Featured Release Roundup: July 19, 2018

Paranoid: Jikangire 12” (Konton Crasher) Three-song 12” single teasing this Swedish band’s upcoming full-length. The a-side track is from the album and the two songs on the b-side are exclusive to this release. If these three tracks are any indication, we can expect that their upcoming album, Heavy Mental Fuck-Up!, will be different from their first one, Satyagraha. On that record Paranoid seemed fascinated with the swirling layers of feedback and dramatic dynamic shifts of Disclose’s later records, but these three tracks find them moving toward a more straightforward hybrid of anthemic crust and Burning Spirits-style Japanese hardcore. Speaking of which, “Jikangire” is more or less a reworking of the song “Mirror” by Death Side. Paranoid have borrowed rather famous riffs before (one track on their Praise No Deity EP cribbed from “Into Crypts of Rays” by Celtic Frost) and their many cover songs make no secret of their indebtedness to their influences. That’s far from uncommon in today’s punk scene, but “Jikangire” borrows more flagrantly than most. The two tracks on the b-side are in a similar vein, with a heavy, metallic crust sound that reminds me of Doom or State of Fear. These tracks are cool, but fans should know they’re rather different from the old stuff. Still, I’m looking forward to hearing the full articulation of this new direction on the upcoming album.

Wonder Bread: Complete Solid Gold Hits 7” (Digital Regress) Debut vinyl from this one-person project. Four of these five songs represent the cream of earlier cassette releases (none of which I’ve heard) and there’s one exclusive track, “My Dad Was in a Hardcore Band.” It’s funny that this 7” arrives at Sorry State the same week the Egg Punk / Chain Punk meme(https://i.imgur.com/lzChCbg.png) took over the online punk world because one could interpret the central conceit of “My Dad Was in a Hardcore Band” as an egg punk critique of chain punk. Maybe that’s a stretch, but I thought it would be a funny line to include in this description. Anyway, Wonder Bread remind me of projects like Spodee Boy, BB Eye, and Race Car, i.e. bedroom recording projects by people who are into Devo, but were weaned on hardcore and/or Ramones-based punk, which smoothes out some of Devo’s art-ier edges. Wonder Bread are good at the sound, and if you’re a fan of the aforementioned groups, you’ll like what they do. However, more than their music, the defining aspect of Wonder Bread is their irreverence. Three of the five songs (at least) are spoofs of “the scene,” their primary target being that most parody-able of foibles, pretension. Interestingly, though, my favorite track here, “1011,” is the EP’s least irreverent moment. The interplay between the instruments is something special, reminding me of how the Australian band Brando’s Island uses a vibraphone to create an unsettling atmosphere. Complete Solid Gold Hits is a strong debut and I hope it’s not the last we hear of Wonder Bread.

Drux: S/T 12” (Static Age) Debut LP from this hardcore band out of Leipzig, Germany. Drux take influences from 80s US hardcore, but they sound European, mostly because their music isn’t as pretentious or as beholden to its influences as most American bands. It doesn’t sound like Drux are trying to recreate another band’s sound. Instead, the only prerequisites are that the music remain loud and fast, and every other tenet of the genre is liable to alteration and/or improvement. This isn't an avant garde record, though; it’s straightforward but the songs are full of touches that sound like no one but Drux. The closest comparisons I can think of are Amde Petersens Arme and Mülltüte, two other European bands who sound like they’re inspired by the best of USHC, but committed to making it their own. This is too smart to become a hype record, but if you think hardcore is still an artistically viable genre I recommend checking out this record.

Cruelster: Riot Boys 12” (Lumpy) Second 12” from this Cleveland band. They share members with Perverts Again, Bulsch, and Roobydocks, so if you’re following that scene this is already on your “to-buy” list, and rightly so. This group of people is making some of the most innovative, interesting, and contemporary-sounding punk I’ve heard, and Riot Boys is an essential piece of the puzzle. However, even if you can hear how interesting, important, and great it is, it will still try your patience. That’s because, while other parts of the punk scene try to create a kind of punk (or, more broadly, liberal) utopia, Cruelster engage with the shit the rest of us do our best to ignore, and it’s fucking ugly. Nowhere is that clearer than on the lengthy sample that starts the album. The narrator reads a letter to the editor of a Captain America comic book, and as the letter unfolds we gradually understand the writer is a nut. The letter continues to get weirder until it culminates in a series of death threats against the editors. Of a fucking Captain America comic. This is the perfect segue into “Crisis in Local Government Part III,” whose chorus (insofar as you can call anything in a Cruelster song a chorus) is “I want to see American Sniper / I want to see Bradley Cooper as Chris.” While their music is jagged, awkward, and interesting, what’s unsettling about Cruelster is how they dig deep into this mentality, pushing past the Fox News caricature and getting at the mundane—and human—thought processes behind it. It’s a place most punks won't go, and for that reason it’s worth going there. That Cruelster marry this aesthetic to weird, interesting, and powerful music is either the cake or the icing, depending on your perspective.

Shipwrecked: We Are the Sword 12” (Foreign Legion) Shipwrecked’s debut LP received a ton of hype a few years ago, but I never heard their releases so I’m coming to this one fresh. My first impression is that it makes sense that Shipwrecked were hyped in 2012 because their brand of Boston hardcore worship is similar to the first Boston Strangler LP, which also came out that year. Once you get past this LP's long intro (it takes up nearly the entire first side) you get a big helping of meat and potatoes hardcore that sounds like SSD and the FU’s thrown into a blender. The label’s description mentions that metallic influences creep in on this record, and aside from a few guitar leads that would fit well in a Battle Ruins song I’m not sure I hear much of that. While I tend to prefer hardcore that’s less straightforward, I understand why Shipwrecked get so much attention as they know their way around a hardcore tune.

Dark Thoughts: At Work 12” (Stupid Bag) Second 12” from this Philadelphia band that wears their Ramones influence on their collective sleeve. However, Dark Thoughts has always seemed like a hardcore band playing melodic, Ramones-inspired punk rather than a true pop-punk band, as evidenced by the Negazione and Betong Hysteria shirts members often wear when they play live. I’ve always said that dressing like you’re from one scene but playing music in the style of another is a sure path to success, but in actuality Dark Thoughts’ secret sauce is their incredible songwriting. At Home, while sounding very similar to their great first LP, strikes me as an improvement. The songs feel snappier and more direct (the LP also feels shorter, but I haven’t checked whether it is) and the Ramones influence is closer to the surface. Dark Thoughts don’t just ape superficial aspects of the Ramones’ sound, though. The big riff (and even bigger vocal melody) in “Psycho Ward” sounds like it could have been a deep cut hit off Halfway to Sanity or Brain Drain, while “Don’t Wanna” is just as clear an homage to Leave Home as the record’s artwork. As someone who was never hardcore enough to sell off my Screeching Weasel records, I’m right in Dark Thoughts’ key demographic. If, like me, you thought that the pop-punk section of your record collection was no longer accepting new entries, I suggest you board this bandwagon.

Contrast Attitude: 12 Track Compilation 12” EP 2018 12” (Distort Reality) Just like the title says, this record compiles material released between 2010 and 2014, including their Black & White EP, splits with See You in Hell, Aspects of War, and Final Bombs (the latter on vinyl for the first time), and their contribution to a CD compilation called Heal. Even though this LP covers a few years worth of releases, the sound here is consistent, more like a proper 12” EP than a compilation. If you haven’t heard Contrast Attitude, it’s safe to say that they’re acolytes of Disclose; they even thank Discharge, Disclose, and Kawakami on the insert. While they don’t have that extra magic that places Framtid on the top of the heap, they’re masters of the style, and better than 95% of the bands attempting anything similar. If you follow labels like Brain Solvent Propaganda and Distort Reality (which this is on) you’ll want to nab this.

Coupe Gorge: Troubles 12” (Offside) After a few cassette and 7” releases here’s the debut 12” (though it’s one-sided with a cool screen-printed b-side) from this French oi! band. Most oi! bands nowadays (at least the ones worth listening to) have some hardcore in their sound, and Coupe Gorge are no different. I’d place their sound in the part of the spectrum that’s more oi! than 86 Mentality, but more hardcore than Rixe. Their songs are short and to the point, with not a single one over two minutes and a couple under one minute, so this 8-song EP begs you to play it over and over. It’s also expertly sequenced, stringing together a bunch of rippers that remind me of the Negative Approach LP, climaxing with the melodic, Blitz-esque “Mise á Mort,” and then closing things out with the big mosh riffs of “J’Avance Seul.” Fans of Dead Stop, Crown Court, LP-era Negative Approach, and 86 Mentality take note.

Donkey Bugs: S/T 12” (Lumpy) Debut release from this new Cleveland project, and while Cleveland is a city that produces a lot of head-scratcher records, this might be the head-scratchiest of them all. Donkey Bugs build songs around sparse drum machine rhythms and vocals with other instruments (mostly synths, from the sound of it) weaving in and out, but it would a big stretch to call this synth-punk. The label’s description mentions the Residents, and that’s the closest comparison that I can think of. Like the Residents’ music, Donkey Bugs’ songs feel deconstructed, with anything familiar or conventional purged, leaving only a weird, distorted skeleton of a song. The melodies and lyrics are also bizarre and surreal. They remind me of the songs that I make up when my partner goes out of town and I get three or four days into being alone. At that point I go a little crazy and make up strange little songs about my cat or what I’m making for dinner or whatever, and at their weirdest they might resemble something on this record. I hesitate to mention it because no one out there might agree, but something about this record reminds me of Royal Trux in places, though Donkey Bugs’ music is far more sparse (as the description mentions, it’s even dub-y in places) and less chaotic. If you’re looking for punk or hardcore you won’t find it here, but if you’re a Cleveland punk mega-fan (particularly the weirder stuff from that scene) or you’re the person who seeks the weirdest, most surreal music you can find this may be something you can hang with.

All New Arrivals

Cruelster: Riot Boys 12" (Lumpy)
Donkey Bugs: Ancient Chinese Secrets 12" (Lumpy)
Gee Tee: S/T 12” (Goobye Boozy)
Dark Thoughts: At Work 12" (Stupid Bag)
Echo Courts: Room With A View 12" (Refresh)
偏執症者 (Paranoid): Jikangire 3 track 45rpm Maxi Single 12" (Konton Crasher)
Inmates: Creatures of the Night 7" (No Patience)
Contrast Attitude: 12 Track Compilation 2018 12" (Distort Reality)
Massacre 68: El Muro 12" (Doomed To Extinction)
Massacre 68: No Estamos Conformes 12" (Doomed To Extinction)
Disrupters: Open Wounds 1980 to 2011 12" (Overground)
Various: I've Got the Bible Belt Around My Throat 12" (Foreign Legion)
Shipwrecked: We Are the Sword 12" (Foreign Legion)
Coupe Gorge: Troubles 12" (Offside)
Blasphemy: Live Ritual: Friday the 13th 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Blasphemy: Victory (Son of the Damned) 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Sect Pig: Crooked Backs 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
The Estranged: Frozen Fingers / World of Birds 7" (Black Water)
The Estranged / Public Eye: Split 7" (Black Water)
Pedro the Lion: The Only Reason I Feel Secure 12" (Epitaph)
Alice Cooper: Zipper Catches Skin 12" (Rhino)
Alice Cooper: Flush the Fashion 12" (Rhino)
Alice Cooper: Dada 12' (Rhino)
Deafheaven: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love 12" (Anti)
Between the Buried and Me: Automata II 12" (Sumerian)
Jason Isbell: Sirens of the Ditch (deluxe edition) 12" (New West)
John Maus: We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves 12" (Ribbon Music)
John Maus: Love Is Real 12" (Ribbon Music)
John Maus: Songs 12" (Ribbon Music)
Tyler, the Creator: Goblin 12" (XL Recordings)
Wonder Bread: Complete Solid Gold Hits 7" (Digital Regress)
Lucero: My Name Is 7" (Liberty & Lament)
Erik B and Rakim: Paid in Full 12" (4th & Broadway)


Dark Thoughts: S/T 12" (Stupid Bag)
Extended Hell: Call of the Void 7" (Desolate)
Vanilla Poppers: S/T 12" (Lumpy)
BB Eye: S/T 12" (Lumpy)
Gen Pop: S/T 7" (Lumpy)
Tarantüla: Weird Tales of Radiation and Hate 7" (Deranged)
Damagers: S/T 7" (Deranged)
Exit Order: S/T 7" (Side Two)
Crippled Youth: Join the Fight + 28-page booklet 7" (Revelation)
Blasphemy: Fallen Angel of Doom 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Life's Blood: Hardcore AD 1988 12" (Prank)
Cock Sparrer: Shock Troops 12" (Pirate’s Press)
Agnostic Front: No One Rules 12" (Radio Raheem)
Neanderthal: A History of Violence 12" (Deep Six)
LSD: 1983 to 1986 12" (Schizophrenic)
The Freeze: Land of the Lost 12" (Schizophrenic)
Final Conflict: Ashes to Ashes 12" (Tankcrimes)
Heresy: Face Up to It! 30th Anniversary Edition 12" (Boss Tuneage)
Novae Militiae: Gash'khalah 12" (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)
The Mob: Let the Tribe Increase 12" (Overground)
Turnstile: Non-Stop Feeling 12" (Reaper)
Tim Armstrong: A Poet's Life 12" (Hellcat)
The Replacements: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash 12" (Rhino)
The Fall: This Nation's Saving Grace 12" (Beggar's Banquet)
T Rex: Electric Warrior 12" (Rhino)
Radiohead: Kid A 12" (XL Recordings)
Pavement: Wowee Zowee 12" (Matador)
Neil Young: Harvest Moon 12" (Reprise)
Kraftwerk: Autobahn 12" (Parlophone)
Kraftwerk: Tour de France 12" (Parlophone)
Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind 12" (BMG)
Gorillaz: Demon Days 12" (Parlophone)
Dinosaur Jr: Bug 12" (Jagjaguwar)
Can: Tago Mago 12" (Spoon)
The Pixies: Come on Pilgrim 12" (4AD)
Bauhaus: Crackle 12" (4AD)
Bad Religion: Stranger than Fiction 12" (Epitaph)
Rut: Attraction 7" (Digital Regress)
Liquids: Heart Beats True 7" (Digital Regress)
Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy 12" (Astralwerks)
Audioslave: S/T 12" (Interscope)
Pink Floyd: Piper at the Gates of Dawn 12" (Pink Floyd)
Velvet Underground: Loaded 12" (Rhino)
Curtis Mayfield: Curtis 12" (Curtom)
Nick Drake: Pink Moon 12" (Island)
Thelonious Monk: Monk's Dream 12" (WaxTime)
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Jimi Hendrix: Axis: Bold as Love 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Black Flag: Nervous Breakdown 7" (SST)
Black Flag: TV Party 7" (SST)
Misfits: Collection I 12" (Caroline)

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