Featured Release Roundup: March 11 2021

GG King: Remain Intact 12” (Total Punk) Remain Intact is the 3rd full-length from this Atlanta band. Here’s the quick rundown on GG King: while he’s played in projects going back to the 90s, I came to know Atlanta’s Greg King as the singer for Carbonas, for my money one of the best punk bands ever to come out of the American south. In Carbonas, Greg honed his pop chops to a razor sharp edge (though not without punk intensity… I remember when Carbonas’ second LP came out everyone was talking about how much it sounded like Zero Boys), but when Carbonas dissolved in the late 00s and Greg started GG King, the sound was a little different. (Well, at least after the first few GG King singles, which someone once told me were largely songs written for Carbonas). One big change was a prominent black metal influence, which is not something one thinks of as a natural fit with the upbeat, song-oriented punk that also informed GG King’s sound. Even beyond that jarring stylistic juxtaposition, GG King felt looser and artier, wide-open to lots of different styles, and every few years they would weave a bunch of these threads into an eclectic tapestry of an album. Which brings us to Remain Intact, which strikes me as GG King’s masterpiece. I love—LOVE!—GG King’s first two albums and the singles, but Remain Intact one-ups them. The melodic songs like “Remain Intact” and “Melt on You” are among the band’s best songs, while the other songs—everything from the 00s-era-Fall-ish “Dekalb County Endless” to the brooding “Cul de Sac” to whatever the fuck “Golden Horde Rising” is (Norwegian black metal meets early Magazine?)—make the album feel epic in scope and are often great art-punk songs in their own right. It’s rare that a current band releases something that feels as ambitious and as important as albums like Wire’s Chairs Missing or Guided by Voices’ Bee Thousand, but that’s the vibe I get from Remain Intact.

Liiek: S/T 7” (Mangel Records) 3-song EP from this German band, following an LP from last year on Adagio380 Records (as of this writing we still have that in stock as well). I hear a few different things going on in Liiek’s sound. The songs coalesce around the bass lines, which have a driving yet funk-and-dub-informed quality that reminds me of bands like Pylon and Delta 5. However, these grooving bass lines contrast with angular guitar lines and shouted, staccato vocals, both of which remind me of early Devo. Then on the third song the whole formula gets flipped with a surf-y lead guitar taking the spotlight while the bass and drums march forward with a motorik pulse. While I hear echoes of older music, it still feels like a contemporary and fresh record. Fans of the above groups should check this out.

Stinkhole: Mold Encrusted Egg 7” (Mangel Records) This is the debut vinyl from this “Mold Encrusted Egg punk” band out of Berlin, Germany. I first heard of Stinkhole on the Life During Wartime radio show on KBOO in Portland. It was one of those moments when I hear something I didn’t know about and wait for the back announcement so I can investigate further. I noted Stinkhole’s name and looked them up, which led me to Germany’s Mangel Records, and now we’re stocking most of that label’s releases. What a story! Thanks Matt C! Back to Stinkhole, though. It’s unclear to me what constitutes “egg punk” as a musical genre, but whatever category you throw Lumpy & the Dumpers into, Stinkhole belongs there too. Not that they sound exactly like Lumpy;  “Steppin’ On Out” and “Slippin’ On Slug Slime” adopt a Flipper / Butthole Surfers-style loosey goosey groove, the title track sounds like sped-up early Devo, and other songs sound like pretty straight hardcore to me, but all those elements are filtered through Lumpy’s gross-out sensibility, mostly in the way the vocalist wretches and heaves. The artwork even looks of a piece with the Lumpy releases. This style of punk lives and dies by its freakiness level, and this one is way up there, especially for something still based in hardcore. A bona fide weirdo ripper.

Accidente: Caníbal 12” (self-released) Madrid, Spain’s Accidente has been around for a decade now, and Caníbal is their fourth album. It’s been four years since their previous record, Pulso, and it has more heart and fire than one might expect from a veteran band’s fourth album. Accidente seems like one of those bands that falls in between scenes. They’re poppy but not syrupy, they’re fast, but they’re not a hardcore band, and their songs are too complex and original to pigeonhole. Accidente is from the same city as Rata Negra, and while the two bands sound similar (particularly the vocals), Accidente’s slicker production and faster tempos remind me of some of my favorite 90s melodic punk. In particular, on tracks like “Desmesura” that combine fast tempos with mournful vocal melodies, Accidente reminds me of UK melodic punk bands like Leatherface, Snuff, and Guns N Wankers. Like those bands, Accidente packs their songs with criss-crossing vocal and guitar melodies delivered with punk intensity. 

XO’s: Pronounced Hugs and Kisses cassette (Ketchup & Mustard Industries) I’m selective about the pop-informed punk rock that I listen to. Maybe I’m a snob, but so much melodic punk I hear seems to lack substance and originality, borrowing moves from music I love without capturing the same magic. One current musician I back, though, is Joe Sussman. Joe first came onto my radar through his band Nancy, a two-piece featuring him and Nat Brower, another musician I keep a close eye on (his project Brower is not to be missed). Nancy’s With Child and A Nice Package LPs both came out in 2016 and we listened to them all the time in the shop… Jeff even liked them, and he’s even more selective about poppy punk than I am. I then followed Joe to his other projects like Dangus Tarkus and Muff Divers; Nancy also remains a going concern, having just released a new album on Neck Chop and Erste Theke Tonträger. XO’s is a new Chicago-based project featuring Joe, who also released it on his Ketchup & Mustard Industries label, along with Mat from Liquids and Alex from Bleeding Gums. While I’ve devoted several sentences to fanboy-ing out on Joe, of the related bands, XO’s sounds the most like Liquids, whom I also like, though I’ve had trouble keeping up with all of their releases. I also hear the Dickies and the Spits in XO’s music, two bands who know their way around a great punk song. If you like any of these bands, XO’s will be a slam dunk for you. Every song rules. And I’m reluctant to put too much emphasis on cover songs, but their cover of “Two of Hearts” is awesome.

Peacemaker: See You Dead cassette (Unlawful Assembly) A two-song, three minute cassette is a tough sell, but if you’re a fan of oi!-tinged hardcore, Peacemaker is going to be difficult to resist. While Peacemaker is based in Milwaukee, these songs remind me of the toughest and fastest moments in the No Future Records catalog. Think Blitz’s “Never Surrender,” the Partisans’ “Police Story,” the Crux / Crash split, or bands like 86 Mentality or Violent Reaction that followed in that tradition. I don’t want to make my description longer than the cassette itself, so I’ll just say that if you’re a fan of that style, this is what you want.

Slogan Boy: demo cassette (Unlawful Assembly) Unlawful Assembly brings us 5 songs by Milwaukee hardcore band Slogan Boy, who take their name from a song by 80s Milwaukee hardcore band Clitboys. As you might expect from a band who names themselves after a song by an obscure local hardcore band, Slogan Boy has a straight up 80s US hardcore sound with raw, vintage-sounding production. While the Clitboys were a little goofy, Slogan Boy sounds more desperate, reminding me more of early 80s New York hardcore like Antidote, Urban Waste, and the Abused. While those are fashionable bands to reference, few contemporary recordings resemble how raw, bleak, and primitive those records sound… this one gets pretty darn close.

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