Featured Release Roundup: June 13, 2019
Heterofobia: Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder 12” (Drunken Sailor) Debut 12” from this band out of Monterrey, Mexico with a unique sound combining elements of hardcore punk and death rock. On most tracks it sounds like the drummer and vocalist are from a vicious hardcore band inspired by South American classics like Olho Seco and Ataque Frontal, while the bass player wandered in from their goth band practice and they’re all playing along to guitar parts played back on a barely functioning four track. The guitarist for Heterofobia is the star of the show for me, squirming, crawling, and writhing their way through these tracks, creating a vibe as dark and as heavy as Part 1 or Rudimentary Peni. I’m sure I’d love it even if there were someone moaning through their best Rozz Williams impression, but the way Heterofobia combines that darkness with the drummer and vocalist’s savagery is something special. The riffs and songs are memorable, but it’s the sound that sells this one. Highly recommended.
Headsplitters: S/T 12” (Desolate) Debut 12” from this New York hardcore punk band that impressed me when they toured with Forward last year. With sixteen tracks (still at 45RPM though!) this is one of the longer hardcore 12”s I’ve heard in some time, and it’s clear that Headsplitters are full of ideas. In contrast to many hardcore bands who seem to have one or two ideas they wring dry, Headsplitters have a ton going on. Their default mode is a thrashy take on 80s hardcore that reminds me a lot of Direct Control. Not only are Headsplitters also a three piece but also they have a similar way of writing riffs and, like Direct Control, while their songs seem to be all about speed and power there’s a subtle melodicism and sense of song craft underpinning everything. However, that only partially describes this record. There are also two instrumentals (one guitar, one piano!), more metallic songs like “Burning Winds,” and an anthemic, almost street punk element that comes out on tracks like “Desensitized” and the killer opener “Faces Change.” While it’s all hardcore punk, I love that Headsplitters aren’t basing their entire existence as a band on just one classic record. Throw in some killer artwork and you have a top-notch hardcore punk release.
Raw Power: ’83 Demo 12” (Ugly Pop) First-ever vinyl release for Raw Power’s legendary 1983 demo, often called the “Brown Studio Demo” after the studio where they recorded it. These tracks have surfaced on previous CD reissues and this version of “Fuck Authority” appeared on the Welcome to 1984 compilation, but I’m pleased to have a stand-alone vinyl release of this session in my collection. What to say about this record? While by the time of Screams from the Gutter, Raw Power will have morphed into one of the tightest, catchiest, and most powerful hardcore bands of all time, this demo tape captures them at their earliest, most primitive stage. They re-recorded a lot of these songs several times, but many of the tracks are substantially different on this recording, which has more in common with the unhinged sound of early Negazione or Wretched. Beyond the visceral thrill of hearing a band playing this wild and loose (which is a big part of why I’m such a big fan of early Italian hardcore), many of the little quirks that would become signature aspects of Raw Power’s sound are already apparent here: the drummer’s creative use of cowbell, the wild lead guitar, and those thrilling moments when guitarist Giuseppe grabs the mic and delivers one of his throat-shredding vocal performances. If you love early Italian hardcore, I can’t imagine you won’t be stoked to pick this up.
Porno Glows: 12” EP (Violent Pest) Debut vinyl from this Chicago punk band. I liked their demo tape from 2016 so I was excited to hear this, and it does not disappoint. While Porno Glows features the former vocalist of Big Zit, I wouldn’t describe them as a hardcore band. Instead, they remind me of second-wave UK punk bands like the Users, the Cortinas, or the Killjoys. Like those bands, Porno Glows sounds like a rock band playing straightforward, high-energy rock-and-roll (rather than any particular punk sub-genre), and also like those bands there’s a near-total lack of pretension in the way Porno Glows present themselves. They just sound like a band making songs, and if you take the time to listen to them closely, you’ll hear that those songs are superb. The riffs are often simple, but they put together the songs in clever and engaging ways with great bass lines and memorable lyrics. It’s a shame that Porno Glows don’t seem to have a clear stylistic home in the 2019 punk scene, because they’re making punk rock that sounds timeless.
Negative Gears: S/T 12” (Static Shock) Debut release from this new Australian band. I was unaware of Negative Gears, but this 12” knocked me out. The label’s description hits the nail on the head comparing this record to Diät and Institute (I would also throw in their label-mates Low Life as another big one), as Negative Gears play post-punk with punk energy, hooks, and a noise artist’s sense of sonic texture. The mastering on this record is super hot, emphasizing the deep and propulsive bass grooves. On that sonic bedrock Negative Gears layer lots of catchy single-string guitar lines (again, very reminiscent of Institute or Crisis songs like “UK 78” and “Frustration”) and a subtle layer of synth near the back of the mix. It’s the perfect combination of catchy and richly layered. I have zero time for bargain basement post-punk, but like the aforementioned bands, Negative Gears do it right.
Felchers: S/T 12” (General Speech) Debut release from this band out of Kentucky whom I’d never heard of before, but General Speech's strong pedigree is enough to pique my curiosity. Indeed, this Felchers record is something unique and awesome. As the label’s description notes, while much of this record is rough, fast, and mean, Felchers don’t sound like a hardcore band so much as a punk band who has slid into hardcore by taking their energy, aggression, and nihilism as far as it can go. You won’t find breakdowns or d-beats here, just pure punk energy. Another way that Felchers sound somewhat out of time is their vocalist, who doesn’t bark, shout, or growl, but rather yells in an exasperated way, like your parent chewing you out after you’ve done the single dumbest thing you will ever do in your life. The lyrics are vivid and dripping with sarcasm, and there are far too few contemporary punk bands exploring this Jello / Doc Dart style. The recording sounds clear, raw, and in the red, like a feral punk band overloading the board at their town’s cheapest recording studio (i.e. the only one they could afford). If you’re a fan of off the beaten path punk rock, I strongly encourage you to pick this up, or you can wait 20 years until someone compiles the best unheard late 2010’s punk.
Outo: S/ T 12” (Limited Punk Releases) More Japanese bootleg vinyl, this time collecting Outo’s LP, their Many Question Poison Answer 7”, and their contributions to the Hardcore Unlawful Assembly, Thrash Till Death, and My Meat’s Your Poison compilations. There are 26 tracks, making for a lot of Outo! If you aren’t familiar with Outo, I’d put them firmly in the second tier of great Japanese hardcore punk bands. While they never made a record as classic as Death Side, Bastard, or Gauze, they certainly ripped. They had a fast, metallic sound that was as fast as SOB or Systematic Death, but with a metallic complexity to the riffing. Their recordings are also great, which showcases said complexity. In a large dose like this their songs can, perhaps, sound same-y, but I can’t imagine someone could point to one second on this disc and say it’s not killer. Like a lot of recent Japanese bootlegs, this one features rather dodgy black and white cover art (which is a shame, because most of Outo’s records have awesome full-color sleeves), but excellent sound presumably derived from a CD reissue. While it’s a shame this reissue loses some of the magic of holding an original in your hands, I don’t see this material getting an official vinyl reissue any time soon, so you’d best jump on this chance to get this in your collection.
Data Control: It Was Nothing 12” (Den Magiska Cirkeln) Second album from this Swedish group that has been kicking around their country since 2013. Longtime Sorry State followers might remember Thurneman, with whom Data Control share members, but that record is nearly ten years old now, so that reference doesn't mean anything to most of you. Anyway, Data Control take their name from a Husker Du song, and like the ‘Du, they started out as a hardcore band and have morphed into something more melodic, but with a similar darkness and energy about it. While there might be pop songs at the center of some of these tracks, beats get shifted askew and bass lines travel away from the main melody, pulling your ear in multiple directions at once. The first time I listened to it I felt a little confused, but each subsequent time I’ve grown more intrigued. That’s great music, right? It challenges you, pulling you in slowly and gradually revealing itself. Like the Porno Glows record I also wrote about in this update, it’s not clear to me exactly who Data Control’s audience is, but if you’re a person who loves the bands that fall in the cracks between scenes, I recommend checking out It Was Nothing.
Artcore #38 zine wNeuroot: /Nazi Frei 7” (Artcore) If you’re still weeping yourself to sleep over MRR ending its print edition there’s always the long-running Artcore fanzine, which will scratch any discerning punk’s itch for record reviews, band interviews, historical retrospectives, and the occasional rant, all without the need to keep track of a power cable. I imagine that if you’re in their target audience, you already know what Artcore is all about, but I’ll mention that this time around you get interviews with people like Red Death, Rat Cage, No Problem, and Ugly Pop Records, histories of punk from South Wales and the midwestern US, and a ton of other content. And as with the past several issues you also get a 7” record, this time a new EP from 80s Dutch hardcore legends Neuroot. If you’re reading this, then that probably sounds pretty darn great to you, and I can confirm that this is another top-notch Artcore experience.
Chrome Skulls: The Metal Skull 7” (Vanilla Box) Debut 7” from this new band out of New Jersey with a heavy, bulldozer crust sound a la Framtid or Anti-Cimex. When a band goes for this style, I know within five seconds of dropping the needle if they’re legit, and Chrome Skulls are legit… this is raw, noisy, heavy, and brutal in all the right ways. While it’s on the nose, I particularly like the relentless “Public Animal,” where the guitarist does this great dissonant harmony worthy of HNSNSN-era Discharge themselves. Chrome Skulls also have a S.H.I.T.-esque ability to work a pit-clearing mid-paced part into the crusty melee without making it sound out of place in the slightest. If you’re a fan of labels like Brain Solvent Propaganda and Konton Crasher, this is gonna do it for you.
All New ArrivalsIdiota Civilizzato: Civilita Idiota 7" (Static Shock)
Negative Gears: S/T 12" (Static Shock)
State Funeral: Built For Destruction 7” (Static Shock)
Headsplitters: S/T 12" (Desolate)
Chrome Skulls: The Metal Skull 7" (Vanilla Box)
Brain Pollution Syndrome: Demo cassette (self-released)
Outo: S/T 12" (Limited Punk Releases)
Felchers: S/T 12" (General Speech)
L7: Best of the Slash Years 12" (Run Out Groove)
Porno Glows: S/T 12" (Violent Pest)
Data Control: It Was Nothing 12" (Den Magiska Cirklein)
Martyrdod: Hexhammeren 12" (Southern Lord)
Pelican: Forever Becoming Remix 12" (Southern Lord)
Friendship: Undercurrent 12" (Southern Lord)
Jedi Mind Tricks: Army of the Pharoahs: Ritual of Battle 12" (Baby Grande)
Lust for Youth: S/T 12" (Sacred Bones)
Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer 12" (Atlantic)
RestocksDisguise: Bas Fada 7" (Static Shock)
Uranium Club: All of them Naturals 12" (Static Shock)
Uranium Club: Human Exploration 12" (Static Shock)
The Number Ones: S/T 12" (Static Shock)
Butcher: Return to Nothingness 12" (Desolate)
Extended Hell: Call of the Void 7" (Desolate)
Bl'ast!: Blood 12" (Southern Lord)
Brotherhood: Till Death 12" (Southern Lord)
Nails: Unsilent Death 12" (Southern Lord)
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic 12" (Southern Lord)
Sunn O))): Kannon 12" (Southern Lord)
Sunn 0))): Domkirke 12" (Southern Lord)
Uniform Choice: Screaming for Change 12" (Southern Lord)
YDI: A Place in the Sun / Black Dust 2x12" (Southern Lord)
Alice in Chains: Dirt 12" (Music On Vinyl)
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black 12" (Island)
Bob Marley: Legend 12" (Island)
Can: Tago Mago 2x12" (Spoon)
Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror) 12" (Matador)
Fury: Failed Entertainment 12" (Run For Cover)
Green Day: Dookie 12" (Reprise)
Green Day: Nimrod 12" (Reprise)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella)
Korn: Issues 12" (Epic)
Magic Sam: West Side Soul 12" (Delmark)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)
New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies 12" (Factory)
Pixies: Trompe Le Monde 12" (4AD)
Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain 12" (Warner Bros)
Social Distortion: S/T 12" (Music On Vinyl)
Son House: The Father of Folk Blues 12" (Analogue)
Stimulators: Loud Fast Rules 7" (Frontier)
The Fall: I am Kurious, Oranj 12" (Beggar’s Banquet)
The Fire Theft: Fire Theft 12" (Run Out Groove)
Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders 12" (Jive)
Twenty One Pilots: Trench 12" (Fueled By Ramen)
Tyler, the Creator: Scum Fuck Flower Boy 12" (Columbia)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks 12" (Rhino)
Voivod: Dimension Hatross 12" (Noise)
Weezer: Blue Album 12" (Geffen)
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 12" (RCA)
Institute: Readjusting the Locks 12" (Sacred Bones)
Hole: Live Through This 12" (DGC)
Howlin' Wolf: Moanin' in the Moonlight 12" (Jackpot)
Bathory: Under the Sign of the Black Mark 12" (Black Mark)
Tyler the Creator: Wolf 12" (Odd Future)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 12" (Reprise)