of it. There’s the primitive brutality of the opening track, “Sick to Death,” the warp speed mangel of “Total Braindead,” the rocked out “Blindless Desire,” and the mid-paced and slightly melodic “Neverending Soul Scars.” There’s so much to love about Totalitär, and it’s clear that Seksi has studied all of it closely in order to pay tribute to it in such an articulate way here. And even if you aren’t some kind of Totalitär scholar, this is perfectly executed d-beat with a perfect balance of catchiness and brutality.