Featured Releases: October 1 2021
Rearranged Face: A Rare Caged Fern 12” (House of Timothy) I first saw A Rare Caged Fern circulating on Bandcamp, where the cover art captured my attention. I gave it a listen, liked it, and ordered some copies for the store. Since the vinyl arrived, I like it even more. While Rearranged Face has some of the superficial trappings of egg punk (like jittery rhythms and mutated rock and roll riffing), A Rare Caged Fern is too unique to sum up with a simple genre description. The closest thing I can think of to Rearranged Face in overall vibe is Suburban Lawns; moments also remind me of early B-52’s (without so much camp) or Uranium Club (but less distant and cerebral). Rearranged Face builds songs around catchy, repetitive riffs, but spice things up with weird sci-fi noises, a yelpy vocalist, and jammed-out parts that edge into Can territory. “History of Things to Come” has some of the angular drive of Devo’s cover of “Satisfaction,” while “Chain Brute” breaks up the vibe with a cool disco beat. I’m struggling to get across what Rearranged Face sounds like, and while that can make for a frustrating writing experience, I love that this record’s sound isn’t quite like anything I’ve ever heard before. Fans of the more Rough Trade-informed end of the DIY punk spectrum (think the World or M.A.Z.E.) will love this, but A Rare Caged Fern is unique and charming enough that it will catch ears outside that world, too.
Razorblades & Aspirin #13 zine The latest issue of Razorblades & Aspirin is out! Hopefully most people who are into Sorry State are aware of Razorblades & Aspirin already, but if you aren’t, you need to check it out. You may think to yourself, “why do I need to spend money on a physical zine when I spend half my waking hours scrolling on my phone?,” but this magazine is a showcase for the richness of print. The zine’s focus has always been on beautiful photography reproduced at large scale, high detail, and full color (where appropriate), and if you think the experience of poring over every detail of one of these images is functionally the same as scrolling past something on Instagram, then the two of us have very different ideas of what makes for rich engagement with a piece of art. As with previous issues, the writing in issue #13 is just as interesting as the visuals, including interviews with cover stars Zulu, Jerry A. of Poison Idea, the director Otto Buj (who did the recent Dope, Hookers, and Pavement film about the 80s Detroit hardcore scene), and several others, including several punk-affiliated photographers, who always offer an interesting and under-appreciated perspective on punk. I’m also amazed that a quarterly publication can turn me on to so much great music… I spend every day of my life looking for new music to listen to, yet each issue of Razorblades & Aspirin adds a big stack of artists to my “to check out” pile. I’m not aware of a current punk zine that offers anywhere near this much bang for your buck.
Soul Patrol: Mara 7” (Feel It Records) Feel It Records brings us a reissue of this rare and obscure punk single from the small town of Many, Louisiana in 1979. While a handful of copies of the sleeveless original exist, most everyone will hear Soul Patrol for the first time here, with Feel It adding snazzy new sleeve artwork (courtesy Drew Owen of Sick Thoughts) as well as an insert featuring brief liner notes and a few archival clippings. While, by 1979, the US punk scene was in full swing (or even over in some people’s eyes!), Soul Patrol sounds more like a proto-punk band, their music rooted in the regional garage-punk bands of the Nuggets ilk, but grown more aggressive and confrontational, dropping the beads and flowers in favor of shitty beer and denim. Think of bands like the Dogs (Detroit), Crime, and Destroy All Monsters and you’ll be in the ballpark, but there’s a don’t-give-a-fuck hopelessness here that captures something unique about being a rocker in the deep south. Only two tracks, but they’re both quality KBD bangers.
Prision Postumo: Live in LA cassette (No Solution) The No Solution tape label brings us the latest release from Santa Ana’s Prision Postumo. After carrying their demo 7” and debut LP Amor, Salud, y Dinero, this new tape Live In LA!! provides some insight to Prision Postumo’s energy as a live band. The DIY, black & white presentation has the feel of a home-dubbed live tape that would be passed around among punks in their local scene. No frills—there’s not even a track listing, which forces the listener to immerse themselves in the experience of attending a SoCal punk gig. As we’ve mentioned in our previous descriptions about Prision Postumo, they definitely fall into a more tuneful, melodic category of punk and hardcore. I’ve heard them compared to the Peruvian Rock Subterraneo scene, but when I hear the umpa-umpa drum beats and anthemic, hooky choruses, my mind immediately reminisces about the Oi!-inflected street punk of early 00s Punkcore. The sound of the live recording is raw, but clear enough to decipher what’s going on. It’s apparent that Prision Postumo played super tight at this show. It’s cool to hear moments of chatter in the crowd between songs and also to hear the audience sing “whoa-ohs” along with the band on the slower, sing-along numbers. It’s easy to imagine a group of punks with their arms around each other’s shoulders, drunkenly unified while stomping in a circle pit at this gig. I know I would’ve had my boots strapped on and ready to pogo. Definitely a cool listen.
Set-top Box: Max Headroom 7” (Polaks Recorxds) Set-top Box previously released a compilation of two cassettes on Erste Theke Tonträger; now they’re back with a new, stand-alone 4-track EP on France’s Polaks Records. Max Headroom continues with the style Set-top Box established on their earlier cassettes: a jittery, pop-infused, yet homespun take on what we now call egg punk. I know everyone hates that term, but when something has this trebly lo-fi production, robotic-sounding rhythms, and Chuck Berry riffs twisted into angular shapes, you have to call a spade a spade. While Set-top Box’s sound is consistent with the egg punk world, their songwriting is strong, with the synth-led “Climb the Latter” summoning the pop sheen of Freedom of Choice-era Devo and “DNA” reminding me of Ausmuteants’ nervous synth-punk. A solid grip for those of us who like catchy punk tunes with grit and personality.
Strong Boys: Homo 7” (Static Shock Records) If someone played me Strong Boys for the first time without any prior knowledge of the artwork or the lyrics, I might assume they were a bunch of aggro boneheads playing tough as nails hardcore. With the deep, gruff vocals and the mosh-worthy, yet jangly, Oi!-infused hardcore styling, Strong Boys sounds eerily like 86 Mentality. The band also reminds of me the slightly more regional ilk of laddish bands like The Flex or Violent Reaction. While the tough as nails descriptor rings true musically, Strong Boys is a band that defies expectations. With their quite frankly titled new 7” Homo, Dublin’s Strong Boys are an unabashed gay hardcore band with lyrics confronting the church, ignorance, and homophobia, among other topics. This band combines a powerful variety of seemingly disparate ideas to make one explosive cocktail of a hardcore band. If you were to take an across-the-pond lad sensibility, mix it with the leatherboy presentation of Limp Wrist, add some thoughtful and confrontational lyrics, maybe a Number One for good measure, and then make it sound more like Negative Approach, then you’ve got Strong Boys. An essential slammer for a multitude of reasons.