Featured Release Roundup: November 5, 2020
Milk: Bricks 7” (Hysteria Records) Bricks is the first US release from this hardcore band out of Nagoya, Japan. I first heard about Milk when they played Damaged City Fest. Suddenly everyone was talking about this band from Japan that sounded like Minor Threat and had an impossible to find LP. I checked them out and their LP was super rad, but not being able to find a physical copy meant that it never sunk in that hard. However, I’ve been listening to Bricks a ton and loving it. The first thing you’ll see mentioned when someone is talking about Milk is the guitar sound… it’s not distorted at all; it’s thin and scratchy and (on Bricks even more so than the LP) it has a claustrophobic, direct-in-the-board sound. Amde Petersen’s Arme is another band I see compared to Milk, and that’s a pretty spot on comparison. The riffs are simple but catchy, and the playing has a looseness that makes Bricks sound explosive and alive. If your tastes tend toward classic, punky-sounding US hardcore, it’s hard to see why this wouldn’t do it for you. Killer.
Second Layer: World of Rubber 12” (Radiation) World of Rubber is the lone album from this short-lived UK minimal synth / cold wave duo whose members, Adrian Borland and Graham Bailey, were the guitarist / vocalist and bassist for the great post-punk band the Sound. The Sound grew more polished and pop-oriented over the course of their run (their later records are good, but have a U2 style of polish), so as you might expect Second Layer is even rawer than the earliest material by the Sound. While Borland’s voice is instantly recognizable, World of Rubber has little of the dramatic rock flair that’s a big part of the Sound’s Jeopardy. While I’m sure some fans of the Sound will miss the big riffs and big choruses, I think Borland’s songwriting is just as powerful in this context. Instead of anthems, Second Layer has a brooding, monochromatic style that reminds me of the Cure circa Faith or Seventeen Seconds or Closer-era Joy Division, that quality accentuated by a rather primitive-sounding drum machine. If you’re a fan of minimal synth groups like Solid Space or the Units, this has a very similar aesthetic, but its power is amplified by a world-class singer and songwriter. A very cool obscurity for deep post-punk heads.
Disfear: Soul Scars 12” (Havoc Records) Havoc Records reissues a record that is perfect for them, Disfear’s 1995 full-length Soul Scars. Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with Disfear. By the time I was digging into international crust and d-beat in the 2000s, Disfear was putting out records like Misanthropic Generation and Live the Storm, and the computer-generated graphics and the fact that those records were on Relapse turned me off… I mean, who can blame me for passing over Disfear when I was just hearing bands like Shitlickers and Disarm for the first time? I bet even the members of Disfear themselves would acknowledge that I took the right path. I did see Disfear live once, in Philadelphia with Warhead and Forward. I’ve seen both Japanese bands many times, but this set was the best I ever saw either of them… which may have something to do with the enormous amount of speed my friends gifted the bands before the gig. Disfear was good that night, but you can’t beat two legends of Japanese hardcore in a chemically enhanced state. So, it’s 2020 now and my good friend Usman rides hard for Disfear, so I checked out Soul Scars and it turns out that it rips! While too many bands over the years have taken this bulldozer crust sound into directions that are too polished and/or metallic for my tastes, Soul Scars is a hardcore record through and through… if you fuck with Totalitär and don’t like “The Ultimate Disaster” or “The Price of Ignorance” you might need to consult your ear doctor. It’s too bad I wasn’t cool enough to be into this the first time around, but it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf.
Various: Yugoslavian Post-punk/New Wave mixtape cassette (World Gone Mad) Yugoslavian Post-punk/New Wave mixtape is the latest in a series of incredible international mix tapes that Aaron from World Gone Mad Records has been releasing over the past few years. If you’ve gotten any of the other genres, then you already know the deal: 90 minutes of obscure tracks you’ve never heard, professionally duplicated with strong sound. I had heard of one band on this compilation, which I’m proud of because usually it’s zero. If you’re fanatical about hearing obscure international music in this vein, this is an easy decision. However, even if you aren’t looking up every single band on here to find more material, this is a great tape that you can throw on and just let it run, like you should be able to do with any great mix tape. The compilers construe the terms “new wave” and “post-punk” broadly here, encompassing everything from minimal synth and straight up punk to music that sounds like mainstream 80s pop from the US and UK. One of my favorite things about these mixes is how these groups integrate their own musical heritage with what’s happening in the Anglophone world, and there are countless different approaches to that across these 90 minutes. Like I said, these tapes have been awesome, and this one is no exception.
Vicio: S/T 7” (Emma Navajas) This is a vinyl reissue of a demo tape from Texas’s Vicio, originally released in the year 2000. While clueless white people like myself were freaking out over “Y2K thrash” and chasing down Tear It Up pressing variants, these Texans were channeling the unhinged spirit of early Italian hardcore, blasting out these eight tracks of primitive punk. Sometimes the drummer drifts away from the beat and the bass and guitar are out of tune with one another, but the riffs are killer and the band is playing like it’s the last time they’ll ever touch instruments in their lives. I don’t know if the members of Vicio were familiar with bands like Wretched and Negazione, but they captured something on tape that evokes the same feeling as those bands. Major props to the folks who brought this recording back into circulation… you’ve done the world a service.
Second Attack: Lies and Myths 7” (Puke N Vomit) Puke N Vomit digs up this total punk obscurity. According to the liner notes, these two songs originally came out in a tiny, self-released edition of 250, but almost all of those copies were thrown away after the record failed to find distribution. I think Second Attack had a few things working against them. The first was that they were a one-person project. While the insert has a flyer showing Second Attack as support on some Conflict gigs, I can’t imagine it was easy for a project like this to get noticed in the pre-internet era. The second issue is that they recorded this in 1989 and the record presumably came out shortly thereafter, meaning this was WAY late to the party. This record sounds like a long lost treasure from the No Future Records catalog, but it’s being released at the same time as Nirvana’s Bleach. Thankfully, today’s punks can hear it because this is a solid single. The sound is primitive punk a la Red Alert or the 4 Skins, nothing more and nothing less. You could slip these tracks onto a new pressing of the Oi! compilations and I guarantee no one would bat an eye, so if that’s your style, don’t let the date on this one deter you.