Featured Releases: May 6 2021
Alien Nosejob: HC45-2 7” (Iron Lung Records) In an update full of ripping hardcore, Alien Nosejob’s new EP stands out as perhaps the most ripping of them all. To bring you up to speed, Alien Nosejob is a solo project by Jake Robertson of Ausmuteants, Leather Towel, Hierophants, and many others. If you’ve checked out Leather Towel’s killer album IV or the first of Alien Nosejob’s HC45 series, you know Robertson is no stranger to straightforward, ripping hardcore. However, HC45-2 is something else, even from the first record in the series. This record is just raging, full-on, pedal to the metal intensity. Robertson doesn’t have a clear precedent in the tradition of hardcore vocalists, and that means that even when his bands are playing at blazing tempos, they sound more like the Dickies than, say, the Neos. But on HC45-2 the vocals are lower in the mix and obliterated by chaotic guitar feedback, and Robertson takes a rougher and less nasal vocal approach. It still sounds like him, but it sounds like him after a couple of years getting bounced around juvenile detention centers. And the songs themselves are masterpieces of compositionally compressed, ultra-dynamic hardcore. This record leaps and lunges and plunges and explodes in all the right ways, an 8 minute thrill ride that holds nothing back.
Evil I: Official Bootleg 12” (Alonas Dream) Alonas Dream Records delivers another outta the ballpark hardcore punk reissue, this time an unheard 1983 ripper from suburban Chicago band Evil I. As far as I know, Evil I has never been reissued in any capacity, and if you knew Evil I before this reissue and you weren’t going to shows in Chicago in the 80s, I am seriously impressed at the depth of your knowledge. For me, they’re a totally new band, and I can’t believe something this killer has flown under the radar for so long. When I first listened to this record, I was blown away. While the recording is very raw, the band just fucking blazes. It’s not that they’re super tight—in fact, they’re pretty loosey goosey—but they are super fast and their songs are full of these changes that are quirky, tricky to execute, and extremely potent. The other standout aspect of Evil I is their vocalist, who sounds so fucking pissed. The singer reminds me of Julie Lanfeld from Sin 34, but with a maniacal, John Brannon-like level of anger. There isn’t much material here, which means I’m going to flipping this record a lot. Maybe I should buy two.
Silent Era: Rotate the Mirror 12” (Nervous Intent) California’s Silent Era has been around and releasing records for a while now—we’ve even carried most of them at Sorry State—but I feel like I’ve slept on them. I FUCKED UP! I cannot stop listening to Rotate the Mirror. I can see why Silent Era isn’t a hyped band, because their style of melodic hardcore is one that never caught on the US. They seem more in tune with a tradition of European bands who were rooted in the early 80s hardcore scene but, as that decade wore on, added more melody and complexity to their songwriting. I’m thinking of bands like Funeral Oration, HDQ, and particularly Norwegian bands like Kafka Prosess and So Much Hate (though Silent Era’s vocals are much more melodic than those bands). Not only did a scene for this style of music never catch on in the US, but also it lacks some immediacy because there’s so much going on. The riffs are dense and complex on their own and when you add equally complex vocal melodies and restless hardcore drumming (Silent Era’s drummer was the original drummer for fucking Vaaska!), it takes some time for your ear to make sense of everything Silent Era throws at you. Once you hear it, though, it makes other melodic punk bands sound flat and sterile by comparison. And for extra cool points, they end this blistering 20-minute record with an Upright Citizens cover, though not a fast one like “Swastika Rats…” instead they cover “Future Dreams,” one of Upright Citizens’ most melodic songs, and they nail it, possibly even improving on the original. I acknowledge this won’t be for everyone, but if it sounds like it might be for you, be sure to check out Rotate the Mirror.
The Serfs: S/T 7” (Market Square Records) You may remember a previous release, Sounds of Serfdom, by Ohio’s the Serfs; we carried a vinyl version on Germany’s Detriti Records and a cassette version on the domestic Wasted Tapes label. This time around they’re back with a three-song single on Market Square Records, who has brought us great releases from the Cool Greenhouse, Collate, and Suburban Homes. If you liked Sounds of Serfdom, you’ll want to check out this new single, but if you haven’t heard the band, they’re a little difficult to describe. While their songs revolve around a steady, metronomic pulse, some tracks (like the two songs on the a-side) have an organic, garage-y feel that sounds a little like the Oh Sees’ most Can-inspired moments, while others have an electronic groove that’s more in line with the bands on Detriti (including that label’s most famous band, Molchat Doma). That contrast worked well on Sounds of Serfdom, but the two sides of this single almost sound like different bands. The issue isn’t that one is better than the other, but that I want to hear more of both sounds and this single is frustratingly short. If you’re into punk singles, you’re probably OK with the tease, but hopefully this is just a snack to hold us over until the next Serfs release.
X-Intruder: Punished For The Crime Of Lacking In Judgement 12” Debut release from this UK solo project. If I’m reading the description correctly, the person who is X-Intruder is also the owner of the long-running UK punk label No Front Teeth. While No Front Teeth has released a few bands I know and like (like Sick Bags), I don’t know much about the label, so I’m coming in without too many preconceptions. The description mentions Lost Sounds and I can hear that in the snotty, heavily accented vocals and the catchiness of the songs, but X-Intruder is much more hardcore. It sounds like there’s a lot of Plastic Surgery Disasters-era Dead Kennedys in X-Intruder’s DNA, particularly the overall dramatic flair and the East Bay Ray-like ability to craft memorable guitar hooks. My only complaint—though many people would see this as a plus—is that Punished For The Crime Of Lacking In Judgement is a bit long. While 26 minutes is a short full-length by any normal person’s standards, my frame of reference has been ruined by far too many 7”s and short-ass 12” 45s. If you’re a glutton for fast and catchy hardcore punk, though, this is what you want.
Prison Affair: 2 7” (Erste Theke Tonträger) I don’t know much about Prison Affair except that they (if indeed it’s more than one person) are from Barcelona and this EP, 2, is their first vinyl release. It comes to us via Germany’s Erste Theke Tonträger and fits right in on the label that brought the Coneheads album to the masses. (Aside: it frustrates me that the style of punk Coneheads pioneered still doesn’t have a coherent, generally accepted name. I can’t fuck with “Devo-core.”) Prison Affair has the mutant Chuck Berry licks, direct-to-board guitar sound, fast closed hi-hat drumming, and over the top tape warble you want from this style, and if you buy genre records in this genre, I can’t see any reason you wouldn’t love it. I do, however, think Prison Affair brings something new to the style. I hear this most clearly on my favorite track, “Entre Barrotes,” which has a melancholy-sounding chord progression that reminds me of the Buzzcocks’ “Harmony in My Head.” The tension between that gloomy chord structure and the relentless cheer of the riffing style results in a spectacular track. While that song is the highlight, there are elements of that originality all over 2. If you like this style, this is a no brainer; and even if you don’t, there’s a lot of cool stuff going on here if you’re willing to hear beyond the surface level.