Featured Release Roundup: March 21, 2019

Hez: Problemas 7” (World Gone Mad) After an excellent 12” a few years ago here’s a new 7” from Panama’s Hez. As the label’s description notes, there’s a tendency to view hardcore and punk from places whose scenes we aren’t familiar with as somehow inferior, but the wealth of great hardcore from places like Central America and Southeast Asia over the past few years explodes that assumption. Hez is a great example. With strong production values (clear but nowhere near slick) and a style that feels very “on trend” for those of us who follow the world of raw yet progressive hardcore, Hez could be from Barcelona or Los Angeles or Singapore just as easily as Panama. Where Hez excels is in their ability to alternate between simple and brutal and more dissonant, progressive, and surprising. There are plenty of pit-clearing, Blazing Eye-esque pogo parts, but they’re balanced out with denser, more adventurous parts that that incorporate elements of noise and psychedelia. If that sounds like your kind of thing, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Tashme: S/T 7” (High Fashion Industries) Two releases in a row with artwork by Yecatl Peña! This time, though, it’s the debut vinyl from Toronto’s Tashme. This is the first time I’ve heard the band, and after my first listen I thought of Torso, the only other band I can think of that combines raw, Totalitär-inspired hardcore with the huge breakdowns of straight edge hardcore so effectively. Just like Torso, when Tashme plays fast they sound sprightly and light on their feet, which just makes the breakdowns so much heavier when they come crashing down. I think Tashme has also absorbed the meaty, mid-paced riffs perfected by their fellow Torontonians S.H.I.T., which fits well with the overall style and vibe. This is heavy, mean, and packed with riffs… what more can you ask of a hardcore record?

The Cool Greenhouse: Landlords 7” (Drunken Sailor) I was enamored with the Cool Greenhouse’s first single on Market Square (in fact it was our Record of the Week back in June 2018), so I was excited to hear this follow up. It does not disappoint! In case you missed that last single, here’s the skinny on the Cool Greenhouse: they base their sound around a vintage-sounding Casio keyboard, their vocals are flat and deadpan, and their lyrics are of the “slice of life” variety, describing the absurd predicaments we modern humans endure. Despite the markedly different instrumentation, they sound quite a lot like the Fall, which is something I never seem to tire of. The a-side here, “Landlord,” reminds me of the Fall’s “New Face in Hell” in that the narrative is the most memorable part of the song. I get lost in the story (and its brilliant refrain, “my hands are completely tied”), then I remember that I’m listening to a song and when I redirect my attention to the music, I remember how great it is. The b-side, “4 Chan,” is similarly vivid, but the guitar riff that provides the main hook won’t let me forget that I’m listening to music and not reading a short story. Fans of smart, literate punk music like Parquet Courts and Uranium Club should be all over this.

Freak: Ritual Death Demo 7” (Vague Absolutes) Vague Absolutes is a “vanity label” (his words, not mine!) run by Justin from Warthog Speak Records. Their only previous release is a limited 7” by a short-lived band called Index. This 7” by Freak takes a similar tack, taking a four-year-old demo from a long broken-up band who released nothing else (as far as I can tell) and pressing it in a ridiculously limited edition of 107 numbered copies. Why would Justin do such a thing? Well, because the music fucking rules, that’s why! These four songs are raw, nasty, and punk. I could be dismissive and call this anarcho-punk, but that would be a disservice to how original and exciting this music sounds. Some parts are as catchy as the UK Subhumans, others are as heavy and powerful as Conflict, while still others are as sinister and foreboding as the first two Amebix singles. And while I’m listening anarcho bands, there’s also a touch of Dirt’s catchier, almost oi! style on the final track. Despite sounding like these things Freak doesn’t sound like a throwback at all. In fact, I wonder if they’d even be comfortable with me labeling them an anarcho band. They just sound like punk rock: raw, vital, and intense. I encourage you to become one of the 107 lucky people who will own this record.

Freak Genes: III 12” (Drunken Sailor) First we had two records in a row with Yecatl Peña artwork, now we have two bands in a row with the word “freak” in their name. Am I seeing double? Anyway, back to the task at hand: writing about this new LP from Freak Genes. While this is the band’s third LP it’s the first time I’ve heard them and I’m quite impressed! The label’s description made me think this would be cold, dour synthetic pop music a la Wire’s 154 or David Bowie’s Lodger, but honestly I don’t hear either of those things very much on III. What I hear is a songwriting style that resembles what Jay Reatard was doing at the end of his career, when he injected a heaping helping of bright, New Zealand-style pop into his brooding garage-punk. “Strange Light” even sounds suspiciously like “Hammer I Miss You,” one of Jay’s most underrated tracks. Not that Freak Genes are a rip-off; I also hear bits that remind me of Devo (especially the Freedom of Choice-esque ”Breach”) and the whole SoCal drum machine punk thing (S.B.F., Race Car, etc.). The band is adept, adventurous, and great at writing catchy, fun, and memorable songs, and if you find the aforementioned references intriguing I recommend checking them out.

Vile Reality: Demo 2018 cassette (self-released) Demo cassette from this hardcore band out of San Diego, California. We get four short tracks, but there’s a surprising amount of variation here, from the mid-paced, Blitz-esque “Apologist” to meatier “Unrelieved” to the faster “Bootlicker.” The production is clear but raw, with a bass tone that rattles the floor like a Harley pulling into your front driveway. No BS, no pretense, just hardcore punk.

Devo: Turn Around: B-sides and More 1978-1984 12” (Run Out Groove) Limited-edition vinyl compilation bringing together a bunch of rare Devo tracks with luxurious packaging, including a heavy tip-on jacket, a cool embroidered patch, and a sheet of stickers. Devo is one of the greatest bands of all time, and tracks like “Social Fools,” “Turn Around” (famously covered by Nirvana on Incesticide), and “Penetration in the Centrefold” are killer. I have these songs on other releases, but I don’t revisit them often enough and it’s great to hear vintage Devo that I haven’t played to death. I’m sure everyone has their own feelings about the Devo discography, but I’m of the opinion that after the peak of Freedom of Choice the quality drops off for New Traditionalists and Oh No! It’s Devo. To me, those are good-but-not-great albums, and one might say the same thing about the b-sides from those records collected here. So, while this is cool, don’t expect it to knock your socks off like those Hardcore Devo collections. That is a badass patch though… 

All New Arrivals

Freak Genes: III LP 12" (Drunken Sailor)
The Cool Greenhouse: Landlords 7" (Drunken Sailor)
Hez: Problemas 7" (World Gone Mad)
Toyota: S/T 12" (Digital Regress)
Preening: Gang Laughter 12" (Digital Regress)
Freak: Ritual Death Demo 7" (Vague Absolutes)
Vile Reality: Demo 2018 cassette (self-released)
Amyl and the Sniffers: Some Mutts Can't Be Muzzled 7" (ATO)
Diat: Positive Disintegration 12" (Iron Lung)
The Bouncing Souls: Crucial Moments 12" (Rise Records)
Devo: Turn Around: B-Sides & More 1978-1984 12" (Run Out Groove)
Weezer: Black Album 12" (Crush Music)
Blaqk Audio: Only Things We Love 12" (BMG)
Stephen Malkmus: Groove Denied 12" (Matador)
Hot Water Music: The New What's Next 12" (Epitaph)
The Fall: Bend Sinister / The Domesday Pay-Off 12" (Beggar’s Banquet)
Fallujah: Undying Light 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Better Oblivion Community Center: S/T 12" (Dead Ocean)
John Coltrane: Stardust 12" (Match-Ball)
Pharoah Sanders: Jewels of Thought 12" (Anthology)
Pharoah Sanders: Summun Bukmun Umyn 12" (Anthology)
Pharoah Sanders: Tauhid 12" (Anthology)
Giles, Giles and Fripp: The Cheerful Insanity of... 12" (Cherry Red)
Joy Division: Live At The Paradiso Club 12" (Lively Options)
Joy Division: Atrocity Exhibition12" (Lively Options)
Scientist: Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires 12" (No Kidding)
Pink Floyd: BBC 1968 12" (Palto Flats)
Yasuaki Shimizu: Kakashi 12" (Radiation)
Dillinger: Marijuana In My Brain 12" (Wax Love)
Les Baxter: Space Escapades 12" (Wax Love)
Ornette Coleman: Change of the Century 12" (Wax Love)
Dorothy Ashby: S/T 12" (Wax Love)
John Coltrane: My Favorite Things 12" (Wax Love)
Kenji Kawai: Ghost in the Shell OST 12" (WRWTFWW)
Normal Brain: Lady Maid 12" (WRWTFWW)
Dominique Guiot: L'Univers de la Mer 12" (WRWTFWW)


Personality Cult: S/T 12" (red vinyl) (Drunken Sailor)
Crash Course in Science: Signals from Pier Thirteen 12" (Dark Entries)
Crucifix: S/T 12" (Kuzomized)
Dillinger Four: This Shit Is Genius 12" (No Idea)
Innumerable Forms: Punishment In Flesh 12" (Profound Lore)
Jawbreaker: Bivouac 12" (Blackball)
Jawbreaker: Chesterfield King 12" (Blackball)
Jawbreaker: Etc. 12" (Blackball)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Eyes Like the Sky 12" (Flightless)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Float Along: Fill Your Lungs 12" (Flightless)
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: I'm in Your Mind Fuzz 12" (Castleface)
Mournful Congregation: Book of Kings 12" (20 Buck Spin)
Pissgrave: Posthumous Humiliation 12" (Profound Lore)
Poison Idea: War All the Time 12" (TKO)
Portal: Ion 12" (Profound Lore)
Propagandhi: Less Talk, More Rock 12" (Fat Wreck)
Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation 2x12" (Goofin)
Spectral Wound: Inferno Decadence 12" (Vendetta)
The Fall: Rough Trade Singles 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Social Distortion: S/T 12" (Music On Vinyl)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn 2x12" (Interscope)
Tyler, the Creator: Scum Fuck Flower Boy 12" (Columbia)
Outkast: ATLiens 2x12" (LaFace)
Ol Dirty Bastard: Return to the 36 Chambers 12" (Elektra)
Smashing Pumpkins: Gish 12" (Caroline)
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King 12" (Inner Knot)
The Strokes: Is This It? 12" (RCA)
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: The Nashville Sound 12" (Southeastern)
The Lumineers: S/T 12" (Dualtone)
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black 12" (Island)
Death Grips: The Money Store 12" (Epic)
Death Grips: Year of the Snitch 12" (Third World)
Brand New: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me 12" (Interscope)
AFI: All Hallows 10" (Nitro)
Agent Orange: Living in Darkness 12" (Drastic Plastic)
Claypool Lennon Delirium: South of Reality 12" (ATO)
Cop Shoot Cop: Ask Questions Later 12" (New Red Archives)
Earl Sweatshirt: Some Rap Songs 12" (Sony)
Migos: Culture II 12" (Motown)
Pink Floyd: Obscured by Clouds 12" (Pink Floyd)
Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 12" (Pink Floyd)
Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream 12" (Virgin)
The 1975: S/T 12" (Dirty Hit)
Run The Jewels: Run The Jewels 2 12" (Mass Appeal)
Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky 12" (Peaceville)
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 12" (Manifesto)
Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters 12" (Manifesto)
Black Keys: Rubber Factory 12" (Fat Possum)
A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory 12" (Jive)
Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders 12" (Jive)
Beyonce: Lemonade 2x12" (Sony)
Misfits: Collection 12" (Caroline)
Czarface: Czarface Meets Ghostface 12" (Silver Age)
MF Doom: Operation: Doomsday 12" (Metal Face)
Buzzcocks: Another Music in a Different Kitchen 12" (Domino)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff 12" (Sub Pop)
Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain 12" (Warner Bros)
David Bowie: Pinups 12" (Parlophone)
Hawkwind: Space Ritual 2x12" (Parlophone)
Kraftwerk: Radio-activity 12" (Parlophone)
Ramones: Rocket to Russia 12" (Rhino)
Ramones: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Sleater-Kinney: All Hands On The Bad One 12" (Sub Pop)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 12" (Reprise)
Rancid: Let’s Go 12" (Epitaph)
Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy 12" (Matador)
Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffitti 12" (Atlantic)
Entombed: Left Hand Path 12" (Earache)
Beach House: Depression Cherry 12" (Sub Pop)
Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales 12" (Noise)
Radiohead: Amnesiac 2x12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: The Bends 12" (XL Recordings)
The Cure: The Head on the Door 12" (Rhino)
Green Day: 39 Smooth 12" (Reprise)
Green Day: Dookie 12" (Reprise)
Green Day: Nimrod 12" (Reprise)
Iron Maiden: S/T 12" (BMG)
Iron Maiden: Killers 12" (BMG)
Iron Maiden: Number Of The Beast 12" (BMG)

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