Featured Release Roundup: June 25, 2020
Stiff Richards: Dig 12” (Erste Theke Tontraeger) With Stiff Richards, Germany’s Erste Theke Tonträger Records has added some straight up garage punk to their already eclectic roster. That said, while Stiff Richards resemble the New Bomb Turks or the Rip Off Records roster, it’s clear why their huge, catchy riffs would appeal to the label that released records by Bib. Like Bib, Stiff Richards hang on simple riffs for a long time, and while the repetition helps the songs stick in your memory, it never feels like they’re belaboring the point. Lyrics are in the Iggy mold of just a handful of lines per song and, judging by the photo on the cover of the album, Stiff Richards' live show also summons the Stooges’ style of chaos. That photo says everything there is to say about Stiff Richards… if you want to hear music that sounds like it’s made in the middle of a wild, drunken show where the floor is littered with beer bottles and everyone in the band and the crowd is stumbling and falling over themselves, Dig captures that spirit.
Kohti Tuhoa: Elä Totuudesta 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Elä Totuudesta is a new 5-song EP from this Finnish band that has built an impressive discography over the past several years. I’m always interested in hearing extreme music from Finland, and this record is a perfect example of why. It totally rips! Like my favorite 80s Finnish hardcore bands like Appendix and Lama, Kohti Tuhoa’s music strikes the perfect balance between catchiness and intensity without sacrificing either. The riff to the opening track, “Taas Sivussa,” could almost be a Pennywise song, but it’s played so mean that no one will mistake it for mall punk. The vocals are also great. Like the music, they’re powerful and commanding while remaining clear and catchy, and the timbre and phrasing remind me of another great band, Poland’s Post Regiment. If the references above intrigue you, don’t waste any time checking this one out.
The Chisel: Deconstructive Surgery 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Debut release from this new punk/oi! band featuring a bunch of familiar faces from the contemporary London scene. The sound reminds me of Ultra Violent, the Insane, or the best moments from the early part of the Exploited’s discography. Like those bands, the Chisel makes punk that’s straightforward and catchy, but matches the intensity of hardcore without losing an ounce of catchiness. I think this features some Charlie Fresh (Chubby and the Gang, Violent Reaction, Crown Court) guitar work, so if you’re a fan of his style from those previous bands—50% hardcore, 50% catchy oi!—you’ll want to give this a listen. Great vocals, too, that tread the catchy / tough line just as well as the music.
Cuir: Single Demo 12” (Offside Records) I’ve seen people hyping Cuir online for a while now, but I haven’t given their music a close listen until we got in this LP, which compiles an earlier single and demo cassette. Their aesthetic struck me as a little cheesy, so I was resistant to investigating further, but it’s easy to see why people are hyping them. They’re excellent and don’t sound like anything else I can think of. The basic formula is tough, fist-pumping punk with an oi! edge, overlaid with super melodic synth parts. If you took away the synth, Cuir would sound like a mix of the Carbonas and Rixe, but those synth lines take these songs to places I never would have expected them to go. Every track is short, punchy, and all impact. I’m sure some people will think the synths are cheesy, but the more I listen to this, the more I think I love it.
The Times: Red with Purple Flashes 7” (Static Shock) Static Shock brings this slice of brilliance from 1981 back into print, and I am beyond stoked to have it in my collection. Just last week I wrote my staff pick about how much I love the early Television Personalities, a love that extends to related groups like the Times, Teenage Filmstars, and O Level. This single might be the single best record from any of those groups, as both tracks are DIY pop classics delivered with all the ramshackle brilliance you want from this sound. Seriously, if you don’t love “Red With Purple Flashes,” I don’t know what to tell you. If you’re a fan of this style of music, you need this. Pro tip: the Times’ second single, “I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape,” is a banger too.
Gaffer: demo cassette (Helta Skelta) Gaffer is a new band from the Helta Skelta camp out in Perth, Western Australia. Their sound is tough, mid-paced punk spiced with elements of post-punk, anarcho-punk, and garage-punk. The tape starts off strong with “Hang,” whose Crisis-esque lead guitar line makes it my favorite song on the tape. The others don’t lag too far behind, though, as Gaffer keeps everything catchy. Two of the tracks even break three minutes, and while I like a lot of music that holds nothing back, Gaffer’s slow boil is a welcome counterbalance to all the frantic hardcore in my listening diet. Not to belabor the point, but I’d recommend this if you’ve put a lot of wear on your Crisis vinyl.