Featured Release Roundup: July 23, 2020

R.M.F.C.: Reader 7” (Anti-Fade) We last heard from Australia’s R.M.F.C. on their Hive 1 + 2 compilation LP, on which Germany’s Erste Theke Tonträger compiled two previous cassette releases. Now they’re back on the Australian label Anti-Fade, and maybe it’s just my imagination, but the sound this time is less robotic and poppier, more in line with the pop-oriented bands on Anti-Fade. The a-side, “Reader,” starts with a pogo-punk part, but slides into a mid-paced, melodic punk tune that would fit comfortably on Devo’s Freedom of Choice. I know Devo comparisons are as common as oxygen molecules, but this track hits the nail on the head with its tight playing style and melodic sophistication. The b-side, “Faux Freaks,” is shorter and faster, and the emphasis on rhythm over melody puts it more in line with modern Devo disciples. It’s still a good song, though, which is important to note since it seems like only the a-side is on bandcamp and streaming services. I can’t imagine these two tracks will disappoint anyone who picked up that first record and liked it.

Peace Talks: A Lasting Peace 7” (Cruel Noise) A Lasting Peace is the debut vinyl from this Pittsburgh hardcore band. Peace Talks reminds me of Torso in that I hear traces of modern d-beat and straight edge hardcore in their sound, with the complex and furious riffing style of bands like Herätys mashed up with dramatic breakdowns that get the pit boiling over. The recording is clear, raw, and refreshingly un-stylized. I’m at a loss for how to elaborate because this just sounds like honest, angry hardcore made for our historical moment. If you’re a fan of Torso, C.H.E.W., and other contemporary bands who tap into hardcore’s vitality without pandering to particular cliques of record collectors, I encourage you to check out Peace Talks.

Régimen de Terror: Inherente del Poder 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) I was just writing about how Pittsburgh’s Peace Talks sound modern and un-stylized… well, this 7” from Régimen de Terror is the complete opposite of that. It’s like they’re trying to convince us Discharge’s Fight Back and Decontrol EPs are the only records they’ve ever heard in their lives. I’m not complaining, though, because this totally rips. While a lot of d-beat bands go for a wall of sound production style, Régimen de Terror has a sound more like Minor Threat, with drum and vocals way up front in the mix and guitar and bass much less prominent. Maybe it’s because I listened to so much Minor Threat as a young’un, but “drums up front” has always been my preferred mixing style for hardcore… it just makes the music sound so relentless and energetic. While the riffs won't wow anyone with their complexity, the songs are sturdy and well-constructed. Maybe this won’t melt your brain, but it’ll get you out of your seat and thrashing around the room.

Barcelona: Resuduous del Ultrasonido 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Barcelona remains one of the wildest and most innovative bands in the world, creating punk rock that edges right up to the cliff of “completely unlistenable” without ever falling over. There are moments I love on records like Wretched’s In Nome Del Loro Potere Tutto E' Stato Fatto... EP or Negazione’s split with Declino when I wonder if the band is playing in time with one another or whether some or all of them have lost the plot. While, for bands who pursue tightness as a goal, this can be a deflating moment, a handful of bands thrive in this under-explored zone between order and chaos, and Barcelona is one of the best of them. Not that Resuduous del Ultrasonido is a mess… “Me Jode La Felicidad” even has a little of melody to it, sort of like Wretched’s later stuff circa La Tua Morte Non Aspetta. However, most of what you’ll hear on this record blurs the line between “toddler temper tantrum” and “musical performance.” This isn’t for everyone, but I love it.

Tozibabe: Anthology 12” (Hardcore Ljubljana Records) Fan club LP compiling Tozibabe’s great 4-song 7” along with their contributions to the Hard-Core Ljubljana and Novi-Rock compilations. I remember when I first heard Tozibabe thinking, “why didn’t I discover this earlier?” The answer is probably sexism (3 women comprised Tozibabe), but regardless of why, I think my impression that they’re vastly under-appreciated is a common one. While Tozibabe is a hardcore band, their sound weaves in elements of goth and post-punk, giving them a creepy and melodic vibe that is totally their own, though it’s not miles away from goth-tinged UK anarcho bands like Part 1 or Vex were doing. Tozibabe’s 4-song EP is an unheralded classic of 80s punk and one of the most unique and worthwhile punk records to come out of Eastern Europe in the 80s. There have been a few reissues over the years (including an official one in 2015), but the compilation tracks are a pleasant bonus. The Hard-Core Ljubljana LP is great all the way through and worth getting on its own, but Tozibabe’s tracks are strong, a little more straightforward and hardcore than the goth-ier EP. There aren’t many frills with this bootleg, but the sound is great, and it’s a nice way to get the tunes in your collection. 

Geld: Beyond the Floor 12” (Iron Lung) I loved Geld’s last LP, Perfect Texture, and if you’re in that same camp, check out Beyond the Floor because it takes everything I loved about Perfect Texture and pushes it just a little further. I’ve always been a sucker for bands that combine hardcore with dense and punishing noise rock, and there’s a lot of that on Beyond the Floor, though I also hear elements of stomping, mid-paced black metal on tracks like “Infrasound.” Double Negative was a band with a similar set of influences, and there are moments on Beyond the Floor (particularly “Nocturnal Hand” and “Red Mist,” the frantic one-two punch that opens the b-side) that sound uncannily like early Double Negative. Geld travels much further into the damp caves of noise rock, though, with a handful of tracks breaking the three-minute barrier, making space for psychedelic jamming and droning that causes the hardcore to hit that much harder. Beyond the Floor is a dense LP with rich, velvety sonic textures throughout. Sometimes my ear gets lost in those textures, while sometimes I let the rhythms pound me in the gut. It’s like a hardcore version of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel! Seriously, though, if you like your hardcore heavy, noisy, and a little bit arty, you can’t go wrong with this LP.

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