All Things to All People Vol. 29: Best of 2018

February is the month when everyone posts their year-end lists, right? I guess not, but "better late than never" is one of our mottoes here at Sorry State. Before I get to my own list, though, I thought I'd have a bit of fun poking around Sorry State's sales records for 2018 so you could know how SSR's customers voted with their dollars this past year.

We'll start with an obvious one: here are the 10 best-selling releases of 2018 at Sorry State. These are dominated by releases on our own label, which makes sense given that we're the best and cheapest place to get those. I'm shocked to see Libyans' Expired Language LP so high on the list. That's one of the worst-selling releases in SSR, mostly because the band broke up pretty much right when it was released. We had so many copies hanging around the warehouse that I practically gave them away through most of 2019, but hopefully a bunch of people listened to that record because I still think it's great.

1. ISS: S/T 7" (Sorry State)
2. The Number Ones: Another Side of the Number Ones 7" (Sorry State)
3. Libyans: Expired Language 12" (Sorry State)
4. Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: S/T 12" (Toxic State)
5. Rixe: 3 Titres promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
6. Totalitär: 1986-1989 12" (Skrammel)
7. No Love: Choke On It 12" (Sorry State)
8. Christian Club: Final Confession 7" (Sorry State)
9. Kaleidoscope: 2017 7" (D4MT Labs)
10. Ruleta Rusa: Viviendo Una Maldicion 12" (Sorry State)

Next up we have the five most popular labels, based on sales at SSR in 2018. Not too many surprises here.

1. La Vida Es Un Mus
2. Drunken Sailor Records
3. Toxic State Records
4. Iron Lung Records
5. Lumpy Records

This isn't very punk, but I'll post it anyway. These are the top-selling used records at Sorry State for 2018. Of course the items on this list are at least as reflective as what is available on the used market as it is of what people want. I'm sure that if we had 100 used copies of Rudimentary Peni's first EP that would top the list. But, by the same token, I'm sure we could have sold five times as many copies of Dark Side of the Moon and Rumours if we had them too.

1. The Police: Synchronicity
2. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
3. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
4. The Who: Who's Next
5. Billy Joel: The Stranger

Here's a list of the top-selling reissues of 2018 at SSR:

1. Totalitär: 1986-1989 12" (Skrammel)
2. The Execute: S.L.A.S.H. (Euro Import)
3. Ghoul: Night Out 12" (Euro Import)
4. The Child Molesters: I'm the Hillside Strangler 7" (Meathouse)
5. Various: Why Are We Here? 7" (Schoolkids)

And the top-selling cassette releases of 2018:

1. Rixe: 3 Titres promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
2. Impalers: Beat Seassions cassette (Shout Recordings)
3. Judy & the Jerks: Roll on Summer Holidays cassette (Earth Girl)
4. Various: Greek Punk '82-'91 cassette (Euro Import)
5. Vittna: 2 Songs + Live at the Hive cassette (Bunker Punks)

And finally, since we love international punk so much here at Sorry State, here are 2018's top-selling releases by bands from outside North America:

1. The Number Ones: Another Side of the Number Ones 7" (Sorry State)
2. Rixe: 3 Titres promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
3. Shipwrecked: We Are the Sword 12" (Foreign Legion)
4. Rata Negra: Justicia Cosmica 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
5. Snob: S/T 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Now on to the meat of this thing! The following are my 10 favorite releases of 2018. They are presented alphabetically rather than in order of quality. If my descriptions seem a little more terse than usual, that's because this was originally written for publication in MRR's Best of 2018 issue. Given that trees were dying for this, I thought I'd keep things brief. While most of these releases are long since sold out, I've included streaming links for everything in case you missed it the first time around. Note also that this list excludes reissues, Sorry State releases, and major label distributed releases (otherwise I might have tried to squeeze Hot Snakes' Jericho Sirens on there). Here goes:

BB & THE BLIPS: “Shame Job” LP (Thrilling Living)

Thrilling Living Records has been a staple of my year-end lists ever since they started. You should get everything they release, but if I had to pick one from 2018 this LP from Australia’s BB & THE BLIPS would be my choice. Incisive, insightful lyrics, a through-the-roof energy level, perfectly raw production, and hooks for days… this record has it all.

BLOOD PRESSURE: “Surrounded” LP (Beach Impediment)

Pittsburgh’s BLOOD PRESSURE follow up their first LP with an even more powerful statement. A little less frantic than their debut, “Surrounded” sacrifices a touch of speed but gains a lot more power. If you like being steamrolled by your hardcore records, this is probably your favorite record of 2018.

DARK THOUGHTS: At Work LP (Stupid Bag)

Philly’s DARK THOUGHTS are the melodic punk band that it’s OK for people into hardcore to like. That’s not just because they wear cooler band t-shirts than most pop-punk bands (though they do), but rather because they have everything that’s great about RAMONES-based pop-punk and none of the corniness that made a lot of us grow out of that scene.

DEADLOCK: S/T 7” (Painkiller)

This transatlantic project record featuring members of VIOLENT REACTION, ARMS RACE, and NO TOLERANCE came and went without a lot of fanfare, but it’s a sleeper hit. Packing nine tracks onto a 7” with spot-on, Don Zientara circa 1981 production, this one is highly recommended for the 80s USHC purist.

HOLOGRAM: S/T 7” (Hysteria)

I love hardcore bands that experiment with different sounds and textures than your typical guitar / bass / drums / vocals setup, and I also love loose and wild-sounding 80s Italian hardcore. HOLOGRAM combines both of those things on this record and it’s one of the most exciting and forward-thinking things I heard this year.


Speaking of 80s Italian hardcore, Germany’s IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO is certainly rooted in that sound. However, in addition to the wildness and dissonance that comes from bands like WRETCHED, NEGAZIONE, and CCM, IDIOTA CIVILIZZATO’s ability to get deep in the pocket is rivaled only by contemporary bands like S.H.I.T., BLAZING EYE, and IMPALERS.

KALEIDOSCOPE: “2017” 7” (Feel It)

KALEIDOSCOPE has been one of the most exciting bands in punk since they started, but their latest EP is their best stuff yet. We already knew they were a great hardcore band, but who knew they could write a Krautrock-influenced dance floor banger like “Scorched Earth,” which might be my single favorite track of 2018?


North Carolina’s PERSONALITY CULT sounds like the BUZZCOCKS with a dash of TUBEWAY ARMY. Those aren’t comparisons to be thrown around lightly, but the songwriting and performances on their debut record warrant them. Like DARK THOUGHTS, PERSONALITY CULT prove that it’s still possible to make great melodic punk in 2018.

PUBLIC ACID: “Easy Weapons” LP (self-released)

Like HOLOGRAM, PUBLIC ACID sound both savage and progressive. The drums come from the no-flash school of early POISON IDEA, but the wild, G.I.S.M.-esque riffs, frightening vocals, impressionistic lyrics, and fuzz and noise-drenched production all contribute to a uniquely sinister atmosphere.


One of punk’s guiding principles is that technical proficiency isn’t necessary to create powerful music. However, WARM BODIES prove that being really good at your instrument doesn’t disqualify you from making great punk either. This LP is a total shred fest, but it’s also one of the wildest and most energetic records I’ve ever heard.

Because ten is never enough, here's some honorable mentions. These are all things that I liked a lot, but not quite as much as the stuff above. On any given day most of these could have easily been in the top 10:

Bad Breeding: Abandonment LP
Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens LP
Rubble: S/T LP
Itchy Bugger: Done One LP

Lithics: Photograph, You of 7”
Gen Pop: II 7”
The Dark: Demons 7”
SBSM: Leave Your Body 7”
Scythe: S/T 7”
Warthog: 4th 7”
Erik Nervous: Nervoloid 7”
The Cool Greenhouse: London 7”
Civic: Those Who No 7”

Cruelty Bomb: demo cassette
Ammo: demo cassette

I rarely brag about my used / collectible record buys online, so I'll finish this post by bragging about some of the coolest collectible records I acquired in 2018. In no particular order:

Poison Idea: Kings of Punk LP (Portland edition with all inserts)
Anti-Cimex: Victims of a Bombraid 7" (1st press)
The Fall: Marquis Cha-Cha 7" (the hardest to get Fall record from their early period and the last one I needed to complete my collection... thanks Ellis!)
Negazione: Tutti Pazzi 7"
Various: Yes LA 12"
Crude SS: Who'll Survive 7"
Sin 34: Die Laughing 7"
J.A. Caesar: Kokkyou Junreika 12" (an original will set you back a few grand, but I managed to find a really nice early 00s Japanese repress)
Possessed: Seven Churches 12" 1st press (for $5!)
Bathory: The Return 12" original US press (for $25!)
Can: Monster Movie 12" (2nd German pressing)
Faust: The Faust Tapes 12" (1st UK pressing)

I'd love the following to appear on my list of favorite acquisitions of 2019, so if you're holding please get in touch:

Amon Düül II: Yeti LP (70s German pressing)
Government Issue: Legless Bull 7"
Aburadako: first 12"
Chicken Bowels: S/T 7"
Faust: So Far LP (70s pressing)

All Things to All People Vol. 28

So, this time around on the Sorry State blog we’re writing about great records with terrible artwork. When I first heard this prompt I thought to myself that it would be easy, but flipping through my own record collection I’m hard-pressed to find any records where I truly hate the artwork. Maybe that’s because artwork is really important to me and I’m hesitant to buy releases that don’t have good artwork, or maybe it’s just that I’ve grown so used to the artwork on most of the records in my collection that I don’t have a strong visceral reaction to it anymore. At the very least, I would argue that time is usually kind to record artwork. What can seem garish, ill-conceived, half-baked, or otherwise inappropriate upon a record’s release can, with time, develop a certain patina. Similarly, tropes that feel obvious or overused at the time can feel less so in retrospect, especially when this artwork is lit by the gentle glow of nostalgia. Think about things like terribly-rendered illustrations on 80s metal records or lame cut-and-paste 80s punk layouts… they looked terrible at the time, but looking at them in the present day they’re kind of kitschy and cool. I’ve long said that it won’t be long before people are applying photoshop filters in order to replicate the pixelation on computer layouts from the 90s and early 00s or trading copies of the fonts that came bundled with Windows 95.

So, if bad artwork isn’t really that bad, then what is really good artwork? It turns out, answering that question is just as difficult. To me, great art (like great music) is simple and direct, and does a lot with a little. It has immediate impact, but also leaves you with something to chew on and think about. Raymond Pettibon’s illustrations for Black Flag or Glenn Danzig’s graphic design for the Misfits are probably the best examples of what I’m talking about. I’m also a big fan of the simple yet functional design of a lot of first and second-wave UK punk picture sleeves. Find yourself a cool black and white photo, overlay the band’s logo in a simple spot color and you’re done. No muss, no fuss.

So, what records don’t follow those edicts?

Void: Condensed Flesh EP

So, this one is kind of cheating because it’s an after-the-fact retrospective release, but all of the artwork (right down to their contribution to the insert for Flex Your Head) on the original Void releases is killer, so this “put an engraving of a skeleton on it” (the punk equivalent of “put a bird on it”) is highly disappointing. And then there’s the Sessions LP on Dischord, which is unattractive in an entirely different way.

Wire: 154 LP

You know, I never liked the artwork for 154. Sue me. It’s like, “hey, I see what you did there, Wire.” The artwork is a kind of literal visual representation of the music… it could maybe even serve as a kind of John Cage-type unconventional score. It’s just a little on the nose for me, and where the music couldn’t be more dynamic and interesting, the artwork just feels kind of flat, cold, and commercial. Also, this isn't Wire's fault per se, but every time I look at it I'm reminded of the wavy turquoise takeout cup.

No Bullshit Vols 1-4

They’re pictures of cows, not much more or less. Except, somehow the one that tries to be more than that is the worst one of all.

Totalitär: Sin Egan Motstandare LP

Do you think this artist has heard of Raymond Pettibon?

Formaldehyde Junkies: 2nd 7”

Again, a little too on the nose for my tastes… I mean, is that literally supposed to be a photograph of a formaldehyde junkie? What I was saying earlier about giving you something to chew on as a viewer? This is like the opposite of that.

None of these are particularly egregious, but each of them rubs me the wrong way for one reason or another. Maybe some of these even rise to the level of "hot takes" or pet peeves (I have a feeling Jeff will have some words for me about calling out Totalitär), but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. I'm curious what other people's pet peeves for artwork are, so feel free to reply in the comments or hit us up on social media, and look forward to the rest of the SSR's staff's opinions over the next week or so.

Midnite Snaxxx: Greedy Little Thing 7” (Goodbye Boozy) Latest 7” from this Bay Area band, and I think that at this point we can start affixing adjectives like “long-running” and “veteran” to their name. Midnite Snaxxx have a lot of records out at this point, and they are all absolutely killer… in my opinion you should own every single one of them. They don’t really sound like much else that’s around these days, crafting short and snappy garage-punk songs that recall the glory days of Rip Off Records (and indeed the singer Dulcinea was in the Loudmouths, who were connected to that scene), but really these songs could have been made at any point between the early 60s and now. Midnite Snaxxx effortlessly combines the adrenaline rush of classic rock and roll (think the Beatles doing “Twist and Shout”) with the big melodies of 60s girl groups and the explosiveness of vintage 70s punk, and the result is just perfect. I kind of doubt they’ll ever be a big hype band because they aren’t “on trend,” but if you like this kind of straightforward, poppy garage-punk you should simply buy every single record that they put out. I know I’m going to.

C. Memi: Heavenly Peace 12” (Bitter Lake) Official reissue of this delightful 7” as a great-sounding 45RPM 12” courtesy of the archival label Bitter Lake Recordings. While the foundation here is what we’d now call minimal synth—which I can’t imagine was a framework that C. Memi was working with at the time this was created—there’s also a distinct element of French “chanson” music, which the label description notes was kind of a “thing” in Japan at the time. Regardless, I just love the unpretentious playfulness of the record. Judging by the label’s description as well as this piece on the BandCamp blog, this recording was essentially an experiment, and that sense of discovery shines through every moment of the EP. In other words, you’ll come for tracks like “Hitojichi” that recall the post-industrial synth-punk of Metal Urbain or SPK, but you’ll stay for the overall vibe, which is infectious and singular. I have to admit that I was a bit puzzled by this record the first time I listened to it, but it reveals itself a little more with each spin and despite the relatively minimal aesthetic I continue to find more to love each time I listen.

End Time: S/T 12” (Fullyintercoastal) Debut record from this Bay Area, California band. I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to this record, but something about the label’s description stuck out… maybe it’s the fact that the band took two years to put together a 6-track EP, or maybe it’s the waist-deep sarcasm in said description, but something told me to check this record out and I’m glad that I did. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that the members of End Time are a little older as their music betrays a wealth of influences… I hear the motorik propulsion of Neu!, the catchy, angular guitar lines of early Joy Division, the slightly shambolic feel of Pavement’s early records, and the way that the songs build up, calm down, and build up again even recalls Drive Like Jehu or Fugazi. That probably sounds like a big mishmash, but it comes together really well here. I also love that the recording is extremely warm and somewhat raw and analog-sounding, like it could have been painstakingly recorded on a cassette 4-track. There’s no denying that End Time have a real 90s vibe—they remind me a lot of what was called “emo” before that word came to signify emotional pop-punk—but if you regularly listen to Dischord releases past #25 or so I imagine you’ll like End Time quite a bit.

Rixe: Cassette Promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus) Limited 3-song cassette by Rixe… what is it promoting? Perhaps they’re finally going to make the jump to 12” vinyl? Who knows! All that I can confirm is that these three songs are the Rixe you have come to know and love with little in the way of left turns or surprises. Since they started releasing 7”s on LVEUM, Rixe’s aesthetic—sonically and visually—has been completely airtight, and all three tracks here stay very much within that framework. One would think that that framework would be constricting, but now that Rixe has a substantial number of tracks out in the world it’s kind of amazing that they’ve managed to stick to such a consistent sound without sounding like they’re just rewriting the same song over and over. Anyway, enough of the pontificating… the point I’m trying to make is that Rixe keep doing their thing and it still doesn’t feel played out or redundant, so incorporate these three burners into your playlist and get pumped for whatever it is that they’re promoting.

Mint: demo cassette (self-released) Demo cassette from this Philadelphia band. The recording is super raw and DIY, but the music is well-written and catchy. Even though I don’t think this is what they’re going for (if, indeed, they’re going for anything at all), but I’m reminded of the early, raw demo recordings by Zounds or the poppier Crisis songs. Like that stuff, there’s pop music at the core of what Mint is doing, but they wholeheartedly embrace punk’s raw, primal, and aggressive posture and also (in places at least) adopt some of the more sophisticated arrangements of post-punk. I have a feeling that fans of bands like Good Throb, Frau, and Priests’ early material will also like this quite a bit.

Snob: S/T 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) After a couple of outstanding 7”s, here’s the debut 12”er from London punks Snob. It’s funny, I generally expect bands to get more complex and spread out a little when they move from small vinyl to large, but Snob seem instead to have streamlined things, making their music even more direct and concise. The lyrics remain a highlight and they’re as confrontational as ever. Lyrically, the most intriguing songs (at least in my opinion) take buzzwords like “consent” and “ally” and examine how the concepts behind them play out in an actual person’s life. In both of those cases, the enlightened political attitudes that are supposed to be part and parcel of using these buzzwords is just a fiction that allows people to continue to disrespect and dehumanize one another behind the shield of political correctness… or at least that’s how I read it. Musically, the noisiness and looseness of Snob’s 7” recordings is largely gone, replaced by a locked-in, metronome-steady rhythm that significantly changes the overall character of the band’s music. While Snob sounded animalistic and uncontained on the 7”s, here they sound disciplined, even mechanical, an impression that is accentuated by the much clearer recording. It’s a slightly different Snob, for sure, they remain just as worthy of your attention.

Absolut: Hell’s Highest Power 12” (D-Takt & Rapunk) After numerous splits and 7”s, here’s the debut full-length from Montreal’s Absolut and it RIIIIIPS! I feel like an idiot because I let a whole week go by between when this thing arrived in the store and when I listened to it, and a week without Hell’s Highest Power in my life is a week wasted! It’s fitting that one of the splits I mentioned above is with Sweden’s Paranoid, because Absolut seem, along with Paranoid, to be part of a trend of crusty punk bands rediscovering their metal influences (see Paranoid’s covers LP, where they took on metal classics by bands like Sepultura and Celtic Frost). Absolut have done more than just superficially add a guitar solo here and there, though. Hell’s Highest Power is a complex hybrid of crust, death metal, and thrash metal (with a few touches of black metal here and there, particularly on the epic closing track “Last Corpse”), all wrapped up in the magically raw production favored by death and proto-death metal bands like Hellhammer, Master, and Mantas. Indeed, at times Hell’s Highest Powerseems more like a metal record with some heavy crust influences than vice versa, and I’m fine with that because when they’re in “metal mode” Absolut are never cheesy… if they dropped the crust influences entirely I’m pretty sure they would still be the most exciting metal band I’ve heard in years. I’ll leave it there and just say that if you’re a crusty or a metalhead you need to hear this record… highly recommended.

Cadaver Dog: Dying Breed 12” (Youth Attack) After a flexi and a couple of tapes, here’s the proper debut vinyl from Denver’s Cadaver Dog. It’s funny, Youth Attack’s description does its best not only to locate Cadaver Dog’s debut in the long arc of hardcore’s history, but also to self-consciously bill it as some kind of a culmination or conclusion of hardcore’s existence. Not only do they call it “the most negative hardcore album of all time,” but they also note that this record “can be considered the end conclusion to hardcore's aim.” Honestly, I think that’s complete hogwash, and even if you agree with the author’s premise that Cadaver Dog has “out-negative’d” every other band in the entire history of hardcore, the argument that Cadaver Dog is the “end conclusion” of hardcore only really works if your conception of what hardcore is is only about an inch wide. All of that being said, my gripe is really with the record’s description, not the record itself, which I must say is excellent. Basically, it’s Negative FX filtered through the Youth Attack aesthetic. In other words, these are a bunch of short (many hover around the 30-second mark), fast, and punchy hardcore songs with the raw, nasty, black metal-influenced style of recording and slightly unhinged looseness that are perhaps the most consistent sonic aspects of Youth Attack’s brand identity. It’s a thrilling listen, and feels authentically angry and explosive in a way that many of the more mannered and composed hardcore records coming out in this day and age don’t. I’m sure that Youth Attack’s whole aesthetic will continue to be divisive within the punk scene, but if you can’t get down with a hardcore record that rages this hard I feel bad for you.

Vile Gash: Nightmare in a Damaged Brain 12” (Youth Attack) Long-awaited new record (seriously, I think they’ve been talking about / working on this thing for several years) by this flagship Youth Attack band. While it’s somewhat overshadowed by the Cadaver Dog LP released at the same time (which is just a hair meaner and more explosive than this), this is still a blistering slice of hardcore that’s well worth the wait. While Cadaver Dog is Negative FX filtered through the Youth Attack aesthetic, Vile Gash are pretty much the epitome of the Youth Attack aesthetic, perhaps even more than the bands that Mark McCoy is actually in. Like a lot of Youth Attack’s best bands, Vile Gash transcend their influences and sound like wholly their own thing. Even if you can make comparisons across elements of their sound (I’d put them at something like 50% furious Scandinavian d-beat, 30% USHC, 15% black metal and 5% sludge), it all adds up to something that doesn’t sound quite like anything you’ve ever heard before. It’s also—again, like a lot of Youth Attack bands—overwhelmingly negative and nihilistic. Whether you’re coming at this because you like to hear hardcore bands that are original, innovative, and exciting, or just because you want to find the grimiest, ugliest music possible Nightmare in a Damaged Brain will absolutely satisfy you.

Profoss: S/T 7” (Adult Crash) Debut 7” from this Swedish band that features members of a bunch of other bands… I’m not really good at keeping track of that sort of thing, but I’m pretty sure Jeff said that there were members of Herätys and Fy Fan here? I could very well be wrong about that, so don’t quote me! At any rate, this record sounds to me like the guitar player from Totalitär gave a bunch of riffs to Anti-Cimex, who recorded them all with the lineup and production from Victims of a Bombraid. Whether you want to call that a catchier version of Cimex or a meaner, noisier version of Totalitär is up to you, but regardless it’s an extremely potent combination. It seems like Sweden has been spitting out records of this flavor (with relatively minor variations in sound and style) at an absolutely furious pace lately, and if you’ve been having fun picking up records by the likes of Katastrof, Exploatör, and the bands mentioned above then you’ll be stoked to pump your fist along to this one as well.

Snor: Scandinavian Heartbreaker 7” (Adult Crash) Second EP from this group out of Malmö, Sweden. As on their earlier EP, Snor seem to walk the line between noisy pogo-punk in the Gai / Swankys tradition and noisier d-beat, fusing the two styles in a really effective way and adding in some nice little touches like reverbed-to-hell vocals (that still carry a little bit of melody) and complex arrangements with a lot of starts and stops and cool little changes that gives it a slight USHC flavor as well. Like the Profoss EP released at the same time on Adult Crash, this has an absolutely perfect recording with exactly the right balance of fuzz/noise, heaviness, and clarity. I feel like this is one of those records that, when you put it on, you think it’s going to be kind of a one track pony, but when you listen closely you realize there’s actually quite a lot going on and plenty to love. Because of that complexity it’s not likely to become the flavor of the week (people tend to prefer things that are simpler and immediately graspable), but if you seek out the interesting, innovative and strange in your hardcore I highly recommend this one.

Ubik: S/T 7” (Aaarght!) Debut vinyl from this Australian band that plays a kind of catchy anarcho punk style a la Crisis or Zounds. I remember listening to their demo tape quite a lot when that came out, and this is even better than that! There are a couple of familiar tracks from that session, but the production is clearer and more powerful, and the whole thing just feels more articulate and fully realized. This is a very difficult sound to pull off because it requires the perfect balance of pop songwriting chops and the ability to generate that sense of atmosphere that is peculiar to this particular strain of anarcho, but Ubik totally nails it while also sounding like their own band and not just a tribute act. If you’re a fan of this style this one is highly recommended.

All New Arrivals

Snob: S/T 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Rixe: 3 Titres Promo cassette (La Vida Es Un Mus)
The Child Molesters: I'm the Hillside Strangler 7" (Meat House Productions)
C. Memi: Heavenly Peace 12" (Bitter Lake Recordings)
Monster Magnet: Mindfuck 12" (Napalm Records)
Jeff Rosenstock: POST 12" (Polyvinyl Records)
Grateful Dead: Best of the Grateful Dead Live 1969-1977 12" (Rhino)
Preoccupations: New Material 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Cyberplasm: What Is Flesh cassette (Fuckers Will Pay)
Crimex: Demo cassette (Fuckers Will Pay)
Crash Course in Science: Signals from Pier Thirteen 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Dark Blue: Fight to Love 7" (12XU)
Felt: Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty 12" (Cherry Red)
Felt: Ignite the Seven Cannons 12" (Cherry Red)
Felt: The Seventeenth Century 12" (Cherry Red)
Felt: The Splendour of Fear 12" (Cherry Red)
Felt: The Strange Idols Pattern 12" (Cherry Red)
Leftover Crack: Fuck World Trade 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Los Lichis & Pakito: Savage Lichis Religion 12" (Feeding Tube Records)
Mournful Congregation: The Incubus of Karma 12" (Osmose Productions)
T2: It'll All Work Out in the End 12" (Decca Records)
Simply Saucer: Cyborgs Revisited 12" (In the Red Records)
Spacemen 3: Dreamweapon 12" (Superior Viaduct)
End Time: S/T 12" (Fullyintercoastal Records)
Jack White: Boarding House Reach 12" (Third Man)
Cruz Somers: Sit & Stare 7" (Goodbye Boozy Records)
Muzzy: S/T 7" (Goodbye Boozy Records)
Midnite Snaxxx: Greedy Little Thing 7" (Goodbye Boozy Records)
New Berlin: Quarantine 7" (Goodbye Boozy Records)
Skull Cult: Skeleton Mind 7" (Goodbye Boozy Records)
Mint: Demo cassette (Slugsalt)
Cutie: S/T cassette (self-released)
Neil Young + Promise of the Real: Paradox 12" (Reprise)
Autopsy: Critical Madness: The Demo Years 12" (Peaceville)
Black Moth Super Rainbow: Baby's in the Void 7" (Rad Cult)
Neu: S/T 12" (Gronland)
Neu: Neu 2 12" (Gronland)
Fried Egg: Beat Session Vol 4 cassette (Shout Recordings)
Kikagaku Moyo/幾何学模様: S/T 12" (Guru Guru Brain)
Kikagaku Moyo/幾何学模様: House in the Tall Grass 12" (Guru Guru Brain)
Minami Deutsch: S/T 12" (Guru Guru Brain)
Gunter Schickert: Samtvogel 12" (Wah Wah Records)
Richard Pinhas: Rhizosphere 12" (Bureau B)
Heldon: Allez-Teia 12" (Bureau B)
AMM: AMMusic 12" (Black Truffle Records)
Dadawah: Peace & Love 12" (Dug Out)
Pharoah Sanders: Izipho Zam (My Gifts) 12" (Everland Jazz)
George Grunblatt: K-Priss 12" (Gonzaï Records)
Masahiko Sato: Belladonna of Sadness 12" (Finders Keepers)
Nebula: To the Center 12" (Heavy Psych Sounds)
Orang-Utan: S/T 12" (Sommor)
The Bridge: Overdrive Rock/Jazz Party 12" (Sommor)
The Runaways: Live at the Agora Ballroom, Cleveland 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Chet Baker: Sings 12" (Wax Love)
Bathory: The Return 12" (Black Mark)
Master: S/T 12" (Hammerheart)
Savage: Loose 'N Lethal 12" (Hammerheart)
Crude: Drug Culture 12" (Farewell Records)
Supercrush: I've Been Around 7" (Debt Offensive Records)
Wild Rose: Fanatic Heart cassette (Rougemont Records)
Absolut: Hell's Highest Power 12" (D-Takt & Råpunk Records)
Exploatör: S/T 12" (D-Takt & Råpunk Records)
Profoss: S/T 7" (Adult Crash)
SNOR: Scandinavian Heartbreakers 7" (Adult Crash)
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: 3rd LP 12" (Toxic State)
Vile Gash: Nightmare in a Damaged Brain 12" (Iron Lung)
Suburbanite: S/T 12" (Iron Lung)
Cadaver Dog: Dying Breed 12" (Iron Lung)
Hot Snakes: Jericho Sirens 12" (Sub Pop)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Polygonwanaland 12" (Blood Music)
Yo La Tengo: There's a Riot Going On 12" (Matador)
Green Druid: Ashen Blood 12" (Earache)
Lakes: Silver Thorns 12" (Paradise Daily Records)
Sex Tourists: S/T 12" (Paradise Daily Records)
Nerve Beats: S/T 12" (Fine Concepts Records)
The Trashies: The Octagon 12" (Fine Concepts Records)
Miss Destiny: Ice Queen 7" (Shipping Steel)
Alien Nose Job: Panel Beat 7" (Not on Label)
Rabid Dogs: S/T 7" (Aarght Records)
Ubik: S/T 7" (Aarght Records)
Ebenezer & the Bludgeons: Peer Pressure 7" (Windian Records)
Exorcist: Voices from the Graves 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Abhorer: Oblation II: Abyssic Demonolatries 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Rites of Thy Degringolade: The Blade Philosophical 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Lurker of Chalice: S/T 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Broken Cross: Militant Misanthrope 12" (Apocalyptic Visions)
Anxiety: Trash Baby 7" (Fun with Smack Records)
REM: Automatic for the People 12" (Craft Recordings)
Brian Eno: Another Green World 12" (Astralwerks Records)
Black Moth Super Rainbow: Mr. No One 7" (Rad Cult Records)
Malady: Toinen Toista 12" (Svart)
Harms Way: Posthuman 12" (Metal Blade)
Night Prowler: Crucible of Power cassette (Kram Records)


The Bags: All Bagged Up 12" (Artifix)
Descendents: Cool to Be You 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Devo: Hardcore Devo Vol 1 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Devo: Hardcore Devo Vol 2 12" (Superior Viaduct)
DOA: Hardcore '81 12" (Sudden Death Records)
Eyehategod: Take As Needed for Pain 12" (Century Media)
Guided by Voices: Bee Thousand 12" (Scat Records)
Jawbreaker: 24 Hour Revenge Therapy 12" (Blackball)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana 12" (Flightless)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: I'm in Your Mind Fuzz 12" (Castleface)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Murder of the Universe 12" (ATO)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity 12" (ATO)
Marked Men: On the Outside 12" (Dirtnap)
Thee Oh Sees: Mutilator Defeated at Last 12" (Castleface)
Iggy Pop: The Idiot 12" (4 Men with Beards)
Rubella Ballet: Ballet Bag 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Sleep: Volume One 12" (Tulepo)
Solid Space: Space Museum 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Sonic Youth: Sister 12" (Goofin)
The Sound: From the Lion's Mouth 12" (1972)
Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space 12" (Plain Recordings)
Stiff Little Fingers: Inflammable Material 12" (4 Men with Beards)
The Fall: Grotesque 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: Slates 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: This Nation's Saving Grace 12" (Superior Viaduct)
C.H.E.W. / Rash: Split 7" (Slugsalt)
Notorious B.I.G.: Life After Death 12" (Bad Boy)
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Polvo: Exploded Drawing 12" (Touch & Go Records)
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy 12" (Rhino)
The Pixies: Trompe La Monde 12" (4AD)
Hot Snakes: Automatic Midnight 12" (Sub Pop)
Bad Religion: Stranger than Fiction 12" (Epitaph)
Rancid: And Out Come the Wolves 12" (Epitaph)
Mission of Burma: Vs. 12" (Matador)
Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive 12" (Merge)
Dinosaur Jr: You're Living All Over Me 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Joy Division: Substance 12" (Rhino)
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures 12" (Rhino)
Radiohead: OK Computer 12" (XL Recordings)
Zero Boys: Vicious Circle 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 12" (Reprise)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop)
The Cure: Disintegration 12" (Rhino)
Childish Gambino: Awaken My Love 12" (Glassnote)
Childish Gambino: Camp 12" (Glassnote)
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon 12" (Sony)
The Clash: London Calling 12" (Columbia)
Beyonce: Lemonade 12" (Sony)
Weezer: The Blue Album 12" (Geffen)
The Velvet Underground: White Light, White Heat 12" (Verve)
Nirvana: Incesticide 12" (DGC)
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid M.A.A.D. City 12" (Interscope)
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 12" (Manifesto)
Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters 12" (Manifesto)
Bob Marley: Legend 12" (Island)
Tool: Opiate 12" (BMG)
Tool: Undertow 12" (Volcano)
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 12" (RCA)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella Records)
Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More 12" (Island)
Misfits: Earth AD 12" (Caroline)
The Louvin Brothers: Satan Is Real 12" (Capitol)
Roky Erickson: The Evil One 12" (Light in the Attic Records)
High Rise: II 12" (Black Editions)
Faust: S/T 12" (Lilith Records)
Baroness: Yellow and Green 12" (Relapse)
Burzum: Burzum / Aske 12" (Back On Black)
Burzum: Det Som Engang Var 12" (Back On Black)
Jason Isbell: Something More than Free 12" (Southeastern)
Mayhem: Deathcrush 12" (Back On Black)
Sect: No Cure for Death 12" (Southern Lord)
Windhand / Satan's Satyrs: Split 12" (Relapse)
Touche Amore: Is Survived By 12" (Death Wish)
Deafheaven: Roads to Judah 12" (Death Wish)
Converge: Jane Doe 12" (Death Wish)
Converge: The Dusk In Us 12" (Death Wish)
Converge: Axe to Fall 12" (Death Wish)
Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind 12" (Death Wish)
Turnstile: Nonstop Feeling 12" (Roadrunner)
Cement Shoes: Demo cassette (Loki)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks 12" (Warner)
Green Day: Insomniac 12" (Reprise)
Green Day: Nimrod 12" (Reprise)
Metallica: Black Album 12" (Blackened)
Motorhead: Another Perfect Day 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: Ace of Spades 12" (Sanctuary)
Entombed: Left Hand Path 12" (Earache)
The Pixies: Doolittle 12" (4AD)
David Bowie: Space Oddity 12" (Parlophone)
David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust 12" (Parlophone)
Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales 12" (Noise)
Joy Division: Closer 12" (Rhino)
Rik & the Pigs: A Child's Gator 12" (Total Punk)
Perverts Again: Friday Night Light 12" (Total Punk)
Parsnip: S/T 7" (Anti-Fade)
Padkarosda: Tetova Lelkek 12" (Static Age Musik)
Lebenden Toten: Mind Parasites 12" (Overthrow)
LSD: 1983 to 1986 12" (Schizophrenic Records)
Haram: When You Have Won, You Have Lost 12" (Toxic State)
L.O.T.I.O.N.: Digital Control and Man's Obsolescence 12" (Toxic State)
Aus Rotten: The System Works for Them 12" (Profane Existence)
Violent End: S/T 7" (Rock 'N' Roll Disgrace)
Tarantula: Weird Tales of Radiation and Hate 7" (Deranged)
Offspring: S/T 12" (Craft Recordings)
Weezer: The Blue Album 12" (Geffen)
King Crimson: Red 12" (Inner Knot)
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Dead Kennedys: Give Me Convenience 12" (Manifesto Records)
Tool: Lateralus 12" (Volcano)
Kanye West: College Dropout 12" (Roc-A-Fella Records)
Childish Gambino: Camp 12" (Glassnote Records)
J Dilla: Donuts 12" (Stones Throw)
Bjork: Homogenic 12" (One Little Indian)
Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus 12" (Peaceville)
Death: Scream Bloody Gore 12" (Relapse)
Death: Spiritual Healing 12" (Relapse)
Geto Boys: We Can't Be Stopped 12" (Rap A Lot Records)
Motley Crue: Too Fast for Love 12" (Motley)
Soccer Mommy: Clean 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Sunn O))): Domkirke 12" (Southern Lord)
Tiny Moving Parts: Swell 12" (Triple Crown Records)

All Things to All People Vol 27

So, on this round of posts on the Sorry State blog we’re talking about split records. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of feelings either way on split records. I don’t hate them, but I definitely don’t love them either. Unless I’m forgetting something, there isn’t a single split release in Sorry State’s 100-ish release discography, which isn’t so much because I hate them, but rather because I don’t see much point in them. Aesthetically, it’s hard for me to come up with a really good reason why two bands’ recordings should be paired together or how the split-release format enhances the aesthetic worth or impact of either side. I mean, is the Faith or the Void material any better for having the other band’s work on the b-side? If each of those sessions had been released as separate 7”s I dare say that they would have been just as lauded as they are now, if not more. The same goes, in my opinion, for pretty much any other split release you could throw at me.

While splits are a tough (impossible?) thing to get right, it’s easy to cite examples of where they go wrong. I’ve heard these flawed splits referred to condescendingly as “one-sided records,” i.e. records where one of the two bands is so inconsequential that they may as well not exist. The example that leaps immediately to mind is the Career Suicide / Jed Whitey split. If I remember correctly, Brandon from No Way Records took a screwdriver to the Jed Whitey side of his copy and defaced the record to the point where it could never be played again. I don’t remember hating Jed Whitey that much, but I also probably haven’t listened to their side of the record in over ten years and honestly could not tell you what they sound like. To this day it still seems really weird that these CS tracks were paired with a band from Australia whom none of us had ever heard of. I feel like I remember the members of CS being asked about why this was the case and they didn’t even have a good explanation.

The only good arguments that I can think of for splits are economic ones. It certainly makes sense for both bands to share the manufacturing expenses for a release (and I think this may be the origin story behind the Faith/Void split), but a split can also, theoretically at least, be a good marketing tool. If you have a popular band and another, less popular band whose sound would appeal to fans of the popular band, a split release seems like a logical way for the smaller band to expand their audience. If things work out really well then maybe the bigger band can even share in the cred of being associated with a smaller, presumably more cutting-edge band. I believe that this was the idea behind the BYO Records Split Series that trickled out five volumes in the late 90s and early 00s.

Indeed, Hot Water Music and Leatherface are pretty much a perfect case for the popularity-for-credibility exchange I outlined above. When this record was released in 1999 Hot Water Music were absolutely huge and they owed an obvious aesthetic debt to Leatherface. And, I must say, if this was a marketing ploy it definitely worked! While I didn’t pick up the actual album until afterward, I went to see the Leatherface / Hot Water Music US tour that happened shortly after the record’s release. I wasn’t a fan of Hot Water Music and I’d never heard Leatherface, but I went to the show anyway and I was absolutely blown away by Leatherface. If I remember correctly they were sold out of the split by the time the tour hit Richmond, but I picked it up soon after and proceeded to track down all of Leatherface’s numerous previous releases.

Leatherface’s contribution to the split is great, and a crucially underrated contribution to their catalog in my opinion. The band had reformed with most of its classic lineup in 1998, but guitarist Dickie Hammond left the band shortly before these tracks were recorded, with Leighton Evans moving from bass to second guitar (this is from memory, so apologies if I’m wrong!). I’ve always loved Evans’ guitar playing, and while it’s different from Dickie’s it works just as well with Frankie’s, and the records that he played on are a heavier, more intense—but just as intricate—version of the band. Just check out that crazy bottomed-out E chord on “Punch (Drunk),” which still gives me chills to this day. What’s more, that added heaviness perfectly suits the emotional heaviness of Stubbs’ lyrics, which tend to be far more introverted and downcast than either the biting social commentary on the band’s earlier records or the playful, surreal poetry he would experiment with on later releases. The follow-up full-length, Horsebox, was just as good and is also highly recommended.

However, as much as I liked the Leatherface side I could never get down with the Hot Water Music side. For years I only had the CD of this release, and I would listen to the six Leatherface tracks, then Hot Water Music’s side would start. I still remember the first line of their first song, “How do we get back?,” because that would be my signal to hit the eject button and listen to something else. I became increasingly annoyed that the HWM side even existed, which eventually blossomed into an almost irrational hatred of the band. However, I’ll leave my critique of them for another day.

As for the BYO Records Split Series, I remember the second one came out a few months later, and the bands were Swingin’ Utters and Youth Brigade. I could see how that pairing carried forward the setup from the first volume, but I just wasn’t really interested in either band at the time. Subsequent volumes also failed to get things just right. Eventually, the final volume of the series was a NOFX / Rancid split where they covered one another’s songs. So, you know, take from that whatever lessons you will.

Post-script: why is it that both of the split records I chose rip off graphic design elements from the Blue Note Records catalog? Coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge!

X-20 / Subdom: Split cassette (D4MT Labs) Split cassette from these two New York projects on Kaleidoscope’s house imprint. X-20 is a solo project by Kaleidoscope’s drummer, and as it expected it bears some similarities to Kaleidoscope in places, but it also it’s own thing. While some of the songs are more straightforward (“Substance Death” has an almost Dead Kennedys-esque vibe in places), in general it seems like X-20 feels a little looser and more out-there than Kaleidoscope, so if you dig the progressive / adventurous end of what Kaleidoscope is doing you will almost certainly like X-20 quite a lot as well. As for Subdom, this side of the tape has a real “anything goes” vibe, and moves from sinister-sounding, Screamers-influenced synth punk to straight up hardcore punk to more abstract/ambient passages that resemble Coil or even the darker end of Krautrock. It’s easy to see how Subdom fits in with the D4MT camp as, like X-20 and Kaleidoscope, they seem determined to stomp all over the lines between subgenres that define and restrict most punk bands. Perhaps this tape demands a little more of you as a listener than the latest Kaleidoscope 7”, but I assure you that your effort will be duly rewarded.
The Child Molesters: 1978 Hound Dog Recordings 12” (Negative Jazz) Four-song 12” of vintage recordings from these California KBD provocateurs. Unless I’m mistaken, these tracks were first released in 1981 as a 12” called Wir Lieben Die Jugendlich Mädchen (with much cooler artwork IMHO), then as a double 7” on Sympathy for the Record Industry (with artwork far more tasteless than what you see here). If you’ve only heard the band’s classic “(I’m the) Hillside Strangler,” this is very much the same band… like that track, these songs are mean, nasty, and provocative, essentially the late 70s equivalent of what an internet troll might do today. However, the recordings on these tracks give them a very different vibe. Whereas “Hillside Strangler” is super dense and fuzzy, these tracks have a clearer, more professional recording. While they probably sound “better” by most people’s definition, to me they don’t have the same sonic impact as the single, though they do allow the band’s personality to shine through much more clearly. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your interest in the kind of provocation that the Child Molesters traded in… they’re very much into playing the heel, and while it’s clear that they rankled some feathers in their day, some of the imagery that they were playing with has become downright taboo in the nearly 30 years since these songs were originally recorded. To me, this probably goes more in the “historical curiosity” category than the “total rager” category, but if you’re into the deeper history of the KBD world this is certainly an interesting release.
Retirement: S/T 7” (Iron Lung) Debut (I’m pretty sure) record by this midwestern hardcore band. I think that Iron Lung hits the nail on the head when they note in their description that there’s “a slight open-chords-garage-rock undercurrent” to this record. I feel like you can hear a palpable difference in a band’s sound when there is youth crew hardcore somewhere in their DNA (even if it’s only a distant, actively suppressed memory) versus when they don’t. Case in point, Retirement remind me a whole lot of the Repos in many respects… like that band they’re really heavy, noisy, super negative, and oh so slightly artsy, but there are none of the heavy breakdowns and vague youth crew-isms that you can hear in almost any given Repos song. Whether or not the absence of that influence is a good thing very much depends on the listener, but I think that Retirement is totally killer. Iron Lung also notes that they bear a passing resemblance to modern noisy hardcore bands like Bib and Q, and I definitely hear that as well. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re a fan of the aforementioned bands—or really Iron Lung Records’ whole aesthetic in general—you’ll probably dig this one.
Control Test: Verdadero Criminal 7” (Iron Lung) Debut vinyl from this west-coast synth-punk band. Apparently this group shares members with Lysol, Nudes, and Kid Chrome, but aside from Lysol’s nihilistic attitude I don’t hear much of those bands in Control Test. What I do hear is a whole lot of Screamers influence… it seems like they’ve taken care to get really similar synth tones (though, honestly, these are way heavier and fuller-sounding than any Screamers recordings I’ve heard), and the vocals are like a more manic, crazed version of Tomata du Plenty. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to call Control Test Screamers worship as they definitely have their own thing going on, but the comparison does give you a pretty good idea of where they’re coming from.
Narcoleptics: 2018 7” (Warthog Speak) Long-awaited vinyl pressing of this latest (and maybe final?) recording from New York’s Narcoleptics, and it’s by far their best work. An utterly crushing release, this is basically a bunch of stuff that you really like all smashed together… a lot of Shitlickers, a little bit of Japanese hardcore a la Warhead’s Cry of Truth EP, and a touch of the wildness of Finnish classics like Tampere SS. There aren’t a lot of nods toward subtlety here… it’s just all manic, everything-in-the-red d-beat with the band playing as hard and as fast as possible and never letting up. While a lot of bands go for more complex or subtler approaches, records like this that are a full-on dead sprint (the Shitlickers EP being the ultimate example) are really something special when the band pulls it off, and Narcoleptics totally nail it here. If you have studs on any item of your clothing this should be a mandatory purchase.

Ghoul: S/T 12” (Fan Club Import) Unofficial collection LP from this 80s Japanese hardcore punk band that mostly takes its track listing from a 2004 CD-only collection compiling all of the band’s 80s-era releases. This collection starts off with the band’s Carry Out Fucking EP (which was bootlegged a while back… I also wrote a description of that release here), which is one of the truly great Japanese hardcore records of the 80s. Carry Out Fucking is interesting in that it really seems to anticipate where Japanese hardcore would go in the later 80s and 90s, combining the full-bore sonic attack of bands like Discharge and Disorder with elements of metal and more straightforward, classic punk like the UK Subs. However, this collection fills out the picture of Ghoul’s career quite a bit more, and it takes some unexpected twists and turns. For instance, their OI OI single from 1985 is, indeed, an oi! record, and a rather poppy one at that… definitely more Toy Dolls than Blitz with its bright, melodic chord progression. After that, Ghoul moves in more of a thrash metal-influenced direction, bringing the griminess and sinister quality of their earlier work to material that is way faster and more straightforwardly metallic, recalling the punked-up thrash of Nuclear Assault or Kreator. I’m not really a thrash metal guy, but Ghoul do a really impressive job of fusing the strongest elements of their punk-era approach into their metallic material, ending up with something that’s not all that dissimilar to where G.I.S.M. ended up going.

Beta Blockers: S/T 12” (Static Shock) I wrote a sales blurb for this release for Static Shock, and while it’s intended to sell the record I still think it’s a pretty accurate description, so here you go. One additional, note, though: fans of Broken Prayer should strongly consider picking up this record as it’s very much along the same lines. “Remember that time when Black Flag’s 'Live ’84' lineup jammed with Einstürzende Neubauten? OK, so maybe that never happened, but if you took two stereos, cued up 'In My Head' on one and Neubauten’s 'Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T.' on the other, synced them up 'Zaireeka'-style and did enough acid so that they seemed to lock together into one roaring piece of gestalt, your experience would roughly approximate what we lucky citizens of the year 2017 can hear on this debut record from Beta Blockers. I keep coming back to this idea of duality in attempting to describe Beta Blockers because their music sounds like a tenuous, explosive marriage of ego and id. It’s a distant descendent of the Stooges’ 'Fun House' in that Beta Blockers’ rhythm section lurches and crawls with the raw, primal power of an apex predator, while the upper register of sound (on 'Fun House', the sax, but here a buzzing, whirring synth) engages in full sonic deconstruction… or maybe combat is the more appropriate metaphor? There’s certainly no truce between Beta Blockers’ deep-in-the-pocket hardcore and industrial noise elements… it’s less like they’re collaborating and more like they’re fighting, and if one side seems to gain the upper hand temporarily it only ends up making space for the other to build momentum and hit you with even greater force. Much like the other records I’ve mentioned thus far, Beta Blockers’ debut is neither immediate, easy, nor friendly, but if you seek out music that confounds, disorients, and overwhelms this record is just what the doctor ordered.”

Warm Bodies: S/T 12” (Lumpy) Debut 12”-er from this band out of Kansas City who just so happen to be one of my very favorite punk bands going at the moment. Like society as a whole, punk rock seems to go through eras of conservatism and progressivism, and despite (or maybe because of?) the fact that the right-wingers seem to be ascendant in the United States’ wilder culture, we seem to be experiencing a moment in the punk scene when nothing is cooler than letting your freak flag fly. It seems to me like Warm Bodies are part of that wave… they don’t have obvious sonic antecedents and their riffs and rhythms are very non-intuitive. But on the other hand they’re very much a guitar-bass-drums-vocals rock band, albeit one who consistently defies and inverts your expectations of what a hardcore punk band should do. At its worst, this type of confrontational, counter-intuitive music can calcify into prog (indeed, Lumpy even drops a Rush reference in his description of the record), but in Warm Bodies’ hands the intricacy feels freeing… their ability to play their asses off and fuck with the established hardcore formula is more like Miles Davis and John Coltrane’s deliberate and inquisitive questioning of musical convention than, say, Rush or King Crimson’s more stifling and baroque approach. Why the fuck am I writing about Miles Davis and King Crimson in a description of a hardcore record? Well, I suppose because Warm Bodies create music that is challenging and interesting enough that you can appreciate on that level, but they’re also pretty killer if you just want to dance. And I can’t think of anything better than a band that leaves open the opportunity to choose for myself whether I want to be smart or dumb.

Nasho: demo cassette (self-released) Demo cassette from this new Australian band featuring Bryony from Good Throb on guitar. I’m not sure that any of the information in that previous sentence is valuable because Nasho doesn’t sound particularly Australian, nor do they sound at all like Good Throb. They’re definitely a hardcore band, but they seem to be taking a slightly avant / artsy approach to the genre, with rhythms and harmonies that strike me as slightly askew. While I’m not sure the reference would carry much weight outside of North Carolina, they sound a bit like Raleigh’s own Essex Muro in places. I’m also reminded a little bit of some Toxic State bands… like those groups, it’s clear that the members of Nasho love hardcore (or at least find something about it interesting), but aren’t satisfied to simply ape the bands they’ve heard and liked.

Aquarium: S/T 12” (Lumpy) Debut vinyl from this catchy new punk band out of Minneapolis. At first listen I’m reminded a lot of that old Dangerhouse band the Eyes for some reason… in addition to having production that’s remarkably similar to their Dangerhouse single, like the Eyes, Aquarium do a great job of walking the line between being accessible and catchy but also a little quirky. Actually, they share a drummer with Uranium Club, which makes sense because that group walks a similar line, though Aquarium is faster, more frantic, and punkier. This balance is incredibly effective on tracks like “Hospital” and “Consumer,” either of which you could drop onto one of those compilations of Dangerhouse singles and few listeners would bat an eye. I suppose that I should also mention that the singer sings in German, which is a really interesting choice. German is not a naturally mellifluous language, and while it’s easy to imagine how these songs might have had really melodic vocals, the natural rhythms and accents of the German language make these songs far more distinctive than they might have been otherwise. (Though I don’t mean to imply that the vocals are off-putting or harsh… like the Polish lyrics of Janitor Scum or even Post-Regiment, Aquarium’s vocals are still quite catchy and memorable.) If you’re into that Genpop EP that Lumpy released a while back (and you should be!) you should check this out as well as it has a similar thing going on and is just as good.

Note: It's been a few weeks since my last blog post, so these lists are rather long... sorry! I'll try to be better about this in the future.

All New Arrivals

Neil Young: Harvest Moon 12" (Reprise)
Bad Religion: Stranger than Fiction 12" (Epitaph)
The Promise Ring: 30 Degrees Everywhere 12" (Epitaph)
Tom Waits: Closing Time 12" (Anti- Records)
of Montreal: White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood 12" (Polyvinyl)
Morbid Angel: Formulas Fatal to the Flesh 12" (Earache)
The Electronic Circus: Direct Lines b/w Le Chorale 7" (Animated Music)
Nuke Cult: Stress Relief 7" (Animated Music)
Plastic: S/T cassette (Animated Music )
Kaleidoscope: 2017 7" (D4MT LABS INC)
X-20 / Subdom: Split cassette (D4MT LABS INC)
Warm Bodies: S/T 12" (Lumpy)
Aquarium: S/T 12" (Lumpy)
The Child Molesters: 1978 Hound Dog Recordings 12" (Negative Jazz)
Various: Typical Girls Vol 3 12" (Emotional Response)
Various: Typical Girls Vol 4 12" (Emotional Response)
Bent Wind: Sussex 12" (Ugly Pop)
Jimi Hendrix: Both Sides of the Sky 12" (Experience Hendrix)
Brian Eno: Here Come the Warm Jets 12" (Astralwerks Records)
Bon Iver: For Emma Forever 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Retirement: S/T 7" (Iron Lung)
Control Test: Verdadero Criminal 7" (Iron Lung)
Narcoleptics: 2018 EP 7" (Warthog Speak)
Drudkh: They Often See Dreams About the Spring 12" (Season of Mist)
Destroyer 666: Call of the Wild 12" (Season of Mist)
Twitching Tongues: Gaining Purpose Through Passionate Hatred 12" (Metal Blade Records)
Gecko: Enter the Gecko cassette (self-released)
Gorgoroth: Antichrist 12" (Soulseller Records)
Nail Polish: Authentic Living cassette (Help Yourself Records)
Advertisement: This Is Advertisement cassette (Help Yourself Records)
Titus Andronicus: A Productive Cough 12" (Merge Records)
The Men: Drift 12" (Sacred Bones)
Moby: Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt 12" (Mute Records)
Kreator: Coma of Souls 12" (Noise Records)
Kreator: Renewal 12" (Noise Records)
The Breeders: All Nerve 12" (4AD)
Casanovas in Heat: Twisted Steel Sex Appeal 12" (Katorga Works)
Brain Killer: Live in Power 12" (Katorga Works)
Titus Andronicus: A Productive Cough 12" (Merge)
Ghoul: Night Out 12" (Ghoul Records)
Vultures United: I Still Feel Cold 12" (Black Numbers)
Perverts Again: Friday Night Light 12" (Total Punk)
Gino & the Goons: Rip It Up 12" (Total Punk)
Crusade: First cassette (I Hate I Skate)
Army: S/T cassette (I Hate I Skate)
Skeleton: Live cassette (I Hate I Skate)
Enemy One: S/T cassette (I Hate I Skate)
Soccer Mommy: Clean 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Christian Death: Catastrophe Ballet 12" (Season Of Mist)
New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies 12" (Rhino)
Stress Relief: Losing / Failing 7" (Forever Never Ends Records)
Instinct of Survival / Fatum: Split cassette (Doomed To Extinction Records)
Tiny Moving Parts: Swell 12" (Triple Crown Records)
Electro Hippies: Deception of the Instigator 12" (Boss Tuneage Records)
Chaos Echoes: Mouvement 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Sabbat: Envenom 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
The Conventry Automatics aka the Specials: Dawning of a New Era 12" (Free Range Project)
Aus Rotten: The System Works for Them... 12" (Profane Existence)
City of Caterpillar: Driving Spain Up a Wall 12" (Repeater Records)
The Cowboys: Live at Tony's Garage 7" (Feel It)
Nasho: Demo cassette (self-released)
Cruz de Navajas: Dominacion 12" (Going Underground Records)
Chiller: S/T 12" (Dirt Cult Records)
Canadian Rifle: Peaceful Death 12" (Dead Broke Rekerds)
Fifteen: Choice of a New Generation 12" (Dead Broke Rekerds)
Future Virgins: Doomsday Raga 12" (Recess Records)
Deathcult: Cult of the Goat 12" (Soulseller Records)
Life Fucker: Z 12" (Static Age Musik)
Padkarosda: Tetova Lelkek 12" (Static Age Musik)
Puff / Ausmuteants: Split 7" (Static Age Musik)
Arms Race: The Beast 7" (Painkiller)
Great Plains: Mark, Don & Mel + 4 12" (Rerun Records)
Great Plains: Born in a Barn 12" (Rerun Records)
Teenage Depression: Skank or Die 7" (Rerun Records)
Flackoff: S/T 7" (Inflammable Material Records)
MGMT: Little Dark Age 12" (Columbia Records)
Tyndall: Sonnenlicht 12" (Bureau B Records)
Tyndall: Traumland 12" (Bureau B Records)
Kawabata/Pinhas/Yos: Trax 12" (Bam Balam Records)
High Rise: II 12" (Black Editions)
Lee Scratch Perry & the Upsetters: Scratch & Co. Part 1 12" (Clocktower Records)
Delroy Wilson: Worth Your Weight in Gold 12" (Radiation Records)
Univers Zero: Heresie 12" (Sub Rosa)
Magma: Retrospectiw 12" (Southern Lord)
Mean Jeans: Jingles Collection 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Taake: Kong Vinter 12" (Karisma)
Reggie & the Full Effect: 41 12" (Pure Noise Records)
Tenement: Music Composed for the Motion Picture "Smother Me in Hugs" 12" (Malokul)
Keiji Haino & Sumac: American Dollar Bill 12" (Thrill Jockey Records)
The Dwarves: Are Young and Good Looking 12" (Burger Records)
Screaming Females: All At Once 12" (Don Giovanni Records)
Death Ridge Boys: Right Side of History cassette (WHMH Records)
Testament: Demonic 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Testament: First Strike Still Deadly 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Testament: The Gathering 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Sun Kil Moon: Ghosts of the Great Highway 12" (Rough Trade)
Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy 12" (Matador Records)
American Nightmare: S/T 12" (Rise Records)
Napalm Death: Utopia Banished 12" (Earache Records)
Songs: Ohia: Travels in Constants 12" (Temporary Residence LTD.)
Belle & Sebastian: How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3) 12" (Matador Records)
Belle & Sebastian: How to Solve Our Human Problems (Box Set) 12" (Matador Records)
Shannon & the Clams: Onion 12" (Easy Eye Sound)
Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive 12" (Merge Records)
Ought: Room Inside the World 12" (Merge Records)
Pianos Become the Teeth: Wait for Love 12" (Epitaph Records)
Lose Lose: Kill or Be Killed 12" (Lose Lose Records)
Systematic Death: Systemania 1 12" (Partners In Crime Records)
Systematic Death: Systemania 2 12" (Partners In Crime Records)
Ecstasy: S/T 7" (Digital Regress)
Courtney Barnett: Nameless, Faceless 7" (Marathon Records)
Ride: Tomorrow's Shore 12" (Wichita Records)
Fu Manchu: Clone of the Universe 12" (At The Dojo Records)
SBSM: Leave Your Body 7" (Thrilling Living Records)
Scrap Brain: Unhappy Hardcore 7" (Thrilling Living Records)
Miley Cyrus: Younger Now 12" (RCA)
Justin Timberlake: Man of the Woods 12" (RCA)
Offspring: S/T 12" (Craft Recordings)
Panic at the Disco: All My Friends We're Glorious 12" (Fueled By Ramen)
Exhumed: Death Revenge 12" (Relapse)
Intense Molecular Activity: IMA 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Baxaxaxa: Hellfire 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Perverted Ceremony: S/T 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Cadaveric Incubator: Sermons of the Devouring Dead 12" (Hell's Headbangers Records)
Carach Angren: This Is No Fairy Tale 12" (Season Of Mist Records)
Senses Fail: If There Is Light It Will Find You 12" (Pure Noise Records)
Windhand / Satan's Satyrs: Split 12" (Relapse Records)
Impotentie: Demonstratieve Opnamens cassette (Swollen City Records)
Al Green: Greatest Hits 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Runt: S/T 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Various: America's Hardcore Volume 4 12" (Triple-B)
The Soft Moon: Criminal 12" (Sacred Bones)
Unwound: New Plastic Ideas 12" (Numero Group Records)
Ramones: Leave Home 12" (Rhino)
Ramones: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Ramones: Rocket to Russia 12" (Rhino)
Franz Ferdinand: Always Ascending 12" (Domino Records)
Parasite: Zankyo 12" (Tadpole Records)
Totür: Demo 12" (Farewell Records)
Drunk Mums: Denim 7" (Pissfart Records)
The Cavemen: Band in B.C. 7" (Weirdly)
Dianetics: Book Learned 7" (Weirdly)
Slopers: S/T 10" (Weirdly)
Liquids: Evil 7" (Weirdly)
Food and Money: 1979-1982 12" (Alonas Dream Records)
Trial by Fire: S/T 12" (Alonas Dream Records)
Remedy: Golden Voice Sessions 1970-1974 12" (Alonas Dream Records)
Gidians Bible: 1969 10" (Alonas Dream Records)
The Contents Are: Four Each Other 12" (Alonas Dream Records)
The Wombats: S/T 7" (Alonas Dream Records)
Erik Nervous: Assorted Anxieties 12" (Drunken Sailor)
Mauser: Isolation 12” (Vinyl Rites)
Scumraid: Control 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Sect Mark: Worship 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Intensive Care: Everything Has Its Price 7" (Iron Lung Records)
Various: Iron Lung Mixtape III cassette (Iron Lung Records)
Normil Hawaiians: More Wealth 12" (Upset The Rhythm!)
Green Child: S/T 12" (Upset The Rhythm!)
Beta Boys: Brick Walls 7" (Total Punk)
Laughing Hyenas: Merry Go Round 12" (Third Man)
Laughing Hyenas: You Can't Pray a Lie 12" (Third Man)
Social Unrest: Rat in a Maze 12" (New Red Archives)
Fall Out Boy: M A N I A 12" (Island Records)
Typhoon: Offerings 12" (Roll Call Records)
Childish Gambino: Camp 12" (Glassnote Records)
Mumford+Sons: Sigh No More 12" (Island Records)
Tool: Lateralus 12" (Volcano)
Tool: Undertow 12" (Volcano)
Jeffrey BLVD & the Main Drag: Normal Girl EP 7" (Highly Questionable Productions)
Lihhamon: Doctrine 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Wrathprayer / Force of Darkness: Wrath of Darkness 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
A Certain Ratio: To Each... 12" (Mute Records)
Big Black: Racer-X 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Big Business: Head for the Shallow 12" (Joyful Noise)
Big Business: Here Come the Waterworks 12" (Joyful Noise)
Big Business: Mind the Drift 12" (Joyful Noise)
Neverending Mind War: Demo I cassette (Self-Released)
Confirmation: ++++ cassette (Hidden Fortune)
Golden Dawn: Lullaby Demo 1995 12" (Seed Stock Records)
Various: Dog City USA cassette (Earth Girl)
Primal Rite: Dirge of Escapism 12" (Revelation)
Chokehold: Prison of Hope 12" (A389)
Chokehold: S/T 12" (A389)
Sonic Youth: Murray Street 12" (DGC)
Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped 12" (DGC)
Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse 12" (DGC)
Motorhead: S/T 12" (Drastic Plastic Records)
Leatherface: Minx 12" (Fire Records)
The Rival Mob: Hardcore for Hardcore 12" (Quality Control HC)
Christian Death: Atrocities 12" (Season of Mist Records)
Christian Death: The Scriptures 12" (Season of Mist Records)
Project X: Straight Edge Revenge 7" (Bridge 9 Records)
Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die 12" (Rhino Records)
Hot Snakes: Automatic Midnight 12" (Sub Pop Records)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress 12" (Sub Pop Records)
Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice 12" (Sub Pop Records)
Heavy Lids: Final Days 12" (Blak Skul)
Mammoth Grinder: Cosmic Crypt 12" (Relapse)
Thee Headcoatees: Punk Girls 12" (Damaged Goods Records)
The Lumineers: Cleopatra 12" (Dualtone Records)
The Avett Brothers: Magpie and the Dandelion 12" (Universal)
King Crimson: Red 12" (Inner Knot)
Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze 12" (Interscope)
Alice in Chains: MTV Unplugged 12" (Columbia Records)
Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street 12" (Universal)
Bjork: Post 12" (Polydor Records)
Ruler: S/T 7" (Secret Mission Records)
Various: Scrap! 12" (Secret Mission Records)


The World: First World Record 12" (Lumpy)
Various: Horrendous New Wave 12" (Lumpy)
Radiation Risks: S/T 7" (Lumpy)
Lumpy & the Dumpers: Those Pickled Fuckers 12" (Lumpy)
Lumpy & the Dumpers: Huff My Sack 12" (Lumpy)
U-Nix: S/T 7" (Lumpy)
Genpop: S/T 7" (Lumpy)
Nosferatu: S/T 7" (Lumpy)
Pack: S/T 12" (Ugly Pop)
X: X-Spurts 12" (Ugly Pop)
Casanovas in Heat: Twisted Steel Sex Appeal 12" (Katorga Works)
The Kinks: S/T 12" (Sanctuary)
The Kinks: Kinda Kinks 12" (Sanctuary)
The Kinks: Kontroversy 12" (Sanctuary)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress 12" (Sub Pop)
Sleater-Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One 12" (Sub Pop)
Green Day: 39/Smooth 12" (Reprise)
Green Day: Kerplunk 12" (Reprise)
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks 12" (Warner Bros)
The Refused: The Shape of Punk to Come 12" (Epitaph)
Led Zeppelin: I 12" (Atlantic)
The Fix: The Speed of Twisted Thought 12" (Touch & Go)
Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast 12" (BMG)
David Bowie: Hunky Dory 12" (Parlophone)
Institute: Subordination 12" (Sacred Bones)
Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 12" (Merge)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn. 12" (Interscope)
Weezer: The Blue Album 12" (Geffen)
Nirvana: Unplugged in NY 12" (DGC)
Nirvana: Nevermind 12" (DGC)
Nas: Illmatic 12" (Columbia)
Guns N Roses: Appetite for Destruction 12" (Geffen)
Kanye West: College Dropout 12" (Roc-A-Fella Records)
DJ Shadow: Endtroducing 12" (Mowax Recordings)
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain 12" (Westbound Records)
Sect Mark: Worship 12" (Iron Lung)
Baroness: Blue 12" (Relapse)
Baroness: Red 12" (Relapse)
Baroness: Yellow and Green 12" (Relapse)
Death: Spiritual Healing 12" (Relapse)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Pmtraitors)
Brand New: Science Fiction 12" (Pmtraitors)
Brand New: Your Favourite Weapon 12" (Triple Crown)
Darkthrone: Transilvanian Hunger 12" (Peaceville)
Darkthrone: Under a Funeral Moon 12" (Peaceville)
Al Green: Greatest Hits 12" (Fat Possum)
Modest Mouse: Building Nothing Out of Something 12" (Glacial Place)
Motley Crue: Shout at the Devil 12" (Motley Records)
Taake: Kong Vinter 12" (Karisma)
Perverts Again: My Accident 12" (Total Punk)
Television: Marquee Moon 12" (Rhino)
Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice 12" (Sub Pop)
Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out 12" (Sub Pop)
Pixies: Trompe Le Monde 12" (4AD)
Motorhead: No Sleep Til Hammersmith 12" (Sanctuary)
Motorhead: Rock N Roll 12" (Sanctuary)
MC5: High Time 12" (Atlantic)
Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti 2x12" (Rhino)
Green Day: Insomniac 12" (Reprise)
Pantera: Cowboys from Hell 12" (Rhino)
Polvo: Shapes 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks 12" (Rhino)
Refused: The Shape of Punk to Come 12" (Epitaph)
Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son 12" (BMG)
Dinosaur Jr: Bug 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop)
Joy Division: Closer 12" (Rhino)
The Cure: Disintegration 12" (Rhino)
King Krule: The Ooz 2x12" (XL Recordings)
Sass: Demo cassette (I Hate I Skate)
SZA: CTRL 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Sylvan Esso: What Now 12" (Loma Vista)
Albert Ayler: Hilversum Session 12" (Modern Silence)
Pink Floyd: Animals 12" (Columbia)
Weezer: Blue Album 12" (Geffen)
Damned: Damned Damned Damned 12" (Drastic Plastic)
Lana Del Rey: Born to Die 12" (Polydor)
Childish Gambino: Camp 12" (Glassnote Records)
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King 12" (Inner Knot)
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black 12" (Island)
Dead Kennedys: In God We Trust, Inc. 12" (Manifesto Records)
Misfits: Legacy of Brutality 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Collection 12" (Caroline)
Descendents: I Don't Want to Grow Up 12" (SST)
Black Flag: Loose Nut 12" (SST)
Black Flag: In My Head 12" (SST)
Bad Brains: Omega Sessions 12" (Victory)
Bjork: Post 12" (Polydor)
The Black Keys: Thickfreakness 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Pmtraitors)
Brand New: Science Fiction 12" (Pmtraitors)
Death: Scream Bloody Gore 12" (Relapse)
Jason Isbell: The Nashville Sound 12" (Southeastern Records)
Run the Jewels: S/T 12" (Mass Appeal)
Wretched: Libero E Selvaggio 7" box set (Agipunk Records)
Extreme Noise Terror: Phonophobia 12" (Agipunk Records)
Odio: Ancora 12" (Agipunk Records)
Aus Rotten: And Now Back to Our Programming... 12" (Profane Existence)
Lebenden Toten: Mind Parasites 12" (Overthrow Records)
City of Caterpillar: S/T 12" (Repeater Records)
Dawn of Humans: Slurping at the Cosmos' Spine 12" (Toxic State)
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: Go Home 12" (Toxic State)
Hank Wood & the Hammerheads: Stay Home 12" (Toxic State)
Haram: When You Have Won, You Have Lost 12" (Toxic State)
L.O.T.I.O.N.: Digital Control and Man's Obsolescence 12" (Toxic State)
Life's Blood: Hardcore AD 1988 12" (Prank Records)
Career Suicide: Machine Response 12" (Deranged)
Kleenex / Liliput: First Songs 12" (Mississippi Records)
Limp Wrist: Facades 12" (Lengua Armada Records)
Drive Like Jehu: Yank Crime 12" (Headhunter Records)
Neanderthal: A History of Violence 12" (Deep Six Records)
LSD: 1983 to 1986 12" (Schizophrenic Records)
Cryptopsy: None So Vile 12" (War on Music Records)
Dayglo Abortions: Feed Us a Fetus 12" (Unrest Records)
Satanic Warmaster: Nova Ordo Ater 12" (Werewolf Records)
Sadist: Shadow of the Swastika 12" (Regurgitated Semen Records)
Poison Idea: Darby Crash Rides Again 12" (TKO)
Tarantula: S/T 7" (Erste Theke Tonträger)
Jack and the Rippers: No Desire 7" (Static Age Musik)
Left Cross: Chaos Ascension 12" (Vinyl Conflict)
Asylum: Modern Hysteria 12" (Vinyl Conflict)
The Meatmen: We're the Meatmen and You Suck 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Big Black: Atomizer 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Big Black: Lungs 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Big Black: Songs About Fucking 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Hot Snakes: Automatic Midnight 12" (Sub Pop)
The Cure: Greatest Hits 12" (Elektra Records)
The Cure: Greatest Hits Acoustic 12" (Elektra Records)
NOFX: Liberal Animation 12" (Epitaph)
NOFX: The Longest Line 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Can: Future Days 12" (Spoon Records)
The Stooges: Fun House 12" (Rhino)
Joy Division: Substance 12" (Rhino)
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures 12" (Rhino)
Dinosaur Jr: You're Living All Over Me 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Angel Olsen: Phases 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 12" (Reprise Records)
Mission of Burma: Vs 12" (Matador)
Guided by Voices: Alien Lanes 12" (Matador)
Pavement: Watery, Domestic 12" (Matador)
Led Zeppelin: II 12" (Atlantic)
Black Sabbath: Vol 4 12" (Rhino)
45 Grave: Sleep in Safety 12" (Real Gone Music)
Swell Maps: Jane from Occupied Europe 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Swell Maps: A Trip to Marineville 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast 12" (BMG)
The Cure: Seventeen Seconds 12" (Rhino)
Voivod: Dimension Hatross 12" (Noise Records)
Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales 12" (Noise Records)
Metallica: Master of Puppets 12" (Blackened)
Nirvana: Bleach 12" (Sub Pop)
Jeffrey BLVD & the Main Drag: Normal Girl 7" (Highly Questionable Productions)
Offspring: S/T 12" (Craft Recordings)
The Offspring: Smash 12" (Epitaph)
Audioslave: S/T 12" (Interscope Records)
Baby Huey: Living Legend 12" (Music on Vinyl)
The Lumineers: Cleopatra 12" (Dualtone Records)
The Lumineers: S/T 12" (Dualtone Records)
Nirvana: Unplugged in New York 12" (DGC)
Nirvana: Nevermind 12" (DGC)
Nick Drake: Pink Moon 12" (Island)
Rage Against the Machine: Battle of Los Angeles 12" (Epic)
Rage Against the Machine: S/T 12" (Sony)
Rage Against the Machine: Evil Empire 12" (Epic)
Queens of the Stone Age: Lullabies to Paralyze 12" (Interscope Records)
Guns N Roses: Appetite for Destruction 12" (Geffen)
Dr. Dre: The Chronic 12" (Death Row)
The Strokes: Is This It? 12" (RCA)
Nas: Illmatic 12" (Columbia)
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) 12" (RCA)
Husker Du: Land Speed Record 12" (SST)
Black Flag: The First Four Years 12" (SST)
Black Flag: Jealous Again 12" (SST)
Descendents: Milo Goes to College 12" (SST)
Death Grips: No Love Deep Web 12" (self-released)
Bjork: Homgenic 12" (One Little Indian)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Pmtraitors)
Electric Wizard: Dopethrone 12" (Rise Above Records)
Jason Isbell: The Nashville Sound 12" (Southeastern)
Lord Huron: Strange Trails 12" (I Am Sound Records)
Motley Crue: Theatre of Pain 12" (Motley Records)
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic 12" (Southern Lord)
Pretty Things: SF Sorrow 12" (Madfish Music)
Run the Jewels: RTJ 2 12" (Mass Appeal)
Sleep: Dopesmoker 12" (Southern Lord)
Tenement: Proxy OST 12" (Malokul)
SFN / Abrade: Split 10" (Malokul)
Death: Human 12" (Relapse)
Dangus Tarkus: Rock N Roll for the People 12" (Dig Records)
Jaylib: Champion Sound 12" (Stones Throw)
J Dilla: Donuts 12" (Stones Throw)
Priests: Bodies and Control and Money and Power 12" (Don Giovanni Records)
Elliott Smith: Either/Or 12" (Kill Rock Stars)
Elliott Smith: From a Basement on a Hill 12" (Kill Rock Stars)
Elliott Smith: Roman Candle 12" (Kill Rock Stars)
Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album 12" (Barsuk)
The Sexual: Disocgraphy 12" (euro import)
Kraftwerk: The Man Machine 12" (Parlophone Records)
Kraftwerk: Trans Europe Express 12" (Parlophone Records)
Kraftwerk: Autobahn 12" (Parlophone Records)
Kraftwerk: Radio-Activity 12" (Parlophone Records)
Ramones: Leave Home 12" (Rhino)
Ramones: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Ramones: Rocket to Russia 12" (Rhino)
Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die 12" (Rhino)
T Rex: Electric Warrior 12" (Rhino)
Rancid: Life Won't Wait 12" (Epitaph)
Sleep: Holy Mountain 12" (Earache Records)
Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 12" (Merge Records)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)
Bat Fangs: S/T 12" (Don Giovanni Records)
Elliott Smith: S/T 12" (Kill Rock Stars Records)
Heavy Lids: Final Days 12" (Blak Skul)
SZA: CTRL 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn 12" (Interscope Records)
Khalid: American Teen 12" (RCA)
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 12" (Manifesto Records)
Deftones: White Pony 12" (Maverick Records)
Nas: Illmatic 12" (Columbia Records)
Descendents: Milo Goes to College 12" (SST)
Descendents: I Don't Want to Grow Up 12" (SST)
Husker Du: Zen Arcade 12" (SST)
Black Flag: The First Four Years 12" (SST)
Black Flag: My War 12" (SST)
Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime 12" (SST)
Husker Du: New Day Rising 12" (SST)
Misfits: Legacy of Brutality 12" (Caroline Records)
Amyl & the Sniffers: Big Attraction / Giddy Up 12" (Homeless)
Butthole Surfers: Brown Reason to Live 12" (Alternative Tentacles Records)
Guided by Voices: Bee Thousand 12" (Scat Records)
Jawbreaker: Etc. 12" (Blackball Records)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana 12" (Flightless Records)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Murder of the Universe 12" (ATO Records)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Quarters 12" (ATO Records)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity 12" (ATO Records)
Thee Oh Sees: Mutilator Defeated at Last 12" (Castleface Records)
Poison Idea: Kings of Punk 12" (TKO)
Portal: Ion 12" (Profound Lore Records)
Solid Space: Space Museum 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Subhumans: Worlds Apart 12" (Bluurg)
The Fall: This Nation's Saving Grace 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening... 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: Hex Enduction Hour 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: Live at the Witch Trials 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: Room to Live 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Flesh Eaters: A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die 12" (Revolver)
Baroness: Blue 12" (Relapse)
Baroness: Red 12" (Relapse)
Bjork: Debut 12" (One Little Indian)
Bjork: Post 12" (One Little Indian)
Black Keys: Rubber Factory 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Brand New: Your Favorite Weapon 12" (Triple Crown Records)
Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus 12" (Peaceville)
Kohti Tuhoa: Pelon Neljas Valtaku 12" (Southern Lord Records)
Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams 12" (I Am Sound Records)
Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold 12" (What's Your Rupture?)
Sect: No Cure for Death 12" (Southern Lord Records)
Disaster: Warcry 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Patsy: LA Women 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Rixe: Collection 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Rights of the Accused: Innocence 7" (Alonas Dream Records)
Savage Beliefs: Big Big Sky 12" (Alonas Dream Records)
Tarantula: Weird Tales of Radiation and Hate 7" (Deranged)
Total Control: Henge Beat 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Total Control: Typical System 12" (Iron Lung Records)
DAUÐYFLIN: Ofbeldi 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Lebenden Toten: Static 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Terry: Remember Terry 12" (Upset The Rhythm!)
Solid Space: Space Museum 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Los Monjo: La Vida Gue Todos Envidian 12" (DiscosMMM Records)
Ausencia: S/T 7" (DiscosMMM Records)
Childish Gambino: Awaken My Love 12" (Glassnote Records)
Ed Sheeran: Divide 12" (Atlantic Records)
Radiohead: OK Computer 12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: Amnesiac 12" (XL Recordings)
Nirvana: S/T 12" (Universal Music)
Nirvana: Nevermind 12" (DGC)
Nirvana: Bleach 12" (Sub Pop)
Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly 12" (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Etta James: At Last 12" (Jackpot Records)
King Crimson: Red 12" (Inner Knot)
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue 12" (Columbia Legacy)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella Records)
Velvet Underground & Nico: S/T 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black 12" (Island Records)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magick 12" (Warner Brothers)
Snoop Doggy Dogg: Doggystyle 12" (Death Row Records)
Daft Punk: Discovery 12" (Parlophone Records)
The Strokes: Is This It? 12" (RCA Records)
Misfits: Static Age 12" (Caroline Records)
DJ Shadow: Endtroducing 12" (Mowax Recordings)
Tool: Opiate 12" (BMG)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme 12" (Impulse Records)
Nas: Illmatic 12" (Columbia)
Funkadelic: S/T 12" (Westbound Records)
Tyler the Creator: Scum Fuck Flower Boy 12" (Columbia Records)
Beyonce: Lemonade 12" (Sony)
Pink Floyd: Piper at the Gates of Dawn 12" (Pink Floyd Records)
Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang 12" (RCA Records)
Bjork: Debut 12" (One Little Indian)
Bjork: Post 12" (One Little Indian)
Brand New: Science Fiction 12" (Procrastinate! Music Traitors)
Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky 12" (Peaceville Records)
Darkthrone: Transilvanian Hunger 12" (Peaceville Records)
Darkthrone: Under a Funeral Moon 12" (Peaceville Records)
Death: Spiritual Healing 12" (Relapse Records)
Death: The Sound of Perseverence 12" (Relapse Records)
Earth Crisis: Destroy the Machines 12" (Victory)
Geto Boys: We Can't Be Stopped 12" (Rap A Lot Records)
Lord Huron: Strange Trails 12" (I Am Sound Records)
Parquet Courts: Content Nausea 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic 12" (Southern Lord)
Propagandhi: Less Talk, More Rock 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 3 12" (Mass Appeal)
Sleep: Dopesmoker 12" (Southern Lord)
Uncle Acid: The Night Creeper 12" (Rise Above Records)
Uncle Acid: Vol 1 12" (Rise Above Records)
Jack White: Acoustic Recordings 12" (Third Man)
The White Stripes: White Blood Cells 12" (Third Man)
The White Stripes: De Stijl 12" (Third Man)
Ectoplasm: S/T 7” (Vinyl Rites)
Morbid Opera: Collection 12" (Vinyl Rites)
Thou / The Body: Split 12" (Vinyl Rites)
Sunshine Ward: Nuclear Ambitions 12” (Bloody Master)
Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice 12" (Sub Pop)
Hot Snakes: Audit in Progress 12" (Sub Pop)
Hot Snakes: Automatic Midnight 12" (Sub Pop)
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream 12" (Atlantic Records)
Rancid: Let's Go (20th Anniversary Edition) 12" (Epitaph)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Lift Your Skinny Fists... 12" (Constellation Records)
T Rex: Electric Warrior 12" (Rhino)
The Refused: The Shape of Punk to Come (deluxe version) 12" (Epitaph)
The Pixies: Come on Pilgrim 12" (4AD Records)
Metallica: The Black Album 12" (Blackened)
Metallica: Master of Puppets 12" (Blackened)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)
Dinosaur Jr: You're Living All Over Me 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Dinosaur Jr: Bug 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Firewalker: S/T 12" (Pop Wig Records)
Swell Maps: A Trip to Marineville 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Swell Maps: Jane from Occupied Europe 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Zero Boys: Vicious Circle 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Jay Reatard: Matador Singles '08 12" (Matador Records)
Jay Reatard: Watch Me Fall 12" (Matador Records)
The Cure: The Head on the Door 12" (Rhino)
The Cure: Disintegration 12" (Rhino)
Bauhaus: In the Flat Field 12" (4AD Records)
Slint: Spiderland 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Golden Dawn / Aperion: Split 2x12" (Seed Stock Records)
The Faction: Corpse in Disguise 12" (Beer City Records)
The Faction: Epitaph 12" (Beer City Records)
Clitboys: We Don't Play the Game 12" (Beer City Records)
YDI: A Place in the Sun / Black Dust 12" (Southern Lord Records)
Whirr: Pipe Dreams 12" (Tee Pee Records)
Sonic Youth: Washing Machine 12" (Geffen)
Negative FX: S/T 12" (Taang! Records)
Give Up the Ghost: Year One 12" (Bridge 9 Records)
Beyond: No Longer at Ease 12" (Revelation)
Bold: The Search 12" (Revelation)
Burn: S/T 7" (Revelation)
Gorilla Biscuits: Start Today 12" (Revelation)
Inside Out: No Spiritual Surrender 7" (Revelation)
Mouthpiece: Can't Kill What's Inside 12" (Revelation)
Side by Side: You're Only Young Once 12" (Revelation)
Texas Is the Reason: Do You Know Who You Are? 12" (Revelation)
Warzone: Don't Forget the Struggle 12" (Revelation)
Youth of Today: We're Not in This Alone 12" (Revelation)
The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding 12" (Atlantic Records)
The Kinks: Face to Face 12" (Sanctuary Records)
Notorious B.I.G.: Life After Death 12" (Bad Boy Records)
Sunny Day Real Estate: How It Feels to Be Something On 12" (Sub Pop Records)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop Records)
Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy 12" (Atlantic Records)
Led Zeppelin: II 12" (Atlantic Records)
Rancid: Let's Go (20th Anniversary Edition) 12" (Epitaph Records)
The Fall: This Nation's Saving Grace 12" (Beggar's Banquet Records)
Radiohead: Amnesiac 12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: The Bends 12" (XL Recordings)
Radiohead: OK Computer 12" (XL Recordings)
NOFX: The Longest Line 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
NOFX: The Decline 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
NOFX: Liberal Animation 12" (Epitaph Records)
Mission of Burma: Vs. 12" (Matador Records)
The Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy 12" (Rhino Records)
Polvo: Exploded Drawing 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Polvo: Shapes 12" (Touch & Go Records)
David Bowie: Diamond Dogs 12" (Parlophone Records)
Can: Future Days 12" (Spoon Records)
Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out 12" (Sub Pop Records)
The Replacements: Hootenanny 12" (Rhino Records)
Green Day: 39/Smooth 12" (Reprise Records)
Pantera: Vulgar Display of Power 12" (Rhino Records)
Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks 12" (Rhino Records)
Bauhaus: Mask 12" (Beggar's Banquet Records)
Angel Olsen: Phases 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Pavement: Watery, Domestic 12" (Matador Records)
Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain 12" (Matador Records)
Black Sabbath: Vol 4 12" (Rhino Records)
The Cure: Seventeen Seconds 12" (Rhino Records)
The Cure: The Head on the Door 12" (Rhino Records)
Motorhead: Orgasmatron 12" (Sanctuary Records)
Guided by Voices: Alien Lanes 12" (Matador Records)
Hawkwind: Space Ritual 12" (Parlophone Records)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)
Metallica: Master of Puppets 12" (Blackened)
Neutral Milk Hotel: On Avery Island 12" (Merge Records)
Neutral Milk Hotel: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea 12" (Merge Records)
Operation Ivy: Energy 12" (Hellcat)
Institute: Subordination 12" (Sacred Bones)
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain 12" (Westbound Records)
45 Grave: Sleep in Safety 12" (Real Gone Music)
Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion 12" (Noise Records)
Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales 12" (Noise Records)
Voivod: Dimension Hatross 12" (Noise Records)
Voivod: Killing Technology 12" (Noise Records)
Sleep: Holy Mountain 12" (Earache Records)
The Kinks: Arthur 12" (Sanctuary Records)
J Dilla: Donuts 12" (Stones Throw)
Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters 12" (Manifesto Records)
Dead Kennedys: Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death 12" (Manifesto Records)
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables 12" (Manifesto Records)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella Records)
Alice in Chains: Dirt 12" (Music on Vinyl)
Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty 12" (Capitol Records)
Beastie Boys: Ill Communication 12" (Capitol Records)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magick 12" (Warner Bros Records)
Dr. Dre: The Chronic 12" (Death Row Records)
Bjork: Debut 12" (One Little Indian)
Bjork: Homogenic 12" (One Little Indian)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Pmtraitors)
Brand New: Science Fiction 12" (Procrastinate! Music Traitors)
Brand New: Your Favorite Weapon 12" (Triple Crown Records)
Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus 12" (Peaceville)
Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky 12" (Peaceville)
Darkthrone: Soulside Journey 12" (Peaceville)
Descendents: Cool to Be You 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Earth Crisis: Firestorm 7" (Victory Records)
Geto Boys: We Can't Be Stopped 12" (Rap-A-Lot Records)
Jason Isbell: Something More than Free 12" (Southeastern Records)
Modest Mouse: Night on the Sun 12" (Glacial Pace)
Modest Mouse: The Fruit that Ate Itself 12" (Glacial Pace)
Motley Crue: Girls Girls Girls 12" (Motley Records)
Propagandhi: How to Clean Everything 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Propagandhi: Less Talk, More Rock 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Royal Headache: S/T 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Sect: No Cure for Death 12" (Southern Lord Records)
Slayer: Show No Mercy 12" (Metal Blade Records)
Yob: Clearing the Path to Ascend 12" (Relapse Records)
S-21: Operation Menu 7" (World Gone Mad)

All Things to All People Vol. 26 (Best of 2017) B/W Featured Release Roundup

So, on this round of entries on the Sorry State Records blog we’re all posting our top records of 2017. If you’re a subscriber to Maximumrocknroll you might have already read my list in their best of 2017 issue. Since that magazine just came out I won’t reproduce my little blurbs about each record (you’ll have to buy the mag to get that), but I will let you know what was on my list. Here we are, in no particular order:


PURA MANIA: Cerebros Punk 12” (CV / Hysteria)
EEL: Night Parade of 100 Demons (Beach Impediment)
ISS: (Endless Pussyfooting) 12” (Erste Theke Tonträger)
TESTA DURA: Lotta Continua 7” (Even Worse)
IMPALERS: Celler Dweller (540)
NEON: Neon Is Life cassette (self-released)
MIDNITE SNAXXX: Chew on This (Pelican Pow-wow)
NOSFERATU: S/T 7” (Lumpy)
S.H.I.T.: I 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus)
SHEER MAG: Need to Feel Your Love 12” (Wilsuns)


DAGGER: Writhing in the Light of the Moon 7” (Lengua Armada)
WARM BODIES: My Burning Love 7” (Thrilling Living)
KALEIDOSCOPE: Volume 3 12” (Feel It)
CAREER SUICIDE: Machine Response 12” (Deranged)
RUBBLE: S/T 7” (Distort Reality)
HOUSEWIVES: S/T 12” (Ever/Never)
RASHOMON: S/T 7” (Society Bleeds)
MUFF DIVERS: Dreams of the Gentlest Texture 12” (Lumpy)
MOZART: Nasty 7” (Iron Lung)
INSTITUTE: Subordination 12” (Sacred Bones)
TARANTULA: S/T 7” (Lengua Armada)
HALDOL: The Totalitarianism of Everyday Life 12” (World Gone Mad)
FLESH WORLD: Into the Shroud 12” (Dark Entries)
gSp: S/T 12” (Thrilling Living)
HARAM: When You Have Won, You Have Lost 12” (Toxic State)
HEAVY METAL: LP2 12” (Static Age)
BRAINBOMBS: Inferno 12” (Skrammel)

As usual, I had absolutely no trouble making this list… there is simply SO MUCH good punk rock being released right now. I’m extremely privileged to be in a position to hear so much of it, but I still find it frustrating when people complain that there aren’t any good new bands. I guess the problem of people thinking the scene dies when they leave never really goes away.

Overall, though, I think that I will remember 2017 as a year when I threw out many of my preconceived notions of what punk (and maybe even music in general) could be. Even outside of this list, my own musical tastes widened considerably as I listened to way more krautrock, psych, electronic and noise music, and jazz in 2017 than I ever had before in my life. That my eclecticism seeped into my punk listening as well is apparent from this list. Brainbombs is a band that never really moved me before, but the way they combine 70s Miles Davis with Fun House-era Stooges on Inferno had me spinning that record relentlessly. Getting into artists like Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Amon Düül II, and Can also opened my ears to the sounds being made by groups like Neon, Mozart, and Warm Bodies. And a newfound tendency to listen closely to the auditory texture of recordings (rather than understanding recording as essentially a transparent window into the composition) made records like EEL’s even more gripping than they might have been otherwise.

Who needs reflection, though? Let’s head right back into the thick of it with some blurbs on what’s hot in 2018:

Apologies... I've been running behind on the blog and most of these are now sold out from us :( Hopefully we can get restocks on most of them though.

Amyl & the Sniffers: Big Attraction / Giddy Up 12” (Homeless) Debut vinyl from this Australian band (collecting two earlier cassette releases) and I don’t think I’ve been this taken with a new artist for months. To my ears, Amyl & the Sniffers sound like a punked-up version of classic pub rock (or whatever music it is that sharpies listened to)… specifically, they sound like their countrymen the Coloured Balls injected with the energy and concision of X-Ray Spex’s best tracks. It’s a good formula, but Amyl & the Sniffers are far more than just a formula… songs range from the primitive, explosive punk of “Someone Stole My Push Bike” to the pop euphoria of “I’m Not a Loser” or “Mandalay” to the stretched-out, stoned boogie of “Balaclava Lover Boogie.” The songs themselves are pretty much out-of-this-world outstanding, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the singer… she’s just fantastic. Her whole persona just drips with charisma, providing a central focal point for the band that you just can’t look away from (literally or metaphorically). If you like catchy, energetic punk in the ’77 tradition (especially if you don’t mind a little pub rock mixed in a la Eddie & the Hot Rods or Slaughter & the Dogs) I really can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Double O / Red C: Demos 12” (Euro Import) Unofficial release collecting these two DC bands’ demo tape releases. While Double O and Red C share vaguely similar names and both very much fly under the typical harDCore radar, they’re very different bands. Red C are kind of a quintessential teenage punk band… they can barely play and their songs are very simple and straightforward, but they’re nevertheless really fun. Concurrently with spinning this 12” a few times over the past week or so I’ve also been reading the anthology of XXX zine and it’s amazing to me how young some of the people who participated in the initial explosion of hardcore were. I mean, I’m still playing and listening to this music and I’m 38 years old, but a lot of these kids were 16-18 years old (sometimes even younger!) and while that can show in the lack of sharpness in their playing (as it does on the Red C demo), it also means that they’re able to get across a sense of naive enthusiasm that older, more polished bands simply can’t capture. However, while Red C’s demo is a really interesting document of that whole teenage hardcore band phenomenon, I’d argue that Double O are a legitimately powerful and crucially underrated band, and that’s definitely apparent on their tracks here. While this recording is looser and rawer than their EP (which I really can’t recommend highly enough), what you hear here is already confident and powerful, easily able to stand toe to toe with any of the best early Dischord bands (excepting, possibly, Minor Threat). While the packaging here certainly leaves something to be desired, the sound quality is on point and given the fact that this LP is the only currently-in-print Double O material I’d argue that it’s worthy of your attention.

Total Control: Laughing at the System12” (Alter) Like a lot of people, I’m sure, I was pretty excited to learn that there was a new Total Control record and I jumped online to listen to it as soon as it was available. I really liked it immediately, so I was kind of puzzled when I started seeing some people express mixed feelings toward the record on various places on the internet. It didn’t really seem to me like Laughing at the System was that much of a different record than Typical System, but after going back and listening to that record I can acknowledge that Laughing is pretty different… it’s notably devoid of the dance floor-ready beats and big choruses of Typical System, with the band instead exploring quirkier rhythms, more dissonant harmonies and more unfamiliar textures. However, these are precisely the kinds of things I’ve been interested in exploring in my own music-listening in the years since Typical System came out, so listening to Laughing at the System it sounds perfectly natural to me. Another reason why less adventurous listeners might find this to be a more “difficult” record is because all of the songs are quite different from one another. This has been the case, at least to some extent, with most of Total Control’s previous releases, but the variety on Laughing really is quite striking. However, every single track here has something that I absolutely love, whether it’s the quirky rhythm of “Laughing at the System I” (which, as a number of people have noted, sounds quite a lot like the later Whatever Brains material), the Robert Fripp-esque abstract guitar of “Vote Cops,” or the ambient Kraut-isms of “Cathie and Marg.” So, if you’re expecting Typical System Part II you might be disappointed, but if you’ve spent the years since that record working to explore all of the other corners of the record store I think you’ll love this just as much as, if not more than, any other Total Control record.

BB Eye: S/T 12” (Lumpy) I really enjoyed the BB Eye 7” a while back, but this new 12” is really a big step up from that. Given the opportunity to spread out on a 12”, BB Eye don’t just write the same song over and over, but rather explore a lot of different ideas. There’s a bit of a mix tape vibe here, but rather than sounding schizophrenic it really only serves to highlight how one-dimensional most bands are. It seems like most groups feel around for a formula that works and then work to explore how flexible that formula is, giving all of the songs on a particular release a fairly uniform aesthetic. However, BB Eye seem to deliberately avoid saving any templates, approaching each new song as if they were starting a new band. Some songs have an earworm quality (there’s no way you don’t walk away from this record humming “I want to poke you poke you poke you… in the eye!”), others get into more of a drone-y, repetitive space that reminds me of early songs by the Fall (see “Dating a Fly”), and then there’s the chilled-out new wave of “Butterball’s Lament” that closes the record on an extremely strong note. Given that it’s so all over the place this record can come off as tossed-off on the first listen, but the more it sinks in the more you realize how many interesting and memorable ideas are crammed into each song. Taken as a whole, the overall vibe of this record reminds me a lot of Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets LP… it’s the sound of very smart and ambitious musicians stretching out, exploring, and enjoying the freedom of being oblivious to the world’s expectations. I really can’t recommend this highly enough, and with a few more listens it may well replace the Janitor Scum LP as my favorite release yet on the Lumpy label.

Tarantula: Weird Tales of Radiation and Hate 7” (Deranged) Second 7” from Chicago’s Tarantula, and it continues in the vein of their excellent first record. Tarantula are exploring a space that not a lot of bands are interested in these days… if the words didn’t have such terrible associations I would call this “melodic hardcore,” i.e. music that has the speed and the gritty sound of early 80s hardcore but relies on the more traditional pop song structure of classic punk rock. The only band I can think of off the top of my head who is doing something similar is Night Birds, but Tarantula is a lot tougher and meaner-sounding. While one might consider the idea of catchy, song-oriented hardcore to be completely played out, Tarantula toe the line between poppy and aggressive so perfectly that their music feels fresh. You can hear the influences quite clearly—the snotty, aggressive punk of bands like the Angry Samoans and Zero Boys, the earnest drive of early 80s midwest hardcore like Articles of Faith and early Husker Du, and a dash of Devo / Geza X-style irreverence—but they’re swirled together in a way that’s just different enough from anything I’ve heard before to be noteworthy.

Crusade: Stay Free 1992-1993 12” (Japancore) Anthology release from this 90s Japanese crasher crust band. Generally, I try not to bring up the gender identities of musicians that I write about in these descriptions, but I think it is notable that Crusade were an all-women band, which is notable not just because all-women bands are very, very rare in the Japanese hardcore scene (Nurse is the only one who springs immediately to mind, though I may be blanking on something obvious), but because women musicians in general seem quite rare in that scene, particularly the noise / crasher scene that Crusade were involved in. I also feel somewhat authorized to bring up gender because bassist Chihiro writes eloquently in the liner notes about how some members of the scene in Osaka were skeptical that women could “really” be into punk, much less start a legit band. Well, the proof is in the pudding because Crusade did, indeed, rip. While I wouldn’t put this on the level of, say, Framtid or Gloom, the demo tracks collected on the a-side here in particular are top-notch crasher crust with a raw, brutal sound and performance to match. If you’re wondering if the band added any kind of “soft” or “feminine” touches to the music (whatever that would even mean) you’re barking up the wrong tree, because this is just pure crust brutality. While I certainly like the music quite a bit, I think my favorite part of this release is the liner notes. Chihiro’s story of how and why she started the band as well as the tragic story of how the band ended is a really gripping read and offers a small window into a scene that has always been completely draped in alluring mystery for me.

Negative Space: Gestalt 12” (Drunken Sailor) Debut LP from this UK post-punk band, and I have to say it’s quite striking. Every once in a while we get in a record at the shop that sells off the turntable every time you put it on… Gestalt is one of those records. Whenever it’s playing at the shop customers ask what it is and often buy it right away. There’s something very weighty and important-feeling about it, but it’s also rather stylish and at the same time poppy and accessible. The label’s description references Wire and Gang of Four and both of those bands are apt comparisons in that they have a similar mixture of qualities, though Negative Space are a bit grittier and sound, to me at least, like they must be informed by hardcore on at least some level. The band they really sound to me, though, is Diät, particularly their excellent Positive Energy LP on Iron Lung Records (and, I guess by extension, one might say that they sound quite a bit like Crisis too). While Negative Space don’t have quite the Total Control-level of pop sheen that Diät have, the vocalist has a very similar intonation and the songs are similarly balanced in their originality and their earworm-iness. I suppose time will tell if Gestalt is a record that people keep coming back to year after year, but it’s definitely looking that way. Even though I haven’t heard much about this group from the hype machine, it’s only a matter of time before something this well-done, engaging, and catchy becomes the hot new thing. Highly recommended.

Sial: S/T 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) I’ve been hearing quite a lot of chatter about this debut LP from Singapore’s Sial, and when I first put it on I could immediately hear why… sometimes when I put on a record I think to myself that this is the sound of right now, the sound that I’ll think of when I remember this era of punk. I suppose that could sound like a slight—like I’m implying Sial are unoriginal or derivative—but I actually mean it in exactly the opposite way… Sial don’t sound precisely like anything that’s come before, and they combine their various influences in a way that wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t?) have been done before this very historical moment. I hear lots of threads coming together here… the catchy, vicious punk of Criaturas, the darker, more apocalyptic (but still lightly campy) vibe of Blazing Eye, the progressivism of Una Bestia Incontrolable, and the ear-splitting production of EEL. Like I said, the elements themselves are familiar, but there’s something about the way that they come together that feels really exciting, original, and of the moment. It’s as if you’d always loved both ice cream and apple pie and then someone put the two of them together on one plate and just blew your fucking mind. If you’ve been following the various strains of forward-thinking hardcore on the La Vida Es Un Mus label this LP feels, in some respects, like a kind of denouement, or at least the synthesis of a lot of threads of thought and development. And, moreover, it is an absolutely exhilarating listen. Highly recommended.

Obediencia: Erosión 12” (La Vida Es Un Mus) In between all of the numerous raging hardcore and confrontational post-punk released on La Vida Es Un Mus, there has also been a thread of dark, melodic punk that has remained a consistent, if sporadic, feature of the label’s discography. It’s not often that LVEUM drops a release like Juanita Y Los Feos’ Nueva Numancia LP or Rata Negra’s Oido Absoluto LP, but when they do you know it’s going to be really good, and indeed that’s the case with this LP from Obediencia. On the surface Obediencia have a lot in common with the aforementioned bands—all three bands have a similar kind of production and overall sound—but Obediencia definitely have their unique points as well. In particular, the songwriting here is dynamic and interesting. The songs are really sophisticated and have a lot of subtle parts that makes the songs come off as dynamic and exciting where so many other pop-oriented bands sound kind of flat and uninteresting. Someone in this band is an incredibly talented songwriter, which is something that sinks in over a couple of listens, as the first few times I listened to this what I mainly heard was the genre, not the band’s unique approach to it. Certainly if you’re a fan of the genre—i.e. if bands like Red Dons, No Hope for the Kids or the aforementioned LVEUM acts tickle your fancy—then this is a total no-brainer, but if you like any degree of pop in your punk at all I would strongly recommend giving this a few listens and seeing if it starts to sink in. Once it finds a place on your turntable I’m pretty sure you’ll have a hard time getting it off.

Psico Galera: Senza Via Di Fuga 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) Debut release from this new project featuring Jonah from Fucked Up / Career Suicide on drums and a couple of Smart Cops among others. Obviously the list of members has me very interested in this one, but I’m pretty sure that this would rise above the pack even if it came from a bunch of unknowns. The tack here, ostensibly, is classic Italian hardcore, and it definitely has the loose and wild quality that I tend to associate with early Italian hardcore, but there’s lot more going on here. First of all, there’s an epic quality in some places that seems to come from somewhere else… “Mani Sporche” in particular has a very triumphant tone that would probably remind me a lot of Death Side if the production weren’t decidedly more on the G.I.S.M. end of the spectrum. Second, there are a lot of curious, slightly “out there” production touches, from the “underwater” effect on some of the vocals (they sound all wobbly, sort of like the guitars on “Come as You Are” by Nirvana), some guitar tracks that are obviously out of tune (“Voci Nella Testa” uses this to great effect, which makes the song sound seriously unhinged), and SUPER loud lead guitar overdubs. I’m always a fan of the lead guitar overdub coming in twice as loud as anything else, but the playing here is at least as interesting as the production trick. Oh, and they even have a classic, old-school hardcore dirge in the last track, “Nessuna Rivincita.” So, while this definitely does what it says on the tin in that it delivers a blast of wild hardcore in the vein of the Italian classics, I think that it is actually a very unique and interesting record beyond how it pays homage to history. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we hear of Psico Galera.

Haircut: Shutting Down 7” (Feel It) After an excellent demo, here’s the debut vinyl from Haircut. In the months since their demo I believe that the band has moved from Charlottesville to Richmond and, as is evident on this record, have largely shorn their sound of melody (the demo had a real Brain F≠ vibe in places) and gotten a lot faster and tougher. In fact, I can’t think of another recent release that so closely recalls the “peak No Way Records” era… back then it seemed like everyone was experimenting with some combination of Direct Control’s crossover-influenced riffing and Government Warning’s alternately pop-infused and blindingly fast hardcore, and Haircut sound like they could be coming from a similar place. The riffs are definitely interesting and the rhythm playing is super solid, but even without the emphasis on melody I think the vocals are what really sets Haircut apart. Juliana just has one of those voices that you want to sing along with, and that certainly sticks out in a genre that tends to be dominated by fairly uniform shouters and screamers.

Lux: S/T 12” (Discos Enfermos) Debut vinyl from this band out of Barcelona. This popped up on Bandcamp a few months ago and it’s been a favorite around Sorry State HQ ever since, so I think all of us were stoked when the vinyl finally arrived. Lux have a sound that kind of sits on the dividing line between UK82 and very raw and primitive anarcho punk, and the first thing you’ll probably notice is the very Beki Bondage-esque vocals. Indeed the vocalist is certainly the star here, as the music is very straightforward, even primitive (both in its composition and in the very loose playing), while the vocalist tends to inject the songs with subtle little melodic flourishes. If you don’t have a taste for very straightforward punk along the lines of Vice Squad or Anti Pasti you might be tempted to write this one off on the first listen, but after a couple of listens this record really grabs you… there’s a lot more going on than seems to be apparent at the first cursory listen. However, if you do like that UK82 sound of the classic bands I mentioned or newer groups like PMS 84 this is, of course, highly recommended.

All New Arrivals:
Panda Bear: A Day with the Homies 12" (Domino Records)
Razorbumps: Hellrazors 12" (Pop Wig Records)
X-Ray Spex: Germfree Adolescents 12" (Real Gone Music)
Heavy Metal: III 12" (Harbinger Sound)
Circuit Breaker: Hands Return to Shake 12" (Harbinger Sound)
Crumbs: Mind Yr Manners 12" (Everything Sucks Music)
Structure: S/T 12" (Harbinger Sound)
Nachthexen: Disco Creep 7" (Harbinger Sound)
Various: O Começo do fim do Mundo 2x12" (Warthog Speak Records)
Skiftande Enheter: S/T 7" (Market Square)
Beyonce: Lemonade 12" (Sony)
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 12" (Roc-A-Fella Records)
Taylor Swift: Reputation 12" (Big Machine Records)
Various: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 12" (Marvel)
Rolex: R cassette (BLAP)
Loose Nukes: Demo cassette (Agrowax Records)
Amyl and the Sniffers: Big Attraction / Giddy Up 12" (Homeless)
Crystalized Movements: Mind Disaster 12" (Twisted Village Records)
Dog Faced Hermans: Humans Fly 12" (Sorcerer)
Gutara Kyo: S/T 10" (Slovenly Records)
Hypnobeat: Prototech 2x12" (Dark Entries Records)
Les Lullies: Don't Look Twice 7" (Slovenly Records)
The Monsieurs: Deux 12" (Slovenly Records)
Proto Idiot: Leisure Opportunity 12" (Slovenly Records)
Trisomie 21: Chapter IV 12" (Dark Entries Records)
UT: S/T and Confidential 12" (Out Records)
Tom Ware: S/T 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Solid Space: Space Museum 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Cement Shoes: Demo cassette (Loki)
Absolut / Svaveldioxid: Split 12" (Konton Crasher)
Kronisk Misantropi: Helvetet Väntar 7" (Konton Crasher)
Neo Neos: EPMK2 7" (Cultural)

Mod Vigil: S/T 12" (X-Mist Records)
Olho Seco: Botas, Fuzis, Capacetes 7" (Nada Nada Discos)
Itansha: Paranoia Demo 7” (Warthog Speak Records)
Lion's Share: S/T 7" (Warthog Speak Records)
Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill 12" (Def Jam)
Black Flag: Everything Went Black 12" (SST)
Black Flag: Slip It In 12" (SST)
Black Flag: Damaged 12" (SST)
Death Grips: The Money Store 12" (Epic Records)
Death Grips: No Love Deep Web 12" (self-released)
Guns N Roses; Appetite for Destruction 12" (Geffen)
Husker Du: Metal Circus 12" (SST)
Husker Du: Flip Your Wig 12" (SST)
Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced? 12" (Legacy Records)
Kendrick Lamar: Damn 12" (Interscope Records)
Minutemen: Buzz or Howl 12" (SST)
Minutemen: The Punch Line 12" (SST)
Nirvana: Nevermind 12" (DGC)
Weezer: Pinkerton 12" (Geffen)
Rolex: Demo cassette (BLAP)
Butthole Surfers: Brown Reason to Live 12" (Alternative Tentacles Records)
John Coltrane / Alice Coltrane: Cosmic Music 12" (new)
Devo: Hardcore Vol 1 12" (Superior Viaduct Records)
Flesh World: Into the Shroud 12" (Dark Entries Records)
Alain Goraguer: La Planete Sauvage OST 12" (Superior Viaduct Records)
Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady 12" (Superior Viaduct Records)
Sleep: Volume One 12" (Tulepo Records)
Sonic Youth: Evol 12" (Goofin')
The Sound: Jeopardy 12" (1972 Records)
Lowlife: Leaders 7" (Hozac Records)
Paranoid: Praise No Deity 7" (Konton Crasher)
Black Sabbath: Vol 4 12" (Rhino Records)
Black Sabbath: Master of Reality 12" (Rhino Records)
Bauhaus: Mask 12" (4AD Records)
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours 12" (Reprise Records)
Led Zeppelin: II 12" (Atlantic)
Dinosaur Jr: You're Living All Over Me 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Big Black: Bulldozer 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Big Black: Atomizer 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Radiohead: OK Computer 12" (XL Recordings)
Black Sabbath: Paranoid 12" (Rhino Records)
Can: Ege Bamyasi 12" (Spoon Records)
Celtic Frost: Into the Pandemonium 12" (Noise Records)
Zero Boys: Vicious Circle 12" (Secretly Canadian Records)
Rancid: Life Won't Wait 12" (Epitaph Records)
Pavement: Wowee Zowee 12" (Matador Records)
Metallica: Black Album 12" (Blackened)
Green Day: Dookie 12" (Reprise Records)
The Cure: Seventeen Seconds 12" (Rhino)
Dinosaur Jr.: Dinosaur 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
Black Sabbath: Sabotage 12" (Rhino Records)
Sleater-Kinney: All Hands on the Bad One 12" (Sub Pop)
Rancid: And Out Come the Wolves 12" (Epitaph Records)
Pavement: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain 12" (Matador Records)
Motorhead: Orgasmatron 12" (Sanctuary Records)
Led Zeppelin: I 12" (Atlantic)
Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast 12" (BMG)
The Stooges: S/T 12" (Rhino)
Dinosaur Jr: Bug 12" (Jagjaguwar Records)
The Fix: The Speed of Twisted Thought 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Can: Tago Mago 12" (Spoon Records)
Bauhaus: In the Flat Field 12" (4AD Records)
Voivod: Rrroooaaarrr 12" (Noise Records)
The Pixies: Doolittle 12" (4AD Records)
The Stooges: Fun House 12" (Rhino)
Slint: Spiderland 12" (Touch & Go Records)
Sunny Day Real Estate: Diary 12" (Sub Pop)
Pavement: Slanted & Enchanted 12" (Matador Records)
Mudhoney: Superfuzz Bigmuff 12" (Sub Pop)
The Cure: Pornography 12" (Rhino)
David Bowie: Space Oddity 12" (Parlophone)
Beach House: Depression Cherry 12" (Sub Pop)
Napalm Death: Scum 12" (Earache Records)
Green Day: Kerplunk 12" (Reprise Records)
Gang of Four: Entertainment 12" (Rhino)
Metallica: Master of Puppets 12" (Blackened)
Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool 12" (XL Recordings)
Operation Ivy: Energy 12" (Hellcat Records)
Nirvana: Bleach 12" (Sub Pop)
Institute: Subordination 12" (Sacred Bones)
Metallica: Ride the Lightning 12" (Blackened)
Parquet Courts: Human Performance 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures 12" (Rhino)
Bad Brains: ROIR 12" (ROIR)
Bad Brains: Omega Sessions 12" (Victory Records)
The Black Keys: Chulahoma 12" (Fat Possum Records)
The Black Keys: Rubber Factory 12" (Fat Possum Records)
The Black Keys: Thickfreakness 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Brand New: Deja Entendu 12" (Triple Crown Records)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Pmtraitors)
Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus 12" (Peaceville Records)
Death: Human 12" (Relapse Records)
Death: Spiritual Healing 12" (Relapse Records)
Death: The Sound of Perseverance 12" (Relapse Records)
Geto Boys: We Can't Be Stopped 12" (Rap A Lot Records)
Jason Isbell: Southeastern 12" (Southeastern)
Jason Isbell: The Nashville Sound 12" (Southeastern)
Kohti Tuhoa: Pelon Neljas Valtaku 12" (Southern Lord)
Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams 12" (I Am Sound Records)
Lord Huron: Strange Trails 12" (I Am Sound Records)
Modest Mouse: Building Nothing Out of Something 12" (Glacial Pace)
Modest Mouse: This Is a Long Drive 12" (Glacial Pace)
Parquet Courts: Content Nausea 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Pentagram: Be Forewarned 12" (Peaceville Records)
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic 12" (Southern Lord)
Jay Reatard: Blood Visions 12" (Fat Possum Records)
Run the Jewels: RTJ 2 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: RTJ 3 12" (Mass Appeal)
Sturgill Simpson: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music 12" (Thirty Tigers)
Slayer: Show No Mercy 12" (Metal Blade Records)
Stimulators: Loud Fast Rules 12" (ROIR)

All Things to All People Vol 25 / Featured Release Roundup for December 20, 2017

This week on the Sorry State blog we’re going to keep the crass, commercialist spirit of Christmas going by talking about our most wanted records. I must admit that I have some qualms about this topic, because conventional record collector wisdom dictates that you keep your want list close to your chest lest you inadvertently increase the desirability (and therefore the price) of what you’re going after. However, I don’t really “go after” records. Despite having been super into records since I was a teenager some 20 years ago, I’ve only ever half-assedly maintained a want list, and I don’t really spend any time looking for the records on it. I’ve always been more of a “take what comes” type of record collector, content to enjoy what I find in my usual haunts and more intrigued by the prospect of a good deal on an under-appreciated gem than finally snagging my holy grail. That said, there are a couple of records that I would really like to own, and I’ll quickly write about a few of those here.

First up is Government Issue’s Legless Bull EP. Now, this is a weird one because obtaining this record would scratch an itch that I ostensibly claim not to have, and that’s the quest for “completeness.” I can only think of a couple of “complete” collections that I’ve put together in my life. Back when I was really into Leatherface in the early 2000s I owned every single piece of vinyl they ever released (including numerous variations and test pressings as well as things like original t-shirts), and a year or two ago I completed my collection of original X-Claim! releases (there are only 6 of those, but every single one of them is quite difficult to find and expensive when you do find them). I’m sure there are other complete collections that I have—I certainly own all of the original vinyl by bands like Wire and the Buzzcocks from their initial runs—but that’s more because I like the music on every single one of those records than because I’ve actively sought to “complete” a collection.

Much like Wire and the Buzzcocks, I just love all of the music released on all of the early Dischord records (up to around #20 or so… they start to lose me with Beefeater and Fire Party, though maybe one day I’ll come to like those records too). What’s more, I’ve loved that music since I first heard it as a teenager and always sought out the original pressings, so I was able to get copies of most of them back before they were astronomically expensive. The two that always eluded me were the rarest ones—Legless Bull and the Youth Brigade EP—but when a customer walked into the store with an original Youth Brigade EP a few years ago I knew that one was going home with me (which I must say was a good choice… the original pressing is mastered super hot and reveals a savagery that doesn’t come across on the Year in Seven Inches pressing). However, G.I. has continued to elude me. The same person who sold the Youth Brigade single (among numerous other crazy collectibles over the years) said that he was pretty sure he had a double of Legless Bull, but he’s never come through. I’ve often thrown up a bid on copies on ebay, but what I consider a pretty aggressive bid is probably a low-ball offer to most people. And with the going rate on these things being $600+ these days I really don’t see myself springing for one any time soon.

A side note to this one: were I to acquire Legless Bull, I would immediately be faced with another dilemma, because in addition to having all of the main Dischord releases from 1980 until 1984, I also have all of the “fraction” releases like SSD, Necros, Double O, and United Mutation. That is, with one exception: Iron Cross’s Skinhead Glory. That’s a record whose going rate, in my current opinion at least, far exceeds its musical worth, so should I find the G.I. record I’m going to find myself in even more of a pickle. That’s the thing about this completeness thing… as soon as you think you’re done, a whole new and deeper world opens itself up to you and beckons you in.

Next up on the want list are two Japanese records that I’ve been after for a long time: Aburadako’s first 12” and Chicken Bowels’ self-titled EP. Having been lucky enough to go to Japan twice, I’ve been able to find original copies of a lot of my favorite records. I’m pretty sure I have every single piece of Death Side vinyl (including compilation appearances! I guess that’s another complete collection…), 3 of the 4 Gauze LPs (still missing Fuck Heads, but that doesn’t stress me out for whatever reason), the first two G.I.S.M. 12”s, the Bastard LP… I could keep going but I already feel like I’m bragging. However, the two records I mentioned continue to nag away at me. Whenever I have a friend who is going to Japan and asks people to send them their wants I always mention these two records and no one has been able to come through yet. But why these particular records?

For Aburadako, it’s because their flexi is one of my most beloved Japanese punk records and I feel like having the 12” is a necessary step toward appreciating the band more deeply. Whenever a record really clicks with me, the first thing I do is check out the releases before and after it in the band’s discography… usually those releases have a better shot at being good, and even if they aren’t understanding a bit of the context usually helps to deepen my appreciation of the release I really like. However, that first 12” is a glaring hole in my Aburadako discography… I have all of their later 12”s but haven’t spent a ton of time with them as they pretty much abandon punk. I’ve heard the 12” so I know it’s not some kind of magical bridge between their earlier and later stuff but I feel like really understanding it will help me to understand something I can’t understand otherwise. And unfortunately the CD reissue just doesn’t do it because it starts with the 7” tracks, and listening to the 7” and 12” back-to-back just doesn’t flow like it should. I suppose I could just make a playlist or burn a CD with only the 12” tracks, but of course I also want all of the artwork (which is SUPER cool) and the other contextual information.

The context argument doesn’t really get me anywhere with the Chicken Bowels 7”, because it’s the only thing the band released aside from a couple of tracks on the My Meat’s Your Poison compilation. However, from the minute I heard this 7” I was in love. This happened during a very pivotal moment in my music-listening life, when my friend Joel let me “babysit” his entire record collection for a summer. Joel had an amazing, very Japanese-focused record collection (he actually had two copies of Fuck Heads… I should have wrestled one away from him then!) and I systematically listened to every single record in it over the course of several months. The Chicken Bowels record stood out for a number of reasons… the wacky band name and downright absurd cover artwork gave it a kind of exotic, alien quality that was extremely intriguing (this was years before you could go on YouTube and binge on k-pop videos or subscribe to a streaming service loaded with vintage anime). Second, as someone who was just coming off a pretty deep obsession with big-guitar melodic punk like Leatherface, Naked Raygun, and Government Issue, the subtly melodic character of Chicken Bowels’ songwriting really sucked me in. There are probably about five people in the world who will appreciate this comparison, but they always sounded to me like early Snuff trying to play Death Side songs (or vice versa). More than a decade later, whenever I listen to mp3s of this EP the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up.

OK, loved ones, you have exactly 4 days left to acquire one of these gems and make my xmas dreams come true! Or, if that time frame is too tight, there’s always next year… and in the meantime I really do need some new socks.

Gee Tee: Death Race 7” (Neck Chop) Third EP from this Australian project, and last time I wrote about them (which was regarding their 7” on Goodbye Boozy) I thought they had kind of a D.L.I.M.C. / Coneheads vibe going on, but this new EP seems to go beyond that and hit upon something a little more distinctive and original. In particular, it reminds me a lot of Brian Eno’s first two solo albums, when he was still making pop music but started to be really aggressive about bringing different sounds than just drum, bass, guitar, and vocals into the mix. Death Race is similar in that it feels a bit like some of the best neo-garage on the surface, but upon closer inspection it’s made of different ingredients. There are a remarkable number of different tones and textures here, but they’re all wrapped up in a completely infectious package. The whole new Neck Chop batch is very strong, but this one might be my favorite of the bunch.

KNOWSO: Look at the Chart 12” (Neck Chop) If the artwork wasn’t enough to clue you in, about 30 seconds of listening to this record will make it clear that it spawns from the some of the same minds that have recently brought us bands like Cruelster and Perverts Again. While all of those bands are similar in some ways, they’re also different in others, and that’s certainly the case with KNOWSO as well. Instrumentally, the thing that seems the most notable to me are the surprisingly melodic guitars, which are double-tracked in this Greg Sage kind of way that could be really melodic and beautiful in different hands, but of course KNOWSO continue the artistic exploration of moron headspace from their other bands. Some of my favorite lyrics on Look at the Chart include “They sick the dogs on my people / They sick the people on my dogs,” and “I keep seeing you around / Why? / This is my town / Me and my friends’ down / Me and my mom’s town.” On this record smart and dumb are used like sweet and salty to balance one another out and give the whole thing a unique flavor. If you’re really averse to one or the other the whole thing might fall flat for you, but I think this record is totally great.

Parsnip: Health 7” (Anti-Fade) Debut 4-song EP from this Australian band, and man is it killer! The retro sleeve design looks super cool, but for me it simultaneously raises and lowers expectations… since it looks like an old Kinks single I get up my hopes that this will be some great pop music, but then when I think about how few retro-60s bands actually pull that off I have a kind of mental backlash before I’ve even heard the record. However, once the needle drops on this thing it’s hard not to fall in love… Parsnip sound to me like the perfect mixture of sophisticated 60s pop and charmingly rickety late 70s post-punk… like the Raincoats or Kleenex incorporating some hammond organ, taking a stab at Zombies / Box Tops / Left Banke-style baroque pop and arriving at something I feel like I’ve never heard before. The sound of this EP is wonderful in its own right, side-stepping the modern habit of having every frequency in the range of human hearing occupied. However, the real treasure here are the songs themselves, which are fabulous… try your best not to hum along with “Health!”

Very Mental: Misconstrued 7” (Total Punk) Debut single from this band out of Olympia, and that’s pretty much all I know about them. However, I know that Olympia hasff a very high standard for punk rock and Very Mental very much meet it… this isn’t one of those throwaway garage singles that seems like it was conceived, written, and recorded in the space of an hour. Very Mental have serious pop chops, and when Total Punk compares them to the Dangerhouse set it’s an apt description, both because they have some of that X-esque vocal interplay going on and also because these songs feel sturdy and meaty in the same way that many of the tracks on those classic singles did. Throw in a perfectly gritty recording and you have another keeper from Total Punk.

The Celetoids: Pupal Stage 12” (Drunken Sailor) Debut 12” (I think it was released earlier as a cassette) from this Croatian band. The Celetoids have a sound that’s tough to pin down, combining elements of hardcore, post-punk, and the darker end of garage-punk (like the Marked Men and Radioactivity) into something that’s really beefy but also super catchy. I’m reminded of countless darker, heavier, pop-infused punk bands over the years, from the Buzzcocks (particularly Steve Diggle’s tracks) to the Wipers to later Government Issue and Naked Raygun to Pegboy… the Celetoids are a pretty comfortable fit in that tradition, and they have the songwriting chops to warrant the comparison.

Chemotherapy: S/T 7” (Time Change) If you’re the type who chases after the rawest, most inept punk rock you can find, let me introduce you to your new holy grail. I actually hadn’t heard of this Chemotherapy EP before this reissue came out, which I suppose makes sense because 1. the original vinyl is insanely rare and 2. it’s really only noteworthy because of it’s horribleness. This is, quite frankly, one of the most inept musical recordings I’ve ever heard in my life… it’s like a punk rock Shaggs, with the bass and guitar completely and totally out of tune with one another, a drummer who clearly has no idea what they’re doing, and a singer who nevertheless sells it like he’s fronting the second coming of Minor Threat. A lot of music that other people describe as inept I actually think is quite beautiful, but there’s nothing beautiful about Chemotherapy. I honestly can’t tell if they’re joking or if it’s merely the best they can do (and the must-watch video on YouTube of them playing in their high school cafeteria doesn’t provide any further clues), but if you want to see just how raw, abrasive, and ugly music can get this is a record you need in your life.

Rolex: demo cassette (B.L.A.P.) Debut cassette from this band out of LA, and man it’s a ripper! Very much in the “weird hardcore” vein, Rolex have a clean guitar sound, a noodly bass player and a lot of quirky (but really, really fast and tight) rhythmic changes. It sounds a lot like early Die Kreuzen played about 20% faster, which basically means that it sounds a whole lot like Nasa Space Universe in places. In particular, it reminds me a lot of NSU’s first EP which had a much brighter, clearer recording than their other records. This one has a similar vibe, and the production being so clear and open just gives more room for the quirkiness of this one to shine. Highly recommended.

The Mark Vodka Group: The Debut EP cassette (Big Dunce) Big Dunce gives us another hit, this time from Halifax’s The Mark Vodka Group. Unlike a lot of the other Big Dunce bands, Mark Vodka doesn’t rely on synths or drum machines, but instead turns in an EP of organic, poppy (but still quite noisy and messy) rock music. My favorite here is the first track, “Shadow of Your Former Self,” which reminds me of the early Television Personalities stuff in the way that it brings a kind of 50s influence to the post-punk DIY raw home recording style, and like the TVPs the pop hooks on display here are first rate. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there’s a Booji Boys connection here because Mark Vodka has a similar ratio of pop to fuzz, but these tracks are a little more straightforwardly pop. If you dig the kind of neo-DIY being put out on the Market Square label I’d highly recommend checking this EP out.

Pobreza Mental: Demo (self-released) Demo cassette from this new New York band that, judging by the names, features a bunch of familiar faces. While Pobreza Mental sing (mostly) in Spanish and will certainly scratch your itch for Toxic State-style hardcore punk, to my ears they have more of an early Italian hardcore type sound… wild, raw, and just a little bit loose. Like a lot of the early Italian bands (Negazione or Upset Noise, for instance), they’re also a little bit metallic, which comes out on tracks like “Are You Ineffective.” That track almost has an Agnostic Front Cause for Alarm vibe in the way that it dumbs down and hardcore-ifies thrash metal. Much like the Μάτι demo we got a few weeks back, Pobreza Mental’s demo shows that New York is not done giving us innovative and exciting hardcore punk bands.

Fragment: In the Dust 12” (Desolate) Debut full-length from this Canadian crust band, and boy is it intense on the ears. Honestly, I don’t have much time for middling crust these days, so something needs to be really extreme and over the top to catch my attention and Fragment certainly fit the bill… there’s a real Framtid / Gloom-type “everything louder than everything else” sensibility at work here and the production is surprisingly rich and detailed for such a loud and noisy record. This is one that you can either listen to and pound your fist along with the drums or you can get lost in the swirling layers of noise and feedback. While the whole thing is really enjoyable, my personal favorite part of the record is the latter half of side two where they really cut loose, incorporating some surprising mid-paced riffs as well as some more abstract, riff-less parts (there’s one intro where the only noise you hear from the guitars is picks scraping against the strings for a good long while). Whether you’re coming to this one looking to rage or looking for some high concept art I think you’ll be pleased.

All New Arrivals:
Entombed: Wolverine Blues 12" (Earache Records)
Bolt Thrower: The IVth Crusade 12" (Earache Records)
Unified Right: Straight to Hell 12" (Triple-B Records)
Bugg: S/T 12" (Pop Wig Records)
The Sickness: Complete Sickness 12" (ОПАЧИНА)
Penetrode / C.H.E.W.: Split 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Whip: S/T 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Color TV: Paroxoteens 7" (Neck Chop Records)
KNOWSO: Look at the Chart 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Gee Tee: Death Race 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Jackson Politick: Paste V.1 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Living Eyes: Modern Living 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Andy Human: Freeze 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Keepsies: Dumb Fun 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Patsy's Rats: Is It Alright? 7" (Wink and Spit)
Prettylittleshindig: Spins 7" (Wink and Spit)
The Squirmers: Tampico 7" (Wink and Spit)
Feels: Close My Eyes 7" (Wink and Spit)
Stalag: Secrets 7" (Cameleon Records)
Los Reactors: Dead in the Suburbs 7" (Paramecium Records)
Parsnip: S/T 7" (Anti-Fade Records)
Gad Whip: In a Room 12" (Ever / Never Records)
Very Mental: Misconstrued 7" (Total Punk Records)
Double O / Red C: Demos 12" (euro import)
Negative Space: Gestalt 12" (Drunken Sailor Records)
The Celetoids: Pupal Stage 12" (Drunken Sailor Records)
First Base: Not that Bad 12" (Drunken Sailor Records)
Swingin' Utters: Drowning in the Sea 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Enslaved: Monumension 12" (Osmose Productions)
Enslaved: Blodhemn 12" (Osmose Productions)
Mutant Video: Vanity of Life 12" (Iron Lung Records)
His Electro Blue Voice: Mental Hoop 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Naked Naps: Year of the Chump 12" (Self Aware Records)
Enslaved: Eld 12" (Osmose Productions)
Enslaved: Mardraum 12" (Osmose Productions)
Violent End: S/T 7" (Rock ‘N’ Roll Disgrace)
BB Eye: Headcheese Heartthrob 12" (Lumpy Records)
Plastic: S/T 12" (Lumpy Records)

C.H.E.W. / Rash: Split 7" (new)
Woodboot: Krang Gang 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Beta Boys: After Dark 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Acrylics: S/T 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Bleeding Gums: II 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Warm Bodies: Domo 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Lost System: No Meaning No Culture 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Schizos: Fuck Iggy Pop 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Macho Boys: S/T 12" (Neck Chop Records)
C.H.E.W.: Demo 7" (Neck Chop Records)
Sick Thoughts: Songs About People You Hate 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Mark Cone: Now Showing 12" (Neck Chop Records)
Nasti: Big Achievements 12" (Iron Lung Records)
Rakta: Occulto Pelos Seres 7" (Iron Lung Records)
Lebenden Toten: Static 12" (Iron Lung Records)
EEL: Night Parade of 100 Demons 12" (Beach Impediment Records)
Katastrof: S/T 7" (Beach Impediment Records)
Long Knife: Sewers of Babylon 7" (Beach Impediment Records)

All Things to All People Vol 24 / Featured Release Roundup for December 9, 2017

I have to admit up front that I don’t think that I’m good at partying. I am fundamentally uptight, introverted, and have a habit of living inside my own head, so I do not naturally take to the idea of partying. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed myself now and again, but I just want to establish up front that I am not an expert on partying. However, in thinking about the concept of partying I started to realize that there are several different, distinct usages of the term “party,” so I thought I’d use songs to explore several different meanings of the term.

1. A friendly social gathering; or, as a verb, to attend such a gathering

The word “party” in its most common usage refers to a social gathering. These are the types of social situations that I tend to have anxiety about, but I do have my fair share of experience with them.

Jeff noted in his blog post that someone else had called dibs on the song “Partytime” by 45 Grave so he couldn’t write about it… that person was me, and I feel kind of bad about it because the reason I wanted to write about it is fairly superficial. Whenever I’m heading to a party—specifically when I’m getting dressed and ready and/or driving to the party’s location—I tend to sing the chorus to “Partytime” in my head. I have a lot of weird little mental tics like that… in case you’re wondering, just about every time I bathe I sing to myself, to the tune of “Jump in the Fire” by Metallica, “jump in the show-WAH!”

When I think of the best parties I’ve ever attended, my mind immediately drifts to the mid-00s and the various Richmond apartments and houses where Brandon and Lauren from No Way Records lived. Mostly these places would be the site of after-parties after various gigs around town, but often I’d make the 3-hour drive up to Richmond just to hang out. My favorite nights were when there would be fairly small groups of people—maybe 10 or so—crammed into a little room with a turntable and Brandon’s killer record collection. There were a few staples that always came out when the party was peaking--Spermbirds’ Something to Prove album was a big favorite—but you knew things were really raging when someone threw on the first Adolescents album, at which point everyone would immediately be huddled around the turntable, beers in the air, singing along.

If we’re talking about parties I can’t ignore the numerous wild times we had when Logic Problem and Shitty Limits toured the US together in one big 15-passenger van pulling a trailer with all of our equipment, merch, and luggage. Tim from Shitty Limits had made a couple of epic mix tapes for the tour and whenever one of those got thrown on you knew everyone was ready to get wide open. One of the tapes started with “Television Addict” by the Victims, and to this day whenever I hear that opening riff it releases some kind of primal spirit of partying from deep inside me.

Another song that has an almost Pavlovian association with partying for me is “Warm Leatherette” by the Normal. I’ve heard “Warm Leatherette” fall flat when played at the wrong time or in the wrong context, but when it’s like 12:30AM, everyone is on exactly the right mix of substances, no one is getting tired and grumpy yet and everyone just wants to dance there is simply no track greater than this one to throw on.

2. To do illegal drugs

I’ve noticed that the word “party,” when used as a verb, can also mean “to do drugs,” specifically cocaine. I’ve never done cocaine (I told you, I’m a square) so I can’t really give you a song that perfectly encapsulates that experience. I don’t really tend to do drugs because something has changed in either my value system or my body chemistry to where the downsides of such activities tend to outweigh the positives. So here are a couple of songs that get at that my current attitude toward this kind of “partying:”

One of the things that I love about this song (in addition to its obvious musical merits) is the way that it gets at the reasons why people do drugs. In particular, I think the first verse when Dick points out the sense of youthful transgression and mischief that attracts people to drugs and drug culture is really astute. Of course it wouldn’t be the Subhumans if they didn’t come down hard on a particular side of the issue, and even if Dick & co. are a little dismissive of drugs as a childish obsession I think they got at something really interesting here that not many people realize or acknowledge.

I’m not sure precisely why, but I’ve always thought that this song perfectly captures what’s bad about doing drugs. The grinding, slower-than-it-should-be tempo feels like the musical articulation of a difficult comedown, and when it’s combined with the existential horror of the lyrical concept you have one of the greatest (anti-?) drug songs ever recorded.

3. A formal political group

Obviously the word “party” can also refer to political parties, which are things that suck. Maybe it’s because I’ve read too much 18th century philosophy and political theory, but seriously fuck political parties in all shapes and forms. The world would be a better place if they were simply wiped from our collective memory.

This song popped into my head as an example of a dumb political hardcore song, but now that I look at the lyrics I actually find them kind of profound:

Now you are screaming in pain
They are striking you on your face
Their bombs, money and power
They are stepping over you
The dreams of the crowd
Are used to make them strong

“The dreams of the crowd are used to make them strong.” Fuck, have you heard a better explanation of how Republicans and their ilk are able to garner so much support?

The universe of party politics is one of big, aggregate numbers. It’s the reason that so many of us feel powerless… we’re frustrated by how little our one vote counts against the larger tide of public opinion. And since the masses don’t tend to appreciate the subtleties of rational argument, they end up rallying around slogans and symbols. So, in this track Doc Dart proposes a grand symbolic gesture for opponents of the Christian right: “I wanna take the president, chop off his head, And mail it to them in a garbage bag.”

4. A body of people united in opposition to others

So, when I started to write about partying for this post, one of the first things my inner English professor prompted me to do was look up the word “party” in the Oxford English Dictionary (as I told you, I’m a square). I found that the word derives from a Middle English term meaning “a body of people united in opposition to others.” What a great image! I love how the etymology reveals this hidden assumption at the heart of the very concept of a party… sure, we go to a party to listen to records and/or drink and/or dance or whatever, but one of the things that gives the gathering meaning is its sense of opposition to what is outside the party. Of course, this oppositional sense of the word “party” is more apparent in the political usage above (it always seems like it’s a “them” consolidating their power in political parties against the best interests of “us”), but I think this meaning is somewhere deep inside the conventional usage as well. In other words, there’s a subtle “fuck you” at the very heart of the concept of partying, so here are a few of my favorite “us versus them” songs:

This song is pretty much defiance personified.

Sometimes in order to keep the party’s vibe right you have to kick out some shitheads who wandered in.

5. The very nature of partying is to provide a life-saving release from the constant pressure to “take things seriously.” Seriousness is precisely why things like partying are crucial to our mental and spiritual health. I take joy very seriously, and partying is the formal pursuit and celebration of joy itself. I’m having a party to celebrate life. I’m having a party to celebrate partying itself. (link)

The most interesting definition of partying I’ve found has only emerged in the past few years. Honestly, I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Andrew WK yet, because even though his cultural relevance is a long way from its peak in the early 00s I feel like his name is still almost synonymous with the concept of partying. What you may or may not know is that Andrew WK is actually a fairly serious thinker who has developed a sort of philosophical definition of the concept of partying. As summarized in the above quotation, for Andrew WK partying is a kind of meditative flow state where you free yourself from self-consciousness (the very kind that makes me “a square” and “bad at partying”), put your ego aside and experience joy in its purest and most direct form. The concept is kind of new-age-y and sounds like something that a yoga teacher might say, but instead of listening to Enya you get to listen to heavy rock, so I’m down. Anyway, here are a couple of songs that release me from the oppression of my self-consciousness and allow me to experience something like what Andrew WK is describing:

Few musicians’ work transports me to that magical place of total immersion as efficiently as that of Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth. Something about his guitar playing makes me feel like I’m weightless, and a hot Scorps track like “Sails of Charon” blasted at full volume is basically an admission ticket to Andrew WK’s metaphysical party.

The Fall is not a band I would be likely to put on at an actual party (unless, of course, there was a very specific group of record nerds in attendance), but something about the chord progression to this song just takes me to that place. It’s one of those songs that I can’t not pay attention to, and when I’m paying attention to it I forget about myself and everything else around me. And as much as partying involves the presence of other people, isn’t that what it’s all about at the end of the day?

Bib: Moshpit 7” (Pop Wig) Latest 7” from Bib, which finds them moving (rather unexpectedly) to Pop Wig Records, which I know primarily as the home of the band Angel Du$t. Is the title of this record, Moshpit, a backhanded reference to their new sub-scene affiliation? Who really knows, as Bib were and are a pretty inscrutable bunch. Anyway, scene politics aside Moshpit is a fucking killer record. Seth nailed it when he said that it sounds like a record comprised solely of intros, and while that might sound like a bad thing, really what it means is that Bib have cut all of the fluff and filler out of these songs and reduced them to the parts that people want to hear. That, and the echo-drenched vocals, remind me quite a lot of the latest S.H.I.T. EP, to the point where I feel like Bib must have been inspired by that record… but, suffice to say, both bands do it very well and if you like one of the two records you should make it a point to check out the other. Another reason why these songs kind of sound like intros is that Bib really seem to be taking advantage of the potential for dynamics offered by their three(!)-guitar lineup. It’s easy to see how three guitarists and a bassist all bashing away at even a mildly complex riff would immediately sound like mud, so Bib keep things simple and open. Speaking of the three-guitar setup, I think my favorite track here is “Hypnotized,” which features all three guitarists scraping their picks against the strings, which adds up to this completely magical, psychedelic swirl of sound (which is accentuated by some really cool effects on the vocals). Comparisons to S.H.I.T. aside, Moshpit is a strikingly original record, and the full realization of Bib’s voice imbues this record with a completely infectious confidence and swagger. I really can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Μάτι: demo cassette (self-released) Demo cassette from this new hardcore punk band out of New York. In a lot of ways this recording reminds me of the glory days of the Toxic State / NYC scene (which seems to have died down over the past couple of years), but as with most of the recordings that came out of that scene this definitely has its own voice. In particular, Μάτι have a chugging, quasi-thrash metal element to their sound, with the guitarist doing a lot of speed picking and palm muting while the vocalist rants with the bile of your nastiest hardcore band. I’m reminded a lot of mid-80s metallic hardcore classics like Christ on Parade’s Sounds of Nature or Final Conflict’s Ashes to Ashes, or maybe even a much rawer, punker Cro-Mags at times. Definitely one of the more metallic things I’ve heard come out of New York in the past few years, but it’s no less killer for it.

Wash: demo cassette (Scavenger of Death) I guess that this cassette is a solo project from Chris Van Etten, who you may know as the bass player for numerous Atlanta bands like Carbonas, Bukkake Boys, GG King, and many, many others I’m sure. Van Etten has always seemed like a reliable side man, but this is the first time I’m aware of that he’s taken center stage, and my only question is why didn’t it happen any sooner? This tape is, without a doubt, one of the most unique and coolest things I’ve heard in some time. I’m really struggling to find points of comparison because it’s so totally unique. It’s thoroughly melodic, but it’s also really tough, but not in a way that’s pop-punk, post-punk, or any other currently fashionable punk subgenre. The closest thing I could compare it to would be late 80s bands who maybe started out as hardcore bands but tried to follow Husker Du’s lead toward music that’s a little more melodic and song-oriented… I’m thinking of bands like Squirrel Bait, later (i.e. self-titled LP-era) Government Issue, or HDQ… though honestly those aren’t great points of comparison because this is much more aggressive than any of those, and also much more angular and jagged. Maybe Husker Du’s Everything Falls Apart LP has kind of a similar vibe and approach? I don’t know man, this tape is a real head-scratcher, but 1. it’s really good and 2. I really love head-scratchers, so if any of this rambling appeals to you I’d highly recommend checking this out.

Machine Gun: S/T 7” (Double Man) Debut EP from this ripping hardcore band out of Philadelphia. After a bit of a drought it seems like ripping fast USHC is back in style (at least among some people), and Machine Gun are right up there with Nosferatu, Dagger, and Alienation as one of the best bands currently doing it. If you’re looking for something weird or different this probably isn’t for you, because this is about as pure as early 80s US-style hardcore gets. The singer sounds like Springa and the music is blisteringly fast and tight, with the quick and complex changes of bands like Koro, Neon Christ, Jerry’s Kids or early Gang Green. There is not a note on this record that I don’t love, and if the records mentioned above are as close to your heart as they are to mine you absolutely need this. Seriously, this is as top shelf as hardcore gets in the year 2017… highest possible recommendation!

Louder / Beat Generation: Split 7” (Ra-Ma) Four-song split EP from these two Japanese garage-punk bands, and I’m pretty sure that Sorry State is the only US distro to get copies, so if you want one don’t sleep! You may remember Louder from their excellent 12” on Sorry State a few years ago, and they’re still at it, playing a slightly less manic and more refined version of the classic Japanese garage-punk style that will forever be associated with Teengenerate and the Registrators. Their two tracks here are real corkers, and they also have one of my favorite song titles I’ve heard in a while in “Frantic Stuffs Are Never Ever Let Me Down.” As for Beat Generation, they’re very much along the same lines and just as good, so if you follow this particular strain of Japanese punk you know you need this one.

Sorry, no stream available for this one!

No Sister: The Second Floor 12” (self-released) Seth set himself the challenge of writing about this new No Sister album without mentioning the words “Sonic Youth.” Well, as for me, I don’t live by your rules, maaaaaan! I’ll make the most obvious comparisons I can and I won’t worry about it! Seriously, though, as I noted with their last LP, No Sister does seem to have discovered the secret sauce behind records like Daydream Nation, and they’re pounding out track after track like a restaurant called McDouglas’s cranking out bootleg Big Macs. The thing is, though, that No Sister not only sound a lot like vintage Sonic Youth, but they actually have a lot of the same qualities that I like about those records. In particular, there’s a kind of a tension between melody and dissonance that’s really striking… actually, at times it’s more that they have a tendency to take really melodic guitar riffs and overlay a dissonant, eerie-sounding harmony over top of them. If you checked out their previous record and liked it I’d highly recommend this one as well as it continues along the same lines but is just a little more focused and fully realized in terms of its execution.

Deletär: S/T 7” (Kick Rock) Debut 7” from this French band… are they going to be the first in a wave of Totalitär-inspired bands to signal their allegiance in much the same way bands like Disclose, Discard, Disaster, et al adopted their heroes’ prefix? Only time will tell. Anyway, there are basically two reasons that one would want to listen to a genre exercise like this: 1. you simply want to hear more songs in this style because there aren’t enough bands / records out there to sate your appetite or 2. the band does something conceptually or in execution that improves or elaborates upon the original (as Disclose explored every nook and cranny of Discharge’s aesthetic across their much larger discography). At least at this point, I’d put Deletär in the first category, so what you really need to know is, “how well is this executed?” The answer is quite well. They really nail the classic Totalitär guitar tone here, the singer sounds a lot like Poffen without doing an outright impersonation, the riffs themselves are totally ripping, and the recording leaps out of your speakers and punches you right in the face. If you’re really splitting hairs, I’d say that Deletär sound more like the relentless riff-barrage of Vi Är Eliten than the denser, more in-the-pocket Sin Egen Motståndare, but I’m not sure how nerdy you need to get about it. If the idea of a new band that sounds just like Totalitär doesn’t excite you I can totally appreciate that position, but if you’re in the market for this kind of thing I’d be hard-pressed to name a band that does it better than Deletär.

Negazione: Tutti Pazzi 7” (No Plan) Official reissue of this absolute classic of Italian hardcore, with a faithful reproduction of the original fold-out poster sleeve no less! Make no mistake, Tutti Pazzi is one of the greatest hardcore records of all time. If you’re not familiar with early 80s Italian hardcore, the records from that time and place tend to be marked by an approach to hardcore that is both raw and wild, sort of like they took the sonic parameters of the early Discharge singles and tried to funnel them through the unhinged sensibility of the wildest free jazz. There are a lot of great records from the period, but Tutti Pazzi is in a league with a very few (along with Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers’ 400 Fascists, the Wretched / Indigesti split, and at most a couple of others) that qualify as the wildest, loosest, and most fully realized records of the period. I wouldn’t even know where to begin trying to figure out how to cover one of these songs (but then again, I’m no Mike Patton) because the riffs are unlike anything I’ve ever learned to play and the song structures are so fluid as to be virtually transparent. Listening to Tutti Pazzi is like walking through a well-executed haunted house where you have no idea what is going to come next, but you do know it’s going to be totally intense. If you like your punk rock chaotic and wild this is a record you simply must hear, as it’s rarely, if ever, been done better before or since.

Andy Human & the Reptoids: Kill the Comma 7” (Emotional Response) The Andy Human records have been arriving fast and furious lately, and I wouldn’t dare complain about that, but I have noticed a pattern wherein I tend to sift through these releases for the big choruses (like the monster for “Refrigerator,” for instance), anoint these tracks my favorites, and then never really digest what doesn’t fall into that category. Well, Kill the Comma breaks that pattern by not really giving us any of those catchy choruses, and paying attention to the more drone-y aspects of Andy Human’s sound is making me appreciate that side of the band a lot more. The aesthetic here is less ’77 and more ’79 to my ears, recalling Rough Trade Records classics like Swell Maps, Subway Sect, Essential Logic, and Cabaret Voltaire in the way that it incorporates the dense layering of psychedelic music into the nervy excitement of first-wave punk. These tracks strike me as being for people who like both the Lurkers and Can, a group in which I very much fall into, and consequently I like this EP quite a bit.

The Repos: S/T 12” (Youth Attack) Lavish reissue of the debut full-length by this Chicago hardcore band. In the years since this record came out (“bought it new,” as the old folks say) the Repos have become one of my favorite hardcore bands of the past decade or more, but listening back to this record for the first time in a while it’s interesting how little of what I came to love about the band is apparent here. For instance, the band who popularized the trend of releasing ultra-raw, limited run rehearsal tapes gives us an extremely clear recording and a tight performance here. I don’t think I ever would have said so at the time, but nowadays this honestly sounds to me quite a bit like Direct Control’s You’re Controlled LP, which was recorded around the same time… both records have a clear, powerful sound, an avowedly 80s aesthetic (the Repos even cover “Straitjacket” by Jerry’s Kids here), and riffing that sounds like a slightly more metallic take on the classic 80s USHC formula. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolute ripper of a record and time has not diminished its power, but it’s also strange how different this document is from the later ones that the Repos / Ropes would produce. Oh, and I should also mention the crazy packaging. There’s a larger outer sleeve which houses a regular LP sleeve that is a pretty much a faithful reproduction of the original sleeve, and then there’s an additional inner sleeve inside that. So there are three layers of paper between you and the record, but it all looks pretty boss and it’s kind of cool that the reissue comes with some stuff that the original didn’t.

The Repos: Hearts and Heads Explode 12” (Youth Attack) Reissue of the second Repos full-length, wherein they truly became the band that I love. The Repos’ first record (which has been reissued concurrently with this one) is a really good hardcore record, but Hearts and Heads Explode is a different beast entirely, and as such it’s the first truly great Repos record. From the very first second you can tell it’s a different beast… the locked-in rhythms of the first record have been replaced with a sound that is loose and unhinged, and the clarity of the S/T recording has been revised as something denser, rawer, and meaner. The Repos’ unique songwriting approach also fully takes shape here. Part of what’s so unique about this band is that they seem to be simultaneously deconstructing hardcore songwriting while also taking a more baroque (at times even psychedelic) approach. The normal fast part / mosh part dynamic that most hardcore songs rely on disintegrates here, with the songs moving from part to part with more of an intuitive, organic feel that keeps you guessing as to what might be coming next without ever seeming “wacky” or like weirdness for its own sake. And many of the songs also feature crazy guitar overdubs that sound like a really talented thrash metal guitarist heard the song once, recorded a lead overdub, and gave exactly zero fucks about how well they played it. Throughout, the Repos sound like a smart, musically adept band trying their best to play dumb and only partially succeeding. I suppose it’s a matter of taste as to whether you think that the Repos have topped Hearts and Heads Explode on any of their later records (though I’d argue that, at the very least, they’ve given it some serious competition), but I dare say that history’s long view will anoint this one of the greatest hardcore records of all time. The fortuitous timing of this reissue should help as it arrives at a moment when a lot of bands are picking up the Repos’ decade-old project of divesting hardcore of its cliches without losing any of its trademark intensity or aggression.

Combat Force: Demo 7” (Youth Attack) More Denver-area hardcore from Youth Attack Records, this time from Combat Force, a very Iron Cross-esque oi!/hardcore hybrid. I can’t help but notice the disjunction here between the recording quality and Youth Attack’s typically lavish packaging. The recording is incredibly raw, with audible tape hiss throughout, yet it’s packaged in this gatefold matte jacket and pressed on heavyweight (whatever the 7” equivalent of 180-gram is) white vinyl. I’m not saying that Combat Force don’t deserve it or anything, but there does seem to be quite a disconnect between the visual and auditory presentation here. As for the actual music, Combat Force play it pretty much by the book here, and if you’re into oi!-inspired hardcore like the aforementioned Iron Cross or perhaps more recent UK stuff like Violent Reaction or Arms Race this will probably hit the sweet spot for you, particularly since it’s quite raw and the analog recording, for all of the “faults” I mentioned above, is rich with texture. If you’re looking for something that’s going to reinvent the wheel, though, I would look elsewhere, as it doesn’t seem like Combat Force are particularly worried about interrogating or deconstructing the conventions (cliches?) of oi! music. In particular, lines like “we’re the working class / the spine of this land” not only strike me as kind of trite, but also point to the uncomfortable way that anglophilic US oi! bands struggle to adapt the conventions and talking points of British oi! music to American culture… the term “working class” means something quite different in the US than it does in the UK. If none of that bothers you then this is a pretty good record, but if you’re prone to overthinking you may well convince yourself not to like this one.

Fuerza Bruta: Verdugo 12” (Foreign Legion) Man, the label’s description of this record is pretty intense, drawing a line in the sand and calling out all of the new jack skinheads that have made oi! one of the hottest punk fashion movements of the mid-2010s. I mean, it’s hard to deny that it’s a trend, but what separates Fuerza Bruta from the pack? Have they been around the scene longer? Do they have a deeper knowledge of the genre and the culture’s history? What is more authentic about them? Honestly, I have no idea… I don’t know anything about the members of this band, but I do know that in Verdugo they have written an excellent oi! album. I will say that whereas a lot of modern oi! seems to be rather one-dimensional in the sphere of influences that it draws from, Verdugo feels like a mature synthesis of a lot of oi!’s sub-sub-genres. The label’s description mentions that this is inspired by Brazilian hardcore and Japanese oi! (I know a bit about the former and all but nothing about the latter), but I’m inclined to hear all of the connections to the skin sounds of yore… not only is there the primitive chug of brutal classics like Nabat or Red Alert, but there’s also a lot of pop in the mix too… nothing quite as overt as, say, Cock Sparrer, but there’s a lot of the melodic, beefy guitar riffs of American oi! bands from the Templars to the Beltones or even UK pop-oi! classics like the Business’s “National Insurance Blacklist.” At the end of the day, to me this is just a beefy, muscular, and melodic punk record, so I’d say forget the scene divisions… whether Verdugo is the 3rd oi! record you’ve heard of the 300th I think you’ll enjoy it quite a bit.

All New Arrivals:
Various: Soul Christmas 12" (Run Out Groove)
45 Grave: Sleep in Safety 12" (Real Gone Music)
Throbbing Gristle: The Second Annual Report 12" (Mute Records)
Throbbing Gristle: 20 Jazz Funk Greats 12" (Mute Records)
Throbbing Gristle: The Taste of TG 12" (Mute Records)
Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues 12" (36 Chambers LLC)
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell Live 12" (Asthmatic Kitty Records)
Jason Molina: The Black Sabbath Covers 12" (Secretly Canadian)
Iron Maiden: Book of Souls: The Live Chapter 12" (Parlophone)
Ed Sheeran: Live at the Bedford 12" (Atlantic Records)
Ed Sheeran: Loose Change 12" (Atlantic Records)
Ed Sheeran: No. 5 Collaborations 12" (Atlantic Records)
Ed Sheeran: Songs I Wrote with Amy 12" (Atlantic Records)
Ed Sheeran: You Need Me 12" (Atlantic Records)
Morrissey: Low in High School 12" (BMG Records)
Bib: Moshpit 7" (Pop Wig Records)
Tankard: Chemical Invasion 12" (Noise Records)
Tankard: Zombie Attack 12" (Noise Records)
Andy Human & the Reptoids: Kill the Comma b/w Do the Mole 7" (Emotional Response Records)
Razz: Time Frames 12" (Emotional Response Records)
Sob Stories: S/T 12" (Emotional Response Records)
American Hate: Our Love Is Real 12" (Not Normal)
No Sister: The Second Floor 12" (self-released)
Bombarder: Speed Kill 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Ajattara: Lupaus 12" (Svart Records)
The Obsessed: S/T 12" (Relapse Records)
Various: Brown Acid: The Fifth Trip 12" (Riding Easy)
July: S/T 12" (Guerssen Records)
Witch: Lazy Bones 12" (Now Again Records)
Mooner: Tabiat 12" (Outer Battery Records)
Sun Ra: Space Is the Place 12" (Jackpot Records)
Silver Apples: Contact 12" (Jackpot Records)
Mouthpiece: Can't Kill What's Inside 12" (Revelation Records)
Templars: Deus Vult 12" (Pirate's Press)
Satanic Warmaster: Nova Ordo Ater 12" (Werewolf Records)
Fireburn: Don't Stop the Youth 12" (Closed Casket Records)
Goatpenis: Anesthetic Vapor 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
The Cravats: Dustbin of Sound 12" (Overground Records)
Sadist: Shadow of the Swastika 12" (Regurgitated Semen Records)
Midnight: Sweet Death and Ecstasy 12" (Hells Headbangers)
Evil: Rites of Evil 12" (Nuclear War Now!)
Backtrack: Bad to My World 12" (Bridge 9 Records)
Short Fast & Loud #30 zine w/ Deathgrave / Violation Wound 7" (Short Fast & Loud)
Various: 80s Underground Cassette Culture Vol 1 12" (Contort Yourself)
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World 12" (Light in the Attic Records)
Gudon: 1984 12" (Fan Club)
The Uglies: We Are the Uglies cassette(No Patience Records)
Sistema en Decadencia: demo cassette (No Patience Records)
Skizophrenia: Live in Tsuyama cassette (No Patience Records)
Belgrado: Live in Australia cassette (No Patience Records)
PTSD: If You See Something, Say Something cassette (No Patience Records)
TALC: S/T 7" ((No Patience Records))
Death Church: Black Books 12" ((No Patience Records))
The Uglies: Keeping Up with the Uglies 12" ((No Patience Records))
Louder / Beat Generation: Split 7" (Ra-Ma)
Blink 182: Neighborhoods 12" (SRC Records)
Blind Idiot God: Undertow 12" (Invisible Music)
Kohti Tuhoa: Pelon Neljas Valtaku 12" (Southern Lord)
Watain: Lawless Darkness 12" (Season Of Mist)
Watain: Sworn to the Dark 12" (Season Of Mist)
Butthole Surfers: Locust Abortion Technician 12" (5 Music)
Bjork: Utopia 12" (One Little Indian)
Sun Ra Arkestra: Brother the Wind 12" (Cosmic Myth Records)
Chemotherapy: S/T 7" (Time Change Records)
Brian Eno: Before and After Science 12" (Astralwerks Records)
Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) 12" (Astralwerks Records)
Electric Wizard: Wizard Bloody Wizard 12" (Witchfinder Records)
Pharoah Sanders: Tauhid 12" (Anthology Records)
Lubricants: Activated Energy 7" (Rerun Records)
Vom: Live at Surf City 7" (Rerun Records)
Captain 9’s and the Knickbocker Trio: Starting A Rock n’ Roll Grease Fire 12" (Rerun Records)
Executives: S/T 7" (Rerun Records)
Plastic Idols: IUD 7" (Rerun Records)
Plastic Idols: Einstein Experience 7" (Rerun Records)
Versing: Nirvana cassette (Help Yourself Records)
Feed: FEED cassette (Help Yourself Records)
Unholy: The Second Ring of Power 12" (Peaceville Records)
Isotope: Wake Up Screaming cassette (self-released)
Death of Lovers: The Acrobat 12" (Death Wish Records)
Drab Majesty: The Demonstration 12" (Dais Records)
Dakhma: Suna Kulto 12" (IFB Records)
Break Away: Cross My Heart 12" (React! Records)
Insist: Here and Now 7" (React! Records)
Saetia: Collected 2x12" (Secret Voice)
All Pigs Must Die: A Caustic Vision 12" (Nonbeliever Records)
Combat Force: Demo 7" (Youth Attack)
The Repos: S/T 12" (Youth Attack)
The Repos: Hearts and Heads Explode 12" (Youth Attack)
Marduk: Opus Nocturne 12" (Osmose Productions)
Immortal: At the Heart of Winter 12" (Osmose Productions)
Immortal: Battles in the North 12" (Osmose Productions)
Immortal: Diabolical Fullmoon 12" (Osmose Productions)
Immortal: Pure Holocaust 12" (Osmose Productions)
Result of Choice: Through My Eyes cassette (IOU Records)
Field Agent: The Voice of a Few cassette(IOU Records)
Big Mack: demo cassette(IOU Records)
Machine Gun: S/T 7" (Double Man Records)
KBO!: Perspektiva 1982-1989 12" (No Plan Records)
Negazione: Tutti Pazzi 7" (No Plan Records)
Misanthropic Charity: S/T 7" (No Plan Records)
Newtown Neurotics: Pissed as a Newt 12" (No Plan Records)

Haram: When You Have Won, You Have Lost 12" (Toxic State)
Liquids: Heart Beats True 7" (Digital Regress)
Liquids: Hot Liqs 12" (Not Normal)
Silver Apples: S/T 12" (Jackpot Records)
Mustafa Ozkent: Genclik Ile Elele 12" (Jackpot Records)
Howlin' Wolf: His Greatest Sides 12" (Jackpot Records)
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band: Part One 12" (Jackpot Records)
Wipers: Over the Edge 12" (Jackpot Records)
Wipers: Is This Real? 12" (Jackpot Records)
Wipers: Youth of America 12" (Jackpot Records)
Cock Sparrer: Running Riot in 84 / Live and Loud! 12" (Pirate's Press Records)
Beyond: Dew It! / Live Crucial Chaos WNYU 12" (Revelation Records)
Burn: S/T 7" (Revelation Records)
Chain of Strength: The One Thing that Still Holds True 12" (Revelation Records)
Gorilla Biscuits: S/T 7" (Revelation Records)
Judge: Bringin' It Down 12" (Revelation Records)
Judge: What It Meant: The Complete Discography 12" (Revelation Records)
Texas Is the Reason: Do You Know Who You Are? 12" (Revelation Records)
Various: New York City Hardcore: The Way It Is 12" (Revelation Records)
Warzone: Don't Forget the Struggle, Don't Forget the Streets 12" (Revelation Records)
Youth of Today: Break Down the Walls 12" (Revelation Records)
Youth of Today: Can't Close My Eyes 12" (Revelation Records)
Impalers: Cellar Dweller 12" (540 Records)
The Mob: Let the Tribe Increase 12" (Overground Records)
Career Suicide: Machine Response 12" (Deranged Records)
Limp Wrist: Facades 12" (Lengua Armada Records)
Lebendent Toten: Mind Parasites 12" (Overthrow Records)
Neanderthal: A History of Violence 12" (Deep Six Records)
Kyra: Here I Am, I Always Am 12" (M'Lady's Records)
This Heat: S/T 12" (Modern Classics Recordings)
The Louvin Brothers: Satan Is Real 12" (Capitol Records)
Public Image Ltd: First Issue 12" (Light in the Attic Records)
Roky Erickson: The Evil One 12" (Light in the Attic Records)
Piece War: Apathy 12" (Square One Again)
Cause for Alarm: S/T 7" (Victory Records)
Modest Mouse: The Lonesome Crowded West 12" (Glacial Pace)
Nirvana: Nevermind 12" (DGC Records)
Pearl Jam: Ten 12" (Sony Music)
Modern Warfare: Complete Recordings and More 12" (Rerun Records)
Firewalker: S/T 12" (Pop Wig Records)
Boston Strangler: Outcast 12" (Boston Strangler Records)
Touche Amore: Is Survived by 12" (Death Wish Records)
Deafheaven: Sunbather 12" (Death Wish Records)
Converge: Jane Doe 12" (Death Wish Records)
Death: Human 12" (Relapse Records)
Death: Leprosy 12" (Relapse Records)
Death: Scream Bloody Gore 12" (Relapse Records)
Geto Boys: S/T 12" (Rap A Lot Records)
Geto Boys: We Can't Be Stopped 12" (Rap A Lot Records)
Joey Bada$$: All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ 12" (Cinematic Records)
Mayhem: Live in Leipzig 12" (Peaceville Records)
NOFX: The Decline 12" (Fat Wreck Chords)
Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Parquet Courts: Tally All the Things You Broke 12" (What's Your Rupture? Records)
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic 12" (Southern Lord)
Pretty Things: SF Sorrow 12" (Madfish Music)
Run the Jewels: S/T 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: RTJ 2 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: RTJ 3 12" (Mass Appeal)
Slayer: Show No Mercy 12" (Metal Blade Records)

All Things to All People Vol 23

You’ve probably noticed that the personal blogs here at Sorry State have had an erratic publication schedule. We’re super swamped preparing for the holidays, especially given that Jeff has been away on tour with Skemäta for the last month, but we’re doing our best to hold things together. The plan is to talk about our listening environment, and I figured that rather than writing some poetic ode to my record room, I’d give you a video tour of my home office, which is where I do most of my serious vinyl listening. Please don’t make fun of me too much… I’m a delicate flower:

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the dynamic between tightness and looseness. I recently read Julian Cope’s book Japrocksampler, which is about weird and/or underground Japanese music in the 60s and 70s, touching on everything from psych to hard rock to free jazz and musique concrete to soundtracks to experimental theater productions. I’ve been spending a lot of my time checking out the records mentioned in the book and I’ve been blown away by too many of them to count. However, one puzzler for me was one of Cope’s favorite records, the album Eve by Speed, Glue & Shinki. In Cope’s ranking of the top 50 Japanese LPs of this era, he awards Eve the top spot on the list, which they have the honor of sharing with the Flower Travellin’ Band’s Satori album. Now, Satori is a stone-cold classic and I’m pretty sure that I realized that the very first time that I listened to it, but Eve was a puzzler. I put it on during a couple of my late-night streaming binges and it just sounded like total lame-ass blues rock to me. However, when I read Cope’s more detailed review of the album I realized that I was listening to it all wrong. At one point, Cope specifically recommends that you not put on Eve as background music because all you’ll hear is generic blues rock. Instead, you have to listen closely to this record to hear what the band does to the idea of generic, drugged out blues-rock.

Basically, Eve is the loosest record that I’ve ever heard in my life that can’t be dismissed as pure nonsense. As you’re listening, the songs themselves seem to drift in and out of focus, to the point where sometimes you can’t even really tell if the band is playing the same part—or even the same song—anymore at all. It’s like they got the band together, wrote and rehearsed an album of blues-rock songs, then the members separated, went on a two-year-long drug binge in which they didn’t see one another or play any kind of music at all, and then put their first rehearsal back together out as an album. It’s extremely difficult to figure out where the compositions end and the free-form jamming begins. At various points you can hear one of the musicians try to take the lead and get everyone to change to a new part, but whether one or both of his fellow band members will follow is a 50/50 shot at best, which means sometimes different parts of the band are literally playing different parts of the song. In a way, listening to this record is one of the closest approximations I’ve ever found to a pyschedelic drug experience… the way that these songs seem to drift in and out of focus is perfectly analogous to how reality itself seems to shift and squirm underneath you during a trip.

Another thing I love about Eve is that the sheer wackiness of the music inspires some really great metaphors. At one point in Cope’s book someone describes Speed, Glue & Shinki’s music as like a stringless kite floating away in the breeze. At another point Cope describe’s the drummer’s style—which speeds up and slows down drastically over the course of any given song, only has a passing relationship with the beat, and is punctuated with some of the oddest fills I’ve ever heard—as “like someone throwing bibles at a couch.” I mean, how can you not want to listen to that?

Anyway, listening to Eve has made me value looseness in a way that I never really had before. In fact, it made me realize that for pretty much my entire life I’d just assumed that tightness was the goal in music and anything that didn’t achieve a certain level of tightness was just fundamentally crappy or flawed. That’s probably one of the reasons that I never liked Led Zeppelin (and, indeed, I’ve found myself a little bit interested in revisiting them since Eve turned my world upside down). Coincidentally, this past week I happened to be reading a sample chapter from Tony Rettman’s new book on straight edge over at the No Echo web site and the following quote from Chris Zusi of Resurrection really stuck out:

With Resurrection, we purposely wanted to do something different musically and visually. We wanted to be a straight edge version of Black Flag or Bl’ast. At the time, most of the Youth Crew bands had died out or were dying a painful death. We wanted to provoke people—do a dirty, sloppy, straight edge band that felt like any song could fall apart at any minute. It was really meant to be a contrast to the tight punch of the late-’80s sound.

The idea that (at least some) 90s bands purposely went for a looser, sloppier sound was something that honestly never occurred to me. Particularly after the “No Way years” reframed my idea of what constituted “good” hardcore, I tended to just dismiss 90s hardcore. I am sure I’ve uttered the question, “why did people forget how to play good hardcore in the 90s?” many, many times. It honestly never occurred to me that people didn’t forget what good hardcore was, but instead were exploring an alternative idea of what good hardcore could be. Not that you’re going to find me going back and digging up old Resurrection records any time soon, but I feel like I at least have a better idea of where bands like that were coming from now.

So, my run-down of what I’ve been listening to is going to be more informal this time around because I’m totally swamped (or, maybe it's just as loose as Speed, Glue & Shinki), but here are a few of my personal highlights:

Liquids: Heart Beats True 7” (Digital Regress) I was extremely pleased to see this release had gotten a vinyl repress as I’ve been listening to mp3s of it for a while and it’s some of my favorite Liquids stuff. “Lucky Knife” is the jam here, built around the kind of ultra-catchy riff that made everyone fall in love with the Coneheads, but without the affected delivery that also made that band the target of so much backlash. There are plenty more jams here for the fan of quirky, catchy punk, the only oddball being the kind of dirge-y track on the b-side. There’s an early Lookout! Records vibe to Liquids in general, but this release in particular really captures the spirit of fun and creativity that I associate with those releases. Highly recommended.

Uniform: No Trending 12” (State Laughter) Long-awaited debut LP from this Atlanta band that features a couple of folks who you might recognize from the great, dearly departed Wymyns Prysyn. If you haven’t heard Uniform, then Wymyns Prysyn is probably the best reference point as they have a very similar sound and production style… sort of a more hardcore-informed take on the thick, melodic, Wipers-esque driving punk sound. I know that Uniform have been working on this record for a very long time, and it shows… pretty much every track has a bass line, two guitar melodies, and a vocal melody all going in different directions and criss-crossing over one another at all times. It’s disorienting at first, but there’s so much to listen to that it’s all really captivating. This is an album I love to put on, lie on my back, and just stare at the ceiling while I parse everything that’s going on. I also love the little noise / abstract pieces that bridge the gaps between songs. Far more than the random noise and feedback that a lot of bands use to fill up silence, these strike me as ideas that are short but well-developed… you could imagine most of them being expanded in length and scope to be their own hip-hop or noise tracks. Anyway, this one is a real pleasure to listen to, and when you throw in beautiful, unique packaging you really can’t go wrong.

Lumpy & the Dumpers: Those Pickled Fuckers 12” (Lumpy) Latest dispatch from Lumpy & Company and I know that I probably say this about every one of his records, but this one really IS the best one yet. While there’s a little bit here that will feel comfortably familiar if you have a bunch of Lumpy records in your collection (the grotesque chug of the title track in particular), my favorite moments are the ones that find Lumpy expanding his pallette. I think I wrote this somewhere on the site earlier, but it’s kind of funny that Lumpy & the Dumpers is actually one of the more musically conservative acts on the Lumpy label, which has become one of the most exciting labels for underground weirdo sounds over the past few years. However, tracks like “Attention” and “Clatter Song” introduce some rickety synths into the Dumpers equation to great effect. “Attention” is probably my favorite track on the album, recalling Broken Prayer in its rather elegant fusion of blazing hardcore and blistering synth-punk, but I’m also quite fond of “Clatter Song,” which finds Lumpy doing what sounds to me like a Bobby Boris Pickett impression. Their name and aesthetic just beg you to write Lumpy & the Dumpers off, but Those Pickled Fuckers proves that when you actually listen to the music there’s a whole lot to love.

Das Drip: Demo cassette (self-released) Now, this is one that is pretty exciting for me, first of all because I really like it and second of all because Sorry State played a small role in this band coming together. Basically, three former Whatever Brains started jamming on traditional rock instruments and wrote a bunch of hardcore songs, but hardcore songs filtered through the members’ unique sensibilities. They played for a few months without a singer, and eventually they put up a flyer at Sorry State looking for a singer for their “mid-brow hardcore band.” Rachel answered their ad and ended up being perfect. We have had a few people hanging up “musicians wanted” flyers in the store over the years, but this is the first one I know of that has actually resulted in a real band forming, furthermore a real band that I am super excited about. In terms of vibe I think that Das Drip clearly fit with newer weirdo hardcore like the Bug, Mozart, and Neon… like those bands, Das Drip seem to appreciate the speed and intensity of hardcore, but by studiously avoiding following the genre’s “rules” they manage to suck out the associations with toughness and macho-ness that make a lot of hardcore a total drag. While that’s clearly the inspiration, I also hear plenty of other quirky hardcore bands in their stew… everything from the Crucifucks to Skull Kontrol. And the vocals that glide over top of the music match the vibe perfectly. Rather than relying on the cliche screams and grunts of most hardcore bands, the vocals for each track sound like the verbal articulation of an anxiety attack, a stream of syllables that is as disorientingly relentless as the music behind it. Who knows if this will catch on outside of North Carolina, but it’s honestly one of my favorite releases of 2017.

Room 101: One Man Band 12” (Summary Execution) We carried an earlier Room 101 7” on Germany’s X-Mist Records that I only managed to hear in passing, but this LP definitely grabbed my attention. First of all, there’s the packaging, which is a beautiful Winston Smith (whose work you may know from the Dead Kennedys) collage rendered as a full-color screen print by Martin Sorrundeguy… it’s absolutely stunning, particularly when you hold the physical release with its heavy paper stock and slight mis-registration of the colors. This is a record that doesn’t look like a lot of other hardcore records, which is appropriate because it doesn’t sound like a lot of other hardcore records either. As you can infer from the record’s title, one guy, Roburt Reynolds, composes and performs all of the music (there are a bunch of live photos in the booklet that make the band’s live show look like a very intense experience). A lot of one-man hardcore projects out there (I’m thinking about stuff like Protester or early Violent Reaction) use the singularity of perspective to create a kind of tunnel vision where everything is super tight and locked in, both in terms of how the music is played, but also how other influences and ideas are incorporated into the sound. However, Room 101 sounds like a complete free-for-all… the playing is remarkably loose and alive for a one-person project, and it’s quite difficult to pinpoint specific influences on the band’s sound. Reynolds tends to use a drum machine in a way that emphasizes its drum machine-ness, sort of like Big Black rather than bands that use drum machines to approximate and/or exaggerate the kinds of beats that humans typically play. The rest of the music is wild and loose as well, with songs typically built around a fairly simple bass line that the guitarist improvises wild, cathartic bursts of noise over. The overall vibe is something like the first Crucifucks LP filtered through the post-industrial sensibility of Big Black. I’ve never really heard anything like it, and if you tend to seek out bands that don’t sound like anything else I’d recommend giving this one a spin.

Bodykit: No-NRG 12” (New Body Tapes) Rich and Josh from Whatever Brains’ second appearance in this update, as they both also play in Das Drip. Anyway, if Das Drip is where those two guys follow the thread of quirky punk that unraveled from Whatever Brains’ tattered cloak, Bodykit is the project where they dive deep into the electronic and noise influences that were the other big component of the Brains’ sound. Unlike a lot of other stuff that comes across my desk here at SSR, this one is really difficult to pin a specific genre tag on… there are elements of techno, power-electronics, synth-pop, noise music, and probably others swimming around in Bodykit’s sound. Some tracks here really emphasize texture and sound in a way that recalls abstract noise music, while other tracks reveal pop melodies deep at their core, and some tracks do both of those things at the same time. I’m not really sure how to sell someone on this other than by saying it’s a very intriguing and very inventive record that I find myself returning to again and again. If you were a Whatever Brains fan this is essential as it very much sounds like the next chapter, but it’s also it’s own thing that’s well worth checking out.

Various: LdAs - Lass Die Alten Sterben 12" (Swisspunk) Compilation of vintage Swiss punk music that doubles as the soundtrack to a Swiss film (the film, incidentally, is a work of fiction where the characters are punks, not a documentary on Swiss punk). Functioning something like an official version of the regional Bloodstains compilations, LdAs - Lass Die Alten Sterben (which translates to “Let the Old Folks Die”) collects a range of late 70s and early 80s Swiss punk encompassing a broad, but not overly broad, range of styles. While some bands are really fast and border on hardcore, others are kind of quirky and new wave-y, but all are a relatively comfortable fit under the ’77 punk / KBD-style punk umbrella. There are a few bands I was familiar with, like Sperma, Nasal Boys, and Dieter Meier (whose single is a real underrated gem… if I remember correctly I learned about it from Johan Kugelberg’s list of his favorite punk records), but a lot more I wasn’t familiar with at all… I think my favorite is Mother’s Ruin, who have two tracks included, but “Godzilla” is the real jam, a quirky, lumbering slice of angst that kind of sounds like Kleenex blown up to superhuman size and heaviness. While the quality of the track listing is just as good as that of unofficial releases like the Bloodstains compilations, the packaging pulls out all of the stops that you’d expect for an official release, most impressively the large, thick booklet that devotes a full page of space to each track and including liner notes / histories for each track as well as plenty of vintage photos and other ephemera. While I wouldn’t say that LdAs is the first international punk compilation you should buy, it’s a very good one, and if you’re a sucker for this kind of release I think you’ll definitely be pleased, and if you’re a collector you’re bound to add a few items to your want list.

Sorry, no stream available for this one :(

The Clay / Anti-Septic: Split 12” (Euro Import) Fan club reissue of two Japanese crushers. The artwork isn’t too hot (unfortunately it has that slapped-together bootleg style graphic design rather than the more fashionable “repro of the original artwork” style), but the music contained within these grooves is absolutely flawless and the sound reproduction is top-notch. The Anti-Septic 7” is one of my favorite Japanese records… it’s the perfect mid-point between the earlier ADK Records-type sound and the more full-on hardcore that would rise to prominence a few years later, splitting the difference between earlier, more mid-paced bands like Kikeiji, Masturbation, and G-Zet and faster stuff like Gudon or the Execute, with all of the catchiness and gloomy atmosphere of the former supplemented with the raging-ness of the latter. It really is a record that every fan of 80s Japanese hardcore should own in some capacity. As for the Clay, they’re most definitely a hardcore band, and their Middle East Combat Area7” is right at the top tier of noisy Japanese hardcore. The tracks collected here come from a live soundboard recording that originally appeared on a live 2xCD along with a bunch of other live tracks that you probably don’t need to bother looking up. These sound great, though, and not only are they just as raging as the band’s studio material, but also there are a ton of otherwise unreleased tracks contained in this 16-song set.

gSp: S/T 12” (Thrilling Living) Debut 12” from this new group with one of the coolest band names I’ve heard in ages (at least in its unabbreviated form, Girl Sperm). You night recognize guitarist and bassist Marissa Magic and Layla Gibbon’s names from the pages of Maximumrocknroll, and hopefully you certainly recognize drummer Tobi Vail’s name from her old band Bikini Kill. Obviously that’s a pretty strong pedigree, and if you’re coming at this record as a big fan of the Riot Grrrl era it’s hard to imagine you’ll be disappointed, as it has a similar energy about it to Bikini Kill’s most upbeat tracks (like “I Like Fucking,” for instance) or Bratmobile’s Ladies, Women, and Girls LP. However, it’s not really a time capsule-type thing either… moments remind me quite a bit of newer London bands like Good Throb, Frau, and Runt, for instance. I’m aware of the fact that I’m comparing gSp exclusively to groups with women in prominent roles, but it really does feel to me (and take what I say with a grain of salt, obviously, given that I’m a man) that gSp offer us a distinctly feminine / femme / feminist take on punk. I’ll leave it to someone else to parse what that actually means in terms of the different kinds of choices gSp make as songwriters and performers, but all I know is that I love it. While there are a few records (like the ones mentioned above) that sound sort of like this one, it’s a musical framework that feels alive and exciting, like there are still new and exciting ideas to be explored (unlike, say, genres like d-beat that seem stagnant at the moment). So, not only is this obviously coming from a very positive place politically and socially, but also it’s a blast to listen to with its infectious, effervescent energy just streaming from the speakers. I really can’t recommend this one highly enough.

All New Arrivals:
The Stooges: Highlights from the Fun House Sessions 12" (Run Out Groove)
Propagandhi: Victory Lap 12" (Epitaph)
ZZ Top: ZZ Top's First Album 12" (Rhino)
The Grateful Dead: Best of Vol 2: 1977-1989 12" (Rhino)
T Rex: Electric Warrior 12" (Rhino)
Cradle of Filth: The Principle of Evil Made Flesh 12" (The End)
Cradle of Filth: V Empire (Or Dark Faerytales In Phallustien) 12" (The End)
The Smiths: The Queen Is Dead 5x12" (Rhino)
Weezer: Pacific Daydream 12" (Crush Music)
Julien Baker: Turn Out the Lights 12" (Matador)
Escape-ism: Introduction to Escape-ism 12" (Merge)
Husker Du: Savage Young Du 12" box set (Numero Group)
Exploded View: Summer Came Early 12" (Sacred Bones)
Entombed: Clandestine 12" (Earache)
Bolt Thrower: ...for Victory 12" (Earache)
U-Men: S/T 3x12" (Sub Pop)
Sepultura: Roots (Expanded Edition) 12" (Roadrunner)
Metallica: Master of Puppets (remastered) 12" (Blackened)
Quicksand: Interiors 12" (Epitaph)
Angel Olsen: Phases 12" (Jagjaguwar)
Converge: The Dusk in Us 12" (Deathwish)
Radiation Risks: Headless Horseman 7" flexi (Feral Kid)
Morrissey: Spent the Day in Bed / Judy Is a Punk 12" (BMG)
Natural Man: Natural Man & the Flamin' Hot Band cassette (self-released)
Antichrist: Sinful Birth 12" (Electric Assault)
Occvlta: Night Without End 12" (Electric Assault)
Weezer: Pacific Daydream 12" (Crush Music)
Liquids: Heart Beats True 7" (Terminal Regress)
Terry: Remember Terry 12" (Upset the Rhythm!)
Ekman, Joni & Koira: S/T 12" (Fuck Rekords)
Suburban Homes: Unemployed 7" (Total Punk)
The Clay / Anti Septic: Split 12" (Euro Import)
Lebenden Toten: Mind Parasites 12" (self-released)
Unarm: Myth or Reality 311 12" (Black Water)
Natterers: Toxic Care 7" flexi (Boss Tuneage)
Haram: S/T 12" (Toxic State)
Primer Regiment: No Futuro / No Solucion 7" (Discos MMM)
Purple X: Demo 2017 cassette (Discos MMM)
No Negative: Cellophane 7" (Swollen City)
Ultrarat: D-Pression 7" (Swollen City)
Bruised: S/T cassette (self-released)
Dianetics: Book Learned / And Psycho Horse cassette (self-released)
Red Delicious: Bad Apple cassette (Not Normal)
Smooch: First Kiss cassette (Big Dunce)
A. Savage: Thawing Dawn 12" (Dull Tools)
Franco Battiato: Fetus 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Bell Witch: Mirror Reaper 12" (Profound Lore)
Frankie and the Witch Fingers: Brain Telephone 12" (Permanent)
Gun Club: Fire of Love 12" (Munster)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Sketches of Brunswick 12" (ATO)
Pageninetynine: Document #8 12" (Reptilian)
Severed Heads: Come Visit the Big Bigot 12" (Dark Entries)
Ufomammut: 8 12" (Neurot)
Rakta: Oculto Pelos Seres 7" (Iron Lung)
Acrylics: Structure 7" (Iron Lung)
Brand New: Science Fiction 12" (Procrastinate! Music Traitors)
Wulkanaz: Paralysis 12" (Helter Skelter)
Michael Jackson: Scream 12" (MJJ)
St. Vincent: Masseduction 12" (Loma Vista)
Beck: Colors 12" (Capitol)
Dirty & His Fists: S/T 7" (Feel It)
Unjust: Transparency 7" (Quality Control)
Rapture: I Glorify 7" (Quality Control)
Bjork: The Gate 12" (One Little Indian)
Quicksand: Manic Compression 12" (SRC)
Pretty Things: Greatest Hits 12" (Madfish)
Mork: Eremittens Dal 12" (Peaceville)
Room 101: One Man Band 12" (Summary Execution)
Mad Conflux: Crazy Action Party 12" (FOAD)
Sado-Nation: We're Not Equal 12" (Euro Import)
Paralasis Permanente: Los Singles 12" (3 Cipreses)
Atoxxxico: 30th Anniversary Anthology 12" (FOAD)
Systematic Death: Systema Ten 12" (FOAD)
Gauze: 限界は何処だ (3rd LP) 12" (Crowmaniax)
Gauze: 面を洗って出直して来い (4th LP) 12" (Crowmaniax)
gSp: S/T 12" (Thrilling Living)
Various: LdAs - Lass Die Alten Sterben 12" (Swisspunk)
Spodee Boy / Datenight: Split 7" (Drop Medium)
U-nix: S/T cassette (Drop Medium)
Shimmer: S/T 12" (Drop Medium)
Dog: Trash Temple 12" (Drop Medium)
Impulse Control: demo cassette (self-released)
Deletär: S/T 7" (Kick Rock)
Blink 182: S/T 12" (SRC)
Electro Hippies: The Only Good Punk Is a Dead Punk 12" (Earache)
Dream Probe: Demo II cassette (self-released)
Das Drip: Demo cassette (self-released)
Lumpy & the Dumpers: Those Pickled Fuckers 12" (Lumpy)
Nasti: Big Achievements 12" (Iron Lung)
Uniform: No Trending 12" (State Laughter)
Bed Wettin' Bad Boys: Rot 12" (What's Your Rupture)
Power Trip: Nightmare Logic 12" (Southern Lord)
Itansha: Paranoia Demo 7" (Warthog Speak)
Lion's Share: S/T 7" (Warthog Speak)
Μάτι: Demo 2017 cassette (self-released)
Sun Ra and His Arkestra: Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Coil: Another Brown World / Baby Food 12" (Sub Rosa)
Various: The Gamelan of the Walking Warriors 12" (Akuphone)
Various: Tokyo Flashback 12" (Black Editions)
Pharoah Sanders: S/T 12" (ESP-Disk)
Various: No New York 12" (Lilith)
Faust: S/T 12" (Lilith)
Os Mutantes: S/T 12" (Lilith)
Alex Chilton: Like Flies on Sherbert 12" (Vinyl Lovers)
Unruly Boys: S/T 7" (Crowd Control Media)

Rut: Attraction 7" (Digital Regress)
The Abused: Loud and Clear 12" (Radio Raheem)
Neanderthal: A History of Violence 12" (Deep Six)
Limp Wrist: Facades 12" (Lengua Armada)
Agnostic Front: No One Rules 12" (Radio Raheem)
LSD: 1983 to 1986 12" (Schizophrenic)
Kleenex / Liliput: First Songs 12" (Mississippi)
Grief: Depression 12" (Fuck Yoga)
Grief: Dismal 12" (Fuck Yoga)
Life's Blood: Hardcore AD 12" (Prank)
La Urss: Maravillas 12" (Discos MMM)
Ausencia: Cuantas 7" (Discos MMM)
The Fall: Hex Enduction Hour 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Crass: Feeding of the 5000 12" (Southern)
Dicks: Kill from the Heart 12" (Alternative Tentacles)
Flesh World: Into the Shroud 12" (Dark Entries)
The Sound: From the Lion's Mouth 12" (1972)
The Sound: Jeopardy 12" (1972)
Stiff Little Fingers: Inflammable Material 12" (4 Men with Beards)
Subhumans: The Day the Country Died 12" (Bluurg!)
Subhumans: EPLP 12" (Bluurg!)
The Fall: Dragnet 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Flower Travellin Band: Satori 12" (Phoenix)
Various: Bingo! French Punk & New Wave 12" (Born Bad)
Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique 12" (Capitol)
Funkadelic: Maggot Brain 12" (Westbound)
Misfits: Earth AD 12" (Caroline)
Misfits: Static Age 12" (Caroline)
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon 12" (Pink Floyd)
Slayer: Reign in Blood 12" (American)
Slayer: Seasons in the Abyss 12" (American)
Slayer: South of Heaven 12" (American)
Aggression Pact: Instant Execution 7" (Painkiller)
Banshee: Caw! 12" (self-released)
Aburadako: S/T 7" (Crowmaniax)
Dead Kennedys: Plastic Surgery Disasters 12" (Manifest)
RAS: Rien a Signaler 7" (Dirty Punk)
Raw Power: You Are the Victim / God's Course 12" (FOAD)
Bad Posture: C/S 12" (Mono)
GISM: Detestation 12" (Euro Import)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Triple Crown)
Earth Crisis: Destroy the Machines 12" (Victory)
Geto Boys: We Can't Be Stopped 12" (Rap-a-lot)
Integrity: Howling, for the Nightmare Shall Consume 12" (Relapse)
Modest Mouse: Building Nothing Out of Something 12" (Glacial Pace)
Parquet Courts: Content Nausea 12" (What's Your Rupture)
Jay Reatard: Blood Visions 12" (Fat Possum)
Run the Jewels: S/T 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 2 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 3 12" (Mass Appeal)
Sleep: Dopesmoker 12" (Southern Lord)
Sunn O))): Monoliths and Dimensions 12" (Southern Lord)
Against Me: Reinventing Axl Rose 12" (No Idea)
Bags: All Bagged Up 12" (Artifix)
DOA: Hardcore '81 12" (Sudden Death)
Eyehategod: Take as Needed for Pain 12" (Century Media)
Jawbreaker: Unfun 12" (Blackball)
Sleep: Volume One 12" (Tupelo)
Sonic Youth: Daydreamnation 12" (Goofin')
Sonic Youth: Evol 12" (Goofin')
Suicide: S/T 12" (Superior Viaduct)
The Fall: Grotesque 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Wicked Lady: The Axeman Cometh 12" (Guersson)
Teenage Filmstars: There's a Cloud Over Liverpool 12" (Munster)

Featured Release Roundup for September 26, 2017 b/w All Things to All People Vol. 22

Well, our “Turned Out a Punk” series on the Sorry State blogs were a big success, so we’re going to attempt to keep the ball rolling with another set of posts on a unified topic. This time around we’ll be talking about game-changing records… records that might have changed the way that you think about a scene or a genre and opened up new vistas in your listening habits. I’m actually going to talk about two different records that played this kind of role at two different points in my life.

The first record I want to talk about is the Koro 7”. Now, it probably seems obvious that this is a record I really like since Sorry State reissued it as one of our earliest releases, but more than just a good record it was really a catalyst for me getting into hardcore on a deeper level.

As I wrote about in my previous post, I spent my teen years in the mid- and late 90s testing out different tribal affiliations within the punk scene. While I listened almost exclusively to music that came out of the punk scene, it seemed like punk’s umbrella was much wider in those days, and around 1999 when I first heard Koro I was checking out everything from Converge and Cave In to youth crew revival to tougher bands like Right Brigade to melodic bands like Saves the Day, and I was also heavily interested in the nascent screamo scene with bands like Pg. 99 and City of Caterpillar. And parallel to all of this I was starting to get really into researching older bands and learning about music from the 70s and 80s. This was pre-social media, so I did most of my research with actual books. I remember John Savage’s book England’s Dreaming introduced me to a lot of stuff. I actually brought a copy with me the first time I went to England. I distinctly remember reading it on the plane, boning up on all of the ’77-era punk bands so that I would know what to look out for as I scoured the used bins. I believe that trip was in 1999, so vinyl was cheap and the 99p bins were overflowing with ’77-era punk singles. When I got back home and started going through them all—some I’d learned about from England’s Dreaming and other sources, and some I just bought because they looked cool—I started to get a sense of the depth of the ’77 punk scene and how many bands there were to check out once you scratched below the surface. I’m guessing that I probably heard my first Killed by Death compilation around this time as well, which made me realize that this wasn’t a phenomenon limited to the UK.

Around this time was when I first discovered the Kill from the Heart web site, which showed me that the depth I’d found in ’77-era punk extended well into the hardcore era (and, of course, I’ve since discovered that just about every music scene is full of similarly-sized rabbit holes). I’m not sure how the conversation got started, but eventually I started emailing with Chris, the main guy behind KFTH. He sent me a mix tape full of great early 80s hardcore, but the band that really stuck out for me was Koro, whose entire 7” was on the tape.

I wrote before about how Minor Threat was such a special band for me, and despite the fact that I’d heard plenty of other early 80s hardcore bands by that point no one quite did it for me like Minor Threat did. That is, until I heard Koro. It was even faster than Minor Threat, and if it wasn’t quite as tight then it was certainly close. These were songs that were performed at the speed with which my brain worked, and consequently filled me with a strange sense of comfort. While I recognized that the music was amazing pretty much right off the bat, once I delved deeper into the record I was only intrigued even more. The band was from Knoxville, Tennessee, which was not only in the south, but it was an even smaller city than Richmond, where I was living at the time, and the Norfolk / Virginia Beach area where I grew up. The lyrics had little of Minor Threat’s earnestness, instead dealing with kind of frivolous teenage topics (“Blap!”) or very dated political topics (“700 Club”). While one would think that these dated political topics would keep me from connecting with the record, truth be told they only intrigued me more. I grew up in the land of Pat Robertson (whose organization was headquartered in Virginia Beach) and The 700 Club was a show that I flipped past a million times when channel-surfing as a kid. Knowing that such a great piece of music grew out of a context that felt so incredibly familiar was a real rush.

After hearing Koro, it was pretty much on. The Koro EP was proof positive that there was gold in the boxes and boxes of used 7”s that littered pretty much every used record store that still existed, and I set about panning, using Kill from the Heart, print sources like old issues of Maximumrocknroll and the Flex guidebooks, illegal file sharing networks, and ebay as essential tools in my arsenal. For the next several years—honestly, for the next decade or more—it was all about diving as deep as possible and seeing what I could come up with. I would hear lots of gems over the next several years, but I can’t think of any record as perfect as that EP.

The second record I want to talk about is a more recent discovery, Amon Düül II’s Yeti LP, which I also wrote about in a previous edition of All Things to All People. In that post I struggled to articulate precisely what intrigued me so much about all of the Krautrock stuff that I was discovering, and when my friend Danny read that column he put it more succinctly and eloquently than I could: I was transitioning toward music that had a kind of cinematic scope. In other words, in retrospect I realize that the way I approached listening to music was very much grounded in the traditions of folk and pop music. In other words, I listened to music in order to sing along, and “digesting” records essentially meant memorizing them closely enough that I could sing along (or play air guitar or drums or whatever) and take a kind of participatory pleasure in experiencing the music. I still listen to plenty of music in that mode, but what Yeti in particular showed me is that there are other ways. It’s possible to surrender yourself to music, to let it take you wherever it wants to go. That pop listening mold is predicated on a kind of mastery… you have to learn the song—to tame it in a way—in order to listen to it in that way. However, listening to a record like Yeti is like just floating in a river or the ocean and letting the current take you wherever it may. The pleasure here is not in taming something outside of you, but of releasing what is inside of you, letting go of your ego so that you can experience what the musicians want you to experience.

While Yeti was the record that made me really crave this mode of listening, I think that getting really into Can prepped me for the experience of Yeti. Can’s music is strange in that it has the circularity of pop music and the linearity of this more “cinematic” music in equal measure. People often remark upon the “gradually evolving repetition” motif in their classic work, and I think that the repetition provided me a kind of safety net to fall back on as I became increasingly interested in that wider scope.

Anyway, once Yeti clicked with me I was all about finding this sensation in as much music as possible. It was like I had developed a new muscle that allowed me to do things I didn’t know were possible… listening to and appreciating music really are skills, and I had just upped my level. Entire categories of music were newly accessible to me, like jazz (70s Miles Davis has been a particular favorite, including both funkier stuff like On the Corner and more atmospheric things like Bitches Brew), soundtracks (including the Japanese artist J.A. Ceasar, one of my favorite recent discoveries), and prog (which, for all of its Krautrock-y tendencies, is ultimately the category that I would place Yeti into). I even came back to some records I already loved with fresh ears, like the psychedelic concept albums of the 60s. Previously I listened to records like Sgt Pepper’s or Arthur as collections of pop songs, but nowadays I appreciate the over-arching, album-level dynamics more. And when it comes to albums like the Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow or Pink Floyd’s early stuff where those album-level dynamics are even more important, I’m listening to and loving those records more than I ever have before.

Interestingly, this new way of listening has also pushed me toward a different attitudes toward discovering music. There was a kind of neuroticism to the way that I searched for 80s hardcore in the years after hearing Koro… the drive to hear everything created a nice little feedback loop with my naturally high anxiety level. That neuroticism has served me well in a lot of ways… honestly, a lot of Sorry State’s success has grown out of my insatiable desire to hear everything. By contrast, I’m not so worried about hearing every single Krautrock or jazz record. I know those are deep, deep rabbit holes, but I’m pretty much content just to enjoy whatever crosses my path. In order to pursue hardcore so single-mindedly I had to close myself off to a ton of great music, and nowadays I just want to be open and enjoy whatever the universe offers up to me.

Is anyone out there on Apple Music? Obviously Sorry State is vinyl-centric and sitting in front of my stereo with a vinyl record is still my preferred way of listening to music, but I listen to a lot of digital music as well. I’ve long preferred Apple Music over Spotify because it allows me to upload songs from my own library and fold them in with the songs on Apple’s service… I couldn’t rely solely on Spotify and not have access to all of the stuff that’s on my computer but not on that service. Anyway, enough shilling for Apple… they have enough of everyone’s money.

I bring up this topic because if anyone out there uses Apple Music and has upgraded to iOS 11, feel free to follow my profile @sorrystate and eavesdrop on what I’m listening to. Even better, let me follow you back! I’ve long been jealous of Spotify’s social features, so I’m eager to make some contacts on Apple Music and have some people introduce me to cool stuff I wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

In other Daniel news, I have a new band! We’re called Scarecrow. I play bass, Jeff from Skemäta plays guitar, Usman from Skemäta plays drums, and our friend Red (who hasn’t been in a band before) sings. Our first show is October 7 at the Bunker in Raleigh (Facebook event here). If you’re in the area you should try to make it… Haircut is killer and Bunker shows are always a good time.

The day after that I’ll be at the VG- Record Fair at Hardywood Brewery in Richmond slinging that hot wax. I’ll probably be very sleepy. Hopefully I can get someone to come with me so that we can trade off making coffee runs, and so that they can watch the table while I browse the other sellers’ wares!

No Love also has a few shows coming up. We’ll be playing with the Cowboys (which I’m very stoked about!) at the Pinhook in Durham on October 15 (Facebook event here). It sounds like we’ll also be getting to play with both C.H.E.W. and Trash Knife this fall as well, and I’m super stoked about both of those shows too. It’s shaping up to be a very punk-filled fall here in North Carolina.

C.H.E.W. / Rash: Split 7” (Slugsalt) Well, this is quite a corker… two of the best current bands from Chicago teaming up for a split 7”! C.H.E.W.’s material so far has pretty much blown me away, and these three songs do very little to change my mind about how great they are. This time around I’m not hearing the Rudimentary Peni-isms quite as much… the production is a little heavier and the playing is a little tighter and more straightforwardly hardcore, but there are plenty of little quirks for those of you who like it weird. The second track, “Submission,” in particular has some really cool, wild vocals that fly off the edges of the song’s rhythm and some wonky whiplash tempo changes that make my face erupt in a grin every time I hear them. As for Rash’s contribution, they give us two tracks that pretty much pick up where their recent releases left off. They’ve always played in the fertile area between hardcore and AmRep-style noise rock, but these two tracks are definitely a bit more on the hardcore end of the spectrum, albeit with the dense and rich textures of the best noise rock kept fully intact. You don’t see too many split 7”s in hardcore these days, but this one makes a great argument for the format. Highly recommended!

Major Conflict: S/T 7” (Antitodo) Reissue of this 1983 NYHC 7” which is probably most famous for being “the post-Urban Waste band.” If you’re coming to Major Conflict looking for Urban Waste you’ll be a bit disappointed as this simply isn’t nearly as raw or as feral as that record (but then again, how many records are?), but it’s a nice little vintage slice of NYHC nonetheless. The three tracks here are quite different from one another. It begins with an instrumental called “How Do Ya Feel” that’s built around a cool little metallic riff that reminds me quite a lot of the Abused, then segues into a mid-paced street punk song called “Outgroup,” which seems to me to betray the influence of punkier bands like Kraut and the Stimulators, or perhaps even Subliminal Seduction-era Heart Attack. On the b-side you get a lengthier song that seems more Bad Brains-influenced, particularly the epic, “Right Brigade”-esque mosh part. While it’s kind of weird that the three tracks are so different from one another, this 7” really works, and even if it doesn’t quite make that top tier of NYHC alongside Antidote, the Abused, Urban Waste, et al, it’s solidly in the second tier alongside bands like Crucial T, the Mob, and the Nihilistics, and if you’re familiar with those records (all of them rippers) you know that’s no slight. And of course Antitodo has already established a reputation for doing great quality repro editions, so you shouldn’t worry yourself on that front.

Flesh World: Into the Shroud 12” (Dark Entries) Well, the new Flesh World album is finally here. They’ve shifted labels for this one, moving from the world of small DIY hardcore labels (their previous releases were on La Vida Es Un Mus and Iron Lung) to Dark Entries, who are honestly probably a better fit for their sound. When there’s a change in labels there’s usually some corresponding changes in the music, and that’s the case to an extent here. Flesh World are still writing brilliant pop songs, and structurally the songs on Into the Shroud are very much of a piece with the band’s earlier work, though honestly I think the melodies are more memorable and the arrangements much more dynamic and interesting. The main difference is that they’ve scaled back radically on the noise. While Into the Shroud is probably still a fairly noisy record by indie rock standards, if you loved their previous releases you’ll immediately notice how much cleaner this record is, which is hardly a bad thing, just a noticeable difference. Flesh World have always reminded me a bit of Lush, and the transition from The Wild Animals in My Life to Into the Shroud is not unlike Lush’s transition from their earlier, more chaotic stuff to the more streamlined pop of Lovelife. I love both periods of Lush, and I’m fully on board with this new phase of Flesh World. If you enjoyed this band’s earlier stuff I strongly recommend this new one as well.

Spray Paint & Ben Mackie: Friendly Moving Man 7” (12XU) Not a split release, but a collaborative 7” between these two artists. I’ve heard Ben Mackie’s group Cuntz (even seen them live once), but I’m not sure if his reverb-drenched vocals are going to be enough of a selling point for the legions of Cuntz fans out there. It’s unclear if he did more than sing on this 7”, but I do feel like there could be a little bit of Cuntz’s noise rock injected into Spray Paint’s sound for this release… it’s hard to say for sure. However, if you’re coming at this release from the Spray Paint end of things I dare say you’ll be very pleased. Spray Paint are one of the most unique-sounding bands out there… it’s hard to say precisely what it is that sets them apart, but they have such a unique voice as a band that you can hear just a couple of notes and immediately know that it’s them. The a-side in particular is extremely quirky, and it’s the kind of song that it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Spray Paint managing to capture on tape. The only bad thing I can say about the record is that it feels like it’s over before it starts, but if you’re interested in this odds are you have a stack of Total Punk 7”s in your collection that you could say the same thing about, so no biggie.

Performing Ferret Band: S/T 12” (Beat Generation) Reissue of this UKDIY LP from 1980, and it’s a real gem. I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable about this particular scene, but it’s crazy to me that something as good as this could fly under my radar for so long. Sonically, this is just about as on the nose as the UKDIY sound gets… take some bits from the early Fall catalog, add in some of the vibe from genre classics like Desperate Bicycles or the Homosexuals and you should be pretty much in the ballpark as to what this sounds like. It also bears an almost uncanny resemblance to the Total Punk band Suburban Homes in places… I’m not sure if they’re a conscious influence on Suburban Homes or not, but I think it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you like one band’s records you’ll really like the other’s as well (unless, of course, you strictly avoid either new or old bands). For me, a lot of the pleasure of UKDIY music is in the way that they balance their poppier impulses with their more experimental ones, and Performing Ferret Band have pretty much the perfect mix for me. So, if this style if up your alley you know what to do…

Reptoides: Nueva Especie 7” (World Gone Mad) 2nd 7” from this Mexican band, not to be confused with Andy Human & the Reptoids from California, who are an entirely different group. If you liked what they did the first time around I’m pretty sure you’ll be on board with this as well, as it continues in a similar vein. As before (and as with their labelmates in Haldol) there’s a distinct Rudimentary Peni influence here, which manifests itself in the claustrophobic, chorus-y guitar tone and the general sense of dread, but like Peni they also manage to pull hook after hook out of this rather imposing shell. I can see fans of Blazing Eye being super into this as well, but it also reminds me of some of the more out-there Japanese punk and hardcore sounds by bands like G.I.S.M. or Mobs. I haven’t seen Reptoides getting a ton of hype in the US, but maybe it’s about time that changed because this—like their last EP—is totally killer.

Beyond Peace: S/T 7” (Hard Art) Debut 7” from this band out of Iowa. We had their demo a while back, but they really made an impression when I saw them live a few weeks ago. Like a lot of bands from off-the-beaten-path locales, Beyond Peace don’t sound totally in sync with the hottest trends in the underground today, but as someone who is naturally attracted to bands that fall between the cracks I think that’s an asset rather than a drawback. The foundation here is definitely straightforward 80s USHC, and it’s fast, raw, and gruff in all the right ways. The vibe is somewhat earnest and political in a way that reminds me both of 90s bands like Crudos or Born Against and 80s bands like Articles of Faith or Everything Falls Apart / Metal Circus-era Husker Du. And like all of those bands, Beyond Peace are musically adventurous as well; while they can write a mid-paced part worthy of any NYHC band (“Wearing Thin”) they can also dish out some jaggedly beautiful lead lines that could have come from Articles of Faith’s Give Thanks LP (“Big Man”). If the above references intrigue you I would highly encourage you to check this out, as Beyond Peace pretty much precisely fit my definition of real hardcore.

UVTV: Go Away 7” (Emotional Response) Latest 4-song EP from this Florida band who have quietly been maturing into one of the most distinctive punk bands out there. To me, UVTV’s music sounds like a hardcore-informed take on C86 pop like the Shop Assistants… in other words, while they have the sprightliness and heft of a band like Brain F≠, but their dreamy vocals, pop songwriting chops, and distinct Ramones influence seem to come from the mid-80s UK (which they kind of confirm here with a cover tune by the Primitives). Punk with dreamy vocals is a pretty untapped well—the only bands I can think of that do it as well as UVTV are Flesh World and Earth Girls, both of whom who have a very different overall vibe—which serves to UVTV’s advantage because they sound so totally fresh. I’m not sure why the hype machine hasn’t latched onto this band yet, but maybe someone should take some initiative and get that started. Or just pick this up and enjoy your own little secret.

ISS: Endless Pussyfooting 12” (Erste Theke Tontraeger) So, I wrote a description of this back when it was a tape and then the label actually used it as the generic marketing description for the vinyl release, so obviously I like this a lot. However, I thought I’d write something again since this record has only grown in my esteem since the tape version came out. I wrote before (and other people like Vincent have also mentioned) that the sampling-based technique that ISS uses is totally awesome, but I feel like the focus on their technique—which admittedly, is pretty exciting—detracts attention away from how absolutely brilliant these songs are. Sure, it’s fun to unpack all of the references and try to identify all of the samples, but these songs would be great no matter what instruments were used to create them. There’s such a mastery of songwriting, lyric-writing, arrangement, and production on display here that it honestly makes a lot of the other music that I listen to look bad by comparison. However, even if you don’t come to this as some kind of grand artistic achievement (and believe me, I think that’s the last thing ISS wants anyway), these are just great, fun pop songs that you can sing along to with the windows down on a warm summer day… indeed, the fact that they function so well as pop songs is exactly what makes them so great. So, at the risk of continuing to not make any sense, I’m going to wrap this up and say that it’s one of my favorite things in the world right now and that you should probably check it out if you haven’t already.

B.D.: Over 30 Singles 12” (Emotional Response) 30(!!!)-track compilation from this long-running California punk band. I’m not sure if we’ve carried every single B.D. / Bad Daddies record, but I’ve checked in with them often over the years and this band is always doing something surprising. That eclecticism is very much on display here, as songs waver between hardcore, 90s-style noise-rock and straight up pop-punk. I suppose that if I had to draw a common thread to all of the music collected here, it’s that there’s a very 90s sensibility at work, both in that a lot of the genres that B.D. dabble in sound kind of retro and in the eclecticism itself, which is jarring within the context of the current scene, where bands seem very hesitant to step outside a narrow range of influences. While there is a metric ton of awesome music here, I think my favorite thing about Over 30 Singles might be the zine booklet, which is super thick and features detailed contextualizations of every track here (and, crazily enough, many others that aren’t compiled here!) and interviews with each individual member of the band. Everything about this package is really overwhelming, but in kind of a neat way. I think one of the reasons that a lot of modern punk feels so disposable is because the audience has so little time to make room for more / richer media content in our lives. However, Over 30 Singles is a throwback to when records were one of your key media resources and not only did bands try to convey as much information as possible, but also the audience also spent a lot of time digesting all of that information. So, while it’ll definitely take some work to make time for this given the lifestyles we live nowadays, there are corresponding rewards for your expenditure of time.

All New Arrivals
Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos 12" (Omnivore)
Mogwai: Every Country's Son 12" (Temporary Residence)
Twin Peaks: Music from the Limited Event Series OST 12" (Rhino)
METZ: Strange Peace 12" (Rhino)
Various: Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares 12" (Numero Group)
The Afghan Whigs: Up with It 12" (Sub Pop)
The Afghan Whigs: Congregation 12" (Sub Pop)
The Afghan Whigs: Uptown Avondale 12" (Sub Pop)
Satyricon: Deep Calleth Upon Deep 12" (Napalm)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Luciferian Towers 12" (Constellation)
Tortür: No Surrender, No Survivors 7" flexi (self-released)
Amgdala: Population Control 12" (Dead Tank)
Meatwound: Trash Apparatus 7" (Dead Tank)
Vacancy: Empty Head cassette (Dead Tank)
Lunglust: War at Home 7" (Dead Tank)
Lunglust: War at Home cassette (Dead Tank)
Mrtex / Kelut: Split LP 12" (Dead Tank)
DS-13: Umea Hardcore Forever 12" (Havoc)
Kaaos: Riistinnaulittu Kaaos 12" (Havoc)
Major Conflict: S/T 7" (Antitodo)
Flesh World: Into the Shroud 12" (Dark Entries)
Mr. Wrong: Babes in Boyland 12" (Water Wing)
Pikacyu-Makoto: Galaxilympics 12" (Upset the Rhythm)
Chain & the Gang; Experimental Music 12" (Radical Elite)
Neon: Neon / Nazi Schatzi 7" (Water Wing)
Wolves in the Throne Room: Thrice Woven 12" (Artemesia)
Dorothy Ashby: Hip Harp / On a Minor Groove 12" (Doxy)
Flower Travellin Band: Satori 12" (Phoenix)
Flower Travellin Band: Anywhere 12" (Phoenix)
Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist 12" (Bureau B)
Performing Ferret Band: S/T 12" (Beat Generation)
Genius / GZA: Liquid Swords 12" (Universal)
Chaos UK: One Hundred Percent Two Fingers in the Air Punk Rock 12" (Harbinger Sound)
Nachthexen: S/T 10" (Harbinger Sound)
Voigt/465: Slights Still Unspoken 12" (Mental Experience)
Atelier du Mal: Noblesse Oblige 12" (Mannequin)
Silverhead: S/T 12" (Vinilissimo)
Osiris: S/T 12" (Pharaway)
Aragorn: Night Is Burning 12" (Sommor)
Bruno Spoerri & Reto Weber: The Sound of UFOs 12" (We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want)
Bruno Spoerri: Voice of Taurus 12" (We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want)
Pretty Things: Parachute 12" (Madfish)
Pretty Things: SF Sorrow 12" (Madfish)
C.H.E.W. / Rash: Split 7" (Slugsalt)
Spray Paint & Ben Mackie: Friendly Moving Man b/w Dumpster Buddies 7" (12XU)
USA/Mexico: Laredo 12" (12XU)

Broken Bones: A Single Decade 12" (Havoc)
Final Conflict: Keep It in the Family 7" (Havoc)
Sacrilege: Time to Face the Reaper 12" (Havoc)
Willful Neglect: S/T + Justice for No One 12" (Havoc)
Blitz: Voice of a Generation 12" (Radiation)
Blitz: All Out Attack 7" (Ugly Pop)
Newtown Neurotics: Beggars Can Be Choosers 12" (Nada Nada Discos)
Partisans: S/T 12" (Havoc)
Wretched: Libero E Selvaggio 12" (Agipunk)
Against Me: Reinventing Axl Rose 12" (No Idea)
John Coltrane & Alice Coltrane: Cosmic Music 12" (Superior Viaduct)
Dicks: Kill from the Heart 12" (Alternative Tentacles)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana 12" (Flightless)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: I'm Your Mind Fuzz 12" (Castleface)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Quarters 12" (Castleface)
Thee Oh Sees: Mutilator Defeated at Last 12" (Castleface)
Radioactivity: S/T 12" (Dirtnap)
Radioactivity: Silent Kill 12" (Dirtnap)
Rubella Ballet: Ballet Bag 12" (Dark Entries)
Sonic Youth: Evol 12" (Goofin')
Spits: 19 Million AC 12" (Slovenly)
Spits: First Self-titled 12" (Slovenly)
Spits: S/T 12" (Slovenly)
Spits: Third Album 12" (Slovenly)
The Fall: Slates 10" (Superior Viaduct)
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity 12" (ATO)
Wicked Lady: The Axeman Cometh 12" (Guersson)
Wicked Lady: Psychotic Overkill 12" (Guersson)
Bad Brains: S/T 12" (ROIR)
Brand New: Deja Entendu 12" (Triple Crown)
Brand New: I Am a Nightmare 12" (Triple Crown)
Electric Wizard: Dopethrone 12" (Rise Above)
Hatebreed: Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire 12" (Victory)
Joey Bada$$: All Amerikkkan Bada$$ 12" (Cinematic)
Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold 12" (What's Your Rupture?)
Power Trip: Manifest Decimation 12" (Southern Lord)
Run the Jewels: S/T 12" (Mass Appeal)
Run the Jewels: RTJ 3 12" (Mass Appeal)
Slayer: Show No Mercy 12" (Metal Blade)
Swans: Filth 12" (Young God)
C.H.E.W. / Penetrode: Split cassette (Slugsalt)

Featured Release Roundup September 16, 2017 b/w All Things to All People Vol. 21

First, a note about this post: this installment you’re getting a combo pack… usually the Featured Release Roundup and All Things to All People are separate posts, but this time I’m smashing them together because why not? Also, apologies for the lack of blog content lately. I’ve been listening to music like a fiend as usual, but I had to travel to Ohio for several days for a funeral and it’s really put me behind on a lot of day-to-day tasks like writing for the blog. You should see us getting back on schedule over the next few days.

So, this week at Sorry State everyone is telling you how they got into punk. I’m sure I’ve told a rough version of this story before in interviews or just in conversation, but rather than giving you my whole life story I’m going to focus on a series of discrete epiphanies, each of which gradually deepened my connection to punk rock.

I worry that my story will be boring because it sounds so much like that of so many other people my age. I’m writing this the day after my 38th birthday, which means that I was born in 1979, which means that I was around 12 years old when Nirvana “broke.” In other words, just when I reached that point of maturity when I started looking outward from my family and friends that I grew up with and reaching for a broader identity and perhaps even a subcultural affiliation, Nirvana appeared. Their timing could not have been more fortuitous. When I think back now, it’s kind of remarkable how much I adopted from Nirvana’s aesthetic and incorporated into my own vibe… anti-authoritarianism, despondency / depression, a celebration of the inherent value of weirdness and being weird, smart-assery, an awareness of and pretension toward fine art… those things are so much a fundamental part of who I am that it’s hard to tell whether I recognized them in Nirvana (and, more widely, in punk) and gravitated toward them as a result, or if I just fell into punk by chance and it stamped those qualities onto me. I guess that’s a knot that no one is ever going to untangle.

The photos on the insert of the Minor Threat discography probably helped to shape my personal sense of style and fashion more than just about anything else I can think of.

Anyway, after hearing Nirvana the next big revelation was Minor Threat, which I probably first heard around 1993 or 1994. At some point I discovered that a great way to find out about the kinds of bands I wanted to hear was to buy records by the bands whose t-shirts were sold in the Sessions advertisements in the back of Thrasher Magazine; those ads were pretty much a who’s who of key 70s and 80s punk bands, and when I put that together with the following equation:

a long track list on a CD = shorter songs = faster songs = better songs

Minor Threat’s discography CD was a pretty obvious buy. And once I heard that I pretty much fell head over heels in love in much the same way I had with Nirvana. It was a total game-changer and still serves to guide my musical preferences nearly 25 years later. As with Nirvana, this music is so deeply embedded in my consciousness that it’s impossible to tell whether I loved it or if I just trained myself to like it, but at least in retrospect it was love at first sight.

Having listened to so many episodes of Turned Out a Punk, I find it kind of strange that my journey into punk seems so isolated. I didn’t have an older sibling or even any older friends guiding me on my journey into punk. More or less all of my knowledge of punk was gleaned either through mass media (MTV, skateboarding and music magazines, and once I was able to find them, zines like MRR and Flipside) or simply by trial and error, i.e. buying records I thought looked promising and hoping that they didn’t suck. Even once I moved to Richmond in 1997 and was pretty much surrounded by punks constantly, my dive into music was strangely solitary, though that would change eventually.

My 11th grade school photo; my hair is dyed the color of grass and you can see my skater image starting to merge with the then-current straight edge / youth crew look.

Indeed, my remaining epiphanies are definitely more social rather than being purely focused on the solitary experience of hearing a single band or record. Once I got a driver’s license in 1995 I was able to get myself from my very, very small hometown to the bigger cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia, where I quickly recognized flyers whose graphic design sensibilities were lifted straight from the flyers in the Minor Threat CD insert. Going to these shows was my first inkling of the real DIY punk subculture, and like a lot of teenagers I spent years exploring different tribal affiliations among factions in the scene. Youth crew revival was really big when I was a teenager so I went to a lot of those shows, but I also liked more straightforward punk like Blanks 77 or the Casualties, was really fascinated with international hardcore (especially given that G.I.S.M. and Gauze were the first two non-Anglophone bands I heard), still had one toe in the commercial punk world of bands like Bad Religion and Propagandhi, and even went to metal shows now and again when I band I thought was legit (like, say, Cryptopsy) would come through town. I’m not sure whether it was that I was omnivorous or just that I couldn’t figure out who I really was, but I listened to a lot of different stuff and I’m the better for it. At some point, though, I stopped going wide and started going deep. This started happening 1998 or 1999, which is not coincidentally just when downloading music became a wide practice. I remember the first piece of music I ever downloaded was an advance rip of Bad Religion’s No Substance a month or two before it came out. At this point I’d never even heard of a CD burner, so I ran a cable from the headphone output of the computer to a cassette recorder and made a tape of it. Looking back that was a real hybrid of old and new technology, but I bet I’m not the only person my age who did it. And as more people got online and started ripping older vinyl and cassettes, downloading the new Bad Religion album quickly progressed to checking out every single band I’d ever heard of but couldn’t acquire CDs or records by, and when you follow that rabbit hole to where it ends eventually you’re listening to some pretty gnarly stuff.

A video clip from the first Cross Laws show, which is also the first show I ever played. I was 26 years old... a lot later than most people start their first band!

The next big signpost is when I moved from being a consumer of punk culture to being a participant in it. This is harder to pinpoint in the timeline, but sometime around 1999 I started writing things and posting them on the internet. While I’ve become more confident in my old age, at this point I was extremely shy, which prevented me (or, more accurately, allowed me) to have almost no friends in the punk scene… and honestly not really too many friends at all. However, once I started throwing things online people would figure out who I was and talk to me at shows about the photos I took or the things I wrote, and with the ice broken I actually started making some friends and becoming acquaintances with members of the local bands who played around Richmond like Municipal Waste and Strike Anywhere. Brandon from Municipal Waste (and later Direct Control, Government Warning, and many others) was the kind of person who would walk right up to you and start talking and then make sure you were properly introduced to everyone in the room that he knew, and his gregariousness gave me the push I needed to let my art school-honed, unwavering dedication to artistic work really cut loose. I started writing more and photographing more, and eventually I started a label and picked up the guitar that had been gathering dust in the corner since I was a teenager. Which pretty much leads me to where I am today.

It’s only started to occur to me recently how deeply I rely upon punk. For whatever reason—whether it’s because I’m a true freak and lifer or just because I was subconsciously following the punk script—I always hated social institutions like churches, schools, sports teams, and cliques. Eventually I joined the group of non-joiners, and now that group—the world of DIY punk and particularly my local scene in Raleigh—are my support network. They’re not just people I bullshit about bands with, but the people I call when I need someone to watch my cat while I’m out of town, the people whose kids I see as nieces and nephews, and the people who I hit up when someone close passes away and I need someone to talk to. My life story has been a long process of giving more and more of myself to punk and the more I give it the more it seems to give back to me.

Booji Boys: Sweet Boy 7” (Cruel Noise) We here at Sorry State have been following Booji Boys from the very beginning (as well as all of their many adjacent bands and projects), and it’s been cool to see them grow and refine their sound over their past couple of releases. There aren’t any big stylistic shifts on Sweet Boy… as on their previous records, Booji Boys to me sound like a bunch of people who probably grew up on hardcore and were shaped by its aesthetics, but have given themselves permission to do things like write songs in major keys and add in catchy little Undertones-esque lead parts (they even cover the Undertones here, confirming the influence). As Seth very astutely pointed out, the result is something like a much rawer, more immediate version of Hidden World-era Fucked Up, i.e. that period when they started to venture outside hardcore’s defined lines but hadn’t quite entered the period where they became deliberately psychedelic. In case you’ve heard their earlier releases and are wondering, the “underwater” effect is still on the vocals and it’s still very much a love-it, hate-it, or tolerate-it proposition, but if you’re on board with what the Booji Boys do you definitely won’t be disappointed, as Sweet Boy is more concise and ultimately even more memorable than their killer recent LP.

Agari: demo cassette (No Need for a Logo or Anything) Second cassette release from this band featuring members of Scumraid and Bloodkrow Butcher. As you might guess, this is hardcore, but it has a really interesting and unique vibe. The singer actually sounds quite a lot like the guy from Institute, but the music is rawer, more direct, and more hardcore. You can’t really pin a particular style on it as there are elements of Negative Approach’s oi!-influenced swagger, d-beat, and more intricate USHC in the vein of Minor Threat. However, it’s totally catchy and memorable, made all the more so by perfect, warm production. A real standout demo… I hope this band makes it to vinyl soon!

No stream on this one, sorry!

Aburadako: S/T 7” flexi (Crowmaniax) So, I should probably preface this by noting that I’m something of an Aburadako super-fan… my friend Joel first played me this flexi sometime in the early 00s and I fell completely in love. While I was already familiar with a lot of the burlier Japanese hardcore as well as a few more punk things like the Stalin, the particular mix of weirdness and aggression apparent on this flexi was pretty much exactly what I wanted to hear, and honestly it still is. It’s raging, quirky, and catchy all at once in a way that sounds like no other record I’ve ever heard. I’ve had an original copy of this flexi as well as a rip of the officially-released early discography for some time and I was hoping that this version would be able to replace my flexi in regular rotation as I’m always worried about the sound gradually deteriorating or—worse yet—getting a dent or other problem that would affect play. There is no one I would trust with the task of making a quality bootleg more than the folks at Crowmaniax (the party behind not only the several recent Crow reissues, but a few others like the Clay as well)… both their sound reproduction as well as their presentation of the physical product is 100% on point. That’s the case here as well, as the jacket and center labels replicate the original release almost exactly. My only issue is that they’ve clearly sourced the audio from the official discography CD, which has a very clear and well-mastered sound, but there’s also some audible tape warble / distortion. I’m not sure if the original tapes were damaged or what, but I can’t hear this distortion on my original flexi. In general, the version from this record and the CD sounds better—clearer, louder, and punchier than my flexi—but the presence of that tape noise keeps this from being absolutely perfect. So, what I’ve found myself doing is listening to this bootleg, then putting on my flexi, then imagining a non-existent version that combines the best qualities of both. That’s some real nerdy shit and usually I don’t tend to be such a snobby audiophile, but this is a very important record to me and I just want to hear it in the best light possible. However, if you aren’t such a stickler and you just need a hard copy this will absolutely get the job done, and if you aren’t familiar with this record then get ready to have your face melted. And let’s all pray to the gods that Aburadako’s first 12” EP is next up on the Crowmaniax agenda because I’ve never been able to snag an original of that one.

Negative Insight #3 w/ Skitslickers: GBG 1982 7” (Negative Insight) So, I think it probably makes sense to talk about these two items separately even though they’re sold together and obviously very linked. First up, the 7”: I’ve had several different versions of this recording over the years (bootlegs, semi-official reissues, mp3 rips from various sources), but it’s definitely never hit me with the impact that this reissue has, which is due mostly to the incredible sound. Apparently they were able to make new pressing plates from the mothers used for the original pressing, and as I’ve often noted they just don’t cut records that sound as loud and as thick as this anymore. When the first track, “Warsystem,” starts the guitar alone feels like a punch in the gut even without the backing of the other instruments, and once they come in it’s pretty much all over. The whole thing is only a few minutes long, but it’s one of the purest expressions of nihilistic rage that I have ever heard in my life. Jah bless Negative Insight for allowing me to get this onto my turntable without hocking half of my worldly possessions.

As for the zine, hopefully you’re familiar with the depth of the content and the precision of the execution from the previous two issues. #3 doesn’t slow down at all (even the ads seem designed to look at period as possible), and if you’re a fanatic for Gothenburg punk you’ll be wallowing in this issue like a pig in slop. While there are features on Absurd and a short interview with Anti-Cimex’s drummer, the two centerpieces are the extensive Skitslickers interview and the Anti-Cimex tour diary. The Skitslickers interview sheds a lot of light on a very mysterious band. From what I can gather, it seems like they were less interested in the musical or political sides of punk and more interested in pure nihilism, which makes sense given what ended up on the GBG 1982 EP. Beyond that, there are a ton of interesting little details about the band’s tenure that shed a lot of light on what it was like to be a punk at that place and time. The other big piece is the detailed dissection of Anti-Cimex’s infamous “Chainsaw Tour” of the UK. Each date is recounted in detail from multiple different perspectives (save one date where they couldn’t track down anyone who attended), and if there’s anything you ever wanted to know about that tour I’m guessing that it’s either in this piece or it’s totally lost to the sands of time.

All in all, this record-and-zine package has to be one of the essential must-buys of 2017. So if you can get your hands on one, don’t hesitate.

Neo Neos: The Hammer of Civilization 7” (It’s Trash) Debut vinyl from this Canadian project that has put out a slew of cassettes over the past few months… we still have a bunch of those in stock, so if you’re digging on this I’d encourage you to check out this band’s surprisingly deep discography. Anyway, Neo Neos’ tapes were kind of in the vein of that sloppy, jittery punk that’s been popular with people who follow labels like Total Punk, Neck Chop, and Lumpy, and I think it’s fair to say that if you dig bands like S.B.F., Race Car, Janitor Scum, and the like this will hit your sweet spot as well. It’s not quite as robotic-sounding as Race Car or as Fall-influenced as Janitor Scum… instead, its distinguishing factor is a heaping dose of the nihilism that I associate with Total Punk-type bands like Buck Biloxi and Sick Thoughts. Four tracks, and none of them are duds, so if this is up your alley I’d highly encourage checking it out.

Suck Lords: Demonstration cassette (Edger) Demo cassette from this new band out of Portland. I don’t know much about them, but I can tell you not to expect any of the crust or noise-punk that that city is known for… this is pure hardcore. It is quite fast, though… more in the vein of the Neos, Larm, or Deep Wound (or if you’re looking for a modern reference point they sound an awful lot like Alienation at times). I’m SUPER picky about when bands reach this tempo, as most groups either turn into a sloppy mess or start to sound more like grind / power violence than hardcore, but Suck Lords pretty much nail it perfectly, and if the above-mentioned groups strike your fancy I think it’s safe to say this’ll be right up your alley. Throw in some mega-snotty vocals and a couple of interesting little musical touches (the drummer has a really interesting way of emphasizing un-expected beats) and you have a very intriguing demo. Here’s hoping this band sticks around long enough to make it to the vinyl stages and doesn’t lose their rawness or energy in the process.

All New Arrivals:
The Dream Syndicate: Live at Raji's Complete 12" (Run Out Groove)
Fifteen: Buzz 12" (Real Gone)
Monster Magnet: Spine of God 12" (Napalm)
Monster Magnet: Tab 12" (Napalm)
The Slits: Return of the Giant Slits 12" (Real Gone)
The War on Drugs: A Deeper Understanding 12" (Atlantic)
Forced Order: One Last Prayer 12" (Triple B)
Self Defense Family: Wounded Masculinity 12" (Triple B)
Neil Young: Hitchhiker 12" (Reprise)
The National: Sleep Well Beast 12" (4AD)
Zola Jesus: The Spoils 12" (Sacred Bones)
Zola Jesus: Okovi 12" (Sacred Bones)
Hot Water Music: Light It Up 12" (Rise)
Burn: Do or Die 12" (Deathwish)
Olho Seco: Botas, Fuzis, Capacetes 7" (Nada Nada Discos)
Svart Städhjälp: Avveckla Dig Själv 7" (Halvfigur)
Napalm Raid: Wheel of War 12" (Rust and Machine)
Sonic Order: S/T 7" (Doom Town)
Death from Above 1979: Outrage! Is Now 12" (Warner Bros)
Neo Neos: The Hammer of Civilization 7" (It's Trash)
Public Eye: Relaxing Favorites 12" (Best Before)
Unix: demo cassette (Best Before)
Sore Points: Don't Want To 7" (Hosehead)
White Pigs: Hardcore Years 1983-1985 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
ISS: Endless Pussyfooting 12" (Erste Theke Tontraeger)
Booji Boys: Sweet Boy 7" (Cruel Noise)
Joey Cape: One Week Record 12" (Fat Wreck)
Paradise Lost: Medusa 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Paradise Lost: One Second 12" (Nuclear Blast)
Barcelona: Un Último Ultrasonido Nació Y Murió En Barcelona 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Rainer Maria: S/T 12" (Polyvinyl)
Reptoides: Nueva Especie 7" (World Gone Mad)
Autopsy: Fiend for Blood 12" (Peaceville)
Cannabis Corpse: Left Hand Pass 12" (Season of Mist)
Exterminator: Total Extermination 12" (Greyhaze)
Crucifix: Dehumanization 12" (Euro Import)
Blitz: The Other Side of... 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
Crux: War 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
GISM: Detestation 12" (Euro Import)
The Exploited: Punks Not Dead 12" (Vomitopunkrock)
Morbid: Disgusting Semla 12" (Die 669)
The Execute: The Antagonistic Shadow 12" (Harto De Toto)
Aburadako: S/T 7" (Crowmaniax)
Mr. Epp: Of Course I'm Happy, Why? 7" (Full Contact)
Negative Insight #1 w/Varukers: Blood Money 7" (Negative Insight)
Negative Insight #2 w/Chaos UK: Studio Outtakes 81-83 7" (Negative Insight)
Negative Insight #3 w/Shitlickers 7" (Negative Insight)
UVTV: Go Away 7" (Emotional Response)
Natterers: Toxic Care Cassette (Emotional Response)
Bad Daddies: Over 30 Singles 12" (Emotional Response)
Enisum: Seasons of Desolation 12" (Avantgarde)
Artillery: Fear of Tomorrow 12" (Wax Maniax)
Abbath: S/T 12" (Season of Mist)
Darkthrone: Dark Thrones and Black Flags 12" (Peaceville)
Wode: Servants of the Counter Cosmos 12" (Avantgarde)

Bad Posture: C/S 12" (Mono)
Last Rights: S/T 7" (Taang!)
Suss Cunts: S/T 7" (Emotional Response)

All Things to All People Vol. 20

As I’ve often noted here, the part of Sorry State that I receive the most feedback on is the work we do on our email newsletter, which we’ve been working to expand with the new web site’s emphasis on our original writing. I’ve had so many people tell me that they enjoy our writing, but one thing that always irks me is that people tend to refer to them as “reviews.” I always refer to them as “descriptions,” because the word “review” seems to imply that the music is being evaluated, and that isn’t really what I’m doing. If you’re a longtime reader you’ll know that I rarely write anything negative in these descriptions. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the basic one is that the purpose of this web site is different than the purpose of a typical zine or publication that fancies itself as music criticism. We sell the music we write about, and while I don’t tend to use the descriptions to try to drive sales, I also don’t want any of my descriptions to get in the way of sales either, because ultimately we’re trying to sell copies of just about everything I write about.

Another reason I don’t think of my descriptions as reviews is because I wouldn’t even know where to start formulating an argument about whether a piece of music is “good” or “bad,” because there’s no universal objective standard that I can use to judge any particular piece of music against. This is something that I learned from teaching. Like a lot of college teachers, I was given my first class with very little training, so when that first stack of papers got turned in I really had no idea what to do with them. So, I just winged it, reading each one and assigning it a fairly arbitrary grade based on how “good” I thought it was. This method of grading was remarkably inconsistent and, I don’t doubt, totally unfair. However, at some point I heard about these things called rubrics. Rubrics weren’t terribly fashionable when I was a kid, so I don’t recall ever encountering them when I was in grade school or even in college, but if you’re younger than me you almost certainly know what they are. When I learned what rubrics were it totally changed the way I grade. Rather than grading each paper against an arbitrary and inconsistent set of expectations, I started creating rubrics that described what would constitute success on any given assignment. If an assignment required a student to demonstrate critical thinking skills, for instance, along with the assignment I would also give students a description of what might constitute various levels of success in implementing those critical thinking skills, from very strong to very weak. With clearer expectations my students immediately started performing better and my grading got more objective and consistent. However, there is no such rubric for evaluating music, at least not a universal one.

However, the other day I was driving around town doing errands and an idea popped into my head: if I were going to evaluate music for my descriptions, what would a rubric look like? In other words, what kinds of things do I / people in general value in music, and how would you go about measuring these things? While I would never want to actually implement something like this for Sorry State, I thought the idea was interesting, so let’s spin it out here and think about some of the things one might focus on when evaluating whether music is “good” or not.

  1. Originality

This was the first one that popped into my head, and my first reaction was, “That’s totally subjective! How could you measure originality?” However, when I really stopped to think about particular examples, it seems like assessing the originality of a particular record would be fairly straightforward. It’s not like every record needs to be some kind of outré, avant-garde journey into the unknown, but it does need to add something to an existing musical conversation that wasn’t there before, or at least recontextualize it in some interesting way. One example that springs immediately to mind is the band Fury (not the Swiz side project, but the current Triple B Records band). If you’re steeped in the history of hardcore you can find plenty of antecedents for their sound in the 80s and 90s, but the things that define their aesthetic—elaborate, almost literary lyrics; progressive song structures and arrangements, but cut with the clear influence of classic youth crew hardcore—definitely add something to the current straight edge hardcore scene that wasn’t really there before. Maybe I wouldn’t give them 5 out of 5 stars for originality, but they’re certainly far more original than the straight up youth crew knockoffs.

  1. Technical Proficiency / Virtuosity

This one is probably pretty obvious because lots of people are totally hung up on this particular quality, but it’s definitely part of the equation. Again, though, I think that the term “virtuosity” is kind of misleading, because it’s not like everything needs to have shredding guitar solos or lengthy, complicated prog rock song structures. Rather, this quality is about perfectly articulating whatever idea(s) one is trying to get across. I would argue, for instance, that Disclose would rate very highly on the Technical Proficiency / Virtuosity scale. Even though their music is noisy and messy, it is noisy and messy in precisely the ways that Kawakami & co. wanted it to be. I have no doubt that if Kawakami had been super into some other band or genre rather than Discharge, whatever band he started would have just as much attention to detail in the creation of their sound and aesthetic as Disclose had. In other words, Technical Proficiency and Virtuosity is less about one’s flexibility and flash as a player (though it can have those qualities as well), and more about the unity and consistency of the vision as articulated in the final product.

  1. Cultural and Social Relevance

Now, this is a really tough one to evaluate, because cultural and social relevance is a moving target; what might be important and/or relevant to one community might be boring or rehash to a different community, even a similar one. I have to admit that the band that got me thinking about this quality was G.L.O.S.S. Personally I would rate G.L.O.S.S. fairly low-to-middling on the originality scale (sorry if you disagree! It’s just my opinion and not some kind of universal truth) and above average on the Technical Proficiency / Virtuosity Scale. So, if not those two qualities, what is it then that makes that band so powerful? I would argue that it’s their ability to capture the cultural and social zeitgeist, to say the right thing to the right people at the right time. We actually have a term for this in rhetorical studies—the Greek word kairos—and I would argue that G.L.O.S.S. had kairos in spades. If their demo / first EP had come out five years earlier I don’t think that people would have really had the frame of reference to feel the full impact of what they were saying. However, what they were saying needed to be said at that precise moment, and audiences clearly responded to their propitious timing. Another interesting thing about this quality is that it can change over time, since it’s not just about a band or a record’s relationship to their own cultural moment, but every single one that comes after it as well. In fact, I often tell people that the most valuable records are the ones that are ahead of their time, that seem to be speaking to some future cultural moment rather than the one that the artists who created it are actually living in. Thus, these kinds of records tend to have low sales figures during their initial run, but gradually build up a following as the culture gradually drifts toward the world as those artists saw it. Examples of this abound, and any record collector can list them off for days… the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Baby Huey, Kraftwerk… the list goes on and on.

  1. Realness / Profundity

So, the first three of these qualities came to me very quickly, but I felt like there were more things out there, so I started doing a little research into what kinds of arguments other people have made about what makes good music good. I read a lot of interesting arguments, but most of them were really just different ways of saying things I had already said above. However, one word that kept popping up again and again in these discussions is “meaningful.” Now, on the surface it might seem that a music’s level of “meaning” would be covered in #3 above, but I think that there’s something else at play, something that has less to do with the right person (or people) saying the right thing to the right audience at the right time and something that’s more like an artist hitting on a kind of universal truth. Perhaps this one didn’t come to me immediately because it assumes a kind of Platonic, universal truth, and I tend to be too cynical to believe that something like that actually exists. However, it’s something that other people are definitely looking for and/or expecting from music, and if you look, for instance, at the top entries on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest rock songs of all time, you’ll see that almost without exception these songs don’t derive their value from their relationship to some particular, contingent historical moment, but rather because they seem to transcend such moments altogether. “Hound Dog,” “Let It Be,” “God Only Knows…” these are songs that get at something very primal, visceral, and essential to what it means to be human. It doesn’t have to be something broad or obvious, either; how many people have been knocked out by the line “the milk bottles stand empty” in Wire’s “Ex-Lion Tamer,” despite the fact that the line almost couldn’t be more cryptic? So, how do these artists do it? Well, it’s kind of mystical, and as someone uncomfortable with mysticism, I’m not really the one to explain it. Or perhaps it can’t be explained… it’s like love, in that you can try to describe it, but you won’t really know what it is until you experience it, and you’ll never successfully explain how it works.

So, that’s what I’ve come up with so far. Now, obviously when you come down to brass tacks, articulating how well any given record fulfills each of these qualities is going to come down to a subjective judgment, but using a rubric like this would undoubtedly bring a lot more clarity into any discussion of whether or not a record is “good.” So, next time you tell you friend that a new record “rips” or “sucks,” maybe think about what you mean. Do you mean that it’s a virtuosic articulation of the classic power violence template? Or do you mean that it is irrelevant to the concerns and priorities of the DIY hardcore community?

I’d be particularly interested to read comments on this one, so if you have any qualities you tend to look for in music that you think I missed, or if you have anything else to say please sound off below.

All Things to All People Vol. 19

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how punk’s tendrils creep out into other parts of the world. A few weeks ago someone brought this article on medium with the headline “Shopify is now the single largest source of revenue for Steve Bannon’s Breitbart” to my attention. When I first saw the article’s headline I was horrified. To me, the article’s title seemed to imply that Breitbart owned Shopify. Sorry State uses Shopify (more on that below), and I was simply gutted to think that I was putting money directly into the hands of a right-wing organization like this. However, when I read the article more closely, I realized that Breitbart has no ownership stake in Shopify at all; rather, Breitbart simply uses Shopify’s software to manage their ecommerce operation. Further, the author presents absolutely no evidence for his claim that their Shopify store really is Breitbart’s largest source of revenue. After I actually read the article, my anger quickly shifted to the author of this article and to the people who spread it around. The article’s headline is clearly deceptive, and as a friend pointed out to me, it seems like a thinly veiled attempt for the writer to get some publicity and coin a trending hashtag.

The person who originally pointed out the article to me gently suggested that I reconsider using Shopify, so I had a decision to make. Let me be clear: I want absolutely nothing to do with Breitbart or their ilk and I would never put money knowingly into their pockets. However, from my perspective what this amounts to is that I am a customer of the same company as Breitbart. By no means is Shopify the only company that has both Breitbart and Sorry State on its list of customers… while I haven’t actually checked, I’m fairly certain that Breitbart uses social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to spread their message (and I’m sure you can find even worse groups than Breitbart on these services), uses Google, Facebook, and other advertising networks to drive traffic to their sites, and they probably use Amazon for their office supplies, wear Levis jeans, eat Cheerios, get blank t-shirts from the same places that supplied whoever screened your cool Disclose bootleg concert tee, and also use tons other products and services that Sorry State, thousands of other punk stores and distros, and pretty much every single person reading this also uses. Does that excuse us? Of course not, but it does put the issue into perspective.

Further, when I actually thought about what it would take to move away from Shopify, I was kind of shocked at how expensive and time-consuming that it would be. For better or for worse, Sorry State is no longer a box of records sitting in the corner of my bedroom. We have leases on two pieces of real estate (our storefront and another facility that we use for a warehouse and as practice spaces for a number of Raleigh bands) along with several other recurring monthly bills, and more importantly while I (Daniel, the owner) don’t rely on Sorry State financially because I still have a full-time job, Sorry State currently has 3 employees who depend on it for all or a significant part of their livelihood. We can’t simply shut down our Shopify site while we try to figure out a better solution, because doing so would grind us to a halt. Shopify’s software provides the backbone for our entire operation… it’s a rare moment when someone at Sorry State is sitting at a computer and at least one of the browser’s tabs isn’t on Shopify. There’s an enormous amount of data associated with our Shopify account, and transferring that data to a new platform would take weeks, if not months, and probably have significant leakage that resulted in problems that impact customers. Further, based on my research Shopify is still the best platform for us, so we’d be doing all of that work and investing all of that time and money to move to a solution that doesn’t work as well for us. All because we don’t like the optics of shopping at the same place as Breitbart. All things being equal, I would choose a company that had nothing to do with Breitbart over a company that has dealings with them. But, unfortunately, all things are not equal in our case.

So, I’ve made the decision to stick with Shopify for the time being. If you want to criticize me for that decision, please feel free to send your message to the store via (independently owned) carrier pigeon.

So, I just spent the past several paragraphs basically throwing up my hands at our inability to extract ourselves from the web of capitalism, but now I’m going to change gears and suggest that you rethink how you are ensnared in a very similar (or, really, precisely the same) web: YouTube.

I’m very late to the party on YouTube; it’s only within the past several months that I discovered that YouTube seems to have become the default service for finding and listening to music for many punks. It’s gotten to the point where the owners of certain YouTube accounts and channels have become mini-celebrities within the punk scene, none more so than the enigmatic Jimmy. Jimmy has become a real brand—for lack of a better term—within the punk scene not only by posting all of the cool new punk demos before pretty much anyone else (particularly demos that come from the fertile Northwest Indiana scene, to which he appears to have some close connections), but also by commenting extensively on nearly everything he posts in a voice that is peculiar but distinctive and engaging. I freely admit that Sorry State relies heavily on Jimmy’s YouTube channel (along with a few others) to find out about new releases to carry, and his channel really is an invaluable resource for anyone hoping to stay up to date on the latest punk.

However, here’s the problem. To my mind, at least, the reason that YouTube has become so ubiquitous as a music service is because nearly everything—particularly from the world of DIY and punk—is on there. Why is YouTube’s selection so comprehensive? Well, because nearly every single fucking thing on there is pirated! Indeed, looking for DIY punk on YouTube brings me back to the wild west days of digital piracy in the early 2000s when everyone was using services like Napster and Soulseek. In particular, the wildly inconsistent level of quality of the rips reminds me of sorting through tons of low-bitrate and low-quality rips on Napster, and part of the reason that “name brand” channels like Jimmy have managed to emerge is because of the consistently high quality of their rips (along with, of course, their well-curated selections).

So, why should you care that YouTube is to intellectual property as a Swiss bank is to money? I don’t really mind piracy myself, and indeed I even jump on Soulseek infrequently when I want to find mp3s or flac files of something I want to hear but isn’t easily available. However, to me YouTube cheapens rather than honors the value of music and DIY punk in particular. For YouTube (and their parent company, Google), music is just content. Whether we’re talking about the Pick Your KingEP, Citizen Kane, an episode of Cheers, a teenager’s vlog, a cute cat video, a clip of someone getting hit in the balls, or an ISIS beheading video, it’s all just content to YouTube. It’s all the same, and if you choose not to upload your band’s demo to YouTube I really doubt they give a fuck because there are far more people watching the other videos mentioned above. In other words, there’s a kind of flatness to the way that content is presented on YouTube that makes me uncomfortable. In theory I suppose it’s a good thing that everything is presented on the same level, but I think that music is way more important than all of that other stuff (well, maybe not Citizen Kane, but you take my point). Listening to music is, for me, a sacred activity. It’s my favorite thing to do in the world. And to put it on the same level as all of the completely inane and worthless content on YouTube is downright offensive. And that doesn’t even go into the fact that when you use YouTube (either as a viewer or as an uploader), you are putting money directly into Google’s pockets, money they only deign to “share” with you once you’ve reached a certain threshold of popularity (a.ka. when you’ve already made them a bunch of cash) and you specifically ask for it.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, think about the way that music is presented on YouTube versus the way that it’s presented on BandCamp. Now, as far as I know, the people who own and develop BandCamp are not punks (though I’ve noticed there are a couple of punks who write content for them), but they are clearly people who love and value music. From what I can tell piracy is virtually non-existent on BandCamp, so the overwhelming majority of content on the site has been directly uploaded by its creators and/or owners. While BandCamp has a fairly rigid structure for the way they present albums, they do allow the creator control over the header image and background, and most bands and labels take the time to customize their site to match their own individual aesthetic. The albums are presented with high-quality audio (you can even download lossless files) and artwork, which are the focal point of the page design. Albums do not auto-play or even auto-repeat… the point is not to “listen to something,” but to hear this particular album, this work of art. There are no advertisements, only links to other works by the same artist or label. Basically, when I look at a BandCamp page for an album it seems like they’re trying to set the scene, to get you in the right headspace to appreciate the music and transport you into the artist’s world. As a lover of music, I appreciate that.

When you listen to something on YouTube, by contrast, your listening is often preceded and/or frequently interrupted by ads, most of which are irrelevant to both the content of the video and the interests of the person watching it. The sound that comes out is low-quality and ignores “little details” like track titles and breaks. The artwork rarely matches the aspect ratio of the video, so you get big black bars that fill all of the empty space. On the right side of the video you have a list of “related content” that could be just about anything. Google has spent millions developing their algorithms so they’re pretty darn good at knowing what I want to hear, but the recommendations definitely lack a human touch, something that quickly becomes apparent if you haven’t taken the time to disable autoplay, which simply dumps you unceremoniously into the next video YouTube wants you to watch. This often creates a telephone game-style distortion effect, so while you start out listening to some rad old, obscure Finnish hardcore, just a few rolls of the autoplay dice later you’re listening to one of Varg from Burzum’s racist rants.

And then there’s the financial issues. When you buy an album on BandCamp, the person who uploaded that content (who is almost always the person who created and/or owns that content) gets the lion’s share of the money. Who the fuck knows where YouTube’s money goes, but I do hear that the cafeteria at Google’s headquarters is really nice. I’m particularly annoyed by the YouTube Red service that they’re constantly trying to sell. As far as I can tell, the main benefit of the service is that it allows you to play YouTube videos while your smartphone’s screen is off, so that you can basically use it like you would use Spotify or any other streaming service. But how much of that $9.99 monthly fee that you pay for that service is actually going to the artists? It’s unclear, but I would be willing to bet that it’s a far smaller percentage that what goes to artists from services that bill themselves straightforwardly as streaming music services. And, of course, when it comes to the wealth of pirated content on YouTube, Google just keeps all of them money that would go to those artists for themselves.

Like I said, I use YouTube, but I also think that it sucks. Whenever possible, I try to avoid things that suck in favor of better options.

Ending things on a lighter note, my recent musical obsession has been Krautrock (which is probably not unrelated to moving away from prescription meds and toward more, shall we say, “natural” ways of managing my anxiety). Recently a little collection of original Can LPs came in at the store and I decided to take them home, and while I’ve always liked Can and even owned a few of their records already, something about listening to these original copies of Tago Mago and Soon Over Babaluma hit me just right. I don’t know if it’s because they just sound better than the represses or what, but I was struck by the power of the drums in particular. At night my favorite activity is to sit on the little loveseat in my office / record room and just blast records while I stare off into space, and blasting these two records took me to a place I’d never visited before. The music is powerful, but also intricate… listening to it and fully immersing myself in it feels like I’m making my way through a dense but beautiful jungle.

Once Can hit me so hard I decided to start exploring a little further, consulting some “best Krautrock albums” lists on the internet and checking out artists I’ve heard of but hadn’t really given much attention in the past. I’ve probably checked out a dozen or so bands at this point, my favorites being the first three Amon Düül II albums (Yeti in particular) and the first Ash Ra Tempel LP. We actually had a copy of Ash Ra Tempel in the store a few months ago, and while I haven’t quite fallen in love to the point where I would pay the $200 we sold that copy for, I do wish that I had taken it home for a little test drive before I let it go.

Listening to all of this Krautrock stuff also made a light bulb go off over my head. I realized that I was listening to this stuff in a completely different way than how I listen to the punk, metal, and rock that forms the largest part of my listening diet. After reflecting on it for a while, I’ve come to think of the two modes of listening as episodic versus cinematic. My normal mode of listening is episodic, because most pop music is kind of circular… it contains a lot of repeating parts and themes, and much of the gratification of listening comes from recognizing a part when it comes back around, particularly if you recognize it well enough to participate by singing along or dancing. I call this mode of listening episodic because it’s sort of like watching an episode of a long-running favorite TV show. You’re familiar with the set, the characters, and the basic structure of the plot, and you get both a sense of security and familiarity from recognizing all of these tropes and you also get the pleasure of focusing on and thinking about the subtle differences in how these elements are utilized and combined in a particular episode. However, listening to this Krautrock stuff isn’t really like that. Instead, it’s more like watching a movie. Particularly if it’s not a simple genre exercise, watching a movie is very different from watching a TV show. At the beginning of a movie you kind of surrender yourself to the filmmaker’s will and trust them to take you on a journey to somewhere you’ve never gone before. Sure, you might have some expectations about where you’ll go and there are a library of go-to tropes for setting up and managing that journey, but as a whole the experience is longer and much wider in scope, and I think that it requires a higher degree of trust between the author and the audience. When I drop the needle on one of these albums, I’m essentially thinking “OK, where are we going to go?” and I get comfortable and just try to ride out all of the twists and turns that the musicians take me through.

Recognizing this difference between my episodic and cinematic listening modes has also led me to dabble in other genres. For instance, I quickly recognized that the line between Krautrock and jazz fusion is pretty fuzzy and permeable. I’d always kind of hated jazz fusion (though some of the genre classics fell into the “tolerable” category), but suddenly my ears were open to the places fusion artists wanted to take me. I’ve also been really into drumming and hearing complex rhythmic patterns, which has prompted me to revisit Fela Kuti, Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain, and the work of great jazz drummers like Max Roach. And from there it was just a short jump into the free jazz and spiritual jazz that I’ve always been more intrigued by than actually liked. I don’t think I’ve ever “gotten” Albert Ayler like I have in the past few months, and this mode of listening has helped me to get more out of Alice Coltrane and John Coltrane’s later stuff like Interstellar Space than I’ve ever heard before. The spiritual jazz stuff is particularly well suited to this mode of listening, because it seems like travel is a central metaphor in that music… I mean, Alice Coltrane’s most famous albums is called Journey In Satchidananda and the conceit of Interstellar Space seems to be a trip through the solar system. (Incidentally, it’s always bugged me that all of the shorter pieces on Interstellar Space are named after planets in our solar system… if we’re only exploring one star system on this journey, wouldn’t IntRAstellar Space be a more accurate title?) While I still spend most of my time listening to punk, I feel like a door has been opened to a whole different world that I can access any time I want just by spinning a record.

I’ll leave it here for now. Hopefully it won’t be so long until my next post.

All Things to All People Vol. 18

I've been meaning to write for quite some time about why I hate sports. I'm sure there are a lot of you out there who are very much not on board with this statement, so let me explain.

I got my PhD from the University of North Carolina, which happens to be a part, along with Duke University, of one of the bitterest and most contested rivalries in all of spectator sports. It's a longstanding tradition at Carolina that graduating seniors are guaranteed tickets to the UNC / Duke basketball game. This is a HUGE deal. Even when both teams are completely in the toilet, the UNC / Duke game always sells out and is always hotly contested. Fortunately for me, the "graduating seniors" rule includes graduate students completing their degrees. Despite the fact that I only paid the most minimal attention to basketball the entire time I was at UNC, I decided to take advantage of this perk during my last semester of grad school.

I have to admit that it was pretty cool. I'd been to a couple of basketball games before, but sitting in the student section was wild... the energy level was actually comparable to a big hardcore show. There's definitely a kind of power in groupthink... you get a bunch of people in the same room all thinking and feeling the same thing and the power and momentum of the group can sweep you away. Further, it was a really good game. UNC pulled way ahead at the half, but Duke chipped away at the lead throughout the second half and finally won the game on a buzzer-beater 3-pointer. The stadium went completely quiet... there were over 20,000 people in that room and you could have heard a pin drop. It was amazing.

I had a lot of fun at the game, but I went alone and was surrounded by people I didn't know, so I had a lot of time to reflect on what was happening around me, and something kept happening during the game that really bothered me. Every time the refs would call a foul on a UNC player everyone in the student section would scream "BULLSHIT!," even when the UNC player had clearly committed the foul. Every time a UNC player missed a shot and a Duke player was within arm's length, everyone would scream "FOUL!" I felt like I wasn't watching the same game as these people... I was watching a really exciting contest between two evenly-matched teams, while they were peering into some alternate universe where UNC was always right and Duke was always wrong.

I taught English at UNC throughout my time there, and it wasn't lost on me that these were the very same students whom I was trying to teach critical thinking skills in my classes. The same students who, instead of thinking honestly, deeply, and rationally about the questions I asked them, consistently groped blindly for what they were "supposed" to say. At that moment it dawned on me what I was up against. One semester or even one undergraduate curriculum wasn't going to cure these students of the habits of mind that fandom taught them. Logic is grim, complicated, and doesn't always tell you what you want to hear. Fandom is simple and straightforward and you're always surrounded by like-minded people.

Once I observed this habit of mind I started seeing it everywhere: people who idolize bands and refuse to consider that they may have ever written a bad note; or, conversely (and much more common in punk and hardcore), people who have written off bands and refuse to consider that they may have ever done anything worthwhile; people who stick to ridiculous premises like "vaccines cause autism" or "global warming isn't happening" despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary; religion; nationalism and patriotism; the preference for certain consumer products over others... I mean, I could go on all day. Once people decide they are on a certain "team" they are committed to their cause at all costs, whether or not their allegiance is based on anything rational or even real.

By far the most insidious of these calcified habits of belief is political affiliation. Nowhere is the fan mentality more apparent than when it comes to American politics. Really, it's probably worse when it comes to politics than sports because the political divisions in the US correlate with much deeper social and cultural differences, while it's pretty arbitrary whether you decide to become a fan of the Minnesota Vikings or the Chicago Blackhawks or whatever. The force with which a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat can believe that Republicans don't have a single good idea (or vice versa) is mind-boggling to me. However, it's the fan mentality at work. Donald Trump says it? Then it's wrong. Bernie Sanders says it? It's right. No further consideration or investigation needed. If you really want to understand the political gridlock in the United States I think that you have to think about this fan mentality. When you see a black-and-white world where your team is always right and the other time is always wrong, there simply isn't space for compromise.

So that's why I hate sports, and why I hate contemporary American politics even more than I hate sports. There are few things in this world I like more than a good conversation or a stimulating argument, and these institutions propagate exactly the kind of bullshit (a carefully chosen word) that gets in the way of me having more of those things.

And now a tale from the record-buying front...

In my last blog post I wrote about my recent interested in Mixcloud, but in addition to Mixcloud shows I also like a handful of more traditional podcasts. I'll spare you the list for now, but over the past few months two of the podcasts that I listen to have featured Walter Schreifels, and on both episodes he mentioned a radio station called WLIR.

One day I was sitting in the back room of the store when I got an email from the secretary for a boat manufacturer in Edenton, North Carolina. Edenton is a tiny town on the northern bank of the Albemarle Sound in eastern North Carolina and is, almost literally, in the middle of nowhere. The email mentioned that her boss had a collection of several thousand records that once belonged to a radio station that his brother helped run in New York in the 70s and 80s. I wrote back and asked for more information and she couldn't tell me much about the records, but she did tell me that the radio station's call letters were WLIR.

When I looked up WLIR on Wikipedia I nearly fell out of my chair. In particular the following sentence had the record collector in me salivating: "As punk and new wave rock started to become popular at the end of the 1970s, most rock stations in the United States ignored these genres. WLIR, again, bucked the trend by playing artists from these genres." Reading further about WLIR's new wave years, I learned that, "WLIR became the first radio station in the country to play U2, The Cure, The Smiths, New Order, Duran Duran, Madonna, George Michael, Men at Work and Prince." I asked if this was the same WLIR whose records she had and she confirmed that, yes, it was, and that her boss's brother had run the station throughout the 70s and 80s.

One cold, rainy morning in early February I drove out to Edenton, which is a couple of hours away from Raleigh. The entire time I was driving I tried to convince myself that this wasn't what I thought it was going to be, that this was going to be a collection full of the same kind of dross that I see in at least half of the collections that I look at. However, another part of my mind spun little tales about what might be there. I mean, if you were a punk band in New York in the 70s or early 80s and there was a big commercial station playing music kind of like yours, wouldn't you take a chance and send them a promo? Let's say you're Agnostic Front and you've just released United Blood, or you're a band called Chronic Sick from across the river in New Jersey and you just put out your first single... wouldn't you drop one in the mail on the off chance they'd play it?

As I weaved my way through sleepy downtown Edenton and down toward the shore of the sound, I had no idea what I would find. When I pulled up I saw what could only generously be termed a building. By this point it was raining buckets so I knocked on the door a couple of times but quickly just opened the door and let myself in. No one seemed to notice. The wood-paneled office was eerily quiet, and I could hear big, fat raindrops falling in through the barely-functioning roof. After poking around for a minute or two I found a quiet, dingy little office where a 95-year-old man sat at a shiny new iMac. This was the owner of both the boat manufacturing facility I was in and the record collection that I came to look at.

He told me a bit about his life. He grew up in New York and had been in advertising on Madison Avenue through the 50s ("Mad Men was a very accurate show," he told me), and eventually his love of sailing had brought him to Edenton to start a company that manufactured custom, high-end sailboats. His brother, he said, was in the media industry and ran WLIR for a few decades until he lost control of the frequency through some sort of strange bureaucratic coup that I didn't really understand. His brother, though he was younger, had advanced-stage alzheimer's so it was left to him to deal with the records. Apparently they had been deposited in the boat factory sometime in the early 90s.

Finally, he said, "do you want to see the records?" and he led me to a room where I saw this:

My heart leapt and sank at the same time. The spidey sense I have for records definitely dinged and pointed my attention toward the copy of The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead on top of one of those giant stacks (you can see it on the right-hand side of the photo above)... this was the fabled WLIR library. However, the room smelled of mold. It was raining and water was literally dripping onto the records. They had been stacked horizontally for twenty-five years... the mix of emotions was profound.

The owner guided me through the collection, which they had sorted by condition. They had several hundred sealed records sitting on a counter. The Smiths LP was in a pile of several thousand records that, he told me, had jackets that were "not in good condition," which actually meant that the jackets were stuck together and the paper was so brittle that it would crack like a popadom. The other, larger stack (easily 5-8000 LPs) he insisted were in good condition, but honestly weren't much better. Jackets were stuck together, many were water damaged, all smelled musty, and of course the big problem was that after being stored in those stacks for so long warping would be a huge problem. He left me to it and I started sifting through the stacks, unable to use Discogs because I had no data reception in such a remote location.

I pulled a box of 100 or so LPs that I knew would be worth the effort of cleaning up and selling. One of the first things I found in the stack of sealed records was a sealed original Braineater pressing of the Wipers' Over the Edge, and the other big score was several sealed copies of the Labrynth movie soundtrack, which was a particularly hot ticket item since David Bowie had just died. I found lots of bigger-name '77 punk like the Jam, the Rezillos, and the Buzzcocks... TONS of promos from labels like Sire and IRS. Some stuff I grabbed just because it looked cool, which resulted in probably my favorite discovery of the trip, the German synth-punk / proto-industrial artist Tommi Stumpff:

It was impossible to go through everything there, so in addition to the records I cherry-picked, I also convinced the guy to let me take one or two of the big vertical stacks of  records you see in the pic above, the idea being that it would serve as a representative sample and I could use it to figure out what kind of deal I could make for the entire lot. I made my way through that stuff over the next few weeks, but there were no great shakes there. There were plenty of OK LPs, but lots more promo 12" singles for long-forgotten power-pop bands, and given the issues with the records' general mustiness and the fact that one out of at least every five records was severely warped, it just wasn't worth the effort to go back and get the rest of them. I'm sure there are plenty of gems there, but it's only one out of every 500 or so records, and I can't take 10,000+ records into my possession just to get a few dozen interesting items. Further, the owner was convinced that he could find someone who was a fan of the station to buy the entire lot for nostalgia purposes... he thought that there had to be some rich New Yorker who grew up listening to WLIR and would want to put the collection in their basement or something, but I don't think any rich people would want to fuck with 10,000+ moldy records.

Oh, and you may be wondering why I started this by bringing up Walter Schreifels. Well, on both of the podcasts that I heard him on, the hosts asked him why he thought Gorilla Biscuits' music was so much more accessible than the music of the other bands of their time and place, and both times he gave more or less the same answer. He said that there was this radio station out on Long Island called WLIR that played all of the hip new British music like the Jam and the Smiths, and that he discovered all of that at the same time he was discovering Agnostic Front and Minor Threat. His songwriting, he insisted, was a fusion of those two sets of influences. So, the copy of The Queen Is Dead that you see above could very well be the exact same copy that was played on the air and inspired Walter Schreifels. Wild, huh?

I've had a lot of response to my last blog post, which has been really nice. I feel like I must have been fishing for compliments because people have been so nice to me. Honestly, though, it has been a difficult summer. About two years ago I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, which up until this summer I thought I'd kicked with a combination of meds and therapy. Basically, I get caught in these cycles of worry that I can't break... my mind keeps thinking about all kinds of terrible scenarios and I can't force those thoughts out of my head in order to concentrate on the things I need to be thinking about at any given moment. Even worse, my body is constantly in fight or flight mode... all of my muscles are clenched tight, my heart races... it's that feeling when you feel like you're about to be in a fight, but I feel like that almost all the time. Not only is it terrible in and of itself, but even when I manage not to feel keyed up I feel sore, exhausted, and irritable because I've been in this anxious state for so long.

Over the past few weeks my anxiety has come back with a vengeance thanks to a kind of perfect storm of stress factors. If there are two things that can send me into this spiral it's money problems and worry about disappointing people (hence the title of this blog), and I'm dealing with both of those things in full force right now. I've mentioned in the email newsletter that they demolished the rehearsal studios where my band and almost all of my friends' bands practiced here in Raleigh, and I've been trying to find a new option. Basically, what I've been trying to do is find a new commercial space that can serve as a rehearsal studio and also serve a handful of other Sorry State / Raleigh punk functions. I've been looking at properties, talking to realtors, trying to figure out business plans... it's a lot to handle and it's occupied almost all of my attention this summer. Now I'm finally close to the point of signing a lease, but unfortunately this is coming at the slowest part of the year for retail and we have basically no spare cash. The last few weeks of July and the first few weeks of August are always tough and I'm always low on money, and this year is no different. I found a space that I think could be the future of Raleigh punk rock and I've put in an application for a lease, but it will cost me over $4000 to move in. Right now I just don't have that money, and it's frustrating. Further, not only do I not have the liquid cash, but Sorry State has a pretty substantial (to me at least) debt, so I wonder if I should even be starting a whole new venture when I haven't actually figured out how to make a profit or even pay myself with the store and the distro. Not that my goal is to make a profit, but when I lose money (and I always do) the bills have to get paid somehow, and that's when the anxiety starts. 
I see this point on the horizon where I want to be, but I can't figure out how to get there. It may work itself out, but in the meantime I've been spending pretty much every waking hour making myself sick with worry about whether and how I can make this work.

I wish I could just figure this out and get it settled, because when I get in this anxious state I become numb. Worries consume me and I lose the ability to feel. The worst is that I just don't enjoy anything. I try doing the things that usually make me happy--listening to records, reading, playing guitar--but I feel like I'm just going through the motions, or like I'm watching a movie of someone else doing these things. That's probably why there aren't any notes about what I've been listening to in this entry... I've been listening to plenty of music because I'm always listening to music, but I haven't been feeling music in the way that I want to. So, sorry to leave off on such a depressing note, but that's it for now. Hopefully I'll have some better news next time.