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Staff Picks: August 20, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Pinocchio: S/T 7” (Toxic State; 2019)

I usually dig deeper into the past for my staff picks, but this week I’ve reawakened to this brilliance of this 2019 release from New York’s Pinocchio. Last weekend I was organizing records, moving some stuff from my “new arrivals” pile to the main, alphabetized part of my collection and (inspired by a recent segment on the Garbage in My Heart podcast) I gave a few of them one final spin before they went into the stacks.

When I spun Pinocchio’s 7”, though, I couldn’t bear to bring it to the back bedroom where most of my 7”s live. In fact, a few hours after I listened to it, my partner Jet asked if we could listen to it again, and since then I’ve continued to play it almost every day. This record is so fucking great. It has huge hooks that made it stick out right away (particularly the vocal hooks, which remind me of Kate Bush in how unintuitive yet catchy they are), but the more I listen, the more I hear how densely layered this record is. In particular, there are so many subtle yet memorable bits of noise guitar that buzz around the lower reaches of the mix, rewarding the listener who pays close attention. Despite having similar titles, every one of the eight tracks is its own world, and the record—only a 7”—is more ambitious and more realized that 99% of the LPs I hear.

I haven’t heard any rumblings about new music from Pinocchio, but I hope this isn’t the last we hear from them. If they put out another record half as good as this one, they might force me to call them my favorite band.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Humant Blod: Flykten Från Verkligheten 7” (Desolate Records / Havoc Records)

So, I feel like me writing about this record is sort of unavoidable, but I thought I’d provide a little story for emphasis:

I remember when I first heard inklings of this project being in the works. Long before any of the music was posted publicly, I thought to myself, “Damn, people from Extended Hell with Poffen from Totalitär on vocals? Well yeah, that’ll be killer.” The confluence of the strings from one of the most ripping current bands, another Swedish ripper on 2nd guitar, Joe B’s crushing and ripping fast drumming, and then to top it off: the voice of one of my favorite bands… Sounded like a recipe for an immediate hit. Having been friendly with the New York-based portion of this collaboration, when we chatted about it I have to admit that I was simultaneously beyond stoked for them and insanely jealous.

As I waited patiently for this band’s record to materialize, I remember the first time I got a preview. Joe B was playing drums in another band called Fairytale that played a gig back in January at The Bunker, which is where Usman and I both live. He was gracious enough to play us an early mix of what was to become Humant Blod. More-so than I remember the songs, Usman had it cranked on the speakers in his room and I just remember being overwhelmed by how raging and it powerful it sounded. It was kind of a blur, and I couldn’t wait until I was able to revisit the record and let it sink in properly. Then, of course Covid happened, but Usman and I would keep in touch with Mike and Jesse from EH from time to time. Jesse I would exchange recording projects we were working on like his solo rager Final War, and I’d send him stuff that Usman and I were recording at our house. Then one day, he sent me an ominous youtube link. It was the whole Humant Blod 7”. I probably listened to it like 20 times that night.

So all of this biographical rambling is to say that this EP has been highly anticipated by myself and a lot of other HCPMFs in our little camp. Now, as I’m writing this and holding my copy, it feels fun to reflect on this absolute crusher materializing out of the ether. I swear… dropping the needle on the record and staring at the sleeve, the sort of stark, nondescript cover art morphs into the most terrifying images emerging from the static. Maybe these visions are heightened due to the amount of beer that is generally consumed during my typical nights blasting hardcore records. Suffice it so say: this record rules.

Thanks for reading,
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

Greetings one and all. I hope you are managing to enjoy your summer?

The other day Facebook reminded me of an event that I did several years ago by posting the flyer that I used. It was a reggae night and I used the cover of the record that I am picking this week as the flyer art.
 
Dr. Alimantado: Best Dressed Chicken In Town. Greensleeves, 1978.
 
Few records have such a striking cover as this one and even fewer deliver on the promise that the cover makes. Take a good look at it. Wouldn’t you be at least curious if you saw this in a record store? I know I was back in the late 80’s when I first saw it and bought my copy. So, what’s the deal?

Released in 1978 on the Greensleeves label, this was actually the first release for the label that came to be a powerhouse, alongside Trojan, for the release of Jamaican reggae outside of Jamaica. Although not an album proper, it was a collection of sides recorded during the mid-seventies and only released in Jamaica, it might well be one of the best 70’s reggae albums all the same. Dr. Alimantado, Winston Thompson to his Mum, was a “toaster” or D.J. that rode the rhythms of previously recorded tunes in the style that was being popularized in Jamaica during the early 70’s, a style that ex-pat Jamaicans brought to the US and which helped to birth hip-hop later in the decade. On these various sides, he used tunes that by their original artists reads like a who’s who of reggae music at the time. Artist such as Horace Andy, John Holt and Gregory Isaacs to name three. He also utilized some of the hottest studios to record at, Black Ark, King Tubby’s, Channel One and Randy’s, who at the time were cranking out prime reggae music around the clock. Although he mostly self-produced these sides there is no doubt that the engineering talents of Lee Perry, King Tubby and Scientist contributed greatly to the quality of the end product. They all share credits on the album.

On top of these prime rhythms and recognizable original vocals, Alimantado would inject his views on politics and other social issues of the day but also keeping a level of humour in the proceedings and somehow not getting too heavy and keeping the good vibe going. In the UK, the West Indian community and homegrown punks alike took to him immediately. John Lydon played his music and told people about him and The Clash even mentioned him in the song Rudy Can’t Fail. Don Letts, legendary author, film maker and historian was also a big fan and has recommended the album in interviews and to friends. Rightly so, because whether an actual “album” or not, this is certainly up there with other era classics like Super Ape from Lee Perry or African Anthem from Mikey Dread or Screaming Target from Big Youth.

There are a few different vinyl pressings out there and also a nice anniversary CD collection that adds some extra tracks and does a pretty good job on the remastering. I’ll leave you with a link to a couple of cuts and for your viewing pleasure the flyer from that party, a night that seems from a different lifetime now. Hopefully we will be able to gather in places and listen to good music played loud over a nice sound system again soon. Until then, stay safe and enjoy music. See you next week.



Staff Picks: Usman

La Familia Releases is re-issuing all three LPs by Disfear chronologically! I have been anticipating this one specifically for sometime!! They did A Brutal Sight of War first, and following this LP will be Everyday Slaughter. Sorry State just has a cassette version of Soul Scars from Mundo En Kaos Records in stock but hopefully we will stock the actual LP version when we get copies of Give Notice of Nightmare... 

This cassette version is a beautiful replication of the LP onto a j-card layout. The 4-panel cover is high-gloss, double-sided, and features all original photos, lyrics, and information from the original release. It's cool they chose the color blue for the tape itself cos the limited edition version of Soul Scars was originally on blue vinyl. Disfear originally began as Anti-Bofors in 1989, Sweden. They released one EP in 1991. Within a year of the EP's release they had changed their name to Disfear and recorded for another self-titled EP. The line-up was the same as Anti-Bofors except they had changed vocalists. In my opinion, this change made the band's sound come together in the fiercest of ways. Although the band maintained a somewhat steady line-up, the only consistent members through its lifetime were the guitarist and bassist, Björn Pettersson and Henrik Frykman (R.I.P.) After Everyday Slaughter, the 1997 LP, I stop listening to the band. They had changed vocalists after that, and the sound had developed into less käng and more "stadium crust" to me.

When it comes to Disfear, or the many "dis" bands, I don't really have high expectations. If you can play a solid d-beat and the riffs are not complete shit, I will always listen. I didn't listen to 90's "dis" bands for a long time; the names were cheesy and sometimes the content just way too on the nose, in a humorous way. Four Minutes Passed Midnight by Discard (Sweden) was the album the opened the doors for me. I'll write about Discard some other time, but they started in the 80's playing mängel, and they continued into the 90's playing the same style but a bit more polished. Hearing this evolution made something click in my head, and down the hole I went into 90's dis-bands. Yes, I guess you can call Disfear a dis-band. But they do not follow the typical "dis" formula in my opinion. Or maybe they're just too good for me to group them with other dis-bands, haha. Their first EP is absolutely disgusting. It is played in the traditional käng style, but it has this extra punishing edge similar to Bombanfall. Following the self-titled EP they released A Brutal Sight of War. While I enjoy this EP very much, the sound was not as good in my opinion as the first. The seemed to follow a bit more of a "dis-band" formula on this recording, the songs weren't as ripping to me but nonetheless it is certainly worth a listen! (I mention this as an LP at the beginning of my writing; it was originally released as a CD with bonus tracks of the first EP. It was re-issued as a 7" with the same title a few years later, but not with the bonus tracks of the first EP. The La Familia pressing was an LP with both EPs, just like the first CD pressing.)

After A Brutal Sight of War, Disfear had changed drummers and put out my absolute favorite release of theirs Soul Scars. This record is everything I want on a record. It's brutal but ripping riffs, with some perfectly executed mid-tempo jams, and the lyrical content is political with a few quite relatable "personal" songs. Usually I dislike when vocalists write personal or abstract lyrics, cos you could use this platform to spread important information or write protest songs. The drummer on this record is Jallo Lehto, from No Security/Totalitär, maybe that's why I like it so much.. Those are some of my favorite bands, and Jallo is a huge inspiration to me when it comes to drumming. After this LP they would put out Everyday Slaughter with a new drummer, Robin (he plays in Svaveldioxid now and is very friendly guy!) The sound had developed even more on this LP, sounding the most metallic so far. I think the main thing about this band is the quality and sound of the recordings. Specifically to Soul Scars, it sounds like everything is pushed to the max, but it's all still so clear. You can vividly hear everything is blasting into your head - it sounds like the end of the world and you can't escape. Tomas Skogsberg recorded most of their material (at least all the records I have.) If you don't know the name, he is a legendary Swedish sound engineer who recorded countless death metal bands. I think this band had become popular in the metal scene because of this, and gained quite a bit of notoriety. Unfortunately, I think that still a lot of people avoid Disfear due to the "dis-band" stigma or simply just don't know how damn good the early stuff was. Check 'em out! So stoked that La Familia is doing a Disfear series.

OH SHIT ITS JEFFS BIRTHDAY!!! Someone sell this man a Portland Edition of Kings of Punk!


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