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SSR Picks: June 17 2021

Modern Industry: Man in Black 7” (1983, Toxic Shock)

I have a soft spot for records in less than perfect condition. While I have accumulated plenty of minty records over the years, I kind of prefer the ones that don’t feel like they’ve been sealed in a vault for decades. I like my records to feel lived-in a little, to have some personality. I have so many records with missing and tattered sleeves, radio call letters, and other “defects” that would drive some collectors mad, but these flaws make me love them even more, especially when it means I could pick up the record for a bargain price. Recently someone posted a small collection of hardcore records on Discogs saying that the jackets had heavy wear and radio call letters but the vinyl looked great. The list included a few important wants, so I jumped on the deal. It turns out that all the records came from the library of WTJU, the college radio station at the University of Virginia, the state where I grew up.

The lot of records included a few really cool originals whose music I already knew, but I took chances on some cheaper items too. This 7” from California’s Modern Industry was one of the chances, and I think it paid off. If you read the stuff I write for Sorry State, you’ll know I have a taste for hardcore punk that’s a little odd or quirky, and Modern Industry fits that bill. At their core, the four songs here are death rock-infused punk that’s of a piece with Christian Death’s first album, 45 Grave, Legal Weapon, or the Burning Image 7” that Going Underground reissued a few months back. It’s about 20% death rock, 80% SoCal hardcore, and that’s a mix that’s close to perfect to my ears.

Where Modern Industry deviates from the formula, though, is their use of some very odd keyboard sounds. The keyboards aren’t on every track, but when they appear they lend the recording an extra dash of spookiness. A gearhead could tell you how they achieved this sound, but it’s not one I’m used to hearing in punk or death rock… it sounds like a 60s Hammond organ through one of those rotating Leslie speakers. It sounds old and weak, like it could break down at any second. The whole recording is raw, but the keyboard sounds extra rickety. In contrast to the grand theatrics of bands like the Damned, if Man in Black was a movie, it would be an Ed Wood, no-budget production.

While I don’t recall hearing Modern Industry before picking up this 7”, interestingly enough after the band broke up 3/4 of the members formed the Abandoned with Tony Adolescent, whose Killed by Faith I chose as my staff pick a year and a half ago. Drummer Mark Duda also played in the Flower Leperds, another favorite with a similar sound. I guess if my research skills were better I would have heard Modern Industry years ago, but finding a cool record in this haphazard way is a lot more fun.

What’s up Sorry Staters?

So of course, I’m once again late to the game getting my staff pick written this week. As I’m writing this, I’m currently standing at the front counter at the store while Dominic is blasting an 80s-era Bootsy Collins record. Honestly, it kinda rules. Then it hit me! Somewhat relevant to the funky grooves we’re throwing down here at the store, I figured out a record to talk about that I was digging on super hard recently.

First, some personal news: after a brief sabbatical, I just moved into a new apartment in Raleigh! I’m stoked. And after breaking my back moving heavy furniture and piles of boxes, naturally my first order of business was to set up the stereo and break out all my records! I wanted to have background music that energized me to unpack all my junk. One of the first records I decided to throw on to christen my new digs was No Matter How Long The Line Is At The Cafeteria, Theres Always A Seat! by Austin’s own Big Boys.

I’ve had a lot of love for the Big Boys since I was teenager. Anything that aesthetically combined 80s hardcore and skateboarding was always like cat nip for me. Even seeing the Big Boys getting some love in the Skate Rock episode of Jeff Grosso’s Love Letters to Skateboarding got me stoked. And as much as I dig their earlier records, there’s something about the Big Boys 4th 12” that was really hitting me the other night. While the blend of funk into the Big Boy’s brand of hardcore was present from the beginning, I think the flow of the sequence on No Matter How Long the Line… is nearly perfect. But I gotta admit, not unlike the Bad Brains’ reggae tracks, I didn’t much care for the funk influence when I was younger. I’d be raging with a clenched fist to “Brick Walls” or “Apolitical”, but then “Hollywood Swinging” would come on and I’d kinda groan. But where I was once blind, now I see. Not only do I love when they bring the funk, but I don’t think the hardcore songs would hit nearly as hard without them. I always think about how the “punk meets funk” crossover show happened in DC, where the bill was Minor Threat (their last show I believe), Big Boys, and then the Go-Go band Trouble Funk. Big Boys were hanging out in Texas and were clearly as pumped on the underground Go-Go movement as they were on hardcore punk. Pretty cool.

The other night you could catch me groovin’ out while putting away my plates in my new kitchen and howling along “DAAAAAAANCE, LIFE IS JUST A PARTY!” Helped put a big ol’ grin on my stupid face while getting my new place straightened up. Still got more work to do, but I’ve got plenty of records to jam while I do so.

Short and sweet this week. But if you need some music to feel good while raging at the same time, then I highly suggest you blast some Big Boys. Hell yeah.

That’s all from me this week. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,

-Jeff

Hey there, Sorry State friends. Thanks for clicking on our Newsletter again.

So, another Record Store Day is in the books, with the next drop coming in just a few weeks. It was great seeing so many of you come by the store last Saturday and I hope everyone scored something cool. Whatever your opinions on RSD are, it can’t be argued that there wasn’t another very broad array of releases appealing no matter what your tastes. It reminds me that for vinyl records, if it is a noise that can be recorded and represents aspects of popular culture and human existence, then there is indeed a record capturing that. That for me is the beauty and wonder of records. It’s not necessarily just straight music.

Here at the store when buying collections and trading with folks, we really see the full spectrum of sounds recorded and pressed on to vinyl. Yesterday, Jeff was pricing up some records that were all about drag racing and featured the sounds of the speedway and engines revving and roaring. In these pages Rachel wrote about the awesome Vincent Price record of him talking about witchcraft and reciting spells. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear that?

Rachel has fast gained the reputation at Sorry State Towers for being the go-to for the weird and wonderful and a great example of digging for the obscure and esoteric. So, taking a leaf out of her book, I thought for today that I would throw something a little different at you.

With so many records to choose from chez moi, (probably over 10,000) you would think it would be easy to pick something cool to write about. I have some good ones, but I tend to feel uneasy about flexing and bragging about objects that I own. Sure, some of them might be valuable but really it is just about the music and the enjoyment gained from playing them that counts most. Also, in this modern, post-everything era with so much information at our fingertips, a lot of great records have been written about a gazillion times already and what were just a few years ago obscure records are now known by seasoned heads and newbies alike. Adding to my sense of indecision this week is the fact I’ve been struggling to concentrate due to lack of sleep from construction of a road behind where I live waking me up too early. At 7 AM the sounds of trees being felled and cut up and the beeping of heavy vehicles backing up fills the air and continues all day. It makes listening to music a little challenging.

Another distraction has been all the football being played right now. In Europe, there is last year’s postponed Euro 2020 tournament taking place and in South America there is the Copa América going on. It’s been futbol golazo morning, noon and night.

So instead of some rare psych, soul or jazz, it’s to the bargain bin for my pick this week for a sorbet palette cleanser and a record that celebrates the life on the ocean waves called appropriately Songs & Sounds Of The Sea released by National Geographic. It’s literally a record of old sea shanties sung and played authentically with ocean sounds layered underneath and I love it. Rachel and I bought it a while back from a small collection that a lady brought in one day and had to arm wrestle over who was going to get it. As the ex-mariner, I won that one with the proviso that future horror themed records and odd ball stuff she’d get first dibs on.

The songs on this are less the pirate songs of yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum and more traditional songs of sailors and passengers making the long ocean voyages to the New World. Like folk songs throughout the ages, these songs tell the story of the people of the time and give an insight into what life was like in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The gatefold package contains a great booklet with not only the song lyrics but historical context and information and includes some great photos and pictures. There’s a great diagram of a clipper detailing all the parts of the ship. Nerd stuff for sailors. Banging. As someone who spent his youth in the sea scouts and went to sea for almost a decade, this record resonates with me. My past life self was very much at home.

This is obviously more of a personal pick this week as I certainly don’t expect many of you out there to share my interest in such things but if you are I highly recommend this release. It is not expensive or hard to find but is one of the better of such things out there. Here’s a link to a song to give you an idea. The song here, Dreadnought, is apparently quoted in Kipling’s Captains Courageous for those of a literary leaning.

Thanks for indulging me here and I should be back to records featuring music from the last few decades next week instead of the past century or two. Still, I had fun playing this and reading the liner notes and it’s stuff like this that always has me checking the bargain bins of stores for similar fare. Records are truly the best and always your best value for entertainment and enrichment. Get out there and keep digging.

Peace and love - Dom

This Kärsä zine is so damn cool. Unfortunately there is virtually zero English in the entire thing. I will say if you are a fan of Finnish HC like me, this zine is a must regardless of the language barrier. And, if yer a bigger fan of Finnish HC than me you probably already know what this Kärsä zine is all about, cos I had no idea til I got one in my hands. It appears this zine is actually a compilation of zines from a series with the same name that was originally released in the early 80s. It’s packed tight with loads of cool photos, interviews, and ads from the time. So sick. Also inside is a fold-out HIC Systeemi poster AND a flexi!!! The sound quality isn’t the greatest; they are live recordings. But H.I.C. Syteemi fucking rules. When my obsession with Finnish HC began, they were a band I had unfortunately overlooked for years.

H.I.C. Systeemi formed in early 80s. I feel like this band does not get as much love as other Finnish HC bands who are just as good, or maybe I just think that cos I didn’t get into em until much later. I think most people probably know them from the legendary Propaganda ‘83 and Finnish Spunk Hard Beat compilations. (It’s kinda funny their tracks appear after Bastards on both compilations.) They also have a track on the Lasta-EP compilation, which I don’t think is talked about nearly as much as other Finnish comps. It has actually just been reissued this year but I don’t think there are any copies circulating in the States yet. While I enjoy their comp tracks, their LP Slut is where it’s at!!! I couldn’t find the entire record on youtube, but those three tracks should give you the right idea, although there are no groovy tracks on that upload and HIC Systeemi really knows how to fuckin groove for real. I didn’t know about this LP until more recently. It was when I was raging with the Hardy Boys and Michael tossed Slut on, and my ears instantly perked up. A common theme in my life...

Moving onto another band who the Hardy Boys truly got me into is Rattus. Yeah of course I knew who Rattus was. They are legendary, but I never took the time to give them a good listen. When I met the Hardy Boys, they would never shut the fuck up about the time Rattus came to their town and blew the fuckin’ doors off at the skatepark. I wish I could’ve been there. I think Daniel was. The first Rattus I ever heard was Rajoitettu Ydinsota but the record that really got me hooked is Uskonto On Vaara. Holy shit, this record is insane. I remember being at the Hardy’s raging on yet another occasion and Michael tossed this one on. I was so drunk but vividly remember the punishing tone and relentless riffs. It was everything I wanted. When I woke up the next day, it became my mission to find a copy for myself. Not too long after, I was able to secure it from Joint Custody in DC!

While my favorite release is Uskonto On Vaara, what I really meant to write about is this Rattus compilation that was originally released as BCT#8. For fun I included a photo of the original BCT tape and catalog! Did you know Chris BCT was interviewed somewhat recently? I did not know until the other day. It’s a fun listen. You’ll hear some cool stories and info about BCT as a whole. The person interviewing him originally did the art for the Rattus BCT tape, too! This “re-issue” tape sounds pretty killer (yeah some tracks deep in the B side don’t have the greatest sound though), but it does sound much better than the link I shared. The label shifted the track list a bit from the original tapes to make the sides more even. He also told me they wanted to start with the “real” tracks rather than the “humour” tracks that BCT#8 originally began with. The link I included actually omits those joke tracks too. Regardless of the tape quality, the zine and poster it comes with are to-die-for. The zine is a reproduction of a 1985 issue done by Vote V. himself. Don’t sleep on this. I can’t wait to see what’s next on this label, everything so far has been so exciting!!! I hope there are still some copies left in stock of these titles when the Newsletter comes out. I will leave you now with a cool Rattus tape ad in the original BCT catalogue. Thanks for reading, ‘til next time...

Zulu: My People...Hold On & Our Day Will Come

Am I... talking about a new(ish) release? Something not on vinyl? Something you can BUY ON OUR WEBSITE? What the fuck? No bargain bin for me today!

I generally refrain from talking about music on here because, well, my coworkers do it much better than I ever could. I’ve made it super clear my interest in records lies in my hoarder tendencies and interest in historical physical objects. But, I don’t know man, I’ve been listening to these two Zulu tapes on repeat since we got them in when I first started.

I usually hate sample/talking heavy music but Zulu does it so well. It’s impactful and hits you right in the gut. These cassettes came out last year, while everyone was still focused on race in America (gotta love the 21st century short attention span…). There’s only so much I can say on content as a white girl, but the way the music and the speeches interact with each other evokes so much emotion I feel connected to something I know I’ll never experience or fully understand.

When the initial pre order and release of this cassette pair came out, y’all ATE IT UP but I still feel like more people should listen and buy this shit!! I’m a little contradictory because I don’t have a cassette player so I’m (im)patiently waiting for some sort of vinyl release. But any of y’all that collect cassettes and don’t have these two in your collection, YA FUCKIN UP!!


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