Featured Release Roundup: June 18, 2020
Rudimentary Peni: Wilfred Owen the Chances 7” (Sealed Records) Sealed Records digs up this obscurity from the Rudimentary Peni catalog and puts it on vinyl for the first time. As the label’s description notes, this track originally came on a CD that accompanied Nick Blinko’s book The Haunted Head. That book came out in 2009, and while there are no recording credits or other information, one must assume it comes from around the same time as the No More Pain E.P., which came out in 2008 and was Rudimentary Peni’s last release to date. Like No More Pain, “Wilfred Owen the Chances” sounds like Rudimentary Peni, a band that no other group has been able to emulate. The track is mid-paced, with a catchy riff and that trademark claustrophobic guitar sound. I am a person who celebrates Rudimentary Peni’s entire catalog, and I’m not willing to miss one second of music they make, so I’m stoked to have this track in my collection. Just as importantly, this release also features new Nick Blinko illustrations on the front and rear sleeve, printed with debossing that accentuates his striking line work. Just as no Rudimentary Peni music should be missed, so is every Nick Blinko illustration well worth your time. My only complaint is that the beautiful, full-color illustrations that came with the original CD release don’t reappear here, though I suppose they would have upset this tight packaging design. While this single may not offer as much value for money as a Mystic Records compilation, greatness is well worth paying a little extra for.
Newtown Neurotics: Kick Out! 12” (Sealed Records) Kick Out! compiles the first six Newtown Neurotics singles in their entirety (originally released between 1979 and 1984), along with the two tracks they contributed to 1983’s Son of Oi! compilation. Kick Out! is a companion release meant to come out alongside a recently completed documentary film about the Neurotics, but the film’s release was delayed because of COVID-19. Fortunately they decided not to delay the vinyl, as jamming these great tunes is a welcome relief during these turbulent times. While I’d been familiar with tracks like “Living with Unemployment” and “Kick Out the Tories!” for some time, the band first hit me hard when a spate of reissues of their early singles appeared around six years ago. When Brazil’s Nada Nada Discos reissued their first single, “Hypocrite,” in 2014, it stayed on my turntable for a long time and made it onto a mix tape that I played into the ground over the next few years. I still think “Hypocrite” is the Neurotics’ best song (it appears in two versions on Kick Out!, though I prefer the original), but I don’t think there’s a dud on this compilation. Newtown Neurotics’ lyrics have all the simple directness of classic anarcho-punk, but their music is straight up pop, combining the driving, riffy energy of the early Clash with the melodic sensibility of the Ramones (whom they cover twice on this LP). While the lyrics might be a little “heart on sleeve” for some, you can't deny these chaps had a way with a tune, and Kick Out! is earworm after earworm. Lovers of upbeat, catchy ’77 punk (think the Boys, the Lurkers, Eater, or Peter & the Test Tube Babies) should have these tunes in their collection in some form. And, needless to say, I’m eagerly anticipating the documentary.
Various: Days of a Quiet Sun 12” (Feel It) Most of you know Feel It Records as one of the top labels in contemporary punk and hardcore, but they’ve been in the reissue game for a while; their first release was a 7” by the 80s hardcore band Lackey Die, and they’ve also reissued recordings by the Landlords and Insinuations. With Days of a Quiet Sun, however, they take things back a little further, exploring Virginia’s music scene during the 60s and 70s. This compilation focuses on bands involved with the producer Martin Gary, who worked with bands throughout the state and across a wide range of genres. Days of a Quiet Sun covers a lot of sonic territory, from the soul group King Edward & His B.D.’s to garage groups like the Hazards and Jokers Wild to psych groups like the Barracudas to the heavy acid rock of the Bosom Blues Band and even one Fahey-style finger-picking guitarist, Duck Baker. It’s an eclectic listen, but the tracks are tied together by their great-sounding, vintage mono recordings. The inside gatefold also features detailed liner notes that give background information on Martin Gary and the musicians he worked with, notes and/or label scans for each track, and scans of other vintage paraphernalia to set the scene. It’s a top shelf job from Feel It, and as a native Virginian it’s interesting to hear what was happening in the state in the 60s and early 70s. Even though these groups clearly take influence from national acts, it seems like Virginia was slower-paced and less connected to the national zeitgeist than it is nowadays (though maybe that feeling also comes from the fact that these groups seem to come from the southern part of the state rather than the metro DC area). As you might expect given Feel It’s background in punk and hardcore, most of the tracks here are upbeat, energetic, and short, exactly the 60s music you dig if you grew up listening to punk rock.
Robodrum: Elektro Mafia 12” (Detriti Records) From what I’ve heard of their output, Germany’s Detriti Records specializes in an under-explored area of music where post-punk intersects with electronic dance music. I’m approaching this intersection from one direction, being that I’m much more knowledgeable about post-punk music than dance music. In fact, my knowledge of dance music is more or less nil. I think that’s why Robodrum was the first one of the fresh batch of Detriti releases I wanted to listen to. It’s that dance music flavor that makes the post-punk-ish releases on the label so interesting, and I wanted to see how far that influence could go before I lost interest. It turns out it’s further than this, because I love this Robodrum LP. To my ears, it’s pure electronic dance music, with a constant, pounding beat and minimal vocals. The steady beat creates a trance-like effect while the synth sounds that populate the higher registers skitter and swirl, creating interesting rhythmic and melodic interplay. My favorite track is the b-side opener, “Przepraszamy Za Usterki,” which has a seasick, psychedelic quality that contrasts with the ever-present boom bap. Who knows if knowledgeable dance heads would be into this, but I'm feeling it.
Goldie Dawn: S/T 7” (Drunken Sailor) Drunken Sailor brings us the debut release from this Scottish band, and if you’re a fan of high-energy, catchy, and biting garage-punk, it’s worth a listen. Two of the tracks, “Gone with the Wild” and “What’s Inside (Never Dies)” are high-speed punkers that remind me of the Carbonas or (as Jonah Falco’s blurb notes) the Rip Off Records catalog. My favorite track, though, is “Crime,” with its big, mid-paced metallic riff that would have been a highlight of the Runaways catalog. It’s not unlike the classic hardcore dirge, where you drop the tempo and tilt the scales toward hard rather than fast. The EP ends with the country-tinged “It’s Nothing to Me,” which leaves me wondering if it’s possible to pin Goldie Dawn down. This EP is an embarrassment of riches, and it makes me very curious to hear where Goldie Dawn might go from here.
Osbo: demo cassette (self-released) Debut cassette from this hardcore band out of Sydney, Australia. While I associate Australia with poppier sounds these days, this is pure hardcore with a snotty, ranting vocalist and simple, driving rhythms. The sound is raw and live, and I love how primitive the playing and the recording are here… it gives Osbo a very old school feel, like you would discover them buried in the middle of a Mystic Records comp LP, investigate their discography further, and find that they have a bunch of cool tracks. The snottiness of the vocals might interest fans of the Crucifucks, and the closing track, “Time,” slows things down for a Flipper / No Trend-informed dirge. The j-card may be a little on the artsy side, but the music is raw and immediate hardcore punk.