Featured Release Roundup: July 5, 2018

La Urss: Nuevo Testamento 12” (Discos MMM) Fourth album from this veteran punk band from Spain. I’ve always thought La Urss was great (especially live), and I remain confused why they aren’t bigger. Perhaps Nuevo Testamento will be the one that pushes them through to wherever they’re trying to go, because it’s a real step up. If you were watching their discography like a movie, Nuevo Testamento is when things transform from black and white into brilliant color. This isn’t to knock their other records (which were also excellent), but Nuevo Testamento adds another dimension to La Urss’s music. In particular, it seems like the band has transcended punk rock, at least to an extent. They still sound punk, but they’re also more than that, with a wider range of sounds incorporated into their sonic palette and their songwriting growing to accommodate a wider range of moods and textures. They’ve always been able to craft a great pop hook, but on Nuevo Testamento they deploy those hooks in the service of something greater, something more like art than just a bouncy, fun punk record. God bless labels like Discos MMM and Todo Destruido for making sure that there are great records like this in the world even if they won't move a bazillion units.

Vittna: 2 Songs + Live at the Hive cassette (self-released) After a scorching demo last year, Raleigh’s Vittna follow things up with this five-song cassette. The first two tracks are from an upcoming 7”, while the other three are recorded live in the band’s practice space (including the Sacrilege cover they’ve been playing live for a while now). If you missed the first Vittna cassette (shame on you!), the band features the creative core of Raleigh favorites Blackball, but to my ears they amplify the more haunting and unique aspects of that band’s sound, making their strengths the central focus rather than just an added spice in a main meal of meat and potatoes. Specifically, those interesting aspects are the quirky / surprising rhythms and the dark and melodic guitar work. Not that Vittna aren’t a hardcore band—they are—but they’re a densely layered, ambitious hardcore band in the vein of Articles of Faith or Everything Falls Apart-era Hüsker Dü, albeit with more Discharge influence than either of those two bands displayed on the surface. If you’re looking for a more modern reference point, Sickoids’ great No Home LP is a great point of reference as the balance between explosive gestalt and meticulous and subtle composition and performance is similar here. Fortunately there’s enough music on this tape to keep it close to the player for the next couple of months, but it really has me salivating for the full 7”, which is the point I guess. Highly recommended.

No stream for this one, sorry!

Forward: Another Dimension 7” (Farewell) You know, I’ve been buying Forward records for close to two decades now, and I think Another Dimension may be the first one I’ve listened to without secretly hoping that it was a Death Side record. I think that says a lot more about me than it does about the band… Forward has always been great and I’ve enjoyed their records a lot, but for all of their basic similarities (loud guitars, Ishiya’s vocals, etc.) they are a different band than Death Side. Now that their reunion shows are a semi-regular occurrence, I can get past the Death Side thing and appreciate Forward for what they are, which is a unique and powerful band. If you’ve followed Forward’s career there aren’t many surprises on this latest record. While they went through a period in the early 00s when they sounded quite poppy to my ears (they actually sounded similar to Paintbox, albeit without Chelsea’s trademark guitar heroics), on their last several releases Forward has sounded invigorated, with a faster and heavier sound that recalls their great While You Alive EP, but more fleshed-out and with heavier production. Like Motorhead (to whom they pay tribute here by dedicating a song to Lemmy), Forward knows who they are, and while they’re always growing and developing the core of the sound remains unchanged. And like so many strong records that came late in Motorhead’s catalog (like 2004’s blistering Inferno), Another Dimension probably won't draw in anyone who isn’t already onboard the Forward train, but the band's longtime followers will love it.

Apocalypse Now: 4 Track EP 7” (Distort Reality) Debut EP from this raw punk band out of Portland. Maybe it’s just because I don’t follow the scene closely, but I think it’s cool that there are all of these hardcore bands in Portland that I don’t know about, and then suddenly they’ll drop a record on a label like Distort Reality or Black Water. Sometimes those records disappear without much comment and other times the hype machine will catch on (usually belatedly), but they’re always an interesting listen because Portland is home to so many musicians who are master craftsmen of hardcore and d-beat. Speaking of which, Apocalypse Now features former members of Bog People and Deathcharge, and what little information about them exists online simply says they play in the style of Anti-Cimex. Anyone familiar with Anti-Cimex’s discography knows that can mean any number of things, but Apocalypse Now sound the most like Cimex circa their self-titled 12” EP, when they got a little more song-oriented but hadn’t rocked out to the point that they did on Absolut Country of Sweden. Even more, Apocalypse Now remind me of Deathcharge’s early stuff. Like their The Hangman single in particular, these four tracks are d-beat, but d-beat overlaid with a brooding, almost melancholy atmosphere. That atmosphere isn’t as prominent as it was in Deathcharge, but it’s still there, buried deep in the structures of Apocalypse Now’s riffs and arrangements. While this EP is unpretentious and straightforward in its presentation, that atmosphere elevates this well above the level of your typical 2010s d-beat revival band. If you like d-beat but you aren’t a purist and still believe bands can do something interesting with the format in this day and age I highly recommend checking this out.

La Misma: Negociacoes de Pas Continuae Como Fazemas Fabulas 7" (Toxic State) Has it really been three years since La Misma’s excellent debut LP? I guess it has… time flies! As one might expect given such a long gap between releases, Negaciacoes doesn’t sound exactly like La Misma’s older releases, though the sound is similar. The core is still based in the Toxic State sound, but what I like about La Misma—particularly on this release—is how loose and jammy they are. In my own bands, we compose everything meticulously… when we write songs we decide to play this riff four times, then that one six, and on and on until the end of the song, and we play it the same way every time. However, La Misma’s songs are more fluid and organic, like they’re based around grooves rather than composed as discrete sections and then welded together. Consequently, there’s something about La Misma’s music that reminds me more of Fun House-era Stooges or Can, although on the surface they sound nothing like either of those groups. What they have in common is that each song has a groove. The groove is the song's core and the rest of the band works around it. You might hear a catchy lead guitar melody pop out for a second or the vocals might come out front for a little bit, but the groove is persistent and keeps the songs chugging along with a motorik-esque hypnotic quality. The band foregrounds that unique aspect of their playing on this EP, and consequently it's more realized and original than La Misma’s previous releases, which were already outstanding. As always with Toxic State you also get cool packaging packed with artwork and information (including English translations of the lyrics, which is always helpful for those of us trapped in our monolingual bubbles), so here’s another one on Toxic State that gets the “highly recommended” tag.

Porvenir Oscuro: S/T 7” (Always Restrictions) Debut 7” from this punk band that has been kicking around New York for a minute; they released a demo last year and now they transition to wax. While Porvenir Oscuro are from New York, they remind me a lot more of a lot of Texas bands than the sound I associate with New York punk (and Toxic State-affiliated bands in particular). Like bands such as Vaaska and Criaturas, there’s a lot of classic punk lurking deep within Porvenir Oscuro’s raw punk aesthetic. The sound of the guitar and drums are indebted to Discharge, but they build songs around straightforward verse/chorus/verse structures more akin to what you’d find in UK82 punk like Vice Squad, albeit with melodies and riffing that are both more sophisticated than that comparison would seem to indicate. I also hear the propulsive but still poppy hardcore of Finnish bands like Appendix or Lama in PO’s sound, and as a sucker for punk that balances rawness and rage with structure and composition I can’t help but fall for this EP. If your tastes run in a similar direction, I don’t think you can go wrong with this record. 

S.H.I.T.: What Do You Stand For? 12” (Iron Lung) Coming hot on the heels of their recent discography-to-date LP on LVEUM, here’s the long-awaited debut LP from Toronto’s S.H.I.T. It’s funny, I might not have noticed it if I hadn’t spent so much time with the collection LP so recently, but S.H.I.T. has changed things up for this LP. A lot of that might be down to a change in the drummer position, as Ivan from Kremlin and School Jerks now mans the skins. The first thing you’ll hear is that S.H.I.T. is way faster on this release than they’ve ever been before. They blaze along at a scorching, Kremlin-esque tempo for the entire record, only slowing things down for the final track, “Losing in the Twenty-First Century.” Everything else is familiar—Ryan’s vocals still have a ton of reverb and the band remains an unfathomably deep wellspring of classic riffs—but the faster tempos change the overall vibe somewhat. Listening to earlier S.H.I.T. releases was like riding a rickety old wooden roller coaster, like the car could fly off the tracks at any moment, or maybe the entire structure would splinter and send everyone hurtling toward their deaths. They seemed unstable, and consequently dangerous and terrifying. However, on What Do You Stand For?, S.H.I.T. are in full-on battering ram mode. Rather than a rickety old wooden coaster that makes you fear for your life, this is one of those newfangled, heavily engineered coasters with wild top speeds and an impossible number of twists, turns, and loops. In other words, S.H.I.T. is now on the level of finely honed, razor sharp hardcore bands like Blood Pressure and Impalers. I’m sure some people will prefer one era of the band over the other, but even if their center of gravity has shifted, S.H.I.T. remains one of the most powerful and exciting hardcore bands in the world. 

All New Arrivals:

Trash Knife / Dumb Vision: Split 7" (Kitschy Spirit)
Aus: S/T 12" (Static Age Musik)
Drux: S/T 12" (Static Age Musik)
Forward: Another Dimension 7" (Farewell)
Slumb Party: Happy Now 12" (Drunken Sailor)
Symdrome 81: Beton Nostalgie 12" (Black Water)
Cryptopsy: Whisper Supremacy 12" (Cosmic Key Creations)
Droidz: Strange World Strange Years 12" (Agipunk)
Spine: Faith 12" (Bridge Nine)
Self Defense Family: Have You Considered Punk Music 12" (Run For Cover)
Coroner: Mental Vortex 12" (Noise)
Coroner: Grin 12" (Noise)
Deicide: Scars of the Crucifix 12" (Earache)
Deicide: The Stench of Redemption 12" (Earache)
Crooked Fingers: Red Devil Dawn 12" (Merge)
The Mods: Reactions 12" (Ugly Pop)
Hot Nasties: Ballad Of The Social Blemishes 7" (Ugly Pop)
The Modern Minds: Go 12" (Ugly Pop)
The Fits: Bored of Education 7" (Ugly Pop)
Gorillaz: The Now Now 12" (Parlophone)
Casual Burn: Tomorrow Problem 7" (Slugsalt)
Mint: Demo Two cassette (Slugsalt)
Character Actor: S/T 7" (Dirt Cult)
Chain Whip: S/T 7" (Dirt Cult)
Thanatopsis: Golden Voice 12" (Alonas Dream)
Banned from Chicago: 1978 12" (Alonas Dream)
Skull Cult: Vols 1 and 2 7" (Weirdly)
Dianetics: And Psycho Horse 7" (Weirdly)
Clutch: How to Shake Hands 7" (Weathermaker)
The Freeze: Land of the Lost 12" (Schizophrenic)
Simply Saucer: Baby Nova 12" (Schizophrenic)
Simply Saucer: She's a Dog 7" (Schizophrenic)
Apocalypse Now: S/T 7" (Distort Reality)
Line of Sight: Dissent 7" (Youngblood)
Crippled Youth: Join the Fight 7" + 28-page booklet (Revelation)
Su19b: Neutralize 12" (SPHC)
God's America: The Undeserving EP 7" (SPHC)
Power: Turned On 12" (In The Red)
Steve Reich: Drumming 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Crucifix: S/T 12" (Kustomized)
Crucifix: Nineteen Eighty Four 12" (Kustomized)
John Lee Hooker: House of the Blues 12" (WaxTime)
Merauder: Master Killer 12" (Demons Runamok Entertainment)
Late Bloomer: Waiting 12" (6131)
Anti-Cimex: S/T 12" (Svart)
Dead Cross: Dead Cross EP 12" (new)
David Bowie: Lodger 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Low 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Heroes 12" (Parlophone)
INXS: The Very Best of 12" (Atlantic)
INXS: Kick 12" (Atlantic)


Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: Go Home 12" (Toxic State)
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: Stay Home 12" (Toxic State)
Crazy Spirit: Demo 12" (Toxic State)
Crazy Spirit: S/T 12" (Toxic State)
Haram: When You Have Won, You Have Lost 12" (Toxic State)
L.O.T.I.O.N.: Digital Control and Man's Obsolescence 12" (Toxic State)
Tozcos: Sueños Deceptivos 12" (Verdugo Discos)
Turnstile: Non-Stop Feeling 12" (Reaper)
The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys 12" (Rhino)
Gang of Four: Entertainment! 12" (Rhino)
The Stooges: S/T 12" (Rhino)
The Breeders: Pod 12" (4AD)
The Breeders: Last Splash 12" (4AD)
The Pixies: Trompe Le Monde 12" (4AD)
Sunny Day Real Estate: LP2 12" (Sub Pop)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress 12" (Sub Pop)
Rancid: And Out Come the Wolves 12" (Epitaph)
NOFX: Liberal Animation 12" (Epitaph)
Prince: Purple Rain 12" (Warner Bros)
Motorhead: Ace of Spades 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: Orgasmatron 12" (Sanctuary)
Metallica: Kill 'em All 12" (Blackened)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Lift Your Skinny Fists... 12" (Constellation )
Dinosaur Jr: Bug 12" (Jagjaguwar)
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust 12" (Parlophone )
Can: Tago Mago 12" (Spoon)
Polvo: Exploded Drawing 12" (Touch & Go)
Polvo: Shapes 12" (Touch & Go)
Big Black: Atomizer 12" (Touch & Go)
Big Black: Songs About Fucking 12" (Touch & Go)
Carcass: Necroticism 12" (Earache)
Carcass: Heartwork 12" (Earache)
Wretched: Libero E Selvaggio 12" (Agipunk)
Crude: Drug Culture 12" (Farewell)
Food and Money: 1979 -1982 12" (Alonas Dream)
Trial by Fire: S/T 12" (Alonas Dream)
The Contents Are: Four Each Other 12" (Alonas Dream)
Remedy: The Golden Voice Sessions 12" (Alonas Dream)
Dianetics: Book Learned 7" (Weirdly)
Liquids: Evil 7" (Weirdly)
Dream Probe: Demo Colleccion 7" (Weirdly)
Acid Attack: Suburbia's Dream 12" (Radio Raheem)
Against: Welcome to the Aftermath 12" (Radio Raheem)
Agnostic Front: No One Rules 12" (Radio Raheem)
No Problem: Let God Sort 'Em Out 12" (Deranged)
Kleenex / Liliput: First Songs 12" (Mississippi)
Cock Sparrer: Shock Troops 12" (Pirates Press)
Neanderthal: A History of Violence 12" (Deep Six)
LSD: 1983 to 1986 12" (Schizophrenic )
Heresy: Face Up To It: 30th Anniversary Edition 12" (Boss Tuneage)
Aus Rotten: The System Works for Them 12" (Profane Existence)
The Freeze: Live Cape Cod 1980 12" (Schizophrenic)
Tarantula: The Very Best of Sex and Violence 7" (Deranged)
Avengers: S/T 12" (CD Presents)
Power: Electric Glitter Boogie 12" (In The Red)
Sleep: Volume One 12" (Tulepo)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity 12" (ATO)
Various: The Harder They Come OST 12" (Isalnd)
Tyler the Creator: Scum Fuck Flower Boy 12" (Columbia)
Pink Floyd: Obscured by Clouds 12" (Pink Floyd)
Miles Davis: Bitches Brew 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Muddy Waters: At Newport 12" (WaxTime)
Childish Gambino: Camp 12" (Glassnote)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland 12" (Experience Hendrix)
Husker Du: Metal Circus 12" (SST)
Negative Approach: Tied Down 12" (Touch & Go)
Slint: Spiderland 12" (Touch & Go)
Drive Like Jehu: S/T 12" (Headhunter)
Beyond: No Longer at Ease 12" (Revelation)
Burn: S/T 7" (Revelation)
Chain of Strength: The One Thing that Still Holds True 12" (Revelation)
Gorilla Biscuits: S/T 7" (Revelation)
Inside Out: No Spiritual Surrender 12" (Revelation)
Judge: Bringin' It Down 12" (Revelation)
Shelter: Perfection of Desire 12" (Revelation)
Texas Is the Reason: Do You Know Who You Are? 2x12" (Revelation)
Title Fight: Floral Green 12" (Revelation)
Warzone: Don't Forget the Struggle, Don't Forget the Streets 12" (Revelation)
Youth of Today: Break Down the Walls 12" (Revelation)
Youth of Today: Can't Close My Eyes 12" (Revelation)
Youth of Today: S/T 7" (Revelation)
Youth of Today: We're Not in This Alone 12" (Revelation)
Final Conflict: Ashes to Ashes 12" (Tankcrimes)
Fucked Up: High Rise 7" (Tankcrimes)
Joey Bada$$: All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ 12" (Cinematic)
King Diamond: Fatal Portrait 12" (Metal Blade)
King Diamond: The Eye 12" (Metal Blade)
Jay Reatard: Blood Visions 12" (Fat Possum)
Run the Jewels: S/T 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: 2 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: 3 12" (Mass Appeal)
Sturgill Simpson: High Top Mountain 12" (High Top Mountain )
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream 12" (Secretly Canadian )
The Scientists: S/T 12" (Numero Group )
Black Sabbath: S/T 12" (Warner Bros)
2pac: All Eyez on Me 12" (Death Row)

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