Featured Releases: February 2, 2023

Sexpot Ugly Face: Anti Complete Complex 7” (Harimau Asia) This record seems tailor-made to make the 80s Japanese punk collector nerd sweat. The band has a wild name that sits just on the edge of making sense, they’ve been playing live for over 30 years yet they only released one demo tape, and people compare their music to Mobs, Outo, Bones, and Ikka Shinjyu. Sign me up! I’m not disappointed either. While I wouldn’t say Sexpot Ugly Face is an undiscovered classic, it’s an excellent record with an irresistible back story. The tape on which these six tracks originally appeared was recorded and released in 1990 (and only sold at one gig!), and it sounds like 80s Japanese punk. I wonder if this style felt old fashioned to anyone at the time? By 1990 bands like Bastard, Death Side, and Lip Cream were taking Japanese hardcore in a different, heavier direction. In 2023, though, Sexpot Ugly Face sounds in sync with the 80s Japanese bands mentioned above, so if this one looks interesting to you, there’s no reason to hold back.

Dachau: Tuomiopaiva 7" (Finnish HC) You might remember Dachau from the Russia Bombs Finland compilation. They never released vinyl of their own while they were a band in mid-80s Finland, but the Finnish Hardcore label has righted that wrong with this release. Tuomiopaiva is the full session that yielded Dachau’s Russia Bombs Finland tracks, featuring the two songs that appeared on the record and two others from the same recording session. Though Dachau’s recording sounds far more primitive recording than the other, more well-known bands on that compilation, the band was powerful. They sound a lot like Kaaos to me, with moments of ripping punctuated with tense, mid-paced UK82-style tracks. If Dachau could have mustered stronger production values and gotten their own record out in their heyday, I’m sure it would be a classic, but I’m glad we have this approximation, particularly with the booklet filled with original fanzine clippings about the band to help set the vibe.

Cotärd: 4 Track 7" (Neon Taste Records) Neon Taste Records dips into Mexico’s punk underground for this nasty little 4-song ripper. Cotärd’s sound is brutal, fast, heavy, and very dark. While they’re unmistakably a hardcore band—moments here sound like the purest Swedish käng—they borrow some of the damp and grimy aesthetic of old school death metal. Not to say Cotärd sounds like death metal at all… they don’t blast and their riffs don’t sound like death metal, but there’s a color of doom here I associate with raw 80s underground metal. Cotärd’s approach reminds me of Pollen and Absolut, two other bands whose d-beat hardcore sounds like it’s draped in a fog of old school death metal. As the description notes, fans of Doom will also find plenty to like here. Pummeling.

Rattus: WC Räjähtää 12" (Rolling Records) Finland’s Rolling Records presents a reissue—well, repress—of this Finnish punk monster, Rattus’s first full-length from 1983. This record fucking rips; for me, it’s one of the all-time classics of Finnish hardcore. It’s Rattus at the peak of their powers, tearing through a set of songs that take everything that’s great about UK82-era punk, sprinkle a little metal on them, and slather the whole thing in a uniquely Finnish intensity. It’s a great record, and if you’re interested in what 80s Finnish hardcore is all about, it’s one of the first handful of records you should check out. While I love reissues with thick booklets full of liner notes and scans of old photos and flyers, there’s something to be said for Rolling Records’ approach of making a true-to-the-original repress and getting this classic back on the shelves at a very affordable price. (I wish they had put the correct speed on the labels, though.) So, no bells and whistles, but top-notch job reproducing both the sound and the visuals on this stone-cold classic.

Strange Attractor: Good Boy Bad Boy 12" (Drunken Sailor Records) Drunken Sailor brings us the fourth album by this Canadian punk band. That makes me feel out of the loop, because I don’t recall hearing Strange Attractor’s music before, and it’s the kind of rip-roaring, scuzzy punk we try to keep tabs on at Sorry State. While Strange Attractor isn’t a hardcore band, their tempos are just as fast and their music is just as raw and abrasive as any hardcore band. However, the aesthetic is more of the tambourine-on-the-hi-hats, row-of-empty-PBRs-on-the-Twin-Reverb ilk. Think the corner of the Total Punk party where bands like the Curleys, Live Fast Die, the Outdoorsmen, and Lysol hang out… or maybe Dean Dirg or Henry Fiat’s Open Sore. While this type of sound works well live, it’s also pretty nice in the comfort of my home without someone else’s beer getting spilled all over me.

Camping Sex: 1914 12" (Static Age Musik) Germany’s Static Age Musik brings us a reissue of this 1985 German underground punk / no-wave obscurity. There’s a blurb on the hype sticker where Thurston Moore says Camping Sex was “super influential on Sonic Youth.” I suppose that might give you some indication of what Camping Sex is all about, but if it weren’t for that quote, Sonic Youth wouldn’t spring to my mind as a comparison for Camping Sex. To me, they sound more like Flipper, the Birthday Party, or Laughing Hyenas… like those bands, Camping Sex’s songs are built around dissonant textures riding atop steady, even slightly bluesy grooves. That groovy aspect of Camping Sex’s sound makes me wonder if they also absorbed some of their modus operandi from their country’s tradition of groovy underground bands like Can, Neu!, and Kraftwerk. Vibe-wise, though, Camping Sex is pure art punk… emotionally raw, cathartic, abrasive, and fucking loud, like a lot of mid-80s US punk. If you played it for me and I didn’t notice the lyrics were in German, I might guess this came out on Homestead Records. Like a lot of this music, this isn’t so much about traditional pop hooks as riding waves of emotional turbulence, ebbing toward reflection and flowing into periods of gestalt. I like the music, but to me the accompanying booklet is just as interesting, jam-packed with arty photos of the band.

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