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John Scott's Staff Pick: November 14, 2023

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone is having a nice week. I’m still thinking about the 10th anniversary fest, so I figured I’d write about a record by a band that I was really excited about seeing that weekend, 100% Complete and Total Motherfuckers by Delco MF’s. This 12” is a collection of the first two 7”s released by the band over the past year and it totally rips. I was kicking myself because I remember getting the 7”s into the store and never listening to them really, and then when I heard they would be playing that weekend, I went back and checked them out and was blown away. By that point, though, we had been long sold out of both of them. Luckily for me though, they dropped this very convenient 12” record compiling both of them. With 11 songs clocking in at 11 minutes, this thing is non-stop ripping from start to finish. After listening to this a bunch, I was excited to see them live and they did not disappoint, delivering an amazing set at the late show at the Pour House. No beer can was safe from being launched through the air during this performance. The record does a great job of capturing the same energy they had during a live performance, and it’s one you find yourself flipping back to side A when it’s over to do it all again. Definitely check this one out if you haven’t already. Favorite track is March Of The MF’s.

Angela's Staff Pick: November 14, 2023

Hi Sorry State readers! I hope all is well with you! No complaints or exciting news to report on my end. Things have been pretty tame, pretty chill. Went to the Languid show the other night in Raleigh, which was fun. Scarecrow played as well as two new local bands: Overbite and Fucking War! It was the first show for both bands, but it was Overbite’s first show ever. They are probably around 17-18 years old and they did great! Each one is talented at their craft. It’s super exciting to see the youth forming bands and having the guts to play in front of a crowd, let alone in front of seasoned punks. If you are young or not so young and you play an instrument or want to start playing one, do it! It’s never too early or too late! I really dug Fucking War! They’re a super group of sorts, so it was no surprise that they sounded great. I really liked their style, and they had some kick ass riffs and some good ole’ rock and roll moments. I’m really excited to see Powerplant coming up on Sunday. I’ve liked them for a little while now, especially their EPs. They are a really cool and creative synth-punk band and I’ve heard they sound great live.

My staff pick changed directions this week. I had something totally different in mind, but when I walked in to work the other day, Daniel was blasting something that immediately caught my attention, and I felt more inspired by it than what I was going to write about. It’s the second release from the Canadian band Headcheese called Expired, brought to us by Neon Taste. I had never heard their first record, so this is my first introduction to Headcheese. Frankly, the name grosses me out, but after listening to the record several times, it is very fitting and just makes sense. It doesn’t sound anything like I thought it would, and it was a pleasant surprise.

The album contains 12 really short songs, but they make the most of every second. The first time I threw it on, I played it three times back to back! Super high energy, catchy, fun, likable type shit that makes you want to break things. It’s really hooky hardcore, and I love that shit. It’s really catchy, but has aggressive, growly vocals. Almost animalistic. These guys are wound up, and the music makes me kind of anxious. It’s frantic, agitated, and it comes at you hard and fast, and with a sense of humor. I can’t help but quote part of Neon Taste’s description of the band that says, “Headcheese are pieces of shit. The worst band I’ve ever worked with. What makes them so insufferable is what is also the best part about them. They sound like what they are.” If I didn’t already know the record kicked ass, I would still be intrigued by the label’s kind words. Headcheese even wrote a song called Neon Taste to close out the record, and it’s about the label owner. It has some hilarious lines but, “watch out don’t be a sucker, he’ll rip you off and try to kiss your girlfriend” is pretty good. They also take shots at loss prevention officers, special forces, and incels. I haven’t heard anyone quite like them in recent times, but they kind of sound kind of like a mash up of Void, Woodstock ‘99, and Yambag, and that is not bad company to be in.

Anyway, if you like your hardcore fast and dirty, and a little different, this is the record for you! Thanks so much for reading and being so cool to us in general. Have a great week, listen to your music as loud as possible, and have fun! Until next time!

-Angela

Usman's Staff Pick: November 14, 2023

Hello and thanks for reading. I’ve been away from work for like three weeks. After the Sorry State ten-year anniversary gigs, I drove GOLPE and ELECTRIC CHAIR on their tour together. In the week since I’ve been back, SCARECROW has already played two gigs. Of course, I am returning with a ton of work waiting for me, and being exhausted while I’m trying to get back at it is not so ideal. Anyway, as usual, we have a ton of killer new titles in stock. I’ve probably missed out on some stuff while I was away, but I was able to grab a handful of cool shit in the last few days. One of the records I was excited to return home to is this TOŽIBABE discography, and I wanted to write briefly about it. To me, TOŽIBABE is a band that doesn’t really need an introduction. I don’t know many bands that existed from Yugoslavia, but TOŽIBABE is at the top of that list alongside U.B.R. If you don’t happen to be familiar with hardcore/punk from this region and time, I would suggest checking out this killer compilation that came out in 1985 that features bands from Ljubljana. This was the first appearance of TOŽIBABE on vinyl. Most of the other bands on this compilation never had another proper vinyl release. Following this LP, TOŽIBABE released their debut 7”, Dežuje. That compilation and this EP have both had official reissues, and they also have both been bootlegged, which is why I don’t think the band needs much of an introduction. Aside from existing in Yugoslavia, the band consisted of all women. Existing as a punk in Yugoslavia was probably already hard enough. I can’t imagine what it was like existing as a punk woman. Women still don’t get enough space in the scene in 2023, so I think it is very significant they were all women playing punk in the 80s. Oddly enough, we actually have two different TOŽIBABE compilations in stock right now. I chose to buy this one cos the tracklist is more extensive. This LP compiles all the tracks I already knew, plus a bunch of shit I didn’t even know existed! As a result, I also learned about this sick VHS that came out in 1985. If you haven’t seen this, check it out immediately—super sick. Anyway, it seems the label took great care in sourcing the material and the packaging is nice. They are based in Atlanta, and they don’t really seem to focus on punk, but they are more about anything D.I.Y. or underground. Alright, my brain is pretty fried, and I am super tired, so I am going to have to call it here. Thanks to everyone for reading, and thanks for your support. ‘Til next week.

Dominic's Staff Pick: November 14, 2023

What’s going on? Cheers to you for reading our newsletter. We appreciate it and always hope that you find something new and/or cool to you.

As I write this week, it is with a sore arm after getting my Covid booster and flu shot. Hopefully I don’t get knocked down like I did with the previous booster. So far so good, although the symptoms probably won’t kick in until tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be okay.

With the newsletter coming out on Monday now and our submission deadline on Thursday, we are somewhat writing for the future for our staff picks, particularly if we have anything topical to talk about. Often the holiday or occasion has passed by the time you guys get to read and that is going to be the case this week with my pick. This coming Sunday marks the high point of the Diwali or Divali (each is correct) festival that is celebrated throughout India and the world. The Festival Of Lights is primarily a Hindu religious festival, but variations are celebrated by other faiths. If you are from India or live in a community with folks from that part of the world, you will be more than familiar with Diwali and have seen the lights and decorations that go up and most likely attended a typical feast of food that is served in people’s homes. I was raised with different faith and traditions, but have always tried to appreciate and respect those of other cultures. Certainly not as a cultural tourist, yuk, but as someone who wants to be a world citizen. On our radio show Worldy, Matt and I have dedicated past shows to the festival by playing some of our favorite Bollywood soundtracks and sitar-based music. We plan to do something similar this week.

Rather timely, one of our customers recently sold us some records and amongst them were a few Bollywood soundtrack LPs. Not all were great, and the condition was less than stellar, but I did find a couple that had some cool sounds on them. The pick of the bunch, though, was the soundtrack to the 1981 film Armaan with music composed by the legendary Bappi Lahiri. To even the casual fan of Bollywood and Indian music, he is almost a household name. Entering the industry in the early 1970s, he soon became one of the most prodigious producers and artists in Bollywood, earning himself the nickname The Disco King due to his extensive use of synthesizers and incorporating the current en vogue western disco sounds into his music scores.

Bappi Lahiri was so popular that in the 1980s even the Guinness Book Of World Records acknowledged him for, up to then, having scored over 180 songs for 33 different films. He was quite the character, and was famous not only for his music but also his appearance, always looking flash and wearing lots of gold.

Almost all the music he scored for films was for nightclub scenes and dance numbers. Not too many slow ballads in his repertoire, although there are a couple on the Armaan soundtrack. He was also a singer himself and is often the featured vocalist on many of the songs he wrote for the movies. I haven’t seen this film, but the cover art definitely caught my eye and told me that there might be something cool on here. Two girls dressed sexily, dancing together superimposed over an image of what looks like a desolate snow-covered mountain. That probably makes sense if you have seen the film.

On listening to the record, the first track, Ramba Ho-Ho-Ho, Samba Ho-Ho-Ho is the money cut. A cool mash up of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Euro disco hitmakers The Gibson Brothers’ If You Should Go. The latter tune I had to look up and listen to, as someone on Discogs had mentioned it. They were right. Anyway, it’s a fun tune and should go down well mixed in with other similar sounds. On side two, the record begins with another fun cut called Mere Jaesi Haseena, which features some interesting synth sounds and percussion. Unfortunately, this copy has a couple of skips at the beginning of the song, although it does play through. Oddly, for a producer who preferred mostly upbeat productions, the rest of the record is more in the slower ballad territory.

So, not an amazing record and probably not the best example of Bollywood soundtracks or the work of the producer, but a fun find and worth it for the cover and the first songs on each side. Chosen with the topicality in mind. Thanks for reading and happy Diwali to you.

See you next time. Cheers - Dom

Jeff's Staff Pick: November 14, 2023

What’s up Sorry Staters?

Here I am at the end of the week, and it just seems like a lot has been going on. What else is new? Like last week, and into the weekend, it just seems like there was a show every other day. I might’ve talked about this last week, but I was in Richmond on Halloween night where Public Acid played with Electric Chair, Golpe, and Zorn. Then, Zorn played Raleigh the following Thursday. And then, I went back to Richmond that Saturday on the 4th where Scarecrow played with Languid. AND THEN, Languid played again in Raleigh again this past Monday on the 6th. Oof, I’m feeling pretty gigs-hausted at this point. It was cool to go kick it and drink some bevvies with Mike from NY and the Canadians, along with the homie Eric and the Hardy Boys, after the gig on Monday. Seeing that crew of people at our classy local watering hole, The Ugly Monkey, was something to behold. We got a little bit toasty and likely too rowdy for the regulars.

This newsletter will go out after the show happens live, but I’m once again going to appear on the Analog Attack show on YouTube. This round I’ll be joined by my dude Mateo from Warthog, so I’m stoked for that. Hopefully I’ll eloquently discuss some cool records and use more of my vocabulary than just “dude” and “killer”. Check it out here if you care to do so.

Speaking of YouTube, the other day I went down a video rabbit hole and stumbled across a playlist of a bunch of 80s goth and death rock stuff I’d never heard before. There were some obvious choices of course, like Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, etc. But for example, I had never heard that band Voo-doo Church, a Los Angeles death rock band from the early 80s who seems like they’d fit right in on a bill with 45 Grave and Christian Death. Looks like their EP from 1982 fetches a hefty price tag these days. Dammit, now it’s in my wantlist. I had also never really checked out Super Heroines, even though we stock their reissues here at Sorry State. It’s funny, Super Heroines’ first 2 LPs came out on Bemisbrain, which was Jimmy Bemis from Modern Warfare’s label. An odd fit, I would say. Muy interesante. On this same playlist, there was also this cool live clip of Paralisis Permanente doing their track “Quiero Ser Santa.” They look so awesome.

As I continued to binge videos, there seemed to be a healthy balance of US and European stuff. I was amazed to see how many of these bands from this era had music videos, even if the band’s records were relatively obscure. I definitely had to wade through some tracks that, for my money, kinda sucked ass. Not sure where exactly I fall on the goth spectrum, but I guess maybe I’m more of a casual creature of the night.

One band I’ve always liked in this vein though is Skeletal Family. One of my favorite tracks by them is their banger single “Promised Land”, but I had no idea there was a music video! The video for this song is kinda goofy. Seems like it was filmed pretty low budget, where we see the band miming along to the track, playing their instruments outside in a field by a windy hillside. Vocalist Anne Marie Hurst comes across rather disinterested being filmed on camera. She has this super funny and awkward posture as she kind of reluctantly mouths along to the words and aimlessly gazes around, never really making eye contact with the camera. At one point, she makes eye contact with the bass player and starts cracking up. Her vibe is clearly like, “what the fuck are we doing?”

Interestingly enough, we recently stocked these reissues from Radiation that’s a Skeletal Family compilation. The record is titled Eternal: Singles 1982-1984. The only record I own by Skeletal Family is their LP Futile Combat from 1985. I’ll be honest, most of the band’s earlier material I wasn’t super familiar with. It might be that for some goth/death rock aficionados that songs like “Trees” or “The Night” are defining songs of the Skeletal Family’s catalog. But for me, it’s almost like as this compilation continues to play, the songs just get better as you delve later into the band’s discography. Maybe that’s a generalization, but I feel like as you get more into the mid-80s era, the songs just get more tuneful and catchy. Less brooding, perhaps, but that’s cool with me. Songs off of the Recollect 12” EP are great, like “Waiting Here” or “She Cries Alone”. But my question is, you cover their releases from 1982 to 1984… Why stop there?? Kinda funny that the record I’m most familiar with came out literally the year after the stretch of what they decided to include on this compilation. I dunno man, they probably could’ve left off their cover of the Batman theme to make room for “Promised Land,” but maybe that’s just me talking. Still though, I feel like this LP is a good glimpse of this underappreciated 80s goth/death rock/post-punk/whatever-the-fuck band.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at that. If you need me, I’ll be drinking blood red wine by candlelight in the dark. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,

-Jeff

Daniel's Staff Pick: November 14, 2023

After I read Jeff’s staff pick last week, I had to listen to the Briefs’ Hit After Hit. I loved that album when it came out, and Jeff’s pick reminded me how great it is. The way he went through the tracks in his staff pick is part of what made me so hyped on it… every time he’d mention another track I’d think, “oh yeah, I forgot about that song!” It really is hit after hit, and kudos to Jeff for an excellent staff pick and to Wanda Records, who has reissued the record on vinyl (currently out of stock at Sorry State, but we’ll do our best to get more in ASAP).

After I listened to the Briefs, my mind went to another of my favorite bands from that period: The Stitches. I was a fanatic about the Stitches in my late teens and early 20s. I can’t remember when or how I discovered them, but 8x12 got constant play in the late 90s. What a fucking record! Its eight tracks blaze by in 18 minutes, all energy with no letup. Each side features three original tracks dripping with hooks and played at blazing, Dickies-esque tempos, then ends with a cover. On the a-side it’s a snottier version of “Better Off Dead” by La Peste (for me, better than the original), and on the b-side an unexpected choice, “That Woman’s Got Me Drinking” by Shane MacGowan (of the Pogues, but this was a track he released in 1994 with his later band the Popes). “That Woman’s Got Me Drinking” is one of those cover versions where the band nails it so hard it feels like it becomes their song.

After hearing 8x12, I worked hard to pick up all the Stitches’ singles. This was no easy feat. That first era of the Stitches—until at least 1997—existed fully offline, and I don’t think the records were well-distributed, particularly on the east coast. It took years of off and online digging to turn up what I have. I never came across a copy of their first single, “Sixteen,” and it remains a hole in my collection. Fortunately for you, Wanda Records has not only reissued 8x12 but also Unzip My Baby, collecting all the Stitches’ 7”s up to 2010.

Unzip My Baby is laid out like Singles Going Steady, with all the a-sides on the LP’s a-side and all the b-sides on the LP’s b-side. So listening to both sides in a row is sort of like taking the same trip twice. You start with the pre-8x12 single “Sixteen,” which isn’t the band’s best work. It sounds like an average 90s garage/retro punk single, which is what it was I guess. Then you get the 8x12-era stuff. The band had perfected their cocktail here, a speedball of amphetamine-rattled, Thunders-influenced junkie punk. Songs like “Talk Sick” and “Second Chance” are strong, but I think the Stitches’ best songs and performances of the period went to 8x12.

Around 2000, the Stitches returned with a new batch of songs and a refined image that smoothed some of the rough edges of their Thunders-influenced aesthetic and replaced it with more approachable new wave polka dots. The first salvo from this period was “Cars of Today,” which appeared on 2000’s split 7” with Le Shok. “Cars of Today” might be the best song the Stitches ever wrote, built around a mammoth guitar hook and with a classic vocal in the chorus. The artwork looks cool as fuck too, carrying forward the aesthetic of the earlier releases into something just a little more refined.

This was a very exciting time to be a Stitches fan, as each record they put out felt like a game-changer. In my memory, the records in this era trickled out at a snail’s pace, but according to Discogs, most everything came out in 2002. Four More Songs from the Stitches featured, inside its next-level-for-the-time faux-Japanese packaging, another refinement of the formula, slowing things down to Sex Pistols-esque tempos and leaning into the big guitar hooks. Two of these four tracks ended up on the next LP, but for me the version of “Pick Me Up” on Four More Songs is far superior, its creeping tempo (more Spunk than Never Mind the Bollocks) carrying an air of menace the LP version lacks. The “Automatic” single and the live picture disc-only You Better Shut Up and Listen followed and further whetted my appetite.

Then, just as 8x12 captured the best version of that era of the band, Twelve Imaginary Inches wrapped everything up into a neat little package. By this time, the image was more Buzzcocks than Thunders, and the music had evolved to match. The album’s mix is a little slicker and more even, the guitar no longer way up front and in the red, and the songs feel more considered and sophisticated. Were the Stitches trying to make it big? Honestly, I wish they had, because I love this era of the band. The album-only track “Foreign Currency” might be my favorite Stitches song, though it doesn’t sound like any of their others. Like 8x12, Twelve Imaginary Inches is a 100% no-skips listening experience, though rather than 8x12’s full frontal assault, this time there are a few more peaks and valleys, and the record is all the better for it. I remember being so excited to get this record, which I pre-ordered to get the cool limited edition version. It’s on clear vinyl with the artwork printed in spot-varnish, in keeping with the title. When it finally showed up, I played it into the ground. I still remember every word of every song.

After Twelve Imaginary Inches, the Stitches went into a long period of inactivity, at least on the record front. They finally came east in the late 00s, and I went up to Richmond to see them. Government Warning opened up for them, and if I remember correctly, that was the first show for the “European tour” version of Government Warning with Alex playing guitar. I remember seeing the Stitches guys singing along when GW covered Reagan Youth (callback to last week’s staff pick). The era when I was a huge Stitches fan seems like a totally different time of my life than the No Way Years, and it’s weird they overlapped in that way. Certainly neither scene was at its peak, though I thought the Stitches played an excellent set.

The last time I checked in with the Stitches was the 2010 single “Monday Morning Ornaments.” That single appears on Unzip My Baby, and it sounds like a coda to the earlier singles. I’m pretty sure that’s how I felt about it at the time, too. Both songs are cool, but lack the spark of the earlier stuff. Or maybe it’s still just as great and I’m the one who has moved on. There are several releases after that on the band’s Discogs page, but it looks like they’re archival releases, including what looks to be some very early rehearsal recordings. I can’t find a place to hear those online, but I’m curious if “Television Addict” is a cover of the Victims song. I’d love to hear all those records.

Anyway, that’s my take on the Stitches. Great fucking band, and I’m stoked to have them on the shelves at Sorry State.

John Scott's Staff Pick: November 6, 2023

What’s up Sorry State readers? I hope everyone had a nice Halloween and month of October. Mine seemed to fly by, but it was a good one between the Sorry State fest, the fair, IBMA, Halloween, and watching way too many old horror movies. Speaking of Sorry State fest, I know it happened over two weeks ago now, but I’m still reeling over how much fun it was. Every single band killed it and it was a blast getting to pop around to the different venues and see everyone there. It definitely was a weekend I’ll remember for a long time. We just had as close to a perfect week of weather as you can get here in Raleigh. It was like seven straight days of perfect fall weather and all the leaves had changed. It was the kind of week that makes you really appreciate the seasons here in North Carolina. In true NC fashion, though, it changed overnight, and it feels more like winter now. I’m still in fall mode though as it feels like it just arrived, so I’m gonna keep the feeling going with my record this week, Songs The Lord Taught Us by The Cramps. I picked this bad boy up from our Halloween drop (I guess getting a Cramps record from this drop is a yearly tradition for me now) and I’m really happy to add it to my collection. Everyone has probably already heard this album that’s reading this, so I’m not gonna talk about something you already know, but damn I love this record. Not a skip on here and my favorite song is always changing. It’s the perfect music for this time of year. I can happily keep the creepy spirit of October rolling along thru the winter by keeping this slab on the record player.

Angela's Staff Pick: November 6, 2023

Hi Sorry State readers! Well, here we are already in November. Last night I was wearing a winter coat and today I’m outside wearing a tank top. That’s NC for ya. Anyways, let’s jump into it, shall we?

My pick for this week is the Lothario / New Buck Biloxi 7” tour split brought to us by Under the Gun. Lothario and New Buck Biloxi spent October touring the US, up and down the east coast. Sadly, they didn’t have a Raleigh date, but I’m sure they will in the future. The tour looked like tons of fun from the clips I’ve seen on Instagram.

This split has four raw and angsty garage punk tracks from two talented solo projects. I was introduced to Lothario through their Drunk Fuck / Black Hair 7” released a short time ago, and loved it. Both songs are totally addicting if you still wanna check that out on Bandcamp. Our copies sold really fast, so unfortunately we don’t have any of those left. But good news, Lothario made two more infectious tracks available on this split.

Lothario is the solo project of Annaliese Redlich, hailing from Naarm / Melbourne. She’s not new to the scene by any means, but Lothario is. I’ve come to learn that Lothario is a character and sort of the all-out, unapologetic, uninhibited representation and expression of Annaliese in her truest form. There is something very powerful about that and it certainly comes across in the music and from what I’ve seen in video clips of live shows.

Both Lothario tracks on this record are incredibly catchy and melodic with standout riffs and simple yet effective beats. The song Missing Person has it all. I found myself humming the melody at work all day yesterday. Annaliese has a real knack for writing a great melody. There is something about the bending of the chords that give it that warm and comforting tone that makes me think of Joy Division’s song Disorder (which might be my favorite song on the planet, so it’s a high compliment) or very early Cure. At the same time, the music is energetic, dancy, fun, and has a sense of humor.

It makes sense that Lothario joined (tour) forces with her mate, New Orleans punker Buck Biloxi (Rob Craig). He started a solo venture last year known as New Buck Biloxi. You may know him as Buck Biloxi or Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, and elsewhere. Talk about someone who is always up for trying something new. And this time he wanted to go at it alone. Luckily, he’s still as pissed off and entertaining as ever. Garage punk with a healthy dose of nihilism and even some poppy flair. Frozen Shut is a catchy tune you can’t help but like, but I Hate the Queen takes it another direction. With snarling vocals that give Johnny Rotten a run for his money, he sings about what he’d do if he met the queen. Well, he would “kick her in the teeth and take a picture of it!” That line made me laugh out loud.

Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed. It’s also limited to 300 copies! Ok I’m gonna wrap it up here and wish you a great week. Thanks for reading! Until next time..

-Angela

Dominic's Staff Pick: November 6, 2023

What’s up Sorry Staters? Shit, it’s been so long since I wrote anything for the newsletter. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll leave for you to decide. I do try to pass on my enthusiasm for good music and hopefully that comes across regardless of how eloquent.

So, since the last time we met here so much has happened. I was finally able to make the great trip back home to England and Scotland to see my mum, my sister and her family and my aunt and my long-lost cousins. It was a magical month, and I had a great time. It had been way too long since I had seen my loved ones and some of the places that I grew up around. It was a bit of a head fuck to be honest, being away for so long and back in a land and culture I hadn’t experienced for almost a decade. A lot has changed in that time, but a lot has remained the same. It felt good to be back and my batteries were recharged. A lot of the time was spent walking dogs along beaches and country paths and honestly, I couldn’t have been happier. My mum lives a mile from the sea and on the edge of the New Forest, a beautiful part of Southern England, so there’s plenty of great places for nice walks and I surely don’t have to tell you how gorgeous the Scottish Highlands and coastlines are. Growing up, I used to spend every summer holiday up there and the experience shaped me in so many ways. I was very emotional when it came time to leave to say the least. I must make sure it’s not so long before I return next time.

Believe it or not I didn’t do much record shopping and only visited a few spots. The best of which was one in my very own hometown of New Milton in Hampshire. An ex Royal Navy man and punk called Simon has a fabulous shop in the back of an antique and collectors’ emporium. His place was small, but not an inch was wasted. All killer and no filler titles and in top shape. He wasn’t giving stuff away and his prices were appropriate for top shelf items, but there were plenty of great affordable records in there. I couldn’t fit LPs into my luggage, so resisted the temptation on a few things, but did end up going through some of his singles and ended up buying a few picture sleeve 45s and bringing them back here to Sorry State. Some of you who came to shop during the anniversary festival snatched up most of them and I was happy to see them go to good homes. Just cheap and cheerful stuff, but you don’t often see UK singles over here.

Now that I have mentioned it, I must talk about the Sorry State Shop 10th Anniversary Festival. Wow! Simply fantastic. What an amazing experience. Such fun. So cool having so many incredible bands and punks in town. Thank you, thank you to everyone who played, worked and partied with us. Thank you to all that came by the store during the weekend and especially on Saturday when Jeff filled the bins with punk banger after punk banger. So many great records. Big shout out to him for making that happen. What a guy. He really worked so hard on making the festival a success and of course played in several of the bands throughout the weekend. And worked the store the day after. A true punk warrior.

The same can be said about Usman. I can’t tell you how much I love and respect these guys. Usman has the energy of a thousand Energizer bunnies and is still out on the road with our friends from Italy, Golpe. God bless him.

I love my brothers and sisters here at Sorry State so much and they all worked so hard preparing for the festival whilst I was away. I felt bad about being gone for so long, but contributed some ideas and did my best to pitch in and get up to speed once I returned. For my part, I of course worked the store and did get to play some records between bands as the DJ for the shows at Kings. Big shout out to Kelcy for her usual stellar job running sound and the bar tenders who looked after everyone.

Naturally, the biggest thank you must go to our illustrious leader, the Lord Daniel, the Doctor, the Professor, the coolest and kindest guy on the planet who created all of this in the first place. I’m honored to be a small part of the Sorry State world and so massive thanks to him for everything he does, big and small, every single day. I’m so glad the festival went off so well and it really warmed the cockles of my heart to see Daniel having so much fun and enjoying being around his people. It certainly was a terrific gathering of the tribes and hopefully something that might happen again. Cheers again to everyone involved.

Now that we are back to normal? Are we ever? There’s always something happening. We are still celebrating Halloween, All Saints and Day of The Dead as I write and before we know what we’ll be talking about Thanksgiving and Black Friday Record Store Day releases. However, there are loads of new releases and reissues of older gems that are already here in the store that we can talk about. Where to start? The mini newsletters of the past couple of weeks have highlighted a few standouts. We are all fans of Institute here at SSR, some longer than others. I’m still catching up on the back catalogue, but their latest titled Ragdoll Dance is a winner. If you loved member Mose(s) Brown’s side project Peace De Resistance as much as we did, then you’ll find lots to enjoy on Ragdoll Dance.

Another band whose previous releases I am catching up on is The Serfs. They have just released their third LP on Trouble in Mind and it is excellent. From Cincinnati, Ohio, they play a cool blend of synth-punk and industrial leaning electro sounds. The first one or two tracks are more guitar based punk songs, not a million miles away from the type of thing Institute are doing, but by third track Beat Me Down the electro side of the band takes over. There’s some really nice synth sounds on that song and next one Spectral Analysis. That vibe continues on side two, and for DJ’s playing to a more progressive dance floor they should find some new faves here. Songs Club Deuce and Electric Like An Eel caught my ear. Good stuff from these guys. Check them out.

Whilst we’re in the synth mindset and if that’s your bag then you should check out a nifty new compilation called Yu Wave. It features long lost tracks recorded in the former Yugoslavia during the early 1980s. Lovingly put together with informative liner notes (why such a small font though?) by the Castra label, there are gems a-plenty on here. Nice minimal synth-pop and new wave goodies that I am still familiarizing myself with, but will be dipping into for our Worldy radio show. It’s so cool that records and recordings (often only on tapes) like these are getting wider recognition. There really is still so much great music from around the world that is only recently getting heard and appreciated by us the modern audience. Pretty cool for us.

I’ve been loving how much new music we have been getting in, but really dig being turned on to older stuff that I was unfamiliar with. Perhaps I should have known better, but you can’t keep up with everything. Case in point, I wasn’t aware of Japanese band Slicks from the 90s, but was enjoying a used copy we had of a compilation of their records. Very Sex Pistols influenced, and the production is clearly 1990s, but as someone who lived through that era, not a bad thing at all. I liked what these guys were doing in the same way that I enjoyed another 90s era band that Jeff and I were playing recently, The Briefs. Their Hit After Hit LP is a lot of fun and worth checking out if you are not familiar. But don’t take my word; read Jeff’s pick.

What I would like to recommend to you in the spirit of lost treasures and mentioning Japanese punk bands is the reissue of INU: Don’t Eat Food! LP. Again, lovingly reissued with liner notes and photos by label Mesh Key Records, this is a must listen to anyone interested in the Japanese scene and great post-punk sounds. Originally released in 1981 by the final incarnation of the short-lived band, the album is touted as being one of the greatest Japanese punk albums of all time, and yet has remained almost unknown by the rest of the world. Unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese punk like some of the Sorry State staff, that is. I obviously had never heard or seen the record, so have been loving getting to know it these past couple of weeks. I don’t want to regurgitate copy taken from other reviews, but suffice to say it lives up to its reputation. The band came from Osaka and the same scene that Aunt Sally came out of, so if you have been intrigued by Daniel’s love of Aunt Sally and Phew and his great writing on those records you should probably add Don’t Eat Food to your playlist.

The reissue sounds great and again comes with terrific liner notes, lyrics and photos. Very informative. This is the sound of a young band, out of step with the mainstream and forging their own path. Leader and songwriter Kou Machida was still a teenager, as were the band, but he was writing clever and witty lyrics and singing them in the distinctive local dialect, deliberately going against the grain. You’ve got to love characters like this.

I’m the worst person to articulate properly what a record sounds like and perhaps Doctor D can break down the musical aspects of the songs in a way that you can hear the music through his words, but the record is a punk record, post-punk/new wave, being strictly more accurate and will no doubt please many of you out there if you aren’t hip already. I liked the tracks Dumdum Bullet and Old Man, Old Woman to name two. It’s a grower though, and repeated listening is revealing the nuances and new favorites. Worth investigating for sure.

Okay, that’s enough blather from me, although I feel there’s so much more to talk about. Thanks for taking time to read, thanks for supporting us and thanks for loving good music.

We love you. Cheers – Dom

Jeff's Staff Pick: November 6, 2023

What’s up Sorry Staters?

It feels like I was writing one of these just a few days ago. Well really… I guess I was? October was a crazy month. Dom was gone and visiting his family in England for a while. Sorry State’s 10-Year Anniversary came and went like a spontaneous combustion. And at the time that I’m writing this, Usman is still driving Golpe and Electric Chair on tour. I’m not even sure what day he’s returning to Raleigh.

The celebration of all things Halloween is behind us. I think I feel sad about that a little bit. I’m still a bit fried from once again making the trek up to Richmond. Public Acid played a show on Halloween night. Even for a Tuesday, I was overwhelmed by how many people showed up to this gig. Most people didn’t even recognize me… Let me explain: first of all, I guess with my poofy hair hidden, no one knew who the fuck I was while in costume, let alone the fact that I was clearly dressed as Captain Sensible. A few homies knew who I was dressed as immediately, but one friend asked me what my costume was, and then said, “Too deep a reference.” For real? Not in my universe. I was under the impression most people at a punk show would be familiar with The Damned. Whatever. I’ll be honest. I left the Halloween gig in Richmond not in the best mood. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because while I was surrounded by friends, I didn’t feel like I got to spend enough time enjoying their company because the event was just too oversaturated. Maybe I had some internal emotions I wasn’t addressing while in the midst of trying to force myself to be in the Halloween spirit and party sufficiently. Who knows? Anyway, as Wayne Campbell would say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to dump on ya.”

I will say that nothing makes me happier than accidentally stumbling into a record I used to love, revisiting it, and getting stoked all over again. A little blast of nostalgia never hurt anyone, but then it’s also a cool feeling to think to yourself, “Damn, this still rules.” In this case, I’m talking about the debut LP by The Briefs, Hit After Hit. What an appropriately titled record. This record originally came out in the year 2000 on Dirtnap. But along with many of the reissues we stock from Radiation, this record was repressed in this lord’s year 2023 on German imprint Wanda Records. Was this LP out of print for a long time? Sure seems like it to me. Maybe there was some other reissue in the 2010s? I dunno.

Personally, I first discovered The Briefs from when the opening track on this record and all-time banger “Poor and Weird” was featured as the song for Patrick Melcher’s part in the skate video Blackout from Black Label. Amazing skate video, which made an indelible mark on me as a young teenager. I mean, it was also the first time I heard “Waiting For the Blackout” by The Damned – but I digress. Patrick Melcher was a ripper, but more than that, the tune during his video part always gripped me. As a young punker in-training, I remember thinking, “who is this band?” Those pounding drums in the intro, and in a Ramones-esque fashion, the song opens with the repeated chant, which goes: “I’m poor and I’m weird, baby. You got no time for me.” I was hooked.

Immediately fun and energetic, there was something about The Briefs that was so infectious upon my first listen. And then lyrically, it was clear that these dudes didn’t take themselves too seriously and had a warped sense of humor. There’s a line from that same seminal track “Poor Weird,” that at one point says something like, “I see a little purple man disappearing in the street.” What drugs are you taking, bud? Call them KBD-influenced. Ramones? Buzzcocks? Whatever you’re thinking, it’s all down strokes and all badass. The band is a bit quirky and a bit silly. In some ways, the zany, snotty and slightly over-the-top vocal approach of main lead singer Steve E. Nix (again, hilarious) always reminded me a lot of Leonard Phillips from The Dickies. All things melodic, catchy, and full of attitude find themselves somewhere in The Briefs’ formula. I guess you could bill them as “pop punk,” but to me The Briefs don’t come across as sickeningly pop punk sounding as say Screeching Weasel or The Queers or bands of that ilk. The band has much more of that ’77 rock’n’roll punk edge.

If you want the quintessential looking cool and yet silly wearing sunglasses and leather jackets type of punk, then look no further. In terms of presentation, The Briefs incorporate a bit of that 70s pop art flair, which I totally dig. I tried my best to look the part in my staff pick photo above haha. But when I was revisiting this record, what struck me is how great the songwriting is. Song after song, The Briefs know how to write some killer hooks. To the point where I was thinking about this record coming out in 2000 and thought to myself… “Wow, current bands don’t write songs like this anymore.” As I mentioned before, “Poor and Weird” is an amazing opening track. The 2nd track “Run The Other Way” has these vocal inflections where my dude doesn’t just sing a word like “eyes” as just one syllable… Oh no, it’s “eye-ah-ah-ah-eyeees.” So awesome. “Gimme gimme danger, gimme something I can talk about.” I believe I personally identify with this message on a regular basis. Then next up is “Silver Bullet.” You know the Silver Bullet Band? Well, The Briefs would rather take a bullet and “Kill Bob Seger right now!” A beautiful proclamation. I also identify with this message. Someone’s probably gonna be like, “Dude, Bob Seger System is a good record. Yeah sure, whatever. But “that old time rock’n’roll is something we could do without.” The next song slows the tempo down a bit and I find myself immediately singing along: “Rotten rotten luh-uh-ove.” And as you keep listening to the record, the hits just KEEPS COMING LIKE THAT. The whole record is insanely catchy. A few of the tracks ramp up the tempo from driving Ramones pace to damn-near hardcore speed on songs like “Sylvia” and “Big Dog.” Then the final track on the record is a 30-second sing-along. Dalai Lama? Dolly Parton? What’s the difference, right?

A beautiful balance of clever, yet irreverent lyrics and amazingly catchy and hooky songwriting. Real punk. Yeah, I said it. What more could you ask for? I think you need to jam some Briefs. Scoop one of these reissues before they’re all gone.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got this week. It’s fuckin’ cold in my apartment. As always, thanks for reading.

‘Til next week,

-Jeff

Danie's Staff Pick: November 8, 2023

Naomi Klein: Doppelganger: A Trip into the Mirror World (2023)

Reagan Youth: Youth Anthems For The New Order 12” (1984)

This week I’ve been reading Naomi Klein’s new book Doppelganger. You may have heard about it… there has been a large promotional campaign behind it, and I’ve read reviews of it in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other publications, heard Klein on podcasts like Marc Maron’s, etc. If you pay attention to new books, you probably know about it. If not, you might still recognize Klein’s name from her previous books like No Logo and The Shock Doctrine; she is a cogent critic of capitalism and its associated ills, and Doppelganger is a fabulous book (well, at least the 3/4 of it I’ve read so far)… well-researched, engrossing, enlightening… just a great book.

I won’t go too far into its complex premise, but Doppelgangerexplores what Klein calls the Mirror World. The Mirror World is the shadow media sphere that belongs to the right wing. Not so much Fox News (though they have one, if not both, feet planted in it), but the layer beneath that of right-wing podcasts, YouTube-style personalities, and social media influencers. For those of us who aren’t part of or interested in this mirror world, it’s easy to ignore because much it exists outside the mainstream social media landscape on platforms like Parler, Gettr, and Truth Social that are shadow versions of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc., populated by people banned—or, to use the current term, deplatformed—from the mainstream sites. I hear about these right-wing social media alternatives from time to time in the media I consume, and I assumed they were sad intellectual ghettos. Maybe they are, but Klein describes a rich and active world that, even if it doesn’t touch my life directly, exerts enormous influence in the world. I’m sure most of us have experienced, in the past several years, the phenomenon of one or more of our loved ones being “flipped,” turning into quacks, conspiracy nuts, ring-wingers, proud boys, or some combination thereof. That process of moving from the mainstream media to the mirror world is crucial in this flipping process, undermining (or perhaps simply realigning) what its audience previously held as values and truths.

One part of Doppleganger that was enlightening to me is what Klein refers to as “diagonalism,” or the forging of alliances across the traditional left/right political divide. While the left has been busy eating itself with infighting over identity politics, right-wingers like Steve Bannon have found common ground with groups that, previously, might have been on the other side of the political spectrum. One of the largest of these diagonalist alliances is between the right wing and the amorphous world of social media health influencers, supplement peddlers, alternative health quacks, and others whose supposed expertise is in health and fitness, but who share the right’s conspiratorial mindset and disdain for leftist values like equality. While this alliance had been percolating for some time, it seemed to coalesce during the COVID crisis when numerous social media influencers from this sphere were deplatformed for sharing misinformation about the virus. When these folks were booted off the mainstream social media platforms, they found a new audience in the mirror world who ate up their COVID-related conspiracy theories and bought their quack cures. While the yoga / life coach / holistic health / alternative medicine set has roots in the hippie movement and ties to the political left, vaccine paranoia (about both the COVID vaccine and the persistent belief that routine childhood vaccines cause autism) has pushed these people to the political right. Klein writes about how beliefs about bodily autonomy and the idea that one’s physical fitness reflects their worth dovetail with ring-wing ideas about economic freedom and white supremacy.

As I’ve been reading Doppleganger, I’ve also been listening a lot to Reagan Youth’s Youth Anthems for the New Order. I never owned this record before, but I picked up a copy a couple of weeks ago. Even though I’ve never owned it, I’ve somehow soaked up all seven of its tracks through the punk ether, and I know them well. Of course, this is a brilliant record. Reagan Youth had a different vibe than their fellow early 80s New York punk bands, adept at crafting memorable choruses and imbuing their songs with hooks that remind me more of early 80s west coast punk than the more spare, grimier New York bands like Agnostic Front and the Abused. But, at the same time, Reagan Youth had that New York toughness (I’m sure you had to, living in that city at that time) and they were politically aware in a way that differed from their New York peers too, which is probably at least part of the reason Youth Anthems appeared on MDC’s label R Radical Records.

While Reagan Youth’s original singer Dave Insurgent died in 1993, the group reformed in 2006 and has continued to play live ever since. As with their fellow New Yorkers, the Cro-Mags, their reunion era has seemed chaotic, plagued by near-constant lineup shuffles and magical thinking about what the reformed version of the band might accomplish. I have not heard good things from anyone who has seen them play. As someone who didn’t even own their seminal record, this controversy happened off my radar, but in the past several years, Reagan Youth’s official Instagram account started popping up in my feed. Apparently maintained by guitarist Paul Bakija, Reagan Youth’s only constant member, the posts on the account always struck me as unhinged, evincing a level of paranoia that might be notable in its extremity, but not different in kind to what you see many other old punks (and old people in general, I guess) spouting on social media.

Thinking about Reagan Youth in light of Klein’s analysis of diagonalism in Doppleganger, though, makes me see it in a different light. I, like so many other punks, have wondered how so many of our heroes have flipped to the other side of the political spectrum. But the roots of this transition are right there in punk itself. The suspicion of power. The impulse toward nihilism. The DIY ethos that puts so much focus and responsibility on the individual. The distrust of mainstream media. As with the health influencers Klein writes about, you don’t have to flip all that many switches to get from 80s punk to contemporary conspiranoid.

Given that Reagan Youth was always a political band, it’s easy to view their embarrassing modern era as a single member hijacking a group’s legacy for their own ends. However, I wonder if the seeds of this diagonalism were there in Reagan Youth’s music all along. (Even their Wikipedia page calls them “an aggressively anarchist, socialist, and anti-racist band,” which hints at the muddiness of their politics.) The song “USA” has the lyric, “I want peace and anarchy,” but it also advocates for “total liberty.” There’s a large streak of “I do whatever the fuck I want” nihilism in Reagan Youth’s anarchism, which is the soil in which diagonalist thinking grows. I’ve also always been uncomfortable with the gleeful shouts of “sieg heil” in the song “Reagan Youth.” The song obviously indicts Reaganism, but there’s something about the way they lean into that chant that wigs me out. Klein writes about how believers in COVID and vaccine conspiracies compare themselves to Jews in Nazi Germany and black people under slavery and Jim Crow, claiming their beliefs make them an oppressed class akin to those groups. At the very least, that idea is overblown, but it’s best classified as insane and offensive. In “USA,” Reagan Youth compares living in America to “mental slavery,” and their name and signature song make an equivalency between 80s America and Nazi Germany. I mean, yeah, but also, no… know what I mean?

I’m not saying Reagan Youth was a right-wing band… that’s absurd. However, their thinking was complex, muddy, and slippery. As is everyone’s… yours, mine, your Fox News-watching parents, your red-pilled work acquaintance / cousin / former bandmate / etc. Like I said, I haven’t finished Klein’s book, but I suspect part of the takeaway might be that when people cross that line between acceptable and unacceptable views and we cut them out of their lives (and our feeds), we are complicit. There has to be a better strategy than ignoring and abandoning these people, letting them find each other and coalesce into an growing social tumor.

Angela's Staff Pick: October 31, 2023

Hi Sorry State friends! Hope all is well. Happy Halloween! I’m trying to get my ass back in gear after one hell of a weekend. At the time I’m writing this, it’s the Friday following the fest, so I’m still referring to Sorry State Fest weekend. What an absolute blast. If you’re interested, Daniel put together a really cool special newsletter type thing that encapsulates some great photos of the epic performances and related shenanigans. That whole weekend could not have gone any better. The time and attention and care that went into it really showed, tenfold. Man, every band was so sick. There was just a different level of energy and excitement that elevated every performance.

So glad I finally got to see Personal Damage and Golpe in particular, and they were all so nice! I am also so excited I got to see ISS, as I think they had only played twice live prior and I love their music so much! Shaved Ape (with Meat House) at the day show was killer. They sounded great together. I had never seen a hardcore show in the daylight, and it was so fun! I could go on and on about other cool shit I saw, but just wanted to highlight some of the bands I’d never seen play until that weekend! 11 year anniversary fest, anyone?

We’ve gotten SO much new stock this past couple weeks. We were literally swimming in it over at the warehouse, but I’m not complaining! There are several new releases I’ve listened to so far and many more I really want to check out. So far I really like the new Delco MF’s, the new Golpe 7”, and the New Buck Biloxi/Lothario 7” split to name a few. Oh and we got our new Sorry State shirts! The new art is my favorite yet! But for this week I thought I’d kick it old school and write about a recently acquired record that I’m pretty happy with.

So my two biggest record wants in all of punk are the first two Minor Threat 7’s (preferably originals, but based on the price jumps, I’m not too picky anymore). And I finally landed an early pressing of the In My Eyes EP. It went out in the INSANE drop during SS Fest weekend (shout out to Jeff for all the work he did in bringing us the best record drop in all the land). I politely waited until the weekend was just about over before I went over to the store to see what was left. To my surprise, the In My Eyes EP was still on the wall, so I knew I was in trouble. But after some internal dialogue, I decided it was best to leave empty-handed. Then I texted Jeff like 15 minutes later with follow-up questions. You know you’re getting the damn thing when you can’t go 15 minutes before you’re asking follow-up questions.

I waited until Monday to officially claim it, and she was in my hot little hands by Wednesday. It was funny because Jeff brought it over and handed it to me hidden under some killer music nerd stuff (posters and stuff that Dominic found among his old things when he was in England, and was kind enough to give me!). Anyway, when I saw the Minor Threat record peaking out underneath I squealed with genuine delight. I don’t think I jumped up and down exactly, but there was some sort of bouncing motion at minimum. It’s not often I feel such pure childlike fucking glee, but record scores still do that for me. It’s so cool.

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to pull the trigger on the In My Eyes EP, as that one is the cheaper of the two. Maybe it’s the whole “records have tripled in price” thing. I just always figured I’d get them at some point. One of the dumbest things I’ve ever done is “figure I’d get them at some point.” Fast forward to a time I can start filling some important gaps in my collection, and the original Minor Threat EP is over $4,000 on Discogs! Unless I get incredibly lucky, I’ve given up on getting an original of the first one, but I will be perfectly happy with third pressings of both EP’s.

Isn’t it crazy how many holy grail records we could’ve gotten as late as 2019 for extremely doable (at least by today’s standards) prices? Isn’t it also crazy how many insane records we could check off our list if we would just sell the shit we don’t even care about that much? It’s completely irrational.

So I’m just going to focus on appreciating what I have, and I was so happy to get this blue label with insert that I almost teared up. I don’t listen to Minor Threat near as much as I did like 20 years ago, but in my eyes (wink wink), they are the best hardcore band in the whole wide world. There’s something so exciting and explosive about Ian’s vocals and how perfectly they go with the music. I’ve thought about this next question a few times, but I can’t really pinpoint the answer if there is one. What the hell is it about Ian’s vocals that sound so good and so satisfying? Is it the tone? Is it the talk-sing-scream thing? Because I love a good talk-sing-scream formula. Is it the passion? All of the above? There’s something special there that sparks a unique kind of excitement in me.

I love the tempo shifts, the way the music builds and explodes, and builds and explodes again. I love the blistering choruses that are so easy to get stuck in your head. I love the downright militant level of passion in the music. And I love that they are so technically good, but still sloppy and free enough to sound cool.

Although most of my favorite Minor Threat songs are on the first EP, In My Eyes has to be my favorite Minor Threat song of all time, and I think it’s undoubtedly one of the best hardcore songs ever made. “Did you fucking get it?” and “at least I’m fucking trying…what the fuck have you done?” will go down as some of the best lines ever written and screamed.

I don’t know, I get overwhelmed trying to put into words how great Minor Threat is, but finally having this historic piece of music makes me so happy. I’ve found some great records in the wild but have relied on Discogs so much for specific ones that are hard to come across. But there is literally nothing better than finding something you’ve always wanted right there in store. And this one is extra special because it will always remind me of the 10-year anniversary fest, and my time at Sorry State in general.

I figured we can all relate to moments like this, so thank you for reading my sappy shit. Until next time!

Thanks,

Angela