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Staff Picks: November 14, 2019

Staff Picks: Daniel

Even though I pick the Record of the Week each week and write all the descriptions for the featured release roundup, I got jealous of the rest of the staff getting to highlight their own personal picks. So, I’ve decided that it’s not inappropriate for me—besides writing the aforementioned sections of the site—to throw in a staff pick every once in a while. While Sorry State’s Record of the Week is always a record that I love, those picks are generally records I know a big chunk of SSR’s audience will enjoy. However, I spend a good chunk of my listening time exploring music outside SSR’s focus, and I’m hoping I can use my staff picks to highlight some off the beaten path gems I think are worth hearing.

My inaugural staff pick is the new compilation Strain Crack & Break: Music from the Nurse with Wound List Volume 1 on Finder’s Keepers Records. I discovered the Nurse with Wound list years ago while scouring the internet for the weirdest, wildest music I could find. If you aren’t familiar with the NWW list, here’s a quick capsule history: before they started the pioneering noise / industrial / musique concrete / etc. group Nurse with Wound, the primary members (Steven Stapleton, Heman Pathak, and John Fothergill) were avid record collectors who traveled across Europe searching out the most exotic and out-there sounds that they could find. When they started their own group, they paid tribute to their favorite finds on the back cover of their debut LP, which offered a list of artists whose music they admired. There were a few well-known groups like the Plastic Ono Band and Wire, but most of the artists were very obscure. There was Krautrock, musique concrete, library music, psychedelic music, prog, electronic music… anything weird and off the beaten path. Since the LP's release, the list has become a Rosetta Stone for diggers, collectors, and plain old freaks alike.

Back to Strain Crack & Break. This compilation series has the very ambitious goal of compiling one track from every single artist on the NWW list. Whether and how they will perform that feat of licensing magic is a mystery, but even if this first volume is all we ever see, it’s already an embarrassment of riches. Focusing on artists from France, Volume 1 features a few artists I was vaguely familiar with—including Igor Wakhévitch, Jacques Thollot, and Etron Fou Leloublan—but the vast majority was new to me, and there’s not a weak or skippable track in the lot. Further, the inside gatefold features detailed liner notes giving background information on each track and drawing connections and comparisons across the history of freaky, obscure music. I’m sure some know-it-alls will complain that this compilation ruins the enigmatic mystery of the NWW list, but as someone who just wants to hear the music, I couldn’t be happier that Finder’s Keepers has made it so easy for me. 

Also, FK should ask Discogs to pitch in some funds for the next volume, because after listening to this one my want list swelled considerably.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Extended Hell: Mortal Wound 12” - So the tracks from this record had been made public for online listening for a little while now, but now we’ve finally got physical copies of the debut full-length slab from Extended Hell at the shop. Man, what a crusher. This record is an unrelenting barrage of insane riffs.  It’s clearly Scandinavian punk-influenced, but not clearly ripping anyone either. This shit is just all power, plus a couple weird moments with saxophone? I can excuse that though :stuck_out_tongue: This record feels really ambitious somehow, but I’m sure that making music this destructive comes naturally to these punkers. After listening to this record, you will likely sustain bruises. And you’ll like it.

Staff Picks: Eric

Disclose: Nightmare Or Reality 12"  -  It might be hard to believe seeing as I am allergic to the nickel, aluminum and other crappy metals in studs... so I have never really been able to be the spikey that I've always wanted to be (not to mention that I love blue jeans and flannels...) but I fuckin' love DISCLOSE! It is truly the anthem of the end of the world, and they have no bad songs. Hell, just talkin' about it makes me wanna spin it RIGHT NOW.

Extended Hell: Mortal Wound 12"  -  I'm pretty I mentioned a month or two ago how excited I was to finally get my hands on the US press of this record! Truly a hardcore punk masterpiece, perfectly executed with precision and ferocity. Definitely a top 5 for me this year.

Staff Picks: Dominic

Delta 5: Singles & Sessions 1979-1981 – Kill Rock Stars
One would hope that any fan of great pop music and post-punk sounds has at least heard Delta 5 or may have one or two of their singles. If not the good folk at KRS have pressed on vinyl a nice little package for you that combines their great first three singles for Rough Trade with some live and BBC sessions.  

Something was definitely in the water in Leeds during this time as there was quite a thriving scene going on. Another band that mined the same funk-punk sound was Gang Of Four who you should be well aware of. If you like GOF’s album Entertainment! then you will certainly enjoy Delta 5. Both bands combined politics with a danceable sound and in many ways mirrored the scene going on in New York at places like Danceteria and the bands on 99 Records such as Bush Tetras. In fact, the Bush Tetras single “Too many creeps” sits perfectly with Delta 5’s “Mind your own business” and should be in every DJ’s record box as they are both guaranteed dance floor monsters.

In addition to the three Rough trade singles, this LP has songs recorded for two John Peel sessions in 1980 and a year later a session for Richard Skinner, another BBC Radio One DJ. Rounding out the set are three live tracks recorded during the band’s successful trip to the US in 1980.

I can’t recommend more highly the merits of owning this material. The singles are not too hard to find as originals but with the extra material and ease of listening from having it all together on one LP, it makes it a one stop shop for all you need. After the success of the initial singles and the reception from the US tour the group signed to the Charisma Records imprint Pre and released their debut album “See the Whirl”.

Unfortunately, the record does not continue in the same vein as the previous singles and was a critical and commercial failure. The main complaint being the clean production. It is not a total dud though and can be picked up fairly cheaply but the real magic is in those first three singles. Shortly after this the group disbanded.

This collection is basically the one that Kill Rock Stars put out on CD in 2006 but now is on colored vinyl and of course comes with MP3 downloads. Grab it.

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