12 May 2021

DESOLATION



Wrong place, Wrong time. By 1991, the SS Buttrock had already left port, sailing the seas in search of state fairs and potential fans who hadn't heard about the shifting cultural tides. But things move a little slower in Emond, Oklahoma, and bands like DESOLATION sometimes get abandoned by time....so sonic archaeologists get to rescue artifacts like Hand Of The Wicked from thrift store grab bags or suburban closet shoeboxes. And the reason we keep digging is....this DESOLATION is almost good. Not "good" as in "this rips, I want to listen to this all the time!" good. Rather "good" as in "oh man, poor dudes - I can envision a world where they made it" good, and "almost" as in "not quite." Leaning heavily on the anthemic ballad end of the commercial heavy metal spectrum, like a band who was actively consuming classic rock radio and absorbing all of the influences - the positive and the negative - this release (their only one?) still has moments. "Don't Scream" owes a debt to the ALICE IN CHAINS dark ballad formula, "Make 'em Pay" has a Sunset Strip Strut that would make FASTER PUSSYCAT proud, "Angel's Rage" is a flat out hard rock burner...and there are more than enough cringe worthy cuts to balance things out. Biblical themes and songs about societal conflict are present throughout, which might give the closing track "On Your Knees" a different context than other hair metal songs with similar titles.....nah, the chorus is "night time is the right time for my love" and the verse goes "oooohhh baby /  honey / baby honey please / please me squeeze me, love me on your knees / I need you right now / I want you nooooowwwwww" so I guess we can skip the righteous shit. 


11 May 2021

GREYLAND

 

Aside from appearances on a few (extremely sick) flyers from the late 1990s and an Albany, NY return address, I don't have much background to share. Truly a product of the decade, GREYLAND's brand of DIY stoner/crust falls in line with RINGWORM (or RINGWURM), BUZZOV•EN, even some of the metallic stench that bands like DAMAD cranked out earlier in the decade. But seeing their name on flyers with SPAZZ, MONSTER X, PAINDRIVER, DEVOID OF FAITH and the like, you know these mutants were dropping bombs in hardcore spaces and that just makes it feel so much heavier. Guitars are just a touch off in a gloriously nauseating way, the entire recording is redlined, they just sound awful. "Awful" as in...ugly...and then they grind. Repeated listens over the past few days have only drawn me in closer - pure and ruthless US hardcore stench, and I love it. 

Listen to "Hate Inheritance." Seriously. 

10 May 2021

HELLGRAMMITE

 

Some wild ass prog-crust from Seattle, circa 2008. Safe to say that these nice fellows had a couple of DYSTOPIA records, and safe to say that the roughness of the demo enhances the listening experience. 


09 May 2021

HOOD RATS



HOOD RATS should appeal to fans of....punk. And also punk. And hardcore. And rock 'n roll. Digital Wasteland hits instantly and keeps battering for twenty minutes until "Prisoner Of War" lurches to a stop. Light speed trash by way of POISON IDEA, INEPSY, ANGRY SAMOANS, ANNIHILATION TIME....you get the deal and HOOD RATS deliver the goods. It's like KBD and snarling US hardcore and Motörpunk converging at an abandoned desert skate spot gakked on trucker speed and malt liquor, shredding a pool long abandoned by a would be suburbia until the sun goes down and the day descends into darkness and chaos. That's what this shit sounds like. 



08 May 2021

UNREAL THOUGHT



I think that unless I choose to spend a week or two focused on Canada's Atlantic Provinces, I will just be playing catch-up for years to come because the quality and frequency of the output from DIY punks there has remained frighteningly consistent for the last decade. The second tape from UNREAL THOUGHT came out back in 2014, when every punk was stacking flangers on flangers and there were more smoke machines than riffs...when a new wave of DIY rippers all seemingly discovered SISTERS and TONES ON TAIL when they were at summer camp together and made a pact to flood the market. But embedded in that mass of hastily thrown together throwbacks were (are) some brilliant releases and some bands who were using available tools to create their own sounds....no one sounds like UNREAL THOUGHT. Layers of spoken vocals, damaged and piercing guitars, a dark shroud drawn over a punk band who still sounds like a fucking punk band. I don't feel like I'm listening to a band trying to sound like 1984 - I feel like I'm listening to a band creating a sound that captures their existence. There's more where this came from. 



07 May 2021

AS THE TWILIGHT FADES



The first volume in an excellent series from the folks at Pinhole Collapse, As The Twilight Fades is an hour of outsider blues and international guitar rock that gives way to a second side filled with psyched out oldies tinged with the light fuzz of history. From CHARLIE MEGIRA's "The Girl Afraid Of Ashtrays" to CHARLIE FEATHERS' "One More Time" and F. KENYA's transcendent "Ewule Adoma Kuma," this collection just nails a vibe while dancing between and within sonic cultures and arbitrary genres. Fans of the Contact Records Astral Maps and Enchanted Surf compilations will want to pay close attention to this series....because there are two more volumes waiting in the wings. 



06 May 2021

THE DARTS



(Very) short lived band from Oakland/San Francisco that featured members of JACK ACID, THE CRIMINALS, BLACK FORK and a host of others. Loose and ramshackle 1994 Bay Area punk that existed for less than a year and sounds exactly like what you would expect from a short lived mid-'90s project. I would have listened to this constantly if I had heard it at the time. 







05 May 2021

I OBJECT

 

It had been a while (quite a long while, actually) since I had cranked up some I OBJECT. And while it's cool to revisit a band and realize that they "hold up," there's something awesome about having your ass handed to you all over again by a band you let fade into the distance. I might have thought that I passed by I OBJECT, but I can assure you that these songs have done nothing but get more intense in isolation. This tape has the America Today...And Tomorrow on the A side and a scorching live set on the flip. Fueled by a deadly mixture of anger and optimism, 2021 might need I OBJECT even more than 2005 did. This is from 2006, but I think you get the general idea.  

04 May 2021

DOUBLE THINK



I don't know how many times I've said it, but it's impossible to fathom how many DOUBLE THINKs existed in the world. I'm not talking about bands called DOUBLE THINK, though there were likely many, I'm talking about bands who sound like (this) DOUBLE THINK. Fast, tight, proficient...they were called "melodic hardcore" at the time - metallic speed riffing, whiny nasal vocals, probably a few too many songs about girls, minor chord rhythm guitars and ripping leads. If you lived through the era then you have seen this band one hundred times. The were called NOAH FENCE in Ontario. They were called KPF in San Jose. They were called USELESS ID in Israel. They were called HEFFER in Brazil. They were seriously everywhere. DOUBLE THINK were from Sacramento...and maybe the guitar player is in EVANESCENCE now? Wake me up. 


03 May 2021

ECONOMY MUSIC



The artwork should answer any questions you might have. 
A picture is worth 1,000 words? Well, there are two pictures below.
Not sure what I can say that ECONOMY MUSIC isn't already saying. 
 

02 May 2021

DATA CONTROL

 

Hard to describe just how perfect this tape from DATA CONTROL is. It's a snappy, catchy garage punk record...kinda...that somehow lands between MISSION OF BURMA and OBSERVERS and GENERACION SUICIDA. And then "The Lie" drops by sounding like it just stepped out of the grooves of the first ADOLESCENTS record and I'm just sitting here in San Francisco devouring every damn note. From the eponymous 36 second burst to the hopelessly anthemic "The Same" repeating two chords and four words for two and a half minutes....I'm the same as you.....this 2013 release hits absolutely every nerve. This is the kind of music you want to listen again the minute it's over. 


 It feels like each successive song is "the best" ("Get Up And Die" into ""We Are The Rats" into "Pointless Stand" with that damn keyboard....but then there's the dark "The Stumbling" and the K-Town roll of "What Do You Read?"....all of it. As I said: You want to listen again. 

01 May 2021

ORGASMIC TOILET BAND

 

As far as I can gather, this little box of genius was only available through the classifieds in MRR sometime in the early 1990s. I'm sure that friends of the band had an inside line, but the general public? You just had to be in the know...or willing to gamble. Dug was willing to gamble back then and Dug is eager to share today, and so am I. Which brings us to: ORGASMIC TOILET BAND. Twenty two doses of freak funk, joke punk, noise rock and hardcore schlock - fans of SCHLONG and YOUR MOTHER in particular will want to pay attention, if only to see what you missed. But anyone who misses the parade of oddities that marched boldly through the first half of that lost and mysterious decade will find themselves comfortable here - even while (or perhaps because) their eyes are rolling. Maybe growing all the way up isn't really the best move. 

30 April 2021

TØRSÖ



Straight up: I miss shows. I miss playing, and I miss watching my friends play. I miss volume. I miss seeing Mae stomp around like a teenager in their bedroom. I miss watching Ktrü jump like he's showing off every time he hits an open chord just because he's in better shape than me. I miss Giacomo laying waste to a DBeat with casual precision, and I really fucking miss having my face melted by Jasmine, without a doubt my favorite bass player of the last decade. I miss shows...but I can wait.


The TØRSÖ demo dropped around 2014, and records seemed to follow immediately in its wake. The only bad thing about TØRSÖ is that, selfishly, they were never ours. They were never a "local" band even when they all lived here. There's something special about getting to experience a juggernaut before you have to share it, and that never happened with TØRSÖ...but when a band is this damn good right out of the gate, that's gonna happen. 


29 April 2021

SPORK

 

I played in Kalamazoo, Michigan on my second tour in 1993. I remember very little about the show itself, but I remember and hanging out with the organizer, a fellow named Joel Wick, and I remember having a place to stay after the show. Places to stay were rare on that tour, lots of "camping" in rest stops and a few motels (in an era when you could still score a shitty room for $20), but we didn't have the option of staying with people very often and, as a result, we missed out on many of the personal interactions that are the foundation of DIY punk in general, and of DIY touring specifically. But while that night was probably nothing exemplary for Joel - a place to crash, hanging out until late at night talking about bands we had never heard of and checking out his then awe-inspiring collection of set lists, maybe some food in the morning - it was a standout night for us because it felt normal, and normal didn't seem to happen very often on those first few adventures (sometime, kids, I'll tell you about the show Grandpa Wiz played in Asheville, NC on that tour....a night that involved hot tubs, intense fog, FOGHAT, a red sports car and BUTTHOLE SURFERS...1993 was weird). I got a copy of this SPORK tape that night, lost it through attrition and/or carelessness over the years, then my buddy was doing some spring cleaning last year and asked if I wanted his copy (I said that I did, surprising exactly no one). It holds up extremely well - a relic from that period of USDIY when SubPop and AmRep would be filed alongside Dischord and Touch & Go because it was all part of a progression, and the scene/s just hadn't quite decided where to land yet. So you've got HELMET and you've got NAVIO FORGE crammed into the same box. You've got Revolution Summer ripped from the clutches of '80s hardcore, and you've got kids trying to blaze their own path in Midwestern basements. It's discordant, passionate, clunky, crunchy, intense...it just sounds real. That was a good night...and the collection of set lists really was pretty damn cool. I hope he kept accumulating. 



28 April 2021

RAZGRAAD

 

The Water Towers listens like the come down from the most demented high. An ambient chill zone exercise with faint hints of Hi-NRG dance synths and an undercurrent of minimal synth beats sometimes only audible if you take the time to listen through the primary sounds. Italy's RAZGRAAD skirt the edges of what is more of less standard downtempo fare, but they (he) do (does) so by merely dipping their (his) feet in the water to let you know that its comfortable and relaxing before taking your hand and pulling you into the mist. Calmly disorienting...elements of heavier synths and industrial sounds treated and compressed and repurposed (or reimagined) for presentation as a part of an altogether new (or at least different) creation. The entire tape exists as a thing outside of itself, and listening intently offers you the same experience....it's not a bad place to visit. 


27 April 2021

THE SECLUDED

 

1982 Welsh youth punks from the mining town of Ebbw Vale, THE SECLUDED unfortunately left us with this demo...and that's it. I posted a different version back in the (very) early days of TE - the same three studio burners appear here, with the addition of a rough (live?) version of "Police State" to replace "The More They Have" on the other tape. Not going to try to regurgitate the history of the members or their post-SECLUDED lives (there don't appear to be any other bands of note in that history - key phrase is "of note," because there is that DECAYED YOUTH tape...), but I'll say that while "Steal Cheat & Victimise" seems to be the cut from THE SECLUDED that folks are most familiar with (and it’s a smasher), the other cuts hit way harder. "Royal Blood" and "Mindless Violence" are absolute burners, and if you drop this band in London and add just one 45 to their legacy, I have no doubt that it would be a revered and sought after slab. You've slept on THE SECLUDED for 39 years since We Despise Society was birthed to the world...isn't it past time for you to wake up to it?


There's a fifth track titled "Marshall Law" listed on the cover. If anyone's holding....don't be a stranger. 

26 April 2021

INFESTATION OF ASS

 



The 2002 demo from Chicago's INFESTATION OF ASS explodes in your speakers before the sound even comes out, and then it explodes again in your earholes. Such a fierce example of early century DIY fastcore, dabbling in melodic/metallic EuroCrust ("Focus") and not quite sure if they want to just blast - though it often feels like they might be more comfortable if they were just blasting ("No Name"). The mosh parts are deadly ("No Name" [again] and "Let's Fucking Go!" most notably) but they're back to blasting before you can get out of your chair...so best to just not sit.  I fucking love revisiting this shit.



25 April 2021

SOCIETY'S PUPPETS



Midwestern suburbia in the late 1980s was a motherfucker for punks, and probably even worse for hardcores who were in touch with the progressive politics of punk's perceived heyday that was a half decade in the rearview mirror. But some of them persevered. SOCIETY'S PUPPETS were punching way above their weight in 1990s when they recorded Time To Care, and it's that earnest attack that makes it so good 31 years later. Let the rough recording settle in and tracks like "Your Country Kills You" hit even harder, shades of late '80s UK anarcho/thrash filtered through a blatant affinity for NYHC. Positive, honest hardcore with a raw guitar chug ripped straight from the clutches of Sgt. D - anti-violence, anti-nuke, pro-animal rights, straight edge suburban hardcore from the conservative lily white streets of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Members went on to do stuff like TEN BOY SUMMER (the band) and/or normal life and/or moving into VIOLENT FEMMES house. 


In case you're wondering (and I was): 
WAHC = Waukesha Area Hard Core. 

24 April 2021

TYPEWRITER

 

And to follow that comp with a sounds that could easily worm their way onto a future P.O.B.D. collection - introducing Minneapolis freaks TYPEWRITER. 2016's Songs From Space Station H is a four song injection of spasmodic space punk, teleported from the past and also timeless. Shrill guitars and robot dork vocals are along for the ride while the erratic snappy drums kick everything along in fits and starts. They clearly have the chops to drop into smooth and sultry pop (as on "Battery Life") which makes it all the better that they consciously choose not to...the listening experience is both confident and awkward (just how I like it). The synths aren't the focus - those guitars, they do the trick - but then they move in and dominate "Cutting Board" just to let you know what they are capable of. And speaking of capable, turning "Burning For You" into a jerk track stripped from the grooves of a never-was NY No Wave record to close things out is...well, it's a pro move. 


23 April 2021

PUNISH OR BE DAMNED

 

As great as the first two comps are, the third installment in the P.O.B.D. series sees the full realization of the mission. Like a Killed By Death series dedicated to synth-punk and freak wave, the folks at Tape Appeal free themselves from time and era constraints to weave some of the best acts in recent memory into the fabric of their story, BLACK BUG and AMERICAN NUDISM sharing space with GRAUZONE, THE SCIENCE PROJECT, TARA CROSS and a host of others. Complete unknowns and stone cold classics, these compilations are pure gold. It's been a few years, and I'm probably foolish, but I'm still holding out for Vol. 4, because there's always more. 

PUNISH OR BE DAMNED VOL.3:
 27 TRACKS OF MINIMAL WAVVE, ELECTROPUNK, SYNTH PUNK AND SYNTH POP

22 April 2021

RAT PISS

 

Just pure insanity - adolescent desperation and unabated plains fury (like the amber waves of grains kind of plains).  A split with SUBSANITY and one posthumous single are all the diggers have to sink their teeth into, but those of you who (still) deal in digital sonic currency have the totality of their recorded output at your disposal. Over a few different sessions, you can hear them getting gnarlier (Ross said the drummer was kinda obsessed with CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER for a while, and the last 4-track session, while admittedly pretty rough, demonstrates that obsession clearly), becoming the aural animal that would eventually morph into BURNPILE...but its that first session that really grabs me. The version of "Sit Down" that highlights the nasty East Bay shit they were probably listening to in between the third generation GASTUNK and KURO tapes, "Life Of Puke" that predates the Y2K fastcore explosion by half a decade but would have taken the fucking roof off at ChicagoFest, the clean and intense (pre)DS13 guitar chasing the drums....that session is simply beyond words (though I'm clearly trying). RAT PISS may not have known what they were doing, but these 21 songs might sound even better in hindsight than anyone fully realized at the time.

21 April 2021

PENNY MACHINE

 

While I only really discovered this mid-teens Oakland band a few weeks ago, I've devoured this cassette front to back more times than I can count. PENNY MACHINE sometimes sound like a relic of a lost decade (and continent) - blatant early UK post punk and twee influences creep into the sound but rarely stick around, giving way to modern day urban warehouse dwellers and damp basement hooks. Guitars do a modern dance together; in sync but in opposition, distortion free rhythm in the shadows while a damaged lead takes the melody...or the inverse. Because there are no rules. "Roses" is the single (if there is a single), a sharp and snappy burner with a wash of cymbals and high end that dominate the chorus and a screaming lick that owns the bridge while a chorus of lead and backing vocals fill every remaining crevice. I guess what I'm really trying to say (and failing) is: This is brilliant pop music. Or at least it should be what pop music is (or vice versa), and it is definitely brilliant. 

PENNY MACHINE

20 April 2021

THE BLOOD SUCKER KILLING SYSTEM



You have to listen to this with the right ears. Malaysia's B.C.K.S. (and yes, I'm aware that the letters in the acronym doesn't match the band's full name) were a late century melodic punk act, and while they sound dated now, I would fucking love to see then in KL circa 1998. These cuts are appropriately loose, earnest as anything, and if you listen with the right ears.....now let's talk about that guitar solo that takes up the second half of "Bombs N' Guns." Because...wow. 



19 April 2021

夕焼けの丘

 

Another under the radar ripper to add to the (endless) list of bands who predated the "official" start of the fastcore/thrashcore revival that marked the turn of the century. This ten song blast from U-YAKE NO OKA dropped in 1998, an exhausting collection of blasts and breakdowns and signature high end vocals backed by a disorienting chorus of gang backups...and moments of pure, unrelenting speed. It's called Demo 2, but I've never seen a Demo 1....suffice to say I'm in the market if anyone's holding. 

DEMO 2