SSR Picks - December 16 2021

Last weekend I flew out to Los Angeles for the inaugural Lie Detector fest. I had a great time doing the things you do at punk fests… reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, hitting up record shops, trying to find killer food, and of course watching lots of bands. One nice thing about not knowing as many people on the west coast is that I never found myself in that conundrum where you’re talking with someone you want to hang out with, but a band is starting inside or in another room and you can’t decide whether the hang or the set is more important. I got in plenty of hanging, but I also watched every single band at Lie Detector and at the show I went to in Orange County on Sunday. I’m still in my post-isolation state of mind where I can’t get enough live music, so I soaked it all in. It helped that pretty much every single band was killer.

At one point I thought to myself that maybe I should post pics and vids to the Sorry State social media accounts, but I don’t want to go down that road. I spent years taking photographs at nearly every gig I went to. I had no training in photography and crappy equipment, but I still got a few decent shots over the years. However, once smartphones came out, looking at a sea of phones in the air at gigs got me out of photographing shows. Fortunately, there were some very skilled photographers at this weekend’s shows. Rob Coons has already posted some insane photos, and legendary punk photographer Alison Braun was at Friday’s gigs. I’m sure you can find tons of photos and videos on social media too. As for me, I’m thankful for being able to point your attention toward these skilled artists and experience shows without that sense of dissonance that comes from thinking about how the world in front of me should be framed and presented.

As I said, I didn’t see any poor sets this weekend, but my favorites were from Reek Minds, Public Acid, Fuga, Blazing Eye, and End Result. Electric Chair was also incredible every time. I think they’re a very special band with both great songs and a larger-than-life personality that puts them head and shoulders above pretty much every other current hardcore band. My favorite set of the weekend, though, was Prision Postumo. I’d heard Prision Postumo’s records and I liked their singalong punk style already, but live the band crackled with a different energy. As I was watching them, Minor Threat kept popping into my mind… like Minor Threat, Prision Postumo is anthemic but tough-sounding, and they have a charismatic frontperson you can’t take your eyes off of. I hope I get to see them again sometime.

Another band whose energy felt very different live than on record was Reek Minds. As with Prision Postumo, I liked Reek Minds’ records a lot already. They have an ultra-fast style in that Septic Death / Siege / Deep Wound territory with lots of whiplash changes in tempo and rhythm. I’ve seen a lot of fast bands like this in my life, and they’re usually way sloppier live than on record, the live sets typically getting by on noise, volume, and chaos rather than precision. Not so with Reek Minds. Their execution was razor-sharp despite their songs’ intricacy, and the beefy sound at the venue made them seem even heavier than their records. As much as I love their records, what came across live was a little different, and I hope they can capture some of that magic on their upcoming 12” on Iron Lung.

All of this reflecting on bands’ live sets versus their records makes me jealous of the people who get to see these bands all the time. When I fall for a band, I try to see them as often as I can. Records, at best, capture one moment in time, and there are so many bands that have had better moments. As great as Government Warning or Direct Control or Wasted Time or Double Negative’s records are, I saw sets by all those bands that were so much more special, and I know the people who only experienced those bands’ records don’t have the full picture. It makes me jealous of the people who get to fill out their picture of bands like Prision Postumo and Reek Minds, as well as thankful that I got at least a little peek at what I’m missing.

Hi Sorry State gang, how was your week? It’s fast approaching Christmas and New Year and I am sure you are asking yourselves where the hell did this year go? Time waits for no one. Anyway, I wish you a great holiday season no matter how you chose to celebrate (or not).

Unfortunately, this past week saw the passing of more legends from the music world. I am sure you have been reading the obituaries and tributes that have been on social media regarding the deaths of Steve Bronski, Mike Nesmith, Robbie Shakespeare and Joe Simon, and perhaps are fans of their music. I know I was and so for my picks this week I hope you will join me in remembering these gentlemen by listening to some of their work.

Firstly, Steve Bronski. He was the co-founder and keyboard player for the 1980s pop group Bronski Beat. They had a huge hit with the song Small Town Boy and brought the subject of queer rights into the pop charts. Lead singer Jimmy Sommerville later formed the also successful Communards., although Bronski Beat continued and had further hits, including the smash Hit That Perfect Beat, a personal favorite and mentioned before in these pages I believe. The group’s debut album Age Of Consent contained the song Why? which dealt with anti-gay prejudice and a great reworking of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love. Check them out if you are not aware and need some positive pop music in your life. Sadly, it appears Steve died in a fire from smoke inhalation. He had suffered a stroke previously and could not escape the building he lived in when it caught fire.

Michael Nesmith should need no introduction and for several generations of fans his iconic knitted cap he wore during his Monkees years is as recognizable as Michael Jackson’s jeweled single glove. I absolutely loved The Monkees. Growing up in the late 1970s and 1980s the reruns of their TV show were a staple of kids’ Saturday morning television. I was moving from my 1950s rock ‘n roll stage to full on 1960s obsession and so watching anything that had music and action from that period in clear glorious color was always going to be on my radar. What was not to like about The Monkees? Who gives a shit about how they were formed and why and who played on those early records? They are great pop songs. The band could play and could write their own songs, and Nesmith has more than enough songwriting credits to prove that. After his tenure with The Monkees, he formed the First National Band and helped pioneer the burgeoning country rock scene. His song, Different Drum, was a huge hit for The Stone Poneys and a young Linda Ronstadt. I always liked the tune Circle Sky from the Head album and movie that The Monkees made, and it was one of his tunes. Thank you, Mike. We love you and will miss you.

Robbie Shakespeare’s passing was a huge loss for the music world. The reggae bass player’s influence on not just reggae music, but rock and pop cannot be overstated. His playing is a cornerstone of so much great music that it is almost impossible to list all the artists that he has played with and all the amazing records he has played on. He is, of course, best remembered for his partnership with drummer Sly Dunbar. As Sly & Robbie they became the go to rhythm section for not only reggae production but for the pop world too. Grace Jones and Bob Dylan, among plenty others all benefited from their rock-solid playing.

Growing up in the 1970s, I fell in love with reggae music and became fascinated with Jamaica. Some years later, in the late 1980s and 1990s, I was fortunate enough to visit the island many times and have many happy memories of adventures there. Some are a little hazy—you know, because of Jah cure. Lol. I would never claim to be an expert on reggae music, but I have a decent section in my collection and perhaps not stocked with expensive originals, but there is still plenty of killer stuff. I wish I hadn’t had to part with a lot of my reggae CDs because I had some rare stuff on them, but I still have plenty of tunes on wax to keep me going. Lots of records featuring Sly & Robbie as either themselves, as part of The Revolutionaries, in Black Uhuru, on other artists’ records or as the production team on their own Taxi Records. One record I play a lot by them and that we have had come through Sorry State since I have worked here is their Disco Dub album from 1979 on the Gorgon label. The cover for it is fantastic for one, but the music is pure unadulterated drum and bass reggae and a perfect example of how the two musicians worked together so well. You really hear Robbie’s bass lines at the fore. Awesome stuff. It’s not an expensive record and there are reissues available too. Check out these two cuts for your listening pleasure; Side Walk Doctor and Mickie Mouse.

Lastly, Joe Simon, a great soul singer who had hits in the 1960s and 1970s, left us this week. I have some good funky 45s by him and he might be best remembered for his hit The Chokin’ Kind and for singing the theme song to the movie Cleopatra Jones from 1973. That’s a cool blaxploitation style film and worth checking out. One single of his that I have and like is called Moon Walk, not a nod to MJ and his famous dance steps but one made in the year of the actual moon landing. I’m a sucker for anything moon related or space and stars. Lol. Some nice keyboard work on that song and some tight drumming too. Does have some sax though, so not for you Jeff. Lol.

May all their souls rest in peace and hopefully they are jamming and playing with the heavenly chorus now. Their legacy will continue to influence and entertain generations of music fans to come. As a final piece of somewhat self-promotion, on the radio show I do, Worldy, Matt and I played some Nesmith and Sly & Robbie tunes along with some seasonal holiday records this past week. If you have the inclination and want to check it out, click the link. I thought we had a good show and hopefully you will be entertained for a couple of hours.

Hey, thanks for reading folks. Have a great weekend and holiday if we don’t speak to you before then. Triangle locals, get your asses down to the store. We are full of great records. Perfect gifts for the music lovers in your house.

Cheers, peace and love - Dom

I don’t get excited about all reissues. Sometimes it’s painfully obvious to see how little planning went into them. Sometimes they are made in a reproductive fashion, but end up feeling more like a cheap knockoff rather than an homage to the original. The NOG WATT 7” reissue that Final Doomsday brought us this year had me excited as hell, like Christmas-style excited (just kidding I don’t celebrate Christmas you dick). The sound was simply amazing, and the reproductive sleeve was top notch. I feel lucky it was a U.S. label that reissued that EP. That record has needed a reissue for a long time if you ask me. I’m pretty sure I have a few copies still, so if you missed out feel free to hit me up ( One thing that really gets me drooling is when the label goes all out and does it up with a booklet. The booklet that came with the MOLDE PUNX 12" compilation was amazing. That was some next-level archival nerd shit. Another great one that immediately comes to mind was the booklet with THE PARTISANS 12" on Sealed Records that came out earlier this year. We have some of those in stock actually, if you missed it the first time. And I can’t forget, the booklet in the UNITED MUTATION 12" on Radio Raheem was excellent!!! The recent POISON IDEA 12" has a a pretty fucking sick booklet inside. If you missed that one as well, there are copies here. While the booklet is all photos, they are fucking badass photos that were mostly unreleased as far as I know. Anyway, what I am really writing about today is PYHÄKOULU. Remember how I mentioned being excited about reissues earlier? I can’t express how bad I needed this one in my life haha. I’m sure me not having their 12” and split 7" really added to that equation, though. I feel like this is a common theme… but I first heard this band on the Killed By Finnish Hardcore 12" compilation. I don’t want to spoil the fun of exploration for anyone, but there are a few things I’d like to mention from inside the booklet. Well, first, I should point out that I think this is the sickest booklet I have ever held in my hand from a reissue record. The vocalist Saku kept an archival notebook through the band’s lifespan, and we get to dive deep into that in this nearly 50-page booklet! I am just a fan of the band, but it’s honestly kind of emotional to explore it. Maybe I’m just a nerd, though... The last chunk of the booklet is all in Finnish; it appears to be cut-outs from interview appearances. The beginning of the booklet is all in English though and I am very grateful for that. While I already knew the band was started by Saku with a mission to have a band with all women (which unfortunately was not the outcome), I had no idea the band had this many line-up changes. It is sad to read about the band’s history. While there are a lot of cool things that are mentioned, there is still an underlying sadness, with two members passing away while the band was active. The booklet is loaded up with cool stuff, though. Aside from having the opportunity to read the recent words of the voice behind PYHÄKOULU, we get to see loads of sick flyers and photos of the band. Saku even kept a log of every show they played, and that is also in there, haha. The booklet also provides a nice breakdown of each release with recording info, track-listing, members, and scans of the covers/inserts. And of course, we get all the lyrics to every single song that is on here. I did not know Saku took such great care with her words. They talk about how she brought her notebook to every show and would even bring it on stage to sing along with. Knowing how much this notebook went through, and how much it meant to Saku, it feels crazy to hold this Svart reproduction in my hand. I know the booklet’s contents are far from identical and this is just a reproduction, but the sentiment is a very powerful one. Surprise, I haven’t even mentioned what this band sound is like, if that’s what you're looking for. I feel like I never actually give a solid “music” write-up haha. Which will be the case here as well... I’ve only ever heard downloads of the 12" and split 7". I wish I had the bootleg 7" at least, but I don’t. Being able to hear these songs like this was amazing. They sound so good, way more dynamic than I could’ve imagined after hearing all the shit downloads. I used to think Sankari EP was my favorite, but now that I have this compilation I don’t think that’s the case by any means. The split songs are excellent, and while they are sloppy at times, they still got what I am looking for. Saku talks about this recording session a bit in the booklet. It was fun to read about the “variables” involved haha... One of these songs is on the Killed By Finnish Hardcore 12" compilation, which is where I first heard PYHÄKOULU. On the B-side we get their self-titled 12". Since I have gotten this compilation, side B has been my fucking jam. You can hear how they grew in many elements since recording for the 7" but the sound hadn’t changed a lot like the way it did on the Sankari EP. The Sankari EP is on the A-side after their split tracks. Side C is a live set by PYHÄKOULU! No, this isn’t some amazing sound board recording, but I think it’s great. You get to really hear the intensity of Saku performing live. Side D is all unreleased stuff, and its sound is kind of all over the place. But that’s not surprising knowing their Post Mortem 12". I haven’t listened to that in a long time but it was always my least favorite haha, I’ll have to come back and check it out. Alright, I need to get back to work. Grab this reissue. You will not regret it. It’s sold out from Svart already and our stock is dwindling. Thanks for reading. Peace.

Short one this week because I’m focusing super hard on my end-of-year list! I started at Sorry State last October so I couldn’t really contribute to any ‘best of’ lists, but now I can!! Queue me furiously digging through my collection for the past two days.

On Tuesday I went to my first show since January 2020! I hate crowds to begin with, but after over a year of not being in close proximity to people… I was nervous but rallied for Primitive Man and Blood Incantation. And holy shit, it felt so good to be back. I’ve wanted to see Primitive Man for many, many years so it was especially a treat to be welcomed back to live music with them. The lineup was fucking stacked; I only knew about Primitive Man and Blood Incantation, since they’re big names, so I thought I’d use this week to share some links to the other acts I got to see.

Jarhead Fertilizer

I think I’m late to the game with this one because this band has some members from Full of Hell. But holy shit, totally different vibe. I saw FOH back in college and it was an intense experience, of course, but Jarhead Fertilizer was a wall of sound in another sense. They were deeper, stonier (is that a word? It is now), and much more of a ‘stand there and bang your head’ set than a ‘run around into other people’ type set like Full of Hell shows are.

Sissy Spacek

Literally two days after I bought tickets for the show, a few Sissy Spacek records landed in the store. Having never heard them, but now with plans to see them, I put them on to see what I was in for. Listening to the records made me way more excited for live music, but I still wasn’t prepared for their set. The drummer brought out a fucking bucket at one point. Great band to listen to, but an absolute must see if you ever get the chance.

Primitive Man

I’m hoping, even though y’all are a bunch of punks, I’m speaking into an echo chamber about my love for Primitive Man. Somehow, they exceeded all of my expectations. The band was so tight; you could tell they play together often and have a great time doing it. The sound was on point. Everything about it points to one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent years, pandemic or not!

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