Featured Release Roundup September 16, 2017 b/w All Things to All People Vol. 21
First, a note about this post: this installment you’re getting a combo pack… usually the Featured Release Roundup and All Things to All People are separate posts, but this time I’m smashing them together because why not? Also, apologies for the lack of blog content lately. I’ve been listening to music like a fiend as usual, but I had to travel to Ohio for several days for a funeral and it’s really put me behind on a lot of day-to-day tasks like writing for the blog. You should see us getting back on schedule over the next few days.
So, this week at Sorry State everyone is telling you how they got into punk. I’m sure I’ve told a rough version of this story before in interviews or just in conversation, but rather than giving you my whole life story I’m going to focus on a series of discrete epiphanies, each of which gradually deepened my connection to punk rock.
I worry that my story will be boring because it sounds so much like that of so many other people my age. I’m writing this the day after my 38th birthday, which means that I was born in 1979, which means that I was around 12 years old when Nirvana “broke.” In other words, just when I reached that point of maturity when I started looking outward from my family and friends that I grew up with and reaching for a broader identity and perhaps even a subcultural affiliation, Nirvana appeared. Their timing could not have been more fortuitous. When I think back now, it’s kind of remarkable how much I adopted from Nirvana’s aesthetic and incorporated into my own vibe… anti-authoritarianism, despondency / depression, a celebration of the inherent value of weirdness and being weird, smart-assery, an awareness of and pretension toward fine art… those things are so much a fundamental part of who I am that it’s hard to tell whether I recognized them in Nirvana (and, more widely, in punk) and gravitated toward them as a result, or if I just fell into punk by chance and it stamped those qualities onto me. I guess that’s a knot that no one is ever going to untangle.
The photos on the insert of the Minor Threat discography probably helped to shape my personal sense of style and fashion more than just about anything else I can think of.
Anyway, after hearing Nirvana the next big revelation was Minor Threat, which I probably first heard around 1993 or 1994. At some point I discovered that a great way to find out about the kinds of bands I wanted to hear was to buy records by the bands whose t-shirts were sold in the Sessions advertisements in the back of Thrasher Magazine; those ads were pretty much a who’s who of key 70s and 80s punk bands, and when I put that together with the following equation:
a long track list on a CD = shorter songs = faster songs = better songs
Minor Threat’s discography CD was a pretty obvious buy. And once I heard that I pretty much fell head over heels in love in much the same way I had with Nirvana. It was a total game-changer and still serves to guide my musical preferences nearly 25 years later. As with Nirvana, this music is so deeply embedded in my consciousness that it’s impossible to tell whether I loved it or if I just trained myself to like it, but at least in retrospect it was love at first sight.
Having listened to so many episodes of Turned Out a Punk, I find it kind of strange that my journey into punk seems so isolated. I didn’t have an older sibling or even any older friends guiding me on my journey into punk. More or less all of my knowledge of punk was gleaned either through mass media (MTV, skateboarding and music magazines, and once I was able to find them, zines like MRR and Flipside) or simply by trial and error, i.e. buying records I thought looked promising and hoping that they didn’t suck. Even once I moved to Richmond in 1997 and was pretty much surrounded by punks constantly, my dive into music was strangely solitary, though that would change eventually.
My 11th grade school photo; my hair is dyed the color of grass and you can see my skater image starting to merge with the then-current straight edge / youth crew look.
Indeed, my remaining epiphanies are definitely more social rather than being purely focused on the solitary experience of hearing a single band or record. Once I got a driver’s license in 1995 I was able to get myself from my very, very small hometown to the bigger cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia, where I quickly recognized flyers whose graphic design sensibilities were lifted straight from the flyers in the Minor Threat CD insert. Going to these shows was my first inkling of the real DIY punk subculture, and like a lot of teenagers I spent years exploring different tribal affiliations among factions in the scene. Youth crew revival was really big when I was a teenager so I went to a lot of those shows, but I also liked more straightforward punk like Blanks 77 or the Casualties, was really fascinated with international hardcore (especially given that G.I.S.M. and Gauze were the first two non-Anglophone bands I heard), still had one toe in the commercial punk world of bands like Bad Religion and Propagandhi, and even went to metal shows now and again when I band I thought was legit (like, say, Cryptopsy) would come through town. I’m not sure whether it was that I was omnivorous or just that I couldn’t figure out who I really was, but I listened to a lot of different stuff and I’m the better for it. At some point, though, I stopped going wide and started going deep. This started happening 1998 or 1999, which is not coincidentally just when downloading music became a wide practice. I remember the first piece of music I ever downloaded was an advance rip of Bad Religion’s No Substance a month or two before it came out. At this point I’d never even heard of a CD burner, so I ran a cable from the headphone output of the computer to a cassette recorder and made a tape of it. Looking back that was a real hybrid of old and new technology, but I bet I’m not the only person my age who did it. And as more people got online and started ripping older vinyl and cassettes, downloading the new Bad Religion album quickly progressed to checking out every single band I’d ever heard of but couldn’t acquire CDs or records by, and when you follow that rabbit hole to where it ends eventually you’re listening to some pretty gnarly stuff.
A video clip from the first Cross Laws show, which is also the first show I ever played. I was 26 years old... a lot later than most people start their first band!
The next big signpost is when I moved from being a consumer of punk culture to being a participant in it. This is harder to pinpoint in the timeline, but sometime around 1999 I started writing things and posting them on the internet. While I’ve become more confident in my old age, at this point I was extremely shy, which prevented me (or, more accurately, allowed me) to have almost no friends in the punk scene… and honestly not really too many friends at all. However, once I started throwing things online people would figure out who I was and talk to me at shows about the photos I took or the things I wrote, and with the ice broken I actually started making some friends and becoming acquaintances with members of the local bands who played around Richmond like Municipal Waste and Strike Anywhere. Brandon from Municipal Waste (and later Direct Control, Government Warning, and many others) was the kind of person who would walk right up to you and start talking and then make sure you were properly introduced to everyone in the room that he knew, and his gregariousness gave me the push I needed to let my art school-honed, unwavering dedication to artistic work really cut loose. I started writing more and photographing more, and eventually I started a label and picked up the guitar that had been gathering dust in the corner since I was a teenager. Which pretty much leads me to where I am today.
It’s only started to occur to me recently how deeply I rely upon punk. For whatever reason—whether it’s because I’m a true freak and lifer or just because I was subconsciously following the punk script—I always hated social institutions like churches, schools, sports teams, and cliques. Eventually I joined the group of non-joiners, and now that group—the world of DIY punk and particularly my local scene in Raleigh—are my support network. They’re not just people I bullshit about bands with, but the people I call when I need someone to watch my cat while I’m out of town, the people whose kids I see as nieces and nephews, and the people who I hit up when someone close passes away and I need someone to talk to. My life story has been a long process of giving more and more of myself to punk and the more I give it the more it seems to give back to me.
Booji Boys: Sweet Boy 7” (Cruel Noise) We here at Sorry State have been following Booji Boys from the very beginning (as well as all of their many adjacent bands and projects), and it’s been cool to see them grow and refine their sound over their past couple of releases. There aren’t any big stylistic shifts on Sweet Boy… as on their previous records, Booji Boys to me sound like a bunch of people who probably grew up on hardcore and were shaped by its aesthetics, but have given themselves permission to do things like write songs in major keys and add in catchy little Undertones-esque lead parts (they even cover the Undertones here, confirming the influence). As Seth very astutely pointed out, the result is something like a much rawer, more immediate version of Hidden World-era Fucked Up, i.e. that period when they started to venture outside hardcore’s defined lines but hadn’t quite entered the period where they became deliberately psychedelic. In case you’ve heard their earlier releases and are wondering, the “underwater” effect is still on the vocals and it’s still very much a love-it, hate-it, or tolerate-it proposition, but if you’re on board with what the Booji Boys do you definitely won’t be disappointed, as Sweet Boy is more concise and ultimately even more memorable than their killer recent LP.
Agari: demo cassette (No Need for a Logo or Anything) Second cassette release from this band featuring members of Scumraid and Bloodkrow Butcher. As you might guess, this is hardcore, but it has a really interesting and unique vibe. The singer actually sounds quite a lot like the guy from Institute, but the music is rawer, more direct, and more hardcore. You can’t really pin a particular style on it as there are elements of Negative Approach’s oi!-influenced swagger, d-beat, and more intricate USHC in the vein of Minor Threat. However, it’s totally catchy and memorable, made all the more so by perfect, warm production. A real standout demo… I hope this band makes it to vinyl soon!
Aburadako: S/T 7” flexi (Crowmaniax) So, I should probably preface this by noting that I’m something of an Aburadako super-fan… my friend Joel first played me this flexi sometime in the early 00s and I fell completely in love. While I was already familiar with a lot of the burlier Japanese hardcore as well as a few more punk things like the Stalin, the particular mix of weirdness and aggression apparent on this flexi was pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear, and honestly it still is. It’s raging, quirky, and catchy all at once in a way that sounds like no other record I’ve ever heard. I’ve had an original copy of this flexi as well as a rip of the officially-released early discography for some time and I was hoping that this version would be able to replace my flexi in regular rotation as I’m always worried about the sound gradually deteriorating or—worse yet—getting a dent or other problem that would affect play. There is no one I would trust with the task of making a quality bootleg more than the folks at Crowmaniax (the party behind not only the several recent Crow reissues, but a few others like the Clay as well)… both their sound reproduction as well as their presentation of the physical product is 100% on point. That’s the case here as well, as the jacket and center labels replicate the original release almost exactly. My only issue is that they’ve clearly sourced the audio from the official discography CD, which has a very clear and well-mastered sound, but there’s also some audible tape warble / distortion. I’m not sure if the original tapes were damaged or what, but I can’t hear this distortion on my original flexi. In general, the version from this record and the CD sounds better—clearer, louder, and punchier than my flexi—but the presence of that tape noise keeps this from being absolutely perfect. So, what I’ve found myself doing is listening to this bootleg, then putting on my flexi, then imagining a non-existent version that combines the best qualities of both. That’s some real nerdy shit and usually I don’t tend to be such a snobby audiophile, but this is a very important record to me and I just want to hear it in the best light possible. However, if you aren’t such a stickler and you just need a hard copy this will absolutely get the job done, and if you aren’t familiar with this record then get ready to have your face melted. And let’s all pray to the gods that Aburadako’s first 12” EP is next up on the Crowmaniax agenda because I’ve never been able to snag an original of that one.
Negative Insight #3 w/ Skitslickers: GBG 1982 7” (Negative Insight) So, I think it probably makes sense to talk about these two items separately even though they’re sold together and obviously very linked. First up, the 7”: I’ve had several different versions of this recording over the years (bootlegs, semi-official reissues, mp3 rips from various sources), but it’s definitely never hit me with the impact that this reissue has, which is due mostly to the incredible sound. Apparently they were able to make new pressing plates from the mothers used for the original pressing, and as I’ve often noted they just don’t cut records that sound as loud and as thick as this anymore. When the first track, “Warsystem,” starts the guitar alone feels like a punch in the gut even without the backing of the other instruments, and once they come in it’s pretty much all over. The whole thing is only a few minutes long, but it’s one of the purest expressions of nihilistic rage that I have ever heard in my life. Jah bless Negative Insight for allowing me to get this onto my turntable without hocking half of my worldly possessions.
As for the zine, hopefully you’re familiar with the depth of the content and the precision of the execution from the previous two issues. #3 doesn’t slow down at all (even the ads seem designed to look at period as possible), and if you’re a fanatic for Gothenburg punk you’ll be wallowing in this issue like a pig in slop. While there are features on Absurd and a short interview with Anti-Cimex’s drummer, the two centerpieces are the extensive Skitslickers interview and the Anti-Cimex tour diary. The Skitslickers interview sheds a lot of light on a very mysterious band. From what I can gather, it seems like they were less interested in the musical or political sides of punk and more interested in pure nihilism, which makes sense given what ended up on the GBG 1982 EP. Beyond that, there are a ton of interesting little details about the band’s tenure that shed a lot of light on what it was like to be a punk at that place and time. The other big piece is the detailed dissection of Anti-Cimex’s infamous “Chainsaw Tour” of the UK. Each date is recounted in detail from multiple different perspectives (save one date where they couldn’t track down anyone who attended), and if there’s anything you ever wanted to know about that tour I’m guessing that it’s either in this piece or it’s totally lost to the sands of time.
All in all, this record-and-zine package has to be one of the essential must-buys of 2017. So if you can get your hands on one, don’t hesitate.
Neo Neos: The Hammer of Civilization 7” (It’s Trash) Debut vinyl from this Canadian project that has put out a slew of cassettes over the past few months… we still have a bunch of those in stock, so if you’re digging on this I’d encourage you to check out this band’s surprisingly deep discography. Anyway, Neo Neos’ tapes were kind of in the vein of that sloppy, jittery punk that’s been popular with people who follow labels like Total Punk, Neck Chop, and Lumpy, and I think it’s fair to say that if you dig bands like S.B.F., Race Car, Janitor Scum, and the like this will hit your sweet spot as well. It’s not quite as robotic-sounding as Race Car or as Fall-influenced as Janitor Scum… instead, its distinguishing factor is a heaping dose of the nihilism that I associate with Total Punk-type bands like Buck Biloxi and Sick Thoughts. Four tracks, and none of them are duds, so if this is up your alley I’d highly encourage checking it out.
Suck Lords: Demonstration cassette (Edger) Demo cassette from this new band out of Portland. I don’t know much about them, but I can tell you not to expect any of the crust or noise-punk that that city is known for… this is pure hardcore. It is quite fast, though… more in the vein of the Neos, Larm, or Deep Wound (or if you’re looking for a modern reference point they sound an awful lot like Alienation at times). I’m SUPER picky about when bands reach this tempo, as most groups either turn into a sloppy mess or start to sound more like grind / power violence than hardcore, but Suck Lords pretty much nail it perfectly, and if the above-mentioned groups strike your fancy I think it’s safe to say this’ll be right up your alley. Throw in some mega-snotty vocals and a couple of interesting little musical touches (the drummer has a really interesting way of emphasizing un-expected beats) and you have a very intriguing demo. Here’s hoping this band sticks around long enough to make it to the vinyl stages and doesn’t lose their rawness or energy in the process.
The Dream Syndicate: Live at Raji's Complete 12" (Run Out Groove)
Fifteen: Buzz 12" (Real Gone)
Monster Magnet: Spine of God 12" (Napalm)
Monster Magnet: Tab 12" (Napalm)
The Slits: Return of the Giant Slits 12" (Real Gone)
The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding 12" (Atlantic)
Forced Order: One Last Prayer 12" (Triple B)
Self Defense Family: Wounded Masculinity 12" (Triple B)
Neil Young: Hitchhiker 12" (Reprise)
The National: Sleep Well Beast 12" (4AD)
Zola Jesus: The Spoils 12" (Sacred Bones)
Zola Jesus: Okovi 12" (Sacred Bones)
Hot Water Music: Light It Up 12" (Rise)
Burn: Do or Die 12" (Deathwish)
Olho Seco: Botas, Fuzis, Capacetes 7" (Nada Nada Discos)
Svart Städhjälp: Avveckla Dig Själv 7" (Halvfigur)
Napalm Raid: Wheel of War 12" (Rust and Machine)
Sonic Order: S/T 7" (Doom Town)
Death from Above 1979: Outrage! Is Now 12" (Warner Bros)
Neo Neos: The Hammer of Civilization 7" (It's Trash)
Public Eye: Relaxing Favorites 12" (Best Before)
Unix: demo cassette (Best Before)
Sore Points: Don't Want To 7" (Hosehead)
White Pigs: Hardcore Years 1983-1985 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
ISS: Endless Pussyfooting 12" (Erste Theke Tontraeger)
Booji Boys: Sweet Boy 7" (Cruel Noise)
Joey Cape: One Week Record 12" (Fat Wreck)
Paradise Lost: Medusa 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Paradise Lost: One Second 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Barcelona: Un Último Ultrasonido Nació Y Murió En Barcelona 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Rainer Maria: S/T 12" (Polyvinyl)
Reptoides: Nueva Especie 7" (World Gone Mad)
Autopsy: Fiend for Blood 12" (Peaceville)
Cannabis Corpse: Left Hand Pass 12" (Season of Mist)
Exterminator: Total Extermination 12" (Greyhaze)
Crucifix: Dehumanization 12" (Euro Import)
Blitz: The Other Side of... 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
Crux: War 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
GISM: Detestation 12" (Euro Import)
The Exploited: Punks Not Dead 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
Morbid: Disgusting Semla 12" (Die 669)
The Execute: The Antagonistic Shadow 12" (Harto De Toto)
Aburadako: S/T 7" (Crowmaniax)
Mr. Epp: Of Course I'm Happy, Why? 7" (Full Contact)
Negative Insight #1 w/Varukers: Blood Money 7" (Negative Insight)
Negative Insight #2 w/Chaos UK: Studio Outtakes 81-83 7" (Negative Insight)
Negative Insight #3 w/Shitlickers 7" (Negative Insight)
UVTV: Go Away 7" (Emotional Response)
Natterers: Toxic Care Cassette (Emotional Response)
Bad Daddies: Over 30 Singles 12" (Emotional Response)
Enisum: Seasons of Desolation 12" (Avantgarde)
Artillery: Fear of Tomorrow 12" (Wax Maniax)
Abbath: S/T 12" (Season of Mist)
Darkthrone: Dark Thrones and Black Flags 12" (Peaceville)
Wode: Servants of the Counter Cosmos 12" (Avantgarde)
Bad Posture: C/S 12" (Mono)
Last Rights: S/T 7" (Taang!)
Suss Cunts: S/T 7" (Emotional Response)