Featured Release Roundup: January 6, 2020
Dolly Mixture: Other Music 12” (Sealed Records) The UK’s Sealed Records is establishing themselves as one of the foremost punk reissue labels on the planet, and this latest LP from Dolly Mixture continues their hot streak. Dolly Mixture is a pretty obscure band—they never released a proper LP, which didn’t help their legacy—but they’re the very definition of a cult band, with a passionate fanbase who keeps prices on their hard-to-find original vinyl releases sky-high. Their self-released Demonstration Tapes double LP compilation, in particular, is many a collector’s holy grail. Musically, they sound to me like a missing link between the homespun UKDIY pop of bands like Television Personalities and the early shoegaze bands. Like the TVPs, they’re rough around the edges but have great pop songcraft (and awesome bass playing!), but on their later material they’re somewhat darker and more influenced by the Velvet Underground. Other Music collects eleven tracks that have never appeared on vinyl before, ranging from across their original time as a band, which ran from 1978 to 1984. I’m no expert on the band, but if you’re interested in Dolly Mixture, I don’t see why you shouldn’t pick up Other Music. If you’re a die-hard fan of the band, you’ll want these tracks on vinyl, but if you’re a newcomer, Other Music offers a more digestible introduction to the band than either Demonstration Tapes or the Everything and More compilation, both of which are so long as to be unwieldy. You’d better make your choice quickly, though, as demand seems to be exceeding supply on this release.
Zyanose: Total End of Existence 12” (Distort Reality) Zyanose is winding down their time as a band, and Total End of Existence is their send-off, with 7 new tracks on the a-side, re-recordings of 6 older songs on the b-side, and beautiful packaging, including a Crass Records-style poster sleeve and obi strip. Zyanose has an imposing discography but Total End of Existence is a fitting capstone and an ear-splitter that’s worth your time whether or not you’ve followed them closely. If you aren’t familiar with Zyanose, they come from the noisiest and most aesthetically radical end of the hardcore punk spectrum. Descended from anti-music forbears like Confuse and Gai, Zyanose’s songs have no trace of melody and rarely lock into a consistent rhythm. This isn’t music to dance to; it’s music that’s meant to hold a mirror to an ugly, corrupt, and decaying world. Not that I don’t enjoy listening to it; like the best noise-punk bands (the aforementioned and my modern favorite D-Clone), Zyanose’s music is dynamic and exciting, even more so since it generates its power without ever straying into the cliches of pop or rock music. Basically, this is the gnarliest shit out there, and it feels like they’re leaving everything on the field with Total End of Existence. We hear lots of “noise not music” here at Sorry State, but this is top shelf, one of the wildest, most radical slabs of wax I’ve heard in recent memory.
Bedwetters Anonymous: Have U Experienced Discomfort 7” (Neon Taste) This 5-song debut EP from Canada’s Bedwetters Anonymous is one of those rare records that feels as well-crafted and powerful as the best 70s punk. Much of contemporary punk rock is primitive and raw, but Bedwetters Anonymous—despite their low-brow name—isn’t afraid to display their musical chops. The label’s description mentions the Weirdos as a point of comparison, and that’s the reference point I keep going back to. Besides the vocalist’s similar vibrato, these tracks have a balance of speed, power, and anthemic melody that likens them to the Weirdos’ best stuff. All five tracks are strong, but “Heistville” gets my vote for the standout anthem. As well as having great hooks, Bedwetters Anonymous are great song arrangers, building loans of cool fills and transitions into their songs to make sure everything hits with maximum impact. Have U Experienced Discomfort is so catchy that it could appeal to fans of a band like the Briefs, but it’s gritty and fast enough for a hardcore guy like me too.
Lux: New Day 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Lux hasn’t changed much since their full-length debut two years ago, but you won’t find me complaining. Their double-tracked vocals still sound uncannily like Vice Squad, but as before I think Lux is about a million times better. Their riffs and rhythms seem simple on the surface, but Lux packs these songs with subtle touches that keep them moving at an exciting clip. A lot of punk bands make records that are sonically dense and crowded, but New Day breathes. I’m often attracted to music that sounds very noisy and chaotic but makes sense as your ear unpacks it, but this is the opposite. New Day feels like a dumb punk record with big riffs and anthemic choruses, but when you listen closely you realize there’s nothing simple or obvious about these songs.
Membrane: S/T 7” (Byllepest Distro) Debut vinyl from this Oakland hardcore band on the Norweigan label Byllepest. Stylistically, Membrane reminds me of the Invasión / Destino Final school of hardcore, influenced by Discharge and Disclose (the recording here is particularly Disclose-esque), but without the mannered attention to stylistic detail of a clone / worship band. This EP isn’t the rawest, the fastest, or the catchiest thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s a solid slab of noisy, fist-pumping hardcore.
Celluloid Lunch #3 zine Latest issue of this old school-style zine out of Montreal, with at least one member of the Protruders serving as an author / coordinator. This kind of zine is nearly extinct nowadays: a thoroughly old school affair full of cut-and-paste layouts and heaps of interviews, tour diaries, record reviews, comics, and other content. One thing I like about Celluloid Lunch is that it doesn’t seem confined to one scene; there are interviews with Toody Cole of Dead Moon, John Sinclair (manager of the MC5), Christina Pap from Vanilla Poppers, and tour diaries from Puzzlehead and Cement Shoes. There’s a little something for everyone in this thick, square bound zine.