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Featured Release Roundup: October 4, 2018

Udüsic: Long in the Tooth cassette (self-released) Latest cassette from this Chicago band whom you may remember from their two earlier 7”s on Painkiller Records. The insert notes they’re working on new material, but shared this 4-track covers cassette in the meantime. If you haven’t heard Udüsic, at first listen they seem like a typical fast hardcore band, but closer inspection reveals unexpected wrinkles. Their choice of covers and their approach to them embodies their subtly progressive approach. You get straightforward covers of classic hardcore tracks by No Thanks and Poison Idea (though the lyrics for “Castration” take on a different character with a woman on the microphone) and more ambitious reworkings of tracks by ZZ Top and Black Randy & the Metrosquad. The recording quality is raw but clear, either a rough 4-track job or a carefully mic’d room recording. While Long in the Tooth doesn’t feel as significant as Udüsic’s vinyl releases, the band sweetens the pot by making the release a benefit for Lysistrata, an organization that aids sex workers. If you buy this cassette from Sorry State, 100% of the money will go to Lysistrata, so grab this ripping little reel and make the world a better place at the same time.

Iron Cages: Indulgence 7” (Society Bleeds) Debut 7" from this DC band. Iron Cages strikes me as an oddball hardcore band that interrogates the conventions of hardcore songwriting. They have the same ingredients as a typical hardcore band—throat-shredding vocals, fast and chaotic riffs, and the occasional mosh-inducing tempo change—but the songs don’t flow like you expect them to. Rather than building from a verse into a triumphant chorus and then letting things crash into a breakdown in the expected way, Iron Cages swing between these modes in a way that feels haphazard and almost random, frequently delaying or omitting the “payoff” that we expect from pop oriented music. Beyond just the arrangements, they also have a quirky and interesting playing style. In multiple songs they do this strange rhythm I call the “slow pogo” that is infectious, like cough syrup-infused take on the standard 1-2 hardcore beat. If you have a clear idea of the formula that makes for a good hardcore record and you expect bands to stick to that formula then you won't like Iron Cages. However, if you like bands who do it their own way and defy your expectations, then this record may well do it for you.

The Gears: Let’s Go to the Beach 7” (Munster) Reissue of this California punk classic on Spain’s Munster Records. The Gears’ Rockin’ at Ground Zero is a personal favorite, but I’d only heard this 7” in passing. The two best songs on Ground Zero appear here—“Let’s Go to the Beach” and “Don’t Be Afraid to Pogo”—and I think these versions beat the ones on the LP. They’re a little rawer, with a primitive studio sound that reminds me of the 60s. It sounds similar to the way bands like the Sonics were recorded, and the raw sound puts the emphasis on the Gears’ knack for writing a great chorus hook. The one exclusive track, “Hard Rock,” doesn’t have as memorable a melody as the two classics, but what it lacks in catchiness it makes up for with speed and power. Maybe this isn’t an all-time classic punk 45, but if your interest in early US punk extends beyond the Dangerhouse catalog, this is well worth checking out.

Seditionaries: Wherewolf 7” (Meat House) Reissue of this obscure LA punk 45. I’d never even heard of it, and it’s an exciting prospect to discover some unheard early LA punk at my ripe old age. I don’t think anyone would call Wherewolf a great single, but it oozes charm. On “Wherewolf,” it sounds like the band is going for a death rock sound a la early T.S.O.L. or the punkier 45 Grave songs with its fast tempo, dramatic chord changes, and B horror lyrics. It’s tough to tell if they're being ironic because the lyrics are goofy but not overtly sarcastic, and the vocalist has a Dave Vanian-esque sense of camp. There is also no acknowledgement on the record that the band has consistently misspelled the word “werewolf.” The b-side is a cover of the Yardbirds’ tune “Shapes of Things” and it’s your typical punked-up take on a 60s song. While the songs themselves aren’t great (though they are good), my favorite thing about this single is the vibe. It sounds like a bunch of teenagers making something for themselves and their friends, like you’re overhearing a conversation between a group of friends who spend all of their time together. The recording is also perfect, raw but clear, like they recorded it in a budget studio like Mystic. This reissue isn’t for everyone, but if you go deep in the early California punk scene, spinning this will be a joy.

Various: Killed by Meth Vol 3 12” (It’s Trash) Volume 3 of this compilation series highlighting bands from North America’s rust belt. Volume 3 is a tough volume for a compilation series. The first volume is new and exciting, the second volume makes you think “whoa, they did another one,” and then by the third volume that initial excitement has worn off. Fortunately, Killed by Meth has carved out a niche highlighting great unheard garage punk from their part of the world. As usual, some names will be familiar to Sorry State’s audience. Sorry State label alumni S.L.I.P. open with a brand new track of their trademark lurching, Black Flag-style punk. You may remember Cleveland’s Knowso from their LP on Neck Chop, and if you follow the Perverts Again universe, you’ll want to hear their track. Garage rockers will recognize Obnox, who delivers one of his trademark tracks that sounds like ultra-lo-fi garage but whose melody and rhythm are deceptively funky. From there, though, it’s uncharted waters for me. If I had to characterize the whole compilation, the dominant sound is the raw and primal (but not 60s retro) garage-punk sound I associate with Maximumrocknroll in the 90s. If you like the Destroy All Art compilations, these strike me as the kinds of bands collected there. As with any compilation, some tracks stick out. My favorite is from WLMRT, whose raw and chaotic synth-punk reminds me of the Deadbeats, but wilder and with a stronger sense of melody. As a whole, the comp balances variety and similarity, so it plays like a consistent album rather than a sampler platter. If this were the 90s, I could picture a sun-bleached CD sitting on my dashboard and getting played as I drive around trying to relieve my teenage boredom. This is 2018 so I don’t know how many people will do that, but Killed By Meth Vol 3 makes you feel like you could.

Haldol: UK / Ireland / Iceland Tour cassette (self-released) Brand new 5-song cassette from Philadelphia’s Haldol, and they continue to evolve and push boundaries. There are things that have remained consistent across Haldol’s releases (well, at least since they moved from Nashville to Philadelphia)—the tom-heavy drumming, melodic bass lines, and tortured vocals—but each release has had a very different vibe than the last. Their self-titled LP sounded like a cleaned-up (but still fucked-up) version of Rudimentary Peni, while The Totalitarianism of Everyday Life got dark in a way that reminded me of Joy Division’s Closer. These new songs find the band evolving yet again, laying melodic guitars over the dark and driving foundation. Barring the very different vocal style, the songs on this tape remind me of tracks like “The Queen Is Dead” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again” from the Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead, songs that have a tough, Gang of Four or Crisis-like rhythm section topped with shimmering, melodic guitar that spends most of its time on the higher-pitched strings rather than replicating the bass lines as power chords. The result is grimy yet beautiful, like an oil slick on top of a pothole that’s filled with water from the first rainstorm in a while. The songs are still sprawling and non-linear and listening can be as disorienting as navigating a house of mirrors. But for all of its difficult qualities, I keep coming back to this tape. It’s not an easy listen, but it rewards the people willing to invest the time to parse its beauty.

All New Arrivals

Various: Killed by Meth Volume 3 12" (It’s Trash)
Iron Cages: Indulgence 7" (Society Bleeds)
Seditionaries: Wherewolf 7" (Meat House Productions)
Suck Lords: Second Lords cassette (Edger Records)
Chow Line: Demo 3 cassette (Edger Records)
Udüsic: Long In The Tooth cassette (self-released)
Haldol: UK / Ireland / Iceland tour cassette (self-released)
NOFX: Punk in Drublic 12" (Epitaph)
Terror: Total Retaliation 12” (Triple-B)
Son House: Father of Folk Blues 12" (Analogue Productions)
Augustus Pablo: Ital Dub 12" (Trojan)
Lee Scratch Perry & the Upsetters: The Quest 12" (Clocktower)
Popera Cosmic: Les Esclaves 12" (Finders Keepers)
The Heartbreakers: LAMF 3x12" (Jungle)
Too Short: Shorty the Pimp 12" (Jive)
Gas: Rausch 12" (Kompakt)
Brainticket: Celestial 12" (v)
Cluster: Zuckerzeit 12" (Lilith)
The Gears: Let's Go to the Beach 7" (Munster)
Vainica Doable: S/T 12" (ViNiLiSSSiMO)
Ngozi Family: Day of Judgment 12" (Now-Again)
Various: The Other Side Of Italy: The Beginning of The Post-Punk and Art-Rock Era 12" (Spittle)
Various: Killed by Death #15 12" (Redrum)
Taj Mahal Travelers: August '74 2x12" (Aguirre)
Earthless: From the West 12" (Silver Current)
Denzel Curry: TA1300 12" (Loma Vista)
New Order: Power Corruption and Lies 12" (Rhino)
Mountain Man: Magic Ship 12" (Nonesuch)
Rage Against the Machine: Evil Empire 12" (Epic)
Rage Against the Machine: Live at the Olympic Grand Auditorium 12" (Epic)
Rage Against the Machine: Renegades 12" (Epic)
Rage Against the Machine: Battle of Los Angeles 12" (Epic)


Various: Greek Punk '82-'91 cassette (euro import)
Various: Punk Sudoamericano 1981-1990 cassette (euro import)
Various: Medellin, Colombia punk/HC/metal 1987-1992 cassette (euro import)
The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient 12" (Secretly Canadian)
Swell Maps: A Trip to Marineville 12" (Secretly Canadian)
Swell Maps: Jane from Occupied Europe 12" (Secretly Canadian)
Sunny Day Real Estate: 2nd LP 12" (Sub Pop)
Dinosaur Jr: Bug 12" (Jagjaguwar)
The Fall: This Nation's Saving Grace 12" (Beggar’s Banquet)
The Pixies: Come on Pilgrim 12" (4AD)
The Pixies: Trompe Le Monde 12" (4AD)
David Bowie: Changesonebowie 12" (Parlophone)
Brainticket: Psychonaut 12" (Lilith)
Brainticket: Cottonwood 12" (Lilith)
MF Doom: Operation: Doomsday 12" (Metal Face)
A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory 12" (Jive)
Bob Marley: Legend 12" (Island)
GZA: Liquid Swords 12" (Universal)
Brand New: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me 12" (Interscope)
Misfits: Collection 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Collection II 12" (Caroline)
Funkadelic: S/T 12" (Westbound)
John Coltrane: Both Directions at Once 12" (Impulse)
Outkast: ATLiens 12" (LaFace)
Lord Huron: Strange Trails 12" (I Am Sound)
Michael Jackson: Thriller 12" (Epic)

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