SSR Picks: July 15 2021

Cro-Mags: Age of Quarrel 12” (1986 Profile / Rock Hotel Records)

This week Age of Quarrel is getting a new Record Store Day reissue (which we’ll have in stock), so now seems like a good time to get into my feelings on the record. Just to say up front, I love this record and I endorse it. I’m so stoked to have it back on the shelves that I ordered 100 copies, but since Record Store Day is Record Store Day we only got about 20. Anything we have left will hit our webstore at 8PM our time on Saturday and they’ll go quickly, but if you miss out, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a copy at or near retail price if you put in a little work. We’re all people who will put in a little work to get a good record, right?

Back to Age of Quarrel. It looms large in hardcore’s history, representing a fork in the road. After Age of Quarrel, a certain segment of hardcore splintered from punk and began evolving as its own more or less distinct subculture. Not that Age of Quarrel came out of nowhere—antecedents like Victim in Pain and the Abused’s Loud and Clear EP landed years earlier—but something crystalized with this album. While it’s grounded in punk, I’m torn on whether I’d even consider it a punk record. It’s something else, though it still keeps enough of its essential punkness that I get hyped listening to it, even though the modern bands the Cro-Mags have influenced interest me very little.

As I said, I want to share my Age of Quarrel story. Like a lot of teenagers on the east coast of the US in the mid-90s, my pathway to underground music passed through the straight edge hardcore scene. It was huge when I was growing up in eastern Virginia so it’s unsurprising that it was the first DIY scene I made contact with. There were kids at my school who wore Judge and Youth of Today t-shirts, and that clued me into the visual aesthetic. I remember walking around the oceanfront in Virginia Beach one day and, while poking around the touristy shops, finding a bunch of flyers for upcoming shows. While I didn’t recognize the bands’ names, the typography, photography, and other graphic elements tipped me off I was seeing a flyer for a hardcore show. I knew I had to be there. The gig was Ten Yard Fight and a handful of local bands playing in a basement in the University area of Norfolk, just a couple of blocks from my school. (Aside #1: Maybe one day I’ll write my story about what that show felt like from my perspective, but suffice to say I was hooked. Aside #2: Next month my band Scarecrow is playing a show on that same street where I saw Ten Yard Fight in 1995 (or was it 96?). That will mark the first time I’ve ever played a show in the area where I grew up.)

I spent the next several years pulling the straight edge hardcore thread. It was an easy thread to pull in the pre-internet days because of what I realize, in retrospect, is very strong branding. When I saw the college letters, the heroic live photos of bands yelling emphatically, and the clean, balanced layouts, I knew what I was going to get. Which was cool because the worst thing in the pre-internet age was buying a record only to find out that it fucking sucked. (Actually, I still buy records that suck all the time, so maybe I’m just a sucker.)

The next step in my journey is that I went to college, got the internet, and started pulling that thread a little harder. I dug deeper, finding more interesting stuff. While Minor Threat was one of the first punk bands I heard and someone made me a tape of 7 Seconds pretty early on, I knew little early 80s hardcore. Researching through the internet, I learned that there were a lot of bands from the 70s and early 80s that were more exciting to me than the original youth crew bands, let alone the modern-day copycats (of which there were dozens, if not hundreds, at the time). I also learned that the youth crew scene had an older brother who did drugs and led a far less clean cut lifestyle. This older brother was New York Hardcore.

Somewhere in here I discovered a fanzine called Hardware. I haven’t looked at an issue of Hardware in years, but, as I remember it, the people who wrote that zine literally worshipped the Cro-Mags. They treated them as gods and originators, analyzing their every move as if they were members of a religious cult, and the Cro-Mags were their leaders. I recall the Show Reviews section of Hardware being primarily in-depth analyses of Cro-Mags gigs. Did they play the Clockwork Orange intro? Who went off the hardest during “Malfunction?” I’m pretty sure I read all this stuff before I heard Age of Quarrel (though eventually I did and was appropriately floored). I took these stories to heart too. I remember at one point considering going to see the Cro-Mags in Baltimore, but deciding against it at the last minute because, essentially, I was scared. I had been to the venue before, so I knew there would be no escape if the gig turned into a giant brawl. Which, of course, seemed entirely possible, perhaps even probable.

This seems like a good place to say that I could not give less of a fuck about the drama surrounding this band. That shit is for people who like soap operas and professional wrestling. Like every good punk, I listened to the entire Evolution of a Cro-magnon audiobook on tour, on a ridiculously long drive from Minneapolis to Seattle. I encourage you to do that, but I’m comfortable with my policy of, whenever I see John Joseph or Harley Flanagan’s name on the internet, scrolling right past it.

Fast forward a few years and I’m in my phase of caring about nothing but hardcore from the early 80s. I can’t remember why or how, but around this time I came across a CD called Before the Quarrel. This is when I really and truly fell in love with the Cro-Mags. Nowadays any Joe Schmoe can find this out with a few clicks, but at the time I did not know that Age of Quarrel was originally a 13-song cassette that featured most of the same songs, but a different recording. And, to be frank, the recording fucking smokes the Age of Quarrel album.

The Age of Quarrel album has 1986 written all over it, with “big” production that might have sounded cutting edge at the time (I don’t know; I was 7), but sounds dated and downmarket now. The Age of Quarrel cassette has a dry recording that pushes into the red. It sounds just like the Bad Brains ROIR tape, which makes sense because the same guy—Raleigh, North Carolina’s own Jerry Williams—engineered both recordings. John Joseph’s vocal performance is also a lot better on the cassette version, sounding meaner and more unhinged. I can’t seem to confirm this now, but I swear I read once that he had a cold when he did his vocals for the album. Poor guy, getting sick on his big day.

The Age of Quarrel cassette version also laid bare for me how much inspiration the Cro-Mags took from the Bad Brains. Copping so many moves from the Bad Brains is a bad look on most bands, but the Cro-Mags pulled it off. It helped that their drummer Mackie was one of the few people who could play with anything approaching Earl Hudson’s combination of complexity, groove, and power. (In fact, Mackie later joined the Bad Brains.) The Age of Quarrel cassette sounds, to me, like Bad Brains and Discharge in a head-on collision, taking the speed, precision, and grace of the Bad Brains and marrying it with Discharge’s relentlessness. Talk about a winning combination.

I know I’m hyping the original cassette version, but I am sad to tell you there is, as yet, no definitive vinyl version of the Age of Quarrel cassette. It has been bootlegged several times, though those bootlegs are hard to find and pricey. Given the current state of affairs in Cro-Mags-land, I wouldn’t expect an official reissue soon. Even this Record Store Day pressing of the Age of Quarrel album is controversial since multiple members of the band claim ownership of the master recordings and everyone insists they’re not getting paid royalties. I’ll break my rule and link you to Harley’s instagram post about the issue. Oh, and if there was a definitive vinyl version of the AOQ cassette (I nominate Radio Raheem for this job), that would be something I’d line up and camp overnight for.

So, back to the Age of Quarrel album. It’s not as good as the tape, but it’s still really fucking good. As I said before, the Cro-Mags re-did the tape with “better” production, but they also added several songs. “Seekers of the Truth” and “Street Justice” are fine, but I wouldn’t consider them among the Cro-Mags’ best songs. However, the album version of AOQ has an ace in the hole, and that’s “We Gotta Know.” Again, the inspiration comes from the Bad Brains as “We Gotta Know” sounds like it’s modeled on “I Against I,” with a mood-setting instrumental intro that transitions into a fast, grooving verse then explodes into a massively catchy chorus. The shredding guitar solo also reminds me of “I Against I,” but “We Gotta Know” doesn’t have a breakdown, while “I Against I” does. Anyway, even if that definitive reissue of the AOQ cassette happens, I won’t be able to throw away my copy of the AOQ album until they unearth some crazy raw demo version of “We Gotta Know” and put it out as a 7”.

So yeah, that’s where I sit with Age of Quarrel. Given my distaste for everything the Cro-Mags are in 2021 and the music and culture they inspired, I feel like I need to defend myself for liking this album. But, I’m telling you, it fucking rips.

What’s up Sorry Staters?

So it finally happened… After patiently waiting out the pandemic, there was a gig this past weekend. I definitely had nerves leading up to the show, partly because it was my debut playing 2nd guitar in Public Acid, but mainly just because it was the first big social event I’d engaged in since lockdown. The show took place in Richmond and it was outside, which made me feel better. But the sheer amount of people and the energy in the air was a bit overwhelming. I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t have a blast. It was so good to rage, drink beer, and (most importantly) talk to old friends I hadn’t seen in over a year.

I spent a couple days in Richmond leading up to the show. A good portion of the people in Public Acid I’ve known for a while because they’re transplants from the Greensboro scene. Hanging with those dudes just reminded of those old days playing gigs in GSO. Spending time with Chubb, Wiley Mar, and of course Mad Merm made me realize I was in the presence of 3 out of 4 members of the legendary punk group Wriggle! Wriggle came up in conversation a couple times while we were hanging, so this inspired me to pop my copy of the demo in the cassette deck when I got back to Raleigh. So yeah, I think I’m gonna write about Wriggle for my staff pick.

Before I’d really gotten to know them, I can remember back about 7 or 8 years ago when some of the guys from Wriggle came into Sorry State one day. We used to have a plastic tub by the register where we’d just toss freebies like stickers or promo posters to give away. One of these punks from Greensboro asked if they could drop a couple of their demo tapes in the free bin. I thought to myself, “Sure, whatever.” After they left, I remember picking up one of these tapes with yellow artwork of a worm spelling out “Wriggle”. I honestly thought to myself, “what the fuck is this?” But then, the next day I walked into work and Daniel, already excited, basically yelled at me “Dude… did you LISTEN to it?? It sounds like No Labels!!” We blasted the tape over the speakers in the store and I just remember being blown away. I also just remember thinking why would these dudes just wanna give these tapes away? Then again, I think it was super cool that they didn’t really seem to care one way or the other.

I remember the tape being raw and blown out in a way that felt fresh. That sort of lo-fi 4-track sound that I associate with that whole Midwest scene of bands wasn’t really in vogue yet I don’t think. It was rude, raging, super punk and perfect. Wriggle really gave me that exciting feeling in my gut when I would hear 80s hardcore I hadn’t yet discovered. Then when I listened closer, I heard amazing lyrics like “I saw Jesus today -- after I huffed some glue!” So killer, so genius. Later on, Daniel re-released their demo tape and Wriggle became part of the Sorry State stable of artists.

Listening to my Wriggle demo the other night, it still sounds just as raging as I remember. It’s unfortunate that a lot of these great bands that came out of the small community of punks in Greensboro never really put out proper records. I miss those days sometimes, but I’m also happy that I’ve maintained friendships with all those punk ass mofos.

If you’re unfamiliar with this gem of NC hardcore, go take a look back at the Sorry State catalog and give it a listen.

As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,


Howdy Sorry State Gang. Are you keeping well? I hope so. Sorry that we missed you last week but sometimes we are just super busy behind the scenes doing our best to get you all sorts of cool and fun records to buy. Visitors to our actual store can attest to that, as in addition to the new shit we have bins deep of great used records. Not to brag, but our selection kicks ass. You can come in here at any time with just a dollar or daddy’s credit card and always find something. This week we will participate in Record Store Day again and there are a bunch of cool releases that should get some of you excited. We’ll be dropping in your socials with some of our highlights and Daniel in particular has some thoughts on his picks. So, busy again but we can’t be flakes and drop out for another week and not find the time to write to you guys. We appreciate you reading and hope that now and then one of us might steer you towards something worth checking out. We are all music lovers at heart.

Last week I was still caught up in the drama of the Euros and England advancing to the final that I probably would have recommended a Chas & Dave record. That might be a vague reference to anyone not British or a complete Anglophile. Chas & Dave were a household name in the early to mid 1980s in England providing good time Cockney knees-up music. I always liked a song they had called The Sideboard Song. Check it out to get a taste. Anyway, as we now know England lost to Italy in the final to a limp penalty shoot-out and instead of coming home as in the Three Lions song, football went to Rome. I have mixed feelings, like many, over several aspects of the Euros but I am glad they went ahead, and I enjoyed watching as many games as I could. The big problem was with the racist scumbags that made up a section of the English fans who booed the National Anthems of the other countries and particularly booed the England players themselves for taking a knee against racial injustice at the beginning of the games. Then in the aftermath of the final all the horrible abuse that those players had directed at them. Just so sad and maddening that there are so many simple-minded people out there that feel emboldened and justified to act this way in a so called civilized society. Anyway, fuck those people; let’s talk about music. Music, like football, is a great unifier and breaks down barriers between people and will always be my religion. Luckily for me I was able to get together with my good friend Matt, a football (soccer) coach and host of Worldy with Matt Pape over on The Face Radio on Monday and spin some records with him on his show and work out my feelings about it all through music. I played mostly Italian artists to celebrate the Azzurri. If you like good tunes and can put up with me falling over my words, go take a listen. Cheers.

For my pick this week I jumped off of a conversation Jeff and I were having in the store recently about our mutual enjoyment of a funky Jimmy McGriff record called Electric Funk that we were playing in the store. Jeff mentioned that he really liked the sound of the organ and I told him that I did, too. Plenty of space on my record shelves is occupied by organ based albums by the likes of the aforementioned McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Shirley Scott, Lonnie Smith, Groove Holmes, Charles Earland, Brian Auger, Bill Doggett, Georgie Fame, John Patton, Billy Preston, Johnny Smith, Booker T. Jones and Jack McDuff. These are the more obvious names, but there are a few others that I can’t think of right now. Point is, I like me some organ in my music and preferably the sound of a Hammond B-3. That Electric Funk album is a good one and has some tasty grooves along with a terrific cover but instead I am going to pull one from my Brother Jack McDuff section called Moon Rappin’ that was recorded in 1969 and released on Blue Note the following year. It’s such a great record, and I was super happy to score a copy during my New York days back in the 00s as it is not an easy one of his to find and has always gone for a lot more than the majority of his catalogue. Due in a big part from the commercial failure of the release and the apparent dislike from critics and fans who didn’t appreciate the concept and sound of this particular album. Instead of his usual down home grits ‘n barbeque funky organ sound, McDuff chose to make this album a concept album about his conversation with the moon and his response to the recent moon landings. The sound is more rock influenced and contemporary funky. His organ actually takes third place to the real stars of the record, drummer Joe Dukes and bassist Richard Davis who just kill it. The drums sound amazing and the patterns are terrific. The bass is upfront and stays funky throughout. To modern ears this record is much more appealing, and it took hip-hop DJs and producers to rediscover and sample the record to bring it to the attention of a more appreciative audience. It’s for this reason that you’ll probably have to pay top dollar to get a copy, unfortunately. During all my years habituating in record stores and digging in the wild I have only seen copies a couple of times. During the 90s and 00s compilation LPs and CDs came out with tracks taken from it and there have been complete CD reissues and just one vinyl reissue oddly. I can’t flex completely on this one because my copy, although released in 1970 and a gatefold, is on the black and blue Liberty Blue Note label as opposed to the classic blue and white Blue Note label. It still sounds great.

The album is a five tracker that clocks in at around thirty-five minutes and thus doesn’t outstay its welcome. However, in this case we would want some more. McDuff’s next album To Seek A New Home was also more of a fusion concept record than straight jazz and is a good one too but features a different line up of musicians and gets into more exotic and cerebral territory. It does have a good funky jam called Hunk O’ Funk on it that’s pretty cool.

Back to Moon Rappin’. In addition to the stellar work from McDuff, Dukes and Davis, special mention must be given to guitar player Jerry Byrd who provides some tasty wah-wah pedal licks and to avant-garde vocalist Jean DuShon who appears briefly on two tracks. There are some unknown horn players also on the session adding little fills here and there. McDuff arranged the tunes and produced the session and did a great job. It all comes together well.

I like the record from start to finish and there isn’t a dull track among the five. Monster title track Moon Rappin’ is a highlight and album opener Flat Backin’ sets the scene and lets you know what’s in store. Go check ‘em out and see what you think. For jazz heads, beat diggers and organ groovers, this is a good one for you I promise.

Thanks for reading as always. Be good and see you next time. Peace and love – Dom.


And again, I don’t have much time. I’m sorry. The most important thing in my mind for newest releases I wanna mention is the English Dogs: To the Ends of the Earth 12” re-issue! I think this is my favorite of their releases. I like the previous EP a lot, but I tend to gravitate towards this one. It’s not the metallic elements that make me favor it over the first EP, but simply that I don’t have a copy of the first EP haha. To the Ends of the Earth needed a re-issue for some time in my opinion, as well as Mad Punx & English Dogs. I regret not picking up one of those bootlegs with the pixelated ass covers haha. Anyway, they had done Forward Into Battle officially some years ago, and pretty much since then I’ve been waiting for this re-issue to happen!! While Sorry State does not yet have copies, we definitely will in the near-future!

I neglected to mention a handful of things last week aside from the smokin’ Infra 12" so let me touch on a few. The first one is The Bristles: Ban the Punk Shops 12"! The Bristles fucking rule. My favorite of their releases is the Boys Will Be Boys EP. It’s a bit “meaner” than their first EP and the Ban the Punk Shops cassette. So yeah, this 12" is super cool cos it’s the first time it’s on vinyl. It was originally released as a cassette on legendery Ägg Tapes. The sound quality on the LP is great.

The second thing I wanted to mention is Bootlicker’s new 12"! I first heard Bootlicker on their Who Do You Serve EP. I think this EP is killer. The sound is powerful and the riffs are great. It reminds me a bit of Bloodkrow Butcher. To me each of Bootlicker’s records sound pretty different from each other. While their first EP really caught my ear, I didn’t care to much for the two EPs that followed. But that all changed when I heard this debut LP. It is fucking killer, check out it! Alright that’s all for now, gotta get back to bustin out all these Zorn EPs! Thanks for reading, ‘til next time...

The other week, after reading Daniel’s SSR Pick, I was inspired to dig through my 7”s and brush the dust off some of the first 45s I got. At my second record store job at ((redacted)), I dug through every nook and cranny of the store and listened to anything with an interesting cover. There was a LOT of terrible music. Even with the duds, my favorite part (and where I found the most music I loved) was the 7”s. More specifically, the massive amount of WXYC radio copies the store had. I’ve seen those letters at other local record stores; WXYC is (was? I don’t listen to the radio anymore) a triangle staple and I feel like I own a piece of it with these lil records that started my collection of 7”s.

Bugskull: Fences

This is definitely me giving in to my whiny emo vocal love. I know it’s not for everyone and gets kind of grating but, hey, I’m the generation that grew up with the worst of it. I definitely didn’t start appreciating MY ROOTS (90s emo) until I started collecting these radio records.

Gravitar: Evil Monkey Boy / She Not Heavy, She My Brother

Feedbacky, gritty, and fuzzy. This came out the year I was born. Now that I’m listening to everything in succession, I’m realizing there’s a theme. Lots of feedback and mushy sounds. I don’t know much about WXYC in the 90s but I like to think the records in my list were on rotation with the same DJ.

Various: Smells Like Smoked Sausages

Tasty, tasty early 90s garage-y compilation from Sub Pop. My absolute favorite thing about radio copies are the notes from jockeys. Someone didn’t give a shit with this copy and wrote on every surface. I’ve snuck in a few radio copies on my Monday used drops, but the ‘Rat Music for Rat People’ one of y’all snatched up a few weeks ago has my absolute favorite notes.

Guzzard: Glued

Speaking of great notes. Along with the funny annotation, I really enjoy these two tracks. I didn’t really consider myself a garage and/or grunge fan; I guess most of the ones on this list fall in that category. Something about them just HIT for me.

Future Crimes: S/T

I didn’t know about this Raleigh gem until after they broke up, unfortunately. This probably, most definitely, isn’t one of the radio copies but I got it around the same time so I’m going to lump them together. I mean, this speaks for itself. Listen to it!

WPTF: First 50 Years

From a different radio station altogether, I found this in a stack destined for the thrift store when I first started at Sorry State. This is such a cool little piece of Triangle history; it includes the town song (I didn’t even know we had that?) and tons of other tidbits. I looooove finding NC-specific records and have found a small stack of, of course, country titles more so than anything else. That’s for another newsletter.

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