Featured Releases: August 19 2021
Lysol: Soup for My Family 12” (Feel It Records) Olympia, Washington’s long-running Lysol is back with a new album, this time on Feel It Records, which seems like the perfect place for them. The range of labels that have released Lysol’s music—including Deranged, Perennial, Total Punk, Neck Chop—hints that Lysol is one of those bands equipped with a passport to travel between scenes, and one listen to their music will show you why people into hardcore, garage, and (Total) punk all like them. Like older bands such as the Worst or Tales of Terror, Lysol’s music is firmly rooted in the high-intensity rock and roll of Raw Power-era Iggy & the Stooges, but rather than the retro rock and roll schtick that a lot of Stooges-influenced bands glom onto, Lysol’s music adopts the intensity and heaviness of hardcore. Tracks like “C-4” and “Can’t Win” crackle with the riffy energy of Teengenerate, while others like “Blessures Graves” and “Ego Death” lean into hardcore’s kinetic forward lunge. The closing track, “Soup for My Family,” is an epic (by comparison) three and a half minute rave-up that adds a saxophone and betrays that Lysol’s members probably have pretty well-worn copies of Funhouse rubbing up against their copies of Raw Power. If you get the chance to see Lysol in a sweaty basement or club, that’s the ultimate experience, but Soup for My Family can add that same ambiance to any occasion.
Exil: Warning 12” (Armageddon Label) Sweden’s Exil is a new band featuring familiar faces from a bunch of Swedish bands you know if you’re older than 30, like DS-13, Epileptic Terror Attack, the Vicious, and UX Vileheads, a few of whose records Sorry State released way back when. I was a huge fan of those bands when they were around, but Warning doesn’t sound like a throwback to some old glory days… it stands toe to toe with pretty much any current hardcore punk you want to throw at it. While the approach resembles the 80s USHC-influence bands the members have played in before, Exil’s music still sounds fresh, packed full of inventive riffs, memorable lead guitar lines, whiplash arrangements, and anthemic vocals. Exil reminds me of bands like Torso and Warthog because it sounds like they know exactly what they want to achieve as a band and they have the musical chops to execute on that clarity of vision. There isn’t a moment of lag on this LP; even when Exil drops to a less frantic pace, it only means the energy comes out differently, like on the tense “History of Cleanliness” or the driving, Killing Joke-paced “Security.” Whether you’re coming at this as a fan of the members’ previous bands or you’re just looking for some killer contemporary international hardcore, Warning will not disappoint.
Nancy: Goes Country 12” (Neck Chop Records / Erste Theke Tonträger) We’ve been singing Nancy’s praises for years here at Sorry State, and Goes Country changes nothing about my opinion about the band. Which is that they fucking rule! The core of Nancy’s sound is high-energy punk with a glammy, power-pop edge. That glam rock twinge to the guitar-playing and the vocal melodies makes me think of the Boys or Protex, but Nancy’s hyperactive tempos are more akin to the Dickies, and the songwriting is in the same league as all three great bands. If Goes Country just strung together a bunch of punk-pop bangers like “Take a Pikksha” or “It’s Never 2 Late (2 Be You)” it would be killer, but there’s also this whole other level to the Nancy experience. Nancy has an off the wall sense of humor that ranges from the satirical to the silly to the surreal, and even funny songs like the title track warrant repeat listens. There are very few bands out there who can make me smile and get me excited the way Nancy does.
‘O’ Level: The Malcolm EP 7” (Breakout Records) Breakout Records brings us a killer repro of this all-time UKDIY banger from 1978. Do you like idiosyncratic pop songs recorded in cheap studios by young British men in the late 1970s who couldn’t play their instruments very well? If so, you should know ‘O’ Level. If you’ve dipped your toe into the UKDIY scene at all you probably already do, since their credentials are impeccable. The first lineup of ‘O’ Level was the same musicians as the lineup of Television Personalities that recorded that band’s first single, 14th Floor, and ‘O’ Level even gets a name check in the Television Personalities song “Part Time Punks” (though the titular anti-heroes don’t buy the ‘O’ Level single, passing it over in favor of the Lurkers). If you’re a TVPs fan, it’s hard to imagine you wouldn’t love ‘O’ Level too, since their approach is essentially the same, writing hooky pop songs that would be saccharine if they didn’t slather them in rawness and grit. There’s also wit and humor. Take, for instance, the title track, which adopts the contrarian stance of celebrating Malcolm McLaren’s contribution to the burgeoning punk scene. All four tracks are essential if you like this style, and The Malcolm EP stands alongside the first several Television Personalities records and the Times’ Red with Purple Flashes as certified UKDIY canon.
The Destructors: Electronic Church EP 7” (Distort Reality Records) Portland’s Distort Reality brings us this EP compiling four tracks the Destructors recorded in 1982. I had one Destructors record in my collection before hearing this, 1983’s Forces of Law EP. I bought that record just because it looked interesting and punk, which it is, but I never looked into the band further. I was surprised to see 31 albums listed on the Destructors’ Discogs page, though most of them are from a post-2007 incarnation of the band that, based on the graphic design and song titles like “Butt Plug, Gag And Tit Clamp,” I probably won’t be checking out soon. The 80s incarnation of the Destructors, however, is well worth my time and yours. Their style is straightforward UK82-style punk, and if you like that sound, they deliver all the driving rhythms and catchy choruses you could hope for. All four tracks that appear here are solid, with “Electronic Church” and “Northern Ripper” shining a little brighter thanks to their sprightlier, GBH-ish tempos. If you’re a Destructors super-fan, the lack of info on the release might frustrate you. It’s unclear if these tracks have come out before, though “Electronic Church” sounds like the same version that appeared on a freebie single inside Trees and Flowers zine, albeit fuller and more powerful (the back cover notes these tracks have been remixed and remastered). However, if you’re like me and you’re coming to Electronic Church without intimate knowledge of the Destructors, you won’t find any reason to quibble with these four tracks of catchy, powerful UK82 punk.
Contempt: S/T 12” (Mendeku Diskak) If you’re a fan of modern oi!, keep an eye on Spain’s Mendeku Diskak label, which has been releasing some great current bands. While some of the label’s bands lean toward hardcore, Contempt’s sound is dark, melodic, and even sophisticated (at least as far as you can call oi! music sophisticated). The songs march forward at a steady, unhurried clip and the vocalist barks out the lyrics in a typically gruff style, but the music is unique, particularly for the style. The chord progressions have an epic quality that reminds me of Iron Maiden or something, but that triumphant feel in the riffing contrasts with guitar leads that are equally melodic, but with a slightly mournful sound. I’m reminded of some Leatherface songs (like “Dead Industrial Atmosphere,” for instance), but the band Contempt really recalls is Battle Ruins. While the vocals are gruff and earthy rather than soaring and melodic, there’s a shared approach to putting together the instrumental parts. Fans of Criminal Damage and Complications will warm right up to Contempt too.