The LAST Featured Release Roundup of 2020: December 31st, 2020
Hated: Innocent People 7" (Meat House Productions) First ever reissue for this obscure early 80s punk band from Huntington Beach, California. It's amazing there's never even been a compilation of this band's three singles, of which Innocent People is the first, having come out in 1981. The sound is of the Beach Punk ilk you know from records like Posh Boy's Beach BLVD compilation. You can expect lots of fast ride cymbal action, surf guitar licks, and disaffected-sounding yet melodic vocals. It's a similar sound to bands like the Chiefs, the Simpletones, and Agent Orange, and it's the sound the Adolescents honed to razor sharpness on their debut LP that same year. Yeah, the Hated were no Adolescents, but if you have a taste for 80s California punk, I can't imagine thinking they're an also-ran. Here's hoping Meat House continues their campaign and reissues the other Hated singles.
Funeral: Waiting for the Bomb Blast 7" (Meat House Productions) The second in a pair of crazy rare early California punk singles that Meat House Productions has dug up for us. If the Hated sound like you could slot them onto the Beach Blvd compilation, Funeral could do the same for the American Youth Report comp. Like the bands on that record, Funeral come from the harder, faster end of the early 80s California punk spectrum. I can't imagine they weren't huge fans of the Germs, as they share that band's intensity and rock swagger. However, while these songs are ripping fast, they have a pop undercurrent that reminds me of contemporaries like the Adolescents, Modern Warfare, and MIA. All three songs are cool, but the a-side, "Waiting for the Bomb Blast," is the all-time scorcher, moving from a killer intro that reminds me of Rik L Rik into a catchy punk jam that would have done TSOL proud.
Parnepar: Dobar Dan, Izvolite cassette (Doom Town Records) Second cassette from this band out of Zagreb, Croatia. While the label's description references a lot of cool-sounding 80s Yugoslavian punk, unfortunately I don't know most of those bands so I'll have to come at this from my limited frame of reference. Parnepar sounds like music of the post-punk era, but the more arty and austere end of it. On the songs that are minimal and led by the bass (with the guitar only providing sparse rhythmic accents), they remind me of This Heat or Wire's artiest moments. When the guitar kicks in, Panepar's sound moves more toward the rhythmically quirky punk of the early Minutemen. I wouldn't come to Dobar Dan, Izvolite looking for pop hits, but as someone who loves that quirky, arty end of the post-punk spectrum, I like this a lot.
The Cowboys: Lovers in Marble cassette (Feel It) Brand new 5-song cassette from Indiana's prolific Cowboys. I've enjoyed being on the journey with the Cowboys, watching them grow, evolve, and take chances with each new release. Lovers in Marble continues that trend with results at least as good as any other Cowboys release. At this point I'm not sure I'd call the Cowboys a punk band; they're just an underground rock band. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks of Guided by Voices when I listen to Lovers in Marble. Like GBV, the Cowboys are songsmiths at heart, anglophilic (with a particular fondness for British psychedelic pop), and they have a complicated relationship with fidelity. There are moments of pure pop bliss on Lovers in Marble that remind me of the Zombies or even My Bloody Valentine, and there are moments that don't work as well. (I was listening to this in my office and when the off-key, Kermit like vocals came in at the end of "The Bell Rings Less," I heard Dominic shout "they lost me here" from the other room.) I'm partial to bands that throw a lot at the wall to see what sticks, and I'd place the Cowboys in that category along with the Kinks and GBV. I'm sure, by this point, the Cowboys have lost a lot of punks and people with limited bandwidth for new music, but I am still very much on board.
C-Krit: S/T cassette (Stucco Label) Olympia's Stucco Label, who helped introduce the world to Electric Chair and Suck Lords, bring us more of their trademark lo-fi antagonistic punk. C-Krit dabbles in the ultra-fast tempos of the aforementioned bands (see "Am What I Am" and "The Kids Will Have Their Say Pt. II"), but they cover a lot of stylistic ground on this tape. Two of the songs remind me of Flipper and No Trend's loose and nihilistic punk, but then the closing "My Eyes Melt" is a dub-influenced minimal synth track. You'd think it would sound like a jumble, but the DIY basement production helps it hang together. I would love to see what C-Krit would do with twelve inches of vinyl.
Fugitive Bubble: self-titled cassette (Stucco Label) Another ripper from the almighty Stucco Label, and another one that's dissimilar from the ultra-fast hardcore style I know the label for. Fugitive Bubble plays catchy, song oriented punk that teeters on the edge of hardcore. "Checks & Balance" is fast and catchy a la Rhino 39 or the Middle Class, while "Contemporary Restoration" has an anthemic vocal melody that reminds me of the Avengers. The recording sounds raw and live and the band sounds tight but nowhere near slick. It's fast, it's catchy, and it's punk as hell. Recommended if you're a fan of CB Radio Gorgeous or CCTV.