Featured Release Roundup: September 24, 2020
Rash: Hivemind 12” (Convulse Records) Chicago’s Rash has been kicking around for a while now, flying below the radar despite putting out a bunch of releases. Hivemind is their second 12” (the first, Skinner Box, appeared on High Fashion Industries in 2016), and it continues to develop the blend of hardcore and noise rock we heard on those earlier records. While Rash’s sound is a punishing roar, they rarely settle into a groove for more than a few bars. Instead, their rhythms are jagged, shifting with little notice and giving Hivemind an unsettlingly schizoid vibe. Once your ear acclimates to the assault, though, you hear how dense these songs are. Nothings seems off the shelf or lazy… every second of music has a gritty texture, a counter-intuitive rhythm, or an unexpected melody that earns its spot on the record. Rash’s harsh and bruising sound will appeal to fans of the Youth Attack Records / “mysterious guy HC” sound, but that it’s on the more technical and adventurous end of that sound means Hivemind is way more than just a genre record.
Girls in Synthesis: Now Here’s an Echo From Your Future 12” (Harbinger Sound) I’ve been listening to this debut LP from London’s Girls in Synthesis for the past week and I still feel like it’s a puzzle I haven’t quite unlocked. Their sound is interesting. Classic anarcho punk is part of the mix, as is noise music (there are swirling synth noises layered over everything), but there’s an element of Sonic Youth’s noisy, song-oriented art rock circa Daydream Nation or Goo. While Girls in Synthesis reminds me of Bad Breeding when the latter element drops out of the mix, for most of Now Here’s an Echo from Your Future these sounds come together in a way I’ve never heard before. I think people who have like a wide range of styles but have a particular affinity for anarcho punk would love this, particularly if you’re into bands like Poison Girls, Omega Tribe, or the Mob, bands who didn’t foreground punk’s more aggressive elements. It’s arty, ambitious, political, and sounds like no other record in my collection… what’s not to like?
Contrast Attitude / The Knockers: Split 7” (Distort Reality) Cross-genre split 7” between these two Japanese bands. First up is Contrast Attitude, who give us two more tracks of their well-oiled, Disclose-influenced d-beat hardcore. Rather than being raw and scrappy, Contrast Attitude has a huge, heavy production and a sound that might lean toward more straightforward crust if it weren’t so gritty and nasty. As for the Knockers, they’re a heavy but melodic punk band whose sound is somewhere between Leatherface and Jawbreaker’s gritty pop-punk and darker Screeching Weasel tracks. I used to listen to a lot of Japanese music in this vein—a lot of it came out on a label called Snuffy Smiles Records—but I haven’t been in touch with that sound or scene for ages. That being said, this is exactly the stuff I was into… it’s a little more saccharine than Dillinger 4, but still has plenty of kick. It’s an unexpected pairing for sure, but kudos to these bands for thinking outside their respective boxes.
Hellish View: Holy Horrors 7” (Disarmy Records) Minneapolis’s Hellish View has been kicking around for a few years, plying their trade in overt Disclose worship. Holy Horrors picks up right where Reaper’s Hand left off… the vocalist still sounds almost exactly like Kawakami, and just about the only thing distinguishing this from an actual Disclose record is that it says “Hellish View” on the front. Holy Horrors is a little more in the Yesterday’s Fairytale, Tomorrow’s Nightmare mold with its heavier production, fast palm muted parts, and “nuclear rain” guitar leads… and in case you couldn’t figure that out on your own, the “disbones” emblem is right there on the back of the sleeve. If you’re coming to Holy Horrors looking for surprises, you’re barking up the wrong tree, but if you’re after pitch-perfect Disclose worship, I dare say you won’t do much better than this. Crushing, ripping, and all of the other relevant adjectives apply.
Nightfeeder: Rotten demo (self-released) Demo cassette from this band out of Seattle featuring former members of Disrupt and State of Fear (see Usman’s staff pick this week for a more detailed history lesson). It intrigued me right off the bat since the tape’s artwork reminds me of Judgement, and while Nightfeeder doesn’t sound like a Judgement copycat, they appeal to a similar sensibility. In other words, it’s hardcore punk with a heavy, Motorhead-esque swing to the groove, ambitious songwriting, and some metallic flourishes in the guitar playing without ever sounding like metal. Another good reference point might be Criminal Trap-era Anti-Cimex. The sound on Rotten is raw, but the playing is so skilled and powerful that I could imagine them moving toward a heavier, more produced sound and pulling it off. In the meantime, this is a great listen for Japanese hardcore heads and/or fans of the Tragedy / Deathreat / Talk Is Poison axis of bands. And bonus points for the excellent Missbrukarna and Victims covers that close the tape. These covers are a cool window into influences that don’t come through on Nightfeeder’s own songs, though I hope we hear more of these tracks’ snottier vocal style on future Nightfeeder recordings.
Siggy Magic and the Hey-Hoe Band: Commercials for Free 7” (Neon Taste) Neon Taste Records reissues this ultra-rare Canadian punk EP… seriously, check out the Discogs sales history on this one. According to the liner notes, Commercials for Free was a soundtrack record for a 1978 20-minute DIY film of the same name. Nothing about the music screams “soundtrack” to me, though; this is just a straight punk record. The title track is a thuggish punk track with off-key and off-time vocals, and while they’re a little silly, the rest of the musicianship is tight enough to remind me of some of my favorite “fake punk” records. Either way you slice it, if you have more than one Killed by Death or Bloodstains compilation in your collection, this is the shit you love. Of the remaining three tracks, two are in a similar vein and the last is a bitter acoustic track called “People Who Cheated Me.” I don’t know if I’d drop $800+ on this one, but for less than a tenner, this is a no-brainer.