Featured Releases - February 24 2022
Thatcher’s Snatch: S/T 7” (Hardcore Victim Records) Australia’s Hardcore Victim brings us the debut by this Melbourne band. Despite the band’s name, the Exploited-referencing artwork, and the members’ impeccable fashion sense on their Discogs profile image, I wouldn’t classify Thatcher’s Snatch as total UK82 retro / worship, but rather as a fusion of modern hardcore punk sensibilities with important aspects of the UK82 sound. The main thing is that Thatcher’s Snatch is just so much more technically proficient than most of the UK82 bands, their playing faster, tighter, and more technical, and the production fuller. So many of those UK82 bands were young people with only a rudimentary command of their instruments, but Thatcher’s Snatch is a band full of shredders. That being said, they model their songs on the UK82 style, particularly the driving drumbeats (though, as I mentioned, their tempos tend to be faster), catchy, sing-songy choruses (see “We’re Going to Hell”), and (my favorite) the bubbly, memorable bass lines that sit right at the front of the mix. If you’re into the modern UK82-inspired punk of bands like Porvenir Oscuro and Vaxine, this is gonna be right up your alley.
Börn: Drottningar Dauoans 12” (Iron Lung Records) Bless Iron Lung Records for continuing to document the small but creatively fertile Icelandic punk scene. Their latest missive from the island is this new 12” from post-punkers Börn, whose previous LP came out way back in 2014. While Börn has released that previous LP and a handful of singles and EPs, it doesn’t appear they got much attention here in the US, so this new album is the first time I’m hearing them. Unsurprisingly for a band that’s been around for so long, they sound seasoned and confident here, with a big sound that augments a post-punk brood with hardcore’s desperate anger. The rhythm section is tough and punky, the driving beats and propulsive bass lines reminding me of Rudimentary Peni, while the guitarist alternates between fluid and ethereal death rock melodic lines and cascading sheets of chorus-drenched chords. While I can’t understand a word the singer says (the lyrics are in Icelandic), their impassioned howl makes me think of a growlier version of Rozz Williams from Christian Death. Stylistically, this fits in with modern death rock-influenced punk bands like Slimy Member and Anasazi, but with that certain inarticulable element that makes everything I hear from Iceland sound so distinctive. As such, you’ll enjoy this whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool death rocker or someone who is interested in the music of that magical island.
N.A.T.: demo cassette (self-released) The demo tape from Norfolk, Virginia’s N.A.T. sounds like it should bear a sticker reading “Warning: contents under pressure.” While they seem to have both contemporary and early 80s influences, their tape’s compressed, claustrophobic reminds me of the way Black Flag’s Damaged seems to carry more music and more emotion than it can hold, giving it an explosive sound that appears to be coming apart at the seams. Riffs bleed into fuzz and noise, while the hoarse and distorted vocals often collapse into the other instruments’ quagmire. That production combined with N.A.T.’s loose and wild playing style makes this sound unhinged in all the right ways. If you like your hardcore nasty and feral, give N.A.T. a look.
SOH: Life on Edge cassette (No Norms Records) Jeff wrote about SOH’s cassette for his staff pick a few weeks ago and he did a great job, so I’m just reiterating here. While the (totally awesome) artwork might lead you to expect ripping thrash, SOH is a straight up punk band with little metallic influence in their sound. Their songs barrel forward with a UK82-inspired stomp that reminds me of the Exploited or the Partisans. As with the Thatcher’s Snatch record I also wrote about this week, the bass is forward in the mix and has a catchy, bubbly sound that strikes the perfect balance between rhythm and melody. And, as Jeff also emphasized, the vocals here are great, a banshee howl that’s similar in approach to the singer from Axe Rash, harsh and aggressive but with memorable rhythmic and melodic lines.
Ultras: S/T cassette (Convulse Records) Denver’s Convulse Records steps outside their home turf to bring us this four-song tape from Oakland, California’s Ultras. Ultras has a unique and powerful sound, starting with a base of pogo-beat hardcore that reminds me of S.H.I.T. or Bib, but with a noise-drenched, blown-to-shit production style. The production style reminds me of New York’s Uniform in that it’s so noisy and harsh that it blurs the line between hardcore and harsh noise / power electronics, but it doesn’t seem like Ultras is trying to cross over into the noise table world… they’re just ramping up their sound to the maximum level of aggro. Despite all the noise, Ultras’ catchy riffing style still feels front and center, and their knack for writing memorable, seasick-sounding circular riffs reminds me of those killer early recordings by Texas’s Glue. It all adds up to a distinctive and powerful four-song release.
Snooper: Music for Spies 7” (Computer Human Records) Music for Spies is the second 7” by Nashville’s Snooper (their first came out on Italy’s Goodbye Boozy Records), a duo whose drumming half you might already know as Spodee Boy. I know many bands resent being called Egg Punk, but I’d be surprised if that was the case with Snooper because their sound seems like it’s modeled so closely on the Coneheads; their robotic vocals, scratchy guitar riffs, and direct-in bass sound all remind me of the Coneheads, though the overall execution is looser and rougher around the edges. Also, while the Coneheads built many of their songs around big vocal hooks, Snooper’s vocals tend not to take center stage. Thus, while the songs are catchy and interesting, my favorite track is “Running,” whose repetitive groove has a krautrock feel. While I don’t know if this will win over any die-hard anti-egg people, if you like bands like Research Reactor Corp and Prison Affair, this scratches a similar itch. If you’re interested, don’t sleep, though, because this Australian import is limited to only 200 copies.