Featured Releases: November 17, 2022

Todd Killings & the Contracts: S/T 7” (Slow Death Records) Slow Death Records brings us this 3-song 7” from Todd Killings & the Contracts. From what I understand, Todd Killings is a project featuring some folks from the Bootlicker / Chain Whip / Neon Taste Records camp, and if you’re a fan of that crop of bands, you’ll want to check this out. Stylistically, Todd Killings is in line with the Neon Taste Records roster, which has one foot in early 80s hardcore and another in late 70s underground punk, the best bands on the roster combining the energy of the former with the memorable songwriting of the latter. If you’re a fan of bands like Career Suicide or the Carbonas who tread a similar path, it’s a scene you should follow. As for Todd Killings, from what I understand, these songs were composed and recorded quickly, and they have a loose and immediate quality that feels very 70s to me, in contrast to today when so many bands’ performances are airtight. Further, rather than building the songs around intricate riffing, Todd Killings’ songs all center on memorable lyrical / vocal hooks in the chorus, most memorably on the a-side smash, “(I’ve) Got Your Contract.” It reminds me of early Career Suicide hits like “Quarantine” and “Jonzo’s Leaking Radiation,” and that’s a high compliment coming from me. Throw in some period-appropriate artwork and you have yourself a pretty bangin’ punk single.

Curleys: S/T 12” (Total Punk Records) We loved Curleys’ debut 7” on Total Punk from a few years ago, and this new 12” picks up right where that one left off. Definitely on the more hardcore end of the Total Punk spectrum, Curleys play fast and hard without exception, their super short songs coming at you rapid-fire, without breaks, exceptions, slow parts, or anything that breaks their jittered flow. Even with such narrow parameters, Curleys imbue their music with so much personality. There’s the fucked beyond belief guitar sound, which is blown to shit but still conveys the weird, epileptic rhythms that give these songs so much of their distinctive character. Then there are the vocals, snotty yet garbled, an occasional slogan like “Florida Fights Back” or “We Say No” gurgling up from the primordial soup. While these songs are hardcore punk, they’re played with a sense of total abandon I associate with Hasil Adkins or Dexter Romweber, boiling primordial rock and roll down to its essence, stripping it of anything that doesn’t contribute to the explosive raw energy. By the time they get to the closing track, the strikingly named “Sewer Cuck,” they nearly hit the two-minute mark and even have a kinda melodic guitar line in there, which sounds like Rush next to the minimalistic self-flagellation that comprises the rest of this record.

Padkarosda: Sötét Végek 12” (World Gone Mad Records) World Gone Mad Records brings us another gem from outside punk’s usual geographic hotspots… you might remember Siberian band Crispy Newspaper they released a while back, and now they’ve brought us the new album from Padkarosda from Budapest, Hungary. One great thing about hearing music from different places is that people who come from different backgrounds and traditions approach familiar tropes with a fresh perspective, and that’s the case with Padkarosda, who imbue dark post-punk with a more straightforward and aggressive energy. The heavy chorus effect on the guitars and the foreboding melodies fit the death rock style, but Padkarosda has a way with a lead guitar hook, and songs like the record’s title track (which sounds a lot like Second Empire Justice-era Blitz) and “Gépszij” where the band shows off that skill are immediate highlights. If Padkarosda was fronted by someone with a melodic croon (like, say, the guy from Interpol) they’d be millionaires by now, but the vocal delivery is snotty and snarling. The barked vocals and the interesting rhythmic inflections to the vocal lines remind me of Dezerter, and as with Dezerter, those vocal rhythms often interact with the musical accompaniment in interesting ways. Anyone with an ear for punky death rock or a broader interest in Eastern European punk will find much to enjoy here.

Gen Pop: The Beat Sessions cassette (Shout Recordings) The latest volume in the illustrious Beat Sessions series captures Olympia’s Gen Pop live in the studio. I’ve loved Gen Pop from the start, which makes sense because they wear their Wire influence on their collective sleeve, and Wire is one of my favorite bands ever. As with early Wire, most of Gen Pop’s songs are energetic, minimal, and angular to the point of being spiky around the edges, even treading into hardcore, but without that genre’s more macho and aggro elements. Even in those aggressive songs, though, there are elements that feel artsy and beautiful, like the interesting guitar melodies in “Senseless Action” or the chiming, Paisley Underground vibes in “Rough Slough Triptych.” Of course the ultimate Wire move is dropping a pure pop banger in the middle of all that spiky angularity, a feat Gen Pop nailed on their debut LP and reprise here with the same centerpiece, the gentle and fluid pop song “Pixel Glow.” As is typical for the Beat Sessions series, Mike Kriebel’s recording captures the band in clear and striking detail, like they’re filmed in strong natural light, and that approach only serves to highlight what a great fucking band Gen Pop is. Oh, and since they rip through several tracks that haven’t been released elsewhere (at least as far as I can tell), this makes this volume of the Beat Sessions a mandatory purchase in my book.

Eteraz: Villain 12” (Iron Lung Records) Iron Lung Records brings us the debut vinyl from this hardcore band from Olympia, Washington. Villain is total Iron Lung Records hardcore… urgent, smart, heavy, noisy, and somehow traditionalist without being any kind of homage. Eteraz is a little metallic but not metal, Discharge-inspired but not d-beat, and they play with confident power without being ornately technical or self-consciously primitive. At the risk of rattling off a bunch of unconnected band names, they make me think of B.G.K., Christ on Parade, Terveet Kadet, Iconoclast… the shit Pushead liked in the 80s and released on his label. It’s lifer music, and while it might lack the accessibility and easy frames of reference of starter punk bands, it makes up for it with its commitment to hardcore’s musical ideals and its unexpected musical subtlety. Also, the lyrics are in Persian, which gives songs a unique character and allows the singer to show off a gnarly rasp. This is bruising, and continues to grow on me with each listen.

Deadless Muss: 5 Years Imprisonment 12” (Euro Import) Deadless Muss was an 80s Japanese hardcore band from Shizuoka. Deadless Muss was on my radar and I have a couple of their records, but I don’t think I’d ever heard this album before this reissue arrived. I was more familiar with Deadless Muss’s earlier material, their 8” flexi from 1984 and their I Will… 7” from 1985. Those records are more in line with the gruff and murky 80s Japanese hardcore sound that I can never seem to get enough of. However, when the band signed to the legendary Selfish label and released their 860 Seconds Cooking 7” in 1987, their sound changed. Besides the layout getting more colorful than their previous records, they got way faster, moving toward a skate-thrash style that reminds me of their label mates at Selfish, Systematic Death. While there are a few moments on 5 Years Imprisonment that sound like holdovers from the band’s earlier period (“Texas Chainsaw” in particular), the band I keep thinking of when I listen to 5 Years Imprisonment is the Stupids from the UK. Obviously the lyrics and vocals are different, but the music is similar, blistering fast skate-thrash with lots of gang vocals and a hint of melody in the guitar playing. If you’re into that late 80s / early 90s Japanese skate thrash thing—bands like Systematic Death, Chicken Bowels (who I wrote my staff pick about last week), early SOB—you can’t go wrong with this well-done Fan Club pressing.

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