Lars Finberg

November 25th, 2020

Tinnitus Tonight LP
Mt.St.Mtn, 2020

Lars Finberg - Tinnitus TonightBeing a jaded old fuck who’s been subjected to more mediocre indie rock than one should reasonably bear, often not by choice, I tend to get rankled by music that doesn’t even try to conceal its influences or attempt to bring a single original thought to the table. When I hear an album like Tinnitus Tonight it’s hard to fathom why most bands and artists can’t bother to push themselves creatively just a little bit or at least find a well of inspiration that hasn’t been sucked dry for decades. It’s exhausting to find exceptional music, but perhaps the glut of mediocrity is the very thing that elevates the best records to the top of the stack.

The gift Lars Finberg has to disfigure rock riffs into minor chord marvels should serve as a glowing example for those who feel the need to pick up a guitar and make some noise to share with the world. Using the conventional tools of rock and roll flavored with a mix of garage punk, post punk, synth punk and mutant surf, Mr. Finberg, with seemingly effortless cool, has crafted or contributed to countless albums with bands like The Intelligence, Puberty, Rubber Blanket, A Frames and more, all with a magnetic pull and genius lyrics that stand out from the indie rock heap and reveal an exceptionally creative mind that’s actually done its homework.

Although this is his second solo release, this recording actually predates his debut album, Moonlight Over Bakersfield, and the songs collected here do cover some uncharted territory that exists somewhere between the refined sound of Moonlight and his more widely known work with The Intelligence. Ranging from the clean acoustic strum that grows with swells of surf guitar and vintage synth blurts on “Lord of the Files V2″ to the pummeling bass line and gnarly freeform guitar squeal of “Public Admirer” or the surprise synth blasts toward the end of “Kitchen Floor”, Tinnitus Tonight isn’t a mere collection of shelved material, it’s another proof point that creativity isn’t finite and that Lars Finberg’s particular strain of creativity expands even further than his prolific discography.

So kids, before you start a band and expect anyone to fawn all over your musical genius, study up on how you can defy mediocrity like Lars Finberg and then get to work. Thank you.

The Intelligence · Tinnitus Tonight

Buy Tinnitus Tonight at Mt St Mtn

Mudhead

November 17th, 2020

The Jumbo Sound of Mudhead 7″
Self-Released, 1988

The Jumbo Sound of MudheadSpinning the recently released Captured Tracks compilation of mid-80s proto-indie rock, Strum & Thrum, The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Kansas City area represented with a track from The Bangtails which made me feel the need to call out the long lost haunted postpunk of The Bangtails-related band Mudhead. Anchored by the driving drumbeat of The Bangtail’s Archer Prewitt (The Sea & Cake, The Cocktails) and the off-the-rails wailing of fellow Kansas City Art Institute student and Nebraska punk luminary Mott-ly in a dense swirl of dual guitars and hypnotic basslines, this droning 33rpm single comes off as the unpredictable midwestern cousin of NYC no-wave pioneers Live Skull amped up with the unnerving intensity of a band like Of Cabbages and Kings, lit with a goth-tinged hue of Burning Image-style death rock. Tinnitus-tainted readers may appreciate this deeper peek into the festering KC underground that also produced the much more accessible Bangtails. If the single catches your ear, be sure to check out a live version of “Eleutheromania” taken from the 1988 Live in Lawrence compilation where Mott-ly “knocked satellites out of orbit… screaming like Elmer Fudd being raped by a werewolf on a bad acid trip” as an astute alt weekly writer once wrote.

DOWNLOAD

Mudhead – Eleuthermomania
Mudhead – Charlie’s Golden Ticket

Mudhead – Eleuthermomania (Live)

The Spits

October 31st, 2020

The Spits VI
Thriftstore Records, 2020

The Spits VIJust in time for Halloween in the epically shitty year 2020 comes a gift from one of garage punk’s greatest gifts: Spewing up from the post-apocalyptic Michigan wastelands that birthed this malformed mutant punk troupe infamously known as The Spits, comes LP number six , a full nine years after their last LP. It’s hard to believe it’s been 9 years since In The Red Records unleashed their classic record number 5, especially because, like their other releases, it hasn’t lost its fire and flavor at all over those 9 years. Stylistically The Spits don’t break any new ground on VI, but that’s not what you go to The Spits for time and time again. You go to The Spits to get your clock cleaned by catchy-as-fuck punk blurts that barely reach the 2 minute mark, slathered in fuzz, weird vocal FX, and so-simple-they’re-brilliant lyrics stitched together with an uncanny ear worms and a tinny trash rock beat. Recorded in various basements in the midwest by midwest bedroom punk luminary Erik Nervous, this record is a slight departure from The Spits’ Seattle output, but worry not, as the sound you know and love is all there, mixed for maximum brain-frying impact on cassette 4-track.

Although it appears to have sold out on its October 30 release date from the Spits’ Thriftstore Records Big Cartel site, you might be able to snag a copy on black or red vinyl elsewhere on the interwebs. Like all The Spits’ previous records, you’ll need this one and give it many spins.

LINKS

Listen to “Breakdown” on YouTube
Listen to “Up All Night” on YouTube

 

 

Duma

September 24th, 2020

Duma

Duma LP
Nyege Nyege Tapes, 2020

There’s grindcore in Kenya? My ignorance of that fact, which honestly shouldn’t be all that terribly surprising given the reach of extreme metal throughout the world, admittedly piqued my interest in this group. The stunningly brilliant cover image definitely set up some pre-conceived expectations of gnarly metallic hyper chug and gore-centric themes, standard fare for the grindcore genre, but I’m thrilled to report that this not only blasts itself well outside any genre constraints, it’s easily one of the most original forays into extreme music these tinnitus-tainted ears have heard in a long time. This guitar-free grind is rooted in dense, polyrhythmic percussive blasts peppered by washes of noise that make this monster feel more like something from your record store’s industrial/experimental/noise section than the metal bins. In fact, other than the pulse-shredding percussive blasts, the only other recognizable hallmark of grindcore here are visceral vocal growls and wails, which thankfully veer well past cartoonish into crazed. Take some harsh power electronics, mash it up with chopped up gabber beats and bits of William Bennet’s post-Whitehouse project Cut Hands and you’ve got something nearly as terrifying as this monster.

Best Singles/EPs/Demos of 2019

January 19th, 2020

Alien Nosejob - HC45 7″ EP (Iron Lung)
In 2019, Iron Lung continued to kill it with a steady stream of left-field weirdness, power violence, pedigreed punk, and truly raging hardcore, as showcased on this ripping EP. While the vinyl release won’t be available until sometime in early 2020, it’s been tearing up Bandcamp and streaming portals with its amped version of bedroom weirdo punk that could hang with the other stars of that realm, like Janitor Scum, Erik Nervous, Neo Neos, CCTV, etc. It appears that this is a departure from the typical Nosejob sound, but I’m really hoping for a HCLP full-length release as HC45 definitely leaves you craving more.

 

Bummer - Thanks for Nothing 7″ EP (Learning Curve)
Following up last year’s Holy Terror album, KC’s loudest riff mammoths serve up 2 new tracks of weighty grunge sludge, plus a couple classic digital tracks that haven’t been committed to vinyl until now, including an epic cover of Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” that honors that ’90s staple of disenfranchised youths with a few extra tons of electrified spite and volume. There seems to be a moment of ’90s noise rock rumbling up from the fringes of the metal and hardcore scenes with Bummer being one of the best examples of bands revitalizing the core elements of volume, distortion, and force into something compelling and significant in the second decade of the new millennium.

 

Crisis Man - The Myth of Moderation 7″ EP (Digital Regress)
Starting with the bouncing stomp of the title track, this Oakland wrecking crew reignites the wild spirit of hardcore with five tracks of fiery fury, complete with guitar riffs that twist themselves inside out from their own inertia and scatter unexpectedly as barking vocals and tempo shifts prod the listener from complacency. They’ve mastered the hardcore technique of building and releasing tension without relying on cliched chugga-chug breakdowns, while also managing to add a righteous swagger to their breathtaking mess. The closing track “Superlunary” wraps it all up with a defiant pounder of a riff that keeps that wild spirit focused and alive.

 

Homeless Cadaver - Fat Skeleton 7″ (Iron Lung)
Coming out of the gate in early 2019 came this total rager from Iron Lung’s Systemic Surgery series, which apparently means that it’s limited to 200 and includes a fancy diecut and risograph  print, so don’t snooze on a copy or be happy streaming it. The A-side serves up punchy, staccato riffs with just enough slop around the edges to keep the ugliness dripping wet, while a rabid psycho with an Ausmutants flair shouts you down between howling synth spasms. The flipside “Art. Eat It.” downshifts into a churning stew of repetitive guitar fuzz decorated with harsh electronic effects and punishing vocals, all serving as an earworm to relentlessly remind you of the aural and psychic trauma this 7″ slab of plastic (or digital stream) has just inflicted upon you.

 

Loose Nukes - Behind the Screen 7″ EP (Beach Impediment)
Holy shit, this one ripped my head off the first time I heard it and continues to kick it splattering blood and grey matter down the street. Six raging tracks of fierce hardcore punk played at breakneck speed, only letting up on the second-to-last track “Rizzo’s Dead” for a queasy Rudimentary Peni-playing-Flipper downer riff before exploding into the last track “I Could’ve Been A Killer” which sounds like a Poison Idea 45 played at 78rpm. Ridiculously relentless. Remarkably raging. What’s not to love?

 

Mitraille - Hoopschroot 7″ EP (Belly Button)
As mentioned in this post, Belgium’s Mitraille’s first vinyl release wreaks havoc on the garage punk form, energizing it in ways that defy convention and keep the listener throttled to the last, ripping note. A stellar vinyl debut that’s not to be missed.

 

Rainbow Grave - No You 12″ EP (God Unknown)
OK, so Discogs lists this as an LP as do the distros and even the label who released it, but I’m going to call it an EP since it’s got 6 songs and clocks in at 34 minutes. It is almost LP length, especially with a couple of tracks that churn past the 7 minute mark, and it certainly carries the heavy sonic weight of an LP with a relentless pounding and contempt, but I still want to call it an EP if it doesn’t eclipse 40 minutes. Regardless, this beast is built upon the throne of Flipper’s darkest dirges, Drunk With Guns’ ugliest ugliness and the harrowing menace of the Brainbombs — a particularly effective approach to sonic annihilation that becomes especially severe as blasts of howling saxophone penetrate the distorted din. One-dimensional hate vibes here with very few frills and very oppressive riffing and bombast. It’s a beautiful thing to succumb to.

 

Scorn - Feather 12″ EP (Ohm Resistance)
After eight years of silence, Mick Harris‘ Scorn project reignited in 2019 with this shimmering slab of black, black wax, thumping deep dark bass on three distinct versions of the title track plus closer “Whatever Is Touched Turns.” Priming the world for a new full-length release Cafe More, this 4 dose set makes an excellent quick hit of atmospheric space dub, full of echoey effects and slowly shifting tectonic subwoofer slides that requires half the downtime of the 48 minute album. Contemporary Scorn takes a starkly minimalistic approach compared to lush classics like Logghi Barogghi, but only in form and not atmosphere, as each track pulls the listener into a dense but simplified domain that’s uniquely Scorn and uniquely breathtaking.

 

 

 

Skull Practitioners - Death Buy 12″ EP (In The Red)
As the first few seconds of  the first track “Death Buy” fade in with a wicked groove, a heavy vibe is set and exploited for genuine guitar freakouts and psychedelic delights that might be the feedback of ethereal brainwaves Simply Saucer launched into the universe over 40 years ago. “Grey No More” shifts things in high gear and powers along an MC5 motorway through a mountain of guitar roar. “The Beacon” finishes off the A-side with another stomper complete with sliding guitar flourishes and a feverishly-paced Gun Club seediness. “Miami,” the lone track on the flipside, stretches another heavy dub-flavored groove that effortlessly chugs past the 10+ minute mark before ending with a harsh lock groove that’ll leave you salivating for the LP that’s in the works.

 

Tokeback Mountain - Tokeback Mountain Demo (Self Released)
In case you were unaware, at any given time the quaint college town of Lawrence, Kansas, is home to dozens of bands well worth your attention. In 2019 this band of weirdos is the cream of the crop, shredding your psyche and shaking your shitter with seven tracks of nutty guitar-drum-psycho noise rock. Like Bunnybrains on amphetamines, the ramshackle genius of songs like “Bong Rip Yr Dick Off” and “HyperMart,” an ode to a long defunct KC area Wal-Mart experiment in retail monstrosity, or the queasy throbs of “Banquet” prove to be some of the finer moments in outsider rock in 2019.

Best Albums of 2019

December 31st, 2019

Acrylics - Sinking In (Iron Lung)
After rounds of small doses in the form of demo tapes and 7″ releases, Santa Rosa’s (and probably California’s… and maybe even the United States’) sharpest hardcore punks released their first official full length in 2019. And while many young, raging bands can’t quite manage to extend the fury of their short-form ragers to proper album length, I’m happy to report that Acrylics not only fill two full sides of an LP with killer, grade-A punk, they do it in a way that leaves you wanting more. So even though this is the first Acrylics release with songs that surpass the 4 minute mark, none of the tracks on Sinking In drag or feel like filler, including a pair of atmospheric interlude tracks. Instead, Acrylics’ warped vision of what hardcore could be, not what it was, burns bright and cements their place as one of the most vital punk bands of 2019.

 

Andy Human & The Reptoids - Psychic Sidekick (Total Punk)
The slow trickle of killer 45s from Andy Human & The Reptoids after their 2015 debut album spurred even higher expectation and really built anticipation for this, their sophomore album. Coming out at the beginning of 2019 it easily eclipsed most of the “best of 2018″ hyped bands that already started sounding stale a few weeks into the new year, and kept smoking synapses through the heat of summer and on through the end of the year. Destined to be a classic, this might just be the brightest jewel in the impossibly dense resume of Andy Human, whose time and efforts in an obscene quantity of excellent bands such as Jackson Politick, The Beatniks, The World, The Cuts, The Time Flys, and probably a few dozen others yet to be exposed, has resulted in a fully realized work of art that sounds great at first listen and gets even better over time. It’s instantly catchy, yet hardly conventional as songs and lyrics careen sideways and get slathered in layers of mystically weird texture and dimension. Not only one of the best from 2019, but surely one of the best of the decade.

 

Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race (Dark Descent)
As one of a handful of metal releases that stood high (cough) above the metal multitudes, Denver’s Blood Incantation have paid their dues in the form of a stream of steadily solid, interesting twists of the death metal formula. From their early demos and especially with their first Dark Descent releases Interdimensional Extinction and Starspawn, this Denver quartet has adapted an astrological bent to the technical death metal spectrum. As incongruous as icy cold, alien themes are to the very human blood and guts and gore that 99.9% of death metal bands gurgle out, Blood Incantation somehow makes it work by layering in psychedelic flourishes, commanding song structures, and studio wizardry to the very recognizable staples of the genre. As Voivod’s sci-fi aesthetic and off-kilter keys made them a unique specimen in the thrash metal world, Blood Incantation are charting a new course that adds layers and complexity to death metal without getting too proggy, or worse, mired in cliché.

 

Dan Melchior Band - Negative Freedom (In The Red)
Over the last two decades, the name Dan Melchior has merited a seal of quality whenever attached to a musical artifact. From early Billy Childish-influenced garage stompers through the bad vibes of the Broke Revue or Dan Melchior und Das Menace’s essential catalog, all the way through more experimental solo records like Assemblage Blues, he’s covered a lot of ground within the generally limited garage rock set. Every release is immediately identifiable as a Melchior product, while also tweaking any known formulas or confidently pushing the envelope into inventive new terrain. Negative Freedom in particular showcases one of his strongest amalgams of expert songcraft and inventive sonic textures, with guitar sounds being mutated and processed into strange new shapes and augmented with masterfully dispensed analog synth buzz and fuzz. Sample the echoplexed beat of “One Dollar” and its wild guitar spasms or the downer drone of “They Insulted Me in Mojo” seasoned with decades of sarcasm and spite and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more worthy slab of wax to throw your expendable or non-expendable income at.

 

Dead Normal - There Is Nothing Left but the Enjoyment of Senseless Destruction (Harbinger Sound)
Along with Rainbow Grave’s No You, this welcome blast of negativity from Barcelona’s most snarling noiseniks is an appropriate response to madness bubbling over in 2019. And while it could be argued that Dead Normal draw heavily from the soundwell of 1980s Whitehouse, it can also be said that they bring a thrilling, albeit slightly more accessible take, on power electronics and screaming lunatic vocals. In fact, it seems mighty fucking appropriate to level this degree of scorn towards society versus the personal S&M of 1980s fetish taboo of prime Whitehouse, as Dead Normal’s split male/female shouts eviscerate humanity’s weaker tendencies and bring reckoning to the state of the species in 2019. And where subtle rhythms could be found in Whitehouse’s squall, Dead Normal bring a stronger, martial pulse to the aktion, bludgeoning the chance of this being an exercise in mimicry or mediocrity.

 

Full of Hell - Weeping Choir (Relapse)
Ever pushing the boundaries of hardcore, punk, metal, noise/experimental whatever “music,” Full of Hell once again exceed their previous output by rescrambling whatever faint templates any genre may contain and obliterating the listener with a level of extremity that only a time like 2019 could bring. At first listen it’s too much to take in and truly requires a few spins before it even makes a lick of sense, and when a picture does finally come into focus, it quickly shifts into volatile territory again. I feel my age listening to Weeping Choir, as there are many moments where it ventures down annoying avenues, like the machine gun-esque blasts that lead from the sound collage of “Rainbow Coil” into and out of “Aria of Jeweled Tears” but you have to appreciate the offense of the severity and the overall reach of what Full of Hell does. The range of aural assault from the sound collage of “Rainbow Coil” to the epic churn of  “Armory of Obsidian Glass” as it nears 7 minute mark to the Halo-style pound of “Angels Gather Here” or the sax-enhanced freakout in the middle of “Ygramul the Many,” it all adds up to help define Weeping Choir as a truly unique listen.

 

Hash Redactor - Drecksound (Goner)
The promise of Hash Redactor’s excellent 2017 demo comes to full fruition on their debut LP, rising to the top of Goner Record’s remarkably strong 2019 release pile. Mixing the tense churn and burn guitar punk of Memphis’ Ex-Cult and the nerve of Nots, featuring member of both bands, Drecksound brings a ringing American twist to the gnarled sort of Australian growl that birthed the likes of bands like feedtime and Grong Grong. But in addition to the thick, knuckle-dragging driving bass lines and guttural vocals of the Aussie version of the sonic virus, Hash Redactor injects brilliant twin guitar interplay that sounds like a woozy Delta version of Marquee Moon played with steady, young hands. Along with The Intelligence and Possible Humans’ offerings in 2019, Drecksound was in heavy rotation and continues to spin often at the NFZ compound.

 

The Intelligence - Un-Psychedelic in Peavey City (Vapid Moonlighting Inc)
Over the span of 15 years worth of essential LPs, EPs, and singles, not to mention the stellar solo record Moonlight Over Bakersfield, Lars Finberg’s prolific output and contributions to other bands in the garage punk gamut have put him in league with likeminded overachievers like John Dwyer, Jay Reatard, and Ty Segall. All are driven to crank out music at a pace that’s hard to keep up with and even though Sir Finberg’s name hasn’t grabbed the rapt critical attention his peers receive, his output in my opinion is of an even higher quality as it continues to earn longer stints on my turntable than nearly any other. Layered with an increasingly diverse palette of sound and exceptional wit (the album title alone is one of the best of the year) his group The Intelligence continues to offer up some of the most satisfyingly scrappy garage sonic poetry committed to vinyl. Like album cover’s fake marked down 50¢ price tag, the latest offering from The Intelligence is the hidden, unknown gem in the thriftstore bin that’s absurdly more valuable than the public at large knows.

 

Oceans of the Moon - Oceans of the Moon (Castleface)
To fill that fizzling void that once throbbed with the vibrations of Six Finger Satellite, stemming from the nucleus of Helios Creed and its primitive Chrome origins, Castleface thrusts forth a malformed cyberorganism called Oceans of the Moon, which somehow cycles out the initial heat of its predecessors for a chilly, calculated future shock. Sharp, contained guitar clips cut sparse marks in time as the motorik beat throbs on, with tracks like “I’m On a Roll” sounding something like a Wire LP played at 16rpm. Executed by Providence mutant rock all-stars with a rap sheet that includes La Machine, The Chinese Stars, and Landed and more, Oceans of the Moon delivers the freakified soundtrack for your cyber armageddon post party.

 

Possible Humans - Everybody Split (Trouble In Mind)
A description of Possible Humans’ sound probably wouldn’t get me excited enough to give it much playtime among the giant piles and raging streams of music that offer much more compelling reasons to earn some time between your earholes, but fuckin’ A, this album has completely saturated and colored 2019. Maybe it’s because they’re Aussies and Australia has been churning out a ridiculous amount of quality groups lately, but I still can’t explain why a fairly conventional guitar-based indie rock band can sound as essential as this debut LP. While comparisons to Guided By Voices and Wire are somewhat accurate, the ebb and flow of their songs lean more towards GBV, but with a twinge of dejected collegiate rock like For Against or the psychedelic twist of Radar Eyes. Whatever the reason, it’s earned a lot of spins on the NFZ turntable in 2019 and will likely earn many more.

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

Typically I like to keep these to a tight list of 10. It feels like lazy editing, but what the heck, it’s been a rough year and these excellent releases also helped keep toes tapping and pulses pounding…

Black BeachTapeworm (DSPS)
Boy HarsherCareful (Nude Club)
ExhumedHorror (Relapse)
Foster CareEl Abuso (Total Punk)
The Natural Man Band – Living in a Chemical World With… (Lumpy)
Nots3 (Goner)
ObsessióObsessió (La Vide Es Un Mus)
POW!Shift (Castleface)
RaktaFalha Comum (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Tomb MoldPlanetary Clairvoyance (20 Buck Spin)

Stalins of Sound

December 1st, 2019

Stalins of SoundTank Tracks LP
Slovenly, 2014

While their singles on Volar Records were fun electropunk that paid homage to Métal Urbain and the charming dummy punk of The Spits, this debut from San Diego’s Stalins of Sound ups the recording quality and songwriting to a level that rivals the work of any of their influences or contemporaries like The Lost Sounds. Like the crazed army vet who stole a tank and plowed through the streets of their hometown back in 1995 — the inspiration for the album art and title — the Stalins manage to steer their sound in directions that no one can see coming, pulling the best aspects of drum machine punk ala Big Black, the raw industrial burst of Babyland, and the coming-out-of-your-skin fury of Black Bug.

LINKS

Buy Tank Tracks at Slovenly Records

Stalins of Sound on Bandcamp

Mind Control

November 18th, 2019

Mind Control 7" EP

Mind Control 7″ EP
Forward Records, 2015

Sure, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover nor a record by its sleeve, but when I stumbled across this visually intriguing little gem at a local used vinyl emporium, I was curious enough to throw down the $3 price of admission just to see what it was all about. Needless to say, I’ve discovered that it’s a fine document of midwestern hardcore, played on par and with the requisite intensity and fire of genre aces like Bib, Condominium and Q. Asylum-bound shouts, sudden gear shifts and a relentless track sequence glued together by squealing feedback, always poised to strike with snarling bass lines and a properly muscular guitar assert the . Tracks 1–6 go by in a flash while the final track “Trends” locks into a noisy rotation that sounds something like a skipping Big Black record pounding away while a five-star lunatic positively loses their shit next door. It’s an effective end to a memorable ride that leaves a mark.

Mitraille

November 11th, 2019

Mitraille - Hoopschroot 7"

Hoopschroot 7″ EP
Belly Button Records, 2019

Belgium’s Mitraille crank out six amped-up bangers on this EP that take the bursting-at-the-seams energy of modern day basement hardcore and inject it into a strain of diseased garage punk that detonates with the ferocity of Henry Fiat’s Open Sore and Dean Dirg, except you can’t count on these nutters to stick to the script. Squealing feedback, psychotic in-the-red vocals, false starts and stops, noisy SFX and a track with nothing but bleating horn blurps keep you guessing what’s next and anticipating the next jolt of ripping raw rawk riffage. It’s definitely some of the most fun you’ll find scratched into a 7-inch vinyl disc in the year two-thousand nineteen.

Best Reissues of 2018

January 20th, 2019

The Carbonas

The Carbonas - Your Moral Superiors: Singles and Rarities 2xLP (Goner)
For whatever reason The Carbonas never quite clicked for me despite many attempts and many recommendations from highly trusted sources. They always seemed a bit too conventional during their time but I’ve been slowly backing into their back catalog, mostly on account of band member G.G. King’s first rate output since The Carbonas ended. And while I still lean a bit towards the boundless creative calisthenics of G.G. King’s oeuvre, it’s hard to deny the righteousness of the 37 snotty razor-sharp punk rock bangers by The Carbonas collected on these two slabs ‘o vinyl. Cheers to the Goner label for delivering the the massive payload necessary to finally convert my dumb ass into being a fan.

 

Chandra
Chandra
 - Transportation LP (Telephone Explosion)
Toronto record label Telephone Explosion worked its way into NFZ’s heart through a consistently solid lineup of garage punk’s finest, but recently the sound of the label has mutated into some interesting new directions. In particular, the label has released some really intriguing reissues from artists like Bruce Haack, Steve Roach, Melodic Energy Commission, Fist of Facts, and this gem from 1980, Chandra’s Transportation. Suspicions about the novelty of a 12-year old girl fronting a post-punkish new wave group in the 1980s New York club scene are immediately tabled as the tensely-wound lead track “Opposite” stomps with the righteous thump of ESG, the loose energy of The Fall’s “three R’s” of rock n roll (repetition, repetition, repetition), and the Slits’ dub-fused punk punch. It sounds fresh by today’s standards and even has a bit of a no wave edge with clashing, discordant keyboards and violin that are guaranteed to repel normals and delight weirdos.

 

Cows
Cows
Effete and Impudent Snobs (Amphetamine Reptile)
AmRep’s boutique reissues continue to mine noisy gold from their back catalog, this time resurrecting one of the Cows’ more overlooked records. While every Cows record is worthy of your attention, I’ve always thought this one has a slightly different vibe than the rest of their discography. To me, Effete always felt grimier and more akin to the dingy bludgeoning of Drunks with Guns than the drunken warble of their earlier records or the punchy skronk of their later, more widely known classics like Peacetika and Cunning Stunts. It’s bleak and relentless, caked in noise, almost like an R-rated version of the Brainbombs. Granted, this is still the Cows as evidenced by the stomping old gold classic track “Cartoon Corral”, a song propagated by the first Dope, Guns, and Fucking Up Your Video Deck compilation with a doublespeed oompa oompa wobble kinda like the Butthole Surfers playing a demented polka. A couple other tracks kick up the pace a bit too, but overall, the pace is lumbering and queasy, and a bit gnarlier than their other records. Recommended!

 

ESG
ESG
Come Away with ESG LP (Fire)
Along with the Chandra reissue and Superior Viaduct’s Liquid Liquid reissues a couple years back, the minimalist NYC beat party never has to end. It’s shocking how badass and fresh this 1983 LP still sounds after 35 years. It’s a stone cold classic that defies genre, slipping somewhere in the space between new wave, hip-hop, post-punk. And even though 98% of Record Store Day releases tend to be utter wastes of oil (Sugar Ray on vinyl anyone? Anyone?) causing record dorks to convulse with vulgar spasms of consumerism, it’s essential reissues like this that almost justify the whole lurid affair.

 

The Fall
The Fall
The Rough Trade Singles (Superior Viaduct)
Of the hundreds of releases from The Fall, some of their (specifically Mark E. Smith, R.I.P.) finest moments were captured on wax during their first stint on the Rough Trade label, four of which are collected here. These pillars of postpunk progeny have been reissued in many formats over the 40 years since their initial run, including 7″ box sets and expansive double CD collections of these four singles and a grab bag of related recordings, but the fine team at Superior Viaduct have lovingly packaged these indispensable classics into the perfect format LP with great sound and liner notes by WFMU’s Brian Turner. We lost MES in 2018, but his music lives on.

 

Goblin "Profondo Rosso"
Goblin
Profondo Rosso Original Film Soundtrack (Death Waltz)
With nearly 50 reissues of this classic Argento movie soundtrack (aka Deep Red) and counting, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to experiencing this piece of wild ass Italian prog rock from 1975. This edition from Death Waltz however is one of the best-looking and best sounding editions you’ll hear, as it fully lures you into the era with enough slithering bass lines, percussive calculus, and analog synths to paint your world into the psychedelically-tinted world of psychotic killers and blood red splatter.

 

Hammerhead
Hammerhead
Into The Vortex (Amphetamine Reptile)
Happy to see another one of AmRep’s finest get a reissue of their killer sophomore album, even if it is a limited edition art version that sold out before it was even a twinkle in Tom Hazelmeyer’s eye. But hey, you can still get the CD version or stream it somewhere (gasp!) and revel in one of 1994′s best documents of midwestern noise rock. While Hammerhead’s debut Ethereal Killer still holds up and their raging swansong Duh, The Big City is worthy of your attention as well, Into The Vortex is the record where these Minnesota-via-North Dakota-via-Nowhere spazzoids kicked their amped up their aural attack to a whole new level with obscenely propulsive guttural buzz bombs that leveled every wanker wannabe “grunge” band and their impotent distortion pedals.

 

Punk 45: Approaching the Minimal with Spray Guns
Punk 45: Approaching the Minimal with Spray Guns
  – 5×7″ Box Set (Soul Jazz)
Also justifying Record Store Day 2018, maybe, was this exquisite collection of primo punk singles by the fine folks at Soul Jazz, whose expertly curated Punk 45 compilation series has revived tons of obscure and way out of print gems with copious liner notes, excessive titles and electrified mastering that pumps new life into these lost classics. This set collects full, faithful reproductions of 5 raging 45s, with a mix of large holes and small holes, accurate labels and even the origami-like sleeve from The Scabs 1979 EP. And despite being featured on two of the LP comps, Cleveland’s X____X’s A-side from their second release, “No Nonsense”, not included on the LPs or featured as the comp title like the B-side for this limited edition box set, is an essential chunk of mangled, tense weirdo punk that still sounds fresh 38 years later. Also included is the stomping Bizarros/Rubber City Rebels split 7″, the KBD-approved Hollywood Squares “Hillside Strangler” 7″ and the Flesh Eaters’ essential “Disintegration Nation” 7″ EP from 1978, all lovingly reproduced

 

Simply Saucer
Simply Saucer
Cyborgs Revisited 2xLP (In The Red)
Cult archival collection that’s been issued by at least four other record labels gets a deluxe double LP treatment from the always reliable In The Red label.  The 16 tracks here, 6 studio recordings from 1974 and an extended live set from 1975, demonstrate how completely out of time and ahead of their time they were. There’s a touch of punk snarl, some expansive VU-like jams (whose influence is captured in 2 additional bonus tracks, “Sweet Jane” and “I’m Waiting for The Man” with a download code) and a wacked out space vibe that falls somewhere between the trance state of Hawkwind and the jarring sci-fried buzz of Chrome.

 

Unwound
Unwound
Leaves Turn Inside You 2xLP (Numero Group)
In addition to a stellar box set reissue campaign from 2013–2016, the Numero Group saw fit to provide a deluxe reissue of Unwound’s 2001 swansong, Leaves Turn Inside You in 2018, a record which marked the end of one of the most dependably solid bands of the 1990s without much fanfare. At the time of its release, Unwound had evolved so much from their 1991 debut that most saw this double album simply as the next step of the band’s forward thinking approach to post/noise/wave/indie/core/whatever/etc, rather than the final transmission of a group whose 10 years of constant touring, evolution and reach were clearly taken for granted. While Unwound seemed to be a known quantity in 2001, Leaves proved to be an elusive beast that could be identified as Unwound, but an alien form of Unwound that had evolved into a hard-to-pin genre in a league all of its own. Kudos to Numero Group for resurrecting this monumental document.

 

Vector Command
Vector Command
System 3 LP (Hozac)
System 3 is a previously unreleased archival album by two members of Crime that taps into a sci-fi strain of chilly electro postpunk orbiting in the same stratosphere as early Chrome. While not as cut-up and revolutionary as Chrome, Vector Command certainly stands on its own as a noteworthy otherworldly demonstration of punk’s wide-open possibilities in 1983 as members of one of U.S. punk’s earliest groups (Crime’s Hot Wire My Heart 7″ released in 1976) could make a departure this dramatic from the codification of the genre in the early ’80s. Deviating from the fiery stomp Crime was known for, Vector Command took a detached, robotic approach that coils like mildly-stimulating electrodes through the cerebellum with seductive, analog electronic buzz and thump.