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Featured Release Roundup: September 27, 2018

Electric Chair: Public Apology 7” (Stucco) Debut 7” from this band out of Olympia. The label highlights their Gang Green-isms in the description, but that’s only part of their style. While Electric Chair are great at fast and out of control hardcore that reminds me of early Gang Green or the Neos, they also know their way around a catchy, mid-paced punk tune a la Career Suicide or Social Circkle, though without the tightness or polish of either of those bands. The vocalist even incorporates a little bit of melody into their style, which is something you rarely hear from bands who play this fast and raw. Speaking of which, this has a nasty recording that sounds like they threw it together on a 4 track between knife hits. If you like bands like Alienation or Suck Lords but you still play your Adolescents and Zero Boys records you’ll flip for this.

Hologram: S/T 7” (Hysteria) Debut 7” from this Washington, DC band. While a lot of rather professional and polished-sounding music has come out of that city in the past few years, Hologram don't sound professional or polished. They are raw and confrontationally progressive, with a vibe more like a contemporary New York / Toxic State band than the more clean-cut sound I associate with DC. Their fast, hardcore parts are loose and wild a la Wretched or Negazione, which they accentuate with a mix that highlights a very trashy-sounding crash cymbal. If Hologram had filled a 7” with this kind of wild and out of control hardcore I would already recommend it, but they’re more than just a visceral hardcore band. “Reprieve” is a short noise piece that sounds like it could have been an outtake from the Eraserhead soundtrack, but my favorite track is “Mirroring,” which starts with an unsettling fast hardcore riff, then heads into a noisy breakdown that brings the abstract elements of “Reprieve” into the context of a hardcore song. There are plenty of bands out there with noise interludes (Geld springs to mind as a recent example), but I can’t think of another band off the top of my head who builds that sense of experimentation into their hardcore tracks as effectively as Hologram. If you like both experimental, genre-bending hardcore and the loose and wild sounds of the Italian classics I cannot recommend this record highly enough.

Droid’s Blood: On Trial Years Later b/w I’m Going to Die Poor 7” (Weirdly) Debut 7” from this Chicago band that is a new iteration of Sorry State favorites Broken Prayer. If you were a fan of Broken Prayer it’s hard to imagine how you wouldn’t be on board with Droid’s Blood, since they rely on a similar combination of noisy hardcore and whirring synth topped with Scott Plant’s trademark topical lyrics and distinctive vocals. The a-side is a mass of chaotic sound, but when you focus on any instrument you realize that every one of them is doing something memorable. Following the song is like tracking a great jazz track, where your ear might drift from one instrument to another, but wherever it finds itself will be enjoyable. Then on the b-side the guitar takes center stage, backed up by washes of white noise from the synth. Scott’s vocals are a little harder to discern than they were on the Broken Prayer stuff, which is a shame because his lyrics are always thought-provoking. Still, I’ve been playing this record constantly since it arrived. I hear the band has an LP in the can, so hopefully we'll hear more from them soon.

No streaming link, sorry!

Terrorist: The State Dreams Its Enemy Into Being 7” (Toxic State) Debut 7” from this New York punk band on the Toxic State label. As I’ve noted before, it seems like an unwritten rule that every New York band from the Toxic State scene needs to find their own style and voice, and Terrorist continue that trend by firmly establishing their own aesthetic on this debut EP. While I don’t know much about the personnel (they only list first names on the sleeve), it was recorded at D4MT Labs, home of Kaleidoscope. This EP bears some of the hallmarks of that crew, like the wah-drenched guitars that remind me of Shiva from Kaleidoscope’s psychedelic explorations. However, Terrorist isn’t a pscyh band; their primitive, propulsive thump reminds me a lot of standout Exploited tracks like “Attack” or “Dead Cities” even though, as a whole, the band doesn’t have a strong UK82 vibe. The contrast between the loose and jammy guitar sound and the powerful primitivism of the rhythm section is jarring at first, but it works and makes this record both singular and powerful. And, since it’s on Toxic State, you know the design and presentation is 100% on point.

Waste Management: Tried and True 12” (Painkiller) Long-awaited debut full-length from this Boston band. You’ll recognize the personnel from many Boston-based projects over the years, but Waste Management stands on its own within that complicated family tree of bands. To me, they sound like a mash-up of classic Boston hardcore like Last Rights or SSD (or maybe more recent bands in that style like Wasted Time) and blistering fast Japanese hardcore, Gauze in particular. The nods to the former style (and its progeny, late 80s straight edge hardcore) are more obvious: the cover drawing, the back cover layout, and the big mosh parts that pepper the LP. However, the bass player is wearing a No Side shirt on the back cover, the insert collage reminds me of the the back cover of Fuck Heads, and the whiplash changes on tracks like “Face the Fire” find the band dangerously close to replicating Gauze’s trademark speed and precision. The vocals remain a love it or hate it proposition, and whether you consider them an acquired taste or a dealbreaker will probably dictate your feelings on this LP. Tried and True stands confidently alongside records by other scene defining bands like Boston Strangler and No Tolerance, so if you’ve been following the contemporary Boston hardcore scene you’ll want to hear this.

The Shifters: Have a Cunning Plan 12” (Trouble in Mind) The Shifters seemed to spring out of nowhere a year ago, and after a spate of releases on several labels they’ve found a home for their debut full-length on Trouble in Mind Records. The jump to a bigger label hasn’t changed the band though. They still sound like a mash-up of early, pre-Brix Fall and Dunedin sound bands like the Clean or the Chills. The full-length format allows the Shifters to spread out, so more repetitive, Fall-esque songs get a little more breathing room, like “Andrew Bolt,” which begins with a synth intro that reminds me of early Tangerine Dream and evolves into the kind of zoned out, Krautrock-inspired excursion that the Fall would embark upon at least one or twice per album. There’s still plenty of pop, though, with tracks like “Molasses” and “Carlisle” bringing memorable melodies to the table. While I liked the more tightly wound aesthetic of the 7”s, if you’re into taking a longer journey with the Shifters you’ll enjoy Have a Cunning Plan.

Marbled Eye: Leisure 12” (Digital Regress) Debut full-length from this Oakland band, and I think it's a step up from their already great earlier material. While Leisure is full of memorable parts, where Marbled Eye excels is in their ability to ride a groove, building it up, bringing it down, and exploring every part with a Neu!-esque sense of musical curiosity. The angular riffing and inventive interplay between the instruments (particularly the bass and two guitars) remind me of Institute, but where Institute roll around in the gutter, Marbled Eye seem to glide above it weightlessly. Like a lot of motorik classics, it can seem repetitive until you realize that repetition is the point, that it gives the listener freedom to follow whichever melodic or rhythmic line you choose without fear you’ll miss out on some particular, fleeting moment. I can’t think of another recent record that so perfectly nails this style of meditative, zone-out post-punk.

Various: Nihon No Wave 2x12” (Mecanica) Exquisitely packaged compilation of vintage Japanese no wave, post-punk, and experimental music from the late 70s and early 80s. If you’ve been following the Bitter Lake reissue label, you’ll recognize names like C. Memi, Neo Matisse, and Dendo Marionette, but even if you’re familiar with this obscure, under-documented scene you’ll undoubtedly hear something that’s new to you. When I hear the term “no wave” I think of New York bands like the Contortions, DNA, or Theoretical Girls, who made rambunctious music with an unschooled vibe. I imagine these bands liked the unconventional skronk of free jazz and did their best to approximate it with their (often limited) musical vocabulary and rock-inspired drum-bass-guitar-vocal setups. However, the bands on Nihon No Wave are sleek, minimal, and futuristic. While I don’t know for certain, it sounds like they were listening to more European experimental music—particularly spacey, synth-focused Krautrock bands like Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh—than the New York no wave groups. Consequently, what emerges here often sounds like a more avant garde version of the minimal synth scene happening in the UK, Italy, and other locales in the wake of punk. As long as you know that going in you’ll find a wealth of beautiful new music here, and the hand-stitched outer sleeve and beautiful graphic design will ensure that you’ll want to keep it around if only to look at how beautiful it is. 

Landline: S/T 12” (Digital Regress) Debut release from this new project featuring members of Wonder Bread and Toyota. While Landline shares characteristics with the recent crop of drum machine punk bands, to my ears Landline is on another level. Most of those bands have a rough and unschooled quality, but Landline make sophisticated pop music. Their songs are a lot more complex, with a sense of forward movement and rising and falling action to them, and this LP also sounds a lot better than most releases in a similar vein, with both stronger fidelity and a more professional, even-handed mix. Thus, when describing them I want to reach for comparisons to professional pop acts like Gary Numan or Missing Persons. Still, if you’re into bands like BB Eye this sounds like a more polished, professional take on that sound. With 12 songs the LP is longer than I’m used to for this style of music (where a slacker ethos is the norm), so the tracks that stand out are the ones where the group takes a different approach. The most memorable of these is “Stop It,” a slower, darkwave-type song that reminds me of something that might have appeared on a later Siouxsie & the Banshees album like Hyaena or even a slower, more meditative Boy Harsher song. As I noted, though, this moment merely stands out in an album packed with great songs. It wouldn't surprise me to see Landline move on to bigger and better things from here, so pick this up and get in on the ground floor.

IV: S/T 7” (Total Punk) Debut release from this band out of Minneapolis featuring members of Joust, Citric Dummies, and Color TV. I listened to this 7” before I knew they were from Minneapolis, and after that first listen I would have bet money they were from Atlanta. Not only do they have that fast, Dave Rahn-style drumming that every Atlanta bands seems to have, but also their way of writing a dark, haunting garage-punk song is very similar to Predator or Näg. Like the Atlanta bands there’s an unpretentious quality to this. It doesn’t scream “we are redefining music,” but rather offers four more high-quality garage-punk tunes to the earth’s musical stores. Consequently, if you’re not into the style, you’re probably fine skipping this one over, but if you can’t get enough of that sound you’ll get plenty of spins out of this.

All New Arrivals

BB & The Blips: Shame Job 12” (Thrilling Living)
Various: Nihon No Wave 12" (Bitter Lake)
Terrorist: The State Dreams Its Enemy Into Being 7" (Toxic State)
Genogeist: 5 Track Demo cassette (Vox Nihili)
Trash Knife: So Far... cassette (Suicide Bong)
Waste Management: Tried and True 12" (Painkiller)
Pure Pressure: Relampago de Furia 7" (Painkiller)
Burden: S/T 7" (Painkiller)
Marbled Eye: Leisure 12" (Digital Regress)
Landline: S/T 12" (Digital Regress)
Ammo: Demo cassette (Headcount)
Nylex: Demo cassette (Tenth Court)
Hologram: S/T 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Droid's Blood: On Trial Years Later7” (Weirdly)
Electric Chair: Public Apology 7" (Stucco)
Zymotic: 8 Tracks demo cassette (Desolate)
IV: S/T 7” (Total Punk)
Alien Nose Job: Various Fads 12” (Anti-Fade)
Terry: I’m Terry 12” (Upset The Rhythm)
Shark Attack: Discography 12" (Six Feet Under)
Greg Sage: Straight Ahead 12" (Light In The Attic)
Ex Youth: Oakland Intervention 7" (Death Wish)
Gouge Away: Burnt Sugar 12" (Death Wish)
A-Moms: Algebra Mothers 12" (Third Man)
Joyce Manor: Million Dollars to Kill Me 12" (Epitaph)
The Shifters: Have a Cunning Plan 12" (Trouble In Mind)
Prince: Piano & A Microphone 1983 12" (Warner Bros)
Throbbing Gristle: Heathen Earth: The Live Sound of Throbbing Gristle 12" (Mute)
Throbbing Gristle: Mission of Dead Souls 12" (Mute)
Throbbing Gristle: Journey Through a Body 12" (Mute)
The Goo Goo Dolls: Dizzy Up the Girl 12" (Warner Bros)
Amorphis: Queen of Time 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Pharrell: In My Mind 12" (Interscope)
Ulver: Childhood's End 12" (Jester)
Univers Zero: Ceux Du Dehors 12" (Sub Rosa)
Witchcraft: S/T 12” (Rise Above)
Witchcraft: The Alchemist 12” (Rise Above)
Witchcraft: Firewood 12” (Rise Above)
Annihilation Time: II 12” (Tee Pee)
The Story So Far: Proper Dose 12” (Pure Noise)


La Misma: Negociacoes de Pas Continuae Como Fazemas Fabulas 7" (Toxic State)
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: 3rd LP 12" (Toxic State)
Haram: When You Have Won, You Have Lost 12" (Toxic State)
Inmates: Government Crimes 7" (Ultra Sonido)
Various: Charred Remains 2x12" (Radio Raheem)
The Abused: Loud and Clear 12" (Radio Raheem)
Acid Attack: Suburbia's Dream 12" (Radio Raheem)
Hellbent: 1983-1984 Demos 12" (Radio Raheem)
Scorpions: Taken by Force 12" (BMG)
Dinosaur Jr: Dinosaur 12" (Jagjaguwar)
Zero Boys: Vicious Circle 12" (Secretly Canadian)
The Cure: The Head on the Door 12" (Rhino)
The Cure: Pornography 12" (Rhino)
The Replacements: Please to Meet Me 12" (Rhino)
Ramones: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Jay Reatard: Watch Me Fall 12" (Matador)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop)
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff 12" (Sub Pop)
Beach House: Depression Cherry 12" (Sub Pop)
The Fix: The Speed of Twisted Thought 12" (Touch & Go)
Polvo: Exploded Drawing 12" (Touch & Go)
David Bowie: Low 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Heroes 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Lodger 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust 12" (Parlophone)
Gorillaz: Demon Days 12" (Parlophone)
Radiohead: The Bends 12" (XL Recordings)
Iron Maiden: Piece of Mind 12" (BMG)
Prince: Purple Rain 12" (Warner Bros)
Link Wray: S/T 12" (Future Days Recordings)
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World 12" (Light in the Attic)
Big Boys: No Matter How Long the Line 12" (Light in the Attic)
Big Boys: Lullabies Help the Brain Grow 12" (Light in the Attic)
Thin Lizzy: Shades of a Blue Orphanage 12" (Geffen)
Zombies: Odyssey & Oracle 12" (Varese Vintage)
Nirvana: Incesticide 12" (DGC)
Lumineers: Cleopatra 12" (Dualtone)
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Death Grips: No Love Deep Web 12" (self-released)
Death Grips: Money Store 12" (Epic)
Brand New: The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me 12" (Interscope)
Khalid: American Teen 12" (RCA)
Various: The Harder They Come OST 12" (Island)
Sleep: Leagues Beneath 12" (Third Man)
Sleep: The Sciences 12" (Third Man)
Jay-Z: Magna Carta Holy Grail 12" (Third Man)
Laughing Hyenas: Merry Go Round 12" (Third Man)
Laughing Hyenas: You Can't Pray a Lie 12" (Third Man)
Melvins: Houdini 12" (Third Man)
White Stripes: Complete Peel Sessions 12" (Third Man)
White Stripes: White Blood Cells 12" (Third Man)
White Stripes: Elephant 12" (Third Man)
White Stripes: De Stijl 12" (Third Man)
The Monks: Hamburg Recordings 1967 12" (Third Man)

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