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Staff Picks: December 24 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Demigod: Unholy Domain 12” (2020, Raw Skull Recordz)

At the risk of name dropping, I’ll tell a quick story about how I learned about Demigod. The last time Impalers annihilated North Carolina I was talking with their vocalist Chris Ulsh after the show and fanboying out about how much I love all the music he makes, an annoyance that he endured with a classiness that no one should have a right to expect. That was shortly after the last Innumerable Forms LP, Punishment in Flesh (on which he played guitar), had come out and I was telling Chris how much I liked it, though I didn’t know much about the Finnish death metal that inspired their sound. Chris gave me a list of bands to check out, and the one he emphasized was Demigod. Sure enough, when I looked up their 1991 demo tape Unholy Domain, I found a nascent version of the massive, punishing, slow-to-mid-paced death groove that made me latch onto the Innumerable Forms record so hard.

A few months ago I found out the Dutch label Raw Skull Recordz was reissuing Unholy Domain on a 12”, so I placed my order and patiently waited for the record to arrive. It took three months, but it showed up this week. There’s nothing special about the packaging (though it is on a pretty color of vinyl) and the recording sounds about the same as the cassette rip I had been listening to on YouTube, but I’m still stoked to own this crusher on a permanent physical format. When I want to hear something really heavy, this is what I crave.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

As much as I try to say unique things other than “this is killer” when I write my staff pick, I feel a strange sense of déjà vu as I write this:

Sometimes, a record comes along that you didn’t know how badly you wanted until it emerges into existence. Now and then I experience listening to a new hardcore record that comes out with no warning and just love that it isn’t beholden to any noticeable trends in the genre. This new Misanthropic Minds 7” is one of those records I threw on and said to myself, “Yeah, this is the shit.”

From what I understand, Misanthropic Minds is a 2-person operation, but is largely a project by Dave Brown. Dave’s been in several great bands over the years, but most importantly to me, he’s the brain behind the Deaf Mutations 7”. In terms of vibe and presentation, Misanthropic Minds is not too far off from the look of that Deaf Mutations 7”. The other half of this new band is Cody Googoo, who I’m most familiar with from the band Alienation. When you combine the sounds of Deaf Mutation and Alienation, you can get a pretty good idea of what this new band sounds like.

Adjectives I would use to describe this MM EP are vicious, unrelenting, mean, and ugly. The guitar sounds is absolutely disgusting. It’s almost metallic sounding, but I don’t know if this was as much the intention as it was to just have the most blaring, in the red, nasty sound possible. There’s nothing warm about it; it sounds like a cranked solid state amp overloading. The vocals are also great, and unless I’m crazy, it is unmistakably Dave singing. His frantic, full-force red-face vocals are pretty recognizable to me from the Deaf Mutation record. But whereas Deaf Mutations has this raw, old school 4-track 80s hardcore style in the production and songwriting, to me Misanthropic Minds sounds like 90s Cleveland hardcore. Like moments don’t sound too far off from H100s. Even something about Dave’s vocal style has an Erba approach to me. Killer in my book.

Okay, now we gotta talk about the packaging: At first glance, I dig the simple and DIY photocopy aesthetic of the artwork. When the box of 7”s arrived in the mail, Daniel was in the store with me as I pulled a copy out of the box and discovered something kinda funny. I remarked on the cover to Daniel at first like, “Man, I hate that they made a pocket sleeve by holding it together using staples.” I thought this was just a cheap and quick way to hold the cover together. But NO -- on each copy, the vinyl is SEALED inside of the paper sleeve, so in order to get the record out and listen to it you have to remove the staples. I just laughed as me and Daniel were puzzled saying, “Why the hell would they do that?” to the sky. Kind of annoying, but totally hilarious. I can appreciate the sadism behind this idea.

I have a feeling Daniel will write about this record too, so forgive me if there’s just too much gushing. Maybe Misanthropic Minds won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and my endorsement won’t make anyone notice it. But true heads will get it.

As always, thanks for reading. Catch ya next week with our “Best of the Worst Year” write-ups.

-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hey there, folks. We all wish you a Happy whatever you celebrate and if nothing else, a happy day off work. As the newsletter is dropping on Christmas Eve, I couldn’t resist throwing in a Yule themed record for my pick this week. No groaning in the back there. Contrary to general opinion, there are some good Christmas records out there. You must have found yourself tapping your feet or humming along to a Crimbo tune at least once in your life, surely? Perhaps it’s me being British, but growing up the Christmas holidays were always a big deal. Special food, time off school or work, good stuff on the telly, lots of parties and getting sloshed with a soundtrack of Christmas music, old and new.

Pretty much any artist, group or performer you can think of has put out a Christmas record or participated in one. There were the straight and traditional covers of old hymns and such, and then there were the original songs with a holiday theme. I enjoy when an artist or group I like can tackle a Christmas tune and still keep their style and sound and make it cool. There are tons of examples of Christmas records that don’t suck. Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard. Fairytale Of New York from The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl. The Phil Spector produced A Christmas Gift For You LP. The James Brown A Soulful Christmas LP. To name just a few. The one I would like to make you aware of though is Peace by Rotary Connection on Cadet Concept from 1968.

I rave about Rotary Connection to anyone who hasn’t heard them and recommend picking up any of their records. I know I’ve spoken about them before in these pages but very quickly, they were a mixed raced psychedelic soul group on the Chess Records imprint Cadet Concept. In their ranks were future star Minnie Riperton of Loving You fame. Their producer Charles Stepney was a genius and responsible for arranging and producing a ton of great records. If you see his name on the credits of an album, it’s worth checking out.

Peace was the group’s third album and second from 1968. It peaked at number 24 with the message of peace and love clearly finding a receptive audience amongst the younger generation and all those opposed to the Vietnam War. The cover sort of tells you that this might not be your typical Christmas album with a hippie Santa smoking something from his pipe and the band members as dolls surrounding him. On the back the band appears as dolls sitting on a mantelpiece with moccasins hanging instead of stockings, filled with love beads, incense and other hippie treats. Then to the record itself and the music. I am almost lost for words to describe how this record travels from straight and normal territory to bonkers acid fried Funkadelic land so effortlessly. If you ever wanted to hear what the band that backed Muddy Waters on his Electric Mud album sounded like backing Santa on acid, then this is it. I don’t think there are many other Christmas records that you can call challenging, but there is a moment at the end of song If Peace Was All We Had where the orchestra builds into a crescendo that if played at volume could qualify as that. That track ends abruptly and the final tune Silent Night Chant kicks in and gets down to a funky fuzz guitar groove that doesn’t let up. Psychedelic soul at its finest. Elsewhere on the album there are bursts of the aforementioned fuzz-acid guitar work and beats that would appeal to fans of the David Axelrod albums mixed in with the more traditional readings of one or two tunes. That being said, even on those tunes the production quality is first rate throughout, which was to be expected from Mr. Stepney. There are interesting vocal chants and arrangements and clever use of instrumentation and other sounds. The quality of production has ensured the record’s longevity and makes repeated listening rewarding. The appeal is across the board. You could play it whilst decorating the tree with the family or have it going whilst sampling the eggnog with your hip friends.

I like the trip you take from listening. Initially everything sounds normal but then slowly on the second track Silent Night (the first of three versions) the sound builds with Axelrod style beats and the guitar player being told to give it some. Minnie Riperton’s vocals are terrific here. As they are on the next track, Christmas Love, a soulful pop track which also has more fuzz guitar. The tempo and volume continue to climb with fourth track Last Call For Peace, this time with one guy taking on vocal duties. Shopping Bag Menagerie takes the foot off the gas and goes into thoughtful ballad territory and might be the only dud on the record, although if you can appreciate an early Bee Gees type vibe you might like it. The second take on Silent Night is instrumental and features some nice one-note droning guitar work. By the time the second side has finished with the aforementioned Parliament/Funkadelic take on the final of the three versions of Silent Night you know that you have gone on a ride and experienced something quite different but yet very comforting and normal all at the same time.

A top listen for the holidays, I guarantee it. Here’s a link for you to check it out the dope track Silent Night Chant, I hope you enjoy it and want to check out the full album.

https://youtu.be/oTePkgCGjZc

Until next time, eat, drink and be merry and play music loud. Cheers-Dom

Staff Picks: Usman

I was looking for a Prince LP in the back for a customer earlier and saw this soon-to-be-hitting-the-floor 12” back there. This 12" is insane, and this band is fucking insane. Sometimes when a band ages, they start to suck. The riffs get boring or the drummer is half-assed. That is not the case here. That “aging” refined the band in the finest of ways, like a barrel-aged whiskey that some asshole would spend hundreds of dollars on. The difference here is someone at the store priced this LP at $10, which I think is a STEAL for how great this record is. Especially for this being an import. I was tempted to grab it just to give to a friend but lucky you - you can come into the shop and make this copy yer own!

This might sound like a strange comparison to someone who knows the bands well, but this record reminds me of Herätys with the frantic vocals cramming more syllables than seemingly possible over ripping Discharge drumming. The riffing is nothing like Herätys though, the drumming and vocals are just similar. Herätys is one of my favorite “modern” bands... if you don’t know them, listen to them ASAP and get yer mind blown. Any record of theirs will do; they are all amazing… ripping HC with the most tasteful catchiness on planet Earth. Herätys is from Sweden but they sing in Finnish. Gouka also has a slight Suomi HC vibe with their grooving mid tempo songs. The drummer is so good; they play some rhythms I can’t wrap my head around, and playing as fast as they do it sounds insane. But it’s not some free-jazz HC nonsense shit. It’s top-shelf, non-stop maniac hardcore. Well deserved in every single record collection. Alright, thanks for taking the time to read this, ‘til next time...

Staff Picks: Rachel

THE ANXIETY JUNKIES- GENTRIFIED HOMICIDE

I have to start this off with an apology. I promised my friend Alex I wouldn’t write about his college band. But I’m moving next week and my record player and records are packed up… I don’t have many CDs so it was slim pickings. I HAD to write about this one.

I went to college with Alex and Maryssa of Mutant Strain and while it was a weird time for all of us, some of my favorite memories ever are Anxiety Junkies house shows. I met Alex my sophomore year and was immediately taken aback and impressed with his work ethic and talent. Full time art school is no fucking joke and he somehow could be in multiple bands, book shows, and begrudgingly use his house as a venue while still producing awesome work for class. He doesn’t half ass anything, so when his (decidedly not punk) friends wanted to be in a punk band, he went all in. The Anxiety Junkies were born.

We talked a few weeks ago and for some reason Alex isn’t stoked that this release is still on Bandcamp, available to listen but COME ONNNNN. For a college band practicing in between classes and film projects, it’s pretty damn fun. I could be biased because every single song gives me a visceral memory of sweaty living rooms, accidental concussions, and some of the most fun I’ve ever had at any shows, in a house or venue.

This CD represents more than the Anxiety Junkies; we got to live in Savannah during a special time. Thanks to people like Alex and everyone that ran the tiny label Bomb Shelter Records those four years in college, we got to create a thriving local music scene. There was more camaraderie than competition and everyone rallied around any local project, sometimes to a fault.

Now down to the actual music… Gentrified Homicide is really just Alex showing how good he is at drumming. I love all the other members- they’re all talented- but Alex’s drumming just takes over. It’s the first thing I noticed during my re-listen (first time in literal years, by the way). I’m not sure I can separate my memories from the actual music, but the singer Tyler was one of the best front men and you can feel his energy in these recordings. This CD is far from perfect or monumental, but imagine it amplified times like 100 when they played live. It was fucking electric and I’ll always associate this CD with that.


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