Featured Release Roundup: October 29, 2020
Kaleidoscope: Decolonization 7” (D4MT Labs) At Sorry State we’ve sung Kaleidoscope’s praises for several years now. Every record they release satisfies and surprises us, and Decolonization is no different. Three of these five tracks ply Kaleidoscope’s usual trade of hardcore punk elevated by intricate rhythms and brilliant guitar work, and they’re as ripping and memorable as anything the band has put out so far. However, as with “Scorched Earth” on their 2017 EP on D4MT Labs, there are a couple of outliers. I’ve always sensed a Hendrix quality to Kaleidoscope guitarist Shiva’s playing, and on “Girmitiya,” they lean into the slinky, sexy (!!!) vibe of Hendrix’s more sensual songs, with a stretched-out, lazy groove and breathy vocals that sound like nothing any other punk bands on my radar are doing. Then there’s the closing track, “One Drop // Blood Quantum,” which starts off with fast hardcore but transitions into a gripping breakdown to end the record. It’s crazy that a record this good is par for the course, but such is the case with Kaleidoscope.
Rolex: S/T 7” (11pm Records) For the past few years, California’s Rolex has been releasing a series of short, two-song cassettes titled R, O, L, E, and X. Now 11PM Records helps to wrap up that project by compiling all 10 of those songs (in new, re-recorded versions) on this 7”. The only thing I didn’t love about the previous cassette versions (all of which we carried at SSR ) is that they were so short, so it’s funny that this makes or a rather long 7”. The re-recordings sound great, and the music is even stronger for having more of it. Rolex’s sound is bent and quirky, as aggressive as your standard fast hardcore band, but with a hyper-developed sense of rhythm that they show off with numerous time changes. The result reminds me of bands like early Meat Puppets, Nasa Space Universe, or Das Drip, all of whom play(ed) lightning fast but dense and sophisticated music. Rolex isn’t confrontationally weird, though; there’s more than enough catchy, old-school California punk to make these songs more than just calisthenics for your ears. Highly recommended.
Staring Problem: Eclipse 12” (Modern Tapes) Debut LP from this Chicago band that released their first cassette way back in 2010. It’s clear that Staring Problem takes a lot of influence from the Cure circa Seventeen Seconds and Faith—they even cover “M” from Seventeen Seconds on Eclipse—but they give us their own spin on the sound. On Eclipse’s first few tracks Staring Problem takes that gloomy Cure aesthetic and gives it a punky jolt, upping the tempo and putting emphasis on the bright, sing-song-y vocals. The singer reminds me of Cassie from Vivian Girls, and if you’re a fan of that band’s dreamy, upbeat punk-pop, you should give Staring Problem a listen. Ditto if you’re into another semi-recent, Cure-influenced group, Siamese Twins, who are a little more on the nose than Staring Problem but in the same vein. I like bands in this style who emphasize pop melodies over atmosphere, and Eclipse is right in that sweet spot.
Overdose: Two Wheels and Gone 12” (Splattered! Records) A while back New York’s Overdose came to Raleigh and laid waste to the Bunker with their Motorhead-inspired metal-punk sound, and ever since I’ve been waiting for more than a two-song single to listen to. The wait is over! Two Wheels and Gone is everything you want it to be… raw, undiluted, Motorhead-inspired rock-and-roll. While there’s barely a moment here that Overdose doesn’t model on Motörhead’s style, something about Two Wheels and Gone avoids the cosplay-ish quality that bands inspired by another band can fall into. It’s easy for a band like this to devolve into a party-metal cartoon, but Overdose keeps it raw and real with raw production, lyrics about motorcycles, and more riffs than you’ll care to count. This is music made to play as you hurl a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels at a cop car.
Final Slum War: Agora Fudeu! 12” (Rawmantic Disasters) This d-beat / crust band from Barcelona has been around for a decade now, but Agora Fudeu! is their first stand-alone 12” They appeared on a split 12” with Brazil’s Besthöven, and their straightforward sound resembles that band’s reverent take on classic d-beat. Final Slum War sports some cool metallic riffs and a lot of stops and starts that keep things interesting, but I could see a dabbler in the genre dismissing this as generic. However, if you go way deep with this stuff, Final Slum War will get you revved up.
Kansan Uutiset: Suomi Orgasmin Partaalla 12” (Höhnie) Suomi Orgasmin Partaalla collects this classic Finnish hardcore band’s 1983 Beautiful Dreams album on one disc along with demo tracks on a bonus one-sided disc. Kansan Uutiset intrigued me before I ever heard them thanks to the cool cover artwork (that mohawk!), and when I tracked their music down, it didn’t disappoint. Like their Finnish contemporaries in Riistetyt and Destrucktions, Kansan Uutiset is all intensity with a blazing, minimal sound that doesn’t let up (well, until the questionable Stooges cover and the surf instrumental that end the album). One thing I always liked about Kansan Uutiset is that their riffs and drumming have more of a US hardcore feel. The riffs are straightforward, with minimal but insistent drumming that makes me think of Dischord bands like SOA or Youth Brigade, albeit with a singer more in the Wattie from Exploited / “rabid barker” mode. While Kansan Uutiset doesn’t offer much in the way of frills, if you like your hardcore ripping and to the point, Suomi Orgasmin Partaalla is a great pickup.