Featured Releases: May 20 2021
Joukkohauta: Joukkohauta 7” (Audacious Madness Records) First vinyl release from this band from Finland, and it is a no holds barred rager. I’m sure many people will be tempted to reference the Finnish classics given that Joukkohauta is from that country—and I’m certain bands like Kaoos and Destrucktions are inspirations—but Joukkohauta doesn’t seem concerned with recreating the past. The singer’s cadences remind me of Poffen from Totalitär and the all-out assault of the production is straight out of the Anti-Cimex playbook, but the riffing is more metallic with lots of palm muting and chaotic, Discharge-influenced lead guitar a la Disbones-era Disclose. Aside from a brief mid-paced section at the beginning of “Kello Käy,” this EP is a non-stop hardcore punk assault. This is limited to 300 copies and while it’s currently flying below the hype radar, I don’t see this one sticking around forever.
End Result: Hellfire 7” (Hardcore Survives) After a couple split 7”s and cassettes, Hellfire is the debut stand-alone vinyl from this crasher crust band from Los Angeles. End Result sounds like they’re from the D-Clone / Zyanose school of blistering raw punk noise, with some of Gauze’s twisty turn-y (maybe even choppy?) songwriting style thrown in for good measure. The sound is loud, raw, and blown out, but clear and present… piercing and biting rather than dull and muddy. Between the chaotic, overblown production style, the manic tempos, and the busy arrangements, I feel disoriented when I listen to Hellfire. It’s a record that doesn’t allow you to find your footing, throwing you off balance with unexpected changes in tempo and dynamics. You’d think it was just expressionistic gestalt until End Result stops on a dime and plunges into total silence at the end of “Control,” my favorite moment on the record. This is a fucking ripper.
Glitter Symphony: In Green Furs 12” (Meat House) This 6-song 12” from Glitter Symphony is my big surprise of the week. When I previewed it before I placed my order from Meat House it went in one ear and out the other, but after it arrived and I gave it an attentive listen or two, it sunk its teeth in HARD. I’ve already sold Jeff on this record and I’ve been singing its praises to anyone who will listen. The short story is that if you like Kim Wilde’s first album or similar early 80s new wave groups like Holly and the Italians and the Go-Go’s, you will flip out over this record. These six songs are all certified pop bangers that can sit alongside the strongest tracks on any of those releases, and if you like this style, you’ll play this record over and over. If you’re a history buff, the longer version of this record’s story is that it contains songs by two different projects: Sizon and Glitter Symphony, both of which were brainchildren of Susan Hyatt, who has had a long music career since. Sizon was a studio project that released a two-song single that got some local airplay in LA. Sizon featured session players (including the drummer from the Knack), so Hyatt formed a live band with some high school friends and called it Glitter Symphony. While the name and the players are different, the two Sizon songs and the four Glitter Symphony songs that appear here are indistinguishable from one another… they’re all pop bangers. The record’s insert reveals some other interesting music industry connections (Hyatt claims to have introduced Duff McKagan to Izzy Stradlin), but for me the brilliance of these songs is the selling point rather than some music history nerd shit. If you aren’t sold, listen to “Room of Flowers” or “Imagination” on Bandcamp, and when you find yourself humming it later, come back and buy this record.
Various: Welcome to Pittsburgh 12” (Cruel Noise) One of the—if not the single—best hardcore scenes in the country gets the monument it deserves with Welcome to Pittsburgh. Anyone who is paying attention knows that Sorry State has all the love for Pittsburgh punks… we’re always hyping bands from the city and we have (or are planning to) put out records by multiple bands on this compilation. So of course I love it! But I’d be saying that regardless of any personal connections because this thing just rips. I’m sure there are other things going on in Pittsburgh, but Welcome to Pittsburgh is composed entirely of fast hardcore bands playing fast hardcore songs. I wonder if they told every band to send in a short and fast ripper or if that’s just the way it worked out. You would think at least one band would have tried to shake things up; even This Is Boston Not LA has the Proletariat. Perhaps it’s just that everyone on the comp knew who they would be up against, because you get a-level tracks from all of my favorite current bands from Pittsburgh: Heavy Discipline, Living World, Loose Nukes, Speed Plans, Peace Talks, RAT-NIP, Necro Heads, Detainees, Invalid, De Rodillas, No Time, Chiller, White Stains, and S.L.I.P. Wrap things up in some rad Keith Caves artwork and throw in a zine where every band gets a page to put their visual stamp on the record and you have a 100% essential compilation record. Like This is Boston Not LA and Flex Your Head—the gold standards for regional compilations—Welcome to Pittsburgh works equally well if you don’t know much about this scene and you’re looking for a sampler or if you’re already a fan and you’re eager to hear new material from these bands. And as befitting a city that is punker than you, I don’t think it’s anywhere on the internet, so you have to buy the vinyl and get the entire experience… there’s no room for dabbling. Welcome to Pittsburgh is, without a doubt, one of the essential punk records of 2021.
Repeat Offender: Demo 7” (Mendeku Diskak) You can probably take one glance at the Nicky Rat layout on this 7” and know whether or not it’s for you, but I’ll expound a little further in case you want to confirm. Mendeku Diskak is a label from Basque Country that specializes in oi! music from that region, but they’ve stepped out of their normal lane to press this LA band’s demo to vinyl. It’s no surprise it appealed to them, because this is exactly the kind of hardcore you love if your tastes also include some oi! Repeat Offender reminds me of the oi!-tinged New Wave of British Hardcore and Boston Crew bands of a few years ago… bands like Violent Reaction, Boston Strangler, and the Flex. Their music encompasses bruising SOA-style bashers, more mid-paced knuckle-draggers, and a few songs with a rock and roll swing to them a la Negative Approach’s “Nothing” or the catchier early Blitz songs. Six tracks appear here, and everything is perfectly executed with the right mixture of power and grit. If you’re into this strain of purist hardcore, this record ticks every box.
Kolpeka: demo cassette (Mendeku Diskak) Five song demo from this young punk band from Basque Country. I could have stopped when I read in Mendeku Diskak’s description that Kolpeka is a bunch of 15- and 16-year-old skateboarders, because I knew I would love it. I’ve heard thousands of punk records in my 41 years on this planet, and I am confident I will never make anything as direct and as powerful as what a teenager does when they pick up a guitar after several hours spent hurling themselves at a curb over and over. Kolpeka’s music doesn’t sound like skate punk at all, though. It fits with the general oi! vibes of the Mendeku Diskak label, but there’s also a strong backbone of catchy, Clash-inspired punk I associate with the Iberian peninsula. Kolpeka’s major key riffs and chanted choruses remind me of the great Prision Postumo album that came out a few months back, but the playing is more primitive and tougher. In particular, I’m in love with the way Kolpeka’s drummer plays. He has a very minimal style, but seems to hit the kick so hard… it just drives you forward and makes you want to march into battle. Skateboarding, youth, punk… this one has it all.