Featured Release Roundup: January 7, 2021
Shrinkwrap Killers: Feral Rats Have Become Our Only Pets 12” (Iron Lung) Iron Lung released a limited 7” by this one-person synth-punk project a while back, now we get the full album. In case you didn’t hear the single, Shrinkwrap Killers has a catchy and aggressive synth-punk sound lying somewhere between the Spits (particularly on tracks with programmed Ramones drumbeats) and Lost Sounds (the not-so-Ramones-y ones). It’s a nice mix, since if all the songs sounded like the former it might lean too far toward Lillingtons-esque pop-punk, while if skewed toward the latter sound it would be too arty and impenetrable. While some lyrics are a little goofy, I like how the melodic lines in the vocals are longer and more complex, which reminds me of the Buzzcocks’ more sophisticated take on melodic punk. Sorry for all the band comparisons, but if you like any of the aforementioned groups, this is well worth checking out.
Mentira: Nada Es Sagrado 12” (Iron Lung) Kansas City’s Mentira released a 7” on Thrilling Living a few years back, and now they’re back with a full-length on the mighty Iron Lung Records. The label’s description references Una Bestia Incontrolable, and I think that’s a pretty spot-on comparison given how Mentira swings back and forth between moments that are straightforwardly raging and artier and more progressive. The opening title track is a good example of their straightforward raging mode (and it rips!), but my favorite moments are when Mentira cuts loose. See “Desmotivación,” which combines a Lebenden Toten-style pogo beat with a catchier riff that wouldn’t be out of place for the Zero Boys or Career Suicide. “Viejo Mensaje” is another highlight with its unhinged guitar leads during the verses and bad-trip psychedelic breakdown. This is what you want from a release on Iron Lung; Mentira is informed by hardcore punk’s long history, but committed to moving that history forward and doing something new. And, most importantly, it rips.
The Celetoids: Optic Nerve cassette (Doom Town Records) Latest 4-song cassette EP from this Croatian band, following up their Pupal Stage 12” from 2017. If Celetoids was from the United States, they would be huge. Their sound is fresh to me, taking the pop sensibilities of the Marked Men / Dirtnap Records world, making it a little rawer, and adding a dash of techno-dystopianism. Your Spits and Jay Reatard fans will find a lot to like here, but there’s something about the grittiness of the production and delivery that reminds me of the first Dark Thoughts album and how they presented more melodic, song-oriented punk in a way that felt palatable to the hardcore underground. Highly recommended if you like a raw, catchy punk tune.