Featured Release Roundup: June 7, 2018

Stiff Love: Trouble 7” (Neck Chop) Debut 7” from this new band out of Olympia, Washington. My band No Love played with them on their recent tour and they were great live, but this 7” is even better. Stylistically, Stiff Love have a really cool vibe… there are elements of classic punk, 60s garage, and power-pop, but it skews very far toward the punk, particularly with the fast and loose playing and the raw production on this 7”. I’m reminded a lot of Nikki & the Corvettes’ best tracks, but Stiff Love are even punker than that reference would indicate. The songs themselves are super dense with a ton going on… each one generally has a great main riff, a cool lead that comes in over top of the main riff at some point (they’re a twin-guitar attack BTW), and catchy vocals that are more of a rhythmic yelp than melodic singing. Despite the fact that there’s so much going on the songs never feel overworked, which again probably comes at least partially from the loose playing style (which is totally drenched with swagger) and the rough production. Stiff Love are such great songwriters and musicians that I can easily imagine them taking the path of a band like the Donnas or the Hives… with more “professional” production this is a band that could get really, really big. Or they could just keep putting out records as good as Trouble and they’ll develop their own rabid, cult-like audience. Or maybe they’ll break up and these tunes will get comped on a future volume of Killed by Death and we old-timers will talk about how we remember when you could pick this thing up for six measly bucks. Highly recommended.

ISS: S/T 12” (Drunken Sailor) ISS mania continues with this latest release, which is a vinyl reissue of the band’s first self-titled cassette full-length, which was original released on Rich from Terminal Boredom’s Loki Label in 2015. I’ve been immersed in the world of ISS lately, but I hadn’t returned to this first release in quite a while and I’d forgotten how different it is from what they’re doing these days. Nowadays, I think of ISS’s music as having three essential layers: the sampled drums and original bass line that make up the “song,” another layer of irreverent samples, guitar solos, and other stuff, then Rich’s vocals blaring out insanely catchy lines over top of all that. However, ISS hadn’t really added that middle layer when they did these tracks, so they sound quite minimal next to, say, the 7” they just released on Sorry State. While I would probably say that I like the newer stuff better (though, to be fair, I’m the type of person who almost always likes the newest stuff best), the advantage of the more minimal style of this LP is that it’s much more immediately catchy. The vocals are very clean-sounding and right up front in the mix, so you’re singing along with “Back Taxes and Anaphylaxis” and “Freemasons Run the Country” on the second listen, whereas the denser, newer material takes a few listens for your ear to fully decode. In my mind, though, every second of ISS music is essential listening, and even if you have the original cassette I would highly recommend upgrading to this superior format.

Acid Attack: Suburbia’s Dream 12” (Radio Raheem) Reissue of the entire recorded works from this UK82 band out of Portsmouth, UK on the always-reliable Radio Raheem label. As the label’s description indicates, simply referring to Acid Attack as a UK82 band glosses over much of what’s interesting about them. They may well have been trying to emulate bands like GBH, Vice Squad, or the Exploited, but if that was the case they missed the mark by quite a bit, albeit in a very interesting way. Acid Attack never quite reach the full-on thrash tempo of songs like the Exploited’s “Dead Cities,” and that combined with the extremely loose playing gives the band a vibe more like any number of extremely homespun vintage anarcho demos. As Jeff pointed out to me, the bassist and guitarist are quite frequently out of tune and out of time with one another… they also occupy pretty radically different tonal ranges, with the bass very muffled and low-sounding and the guitar super bright and right up front in the mix. It probably sounds like I’m ragging on the band, but something kind of magical emerges from the looseness of the playing, and personally I find the much rougher tracks on the first part of the record a lot more interesting than tracks like “Animal Sound” that are a little more together musically. As is usually the case with Radio Raheem, this reissue features elaborate packaging, including a lengthy full-color booklet and some of the coolest cover artwork I’ve seen in a long time, so even if you buy this and find out that your appreciation of semi-inept UK82 punk doesn’t run quite as deep as you thought it did at least it’ll look super cool when you flip past it in your stacks.

Hellbent: 1983-1984 Demos 12” (Radio Raheem) Radio Raheem reissues another lost 80s HC band, and this time it’s New York’s Hellbent getting the treatment. It’s funny, I don’t recall ever hearing of Hellbent before this reissue came out, which is particularly surprising because 1. this stuff absolutely slays and 2. they played tons of legendary New York punk shows, and their name is right there on flyers that I’ve seen many times before… why didn’t I ever think to investigate the band that played the first Samhain show along with YDI? Well, at least my oversight is rectified now. Stylistically, Hellbent are definitely on the more metallic end of hardcore. They mention Discharge, Venom, and Motorhead as inspirations, but to me they sound quite a bit like Broken Bones’ early stuff, only considerably faster and meaner-sounding. As the bassist notes in this reissue’s liner notes, while most straightforward hardcore bands wrote riffs by moving power chords around the neck as quickly as possible, Hellbent’s songs were built around more complex and metallic licks, to the point where I could imagine them playing with a demo-era Metallica and going over extremely well. The vocalist also sounds a lot like Eric Eycke from C.O.C., which gives mid-paced songs like the swampy, Sabbath-inflected “Ballad of Ed Gein” a very Eye for an Eye type of vibe. I could do without some of the covers at the end of the record, but if you’re a fan of this type of metal-infused hardcore punk—i.e. you love records by bands like Broken Bones, English Dogs, and C.O.C.—I can’t recommend this one highly enough, and of course the typically beautiful and informative packaging from Radio Raheem always sweetens the deal as well.

The Shifters: Just Sat Down 7” (Digital Regress) Latest 7” from this band out of Melbourne whose releases all seem to sell out more or less instantly. I doubt this one will be any different because it’s just as good as, if not better than, their previous ones. Descriptions of the band have a habit of mentioning both the Fall and Flying Nun Records, and it’s easy to see why, as the Shifters tend to rely on the repetitive song structures of the former but have a bit of the pop sensibility of the latter. While band’s debut cassette (which was recently re-released on LP) has more of the dreamy vibe of the Clean, this 7” reminds me a lot more of the Fall, particularly the period between Dragnet and Slates. “Melbourne & Monash Youth League” specifically could be a Dragnet outtake with its off-kilter, cheapo keyboard sounds and deadpan vocals. As I mentioned in my description of their cassette, the interplay between the two vocalists and the blatant Fall-isms also remind me of the UV Race. I suppose there isn’t much more to say… I’m sure I had a lot of you at “Australian band inspired by the Fall,” but even if you only dabble in that sound this is well worth checking out as it’s a cut above for sure.

Erik Nervous: Assorted Anxieties 12” (Neck Chop) US pressing of this collection of Erik Nervous’s previous releases. Just to annoy everyone, this version actually features one track that wasn’t on the Drunken Sailor version, while that version features a track that doesn’t appear here. Does that mean that you need to buy both? Well, that’s certainly the implication, but obviously they’re merely courting the die-hards. Anyway, we carried several of these releases back when they originally came out, but for some reason I think they sound even better together on this LP. Maybe it was the plan to bring together these EPs into a ripping full-length right from the start, but if not it sure was a happy accident, because just like the Buzzcocks’ classic Singles Going Steady, Assorted Anxieties sounds more like a coherent LP than a compilation. If you haven’t heard Erik Nervous, he often gets grouped with the whole Coneheads / Liquids scene, presumably because he’s from the same part of the country, relies on some quirky rhythms, and writes broadly pop-based music. I suppose that fans of those groups probably would be into Erik Nervous, but he definitely has his own thing going on as well. In particular, Assorted Anxieties is a lot more stylistically diverse than either of those bands, dabbling in everything from mutant funk to slightly dreamy, Flying Nun-style post-punk to saccharine pop and even metal (there’s a pretty legit cover of “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden). It’s all well-developed, well-recorded, and well-performed… despite Erik Nervous’s well-deserved reputation for being prolific, nothing here feels tossed-off, underdeveloped, or otherwise less than awesome, so if you’re a fan of this type of quirky, catchy punk (i.e. you follow labels like Neck Chop, Total Punk, Lumpy, Erste Theke Tonträger, and Drunken Sailor) now’s as good a time as any to get on the Erik Nervous train.

New Vogue: S/T cassette (self-released) Debut cassette full-length from this Canadian project. This recording seemed to be getting a little bit of attention from the YouTube punks a few weeks ago, but I’m glad to see that it also has a physical release, 1. so that we can carry it and 2. because I think it’s really good and warrants the gravitas that comes with a physical release, even if it’s just a cassette. I wouldn’t be surprised if some label offered to press this up on vinyl, though, because it’s absolutely killer. New Vogue has a sound that incorporates elements of both garage-punk and post-punk… they tend to rely on the kind of jittery rhythms that I associate with post-Carbonas garage-punk, but their music feels really dense and layered in a way that I associate with post-punk bands, particularly bands like the Fall. At times New Vogue reminds me of the first couple of Whatever Brains LPs (before they started getting really dark and weird), but I think that fans of Atlanta bands like Uniform, Predator, and GG King would dig this a lot, and people into the whole Lumpy Records-type scene would probably be into this too, though New Vogue strikes me as a lot more ambitious than some of those bands, who tend to have a looser, rawer sound. If you’re into those worlds at all I would recommend giving this a listen because it is really, really cool, and eons beyond most cassette-only releases of this ilk.

Era Bleak: demo cassette (Dirt Cult) 7-song tape from this new band out of Portland. I usually associate Dirt Cult with the type of earnest pop-punk that Razorcake magazine covers (which, I realize, is an over-simplification at best), but Era Bleak isn’t like that at all… rather, they’re a post-punk-style band with a heavy emphasis on the punk. They remind me of the Nots from Memphis in that they play at garage-punk speeds, have a kind of apocalyptic, perhaps even slightly sci-fi vibe, layer their songs with sheets of noise, yet somehow manage to pull catchy songs out of the din. With 7 tracks on this tape it’s closer in length to a lot of full-lengths these days, so grab this along with the New Vogue cassette and consider your appetite for well-crafted, densely-layered post-punk sated.

Tozcos: Sueños Deceptivos 12” (Verdugo Discos) I liked Tozcos’ previous 7” quite a bit, but this LP is even better, an explosive yet intricately crafted and precisely performed slab of punk rage. Tozcos are really fast and really tight, and while you can hear a little bit of Discharge influence in their riffing, the songs have more of a put-together, borderline pop kind of structure, and some riffs even get ever so slightly melodic. In terms of contemporary punk Vaaska is a really obvious reference point (though Tozcos don’t have the over-the-top guitar solos), but it probably makes more sense to dig into to the deeper / older influences. Basically, Tozcos sound like lightning-fast UK82 punk, like the fastest and best songs by the Exploited or Vice Squad, but even more like the first- and second-gen European hardcore bands influenced by those groups… everything from Lama to Svart Framtid to Malinheads. Sueños Deceptivos is pretty much perfectly produced and the band sounds like they’re laying into every single note that they play. If you like your hardcore punk free of flash and pretension, but still 100% raging, this should be at the top of your “to buy” list.

Suburban Lawns: S/T 12” (Futurismo) Reissue of the lone 1983 full-length from this American post-punk band with the tracks from their Baby EP tacked onto the end of side B as a bonus. It’s funny, Suburban Lawns have come up in conversation a couple of times over the past few months, and my position has always been that I like them just fine but they never really clicked with me as much as I thought they should. Well, after keeping this reissue next to my turntable for a week or so I finally get it. I feel like it always takes me a minute to warm to music that comes from this post-Talking Heads era of music. I’m not sure whether or not it’s historically appropriate to lay the credit / blame for this sound at the feet of David Byrne, but it does seem to me like there’s a certain strain of early 80s American music that’s very much of a piece with the Talking Heads, in particular the way that they roboticize (some might even say whitewash) funk rhythms, embrace intellectualism (particularly academic and fine art culture), and simultaneously celebrate and deconstruct / critique pop music convention. I hear elements of this in a slew of early 80s bands like the Feelies, XTC, and even the B-52s, but none of those bands are as blatantly influenced by the Talking Heads as Suburban Lawns. Maybe it’s because this music is a little more complex and demands more of the listener or maybe it’s just because pretension is one of my big pet peeves (please, do refrain from pointing out that I am a pot, these bands are kettles, and all of us are black), but for all of these groups (Talking Heads included) it took a while for me to warm to them, but then when I finally did I liked them quite a lot. Or perhaps it’s because for all of my wariness of pretension, I really do like art that has a lot of depth, that feels like it’s been labored over, thought about, and deliberately crafted and honed. I definitely get that impression of Suburban Lawns… this is music as high art, music that both demands and rewards the listener’s thought and attention. So, if you just like to pound your fist along to dumb punk while you slam beers this is probably going to sound like nails on a chalkboard to you, but it almost certainly pairs well with a vintage merlot and the dusty stack of New Yorkers on your coffee table.


All New Arrivals

ISS: S/T 12” (Drunken Sailor)
Sex Tourists: S/T 12” (Drunken Sailor)
The Whiffs: S/T 12” (Drunken Sailor)
Denim and Leather: Sacred Autism 12” (Drunken Sailor)
Liquids: Hot Liqs Revenge 12" (Drunken Sailor)
Neko Case: Hell-On 12" (Anti)
Kid Chrome: I've Had It 7" (Neck Chop)
Lysol: Teenage Trance 7" (Neck Chop)
Erik Nervous: Assorted Anxieties 12" (Neck Chop)
Stiff Love: Trouble 7" (Neck Chop)
Masses: S/T 7" (Symphony of Destruction)
Ubik: S/T 7" (Symphony of Destruction)
Vendetta: Modern Rockers 7" flexi (Supreme Echo)
The Stiffs: S/T 7" (Supreme Echo)
Wasted Lives: S/T 7" (Supreme Echo)
Triton Warrior: Tatsi Sound Acetate 7" (Supreme Echo)
Primer Regimen: Ultimo Testamento cassette (Discos MMM)
Mod Con: Modern Convenience 12" (Poison City)
Cable Ties: Tell Them Where to Go 12" (Poison City)
Bench Press: S/T 12" (Poison City)
Mere Women: Big Skies 12" (Poison City)
Batpiss: Rest in Piss 12" (Poison City)
The Shifters: Just Sat Down 7" (Digital Regress)
Tozcos: Sueños Deceptivos 12" (Verdugo Discos)
Digable Planets: Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) 12" (Modern Classics)
Various: 19 More Japanese Garage Monsters 12" (Groovie)
Suburban Lawns: S/T 12" (Futurismo)
Hellbent: 1983-1984 Demos 12" (Radio Raheem)
Acid Attack: Suburbia's Dream 12" (Radio Raheem)
Syringe: Rotten Cycle 7" (Ryvvolte)
Era Bleak: demo cassette (Dirt Cult)
Maniac: Dead Dance Club 12" (Dirt Cult)
Future Girls: Motivation Problems cassette (Dirt Cult)
Dark/Light: Dark Slash Light 7" (Dirt Cult)
Behemoth: Messe Noire 12" (Metal Blade)
Tomb Mold: Manor of Infinite Forms 12" (20 Buck Spin)
Young Guv: 2 Sad 2 Funk 12" (Night School)
S.H.I.T.: Complete S.H.I.T. 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
New Vogue: S/T cassette (Sound Salvation Music)
Mazzy Star: Still 12" (Capitol)
Mazzy Star: So Tonight That I Might See 12" (Capitol)
Chvrches: Love Is Dead 12" (Glassnote)
Flamin' Groovies: Teenage Head 12" (Sony)
The Glitch Mob: See Without Eyes 12" (Glass Air)
Joey Bada$$: B4.DA.$$ 12" (Pro Era)
Sturgill Simpson: High Top Mountain 12" (High Top Mountain)
Daiei-Spray: Isn't Brazing 10" (Sakanade)
Firestarter: S/T 12" (Secret Mission)
Firestarter: Livin' on the Heat 12" (Secret Mission)
Back to Basics: Shaded Eyes 7" (Secret Mission)

Restocks

Los Saicos: Wild Teen Punk from Peru 1965 cassette (Discos MMM)
La Urss: Maravillas del Mundo 12" (Discos MMM)
Durs Coeurs: Dur Dur Dur 12" (Discos MMM)
Riki: Hot City cassette (Commodity Tapes)
Sial: demo cassette (Commodity Tapes)
No Trend: You Deserve Your Life 12" (Digital Regress)
Public Image Ltd: First Issue 12" (Light In The Attic)
Kikagaku Moyo: S/T 12" (Guru Guru Brain)
Kikagaku Moyo: House in the Tall Grass 12" (Guru Guru Brain)
Roky Erickson: The Evil One 12" (Light In The Attic)
Roky Erickson: Gremlins Have Pictures 12" (Light In The Attic)
Roky Erickson: Don't Slander Me 12" (Light In The Attic)
Digable Planets: Blowout Comb 12" (Modern Classics)
Link Wray: S/T 12" (Future Days Recordings)
Minami Deutsch: With Dim Light 12" (Guru Guru Brain)
Cadaver Dog: Dying Breed 12" (Youth Attack)
Cold Cave: Full Cold Moon 12" (Death Wish)
Touche Amore: Is Survived By 12" (Death Wish)
Converge: Unloved and Weeded Out 12" (Death Wish)
Against: Welcome to the Aftermath 12" (Radio Raheem)
Pandemix: Rank & File 7" (Dirt Cult)
Can: Monster Movie 12" (Spoon)
Big Bite: S/T 12" (Pop Wig)
Breeders: Last Splash 12" (4AD)
Breeders: Pod 12" (4AD)
Breeders: All Nerve 12" (4AD)
Bad Religion: Stranger than Fiction 12" (Epitaph)
Beach House: 7 12" (Sub Pop)
Ramones: Leave Home 12" (Rhino)
Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die 12" (Rhino)
Black Sabbath: Sabotage 12" (Rhino)
Black Sabbath: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son 12" (BMG)
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream 12" (Secretly Canadian)
The Fix: The Speed of Twisted Thought 12" (Touch & Go)
Guided by Voices: Alien Lanes 12" (Matador)
Led Zeppelin: II 12" (Atlantic)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 12" (Reprise)
Bad Times: Streets of Iron 12" (Goner)
Alain Goraguer: La Planete Sauvage OST 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Jawbreaker: Bivouac 12" (Blackball)
Jawbreaker: Unfun 12" (Blackball)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana 12" (Flightless)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: I'm in Your Mind Fuzz 12" (Castleface)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Polygondwanaland 12" (Blood Music)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Quarters 12" (Castleface)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Sketches of Brunswick East 12" (ATO)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity 12" (ATO)
Disaster: Warcry 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Disclose: Tragedy 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Kriegshog: S/T 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Bad Brains: S/T 12" (ROIR)
Various: The Harder They Come OST 12" (Island)
Dr. Octagon: Moosebumps 12" (Bulk Recordings Inc.)
Brian Eno: Another Green World 12" (Astralwerks)
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets 12" (Astralwerks)
Talib Kweli: Radio Silence 12" (Javotti Media)
Tyler the Creator: Scum Fuck Flower Boy 12" (Columbia)
SZA: CTRL 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon 12" (Sony)
Michael Jackson: Thriller 12" (Epic)
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
King Crimson: Red 12" (Inner Knot)
Thelonious Monk: Monk's Dream 12" (WaxTime)
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City 12" (Interscope)
Misfits: Collection 2 12" (Caroline)
Descendents: Milo Goes to College 12" (SST)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magick 12" (Warner Brothers)
Brand New: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me 12" (Interscope)
Burzum: Filosofem 12" (Back on Black)
Electric Wizard: Come My Fanatics 12" (Rise Above)
Joey Bada$$: All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ 12" (Cinematic)
Spazz: Sweatin' to the Oldies 12" (Tankcrimes)
Trampled By Turtles: Life Is Good on the Open Road 12" (Banjodad)

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