Featured Release Roundup: July 25, 2019
Pleasure Leftists: The Gate 12” (Feel It) Fourth 12” release from this Cleveland post-punk band, coming a full four years after their last one, The Woods of Heaven, on Deranged Records in 2015. If you are familiar with Pleasure Leftists’ previous records, you know they have a well-developed style: a melodic take on post-punk with powerful, Siouxsie-esque vocals, heavy chorus on the guitar, and memorable bass lines over a steady drumbeat. A lot of bands have copped this style, but Pleasure Leftists were way ahead of the curve when their first record came out in 2011. The Gate continues to explore that framework, with the band finding new wrinkles without changing their style. The opening track, “In Dreams,” is one of the most melodic the band has ever done, with a sound fit for mainstream radio, while tracks like “Try the Door” and “Phenomenon” feature complex, almost math-y interplay between the guitar and bass. Pleasure Leftists are very Rust Belt in their approach, continuing to ply their trade and hone their craft despite the prevailing winds of larger musical trends. Pleasure Leftists fans will certainly want to check out The Gate, but even if you’re new to the band this is as good a place as any to dip into their discography.
Asid: Pathetic Flesh 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Debut vinyl from this UK hardcore band. Asid is a 5-piece with a big and burly sound, and while they scatter a few interesting lead guitar parts across Pathetic Flesh (like the dive bombs on “Cave to Pressure” or the more metallic lead on the title track), they use the extra heft to make their simple and brutal riffs sound even burlier rather than adding rhythmic or harmonic complexity. This bulldozer approach gives moments of Pathetic Flesh an early death metal vibe, which I imagine isn’t an influence so much as a common approach of making music as primitive, brutal, and punishing as possible. More obvious influences are early Agnostic Front (particularly on the first track) and S.H.I.T.’s catchy pogo-hardcore (“Bootlicker”). For me, the highlights are the off-kilter main riff on “Paranoia Puremania” and the cacophonous closing track “Riastrad,” which reminds me of the reprise of the title track at the end of Discharge’s Why?. While Asid doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Pathetic Flesh maintains the standard of quality we expect from La Vida Es Un Mus.
Pscience: S/T 12” (Space Taker) Debut LP from this New Orleans band featuring a bunch of familiar faces from the city’s fertile garage-punk scene. The sound here is punky new wave with a raw, late 70s-sounding recording. While some synth lines sound like something Ausmuteants might come up with, Pscience has a grimier sound closer to bands like the Units, Nervous Gender, or Metal Urbain’s catchier moments. Any song might contain a memorable guitar, synth, or vocal line, with all three often competing for your attention. I love when bands have a layered sound like this; every time you listen you discover something your ear hadn’t caught before. The vocals and lyrics are also great, spitting out witty critiques of modern consumer culture from what appears to be a scientist’s perspective. If you follow the current New Orleans punk scene and / or if you like a lot of the catchy new wave-influenced punk coming out of Australia over the past few years, I recommend checking this out.
Anemic Boyfriends: Fake ID 7” (HoZac) Reissue from this early 80s Alaskan punk band… in fact, Anemic Boyfriends might be the only punk band I’ve ever heard from Alaska. While this single borrows the front cover artwork from the band’s “Fake ID” single from 1981, it collects the a-side from that single and the b-side from the band’s first single from 1980, presumably because these were the band’s two strongest tracks. “Fake ID” is a ripper for sure, a Runaways / Dolls / Stones-influenced proto-punk (in sound, not chronology) track with a catchy riff, memorable vocals, and seedy lyrics that, even being sung by a woman, sound a little creepy in 2019. Still… hot track. The b-side is similar (right down to the lyrics) and while not as strong is still well worth flipping the record over for. Whether you’re checking this out because you like Detroit-influenced proto-punk like the Dogs or Destroy All Monsters, because you’re interesting hearing early punk made by women, or because you want to hear what an Alaskan punk record sounds like, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Constant Mongrel: Experts in Skin 7” (Upset the Rhythm) After lighting up the DIY punk scene with their recent LP on La Vida Es Un Mus, here’s the follow-up single from this Australian post-punk band. The a-side is a brooding post-punker with a Crisis-type catchy lead guitar line repeated for the entire length of the track. While the guitar doesn’t modulate at all, the song gradually builds in intensity, climaxing with a burst of saxophone in the final section. The b-side is more pop-oriented, with a punkier guitar sound balancing out the more melodic vocals. It’s a brief single, but worth your while if you’re a fan. Oh, and it’s limited to only 400 copies so don’t sleep.
Pobreza Mental: Ya No Me Pertenezco 7” (Toxic State) After an excellent demo back in 2017, we get the debut vinyl from New York’s Pobreza Mental. I’m glad this one stayed in the percolator for a while, because it displays a notable amount of range across its five tracks. I hear some of the off-kilter rhythms of contemporary Spanish punk bands like Una Bestia Incontrolable, a lot of the wild sounds of early South American hardcore, and some catchy UK82-style riffs. While some moments sound primitive, others like the inventive drumbeat in “Tormenta” and the ripping guitar solo starting “Nowhere to Go” are more ambitious. While Ya No Me Pertenezco is unpretentious in its delivery, this is a record packed with surprising twists and turns. And, as per usual with Toxic State, the gritty recording, beautiful artwork, and handmade packaging are all 100% on point.
Detainees: S/T 7” (Double Man) More killer 80s-style hardcore punk from Pittsburgh. While Loose Nukes are more raging and Drug Lust are a little heavier, Detainees work the catchier end of the 80s punk angle. The five songs here bop along at a pace that’s sprightly but not harried, the riffs have a classic 80s punk feel, and the vocals are raw but melodic, often following the same melody as the guitar riffs. It reminds me of the catchier bands of the early to mid 00s hardcore scene: Regulations, Social Circkle, Acid Reflux, etc. 5 songs with the no-bullshit presentation you expect from this style.
End Result: The Seven Year Locust Returns 12” (Alona’s Dream) Vinyl reissue of this 1982 cassette, which the band only circulated among their friends in the Chicago area. While I’ve seen End Result’s name crop up in discussions of early Chicago punk, they sound nothing like the big names I associate with that scene: Naked Raygun, Effigies, Article of Faith, Big Black, etc. The label’s description pegs End Result as a no wave style band, but they don’t sound like the Contortions or DNA. Instead The Seven Year Locust Returns sounds like a total deconstruction of music. The tracks appear chronologically, the first from September 1980, and the last track coming from July 1982. This running order emphasizes their process of deconstruction; while the first track, “Children Die in Pain,” reminds me of the bleakest moments of early Joy Division, it’s by far the most conventional track on the record. While you’ll hear guitar, bass, and drums (as well as some trumpet and more ambiguous noises), there’s nothing here that sounds like a conventional rock band. Sometimes it’s formless, like the Velvets-esque jam “Let Them Eat Cake,” while other tracks hang around a minimal structure reminding me of minimal synth music. It’s clear End Result were trying to go as far out as they could, and each successive journey took them further and further away from whatever rock-isms they may have began with. The one constant is the menacing, often frightening, vocals, which remind me of Tomata Du Plenty from the Screamers or Bruce Loose from Flipper. The only catch is the recording is very primitive. While I’m not positive, these sound like primitive rehearsal room recordings, which blunts the impact somewhat. Still, historians of Chicago punk and/or the wider no wave / outsider punk scene will find value here.