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Staff Picks: April 9, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

When I moved into my current home about a year ago I didn’t have a suitable spot to set up all of my stereo gear, so just hooked up a receiver and turntable in the living room. My partner and I listened to vinyl pretty much exclusively for the first 8 months we lived here, then for Christmas some of my friends chipped in and got me a Sonos Connect, so for the past few months I've also had streaming audio. For all of this time my CD and tape decks sat in a closet and my tapes and CDs (nuts) sat unplayed. This week I got a little stereo cabinet to hold all of my components, so I’m back to playing all formats. The first order of business is to go through this massive CD collection that Sorry State bought last summer.

If you’ve been paying attention to our used stock for the past year, you’ve seen that we’ve had a ton of compilation LPs. These CDs come from the same collection and are similarly heavy on compilations and reissue collections. The boxes of CDs have been sitting sealed in storage, so opening each box is like waking up on Christmas morning and getting a couple hundred CDs as a present. There’s so much I want to listen to, but here are the first three things I played:

Various: Cold Waves + Minimal Electronics CD (Angular)

My partner has a weird hatred of CDs, so I knew that I had to come out with some fire if I would convince her it was cool for me to be playing CDs regularly. This compilation fit the bill as she’s a huge fan of vintage post-punk and minimal synth. I put it on, and she was dancing in the living room within minutes. I wasn’t familiar with much of anything on this compilation, but everything here rules and fits the bill as vintage cold wave and/or minimal synth. Plus, since it’s a CD, there’s over an hour of music to go through!

Various: Messthetics #101 CD (Hyped 2 Death)

I was super excited to see a few Hyped 2 Death CDs floating around in the collection, and the first one I threw on is this Messthetics compilation. If you aren’t familiar with Messthetics, it was one of the first compilation series that I was aware of devoted to the UKDIY scene. While the regular Messthetics volumes featured songs in alphabetical order by artist, the 100 series is sequenced like a “best of” type of thing, and it’s all hits. I was familiar with a few of these bands (Scissor Fits, Homosexuals, The Door and the Window), but this thing is packed with bands and tracks I know nothing about. Awesome!

Various: Murder Punk Volume 2 CD (Murder Punk Inc)

I remember downloading the two volumes of Murder Punk in the late 90s or early 2000s, and even though I have official reissues of almost all of these tracks, it’s great to revisit this one. This is total bootleg quality—many of the tracks have audible surface noise from the vinyl—but it doesn’t matter because the music is so jaw droppingly great. There’s a reason original copies of these records command four figures… they’re that good! The News, the Scientists, Fun Things, Victims, Thought Criminals… fuck, what a lineup! There isn't a single dud here. Here’s hoping I find Volume 1 in one of the other boxes.





Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

Hope you all are remaining safe at home and still being thoroughly entertained by listening to record after record on a daily basis. I must admit that I do find myself getting a little stir crazy here and there. And what keeps my brain occupied? Buying new records, of course! Recently I got an order in the mail with a few 7”s, mostly 80s singles that aren’t too crazy, but moderately priced. A couple of the records I got are by Japanese bands that I would describe as being right on the brink of no longer being hardcore and moving into full-on metal. I find it so interesting that bands from Japan that were active in the mid-to-late 80s seem to be unashamed of blending metal influences into their hardcore. I think most would agree that Death Side is decidedly claimed by the punk community and welcomely accepted, but musically is topped by Chelsea’s shredding, metal-esque guitar leads… Kinda weird.

But anyway, one of the singles I got is by a band called Front Guerilla. According to Discogs, this 7” is their only release. The vocals kind of remind me of Power Never Die-era Comes, but beyond that, everything about this record pretty much screams metal. In particular, the way the band looks on the front cover. We’re talking leather, lace and big hair! It’s four songs, which are all pretty melodic, I would say, but super cool. Lots of chugga-chugga riffs and double kick drum. Definitely would recommend checking it out.

The other single is by a band called Doom, not to be confused with the UK band. The 7’ I got is entitled Go Mad Yourself, which appears to be their first proper release from 1986. Doom apparently self-describes their band as “psycho metallic fusion”, so I feel like that’s a good jumping off point for describing their sound. I’ve heard their full-length that follows this EP from 1987, which is definitely much more a straight up metal record. “Go Mad Yourself” I would say still has a foot in hardcore punk though, almost kind of in the same way that crossover bands do. They also seem to use the same grim reaper image as Sacrilege on their record layout. There’s a detectable “evilness” in the sound, kind of almost Slayer-ish riffs. Visually, the band also would paint their faces stark white along with “blood” red make-up dripping from their eyes. Kinda like Mobs, but more fucked up. Maybe proto-Visual Kei? Honestly though, the record just fucking rips.



Staff Picks: Eric

Damn La Vida Es Un Mus really knocked it out of the park with these releases.

Fried E/M: Modern World LP: Upon first listen I didn't love this record, but then I revisited it a week or so later and I can't stop jamming it. First off, it's a perfect recording (love the way every instrument sounds). It's a little eggy, but more than anything it's just snotty, apathetic, and punk as fuck. No D-beats here, just great midwest hardcore punk.

Soakie: S/T LP: I'm loving this debut from this half NYC/half Aussie punk band. The descriptor that comes to mind when trying to describe this is bouncy, the same way I feel a band like Glue is bouncy. I can't stop shaking my head back in forth. But the word "bouncy" sounds too fun and innocent; this shit is abrasive and mean. Snarling vocals with powerful lyrics on top of urgent and catchy punk riffs.

FOC: La Fera Ferotge LP: Totally ripping hardcore punk based out of Barcelona and sung in Catalan. Sloppy and fast as fuck hardcore. The chord structures and riffs remind a lot of classic USHC, but the vocal phrasing and the way all the instruments blend together sounds totally inspired by Italian punk like Wretched or Indigesti. I would also go as far as to compare it some Scandinavian hardcore like Kaaos. A must listen for hardcore fans everywhere, I'd say.





Staff Picks: Dominic

Greetings everybody. I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and surviving?

Thanks to you, our loyal friends and customers, we are still selling records through our webstore and keeping the lights on at Sorry State. We appreciate you guys being as excited about music and records as we are. So, the way it has been working is that each day we gab a handful of records and go home and list them. As I have been taking photos and listing records I will stick one of them on and have a little listen as I work and so for this weeks’ picks I want to just high light some gems that I was digging.
 
In no particular order, we have two from Britain, two from the US and one from Holland. These are all groups and artists from the sixties, some you may know and others perhaps not but I promise you these records are all great.

First up from England we have The Sorrows and a reissue of their 1965 album called Take A Heart. Formed in Coventry in the Midlands, The Sorrows played what is now called Freakbeat or Mod Rock, a soulful and harder version of the Beat and R ‘n’ B that was ruling the country at the time. They had moderate success in England but were quite popular in Italy where they recorded Italian versions of their songs. This version of the album is padded out with some single cuts including the mighty You’ve Got What I Want which I have always liked.
 
Next up from Holland we have The Outsiders, the Dutch Pretty Things. Led by the enigmatic Wally Tax, these guys were right behind the UK acts and put out a slew of great Beat and R ‘n’ B tracks with interesting pop sensibilities. Their psych masterpiece being the album CQ, which should be in everyone’s collection if they are fans of great 60’s psychedelic music. We have for sale a Dutch best of and it is a good way to introduce yourself to the band. Highlights being the songs Touch, Bird In The Cage and Strange Things Are Happening. This copy has a little cover wear but the vinyl is clean and sounded great.
 
Over to the United States now. First up, the Spanish label Guerssen put together a nice collection of the garage band The Lemon Drops who are most famous for their awesome I Live In The Springtime single. This record even has the rare fuzz version of that single. Like most young teen bands recording back then not everything was gold but there are plenty of really good tracks on this record other than the aforementioned single. I liked It Happens Everyday, Crystal Pure, Death Calls and Talk To The Animals as they all feature some fuzz guitar and have more psychy leanings but some of the ballads were cool too. Definitely worth investigating.
 
Another American record next. We have a nice reissue of the Del Shannon 1968 psych pop record The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover. Originally released on Liberty, this version is courtesy of Trouble Mind and they have done a nice job on the packaging and quality. I really love this record. I was a Del Shannon fan from his 50’s hits and then discovered his mid-sixties 45’s that were decent and then finally this album. I found mine in an old record store on City Island in the Bronx back in my New York Days. That spot was a secret diggers gold mine. Anyway, the Del album is an interesting listen. It covers a lot of ground and almost has the feel of the type of records Scott Walker was making or those that Curt Boetcher was making with The Millennium. Tracks like Silver Birch have a real atmospheric quality with swirling horns and organ at the end that segue into one of the highlight tracks I Think I Love You which grooves along with strings propelling the rhythm. The record ends on New Orleans (Mardi Gras) which has a nice soul groove albeit with a dark edge, cut as it is with heavy guitar work and sound effects. Del Shannon was popular in England and France and he cut a nice pop record over at Immediate which sadly didn’t get a proper release and was put out piece meal later in the seventies. Again, highly recommended.
 
Finally, we return to the UK for a late sixties heavier rock sound and an LP by The Open Mind. Their self-titled album was recorded at the famed De Lane Lea studios in early ’69 and didn’t sell at all at the time despite having a pretty cool cover. Musically the sound is a little late for 1969 and is more 67/68 in my opinion and possibly might explain why the hip record buyer ignored it at the time. The track that modern listeners may know as it has become a DJ fave over the years (yours truly included) is Magic Potion. That track is much heavier and has a great driving sound more in line with early Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. It’s definitely the money track on the record. That being said, for fans of late sixties UK post summer of love sounds, there is still plenty to enjoy here. I liked the track Horses And Chariots and Before My Time which reminded me a little of The End and their Bill Wyman produced album Introspection, which is also highly recommended.
 
Alright, so there you have it. All these beauties are available to purchase at the time of writing on our webstore, so go check ‘em out. Before I sign off I do want to say how pleased I was to come by the store the other day and hear Jeff playing one of my favourite bands The Las. That was cool. Then today I was jamming a used copy of The Teardrop Explodes’ Kilimanjaro in the store and in comes Jeff and his ears pricked up to what was playing and I was able to turn him on to another one of my faves. Such a great record. We are going to turn Jeff into a Scouser before too long with all these Liverpool bands. Talking of Liverpool and in particular the football club, our fan anthem is You’ll Never Walk Alone, an old Rogers & Hammerstein song from Carrousel the musical made famous in the sixties by Gerry And The Pacemakers and sung at games ever since. In these scary times, it has taken on more significance than ever as people try to find sense in the current situation. You can YouTube countless different versions being sung at football matches by fans and more recently by people across Europe in unison. Here’s the 45 version. Perhaps it might inspire you if needed.











Staff Picks: Ava

Ritual Dictates: Give In To Despair (Artoffact Records)

Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, Ritual Dictates has brought us a damn fine slab of death metal/classic rock/grindcore to wear out during quarantine. Containing ex members of 3 Inches of Blood (one of my favorite power metal bands!) and a current member of Revocation, Ash Pearson and Justin Hagberg are sure to confuse and entrance you with these supreme riffs. I absolutely LOVE the contrast of guttural and clean vocals. This is the first album to come out this year that has truly captivated me. It’s just one of those records that each song is so unique to itself AND well written that you find yourself excited to hear what comes next. 10/10 highly recommend for fans of anything at all heavy and melodic. Out NOW on Artoffact Records!

Staff Picks: April 2, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Spooky Tooth & Pierre Henry: Ceremony LP

One of the best things about Dominic working at Sorry State is when he hands me a record and says, “here, take this home.” The latest record he’s hipped me to is this 1970 LP, billed as a collaboration between the blues rock band Spooky Tooth and French avant-garde / musique concrete composer Pierre Henry. I was coming to this blind as I wasn’t familiar with either artist’s work.

Boy, is this a weird one! Spooky Tooth is admirably heavy and grimy here, approaching Sabbath levels of heaviness without degenerating into the BBQ blues that I have a hard time with. The lyrics, strangely, are overtly—even aggressively—Christian, and normally that would irk me, but the entire enterprise is undercut by Pierre Henry’s contributions to the album. Rather than being a true collaboration, Spooky Tooth completed their recordings and sent the master tapes to France where Henry overdubbed his own contributions… bleeps, bloops, tape loops, and other tricks of the avant-garde trade. Sometimes these sounds create a subtle background texture to Spooky Tooth’s songs, while at others they dominate the mix with the band’s music in the distant background, barely audible.

In reading about the album online I found many people who insist that Henry ruined what would have been Spooky Tooth’s greatest album, but not being invested in Spooky Tooth’s career trajectory, I think what exists here is fantastic. There’s an unresolved tension between Spooky Tooth’s and Pierre Henry’s contributions to the album, as if they are fighting a bitter battle for the listener’s attention rather than trying to work together. This also works with the album’s lyrical themes. Spooky Tooth envisioned their tracks as a rock-and-roll mass, while Pierre Henry cast his abstract and non-linear contributions as field recordings of pagan religious rites. It’s like the soundtrack to one of Captain Cook’s exploratory missions making first contact with a remote Pacific island civilization. It is truly wild, and while it’s unlistenable in many respects, I also find myself unable to turn away.

Staff Picks: Jeff

What’s up Sorry Staters?

Hope everyone is dealing with all this bullshit to the best of their ability. Daniel has been cool enough to let us keep working from home, so I’ve of course been throwing on record after record. I can only imagine all of you reading this are doing the same! While I generally dislike being super engaged with social media, I have to admit it’s been fun watching people I know posting cool records. There have been a lot of games where people tag each other with like “Show 4 gems from your 7” fire box” and stuff like that. I succumbed to the flood of activity and made some posts myself. And while maybe spamming people with Instagram stories is a bit tiresome, it has been a good way to stay connected and chat with people. I’m all for it.

Between playing all my “fire” 7”s, I have also been throwing on records here and there from the store as I’m posting them for sale online. Recently I was jamming the Alley Cats 2nd album Escape From The Planet Earth. While I’d heard the Dangerhouse singles, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a couple bangers on a, by comparison to the singles, modestly priced LP. Sure there’s some weird dub-twinged songs, but tracks like “It Only Hurts The First Time” are totally killer! Gotta say tho, the opening title track is a sleeper hit if I’ve ever heard one. I typically prefer the songs that Dianne sings, but if even just for the guitar on “Escape From The Planet Earth”, I’d put it up in the high rankings. We’ve got $13 on it if this piques your interest.

Staff Picks: Eric

Muro / Orden Mundial: Sonido De La Negacion 12" (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Yet another home run for Muro out of Colombia. Simple, pounding riffs that feel so much more genuine and punk than so many other hardcore punk bands today. The recording is blown out and sounds like it is clipping at times which I fuckin' LOVE. The Orden Mundial songs sound even more crazy on recording. Fuzzed out and fucked up hardcore punk. The slower, mid tempo songs are hypnotic in a strange way. There is noisy and fucked up guitar over top of monotonous bass and drum grooves. It's kind of maddening, honestly (that's a good thing btw)! The faster tunes are my favorite though. It is certainly reminiscent of US hardcore, but it is even rawer than what you'd expect from most classic USHC. Honestly, an amazing split in the year 2020. A copy of this is definitely coming home with me.

As I'm sure Daniel has mentioned, our operation has shifted for the time being and most of us are working from home. One thing that has been nice about working from home is having to chance to revisit records in my collection that haven't gotten much love recently. Some things I jammed while I was editing photos today include:

-Larma: S/T 12" ... Fuck, I think I just played the fuck out of this record as soon as we got it in the shop. After taking a break for a couple months and revisiting, I can tell you with 100% certainty that it kicks so much ass. Swedish HC brought to you by some of the same folks that brought you Skitkids (among others).

-Broken Bones: FOAD 12" ... I had forgotten how good this band is. It's like Danzig and Discharge pushed together. I had won this record in a raffle at a halloween benefit show this past year and hadn't spun it since. I was fuckin' missing out!

-Wendy O' Williams: WOW 12" ... Last year I was absolutely obsessed with the track "It's My Life" on this record. It has been recorded by a couple different artists, but Wendy's version is the best hands down. There are certainly a handful of bangers on this that were nice to revisit, but god damn I had to crank the volume for my track.

I jammed a bunch of other shit but these are my highlights for today. Stay punk!

Staff Picks: Dominic

As those of you who follow us regularly or who are local and shop at the store will know, we have had to shut the door to the public for the time being but that doesn’t mean we have stopped adding new records to our webstore including some of our used inventory which never usually gets listed. So definitely get yourselves acquainted with our new look online experience. Another thing we haven’t stopped doing is listening to music. It really is our passion and life love. My colleagues here are so damn cool and into such good stuff and between us all we have a pretty wide knowledge of music, new and old but are also humble enough to realize that there is a ton of stuff out there that we have still yet to discover. 

This week whilst working I have been playing some playlists that various friends sent me and thought I would highlight one or two of those songs that seemed particularly apt right now, whether it be for obvious title reasons or maybe a lyric that was poignant and add a couple of my own choices that I have been playing. So, in no particular order here we go:

First off, a cover of Jackson Browne’s These Days by country artist Johnny Darrell.  Although a song about love and loss it just seems to capture a mood. The song was rightfully made popular by Nico’s version of it and subsequent use in movies but I have dug Darrell’s version for many years now and honestly think it to be the best. His California Stop-Over LP is pretty good and fans of outsider type late 60’s country should check it out.


 
Next up an anti-war protest song from the 60’s, Barry McGuire and Eve Of Destruction, which honestly when you listen to it sounds like it could have been written last week and is commenting on current situations. Kind of sad that fifty years later and we are still fucking things up. Any way a good song in the early Dylan style.


 
A favorite around these parts and another oldie but a goodie. The Chambers Brothers and Time Has Come Today. Damn this song rules. If you don’t have their Time album with the full eleven minutes of this jam then you should try and find one asap. This track kills, especially the psych freak-out at the end. The album itself is great and covers a lot of ground, psych, soul and folk rock. If it was good enough for The Ramones then…


 
Something a little more modern next and an absolute personal fave of mine. It gets me every time. Manic Street Preachers and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next. A song from their late 90’s album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and more about Welsh Farmers joining the anti-fascist forces in Spain in the 30’s and Spain’s civil war but it still resonates today and certainly applies to our current situation. Such an anthem. I love the Manics so much. They didn’t really make it in America but those in the know appreciate them a great deal.


 
Gonna go out on a real oldie but again a song that might as well have been recorded last week as we can all relate.  I am talking about Nina Simone and Save Me.  Not much needed to say about the greatness of Nina Simone but this track has a killer groove and lyrically it sums up how a lot of us are feeling.


 
Alright, that’s your lot. A short playlist that has been helping me get through the day and with luck it will do the same for you too.  Stay safe out there. Listen to music and if you can support us and any of your local businesses that need you right now. Peace.

Staff Picks: March 26, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

I’ve been working so much that I have had little time for my typical routine of listening to a record or two while I unwind at night, so what I covered in this week’s Featured Release Roundup is more or less my playlist for the week. However, since many people are cooped up with time to kill, I thought I would recommend a few of my favorite podcasts:

You Don’t Know Mojack
http://www.mojackpod.com/

The conceit of this podcast is that the two hosts—two charming, music-obsessed Canadians—go through the entire SST Records catalog, with one episode devoted to each release. They’re doing the catalog in order, and they’ve now done well over 100 episodes. They are insanely thorough and often have guest interviews that provide information you can’t find anywhere else. This podcast is so fun that I devour every episode whether they’re talking about bands I love like Black Flag or the Descendents or bands I’ve never heard and probably never will, like Zoogz Rift. This is one of those things like The Best Show that might seem bewildering to an outsider, but once you’re hooked, it’s your favorite thing ever.

Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio
https://dynamitehemorrhage.com/

Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio is the podcast arm of the long-running zine Dynamite Hemorrhage. Jay Hinman, the man behind both enterprises, is insanely knowledgeable about music, but if you created a Venn diagram of our backgrounds and tastes, they’d only have about a 20% overlap. He’s well-versed in 90s garage and UKDIY (areas I know a little about, but not a ton), so every episode leads me to check out several bands I knew nothing about. His tastes skew toward the intellectual and arty (the overlap with what Sorry State carries would be labels like Ever/Never, Digital Regress, and C/Site), so if that interests you, you should check out this podcast.

Garbage in My Heart
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/garbage-in-my-heart/id1435736809

If Dynamite Hemorrhage overlaps with my wheelhouse about 20% of the time, Garbage in My Heart is about 90%. That means they play a ton of music I love, with emphasis on the kinds of things that Sorry State carries. If you’ve always yearned for a podcast version of the Sorry State newsletter, this is as close a version as you’ll find, and it’s extremely well produced.

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
https://www.earwolf.com/show/conan-obrien/

Definitely the most mainstream selection here, I had to include it because it’s been my favorite podcast for the past few months. Conan O’Brien is hilarious, and the loose, unscripted podcast format plays to his strengths. I’ve gathered that Conan ruffled some feathers in the podcast community because his show has gotten so much attention, but I think that’s less because of his material resources and more because the show is just that good.

Life During Wartime
https://kboo.fm/program/life-during-wartime

You might remember me promoting this show a few weeks ago when I was a guest, but I still listen to every episode even if I’m not on it. They have killer bands play live in the studio (the podcast is based in Portland so they have a pretty much bottomless well), and the segments when they play records feel like hanging out with your buddies, slamming beers and cracking wise while you all try to play the coolest stuff for one another.


Bad Reputation
https://www.badreputationpod.com/podcast/

This is a documentary podcast about the history of the Runaways, though it digresses into other related subjects, making it more of a podcast about the history of women in rock music. This one has excellent, NPR-level production, and even features Scott Plant from Droid’s Blood as the voice of Kim Fowley!

The Nimrods Podcast
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/nimrods-podcast-definitive-green-day-discussion-song/id1456010737

Just as the You Don’t Know Mojack podcast goes through the SST Records catalog, The Nimrods Podcast analyzes every single song in Green Day’s extensive catalog. Sometimes the vibe is a little goofy (as you might expect given the hosts are two guys in their early 30s (I think) who are lifelong Green Day fans), but there’s plenty of interesting history and analysis here too.

Noisextra
https://www.noisextra.com/

This one is way outside my wheelhouse, but I still enjoy it. Noisextra started as a show examining Merzbow’s recorded catalog, but a few months ago they expanded their scope to cover other classics of the noise genre. The hosts are extremely knowledgeable, and I’ve learned a ton about noise by listening to this. I just wish the records they talked about weren’t so hard to find…

Lost Notes
https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/lost-notes

Lost Notes is a music history podcast by KCRW, an NPR affiliate in Los Angeles. Each episode tells a different story, sort of like This American Life, but all about music. Probably the best-produced podcast on this list, and even when they’re talking about music I know nothing about it’s still great.

Henry & Heidi
https://henryandheidi.libsyn.com/

This is Henry Rollins’ podcast that he does with his assistant Heidi. I’m a fan of Rollins’ weekly radio show on KCRW, but there’s no music on this one. Instead, Heidi proposes a topic and Henry just talks about it until he runs out of steam. Some of my favorite episodes have been about Henry’s experiments with LSD, his experiences on the Lolapalooza tour, and his relationship with Black Sabbath and its members. You need to have some degree of Rollins tolerance to enjoy this one, but if you’re a fan, this is essential.

Staff Picks: Jeff

We’ve spending a lot of time at the store listing a bunch of our used inventory on the webstore. One record I always find myself coming back to is the self-titled album by Government Issue from 1986. I love this record. I remember my copy was gifted to me for (I think?) my 15th birthday by a good buddy. I was in a phase of just getting deeper and deeper into hardcore punk. My buddy who bought me the record had this funny anecdote about how when he was in the record store, he overheard another person who was more or less talking shit on the record. Basically, this random guy in the store was saying, “Well yeah, but that’s not GI’s good stuff.” My buddy still got it for me anyway, and honestly, I hadn’t heard Legless Bull yet, so it made no difference to me. As I’ve gotten older, I acknowledge that it’s not exactly an intense or aggressive record, but I think the songwriting -- and particularly the guitar playing -- is great on this record. To me, it’s a classic GI record. The intro track “Visions and ?” still gives me chills. I still have the same copy I got when I was 15 and don’t really plan on getting rid of it. If you want a great, but maybe a less well-known, listen from a classic DC punk band, you definitely can’t beat it for $10.

Staff Picks: Eric

Hate Preachers: Bile Of Progress cassette (Suck Blood)

Absolutely raging hardcore punk from some of the same folks that brought you Blazing Eye, Cruelty Bomb, etc. This sits somewhere between 80s Scandinavian HC and UK82. Very interesting and quick moving riffs while still being pounding and powerful. Plus, this recording is absolutely perfect, I wish all bands would sonically sound like this. I was fortunate enough to see this band in LA last year and they were great, not to mention it's also refreshing to see a great hardcore 3 piece!

Chained Bliss: Stained Red cassette (self-released)

My roommate was jamming this cassette while we were doing our post apocalyptic grocery store run. It's melodic punk I can get behind. My gut reaction is to call it somewhere between Masshysteri and The Marked Men (and I fuckin' love that kinda shit). The guitars are crunchy and chorusy, the vocals are snotty and harmonious, and that drummer's hi-hat hand stays rockin' those 16th notes. This one caught me by surprise, I highly recommend!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Echo And The Bunnymen: Crocodiles (Sire) 1980

The current world situation definitely sucks and I would be lying if I hadn’t thought for a second about whether I might be one of those that doesn’t make it, what with my weak lungs and proclivity to catching colds and all. The only way I can chase those thoughts out of my mind is to replace them with the music that I love. I am always listening to music new and old, but right now it has been a return to the classics and records that I grew up with and have loved since I first heard them. My pick this week is the fantastic Crocodiles by Echo and the Bunnymen.

You may have picked up on the fact that I like Liverpool. The city and people, the football club and particularly the music scene. Obviously the 60’s Mersey Beat scene that birthed the Beatles is foremost in most people’s minds when they think of music from Liverpool, but in the late 70’s and early 80’s some of the best and most interesting sounds were coming out of Merseyside. Two of my favorite groups being Echo and label mates on Korova in the beginning, The Teardrop Explodes. Both these groups I followed and tried to buy their records as soon as they came out.

Crocodiles was released in 1980 on the Korova label in the UK and Sire here in the US. It was the group’s debut. Early versions were ten track affairs but a few months later in the UK a bonus 7” was included with two additional tracks, Do It Clean and Read It In Books. The US Sire version came with those two tracks included and all subsequent versions did too. Apparently a record exec at the time didn’t like those two tracks, thinking them rude.

Side note: The Teardrop Explodes’ version of Books is probably the better version of the tune in my opinion and you should check it out and see whether you agree.

To my young ears at the time and still today, the record just sounded different from most of the stuff coming out at the time and the combination of the band’s look and the lyrics really enforced that. Ian McCulloch had a cool presence from the get go and combined the best of Jim Morrison and David Bowie in his vocal delivery and style. The band itself was killer. Will Sergeant on guitar brought fresh exciting riffs. Les Pattison on bass was like a rock and formed a formidable rhythm section with late joiner Pete de Freitas on drums. Crocodiles was the blueprint and cornerstone that the band built on with each subsequent release and as much as I like all their records, this is the essential one in my book and should be in your collection also. So glad that Do It Clean was restored to the album also as this song rules.

Luckily for you we have a copy for sale here at Sorry State currently. Not that it is a tough LP to find, but take a look at our web store and see if we still have it if you need.

Big Boss Man: Last Man On Earth (Blow Up Records) 2014

A Modern take on 60’s Soul Jazz grooves this week from me. A record that came out a few years back but could be the lost soundtrack to a cool cult movie from the late sixties or early seventies if you didn’t know otherwise. I picked up a copy at a local store here in Raleigh (Nice Price Books, check ‘em out) and have spun it several times since and am really digging it.

Big Boss Man is a four piece from England led by Nasser Bouzida who also aliases as The Bongolian. Their sound is Mod and very sixties influenced, taking in Jazz, Soul, Latin, Psych and Soundtrack vibes as a starting point and adding subtle touches here and there to keep things relevant and fresh. In my opinion they do a very good job at this.  Last Man On Earth is the groups fourth full length from 2014, their first LP coming out circa 2000. I became aware of them and the aforementioned Bongolian records from the Mod scene and from buying most things that came out on Blow Up Records at the time. That label is a fantastic source for cool and groovy Mod sounds and I would recommend picking up most if not all of their releases if and when you see them.

On Last Man On Earth they expand their sound further and add a female vocalist, Princess Freesia on two tracks including the title and delve deeper into the world of Music Library and Soundtrack type sounds. As you listen you will hear shades of Roy Budd and his work on the Get Carter Soundtrack and the late sixties work of Georgie Fame. I also picked up elements of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack and the vibe from those great Norman Whitfield produced Motown records and the ones made by Charles Stepney at Cadet. The latter two being names that I know I have spoken about before and will keep singing their praises to the heavens as they were so great. In addition, there are little borrowed touches from other great songs, for instance you definitely can hear the Nancy Sinatra Boots bass line in a song. I love all these influences and think it makes for a great mix on the record. I really do feel like I am listening to several of my favorite records as I play this one. They are not reinventing the wheel with this one by any means but have done a very nice job putting together an album that will appeal to all of you who dig some grooves in addition to your heavier punk sounds. Shouldn’t be too hard to score yourselves a copy either which is always nice. Cheers!

Staff Picks: Ava

This record is just straight up BRUTAL and the most crushing og death metal i've heard this year. Disembowel will take you on a trip of audial brutality with this full length which came out early March, 2020. Coming out on Maggot Stomp Records, this 34 minute masterpiece is sure to make you press repeat, go ahead and support these guys!

Staff Picks: March 19, 2020

Staff Picks: Jeff

Muro: Pacificar 12” (Beach Impediment) 

It’s kind of hard to believe that 3 years have already passed since Colombia’s Muro released their previous LP, Ataque Hardcore Punk. With this new full-length entitled Pacificar, Muro seems to be just as unstoppable as their previous record. Because the band has requested the record not be released in its entirety online (props for that), I feel like a lot of people haven’t even heard the whole record yet! Well let me tell ya, it smokes all the way through. Even though I personally don’t think Muro is totally unique musically, and that a lot of other bands may adopt a similar style of hardcore, Muro just feels more extreme and potent than other current bands. I think part of the reason I feel this way is the band’s presentation -- not only in that they come across very earnest and serious when listening to them, but also their dedication to a no-nonsense DIY aesthetic. While Mark at Beach Impediment pressed the record here in the US, the band handmade all of the packaging in Bogota, which is super cool. Muro manage to come across as both grass-roots/relatable AND powerfully meaningful.  

Muro was supposed to play here in NC, but ended up having to cancel a big chunk of their US tour. I’ve heard they’re an explosive and powerful live band, so I hate that a lot of us missed out on seeing them. Similarly, due to the crazy situation we’re all currently dealing with, I think Muro’s recent tour got cut short while they were in London. Bummer when a killer band gets the short end of the stick. Grab this LP to show your support!

Other stuff I’ve been listening to while getting down with the sickness:

As I’m sure many people who read this newsletter are also doing, I’ve been spending a lot of time alone cooped up in my house listening to records. Lately I feel like I’ve been listening to a lot of early punk bands, but intentionally revisiting the record that isn’t necessarily THE classic. I threw on We Have Come For Your Children by Dead Boys the other night, and I dunno if it’s just where I’m at in my life right now, but I swear I might like it more than Young Loud and Snotty. “Flame Thrower Love” has got to be one of their best songs. Maybe I like it because of the general disregard for longevity in the lyrics. Seems pretty applicable to our current situation. I also keep going back to Eternally Yours by The Saints. I’m not even really sure if I’m Stranded is their most well-known record, but in my mind Eternally Yours is their most classic. “New Centre of the Universe” is my top choice off that record. Man, even MC5… I honestly don’t know if I ever had even listened to High Time before, but it rules. The other day, I definitely listened to “Over and Over”, well uh… over and over!

Anyway, that’s all from me this week. Hope you all are stayin’ safe and jamming killer records. The only Corona germs I want on my Poison Idea records have a twist of lime.

‘Til next time!
-Jeff

Staff Picks: Eric

Laffing Gas: It's A Beautiful Day In The Gulch 12" (Beach Impediment) 

Laffing Gas has been around in Bloomington, IN for the better part of 5 years (if my memory serves me correctly). They have put out a slew of tapes and maybe a comp track or two, but this new LP has finally shined the spotlight on them that I believe they have deserved for a very long time. Everything sounds like it was recorded to tape; it is dry and crisp, similar to a lot of other classic midwest hardcore. What I like most about it is they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel or produce something super complex or modern. I first saw Laffing Gas when they played in my living room in Greensboro back in 2015, and since then I have gone on a couple different tours with them over the years. Maybe I'm biased; I do love these motherfuckers a lot. But if my opinion is worth anything: If you love US hardcore, you will love Laffing Gas.

Muro: Pacificar 12" (Beach Impediment)

It took me a couple listens of the first LP to truly appreciate Muro, but once I got it I fuckin' got it. This new LP is an excellent and even more powerful follow up to "Ataque Hardcore Punk". Listening to Muro feels like it is the epitome of how a hardcore record should make it feel. It is raw, powerful, urgent, and somehow feels bigger than you. I have heard tales of their live performances being absolutely bonkers. A friend who saw them described them as "life changing"... I know that sounds like some hippie bullshit but it got me feeling jealous. Maybe one day Muro will be able to grace us with a US tour, but until then throw this frisbee on yr turntable, turn that shit up, and fuckin' feel it.

Staff Picks: Dominic

As the world is undergoing a crisis the like of which we still have yet to fully comprehend, it is all we can do to carry on and celebrate that in life which we hold most dear. For myself, Sorry State and I am guessing you, the thing that will get us through this mess is music. So, to that end we are going to continue to do what we love and listen to records.
 
I wanted to pick some personal favorites of mine this week that have special meaning to me. Three records that are connected and now that we have time, could be listened to as a trio one after the other. You should be aware of two of the artists for sure, the third may be new to some of you. So specifically, we are talking about Love, The Byrds and Michael Head. The albums being Forever Changes, The Notorious Byrd Brothers and The Magical World Of The Strands respectively. Two from the sixties and the last from the nineties. What links them is the Michael Head record.

Mick Head is from Liverpool and his band Shack backed Arthur Lee in 1992 for a gig in Liverpool. A record of that show is in my collection. Michael Head and his brother John first gained attention as The Pale Fountains in the eighties and then formed Shack after the demise of the former. The story of their second record Water Pistol from 1991 is worth hearing. Basically, the masters were lost in a studio fire and the only surviving copy was a DAT that their producer accidentally lost in a hire car in the US. The tape was recovered eventually but the label had collapsed in the meantime. German label Marina released the album a few years later but the band had split by that point. Water Pistol is a masterpiece and I highly recommend you take a listen. The story of Shack did not end there as a brief reunion of sorts resulted in the album HMS Fable in 1999. That was tipped to be big also but failed to ignite the public imagination in the post Brit Pop come down but the band continued and released several more records over the next few years. Being a fan, I followed their career and have all the records and a high light was seeing them in a small NYC venue back in the 2000’s where they played my favorite song of theirs Al’s Vacation after I yelled it out as a request. Obliging chaps. Another NYC gig highlight was seeing Arthur Lee and the new Love when he played shows there. The Town Hall show was out of this world and I will never forget it.

Anyway, the record that Mick and John made as The Strands is truly magical in my opinion. It came out in early 1998 on a French Label and has been close to my heart ever since. It’s such a beautiful record that gets me every time. A lost classic of English folk psychedelic with echoes of Nick Drake but a strong West Coast sixties vibe also. Once you listen to Forever Changes and The Notorious Byrd Brothers and then The Magical World Of The Strands you will see what I mean. There are borrowed riffs and melodies a plenty but more in homage than plunder. The song And Luna being specifically about Arthur Lee. There are songs about despair, hope, joy and drug addiction among other themes and all wonderfully arranged and recorded. John Head’s guitar work is terrific and he totally nails the tone and mood of the Love and Byrds records.
 
As I said before, hopefully you are already aware of Love and The Byrds but if Shack and the Head Brothers are new to you then you are in for a treat I believe. Play these records in order starting with Forever Changes, then Notorious and end with Magical World Of. It will be two and a half hours well spent and it looks like we will all have time to fill with worthy pursuits over the next few weeks. Stay safe. Precautions over panic. Keep spinning vinyl.

Staff Picks: March 5, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Avskum: Uppror Underifrån 12” (Prank)

Earlier this week I was listening to this Avskum LP (which is something I do often), then I saw on Prank Records’ Instagram that the band is coming to the US for a “final” tour. Sadly, the tour isn’t hitting the east coast of the US so I won’t get to see it, but if you are able, you should go. Even if you can’t, I encourage you to pick up any record you see with Avskum’s name on it. Despite the fact that the band started all the way back in 1982, I don’t think they’ve released a bad record (or, if they have, I haven’t heard it). Their 1984 EP Crucified by the System is a classic of Swedish d-beat, and their sound continued to develop (without changing too much) throughout the 90s and 2000s. On Uppror Underifrån Avskum incorporated heavier, more complex chords into their punishing attack and made a modern d-beat masterpiece. Prank mentioned that they’ll be repressing Uppror Underifrån for the tour, so if you don’t have it already, you should pick up the repress once it’s out.

Staff Picks: Dominic

Little Ann: Deep Shadows LP (Timmion)
 
Whilst flicking through our racks here at the store I noticed we had a copy of this superb soul record and wanted to draw your attention to it and the artist concerned.

Chicago native “Little Ann” Bridgeforth was a soul singer who recorded in the late sixties/early seventies. She had a single on Ric-Tic in 1968 and was then taken under the wing of the great Detroit producer Dave Hamilton. He cut almost an album worth of material with Ann but for whatever reason those sides never saw the light of day and remained in his tape vaults for twenty five plus years until the chaps at Ace/Kent Records from the UK whilst researching and compiling tracks for a series of releases of Hamilton productions came across the tapes. Over the next few years these cuts were released on several different Kent Soul CDs and seven inches. Those 45’s were quickly snapped up by eager soul fans and DJs like myself and now command top money. Then around 2008 the Finnish Label Timmion put out the collection Deep Shadows which gathered all the key tracks that had appeared at that time. It’s only nine tracks and barely thirty minutes of music but when the quality is this high, who cares? Just lap it up and enjoy. Kent did finally put out their own LP version which includes additional alternative versions of some tracks but I dig the Timmion version and prefer their cover.

Dave Hamilton was a vibes player who put out a record Blue Vibrations in 1963 and worked as a session player at Motown. His 45 Pisces Pace from 1970 is a sublime groove and barely leaves my DJ box. As a producer he built up quite a portfolio of tunes and tracks and as was the case in the day would use the same backing track for different artists and either had them sing the same song or had completely different lyrics written for the tune. Some of the Little Ann tracks were also used for another artist O.C. Tolbert. For me the highlights of the Deep Shadows collection are the tracks Who Are You Trying To Fool and Sweep It Under The Shed. The latter a tune that always has people coming up to me when I spin it to ask about it.

The internet is a great tool to search out these songs and sample them and then if you dig them as much as I do, you can come in to Sorry State and buy our copy or search out one from your local favorite record store. I urge any soul fans out there to do so. You will not be disappointed, I guarantee it.

Staff Picks: February 27, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle LP (1973)

Since Dominic is out sick this week and wasn't able to do a staff pick, I suppose I'll pick up the slack and tip you off to a cool jazz record that you can still get pretty cheap. I don't remember exactly how I stumbled across Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle. Lately I've been spending time exploring what some people call Third Stream music--an early 60s phenomenon that found the jazz and classical worlds dipping their chocolate into each others' peanut butter--and I think this might have popped up as I was reading more about records like Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain and Bill Dixon's Intents and Purposes (which I'm still looking for a copy of... I stupidly didn't keep one when we were carrying the Superior Viaduct pressing in the store). The orchestration on this record connects it to the Third Stream, but some minimal research shows me that this is more often described as a soul jazz or spiritual jazz record, and if you're a fan of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders' work you'll find a lot to love here. While there are some slightly squeaky moments, the lush arrangements and chill vibe of this record make it a perfect spin when you get home from a long day at work and need to unwind. And original copies usually go for around $15, so you don't have to break the bank for it.

But what the heck do I know, I'm composing this while listening to Napalm Death...

Staff Picks: Daniel

Sabré: S/T 7” (Erste Theke Tonträger) Daniel drew my attention to this new 4-song EP by this Oakland-based hardcore band. The description on bandcamp for this record compares Sabré to a lot of UK82 bands like Last Rites and Attak. To be honest, I feel like this comparison sells them short. Beyond the 1-2-1-2, umpa umpa beats and maaaaybe the vocal approach, I really don’t hear that at all. Particularly in the guitar work, I detect a lot of eerie and noisy, yet melodic weirdness that reminds more of Midwest hardcore bands like Effigies, AOF or even Die Kreuzen at times. Maybe this wasn’t the band’s intention, and not to take anything away from UK82 because I love that stuff, but I feel like the music is just too interesting and gnarly to be compared to No Future-style street anthems. I think this EP is fucking killer.

Speaking of killer, a couple new tracks by Canadian crushers SHIT got got posted on the La Vida bandcamp. Had no idea these were coming, but no surprise, I like what I hear:)

Staff Picks: Eric

Sabre: S/T 7" (Erste Theke Tonträger) Great Bay area hardcore punk featuring members of lots of other greats. If I didn't know any better, I'd say at parts it sounds like an Oi! band (The vocals remind me of Blitz). Either way, I think this 7" is super refreshing and exciting to listen to. I can hear so many influences including Oi!, US hardcore, and a little bit of revolution summer sounding guitar leads with gothy effects on top (maybe that's a reach, I'm just callin' it how I see's it). If you're looking to hear something that feels new and not the same washed up stuff, check this out!!

Romero: Honey 7" (Cool Death) Super solid single all the way from Melbourne, Australia. When we got this in the shop Daniel said he thought that this would be right up my alley, and he's right. You can obviously hear the heavy power pop influence, but the sound isn't confined to the sonic box that I feel like so many power pop bands of today stick to. This single takes that and transforms it into something a little different, a little bit more modern (particularly in the vocals). Straight up, to me it sounds like a perfect mixture between Exploding Hearts and No Doubt... and it's sick.

Staff Picks: Ava

Nocternity - Harps of The Anicent Temples (2015)

Hailing from Athens, Greece, Nocternity has been decimating the underground with their dismal and merciless sound since the late 90's. Harps of the Ancient Temples is their most recent full length released on Iron Bonehead Productions. This band's discography has been my go-to music the last few months for the silver sky/ gloomy/ cold weather. Andreas Bauer's vocal style paired with the overall tone of the instruments on this album can only be described as evil, entrancing, devastating, and totally overwhelmed with emotions. 10/10 Recommendation of pure Greek Black Metal.

Staff Picks: February 20, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Cianide: Unhumanized 12” (Hell’s Headbangers)

Chicago death metal band Cianide has been around since at least 1990, but I’ve only been listening to them for about a year. How I found them was kind of dumb. I was listening to that latest Innumerable Forms LP quite a lot, and in the wake of that I googled “slow death metal.” Boy, did I hit the jackpot when I came across their 1994 album A Descent into Hell! A Descent into Hell is a lumbering, bottom-heavy beast with lengthy songs that make room for loose, wandering guitar leads that can sound like some of Greg Ginn’s solos in later Black Flag, and when I discovered it that's all I could listen to for several weeks.

I’ve yet to check out the records after A Descent into Hell, but when their new EP on Hells Headbangers came in, I had to investigate. It turns out not much has changed since 1994, and that’s a great thing. The five tracks (which benefit from the loud and heavy 45rpm vinyl cut) are more concise, a little faster, and less prone to those lengthy, wandering solos, but they’re heavy as fuck and rhythmically punishing. I find it impossible not to headbang to this record. While so many death metal bands throw in bells and whistles like complex song structures, psychedelic elements, and atmospheric passages, Unhumanized is streamlined brutality, a relentlessly pulsing IV drip of heaviness.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Riki: S/T 12” (Dais)

It’s true that my usual MO is to write about whatever hardcorepunkmetal record I think is most raging and killer each week. Still, I can’t help but have a soft spot for the drum machine-laden sounds of synth pop and darkwave. I know, crazy right? In regards to scratching that itch, I’ve been listening to this new Riki LP a ton. I remember hearing the 3-song EP “Hot City” a while back. I thought it was cool, the first track gave me a Skeletal Family vibe or something, but then I kinda forgot about it. Then this new LP comes out… and while it’s not in an entirely different stratosphere sonically than Hot City, I feel like it’s a huge evolution, particularly in the production. I feel like there’s a fully realized vision here. With the previous output, I think I’ve gathered that Riki (or Niff?) started this project with a DIY or punk-adjacent aesthetic and intent. But I gotta say, this new, eponymous full-length kinda just feels like a straight-up pop record. Not saying that’s a bad thing. There’s still undercurrents of “darkness”, but as much as I hear darkwave, I also hear like… Depeche Mode. I find myself captivated where the songs weave between moments of pure pop catchiness, the unsettling feeling of a creepy dungeon, sex, romance -- and it all seems very genuine and passionate. Will this record blow up? No clue, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

I feel weird. I’m gonna go blast Poison Idea and punch a wall or something.

Staff Picks: Eric

Lux: New Day 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus) I know this been at the store for a little while, but I haven't had a chance to gush about it in the past few newsletters. I really like this record. It's super bare bones and catchy. It has a classic Crass Records vibe about it while also having the ferocious raw sound of UK82. No d-beats here, just fucking pounding pogo punk. It reminds me of Tozibabe a lot!

Liquid Assets: SNC Lava Lamp 7" (Schizophrenic) God damn this rages. Sounds like classic US hardcore with a modern twist. These Canadians let you know what's up with ~4 minutes ripping hardcore and shredding solos. Plus the recording sounds outstanding, it has the perfect mixture of clarity and grit. Scoop this shit up!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Ramsey Lewis: Mother Nature’s Son LP (Cadet) 1968
 
The other week I recommended 1990 by The Temptations and spoke about how sometimes records that don’t book for much and are easy to find can often be much better and satisfying than some holy grail, rare shit. With that in mind and as it is still February and Black History Month, I thought we should honour another favourite American son, Ramsey Lewis and in particular his awesome take on The Beatles’ White Album from 1968.

This record is so great, I have had several copies over the years and still play my UK original that I bought a long time ago. It’s not an expensive record and pretty easy to find, as are almost all of Ramsey Lewis records, although the price is starting to inch up, probably as people realize what a good record it is. Recorded at the end of 1968 in the great Ter Mar Studios, Chicago, where countless great blues, soul and jazz records were cut and produced by the Chess/Cadet house producer, Charles Stepney. Just like Norman Whitfield over at Motown, Stepney had the Midas touch and produced so many great records for Cadet. In particular, he was behind the Rotary Connection records that featured Minnie Ripperton on vocals. If any name printed on a record’s jacket should make you pull the trigger and buy, then Charles Stepney is definitely the one.

The record begins with some tasty Moog sounds before the orchestra strings sweep in and pick us up and takes us on our journey through covers of White Album tracks, an album that had barely been out long itself, let alone be covered by another artist so fully. After the title track and a cool Rocky Raccoon followed by Julia, Ramsey and band launch into a great version of Back In The USSR, complete with two wide open drum breaks that used to get producers with samplers in a tizzy. The Moog sounds feature throughout but really shine on the spirited version of Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey, a personal fave of mine, (hey, it references a Monkey). What is also constant throughout the record is the “groove” & “swing”. The drums are kicking, the strings are soaring, the bass lines pump and the keyboard sounds are, as always with Ramsey, on point. This is the type of record that still sounds current today and has kept its charm and should appeal to jazz heads and hip-hop heads alike. In a similar vein is the record by George Benson The Other Side Of Abbey Road, which I highly recommend and also McLemore Avenue by Booker T. & The M.G.’s. They both tackle a Beatles record rather well, albeit a different one but it is Mother Nature’s Son that I find myself going to repeatedly and once you score yourself a copy, I am sure you will feel the same. As I mentioned before, this is not a rare or expensive record but it has pedigree and class and punches well above its weight. Go find one.

Staff Picks: February 13, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Lithics: Wendy Kraemer 12” (Moone Records)

Portland’s Lithics have been around for a few years now, having released two full-lengths and an incredible single on Thrilling Living, which featured one of my favorite songs of the past several years, “Photograph, You of.” Wendy Kraemer, though, isn’t a new full-length but a vinyl re-release of an earlier cassette. Lithics’ sound on their other records is stoic, precise, and maybe even a little cold, but Wendy Kraemer is different, collecting practice tapes, home recordings, and other less polished audio artifacts. You’ll recognize many of the songs from the versions that appeared on the records, but these versions are loose, warm, and intimate. It feels like looking through a great artist’s sketchbook, and I love it. If you’re a fan of Lithics, this is a must-hear, but there’s no reason that unfamiliarity should stop you from sampling this lo-fi gem.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Sacrifice: Total Steel 12” (Bitter Lake) 

I’ll start with first impressions: When I first saw the artwork on this record, I thought to myself, “Wow, this literally looks like a 90s-era Motörhead record.” -- both by the artwork and of course Sacrifice also being the title of a 90s Motörhead album. Funny enough, after listening to “Total Steel”, I don’t think I was too far off.

Sacrifice is a metal band from Japan that was active from the mid 80s into the early 90s, and to be honest, they really weren’t on my radar until this reissue. Bitter Lake has done some killer reissues of Japanese bands over the last few years, but until now, they’ve seemed to mainly tackle post-punk and hardcore -- so a thrash metal album from 1990 was a bit of a surprise. I came to learn that Total Steel is actually Sacrifice’s 2nd album, and that their debut Crest of Black is considered a Japanese metal cult classic. I went back and checked out Crest of Black, which has a much rawer and darker sound, almost like Venom or Possessed. To my ears, Total Steel is a huge leap from their first record. It feels more ambitious in terms of musical execution, tightness and amazingly heavy, but crisp production. The guitarist’s lead playing on this record is absolutely blistering.

One of things that Bitter Lake’s description discusses is that perhaps part of the reason Total Steel isn’t held in as high of a regard as the first album is that in 1990 it was only released on CD. Crazy to think that 2020 is the first time this record has ever been available on vinyl. Hopefully now all you punk-metal degenerates will get hip to this Sacrifice record because I think it’s a monster.

Staff Picks: January 6, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

A.T. Det: Last Child Has No Power 7" (More Records)

There were so many good new records in the shop this week I didn’t spend a lot of time listening to other music, but I spent one evening sitting on the couch putting together a YouTube playlist of obscure Japanese punk EPs that I’ll never own. One EP I was listening to that I’ve never heard much chatter about is the Last Child Has No Power EP from A.T. Det. I know essentially nothing about the band. As far as I know this 1985 EP on More Records is the only thing they released. According to Discogs, More Records only had four releases, including another incredible, underrated EP by Headless and the infamous State Children EP Bomb Shelter for Money Making. Anyway, Last Child Has No Power is a killer slice of metallic Japanese punk with the crazy guitar leads and gruff vocals we all go crazy for.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Lux: New Day 7” (La Vida Es Un Mus) This Barcelona punk band return with a new 4-song EP, following up their 2017 full-length, which I was a big fan of. Lux’s sound brings to mind other contemporary bands like Exotica, where they fuse UK82 style pogo punk with the interesting rhythms of anarcho punk. The catchy basslines are drenched in chorus, bringing a gothy sensibility as well. The drummer Louis, who has played in Fata Morgana, Good Throb, and a whole bunch of other bands, brings a powerful but primitive approach to the drumming, almost tribal, where it basically sounds like he's muscling through it. The vocals, which I believe are sang by the same vocalist as that band Sect, are super up front in the mix and have an interesting vibe being double-tracked all the way through. I feel like the vocals are the focal point of the band. They almost have a shrieking, banshee like quality at times, but what makes them distinct is the great sense of melody and vocal hooks, which are hard to pull off tastefully in hardcore punk these days. Killer EP.

Staff Picks: Dominic

The Temptations: 1990. Motown 1973
 
Perhaps at first glance this may seem like an odd choice but really it isn’t, so stop all the snickering at the back. Firstly, The Temptations are legends and their greatness doesn’t need debating nor does pretty much anything that came out on Motown and secondly this record kicks ass and is worthy of your time and investigation.

I am a huge fan of records that are common place, cheap and good. The type of records that if they had come out on a small label by an obscure artist would be a collector’s piece and fetch big bucks. This is definitely one of those. We sold the copy I was playing in the store for $5. Two customers almost got into a bidding war with each other to buy it but I assured them that it wasn’t a rare record and another copy would be easy to find.

So why all the fuss? Well the record was titled 1990 and it seems that that The Temptations got into a time machine and visited not only the 90’s but present day America too. The title track “1990” and “Ain’t No Justice” both sound ever so appropriate today, with the lyrical content of “Ain’t No Justice” really hitting the present day mood of the country.

A big reason why this record is so great and why other Temptations records are also just as good is down to their producer Norman Whitfield. One of the Motown producers that helped shape the sound of the label during the late sixties and seventies and introduced psychedelic rock and trippy funk sounds to the label. His work with not only The Temptations but The Undisputed Truth is so revolutionary for the times and really brought the Motown sound up to date and indeed into the future. Just like at Chess/Cadet records where Charles Stepney was creating magic for The Rotary Connection and at Capitol & Reprise where David Axelrod was producing future sounding records for himself and acts like The Electric Prunes, at Motown Norman Whitfield was the man. He used The Undisputed Truth as his experimental band and often tested productions out on their records before having other bigger names like The Temptations record their versions.

On 1990 the music is handled by the Motown session players including Funk Brother James Jamerson on bass and James Gadson on drums. Detroit guitar legends Dennis Coffey and Melvin “Wah Wah” Ragin bring the heat with tasty licks a plenty and on keyboards Earl Van Dyke adds his sublime touches. Vocally the group sound on top of their game and on 1990 we get to hear them shooting the shit in the studio and chatting about the state of the world. It’s entertaining and sort of predates the whole skit thing and studio chatter that became a must have for hip hop records of the 90’s and 2000’s. In fact, I was playing the record at home and my girlfriend came in from the other room and asked whether this was Outkast that was playing. Actually, a perfect response and a tribute to the how forward thinking Whitfield was with his productions.

When you play the record, the first couple of tracks sound like the sort of funky soul you expected from the record. Third track “Heavenly” serves as a sorbet to clear your palette for the rest of the record. From then on, the time machine is fired up and we are in the future. It’s ripping soul with funky guitar on “You’ve Got My Soul On Fire” and then the previously mentioned social commentary of “Ain’t No Justice” and on side two “1990”. The record ends with “Zoom”, almost fourteen minutes of brilliance. A truly awesome listen and a record that you can pick up easily and cheaply. Go find your copy.

Staff Picks: January 30, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Ramones: It’s Alive 12” (Rhino)

This week the Ramones’ legendary live LP got an official reissue on Rhino Records. I’ve owned It’s Alive for around two decades now so it’s not a new record for me, but I’m thankful this new reissue prompted me to revisit it. Critics have credited It’s Alive with helping to birth hardcore punk because the performances here are so fast… in most cases much faster than the studio versions. While, at this point, we’ve all heard music that’s much faster, It’s Alive is still a relentless record. Five years into their career when they recorded this show, the Ramones were master showmen, and the transitions between songs (or lack thereof) and legendary stage patter are a big part of the draw here. Since It’s Alive didn't originally come out in the US you don’t see the vinyl here too often, so I’d encourage you to jump on this reissue if it’s not in your collection already.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Secretors: Antidote for Civilization 7” flexi (Roach Leg) First release from this new band out of New York. This single-sided floppy record has 4 tracks of super raw hardcore. I’m pretty sure this band is people from Urchin and Subversive Rite, but they’ve scaled back the metallic/d-beat vibe from their other bands for just mean as fuck, primitive, mid-paced stompers. The recording is super blown out, but that really adds to the charm. The vocals are super up front and brutal sounding, barking like a damn rabid dog on attack mode. This thing is just over 4 minutes worth of music, so I can’t wait to hear more from this band.

Also, sticking with the NY theme, I heard the new demo by this band Sirkka this week and have listened to it like 10 times. I don’t much about this band, like who’s in it or who’s releasing the tape, but it’s some of the most killer punk I’ve heard in a while. Totally Finnish-influenced, right down to the vocals which are sang in proper Finnish. I don’t know if the vocalist is actually from Finland, but nothing about the band replicating this style feels forced. Great sounding recording. Love it.

(Note: we'll have copies of the tape in very soon!)

Staff Picks: Eric

Secretors: Antidote For Civilization 7" Flexi (Roach Leg) Raw, powerful, good riffs, and just straight up scary. The recording is super blown out, which is something I really love in hardcore; I love when it sounds like the cymbals are clipping and it sounds loud af even at a low volume. Moreover, the vocal style as well as the mid tempo, bare bones nature of the songs makes this fall into a category for me that I playfully refer to as "Caveman D-beat" (for reference, other modern bands that fall into this category for me would be Bloodkrow Butcher, Bootlicker, Future Terror, Innocent, etc.). I hope this band brings it live, cuz this flexi is menacing.

The Moderns: Year Of Today 7" (Hosehead) Killer Swedish Power pop/mod stuff from 1979. Based on the little bit of research I've done, apparently there were only ~500 of the original self released pressing, which makes this single a power pop dork's holy grail. I had never heard this 7" until the reissue showed up in the mail the other day, but I have definitely spun it a handful of times in the past couple days. Very playful, catchy, and lo-fi sounding. Buy it nerds!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Tyrnaround: Colour Your Mind (Expanded Version) Guerssen LP
 
This week I would like to draw your attention to a fantastic piece of psychedelic music that has become more easily available thanks to the good folks at Guerssen Records in Spain. Originally released in Australia back in 1986 as a mini album, Tyrnaround’s “Colour Your Mind” is now expanded to include the single sides that came out around the same time, including a track that was available on a flexi that came with an issue of Freakbeat Magazine. The collection is a blessing. Not that originals are too hard to find, but combined you will probably have to spend well over $100 to gather all these cuts on wax.

Tyrnaround were a fairly short-lived band from Melbourne that played and recorded from the mid 80’s through the early 90’s. Sadly their singer Michael Phillips died prematurely in the late 90’s and the band officially came to an end then, although in reality their prime period was the mid 80’s during the great second psychedelic wave. The Colour Your Mind EP perfectly captures that period and surely must sit alongside other classics of the era such as The Dukes Of Stratosphear’s “Twenty Five O’clock”, The Moffs’ “Another Day In The Sun” and High Tide’s “Dancing In My Mind” to name three.

Being from Australia the band chose a more UK influenced psych sound as opposed to say the US and West Coast inspired Paisley Underground groups and the spelling of Colour should be your first clue. If the sound of Syd era Pink Floyd mixed with the Magical Mystery Tour & Yellow Submarine Beatles and Village Green Kinks floats your boat then you will be in heaven with this record. There’s lots of swirly organ and Acid Fuzz Guitar TM to get you off and the songs all have some kind of hook, whether it be musically, lyrically or both.

Another record that might have been an influence for these guys that I hear in places is the Nick Nicely “Hilly Fields" (1892) single which is an awesome record and apparently had an influence on XTC and their Dukes record. I highly recommend checking that out also.

So yeah, if trippy UK Psych does it for you then Tyrnaround should be on your radar. Nice reissue too from the Guerssen crew, coming in an old English style flip over cover with an insert of photos and information and a download link to more music with demos and live tracks. Cool.

Staff Picks: January 23, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

Eddie Hazel: Game, Dame, and Guitar Thangs 12” (Warner Bros)

Game, Dame, and Guitar Thangs is the sole solo album from Parliament / Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel. I’m always up for a good acid-soaked guitar freakout, and that’s why I came to this album (and Hazel’s other key work, Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain). This record delivers on that front—the covers of the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” and the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” both travel deeeeeeep into inner space—but this is more than a psych record. It occurred to me that the hazy, stoned vibe of this record was a big part of the 90s g-funk sound. I was 13 years old when The Chronic hit in 1992, and even a kid like me with a minimal interest in rap had a copy. Hearing that sound makes me think of long summer vacations when the heat seemed to stretch time into an endless, un-fillable ocean. I’m currently in the middle of a chilly January week with too much on my plate, so this masterpiece from Eddie Hazel provides the perfect antidote.

Staff Picks: Jeff

Anti-Metafor: S/T 7” (Adult Crash) 2nd EP from this band out of Sweden. I threw this platter on after I noticed a lot of people were ordering it from us at Sorry State. Now I think we’re sold out! Based on the artwork and descriptions I’ve read online, I expected this to be either heavy crust or super noisy. It’s actually much leaner, punchier and faster than I expected. While Victims-era Cimex is a good point of reference, I feel like Anti-Metafor sounds a lot like that band Diskonto. Anyway, a super solid EP.

Also, a friend recently turned me onto the demo by this old UK anarcho-punk band called A Touch of Hysteria. I’ve been listening to it on repeat. It was released only on cassette in 1983, but apparently was reissued as a single-sided 12” back in the mid-00s? I don’t know if a lot of people are aware of this band and I’m just late to the game, but I think it’s fucking great.

Staff Picks: Eric

Subversive Rite: Live In Japan cassette (Chaotic Uprising) What a great live set. Not only did Subversive Rite kill it this night, but the mix is really good for a live album, and the actual cassette dub is LOUD and powerful. Live albums usually aren't my jam, but I will definitely be taking a copy home with me.

Fuga: Sin Frontera Sin Nacion cassette (self-released) Great bonehead hardcore sung in Spanish from Santa Ana. Super nasty, in your face, and urgent. I'm loving the recording quality, which is just clear enough for my liking but still really raw. Hardcore lives!

Staff Picks: Dominic

Star Wars Original Soundtrack: John Williams & The London Symphony Orchestra. 1977 20th Century Records
 
I was nine years old when the first (or fourth) Star Wars movie came out back in 1977 and can remember seeing it in the cinema as if it was yesterday. One of the many great things about the film was the music and I have had a copy of the soundtrack since it was released. The music has become a part of popular culture and it may seem odd that I am picking this record as something to write about this week for a staff pick as there probably isn’t anyone reading this that is not aware of the movie and the iconic main theme. I have mentioned before that we get all kinds of awesome records coming through Sorry State and recently we bought a copy of this soundtrack that brought me right back to 1977 and the thrill of seeing the film and hearing the soundtrack for the first time. This particular copy was in amazing condition and had the information insert and the order form for a “May the Force be with you” T-shirt and even more amazingly still had the original poster that initial copies of the record came with. Wow! You never see these. In fact, you rarely see posters that came with records back in the day as people put them up on their walls and usually didn’t take them down and put them back in the record jackets anticipating resale years later. So, imagine my joy to open this copy and see that poster still inside. It even had pin holes, so someone did put it up and take it down again. Crazy. What a cool poster too, X-wing fighters attacking the Death Star. Heck yeah.

And the music? Do I need to describe it? The main theme is almost a part of our DNA at this point but it is still great. John Williams and The LSO were on top form when they created this one. The only thing better might be the follow up music to The Empire Strikes Back with Darth Vader’s Theme on it. The original still cuts the mustard though. The Imperial Attack piece of music is one of the best pieces of film music made and I can play that six minute and ten second track over and over.

So, if you have got your Disney subscription just to see baby Yoda like I did and are feeling all things Star Wars, I would highly recommend pulling out your copy of this soundtrack, sticking it on and transporting yourself to a Galaxy far, far away. If you don’t have one with a poster, then hurry on down to see us at the store and snag this gorgeous copy. May The Force Be With You.

Staff Picks: Ava

Evildead: Annihilation of Civilization (Steamhammer)

Came across this insane underground thrasher the other day and have not been able to stop jamming on it. Started by Juan Garcia of legendary AGENT STEEL and Mel Sanchez of ABATTOIR in 1986. Sounds like a cross between early King Diamond and Kill em All era Metallica (whom Sanchez actually auditioned for after the tragic death of Clif Burton). Hailing from Los Angeles, CA with lyrical themes of horror, death, and even social/political issues.

Staff Picks: January 16, 2020

Staff Picks: Daniel

The Abandoned: Killed by Faith 12” (Radiation)

We first got copies of this reissue from the Abandoned a few months ago, but we kept selling out before I could grab a copy for myself. Things have quieted down to the point where I could sit down with this record, and holy crap am I blown away! I’ve long been a fan of Dirges in the Dark, the Flower Leperds record that Tony Cadena sings on, and Killed by Faith is like a faster, punker, and better version of that record. It sounds a lot like Tony’s old band the Adolescents, but with an added layer of 70s rock sleaze a la Alice Cooper or early Motorhead and a ton of shredding lead guitar. While the Adolescents’ second LP, Brats in Battalions (which came out a few years after this), never grabbed me, Killed by Faith is up there with Rikk Agnew’s All by Myself LP as essential listening for Adolescents fanatics. Thanks so much to Radiation for putting this ripper on my radar and bringing it back into print!

Staff Picks: Jeff

Zyfilis: EP One 7” (Adult Crash) 

Killer release from this band out of Sweden. I’m pretty sure this same batch of recordings was originally released as one side of a split tape with Muro from Colombia. I’m glad these tracks got a proper vinyl treatment, because even though I think Muro rips, these Zyfilis tracks are definitely strong enough to be a stand-alone EP. I’d say Zyfilis falls under the käng punk umbrella, but to my ears, they've also got a good dose of metal influence. One thing I love about this band’s style is that they never really play ripping fast. It’s all swinging, grooving d-beats or pounding, neanderthal pogo beats. Some strong riffing on noisy, buzzsaw guitars that come in with a scorching lead every once in a while. The bass very often goes up and shreds in the higher register, which is super cool. All of this toppled by powerful and sinister vocals with a healthy amount of delay. Also, the packaging with slick, eye-pleasing artwork and a double fold-over quarter flap style sleeve design make for a classy presentation :)

Staff Picks: Eric

Corvo: Artifact Session cassette (Artifact Audio)

DC is always leading the way of kick ass youth hardcore. Corvo features members of a handful of active bands, but this one might be my favorite of the bunch. It is chaotic without losing structure, which is something I really like. Not to mention the riffs and songwriting styles are super original and catchy, and there is a SICK Void cover. This session was recorded at Artifact Audio in NYC, so obviously the production is awesome despite it being a "live" recording. Corvo is gunna blow people away when they finally put something out something on wax!

Staff Picks: Dominic

The Cool Greenhouse: Landlords 7” (Drunken Sailor Records)
 
So, we have had a previous 7” and a 10” record by The Cool Greenhouse and made one of them our record of the week and this little 45, although out for a short while now, is my record of the week. You can check out the review and our take over on the website for a more detailed and professional description, but the long and short is brilliant DIY Post-Punk of the highest order with a generous dose of humour for good measure. Plus, the cover has a photo of a chimpanzee on the phone, a reference to the lyrical content of the record, which is a winning move for me as I have a soft spot for chimps on record covers and grew up drinking PG Tips and watching the great adverts that they used to advertise their tea. If you don’t know what I am talking about, please google PG Tips tea and chimp ads and have a fun time. As for this release? Well if you like the sound of vintage Casio keyboards and a basic guitar riff paired with deadpan lyrics delivered in a monotone spoken vocal style that sounds like it was recorded in a bedroom for a fiver then this is a record for you. A cool modern update on the post-punk oeuvre. Oh, and don’t be a dope and miss grabbing a copy like I did with the previous 10 inch. These move fast, get yours today.