SSR Picks: November 4 2021

Every week when it’s time to put together my staff pick, I think about what media I have consumed lately. This week, there’s no question about what dominated my listening: the Bandsplain podcast on Spotify. I’m reluctant to recommend something only available on Spotify, but that’s where this podcast lives, and I’m sure a ton of you are already on Spotify anyway, so I might as well go with it. Hopefully this isn’t a slippery slope, because I don’t want to be recommending fucking Mypillow or the new Subaru Outback in my staff pick. Thankfully, the other sections of the newsletter remain focused on underground punk and hardcore.

Back to Bandsplain. I was hanging out at a friend’s house the other weekend and when the subject of podcasts came up, Rich told me about this one. (Yes, the same Rich who isn’t actually on the SSR staff so we can’t fault him for not having written a staff pick in a long time, but we still wish he would.) Rich, characteristically, insisted that the podcast sucked but he listened to it anyway, so I made a note to check it out. Once I did, it took over my car stereo.

We’ve been talking about doing a Sorry State podcast for years, but aside from having no time to put together a podcast, I think everyone on the staff has a different vision for what an SSR podcast would be. I always said my vision for a great music podcast would be an approximate ratio of 75% talk to 25% percent music. The majority of the running time would be spent introducing, discussing, and contextualizing whatever music we’re discussion, then you would play a a full song (or maybe a few if they’re short) so the listener could make up their own mind, or just have a deeper and more engaged listening experience thanks to their newfound knowledge. This is Bandsplain’s formula to a T.

In each episode, host Yasi Salek invites an expert on a particular band to take a walk through that group’s history and discography. The focus is on artists with a cult following, with a mix of dyed-in-the-wool indie artists (like the Cocteau Twins and the Misfits) and more widely known artists who have dedicated, cult-like followings (like Steely Dan and Metallica). The guests are a mix of music journalists and the kinds of people who might appear as talking heads in a music doc, and on the episodes I’ve listened to so far, they’re well chosen. Riki Rachtman is the guest for the Guns N Roses episode, and while he pushes hard against the speculation and interpretation that is music journalists’ stock in trade, his close relationship with the band through their formative and peak periods makes him a perfect guest (even if he is, as he’s always been, kind of annoying). Salek herself is also great. I know nothing about her background, but she’s knowledgeable (it helps that she’s the same as me, so we have similar points of reference), has great rapport with the guests, and regularly drops hilarious zingers (my favorite is when she calls Elizabeth Fraser’s vocal approach for Cocteau Twins “ethereal scatting”).

The interview segments are as well-researched and informative as you would expect from a good music podcast, but the magic happens when they play the full songs. After hearing the background information and analysis, I’m primed to hear how that plays out in the actual music, and I find myself listening to the tracks with an open and curious ear. While I often listen to an artist’s work after listening to a podcast or reading a book about them, the seamlessness of the Bandsplain listening experience allows me to hold the episode’s conversational threads in my brain while I’m listening. And one full song is the perfect amount to hear at a time. While most of the artists they examine on Bandsplain are “album artists,” a song on an album is like a paragraph in a long text: one complete, fleshed-out thought. Then it’s on to the next interview segment, where the conversation moves forward, requiring another example track a few minutes later. Just like I imagined for my own unmade podcast, the proportions are perfect.

So far I’ve listened to the episodes on Guns N Roses, Steely Dan, the Lemonheads, and the first half of the two-episode series on Metallica (part one covered up through the black album, and I’m not sure I can take going any further than that). I’ve enjoyed every episode, and my only gripe with Bandsplain (and it’s a minor one) is that they’re a little too free with the value judgments. While it doesn’t grate against my ear when they’re praising things, they’re sometimes dismissive when they don’t like something. They pretty much write off the early Taang!-era Lemonheads material, and Ben Deily’s songs in particular. I always liked Deily’s songs, and I’ve always thought his songs are stronger than Evan Dando’s on those early records.

All in all, though, Bandsplain is one of the best music podcasts I’ve heard in a while. I’m looking forward to making my way through the other episodes and seeing what artists they cover next.

What’s up Sorry Staters?

It’s weird that Halloween is already behind us. Oh well, I guess time to stop watching horror movies every day. Back to hardcore it is.

The other night, my buddy and I were talking about Regulations and how that shit is still totally killer. He then asked me if I had ever heard the Neu Ronz EP, to which I responded, “Nah, what’s that?” He described it to me as “Otto singing in a band with dudes from Nitad and Raped Teenagers.” I thought to myself, “Well, fuck… what’s not to like?” I listened to it all the way through, my brain literally exploded, and I have not stopped listening to it since. This Neu Ronz 7” came out in 2015 on Adult Crash, and somehow, even with me working at Sorry State and us regularly stocking releases from Adult Crash, I never heard it. I could kick myself. I’m such an idiot. I always tend to embellish, but this is one of the most killer hardcore records I’ve heard in forever. A Swedish supergroup masterwork. Each song is about a minute flat. You can totally tell there’s Raped Teenagers folks involved because all the riffs have that catchy and kinda wonky quirkiness about ‘em. But when you take that wonky, turbulent rage and top it with Otto from Regulations’ hooky vocals that we all know and love, you get a perfect and potent combination. Each song is a hit. It’s like a totally weird and leftfield take on hardcore, but also approachable ear candy at the same time. I love it. Do yourself a favor and play this over and over ‘til you puke just like me.

Now I just need to lock down a physical copy of this EP. Anyone got one they wanna part with in USA? Preferably on red vinyl. nerd emoji

That’s all I wanna talk about this week. Short and sweet. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,


Hey everyone, and thanks for clicking on our newsletter again this week. This week sees us stepping into the holiday season with Halloween in the books already. I hope you all had fun. For Worldy, the radio show I do on, we celebrated Dia De Los Muertos, the Mexican festival that celebrates those that have passed and also Diwali, the Indian festival of lights that actually begins this Thursday. If you enjoy Mexican garage and psych, sitar music and funky Bollywood soundtracks, head over to the archives and take a listen.

So, with Diwali in mind and talking of funky Bollywood soundtracks, I thought it very appropriate to mention a great one for my staff pick this week. I don’t have too many Indian records in my collection but I have some killer compilations and a fair few by Ravi and Ananda Shankar. However, this soundtrack is one of my favorites. It’s Shalimar by R.D. Burman and was originally released in 1978.

Rahul Dev Burman was arguably India’s top musical director and composed scores for over three hundred Bollywood movies during his thirty plus year career, beginning in the 1960s. The film centers around a jewel thief attempting to steal an expensive diamond known as Shalimar. Being a Bollywood film, it contains great music and the mandatory dance number. It’s also notable for featuring some non-Indian actors in their first and only Bollywood roles. Rex Harrison, Sylvia Miles and John Saxon being those names. It’s not an amazing film per se and didn’t do so well in the box office, but is now more remembered for the music.

For me, the money tracks are the title theme and a number called Baby Let’s Dance Together. Both have been good DJ tracks for me and other music evangelists and have appeared on several compilations. As original copies can be a little pricey and so too the reissues, grabbing a compilation such as Bollywood Funk is highly recommended and a cheaper way to get these cuts on vinyl. That collection is chock full of funky jams and not your typical album of sitar music that you’d hear at your local curry shop.

I just love the production on this record, and it reminds me in places of some of the great Italian heist caper movies from the 1970s. Buman is, in many ways, the Indian equivalent of Ennio Morricone. Elsewhere you have tracks like One Two Cha Cha Cha that mash up Indian sitar with a Latin rhythm over which vocalist Usha Uthup sings and raps in English and Hindi. It’s groovy baby. Burman really exercises his chops on this soundtrack. He was operating at the peak of his powers. There are lots of interesting musical moments and he employs all sorts of non-traditional Indian sounding instrumentation to great effect. There is an accordion on one track making it sound like a Columbian Cumbia. There’s some Tijuana horns to envy anything Herb Alpert was doing and being 1978, he had new keyboards available that give some moments a more modern sound. In addition to the great music and production, credit must be given to the vocalists used and the way that voices are employed. It’s the type of stuff that probably could only be heard on a Bollywood soundtrack. At one point in a song the vocal chorus sounds like a herd of horses whinnying. Honest. Great stuff.

I’ve thrown in some links there for you to check out and for lovers of Indian music and Bollywood film, I think you’ll find plenty to like here. Have a great Diwali if you are celebrating and I’ll see you all here next time.

Peace and love - Dom

Hello everyone, thank you for reading. I think today I will write about two bands. One release I have been anticipating a lot; the other one caught me by surprise. I first heard KOHTI TUHOA last year, six years after their initial release. Which sucks cos I could’ve been jamming this good ass shit years ago, but I am still happy to have it in my life now. The earlier releases I was not very familiar with, but today I have been spending time with their other records. Their debut EP is insane… it is much more on the raging side than the groovy side of things. With this band, they execute both elements with perfection and precision and I can’t choose which side of things I like more. We have the LVEUM pressing available on our webstore if you wanna grab it from us. LVEUM re-released this EP a bit after its initial release. Apparently, they remastered it and it has an extra track the OG does not. The shit rules so much, I love it. The production is excellent but still raw. Honestly, it reminds me of the way the first RIISTEYT 12” sounds, but the guitars don’t cut through quite as much as a nasty 80s recording. I’m not saying it’s bad; I think it’s excellent. I am just saying it’s almost impossible to emulate an 80s studio recording. Anyway, between this first EP and the one that was just released, they have four fucking records ahhh, too much for me to mention. And also I am not familiar with all their releases, unfortunately. I jamming their 2019 LP right now, Ihmisen Kasvot. The guitars are fucking blazing on this shit. We have a few copies available on our webstore still, I just picked one up for myself since my dumb ass slept on this one haha. Damn I also just scored copies of their other two records on Discogs for $5 each. I am set!!! Oh my fucking god I just heard a PAINAJAINEN song from one of the albums I just bought. I am obsessed with this band haha. So sick they cover this. I featured PAINAJAINEN somewhat recently on Hardcore Knockouts. Anyway, KOHTI TUHOA’s new EP Väkivaltaa is different from all the previous releases. The A-side has a drawn-out “atmospheric” vibe, while the B-side has hardcore tracks like I expected. While the A-side is a step in a new direction, I still enjoy it a lot. Going back through the band’s discography today, I realize they started out with much more raging songs with groovy elements peppered in, while the past few releases are definitely more heavy on the grooves. We got a stack of limited edition blue vinyl from LVEUM. Grab one while you can!!

I heard THE VARUKERS at a young age. They were painted on so many damn jackets. I remember wearing a VARUKERS t-shirt and my dad looked at me and said do you know what that is? I said uhh a band...? He then enlightened me with the definition of verrucas. They are warts on the bottom of your feet. Funny enough, I had verrucas for so many years in high school before I learned proper boot hygiene. My dad was always telling me shit I didn’t understand about the bands I was into, especially things that were specific to Great Britain; like what G.B.H. means, what bovver boys were, etc. Soon after I first heard VARUKERS, I picked up a 1980-2005 compilation CD. The thing about being young and checking out a CD like that is, I didn’t know what the fuck I was listening to. There are old tracks, new tracks, and re-recordings of old tracks. It’s a disaster... I don’t need to hear that shit. I just want the classic stuff. It’s funny to hear them re-record old songs too, cos they probably wanted to show how much better the songs sound now? I think they should’ve just left us with the ‘80s recordings, haha. Anyway, fast forward about ten years and my bandmate Alex (What up!) shows me this sick VARUKERS compilation from 1986, Prepare For The Attack. Now THIS is the kind of compilation I want to hear! They re-record songs and play ‘em with a different feel, and it is fucking killer. It also has some stuff that did not appear elsewhere, I believe. The sound quality is excellent, too. It’s a great record and has always been one of my favorites after I heard it. Last week, I saw we had copies of this compilation in stock at the shop! It had bad artwork, so I didn’t even notice it was a reissue of an old record at first haha. I just assumed it was some new VARUKERS shit with not very good art. I am a hater. Anyway, I checked it out, and it also has a fold-out poster of the bad artwork inside for you to hang on your wall. With the art being so bad I just assumed this was self-released by the band, but on closer inspection I don’t see band or label credits anywhere... and with another look at the disc I see the matrix is scrapped out haha, whoops I think this a bootleg. Regardless of the unofficial bad art, the sound is excellent. The original cover was really basic, and it didn’t come with an insert, so who cares about the re-worked cover. Check out the link I dropped above. If you dig the songs, I would pick up a copy and save yourself the money and hassle of getting an 80s import pressing. Alright that’s all for this week, thanks for reading everyone and thanks loads for the support!! Sorry State has been quite busy with mail order. ‘Til next time...

All the Streets are Silent

I had no idea what I was in for when my partner put on this documentary. While he had been anticipating the release for months, it fell off my radar almost as soon as we watched the trailer in June. When he put it on, we were both immediately captivated by the archival footage, the score, and the impressive list of interviewees; we were completely fixated on the TV during the entire run time. This is a raw and beautiful portrayal of skate and hip hop culture colliding in the late 80s through early 90s. At this point, so many of the things mentioned in All The Streets Are Silent are embedded in pop culture that I took their origins for granted and just saw things like Supreme as a cultural joke. Watching this collision happen on camera, through the lens of someone living it, was way more fascinating and inspiring than I ever thought it would be.

I’m not well versed in either of these worlds; skateboarding and hip hop were fleeting interests growing up. I still found this documentary relatable because, at its core, this is a story about a dedicated group of people making shit HAPPEN! The less relatable bit is, of course, shit blowing up to what it is today: billion dollar companies, name recognition all across the globe. I’m more used to things lurking in the underground, but respect where respect is due. I feel like in this day and age it’s really easy to take a small scene for granted. Subcultures are popping up and disappearing with micro trends, and it’s hard to see what is going to have a large cultural impact.

The real gem of this documentary is the camcorder footage. Most of it was taken by the film’s narrator, founder of Zoo York, Eli Gesner. I wasn’t even alive when most of it was filmed, but I feel like I could tell that it was an authentic portrayal of a time that’s long gone. The snippets of everyday life grounded these people that are now icons. The footage they got of so many iconic rappers hasn’t been seen before this documentary and I’m so glad it wasn’t lost to the ether of new technology. It’s the kind of stuff that the people filming it knew they were getting gold. The vibe was electric; you can feel it all these years later. I highly, highly recommend this doc if you even have the slightest interest in rap; the freestyle videos are worth the whole movie alone!

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