Featured Releases: October 20, 2022

Irreal: Era Electronica 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) We loved Irreal’s previous 7”, 2020’s Hardcore 2020, and their new 12” Era Electronica keeps the hot streak going. As before, Irreal’s sound is straight up hardcore punk, inspired by Discharge and the legions of international bands who came in their wake. For a band that is so uncompromisingly raging, their sound has a lot of wrinkles, going from straight up Discharge worship like the title track (which is a blatant homage to “Fight Back”) to more complex songs like “Desorden,” which is driven by fast palm muting that reminds me of Broken Bones or Riistetyt. This is just perfect hardcore punk, toeing the line between chaotic and catchy, summoning that glorious feeling of being at a happening show where the band and audience are both going off. A total ripper.

Flash: S/T 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) When I first dropped the needle on this Flash album, my first thought was, “La Vida Es Un Mus released an egg punk record?” There’s no denying Flash’s jittery drum machine rhythms and underwater guitar sound resembles bands like Prison Affair, Liquids, and Coneheads, but as you might expect, there’s a lot more going on than your bargain basement Coneheads homage. While that distinctive production style gives the tracks a unified feel, this album shows off a range of different approaches, from chaotic hardcore like “Incontrolable” (my favorite song on the record) to straight up pop-punk that is almost as gooey sweet as early Blink 182. Flash sounds at home with all these styles, bringing an unhinged feel to everything that reminds me of early 80s Italian hardcore. I like the record’s sequencing, too, which groups together similar tracks and moves you from the egg punk-y opening part of the record through a more hardcore section in the middle, then finishing up with the two most melodic tracks, “Herri Hau” and “Querido Punk.” If the idea of Negazione mashed up with the Coneheads sounds appealing to you, give this a try… it’s original enough to grab your attention and interesting enough to hold it.

Girlsperm: The Muse Ascends 12” (Thrilling Living Records) You might remember riot grrrl supergroup Girlsperm from their killer 2017 full-length. Now they’re back with another one on the same label, Thrilling Living, and fans of that record will be pleased to hear that not much has changed. Girlsperm’s sound is steeped in the 90s riot grrrl sound of bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Huggy Bear, and if you’re a fan of those bands, it’s difficult to imagine you wouldn’t love Girlsperm too. Just like the original riot grrl bands in the 90s, so much about their music feels like a fresh counterpoint to what pretty much every other band out there is doing. Where so many other bands strive for tightness, Girlsperm is loose and improvisational. Where other bands are theatrical and extroverted or navel-gazing and introverted, Girlsperm sounds like an intimate gathering of close friends. As a middle-aged white man it’s hard for me to articulate, but when I listen to Girlsperm, it feels just like listening to the Raincoats or Kleenex, like it shines a light in a part of the room that I’d ignored because it was cloaked in shadow. But even though Girlsperm challenges punk orthodoxy, they still sound punk as fuck. The songs are still short and exciting and angular and energetic and all the things I want punk to be. As Girlsperm blasts through these 16 tracks, they make it sound so easy and so natural. You’d think there would be a thousand bands out there just like them.

Judy & the Jerks: Music to Go Nuts 12” (Thrilling Living Records) I’ve loved Mississippi’s Judy & the Jerks since they started, and they continue to warm my heart with their latest full length, Music to Go Nuts. In the past, Judy & the Jerks has covered bands as diverse as Die Kreuzen, Negative Approach, the Buzzcocks, and Floorpunch, and they weave those influences into a sound that is total hardcore punk, but not like anyone else. I’m tempted to attribute that to their status as a small-town band, as small scenes force you to build bridges between camps in a way that you don’t have to in bigger cities… if only the crusties, the straight edgers, or the garage turkeys comes to your show, it’s just not going to be as much fun. It takes a great band to weave together so many styles, but Judy & the Jerks is up to the task, going from catchy to tough to raging so quickly you hardly even notice the change. And their frontperson remains a star with an instantly identifiable voice, a way with a subtle yet memorable melody, and brilliant (if often tongue-in-cheek) lyrics. Music to Go Nuts was made for blasting on your shitty car stereo on long, sunny drives with the windows down. Who would have thought you could articulate unrestrained joy so beautifully through the medium of hardcore punk?

The Poisoning: S/T 7” (Maldito Ruido) Southern California’s the Poisoning brings us a debut 7” that doesn’t sound like anything else happening at the moment, at least that I know of. While a lot of bands fuse metal and punk these days, the way these elements come together on these four tracks is a far cry from the “thrash metal with mosh breaks” style the words “metallic punk” might make you think of. Instead, the Poisoning’s approach reminds me of cult Japanese metal-punk release from the 80s… I’m thinking of records like the Randy Uchida Group 7”, the Bones’ In a Sick Society, or the Execute’s An Omen of Fear. Like those records, the Poisoning’s EP drips with spooky vibes, with a Christian Death-style creepiness that not too many bands these days capture. Their approach is also similar to those Japanese records in that they have gravelly vocals, stripped-down and punky songs and arrangements, metallic guitar riffing, and playing that is metronomically tight. While a lot of bands who are influenced by 80s Japanese punk go for a noisy and chaotic sound, the Poisoning has a clean and full-sounding mix, which is much closer to the professional production jobs on many of those records. I wouldn’t call the Poisoning an homage to that style… in fact, I can’t even say whether it’s a direct influence, but if you have a taste for that quirky, mid-80s metallic punk sound, the Poisoning will scratch an itch very few contemporary bands can.

Cherry Cheeks: Cherry Radio 7” (Under the Gun Records) I loved Cherry Cheeks’ debut LP on Total Punk Records, and I’m pretty sure other people did too, as I remember that record selling out quickly. Now they’re back with another 6-song EP, and it’s just as good, if not better. All six tracks are just brimming with hooks… let’s take the first one, “UFO,” for example. After a quick rhythmic intro with marching-band snare and some tension-building noodling, they introduce a killer guitar hook that evokes the spooky theremin melodies in old sci-fi movies. Before you’ve digested that, the vocals come in with a big melody in the verses, and then rather than go with a broad hook in the chorus, the bottom falls out of the song and it returns to the intro’s marching-band rhythm and that infectious intro guitar hook. After another verse, they make the same move into the intro-as-chorus, but this time over top of it we get the big singalong chorus melody we’ve been waiting for the whole time. Then, just like that, the song is over and it’s on to the next mini-masterpiece. There’s no chance to catch your breath over the course of these 11 short minutes… it’s just hook after hook after hook. Even if you’re a dabbler in the world of Total Egg Punks that Cherry Cheeks lives in, they’re worth checking out, as this band is one of the best things going in that corner of the scene.

Leave a comment