Featured Releases: March 17 2022
Star Party: Meadow Flower 12” (Feel It Records) In 2020, Seattle’s Star Party released a cool noisy pop cassette on Feel It Records that took a lot of influence from the Shop Assistants (whom they also covered on that tape). Now they’re back with their debut vinyl, also on Feel It, and while it treads similar ground to the cassette, it goes in some other directions too. In fact, Meadow Flower starts with two tracks that fuse their jangly, fuzz-drenched pop with a more hardcore approach; they even cite legendary Japanese hardcore band Confuse as one of the key influences on the record. While the vocals still carry a lot of melody, “You and Me” has a blistering and chaotic guitar solo and the second track, “Living a Lie,” sounds like something that, with a few twists of the appropriate knobs on the mixing console, might fit on a label like Roach Leg. From there, the chord progressions get a little brighter and the vocals even more melodic, leaning back into that “Ramones drenched in fuzz” sound that fans of their earlier cassette will be looking for more of. With eight songs in 18 minutes, Star Party keeps things tight and snappy, every track zipping by with a rush of melodic energy. With great, memorable tunes and a sound that feels familiar yet original, Meadow Flower is another excellent pickup from the always reliable Feel It Records.
Träumer: self-titled cassette (1753 Records) Demo cassette from this crusty hardcore band who (I assume) is from 1753 Records’ home base of Los Angeles. Träumer’s sound, for me, lies somewhere in the ground between gnarly, Discharge-inspired hardcore and more song-oriented UK82 punk. They have Discharge’s driving rhythms, shredded vocals, and big guitar sound, but the guitar riffs and bass lines have just a little more conventional sense of melody to them than most modern d-beat bands I hear. It’s a bit like Varukers, but a little gnarlier and with vocals drowned in echo and reverb and, thus, not as anthemic. If you’re a fan of both catchy UK82 punk and ripping d-beat, give this a try… it may scratch two itches at once.
Foil: Full Band demo cassette (Dirtbag Distro) Three-song demo from this snarling hardcore band from Kansas City. Foil sounds like a band that would be insane to see live, as their manic pogo rhythms and shredded but memorable vocals sound like a perfect fit for a sweaty and wild basement gig. The noisy guitar and in the pocket pogo rhythms might remind you of S.H.I.T. or Blazing Eye, but Foil’s vocalist spits out their lines with a snot-drenched growl that reminds me of Nicki Sicki from Verbal Abuse and Sick Pleasure. With only three short punk tracks, this tape feels like it’s over practically before it starts, but the energy level is through the roof and the songs are memorable. Excellent stuff.
Fumes: self-titled cassette (Earth Girl Tapes) Fumes is yet another band from the unlikely punk hotbed of Hattiesburg, Mississippi… home also to Judy & the Jerks, Bad Anxiety, Dumspell, and many more. Like the first two of those bands, Fumes plays 80s-inspired hardcore punk, but their sound is darker and more sinister than some of the other Hattiesburg bands. The first six tracks might remind you of any number of fast and snotty early 80s hardcore bands… some that spring to mind for me are the Worst, Attitude Adjustment, Gang Green, and Adrenalin OD. After six rippers, Fumes end things “Inherited Consequences,” a hardcore dirge that sounds just as classic as their fast stuff. While a lot of contemporary USHC-inspired bands aim for the tougher end of that sound, I love how Fumes focuses on speed, energy, and memorable songwriting. If you like the bands I referenced above, give this a shot… it’s a ripper.
God Plutonium: demo cassette (Kill Enemy Records) Pittsburgh’s Kill Enemy Records gives us another dose of nasty 80s-inspired hardcore from that city’s fertile scene. Like their labelmates in Necro Heads, Speed Plans, and Illiterates, God Plutonium sounds like a band that could have been plucked from the Flex Your Head or Process of Elmination compilations. They build their songs out of simple but catchy riffs played at warp speed, their singer is yelling themselves hoarse, and the drummer sounds like they’re hanging on for dear life. It’s on the looser and wilder end of the spectrum, so those of you who think the Untouchables or Artificial Peace are just as exciting as Minor Threat or SOA will get the most mileage out of this one. Six short and to the point hardcore punk tracks, like the good lord intended.
Church Clothes: Sacred Illusion 7” (Artifact Audio) New York’s Church Clothes has released a couple of cassettes and I’ve noticed them gigging heavily, so it’s great to see some vinyl. As befitting their enigmatic yet evocative band name and cover artwork, Church Clothes has an original style that draws from across hardcore’s history. The music is fast and riffy, which grounds it in the tradition of early 80s-inspired hardcore, but you’ll hear lots of little stylistic choices that draw from other areas… pogo beats, dive bombs, breakdowns, and even a couple of brief blast beats. Thanks to Church Clothes’ ultra tight playing and the bright, heavy, and punchy production (courtesy Artifact Audio, who has recorded a lot of your favorite punk records of the past several years), they don’t sound unfocused all, but like a band who can confidently draw from a wide range of influences. I think fans of Torso would dig Church Clothes… while Church Clothes doesn’t lean on the same d-beat and straight edge influences as Torso, the production style and the eclecticism of the approach are similar, and both bands have a roaring sound that grabs your attention and won’t let go. I love records like this that sound vital and powerful, yet determined to engage with what hardcore is today rather than leaning so heavily on older sounds and styles.