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Featured Release Roundup: June 21, 2018

Faux Depart: Au Pied Du Mur 12” (Doomtown) I thought it was a shame that Faux Depart’s excellent first tape didn't appear on vinyl, but this record is so much better it’s appropriate that this is their vinyl debut. That first tape was a great, upbeat garage-punk record in the vein of the Marked Men, but Au Pied Du Mur expands on that formula. There’s more variation in the songwriting, with moments of knotty rhythms, lots of different tempos (well, they’re all variations of “fast,” but they range from “pretty fast, dude” to “whoa!”), cool criss-crossing guitar and vocal melodies, and variations in timbre and texture. As much variation as there is, Faux Depart wrap all of it up in the same gratifying pop song structure and brilliant melodic sensibility they displayed on the first tape. Au Pied Du Mur reminds me of how dynamic Dillinger Four’s sound was on Midwestern Songs of the Americas, so if that crossed with the Ramones-based pop sensibilities of the Marked Men and Radioactivity sounds like it might be up your alley you should check out this record.

The Landlords: Hey! It’s a Teenage House Party! 12” (Feel It) Reissue of this 1984 hardcore LP. On the surface this LP wouldn’t seem like an obvious candidate for a reissue since the band is rather obscure, but Feel It has done an amazing job of putting together a package that presents the music in the best light and adds some much-needed context that helps you appreciate these tracks even more than if you stumbled across an original copy. The Landlords were from the sleepy little university town of Charlottesville, Virginia, and while Charlottesville is more or less off the punk rock map (this despite Feel It's has reissues of several cool records from that city), its proximity to DC and Richmond meant that bands like the Landlords could take advantage of those scenes’ fringe benefits, like being able to play with national touring bands and being able to record in Don Zientera’s legendary Inner Ear Studio. Indeed, Hey! It’s a Teenage House Party is a great sounding record, with the same bright and punchy sound of the early Dischord releases that Zientera also recorded (and thanks to quality remastering from the original tapes this reissue likely sounds even better than the original). Musically, on this LP the Landlords are very much a hardcore band and could fit right in on regional hardcore compilations like Flex Your Head or Why Are We Here?, but there are also hints of the more musically complex sound that the Landlords would develop on their later recordings (collected on the Fitzgerald’s Paris LP, also on Feel It). It’s like Articles of Faith’s early material in a way… the Landlords are trying very hard to be a hardcore band on this LP, but there are innumerable hints they’re so much more than just a hardcore band. As I mentioned before, the sound on this reissue is top-notch, and it also comes with a full-size zine jam-packed with liner notes and never-before-seen photos. If you’re in to the Radio Raheem school of hardcore archeology you’ll find a ton to love here, but any lover of early 80s US hardcore will get plenty of spins out of this one.

Protomartyr: Consolation 12” (Domino) I must admit that I’ve been hot and cold on Protomartyr lately. I’ve listened to their records as they came out (we even carried their early singles back when they were first released) and loved everything up to Under Color of Official Right, but then they started to lose me. The The Agent Intellect and Relatives in Descent are rather dour records… they were extremely dark, and I’m not sure if iall of that darkness was too much for me or if I was just not interested in hearing something so not punk, but those records never clicked with me like the earlier ones did. Further, while I’ve always loved the band’s ambition, parts of those latter two records may have crossed the line between ambitious and pretentious. That’s not meant to be a slight against those records… many of my favorite records of all time are so heady and such intense listening experiences I barely ever listen to them. I never put on Joy Division’s Closer or Wire’s 154 unless I’m in exactly the right mood, but I know that when I am in that mood they will hit me hard. Anyway, the four tracks on Consolation are something of a retreat from the depths of darkness probed on the last two LPs. There’s more of a spring in the band’s step, the tempos are sprightlier, and the arrangements are denser, without the vast, open spaces of their recent stuff (which is another thing that those records have in common with Closer). Adding Kelly Deal from the Breeders on backing vocals is also great. It’s like a trump card in the band’s back pocket… whenever Kelly’s voice pops into the mix my ears perk up and I stop whatever I’m doing and just listen. If you’ve also drifted away from Protomartyr this is a good place to jump back aboard, as these four tracks won’t overstay their welcome, and they’ll also remind you of why we all flipped for this band in the first place.

Headsplitters: Tomorrow 7” (Brain Solvent Propaganda) Debut EP from this New York band and it is a beast. While I know Brain Solvent Propaganda primarily for releasing raw punk and d-beat, Headsplitters combine aspects of that sound with more straightforward, even metallic hardcore. The production is beefy and noisy a la Pollen or Vägra, but the riffs and songwriting (and the vocals to an extent) remind me more of a band like Direct Control. In other words, the mix is roughly 85% classic US hardcore and 15% thrash/metal… if you like older, not-quite-crossover like Attitude Adjustment’s early stuff (particularly their pre-LP recordings), COC, or Final Conflict this will be right up your alley. The production and performances here are explosive, using the everything-in-the-red crust sound of the Shitlickers EP. If you like wild and noisy hardcore you will not do much better than this in 2018… highly recommended.

Bound: Lost Songs 7” (Warthog Speak) Compilation of three unreleased and/or hard to get songs from this 90s hardcore band out of Massachusetts. I remember seeing Bound’s name in zines around this time, but I never saw them and never laid hands on any of their records. They remind me of many bands I saw in the late 90s… the pictures on this record really bring me back to that time… big pants, two-sizes-too-large Quicksand t-shirts, baseball caps, shows in VFW halls… it looks like Bound’s experience of 90s hardcore was similar to mine. Anyway, like I said these tracks remind me of many bands I saw back then, but they’re so much better than I remember many bands of this ilk being. In particular, they remind me of early (i.e. Halo in a Haystack and earlier) Converge, but these tracks explode out of the speakers in a way that those records never did. I suppose that’s why Warthog Speak is getting these songs out there. Even though these tracks are outside of that label’s typical wheelhouse of 80s-inspired hardcore, these recordings are so explosive they deserve to be heard. I’m sure I lost many of you at “90s hardcore band,” but if you have a soft spot for this style I’d recommend checking this out. While it doesn’t have the technical complexity that bands like Converge and Cave In were exploring, what it lacks in finesse it makes up for in brute force.

Alienation: Bitter Reality 7” (Warthog Speak) Latest 7” from this great Canadian hardcore band, and the eleven songs crammed onto this 7” are proof they haven’t changed their habit of writing short, fast, and loud rippers. The comparisons are the same as what I made on their earlier records… Neos, Siege, Septic Death, Deep Wound, and other 80s bands that pushed the limits of how fast hardcore could get. Those bands existed in a pre-grindcore world, and Alienation are similarly oblivious to grind… they never use blastbeats and their songs are structurally straightforward hardcore songs in the vein of Negative Approach, only they’re played at the maximum speed they can reach before they disintegrate into an incoherent blur. The production is bright and punchy but still raw, the performances are tight, and the whole thing rips out of your speakers with the crazed force of a wounded lion. If that sounds like your idea of a great hardcore record then it’s obvious that you need to get this on your turntable post haste.

Insinuations: Prompt Critical 7” (Feel It) Feel It Records reissues another piece of punk ephemera from Virginia; while most of their earlier reissues are from the hardcore era, this one goes back to 1979. The band released the original in an impossibly rare edition of 100 copies, so you might as well give up on ever acquiring one of those and grab this reissue if you’re interested. Musically, Insinuations are a bit of a head-scratcher. Not punk by any current usage of the term, Insinuations come off like a group of artists and intellectuals excited by the possibilities of punk but not interested in “being” punk or following the scene’s rules and conventions. They smash together a number of sounds on these two tracks… I hear the music hall sounds of Tom Waits’ early stuff, the deconstructed rock of Pere Ubu, the home-made rhythms of no wave groups like DNA and the Theoretical Girls, and the robotic funk of early Devo. I don't know if Insinuations listened to any of those things, but those sounds were being made around the same time and it’s clear that Insinuations were breathing the same air. If you’re looking for fast and dumb KBD punk a la Freestone you’re barking up the wrong tree, but if you like the artsier sounds of bands like Pere Ubu, x_x, American bands similar to the UKDIY scene, or if you're into the history of punk in the mid-Atlantic and Virginia you should check this out.

Neurosis: Pain of Mind 12” (Neurot) Reissue of Neurosis’s first album from 1987. This one abandons the updated artwork featured on the Alternative Tentacles reissue from 1984 (which I never liked) and updates the original release’s cover illustration to fit Neurosis’s present aesthetic. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether that was a wise choice, but I suppose it could have been worse. Many people only know Neurosis as the progressive metal band they’ve become, but this early stuff differs greatly from that. While it’s still metallic, it’s 100% a hardcore record. I’d put it in a similar category to what bands like Born Against, Nausea, and Rorschach were doing around the same time. These bands were rooted in the 80s hardcore aesthetic, but felt constrained by its limitations and were seduced, to a greater or lesser extent, by the artistic possibilities of metal. What emerges is a sound that’s very different from crossover—which prioritized the speed and heaviness that were metal and hardcore’s common language—and more like a prog-ified version of 80s hardcore. Imagine if King Crimson had grown up going to shows at the Vats and listening to records by Verbal Abuse and Agnostic Front and you’re in the ballpark. This was a real moment in time, and I'm not sure if there are still bands making music like this. This album is a classic of the era, bursting with ideas and innovations. Unless you’re one of those dullards who think hardcore died by the mid-80s this is an essential, classic album and I’m glad to see it’s back in print.

Regional Justice Center: World of Inconvenience 12” (Forever Never Ends) Debut 12” from this hardcore / power violence band. Honestly, I don’t listen to much of this stuff, but something about Regional Justice Center caught my eye. I checked it out, and I was pleasantly surprised. Stylistically, Regional Justice Center meld the power violence and Youth Attack aesthetics (Mark McCoy did the artwork as well) with tougher hardcore elements. Normally that mix doesn’t do it for me, but Regional Justice Center’s songs are Byzantine mazes of stops, starts, and tempo changes that keep you guessing as to what’s coming next. There’s a Celtic Frost-esque cut-and-paste aesthetic in how jagged and unexpected the transitions are. The riffs themselves are interesting, and they never hang around long enough to come off as trite or overplayed. On top of that foundation of jagged, proggy hardcore you also get powerful vocals and clear, heavy modern production. If you listen to power violence and/or you follow the world of Youth Attack Records this is a no-brainer, but this is original, exciting, and well-executed enough that Sorry State’s crowd can get down with it too.


All New Arrivals

The Landlords: Hey! It's a Teenage House Party 12" (Feel It)
Insinuations: Prompt Critical 7" (Feel It)
Tarantula: Very Best of Sex and Violence 7" (Deranged)
Damagers: S/T 7" (Deranged)
Spiritual Cramp: Police State 7" (Deranged)
No Problem: Let God Sort Em Out 12" (Deranged)
Neurosis: Pain of Mind 12" (Neurot)
Spacemen 3: For All The Fucked-up Children Of This World We Give You 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Tom Waits: Bawlers 12" (Anti)
Tom Waits: Brawlers 12" (Anti)
Tom Waits: Bastards 12" (Anti)
Madball: For the Cause 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Culture Abuse: Bay Dream 12" (Epitaph)
Bad Religion: No Substance 12" (Epitaph)
Bolt Thrower: Realm of Chaos (red vinyl) 12" (Earache)
Protomartyr: Consolation 12" (Domino)
At the Gates: Slaughter of the Soul 12" (Earache)
Tim Armstrong: A Poet's Life 12" (Hellcat)
Sepultura: Arise (Expanded Edition) 12" (Atlantic)
Faux Depart: Au Pied Du Mur 12" (Doom Town)
EkeBuba: Rat Bite cassette (Doom Town)
EkeBuba: S/T cassette (Doom Town)
Human Music: S/T cassette (Electric Heat)
Reality Group: Dog Fries Mouse Hat cassette (Electric Heat)
Various: Folk Festival Of The Blues 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Skip James: Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers 12" (Sutro Park)
Howlin' Wolf: Moanin' in the Moonlight 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Howlin' Wolf: S/T 12" (WaxTime)
John Lee Hooker: I'm John Lee Hooker 12" (WaxTime)
Muddy Waters: At Newport 1960 12" (WaxTime)
Magic Sam: West Side Soul 12" (Delmark)
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland 12" (Experience Hendrix)
Khemmis: Desolation 12" (20 Buck Spin)
ASG: Survive Sunrise 12" (Relapse)
Abbath: S/T 12" (Season of Mist)
Fucked Up: High Rise 7" (Tankcrimes)
Igorrr: Savage Sinusoid 12" (Metal Blade)
Oneohtrix Point Never: Age of 12" (Warp)
Dusk: S/T 12" (Don Giovanni)
Mighty Mighty Bosstones: While We're At It 12" (Big Rig)
Stiv Bators: Disconnected 12" (Bomp)

Restocks

Impalers; Beat Session cassette (Shout Recordings)
P22: Beat Session cassette (Shout Recordings)
Fried Egg: Beat Session cassette (Shout Recordings)
Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (mono) 12" (Capitol)
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced 12" (Legacy)
Slayer: Seasons in the Abyss 12" (American Recordings)
Rage Against the Machine: S/T 12" (Sony)
Nirvana: Incesticide 12" (DGC)
Childish Gambino: Camp 12" (Glassnote)
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 12" (Manifesto)
Mumford + Sons: Sigh No More 12" (Island)
Jimi Hendrix: Axis: Bold as Love 12" (Legacy)
Guns N Roses: Appetite for Destruction 12" (Geffen)
Velvet Underground & Nico: S/T 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker 12" (Pax Americana)
Ryan Adams: Cold Roses 12" (Lost Highway)
Ryan Adams: Gold 12" (Lost Highway)
Black Flag: Nervous Breakdown 12" (SST)
Minutemen: 3 Way Tie for Last 12" (SST)
Curtis Mayfield: Curtis 12" (Curtom)
Jawbreaker: Bivouac 12" (Blackball)
Jawbreaker: Chesterfield King 12" (Blackball)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Quarters 12" (Castleface)
Melvins: Bullhead 12" (Boner)
Melvins: Ozma 12" (Boner)
Poison Idea: War All the Time 12" (TKO)
Sleep: Volume One 12" (Tulepo)
Sonic Youth: Sister 12" (Goofin)
The Sound: From the Lion's Mouth 12" (1972)
The Mekons: Where Were You? 7" (RSD 2018)
Yob: Atma 12" (20 Buck Spin)
Criminal Code: 2534 12" (Deranged)
Autopsy: Critical Madness: The Demo Years 12" (Peaceville)
Bjork: Homogenic 12" (One Little Indian)
Bjork: Post 12" (One Little Indian )
The Black Keys: Thickfreakness 12" (Fat Possum)
Brand New: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me 12" (Interscope)
Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky 12" (Peaceville)
Darkthrone: Soulside Journey 12" (Peaceville)
Darkthrone: Under a Funeral Moon 12" (Peaceville)
Jason Isbell: Southeastern 12" (Southeastern)
Joey Bada$$: All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ 12" (Cinematic)
Joey Bada$$: B4.DA.$$ 12" (Pro Era)
Kohti Tuhoa: Pelon Neljas Valtaku 12" (Southern Lord)
Motley Crue: Theatre of Pain 12" (Motley)
Sturgill Simpson: High Top Mountain 12" (High Top Mountain)
Windhand / Satan's Satyrs: Split 12" (Relapse)
Elliott Smith: New Moon 12" (Kill Rock Stars)
Lithics: Mating Surfaces 12" (Kill Rock Stars)
Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance 12" (Fire)
Pere Ubu: Dub Housing 12" (Fire)
Quasimoto: The Unseen 12" (Stones Throw)

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