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Featured Release Roundup: June 17 2021

Wipers: Tour ’84 12” (Jackpot Records) You might have missed it because it came out this past Friday, the day before Record Store Day, but Jackpot just reissued the Wipers’ Tour ’84 album. These recordings originally came out as a very limited cassette on Greg Sage’s Trap Records, then were released as an LP on Enigma Records in 1985 (that version just features the Wipers’ logo on the cover, so sometimes this album is also referred to as self-titled). While Restless / Enigma released the Wipers’ next few albums, they had released none of the band’s previous three records, which most fans regard as the most essential Wipers records. Since Restless / Enigma was a bigger label, for a long time I saw copies of this record in used bins way more often than the Wipers’ actual first three albums. I wonder how many people picked up Tour ’84 as their first Wipers record, particularly after Kurt Cobain repped the band? I think this album is great, but it shows a different side of the band than the first three albums (which, thanks to various reissues and streaming, are now easily available). Those three albums have a sense of precision that isn’t as present here. The early recordings aren’t super polished, but they feel very locked in and precisely performed. By contrast, these live recordings find the band in a looser, more visceral mode. I love the albums, but I love this side of the band too. I think I’ve read that Greg Sage is a big Jimi Hendrix fan, and you hear that on these live versions. The fidelity is great (it says Greg Sage mixed them, so they must be multi-track recordings), and even better there are three songs that weren’t on any of the Wipers’ studio albums. They’re pretty cool and worth hearing, though, “Moon Rider” bears more than a passing resemblance to “Romeo.” This no-frills reissue doesn’t even have an insert, but it’s on pretty pink vinyl and it sounds great. You’ll want the first three Wipers albums before you pick this up, but if you’ve digested those, Tour ’84 is an essential piece of the Wipers puzzle.

Paranoid: Kind of Noise 12” (Viral Age Records) Paranoid’s Kind of Noise 7” came out as a tiny, 250-copy edition back in 2019. Of course that release sold out immediately, so Viral Age Records from the UK has stepped in and reissued it as a one-sided 12” with the two tracks from Paranoid’s Kaos flexi, which seems even harder to find. If you’re wondering what era of Paranoid this comes from, that’s a kind of complicated question. Kind of Noise came out in 2019, after Heavy Mental Fuck-up! and Cover of the Month found the band moving toward a metal / rock-influenced sound a la Venom. However, Kind of Noise was full-on d-beat, sounding like Paranoid was taking inspiration from noisy Japanese bands like Zyanose and D-Clone. I really liked Kind of Noise when it came out, and this expanded 12” version is even better. In addition to the extra songs, the packaging gets some nice upgrades including a beautiful obi, a glossy jacket, and a heavy PVC sleeve. If you’re missing these gems from deep in Paranoid’s discography, I’d jump on this release while you can.

Sublevacion: S/T 7” (Discos Enfermos) Discos Enfermos brings us the debut release from this Barcelona band. My first thought when I listened to this record was “man, this sounds old as hell.” I mean that in the best way possible. There is very little here to tip you off that this wasn’t recorded in the early 80s… no modern production touches, no straight edge-y breakdowns, no tips of the hat to bands that no one actually fucking knew about in the early 80s… just raw, furious hardcore punk. Like a lot of my favorite 80s hardcore, Sublevacion’s sound is rooted in Discharge and the Exploited. It’s easy to sound like a flattened-out version of what those bands did, but Sublevacion’s loose playing style and grainy, 4-track-style production give this record a lot of personality. I love the way the vocals clip on the loudest and most passionate parts, which gives the songs some extra dynamism. While I’m sure old hardcore nerds will love Sublevacion, the band’s direct and passionate sound doesn’t require a PhD in Hardcore Archaeology to appreciate.

Maladia: Sacred Fires 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Sacred Fires is the first vinyl release from this London band. There are several threads that run through La Vida Es Un Mus’s catalog, and Sacred Fires is of a piece with LVEUM alumni like Permission, No, Subdued, and maybe even Irreal and S.H.I.T. This is the dark shit, the nightmare music. The color is black, so what you look for are the textures and the shades. Maladia can be spooky, terrifying, eerie, sinister, and a bunch of other words that wouldn’t be out of place on a Facebook page promoting a goth night. But they’re also hardcore, meaning that they play with the heaviness and ferocity of bands like Rudimentary Peni and Crass. These five short tracks are a densely packed epic journey, long on detail but short on time to process it. I’m a sucker for these moves, and Maladia nails them.

Leopardo: Malcantone 12” (Feel It) Feel It Records digs into the worldwide underground again, sifting out Switzerland’s Leopardo from the silt. Aside from some Germanic accents, Leopardo doesn’t sync up with my limited knowledge of Swiss music (i.e. they don’t sound anything like Celtic Frost or Kleenex). Instead, they sound like they could have come straight from early 80s New Zealand. Like my favorite Kiwi pop, Malcantone seems grounded in the Velvet Underground’s subversive pop music, is aggressively eclectic (one track here is a solo banjo instrumental), heavily layered, and occasionally might get a little too saccharine for some tastes. Aside from the Velvets, I feel a noticeable Beatles influence coming through in parts of Malcantone, particularly the twee psych elements of Sgt. Pepper’s. It’s a similar mix of styles as the most 60s-influenced contemporary Australian bands, particularly Parsnip and Hierophants, and if you’re a fan of those records, you’ll love Leopardo. The packaging here is also up to Feel It’s usual high standard, with a beautiful gatefold jacket and detail-oriented design that provides enriching 3-dimensional accompaniment to Leopardo’s rich sonic world-building.

Sycophant: Innate Control cassette (self-released) Innate Control is the first release by this new hardcore band from Phoenix, Arizona. It sounds like Sycophant has spent plenty of time studying the Totalitär classics, but they don’t come off as a worship band, reaching further back to Discharge for influence (see “Black Smoke,” which they build around a “Protest and Survive” groove) or dropping in the odd wicked breakdown (“Warzone Mentality”). Sycophant draws from the same well of influences as recent Totalitär-inspired bands like Nervous SS, Scarecrow, and maybe even the Destruct and Lethal Means, and their song and riff-writing skills are top notch. Innate Control has a powerful recording, too, courtesy of J from Gay Kiss. With ten full tracks, this tape is longer and meatier than most 12”s these days, so if this is your style, jump on it!

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