Featured Release Roundup: October 17, 2019
Wipers: Land of the Lost 12” (Jackpot) Jackpot Records’ Wipers reissue campaign continues with Land of the Lost, the band’s 4th LP from 1986. My opinion on post-Over the Edge Wipers has always been that those records are enjoyable, but they’re missing the magic of those three essential albums. That’s probably a dilettante’s opinion as I know there are fans out there who ride hard for the later material, but revisiting Land of the Lost doesn’t drastically change my stance. There are a bunch of solid Wipers tracks here, some moments that seem a little questionable (like the punk blues of the title track), and one incredible song, the closer “Just Say.” While it’s an enjoyable album, it’s not the place I would start with the Wipers. However, if you’ve worn out the first three albums, Land of the Lost can provide you with a much-needed fix.
Restless: S/T 12” (Perennial / K) Debut release from this Olympia band. The sound here is rootsy, rocked-out power pop a la the Real Kids, but with a lead guitar sound that’s heavily indebted to Thin Lizzy. Restless have the same retro rock flavor as early Sheer Mag, making me think of muscle cars, dirt ‘staches and seedy high school parties like the one in Dazed and Confused. You might prefer the more Thin Lizzy-inspired mid-paced songs (especially if you’re a fan of guitarmonies), but I think Restless is at their best when they up the tempo and get more into Exploding Hearts / Real Kids territory on tracks like “On the Boulevard” and “Telephone Lover.”
Physique: The Rhythm of Brutality 10” (Distort Reality) New 10” record from these Olympia d-beaters, and given that it’s their third vinyl release (none of which are 7”s!), I think it’s fair to anoint them with veteran status. The Rhythm of Brutality is a focused, confident record, finding the band at the top of their game, i.e. total Disclose / Framtid worship (there’s even an unlisted Framtid cover at the end of the record). As I’ve said before, it's silly to spend too much time enumerating the subtleties of a record like this. You just need to answer one question: does it rip? The answer is, yes, this rips. The production is perfect, the songs are snappy and interesting, and Physique generate the earth-shaking atmosphere that made their influences so legendary. The Rhythm of Brutality is the best Physique record yet, so if you’ve enjoyed their previous releases I’d encourage you to upgrade to the latest model.
Klonns: Discography cassette (Sickhead) Discography cassette collecting two EPs and a single from this Japanese band. Before I heard Klonns I saw them described as “blackened crust.” On one level that description is perfect, and when you first listen you’ll say to yourself, “yes, that’s precisely what I expect blackened crust to sound like.” However, that pithy description sells the band short because they do way more than smash together two subgenres. The crust and black metal scenes are both home to some of the most painfully bland, generic, and imagination-less music out there, but Klonns’ music is punky and exciting, with an out-of-control energy that reminds me of Warhead at their very best. However, they combine that punky energy with gritty textures and brooding atmosphere, more like a scratched-up old 35mm print than a precise digital projection. If you like both Japanese hardcore and forward thinking, progressive hardcore and black metal, it’s likely you’ll enjoy this as much as I do.
Ojo Por Ojo: Parodixmo cassette (Discos Huayno Amargo) Latest release from this Mexican band who released an LP last year on La Vida Es Un Mus. If you didn’t hear that record, you might remember vocalist / guitarist Yecatl Peña from his previous band Inservibles, and Ojo Por Ojo carries forward that band’s mission of making gritty, grimy, left of center punk. You won’t find breakdowns, cover songs, or singalong parts here. Ojo Por Ojo’s brand of hardcore is raw, primal, and expressionistic. While some moments here have the sinister vibe of early death metal and others bring to mind 90s underground hardcore like His Hero Is Gone, I get the impression that Ojo Por Ojo isn’t trying to court favor with a particular audience or meticulously construct a perfect vision of what their band should be. Instead, it sounds like they’re just funneling raw, undiluted desperation into their music. It’s like a Jackson Pollock painting done only in thin, muddy washes of grey and brown. Highly recommended if you've been following the crop of excellent bands coming from Mexico over the past several years.
False Ritual: Violence 7” (Whispers in Darkness) Ripping two-song 7” from this Portland band. While you can hear the Discharge influence that you might expect given the locale, the artwork, and the record label, False Ritual’s high-energy style reminds me just as much of 80s US hardcore as the UK / Swedish / Japanese studs and leather set. The riffing is super fast and slightly metallic, and the mile-a-minute vocals are aggressive shouts rather than grunted or gurgled. False Ritual reminds me a bit of Direct Control, albeit noisier, looser, and with a more pronounced Discharge influence. This is a short record, but there’s zero bullshit. I hope we get a more substantial release from these folks at some point.