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Staff Picks: January 21 2021

Staff Picks: Daniel

Born in Flames movie (1983)

While I like plenty of mindless, low-brow entertainment, I’ve always loved artsy movies, particularly artsy movies with a strong visual aesthetic. It’s hard to find that stuff on mainstream streaming services, so a while back I subscribed to the Criterion Channel. My favorite thing about the service is the curated collections. It’s kind of like a mini virtual film festival, with a bunch of movies adhering to a particular theme and an introduction from a film scholar giving background and context about the films. I’ve been watching one of these collections called Afrofuturism, and it’s been awesome. I watched the Sun Ra movie, Space Is the Place, and a great art film about Ornette Coleman called Ornette: Made in America that I read about in a biography of Ornette Coleman. My favorite film, however, was 1983’s Born in Flames.

Born in Flames seemed like a fitting staff pick for this week, when we’re casting off Trump and moving on to whatever is next. Born in Flames is set ten years after the United States has undergone a (bloodless) revolution that yielded a European-style social democratic government. However, people are still disenfranchised and oppressed under this system, which still disproportionately benefits white men. The film follows several disenfranchised groups as they try to overcome their disagreements and differences and address their common problems and enemies. That’s too bland of a description, though, because the tactics quickly shift from pickets and newspapers articles to terrorism and international arms deals. The film also has strong punk connection; the soundtrack is killer and one of the major characters is the singer in an arty post-punk band.

As someone obsessed with the music of the early 80s, I loved the film’s portrayal of the New York of that era. However, what struck me more about Born in Flames was how relevant it felt to today. Even though they don’t use these terms, this film grapples with identity politics, intersectionality, and white feminism. Those terms might be new (or at least new-ish), but the ideas have been around for a very long time. That the film is set in a flawed social democracy also feels pertinent to this week’s inauguration. After four years of Trump, social democracy sounds like a utopia, but Born in Flames implies that oppressors and the entitled will take advantage of whatever system they work within. Stay vigilant. Keep trying to make the world better.

Staff Picks: Daniel

Hello to all of you in Sorry State land. We have a new president here in the United States of America. That’s good news to most of us. However, the world isn’t going to magically fix itself overnight, is it? Here’s hoping you are hanging in there. Trust me, I know how hard that is. I’m sure your heads are spinning from all the crazy news coming at you from far and near. It’s hard to handle it all. On top of that, we have our own personal shit going on and if, like myself and us here at SSR, you also must deal with sad news of friends, family members, colleagues and heroes passing away, it can seem quite hopeless. I feel your pain, my friends. Hopefully we can make it through the storm together and still find joy in some aspects of our lives. As you are reading this, it will be safe to assume that one of life’s pleasures is music. Hang on to that. Put a record on and allow the music, the energy to lift you and carry you through those dark moments if you are experiencing them.

I owe you an apology for missing the newsletter the other week. I just couldn’t seem to think straight, and writing anything cohesive was impossible for me. It still is very difficult to be honest. Here at SSR, as you know, we have great talents. I am humbled to be sharing space with people whose knowledge of music is so deep and who have the ability to put into words how music sounds. They can make you feel like you are listening to the record they are describing. I tip my hat to them. I wish writing came easier for me, but like any discipline you have to keep at it and so I thank you for bearing with me. I also need to apologize for my inclusion in the 2020 review. In the newsletter, the last half of my piece wasn’t included as I messed up and sent an earlier draft. If you were curious to read the rest, it is now in the archives on the website.

This week rather than talk about a particular record or artist—I’ll return to that next time—I wanted to give a nod to my fellow record store folks and deejays. Those music evangelists known and unknown who are on the front lines slinging vinyl old and new and turning folks on with music. I’ve spent pretty much all my life either behind or in front of the counter of record stores and spinning records as a DJ. It’s my comfort zone. Playing, handling and talking about records is what I do. Although I have had quite a few other jobs in my life, many much more financially rewarding, working in a record store is easily the best thing I’ve done and I am at my most content doing it.

Recently a couple of things happened that reinforced my convictions in this regard. Firstly, a regular friend and supporter of the store posted a very nice comment on his IG about the store and talked about how a good record store is like your favorite bar where they know you and your specific poison and have it ready for you. I thought that was kind of cool and funny. Then the other day whilst working the counter I was playing a hip-hop record by EPMD from the old school golden era. We had been joking amongst ourselves that the only hip-hop records left in our section after the holidays were EPMD records and were puzzled why no one was into them. I was rocking the LP called Strictly Business and the customer who was in the store loved it. He had never heard of them and quickly grabbed that record and the follow up LP Unfinished Business that we also had. It was a little thing, but it made me feel good knowing he was going to go home and have this music in his life.

These thoughts of record stores and how music is so important to our lives were brought home just the other night whilst I was watching an old movie on TCM. I was watching Penny Serenade with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. It’s a melodrama from 1941 and a rare non-comedic role for Grant. Quite a tear jerker. The plot of the film was built around how they met in a record store where Dunne was working and how years later on the verge of divorce she was playing all the records that corresponded to moments and memories in their lives together. It brought home to me how important records are to us and have been since they first appeared. I felt a sense of pride in being a part of that grand tradition of record store folk. Record stores are more than just a place to buy music. They are a place where people of all stripes can meet and be exposed to cultures and people beyond their normal lives. They are a place where new ideas are hatched, where projects get first talked about and heard, where politics and things bigger than simple tunes can be discussed. They are a place where people can meet and make life long connections. In short, record stores matter and long may they remain such an important part of our culture.

Thank you, friends, for indulging me here and to all those record store people around the world, old and new, I salute you. This next platter on the turntable is dedicated to you all.

The Brothers Three: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. T-Neck. 1969

A brilliant piece of heavy psychedelic funk from The Isley Brothers under a different name, but there is no mystery who the real artist is here. This was one of the first releases on their re-activated T-Neck label and is a banger. The group was at a juncture in their career with new Isley Brothers about to join the group and move them into the 70s and even bigger stardom. This was clearly cut to satisfy the rock itch they had to scratch and an obvious nod to Jimi Hendrix and sixties hippie culture. Whatever their motives, it’s a cool record. The 45 was the only release under this name and comes split across the two sides as Pt. I & Pt. II. It’s not expensive to find but is one of those records that, if it was by an obscure artist on a small label, would have people forking out big bucks for a copy.

Staff Picks: Usman

I came into work last week and started packing orders. I picked up this cassette to fulfill an order, and the artwork caught my eye. It looks classic and rides the line of not really giving a shit, if that makes sense haha. So, I pulled that tape out and cranked the volume knob in the store. Man... HELL YES. This is what I need. It’s what I look for in a release. Non-stop ripping, in yer face, down yer throat, and tearin’ that ass up 7 tracks hardcore. Yes, I am uncultured and too stubborn to listen to more than HC (and early ska). I wish the tapes sounded clearer, but the sound is good for what it is. Do you like No Security? If you don’t know them, check ‘em out asap. Right from the start, Salvaje Punk reminds me of the late 80’s/90’s kang bands. It reminds me of Força Macabra too, with the chaoticness of the songs next to the vocal patterns. I don’t wanna seem stupid haha so I will point out that Salvaje Punk sings in Spanish while Força Macabra sings in Portuguese. (Which honestly blows my mind cos they were from Finland.) No Security is one of my favorite Swedish bands… everything they have released is killer. I enjoy listening to Força Macabra, but I don’t know the material well at all. There are some records I didn’t like as much and one that I liked when I heard it, but I can’t even remember the names. Funny enough, in the photo, I have Força Macabra and No Security split EPs as a backdrop, and on both EPs the other side is Crocodileskink... an amazing Japanese band you should check out if you like Doom, Framtid, Abraham Cross, etc. Oh yeah, unfortunately we have sold out of this cassette. Burning Paradise is the label that released the tape. Maybe hit ‘em up if you wanna grab one: hitandsmash@gmail.com. I think this band is members of Warthog? I can’t remember where I read that. I know it’s Joe B on the drums, one of the best drummers I have ever fuckin’ seen my entire life, got damn. Alright back to work, til next time...

p.s. Jeff and I are releasing two tapes next week on BPDT. Keep an eye out for Tizzi from Raleigh and Instinct? from Philly!

Staff Picks: Rachel

Edogawa Rampo: The Human Chair (Cadabra Records)

I’ve talked about spoken word records so much in my previous staff picks, so it’s about time something from Cadabra Records made its way on my turntable for a write up. Cadabra Records takes horror stories we all know and love and amps them up with soundscapes, voice actors, and art that perfectly matches. That being said, I’d never heard of Edogawa Rampo or his story The Human Chair. Admittedly, I bought the record because I love the cover art (more on that in a second). This release is an amazing combo of artists: the voice actor is the creep from Human Centipede 2, the music by Slasher Film Festival Strategy couldn’t have been better, and the cover was done by the creepiest printmaker ever, Grady Gordon.

Japanese horror has a knack for taking the everyday and making it super uncomfortable. Rampo’s story is about a craftsman who becomes obsessed with being a chair. You read that right, BEING a chair. Such a weird, simple concept, yet it’s so fucking creepy. When I listened to this the first time, I remember thinking how happy I was to be sitting in a shitty folding chair because someone couldn’t secretly be inside. Imagine an ordinary object hiding a person who is trying to get as close to another human as possible without them knowing. I don’t want to give too much of the story away because it REALLY is a release that you should, at the very least, listen to the excerpt on Cadabra’s website.

I have an ulterior motive with this staff pick; I have to be honest. I knew I wanted to write about a Cadabra release at some point, but this particular one wasn’t by accident. The artist who did the cover, Grady Gordon, just so happens to be interviewed (by yours truly) in the new Holy Mountain Printing magazine, We Do What We Want. I wanted to not so subtly promote this dope magazine with this staff pick. Grady Gordon captures the eeriness of Rampo’s story in his art for the cover of this release… the texture!!! Gordon excels at using his medium of monoprinting to bring to life otherworldly creatures and places, which is why he was a perfect choice to create the artwork for this album.

I’ve admired Grady Gordon’s work for a long time and was so excited for the opportunity to nerd out about printmaking shit with him. He even created a series specifically for the magazine! The two issues that have come out so far have an eclectic and impressive lineup of interviews from the likes of Mortiis and Blood Incantation to Mike Vallely and Gravediggaz. Sorry State has a few of both issues in stock! Do yourself a favor and grab one, or both, next time you’re shopping in store or online and you won’t regret it!

Staff Picks: January 7, 2021

Staff Picks: Daniel

Mellakka: Ei 7” (1984, Ei Ei Levyt)

This week I spent a lot of time listening to this Mellakka EP. Thanks so much to my friend Lars to selling it to me… I have already gotten so much enjoyment out of it. Mellakka is great, but I don’t have much to say about them right now because I’m brain dead after a very busy work week in a world that has also given me way too much to think about outside of work. I wish Mellakka’s stuff was a little easier to find. Partners in Crime released a discography LP in the US back in 2005, but that is long out of print and now sells for collectible prices. In 2018, Mellakka released a box set of 3 7”s on Finland’s Svart Records, including reissues of their two original EPs and a 3rd 7” featuring demo recordings from 1986. Sorry State carried that when it came out, but it looks like that’s scarce now as well.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

I’ll keep it brief this week. One release I’ve listened to quite a few times this week is the new Blood Hunger tape by Kontaminate. We haven’t gotten physical copies at Sorry State yet, and I’ve heard that it’s already sold out from the label. Yikes! But maybe Daniel’s on top of it, not sure.

Chubb was telling me he knows the folks in this band and that they share a practice space. I don’t know if this will seem weird to everyone reading this, but it actually surprised me to hear that this band is from Richmond. I don’t mean this as a slight toward bands from Richmond or Kontaminate, but I’ve noticed that most bands from Richmond, even when playing hardcore, have a calculated and regimented, I would even say “professional,” approach toward their playing and songwriting. Trust me, most of the time I’m very impressed by their scene’s high standard for musicianship. That said, and I don’t intend this to sound band, but Kontaminate does not sound like this to me. Listening to this tape, I assess their demeanor as being much more raw, urgent and ugly. The vocals are gnarly and intense, almost demented. Plus, I think this band just nailed the recording, super unpolished and gritty, but not weak sounding. Musically, I hear nods to UK82 or even more contemporary stylings a la Bloodkrow Butcher, but with its own venomous and menacing attitude. Not really dbeat, I wouldn’t call it that, but definitely all the things I like in my raging hardcore. Plus, a well-executed Ultra-Violent cover to boot. I’ve heard other bands cover Ultra-Violent, and it ends up sounding too refined or slick. I think they do a faithful enough and equally mean interpretation. Cool new band, if you ask me.

That’s all I got. 2021 is already off to a disgraceful start, huh?

Thanks for reading,

-Jeff

Staff Picks: Usman

I was messaging a customer last week about an order, and as we ended our conversation, they let me know they were radio DJing their best of 2020 as we spoke. So I checked out Uneasy Listening for the first time. The playlist was all over the place (which isn’t a bad thing by any means) but they still played some of my favorite hardcore hits of 2020. As I packed orders I kinda tuned out, and then Elä Totuudesta came on. My ears perked up, and I stopped what I was doing to find out who I was listening to. It was Kohti Tuhoa. Despite having packed countless parcels that contained their records, I had never taken the time to check them out. Unfortunately, this happens a lot. Which is kinda strange cos I am surrounded by hundreds of records regularly, yet I don’t take the time to listen to everything I can. I think that’s called a paradox? It’s funny cos it was December 30th (over 7 months after its release) and I heard a record for the first time that became one of my favorites of the year. Luckily Sorry State still had some copies in stock so I could still get one without having to import a copy.

Kohti Tuhoa is from Helsinki. I don’t know many contemporary bands from Finland off the top of my head. I think Kylmä Sota was of my favorite Suomi HC bands from the past decade. And like Kylmä Sota, most bands who worship the classic shit have a more “raw” sound and straightforward approach to their songwriting. While Kohti Tuhoa has an easily defined sound reminiscent of Riistetyt or Pyhäkoulu, they have their own refreshing twist to things. Their EP Elä Totuudesta is so catchy, but still blazing hardcore; it sounds more “authentic” than anything I’ve heard this year. Saying authentic is silly though, cos they are actually from Finland, rather than the usual formula of an American band playing Suomi worship. Check out the EP and grab a copy if you dig it! ‘til next time...

https://lavidaesunmus.bandcamp.com/album/el-totuudesta

A Year in Review: Staff Picks December 31st, 2020

A Year in Review: 2020

What follows is a list of my favorite releases of 2020 in no particular order. There was so much more great music than this in 2020, but rather than give you a 60-item list, I pared it down to the dozen (or so) most crucial. I did the same for reissues and also shared some personal milestones from this year. Everyone talks about how 2020 was a fucked year, but if you don’t think it was a great one for music, you weren’t paying attention.

Sirkka: Kuluttava Kone cassette (self-released)

Perfectly executed hardcore punk inspired by the Finnish greats of old. One of those releases that leaves your jaw on the floor every time you play it.

Physical media status: This had been sold out since it came out early in 2020, but after I wrote about Kuluttava Kone in my staff pick last week, the band got in touch to say they’ll be releasing a small repress of pro-duplicated tapes very soon. Sorry State will have copies!

Public Acid: Condemnation 7” (Beach Impediment)

Universally acknowledged as one of the most exciting bands in the hardcore punk underground, Public Acid proved why that’s the case with their new EP. Nasty and brutal with an artsy, progressive edge.

Physical media status: The first pressing sold out from the label within a couple of days, as did Sorry State’s distro copies. I see it’s still kicking around in a couple of online distros, though a patient person can wait for the imminent repress.

Straw Man Army: Age of Exile 12" (D4MT Labs)

To say that Straw Man Army emerged out of nowhere would show you’re not paying attention, because the creatively fertile D4MT Labs group has been pumping out hit after hit for several years now. However, this Straw Man Army LP is on another level, more melodic and song-oriented than most of that group’s output, but the streamlined style makes the cutting lyrics hit that much harder. Highly recommended for fans of Zounds and Crisis.

Physical media status: The first pressing appears to be gone, and it seems like most distro copies have been gobbled up as well. However, I hear there’s going to be a UK pressing on La Vida Es Un Mus, which Sorry State will carry if those are the only available copies.

Rigorous Institution: Survival 7" (Roach Leg)

Rigorous Institution’s previous 7” on Black Water blew me away, but Survival… fuck, what a record! I remember this hit the internet shortly into the plague days, when complete societal breakdown seemed like a real possibility. No one painted that picture more clearly than Rigorous Institution. One of the most epic things punk produced in 2020.

Physical media status: Sorry State still has copies!

Riki: S/T 12" (Dais)

California’s Riki released a cool 12” EP a couple of years ago (Sorry State still has copies in stock), but their debut full-length catapulted them to another level. This isn’t punk rock… it’s synth-pop, but the punks love it, me included. FFO Fatamorgana, Special Interest, Boy Harsher.

Physical media status: This LP has already been through a few pressings, each on different colors of vinyl. Sorry State is out of stock, but hopefully we can get more copies as early as next week.

The Annihilated: demo (self-released)

Another hardcore release that blew me away. The 80s US hardcore sound has always been close to my heart, and I don’t think anyone did it better than the UK’s the Annihilated (though they add a pretty big helping of their indigenous oi! music a la Negative Approach).

Physical media status: If you didn’t get one of these already, you’re fucked.

Romero: Honey 7" (Cool Death)

“Honey” is my most played song of 2020. Romero’s music is outside my normal wheelhouse, but something about this songs gets me, and I feel like I’m weightless every time I hear it. Everything about it is great, but I think my favorite part is the way the chord progression unfolds. This song is as solidly constructed as Egypt’s pyramids.

Physical media status: The 7” went through two pressings and both seem long gone. However, Romero has a new single on the way, also on Cool Death Records.

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

Looking for the most ripping record of 2020? I can’t think of anything that bests this one. A few New York punks (notably from Extended Hell) flew in a couple of Swedes (including Poffen from Totalitär) for the weekend to record this studio project. How much more ripping could it be? None. None more ripping.

Physical media status: While this record’s first pressing sold out and was briefly in high demand, the labels have done an outstanding job of keeping this available. Sorry State is out but hopefully we can get more soon.

Krigshoder: Krig I Hodet cassette (Suck Blood)

Another transatlantic project band, this one pairs folks from the Suck Blood Records / Blazing Eye / East LA scene with Daniel from Norwegian punks Negativ. A serious contender for the “most ripping” title, but with an added element of bouncy catchiness borrowed from the 80s Norwegian classics.

Physical media status: This is currently sold out, but Suck Blood represses their releases sporadically. Hopefully we can get more at some point.

Fried E/M: Modern World 12” (Lumpy)

Another pure USHC banger, St. Louis’s Fried E/M gave us that catchy, snotty, raging stuff we all crave. FFO Career Suicide, Circle Jerks, Sick Pleasure.

Physical media status: Still in stock at Sorry State!

The Cool Greenhouse: S/T 12" (Melodic) / Alexa 7" (Melodic)

The Cool Greenhouse’s song “Pets” was my favorite track of 2019, and the two records they released this year did not disappoint. While they’ve yet to release a bad song, “Alexa” is my pick for “can’t miss Cool Greenhouse track of 2020.”

Physical media status: Copies of the LP are scarce in the US as the label’s US distributor has been sold out for a while, but you might find a copy or two if you dig around. As far as I can tell, Alexa wasn’t distributed at all in the US, though there are still copies available at UK shops. Basically, you can get both pretty easily, but you’ll have to order from overseas.

ISS: Too Punk for Heavy Metal 7” (Total Punk) / Spikes cassette (self-released)

ISS continues to be one of the most innovative, exciting, and fun bands in punk rock. The a-side of their 7” on Total Punk is one of their best tracks, but they don’t release duds.

Physical media status: Too Punk for Heavy Metal is still in stock at Sorry State, but Spikes sold out in a matter of days and I don’t see a repress happening given how labor-intensive it was to make these.

Misanthropic Minds: Welcome to the Homeland 7” (Sewercide)

It feels weird putting a release that just came out a couple of weeks ago on the best of list, but this is one of 2020’s highlights. Another one that pushes the rage-o-meter into the red, this sounds like if you applied Urban Waste’s production values to Koro’s density and energy level. Not to be missed.

Physical media status: Both the label and Sorry State are sold out and I haven’t heard about whether there will be a repress. However, since this just came out, you should be able to find a copy at another store or distro.

Favorite Reissues of 2020:

United Mutation: Dark Self Image LP (Radio Raheem)

This underrated DC hardcore band gets the retrospective they deserve, done up with all of the class and style Radio Raheem is known for. So much great music and artwork in this package.

Physical media status: Just got a fresh repress; currently in stock at Sorry State.

Kalashnikov: S/T 7” (Adult Crash)

Catchy Euro HC banger gets a long overdue and beautifully executed official reissue.

Physical media status: Sold out, but a repress is coming.

The Times: Red with Purple Flashes 7” (Static Shock)

Perfect UKDIY pop from this project helmed by Ed Ball, whom you also know from Television Personalities, Teenage Filmstars, and O Level.

Physical media status: Currently in stock at Sorry State!

Newtown Neurotics: Kick Out! LP (Sealed)

This LP compiles the essential early singles from this UK punk band. This is the soundtrack to a documentary about the band that has been delayed because of COVID. Can’t wait to see that one.

Physical media status: In stock at Sorry State!

Hellhammer: Apocalyptic Raids LP (Noise)

An all-time metal classic gets a nicely done reissue featuring posters and a thick booklet. I own an original and I still sprung for one of these because the packaging is so awesome.

Physical media status: In stock at Sorry State!

Grave New World: The Last Sanctuary LP (Bitter Lake)

Crow’s project between iterations of his namesake band is one of the great undiscovered gems of Japanese hardcore. A deeply original record, this combines crust and hardcore with psychedelic and noise elements. A brilliant album and I’m happy to own a physical copy.

Physical media status: Sold out instantly, no repress planned as far as I know. You’re going to have to hit the second hand market for this one.

Nightmare: Give Notice of Nightmare LP (Farewell)

Give Notice of Nightmare is a top-tier classic of Japanese hardcore, and while this reissue is light on frills, it gets the music on your turntable, which is the most important part.

Physical media status: Repress coming, hopefully in January, distributed by Sorry State in the US.

T.S.O.L.: Beneath the Shadows LP (Dink)

T.S.O.L.’s 1982 masterpiece gets its first vinyl pressing since 1989. By this point TSOL sounded like an American version of the post-Brian James Damned. However, as much as I love The Black Album and Strawberries, Beneath the Shadows is way better than anything the Damned did after Machine Gun Etiquette.

Physical media status: In stock at Sorry State!

Favorite used pickup of the year: Government Issue: Legless Bull 7”

Being over 40 years old, having lived in the mid-Atlantic United States for my entire life, and having collected vinyl since I was a teenager, I’ve come across more Dischord originals than most people. While I picked up most of the label’s catalog before prices got astronomical, the one that eluded me was Government Issue’s first EP, Legless Bull. I had a few chances in the past, but it was always more than I wanted to pay. This year one came in to the shop and I knew it was going home with me. The early Dischord catalog is so important to me, shaping not only my tastes in music but also my ethics and values.

Favorite addition to my household: Patti Pancake

This year I did something I never thought I’d do: I got a dog. It happened unexpectedly, but I’m so glad it did. She’s still only 9 months old, so she has a ton of fun puppy energy, but now she’s house trained and as well behaved as a dog could be (thanks to my partner Jet).

A Year in Review: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters? I went a bit long, so read as far as you care to…

I believe it was Ian MacKaye who said, “It’s the end of a fucked up year, but there’s another one coming.” Well, thank fucking lord for that, because I am sure as hell ready for this shitshow to be over. Hopefully we can all look forward to things getting a lot better in 2021. Fingers crossed…

Typically, when we get close to the end of the year, Daniel has us make a list of our “top 10 records of the year” or some sort of list along those lines. But this time he’s letting us write something more freeform and approach our prompt as “2020: a year in review.” I froze for a second and thought to myself—what am I gonna say besides, “Shit, I dunno man, it sucked!” As I’m sitting here to reflect on 2020, the year felt like a whirlwind that washed over me in a blur, but also the slowest, most grueling year of my life. I’ve divided periods of the year into different chapters, each represented by particular sequence of events along with a uniquely uncomfortable headspace. I’m wary of talking too much about a bunch of negative shit, but if my stream of consciousness goes there then sorry. Just bear with me.

It’s funny, I remember the beginning of this year feeling exciting and full of hope. So weird for me to think about how Scarecrow put out our first EP on January 1st and we were planning to go on tour in March. Seems strange to say the pandemic was well-timed, but if lockdown had gone into effect a week later, we would’ve already been on the road. Early on, I remember getting the impression that people were adapting and had energy circulating while dealing with living in quarantine. I found circumstances leading me to reach out to friends who live far away in other cities and see what they were up to. There was a lot of activity on social media, and I remember even thinking to myself that I would get super productive working on recording projects. Slowly but surely, that positive energy faded for me and a lot of other people. Honestly, working at Sorry State and having a sense of structure on a day-to-day basis helped keep my head straight. Daniel could have had us stop working if things got tight, so I’m thankful that he kept us on. We worked hard to adjust to our new reality. It’s surreal to think back now to the end of spring. While Sorry State was closed to the public, we took that time to paint the walls and redecorate. Looking out our storefront window, it was around this time that people began protesting because of the horrible racist police violence. Maybe foolishly, I remember my frame of mind being that the pandemic didn’t even seem that concerning while all of that was going on. It still feels so intense to me that these two world-shaking things were happening at the same time.

Hard to transition smoothly out of that thought… but on a less intense and I guess more personal note, what I miss more than anything due to circumstances in 2020 is punk gigs. Not only because of drinking 20 beers and seeing all these killer bands roll through town, but also because I miss the sense of gathering and seeing friends come together around something rad we all did together. The last gig I played in 2020 was when Vittna drove up to Richmond to play with Lux from Barcelona. That was on March 11th, right before shit hit the fan. I remember talking to Louis from Lux on the street while all the bands were loading out gear and he said they were concerned about being able to get back into the country when they flew home. Crazy.

I’m not sure how much I talked about this when it happened, but one of the bigger bummers of 2020 was when Usman, all of our housemates, and I got booted out of where we lived by our landlord. Our house, which we called The Bunker, was a regular spot where shows took place in Raleigh for a few years. I’ll try not to be too sappy about it, but I get sad when I take the time to think about that even when the world slowly goes back to normal, we won’t have our show house to return to and keep things going. But it was gonna end at some point—covid or no covid. I don’t think I’ve processed that yet. The unofficial last show at our house was on March 8th, with Armor from Florida, my band Vittna, and the first show of this killer “new” band Pioneers Disappear, which Usman plays guitar in. From what I remember, that was a pretty great show. Bye bye, Bunker.

Okay, now let’s get to records. I can safely say that this year is the most amount of money I’ve ever spent on records. I wish I could say that buying records is my only vice, but I’m pretty sure I’ve drunk more Hamm’s this year than any other. Usman has me beat on rare and rad Scandinavian hardcore this year, but I went pretty hard on the US hardcore stuff. I’ve picked up quite a few hardcore records that I’ve been stoked on, but my big score was getting a first pressing of the Negative Approach 7”. Top 3 greatest hardcore records ever? It’s the most money I’ve ever spent on a single record, but I still would say I got it for a pretty damn good deal. Don’t ask.

It seems like my “best of” section is shaping up to be the shortest part of my ramblings for this epic I’m writing. Granted, 2020 was a difficult year to release a record in any capacity. But for me, 2020 was the “year of cassettes.” Most of my favorite releases from this year were released on tape. Top mentions include Sirkka, Krigshoder, The Annihilated, Violent Christians, Tower 7, Vivisected Numbskulls—DAMN, so much killer shit. That said, there were a few undeniable vinyl releases this year. If you made a formal list of your top records and the new Public Acid 7” wasn’t on it, you’re a complete moron. Humant Blod was also a collision of people from one the best current bands and people from some of my favs overseas. Also, late to the game, but I love that new White Stains record. The band has a good chunk of peeps from the Loose Nukes camp, but It’s not quite as ripping fast. I gotta say though, it’s got that vibe of mean and irreverent hardcore that I’ve been craving lately. I wrote this somewhere else, but it’s like Sick Pleasure meets Amdi Petersens’ Arme. Maybe with a bit of Lucky Lehrer type drumming? I dunno. Alright, I’ll keep it simple because I’m sick of typing. Here are some other records I liked this year: Secretors flexi, Lux 7”, Muro: Pacificar 12”, Sial 12”, Stray Bullet 7”, Regimen De Terror 7”, Rigorous Institution: Survival 7”, Reek Minds 7”, Kaleidoscope 7”, Straw Man Army 12”, Xylitol 7” with the long ass title, Milk 7”, Subdued 12”, Fried E/M 12”, Sabre 7”, Nutrition 7”, and Riki was my synth-laden guilty pleasure all year long.

That’s it, ya filthy animals. See ya next year, I hope.

Thanks for reading,

-Jeff

A Year in Review: Eric

How bout it! The year 2020 has come and gone. Daniel has given us permission to go off the cuff and talk about our year in review, both in terms of great punk, and in terms of what went down for us personally. I’ll try my best to spare y’all from what we all see and hear in the media we consume (“2020!!?!?!??!! wHaT A dUMpSteR fIRe AMIRITE”). We can all agree that none of us had the year we thought we were going to have. I remember the last show I played (or attended for that matter) was Vittna playing In Richmond with Lux on March 11th. I have a vivid memory of my Mom texting me something to the effect of: “This is getting bad!! Stay home!! Please don’t go to any shows or parties!!” Meanwhile, I was surrounded by strangers drinking draft beer and cutting up with old friends. It became even more real when Lux was saying they were worried they would not get back to Spain. It was only a few days later that stay at home ordinances were in place and our worlds were turned upside down.

Public Acid had lots of plans to tour and stay busy, I had made some personal travel plans, and I had plans to move to Richmond to be closer to some close friends and family (I did still end up doing that, but I’ll get to that later). I had typed out a long rant about what happened instead and how much it fucking sucked, but then I decided not to. We’re all having a rough time. No need to compete over who suffered more. Plus, the only way to move is forward! Lemme tell you about some highlights from my year:

-I’ve been finding some solace in calling this year, “the year of the homie.” By that I mean I could probably count the new people I’ve met on my hands, and I have had so much time to spend with people in my chosen circle(s). No strangers, no outsiders, no awkward interactions at social gatherings or shows… just connecting with people I want to. Sure, there are so many people I wish I could have connected with this year, but I guess that’s why the overlords gave us instagram. I feel like some relationships I had with certain friends are stronger than ever if for no other reason than we were quarantining in the same circles, and for that I’m grateful if I’m being real!

-A big development for me this year was relocating to Richmond after being in North Carolina for almost 9 years (the last 3 of which were in Raleigh). That was a decision I made before the shit hit the fan that didn’t come to fruition until July. I have a lot of very close friends and family here and I am so glad I can hunker down here amongst good company. I was soooo sad to leave all my friends and regulars at Sorry State, but I feel lucky that Daniel kept me on staff and has me buying records for the store from afar. SSR #1 4evr.

-Public Acid recorded in February and our 7” finally came out last month on Beach Impediment. Thanks to everyone who picked one up or shared some kind words! That was something that made this year feel alright, even if we had to cancel so many other things we were looking forward to.

-With nothing but time on our hands, my roommate, a close friend, and myself have been working out in my backyard on a very regular basis. We had gotten so into it we hired a covid friendly personal trainer to show us the way of the meathead. I don’t think I look different (you can pry the Miller Lite and pepperoni pizza from my cold, dead hands) but I am feeling stronger in mind and body. If I didn’t have that outlet, my mental health would likely have spiraled out of control.

-I have laid down tracks for 4 different projects over the course of the year that will hopefully see the light of day in 2021. I guess if nothing else there has been plenty of time to try new creative things and branch out, even if nothing ever comes of it.

-I got my very first pro tattoos at age 27! One is Green Day album art (I regret nothing) and another is a cute lil Poison Idea tattoo my dear friend Jim gave me.

-This past month or so I have picked up a couple different part time gigs, including working a few days a week at Vinyl Conflict here in Richmond. Now I have two record gigs! Things could be worse.

This all feels very strange, and I realize I haven’t mentioned my favorite records of 2020 yet. I guess my point in saying all that is that I hope all of you can find your personal silver lining after such a traumatic year. I’ve had a few white claws and I have been rambling and reminiscing about the past 12 months, and I gotta tell ya, it feels good to write down the things you’re thankful for.

This New Year I plan to drink my weight in champagne, watch Green Day do some stupid shit on live television, and hopefully score a midnight smooch from a special lady I’m sweet on. As for 2021, I ain’t placing any bets.

Here are some of my favorite releases from 2020 (in no particular order):

Laffing Gas - It’s A Beautiful Day In The Gulch 12”

Fried E/M - S/T 12”

Sweeping Promises - Hunger For A Way Out 12”

Muro / Orden Mundial - Sonido De La Negacion 12”

White Stains: Make Me Sick 12”

Kaleidoscope - Decolonization 7”

Bootlicker - How To Love Life 7”

Romero - Honey 7”

Scarecrow - Revenge 7”

The Annihilated - Demo cassette

DeStructos - Blast! Cassette

That’s it for me. I’m sure the moment I submit this I will remember another release that kicks ass but oh well. Hope everyone has a pleasant New Year and has time to count their blessings. ACAB.

A Year in Review: Dominic

Happy New Year Sorry Staters. Cheers to all of you out there who read our newsletter and support the store. Thank you, it means a lot.

So, 2020 has finally come to an end. What a year indeed. We can only hope that this next year dials back the pain and suffering just a smidge. Perhaps see the end of the pandemic and a return to some sort of normalcy where we can socialize with each other again? That would be nice, right? Maybe go see some bands play, hang out with each other, travel, all the good stuff that makes life tolerable. Fingers crossed. Despite all the bad stuff that went down this past year, a lot of great things still happened. Liverpool FC won the English Premier League, for instance. Oh, and a ton of great music was released. Music, that’s our business here at Sorry State and thanks to your support we put a lot of cool records into your hands and onto your turntables. We look forward to more of the same in 2021.

It’s at this time of the year that every magazine, store and person with an internet connection puts out “Best Of” lists and we are no exception. A quick read through the past year’s newsletters proves that there truly was a big stack of cool records (and tapes) that came out. You probably bought several from us. Cheers for that. One thing about best of lists is that they are subjective. We all have our different tastes and preferences. With so much music being created each year, it’s near impossible to keep up with it all. I work in a record store and live and breathe music all day every day, yet reading other people’s lists I realize just how much I don’t know about and have missed. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day to listen to everything nor finances to pay for it all, but I managed to take a few releases home with me this year and also scored some cool old shit I have spent years hoping to find.

My list then is almost exclusively things that I bought and took home rather than trying to be an actual best of the year. To simplify things, I have picked four or five records that were a new single, new album, a reissue or a compilation, the last category being my personal scores.

First up then are a handful of singles that impressed me. The Renaldo Domino track is an awesome new soul track from a performer from the original golden era of soul music. Here he is backed by a top notch crew of some of the brightest talents in the soul and funk world working today. The Colemine label outdid themselves with this one. It’s a great uptempo, authentic sounding tune and I was happy to get to spin it at the one DJ gig I had this past summer. ISS are our hometown heroes and keep raising the bar with each release. This single combines post-punk sounds with a knowing wink and a little humour and is ace. They almost topped themselves with their late year entry called Spikes, which came out as a limited cassette, but the 45 wins by a nose. Working Men’s Club is a new outfit from the UK signed to Heavenly and all I can say is that single Valleys sounds like the hit single New Order never made. You can almost imagine yourself in the Hacienda to this one. Although not technically a single, more of an EP, the four tracks from Cry Out represent the unfinished work of sadly departed artist Rosie Davis. Last cut, Garden Song, is my favourite. It’s great and should please anyone who likes upbeat, 80s sounding, slightly Goth post punk music. Even though these recording are uncompleted, I think they sound terrific and encourage you to seek this one out. The track Deeper Love from the UK’s Stone Foundation features Modfather Paul Weller on vocals and is a highlight from the group’s album Is Love Enough. These guys have been building an impressive body of work over the past dozen years and do not seem ready to stop here.

Favorite Singles

  1. Renaldo Domino: No Lagging and Dragging (Colemine)
  2. ISS: Too Punk For Heavy Metal (Total Punk)
  3. Working Men’s Club: Valleys (Heavenly Recordings)
  4. Cry Out More Echoes Of A Question Never Answered Why? (La Vida Es Un Mus)
  5. Stone Foundation: Deeper Love (100% Records)

Lots of top full lengths out this year, too. I was particularly excited to get the LP from The Cool Greenhouse. We at SSR are big fans. From the UK, they deliver droll tongue-in-cheek missives on modern life in a post punk, DIY sort of fashion and are totally ace. Try and find some of the singles too if you can but definitely check the LP. Track, Smile, Love! Is a highlight for me. God knows we needed a laugh in 2020, and although not trying to be a comedy band, they certainly made me smile. Sounding like they could also be from England are American band Naked Roomate. They combine post punk moves with an electronic sound but also have humour in their lyrics. Certainly giving a nod to the past but an interesting debut, I thought. I’ve been a fan of guitar slinger Little Barrie for some years now and this collaboration with drummer Malcom Catto is absolutely top. It just came out and I haven’t picked up the vinyl yet but have been playing it a lot online. The record sounds like space-age psychedelic funk music, and that’s a good thing. Morwan are a Ukranian post punk band that combine Arabic influences into their sound, and this record came as a surprise to me. I had no idea what to expect when we got it in, but have to say it was a highlight of the year. Dark and mysterious sounds that ear-wormed their way into my brain. Cool.

Favorite Album

  1. The Cool Greenhouse: S/T (Melodic)
  2. Naked Roommate: Do The Duvet (Trouble In Mind)
  3. Little Barrie & Malcom Catto: Quatermass Seven (Madlib Invasion)
  4. Morwan: Zola-Zemlya (Feel It Records)

Every year the record industry reissues a ton of classic old albums and singles and this year was no exception. I was totally psyched to see the Kennélmus album get a reissue as it has been a Holy Grail 60s psych record on my radar for many years. Super nice job on the package too. Imagine a mash up of Zappa, Beefheart and The Ventures produced by Ennio Morricone and you’ll have an idea of what to expect. The Specials had a cool Record Store Day release this year. A nice 10” of dub instrumentals of Gangsters and personal fave, Why?

Two cool 45s from Australian punkers Z-Cars and England’s The Times were welcome additions to my collection, both being pretty hard finds as originals.

Favorite Resissue-Single or Album

  1. Kennélmus: Folkstone Prism (Modern Harmonic)
  2. The Specials: Gangsters Dubs 10” (2 Tone)
  3. Z-Cars: This Is Z-Cars 7” (Meanbean Records)
  4. The Times: Red With Purple Flashes (Static Shock Records)

Some killer comps out this year and I am all about a good compilation. The jazz head in me was excited to hear some new jazz sounds and the contemporary artists on the Blue Note Re: Imagined all brought the heat. Two other cool Record Store Day releases were the Sharon Jones collection of cover versions they did and Double Whammy comp of 60s garage which had some unreleased cuts and a lot of tough to find singles. Lastly, a collection of more obscure bands that recorded sessions for the late and great Sir John Peel. Really good.

Favorite Compilation

  1. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (Daptone Records )
  2. Blue Note Re:imagined 2020 (Blue Note)
  3. Double Whammy! A 1960s Garage Rock Rave-Up (Craft Recordings)
  4. Killed By John Peel (Vatican Radio Records)

And to end things out, a quick clutch of 45s and an LP that I managed to score this year. The Moon LP had been on my want list for a while and funnily we had a Taiwanese pressing come through the store and then I found a US original the next week. It’s great 60s pop-psych album worth it for track Got To Be On My Way alone. The Throb were an Australian freakbeat band from the 60s and Believe In Me is a great moody garage style cut. The Ognir And The Nite People 45 is a cool two-sider and a great US garage record. Very pleased to get a copy finally. The Hodges, James, Smith & Caulfield tune is a fine piece of sister funk that I was introduced to by Irish DJ David Holmes many years ago and so finding a copy was very nice. Lastly, as we have been living with a fascist dictator for the last four years, it seemed a perfect time to snag a copy of The Cortinas record that came through the store. A classic slice of UK punk featuring future Clash Mk. II member Nick Sheppard.

Personal Scores

  1. Hodges, James, Smith & Caulfield: Nobody 7” (Mpingo)
  2. The Moon: Without Earth LP (Imperial)
  3. The Throb: Believe In Me 7” (Parlophone)
  4. Ognir And The Nite People: I Found A New Love 7” (Warner Bros. Records)
  5. The Cortinas: Fascist Dictator 7” (Step Forward Records)

And so there you have it. From me at least. Let’s thank Jah that we made it through this year. Many of us sadly didn’t and so let’s raise a glass to them. As we enter the Age of Aquarius together we have to put this mess behind us and although not forgetting it, try to remember that there were many great moments and that out of great adversity often comes great art and endeavors. Happy New Year Punk Motherfuckers!!!

Peace-Dom.

A Year in Review: Usman

2020 Started off pretty cool. I went to some sick shows, I started a new band where I tried to play guitar and we played our first (and last) gig. My label with Jeff released an EP of our own band we have together with Daniel, and it sold way faster than anticipated. A label in Sweden who I have looked up to for years offered to release that same EP to get copies into Europe. We booked a two-week tour up the East coast and into the Midwest, and it was easier to book than any tour I had ever experienced. The promoters seemed excited to have us, rather than it being a chore haha. And then we got hit hard with Covid-19 in the States. We “postponed” the tour. Jeff and I got kicked outta our house, which also hosted 90% of the shows we booked. It got a lot worse as the months unfolded with the passing of family and friends. But to keep it real, I have had it a lot easier than most who have suffered through this pandemic. I have kept a warm place to sleep, kept smoking weed, was still able to buy some dank records, and scored my DREAM job here at Sorry State. Not many people can say any of the above. This pandemic has brought (and continues to bring) living hell to the most oppressed demographics in the States. Most people reading this are probably pretty far removed from such demographics. There’s a lot of things I want to say about all the people I saw on social media partying and not social distancing, but I dunno, I don’t feel right laying into people like that. I have done things in my life where I didn’t see the harm I was bringing onto others. It just hurts to see people partying while others die, literally, as a result of people not taking the responsibility to distance. I dunno, I guess the government is to blame the most for not taking care of its citizens by giving us what we need to stay home. Instead, thousands of people have to go into the outside world to earn money just to survive. I’m sure it wasn’t just assholes partying, but workplaces spreading Covid-19 at high rates. It’s not fair for me to condemn those who had no choice but to work to keep a roof over their families’ heads. Yeah, I dunno, I didn’t even mention George Floyd and the HUNDREDS of black, brown, and disabled people shot and killed by the pigs this year alone. What a world we live in. Who knows, maybe a global pandemic is the Earth’s response to thousands of years of rape it has been subjected to at the sake of human “progress.” Anyway, this is about my top records of 2020... so I’ll stop ranting and get on with it.

There were a lot of great records released this year. Here are my top picks:

Sirkka: Kuluttava Kone_ (self-released) _This is my favorite release of the year, I think. I wish it was on a record but I am happy for whatever format this shit is on cos it KILLS!!!! If you love Riistetyt or other Finnish ‘83 shit and have not checked this out, do it right now. The songs are so well written it’s insane. The guitar tones sound so good to my ears. The vocals are icing on the cake. It’s unbelievably good. I can’t express how good I think this is, aside from saying it’s my favorite release of the year, whatever that’s worth. If you missed out on grabbing this, I heard they are doing another run of cassettes. Eyes peeled.

Krigshoder: Krig I Hodet (Suckblood) It’s hard for me to say Sirkka was my favorite release of 2020 with this Krigshoder cassette also being released this year haha. This band, like Sirkka, is an American band with a vocalist from overseas singing in their native language. Apparently the combination is straight up lethal cos both these tapes fucking kill. The band sounds like it has more influences aside from Norwegian HC; some parts remind me of US hardcore and some elements sound a bit Italian (probably cos it rips so hard haha). But who the fuck cares if I can’t box it into a direct “influence.” Actually, that’s probably a good thing. God damn AND they cover the best song (in my opinion) off the Siste Dagers Helvete LP! It’s crazy how natural it sounds for them to play it, too. Top-notch release. I’m not sure if the label still has copies, but you can download it from their bandcamp page and make yer own cassette version.

Destruct: Echoes of Life (Grave Mistake) This band is so good live. So good. Some elements come off as “tough,” which is usually a turn off for me, but I love this record through-and-through. I can listen to it non-stop, flipping it repeatedly, and it doesn’t get old. The guitar tone is perfect, and the riffs are excellent. The bass and drums are so locked in, it’s fucked up. Having a record I can flip constantly and not get tired of is what I look for in a release, and I genuinely found that with this record. There are represses still in circulation, so if you were living under a rock and missed out on this, yer still in luck.

And of course, here are my “honorable” mentions:

Kohti Tuhoa: Elä Totuudesta (La Vida Es Un Mus) This EP is absolutely KILLER, and probably should have been in the picture, but I fucked up. Really cool to hear a modern Finnish band play an old style. So well-executed, not relying on layers of noise or distortion like most bands who worship Finland ‘83 shit. Sounds fucking classic. Sorry State still has a handful of copies of this release if you missed out.

Vivisected Numbskulls: 4 Track demo (Chaotic Uprising Productions) To me, this sounds like it’s influenced by UK82 with hints of Swedish HC. The recording sounds like it’s legit from the ‘80s. I instantly fell in love with this tape, and it stuck with me throughout the year. I think these are sold out, but they have an awesome follow-up cassette available from the label still!

Public Acid: Condemnation (Beach Impediment) Im not sure if I need to explain this one? Can’t fuck with North Carolina! Repress on the way, or check out mailorders who still have copies floating around.

For the hell of it, here are my top reissues of 2020:

Disfear: Soul Scars (La Familia/Havoc/Disfear Records)

Bombanfall: Åsiktsfrihet (D-Takt & Råpunk)

Kalashnikov: Self-titled (Adult Crash)

So I’ve included two extra photos. The first one is of what I consider my most played LPs of the year. One Struggle, One Fight is my favorite Varukers album. (Prepare for the Attack is equally as good to me, but I’m not sure if I can call that a proper album?) I was so happy to finally get an original copy of this! It is exactly one of those records I can listen to on repeat all day without getting bored. I think Rat’s vocals are my favorite on this record over any other release they did. I actually love to full-on sing along with him on this shit haha. Tsjernobilly Boogie was a Norwegian compilation I had never heard of. There were bands on it who I also did not know, but soon came to love! My friend Michael Hardy (WHAT UP, if yer blind ass can read this) told me he came across the LP knowing nothing about it but saw “Norsk Hardcore” on the cover and was sold. He talked about it non stop for a while, so I kept my eye out for a copy. I found one at a good price and I am so happy to have gotten my copy to blast!! Kuknacke is a compilation of Moderat Livkidation, one of the greatest fucking Swedish HC bands. I literally cannot get enough of this shit. I was beyond stoked to land one of these so I can listen to all their tracks back to back, with only one flip haha. Their OGs go for a lot of money, so I think this will be my baby for many, many years to come.

Speaking of a lot of money... with some contemplation, I have shared a photo of my “top scores” of the year. I’m not sharing this to show off. I just thought I would share cos these records mean a lot to me; there is a reason I consider them my top scores of the year. I would cherish them regardless of how rare they have become. I am lucky to have these, and I will have them until I die. The Anarkist Attack EP was an insane score. The cover is uncut; from my understanding this is pretty rare? Tampere SS and Pohjasakka were among the first Finnish HC bands I ever heard. Each band released one cassette and one EP. Both cassettes are nearly impossible to find. I saw a discogs seller “list” the Sotaa EP over the summer, but they would only accept a trade. It was a German who was after USHC. Lucky for both of us, we had some hot shit in the store at the time (per usual haha)... So I traded early represses of the first two Minor Threat EPs and an original Necros IQ32, and in return in received the Tampere SS EP alongside a few hundred bucks. Maybe one day I will regret trading those hot USHC slabs... but knowing there were only 200 copies of the Tampere SS EP ever made (all with handmade center labels, pasted on by the band), I think I made the right decision. The Tampere SS goes for a lot more money than the Pohjasakka EP, but to me they are both priceless. Alright, I think that sums it up. So grateful for Sorry State, and even more grateful to all the punks who support us. Without you, we couldn’t do this. So thank you. Happy New Year, y’all. I hope 2021 will bring us some light at the end of the tunnel. ‘Til next year...

A Year in Review: Rachel

I usually don’t keep up with new releases; that’s changing now that I work at Sorry State though. I haven’t been here long enough to give an accurate top ten new releases of the year; besides, I think my coworkers do a much better job. Packing up my records for this move gave me an excuse to go through them and think about what I’ve bought this year, so top ten purchases seemed more appropriate for me.

Despite not being able to go digging, for obvious reasons, what I have been able to pick up this year are some of my new favorites in my entire (meager) collection. After pulling this list, I noticed it gives a good cross section of my collection. Lil bit of this, lil bit of that. I love catching a new release on vinyl, but my bread and butter is digging because nothing is better than finding something you didn’t know you needed. I picked up some new releases, but most of this list didn’t come out this year.

In (mostly) the order of buying:

  1. Gouge Away - Consider 7” (2020)

I’d been looking forward to a new Gouge Away release and while I’m stoked I got this variant, it was supposed to be a tour exclusive. I think this release marks the moment in the year I realized how much the pandemic was impacting everything. This band, like so many others, took it in stride and released this record online with a cute lil’ quarantine activity book. While the world started to shut down, I got to hole up in my room and listen to more of my collection than I ever have before. This release didn’t disappoint; it’s my favorite of theirs so far. The band seems more focused on their sound and I can’t wait to see what they do in the future.

  1. Czarface - The Odd Czar Against Us! 12” (2019)

I’m not well versed in rap at all, but I know what I like and this release was a pleasant surprise. I’d never heard of Czarface until my boyfriend worked with him earlier this year. He scored the intro to the Holy Mountain Printing podcast, and I loved it so much I was stoked to see this record appear in my mailbox. Turns out, Boyfriend’s boss had a copy sent to us because he knew we were huge fans of what we’d heard. We all know this year was weird as fuck. Being able to have a physical item attached to something that made me smile this year is something I’m going to carry with me for a while. The music on this release is sick, but it also just makes me happy to see on my shelf.

  1. Charles Manson - Live at San Quentin 1983 12” (2019 reissue)

Another record I didn’t know I was going to be getting this year! My previous boss and I are still friends and he loves to enable people’s collecting, so for my birthday he got me a gift card to the online store Two Headed Dog. They have a great selection filled with movie soundtracks and oddball stuff right up my alley. This record completes the Spahn Ranch Records discography in my collection: a whopping two releases! I was so, so excited to find it on that site and knew it had to go on my shelf. I’m a fan of true crime and I’m a fan of experimental folk and all that weird stuff they were doing in the 60s/70s, so Charles Manson records are chefs kiss something I love. Especially this album because out of all of his released music, this is some of his more listenable stuff.

  1. David Lynch ft. Jack Cruz - The Flame of Love 7” (2020)

I will get behind anything David Lynch does. And, FUCK his music is so good. I love his other releases and this one was too weird not to get! Another Two Headed Dog purchase and I’m so happy I got it. If you haven’t seen Lynch’s short film “What Did Jack Do?” On Netflix, I recommend the 15ish minute surreal train ride. I don’t know why a monkey with a poorly CGI’d mouth is so compelling, but if anyone could do it, it’s David Lynch. I never, ever go for crooner type music but I think I’d get behind any genre if David Lynch was singing. I love that man and everything he does, UGH.

  1. Xibalba - En La Oscuridad 7” Flexi (2020)

This band just rips, dude. Holy Mountain Printing put out this single on a flexi towards the middle of the year and I’ve been biting my nails waiting for the full album to come out. Did not disappoint AT ALL. This song is still my top for that album, though.

  1. Flatt & Scruggs - The Best from Pet Milk Vol. 1 12” (1959)

The rest of my list marks the significant change of when I started working at Sorry State! This job is better than I could’ve imagined but I keep finding records I need. Double-edged sword. One of the first ones was found by Dominic and put on when we found out we were both fans of music like this. I have a lot of Flatt & Scruggs records already but nothing quite like this. The Grand Ole Opry is an integral part of country history and listening to a record with the ads and intros included was something I didn’t have in my collection. I amassed a lot of bluegrass and banjo music when I worked at another record store; it was the PERFECT music to blast at the end of the night to get people out so I could go home. But then I grew to love and appreciate this genre. It’s a release that hits multiple reasons I collect records- it’s an old ad for a product that no longer exists, a segment of American history, and has really, really good music. I listen to this record more than I’d like to admit.

  1. My Chemical Romance - Life on a Murder Scene 12” (2020 reissue)

I don’t mean to be aggressive but I would die for My Chemical Romance. I’m 26, the exact demographic MCR hit in the mid 2000s and I’m more than okay with it. I had this CD until it broke in my CD player. I watched the accompanying DVD so many times I could speak along with it. I loved My Chemical Romance to an embarrassing extent. Now, they aren’t in my usual rotation but if it “Mysteriously” gets queued up, I revert right back to that fan girl. I don’t pay much attention to Record Store Day releases but I had to pick this one up. The packaging makes my 12 year old heart sing. And honestly, their music still holds up and I will STAND BY THAT. I’ve joked that I would get fired the second I put this band in my staff pick but I’ll go out on this one if I have to! (Daniel is too nice to even participate in me roasting myself for my emo phase; I think my job is secure enough to include this in my top ten.)

  1. Star Trek - Passage to Moauv/In Vino Veritas/The Crier in Emptiness 12” (1979)

I will also forever stand by Star Trek. Except the Original Series. Kirk can go suffocate in space for all I care, The Next Generation is where it’s at. But, of course, most of the vinyl Star Trek releases are from the original series so I suck it up because I love the covers, movie soundtracks, and other stuff I’ve found (like Trek bloopers, Gene Roddenberry interviews, I mean come on, so good). I picked this record up without even thinking so I didn’t know what to expect when I put it on. It’s super fun and has so many examples why I hate Captain Kirk. Most notably, how much he complains about a mind controlling alien cat. I don’t even need to say anything else- obviously this record rocks because it has mind controlling alien cats.

  1. Ralph M. Lewis - The Science of Mysticism 12” (1967)

I found this record when I was digging for something for a customer. That keeps happening. Occult history is something I’ve been interested in but didn’t even think about what vinyl releases were lurking around the world. This is an old Rosicrucian Recordings record, and I’d be lying if I said I understood most (if any?) of it. It’s super fascinating to listen to, and the packaging is perfect (red vinyl!!). It’s another weird part of history pressed into vinyl.

  1. Mutant Strain - S/T 12” (2020)

This is hands down my favorite release and purchase of the year. I mentioned in my last staff pick I’ve been friends with Alex and Maryssa since college. After graduating they moved to Charlotte and whenever we saw each other, conversation always came back to being in a band and releasing music through Sorry State. It happened! Icing on the cake is me starting right as the release came out so I could see in real time that not only did Alex and Maryssa hit their goal, they were making music that people liked. I have to wax poetic about how amazing this release is to make up for sharing Alex’s college band with everyone that reads this newsletter. But really, it’s so easy to do with Mutant Strain. I’m so beyond proud of the work they and the other band members put into this monster of a release. The packaging is perfect, the sound is unreal, and the whole thing just RIPS. The energy seeps through the speakers when I put this on. Mutant Strain is a beast of a band.

2020 was fucked. COVID will still exist in 2021, but hopefully we can emerge from this craziness new and improved. I can’t wait to go to shows and smell everyone’s BO again. I can’t wait to walk into a record store and browse without thinking of where my hands have been. I can’t wait to work at Sorry State when we can ease our social distancing restrictions. There’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year! I’m never one for the symbolic New Years bullshit, but I think I kind of need it this year. I think most people are ready to shed 2020 and look forward to something different, even if it is just a calendar year.

I hope everyone reading this doesn’t hate me after I admit my love for My Chemical Romance and have a safe and happy new year!

Staff Picks: December 24 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

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

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

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

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/oTePkgCGjZc

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

Staff Picks: Usman

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

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

Staff Picks: Rachel

THE ANXIETY JUNKIES- GENTRIFIED HOMICIDE

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

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

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

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

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

Staff Picks: December 17, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Sirkka: Kuluttava Kone cassette (self-released, 2020)

This week we’ve been starting to think about our Best of 2020 lists here at Sorry State, and I’ve been working on compiling a mix tape of my favorite songs of the year. That project has me revisiting some of my favorites that I haven’t reached for in a while and going back to some of these releases has made me remember just how great they are. In some cases (like the Ratcage LP) they’re hitting me even harder than they did the first time around.

This tape from Sirkka came out back in the pre-pandemic world of January 2020. I played it non-stop when it came out, but it had been a few months since I listened to it. I popped it in to choose a track for my mix and my jaw hit the floor… I knew that this was one of the best releases of the year, but I forgot just how great it is. It’s obviously indebted to the 80s Finnish hardcore greats, but like my favorite bands from that scene (Appendix, Lama, Riistetyt, Kaaos, etc.), the balance of blazing speed, raw ferocity, and catchiness couldn’t be more perfect. If you haven’t checked out this tape yet, I strongly encourage you to visit Sirkka’s bandcamp and give it a whirl.

Don’t get your hopes up about getting a physical copy of the tape, though, because this sold out instantly and I haven’t heard any rumblings about a repress. I would love to own this recording on vinyl and would happily fund such a project myself (in case someone in Sirkka happens to read this). I’m not even sure what the status of Sirkka is… I think it was a two-person recording project, as I never heard about any live gigs. If this tape ends up just being a brilliant little blip in hardcore’s timeline, then so be it, but I hope we hear from Sirkka again at some point in the future.

Staff Picks: Seth

Hi, I’m a person that still exists and is still lurking in the background (mostly just in the SSR work chats causing mass distraction).

Today I’m here to talk about NUTRITION. This EP rules. This record’s super unique and giving it an X meets Y description would be a disservice. I am a little out of practice writing about music though, so bear with me here. The vocals are a unique blend of a hardcore vocalist and some serious sassiness. The material is delivered with a high level of snideness and a feeling of sarcasm. The guitars give off a very Uranium Club vibe, but with more oomph behind them. While there are those noodly and sparse single note parts, there are also some straight up riffs. If you dig those hooky punk jangles but want a little more gruff added in, I highly recommend checking it out. I remember their demo being a thing but don’t think I ever got around to listening to it, so now I need to check it out. But yeah, this rules and I recommend picking it up. It pairs really well with that Straw Man Army LP if you dug that.

My wife yells at me for never endorsing or promoting things I do, so I’ll plug two things really quick. I made an ‘album’ of various beeps and boops written during my lunch breaks under the name Sean Mustache called album ii. You can check that out at seanmustache.bandcamp.com. I also made a silly web app to tell me what to listen to from my collection based off my mood. That’s called Wax And Wane. It’s definitely a work in progress and more so a tool for me to learn/practice coding, but is open for anyone to use. That can be found at waxandwane.xyz.

I’d like to say that I’ll try not to be as much of a ghost and contribute more here, but I don’t want to make promises I might not be able to keep. So until whenever next time will be, stay punk.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

This label Neon Taste out of Canada has put out a pretty cool string of records over the last several months. We got in this new EP by Nutrition and without knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was into it. Interestingly enough, before I even thought to write about this EP for my staff pick, it seems to have become a big hit among our local in-store shoppers here in Raleigh. I’d say in general that there’s only a handful of people locally that walk in and totally devour all the new punk releases as they come out, so this record selling well simply by word of mouth is pretty rad!

I’m pretty sure this band is at least one of the dudes from Bootlicker, but Nutrition is decidedly less ripping fast hardcore. Initially, I threw this platter on the turntable and thought they were going for kind of a punked-out glam rock kinda vibe. My first impression was that Nutrition kinda sounded like Hank Wood, but harder, meaner and devoid of any artsy fartsy presentation. And sure, while the rocked out, clean guitar sound is totally there, I think saying Nutrition sounds “garagey” is selling them short. I dug deeper into the sound upon repeated listens and pretty much decided that Nutrition still comes off like a hardcore band to me. It’s not too far off from a band like Wiccans, who I always thought were super underrated, but who play that mostly mid-paced but tough, riffy style of hardcore. My favorite part of the band is definitely the vocals. The singer has this charismatic sass about them in their style and delivery. Like maybe not as obtuse and quirky as The Crucifucks, but they have some serious character. On a couple songs, the singer sounds like a dead ringer for the vocal stylings of Mark Hickey from Agression. Now that I’ve made that connection, I can’t unhear it. But really, I feel like if you played some of Nutrition’s more raging tracks as the background for a video of people skating and absolutely shredding a pool, then it would totally fit.

I think we still have a good amount of these Nutrition EP’s here at Sorry State. If my endorsement tickled your fancy in any way, then I definitely recommend you grip a copy. Here’s my favorite track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jszj8onE8eo

Thanks for reading,

-Jeff

Staff Picks: Eric

What up you fuckin’ nerds?

Alright, so I dropped the ball on the heavy this week and didn’t set aside the time to sit down and think critically about my staff pick. BUT I wanted to take a second to say that last night I discovered Hostages Of Ayatollah, an 80s German punk band. While doom scrolling stupid Instagram, a friend posted a link to one of their music videos and I had to inquire and investigate further. Perfect hooky and catchy hardcore punk. I feel like someone should have shown me this band a long time ago. At times it sounds like a California band like the Adolescents or the Circle Jerks, but from Germany in the 80s. Ya know that feeling when you discover a band you fall in love with and wonder where they’ve been the whole time? I’m feeling that pretty hard right now.

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hello Sorry Staters. Please allow me to pass on my compliments of the season to you. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukah and Happy Festivus.

There is so much going on as we approach the end of the year. Everyone, including us, is getting their Best Of 2020 list together of releases that got us excited. As the resident old person here at Sorry State, my tastes definitely lean towards music made in the twentieth century but as a modernist at heart, I try to keep pace with new shit too.

This week though I will have to revert to type and talk about old stuff again albeit in a different format than is typical for me: a cassette. I’m mostly a vinyl guy, but did grow up during the cassette era and had my Walkman and a boom-box. Tapes were mostly used to record albums from friends and the library and to make mixtapes. In the days of playlists and streaming etc. the art of the mixtape has slipped from popular culture somewhat. Thankfully there are people out there who know how to make a good one and are keeping the tradition alive. One such person is our own Seth here at Sorry State. The other week he made personalized mixtapes for us all and I must say I love the one he made for me. Not only for the selection of tracks but also for the individual artwork he constructed for the case. It looks great.

The key to making a great tape for someone is personalizing it for them specifically. Not that you necessarily put tracks on there that you know they like but you create an atmosphere and mood that they will enjoy. That’s definitely the case with the tape Seth made for me. I was familiar with some of the tracks but not most. I’ll be on the hunt for a couple of things now. I have listened to it several times since he gave it to me and during one playback I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out health insurance for next year when one particular song came on called Don’t Try To Cure Yourself by They Must Be Russians. It made me laugh out loud. I’ve actually DJ’d that track out a couple of times to mixed reactions. It’s a post punk era song about home curing an STD. I know hilarious, right? You can check it out here:

I don’t want to reveal too many of the tracks as I kind of like the idea that the tape was bespoke selected for myself but I have to applaud the inclusion of the likes of Elton Motello and a personal fave, O-Level. Their tune, Pseudo Punk is priceless and to be filed next to Part Time Punks by Television Personalities. Ed Ball is the man. Any project he touched is gold. Check it out:

Thanks Seth for a great mixtape.

Before I go and as we are talking about tapes I have to give special mention to the new ISS cassette. Talk about going all the way with the packaging. Check it out. Not only an awesome presentation but good tunes too. We are very lucky to have such talented people connected with us here at SSR. I feel honoured every day to be working here.

Peace out everyone. Make someone a mixtape for Christmas.

-Dom

Staff Picks: Usman

This band is amazing. I think I already know this LP will be my favorite of 2021. I have the privilege of having the songs on my computer and I have played the hell out of them, like repeatedly, side after side. Making an LP thats stays compelling for the entire record is not easy in the punk world. 7"s are a different ball game. I think I have wayyy more 7"s than 12"s in my collection. Anyway, this tape hasn’t been officially released yet but it will be soon! It is 3 tracks from the upcoming 10-track LP on Sorry State. If you keep up with my staff picks, you probably know I am a sucker for “classic” sounding shit, or just shit that’s clearly Discharge worship (yeah I’m boring and closed-minded.) Golpe is not that; they sound modern as hell, but in the absolute best way. The slow parts are not tough, and the fast parts feel like I’m on a roller coaster clinging for my life. This band Golpe is actually just one person named Tadzio. He is a sweetheart. His previous band (it wasn’t a solo project, but his baby you could say) was called Komplott. I am obsessed with their record. It is similar to Golpe in a way, but it is much more straight-forward and “raw” sounding. I will include a link at the bottom. If you haven’t heard it, you should check it out. I don’t have much else to say except listen to this bandcamp link and keep yer eyes peeled for the promo cassette! It will be released soon with another Sorry State release from North Carolina’s Tetanus. If yer reading this, I hope yer doing well… and I hope this vaccine thing works out for us all. We can make up for all the bummer shit of 2020 soon. Keep yer bubble tight till then and stay safe ya’ll.

https://golpepunx.bandcamp.com/album/promo-2020

https://komplott.bandcamp.com/album/sei-vivo-sei-morto-a-nessuno-importa

Staff Picks: Rachel

Tales From Beyond the Pale: The Town That’s Not There & Simon is Hiding

Sort of going with a theme, I guess. I’m just a sucker for spooky stories! I talked about an old record with my last staff pick, so I felt it was fitting to write about a modern version of a scary story record.

Tales From Beyond the Pale is IT when it comes to this. I have two releases from them and both are just fucking perfection. I had a hard time deciding which one to write about today, but chose this 7” because I love Sam Heimer’s artwork and more than spooky shit, I love old read-a-long records. I can’t feel nostalgic for something I wasn’t alive for, but seeing a modernized version makes me so happy. This has all of the vibes of my favorite Scary Stories cassettes mixed with records similar to what I wrote about last week.

Somehow, TFBTP, amped it up from those references. The sound design is top notch and, even though you can’t see anything, the noises combined with the narrator is enough to make your spine tingle. It stands alone as a great piece of media without the little read along booklet. I first listened to it before cracking that open and after a few listens, seeing Sam Heimer’s art brings the stories alive and adds even more creepy.

I love both sides, but "Simon is Hiding" is probably my favorite. It plays on the trope of "someone is following me," enhanced by (of course) the sound design. They created a new cryptid with this poem. A pumpkin-headed creature that represents way more than just a scary story...you'll just have to listen to see what I mean.

I dug for a while and couldn’t find any recordings online so I guess you’ll just have to hope someone on Discogs is selling their copy (sorry not sorry, I can't part with either copy I have)! In the meantime, check out Sam Heimer and Tales From Beyond the Pale’s instagrams for top notch content. If you feel more at home in October than any other time of the year, this is the release for you.

Staff Picks: December 10th 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Special Interest: Street Pulse Beat (Boy Harsher Remix)

This week at Sorry State we started discussing our Best of 2020 lists, so I’ve been thinking about all the great albums that have come out this year. Near the top of that list is Special Interest’s The Passion of, which I encourage you to check out if you haven’t already. However, this week’s staff pick is something I noticed drop on bandcamp last week: a Boy Harsher remix of “Street Pulse Beat,” one of the standout tracks from The Passion of.

I don’t know if I’ve written about them for Sorry State, but I love Boy Harsher and listen to them all the time. They’re a popular group so you might have heard them already, but if you haven’t, they play dance-oriented darkwave / EBM that everyone from punks to indie kids to electronic nerds seems to love. We try to keep their full-lengths in stock at Sorry State, but I’m sure you can check them out on any number of channels.

The darkwave sound that is Boy Harsher’s specialty is also a big element of Special Interest’s sound, though Special Interest is messier, noisier, and more eclectic. While The Passion of has some big vocal hooks, the gritty sound oforces the listener to work to hear them. Boy Harsher gives “Street Pulse Beat” an entirely new backing track that sounds like something lifted straight out of their catalog, so on this version Special Interest’s incredible vocals get to be the star of the show. Boy Harsher’s own vocals tend to be layered in effects and sit back in the mix, so this isn’t a case of one group making another’s song better, but rather two groups bringing their strengths to the table and something really magical happening.

You can head over to Special Interest’s bandcamp to buy the track, which is part of a 12-track remix album that sees an impressive mix of underground producers tackling tracks from The Passion of. There’s even an old school 12” maxi-single available that features the Boy Harsher remix if you need to get it on wax for your next DJ night.  

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

Chances are that if you were to type the phrase “Vixen metal band” into a Google search, your results would overwhelmingly relate to the pop/hair metal band from the late 80s. I like “Edge of a Broken Heart” as much as the next guy, but did you know that there was another metal band called Vixen from several years prior? Maybe if you were to ask well-versed metal enthusiasts about this band, they’d respond “Duh,” but I had no idea this band existed.

So this older band isn’t all women like the late-80s group, but they are still fronted by a girl singer. The band released other records under different monikers and lineups, but this is the only release under the name “Vixen” with vocalist Kim La Chance singing. Before changing their name to Vixen, the band went by Aloha, which GET THIS: they’re a metal band from Hawaii of all places. The band later even released a couple LPs under the band name Hawaii. Crazy... and it gets crazier: while I was listening, I was particularly amazed by the insanely great guitar work on this recording. Turns out, the guitarist in this band is a young Marty Friedman who would later play with Megadeth!

This record was originally released in 1983 as a 5-song single-sided 12” on Azra Records, an indie label that put out a lot of great lesser-known metal from the early-to-mid 80s. Not unlike many of the bands on Azra, Vixen basically sounds like early speed metal, kinda similar to bands like Jag Panzer or Exciter. There are a couple of fast songs with double kick drum, but we’re by no means talking thrash territory. The recording is super raw and unpolished, which for me adds to the charm. Even so, you can tell all the members are incredible musicians. Even for being so early in his career, Marty Friedman shreds all over this record—usually in very long dual-harmonized guitar lead flourishes. There’s so much killer lead playing that in the 5 tracks on this record, only 3 of them have vocals. The first song and the closer are all instrumental with tons of guitar wankery.

While the delivery of the music has intensity and attitude, the vocals are super melodic—borderline classical music at times. There’s this moment in the track “Living In Sin” where it breaks down to nothing but a capella vocals, and the singer does this high-pitched section of “ah-ahs” that literally sounds like a soundbite from an opera. At first thought this is cheesy, but they make up for it with badass metal lyrics about demonic sacrifice m/

Sorry State just got in this reissue on Nuclear War Now!, which is not single-sided. Instead, the B-side has compilation tracks and demo versions of some songs which date all the way back to 1981. If you’re a denim-and-leather-clad speed metal freak and were convinced that the only band called Vixen just plays soft pop-metal, then you NEED to hear this record.

I feel like if you had to hear one track, I’d jam “Living in Sin”, but I just suggest getting the full experience and taking it all in at once:

As always, thanks for reading,

-Jeff

Staff Picks: Eric

Terminal Bliss - LP (forthcoming)

The brand new band Terminal Bliss just released two songs on their bandcamp this past week that grabbed my attention. Although this band may be new, the members have been around for over twenty years in Virginia creating wild and extreme music. Featuring members of Pg. 99, Darkest Hour, and City of Caterpillar (just to name a few), these two chaotic punk anthems are fast, pissed, and (at least for me) a bit nostalgic.

I’ve always tried my best to keep up with what Mike (guitar) and Chris Taylor (vocals) are up to, because it seems like everything they touch is unique and inspiring to me. I’ve loved everything those brothers have done from Pg. 99 to Malady to Haram (the northern Virginia band from like 15 years ago, not the contemporary punk band from NYC) to Mannequin to Pygmylush. And I’m stoked I get to add Terminal Bliss to my list.

So far these two tracks remind me of what the “loud” Pygmylush songs sound like. They’re very short, spastic and chaotic. I kinda hate using the term “chaotic;” it makes me think of some bad swoopy hair screamo or some shit. But ionno, right now it feels like the right way to describe it!

What makes these doings different than Pygmylush songs is how much heavier they are; you can tell they have matured and are taking more influence from crust and noisy dbeat hardcore.

Although the sound may be different, you can still tell instantly this is a Taylor brothers’ band. Chris’ vocals are the same borderline scream/melodic shriek that I loved in Pygmylush, Malady, and Pg. 99, and his delivery is unique to the niche style he has carved out for himself. Moreover, Mike’s riffs are another aspect of the group that is unique and I can usually recognize them when I hear them.

Maybe I grew up in Northern Virginia and I am just a nerd for this kind of shit, or maybe it just kicks ass. It’s like you can hear the sounds of Virginia heavy music just oozing out of it and I fucking dig it. Their LP is coming out on Relapse soon, and I can’t wait to hear it. In the meantime, check out these tracks:

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hey there everyone in Sorry State Land. I hope the world is treating you right?  

Last week I dipped into some 45s we got in and highlighted a few I enjoyed. Hopefully some of you did too? We have some great sevens of all descriptions in the store so please take a look if you visit and for those hungry for more, ask to look in the several boxes we have in the back. Those of you not living local may want to check our Discogs store also, as we have a lot of singles listed there with plenty of bargains.

This week I am going to stay with the seven-inch format and tell you about a cool 45 that I recently received in the mail.

Brute Force: Nobody Knows b/w King Of Fuh. Apple/Ace. 1969/2020

Brute Force was the pseudonym and stage name for American musician Stephen Friedland. Interested in music from a young age, he found his way to New York City and began writing songs and playing on sessions. Eventually he wound up writing for The Tokens and playing keyboards and guitar with them. He worked for RCA and then BT Puppy as a writer and the B-side of this single I am talking about today was a minor hit for The Chiffons under the full title “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On In My Mind But Me.” In 1967 he wrote and recorded an album for Columbia titled I, Brute Force: Confections Of Love which is an interesting Pop-Psych record with a sense of humour. It didn’t sell too well at the time and although nowadays you can find a copy online for around $25, for a while it was tough scoring a copy. In 1968, he recorded a tune with The Tokens about a king who lived in a mythical land called Fuh. When the lyrics are sung, they make the Fuh King sound like something else. As a result, the Tokens knew BT Puppy wouldn’t release the record but through connections between The Beatles manager Brian Epstein and Nat Weiss, the manager of a friend’s band called The Cyrkle, the song made its way to George Harrison and John Lennon, who both liked it. Harrison assisted with some overdubs and the record ended up coming out in the UK only on Apple, awarded the catalogue number Apple 8. It had a small run of about a thousand copies, although this number is debated, many saying less and some more. As a result, it became the rarest Apple record and for a good while an original copy would set you back hundreds, then thousands of dollars more recently. Friedland managed to reissue the song later on his own label, albeit with a different B-side, Tapeworm Of Love. Naturally, such a desirable record got bootlegged, so there are copies out there.

Thankfully, Ace Records in the U.K. have reissued the single and you don’t have to break the bank to get a copy. I was particularly pleased getting my copy as it came signed by Brute Force himself. My friend, Chaim O’Brien-Blumenthal, up in New York is a writer and music enthusiast and last year had a great interview with Brute Force and an article published in Ugly Things magazine—a fantastic resource for wild sounds from past dimensions. He had several copies of the single signed for friends and also sent me a copy of the magazine plus a signed photo of Brute Force too. Brilliant. Many thanks to him.

As for the tunes? Honestly, the novelty factor of King Of Fuh is cool and funny but the tune itself is a simple keyboard and Mellotron led ditty with not too much going on musically other than the lyrics. However, It is a song we might relate to given the past four years of rule under our current “King”. For me, the B-side is much more entertaining, a real song and certainly one of the more interesting titles given to The Chiffons. The version Brute Force recorded for himself is a nice piece of Pop-Psych, again keyboard and Mellotron led with a decent backbeat and guitar stabs and sound effects added by crinkling the cellophane wrapper off of a packet of Kools. Taken right out of the Paul McCartney chewing on celery for The Beach Boys book of sound effects.  

I’ll be the first to admit that the high collector’s price attributed to the original single is more down to it being on Apple than the musical quality, but it’s still a nifty little 45 and a fun listen. The whole Brute Force story is an interesting tale and I encourage fans of obscure sixties artists to read further. The Ugly Things story is excellent and, as always, the internet will provide you with plenty of information and answers. I’ll leave links to the two sides for you to check out.

Nobody Knows-

King Of Fuh-

Thanks for reading and I hope these dips into obscure non-punk sounding records interest you out there? Everything is connected, and nothing comes out of a void. There’s almost a hundred years of popular music out there on records to discover and enjoy, and connecting the dots between songs and styles and artists and their influences is a fun way to spend your time. Never stop digging. Until next time.

-Dom

Staff Picks: Usman

I remember when this record came out, but I dropped the ball on grabbing one. I was window shopping on discogs last week and saw End Of An Ear had this 12” and a Languid 7" for a great price, so I smashed that metaphorical window and made the purchase. I hate the collector mentality of a lot of sellers on discogs, but I’ve still bought hundreds of records on there since 2012. Aside from the rip-off attitudes a lot of dickheads have on there, it’s a vast database of knowledge that I reference daily. One of my favorite features is that almost every text is a clickable link; I discover a lot of interesting shit cos of this. Anyway, soon after I bought the record Daniel asked me to help him put in a wholesale order from Konton Crasher. So, we have a huge shipment soon to be on the way where we’ll be re-stocking all the Konton Crasher titles that have been sold-out on our webstore PLUS almost every single other title they have released, including this hot ass Mueco slab.

To me, the Mueco vibe is somewhere between Framtid and Doom. The sound reminds me of some of my all-time favorite Japanese bands like Crocodileskink, Abraham Cross, and Collapse Society. The sound is perfect; it’s so harsh and unrelenting. I wish I had more records like this one; it is a record I can flip endlessly and not get tired of the songs. It’s the kind of record that I turn the volume knob louder and louder as I listen cos I literally cannot get enough, to the point my receiver can’t handle the intensity and shuts off from over-heating haha. Mueco is a three-piece from Canada. Being a compelling three-piece band is no easy feat. To not only maintain the instruments staying locked in together, but also singing in another rhythm and simultaneously play yer instrument on top of it blows my fucking mind. The drums are mixed so well, and the snare drum sounds killer. I think getting a good snare sound is one of the hardest elements of recording a band. I have never recorded a band, but I form this opinion by having been recorded a fair amount on drums and working with Jeff on his mixes. And by working, I mean him playing me mix after mix and trying to make words to explain how I think it should change. I don’t know a thing about recording. But one important thing (of many) I’ve learned from Jeff about mixing is that you must make “space” for all the sounds that are happening. If something isn’t “loud” enough, it doesn’t mean you just turn the volume up on that mic. It means you have to take another sonic element, and tone it down/move it around on the stereo spectrum in order to make space for what you can’t hear.

I’ve been busy and my mind has been preoccupied so I will stop writing here. If yer reading this, I hope you are doing alright, and thank you for reading. I was doing okay for the first 7/8 months of the quarantine, but I am wearing thin now, and fast. I miss hanging out. I miss gigs. I miss my family. I am grateful for this job at Sorry State, and very grateful to have Scarecrow staying productive regardless of the pandemic. We are almost done recording for an EP to be released in 2021 and have even begun working on even newer material. I am lucky to have such good friends as bandmates and co-workers. Without that, I think I would have nothing to keep me going.

Staff Picks: December 3, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

What Had Happened Was podcast (2020)

https://starburns.audio/podcasts/what-had-happened-was/

Last Sunday my buddy Bobby from Vinyl Conflict came down to Raleigh, and we got to hang out for a few hours. The weather was pleasant so after he shopped at Sorry State we had lunch in the park and then went over to the cat cafe and hung out with SSR alumnus Seth. It was almost like a normal ass pre-pandemic day!

At some point we were all talking about podcasts we listen to and Bobby recommended this podcast, in which rapper Open Mike Eagle sits down with producer Prince Paul. I didn’t know Prince Paul’s name off hand, but he’s been a producer for a very long time, his credits including the first three De La Soul albums, Gravediggaz (a group he put together), Handsome Boy Modeling School, and many other projects along the way. His career has encompassed many eras of rap music, and it’s awesome to hear from an elder statesman who has seen so much change and has a big-picture perspective on the genre’s history.

The podcast is just one season, and in each episode Open Mike Eagle discusses some topic or aspect of Prince Paul’s career with the man himself. I’m sure Prince Paul’s career would be an interesting topic for any podcast, but where What Had Happened Was shines is in the depth and candor of these conversations. Rather than the normal press junket interview in which the interviewee has an agenda (usually promoting their latest project), Prince Paul gets into the dirt on this podcast. He seems like a jovial, level-headed person, so it’s not about assigning blame or settling scores, but explaining how the sausage gets made. And that is fascinating to me. I haven’t listened to all the episodes, but the conversations I’ve checked out so far have been fascinating. For instance, in the episode on Gravediggaz, Open Mike and Prince Paul discuss how Paul had the idea for Gravediggaz and how he put the group together, shopped it around to labels, got them a deal, shepherded the project through the first album and subsequent tour, and then relinquished some of that control after (all of which were complicated by various factors, including the runaway success of RZA’s other group Wu-Tang Clan).

The podcast has strong sound and music clips from whatever they’re discussing, so they’re able to set the scene better than podcasts that can’t include music because of licensing restrictions. If you’re a fan Prince Paul I can’t recommend this enough, but even if you aren’t interested in the actual music, this podcast is a fascinating window into how one segment of the music industry works.

Staff Picks: Eric

Kaleidoscope: Decolonization 7” (D4MT Labs)

What’s crackin’, friends? I haven’t had a staff pick in a couple weeks and I have no real excuse for that aside from laziness, anxiety and the existential pain of existence. But that’s not to say there hasn’t been tons of great stuff coming out! I know I’m about a month late and some of my associates have already spoken highly of this release, but I figure I might as well drive it home.

I love Kaleidoscope. I can’t think of another band in the modern landscape of punk pushing the envelope and creating truly original content like they do. What makes Kaleidoscope unique to me is that you can hear how much influence they take from psych, kraut, and classic rock n roll while still being undeniably punk. Two of the most stand out things to me are the drums and the vocal patterns. The drums are always grooving in rhythmic ways that (as a drummer myself) make my jaw drop. The vocals are delivered in a way that feels like an urgent declaration of truth and wisdom, like slam poetry but in the least lame way possible.

I’m not sure if many people know this, but these three dudes all live together in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, which means they are constantly working and creating together. Keep your eye D4MT Labs (their label) because they are always churning out the most interesting and refreshing art and music.

Also my band Public Acid just released an EP this week check it out :3

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hello dear Sorry State readers. We are back after the holiday and in full swing here with cool stuff coming in at us from all angles. The Black Friday Record Store Day releases had some cool titles to round out the year of RSD releases and we have been buying a lot of cool and varied collections, big and small, which we are constantly processing. One such collection was a box of 45 rpm 7” singles which I have just finished going through and it has yielded some interesting titles.

The collection was predominantly pop from the sixties and early seventies and although some were without sleeves and damaged or just not good titles, there was a good handful that were promo copies and in company sleeves. These tunes all seemed to have been released between 1968 and 1972, with most coming from 1969. That was an interesting period in music and as someone who was newly born to the world then, I feel an affinity to that time period. That place in time was also when the 45 rpm single still ruled, and when record labels would take chances and release a single by obscure artists to test the waters for a potential album down the line. As I went over the records I recognized the labels and some artists but was surprised by how many I didn’t know and also very pleasantly surprised when some of these records turned out to be good. I loved seeing the company sleeves and either white or different colour labels of the promo copies and also I love getting a stereo and mono version of songs although you sometimes miss out on a cool B-side by having two versions of the same song. A lot of these records are not particularly valuable, but there are one or two rare ones in there, particularly the soul titles.

I picked out a few I liked for my picks this week and hope you find them as enjoyable as I do. I left out the big-ticket items and more obvious soul/funk and psych winners and went for the odd and more poppy end of things instead and stuff that meant something to me as I listened and that I connected to.

First off, Headstrong: Ode To A Heffalump. Amos Records Inc. 1969.

This is a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t know too much about who the artist is although I suspect there may be a recognizable name connected to the record. It’s on the Amos label which among other acts had Longbranch Pennywhistle, who were the pre Eagles band of Glenn Frey. There was a copy of one of their singles in the collection. This tune, as the title infers, is inspired by The World Of Pooh. I am a big Winnie-The-Pooh fan and have been since childhood when I got the book for a present one year. I still have it. It’s beautiful with the original illustrations, some in full colour. So discovering a song dedicated to a Heffalump spoke to me. I love how the song injects the loud guitar towards the end, turning a simple pop tune into something almost psychedelic. A great find and interesting comparing the two mixes. I like both, but the mono wins for how the guitar punches harder at the end.

Next up, Thomas & Richard Frost: Gotta Find a New Place To Stay. Imperial. 1969.

I was aware of these two brothers from a CD which collected their unreleased album Visualize from 1969 that would have come out on Imperial if the label hadn’t folded under the ownership of Liberty/UA. This track was one of two singles from that album that got released. It’s a great pop-psych track recorded in L.A. with a lot of the top session players of that time. The brothers had been active throughout the sixties and most notably were in the Anglophile Mod band Powder and also the Art Collection who released the great garage track Kick Me (I Think I’m Dreaming). As Thomas & Richard Frost they went for the orchestrated pop of the likes of early The Bee Gees and Scott Walker. Gotta Find A New Place To Stay is a perfect mini opera on 45, albeit a little dark with less than sunshiny lyrics and mood than earlier single She’s Got Love https://youtu.be/lBeGEF6w2hM

I like both ends of their oeuvre and also recommend checking out the Powder record.

Moving along now to an odd one by Dick Clark: The Day The Children Died. Liberty. 1969.

https://youtu.be/ark0x5TDAU

Yes, the same Dick Clark of American Bandstand and beloved DJ/Host of a generation. On this track, our Dick lays down a spoken word poem against war over a sparse backing that kinda gets psychy underneath. I dig it. Years ago in Miami, I met Dick Clark at a restaurant he was opening. He was as charming and humble as you would expect and signed an old Life magazine I was holding that had an old photo of him in it. Anyway, this track is right on and sadly still holds true today.

Keeping the anti-war vibe going was Tarantula: Love Is For Peace. A&M. 1969.

These guys were a jazz-rock group from California who released one album on A&M. I couldn’t find a clip of the single edit which cuts the track in half but here’s the full album version. The single clips a little of the intro and fades out during the freak-out section. I have only seen the album once before in the wild, and it goes for decent money. Worth picking up as there are some other good tracks on the record with a Zappa like and/or Soft Machine vibe to them.

To round things off, here’s a track I bought years ago which has had me keeping an eye out for their two LPs. It’s The Carolyn Hester Coalition: Magic Man. Metromedia. 1968.

The self-titled debut and follow up Magazine are great pop-psych records in an acid folk style which have still eluded me in my record digging. I have contented myself with the CD versions up to now. If you like groups like The Poppy Family, you will most likely dig these two records.

Okay then, that’s all for now. I hope some of you find these diversions into worlds other than punk enjoyable? Let me know if any of these hit the spot for you. Those local to our store should pop in and look over the rest of the great 45s from this collection. We’ll put up a social media post as a reminder and show the other singles in due course. Thank you for reading and never stop digging. See you next time.

Staff Picks: Usman

Vivisected Numbskulls are back with another instant classic! This contemporary band from the States has managed to execute an almost perfect authentic UK82 sound. I lost my mind with their debut cassette and have been anticipating this follow-up release since! The drums are a bit more crisp and clear on this tape compared to the previous tape, but it doesn’t take away from that “old cassette” feel. Down to the packaging and layout of the j-card, this tape looks like an 80’s release. The band (which is one person) knows what they are doing, and they are doing it fucking well. The previous cassette walked the line with a bit of a “tough” vibe, which to me is an obvious sign of a modern band. However, on this tape I think they stay a safe distance from that line, making it sound even more classic! The guitar solos sound less like the solos on the early Cimex recordings, pushing the songs even more into the realm of UK82. I don’t mean the way he plays the solos, but the literal sound of the guitar during the solos. I don’t know why I am such a sucker for bands that sound old. I don’t dislike a nice polished, modern recording, hence my other pick...

Fuck, I feel like I just heard the debut Lockheed EP just the other day, I wasn’t expecting to get my fuckin’ wig blown off so soon again!!! They deliver 3 songs seamlessly on their side of the split. And I mean it, these songs blend so well that if yer not intently listening, you may not even notice the change. Don’t misinterpret that “seamlessness” for boring riffs that all sound the same, though. The buzzsaw guitar riffs keep a’move on the fret board, complimenting the drummer’s perfect groove. Maybe I said that last time? Even when the band plays fast, the drummer stays in the cut which causes the listener to head bang. To play fast while maintaining a nice, tight but groovy bounce between the kick and snare drum is like gramma’s secret recipe for a perfect D-beat. Discharge-beat was all about that groove. I see ya’ll drummers out there tryna D-beat, but some of you play what I call “cheap beat” and the other some play so damn rigid the D has lost its groove. I’m not tryna talk too much shit though, I am not that great of a drummer myself haha, but you might find yerself caught up in the D-hole if yer fuckin’ with me and my bands. (Shout-out to Chubb for coining the term D-hole, during our band together where I drummed called Louse.) The Affect side is cool, they are from Sweden. I’m not gunna act like I didn’t grab this EP cos of Löckheed though.



Staff Picks: Rachel

GREAT GHOST STORIES

I think I’ve already said this, but I love the snapshot into media history you get from records. Kids now are growing up on r/creepypasta and I grew up on cassettes of ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark;’ anything before that was a mystery to me until I started collecting records. I think seeing how scary stories were passed down through my friends’ kids has made me realize that my memories of sharing stories while holding a flashlight under my chin won’t be something that every generation has. What memories do the scary story records hold for the people that grew up with them?

I started collecting records when I lived in Savannah, and I was SO LUCKY to have Graveface Records two blocks from my house. I found many spoken word records, and I gravitated towards the spooky Halloween ones. I’ve been picking up story-based records ever since. The spoken word/oddball/comedy sections are some of my favorites in record stores! Even if I don’t pick something up, flipping through those bins tells me what entertainment was like when the records came out.

I picked this record to write about because it’s my most recent acquisition (I got it on my second shift at the store; I love/hate working at record stores) and because listening to it made me so fucking happy. I’d heard these stories before. This record from 1973 had stories that stood the test of time and were told around a campfire at my weird Jewish summer camp. Details had been changed of course; that’s the nature of oral history. I realized that I’d also heard snippets of these stories more recently; the kids I get to be around aren’t losing what I had; it’s just evolving.

Staff Picks: November 26, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Bill Evans: Alone (Again) LP (Fantasy, 1977)

I often listen to jazz pianist Bill Evans when I’m winding down or drifting off to sleep at night, but I didn’t own any of his music on vinyl. I’d been waiting for some to roll through the store—most of his records aren’t particularly rare—and this week it happened. When I listen digitally I reach for 1974’s Symbiosis or 1973’s Conversations with Myself and we didn’t get in either of those, but I did snag this 1977 album Alone (Again), a solo piano record in which he revisits the conceit of his well regarded 1970 LP Alone.

One thing I love in jazz is when musicians take a melody and twist it and turn it inside out, exploring how it works and remaking it into something else in real time. I suppose that’s the soul of jazz, taking an existing framework and making it your own. The classic formula is that the band starts with a main theme, then the players take turns soloing, exploring what makes the song, what it offers, and what its limits might be.

Usually in this arrangement the rhythm section holds down the main rhythm and/or chord progression while the soloists do their thing, but a solo pianist has no such luxury… all Bill Evans has is his two hands. His style is so ornate and busy that each tune’s skeleton seems to dissolve as soon as the song starts. When I’m listening to this record, I’m often unable to pull out anything I’d call a tune or a main melody. Instead, it sounds like a flurry of notes, and even though I can’t make conventional sense of those notes, it still sounds beautiful. I often see the word “complexity” thrown around when people discuss Bill Evans’ music. Paradoxically, the overwhelming complexity simplifies my listening. It’s like my brain gives up any hopes of “understanding” the music, instead sending me to a Zen headspace where I just live in the moment and enjoy the sound.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

Have you ever had the thing happen when you would ask someone about if they like a certain band, and the person would reply, “Yeah, but only their early stuff.” I think over time, my friends and I would make fun of this cliché. With punk nerd-dom evolving, this response eventually devolved into, “Yeah, but only the demo.” Pretty silly. But funny enough, I guess in some cases I do fall into this category, because for my staff pick this week, I would personally argue that the demo does sometimes happen to be a band’s best material. Prime example: the 1984 demo by Sudden Impact, which was reissued by Supreme Echo Records.

I know both Usman and I have mentioned these dudes in our staff picks before: I remember early on when I first met Chris and Michael Hardy (we affectionately refer to them as the Hardy Boys), Michael dubbed me a cassette with a 1983 COC live recording on the A side and the Sudden Impact demo on the B side. At the time, I’d never heard Sudden Impact, but a glowing endorsement from the Hardys goes a long way with me. I would play that tape constantly. Whenever I’d listen to the Sudden Impact side, I would always be enamored with how much I thought it ripped. While the band is from Toronto, listening to the demo, I feel a definite kinship with Sudden Impact and the bands that had that skate rock vibe that I normally associate with the Nardcore and Mystic Records scene. After some detective work, I found out that this demo had never been reissued – much less, was definitely never repurposed on vinyl. Now, don’t get me wrong, Sudden Impact’s 1986 LP No Rest From the Wicked is by no means a bad record, but I guess I was a little disappointed after my introduction to the band was their ripping and much more brief early recording. Sometimes 13 minutes and raw production is about all you need from a hardcore band. There’s just something about the looseness, intensity and speed of the demo that they just nailed right off the bat. Plus, a couple guitar squeals and divebombs that hint at the oncoming thrash wave.

Again, saying that a band’s demo is “better” is kind of ridiculous. That said, I know many of my fellow HCPMFs would agree with me. I feel like the Sudden Impact demo tape specifically is thrown out as a lost 80s hardcore ripper you need to hear. And if you’re gonna hear this recording, this reissue is the way to experience it because it’s a “deluxe” edition with a thick-ass booklet including liner notes, interviews, flyers, and photos of the band. Pretty sick.

Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention how killer the new Public Acid record is. I got to have some fun hearing early mixes of the record that Chubb would play for me here at the store sometimes, but now holding and hearing the finished product, it’s one of those releases that just makes you go, “Holy shit.” Crushing.

That’s it for me this week.

Thanks for reading,
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hello everyone in Sorry State Land. A very happy Thanksgiving to you all. It’s probably not quite how we all wanted to celebrate the holidays, still in the middle of a pandemic and not being able to be with our families but by this point of 2020 we all should be used to the bizarre being the normal.

This week for my recommended listening I wanted to chose something that felt familiar and uplifting and not too dark. I’ve mentioned before my love of soundtracks and how they are great for mood music and for getting tunes that you can’t find anywhere else, so this week I would like to point you towards another one of my favorites.
 
Willie Hutch: Foxy Brown. Motown. 1974
 
I had the CD version of this playing in the car recently and was enjoying it so much that I kept it repeating for several back to back plays. There is a lot to like here. Firstly, the artist Willie Hutch is someone that you should be aware of.   Active as an artist since the mid sixties, he scored several hits during the seventies for himself and other acts on Motown, starting with I’ll Be There for The Jackson 5. In 1973 he hit big with the score to another great Blaxploitation movie, The Mack. That soundtrack included the songs Slick and Brother’s Gonna Work It Out, the latter being a hip-hop sample staple. On the back of that success he was handled the task of scoring the music for Foxy Brown the following year. It’s a triumph and is so much more than a mere soundtrack. The film itself is legendary, mostly due to the incredible star power of Pam Grier who plays the title character but also because it is a good movie. The music matches the scenes and the action superbly. However, the mark of a great piece of soundtrack music is that you can listen to it and enjoy with out having seen the film necessarily. This is definitely one of those. Hutch doesn’t pull any surprise moves here, it’s a soul and funk record all the way and if released as an independent album would surely have been just as popular and successful. The theme song and a couple of other tunes from the record did make it on to various 45 releases but for me the best cuts are exclusive to the record and they make it worth picking up a copy. I particularly like the songs Out There and Ain’t That (Mellow, Mellow), the latter being such a great good vibes tune that reminds me a bit of the William DeVaughn hit Be Thankful For What You Got.

Also of note are the terrific backing vocals on the album, supplied by Maxine and Julia Waters and Carolyn Willis. These ladies have backed up countless artists and Willis was part of the awesome Honey Cone girl group. Those of you familiar with the modern artist Michael Kiwanuka will find some similarities here I think with how he utilizes female backing voices in his songs. There is definitely some similarity in my opinion and that’s a good thing.

Lastly, if any you needed any other reason why owning a copy of this record is a good thing, just take a look at the cover. It’s Pam Grier. Do I need to say anything else?

Here are the two tunes that I mentioned above to whet your appetite and I certainly encourage you to listen to the whole album whether you know it or not. You’ll feel better for doing so, trust me.
 
Out There
https://youtu.be/ceRmFYl5vW8
 
Ain’t That (Mellow, Mellow)
https://youtu.be/4kYs8H6nkiA
 
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you all next week. Ta-ra for now.
-Dom



Staff Picks: Usman

PUBLIC ACID Condemnation EP (Beach Impediment #49)

Mark who does Beach Impediment has the ability to release killer shit seemingly non-stop. La Vida is a similar type of label to my ears (on a slightly larger scale I guess). I've been anticipating this EP's release for a minute, hell I've even hounded Public Acid to bless my label with Jeff with a Public Acid release. Unfortunately we never got a bite. Anyway, this is a killer record. I'm sure every single person reading this right now has heard it already, and hopefully grabbed a copy. This band is so good, they blow the fucking doors off live. Good luck if yer band plays with them cos yer gunna sound like shit compared to their relentless intensity. Yer lil' amp wont stand a chance to Kai's full stack of cabs. And they're not the kind of band where the guitar is loud as fuck and you cant hear the drums, Chubb hits hard as fuck. Alright so I'm not gunna talk about the EP much, buy it from us or Beach Impediment if you haven't or kick yerself later.

"Public Acid" started as a band back in 2012, as Holder's Scar from Greensboro, NC. The line-up has changed a fair amount with the name change, but in a sense it is the same band to me. When the band started, it was Mikey on guitar, Justin on bass, Marty doing vocals with Chubb on the drums (who are both still in the band). After a few years Mikey was no longer in the band, and T-Bone, who had moved to Greenboro a few years after the band formed, took over guitar duties. He lives in Charlotte now and plays guitar in Mutant Strain. He gigged for a while with Holder's Scar. After he stopped, Jeff (from Sorry State) filled in on guitar for a tour to that big ass fest in Austin. After the tour, eventually Kai took over on the guitar, who lived in Chapel Hill at the time. At this point the band changed their name to Public Acid. The second to last release Holder's Scar had was called Public Acid and the final release was No Witness. Almost all these songs you can find re-recorded on Public Acid's debut 12" Easy Weapons. Justin moved to Richmond and soon after left Public Acid. Geoff (who was in Natural Causes) took over for a while. He lived in Chapel Hill at the time but moved to Germany for a while so they need someone new to take over. Will Jarrot from Richmond, VA ended up being their guy (Will Jarrot fucking rules.) 3/4 of the band lives in Richmond now, with Kai being the only North Carolinian left (she lives in Asheville.) I can't wait to hear what they do next. Every release they do is killer. Check out their earlier material if you are just now getting wind of the band. I leave you with a video of Holder's Scar playing live soon after they formed (I think their first show was 5 months before this footage.) So killer live. Yeah the style is little different, but if you listen close - you can hear what the future had in store for them.

Staff Picks: November 19, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Public Image, Ltd: Live in Tokyo LP (1983, Elektra)

This week I priced a used copy of this record and realized I’d never heard it, so I threw it on. I remember flipping past this one in used bins all the time in the pre-vinyl resurgence era, but given that my interest in PiL more or less stops after Flowers of Romance, the 1983 date on it made me assume this wasn’t worth listening to. If I knew more about the album, I’d have been even more scared, as John Lydon is the only key member left from the group’s golden era, with guitarist Keith Levene and bassist Jah Wobble absent from this recording. My light research tells me that Rotten drafted some “rock guys” into the band in order to pull off this gig, and people seem to view Live in Tokyo as a weak and sloppy interpretation of the band’s classic material.

A few months ago I watched the film The Public Image Is Rotten, which was one of the best rock documentaries I’ve ever seen. Like the Radio Birdman documentary, it’s a “warts and all” affair in which no one comes off smelling of roses. I was in the dark about PiL’s history, and the film shed some light on the band’s tumultuous story, which is tied up with Rotten’s sense of alienation after the Sex Pistols’ messy breakup and strong senses of paranoia, alienation, and anger that seem to have been with him throughout his life. Those must have been at a high ebb around the time of this gig.

Coming to Live in Tokyo with very low expectations, I enjoyed it. As you might expect, the instrumentation differs vastly from the album versions of these tracks. Jah Wobble’s booming, dub-influenced bass is replaced with a plonky, Talking Heads-y tone that leaves more room for the other instruments. The guitarist keeps Keith Levene’s chiming sound, but makes his parts more conventional and legible. It’s also interesting to hear material from PiL’s fourth album mixed in with the classics, particularly “This Is Not a Love Song,” which sounds right at home alongside “Annalisa” and “Flowers of Romance.” It sounds like a PiL cover band, but given that production is such a big part of PiL’s studio albums, it’s interesting to hear these songs de-weirded. Maybe it’s because I’m puzzled by it, but I’ve returned to this record several times since I first thew it on.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

I was thinking about this the other day: Over the course of 80s US hardcore releases, several bands have covered classic rock bands. Whether the intention was a genuine nod to the old rockers or to be totally tongue-in-cheek, I feel like a current band attempting this task now and doing it gracefully would be hard to pull off. Now, a few examples would be the Dicks’ version of “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix, The FU’s doing “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk (and I guess Verbal Abuse too for that matter…), Bl’ast doing “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, and I’d even lump in JFA doing faithful interpretations of old 60s surf standards. But one cover that stands out to me is Naked Hippy’s take on a KISS tune.

I hate to overuse this term, but I feel like Naked Hippy is one of those bands that is pretty “underrated” -- or at least they don’t get talked about very often. Around the Sorry State camp, they’re definitely considered a gem in part because we always talk about how much we think they kinda sound like Direct Control. Not only musically, but for whatever reason, the singer’s voice does kinda sound like Brandon to me. Are the dudes in Direct Control KISS fans? I don’t know.

Naked Hippy, for the way they sound, seem kinda late to the game with their LP coming out in 1989. By this point, KISS had already been doing records with no makeup and amping up the 80s hair band cheese of the era. Still, Naked Hippy decided to take a crack at a rendition of “Do You Love Me” off the 1976 album Destroyer.

For sure, it definitely seems to be a big joke. Especially when you’re hearing that intro with vocals over just drums saying “you like my seven-inch leather heels” and know that Paul Stanley is genuinely talking about his actual wardrobe on stage. But then, you hear Naked Hippy doing this song, and you just know the dude who sang for the band is probably just a suburban dude in jeans and a t-shirt. What’s cool about this cover is that while they kinda start at a steady tempo like the original, they do the chorus at a ripping pace that just sounds like the killer hardcore you’d find on the rest of Naked Hippy’s record. I can’t help but think to myself “I don’t care if this mean to be a joke, it rips.” Then again, this is also coming from a dude who has a soft spot for KISS. Also, funny side note: knowing KISS and how intense they are about merchandising and copyright, the song is titled “Love Song” on the Naked Hippy record, I assume because they were genuinely worried about legal action!

Unfortunately, there’s not a link with just this song on youtube, so here’s the link to the whole LP with a time stamp. Hope I did it right: https://youtu.be/AwTjewwxVFQ?t=1125

The whole LP is worth checking out if you’re not familiar. ALSO, if there's any crucial silly hardcore covers of old rock songs that are super weird or that I wouldn't know about, definitely hit me up and let me know!

Thanks for reading!
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

Greetings everyone in Sorry State Land. I hope that you are all dong okay?

This week my recommendation for your listening pleasure is a little different but hopefully an enjoyable one. It’s a Word Jazz album from the master of the genre and someone who whether you know his name or not, you probably have heard his voice at some point. I am referring to the late Ken Nordine. His deep voice was behind countless commercials from the mid 1950’s onward and he released a bunch of records featuring his distinctive voice over a cool jazz backing. His weekly radio show Word Jazz was broadcast for several decades.

The particular record that I love and want to highlight is the following:

Ken Nordine: Colors. Philips. 1966


I first became aware of this record through a CD reissue that came out in the 1990s and then later via the Welsh group Super Furry Animals who sampled a snatch of one part of Orange.

Before the internet and online selling it was quite a tough record to score as an original and it took me until just last year to finally find a copy in a store-still my preferred way to find and buy records.

The album itself began originally as a commission from the Fuller Paint Company for a series of radio advertisements but due to the popularity of the spots the concept was expanded and a full album with 34 different colors and hues being rapped about by Nordine over a cool jazzy background similar in feel to some of the exotica records made by Martin Denny. It’s a fun listen and you can pick out your faves based on your color preferences etc. To me, his voice is quite soothing and reminds me of listening to radio late at night back in the day. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you see it but definitely take a listen on line. I’ll provide a link below.

https://youtu.be/GPrfn8WwLqA

 
Ken Nordine passed away last year aged 98 and for those interested I’ll post a link to a NY Times obituary.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/obituaries/ken-nordine-dead.html

Staff Picks: Usman

Macrofarge / Euthanasia split 7" (MCR-024)

I wanted to write about the Doom "collectors" boxset, but that was already sold-out even before last week's newsletter. It's kind of funny how often stuff sells out from the newsletter before it's even released, but the highlights of the week for us here still need to be talked about even if they sold too quick. I dunno, I guess it's a good thing that people are scooping up new releases all the time, but also means you gotta keep up to date on yer own to know whats all coming out and coming in. This isn't some massive label with a bottomless budget where we can afford to stock a million copies of everything, so there are definitely some titles you gotta race to get sometimes. Daniel prices everything really fair in my opinion, especially the used titles. Sorry State was my favorite record store for years before I got a job here. There were times we'd be on tour and I wouldn't even care to look at the local shop cos I was so spoiled to have SSR in my city haha. One of my all-time favorite record stores (in the States) is Extreme Noise in Minneapolis. Everyone working is a volunteer, and every title has such an exact mark-up that all the records prices end in some odd number of cents. That shit is like a science, a beautiful balance. Punks putting in work for the sake of it needing to be done without need for monetary compensation, its beautiful. Records need to be made and distributed. How else will our culture survive? Our anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist principles are passed down through materialized goods. It seems weird to say something bought and sold could be anti-capitalist, but these are not "consumer goods." These are tools, tools that spread our ideologies of resistance and sometimes they can even network insurrectionary actions. I know not all punk bands are that political, but if you don't hate the fucking cops and prison system - what the fuck are you doing here? Like I said, records need to be distributed. Downloads are cool too, I guess. But nothing beats holding the record cover in one hand, while yer other hand is cranking that volume knob to maximum.

Anyway, I fucking love Macrofarge. I think they are an extremely "over-looked" band, and in my opinion everyone who doesn't know they exist should have the pleasure of checking them out. I remember the day I discovered them, it was through Disrupt. I was looking at the Smash Divisions EP cover, it's an illustration of three punks arm in arm while all of em are holding 40s (HELL YES). The one on the right side is wearing several patches, one of which was Macrofarge. I spotted two Swedish bands who I recognized and loved already, Crudity and Anti-Cimex, so I was really excited to check out Macrofarge. If I remember right, it was actually kind of difficult to find rips of their material at the time (it was before everything in the world was on Youtube), but I did end up finding some material on Soulseek. I played that shit for years before I could find any copies of their stuff for sale in the States. If you are patient you can find some compilations they appear on and the flexi I am writing about for fairly cheap, I just don't see them too often. I decided to write about Macrofarge cos to me their sound is somewhere between Doom and Bastard. Pummeling fast drumming with fairly straight-forward powerful guitar riffing, brought together with loud and semi-guttural vocals. Their Stop Your Nonsence demo has less of the Bastard vibe, while this flexi and their tracks on the I Will Take No Orders From Anyone!! compilation have this extra element of metallic insanity that reminds me a bit of Bastard. While I have the flexi pictured for this Staff Pick, I might enjoy their compilation tracks even more... It seems as though Macrofarge would only get better as time went on. I wish someone would release some type of compilation/discography of all their material. I would love to hear more stuff and learn some more about them. I don't have the new FLEX book yet, but maybe I will learn some new shit in there about the band! (p.s. We do have copies of the new volume on the way). I only have this 7" split and I Will Take No Orders From Anyone!!, but feel free to hit me up for a tape dub if you'd like. I have a few of those Doom boxsets for distro too (in.decay@yahoo.com). Thanks for reading, 'til next time...

Staff Picks: Rachel

GRAVEFACE MUSEUM PRESENTS- BEYOND HUMAN

These weekly staff picks have been getting me super nostalgic. I have stories attached to most of my vinyl collection and figuring out what to write about these past few weeks has brought back a ton of those memories. My first music industry related job was an internship for Graveface Records in Savannah, GA. I credit it to starting my record obsession.

The owner, Ryan, is probably the most hard working person I’ve ever witnessed and it made a huge impression on me. I helped pack Graveface releases surrounded by boxes and BOXES of shit. Record back stock, taxidermy, vintage halloween decorations, probably a lot of other weird stuff I couldn’t even imagine. Graveface Records was a small record store filled with oddities when I worked there. Although I haven’t been back in years, I see through social media that they’ve expanded their retail set up into what used to be the storage room I worked in, broadened their product line up to include anything a weirdo would ever want, and most impressively, Ryan Graveface continued the Graveface Records releases along with starting Terror Vision and having a constant stream of obscure horror movie soundtracks released on vinyl.

“Beyond Human” is a compilation of bands based in Savannah, GA singing about serial killers. Because, including everything I mentioned, Ryan has one of the most impressive true crime collections I’ve ever seen. He made this record to help raise money for the, now open, Graveface Museum. I’m convinced Ryan never sleeps because he now ALSO has this museum right in the tourist-y area of Savannah showcasing his insane collection. It also includes a retro horror-themed pinball arcade. You ever want to play pinball, buy a raccoon skull, and see the biggest John Wayne Gacey painting collection in the south? Graveface is the place.

This write up turned into a love letter to Graveface instead of talking about how freaking awesome the compilation is (because it is). That’s okay. I’ll talk about music next week, I promise.

Staff Picks: November 12, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Radioactivity: “The Last” (from their self-titled record, Dirtnap Records 2013)

If you read last week’s newsletter or keep a close eye on our social media, you might know that my friend and bandmate Osamu Sueyoshi passed away. This past week I helped choose some music for his memorial service. I needed about five minutes of music to go along with a photo slideshow. We knew we wanted a No Love song, and we ended up choosing “Dear Mrs. Nelson” from our demo because that’s the only No Love song for which Osamu wrote the words and the music. Osamu wrote the lyrics when he noticed the host of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (one of his favorite shows) was wearing a wedding band, so he wrote a love song about missing your wife while stranded with a bunch of robots watching movies. It’s pretty clever. No Love had long since disowned our demo-era material (we even turned off the tracks on our bandcamp page) because the band changed a lot after that period, moving away from pop-punk and more toward the punky, song-oriented hardcore where we ended up. I was a little nervous bout revisiting that material, but it surprised me how good it sounded. Osamu was a brilliant musician, and he wrote a perfect little pop song with a guitar hook at the beginning and a key change in the bridge. I even thought the recording sounded pretty good. It’s one of the last things I recorded myself, because by then other people like Jeff had gotten way better at recording than I was ever going to be.

Aside from the No Love song, I needed another track to fill up the five minutes, and I knew immediately that it was going to be “The Last” by Radioactivity. Radioactivity was an important band for No Love. We were all huge fans of the Marked Men, and when this record came out we were all playing it a lot. “The Last” is one of the standout tracks, and I remember whenever Radioactivity would come up, Osamu would just say “The Last” and look down and shake his head, like it astonished him that a song could be that good. Further, some of No Love’s last out of town shows were with Radioactivity and Night Birds, and that little weekend tour was hugely important to all of us (eternal thanks to Brian from Night Birds for inviting us!). I listened to a bunch of other potential songs, but doing so only made it clear how perfect “The Last” was. My partner Jet, who put together the slideshow, would burst into tears every time it played, which definitely slowed down the editing process.

Listening to “The Last” so much last week made me realize that I close myself off to letting music move me on an emotional level, which is strange because that’s the most important part of music for so many other people. I listen to so much music for Sorry State that I’ve developed this habit of checking something out, giving it enough attention to understand it on some level and slot it into (or outside or in between) a category, and then moving onto the next thing. When I listen to things over and over, it’s usually because the music is more complex or unfamiliar to me in a way that makes understanding it on that intellectual level more challenging.

However, “The Last” isn’t like that at all. It’s pure emotion and it hits me right in the gut every time. It’s so evocative that I don’t have time to think about the chord structure or how it fits in with the history of Texas punk or garage-punk or pop-punk. I just hear it and feel it. And now that I will forever associate that song with Osamu, its emotional resonance only grows stronger. More than just a piece of music, it’s like a celestial ringtone that I can use to call him any time I want.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

As I sit down to write this staff pick on a dreary and rainy morning, it seems only fitting that I decide to write about cold synthesizer music. I didn’t know anything about this band Portray Heads at all before these reissues arrived at the store. I decided to throw the record on because I feel like Bitter Lake is always reliable for reissuing great stuff. Unsurprisingly, this Portray Heads record is no exception.

Now, I would never claim to be an expert on minimal synth or electronic music in general, but there is a small faction of my taste I take a stroll down every once in a while that is dedicated to this type of music. I tend to gravitate toward more gothy or darkwave stuff like Nagamatzu… the sparser and colder the instrumentation, the better. But by comparison, I wouldn’t only describe Portray Heads as more up-tempo, but some of the programmed synth parts are frantic and anxiety-inducing. The intensity is only heightened by the group's ability to structure melodies in order to create an eerie and creepy atmosphere, all the while being super danceable and catchy. A lot of the synth melodies remind me of movie scores that have a sense of suspense and drama, almost like the score to Phantom of the Opera, but sped up while on club drugs.  

Just about every song on this double LP rules -- every song has its own vibe and earworm hook. While reading more about the band in Bitter Lake’s description, Portray Heads was very short-lived from 1984 to 1986 and only released 2 7” singles. This compilation of all their recorded material includes two demos that were apparently recorded by the band in the 80s. These recordings were not only unreleased, but totally unheard prior to contacting the band’s founder in attempting to organize this reissue. The unreleased tracks are not only on par with the band’s other material, but some of the songs from these sessions I personally think are the band’s most poppy and memorable output. This track for instance is less dark than most of the other songs, and sounds somewhere between New Order and Solid Space maybe?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3muDYy49o0

Anyway, super cool listen from a band I’d never heard of before. Do yourself a favor and check it out!

Thanks for reading,
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hey, what’s up everybody? What a flippin’ week that was. 2020 is not letting up. To be honest it has been hard to concentrate on anything. Even my nightly ritual of watching Jeopardy was saddened by the news of Alex Trebek passing away. We’ll miss you Uncle Alex. You all should Google the tribute that former contestant and champion Jacqueline Fuchs wrote (You may know her by her stage name, Jackie Fox from the Runaways) where she talks about her experience on the show and how much of a beautiful person Alex was.

This week I have been struggling to even play a record. It takes me forever to decide what to play. To counteract that I usually plug in to some online streams from some of my favorite radio shows from around the world and let someone else be the DJ. One station that I listen to every week is The Face Radio from Brooklyn. My friend Kurtis Powers hosts his show The Rendezvous each Sunday and over the years he has built up a whole network of great shows from different DJ’s hosting from around the US and the UK and as far away as Australia. The emphasis is on Mod, Soul, Jazz and Funk but the scope is getting broader all the time with new shows being added. If yours truly could get his shit together he might be on there too. This week on The Rendezvous, Kurtis played an interview he did with Soul legend Eddie Floyd. The interview was assisted by author Tony Fletcher who has just released a book on Floyd called Knock! Knock! Knock! On Wood: My Life In Soul. Anyone interested in soul music and particularly Memphis and Stax Records should seek out a copy. Please visit thefaceradio.com and check them out and your local book emporium for the book.

Listening to the interview did inspire me to pull out Eddie Floyd’s I’ve Never Found A Girl album from 1968. This is an album chocked full of love songs and heartbreak and capitalized on the hit single of the same name albeit with the (To Love Me Like You Do) added. The record opens with a strong cover of the Sam Cooke song Bring It On Home To Me and next tune Never Give You Up is an early Gamble & Huff penned song. Musically the Stax sound is in full effect on this one. Steve Cropper produced and co-wrote a lot of the other songs. I don’t need to go into how great Stax Records was as a label but hopefully you have at least one record in your collection featuring that iconic yellow label with the snapping fingers. If not, get on it.

Among the many other highlights on this album surely must be the song Hobo which is a great up tempo groover and perhaps not quite up there with Knock On Wood and Big Bird but could have been a single. Backing throughout features Booker T. and the Memphis Horns plus of course Steve Cropper who adds plenty of tasty guitar licks. Lovers of Southern Soul will find a lot to like in the song I’m Just The Kind Of Fool which simmers with quiet intensity and is likened to James Carrs’s Dark End Of The Street by one review I read and I would tend to agree.

Overall this is a really good record and generally underrated. Perhaps not a classic and considered “essential” but an enjoyable listen all the same and if you enjoy the classic sixties Memphis Soul Sound you’ll be happy. Pick it up if you see it. I’ll leave a link to a couple of tracks for you to investigate.
 
Until next time, thanks for reading and take care- Dom



Staff Picks: Rachel

THE SCAM- EVERYTHING ENDS IN ROT

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this record. I (maybe illegally) downloaded it in high school and have distinct memories of putting this short album on repeat for hours. Something about it resonated with me.

As my music taste matured, my love for this album has only grown. You can just FEEL the attitude and energy the band must’ve had while recording. I don’t listen to much hardcore, so my frame of reference is slim but at the time I discovered this record, I’d never heard anything like it or seen an album cover quite like that. The riffs are catchy, the production quality isn’t great, and the vocals are weird as fuck. I honestly don’t think I’ve heard anything like this album since.

Everything Ends in Rot takes all of the aspects from hardcore, punk, thrash (maybe more?) that I like and smashed them together in 11 minutes. I think that’s why this album has been a constant in my rotation since I was 15; growing up I tried on a lot of different identities but always came back to the same mainstays.

Besides the hundreds of listens I’ve given this record, I felt I had to make it a staff pick because it was the first album I got at Sorry State back in 2017. I was getting back into record collecting after getting a job at [redacted] record store and looked up pressings of this album on a whim. The only hit I got was an eBay listing of a 2017 repress from Antitodo out of Spain…of course it was Sorry State’s account. I literally set an alarm on my phone so I’d remember giving the store a call when they opened and went down there as soon as I could. I probably freaked Jeff out because I was so excited, but whatever, I don’t think he remembers. If you’re local and had the misfortune of visiting me at my other record store job, I’m so sorry for subjecting you to this album at least three times in a row before begrudgingly putting on something else.

Staff Picks: November 5, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Various: Michigan Brand Nuggets 12” (Belvedere Records)

I picked up this double LP compilation a few weeks ago, and it’s been in constant rotation ever since. Having discovered Bob Seger’s early work a few months ago, one big thing that drew me to this record was the note on the cover that says “fortified with 7 very rare Bob Seger songs.” While I tracked down a copy of the Bob Seger System’s Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man album, I was still lacking many of his killer early singles on vinyl and Michigan Brand Nuggets fills several gaps. I’m stoked to have tracks like “East Side Story” and “Heavy Music Part 2” on vinyl, but this record offers way more than that.

Besides Bob Seger, Michigan Nuggets also features rare tracks by the MC5, Question Mark and the Mysterians, and the Amboy Dukes (but not the Stooges, despite Iggy being on the cover). What you get here are the tracks you’d be most interested in if you’re a fan of Nuggets style garage rock, and every track is a scorcher. The biggest revelation to me was the rare single versions of tracks by the MC5. This version of “Looking at You” from their 1968 single on A-Square Records is the rawest, most blown-out recording on this entire record, and it just shreds. The guitars are cascading sheets of noise, reminding me of the very best Les Rallizes Denudes recordings I’ve heard. The MC5’s debut single, “I Can Only Give You Everything,” also appears here, and it’s a song most anyone into 60s music will know, but the MC5 imbue it with their raw power here. Hearing these tracks has also led me to spend time with the MC5’s Babes in Arms record (originally released on ROIR), which showcases this side of the band much better than any of their actual albums.

As befitting a record with the Nuggets brand name, this double LP is full of obscure tracks from groups I’ve never heard. Detroit’s rock scene is legendary so it’s unsurprising there are so many killer deep cuts, but one thing that sticks out to me as a common thread is the influence of Motown on these rock bands. Great bass lines and raw, soulful vocals are all over this record, and it makes plain how integral the whole Motown scene was to the emerging heavy rock scene that would ultimately birth punk.

While the collection peters out at the end of side four with a couple of Bob Seger’s novelty records that aren’t my cup of tea, on the whole it plays like a killer mix tape. Further, the detailed liner notes offer context and anecdotes about every single track. If you’re itching to pick this one up, it looks like there are many copies available on Discogs for prices that aren’t terrible. Or if, like me, you happen across it in a used bin, it’s worth grabbing as it’s a cut well above your bog-standard comp of 60s obscurities.

Staff Picks: Jeff

While I personally think that Italy produced some of the best hardcore bands during the 1980s, Link Lärm is one of those bands that I had little-to-no awareness of. But man, after hearing this LP entitled Troppo Presto... ...O Troppo Tardi? that compiles the band’s only 2 recording sessions, I gotta say this band is right up my alley. The A-side of the record I believe contains the band’s contribution to Sutura Eterna, an Italian punk compilation released in 1986, but I think some of the tracks are previously unreleased from that same recording session. The B-side, much rawer in production, is the band’s 1984 demo tape. While both recording sessions have their charm, this LP is worth it for the 7 songs on the A-side alone.

Initially, Link Lärm stands out to me as being pretty melodic. There are moments where the wonky guitar work, mixed with the quirky, angular rhythms of the drums and the tuneful vocals, almost reminds me of Articles of Faith, particularly a track of theirs like “I’ve Got Mine”. Link Lärm does launch into some totally ripping fast parts, and while they are intense and chaotic, maybe they are a tad more calculated and less off the rails than say... Wretched. The big highlight and stand-out track for me is “Senatore.” It really showcases the charisma and personality of the vocalist. This track makes me imagine that at a live gig this dude would be quite the character. It’s a more mid-paced song, and when it launches into the big chorus with gang vocal type chants, it makes me want to scream along like I know the words and I don’t even know any Italian! Link Lärm has such a cool blend of off-kilter melodicism and raging intensity. So glad I got to discover this band through this reissue.

No Plan Records released this platter in super limited quantities, only 200 copies on black vinyl worldwide. We only got a handful, but I think there’s still a few of these collection LPs available from Sorry State. Gitchu one, punk.

Thanks for reading,
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Eric

Bad Breeding: Exiled 12" (Iron Lung Records)

I feel like I’m always a little behind the curve when it comes new music. We had this record in the store last year for so long and I listened to it once or twice but I guess it never did it for me. Daniel praised it and it was generally liked by everyone in the shop, but here I am over a year later in my room jamming this record and I’m kicking myself for not seeing the light sooner.

Let the record show that I did see them play in Raleigh last year and they were hands down the best set I had seen all year, but I still had this idea in my head that it wasn’t the same on wax.

The phrase that comes to mind as I listen is: controlled chaos. Sonically it just keeps pounding and making sudden, unexpected changes but it never falls apart. I’m having a hard time finding something to compare it to. It’s blazing fast, but also a bit experimental and droney at times. It takes influence from Anarcho punk and other extreme English punk groups but Bad Breeding are their own monster.

The lyrical content and artistic message is nothing short of sophisticated political attack. From class/wealth inequality to war to the police, Bad Breeding takes on these topics in a way that isn’t played out or contrived. I’d argue Bad Breeding is one of the most unique, genuine and awe inspiring bands in the landscape of contemporary hardcore punk. Do yourself a favor and give it a spin.

Staff Picks: Dominic

Hello friends. As I write this week’s newsletter inclusion, the election here in America is still undecided and a closer race than it should be. It will likely be decided by the time you are reading this. I didn’t get to vote as I am still not a citizen of the United States. I do get to pay taxes though. The irony there is not lost on me. Taxes without representation was something that caused some tea to be dumped in to a harbor some years ago wasn’t it? Anyway, I will hopefully be a citizen for the mid-terms. The last time I voted in an election was in Britain back in the 80’s and my only time. I was at college and in the Student Union, not quite a character from The Young Ones but certainly becoming more politically aware as a young adult. Years previously as a kid I found a lot of “news” from records and would take cues from songs or the artists I liked. I can honestly say that my love of music definitely shaped who I am as a person and what I believe in.

There are tons of names I could list that have influenced me over the years. Growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s I was exposed to a lot of different music styles and youth cultures. Things were pretty tribal back then but it was the Two-Tone movement that seemed to be the most vital and on point politically and socially to my young developing mind. I wasn’t even a skin or rude boy but more a rockabilly back then and realizing that strict codes of tribal divide weren’t for me and that if the music was this good it didn’t matter what cult you came from. The Two-Tone groups balanced politics with pop music superbly and none more so than The Specials. They were just the best. I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that.

So, for this week my pick is their 1981 single Ghost Town and it’s flip Why? Both of these songs touched me from the very first time I heard them and still hold their worth forty years later. In this current culture of cruelty, the lyrics to Why? seem just as apt now as they did back then. The tune also featured on a Record Store Day special 10 inch as a dub track recently which ear-wormed me and had me reaching for my Specials records. Ghost Town is still the sleeper protest song it always has been. Various writers have gone into the power and beauty of this classic over the years and the many layers of reference and meaning contained within. Definitely search the internet for some of these essays where they get into more depth if you are interested. Released in a time of recession and riots, this was the group's last single before breaking up and reforming as the Special AKA and was written by founding member Jerry Dammers. It stayed in the charts for weeks and was number one for three of them. Helped along by a video that featured the band driving around empty streets in a Vauxhall Cresta. Classic. The tune sounds just as fresh today.

It was the B-side track Why? that I was looking for the other day, as its words were echoing around my mind. I pulled out my 12” single version and remembered that in addition to having the tracks Why? and Friday Night Saturday Morning, another classic observation on British life along the lines of That’s Entertainment by The Jam, it had the extended version of Ghost Town on it. Brilliant. I’ll leave links to all three tracks so that you can refresh your memories and enjoy them. Do please pay attention to some of the lyrics. It’s sad that we are still fighting Nazis in 2020 but hopefully the right step was taken on Tuesday. “The people getting angry”

Good luck everyone. Until next week, ta-ra – Dom





Staff Picks: Usman

Mess - Get Into A Mess (1986) King's World Records

This record is insane. The intro gets me excited every time, no matter what I am doing. That scream at the beginning... it's perfect. Its weird how good (but awesome) this EP is yet you can still find copies for like $12 if you're patient. I remember the first time I heard it, the intro had me hooked right in and I was hoping so much I would love what followed cos with an intro like that you can really go any direction after. The flexi is 4 tracks total, and when I listen to it I never want it to be over. The songs are written in this really dynamic way, a way that compels me to listen so closely to whats happening. The songs have a general sense of urgency, but the drummer keeps everything locked right in. The songs are anthemic as fuck, kind of reminiscent of The Stalin. A lot of the riffs bounce around in the catchiest way but with no cheese, if you know what I mean. When the vocalist is singing, its rampant and nonstop - I think this element reminds me a lot of The Stalin, too. The vocals carry the songs a lot, along with the drums playing right on top of the beat. The B side starts with He That's Down Need Fear No Fall. The song has a slow trudgey beginning that goes into these fucked up guitar leads that are followed by a series of punches, but man the punches are carrying so much motion behind them it makes me want to fucking explode. I don't know how they do it. That's what I meant by dynamic song writing. Often times when a band write songs that have lots of tempo changes it throws me off too much, but Mess manages to incorporate different tempos into one song, while maintaining an overall driving feeling. Interesting note on this song; every digital rip i've heard, and every copy i've heard (which is 3 different discs, I think) has a weird scratch sound in the same exact place. So either the master tape had some type of deterioration or something, or there was a pressing defect.

King's World Records was based in Fukuoka, Japan. They have released material from many bands since 1986. Some of my favorites include Swankys/Gai, Kuro, and Confuse. Their debut release was a flexi-disc from Swanky's, Rock 'N Roll History Fuck Off, who were also from the same city as King's World Records. This EP is pretty cool, the guitar tone sounds pretty similar to the guitar on the Mess flexi to me, but I did always prefer Gai releases over the Swanky's. I believe Get Into A Mess was the following release on King's World Records (according to the catalogue number) but i'm not positive. I'm also not sure where Mess was from but I do know the recording session on this flexi was in Fukuoka as well. The two releases that followed were recorded in Tokyo, which is pretty far from Fukuoka.

I heard first heard Mess on their ±9 CD. My friend Osamu gave the CD to me. That's why I decided to write about Mess today. Osamu was a cool ass dude. He could be pretty quiet but when I got to know him we would nerd out together about records, namely Japanese records. He was Japanese. I don't think he ever lived there but I know he would visit every now and again. He shared a lot of cool flyers, zines, records, etc with me that he had collected from his visits. I always appreciated his generosity and just genuine common interest, and I did my best to share with others what he would share with me. It's a painful shame that he is no longer with us. He will be desperately missed in the Raleigh scene. It's so sad he is gone. He was an excellent musician, and visual artist even. He played bass in No Love, Daniel's band. I'm sure he played in other bands before I moved here that I just don't know about. He was a nerd like I said, and I know enjoyed making "fan fiction" of bands he enjoyed. It deeply warmed my heart the night he showed up to my house with "fan fiction" he created for my old band Drugcharge. It looked so fucking cool too..I used the art on some tour tapes. The last time we spoke I had just got a copy of The Stalin's Stop Jap, and I was sending him photos - mainly of the insert with the lyrics to the song Stop Jap itself. I had always wondered that they meant by the phrase, cos to me that word is slur. Some punks use that word to describe Japanese HC, I cannot understand why they can't simply say the entire word. Have they forgotten Hiroshima? Nagasaki? The Great Tokyo Airhead of March 1945? How about the fucking Japanese interment camps in the United States??? Anyway, the song... he told me told me the lyrics were "very contextual to the times, and seems to be anti-nationalism." I think he asked his dad to translate them, who I have never met. So maybe they used the word in response to the slur being developed? Or, in Japan maybe they have had a different relationship with this word since before the Americans used it as a slur during World War II. He wrote me back a few hours later saying he was blasting The Stalin and writing Tam (ADK Records, G-Zet, Stalin) conspiracy fiction, haha. I wish I could read it. That was the last time we spoke. Rest in peace, my friend.

Staff Picks: Rachel

YOUTH AGAINST DRUGS- DAN MCCURDY

Ayyyy I’m Rachel and I just started working for Sorry State! I’ve been a customer and fan for a while and am stoked to join the team. I love a good, rare record in pristine condition like the rest of y’all, but what REALLY gets me excited about digging through bins is finding that weird oddball shit that tells you what the world was like when the record was pressed.

I was re-cataloging my collection and I had completely forgotten I picked this up on a trip to Dallas a while ago. Youth Against Drugs, by Dan McCurdy is from 1971 and I had never put it on my turntable until last week. I honestly had to listen to it like three times because I kept laughing. I love over the top anti drug advertising. And this is some of the most over the top music and dialog I’ve heard.

This album is the PERFECT relic of anti-hippie, terrified-of-free-love, ‘straight’ (as the record puts it) propaganda. Dramatic music, absurd descriptions of inebriation, and of course culminating in interviews with *gasp* actual drug users, this release uses every trick in the book to scare parents. Some of my favorite bits include McCurdy talking about ‘incense filled rooms’ and ‘running naked in the street’ as indications of drug use in kids.

Looking at it from a 2020 perspective, as someone who has been in the cannabis adjacent and cannabis industry since college, and with the context of the current election, I thought this record would be a great first foray into my collection of oddities. I’m not sure I can recommend this, both because I don’t want to get Daniel in trouble and because I haven’t found a recording of this online….but roll up some of the devil’s lettuce and give this piece a listen!

I look forward to sharing some of my weirder records and probably rambling way too long about some of the metal releases in my collection!

Featured Release Roundup: October 29, 2020

Kaleidoscope: Decolonization 7” (D4MT Labs) At Sorry State we’ve sung Kaleidoscope’s praises for several years now. Every record they release satisfies and surprises us, and Decolonization is no different. Three of these five tracks ply Kaleidoscope’s usual trade of hardcore punk elevated by intricate rhythms and brilliant guitar work, and they’re as ripping and memorable as anything the band has put out so far. However, as with “Scorched Earth” on their 2017 EP on D4MT Labs, there are a couple of outliers. I’ve always sensed a Hendrix quality to Kaleidoscope guitarist Shiva’s playing, and on “Girmitiya,” they lean into the slinky, sexy (!!!) vibe of Hendrix’s more sensual songs, with a stretched-out, lazy groove and breathy vocals that sound like nothing any other punk bands on my radar are doing. Then there’s the closing track, “One Drop // Blood Quantum,” which starts off with fast hardcore but transitions into a gripping breakdown to end the record. It’s crazy that a record this good is par for the course, but such is the case with Kaleidoscope.


Rolex: S/T 7” (11pm Records) For the past few years, California’s Rolex has been releasing a series of short, two-song cassettes titled R, O, L, E, and X. Now 11PM Records helps to wrap up that project by compiling all 10 of those songs (in new, re-recorded versions) on this 7”. The only thing I didn’t love about the previous cassette versions (all of which we carried at SSR ) is that they were so short, so it’s funny that this makes or a rather long 7”. The re-recordings sound great, and the music is even stronger for having more of it. Rolex’s sound is bent and quirky, as aggressive as your standard fast hardcore band, but with a hyper-developed sense of rhythm that they show off with numerous time changes. The result reminds me of bands like early Meat Puppets, Nasa Space Universe, or Das Drip, all of whom play(ed) lightning fast but dense and sophisticated music. Rolex isn’t confrontationally weird, though; there’s more than enough catchy, old-school California punk to make these songs more than just calisthenics for your ears. Highly recommended.


Staring Problem: Eclipse 12” (Modern Tapes) Debut LP from this Chicago band that released their first cassette way back in 2010. It’s clear that Staring Problem takes a lot of influence from the Cure circa Seventeen Seconds and Faith—they even cover “M” from Seventeen Seconds on Eclipse—but they give us their own spin on the sound. On Eclipse’s first few tracks Staring Problem takes that gloomy Cure aesthetic and gives it a punky jolt, upping the tempo and putting emphasis on the bright, sing-song-y vocals. The singer reminds me of Cassie from Vivian Girls, and if you’re a fan of that band’s dreamy, upbeat punk-pop, you should give Staring Problem a listen. Ditto if you’re into another semi-recent, Cure-influenced group, Siamese Twins, who are a little more on the nose than Staring Problem but in the same vein. I like bands in this style who emphasize pop melodies over atmosphere, and Eclipse is right in that sweet spot.


Overdose: Two Wheels and Gone 12” (Splattered! Records) A while back New York’s Overdose came to Raleigh and laid waste to the Bunker with their Motorhead-inspired metal-punk sound, and ever since I’ve been waiting for more than a two-song single to listen to. The wait is over! Two Wheels and Gone is everything you want it to be… raw, undiluted, Motorhead-inspired rock-and-roll. While there’s barely a moment here that Overdose doesn’t model on Motörhead’s style, something about Two Wheels and Gone avoids the cosplay-ish quality that bands inspired by another band can fall into. It’s easy for a band like this to devolve into a party-metal cartoon, but Overdose keeps it raw and real with raw production, lyrics about motorcycles, and more riffs than you’ll care to count. This is music made to play as you hurl a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels at a cop car.


Final Slum War:  Agora Fudeu! 12” (Rawmantic Disasters) This d-beat / crust band from Barcelona has been around for a decade now, but  Agora Fudeu! is their first stand-alone 12” They appeared on a split 12” with Brazil’s Besthöven, and their straightforward sound resembles that band’s reverent take on classic d-beat. Final Slum War sports some cool metallic riffs and a lot of stops and starts that keep things interesting, but I could see a dabbler in the genre dismissing this as generic. However, if you go way deep with this stuff, Final Slum War will get you revved up.


Kansan Uutiset: Suomi Orgasmin Partaalla 12” (Höhnie) Suomi Orgasmin Partaalla collects this classic Finnish hardcore band’s 1983 Beautiful Dreams album on one disc along with demo tracks on a bonus one-sided disc. Kansan Uutiset intrigued me before I ever heard them thanks to the cool cover artwork (that mohawk!), and when I tracked their music down, it didn’t disappoint. Like their Finnish contemporaries in Riistetyt and Destrucktions, Kansan Uutiset is all intensity with a blazing, minimal sound that doesn’t let up (well, until the questionable Stooges cover and the surf instrumental that end the album). One thing I always liked about Kansan Uutiset is that their riffs and drumming have more of a US hardcore feel. The riffs are straightforward, with minimal but insistent drumming that makes me think of Dischord bands like SOA or Youth Brigade, albeit with a singer more in the Wattie from Exploited / “rabid barker” mode. While Kansan Uutiset doesn’t offer much in the way of frills, if you like your hardcore ripping and to the point, Suomi Orgasmin Partaalla is a great pickup.