Featured Release Roundup: September 13, 2018

Dumb Punts: The Big One 12” (Pissfart) Debut LP from this band out of Melbourne, Australia. One thing I like about contemporary Australian punk is that a lot of it seems to exist outside the scene dynamics that keep comparable American groups boxed into their respective subgenres. At least in my experience, there’s a strong separation between punk and indie rock in the current US scene, and bands tend to fall on one side of that line or the other. Indie bands focus on melody and rarely sound tough or powerful while many punk rock groups fear letting melody into their sound at all. However, a band like Dumb Punts can sound breathy and gentle one second (like the beginning of “Heating Up”) and like a bunch of heavy-handed, drunken oafs the next. They remind me of their countrymen Deaf Wish in that their sound pulls from 80s American indie/college rock, muscular Australian garage (think Cosmic Psychos), and the best 70s pub rock (Slaughter & the Dogs, the Stranglers) in equal measure. Those influences don’t sound like they’d be compatible on paper, but they work here, and keep The Big One sounding fresh and exciting from track to track. It’s a shame that the one-two punch of an unfavorable exchange rate and high postage costs makes this LP an expensive proposition for Americans, but if you’re following the latest and greatest from down under you’re already used to that.

Midnite: Snaxxx: Let Me Do What I Want 7” (Bachelor) Sorry State has been recommending that you buy Midnite Snaxxx records as long as the band has been putting them out, and this latest single won't break that streak. The a-side, “Let Me Do What I Want,” will scratch your itch for more Midnite Snaxxx material with its Ramones-inspired chord changes and memorable vocal melody. However, the b-side is the real gem here, taking the Snaxxx’s sound further into power-pop territory than they’ve been since their “A Guy Like That” single. With a more melodic chord progression, killer guitar leads that recall power-pop greats like Paul Collins or Elvis Costello, and an earworm chorus, “Faded Pictures” is a gem. I love the band’s more Ramones-based material, but since those songs comprise the biggest part of their catalog, it makes the more melodic moments like “Faded Pictures” stand out even more. Like most great singles it’s shorter than you want it to be, but Midnite Snaxxx are so great I’ll gladly chase down every second of music they release.

Stimulators: Loud Fast Rules 7” (Frontier) Much-needed reissue of this NYC punk gem from 1980. I remember wondering about Loud Fast Rules for years because Jack Rabid wrote about the Stimulators so much in The Big Takeover, but for a long time this was a record that was difficult to hear. Like the Bad Brains (with whom the Stimulators played often), the Stimulators had a cassette on ROIR that later got reissued on vinyl, but I always heard this single was where the action was at. The dodgy vinyl rips I could find online did not confirm that fact, but this well-done official reissue seems to capture the record’s charms much better. Hearing it now, the record sounds more Anglophilic than most any US punk that springs to mind, particularly in 1980. One thing that makes this record sound so British is that, on the one hand, it’s nakedly commercial (“Loud Fast Rules!” is about as straightforward as a pop song gets), but it’s also raw and handmade. It reminds me of Good Vibrations Records bands like the Outcasts and Protex, bands that tried to make pop music, but were limited by the materials at hand and their still-developing skill sets. Even though a 13-year-old Harley Flanagan plays drums (and appears on the cover), there’s nothing hardcore about this record. The bonus track is good, but the liner notes (from Henry Rollins and Jack Rabid) aren’t especially informative and the bubblegum pink vinyl feels a little cheesy. However, I’m happy to have this one in my collection despite those minor quibbles.

Judy & the Jerks: Roll on Summer Holidays cassette (Earth Girl) Latest cassette from this band out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. With a pile of cassette releases (no vinyl to date!) and hailing from a town few people have ever heard of, Judy & the Jerks aren’t on the path to worldwide fame, but you should check them out because they are so fucking great. That’s particularly true if you’re a fan of Warm Bodies, because Judy & the Jerks remind me of them in a few different respects: 1. they’re great players 2. their frontpeople have similar vocal styles and ranges and 3. they’re a hardcore band that plays with the flexibility and inventiveness of a seasoned jazz group… or maybe vice versa? Actually, Judy & the Jerks are definitely a hardcore band, a fact they signal both in their own songs (even the least straightforward track here, “Goblin Reprise,” has some blistering Angry Samoans-style fast parts) and their choice of covers (Gorilla Biscuits on this one, but they’ve also covered Negative Approach and Floorpunch (!!!) on past releases). I love the energy and power of hardcore, but I get frustrated by bands that let the genre’s unwritten rules paint them into a corner. I have shelves full of hardcore records and I don’t need another one that sounds just like a bunch of records I’ve already heard. Judy & the Jerks don’t sound like anyone, and it’s exciting to listen to them because they sound free… even if you know there will be plenty of ripping fast punk on their releases, you have no idea what the next track will sound like. If you’re in a similar position, i.e. you love classic punk and hardcore but you expect new bands to add something to the conversation rather than just reciting the same script, check this band out.

All New Arrivals

Scythe: S/T 7" (Discos Huayno Amargo)
Bloodletter: Protection 12" (No Patience Records)
Nasho: S/T 12" (No Patience Records)
Dumb Punts: The Big One 12" (Pissfart Records)
Mellakka: Singles 1984-1986 7" box set (Svart)
Bone Awl: Almost Dead Man 12" (Klaxon)
Ruler: Second Single 7" (Secret Mission)
Science Man: S/T cassette (More Power Tapes)
Cyber Bullies: Leather and Lazers cassete (More Power Tapes)
Loose Nukes: Violent Retribution 7" (Mutant Sound)
Midnite Snaxxx: Let Me Do What I Want 7" (Bachelor)
L7: Hungry for Stink 12" (Real Gone Music)
Escape-ism: The Lost Record 12" (Merge)
Fucked Up: Raise Your Voice Joyce 7" (Merge)
Sleep: Leagues Beneath 12" (Third Man)
Judy & the Jerks: Roll on Summer Holidays cassette (Earth Girl)
Hand Grenades: Demos to London 12" (Almost Ready)
The Normals: Demented Breakdown 7" (Almost Ready)
The Dogs: Slash Your Face 7" (Almost Ready)
Clutch: Book of Bad Decisions 12" (Weathermaker)
Gaslight Anthem: Sink or Swim 12" (XOXO)
The Skull: The Endless Road Turns Dark 12" (Tee Pee)
Haunt: Burst into Flame 12" (Shadow Kingdom)
Spiritualized: And Nothing Hurt 12" (Fat Possum)
Pig Destroyer: Head 12" (Relapse)
Stimulators: Loud Fast Rules 7" (Frontier)


War on Drugs: Slave Ambient 12" (Secretly Canadian)
The Fix: At the Speed of Twisted Thought 12" (Touch & Go)
Negative Approach: Tied Down 12" (Touch & Go)
Big Black: Bulldozer 12" (Touch & Go)
Refused: The Shape of Punk to Come 12" (Epitaph)
Radiohead: Kid A 12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: OK Computer 12" (XL Recordings)
Sigur Ros: Agaetis Byrjun 12" (XL Recordings)
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff 12" (Sub Pop)
Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens 12" (Sub Pop)
Metallica: Master of Puppets 12" (Blackened)
Kraftwerk: Trans Europe Express 12" (Parlophone)
Joy Division: Closer 12" (Rhino)
Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind 12" (BMG)
Green Day: 39/Smooth 12" (Reprise)
Green Day: Dookie 12" (Reprise)
Bad Religion: Stranger than Fiction 12" (Epitaph)
Heterofobia: S/T 7" (Discos Huayno Amargo)
Dark Thoughts: At Work 12" (Stupid Bag)
Dark Thoughts: S/T 12" (Stupid Bag)
U2: Zooropa 12" (Island)
Brian Eno: Another Green World 12" (Astralwerks)
Nirvana: S/T 12" (Universal Music)
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Pearl Jam: Vitalogy 12" (Sony)
Mumford + Sons: Sigh No More 12" (Island)
Black Flag: Nervous Breakdown 7" (SST)
Misfits: Legacy of Brutality 12" (Caroline)
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King 12" (Inner Knot)
Entombed: Left Hand Path 12" (Earache)
Bolt Thrower: War Master 12" (Earache)
Carcass: Heartwork 12" (Earache)
The Cure: Disintegration 12" (Rhino)
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks 12" (Rhino)
Celtic Frost: Into the Pandemonium 12" (Noise)
Can: Future Days 12" (Spoon)
Bauhaus: In the Flat Field 12" (4AD)

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