Featured Releases: September 22, 2022

Oog Bogo: The Beat Sessions cassette (Shout Recordings) The famed Beat Sessions series returns from a too-long absence with this set from LA punk band Oog Bogo. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Beat Sessions, they’re sort of like a punk rock version of the Peel Sessions. Engineer / producer / mastermind Mike Kriebel brings his favorite bands into his studio for a quick-and-dirty one-day recording session, and like the original Peel Sessions, the Beat Sessions are a magical combination of off-the-cuff performances and high fidelity acoustics, since Mike’s recordings are often much stronger than what these bands get on their own. Past Beat Sessions participants include underground heavyweights like Impalers, S.H.I.T., Uranium Club, and Institute. Oog Bogo might be less familiar than those bands to Sorry State’s readers. I hadn’t heard of them before this release, as they seem to exist in a world of lo-fi west coast garage-punk that is just outside of my radar screen’s range. It’s my loss, though, because I’ve enjoyed checking out their earlier recordings. While Oog Bogo’s earlier records vary in fidelity (their early EPs are lo-fi, their full-length less so), they’re all marked by a meticulous attention to texture, with most tracks weaving a range of different guitar and synth sounds into a rich sonic tapestry. The Beat Sessions, however, captures a different side of Oog Bogo, recording the group’s live lineup after tightening up these new arrangements on tour. Most songs revolve around two beefy-sounding guitars (one of which occasionally gets swapped out for a synth) and the rhythm section does what you need to do to catch the attention of the would-be fans who are drinking at the bar and smoking outside… i.e. they play hard and fast. Oog Bogo sounds like a punk band here, in the mold of high-energy groups like the Carbonas, the Dickies, Jay Reatard, the Marked Men… groups that wield pop songcraft like a sledgehammer. Mike Kriebel’s clear and powerful recording here only adds to the weightiness. I’m sure Oog Bogo’s existing fans will love these punked-up takes, and those of us who hadn’t heard their music yet get a punk-friendly entry point that’ll get us reaching for the rest of their discography.

Totalitär: Vi Ar Eliten 12” (Prank Records) My favorite Totalitär record tends to be the one I’m listening to at the moment, but the band’s final album, 2007’s Vi Ar Eliten, holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first — really, the only—Totalitär record I got to digest as it came out. While Totalitär was well known in 2007, Vi Ar Eliten still felt like a bit of a secret. Most bands who I thought of as Totalitär’s at the time (bands like Wolfbrigade, Victims, and Skitsystem) were playing more polished and/or metallic music, but beneath the head-scratching cover art was perhaps Totalitär’s best music. First of all, the production on Vi Ar Eliten is incredible… the drums are pummeling, the tones on everything else are biting yet full and present, and the mix is just perfect, raw and ripping yet crystal clear. It’s what a hardcore record should sound like to me. Wrapped in that production are a heap of tracks that find Totalitär doing their usual thing with the usual great results: a mix of full-throttle rippers, super catchy mid-paced songs, in-between songs like “En Av Dom Som Dom Skämtar Om” that are the best of both worlds, and a couple of unexpected moments like the rocked-out intro to “Overtid, Overflöd Mot För Tidig Död.” One thing that seems unique to me about Vi Ar Eliten, though, is how much lead guitar we hear. At least half the tracks find the guitarist Lanchy taking center stage, sometimes during the traditional solo section (oh man, the Buzzcocks-inspired two-note solo on “Nej Vi Ska Inte Ha Nåt…” FUCK!), and sometimes at unexpected moments, like the weird little lead break in the title track that starts the record, a moment that always make the hair on my neck stand up. There’s just so much to love with Vi Ar Eliten, and even after listening to it for 15 years it’s nowhere near getting stale. I’m pleased Prank has brought it back into print, and as usual they’ve done an incredible job, with meticulous detail to the record’s visual and sonic presentation and some subtle upgrades that still feel true to the original. This is one of those records that I just don’t want to imagine life without.

Lumpen: Corrupción 12” (Discos Enfermos) Lumpaen released their first 7” a couple of years ago (and we still have copies in stock!), and now Spain’s Discos Enfermos is back with a 12” from these Colombian punks based in Barcelona. As with the Primer Regimen EP we wrote about last week, Corrupción is marked by that unique intensity that seems to be a hallmark of contemporary Colombian punk… the vocals are just shredded, the singer forcing each breath out of their lungs like it’s a projectile meant to kill their mortal enemy. The label’s description tags Lumpen as UK82 in style (and the band’s photo on Discogs shows them wearing t-shirts of bands like Abrasive Wheels and One Way System), but I hear a lot more than that on Corrupción. The title track has a denser, more sophisticated hardcore punk sound that reminds me of Nog Watt in the way it balances ferocity with subtle hooks, while “Cicatrices” leans into the mid-paced, fist-pumping pogo that today’s punks love. In a move that also recalls Primer Regimen, “Anti-Patria” simmers in tension with a stalking anarcho feel, which erupts into “Represión,” the fastest and gnarliest song on the record. Lumpen finishes up with an Ultra Violent cover adapted to their own language, and I’m ready for another spin of this short but gripping 12”.

Freak Genes: Hologram 12” (Feel It Records) Five albums in and when I drop the needle on a new Freak Genes record I still don’t know what to expect, beyond a bunch of synthesizers and ambitious, wide-ranging songwriting. Hologram feels even more eclectic than their previous records, touching base on styles Freak Genes has dabbled in before (like the Jay Reatard-esque “Strange Charm” and “Spiderweb,” or the creepy, Screamers-ish “DNA”), but continuing to push at the edges of their sound. “New Crime” is an upbeat dance track with super catchy synth arpeggios, “Swimmers” is a moody and spacey meditation a la 154-era Wire, and tracks like “Hologram” and “Among the Drain” take surprising left turns, both of them wandering off into art rock land in their latter sections. While a more consistent approach might make it easier for listeners to latch on to Freak Genes, those of you who like following the picaresque musical adventures of folks like Jake Roberts of Alien Nose Job, John Dwyer of the Oh Sees, and Ty Segall will enjoy keeping tabs on Freak Genes’ continuing musical adventures.

Blessure: Ekaitza / Sabaté 7” (Discos Enfermos) This two-song single is the debut stand-alone release (they had a previous split 7” and appeared on some compilations) from this punk / oi! band from Basque Country, and it is a scorcher. It’s a bold move putting out a two-song punk single, but what Blessure loses in quantity they deliver in quality. The a-side, “Ekaitza,” is a great fucking song. Sung in the Basque language, its gritty sound and rudimentary instrumentation sound like something from the Chaos En France compilation, but the song’s structure is pure pop, with a simple but effective guitar hook leading the way to an anthemic chorus. The vocalist is spectacular too, not just carrying a tune but doing it with a unique timbre that makes Blessure sound unlike anyone else. The b-side, “Sabaté,” is a straightforward basher in the Blitz mold with terrace chant backing vocals that make it sound more prototypically oi! Like a great punk single should, this one keeps me flipping the record while I dream about how Blessure might expand on these ideas for an EP or (fingers crossed) a full-length.

The Prize: Wrong Side of Town 7” (Anti Fade Records) This debut 4-song EP from Melbourne, Australia’s The Prize is worth ringing the “power-pop banger” alarm bell for. While Sorry State is known for our focus on hardcore, I’d like to think we know a killer power-pop band, song, or record when we come across one. Hopefully our track record speaks for itself, as we’ve released records by the Number Ones and the Love Triangle on our label and sung the praises of groups like Romero and Midnite Snaxxx in the newsletter. Anyway, the Prize is a group I can get behind. The key thing you need in a power-pop band is hooks (that’s the pop part), and the Prize has ‘em in spades. All four tracks on Wrong Side of Town (three originals and an Incredible Kidda Band cover) are totally hum-able, the title track in particular an earworm that you won’t be able to dislodge even if you want to. The Prize also has the power part down, with energetic performances (particularly on the Ramones-y “Don’t Know You”) and big lead guitar hooks that are just as infectious as the vocal melodies. With all five band members sharing vocal duties, the Prize’s dynamic arrangements keep your ears alert, but everything hangs on those fantastic hooks. A killer EP.

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