Featured Release Roundup: September 10, 2020
Korrosive: Hiroshima 7” (Manic Noise) Latest 2-song flexi from Oakland’s Korrosive. Korrosive has released a handful of EPs over the past several years. I was a big fan of their Syövyttävä Laji EP on Distort Reality Records, and even though this white vinyl flexi only has one punk track and one piano instrumental, it has me jazzed. “Hiroshima” is a hit, reminding me of mid-paced tracks by Kaaos and Appendix. Korrosive nails that old Finnish punk sound… slightly metallic, based in the UK82 sound, but with an extra hint of catchiness that doesn’t compromise the toughness. While “Hiroshima” is a slow burn, it’s all impact… a killer track. I’m sure this flexi will get a lot of play, but I’m looking forward to the day when Korrosive drops a full-length that levels everything.
Sabre: II 7” (Erste Theke Tonträger) Another EP from this new-ish Bay Area band and it’s even more limited than their first (only 200 copies this time!), so if you liked that one I’d pick this up before it’s gone. As before, Sabre has a unique sound. The rhythms are straightforward and punk, based on the wide-open drive of UK82, but the guitarist drops in quirky and melodic bits from the Die Kreuzen / Mecht Mensch playbook. Then there’s the vocalist, whose growl-grunt might seem at odds with the multi-syllabic complexity of the lyrics. If you ever wondered what Sakevi would sound like pronouncing the name of the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, this will be the closest approximation you’re likely to find. I’m sure the minimal packaging helps offset the cost of such a small press run, but the music here is cool enough to sell it on its own.
Nag: Dead Deer 12” (Die Slaughterhaus) Atlanta’s Nag has released several singles over the past few years, and Dead Deer is their first full-length. Dead Deer is a very Atlanta record with its angular rhythms, catchy riffs, and disaffected yet subtly melodic vocals. There’s something about the bands that come from there—maybe it’s just the pervasive influence of the Carbonas—that gives them a similar vibe, and if you love bands like the Carbonas, Predator, and GG King, this is a no-brainer. While Bukkake Boys and Hyena are notable exceptions, I love the way these Atlanta punk bands embrace melody and avoid the tropes of hardcore while borrowing its intensity. That being said, Nag’s vibe is more sinister than any of the bands I mentioned above. While they don’t use synth, the mechanical quality of the rhythms and the eerie, paranoid vibes remind me of the early era of Devo captured on Hardcore Devo. Dead Deer is a worthy addition to the healthy pile of great punk records Atlanta has produced over the past couple of decades.
Razorblades & Aspirin #10 zine Latest issue of Razorblades & Aspirin, which has established itself as one of the most important zines in the current punk scene. As ever, there’s a heavy focus on photography, including interviews with photographers Chris Boarts Larson, Alison Braun, and Matthew Kadi, and tons of beautifully reproduced (often full-color) photographs throughout the magazine. I know I complained about the copy editing in the last issue, but the writing in this issue is excellent at every level, not only well edited but also the interviews are deep and insightful, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the bands being interviewed. There’s also a photo essay on the recent Black Lives Matter protests in Richmond and lots of talk about and reflection on the protests and other current events throughout the zine. While some of my favorite zines over the past ten or more years have been self-consciously nostalgic, Razorblades & Aspirin feels focused on the here and now. Essential reading, if you ask me.
The U.N.I.T.: What’s It All For? 12” (4Q Records) This is the first I’m hearing of this hardcore band out of Texas, though they have a few earlier cassette releases. The sound is burly and heavy with a similar mix of influences as Warthog… I hear Scandi-style hardcore in the faster riffing, but at least half of the record is mid-paced, sometimes in a moshable way (see the outro to “Evil Days”), but more often in a fist-pumping way akin to Impalers’ mid-paced parts (shout out to Jeff for that observation). Sick artwork and packaging on this one too, so if you like your hardcore big and burly this 5-song, one-sided LP will do you right. Note: limited edition of 250 hand-numbered copies.
Kuro: Collection 12” (DTK Records) The latest classic Japanese band to get the “unofficial reissue” treatment is Fukuoka’s Kuro. For me, Kuro is one of the best Japanese hardcore bands of all time. While they never released an album, their Who the Helpless 8” EP is one of the most feral and crushing early Japanese hardcore records. The sound resembles Fuckheads-era Gauze or G-Zet in that you can tell Discharge is the base of the soup, but the playing is more precise, a little cleaner, and with an emphasis on heaviness and grit rather than pure density. People often remark that there’s a Motorhead-esque quality to a lot of the best Japanese hardcore, and that’s the case here, though the vocals are shredded, up there with John Brannon or Jerry A in intensity. This collection brings together pretty much all of Kuro’s discography, leading off with the peerless Who the Helpless EP. If you’re into 80s Japanese hardcore, you should school yourself on Kuro, and if you need a lesson, this LP is a fine place to get it.
Jenny Diver: demo 7” flexi (Estaría Chido Poder Volar) This 7” flexi preserves the aggressively eclectic demo from Mexico City’s Jenny Diver on a durable physical format, and I’m thankful for it. When I say “aggressively eclectic,” I mean you get everything from a melodic punk song that could have been on Lookout! Records (“El Rock De La Década”) to a blistering eight-second thrash explosion (“Lamento Boliviano Vol. 2”) to a drum machine-led, reggaeton-influenced track (“Perreocore”). Despite the eclecticism, everything feels natural here, hanging together because of the charismatic vocals and sense of joy oozing out of every track. It’s loose, lo-fi, and as unpretentious as they come. 100% punk.