Featured Release Roundup: October 1, 2020
Strul: Punkrock Deluxe 7” (Ken Rock) This is the fourth record we’ve seen from Gothenburg, Sweden’s Strul, and it’s another ripper. I love the consistent visual aesthetic across all of Strul’s releases (and their “mascot” rat character), and on Punkrock Deluxe the music is just as strong. As before, the sound is fast hardcore with a noticeable punk rock edge in the sense of melody and songwriting. When I wrote about their first EP, I compared them to Krig I Hudik—the project band devoted to resurrecting unrecorded songs from long-lost Swedish punk bands from the 70s and early 80s—but this time around the sound is a little more modern… or at least “retro modern.” While the vocals are more of a raspy hardcore shout, Punkrock Deluxe reminds me of Government Warning; there’s a similar sense of catchiness and a metallic quality to the riffing a la RKL. There are also a few super memorable lead guitar licks thrown in. If you’re a fan of catchy 80s-style hardcore, stop sleeping on Strul and pick this up!
Brandy: The Gift of Repetition 12” (Total Punk) The Gift of Repetition is the second LP from this New York band. I missed that first full-length, but I heard their previous single on Total Punk. I liked that record OK, but I think I “get” them on LP a little more. What sounded to me like meat and potatoes garage-punk on the single feels more unique here, stretched out and with room to breathe. Maybe the album’s title is priming me to think about it this way, but The Gift of Repetition brings me to this hips forward, head-nodding space, like it’s 1AM and I’m in a bar watching a band and I don’t know if I’m a little drunk, a lot tired, or both. What it might lack in dynamism it makes up for with a uniquely lumbering tenacity. Recommended for fans of Spray Paint, the A-Frames, and Life Stinks.
Naked Roommate: Do the Duvet 12” (Trouble in Mind) The World’s last 12”, Reddish, is one of my most played records of the last few years, so when I heard about this debut vinyl from Naked Roommate—who started as a home recorded offshoot of the World but have since blossomed into a four-piece group—I had to hear it. Surprise, surprise, I love it and I’ve had it on constant rotation since we got it in. Fans of the World won’t be disappointed as Naked Roommate has a similarly strong sense of style and great songwriting, but the aesthetic here is a little different. Most of the rhythms seem to come from programmed drums, giving the record a robotic backbone that serves as an interesting counterpoint to the warm, gritty sounds coming from the analog instruments. Second, Naked Roommate foregrounds their dub and dance music influences, with most of the songs featuring hypnotic grooves and deep, resonant bass right at the front of the mix. That being said, tracks like “Mad Love,” “Je Suis le Bebe,” and “(Re) P.R.O.D.U.C.E.” have huge vocal hooks that you’ll have to make a concerted effort not to sing along with. So, fans of the World should check this out, but so should anyone into dub-influenced 70s post-punk bands like the Slits, ESG, and the Raincoats.
Loud Night: Mindnumbing Pleasure 12” (Vinyl Conflict) Debut full-length from this band out of Richmond, Virginia. The core of their sound is somewhere between Midnight’s Venom-influenced punk-metal and Inepsy’s d-beat rock-and-roll, though with flourishes from other styles across punk and metal’s wide spectrum. I think I reach for the Midnight and Inepsy comparisons because every track on Mindnumbing Pleasure is so ripping and catchy, maintaining a high energy level that makes it feel like a punk record. But while the vibe is punk, Loud Night incorporates metal’s musicality with no self-indulgent tendencies, particularly for the (frequently harmonized) guitar leads, which are tasteful and melodic. This record’s entire pressing sold out from the label in just a couple days, and for good reason; if you’re in to this style of punky metal / metallic punk, this is a flawlessly executed, front-to-back ripper.