Featured Release Roundup: October 24, 2019
Dumspell: S/T 12” (Erste Theke Tonträger) Debut vinyl from this band out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While Hattiesburg has developed a reputation as a town that produces an unlikely number of raging hardcore bands, Dumspell is more of a straightforward punk / post-punk band. Their sound is heavy and melodic with huge-sounding guitars that might remind you of anything from the Buzzcocks to the best and/or punkiest 90s grunge, alt-rock, and Brit-pop (think Supergrass, Ash, Elastica, and others that had a palpable punk influence). With a clear and powerful recording, songwriting chops, and dynamics for days, this feels like something that they would have plastered all over 120 Minutes back in the 90s, but in 2019 this is a band from a small town in Mississippi that has released a short-run LP on a tiny German punk label. What a time to be alive! Seriously, though, this LP is top-shelf stuff, so give it a whirl if it sounds like something you’d like to hear.
Sensual World: Feeling Wild 12” (Stupid Bag) After a handful of tapes, Feeling Wild is the debut vinyl from Richmond’s Sensual World. I spent a good chunk of my 20s obsessing about heavy, heart-on-sleeve punk rock by bands like Leatherface and Husker Du, and while that sound is no longer a big part of my listening diet, Feeling Wild reminds me why that sound sucked me in. Really, though, it doesn’t sound like those bands; while the sound is big, burly, and punk, the lyrics are vivid and literate, and the overall vibe is melancholy, Sensual World has a much wider palette, as befitting a band named after a Kate Bush album. In particular, Sensual World reminds me of the Chameleons in how they combine somber chord progressions with bright and melodic, Buzzcocks-esque guitar leads. They’ve also chosen to record Feeling Wild with a ton of gritty texture. While putting the vocals so low in the mix wasn’t an obvious choice given how powerful the lyrics and vocals are, I like the fact that they’re fighting for attention with this bubbling morass of feedback and distortion. The songs themselves are snappy and memorable, and the 8 songs on the 45rpm 12” fly by, begging for repeat listens. It’s tough to do a RIYL because Feeling Wild is a singular record, but if you like heavy, melodic punk and appreciate the gritty textures of noise music (and even raw black metal?), this one is for you.
Deletär: S/T 12” (Kick Rock) This French band has changed their sound a bit since their earlier 7”. While it’s still heavy on the Totalitär influence, this debut 12” ramps up the energy level with a clear and punchy recording and adds a dash of skinhead stomp to the mangel. The main riffs on tracks like “Panique” and “Oppression” could have appeared on any of Totalitär’s early records, but the d-beat behind it is sprightlier and the vocals channel the gruff but catchy sound of bands like the 4 Skins, 86 Mentality, and Bootlicker. Deletär also exhibits some versatility, like on the rocked-out intro to “A La Derive” and the ripping, Skitkids-esque lead guitar on tracks like “Plus Croire En Rien.” If you want to get both the skins and the crusties dancing, throw this on. A total ripper.
Patti: Good Big 12” (Erste Theke Tonträger) After an earlier 7” on Erste Theke Tonträger, Good Big is the debut 12” from this New-York-by-way-of-Oakland band. Their earlier EP reminded me of Uranium Club, and while Good Big has a similarly clear recording and locked-in rhythm section, it also finds Patti developing their own voice. Not that their voice is monochromatic; with 16 tracks averaging around two minutes each, Patti spreads out and explores a ton of different variations on their sound here. Most songs revolve around quirky rhythms, snaky bass lines, skronky and/or angular guitar, and deadpan vocals, but Patti adapts that framework to several ends. One one track they might remind me of Gang of Four, while on the next they can evoke an atmosphere that reminds me of C86 indie-pop, and then the next one wades into math rock levels of rhythmic complexity. If you’re a fan of the smart, punky post-punk bands of bands like Uranium Club, Parquet Courts, or Lithics, Patti treads a similar path.
Video Filth: Hypnosis 7” (Dark Raids) It’s been a minute since we heard from Boston’s Video Filth. You might remember their 2016 7”, but they’ve been a band at least since 2014, when they released their first demo. While veteran hardcore bands can often settle into a complacent groove, Hypnosis sounds hungry, like a band trying to prove they’re faster and meaner than any comparison you can throw at them. The opening track, “Follow Me,” lunges right for the throat with a dense sound, punishing vocals, and one of the most blisteringly fast guitar riffs that I’ve heard in some time. When Video Filth lets off the accelerator, you can hear catchy UK82 vibes peeking through, but the bulk of what you’ll find here is ferocious hardcore a la Shitlickers. The recording is also warm and gritty, and what it sacrifices in thickness and presence it more than makes up for with grainy atmosphere. This rips, but you’ll particularly love it if you revere the 80s classics.
Ligature: Plays: AA's "Suicide Fever" & Second Layer's “Court or Wars” cassette (Roach Leg) I have a lot of ignorance to own up to relating to this release. First, while I’m a big fan of the band Chris Hansell sings for, Warthog, I hadn’t heard of Ligature before I got tipped off about this cassette’s existence. Second, I’m not familiar with either of the two bands Ligature covers here, A.A. and Second Layer (though Discogs taught me that Second Layer is an offshoot of the Sound, whom I love). So, you may come to this with more context than me, but I’ll share my n00b opinions anyway. I find both tracks interesting in how they combine rather sunny chord progressions with playing and production that are cold, mechanical, and distorted. I’m reminded of tracks like Public Image, Ltd.’s “Public Image” or the Chameleons’ “The Fan and the Bellows,” tracks that seem to ride that edge between darkness and light, like waking up in a great mood on a day that’s cool and gray. Ligature captures that vibe, but augments it with the crunchy drum machines and distorted textures of industrial and power electronics, adding an entirely new layer of affect. It’s like nothing I’ve heard before, and I love it. I don't know what Ligature, A.A., or Second Layer sound like outside this release, but for all its brevity, this two-track tape is brilliant.