Featured Release Roundup: September 12, 2019
Sudor: Causa General 12” (Beat Generation) Well, this was a nice surprise since I hadn’t heard new music from Spain's Sudor since their 2015 LP Enamorado De La Muerte Juvenil. From 2011 (when they released their brilliant debut LP, Ganas de Vomitar), through 2015 (when they seemed to become much less active touring and releasing records) Sudor were one of my favorite active bands. At that time, hardcore punk was even more enmeshed in retromania than it is now, and Sudor’s raw, visceral, and passionate punk stood out. They build most of their songs around simple riffs, but Sudor has a knack for arranging their songs for maximum dramatic impact, traits that always make me think of classic Finnish hardcore bands like Kaaos, Appendix, and Lama. While it’s been a long time since the last Sudor record, Causa General sounds like the rest of the band’s discography. The recording is a little rawer, but everything else about the record is the Sudor that you (hopefully) know and love. Given that all of the records in their discography sound more or less the same, it’s tough to recommend one Sudor record over any of the others, but as someone hooked on the band’s sound I’m happy that there’s more to hear.
Minima: S/T 12” (Static Shock) Debut record from yet another killer band from Barcelona. Minima features musicians from No, Una Bestia Incontrolable, and Barcelona, and while all of those bands have a loose and noisy sound, Minima has a precise, lock-step playing style. That style, combined with the 1-2 drumbeats, clean bass sound, and simple riffing, gives this LP a UK82 vibe in places, but I'm sure that’s a coincidence rather than Minima trying to ape a particular style. Minima sounds to me like the opposite of record collector punk bands that try to recreate a particular sound or era. Their songs are all hard and fast, but they’re different from one another. This isn’t d-beat or UK82 or mangel or USHC… it’s just PUNK. And while it has all of the explosive energy of, say, the Obsessio record that everyone is raving about at the moment, it doesn’t feel as boxed in stylistically. In that way, this record reminds me of buying my first Exploited record as a teenager, feeling like it (and I) was the punkest thing in the world while simultaneously having only a loose grasp of what I considered punk to be. If you’re looking for pure UK82 revival this won’t be on the nose enough for you, but if you’re after something more immediate and organic, this is a real sleeper hit.
Sheer Mag: A Distant Call 12” (Wilsuns) A Distant Call is the second proper full-length from Sheer Mag, and if you don’t know them by now, you will never never never know them. Well, maybe you will, but if you’re reading this you’re well aware of Sheer Mag. So, what’s up with the new record? While their debut album, Need to Feel Your Love, felt like a conscious attempt to expand their sound after their well-received run of singles, A Distant Call is more focused. Tracks like “Blood from a Stone” and “Unfound Manifest” have the twangy mainstream rock sound that has garnered the band comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, while “Steel Sharpens Steel” and “The Killer” sound like what Jeff calls “cowboy boot metal,” i.e. those post-Appetite for Destruction bands like Bullet Boys and Junkyard that injected some Skynyrd-inspired southern rock riffs into the hair metal formula. While hard rock has always been part of Sheer Mag’s sound (see “Meet Me in the Streets” from the previous album), except for the closing track, “Keep on Runnin,” A Distant Call is leaner, tougher, and harder rocking than any other Sheer Mag record. The thing is, though, my favorite Sheer Mag songs are their most delicate tracks, i.e. songs like “Fan the Flames,” “Pure Desire,” and the title track from Need to Feel Your Love. The fluid lead playing and ethereal vocals make “Keep on Runnin” my favorite track on the record, but I wish that A Distant Call was tilted more toward these poppier moments than the big hard rock riffs. Still, no one can deny Sheer Mag’s ability to write a riff, a song, or a vocal hook, and those skills show no evidence of diminishing here.
Dernier Futur: S/T 12” (Cool Marriage) Debut release from this French band. Lately it seems like most of of the French music that we carry has an oi! vibe, and Dernier Futur fit that pattern. However, rather than sounding like classic minimalistic, anthemic French oi!, Dernier Futur has a more complex, melodic, and rather melancholy sound. While Dernier Futur sounds very French in some respects, they also remind me a lot of late 80s English bands like HDQ, Dan, Exit Condition, and early (i.e. pre-Mush) Leatherface. I imagine the people who make this music wear old pea coats that smell like cigarettes, that they might have been skinheads when they were younger and while they still like their music loud and fast, these days they prefer a little more meat on the bone. One might also say that it sounds like a meaner, heavier, and punkier version of mid-period Husker Du, but that doesn’t get at how grey, industrial, and European this sounds.
U.R.S.A.: L'Esprit de la Teuf 12” (Cool Marriage)Debut release from this band from Lyon, France. U.R.S.A. is a bass, drums, synth, and vocal group that makes bubbly, high-energy punk songs that remind me of a modern version of Suburban Lawns or early B-52’s. The synth lines are very melodic—even approaching syrupy—but the high-energy drums and the rapid-fire vocals (that remind me a lot of Fay Fife from the Rezillos) provide the perfect counterpoint. If you’re into the weirdo party vibes of anything from Downtown Boys to BB Eye, I encourage you to give the album a shot.
Irreal: Fi Del Mon 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) At this point I have to assume that a significant portion of Barcelona’s population plays in a killer hardcore punk band. Here we have yet another one, Irreal, who play the type of heavy, raging, yet progressive hardcore that we love here at Sorry State. While their labelmates Obsessio are as lithe as an assassin, Irreal is more like a heavily armed mercenary. They deal in blunt force, but dole it out with an ease and confidence that belies their experience. This is clear on the longer tracks like “Ens Venen A Salvar.” That tack centers on a crunchy riff broadly in the Discharge tradition, but rather than just laying into it, Irreal dances across it, poking and prodding, finding different ways to accent and embellish it over the track’s two minutes and fifteen seconds. If you come to each new La Vida Es Un Mus release looking for something as smart as it is raging, this will get you amped.