Featured Releases: March 9, 2023

Factory City Children: S/T 7” (Toxic State Records) We carried a cassette version of this debut recording from Factory City Children—the solo alter ego of Mateo, Warthog’s bassist—and now Toxic State brings us the vinyl version. As usual with Toxic State, the packaging is beautiful and elaborate, and the music still rips. Revisiting this on vinyl, I’m struck by how Factory City Children’s songs are so straightforward and classic-sounding at their core, with familiar chord progressions yanked straight from the Misfits and Ramones songbooks. However, while the songwriting gives these tracks a sturdy backbone, everything else about this is so wild and unhinged that it sounds nothing like those bands. The songs are bathed in noisy guitar leads and fuzzy synth textures, while Mateo’s vocals are full of snot and bile yet still have memorable melodic hooks and discernible lyrics. It’s that classic salty/sweet formula, and it works brilliantly here.

Diode: S/T 12” (Under the Gun Records) One of the most frustrating things about not getting the Featured Releases section of the newsletter done for the last few weeks is that I’ve lacked sufficient opportunity to tell you how much this Diode record rules. I know little about Diode… there’s no description on Under the Gun’s website, though a little internet sleuthing leads me to believe they’re from Southern California. While Diode’s internet presence may be hazy, their sound is fully articulated, slathering jittery, hardcore-informed punk with massive synth hooks, sort of like Jake Roberts, Ausmuteants’ synth wizard, overdubbing parts on a Warm Bodies record. While the synth melodies grab you by the lapels (see “Van Zant”), a catchy part might emerge from anywhere in the mix, whether it’s the guitars in “Ugly” or the anthemic vocals in “Late Stage Solution.” And with only eight tracks, it’s all wrapped up before you can even think about getting sick of it. An infectious record that begs for repeated listens.

A Culture of Killing: Dissipation of Clouds, The Barrier 12” (Drunken Sailor Records) Dissipation of Clouds, The Barrier is the third album from this Italian band, and while their earlier releases leaned on an anarcho-punk meets death rock aesthetic, this new one widens the scope. The first track, “Yamuna,” is an ethereal song with the bassist employing an uncharacteristically light touch, the airy mix and delicate textures reminding me of Cocteau Twins. While “The Last Train Home” sounds like it’s ripped straight from Three Imaginary Boys, throughout the record A Culture of Killing displays a willingness to expand their sound in interesting new directions, whether it’s the xylophone on “Tangled,” the Chameleons-esque plucked guitar in “Limits,” or the unexpected reggae rhythms in “One Last Drop to Moscow.” But while much of the music is unexpectedly pop, the shouted, dual-vocalist approach ensures it’s never too far from Zounds or Lost Cherrees. I’m a sucker for anarcho bands who veered away from hardcore and toward poppier and arty sounds, and A Culture of Killing captures the spirit of possibility and the accessibility of that stuff without losing the urgency it needs to still feel like punk.

Auntie Pus: Halfway to Venezuela 7” (General Speech Records) General Speech brings us an expanded reissue of this obscure but excellent 1978 UK punk single. While Rat Scabies is on the drums and the two tracks he plays on benefit from his trademark wallop, the music doesn’t resemble the early Damned’s raw rock and roll so much as Television Personalities’ neo-Syd Barrett-isms. Another band Auntie Pus brings to mind is the Only Ones, particularly the bluesy lead guitar playing and the way they deliver the vocals in this sort of fey croak. While those are points of reference, it all adds up to a record that doesn’t sound quite like anyone else, and the energetic performances and strong songwriting are worth your while if you’ve spent any time digging past the most well-known 70s UK punk bands. General Speech’s reissue adds an extra track; recorded 8 years later, it doesn’t feature Scabies on drums and isn’t punk… more of a Cole Porter-type jazz age song. The insert, though, is a treat, a lengthy interview with Auntie himself that’s full of the trainspotting punk nerdery I love. An excellent single that will fit well into any night spent sitting around spinning UK punk 45s.

No Plan #1 zine No Plan is a small but meaty fanzine in the traditional sense of being devoted to one artist, in this case Paranoid. Aside from the brief introduction, the magazine devoted the issue’s entirety to a lengthy interview with Paranoid. They cover the band’s entire history, and explain a lot about how they work, and the band is very candid about how they do things. It’s a well-done interview, with thoughtful questions and thoughtful responses from the band. If Paranoid is a band for whom you want to own a box set of their entire discography, surely you’ll be happy you plunked down three American dollars for this artifact.

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