Featured Releases: May 4, 2023

Metrics: Demo 2022 cassette (Not for the Weak Records) Not for the Weak Records has two lines of business. One is documenting bands from in and around their home in Virginia (where there are many excellent bands worthy of documenting). The second is plucking gems from the depths of Bandcamp and making much-appreciated physical editions of music that might otherwise evaporate into your feed’s exhaust. This demo tape from Barcelona’s Metrics fits in the latter category, but it’s easy to see why Metrics caught NFTW’s ear, since their music sounds like it’s rooted in the No Way-era hardcore that had a big impact on the folks who run that label. Metrics’ songs remind me of bands like Social Circkle and Career Suicide that had one foot in blazing hardcore and one in catchier ‘77-era punk. But then Metrics also has a synth player, which connects them to all the recent egg punk bands, though their songs are more in line with Judy & the Jerks’ hooky hardcore than, say, Gee Tee’s pop or 3D & the Holograms’ chaos. At the end of the day, though, this doesn’t sound quite like anything else, and when you add in strong songwriting and a great recording, you end up with a killer demo.

Paint Fumes: Real Romancer 12” (Dig! Records) Paint Fumes is from Charlotte, North Carolina, just a few hours away from Sorry State’s HQ in Raleigh, so I’ve been seeing Paint Fumes shows for over a decade. Live, Paint Fumes is chaotic and often inebriated, and their sets are always memorable, if not always for the music they play. On their previous records, Paint Fumes had a primitive, lo-fi sound halfway between early Gun Club and the Urinals, but on Real Romancer, they’ve shaken up the formula. Honestly, I shocked when I first listened to Real Romancer… not only has Paint Fumes transitioned from a chaotic garage-punk band to a polished power-pop group, but they’re fucking good at it. Real Romancer’s big hooks and beefy sound brings King Tuff’s early records to mind… like those, it’s long on massive, memorable melodies steeped in 70s power-pop (think the Flamin’ Groovies, the Nerves, etc.), but with a massive sound informed by 90s alt rock. While some folks might miss the old Paint Fumes, I think Real Romancer is a massive improvement in every respect. The performances are stronger, the sound is way better, and the songs are just great. They even have some unexpected depth… take “Holding My Heart,” which sounds at first like a straightforward love song, but once you hear the full lyric, “holding my heart for a ransom,” the song opens up as a more subtle comment on the power dynamics in a romantic relationship. Every song on Real Romancer is like that, immediately catchy, but rewarding additional attention with unexpected depth. If you dig the hooky power-pop of their label-mates in the Whiffs, I recommend checking this out.

Adrenochrome: In Memoriam 12” (Symphony of Destruction Records) Oakland’s Adrenochrome released a flexi back in 2021 and I’ve been waiting to hear more music ever since. Finally, In Memoriam is here! Adrenochrome’s style is a punky take on death rock, taking the template of bands like the Chameleons, the Cure, and Sad Lovers and Giants and infusing it with the energy and stripped-down quality of UK82 punk. They take the best of both sounds, their bass-driven melodies and atmospheric guitars adding depth and texture to the chanted hooks of tracks like “Lost City” and “Vanishing Point.” Adrenochrome’s drummer also played in Kurraka, and while Adrenochrome’s songwriting is very different, the fusion of post-punk groove with hardcore power is still very much present. You can’t go wrong combining a high-energy playing style with great hooks, and In Memoriam will keep you both dancing and singing along.

Divorcer: Espionage 7” (Domestic Departure Records) I love it when a new record on the Domestic Departure label lands. Their release schedule is sparse, but the quality is top-notch, full of great music in beautiful, small-batch packaging that is pleasing to hold in your hands. Domestic Departure’s latest release is the vinyl debut from Vancouver’s Divorcer, and it’s another worthy addition to the catalog. Like most other artists on Domestic Depature, I hear a lot of the late 70s and early 80s UK underground in Divorcer’s sound, particularly on the dub-y “Crying,” which reminds me of Vivien Goldman’s classic “Launderette.” Divorcer isn’t retro, though. In fact, the two songs on the a-side sound as much like contemporary Australian punk as anything else... they might make you think of Parsnip or the bands that connect to them. While there isn’t a lyric sheet included, the songs sound dense and poetic, yet they’re also politically confrontational. Four excellent tracks, beautiful packaging... another win for one of my favorite labels in the underground.

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