David Ruffin: My Whole World Ended (Motown, 1969)
I haven't listened to much music this week, but as I was driving across southern Virginia on the way to my hometown, I had an urge to listen to soul music. Switching back and forth between the soul station on satellite radio and Spotify, at some point the title track from this 1969 album by David Ruffin came on. It knocked me out instantly. The first thing that jumped out was the emphatic chorus, which has the same bittersweet quality of my favorite Buzzcocks songs. As I listened to this song repeatedly, I began to appreciate how perfectly constructed it is, building to that great chorus and even featuring a middle eight (with a key change I think?) that makes the final chorus sound even more powerful. And then there's Dayna Hartwick ripping it up on the piccolo flute... what a great track!
Staff Picks: Daniel
David Ruffin: My Whole World Ended (Motown, 1969)
Staff Picks: Jeff
What’s up Sorry Staters?
I’m gonna stick with the theme of talking about bands' later records that most people never talk about:
So, what do you get when take the Oi! stylings from one of the featured bands on the UK/DK soundtrack, but then mix it with cheesy 80s production and the sensibilities of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal? You get the 1988 album Welcome To The Real World by The Business. I recently rediscovered this record stumbling into a bunch of killer songs by UK punk bands I hadn’t jammed in a while. Now, looking at the artwork on this record cover, you’d assume this is a last-ditch effort or a low-budget “comeback” album. At risk of getting my ass kicked by a bunch of tough English dudes, my guys in the Business look pretty dorky in this photograph. Almost like a signal of the shift in sound for The Business on this record, you can see the once cleanly shaven heads of the band members are slowly and coyly allowing some locks grow down to ear-level. But with defiant anthems like “Ten Years,” The Business make it clear in their statement, “We’re The Business from Lewisham, and it’s been ten years and we’re still standing here!”
While I think a song like “Blind Justice” is about as catchy as a classic Oi! tune can get, I think the enhanced musicianship and songwriting chops on The Business’s 1988 effort is dare I say… BETTER than their early records? Behind the veil of the sonic signature of this record, which you could argue is pretty dated, is a collection of great melodies and well-constructed songs. A song like “We’ll Take ‘Em On”, probably my favorite song on the record, is a perfect blend of melodic heavy metal harmonized guitar leads as well as huge and memorable vocal hooks. The title track “Welcome To The Real World” opens with a classic street punk high note riff and big sing-along gang vocal chorus that recalls their Oi! roots, but then throw in some gated reverb on the huge drum sound and a guitar solo that sounds like it’s taken from a major-key Iron Maiden song. I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but the guitar work on this record is absolutely amazing: tasty notes, cleanly played, and harmonized every 5 seconds. Perfect.
Sorry State used to stock reissue copies of Welcome To The Real World. I’m not sure if the record is still in print, but hopefully this staff pick will make Daniel wanna restock it, because I know he loves this record too. If you’re not an Oi! fan, which typically I’m not either, then maybe I can’t convince you give this album a shot. But never say never when you’ve reached the end of your tether…. Like mentioned above, here’s my favorite track if you wanna give it a listen:
Thanks for reading. ‘Til next time,
Staff Picks: Dominic
We had quite an active time last week preparing for the first of this year’s Record Store Day drops. In the process of opening up one the boxes of orders last week I had to let out a whoop of delight when I spotted a record that has had me kind of obsessed for over twenty years. I hadn’t realized it had been given a reissue as it wasn’t part of the RSD releases and it sneaked up on me. It’s a rare one and the chances of ever seeing an OG are slim to none. I’ve never seen one in the flesh and have guarded my CD version since the late 90’s, so a reissue was the only chance to own a copy on vinyl. The label Rockadelic did one in 1995 and hearing that version was my first exposure to the album but copies of that are hard to find and costly too now. Thankfully the good folks at Modern Harmonic have done a great job on the reissue and made this available again at an affordable price.
Kennelmus: Folkstone Prism. Phoenix International Records. 1971
To channel the SNL character Stefon, this album has everything- Morricone like spaghetti western soundtrack vibes, surf guitar sounds, Captain Beefheart and Zappa-esque moments, A Lee Hazelwood sounding song, images of Ravens, a cryptic title and a Jolly Roger pirate flag.
Yes, it’s true, all this and more are part of the mystique and legend of this record.
The band came from Phoenix, Arizona and were formed from the ashes of a typical mid-sixties surf-garage band doing British Invasion covers. A name change and new members brought in switched things up considerably and recording began in late 1970 on the Folkstone Prism album, the title originally meant to be Folkstoned, the idea to give people something to think about apparently. The record was issued with one side being all instrumental and the other with vocals. A couple of those instro tracks did have lyrics but main songwriter Ken Walker (real name Kennelmus Walkiewicz- see where the group name came from) did not think anyone in the group had the vocal chops to sing them and so they remained as instrumentals. That decision in hindsight seems almost genius.
Another interesting fact that was revealed in the liner notes was that the band members worked at a record manufacturing plant and actually personally supervised the making of their own record and made sure that all thousand copies were perfect. So, if you ever do see a copy you can be sure of the quality of the pressing-good luck on that.
With me not being the best of writers, giving a track by track review is not always easy but honestly the comparisons at the top really are fairly accurate. If you like psychedelic surf garage music and Ennio Morricone and Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa and Lee Hazelwood, then this really is the record for you. It also doesn’t outstay it’s welcome, clocking in at just under forty minutes.
As a DJ, playing this type of music, I always wanted a copy to spin the track Think For Yourself, a great number which still makes me smile and jig around to the groove. Highlights are plentiful but opener I Don’t Know definitely sets the scene and just about prepares you for what is to follow. Some of the tunes also remind me of the cool bits from late sixties Ventures records and anything that guitar hero Jerry Cole cut, particularly the awesome Animated Egg LP and The Inner Sounds Of The Id LP. Check those out if you get a chance. On other cuts, interesting sounds are added. There’s a zither sounding effect used and a watery, bubbly bass sound that kinda sounds like the jug on the Thirteenth Floor Elevators to name a couple. The only complaint I could have is the sudden cut away from the second to last track to a spoof news report that to my ears is a little jarring but that’s a very small complaint on what is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
Check out the clips below and do your own investigating and hopefully you will agree with me. We have a copy in stock and will get more for those that are interested. The best part of all this is that when I mentioned to Daniel that we had it and he saw how excited I was, he actually let me take a copy at no charge. What a class boss and top fellow. He really is awesome and knocks himself out every week to bring the Sorry State Universe to you all and makes working here the absolute best job ever and one of the coolest.
Staff Picks: Ava
Various: Speed Metal Hell Vol. 1 (New Renaissance, 1985)
Speed Metal Hell vol. 1 is a mid 80's metal compilation that really took me by surprise. Ripping guitars and drums backed with so many killer vocal styles is what really makes it. I love exploring these comps and finding all kinds of underground metal bands, allowing me to dive into so many discographies and have hours worth of records to listen to. The artwork and the name is really what made me interested, I mean, Barbed wire strings? So Sick. Battle Bratt's Henchman is probably my favorite track on there- Or Whiplash's Thrash Till Death. I love some good falsetto/vibrato action. Check it out if you love wicked 80's metal!
Staff Picks: Usman
DIG YOUR OWN GRAVE #1
This badass mixtape/fanzine release is brought to you by Suck Blood (Los Angeles) the same label who brought you KRIGSHODER KRIG I HODET, which Jeff wrote about a few weeks ago in his Staff Pick. I think Suck Blood came from the ashes of East 7th Punx, who knew exactly what they were doing and did it right. Sorry State has copies of this mixtape and the KRIGSHODER tape on the way. I am really critical of tapes. I think because I have made so many damn top-notch tapes it makes me judge the quality of other's work pretty heavily, cos I know how good a tape can get. I'm sorry I don't mean to brag about myself, I seriously suck at a lot of shit, including general life-skills and I only talk so highly of my tapes cos my friends have all affirmed their quality to me time and time again. Back in Indianapolis, I didn't have social media and I didn't have internet at home. I didn't know what bandcamp was (or that my address for shows was all over facebook haha). I say this cos when I got a band's tape, thats how I would know the songs. And man, so many tapes sounded like complete shit. To be honest, I just assumed that the recordings just sucked. I remember many years later finding bandcamps from bands back home and realizing it was the dubbing process/lack of care that made the tapes sound like shit. And I say all this, cos I am highly suggesting you pick up this mixtape with the fanzine that comes with it heavily in mind. The cassette itself sounds alright, one side sounds a bit better than the other. It's certainly not the best quality sound but very far from the worst i've heard. I'm assuming they just used mp3 downloads of the songs, but maybe I am completely wrong and they ripped their own records/tapes to get the tracks.
Anyway, the fanzine is where it's at... It is beautiful. Multi-color sheets bound between a screen-printed cover, it truly is gorgeous. The zine compiles interviews from a shit ton a bands, all of which I have never read before. Almost of the bands I already knew, so it was super cool to read interviews they had done when they were an active band. Retrospective interviews are great, but there's something special when you can capture the genuine feelings of the band at the time. Rather than interviews conducted after a band has broken up - they have time to reflect on their experiences and can rehearse the responses a bit more, for better or worse. Yeah, some of the interviews are kind of boring in the but the ones that aren't definitely make up for it. The coolest one I read was (unexpectedly) Vice Squad. Some of my favorites were Rudimentary Peni, Sacrilege, and Mellakka (of course). It's funny to hear what band's like to talk shit about, a common one was actually playing gigs haha. Anyway, this write-up will be kept brief. DIG YOUR OWN GRAVE #1 is an amazing release, so stoked they did something like this and I can't wait to see what comes next!!! Grab one if you get the chance and you'll definitely enjoy it if you like any of the bands on there.
Screaming Dead, Sacrilege, Rudimentary Peni, Disorder, External Menace, Exit-Stance, Mellakka, The System, Heimat-Los, Mau Maus, Flux of Pink Indians, Vice Squad, Acid Attack, Upright Citzens, Siege, Attak
Staff Picks: Daniel
Bad Religion with Jim Ruland: Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion book
My staff pick this week isn’t something I’d recommend to everyone, but something I wanted to share some thoughts on. I’ve said numerous times that I’ll read almost any book about punk or a punk (or punk-adjacent) band. I would have read this book even if I wasn’t a fan, but I do count myself as a Bad Religion fan, albeit with some caveats. The first Bad Religion record I heard was Recipe for Hate when I was 13 years old or so, and between the new records they were putting out at the time like that and Stranger than Fiction and discovering their older material, they became one of my favorite bands. At some point, though, I cooled on them. Nowadays my position is that How Could Hell Be Any Worse? is awesome, their pre-Atlantic albums are classics, and while I like the two records I mentioned above, I don’t have time for anything after that. Further, when I revisit anything after How Could Hell, I can’t help but think about my high school years when I obsessed over those records, and I usually think to myself something like, “if this was my favorite band, I must have been an arrogant, insufferable little prick.” And I’m sure I was.
Do What You Want’s strength and weakness is that it takes everything I feel and think about Bad Religion and translates it into book form. The parts of the book that cover the records I like are interesting to read, as they cover a period when the band seemed passionate about their art and were engaged with a scene I’m still interested in. However, around the time they sign to Atlantic, it seems as if the band members start to view Bad Religion as a business, and those parts of the book read like a CNBC reality show. Their artistic decisions seem subservient to catering to the needs of their fanbase (customers?) and their attempts to stay politically relevant feel like ham-handed attempts to deliver a mainstream liberal ideology through a narrow template of melodic hardcore punk. Or, if you’re more cynical, to continue to market their music to an audience who has aged out of being teenage punks and into being Daily Show liberals.
Another thing that bugs me about Bad Religion’s music when I listen to it nowadays is that on one hand it’s comically pretentious, but in other respects it shows a lack of ambition, occasionally even laziness. This is another aspect of the band’s aesthetic that gets subsumed into the book. The book praises the band for their “intelligent” lyrics (even implying that they didn’t become more successful because their ideas went over their potential fanbase’s heads), but the book itself doesn’t have the depth of thought or research I would have liked to have seen. In particular, the book’s later chapters that cover the post-Atlantic years feel like paraphrases of those albums’ press releases. The main research for the book appears to be interviews with the band members, but it doesn’t seem like the interviewer ever challenges them. Their quotations are rarely insightful, and there isn’t much from perspectives outside the band. This includes Greg Hetson, who was in Bad Religion for something like 20 years before they fired him, but as far as I can tell did not contribute to the book. It would have been interesting to hear his perspective on the material in the book, as well as other people outside the band’s bubble.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure it took a ton of work and effort to put together Do What You Want, but much like Bad Religion’s music, it feels like it’s holding something back. Bad Religion is a business, and there’s a company line that everyone has to toe. And again, just like Bad Religion’s music, while I enjoyed Do What You Want on some level, it’s not insightful, exciting, fresh, or innovative enough to get me fired up.
Staff Picks: Jeff
What’s up Sorry Staters?
So, the other day, Usman and I were both working at the store. I was listening to the Falling LP by Decry while working the counter and Usman was working in the back room. Decry’s version of “Sonic Reducer” came on and Usman hollered loudly above the music, “This isn’t Dead Boys is it?” Admittedly, I forgot that Decry did that cover and that it plays right at the end of the record. It is a pretty faithful interpretation of the original, all things considered. But by weird coincidence, I had grabbed a copy of Dead Boys’ 2nd record We Have Come For Your Children from our new arrivals to listen to at some point that same day. I’d revisited this sophomore LP by Cleveland’s finest earlier during quarantine and was just blown away by how good I thought it was…
An ongoing disorder I seem to struggle with is that I end up gravitating toward and loving records that are clearly NOT generally accepted as the band’s classic record. Now, would I venture to say that We Have Come For Your Children is better than Young, Loud & Snotty? Probably not. But I do think it’s criminally overlooked, and I’ve heard the “hits” off of the debut so many times that it’s grown tiring. And honestly, call me crazy, but songs like “Caught With The Meat in Your Mouth” are a dull moment for me. When I was younger, I was lucky enough to acquire both Dead Boys records pretty early on. I think I would tend to shy away from the 2nd record just because I wasn’t looking for what its sound had to offer yet. YL&S definitely possesses the venom and hunger that you want out of a band on their first record. The record is honestly pretty sloppy, but that’s part of the charm… like you can feel the ruthlessness and nihilism behind those songs. At its core, it’s just a dirty, irreverent rock’n’roll record.
Okay, but by comparison, does We Have Come For Your Children suffer from the ailment of the dreaded “Sophomore Slump”? No way, not by a long shot. One of the qualities I detect from Dead Boys on their sophomore effort is the shift from a blood-soaked bar band who doesn’t give a fuck into a band who tried to write earnest and wholehearted songs. In fact, I draw parallels and a kind of kinship between this record and Valley of the Dolls by Generation X, another criminally underrated sophomore punk album in my opinion. Maybe as a result, you get an album that’s a bit “softer,” but the Dead Boys’ shift from the ephemeral to the enduring is a good look on them -- even if they are the same scumbags underneath it all. I hate to use the cliché that the band “matured,” but the songwriting feels more thoughtful and less like a flash in the pan. There’s also just more diversity. I think the arpeggiated guitar intro, the repeating catchy, sing-along refrain, and intermittent guitar melody on “Calling On You” is among some of their best. The sort of melancholic lamenting on “I Won’t Look Back” is also a standout, and one of their best choruses. Also, the buildup that bursts into to the main riff on “Flamethrower Love” is as badass as it gets -- with lyrics as simple and as powerful as: “I don’t care about livin’, and I don’t care if I die!” And then, there’s even some Ramones-esque doo-wop influence at the end of “Tell Me”.
Maybe I won’t convince you that the follow-up record is better than the popularly regarded classic. But if my endorsement is unable convince someone that has never heard this record to buy the copy we currently have in our used new arrivals, then I’ll quit? …. No I won’t, never mind.
As always, thanks for reading,
Staff Picks: Eric
The Mods - Heavy Rain / Two Punks 7” (Epic; 1983)
I picked up this Mods record last week. I had never heard them; it was truly an impulse buy after looking at picture sleeve and thinking “damn these dudes look cool.” The Mods were a punk/power poppy/Mod style band from Japan formed in the 70s. This particular single came out in 1983. The A side, “Heavy Rain,” is a banger. It reminds me of a lot of other groups cut from the same cloth many miles away, like the Jam. You can hear this is an 80s Mod/power pop jam and not a late 70s track; it’s hard to describe but the production and feel for the song is way more bouncy and anthemic. I’ve been bumping this track all week and I wish I knew Japanese so I could sing along!
The B side I am less in love with. It’s a live rendition of their track “Two Punks”. It’s a ska/dub style track that is about 7 minutes long. It’s cool that you can hear the crowd singing along and loving it, but to me this doesn’t hit nearly as hard as the A side. Perhaps I just have no little to no patience for any song over 3 minutes.
Staff Picks: Dominic
For any evangelist of good music, the biggest thrill is to be able to introduce something that you love to other people and have them enjoy it as much as you do. For me that has come in the form of mix-tapes made for friends, working as a DJ at a party or playing records in the store where I worked. The other day the latter happened twice and it was pretty cool and those two records are going to be the ones I would like to briefly mention to you in this week’s newsletter.
These two records almost bookend the 1960’s, the first coming out in 1960 and the second in 1971, although recorded the year before. They are both highly enjoyable and give a snapshot of the state of America during this period particularly with regard to the Civil Rights Movement. Without getting too deep into the subject, there are much better places for that discussion and from someone way more qualified than I. All I will say is that listening to records like these can be an education as well as entertainment. As a matter of fact, we were just talking the other day about how many of our life’s major decisions and choices were shaped and influenced by records and the artists behind that music. So, with that said, here we go.
Oscar Brown, Jr.: Sin & Soul. Columbia Records, 1960.
Oscar Brown, Jr. came from Chicago and this was his debut release in 1960, although he been active as a writer previously, this marked the beginning of a full career that followed. That year alone, he also wrote and co-produced a Broadway show called Kicks & Co which was critically well received if not financially successful. Interestingly, Brown closed the decade with another stage show called Joy, which if you ever see the soundtrack to is worth checking out.
The vibe on Sin & Soul is pure African-American culture up to that point, taking in Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Work Songs and points in between. Most of the songs are light in nature and in celebration but there are some darker moments, particularly on track Bid ‘Em In, a recreation of the slave auctions. Tough listening but something that we need to be reminded of. This happened to human beings inflicted by other humans in our country and not that long ago. The mood quickly changes from that track to the fun of Signifyin’ Monkey and Watermelon Man, not the Herbie Hancock hit from a few years later but quite possibly a big influence. Other standouts include, opener Work Song, proto-rap But I was Cool and closer Afro-Blue. Each song really is a complete story and mood within itself but they all tie together seamlessly helped musically by some of the best musicians working at the time. Three people that helped write that music should be familiar to Jazz heads, Nat Adderly, Bob Bryant and Bobby Timmons.
I first became aware of Oscar Brown via the hit song The Snake performed by Al Wilson, which Brown wrote. It was and still is a classic on the Mod scene. Sin and Soul was also big with the Mods and one of the staples of any record collection. I have had my first copy since the eighties and always thrust it into willing hands if I see copies in the wild. We had one here at Sorry State and I was playing it in store while a couple were shopping and before the record had been turned over they were asking about and it and wanting to buy it. It’s not an expensive record but packs more emotionally than a lot of big ticket items. If you were cool, you would check it out.
Baby Huey & The Babysitters: The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend. Curtom, 1971.
Next up, what is now considered a classic but at the time did not sell that well. This is a soul funk album of real quality and deserving of the more recent praise and high price tag that originals demand. Baby Huey was born James Ramey and came from Indiana but moved to Chicago. A large man, he was over 350 pounds for most of his life and that weight combined with his other poor life choices such as alcohol and heroin abuse contributed to his early death. This record was released posthumously and was the groups’ one and only release on Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label. Formed in 1963, the band did have a couple of singles before this, most noticeably the song Monkey Man, which is more of a garage rock record. By the time they got to cut the album, the end of the band was already taking place. Several key members quit and session musician were preferred for much of the recording. Regardless, what came of those sessions and the subsequent album was pure gold-a record that twenty years later would be raided by hip-hop producers for beats and samples and start to command three figures on the collector’s circuit.
I had it playing in the store the other day as I like the record and because I also wanted to hear their killer version of A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke which they cover. No offence to Jennifer Hudson but I was not overly blown away by her reading of the song at the Democratic National Convention the other week but I’m not hating. The Baby Huey version really does give you chills, he hits some notes that are just incredible plus gives a nice little rap in the middle of the song and might have the definitive version after Sam Cooke’s original. It was on hearing this that another customer shopping had to ask what we had on and they bought it, wanting to expand their listening habits. A good move on her part and one that as I said before makes working at the store so rewarding when you can turn folk onto good shit.
More social commentary comes on the record from tracks such Listen To Me and Hard Times, which has the hook used by the hip-hop producers that many of you will recognize. In addition to Hard Times, producer Curtis Mayfield also wrote the track Running, another highlight, and there is even a jazzy cover of The Mamas & Papas’ California Dreamin’.
My copy of the record came out in the UK in the 90’s and adds both sides of the Mighty, Mighty Children single, another Curtis tune and one that he cut himself. The Babysitters do a good job on it and it’s a nice addition to the record and completes the picture.
So, there you have it. Two records recorded ten years apart but speaking directly about life in America at the time and that in many ways are more apt now than ever. I do hope that you will take the time to discover these two gems if you are not familiar with them yet and if you are maybe pull ‘em out for a spin. There is a ton of good bio information to delve in to on the internet if you are curious but in the mean time I will leave you with a couple of links and will see you all next week. Thanks for reading.
Staff Picks: Ava
Terminal Nation: Holocene Extinction LP (20 Buck Spin)
Terminal Nation's newest release "Holocene Extinction" is definitely one for the books as far as 2020 new releases go. Aggressive as hell hardcore beat-downs and heavy doom/ death metal influence combines into the perfect concoction of "lets tear this venue apart" vibes. They so easily combine many different metal subgenres and still all the songs flow/transition really well together. It's a totally epic listen full of surprises like some random clean/ melancholic vocals, mega fast- almost thrash riffs that will suddenly transition into a somber, doomy moment. The vocals are straight up evil, backed with some wicked guitar and bass tones support the blistering hot drums just perfectly. Just 1 minute in listening to this album totally hooked me and I'm sure it'll do the same for you. For Fans of Gatecreeper, Vastum, Creeping Death, Tomb Mold...
Released 08/07/2020 on 20 Buck Spin. https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/holocene-extinction
Staff Picks: Usman
Yeah I am definitely a record collector, but I’d like to think that I am not a pretentious one… I love reissues. It’s a great opportunity for liner notes with cool trivia about the band, the recording process, badass photos, etc. Well-done reissues are always worth buying even if you already own the original pressing. It’s also a great way to satisfy your need for that ridiculously rare poster insert or booklet that everyone and their mother is always searching for (and also willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money for).
When it comes to the Generation Gas reissue I doubt that really anyone even has the original tape since it was never distributed, so we are all kind of in the same boat here. This is a top-notch reissue worthy of anyone’s record shelf. It’s got a great sound source, includes all artwork from the original cassette release, and features a band member interview providing a brief history of the band with some photos. It originally came out 5 years ago on General Speech and Not Very Nice. When I saw recently Not Very Nice was selling copies again, I reached out to see if we could re-stock them at Sorry State because I love this release so much. Since this record was released many years ago I assume that most people have already obtained their copy, but I also know there are always people who miss out on stuff, or maybe some people who didn’t even hear about it in the first place. So naturally I have chosen this for my Staff Pick.
When I first heard about this reissue, I had never heard of Generation Gas. But someone informed me it was members of L.S.D. and that’s all I needed to know to buy it. At the time, I did not realize that L.S.D. had entirely different members aside from the vocalist on their two releases, so in a way that comparison really wasn’t saying much. Regardless, I was not let down by this record. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot like L.S.D. to me (or Tranquilizer, another band they “shared” members with – the interview on the insert will tell you more!) It sounds a bit like ソドム (Sodom) in my opinion, but I don’t think these bands have anything at all in common. Well one tie between G-Gas and ソドム is legendary Kazuo “Tam” Tamura. Tam produced L.S.D.’s first release DESTROY and he also released ソドム on ADK Omnibus Vol. 1. Anyway, in G-Gas I hear a rawness similar to L.S.D. but in a more chaotic way. They play catchy riffs more reminiscent of ソドム, but all this is played faster than either band played - it’s fucking sick. It’s a perfect blend of groove and raw. Remember that dumbass chart that blew up with the “egg” punk and “chain” punk spectrum? Well G-Gas should have been right in the middle, if that helps. If you didn’t scoop one of these up already and you like raw HC punk/Japanese punk, I’d just go ahead and jump on it. I’m sure there will be a day when these become scarce and people start to jack the price up re-sale websites. Thanks for reading, ‘til next time…
p.s. I have a few BOMBANFALL E.P.s in stock, if you need one hit me up firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Picks: Daniel
Pinocchio: S/T 7” (Toxic State; 2019)
I usually dig deeper into the past for my staff picks, but this week I’ve reawakened to this brilliance of this 2019 release from New York’s Pinocchio. Last weekend I was organizing records, moving some stuff from my “new arrivals” pile to the main, alphabetized part of my collection and (inspired by a recent segment on the Garbage in My Heart podcast) I gave a few of them one final spin before they went into the stacks.
When I spun Pinocchio’s 7”, though, I couldn’t bear to bring it to the back bedroom where most of my 7”s live. In fact, a few hours after I listened to it, my partner Jet asked if we could listen to it again, and since then I’ve continued to play it almost every day. This record is so fucking great. It has huge hooks that made it stick out right away (particularly the vocal hooks, which remind me of Kate Bush in how unintuitive yet catchy they are), but the more I listen, the more I hear how densely layered this record is. In particular, there are so many subtle yet memorable bits of noise guitar that buzz around the lower reaches of the mix, rewarding the listener who pays close attention. Despite having similar titles, every one of the eight tracks is its own world, and the record—only a 7”—is more ambitious and more realized that 99% of the LPs I hear.
I haven’t heard any rumblings about new music from Pinocchio, but I hope this isn’t the last we hear from them. If they put out another record half as good as this one, they might force me to call them my favorite band.
Staff Picks: Jeff
Humant Blod: Flykten Från Verkligheten 7” (Desolate Records / Havoc Records)
So, I feel like me writing about this record is sort of unavoidable, but I thought I’d provide a little story for emphasis:
I remember when I first heard inklings of this project being in the works. Long before any of the music was posted publicly, I thought to myself, “Damn, people from Extended Hell with Poffen from Totalitär on vocals? Well yeah, that’ll be killer.” The confluence of the strings from one of the most ripping current bands, another Swedish ripper on 2nd guitar, Joe B’s crushing and ripping fast drumming, and then to top it off: the voice of one of my favorite bands… Sounded like a recipe for an immediate hit. Having been friendly with the New York-based portion of this collaboration, when we chatted about it I have to admit that I was simultaneously beyond stoked for them and insanely jealous.
As I waited patiently for this band’s record to materialize, I remember the first time I got a preview. Joe B was playing drums in another band called Fairytale that played a gig back in January at The Bunker, which is where Usman and I both live. He was gracious enough to play us an early mix of what was to become Humant Blod. More-so than I remember the songs, Usman had it cranked on the speakers in his room and I just remember being overwhelmed by how raging and it powerful it sounded. It was kind of a blur, and I couldn’t wait until I was able to revisit the record and let it sink in properly. Then, of course Covid happened, but Usman and I would keep in touch with Mike and Jesse from EH from time to time. Jesse I would exchange recording projects we were working on like his solo rager Final War, and I’d send him stuff that Usman and I were recording at our house. Then one day, he sent me an ominous youtube link. It was the whole Humant Blod 7”. I probably listened to it like 20 times that night.
So all of this biographical rambling is to say that this EP has been highly anticipated by myself and a lot of other HCPMFs in our little camp. Now, as I’m writing this and holding my copy, it feels fun to reflect on this absolute crusher materializing out of the ether. I swear… dropping the needle on the record and staring at the sleeve, the sort of stark, nondescript cover art morphs into the most terrifying images emerging from the static. Maybe these visions are heightened due to the amount of beer that is generally consumed during my typical nights blasting hardcore records. Suffice it so say: this record rules.
Thanks for reading,
Staff Picks: Dominic
Greetings one and all. I hope you are managing to enjoy your summer?
The other day Facebook reminded me of an event that I did several years ago by posting the flyer that I used. It was a reggae night and I used the cover of the record that I am picking this week as the flyer art.
Dr. Alimantado: Best Dressed Chicken In Town. Greensleeves, 1978.
Few records have such a striking cover as this one and even fewer deliver on the promise that the cover makes. Take a good look at it. Wouldn’t you be at least curious if you saw this in a record store? I know I was back in the late 80’s when I first saw it and bought my copy. So, what’s the deal?
Released in 1978 on the Greensleeves label, this was actually the first release for the label that came to be a powerhouse, alongside Trojan, for the release of Jamaican reggae outside of Jamaica. Although not an album proper, it was a collection of sides recorded during the mid-seventies and only released in Jamaica, it might well be one of the best 70’s reggae albums all the same. Dr. Alimantado, Winston Thompson to his Mum, was a “toaster” or D.J. that rode the rhythms of previously recorded tunes in the style that was being popularized in Jamaica during the early 70’s, a style that ex-pat Jamaicans brought to the US and which helped to birth hip-hop later in the decade. On these various sides, he used tunes that by their original artists reads like a who’s who of reggae music at the time. Artist such as Horace Andy, John Holt and Gregory Isaacs to name three. He also utilized some of the hottest studios to record at, Black Ark, King Tubby’s, Channel One and Randy’s, who at the time were cranking out prime reggae music around the clock. Although he mostly self-produced these sides there is no doubt that the engineering talents of Lee Perry, King Tubby and Scientist contributed greatly to the quality of the end product. They all share credits on the album.
On top of these prime rhythms and recognizable original vocals, Alimantado would inject his views on politics and other social issues of the day but also keeping a level of humour in the proceedings and somehow not getting too heavy and keeping the good vibe going. In the UK, the West Indian community and homegrown punks alike took to him immediately. John Lydon played his music and told people about him and The Clash even mentioned him in the song Rudy Can’t Fail. Don Letts, legendary author, film maker and historian was also a big fan and has recommended the album in interviews and to friends. Rightly so, because whether an actual “album” or not, this is certainly up there with other era classics like Super Ape from Lee Perry or African Anthem from Mikey Dread or Screaming Target from Big Youth.
There are a few different vinyl pressings out there and also a nice anniversary CD collection that adds some extra tracks and does a pretty good job on the remastering. I’ll leave you with a link to a couple of cuts and for your viewing pleasure the flyer from that party, a night that seems from a different lifetime now. Hopefully we will be able to gather in places and listen to good music played loud over a nice sound system again soon. Until then, stay safe and enjoy music. See you next week.
Staff Picks: Usman
La Familia Releases is re-issuing all three LPs by Disfear chronologically! I have been anticipating this one specifically for sometime!! They did A Brutal Sight of War first, and following this LP will be Everyday Slaughter. Sorry State just has a cassette version of Soul Scars from Mundo En Kaos Records in stock but hopefully we will stock the actual LP version when we get copies of Give Notice of Nightmare...
This cassette version is a beautiful replication of the LP onto a j-card layout. The 4-panel cover is high-gloss, double-sided, and features all original photos, lyrics, and information from the original release. It's cool they chose the color blue for the tape itself cos the limited edition version of Soul Scars was originally on blue vinyl. Disfear originally began as Anti-Bofors in 1989, Sweden. They released one EP in 1991. Within a year of the EP's release they had changed their name to Disfear and recorded for another self-titled EP. The line-up was the same as Anti-Bofors except they had changed vocalists. In my opinion, this change made the band's sound come together in the fiercest of ways. Although the band maintained a somewhat steady line-up, the only consistent members through its lifetime were the guitarist and bassist, Björn Pettersson and Henrik Frykman (R.I.P.) After Everyday Slaughter, the 1997 LP, I stop listening to the band. They had changed vocalists after that, and the sound had developed into less käng and more "stadium crust" to me.
When it comes to Disfear, or the many "dis" bands, I don't really have high expectations. If you can play a solid d-beat and the riffs are not complete shit, I will always listen. I didn't listen to 90's "dis" bands for a long time; the names were cheesy and sometimes the content just way too on the nose, in a humorous way. Four Minutes Passed Midnight by Discard (Sweden) was the album the opened the doors for me. I'll write about Discard some other time, but they started in the 80's playing mängel, and they continued into the 90's playing the same style but a bit more polished. Hearing this evolution made something click in my head, and down the hole I went into 90's dis-bands. Yes, I guess you can call Disfear a dis-band. But they do not follow the typical "dis" formula in my opinion. Or maybe they're just too good for me to group them with other dis-bands, haha. Their first EP is absolutely disgusting. It is played in the traditional käng style, but it has this extra punishing edge similar to Bombanfall. Following the self-titled EP they released A Brutal Sight of War. While I enjoy this EP very much, the sound was not as good in my opinion as the first. The seemed to follow a bit more of a "dis-band" formula on this recording, the songs weren't as ripping to me but nonetheless it is certainly worth a listen! (I mention this as an LP at the beginning of my writing; it was originally released as a CD with bonus tracks of the first EP. It was re-issued as a 7" with the same title a few years later, but not with the bonus tracks of the first EP. The La Familia pressing was an LP with both EPs, just like the first CD pressing.)
After A Brutal Sight of War, Disfear had changed drummers and put out my absolute favorite release of theirs Soul Scars. This record is everything I want on a record. It's brutal but ripping riffs, with some perfectly executed mid-tempo jams, and the lyrical content is political with a few quite relatable "personal" songs. Usually I dislike when vocalists write personal or abstract lyrics, cos you could use this platform to spread important information or write protest songs. The drummer on this record is Jallo Lehto, from No Security/Totalitär, maybe that's why I like it so much.. Those are some of my favorite bands, and Jallo is a huge inspiration to me when it comes to drumming. After this LP they would put out Everyday Slaughter with a new drummer, Robin (he plays in Svaveldioxid now and is very friendly guy!) The sound had developed even more on this LP, sounding the most metallic so far. I think the main thing about this band is the quality and sound of the recordings. Specifically to Soul Scars, it sounds like everything is pushed to the max, but it's all still so clear. You can vividly hear everything is blasting into your head - it sounds like the end of the world and you can't escape. Tomas Skogsberg recorded most of their material (at least all the records I have.) If you don't know the name, he is a legendary Swedish sound engineer who recorded countless death metal bands. I think this band had become popular in the metal scene because of this, and gained quite a bit of notoriety. Unfortunately, I think that still a lot of people avoid Disfear due to the "dis-band" stigma or simply just don't know how damn good the early stuff was. Check 'em out! So stoked that La Familia is doing a Disfear series.
OH SHIT ITS JEFFS BIRTHDAY!!! Someone sell this man a Portland Edition of Kings of Punk!
Staff Picks: Daniel
Rattus: Ihmiset On Sairaita 7” (Ann & Archie Records, 1985)
We recently nabbed a cool collection with lots of international hardcore and I made a big pile of “keepers” for myself… so big that I still feel kind of guilty about it. One of my favorites is this 1985 7” from Finland’s Rattus. Rattus is a special band to me because I got to see a few dates on their 2004 US tour and had an amazing time. While that personal connection is important, their records are incredible in their own right. They formed way back in 1978 and their early EPs are punky, catchy and fun, like a lot of other European and Scandinavian punk bands that formed in the Sex Pistols’ wake. However, when hardcore came out around, Rattus embraced it. After a string of singles and an LP, WC Räjähtää (which translates to something like “bathroom explosion” and features a memorable Pushead illustration of demons emerging from a toilet), Rattus expanded their lineup to a 4-piece. While guitarist Jake was and is a solid vocalist, there’s something about the raspy timbre of vocalist Annikki that does it for me. Besides the change in vocal sound, Rattus’s songs got faster, more complex, and more metallic, and their experience as players gave them a uniquely composed and technical sound.
Ihmiset On Sairaita features this 4-piece lineup, and while I’m fuzzy on the chronology, it may have been the first thing Annikki recorded with the band. While I love Rattus’s LPs from this period, Ihmiset On Sairaita is special in that it’s the only EP recorded with this lineup, and as is often the case with music this intense, it works better in a smaller, more digestible chunk. Even cooler is the fact that they play the three songs on the b-side as a medley, linking them with wild, out of control-sounding guitar solos. Hearing the band wander off on a Discharge-style guitar solo only to come back together and lock into step is thrilling.
While Finnish hardcore and punk records can get expensive, this one doesn’t tend to be too pricey. Alternatively, the tracks are available on the Brazilian pressing of the Uskonto On Vaara LP and many other LP and CD collections, so they shouldn’t be too hard to find. You might also recognize the first track, “Reaganin Joululanju,” from Maximumrocknroll’s Welcome to 1984 compilation. You can’t go wrong with any Rattus records you find, so if you see one, pick it up!
Staff Picks: Jeff
Krigshoder: Krig I Hodet EP cassette (Suck Blood)
It’s always a pleasant surprise when somewhere… lurking out in the ether, there are the seeds of an endeavor to create a band. Then, when that band’s first release seemingly emerges out from a veil of smoke, it totally blindsides you and you didn’t even know how bad you needed to hear it until it had magically appeared. For me, this new Krigshoder tape is checking all the boxes. Whether or not this phenomenon is a result of circumstances directly related to the pandemic, it seems like several recording projects have sprung up this year that involve people here in the States collaborating with someone that lives overseas contributing vocals. Between that Sirkka tape, the Humant Blod 7” and now this Krigshoder tape, it appears that the formula is working.
The label Suck Blood has released several tapes that I’ve thought were killer, most of which are bands from Los Angeles. If the information I’ve gathered serves me correctly, Krigshoder is made up of a few familiar faces from the Suck Blood camp along with a dude who lives in Norway. Now, whether or not this band sounds exactly like they could’ve been released on X-Port Platter could be debated. They do cover Siste Dagers Helvete who are Norwegian. That said, I think the variety of influences that can be drawn from Krigshoder’s vicious synthesis of riffs is what makes them so good. I hear a lot Aareton Joul- era Terveet Kadet but I also here the chaoticness of Italian hardcore like Declino. I’m rambling, but suffice it to say that they put all of this together to make a record that is both totally classic sounding but also refreshing and original. This recording is just perfect. It’s raw and organic, but is also played tight and perfectly. We’ve got frantic, yet tuneful and memorable riffs. Super punchy and ripping drums with drum rolls that make my teeth hurt. The vocals are probably the best part – absolutely snarling. Every song is put together with interesting and unique ideas… they play classic sounding hardcore but hit a little weirdness/noisiness from time to time. It’s not too long, it doesn’t get boring. I just have no complaints. This is a breath of fresh air. Or smog. I can’t tell the difference anymore.
Sorry State should be getting a good stack of these, so don’t sleep on them once we get them at the store!
Staff Picks: Eric
James Chance and The Contortions: Buy 12”
When I was in high school my buddy had the song “Contort Yourself” on his iPod and we would ride around in his Mom’s mini van blaring it on repeat. This record came through the store not so long ago and I had to pick it up. Speaking honestly, I have had a very hard time getting into No Wave as a genre. Listening to music with very loose structure and improvisational melodies kinda stresses me the fuck out. However, I really like The Contortions. Perhaps it’s because these songs have a solid backbone of drum and bass lines that keep everything grounded and on track. When I listen to this record I can’t help but smile a little bit. It’s got funky rhythms, free jazz style saxophone and guitar, and a punk delivery on the vocals. There is so much squanky sax in this album I think Jeff’s head would probably explode. Freaky music for freaky/artsy fucks. A classic for sure!
Staff Picks: Dominic
I’m old enough to have lived through many golden eras of music, periods where almost every release within a genre is now considered a classic. One of those golden eras was that of hip-hop. I remember vividly hearing the first tapes of this new “scratch” music in the early 80’s at school and when I started working in the States in ’89, the so called Golden Era of Hip-Hop had just begun. I recall buying The Source magazine and picking up all the latest releases. As I was working on ships during this period I was mostly buying CDs. One of my favorites and one that I still have but finally converted to vinyl is my pick for this week.
Marley Marl: In Control Volume II (For Your Steering Pleasure). Cold Chillin’ Records. 1991
Released three years after In Control Volume 1, a record which fully helped mark the beginning of that most fertile period and a record that featured the hottest New School MCs - Craig G., Master Ace, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, Roxanne Shante and M.C. Shan- known collectively as the Juice Crew and coming out of Queensbridge, NYC. Produced by Marley Marl and released on Cold Chillin’ one of the hottest hip-hop labels, it featured the great posse cut The Symphony and the stone cold classic Droppin’ Science with rap by Craig G.
By this time, 1991, hip-hop was arguably the most original and exciting form of music being made and I can remember being particularly pumped when I saw this album had come out. It reunited the Juice Crew rappers for The Symphony, Pt II and also brought in a lot of newer names that I did not know and some others that I did. The album also played more like a mix tape or radio show with the different MCs and samples used in the production. Some of the tracks, Buffalo Soldier and Fools In Love have a reggae dancehall vibe to them and overall the production has great sample hooks and beats. There is also a contemporary New Jack Swing sound on the cut Reach Out featuring a R ‘n B style vocal. If that was almost too soft for you, follow up track Keep Control featuring Chubb Rock, Def Jef, Tragedy and Grand Puba comes off sounding more like a Public Enemy track. In fact, Chuck D. himself does show up on the record and is featured on America Eats The Young, a cut whose title tells you what to expect.
For me, one of the tunes that still stands out is Cheatin’ Days Are Over which has a great production and features a name I know not much about on the rap, Mike Nice. Whoever he was, he was nice on this.
Probably compared side by side, most people would give the edge to Volume One as far as classic status goes but I think if not a classic, Volume Two is definitely a good record and one that has held up for what is now almost thirty years. I had always hoped to find a vinyl version but oddly it took me quite a while to find one, mostly due to the fact that it only came out as a promo in a plain white sleeve and never received a full vinyl release. It was a nice surprise to finally score a copy and as Ava and I had been talking about 90’s New York Hip-Hop and how I lived a few blocks from Queensbridge while in NYC, it seemed like a good time to pick this gem for recommendation.
Staff Picks: Usman
To start, the label that released this cassette sold out before Sorry State could get distro copies! But, I have a handful of copies, and also a few Vivisected Numbskulls tapes left for distro - which are also now sold out from the label and Sorry State. Feel free to hit me up for distro stuff at email@example.com. I've wanted to write about this release for my previous two Staff Picks but I wanted to have the copies in my hands before I wrote. You never know what the end result might be when dealing with cassettes, or almost any release really. This cassette is brought to you by Outsider Classics, who also did badass re-issues likes Cólera, Nisses Nötter, and Missbrukarna. I think I’ve mentioned Asta Kask several times already in the handful of Staff Picks I've written. I assume everyone knows who Asta Kask is who is reading this so I will do my best to keep it interesting. Please, no shame if you don't know this band. I hate that hierarchal mindset some “punks” have when it comes to knowing about bands. I’ve always heard Asta Kask were the pioneers of trallpunk (a melodic, Swedish style of HC/punk), but from my understanding trallpunk was not coined until the 90's, over a decade after the band had formed. They are from a small town in Sweden called Töreboda. When I say this town is small, I mean like less than 5,000 people small. Imagine Pittsboro, NC. On a map it also looks like there’s nothing going on there too, just like Pittsboro (aside from the beautiful land.) It's kind of strange to imagine an excellent band like this coming from a small town where no other notable bands came from, but at the same time I feel like that is common in the USA. But this is probably worth noting, I’m still looking on a map and guess what city is almost right the middle of Stockholm and Gothenburg? Yup, it's Töreboda. And it looks like you literally have to pass right through it to travel between those two major cities… that had to have played a role.
Asta-Kask originally formed as X-tas in 1978, playing Sex Pistols cover songs. Their first actual release was in 1982, För Kung Och Fosterland. It was really well-received internationally at the time, but the band had broken up before the EP was actually released. In 1983, the vocalist/guitarist Micke re-formed the band with a new-line up and recorded En Tyst Minut... (That title translates to 'a minute of silence...' I wonder if that was related to the break-up of the band.) This new line-up is the same one the band would stick with until their end of days. I do want to note there was a compilation tape Anarkist Attack that was released in 1982 (I think) that features a great deal of Asta Kask tracks. There are many songs on there I don’t recognize, but there are certainly some songs that appear on later releases with new recordings. It makes me wonder if Micke had wrote a shit ton of songs early on and really didn’t want to abandon them, hence the reformation of the band with a new line up. Another even more important note, Micke Blomqvist operated his own recording studio through the 80’s called Kloakens Alternativa Antistudio. This person deserves so much credit…at his studio legendary bands like Nyx Negative, Crude SS, Asocial, Svart Parad, Anti-Cimex, Avskum, and Rövsvett have all recorded. Anyway, in 1984 En Tyst Minut...was released but they were so on top of their shit that they had already recorded for their next record Plikten Framför Allt, which was released later that same year. After three EPs they released Med Is I Magen in 1985. I think this LP is the most renowned of their releases, but my favorite stuff is their EPs, especially the ones that came out in 1984. Still in 1985, they recorded for their next EP Än Finns Det Hopp. They were keeping it steady at the time, visiting the studio regularly and playing gigs throughout Sweden. But the next year would be the bands “final” years active. In 1986 they visited the studio to record Aldrig En LP and embarked on their first international tour. I’m not sure how long the tour was, or what cities they hit, but they toured Germany with Upright Citizens. I don’t know anything about why the band broke-up, but maybe it was subsequent to their tour. Although the band did call it quits in 1986, they have reformed several times since then (1989, 1992, 2003, etc.) This tape features their EP collection plus an additional track that wasn’t originally released with the EP. You can find these EPs for about $30 (haha although some of the first presses go for much more.) They are relatively affordable, but it’s really cool to have ‘em all compiled onto a cassette – you don’t have to flip shit nearly as often, and it saves you like $100. Cheers to Outsider Classics! And, thanks for reading..til next time.
Staff Picks: Daniel
High Tide: Sea Shanties 12” (Liberty, 1969)
I recently scored an original US pressing of this heavy psych banger from 1969. It first came on to my radar when a used copy came through the shop a year or two ago. My friend Phil bought it before I could listen to it, but at some point I checked out Sea Shanties online. It grabbed me from the first listen, and I revisited the record every few weeks. Rock didn’t get much heavier than Sea Shanties in 1969. Their heavy, fuzz-drenched guitar sound gets compared to Blue Cheer, but High Tide reminds me more of Sir Lord Baltimore’s 1970 album Kingdome Come. Like that record, Sea Shanties is not only very heavy for its time but also fast and chaotic. Sir Lord Baltimore generated tension by double-tracking the guitars, but on Sea Shanties, the second guitar spot is filled by an electric violinist which also gives this album a similar feel to Amon Düül II’s Yeti album. I’m a sucker for two-guitar bands, and the way the guitarist and violinist sometimes harmonize with one another and sometimes play across and through one another’s melodic lines hits the sweet spot.
Sea Shanties hasn’t seen a vinyl repress since a 2009 Sundazed reissue, and since even that seems to near the $100 mark on Discogs, when a clean original US copy popped up for around that price I jumped on it. I also started doing some research into High Tide and its members, though I haven’t found much. High Tide has a second album from 1970 that I’m looking forward to checking out, and they stayed together throughout the 80s and 90s, releasing music during that period with a revolving door lineup. Vocalist / guitarist Tony Hill seems to have focused most of his energy on High Tide, but violinist Simon House has a much longer resume, serving time in the Third Ear Band and joining Hawkwind for Hall of the Mountain Grill, which might be my favorite of their many albums.
Staff Picks: Dominic
I was looking through my phone at old photos and found one from four years ago that has me here at Sorry State before I began working here – Ava and I recently celebrated our first-year anniversary of being part of the SSR family- and it’s a picture of me buying the record that I am going to suggest to you all this week. It was a sealed copy and quite expensive and so I had to bring something in to trade. I brought in a sealed copy of Nirvana’s Bleach and we worked it out. Some of you might think it was an odd trade but I had been looking for this particular record for a while and have a play copy of Bleach so wasn’t too bothered about letting it go.
Anyway, as we hit August and it is officially summer, this one might be appropriate.
J.K. & Co.: Suddenly One Summer. White Whale. 1968
There’s something about records that were made in the year of one’s birth that intrigues me and I wonder if anyone else feels the same? It doesn’t always follow that you will like them but more often than not I do. This one I certainly do.
So, what’s the deal? Okay, it’s a pop-psych record of real class and distinction and will appeal to anyone who digs that type of thing. It has elements of all the great records from that period. Think Beatles post Revolver, Bee Gee’s 1st, The Left Banke, Zombies, Aerovons, Gandalf, Bobby Jameson, Sagittarius and Love, to give you some references.
The story goes that fifteen-year-old Jay Kaye, son of Mary Kaye the renowned guitarist, raised around music all his life, accompanied her to Vancouver where she had arranged studio time for him to record. Already mature beyond his years and quite a gifted musician and budding songwriter, Jay arrived at the studio with his songs and presented them to producer Robin Spurgin, who was immediately impressed. Spurgin had a worked up a good resume by this time recording several of the better local bands and he enlisted another teen prodigy, Robert Buckley to help with arrangements and members of underground group Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck to play. Over the next few weeks this group worked on what was to end up being Suddenly One Summer. Taking in the local music scene as inspiration and the previous couple of years of summer of love style music and most importantly, LSD. Kaye freely admits that psychedelic experimentation was a big part of the creative process.
Armed with the record in the can, Kaye initially tried to use his family connections at Capitol to have the album released but they wanted to change things and rerecord some stuff. Instead, they took it to White Whale, who flipped for the record and it was one of their in-house producers who came up with the title because Kaye came into their office and blew them away suddenly one summer. White Whale did a good job initially promoting the record locally with billboards and store displays and underground radio particularly liking it. Trying to build on that the label decided to put out a single but foolishly picked the first track off the record which was barely thirty seconds and meant as an introductory piece of music for the rest of the album. Naturally this sunk without trace and other than some live shows that Kaye did with a new band not much else happened and everyone moved on with their lives. It wasn’t until years later when records from this era were starting to be rediscovered that interest in it started back up again. New York label Sundazed did a pretty nice reissue job back in 2001 and that version is pretty easy to find. Originals do show up but still command decent money.
Key tracks are the lysergic Fly with backwards playing tapes ala Beatles, Christine, that begins with a drum break for the sampler ready producers, Crystal Ball, a quick acid guitar groove and O.D. a prime West Coast psyche tune. Elsewhere you have some trippy sitar on Magical Fingers Of Minerva and a harpsichord track that might have been a Village Green out-take.
Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, the album doesn’t outstay it’s welcome but hopefully now that you know about it, you can welcome it into your life. Take the trip.
Staff Picks: Ava
Vampyr: Cry Out For Metal (Hot Blood Records)
Hailing from Germany, Vampyr are one of those legendary one-and-done bands with Cry Out For Metal being their only release. Every song has a mandatory head banging riff. The contrast between the true speed metal songs and the straight up heavy metal, hard-driving rock songs make a perfect anthem worthy album. Starting off the album with the epic "Sinner" really hooks you into listening to the full album in one sitting. Hell Bent Angels has got to be my favorite track on the record though.. Wolfgang Schwarz's Vocals have a small range but an insane amount of power and a beautiful south German speed metal style behind them. The lead guitars are insane and those solos...WHEW boy does this record kick ass. Definitely a gem of 1985 speed/thrash metal. 10/10 Recommendation for fans of Tyrant, Jag Panzer, Lizzy Borden, Armored Saint.
Staff Picks: Usman
I have been really feeling compilations lately. I used to love them when I was younger. They are a great way to hear new bands. At least they used to be before the internet took over everything… I think the last compilation I was really into was the Killed By Finnish Hardcore bootleg, and that was 8 or 9 years ago. Haha, I just realized I didn’t have internet at my house back then, I wonder if there was a correlation with my obsession of the LP. I do want to apologize for not writing about something available at Sorry State, or a new release in general. This is rather a “Suggested Listening” than a Staff Pick. The Tsjernobilly Boogie LP is relatively affordable though if you can find one second-hand. Also, ANYONE reading this is more than welcome to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’d gladly put this on a tape for you with a cute lil’ cover!! I actually think this release was originally on cassette format before being pressed on vinyl, but I haven’t confirmed that. According to discogs, there was a booklet “issued” with the disc but they all burned up or something before they could retrieve them. Bummer, cos I would absolutely love to know some information about a few of these bands! It’s not often I hear a compilation where I enjoy listening to every song. Side A opens up with Kafka Prosess. They deliver the goods; fast, pummeling hardcore with melodic elements, traditional X-Port Plater style. Also, these tracks were exclusive to the release at the time! This is a great way to start off a compilation. It lets every listener know you simply are not fuckin’ around. In 2000, Skuld Releases did the Ingen Fattige, Ingen Rike compilation LP which featured these tracks as well as their split with Disorder (UK). You can still find these cheap second-hand.
Barn Av Regnbuen follows with four songs. Barn Av Regnbuen is a band I’ve heard before after checking the X-Port Plater catalogue, funny though I don’t remember them being this good! After hearing the tracks on this compilation I re-visited their previous material and I have been enjoying it a lot! I see why I probably passed them over at first. They incorporate what I call “weird” elements into their HC, haha. But the other more traditional elements keep me listening, cos they play it well. It also makes the “weird” shit even cooler. Now I regret not getting their first EP in the past.
Overlagt Drap rules!! It sounds like shitty rock-n-roll with a “dirty” punk edge. They appear to be the only band on this compilation that sing in English. I know very little about the band, I know they have two other appearances on compilations, using the same songs. One appearance was on a US label as benefit for Green Peace. The other appearance was before the Tsjernobilly Boogie LP on a compilation on Norwegian tape label Den Onde Sirkel, who released some badass stuff like Asta Kask.
Brent Jord finishes off the B side with 3 tracks. I wish there was more. These might be my favorite tracks on this compilation!! I know nothing about the band, and of course, these are the only songs I can find of theirs. It reminds me a bit of Stengte Dører and Svart Framtid, some of my favorites.
Angor Wat opens up the B side with a groovy HC track, a great song to start the B side. They are the last band on the compilation I had heard of (there was only three bands I knew previous to listening). Angor Watt sticks out from the compilation in this way that it sounds more metallic rather than melodic like the rest of the bands.
Following Angor Wat is TMB (The Midnight Blues). They lay down 3 tracks of RAGING HARDCORE!! The first track sounds kind of like Disorder (UK) but more ripping, while the other two songs sound pretty different. They almost sound like a German band. The way the vocalist sings reminds me of Vorkriegsjugend especially.
Jesus, this LP just gets more and more HC!! Josva lays down some off-the-hinge HC tracks. The first and third songs barely hang by a thread but in a good way, kinda like Wretched (Italy). The middle song is quite different than the ones that surround it, with a sort of English vibe. I think it is because the vocalist sounds like the dude from early Chumbawamba recordings to me, haha.
The last two tracks on the compilation really contrast the rest of the compilation. But I enjoy them so much… it’s a great way to finish off a compilation like this. Dead Swingers is the first of the two. They are much more melodic and “punk” rather than HC. There are many layers to the song, with multiple tracks for the vocals and guitar parts that create a really encompassing atmosphere. They had a cassette some years before this LP where their compilation track came from called Nisseland. I would love to hear more, but I got to find some downloads…
Det Glad Vanvidd finishes off the compilation with like a 7 minute long song, haha. I don’t think I could listen to a song that long generally, but for some reason it doesn’t feel that long when listening to the LP. They incorporate strange elements into the song…there is like a bird “caw” that echoes frequently in the distance, synths, and other dissonant sounds. I think they might have more material released than any other band on this compilation, but unfortunately I think they were more an “experimental” band so I’m not sure I’d suggest diving deep into that one.
Shout to the Hardy Boys, WHAT UP! Michael told me about this compilation recently otherwise I would’ve never known it existed. Those two punk-ass mofos have shown me and friends countless HC bands, cheers yall! Till next time..
Staff Picks: Daniel
Various: Keats Rides a Harley 12” (Happy Squid Records)
Last Saturday I was sitting on the couch, scrolling away on my phone and having a relaxing afternoon, when a picture of the Fuck-Ups’ FU82 popped up on a local shop’s Facebook feed (Sound Off Records & Hifi here in Raleigh, in case you’re wondering). I jumped in the car and nabbed that record for a good price, and I was very stoked because I’ve been looking for that one for a long time. I also bought a few other records that must have come in with the same collection, including a copy of Keats Rides a Harley, a 1981 compilation on Happy Squid Records, the label associated with the Urinals.
I’ve been aware of Keats Rides a Harley for many years, but I can’t remember if I’d ever listened to it. I can, however, assure you that it never hit me like it did this week. In fact, my Fuck-Ups EP hasn’t been getting nearly the attention it should because Keats has been monopolizing my turntable.
There are a few things I like about this record. First, the production is great. The recordings resemble what you hear on a lot of early California punk records like the Dangerhouse singles or the American Youth Report compilation, with all the instruments clear and present, but with the perfect amount of grit. It’s also super short and doesn’t wear out its welcome, much like Chunks or Cracks in the Sidewalk. I’m not sure why Californians loved short compilations, but I’m down. Finally, it’s just full of great tracks. The Gun Club song is awesome, the Meat Puppets turn in a scorcher from their early hardcore period, Toxic Shock sounds like a reject from the American Youth Report comp and the unknown S Squad serve up the record’s best song. And that’s just the a-side!
I also picked up a copy of Keats Rides a Harley’s unofficial sequel, Warf Cat Tales, and it’s also excellent, though it’s not as punk and the artwork’s Dick Tracy vibe hasn’t aged as well. The recordings are still raw, though, and the mix of bands is eclectic but very strong. cordings are still quite raw, though, and the mix of bands is eclectic but very strong.
Staff Picks: Jeff
Stray Bullet: S/T 7” (Adult Crash)
New EP from this band out of Sheffield, UK. I’m not exactly sure if this band shares members with Rat Cage, but if not, they surely are part of the same scene because I hear a lot of similarities. To me, what distinguishes Stray Bullet is that stylistically they sound a little less mangel/Swedish hardcore influenced, and instead sound more on the US hardcore side of things. I can only hope that the band’s namesake is an Out Cold reference. I don’t know why, but the singer has this shredded vocal approach, which does seem to fall somewhere audibly between Mark and Kevin. When you drop the needle on the first cut off this EP, the first few punches of guitar chords grab your attention just before everything drops out except for drums, which rage at a barreling pace not unlike the break in “Cult Band”. Then this thing just takes off. One earworm riff after another washes over you before you’re able to get a grasp on the songs, which immediately demands repeated listens. One thing I think Stray Bullet does really well, which I personally think is hard to pull off tastefully, is the insertion of catchy and dancey mid-paced sections. They manage to work these parts into their songs without it feeling like a stupid and unnecessary “mosh part”. Is this band recreating the wheel? Not really, but I do feel like they are surgical in making all the right moves to achieve a killer hardcore song.
Not to harp on Out Cold too much, but if you’ve never checked out their No Eye Contact EP from 1998, you should definitely check it out. “Stray Bullet” is the first track. Give it a listen ya dummie!
Thanks for reading,
Staff Picks: Dominic
Hey there music lovers. Are you surviving? Another mad week and just about the only thing that makes sense is music. This week I’m going back to the tail end of the 60’s for some obscure garage and psychedelic music and a little bit of tongue in cheek humor from the UK.
C.A. Quintet: Trip Thru Hell. Candyfloss records. 1969
First up a very rare record put out by a garage band from Minneapolis. This record, like most of their ilk, barely sold on its initial release and the band were never heard of again. In fact, the band were only really known in their local area. In a typical tale, their record gained popularity a good dozen plus years later with collectors and lovers of psychedelic music. Original copies soon commanded four figures. Thankfully a decent reissue came out in the 90s through Sundazed Music and now in the internet era the music can be heard through your computer. We did manage to stock a more recent reissue here at Sorry State and have it available.
There is so much that appeals about this record. The title and cover for starters. Artist Rod Eaton certainly came up with an image and feel that lets you know that this might not be your typical pop record. Musically it is a concept piece of sorts and quite accomplished for a young band. Instrument wise, it’s the usual guitar, bass, organ and drum set up of most sixties garage bands but with clever percussion added, the odd mariachi trumpet, sound effects and a haunting female vocal that is used for the main theme and which is repeated at several points through the record. When I first listened to the title track I thought I was hearing a lost Morricone Spaghetti Western soundtrack. It definitely sounds like something Tarantino might use for one of his films. It’s an epic nine plus minute track that slowly builds with the hypnotic vocal and music getting more and more intense as we take our trip thru hell and even features a phased drum solo that doesn’t actually suck.
The mariachi trumpet features through second track Colorado Mourning and reminds me a little bit of Arthur Lee and Love. Spooky organ ushers in third track Cold Spider and the west coast Love vibes continue albeit with another twisted guitar solo. The remainder of the album continues in a similar vein and ends as it began with the second part to Trip Thru Hell. The record is just around thirty minutes and doesn’t out stay it’s welcome. There is now some interesting information available on the internet about the record and hopefully I have piqued your interest to go investigate.
The Head Shop: S/T. Epic. 1969
Another American record from ’69 and this time from a group out of New York that received the patronage of famous sixties producer and fashion icon Milan aka The Leather Boy. It was through his involvement that this unknown band were able to put out a psyche record on major label Epic. The album is really a psychploitation record. It definitely was trying to appeal to hip, turned on listeners but also throws in some covers to try and grab the casual buyer. The covers being a phased and trippy version of Sunny with some pretty good acid guitar and two (sigh) Beatles songs. However, the first, Yesterday, is worked into a longer Zappa like number and is tolerable and the second, Revolution, is a good song to begin with and the Head Shop version is full on acid guitar overload with bongos and you know that’s alright. Other highlights are the title track which sets their stall up as track one and the song I Feel Love Comin’ On which features guitar hero Larry Coryell playing. Throughout the record there are stereo effects and lashings of fuzz bass and distorted guitar, some tasteful Hammond organ and soulful vocals and some other nice touches. For an underground record, it’s pretty good and still has an accessible sound despite some of the weirder moments such as on the track Prophecy which employs a heavenly mix of choral vocals, church bell and harp among other things. Final track comes on almost like Steppenwolf until it disappears into a collage of electronic noise and keyboard sounds. Cool record, interesting story, expensive as an original, available here as a reissue.
Lastly, a quick bit of comic relief from England. The 1967 film Bedazzled starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore was on TV the other day. It’s a great humorous take on the Faust tale with Cook playing the devil and granting wishes to Moore’s character. One scene has Moore wishing he was a pop star and after he sings his big number dressed in gold lame to the screaming girls, he is upstaged by Cook (as the devil) who comes on and sings his number and steals the show. The soundtrack was composed by Moore, an accomplished jazz musician, and the title track is a great pop-psych track that seems an appropriate way to end things this week. Enjoy.
Staff Picks: Ava
Hiroshi Yoshimura: Soundscape 1: Surround (1986)
Hiroshi has been my go-to artist these last few months during a few big life changes I've had to endure, especially being a go-to falling asleep soundtrack. Soundscape 1: Surround has a way of alleviating these stresses I've been dealing with that I can't find in many other albums. His minimalist electronic themes are so easy to be whisked away in and become lost in the soft melodies. "In addition to solo performance and improvisational music, he made music for galleries, museums, building spaces and train stations." Yoshimura was a pioneer of Japanese ambient and minimalist electronic all throughout the 80's and early 90's. in 1986, the Misawa corporation hired Yoshimura to "provide something their own products were missing. Given out with every prefab home was Yoshimura's spellbinding Soundscape 1: Surround, an album of music that was meant to provide a foreground to a lot of something you might be missing." (Diego Olivas, October 12, 2016). I've never heard of an album given out with prefab homes to solely experience in that specific space. If you are a fan of anything at all ambient, Minimal Synth, or Environmental-Electronic, you should totally give this a listen.
Staff Picks: Usman
It’s funny I was thinking for a few days what record recently came out that I found compelling enough to write about here in the newsletter. I'm not sure how many people even read the shit I write here, but I still feel like its privilege to write record reviews in the Sorry State Newsletter. So I want to truly put effort into what I say here. Hopefully that will still be the case in a few years (unless Daniel’s fired my weed smokin’ ass by then).
Anyway, the Staff Pick idea hit me after we had packed up dozens of the Totalitär Heydays Revisited EP. How did think I not think of this before? I've been awaiting this release for a minute! I was getting antsy as I saw distros all over the States get their copies, as we still awaited ours. Seriously not hating on how long post takes right now. I am truly grateful the mail is still even moving, especially internationally. And, you can still mail a handful of records for less than $5. If you don't give your post carrier lil’ gifts around the holidays you should truly consider this, given that you buy records through the mail, I guess. Anyway, as I awaited their arrival I even watched some video on Youtube a few times of somebody filming their turntable with a smart phone as they played the first song on the EP. I was dying to know what the tracks would sound like. But then one day a big La Vida box arrived at Sorry State that included a single copy, destined to some lucky person in the States! Naturally Jeff and I played that mug IMMEDIATELY. (Thanks to whoever's disc that was by the way!!) If you didn’t hear it, the quality of the bonus 7" from the 1986-1989 compilation LP was kind of a letdown. But what could I really expect for something that was described as bonus disc of rehearsal takes? That's not the case here with the Heydays Revisited EP. On top of that, it is so cool to hear different recordings of songs I know and love, and even an "alternate" version too!! When I heard the “preview track” on Youtube I was already trying to figure out what session these songs would be from. I predicted they were from the same session as the Luftslott EP or maybe from the sessions of those random two songs they tack onto the end of Sin Egen Motståndare LP. But it’s neither. It is from sessions recorded around the same time, in the same studio, and mixed by the same person, haha. But these are tracks that have never seen the light of day! So cool! The back cover gives a brief history of the band at the time and where the recordings came from. This release was very well done, and I am so happy there are so many copies in circulation for everyone all over the world to enjoy. When this release was first planned I’m pretty sure it was set for only 500 copies, but after so much awareness and want for the EP the quantity pressed in the end was 4 times that. Record “collecting” is fun but it can be kind of a dirty game. Most of my Totalitär records I bought about ten years ago for fair prices, punk prices. But as time goes on there are always more people turned onto bands, the internet hype, blah blah blah; so it’s good to see this many copies of this EP in circulation so everyone can get a chance! Cheers Flox!! Also heads up to readers, Prank Records has a repress on the way of Sin Egen Motståndare! When I very first heard a Totalitär EP I was instantly obsessed (which I think was actually not an EP but a split with Dropdead). It was like Discharge but it ripped instead of pounded, if that makes sense. I bought any Totalitär record I could after that. Totalitär is one the greatest bands, in my opinion. Their first release was in 1987, although they were on many compilation tapes in 1986 (including an appearance under the name Anti-System before they were Totalitär. I believe the name comes from a Fanzine they did at the time). Since 1986, they had more or less consistently released records for 20 years. Every single record they released is worth the listen. This band has no filler, no dull moments. There is not a single moment I want to miss. It never gets old, just like the Discharge EPs. Don't ask me what my favorite Totalitär record is; they are all my favorite. I'm not kidding. Do you know any bands that have released compelling hardcore records for over 20 years? Most of the time when a band is around that long they’ve changed out so many members that it is barely even the same songwriters, or they’re all burnt out need to stop milking their name. That’s not the case with Totalitär. I once met the vocalist Poffen at the Dissekerad show in Richmond and I made a complete fool of myself, cos I pretty much just tried to say to him what I have just wrote here. Fuck it, I mean what I say. No shame. They are legends. Anyway, til next week… please, take care y'all and thanks for taking the time to read what I have wrote.
Staff Picks: Daniel
Nico: Drama of Exile LP (1981)
A year or so ago I was listening to Henry Rollins’ radio show on KCRW and he played “Genghis Khan,” the opening track from Drama of Exile, and it just blew me away. I’d heard some of Nico’s other solo material in passing and I know the Velvet Underground pretty well, but “Genghis Khan” was something else. The chirping synths and tinny production reminded me of Bowie’s Berlin period, and Drama of Exile even features a cover of “Heroes.” However, Drama of Exile came out in 1981, a few years after Bowie had moved on from Berlin. Anyway, after hearing Rollins play “Genghis Khan” I looked up the album on streaming services and returned to it repeatedly over the next several months, and eventually I added it to my want list.
It took a long time to track down a reasonably priced copy because Drama of Exile never came out in the US, and COVID-19 has made me wary of ordering records internationally. A few weeks ago a copy popped up in the US, though, and I couldn’t pull the trigger fast enough. I’ve listened to it several times over the past few weeks, and I’ve only come to love it more. While I could deal without the covers (particularly “I’m Waiting for the Man”), the rest of the LP is brilliant. If you’re a fan of Bowie’s Berlin albums or Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and The Idiot, there’s a strong chance you’ll agree.
Since getting into Drama of Exile I’ve also checked out Chelsea Girl and that’s great too, though the vibe is different. I think I need to check out The Marble Index and The End, though I’m open to other recommendations if anyone has any. Oh, and I’ve also just now discovered that there’s an entire alternate recording of Drama of Exile that sounds totally different. It never ends!
Staff Picks: Jeff
Subdued: Over The Hills and Far Away 12” (Roach Leg)
It's crazy, at the time of me writing this, Sorry State had actually already sold out of our copies of this LP. Luckily, we should have it restocked by the time the newsletter goes out. Who knew this record would be such a hit? PS, am I the only one who thought it was funny this gnarly new band out of the UK named their record after a Led Zeppelin song? (just kidding)
Anyway, this new Subdued LP, along with Rigorous Institution’s Survival single, is an interesting one-two punch from Roach Leg. Each band is kinda leaning in the crust direction, which is a refreshing sound amongst other releases on the label. In the description on Roach Leg’s site, Subdued is directly compared to Amebix. This is funny because I feel like way more-so Rigorous Institution's vocalist is a dead ringer for The Baron. It is very apparent that Subdued are ambitious in trying to create a dark and heavy atmosphere, especially like the introductory passage in “Problem of Evil”, but for me, I feel like the metallic influences end there. I couldn’t help but feel like there was a disorienting element in the guitars that seemed super familiar that I’d heard elsewhere in my UK hardcore… I took it upon myself to see who played guitar in this band. And A-HA! I knew it, Ralph from DiE and Permission plays guitar on this record. His signature guitar approach is so detectable. While I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, there’s a couple mid-paced riffs of this LP that come in and are straight up HARD. Even so, I think these familiar hardcore stylings mixed with some wisps of darkness are a welcome combination. Subdued’s sound does seem very authentic and thoughtfully put together. Definitely one of the more unique and powerful hardcore records I’ve heard in a while. Not sure if Sorry State will be able to get more copies, but definitely try to snag one if you get the chance. (Note: they're back in stock now! Buy away! --Daniel)
Staff Picks: Eric
What’s up everyone? Y’all miss me? I sure miss all of you. I moved up to Richmond a couple weeks ago and have been settling into a new town during a global pandemic (weird to think I haven’t been inside a business except for 711). I’m super grateful that Daniel and crew are allowing and encouraging me to continue writing for the newsletter. Moving forward I’m not sure what my picks are going to like seeing as I don’t have immediate access to all the sick new records that come into the store. For now, I want to tell you about a used record I picked up the other day:
The Catalyst: Voyager 12”: Anyone that knows me personally knows I’m a bit of a Catalyst super fan. I have many fond memories going to see insane sets from them when I was young (including a set in Northern Virginia where the cops busted into the room and they kept playing. I’ll remember that forever). Voyager was their last record before their demise. I originally brushed this record off because I knew this record marked the departure of their second drum, which made them a 3 piece. Part of the reason I loved them was seeing two drummers in a fucked up punk band and not some whack ass doom metal band (I like the Melvins just fine). I have every other record they put out and figured it’s about time I complete the collection. I’m bummed I slept on it so long. It’s the same perfect mixture or Dystopia, Nirvana and Pg. 99 that enticed me in the first place. In fact, the recording is so much clearer with only one drummer. The main difference I hear in this record compared to their earlier material is it is way more melodic, and in fact has some actual singing? It’s fuckin’ grungy as fuck. I definitely recommend it for fans of heavy, fucked up punk with dissonant chord structures. Truly interesting and unique tunes!
Staff Picks: Dominic
Whenever the temperature rises and the summer months set in I always feel the need to listen to Reggae, Afro-Funk and Latin music of some sorts. It’s hitting high 90s here in Raleigh and so for this week’s picks I thought I would include two of those genres with a couple of records that I have loved ever since first hearing them and that are somewhat connected as they originally appeared on the same label. The first is:
Earl Coleman And The Latin Love-In. Worthy Records. 1967
I was lucky to find a copy of his record soon after I moved to New York City in the late 90s at a flea market in Chelsea. It was a good day of digging because I remember finding Minnie Riperton’s Come to my garden that day also. Anyway, the Earl Coleman just looked interesting and I took a chance and was so glad I did. Coming out on the Worthy Records label, an independent Jazz label founded by Gil Snapper in the late 50s. Released in 1967 but recorded probably in 1966 as a single preceded the album, this is a beauty of a New York, mid-sixties Latin boogaloo record. And that term boogaloo is correct and the original use, so screw those turds trying to steal it. The record incorporates several Latin styles but has a couple of really good dancefloor numbers, namely Sex Drive In D Minor and Come On Down which sound like prime Ray Barretto, Joe Cuba et al. Coleman was the piano player on these sessions and the group supporting him are superb. The playing is top notch all the way through with nice ebbs and flows and tempo changes and a sound that is traditional but cool also. The cut that caught my ears first time listening though was Hippy Heaven, a song about LSD and how the singer’s (producer and label head Gil Snapper) girlfriend got high and jumped out of a window. Classic 6Ts stuff.
Next up is:
Mulatu Astatke: Mulatu Of Ethiopia. Worthy Records. 1972
Again, on the Worthy Label, I believe this was the last or close to last release on the label, coming out as it did originally in 1972. Mulatu was from Ethiopia and studied music abroad for many years and recorded three albums in New York, this one and two others a few years earlier in 1966 which were more straight up Latin-Jazz. The unique blend of Jazz with Afro-Ethiopian touches literally created a new hybrid genre of music that is known as Ethio-Jazz. Mulatu was a multi-instrumentalist who played keyboards, organ and vibraphone and a prolific composer. He blends the jazzy sound of vibes with Latin percussion and then adds the secret Ethiopian ingredient to come up with a sound that seems familiar but is at once very different and unique and instantly recognizable once you are familiar. I like this record also because it has a more contemporary feel than the earlier records and doesn’t date itself instantly. Over the last twenty years or so the world has caught up with Mulatu. His music has been used in movie soundtracks and the sound he created has definitely influenced some modern artists. Our man Gil Snapper says it best in the liner notes, “This is a record you cannot play just once. It is musically addictive, especially when the volume is turned up”.
Both of these records as originals are quite collectible but thankfully have been reissued a few times. We have a copy of the Mulatu currently in stock as I type if I have piqued your interest.
Cheers all. Until next time.
Staff Picks: Usman
On my first listen knowing nothing about this recording - I thought this was an '80s band straight up. Is it bad that if the recording sounds like its from the '80s I am way more inclined to like it? To me, this tape sounds somewhere between a record you'd find on Riot City or No Future Records and maybe a Swedish HC band. I actually think they sound like Snobb Slakt a lot. I don't have the physical tape yet so I'm writing this based on the youtube link. Man, the first song kicks in full on fuckin raging... pounding drums up front in the mix, with the toms rolling right into yer fuckin face. The guitars are really fuzzy, not blown out like you would hear with a modern band. They do sound a tad digital but I think it pulls off the "'80s" sound really well. I bet the guitar tone will sound even better on tape! I'm always wondering what elements have to come together to get that gritty, cutting but clear guitar tone found on classic albums like Riistetyt's Valtion Vankina. Anyway, this VIVISECTED NUMBSKULLS tape features four tracks. The riffs are played really mean but the chords typically contrast each other in a catchy way. The rampant vocal style really leans into my UK82 reference, along with the general 1,2,1,2 vibe from the drums. Ah, don't let me forget about the brief solos sprinkled throughout the songs. I absolutely love the solos... dissonant and buried in the mix, but they stand out like mad cos the tone is super "clean" compared to the rest. It sounds like a whistling flute in the distance or something haha. It is strongly reminiscent of the Anti-Cimex solos found on the Really Really Fast and I Thrash Therefore I Am compilation tracks. This band walks the line of "tough" pretty often but then they do something that compliments the writing in this way that makes the band sound more "classic" than tough. For example, in the mid-tempo song Mausoleum, the bass maintains this groove that keeps the song from straying into the "wall-to-wall" HC sound. It's perfect. Most modern bands I hear who try to pull off classic HC or crust sounds have a tendency to come off a bit tough. I feel like it's such a fine line... VIVISECTED NUMBSKULLS certainly walks this line, but keeps its classy in the end. Top-notch HC 100% worth your time! Check it out. Sorry State has copies on the way.
As I said above, I don't know many bands that sound like Snobb Slakt. They don't play the "traditional" käng/mängel Swedish style like most Swedish bands I know and obsess over. Some elements of Snobb Slakt do remind me of other Swedish bands I know like Headcleaners, Wax, or Ab Hjärntvätt. I wish I knew more about them! They have many appearances on compilation tapes and a cassette release "Anti-Disco" that was released before this 1984 EP. I don't know any bands affiliated to them, or where they are from either. I looked up the mailing address on the back of this EP and its a small coastal city close to Denmark called Helsingborg. However, this is just the mailing address for booking/info so i'm really not sure if the band is even from there. Check out the EP! I thinks it's fairly underrated, and still "fairly" affordable. I got my copy from Dennis Nukke from Solar Funeral (if yer reading this, WHAT UP!).
P.S. I have a few records for trade. email me if yer interested, or if you have any info you'd be kind enough to share on Snobb Slakt!!!
Betong Hysteria - Spontan Abort (MES 4)
Death Side - All Is Here Now (HG 15)
Staff Picks: Daniel
Alan Watts, Boreta, Superposition: ”Listen, Dream” 12” (superposition.world)
As I’ve mentioned before, Dominic has this habit of pulling things out of our bargain bin and handing them to me saying, “I think you might like this.” This is one he didn’t know much about, but had trouble pricing because of the lack information available online. Knowing I was into meditation, he thought it might be an interesting listen. Boy was he right!
This LP, as far as I can tell, takes a guided meditation recorded by Alan Watts in 1971 and gives it musical accompaniment, a swirl of Tangerine Dream-esque spaced-out synth noises. As I mentioned in a previous staff pick, I’ve been meditating for a while now, but I’ve been using the Headspace app. That app is very much like other meditation techniques I’ve used, which focuses on mindfulness and feels very modern and science-y rather than new age-y. Watts’ guided meditation has no problem drifting into new age-iness. First he has you focus on your breath and slow down, much like the meditations I’m familiar with, then he breaks down your ego, pointing out that what you refer to as your “self” is a mental construction, an abstraction. His voice is gentle but authoritative, and his accent makes me think of the kindly, elderly narrators on old British children’s TV programs. There may or may not have been mind-expanding substances helping the process along, but listening to this LP while lying on my couch in the dark, I had a full-on psychedelic experience. It was awesome.
The musical accompaniment is great too. Much of Watts’ guided meditation focuses on processing sound, so having the ambient music underscores his point while remaining unobtrusive. The b-side of the records contains instrumental versions without Watts’ voice, and while I haven’t actually listened to that I’m sure it’s a fine listen as far as this very spaced-out ambient electronic music goes.
I’m not sure if it’s possible for anyone out there to buy this LP… it’s just one of those things that fell into my lap. But I had share because this was, by far, my most intense musical experience of this past week.
Staff Picks: Jeff
Regimen De Terror: Inherente Del Poder 7" (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Raging debut EP from this new band out on La Vida. I’d never heard anything about this band, but because the lyrics are sung in Spanish, I wanted to know where exactly Regimen De Terror is from… After some brief research, it seems like they’re based out of the Basque Country. With so many bands nowadays adopting the “D-beat” moniker to describe their sound (which in some cases I think is totally inaccurate), it’s refreshing to hear a band totally nail the earliest conception of playing hardcore in this manner, and do it with spirit and authenticity. Regimen De Terror doesn’t seem like they would want to attempt to incorporate elements of metal or fill in gaps with layers of blaring noise. Rather, their approach to playing these songs, and particularly the production on this EP, comes across totally classic sounding and sonically truly reminiscent of the first 3 Discharge singles. Also, it’s not raging fast – it’s got what I call that “in-between” tempo going on. Now, I’m not sure if these notions I’m getting are reflective of the band making some kind of a mission statement. Like I don’t know if they’re “taking a stand” to try and sound this way and distance themselves from current bands that sounds more “slick”, but it’s more fitting for my taste regardless. All that said, and maybe I’m being blind sighted by the vocals, but alongside the clear early Discharge sound, there is an aspect of Regimen De Terror that brings to mind 80s Spanish hardcore like Anti/Dogmatikss. Anyway, this EP is 5 tracks (most of which don’t clock in much over a minute), and it rips. If you think that based on what I’m describing this will tickle your particular punk itch, then I highly recommend checking this band out. Killer!
Thanks for reading,
Staff Picks: Dominic
The Fallen Angels: It’s A Long Way Down. Roulette 1968
The Fallen Angels were a psychedelic group based in the Baltimore/ Washington D.C. area who recorded a couple of albums and singles in the late sixties. Their first single on Laurie was a minor hit and their new label, Roulette hoped that subsequent album would be a hit also and mirror the success of pop acts like Tommy James and The Shondells who were also on the label. Their first album was a good mix of garage and pop-psych sounds but was promoted more as a pop record and didn’t really take off. Most groups wouldn’t have been given a second chance but Roulette, to their credit, gave the Angels full creative control to make the record they wanted. The result is It’s A Long Way Down. It naturally bombed and the group were subsequently dropped. Over the years as interest in obscure records from this period grew both their albums became sought after items. The cover alone on this one is worth having and is a great example of psychedelic art work. As for the record itself, it’s not a crazy hard rocking psych record but one more in tune with work by groups like The Left Banke, Bee Gees and later Zombies with similar baroque touches. Other references would be west coast acts like Love, Common People and Kak who all have elements of this type of sound. I have enjoyed this record since first hearing it and luckily it is still in print and available at an affordable price and we just restocked a copy. I think in these weird times, slightly strange records like this are quite appealing and I would recommend you to investigate. As I said, it’s not a record to blow your wig off but rather something to reflect on late at night or early in the morning.
D.R. Hooker: The Truth. On Records 1972
In recent years, knowledge of this lost gem has become more widely known but when I first saw and heard a copy it still had yet to be reissued and was a $1000 plus item on the collectors’ market. Apparently less than 100 copies were made as a private press record back in 1972. The cover would have you believe it is some kind of hippy or Christian rock record and you wouldn’t be far wrong with that assumption. But once the needle hits the grooves and first track The Sea begins, it soon becomes obvious that you are listening to something quite different here and a little bit special. Recorded back in 1972 in New Haven, Connecticut by Hooker, a reformed druggy hippy turned evangelical with a pick-up band of local musicians who were never heard of again. The group were presented with the material at the session and arrangements were hashed together and the whole album recorded quickly. The result is a true acid psych gem and one that has stood the test of time very well. Listening to the record, you could be forgiven for not nailing the ’72 recording date right away. Elements have a more late sixties sound, while other parts sound much more contemporary with a groovy and funky backing. There are several stand out tracks but for DJs, the song Forge Your Own Chains has a lot to offer. I was excited to score a reissue copy a while back and have often played this record at gigs and typically get someone coming up to the booth asking “ who’s this?” Luckily there are now several versions out there and we have an affordable version back in stock for you to check out. The Truth is out there.
Staff Picks: Usman
Bombanfall: Åsiktsfrihet EP (D-Takt & Råpunk)
(I think Åsiktsfrihet translates to "freedom of opinion, but that’s just what the internet told me.)
If you know me it’s probably obvious I'd pick this one...I'm pretty sure the first re-issue sold out lightning fast from the label, so I'd jump on this repress quickly if you can! These reissue discs sound EXCELLENT. D-takt is NOT fuckin’ around. When I first heard this hot slab I was already pretty deep in Swedish HC. I didn't really think much about the late '80s in Sweden, but damn did hearing this change my mind..I'm not sure if this is common response to hearing this record if you’re following Swedish HC chronologically? It's got all the elements of kängpunk but has this extra "crust" edge to my ears. Bombandall remind’s me Svart Parad and Krunch (Hello Bob only I guess) a bit more than any other Swedish bands, but they sound like they could be direct influences to Doom and a shit ton of bands onward. I am not well-rounded on the late '80s/early ‘90s so who knows. I love the drums on this recording, the toms cut through like mad. The slow intro leading leading into the bombardment..maybe they like Amebix? haha or Part 1 (also UK)... Not that it matters cos the entire EP rips, but holy shit the second track "Ögon I Mörkret" (Eyes in the Dark) blows the fuckin doors straight-off. The chorus part. Jesus. Then straight into the second track with mid-paced swingin like mug Discharge-beat. Perfect... Do I need to continue with the B side?? You've probably already heard this EP, and if not hopefully you've heard enough from me to just grab it. Cos you wont regret it. That import price is a lot, it sucks, but I will say this reissue was done beautifully and with authenticity.
Speaking of late '80s Swedish HC, here is Libresse: Krystvärkar LP. I really cannot remember when I first heard this record but it caught my ears right from the start, although it tested my threshold of "weirdness" soon after. At first, I thought they were from Norway cos they remind me of So Much Hate with their tendency to chain tempos/rhythms often. The LP maintains a ripping HC baseline, while some parts are overwhelmed with heavy melodic elements, and there are a lot of change-ups. This record came out in 1987, the same year as the Bombanfall EP. (I do know this was recorded in '86 though, I am unsure of when Bombanfall recorded their EP.) It was released on Hard Core Horror Records. They released some Anti-Cimex material but also Black Uniforms. The drummer of Libresse played on the earlier Driller Killer records. The guitarist of Black Uniforms and Driller Killer, Cliff, was also a later member of Cimex. Oh, Hard Core Horror also released D.N.A., who shared the same vocalist from the Anarkist Attak EP. Sorry, I'll stop nerding now and go back to the music. I said this album tests my threshold of weirdness. It's cos they have same parts that sound like straight-up black metal, and also parts that sound almost folky/Nordic or something I don’t even understand the routes of, haha. I suggested this record to Ava cos of these elements and it's funny cos yesterday I was playing this in the store and Dominic said it sounded like something Ava would like. Some songs certainly took many listens to grow on me, but the thing is that every song has some really cool ripping shit you can look forward to. The songs are not very short, and they have many passages from head-banging mid-tempo, to insane starts and stops, to groovy d-beats, to blast beats... it's truly like no other record I know. I think usually when a band tries to “fuse” that much shit together it just comes out so bad. I wish I had an insert with my copy, I wanna know some more about this graphic cover, cos it’s kinda ridiculous. My copy is so warped its unbelievable it can play without skipping. It’s the kind of condition you gotta leave to room to play the record cos you have a roller coaster of anxiety hoping the needle doesn't kick off as it spins. Anyway, I think this LP is definitely worth a listen - check it out! Peace.
Staff Picks: Daniel
Caravan: In the Land of Grey and Pink LP (1971)
Most of my free listening time this week has been devoted to the new Cool Greenhouse LP, but I’ve also found time to throw this album on a few times over the past week. A while back I was catching up on my YouTube watch list, and one thing I watched was this video giving a primer on Canterbury Prog. That’s a term I’ve seen bandied about a lot over the years, and given how much I’ve listened to Gong and Steve Hillage in 2020, I thought it was time I boned up a little. I listened to all the albums mentioned in the video, but In the Land of Grey and Pink is the one that grabbed my ear, which is surprising because I don’t like a lot of music that has this kind of pastoral vibe. However, the meandering guitar lines and bright melodies are just irresistible.
Staff Picks: Dominic
Records and Footie.
Greetings all, I hope you are doing well? It’s been a funny ol’ time for me this past week. The proverbial emotional rollercoaster. My Mum had to have heart related surgery back in England and on the very same day, Liverpool FC won the English Premier League. Talk about mixed emotions. Mum made it through fine and is home recovering. As for Liverpool? What can I say? I’ve been a supporter all my life and am old enough to know the good times and the bad ones. We’ve had to wait thirty years for this particular title win and it came in the year that will be remembered for many other things other than football. When the pandemic hit and stopped the season it was possible that they wouldn’t resume and the season would be voided (among other possible scenarios) but thankfully the league restarted last week and games are being played in fan-less stadiums. Teams have been paying respect to those effected by the pandemic and also taking a knee at the beginning of each game to show support for BLM. In fact, every player had Black Lives Matter written on the back of their shirts instead of their name. Great to see the league showing a unified support for the movement. Great to see games being played again even if the fans can’t actually be there to cheer the teams on.
I mention football and particularly Liverpool because it has been something that over the years has influenced me, informed me, educated me and introduced me to so many people from all over the world. The same thing that music has done. Records have educated and entertained. There are many ways to take in knowledge but for me records and the music have been my great teacher. Growing up in the 70s and 80s music opened up the world to me. I was exposed to different cultures, races, nationalities and religions and soon learnt that we are all one on this planet, bleed red, have similar hopes and dreams and just want the best for ourselves and our loved ones. Each new record contained more signposts to other artists and music and taught me a little bit more about the world. Some music was more political than others, some was just fun but it came from humans and nothing else (for the most part) has the power to move people and bring them together other than the aforementioned football and other sports.
In the pre-internet era hearing music was not quite as easy as it is now. You had to put some effort in and a little foot work to get the best sounds. Radio ruled and the local record shop was the place to be. Listening to the radio in the UK was a mixed bag, it wasn’t all good. There was a good reason why pirate radio existed. However, at certain times of day there would be a show and a DJ that would make it worthwhile tuning in. For me that DJ was the great John Peel. He was simply the best and had the most eclectic show on radio. Plus, he was a Liverpool fan (The circle completes). Listening to his show you would be constantly making notes of new records to hunt for and you would hear so many different styles of music played back to back. Peel was like an IPod on shuffle play long before they had been invented.
This past week or so I have been listening to a lot of old John Peel Shows that are up on YouTube and it has been a lot of fun in addition to being a bit of time travelling. So, for this week, these are my “picks” for you to go investigate and enjoy. As well as John Peel Shows, I have also been playing another great old radio show that you can find on YouTube. This time from here in the US and New York City and originally airing in the early 90s. I’m referring to The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show that aired on WKCR out of Columbia University. It was a hip-hop show that aired late at night/early morning and featured mostly new and upcoming artists in an uncensored environment. The late hours meant that FCC rules were a little looser at that point so guest MCs could truly freestyle when they came on. Later the show moved to Hot 97 and an earlier time slot and the freedom wasn’t quite the same. I highly recommend anyone who likes hip-hop and who hasn’t heard some of these shows to check them out. You’ll hear artists like Nas, Biggie, The Fugees and Jay Z making some of their first radio appearances among many others. When I moved to America to work on cruise ships, I used to have tapes of these shows (along with copies of The Source magazine) mailed to me. They were one of the best educations I could get and it brings me back to my main point of this writing, that of the power of music to introduce you to other people and cultures and to bring people together with love and respect.
Here are a couple of examples of each show for you to check out and some rabbit holes to fall down into.
Staff Picks: Usman
When I saw this re-issue was happening, I wasn't sure what it was. But when I looked at the track list and discovered it featured Bannlyst, then ALSO read "Members of bands on this release went on to form bands like Svart Framtid, Kafka Prosess, Stengte Dører and So Much Hate," I lost my mind. It was a must have! Svart Framtid was the first Norwegian band I ever heard. I bought their EP on whim back when I lived in Indy. At first, I thought it was a Framtid (from Japan) record but my friend behind the counter was like, "nah it's not Framtid but it's an '80s re-issue and its rips." It was expensive cos it was an import (look at me now…). I soon discovered the music alone was worth every dollar, not to mention the beautiful double-sided fold-out sleeve. The vocalist of Svart Framtid ran the label X-Port Plater, a small label based in Oslo, Norway who released records from 1984 to 1989. Almost all the Norwegian bands I know were released on X-Port Plater. Funny enough, all these bands share members too. I made a diagram to show the connections, rather than just trying to explain it in a confusing fashion.
Anyway, "Molde Punx Go Marching Out" is a compilation that was originally released on cassette format in very small quantities. Little did I know that Molde is a coastal town in Norway, and it's really not that close to Oslo… so I’m going to have to look into the "punk" connection between these two cities! I listened to the LP a shit ton of times when I got it, and the bandcamp link (maybe even more) while awaiting its arrival. I didn't know most of the bands beside Bannlyst. I wasn't really sure what bands specifically were affiliated with the bands I already knew and loved. And later, once I got the booklet in my hands I was surprised at times to see who was in each band. The booklet is absolutely beautiful. It's the size of the album cover. The pages are full of information, cool photos, flyers, etc. The back of the booklet has a photo of all the actual cassettes they ripped to make this release happening. It is truly amazing to see these tapes turned into something so well done. There are very few signs that this LP was made from old tapes because the quality is overall so damn good. Only in a few places can you hear the degradation of the original tape. There are a lot of bands on this compilation, and I don’t have the space to talk about each one. So I will make note of my listening highlights and share useful information from this release. I am taking the time to share this information cos unfortunately this shit is sold out. BPDT distro copies disappeared and before I could get any for SSR, the label had sold them all. Hoping for a repress!
Nevrose (Neurosis) starts off the compilation with two tracks and I enjoyed the fuck out of these songs… they are not HC, more like fast punk with really, really good chorus parts. The drummer reminds me of Riistetyt with the hi-hat goin’ tststststststststs almost nonstop. The band doesn’t sound really anything like Riistetyt, but a bit like Nolla Nolla Nolla! The vocalist was later in Bannlyst. Their voice grew up fast, haha. Recorded in October ’82.
Paranoia finishes off the A side with 3 tracks and they are fucking sick! The first song reminds me of UK82 with the gang vocal choruses and especially with where they decide to sing. The other two songs sound like an entirely different band. The drummer comes in with goddamn Discharge beat(!), the structure of the riffs is noticeably different, and vocals sound much more “Norwegian.” The riffs on the last two songs I can imagine a ‘90s crust band playing (in a good way though, like Crocodileskink or Macrofarge). Or maybe it just sounds like Agoni and I’m over thinking this cos I’m high as fuck. These are high-lights right? Note: this band has the same drummer and bassist as Nevrose, the first band on this compilation. Recorded in March ’83. (It’s obvious they were diving deeper into HC when you hear the progression here, so sick.)
Stygge Føt (Ugly Feet) open up the B side and are pretty cool. There are some things I am not super fond of (I think mainly the vocals), but that doesn’t mean I can’t grow to like them! The guitar parts are what made me curious about who was in this band cos some like “change-ups” reminded me of So Much Hate. The guitarist/vocalist of this band did later play bass in Bannlyst and So Much Hate though! Recorded in ’82.
Forbudt Ungdom (Banned Youth) is my favorite band on the B side! Fucking rips!! I think the only member it shares is the drummer was later in So Much Hate and had the vocal duties in Bannlyst too. Recorded in March ’83.
Skabb (Scabies) starts off the C side, and while unfortunately I do not enjoy listening to the tracks, I wanted to note that the guitarist was in Bannlyst and So Much Hate. Recorded October ’82.
Psykisk Terror (Psychological Terror) has my favorite tracks on the C side! It kind of reminds me of Chaotic Dischord when they play fast, and then Hard Skin when they play slower. Recorded March ’83.
Anfall (Seizure) kick off the D side with a riff that sounds just like the song “Anti-Cimex” off Anakist Attack to me, haha. Although this shit was recorded 10 months before the Anarkist Attack EP was. This sounds really nothing like Anti-Cimex, except for maybe it sounding a little “tame” like Anarkist Attak did. It seems Anfall started pretty early compared to the rest of the bands in this scene. Another early notable Norwegian band who absolutely rules is Betong Hysteria (Concrete Hysteria), check em out. Recorded in February ’81.
(Note: When I said Anarkist Attack EP sounded “tame” I just mean in comparison to Raped Ass and later material. But in reality those mofos were tearin’ it up in the early line-up and were not tame at all! The real note here: when the band was recording Anarkist Attack the engineers made them “calm down” the songs in the studio.)
And finally, like I said above when I saw Bannlyst on this comp, I knew I was down. When I first heard the tracks (cos you already know I skipped straight to them on bandcamp page) I was a little surprised. It wasn't as raging as I hoped. Don’t get me wrong, it's really good shit to hear, but it just isn’t as pummeling as their proper releases. After looking into it I realized Bannlyst had a different drummer on these early tracks! I recognized a few of these songs appear again with the new drummer on later releases. Man, that drummer they had for all their proper releases truly made the band shine above and beyond. I don’t mean any disrespect to the drummer from the demo, Geir Sverre Danielsen. This person contributed SO MUCH to this compilation including many photos to the booklet and many of the recordings of my favorite bands tracks on this compilation, including Paranoia, Forbudt Ungdom, and Psykisk Terror. Record in March ’81.
Skitzo - I've never heard anyone talk about this band. (I’ll keep this one short since I feel like I just wrote a bible.) This release, like other releases on Fight Records, was recorded in the ‘80s but was not released until the ‘90s. I wonder why this was the case with multiple releases on this label... like if they were just broke at the time? Or maybe they thought no one gave a shit about the material until later? Who knows, maybe these releases were originally some rare tapes that I just don't know about. Anyway, I heard this band on the "Finnish Spunk / Hard Beat" compilation, Tampere SS is credited with (Skitzo) next to their tracks, which naturally made me so curious. Eventually I came across a Skitzo EP and bought it right away. It’s definitely different from Tampere SS! Really cool though, some parts are ripping and some parts are more like chill “Finnish” sounding parts. Track 5 is straight up a Tampere SS song but a different version. These songs were recorded in 1984 in JJ-Studio, which is the same studio where Tampere SS, Bastards, Vaurio, Kaaos, plus more bands recorded! Make from Skitzo was also the drummer of Tampere SS. And they also shared the guitarist, Mika. Masa, the bassist of Skitzo, was the vocalist of Antikeho and the drummer of Bastards. Nappi, who has a guest appearance on track 4, was the bassist in Kaaos for a short time. Definitely a cool side-project of some really cool bands, grab the EP while you can!!
If you are still reading my words, cheers! I spend a great deal of hours “researching” and writing this stuff out. I wanna give a shout out to my homie Curt McGurt from Illinois (what up chickenhead!) He wrote me after my first staff pick “asking” me if Appendix was really even trallpunk? I think he might be right, I wasn’t really thinking about how trallpunk is a Swedish thing, not a Finnish thing... who knows, who writes the rules… These are our American perspectives anyways. Please anyone feel free to write me about any shit I say on here (or a trade list). Always trying to learn new shit or talk shit, my email is email@example.com
Staff Picks: Daniel
Cybotron: Colossus 12” (Dual Planet)
When Record Store Day announced their 2020 releases earlier this year, this record was one I was most excited about. I knew nothing about Cybotron, but when I checked a sample on youtube, I was eager to hear the whole album. While most of this year’s Record Store Day releases were delayed until late summer and into the fall, some are already trickling in, including this one. Colossus is the band’s second album, originally released in 1978, and it sounds like Neu!, Pink Floyd, and Tangerine Dream had a baby. It’s entirely instrumental, and most songs glide along at the same mid-paced tempo. Synths recite classical-sounding motifs in a way that reminds me of prime-era Goblin, and other instruments weave in and out of the mix a la Can. Like Amon Duul II, some parts sound jammed out while others have a tighter, prog-ier backbone. I could see someone complaining the songs on this album are too similar, but I like that… it makes for a more effective zone out session. I’m curious what Cybotron’s other albums are like, but Colossus is a gem.
Staff Picks: Jeff
I’m not going to talk about any cool new records we have at the store this week. So, I hope you’ll indulge me in this rant:
Recently, Sorry State acquired a small batch of used records, most of them being punk and hardcore records released in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. This prompted a conversation that I had with Daniel in which he described this era as “Y2K Thrash.” I’ll be honest in that most bands playing hardcore at this time I never got super familiar with. Some bands I even intentionally ignored because musically they were not my bag at all. In my mind, a lot of bands from this period pre-dated and are a clear distinction from the explosion of interest in 80s US hardcore that made a wave around the time labels like No Way started releasing records, which we’ll say is around 2005. My era of getting into and discovering hardcore was definitely timed more-so with the No Way period than Y2K Thrash, so I missed the boat on some of these bands – exceptions being Career Suicide, Total Fury, etc.
Anyway, all this to say: one of the records Daniel pointed out to me in this used collection was Power Bomb Anthems Vol. 1 by Gordon Solie Motherfuckers. Damn dude, what a crusher. I feel like a sucker for not hearing this sooner. One of the first things out of my mouth as soon as I dropped the needle was “Wow, this sounds like Japanese hardcore.” Bands like Systematic Death immediately came to mind. Daniel went on to drop knowledge about how the Erba brothers and the Cleveland scene were a big help in spreading the love for Japanese hardcore in the US during this time. There’s even a track on this GSMFs record called “Burning Thrash Spirit”, which is pretty much a perfect description for their sound: Y2K Thrash meets late-80s Japanese hardcore. So yeah, I think I’ll be on an early 00’s hardcore kick for a while getting learnt. Man, I’m a chump.
Thanks for reading,
Staff Picks: Dominic
Waiting for a new release that really excites can be a lot like waiting for the bus. You wait and wait and then three come along one after the other. That’s not generally how things are here at Sorry State, as there is always something cool arriving each week, but I did feel like we got in three bangers that required my lunch money and that I should recommend to you.
Firstly, one that Daniel will no doubt be highlighting, as he and I share our love for this band is the new full length from The Cool Greenhouse. This self-titled album has been one that we have been eagerly waiting for ever since falling in love with those first sevens and EPs. Fans of late 70s/early 80s UK DIY will find a lot to like here, although on this record the group have expanded the sound a little and made use of a proper studio, so not as raw and homemade as before. What does remain is the humor and political commentary and clever observations on modern day living from chief member Tom Greenhouse. This is essential stuff and in some ways, reminds me a little of The Streets: Original Pirate Material album in its very British references and aesthetic. Like that record, The Cool Greenhouse have made a very topical and fresh album that will age well and appeal to Anglophiles, punks and pop music fans alike. Trust.
Next up, two single reissues that only the fortunate, wealthy or those that were there might have in their collections and are now finally available to us, the filthy masses. Namely, The Times: Red with Purple Flashes and Z Cars: This Is singles.
The Times single came out in 1981 and is quite a collectors’ piece as an original. Referencing the sixties Mod band The Creation with the title, B-side and general vibe, this is a perfect slab of second generation mod cool. Creation guitarist Eddie Phillips famously described his band’s music as Red with Purple flashes and The Times manage to sound somewhere between that sixties sound and the type of music groups like The Jam and other second wave Mod groups were making. B-side Biff! Bang! Pow! references another Creation song and inspired Alan McGee to name his indie pop band after it and ultimately the name of his label. To drive the Pop-Art theme home, the single comes in an Andy Warhol Campbell’s soup can inspired sleeve.
Z Cars: This is single originally came out in Australia back in 1980 and pretty much sunk without trace, not helped by negative reviews at the time both from the press and band themselves. I am not sure why this record wasn’t better received as to my ears both sides are great pop punk songs that wouldn’t be out of place on a volume of Do the Pop and sound like the sort of stuff The Victims, The Saints and Radio Birdman were pumping out at the time. Although named after the old British TV show Z Cars this is not the theme music from that show that gets played before Everton games at Goodison Park and is more like an early Scientists record such as Frantic Romantic/Last Night. Crikey!
Get on these quickly, we have a few in stock but they are sure to sell fast.
Staff Picks: Daniel
Television Personalities: ...And Don't the Kids Just Love It 12" (Fire)
Last week we got in a fresh reissue of one of my favorite records of all time: …And Don’t the Kids Just Love It, the debut LP from Television Personalities. I could be wrong, but I get the impression that Television Personalities' most well-known music is their first EP, Where’s Bill Grundy Now?, which features the title track and the all-time classic “Part Time Punks.” That EP is great and those songs are classics, but on that EP I think the actual songwriting gets overshadowed by the lyrics, which are among the first self-referential meta-commentaries on punk (a tradition that continues to this day, not the least with North Carolina’s own ISS). On ADTKJLI, however, the band’s songwriting packs atomic force. “The Angry Silence?” “The Glittering Prizes?” “World of Pauline Lewis?” “Geoffrey Ingram?” “Look Back in Anger?” In my mind, punk has produced very few pop nuggets that eclipse these songs. While those are just the highlights, the album also includes moodier moments like “Silly Girl” and “La Grande Illusion” and playful psychedelia like “I Know Where Syd Barret Lives” and “Jackanory Stories,” giving this album a three-dimensionality that makes it feel like a journey, as all great albums should. It’s a shame Fire Records releases are expensive here in the States (a problem that has also affected another one of my favorite bands, Leatherface), but as the saying goes, this one would be a bargain at twice the price.
Staff Picks: Jeff
Battlefields: 4 Track Demo cassette (self-released)
New demo from this band made up of members from US and Canada (I think?). It’s safe to assume the band name was lifted from one the most raging Iconoclast songs. Musically, this reference-point isn’t too far off either. With the recent Iconoclast reissue on Sealed, you can finally hear the band’s early recordings in high fidelity. That said, there was something magical about hearing the rage and power when those songs from their demo were still totally muffled and blown-out. Battlefields seems to have taken this approach to heart, because this tape is totally fucked up sounding. Crushing, catchy and raging fast riffs are obscured by a veil of noise. The tape honestly sounds like they stuck one microphone in the middle of a room, plugged it into an old 4-track and recorded everything pushed all the way into the red. The pulse and hits of the drums are almost unintelligible. Still, you can feel the energy of the band playing. This demo doesn’t feel overworked or overthought -- it comes across more like an urgent attempt to make something furious and intense. Don’t worry about artfully putting together songs as part of your “craft”. Make raging hardcore by any means necessary…
Staff Picks: Eric
Bad Religion: Against the Grain 12" (Epitaph)
The other day I scooped a few original pressings I have wanted in my collection for a while: Bad Religion: Against the Grain, Bad Religion: Suffer, and Minor Threat: Out Of Step (with misprint black back cover... it's so fucking sick). Needless to say, I've been spinning these on repeat for the past few days. As much as I love all three records, the one I keep going back to is Against the Grain (plus no one wants to hear me review Minor Threat, how fuckin' whacky would that be?).
Against the Grain is Bad Religion's fifth studio album. It is the last album of what Jeff refers to as "The Holy Trifecta": Suffer, No Control, and ATG. This record feels darker than the others; to me it seems like there are more minor chord structures in these songs. Moreover, Greg Graffin sings with intensity and conviction I don't hear on other albums. I have always been a sucker for BR's infectious "woahs" and "ahhhs"; Greg Graffin has a natural sense of harmony and it shines on this record in a way that is still aggressive and punk. The guitar work feels haunting (check out "Anesthesia" for instance, plus, it has a badass sad/heavy outro). An interesting thing I learned while doing some light background research for my staff pick is that ATG is one of few BR records to feature songs that aren't written by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz.
Bad Religion isn't for everyone. Many people fuck with their early 80s HC material, which is great (don't get me wrong), but to understand Bad Religion's influence on contemporary punk you gotta work your way through their discography (arguably this era of the band defined their sound moving forward). If you're into melodic punk but haven't dived into Bad Religion, I think Against the Grain is a great place to start.
Staff Picks: Dominic
Hello friends, we are making steps to begin “normal” operations here at the store but at least for one more week let’s have another edition of Dom’s Digs, shall we? Those of you who are regulars to the newsletter will know the drill by now but for the newbies, basically I have been going through our cache of bargain bin records and pulling out interesting and good titles for your potential enjoyment. These are records that normally only in-store customers would see. I try to mix it up genre wise and most if not all are in excellent condition. A full list is viewable here and a quick flip video is posted to our social media. Okay, here are a dozen out of a fresh batch of thirty I pulled for you this week.
1: $5 The Yardbirds: Original Recordings 1963-1968. A cheap and cheerful German compilation of some fine Yardbirds recordings. Starts with the great The Train Kept A Rolling and is worth it for that track alone. This is the band that had Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck in it at the same time and previously featured Eric Clapton as guitarist in case you were wondering.
2: $5 Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygene. A classic in electronic music. Not quite Kraftwerk but still enjoyable music and great to have in the background to relax to. This was a huge hit and put Jarre on the map back in the late 70’s.
3: $4 Roberta Flack: The Best Of. Modern listeners know her from The Fugees cover of Killing Me Softly but there is plenty more to dig and enjoy here, including The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and her duets with Donny Hathaway. Beautiful copy this too.
4: $5 Delaney & Bonnie” The Best Of. This duo covered a lot of ground musically, from country to soul making stops at folk, blues and rock along the way. Buddies of Clapton and were in the movie Vanishing Point. I have always loved the track When The Battle Is Over which leads this collection. Features Duane Allman on some tracks and a whole host of big session players.
5: $4 B.B. King: 20 Greatest Hits. To repeat a line I use often, every household should have some B.B. King in it. The King of the blues. This is a pretty tight Italian collection of twenty prime King sides.
6: $4 The Beat: What Is? Or the English Beat as they are known this side of the pond. Such a great band and one of the original ska groups that came out of the Two-Tone movement. This collection has non-album singles and live tracks along with the hits like Mirror In The Bathroom and my personal fave Twist & Crawl.
7: $5 Muddy Waters: Rock Me. Back to the blues with the great Muddy Waters and this Dutch collection of ten of his killer blues sides. No thrills package but all you need is the music.
8: $5 Various Artists: Blues From The Fields Into The Town. This German produced collection has some cool country blues sides and hot Chicago type blues cuts. Makes for a good blues primer for those new to the genre but will appeal to more seasoned listeners too.
9: $4 Mott The Hoople: Greatest Hits. If you don’t own any of the albums this is the perfect introduction to the band. Includes All The Young Dudes, written for them by David Bowie but Ian Hunter shows that he knew how to write a song too.
10: $5 Various Artists: The Best Of Disney. Pretty cool double album of prime Disney movie soundtrack highlights. Well worth the five bones.
11: $5 Stray Cats: Built For Speed. The US version of their first album with different tracks and running order to the UK pressing that included later single sides. So many good songs on this including their awesome cover of the Eddie Cochran cut Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie where Brian Setzer shows his guitar playing chops. Rockabillies Rule OK.
12: $5 ZZ Top: Fandango. Another American trio that rule, the ‘Top of the 70’s mixed blues and hard rock with Tex-Mex flavors to great effect. This one from 1975 has them at the mid-point of their career, is partly live and a fun play.
Alright, there you have it. Another dozen cheap but cheerful platters needing a good home. Remember music is your best friend and will reward with repeated listening time and time again. It’s also one of the best ways to expose yourself to other cultures, people, races and political stripes. You can get quite a good education from playing records folks. Thanks for following along and get in touch with us if you want any of these or the other titles in this week’s batch. Cheers!
Staff Picks: Usman
Systematic racism is so mechanized, sometimes it’s hard to understand each individual cog. Regardless of how "woke" you think you are, you will inherently play a role as an oppressor. I was born as a man, and I do my best to watch my footsteps. I also try to reflect on the path I have taken. Reflection allows me to actively address and combat misogynies embedded into my brain and inform my action. But this doesn’t make me exempt from being a misogynist. Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I am an anarchist. But this doesn’t change the fact that all men, including me, are misogynists. Or the fact that all white people are racist. You cannot escape your privilege. To try and do so means you refuse to acknowledge the plight of the oppressed. Feel me? Anyway, I say this stuff cos in these trying times there’s a lot more important things you can do and read to help understand your role as an oppressor and use your privilege to help your community and protect the human targets around you. The difference between punk/hc and other “music” is that punk is a revolutionary movement, a state of mind. Yes, I buy pieces of plastic (records) but in the plastic grooves you will hear thought-provoking, insurrectionary ideas. And in the papers that surround the plastic you will find words and images that critique society while addressing the privileges we bask in at the expense of marginalized populations. Punk is the only subculture I know where you can travel (almost) anywhere in the world and find like-minded strangers who will give you a spot to sleep and something to eat. Punk is the only subculture I know that practices acceptance of all people, except those who are intolerant of others. Punk is about learning and teaching, punk is about recognizing social injustices and taking action against them! In punk there is no hierarchy (except for those pretentious assholes who seem to be having an identity crisis..move along tourist!) In punk, we work TOGETHER to reach goals. If the entire world adopted a "punk" lifestyle, maybe we would not live in such a sad place. I will never stop being punk and buying records. It may sound weird to say it's important to buy something, but I believe it's important to buy records, especially from current bands/labels! It is integral to our lifestyle to support bands and labels. If that were to stop, then punk would ultimately stop… look what happened to MRR. When a culture dies, its ideologies and practices will soon be ideas of the past. Anyway, this a record review not a “political” platform..
Löckheed Conflict Delirium EP (Blown Out Media)
I recently got this EP in a trade with the label. It’s the kind of EP I put on and then continually flip over the course of the afternoon cos I just can't get enough. Grooving Discharge-beat locked into the blown-to-hell buzzsaw guitars and its near-perfect production makes this record stand out. The riffs are straightforward, but the drums and guitar parts compliment each other. Certain elements of the EP remind me of 偏執症者 (Paranoid)'s Satyagraha 12” (which is a hands-down unfuckwithable album; I'm sure you’ve all heard it). Sorry State will have this EP in stock soon as well as a restock on the Project GBG EP.
Various Artists: Pultti EP (Pultti – GLASH-1)
I recently got this EP with a few Skitkids records. Skitkids rule and you should listen to 'em immediately if you have not! I think I have all their records, but I was getting some duplicates to send to a friend. To be honest, when I first saw the Pultti EP I had not heard of it, but when I saw Appendix and Maho Neityst were on it, I was sold! The record was released by the vocalist of Maho Neitsyt, Pexi, in 1982. It is the only release on his label, Pultti. This compilation features two Appendix songs from the 1982 LP but with the vocalist before Mikki! I didn’t even know they had a vocalist before him!! So cool. The tracks are more raw in production and played a bit slower. The vocalist sounds so much like Mikki that I had doubts it was a different vocalist, but I read a bio about the EP that says it’s a different person. To cross-reference, according to Discogs, Appendix had vocalist named Olli, but it doesn’t specify on what albums. Aside from the tracks from Appendix and Maho Neitsyt, it features three other exclusive tracks from obscure Finnish bands such as Nato, Etuala, and Antikeho. Appendix were the first "trallpunk" band I had ever heard, so I was very excited to hear these early recordings. Maho Neitsyt is a band I have developed an affinity for later in life. The thing about trallpunk is it's played too HC to seem like "pop punk" and Swedish naturally sounds more aggressive than English, so it is easy for me to separate the idea that Appendix sounds like pop punk. Unlike Maho Neityst. Ive always hated poppy sounding bands, I even hated the Ramones when I was a young punk haha. Maho Neityst has pretty much all "poppy" or catchy riffs, but all the recordings are blown out as shit and the main thing is the vocalist is fucking brutal. The contrast is so sick. It's like the same idea where Gai (Japan) has riffs that sound ridiculous (in a catchy way) but they are plastered with disgusting vocals. Nato and Antikeho both have tracks on the Russia Bombs Finland compilation (Propaganda) and Etuala's appearance on this record is their only vinyl appearance!
Staff Picks: Daniel
Romero: Honey 7” (Cool Death)
This past week we restocked one of my favorite records of recent memory, the debut single from Australia’s Romero. Last time we stocked this single, we sold all of our copies in a few days. In fact, I didn’t even have time to grab a copy for myself, but even without a vinyl copy I played the digital release repeatedly. These two tracks are perfect pop songs that build and ebb and flow and feel like complete journeys in and of themselves. When I wrote a description a few months ago, I compared Romero to Sheer Mag and Royal Headache, which makes sense given the contrast between the rough recording and lofty pop songwriting chops. However, nowadays I’m more inclined to compare this single to a classic like the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen in Love” or “What Do I Get?” I love singles, but it’s rare that one feels like a complete and coherent world unto itself, that two songs on two sides of vinyl seem to have everything you need without pointing to an album or some other part of a band’s discography. Honey has that, and it’s a single I can flip again and again without getting bored. In fact, when I listen I get addicted, finding it difficult to break the feedback loop and move to something else. I’m not sure why, but this one hits me HARD.
Staff Picks: Jeff
Skitklass: Sekaino Byoudou Sayonara 7" (Distort Reality)
It’s always funny to me when a band’s aesthetic doesn’t match the way they come across musically. While I think I’ve heard some of their previous releases, based solely on presentation, I always go into listening to Skitklass expecting noisy mayhem… like random chainsaw revving sounds to be happening in the background or some other weird shit. Reading other musings about the band, it seems like people really try to accentuate the mystery and enigmatic quality of the band’s emergence. All pretty silly. They’re often tagged with “raw punk”, and the label’s description on this new record refers to their songs as 1 minute blasts of violence. On this new record, Tokyo’s leather-clad, mask-wearing Skitklass have pretty clean guitars and not very blown out production, so to me they kinda sound more like early Smart Cops or something. Daniel even described them as “The Hives playing d-beat.” All that said -- this record totally rips!
Staff Picks: Eric
CB Radio Gorgeous: S/T 7" (Thrilling Living / Not Normal)
Great debut wax from some of the people that brought you Forced Into Femininity, Negative Scanner, and CCTV (believe it or not the first thought I had while listening to this was, "Damn, this reminds me a lot of CCTV"). Very dry, hooky and punchy; total telecaster punk. The obvious influences that come to mind are Suburban Lawns and Devo, but it feels less corny and more punk. I saw this group in Oklahoma City last year and thought they kicked ass. I'll be bringing a copy home for sure!
Staff Picks: Dominic
Hello everyone. Thanks for checking in with us. We missed doing a newsletter last week although I think we all can agree that it was obvious why. Although 2020 still has plenty more in store we are back again doing what we know, bringing people together through music. For this week’s Dom’s Digs we have a good cross section of music, some classics and pretty much all in very nice condition. There’s thirty going up today but here are a dozen keepers.
$3 Spencer Davis: Greatest Hits. Post Stevie Winwood era tracks. So many good tunes in a blues/R&B vein. Standouts being I’m A Man, Gimme Some Lovin’ and Keep On Running. Great stuff.
$5 The Ventures: A Go-Go. Maybe one of the most prolific instrumental combos of the 60’s, they literally have a ton of records, mostly in the surf/go-go mold and covering hits of the day. Their psych albums are worth looking for and on all their records there is always a couple of tasty originals. This one is still in the shrink and looks great and sounds groovy. Chock full of hits.
$5 Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple. Early era Purple and more pop than heavy but with some great tunes on here. Hush was the hit and they even cover Help. Also, with the obligatory cover of Hey Joe.
$5 Eddie Cochran: The Very Best Of. The cornerstone of any decent rock n’ roll record collection needs some Eddie Cochran. A great guitar slinger and a life cut short. Here are sixteen great sides he cut in the late 50’s.
$5 Gene Vincent: Greatest. You can’t have Eddie with out Gene. Two of the greatest original rockers. Gene was in the car crash in England that killed Eddie on that fateful night back in 1960. If you are a fan of rock music, you need these sides in your life.
$5 Lulu: To Sir With Love. A great movie but this album is not really the soundtrack, although it features the title song. Rather a cash in LP that gathers up a lot of singles and other Mickie Most produced sides and is totally great. Worth it for the song Love Loves To Love Love alone.
$5 Various Artists: Phil Spector/ Echoes of the 60’s. Back to Mono with the Wall of Sound and these twenty awesome Spector produced cuts. Prime Brill Building Girl Group sounds featuring The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and Ike & Tina. A must have for any self-respecting household.
$4 Jose Feliciano: A Bag Full of Soul. A little Folk, Rock and Blues with this early album from Jose. First cut If I Really Bug You has been a DJ fave of mine for years.
$5 Laura Nyro & Labelle: Gonna Take A Miracle. Another personal favorite of mine and continuing with the Girl Group theme of the Spector collection. This is such a good and fun record where Laura joins Labelle to sing a collection of Motown and other 60’s pop hits. Produced by Gamble & Huff.
$4 Pointer Sisters: Break Out. Sad to hear of the passing of Bonnie Pointer this week. Perhaps an opportunity to celebrate her life with this 80’s classic.
$4 The Pretenders: Pretenders II. Talking of an 80’s classic, you can’t get much better than this. Just a great album from start to finish. Plus, a great Kinks cover on I Go To Sleep.
$5 The Ponys: Laced with Romance. Something a little more recent, 2003 and a mostly solid indie rock garage album from this Chicago band. Some good tunes on this, I liked Let’s Kill Ourselves.
Remember, you can see what's currently available in Sorry State's online bargain bin here.