Usman's Staff Pick: June 3, 2024

Hi and thanks for reading! Last week I totally forgot that we'd be squeezing in one more newsletter before leave for tour and I am not ready at all, whoops. While I am writing this on Friday, you will likely be reading this while we are flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Or maybe we will be in Stockholm already? Who knows. Hopefully all goes smooth, I have so much anxiety when it comes to flying. My friend Michael did give me some sound advice in the event of a plane crash. He informed me that sharks only attack white people, so I should go against my instincts and swim away from my friends if the plane were to go down. I didn't realize sharks only attack white people, but it makes perfect sense. I remember learning that sharks like light, reflective surfaces—like that of pasty white ass passengers heading to Sweden—that I will now be swimming away from. Thanks Michael.

Since I am ill-prepared, I am going to take this time and space to promote some of my own shit. In preparation for tour, SCARECROW recorded a handful of new songs and put them on a tape. This tape isn't available via mailorder yet, but you can listen to most of it here. I say most of it cos the B side is all cover songs, and you can't stream those online. I am super happy to say we bust out a fuckin HERATŸS cover. Jeff and I have obsessed over this band just as hard as TOTALITÄR. Red translated the verses to English but left the chorus and breakdown in Finnish. We also recorded a BROKEN BONES and an AGENT ORANGE cover—which the jcard obviously directly ripped off. On the A side are three totally new songs that have been written alongside like ten others. We need to write a few more and then the plan is to record for an LP. We recorded all this stuff pretty quickly in our rehearsal space. We typically record in our rehearsal space, but with much more proper equipment. This recording was done with one of those Zoom recorders. There was one mic on each cab, one mic on the kick, and only one overhead mic above the drums. Oh yes, and of course the handheld device has two mics built into it to pick up the sound of the room. Given how little Jeff had to work with on the inputs, man he really killed it with the mix. I'm really happy with the sound, it sounds good enough for a record to me, haha. Jeff rules.

When we get back from tour, we are gunna have those tapes available for mailorder alongside a brand-new release on BPDT from GEFYR and RAT CAGE! There will a Swedish pressing available at the same time from Flyktsoda. They also released the Swedish pressing of the SLAN 7" that Jeff and I previously released on BPDT. Just like SLAN, GEFYR is also from Sweden and absolutely fucking rips. Maybe they are not on anyone's radar really? But we did stock their debut LP not too long ago. It actually looks like we have a few in stock right now. This record is way too fucking good. My homie Alex Reed showed it to me, and it blew me away right out the gate. I wrote about the LP previously, but you can jam it here if you aren't familiar. These guys are from the same town where NO SECURITY was from, which is the same place where TOTALITÄR originated as well. GEFYR's origin is evident as soon as you crank this bad boy, cos all I hear is pure NO SECURITY. There is more at play of course, but they have such a thrashy, pummeling sound. I really can't get enough of GEFYR, and this LP has stayed close to my turntable since it was released. And of course, Bry of RAT CAGE was already tuned right into GEFYR, and this beautiful split is happening as a result. I don't think RAT CAGE needs an any introduction whatsoever. After countless bangers, I think RAT CAGE is known a bit across all continents. I unfortunately have yet to catch them live, but I have consistently heard they are unbelievably amazing. I am happy to say that we will have a chance to catch both GEFYR and SLAN on tour! Alright, thanks all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks so much for everyone's support!

Usman's Staff Pick: May 28, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. There are a ton of great records in stock at Sorry State this week and it’s hard to keep up! We’ve restocked that masterpiece debut LP from KRIEGSHOG, and we’ve actually got a small amount of limited color available as well!! Recently we stocked this Svart reissue of NAUSEA’s 1991 and 1992 7”s. I didn’t realize these records were getting hard to find, but I think NAUSEA deserves the Svart treatment regardless. While I strongly prefer the band’s earlier material, I still enjoy the line-up and material that most know NAUSEA for. I haven’t had any time to check one of these out yet, but I plan to. Knowing Svart, they have done these NYC crust legends justice with a deluxe booklet with trivia, photos, and flyers; but I did just check, and the shrink-wrapped jacket doesn’t feel so bulky. I will report back once I’ve cracked one open. I also wanted to mention Mono Records has just reissued this amazing 12" from L.A.’s LEGAL WEAPON. I learned about LEGAL WEAPON sometime after the pandemic, and I think No Sorrow specifically is just too damn good. This reissue is really well done. The jackets are printed really nice. They kinda have the feel of an older record, but they’ve added some subtle changes to the layout. Shit, the center labels even look super classic with their paper choice, haha. They’ve also added in a booklet with tons of photos and flyers. They also added on two unreleased tracks that were recorded live. This record has never been reissued, and I think these well sell super fast - don’t sleep!

This week the almighty Beach Impediment just dropped three new releases! One of them is a 7" from Stockholm’s VIDRO. There was a European press that was released a short while ago, and I have been jamming this EP since. The sound leans way more into their groovy side. There are four tracks, and I think they do a great job at capturing what VIDRO is like live. They groove super hard, like they truly make you want to dance. VIDRO also has this almost like trancey or hypnotic aspect. The drums will groove endlessly while the guitar riffs, but there are subtle changes in the riffs that introduce another element of percussion. Sometimes Vendela really lays into a phrase, and she repeats it a lot. This also adds another layer of percussion to their sound. I think the combination of all of this is why it’s easy to get lost and just groove with VIDRO. I love it. These four dynamic songs are over before I know it. We will tour around Ktown with VIDRO soon and I look forward to it. They are a lot of fun to hang out with and I think they are absolutely excellent live.

Another band who is also playing Ktown who has also just dropped a record on Beach Impediment is Richmond’s INVERTEBRATES. It’s hard to know where to start with this record, cos I have a lot to say about it. I think this 12" is a chart-topper. It’s just so damn good. It seems to be on a ton of people’s radar cos we’ve been selling a ton of copies at Sorry State, and I’ve seen a lot of good things about it online. I thought it was funny INVERTEBRATES was announced for Ktown, cos at that time they only had a demo cassette released, haha. Well actually they had an additional promo cassette as well... Anyway, I know some of the Ktown crew had caught INVERTEBRATES live before, so they knew INVERTEBRATES are certified rippers. Aside from their debut record being all killer riffs and absolutely no filler, I think the packaging is so damn sick. The vocalist, Max, did all the artwork. There is a touch of red on the jacket and the center labels, and it really sets it off. Besides an insert, there is also a huge newsprint poster. The layout is so sick for both the jacket and poster. It appears the layout of the jacket is paying a heavy homage to BROKEN BONES with their Trader In Death 12". That record fucking rules. If you didn’t know, it originally had two different types of jackets: a standard one, and one of those pocket-sleeve jackets without a spine. The ones that are essentially an over-sized 7" sleeve, haha. I’m not sure what those are actually called? Funny enough, INVERTEBRATES also did a limited version of the pressing in these same spine-less jackets. There’s a lot of layers going on here, seeing that invertebrates don’t have spines either...

INVERTEBRATES originally started as a Covid project, with bassist Merm and drummer Chubb (PUBLIC ACID). Merm wrote some songs, but Chubb wrote the majority. Marty (PUBLIC ACID) recorded their demo cassette, with Chubb doing guitar and drums. (Fun fact, Marty also recorded SCARECROW’s demo.) Like I said, this was like a Covid project, so at one point Merm started to write lyrics with the intention of laying down some vocals. But sometime after, Will was recruited on guitar. Will is also in PUBLIC ACID, but on bass. I think Will laid down his guitar track next to Chubbs, and then Max joined after. Maybe I’m wrong about the exact timing, but I know Max joined after Will, and then the band was fuckin’ set. They released that demo at the very end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. It ended up coming out before their first gig, cos the gig they were supposed to play in conjunction with their demo release was cancelled. In summer 2022, they released another cassette recorded by Marty. This one was a promo for their debut LP, Sick To Survive. By this point in the band, I think Will was contributing pretty heavily to the songwriting, cos he wrote a good number on the 12". I can’t find my copy of the promo tape, but if I remember right one side had a handful of new songs, and the backside had their demo tracks again. (All the songs newer songs plus one demo song were recorded again for this LP.) I think soon after that tape came out, Kai joined the band on guitar. She was a monstrous addition to the mix, and yet another member of PUBLIC ACID to join, haha. Originally, she actually was just intended to tour with the band to Skullfest on second guitar, but in time she evolved into a permanent member.

Alright, that history of the band was probably totally unnecessary, but I find things like this super interesting, especially when it’s my friends’ bands. Maybe you appreciated the bit of history… if not I am sorry for wasting your time, haha. Like, maybe some people would be interested to know that we literally tried out several vocalists for SCARECROW before we were lucky enough to land on Red? We jammed for like two years before we became a real band or released anything. We actually have an unreleased version of the demo somewhere as well. It’s an earlier recording than the one we released, and it’s got Jeff on vocals!(!!!) Anyway, thanks for reading everyone. I think when I write again, we will have just gotten back from our Swedish/Finnish tour. I am so excited. Cheers.

Usman's Staff Pick: May 14, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. I think the week before last I mentioned a handful of bootlegs we had just got in stock. It appears the 7"s are sold out now, but we still have a few copies of the East Punks compilation. It seems like the same person had made all three boots, but I don’t really know that for sure and I probably shouldn’t try too hard to figure it out, haha. I haven’t written about a boot in a while, and I don’t buy them often. Usually, I don’t think much of them cos more times than not an official reissue follows. I think the last boot I wrote about was the BLACK UNIFORMS Faces of Death 12". It was nicely done. It seemed just like the original. But if it’s unofficial and looks seemingly identical to the OG, I think that is a bit whack. I felt super inclined to pick up a copy of each of these Japanese boots cos I had never heard of a single band except GASMASK. This 7" split with GASMASK and BARRICADE seems like total fan club shit, haha. The idea of creating your own split for a bootleg, I mean. I will talk more about that split in a minute, as it is my actual staff pick this week. But first, the PISS 7" I know nothing about. At first, I wondered if it was this same PISS from this compilation. I had never heard of this compilation either, but it’s pretty sick. It’s also sick that all the bands are comprised of only women! Luckily, a friend informed me the PISS on the boot are from Kyushu, the same city as CONFUSE, and this recording is somewhere between 1982 and 1985. Cos of the GASMASK split 7", I thought the East Punks 12" was also a fanclub kinda layout cos I could find nothing about an original release online. I managed to find a demo of one of these bands on YouTube, ZAMZA, and it fuckin rips. But luckily again, the same friend informed me that this compilation was originally released on cassette, and it features bands from Shizuoka. The sound quality ain’t amazing, but I think it still sounds good for what it is. Who knows how good it even sounded originally. And obviously whoever made the boot sourced it from their original mega-hyper-rare cassette. The A side starts off strong as hell with this raw ass-beater shit called WILD BONVERS. The sound quality is probably best for them and ZAMZA. Regardless of the sound kinda being all over the place, it’s safe to say each band fucking rips.

Getting into the GASMASK split with BARRICADE, the GASMASK tracks were unreleased until now—what the fuck?! How did they do that? Fuck. Maybe these recordings have been passed around in some tight Japanese nerd circles, and some are not impressed. But for someone like me, I find this incredible! Haha oh shit, but now I am thinking about how Crust War previously reissued GASMASK, so maybe permission could have been granted. I think this is where I say something like ‘but I digress.’ The GASMASK tracks on this split are so damn good. I’ve just been listening on repeat. It sounds pretty much nothing like their one and only EP. Ah shit that’s a lie. On that GASMASK/COWARD split reissue Crust War did, they featured a good amount of bonus songs. One of them is an unreleased GASMASK track from 1987. That must be from the same session as the tracks on this boot 7". The sound and the style are the same. They play much faster on the material after their EP. They still have their noisy characteristics, but it comes out in a different, more chaotic fashion. Their catchy aspects evolved more into a metallic, anthemic sound. I absolutely love the evolution. I don’t think there is any relation to BARRICADE with GASMASK. I don’t think they share members, and I am pretty positive they weren’t from the same city. The BARRICADE stuff on this split is from 1983 as well. See what I mean when I said this is some total fanclub shit? Haha. Two bands from different cities, and a handful of years apart. Maybe I am just not knowledgeable enough to recognize the relation. I learned the BARRICADE stuff had been previously released on a super obscure compilation called Rock’n Roll Boogie ‘83 Now Hits. It seems they stand out unbelievably by being the only band on the LP playing hardcore punk. It’s interesting they are the only band who’s got more than one song on there too. If you hadn’t heard this shit like me, you can check a song here. Alright, I should get going actually. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support. Cheers!

Usman's Staff Pick: May 6, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. I haven’t been listening to a ton of records lately, just a few here and there. I have found myself playing my partner’s Nintendo Switch basically any time I have free time. This is like a handheld video game for those who don’t know, like a Gameboy but way more advanced. I have even been making time between work and rehearsal to squeeze in some video games, haha. We will see how long this lasts though, as I am not a big fan of video games or television. Usually, I would rather spend my time with something on the turntable rather than something on the television. So let us get to the records then, and I wanted to start with Hardcore Knockouts.

To be honest, the results shocked me, cos in my mind BLACK UNIFORMS is a much ‘cooler’ band. (For the record, I voted for ASTA KASK.) These two bands are extremely different and a bit strange to match up, but maybe a lot of people got my joke. This is a ‘special edition’ of Hardcore Knockouts, cos it’s about beef. I’m not really sure if ASTA KASK really had any direct beef with BLACK UNIFORMS, but BLACK UNIFORMS certainly had something to say about ASTA KASK in their song F.O.A.D. I was a huge ASTA KASK fan for many years before BLACK UNIFORMS, so when I heard this song that started with an ASTA KASK intro, I lost my mind laughing. ASTA KASK is like basically pop-punk by today’s standards (and I hate pop-punk), but the way it’s executed is absolutely perfect if you ask me. They sound a bit meaner and rougher than a pop-punk band would, but they are certainly melodic as fuck. I love how catchy the choruses are, and the gang vocals really hit the spot for me. I wrote about ASTA KASK a handful of years ago when their EPs were reissued on cassette. Going back just now to read, it was actually pretty informative. My memory sucks… But I went back there cos I wanted to point out that while ASTA KASK was on the poppy side of things, they played an important role in hardcore punk from Sweden at the time. The band was started by Micke Blomqvist, who operated his own recording studio through the 80s called Kloakens Alternativa Antistudio. At his studio, legendary bands like ANTI CIMEX, AVSKUM, ASOCIAL, SVART PARAD, CRUDE SS, NYX NEGATIVE, and RÖVSVETT all recorded. You can read a bit more in the link I dropped above, and I am pretty sure I have copies of the tape I mentioned still. If you need one, you know where to find me.

Moving on, one of the best records of 2023 is now back in print on Sorry State, and that is the G.U.N. LP. I remember the first time I heard this. It was when I was listening to a test press while making covers for them. I didn’t know what to expect at all and I could not believe how good it was. I mean obviously right, or I would have been playing the masters like mad before we even got the tests, haha. I think everyone I know thinks this the LP is killer, hence it selling out pretty fast and us being asked about it repeatedly since. Well, it’s back in print now with a pretty small pressing of 300 copies. They are all on yellow vinyl and they all come with a cool color poster. Alongside this LP, Sorry State is also dropping a ‘new’ PERSONAL DAMAGE 7" and I think it is absolutely amazing!! One thing that really gets me with this band is how damn good the recordings sound. At times, it legit sounds like you’re listening to an 80s record. They don’t hide behind some lo-fi aspects with a blown-out recording or something to emulate an old recording. The recording is pretty clean, and the drums sound especially good. Oh, I said new in quotations, cos this 7" was actually a tape not too long ago if you missed that one. Well, it’s excellent, so good thing Daniel decided to put it out on a more permanent format. Dropping these two hot ass slabs together is quite a release day if you ask me. I can listen to both of these records non-stop, and they never get old. Both records end with such catchy songs that stay stuck in my head for hours or even days after listening.

So it’s been a while since I last wrote, and last time I did I mentioned KRIEGSHÖG. We had just stocked the fresh repress of their debut (and masterpiece) LP. Well, that shit sold out fast as hell, but I am sure we will restock it. Since then, we have gotten in copies of their brand-new LP entitled Love & Revenge. I’ve listened to this LP pretty heavily. I was lucky enough to land a test press, and that got some serious rotation on my turntable. I was not sure what to expect with such a large gap between releases, and yet another line-up change. I think it’s safe to say this LP is a certified banger. The sound is extremely different from that of their debut, so don’t go into it ready to compare or you’re going to be let down. I will probably write more on this LP later, as I have a lot of thoughts on it. I also want to do some nerding out on the line-up changes over the years.

Alright, now it’s time for my actual staff pick. My pick this week doesn’t have anything to do with a new release, and it really has (almost) nothing to do with hardcore. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned THE SPECIALS here before, but this stuff is integral listening if you ask me. When I got into punk as a teenager, I also learned about ska and reggae around the same time. It’s always interesting when I meet punks who don’t fuck with ska. I understand third-wave ska and beyond was really bad, but that’s not the shit I am talking about. Traditional ska and rocksteady from Jamaica are what I mean. If you don’t know the history of ska and skinhead, then maybe you don’t quite understand what I mean when I say I find it interesting when punks don’t fuck with ska. Just like punk and hardcore, I find ska and punk inseparable. I don’t know enough about the history of ska to confidently explain the evolution and relationship of ska, skinhead, and punk, but I know Dominic can school us all on this stuff. If I remember right, Dominic attended some of those 2 Tone gigs that originally happened back in England. I was introduced to 2 Tone via THE SPECIALS, a handful of years after my introduction to ska. THE SPECIALS actually were the band to coin this term ‘2 Tone’ and they (namely Jerry Dammers) also started the label called 2 Tone Records. If I remember right, it is named as such to reference the unity of whites and blacks in their subculture, as well as the fusion of punk and ska in their music. It was an important movement, as racial tensions in England were getting out of hand, including at these gigs. While I find the ska-punk of today to be pretty hilariously bad, THE SPECIALS were the first band that I know about who incorporated elements of ska and punk together. If you ask me, it’s a beautiful fusion. I can never get enough SPECIALS. It is 100% feel-good music that makes me want to dance no matter what.

After many years as a SPECIALS fanatic, one day I came across this bootleg LP at a record shop. I didn’t know what it was exactly, but it said “THE SPECIALS” across the front so I bought it without question. I went home and discovered it is a very early version of THE SPECIALS. At this point, they were not known as THE SPECIALS, but THE AUTOMATICS. I am 99% certain this stuff was recorded for John Peel (no surprise there). The sound is not quite the 2 tone style I knew them for, as it seems that evolution hadn’t quite hit yet. It seems the line-up is almost identical to THE SPECIALS, however legend John Bradbury (R.I.P.) had not joined the band on drums yet. I think his drumming seriously elevated THE SPECIALS, but man, hearing these significantly different versions of songs I knew like the back of my hand was SO COOL. I can’t stress that enough. I have a lot of friends who get down with THE SPECIALS, and not one has ever known about this stuff before I played it for them. Well, surprise, Dominic was the exception to that, haha. I wanted to mention this here today, cos maybe there are some friends of mine who are reading, or SPECIALS fanatics, who haven’t yet heard this stuff! They recorded almost all the songs again on their debut LP, but there are a few that never appear again. And one of them is one of my all-time favorite SPECIALS tracks, Look But Don’t Touch. While I said earlier that THE SPECIALS are 100% feel-good, this song is an exception for me. Look But Don’t Touch hits me layers deep and brings out a bit of sadness. It’s good to feel sad at times. I haven’t given THE SPECIALS a real listen since Terry Hall passed away. Earlier this week I found myself listening to a later SPECIALS song after talking to a friend... This later era of the band did not have Terry Hall, as he had formed Fun Boy Three alongside another former SPECIALS member, Neville Staple. After watching this music video, I went onto the music video of their first hit track Ghost Town. And down the pipeline I went. You can hear the full LP I’m holding in my hand here. Also, nice timing, my partner coincidentally just sent me this YouTube video. It focuses on Ghost Town in a way, but it also gives a brief breakdown of the culture and influences at that time.

OK, I’ve said quite a bit about not a whole lot that’s relevant to Sorry State, so I should stop now. We recently got these bootlegs of some Japanese shit in stock. Two of these releases I have absolutely no idea about, but I think the GASMASK is unreleased material! I am out of town so I haven’t checked them out yet, but you can expect a review from me sooner than later! Alright everyone, thanks for reading and thanks for your support. Cheers!

Usman's Staff Pick: April 15, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. This week I will write about the recent LEGION OF PARASITES reissue on General Speech. This record was released forty years ago, and this is the first time it has ever been reissued! It was originally released by Fight Back in 1984. If you don’t know, Fight Back was a side label of Mortarhate Records. I’m not sure what the intention behind the sub-label was, but I know Mortarhate was operated by members of CONFLICT. Somewhere along the way, Cherry Red picked up the rights to this record, cos I can see this pressing is licensed from them. I think the actual record sounds excellent, and the packaging is nice and proper. The photos were printed perfectly on the back, and often photos print fucked up unless the person doing the formatting/layout knows exactly what they are doing. This pressing was slightly enhanced by including an insert, as the original did not come with on ( least that is what I thought until I just checked Discogs, fuck.) Someone recently uploaded a picture of an insert and they said you could get it by writing the band. I have never seen a copy with one, damn. While the insert inside this reissue is a bit different than the one I saw in Discogs, it does still include lyrics. When listening to political bands I think it’s especially important to get a lyrics insert. I feel a bit silly saying political bands, but you know what I mean? I mean those bands who really take the time to write thought provoking lyrics and use their music as a weapon. Not like those bands whose lyrics are about petty things like social ridicule. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for criticizing your peers, but more often than not, I don’t find those lyrics very entertaining. (The perfect exception to what I’ve just said is SHAVED APE.)

Anyway, LEGION OF PARASITES certainly has elements of that early anarcho sound, but there is a bit more to it than the traditional Crass Records formula. On this EP specifically, they kind of remind me of SUBHUMANS actually, but overall they have more of an aggressive sound. They really lean into that on their LP that followed the year after. Overall, they really remind of ANTI-SYSTEM (one of my favorite English bands.) Funny enough, ANTI-SYSTEM also started out with more of a traditional anarcho sound and evolved into a pummeling monster on their LP.

Alongside General Speech’s recent reissues, we also got some other releases he is handling distribution for in the US. I didn’t know this band existed until I saw these LPs. DEAD ENDS was from the Philippines, and it’s safe to say this is the first band I have ever heard from there. They pumped out three cassettes from 1985 to 1987 and this is the first time they have ever been reissued. Naturally, this really increased my interest, and after checking them each out just once, I grabbed a copy of them all for myself. I haven’t spent much time at all with them outside of work, so I have only been able to take the music in. After a brief look at them, the packaging seems nice. Each includes a sticker and double-sided insert filled with text. I will have to spend some time outside work to really explore the releases, but I think I already favor their third LP the most, Damned Nation. Coming from an uncultured noob, I am guessing the opinion is probably not common, haha. That one stuck out to me the most though, but probably cos it sounds the most hardcore.

I can’t leave without mentioning that the KRIEGSHOG LP is back in print! I realize that there are probably a whole crop of younger kids who may not be familiar with the band since they disappeared for a long time. I know they had peppered out those EPs way after the first few 7"s and LP, and I remember one being a posthumous release? Maybe I am totally mistaken. LVEUM has put the LP back in print, and it’s coming alongside a brand new LP I have a lot of anticipation for. If you haven’t heard them before, immediately check out their debut LP that is now back in print. I think it is safe to say this is a modern masterpiece, and a copy belongs in every single record collection. Alright that’s all I got for today. Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone for your support.

Usman's Staff Pick: April 8, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading.

Remember last week when I mentioned the PayPal debacle in association with ABSOLUT? I explained that I had asked Daniel to try and buy a copy of the tape after I changed the product title on my website and had still no luck. Well, now PayPal has "limited" Sorry State's account, which has resulted in transactions being rejected since Saturday. Since Sorry State is such an in-depth operation, this is a million levels more of frustration than what it was like for me to personally deal with. I know there are a ton of people who use PayPal to pay for Sorry State orders, especially international customers. I'm sorry to anyone who has not been able to order as a result, and I hope PayPal can resolve this issue ASAP so we can get on with things as usual.

This week I will be writing about this killer reissue of the 1977 hit single Mucky Pup. General Speech has brought us this reissue alongside LEGION OF PARASITES. While I am equally (if not more) excited about the LEGION OF PARASITES reissue, I haven't checked it out yet, so I will focus on PUNCTURE this week. PUNCTURE technically first came onto my radar in my early teens via THE EXPLOITED. On their 1981 debut LP Punk's Not Dead, they cover Mucky Pup. The cover is actually the second track on the record. I used the word "technically" a moment ago cos while I knew THE EXPLOITED so well for so many years, I had absolutely no idea this was a cover song! I think it especially threw me off cos the track appears at the beginning of the record, rather than where I would expect a cover to be at the end of a record. It was only just a few years ago that I discovered the song I loved and knew by THE EXPLOITED was in fact originally done by PUNCTURE. We were up in Philly for Something To Talk About and ICD10 busted out a cover of Mucky Pup. I was so stoked and rocking out to what I thought was EXPLOITED, to only (somewhat) embarrassingly discover I didn't even know who the song was by, haha. When I learned the song was originally by PUNCTURE, I checked it out first thing upon my arrival home.

While I loved EXPLOITED's take on it, man nothing beats the original recording by PUNCTURE. It's like kinda janky and sort of jangling sounding. It reminds me of anarcho a bit, actually. The B side track is quite a bit different, sounding much more like a '77 band. This single was the only release from PUNCTURE, and it was also the debut release for Small Wonder Records. There is a lot of great stuff on Small Wonder, but the two bands that stick out most to me in their catalogue are CRASS and ANTHRAX. I feel like most records on this label are not super expensive or hard to come by, but I have not managed to secure myself a copy of Mucky Pup. It was reissued once before actually in 2011, by a US label. Obviously, I didn't know who PUNCTURE was in 2011, and by the time I did learn, those reissues were all bought up and pretty much non-existent on the second hand market. When I saw General Speech had this one in the pipeline, I got very excited to finally land a copy of this classic! Sorry State just got our copies in, and as I write this we are working to get them available on our site. If you check back soon we will have 'em ready for ya. I think that about sums it up for me this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone for your support!

Usman's Staff Pick: April 1, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. This week I will write briefly about this new ABSOLUT cassette that was released to coincide with their upcoming tour dates in USA. It’s kinda crazy to think this band has been around for over a decade now. They really caught my attention with their demo, and I have been a huge ABSOLUT fan ever since. Their 2013 debut certainly had a heavy metal edge to it. And while there are serious metal influences on ABSOLUT, their sound has always come off to me as firmly rooted in hardcore punk. Their recordings typically sound raw as fuck, and the artwork more or less stays in line with what you’d expect to see on a punk record. Yeah, they definitely lean towards the Scandinavian Jawbreaker side of things when it comes to art, but never some insanely epic metal looking shit. While they kept the cover punk as fuck on this new cassette with an homage to MODERAT LIKVIDATION, it’s hard to say the music easily fits into this aesthetic. Yes, they cover GANG GREEN on the B side of the tape, but holy fucking shit this tape is metal as fuck. Their last proper release in 2019 certainly had a new vibe with double-kicking parts, but it was not like THIS. Anyone that knows me knows that I am truly not a fan of metal, but man I can’t get enough of this new ABSOLUT käng munk! It just sounds so extreme. Joel delivers absolute fucking madness on guitar.

When I dissect this release, I really treat the A side as the focus here. I know there are more songs on the B side, but those tracks were just thrown onto the tape for the hell of it, since they were never properly released. The A side also has like ten minutes of blank tape after the music ends, haha, so that really takes attention away from the B side. While I enjoy the B side, I find the master is much better on side A. On the A side, there are three totally new songs recorded last year as a promo for an LP coming later down the line. On the B side, there are two other new songs, two old songs, and a cover that were all recorded April 2022. While some people may not like the mashing up of different sessions on one release, I love when bands do this. It just comes off as so punk and DIY. I really love the packaging on the tape. It is also super punk, in the way that the tape case can barely close cos there are so many folds! While they credited me for the art/layout, I really did not do that much. I just suggested doing a huge double-side jcard that folds out from eight panels. I guess I did the mock-up for each panel, but I didn’t make the actual design. To finish off the release, an absolutely hilarious (and offensive) “homage” to Eric Clapton is featured on the back side. I think tape packaging is typically pretty fucking boring, so spicing this shit up with more folds than one can handle seemed like a good idea (...until it came time to actually folding every single one). I actually released this cassette, so all the folding was done by yours truly.

I bought Victims of a Bombraid and Absolut Country of Sweden from a guy on the internet years ago. I felt bad that he was only selling em due to pressure from his wife and care expenses, but man I was unbelievably excited to cross those two bangers off the list at the same time. To pay him, I sent PayPal over and wrote the record names in the notes. After I sent it over, the payment was flagged and it said it was under review by PayPal. Of course, the guy was nervous cos he had already sent the records, and we were both really confused as to what was going on. I had never experienced this before, but his PayPal account was new, so I assumed that’s all it was. After some time, PayPal asked me to fill out a form explaining what exactly I was purchasing. And then after I got the stuff, they wanted me to confirm all was good before they would let the money clear into the dude’s account. That sucked, especially for the dude. When this was happening, my friend Chris (what up mofo!) explained that he has often has problems with ANTI-CIMEX stuff sold through PayPal. He told me he’s not sure why the stuff is flagged, but to avoid the trouble he changes the title slightly, so it doesn’t straight up say ANTI-CIMEX. I take the time to explain this, cos when I first launched ABSOLUT: Käng Munk 2024, every single order on the BPDT site that contained this cassette was flagged and then denied. That was brutal. I called PayPal and they just explained it was a security issue and it was automatically denied, but the person on the phone could not tell me why exactly. Instantly I remembered buying Absolut Country of Sweden, and the difficulties that came with it. I wondered if that previous issue was with “ABSOLUT” cos of the liquor brand, and not actually “ANTI-CIMEX.” So, I changed the name of the tape and asked Daniel to buy a copy online. Still no luck. At this point, I gave up and decided people would have to wait for SSR and a few other distros to get copies. But, a few days later, PayPal emailed Daniel an explanation and asked him to answer one question to resolve the issue. They asked him to provide a date of birth for Käng Munk. I can’t tell you how funny I think that is. Since I finally understood why PayPal was flagging them, I removed the title from the cassette, and all that followed was business as usual.

My staff pick is stretching away from brief now, but before I go, I want to break down “käng” and “munk” cos I’ve seen a lot of comments and questions, haha. I’ll start with the simple one. Munk is simply a combination of metal and punk, but from my understanding the band must actually be good otherwise it’s not considered munk and probably just butt-metal. To be honest, I first heard this term from CLT of ABSOLUT, so I take this as some up north Canadian slang that doesn’t exist far from there. Now, käng is a lot harder to describe, but it’s actually a word in Swedish. When we toured Europe a few years ago, I learned I was pronouncing käng wrong this entire time. The letter k is not pronounced like we would in English, but the word begins with a “sh” sound. Käng is pronounced shhang, essentially. As I was breaking this down, I suddenly realized the symbol commonly used to represent kängpunk is a fist, but käng actually translates to the word boot. I know of another word “kängnäve” that people have used to describe kängpunk bands, but I did not really understand how it translated. Well, I had to get to the bottom of this, so I asked my good friend Anders to help me understand. I asked him why a fist is used to symbolize kängpunk, when the word käng translates to boot. Instead of paraphrasing his reply, I am going to leave you with quotes. If you’re reading Anders, thank you as always for taking the time to share stuff with me!! And thanks to everyone else for your support, of course.

“Käng is boot so that’s correct and kängnäve is the way your fist goes up in the air when listening to a proper käng band. The way ‘Kängpunk’ came to be was that in the mid 80’s American bands wearing flannel and converse shoes were ‘taking over’ even in Sweden and the old proper leather jacket and army boots punk was not very popular. Jimmy (bass player in 16 Blåsare Utan Hjärna, Horse Laugh etc etc) was not very fond of the transition and wanted bands to wear boots. Boot wearing bands = kängpunk. Simple as that. The term spread and the rest you know…Kängnäve probably got its name from people wearing boots going to gigs and just acting out their frustrations about society and war and bands wearing converse shoes.”

Usman's Staff Pick: March 25, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. Last week we got some tapes from brand new label, Total Recall Recordings. The tapes are debuts for both HÄXORNA and JORO PATH. Each band features a few members from CONSEC, but their song writing approach is quite different. While HÄXORNA has somewhat of a USHC vibe, I hear Swedish inspiration when it comes to the riffs. The first track kind of reminds me of KOWARD, while the other two are a bit more on catchy side of things. I guess referring to KOWARD might be silly, since they are from USA. I used them as a reference cos they too had a bit of Swedish approach to things while still retaining a USHC sound. Anyway, I think this tape rips, and I hope they do more. Alongside HÄXORNA is JORO PATH, who pulls influence from the complete opposite side of the globe, where I hear an obvious Japanese influence. They remind me of GASMASK, especially with their pulled-back style. While JORO PATH pulls influence from mid-‘80s Japan, they are not afraid to wander outside this traditional formula and keep things fresh. Total Recall Recordings is operated by one (or two?) of the people from these projects. I think it’s sick they chose to kick off a new label with their new projects, check ‘em out.

I also wanted to mention that Jeff and I have been busy with our own label the last few months. We just got the first SCARECROW EP back in print, and you can grab copies now at Sorry State. We’ve debated putting this back in print pretty heavily for some time now. We could not use the original stampers, so it would not be nearly as cheap as a “repress” should be. And who knows if there is even that much demand for it? Haha. With another tour overseas coming up this year, we said fuck it and pulled the trigger. Maybe I am biased, but I think this is the best cut we’ve had of these songs. It’s loud and clear. Over the weekend SCARECROW finished off some recordings for a promo we will have available when it comes to tour time. We recorded three new songs and three covers, and I think we are all pretty excited for how it’s turning out. You can grab our first EP at Sorry State now like I mentioned, but we have some shirts available via mail order here if that is something you are into. Alright that’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone for your support!

Usman's Staff Pick: March 18, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. A friend of mine recently sent me a copy of the new FLOWER 7” and I’ve been listening to it a lot. This record only features one track on each side. Usually I would talk shit on a record with such few songs, but instead I am a huge fan of this release. Even though it’s only two songs, the duration of this 7" is still about eight and a half minutes. I think I would also usually find songs that are so long to be boring, but in this case I find the two tracks to be super captivating. I heard FLOWER with their debut release on Profane Existence. They played our house spot a while before that LP came out, but I was wasted, and their sound didn’t really stick in my head. On their LP, I heard an obvious nod to NAUSEA, amongst some anarcho-type riffs. The artwork had a total RUDIMENTARY PENI vibe, down to the foldout poster sleeve. I liked the LP, but I really like the EP. The recording sounds much more clear and powerful on the LP, but I find the song-writing itself to be more powerful on the 7". I feel like they really locked the sound in more on this release, and the packaging is simply amazing. I also want to mention how much I like the lyrics. They are political but worded in such a clever way. They are a serious highlight for me on the release. I love the back-and-forth bits on the vocals too. It makes the choruses even more memorable. With the packaging, it’s the same Crass Records foldout poster style as the LP. Even though they were working with less space this time with the 7" format, I feel like they really did more with it. It takes so much time and dedication to pull off this type of layout, and they executed it perfectly. Probably everyone sees FLOWER artwork and thinks Nick Blinko, right? Even though it’s so on the nose, I find there is originality to it. On the 7" especially, there are so many layers, dimensions, and messages. It is such an adventure to take it in. I really appreciate how the lyrics are incorporated into the art. You have to really engage with the record to fully take in. I know not every band has the ability to go all-out with art like this, but man I can say how much I appreciate it when they do. This record is a cooperative release between Fight For Your Mind (France) and a brand-new label called Peace Of Mind. I am pretty sure that label is operated by a member of FLOWER and a close friend of the band. I don’t think this record is actually available in the US yet, but I am sure we will get copies in due time. Alright I think that about sums it up for this week. Thanks for reading and thanks to everyone for your support!

Usman's Staff Pick: March 12, 2024

Hello and thanks for reading. This week I wanted to write about the recent DEEF reissues on General Speech. I think it's safe to say DEEF is obscure as fuck. While they are obscure in my mind, they were credited as "the first Sapporo hardcore band" by Doll Magazine in 1982. Regardless, I'm guessing outside of Japan that some cult tape traders would be the only ones to know the band, until maybe the G-GAS reissue that General Speech did in 2015 where DEEF was mentioned. G-GAS was from Sapporo, just like DEEF. While they existed at the same time and have some similarities in sound, DEEF existed before G-GAS did. I learned from the Nou reissue that DEEF had begun as early as 1979. However, they were just school kids and far from a punk band in these early days. On the Nou LP reissue we can find DEEF's 1982 debut also entitled Nou, which was originally released on cassette, and is in fact hardcore. The A side of the LP also features their tracks from a hyper rare cassette entitled Nouten Records, which compiled tracks from three early and obscure Sapporo hardcore bands including 2.26 and PROBLEMS. To finish off the A side, General Speech unleashed 3 completely unreleased studio songs recorded in 1982! While the B side of the LP is totally unreleased recording as well, I think those 1982 studio tracks really set this LP off for me.

I knew virtually nothing about DEEF before these reissues. The only stuff I knew from them came from a bootleg of Real Control on cassette I have. Real Control originally came out in 1983, and I think it absolutely rules. When I heard General Speech was reissuing it I got super excited. I was actually under the impression this tape came out in 1984 until this reissue, and that makes DEEF even more significant in my mind. The B side of the LP features another unreleased session from 1983! With all this unreleased material and killer packaging, it is like a record nerd's wet dream. I feel lucky to have a label like General Speech here in the USA. He's reissuing killer shit from overseas, and he does it with a serious passion and knowledge about what he's dealing with. Inside these reissues I discovered things about Japanese punk history that I had no idea about. I learned that punk was essentially banned in Sapporo by the mid-'80s. It looks like the gigs would start at 1PM in the afternoon. They would also be private, and sometimes people would be seated. That is nuts! Each of these DEEF LPs comes with a foldout insert completely loaded up with color photos, flyers, and scans of the original jcards. These LPs are super well-done, and I think they deserve a place in every collection. I understand it can be overwhelming to have two LPs of obscure shit drop on you and it's hard to know where to start or digest. I mean, that's exactly what's happened to me with the other two General Speech reissues he dropped at the same time! Haha. I better check those out before it's too late. Alright I think that's all for the week. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

Usman's Staff Pick: March 4, 2024

Hi and thanks for reading. My boy Merm was the only person to reply to anything I said in the last newsletter. Which is sick cos I love Merm, but really? No one else had shit to say about who first wrote a song called "ACAB?” Also, I understand the MALINHEADS shit is a bit obscure, but I really was hoping to get something on it. Oh well. Maybe it's cos I came off like too much of a poser with my lack of knowledge on German hardcore. Or maybe everyone is preoccupied by the complete shit state of the world. I find it hard to clear my head in general these days, so trying to clear my head and write about a record doesn't come so easily. I never thought I would live through a global pandemic, followed by a literal, blatant genocide. I never imagined after WWII that something like this could happen. I don't mean the ill-intentions of the State of Israel, of course imperialist nations always have bad intentions. What I mean is how not one single country has stepped in to stop this. In reality, all the other countries will look to places like the USA and UK, and for good reason. Well not really a good reason, but because we have pummeled the living shit out of every place on Earth and that is why we are a "super power" country or whatever the fuck politicians like to call it. You would think we would use our super power to stop Israel, or even just cut the funding of U.S. tax dollars to Israel, but I guess I am naive to expect anything less from the U.S. government. I'm sure everyone reading this is on the same page with me, and I feel so helpless most of the time. I don't want to take the time here to remind you of the current state of world though, so I will move onto records.

I can't remember if we had the new PUBLIC ACID record in stock when I was writing my staff pick last week, but I wanted to mention it this week. To me, it's obvious that everyone and their mother should buy this LP—and I am sure you all have. This is an excellent follow-up to their Condemnation EP, and the packaging is absolutely beautiful (as always). What really makes this LP special is it's the first record that Jeff appears on since he joined the band! Although I think he played on the Beat Sessions cassette that came out last year. I've been seeing this band (or a version of it) for about a decade now, so it's kind of easy for me to take them for granted. The band has evolved a ton since they first started. I talked about their evolution a bit when their Condemnation EP was released. I think I fuck up some details but it's like 95% accurate. And like I mentioned, the band has evolved past this when adding Jeff to the equation. Proud feels like a weird word to use, but I think that is how I feel about this band. This crew of people has been tirelessly putting all their effort forth for years with a number of great bands, and it feels like they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. I also wanted to mention this debut cassette from BLISTERING NOISE. This band is from Tokyo, and I knew nothing other than that and this tape was recorded at Noise Room. Naturally, I want to check out anything recorded at Noise Room, so I did. I had to listen to this physical cassette, cos there was no streaming online I could find. So I wanted to let anyone know who was on the fence about the cassette, it rips.

I had briefly mentioned this record last week, but I've finally had a chance to spend a good amount of time with the new NIGHTFEEDER 7". I find NIGHTFEEDER to be a particularly interesting band cos they always do something that tests my taste on each release, but their foundation is so damn solid that I am always eager to hear what's next. To be honest, I don't like it when bands challenge me as a listener. I know that's boring. However, I seriously appreciate it when a band challenges my ears, and then it grows on me, resulting in me looking forward to these parts I once questioned. I love that. I'm sure there are people who specifically seek this when checking out bands, but I just don't look for this experience when listening to music. So NIGHTFEEDER begins this EP with a "longer" mid-tempo song. The song itself is entitled Disgustor, like the EP. Over half of the song is slow and has a kinda droney sound or something. The last minute of the song they pick up the pace (just a bit), with some pulled-back DISCHARGE drumming accompanied by another dissonant, but slightly catchy riff. On the B-side you can find two certified rippers in true NIGHTFEEDER fashion that you want to play on repeat. I guess the A side of the record took me some time to digest. The riffs are not particularly memorable, and it's the only track featured on the A side. After talking with Daniel about the track, he explained his interpretation of the song. He said he didn't think the song was really about the riffs at all, but about the overall energy or atmosphere the band establishes. He explained how it all seemed to build into the chorus, where the lyrics are the real focus; "I am disgustor, hear my name." I probably didn't explain that very well, but after letting this soak in it really started to grow on me. It felt like the band was going for a more classic approach or something; 7" cut at 45rpm featuring one slower song on the A side that focuses on the chorus, followed by two bangers on the B side. The formula reminds me that of like a PARTISANS or DEMOB 7". NIGHTFEEDER really lays into the "horror" aspects of the band with this EP. While I think elements of horror can come off so cheesy, I think they still pull it off. I really like the artwork and packaging on this EP especially. They made a limited screen-printed version, but the artwork for the regular version is just as sick!! The spots of color and layout is excellent. It looks so cool that I would consider buying it without knowing who the band was. I think there are bands who are not very good, and rely on a gimmick of sorts to attract listeners. While NIGHTFEEDER has some artistic elements with their presentation, I don't think they rely on this to attract listeners cos their music actually rips. Alright then, I think that about sums it up for this week. Thanks for reading. Thank you to everyone for your support!

Usman's Staff Pick: February 26, 2024

Hi and thanks for reading. It's been a minute since I wrote. I was out sick for a bit, and then Daniel got sick too. I'm not writing about any new releases this week unfortunately, cos I haven't spent much time with any of them yet. I have been really looking forward to the DEEF reissue on General Speech, and also the new NIGHTFEEDER 7" that we got in stock recently. I've only had time to spin those just once each, so today I am writing about MALIN HEADS. At the risk of sounding like a poser, I will be writing unashamedly. I don't really know much German hardcore/punk. I can name maybe like a dozen bands. I'm pretty sure MALIN HEADS was my introduction. I discovered them while on tour with my old band with Jeff. We were at Arrow's Aim in Gainesville, and that's where I picked up a copy of their first EP Probegepogt Aus Spandau. As I was flipping through a 7" bin, I passed over it cos I had no idea what it was. As I passed it, Jeff asked If knew it and also informed me it ripped. Obviously, I bought it. I will pick up almost anything a friend suggests to me in that context. I never really thought about it until now, but this type of thing happens often when I got to record shops with friends, where someone is flipping and another is kinda looking over their shoulder and there is conversation about what dank shit is floating around in the bins, know what I'm talking about? Haha. Anyway, from there I checked out the other bands on Pogar (the label who originally released that MALIN HEADS EP). Somewhere in there I heard more shit like VORKRIEGSPHASE, UPRIGHT CITIZENS, SLIME, and THE BUTTOCKS. I know SLIME and BUTTOCKS are pretty early bands. A close friend of mine living in Germany told me about SLIME after we toured Europe a few years ago. It's funny, I was just talking to some friends the other day about "ACAB." I know this acronym is wildly popular now… and it's possible some young punks don't know what band my friends and I associate this slogan with. I mean obviously ACAB was not invented by a band, but I always thought 4 SKINS was the first band to do a song called ACAB. I'm pretty sure that came out in 1982, right? Well fuckin' hell, SLIME released a track called ACAB in 1981! I had no idea. If someone knows anything earlier please let me know. Or maybe I am wildly mistaken, and 4 SKINS had been playing it live before SLIME.

Getting back to MALINHEADS, their first EP is such a banger. Their second EP entitled Medical Fame followed a few years later in 1986 and I think its also an excellent record. The sound is noticeably different though. They have another release the followed that, but to be honest I don't even remember what it sounds like. Their first EP was reissued, and I am not sure why Medical Fame was not. For many years that reissue I held me over until one day I was able to land an original copy of Probegepogt Aus Spandau. I guess when I say original, I mean an 80s pressing. The cover of the record I had gotten was not the first press according to Discogs. And as of late, some pretentious asshole added a new version that he has, and of course he states THIS is the first press, haha. I knew there was a different cover for the "first press," but I have always wondered if there was actually two different pressings or just some different versions of the cover. I was actually chatting with a German friend, and he sent me a photo of his copy that he got in the 80's. It's yet another different version than what is listed on Discogs.

There was a record shop called Vinyl Boogie in West Germany, and they seemed to have distributed all the Pogar stuff. I was actually just poking around Discogs, and it seems the owner of Vinyl Boogie was also the same person who operated Pogar Records. Interesting. I wish I knew more. I'm not sure how true this is, but one guy told me he was there at Vinyl Boogie when the MALINHEADS records arrived, and they quickly threw together the covers of the "first press" cos they didn't have anything prepared. I'm not sure if he meant only those very early copies (which seem to be few, and printed on colored paper,) or if he meant they made an entire run of covers with the same design printed on regular white paper. According to Discogs, the was a repress the same year as the original. On this sleeve, they took the back cover photo from the first press, and that became the front cover of the repress. I just wonder if there really were two pressings, and/or how many copies exist of each cover. That leads me to why I really decided to write about this today, haha. I've shared this cover from my staff photo on Instagram before, but I didn't get any info on it. I've searched the internet to the best of my ability, and never came up with shit. I did see an old Ebay listing where a copy sold with this same cover, but a part of me wonders if this was by chance the same copy that eventually ended up in my hands? I bought this copy just a few years ago from a German record shop. What this is, is the repress sleeve, but for some reason MALINHEADS is not printed across the front. What the fuck? I have endless questions, and I am out of time, haha. Sorry my write-up this week seems directionless and really in the end I am just hoping someone will reply and let me know some info on this record! Haha. Cheers and thanks for reading.