Click here to read about the covid-19 policies for our Raleigh shop.

SSR Picks: May 13 2021

Daniel

Il Balletto Di Bronzo: Ys (Italy, 1972)

After a few years of searching I nabbed a copy of this album, so why not brag about it in my staff pick?

Il Balletto Di Bronzo were from Naples, Italy and were around from 1969 until 1973. They released their first album, Sirio 2222, in 1970, and while I haven’t heard that record, my research tells me it’s more in the psychedelic / blues rock vein than their follow-up album Ys, which critics regard as their masterpiece.

Il Balletto Di Bronzo tend to be classified as an Italian prog band, and I’ll tell you right off the bat that’s a genre I know nothing about. From what I’ve read, the Italian prog sound is marked by pastoral motifs, lots of flute, and acoustic guitars, which sounds of a piece with the British prog groups who were working around the same time. Ys, however, doesn’t sound pastoral to me at all. It is a loud, rambunctious, beast of an album, more in line with the side of prog that bleeds into proto-metal: think early King Crimson or post-Syd Pink Floyd’s heaviest moments. While these references are more obscure, Ys also reminds me a lot of Flower Travelin’ Band’s great Satori album and Amon Düül II’s classic Yeti, though the compositions here are even wilder and more complex than either of those.

I wish I could tell you more aboutYs, but it’s something you really need to listen to in order to appreciate. It’s not for everyone; the layered keyboards, high-pitched vocals, and dense, classically inspired rhythms are the opposite of the punk rock most of you came here looking for. However, there’s always a place in my collection for records that sound like nothing else, and Ys fits that bill.

Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

The other night, I went on a beer-fueled record spinning marathon, as I often tend to do. There are many punk records that I’ve had in my collection since I was a teenager, but I don’t often revisit. On the other hand, there are certain records that I’ve had for a long time and have remained in constant rotation. One band that I always come back to, and that remains just as killer as when I first heard them, is Skitkids.

I honestly can’t remember when I first heard Skitkids. I think when I first started learning about the band, it was while they were still active. I’m pretty sure I bought their last record, Besöket Vid Krubban, around when it first came out. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see them. I’m pretty sure they toured USA at least once. I always associate my discovery of Skitkids with my venture into expanding my horizons and learning about more international hardcore in general. I don’t know if any of y’all reading this will understand where I’m coming from, but the timeline of my mind routinely being blown by new and exciting bands is not so segmented. Like, it’s not like I was singularly into American hardcore for a while, and then I moved onto the next thing. The influx of constant exposure in my late adolescence was just like an uninterrupted wave of energy, and really, it all kind of blurs together. Not to say I’ve heard everything there is to hear already, but I do sometimes miss that feeling of being overwhelmed by all the new stuff I was hearing on a regular basis.

Anyway, back to Skitkids. I think I’ve listened to every single one of their records a few times over the last week or so. (Except for the 12” version of their first tape, Skitfucked By The State, which somehow has still eluded me.) I remember sending a photo to my buddy Chris of a bunch of records I’d been listening to, and in reference to Usman and myself, he just responded: “Damn, y’all some Skitkids lovin’ mofos.” And rightfully so! I remember getting exposed to many other early Swedish hardcore on the crustier end of the spectrum around the same time. But while you can sense some dirt and crustiness lurking beneath the surface, Skitkids had a different vibe to me when I first blasted Onna For Pleasure at maximum volume. It’s like taking the most raging, gnarly aspects of Swedish hardcore, but mixed with Motörhead. It’s perfect. Even having said that, I don’t want that description to mis-categorize the way the band sounds. Skitkids doesn’t read as a punk-metal band like Inepsy or something. They still manage to stray from the herd, coming across as pure fucking hardcore. I wish I had a way to articulate this better, but what Skitkids has going for them is just HUGE rocked-out riffs. Like, for days. It’s insane. Maybe this is kind of dorky to say about a band that was still current when I was listening them, but I remember the guitar playing being hugely influential on me. I wanted my bands to have riffs that were that just as badass and memorable. And what’s interesting, is I feel like I’ve noticed people lump Skitkids in with other Swedish hardcore bands and tag them with the “D-beat” moniker, which to me is not only totally inaccurate, but also pretty diminishing. Skitkids are a unique and raging beast. I posted about them on social media the other night and a lot of the homies messaged me and were still showing them some serious love. Still killer, and always will be.

That’s all I got. Thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,

-Jeff

Dominic

Greetings all. I hope you had a good week. This one began for me with getting my second Covid-19 vaccination and like a lot of folks I felt some aftereffects. I was pretty out of it Tuesday and still feeling achy yesterday. As a result, I am not very prepared with my staff pick for this weeks’ newsletter. This one will be short and sweet as I don’t have too much time to get into too many details.

I thought I would choose a record that I just received in the mail. It’s been on my want list for a while and I had always thought I would find a copy one day in the wild but being as it was released in 1992 and only on vinyl in the UK and Europe, Brazil and South Korea, it hasn’t been that easy. Flush with stimulus money, I decided to search for a copy in Europe and to hell with the shipping costs. That transaction ended up being more complicated than it needed to be – record graded NM/NM and actually more like VG/VG. The dealer and I exchanged our thoughts, and the matter was resolved. I probably will upgrade to a better copy if one comes by but until then I can make do. It was disappointing, however, opening the box and not finding a beautiful copy. We are very much aware of this at Sorry State and try to ensure all our dispatched orders are as they should be and will always make right any mistakes that might happen. So do order with confidence. In fairness to my guy, he did provide a full refund which I wasn’t asking for or expecting, so kudos to him for the customer service.

The record I am talking about is Homebrew from Neneh Cherry, released in 1992 on Circa, a Virgin label. This was her second solo LP, her breakthrough coming a few years earlier with the big hit being Buffalo Stance. Cherry was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and an African musician father from Sierra Leone who was in Stockholm studying engineering. Her parents separated early, and her mother married jazz musician Don Cherry who raised her and from whom she took her name. Career wise, Cherry began in London providing vocals for among others, The Slits and Rip Rig + Panic and New Age Steppers. She also ingratiated herself into the Bristol scene, making connections with Massive Attack with whom she worked and apparently helped bankroll. The Bristol connects featured on Homebrew with some production credits going to Geoff Barrow of Portishead. Whereas debut album Raw Like Sushi from 1989 sold well and produced hits, Homebrew was not as commercially successful. That seems a little odd when you look at it. The record features guest vocals from Guru of Gang Starr and Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who were both big names at the time. The album also featured a song, Move With Me, that was in the film Until The End Of The World. That is a pretty interesting movie if you are not aware. Directed by Wim Wenders, it is a long sci-fi type film that wasn’t that well received at the time but did get better reassessments years later. The soundtrack features not only Neneh Cherry but a whole host of other top names. Lou Reed, Can, Talking Heads, Nick Cave, R.E.M. Patti Smith, Depeche Mode and U2 who provided the title song. It’s a good collection of songs and the majority of them were all unique to this film or the versions used were different to other released versions. In the director’s cut of the film, which is over four hours, plenty of other artists are used that didn’t make it to the released soundtrack. I recommend checking out the film if you get an opportunity and the time.

As an artist, Cherry has tried to resist being pigeonholed but on Homebrew you could say that the style is Trip-Hop with strays into Jazz and Funk territory. One tune called Buddy X ended up getting a remix that featured Notorious B.I.G. and fans of his seek out this particular 12” claiming it to be one of his rarest appearances. I’m not so sure about that but it is a dope single and I’m glad to have a copy.

After all these years listening to my CD copy of the album, it has been great to finally own an LP version. I would say it is my favorite album of hers although I am a fan of her other work and to my ears listening again recently, I would say it has held up pretty well. It’s certainly her most accessible album and should appeal to young and old listeners alike. I’ll leave you with links to a couple of cuts and hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.

The rest of the album is well worth listening to and I encourage you to do so if you liked these two songs. That’s my lot for this week. See you next time. Peace and love – Dom.

Usman

Yo what up,

Once again, I’m not really writing about a specific record. Or this time a specific band even, so don’t bother reading if you don’t wanna read me blabbing with not much of a foundation.

I like 90s shit a lot. There are some bands I like that started in the 80s and kept it up through the decades, but not a lot come to mind. There are plenty of killer bands who started in the 90s, who took clear influences from great bands from the decade before. And then there were a lot of bands who sucked in the 90s too, haha. In the 80s it’s like damn near every band rips, but when the 90s came along there is a lot of shit to wade through to find the gems. When I say there was a lot of bands who sucked, I do legit mean I think some bands straight up sucked but mostly I mean there were a lot of bands who were expanding/experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what is considered “punk.” That’s cool; I respect that. I still don’t want to watch or hear the shit, though. No Security was a fucking killer band. The started in the mid 80s (in Sweden) and were active into the mid 90s. They put out only killer records, and I think the records just got better and fucking better as time went on. Totalitär is a band just like that too, of course.

I’ve been spending a lot of time watching live videos of bands. Maybe I said that some Staff Picks ago? I can’t remember. I guess I’m just missing gigs a lot. Scarecrow got offered a few outdoor gigs. I guess we will see what happens. Outside seems safe, but I’m still apprehensive about the idea. Haha anyway, this video is absolutely killer and I watch it frequently. Over the weekend I poked around that account and they have some fucking killer videos!! That No Security link I dropped has a lot of views, but there are some other vids that only a few hundred views that are really cool to see like this 16 B.U.H. video and fuckin especially this D.T.A.L. video! You can’t watch those videos on yer phone though; they will sound like complete shit. The next stuff I wanted to mention has great sound though.

S.O.D. was another killer Swedish band. Both their EPs are full-throttle killer fuckin hardcore. I always thought it was interesting the second EP is just recordings from the same session as the first EP that had not been released. Which is not out of the ordinary to do, but they decided to release in 1990 which is what I found interesting. In 1990 I’m pretty sure S.O.D. was not active, but I could be wrong. The vocalist, Göran, had moved to South Africa and started a band called Surf or Die. I know he was definitely back in Sweden by the 90s cos this account has several videos of them tearin’ it the fuck up, this one is my favorite. It’s important to note that I think the only OG member from the initial line-up in these vids is the vocalist, Göran. I could be mistaken, though. I do know the drummer in those vids is the one who uploaded all this shit though! Also, here is an autographed picture of me being a total nerd holding my S.O.D. 7"s! Hoehnie from HöhNIE Records was super cool and hooked me up with the autograph cos he and Göran are close friends.

Another killer Swedish band who I love from the 80s that continued on (well past the 90s) is Asocial. Their first EP was released in 1984, and later repressed in 1992. I remember when I learned it was repressed in the 90s I was surprised haha but then I found this fucking sick video of them playing all the 80s hit tracks, but the gig is from 1997. It makes me wonder if they were active that whole time and I just had no idea, and that’s why they repressed the EP 8 years later. Man, that gig in the video was with Extreme Noise Terror and S.O.D. What a fuckin line-up! I was watching a video of ENT playing in the 90s over the weekend. Unfortunately I couldn’t find it again today! Hearing them playing all the early songs, but with even more brutality and tightness, was fucking insane. They played shit off Phonophobia too, which I really enjoy. They played a song or two from Damage 381, which is when I trail off on the band’s timeline... the 00s ENT shit sucks, eh I don’t know maybe... I remember jamming Law of Retaliation a lot when it came out haha.

Alright back to work. I hope I have left you with something of interest. Poke around that account’s videos, because there are a ton of cool bands I didn’t mention. Oh, I guess I never mentioned why I used that Kuro EP as my Staff Pic. This is another example of an 80s band who continued to put out killer shit in the 90s (haha even though this EP only has 2 studio tracks.) A note about 90s Kuro though; the only OG member was the guitarist. I think the vocalist may have passed away by that point? But I am not sure. I do know that the guitarist and vocalist both have since passed away. Ah, one more thing... if you happen to have the 1992 pressing of the first Asocial EP, would you please email me so we can compare the covers??? haha, my email is in.decay@yahoo.com. Alright, that’s it for real now. Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time...

Rich

Not much to say this week other than:

  1. Holy shit there’s an OFFICIAL Screamers record?!
  2. Daaang, these first five Pat Garrett demos sound GREAT. I’ve been bumping bootlegs of this stuff for years, but Superior Viaduct has it sounding markedly better than ever before. That crispness! That panning! I’m verklempt!
  3. Y’all ever bumped the No Dogs In Space podcast? They have a two-part series documenting the history of the Screamers AND followup interviews with drummer KK Barrett and late-era keyboardist Jeff McGregor. It’s very well-researched and very un-snooty. Highly recommended.
  4. Booya.

Leave a comment