Nothing’s original. Everything’s up for grabs. Nothing is dead and everything is popular and we’re simultaneously experiencing restrospective appreciation for the entirety of pop culture in one fell swoop. Hey, fuck you man, I didn’t invent postmodernism; it’s happening all around us.
ISS know this and they don’t give a shit, which is why they’ve concocted one of the best punk releases of recent years from a combination of samples from their record collections and ultra-stoopid but mind-crushingly addictive hooks from their own fertile imaginations.
Eddie and Rich are the kids behind this North Carolina outfit, and their ‘we’ll take what we want from punk and make it punker’ approach makes for one helluva potent cocktail – just try listening to this without feeling like a brick in a rusty washing machine, I dare ya. (Dis)Charge It To The Game takes a breakneck D-beat, attaches it to an anchor made of sass and chutzpah then throws it into a canyon; meanwhile on Today’s Active Dads they make like Ty Segall (at his crudest) wrapping The Coneheads in gaffa tape, bundling them in the back of a car and driving them off a cliff face. Canyons and cliff faces? Hey, this isn’t about originality.
Post-punk-garage-sample-lo-fi-snot-core at its finest, basically. Originally released on tape in 2015, now finally available on vinyl and wonderfully, gloriously horrible. Buy it and throw all your other records away; this has already commandeered their best bits anyway.
Our take: ISS mania continues with this latest release, which is a vinyl reissue of the band’s first self-titled cassette full-length, which was original released on Rich from Terminal Boredom’s Loki Label in 2015. I’ve been immersed in the world of ISS lately, but I hadn’t returned to this first release in quite a while and I’d forgotten how different it is from what they’re doing these days. Nowadays, I think of ISS’s music as having three essential layers: the sampled drums and original bass line that make up the “song,” another layer of irreverent samples, guitar solos, and other stuff, then Rich’s vocals blaring out insanely catchy lines over top of all that. However, ISS hadn’t really added that middle layer when they did these tracks, so they sound quite minimal next to, say, the 7” they just released on Sorry State. While I would probably say that I like the newer stuff better (though, to be fair, I’m the type of person who almost always likes the newest stuff best), the advantage of the more minimal style of this LP is that it’s much more immediately catchy. The vocals are very clean-sounding and right up front in the mix, so you’re singing along with “Back Taxes and Anaphylaxis” and “Freemasons Run the Country” on the second listen, whereas the denser, newer material takes a few listens for your ear to fully decode. In my mind, though, every second of ISS music is essential listening, and even if you have the original cassette I would highly recommend upgrading to this superior format.