Featured Releases: December 15, 2022

Bootlicker: Lick the Boot, Lose Your Teeth 12” (Neon Taste Records) This new collection LP from Canada’s Bootlicker is one of those “does what it says on the tin” situations. Lick the Boot, Lose Your Teeth collects the four six-song 7”s Bootlicker released between 2017 and 2020. I’m pretty sure Sorry State carried all four records as they came out, but there are many of you who jumped on the Bootlicker boat mid-stream, or maybe even caught onto what the band was doing when they released their first album in 2021. Even if none of this music is new to you, it’s a convenient package that sheds some light on Bootlicker’s progression. That progression is subtle—four six-song EPs with black and white artwork that never deviate in terms of fundamental style or presentation—but each EP has its own character. The first one is the most primitive in terms of sound quality and songwriting, and likely some purists think this EP is the best thing the band did. Who Do You Serve draws on an upbeat punky energy, while Nuclear Family locks into a steadier, fist-pumping d-beat groove that reminds me of Impalers. The most recent record, How to Love Life, pulls it all together, with the hard-charging d-beat making room for more varied rhythms and dynamics. Or maybe my brain is just imposing patterns that aren’t there. Either way, this is a fuck of a lot of Bootlicker, and it all rules.

Kilslug: A Curse and Two Singles 12” (Limited Appeal Records) This 12” collects three releases by the 80s Boston band Kilslug: their 1982 cassette A Curse and their first two self-released singles, 1982’s Warlocks, Witches, Demons and 1983’s Necktie Party. These are hard to find records, so unless you’re some kind of crazy super-fan, this material will be new to you. If you haven’t heard Kilslug, Flipper and No Trend are good points of comparison, and I imagine Flipper in particular must have been a big inspiration for Kilslug. It’s fitting that this record runs backward, from inside to outside, because Kilslug sounds like they’re turning punk inside out.Kilslug’s music is slow, dirge-y, dark, and dissonant, but where Flipper in particular often beats you into submission by hammering on the same repetitive groove, Kilslug’s songwriting style is more compact. The grim atmosphere is overwhelming, but no idea overstays its welcome. I love the complex, dissonant chords here, which give these songs a weight and richness of texture any doom metal band would envy. However, rather than songs about weed-smoking aliens, Kilslug’s lyrics are set in the murkier world of everyday violence, reminding me of their fellow underworld chroniclers Big Black. A real gem from the dirty underbelly of 80s punk.

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Violent Pigz: The Night a Pig Came Home cassette (No Solution) This cassette collects the three EPs this US hardcore-style band from Osaka, Japan has released so far. Hearing this band for the first time on a collection like this is making me feel out of the loop… the first of these recordings came out in 2016, though it looks like originals are hard to find, with editions as small as 50. Violent Pigz’ sound is right up my alley, ranging from super fast, early Dischord-style bashing to songs that are a little more melodic, sort of like Marginal Man or Dag Nasty. If all Violent Pigz’ songs leaned in that direction (rather than just a handful scattered throughout this tape), I could see them appealing to folks who like late 80s post-hardcore bands like Verbal Assault or Turning Point, but the balance tilts toward the raw and ripping. Their singer sounds a lot like Kenji from Total Fury, whose 13 Songs LP is one of the world’s high-water marks for early Dischord-style hardcore in the same vein as Violent Pigz. Fans of anything mentioned above—or, even better, all of it—would do well to check this band out.

SPAD: demo cassette (No Solution) No Solution plucks another 80s US hardcore-style gem from Asia, this time from Indonesia’s SPAD. To my ears, SPAD is a dead ringer for Boston’s Social Circkle, who released a string of excellent records during the peak of the No Way Records era. I’m not sure how deep the people reading this go with that scene, so if you need some other reference points, think Career Suicide’s less blistering stuff or a more Ramones-y Night Birds. Maybe it’s that Ramones-y downpicking that has me reaching for comparisons from the oughts rather than the early 80s… it sounds like there might have been Screeching Weasel records deep in those musicians’ collections, even if they felt like they needed to live that influence down. For me, catchy and ripping are like chocolate and peanut butter, and SPAD is a Reese’s cup… familiar, but it hits the fucking spot.

Haevner: Kaldet Fra Tomrummet 12” (Symphony of Destruction Records) Symphony of Destruction Records brings us the debut record from this band from Copenhagen, Denmark. Knowing where Haevner was based, Kaldet Fra Tomrummet’s packaging had me wondering if they were a hardcore band… they are, kind of, but if I was looking to compare them to a Danish band, it wouldn’t be anyone from the Adult Crash Records roster, but Ice Age, specifically what they sounded like on their first album. Like that record, Kaldet Fra Tomrummet sounds like a mash-up of hardcore and post-punk, with dark and complex chords from Cure and Siouxsie & the Banshees records delivered at tempos more befitting Discharge. I also hear a lot of the Wipers in Haevner’s sound, both in the dense, precise, and melodic riffing and the manic darkness that hangs like a violent storm cloud over the record. The ideal audience for Kaldet Fra Tomrummet would be goths on speed, but you might enjoy it even if you don’t fall precisely in that category.

Hated: Best Piece of Shit Vol 4 12” (Numero Group) Numero Group turns their best-in-the-game reissue skills toward Hated, an obscure band from 1980s Annapolis, Maryland with a cult following, for the first of what promises to be a multi-volume reissue series. Hated (or the Hated, as it’s sometimes written) has always been a mysterious band for me. I knew their 1985 7”, No More We Cry, as an odd four-song EP with two tracks of top-shelf, Revolution Summer-influenced melodic hardcore bookending two acoustic tracks that are like a no-polish version of acoustic Hüsker Dü tracks like “Hardly Getting Over It” and “Never Talking to You Again.” I was dimly aware there was a lot more Hated material out there and that the band had a small but devoted following (I knew this from the “Hated box set” proto-meme on the Viva La Vinyl message board), but Best Piece of Shit Vol 4 fills in the gaps in Hated’s story and brings together the band’s disparate early material in a way that makes sense. It turns out Hated had roots in primitive and playful sound collage, briefly coalesced into a shit-hot first-wave emo band, then splintered into a more nebulous project that encompassed earnest acoustic songs, Flipper-esque anti-punk, elaborate parody, field recordings, and cut-up collages that mixed those elements. Some people will only be interested in the most straightforward punk iteration of the band, whose output Numero Group collects on side A of this double album. Annapolis, Maryland was just close enough to DC for the young and impressionable members of Hated to fall under the spell of Revolution Summer emo, and the a-side tracks bring together their youthful energy, rigorous work ethic, and budding songwriting ability into a record that you must hear if you appreciate bands like Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, and the obscure but underrated Rain (seriously… check out their 12” on Peterbilt Records). As for the other three sides, they demand a more open set of ears, but there’s so much here. There are two versions of Hated’s signature song, “Hate Me,” which combined Flipper’s drone (the song’s lyrics are its title repeated over and over in an incantatory chant) with the psychedelic freakouts Hüsker Dü liked to close their records with, and Hated would often stretch the song out live, feeding off whatever vibes the audience was giving. The two acoustic tracks from No More We Cry appear here along with a few others in the same vein, and there’s also the “We Are the World” parody “We Are the Cheese,” and a bunch of other fragments and experiments. In contrast to the more sober and straight-laced DC scene, there’s a druggy quality to Hated’s experimentation, and some people will connect with the dark undercurrent that runs through everything Hated did. I’m a sucker for art freaks expressing themselves in a constricted, small-town environment, so I enjoyed Best Piece of Shit Vol 4, particularly since Numero Group’s incredible packaging (the label has won several Grammy award’s for packaging design) contextualizes everything so thoroughly and eloquently. You may or may not love every second of music on Best Piece of Shit Vol 4, but if—like me—you have a home crammed full of books and records, you’ll appreciate this portal into Hated’s world.

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