Featured Releases: September 2 2021
Lacerate: S/T 12” (Konton Crasher) Konton Crasher brings us the debut record by this hardcore punk band out of Cleveland. Someone in Lacerate must have graduated from the Totalitär school of riff construction, because the catchy and furious riffage on this record is top notch. However, Lacerate differs from lesser Totalitär-inspired bands in their knack for constructing great songs. Like Feel the Darkness-era Poison Idea, these eight tracks aren’t just dishes of riff salad, but well-constructed pieces of music that have a logic to them, building to exciting climaxes and pumping the throttle in ways that make the ripping parts more ripping and the crushing parts more crushing. I also love the vocals, which eschew the normal d-beat growls and screams for a powerful bellow that’s half-shouted, half-sung, weaving another set of compelling melodies through the intricate riffing. This record is all power, all energy, and I keep flipping it again and again because I don’t want it to end. Killer.
Chain Cult: We’re Not Alone 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) We’re Not Alone is a new two-song single from this punk band from Athens, Greece, composed during the pandemic and reflecting the weirdness of our current times. While the lyrics address isolation, this isn’t anything new for Chain Cult, who actually titled their first EP Isolation. The music is also in the same vein as the band’s previous releases, a style of heavy, dark, and melodic punk that I don’t hear too often these days. Chain Cult reminds me of the melodic bands that Feral Ward Records would put out… bands like Complications, Masshysteri, and Criminal Damage. It sounds like music for old heads who might have a faded Leatherface or Jawbreaker shirt mixed in among their “concert grey” hardcore tees (I am very much part of this club). As with Leatherface, the guitars are heavy yet packed with melancholic melodies, and the songs are grounded in anthemic UK punk and oi!. Putting out a two-song single is a bold move but both tracks are strong, dense with hooks and with a sense of emotional and political gravitas.
Fashion Pimps and the Glamazons: Jazz 4 Johnny 12” (Feel It Records) Fashion Pimps and the Glamazons is a new name from the fertile Cleveland scene that has been giving us delightfully weird and/or raging music for several decades. Fashion Pimps and the Glamazons are on the weirder end of that spectrum, their sound characterized by meandering grooves, lyrics that might be mundane or surreal depending on how you look at them, and guitars and synths that sound usettlingly out of tune. While pop music typically strides in a particular direction, moving toward some sort of musical climax or resolution, Fashion Pimps and the Glamazons’ music wanders the streets aimlessly, perhaps picking up a piece of garbage, examining it for a while, then unceremoniously casting it aside. If you’re into that long tradition of skewed Cleveland bands from the Electric Eels to the Homostupids to Folded Shirt to Perverts Again, you know the vibe. Jazz 4 Johnny is another thread in that tapestry, another glimpse into the fractured reality our minds work so tirelessly to tame.
Direct Threat: S/T cassette (Iron Lung Records) If you’re wondering if the debut cassette from this Denver band sounds like it looks, the answer is yes; it sounds exactly like it looks. This is hardcore for bald guys with boots, taking the oi!-tinged style of Negative Approach and Negative FX and sprinkling it with violence-inducing mid-paced breakdowns from the Cro-Mags school. Direct Threat has three gears: fast and tough, slow and tough, and catchy and tough, and they’re equally powerful playing in each. The recording is nasty, but clear enough that the power comes across. Don’t expect any surprises, but don’t expect to be disappointed either. This one goes.
Cemento: Killing Life cassette (Iron Lung Records) Iron Lung Records brings us the debut tape from this death rock / goth / post-punk band from sunny Los Angeles. Cemento’s sound ranges from brooding death rock that reminds me of their fellow Angelinos Christian Death (particularly on the opening track, “Cash Grab”), to punkier, more melodic post-punk a la the Chameleons. Cemento relies on familiar tropes of this style, including chorus effects on the guitars and double hi-hat patterns on the drums, but there’s solid songwriting at the core and a knack for earworm guitar hooks. And with eight tracks clocking in at 23 minutes, Killing Life feels more like a cassette album than a demo tape or teaser.
Little Angels: demo cassette (Kill Enemy Records) Little Angels is another killer hardcore band from Pittsburgh. I’m not sure what social circle they come from, if they’re part of the Loose Nukes / Rat Nip / White Stains crew of old heads, the younger crowd like Illiterates and Speed Plans, or some other group, but like all the bands mentioned above, they have the snotty, unhinged US hardcore sound down pat. Little Angels reminds me the most of Illiterates’ loose, manic, and catchy take on the style, with a vocal approach that’s bound to put money in the hands of some lozenge company or another. The recording is raw and in the red and the band bashes out 6 songs in as many minutes, leaving me with nothing not to like. Ripping.