Record Reviews

1984: W Holdzie Fanatykom Marszu: LP

Absolutely fantastic reissue of early recordings from this cold wave band that was active in Poland in the mid-to-late ’80s. Comparisons to the Red Wave bands (Kino, et cetera) are impossible to ignore, as 1984 were probably working with the same influences and source material, though the guitars here are more prominent and this feels much more organic due to the fact that the songs were all recorded live. I don’t want that to dissuade anyone reading this who doesn’t like live recordings, as the sound is clear and the mix is very well balanced. In fact, I listened to this twice before I even read the description and didn’t even notice that it was live. If you are into the Minimal Wave comps or have even a passing interest in dark wave/cold wave, then this is essential listening from both a historical perspective as well as an aesthetic perspective. Highest recommendations. –Ian Wise (Pasazer)

ABORTED TORTOISE: An Beach: LP

Sometimes a band thrives in spite of a truly wretched name, and, well, Aborted Tortoise is one of those bands. Swaggering, fuzzed-out garage stuff that isn’t afraid to go knee-deep in Dick Dale-esque surf waters, or rapid fire, forty-second blasts of hardcore. Confident as hell, and surprising: there’s a decent amount of moving parts here, and between the disparate elements (the album cover, the band name, the surf/garage/hardcore amalgam), it shouldn’t necessarily work, but it does. Pretty dang good. –Keith Rosson (Bachelor)

ABRISS: Dachlattenkult: LP

It doesn’t seem that long since the last Abriss album came out—less than eighteen months actually—but I’m not complaining. The band manages to cram nineteen songs onto one side of vinyl, which should hint at the brevity of the individual tracks which average out at around a minute each. It’s gruff, rough and ready, yet tight as fuck, keeping a brisk momentum up throughout. If anything, this is a bit better than the band’s self-titled debut. Definitely worth checking out. –Rich Cocksedge (Twisted Chords, mailorder@twisted-chords.de, twisted-chords.de)

ACTIVE MINDS / LOS REZIOS: Split: 7″

Excellent split record from the political, crust/anarcho vets Active Minds, playing precisely what you’d expect. The flip is a Peruvian band, Los Rezios, doing some gruffer, more traditional d-beat tunes in true form. Those familiar with the label will know what they’re getting into, and anyone else, including Europeans who are into this genre, would surely have positive things to say. Always exciting to see international bands on American labels. –Steve Adamyk (sphc.bigcartel.com)

ADOLESCENTS: Cropduster: LP

This is an incredibly hard review to write. As I am sure you are aware, legendary Adolescents bass player Steve Soto passed away just prior to the release of this album. Will this be the final Adolescents album? Only time will tell, but I do know that if it is, it is a fine way to cap off an extraordinary band. In the modern era of punk rock, we have seen many of the original bands get back together in varying capacities, but none have been more prolific and continuously great than the Adolescents. Since their return with 2005’s OC Confidential, the band released five more albums bursting with songs both well written and incredibly topical. How can you call it a reunion act when they have consistently shown that they are better now than they were in their heyday? That is a bold statement and you should know I make it seriously. I consider them to be the best band to come out of Southern California during that era. Cropduster is taking our current situation to task. Vitriol has never been so easy to sing along with, and if there was any doubt who the main target is, look no further than the cover art depicting Forty-five literally cropdusting a crowd of Americans. This album is the Adolescents at their finest. Rest in Peace, Steve. Thank you for leaving us with one more amazing album. –Ty Stranglehold (Concrete Jungle)

ALIANS: Mega Yoga: LP

I really believe in keeping history alive; if we don’t document what was past how can we learn for the future? This band was one of the pioneers of the Polish ’90s scene, when getting music out to the world was at best difficult, at worst impossible. This band sounds like the shit I would hear at free festivals in the ’80s—punk mixed with reggae and ska. I’d bet my months wages there’s at least two people in this band with dreads. I believe records like this should exist as a historical document of a scene where it was near impossible to put out records. Will I ever listen to it again? No. –Tim Brooks (Pasazer, pasazer.pl)

ARCTIC FLOWERS: Straight to the Hunter: LP

I have been a fan of Portland, Ore.’s Arctic Flowers for quite some time now (I want to say it was 2010 when I saw them play in a warehouse in Austin, Texas at 4 AM—I was instantly hooked). It was my first realization that I really like post-punk. I mean, as a kid in the ‘80s bands like The Cure and Joy Division were always around in the punk circles I travelled in, but it was always periphery music to me. Arctic Flowers opened me up to other stuff that was going on now. Cat Party, Nervosas, Lunch, The Nervous, Red Dons, and Criminal Code—all really amazing bands. I guess you’re never too old to branch out! Anyways, Straight to the Hunter is AF’s third full-length album and they continue their running streak of amazing releases. As I play this over and over, the words that keep appearing in my brain are “beautiful intensity.” This record is heavy yet has a way of relaxing me. They have a knack for building up the tension in a song, then throwing a stop in just the right place before everything explodes. It gives me chills every time. This is a self-released effort by the band and I don’t imagine they will hang around for very long, so I’d jump on a copy as soon as possible. –Ty Stranglehold (Self-released)

ARMADA, LA: Anti-Colonial Vol. 1: CD/LP

La Armada is one of the hardest working bands in recent memory. Formed in 2001 in the Dominican Republic, for the last decade the quintet has made Chicago the homebase for their relentless touring and recording schedule. Their most recent release, Anti-Colonial Vol. 1, not only captures everything I’ve come to know and love about the band, but also marks a new direction for them. Long-time fans have come to expect an album of furious metallic riffs, nuanced song writing, and every member’s brilliant musicianship, of which La Armada more than deliver. The record manages to capture all the raw intensity of the band’s live performances. Where things take a different turn, is in terms of lyrics, with Anti-Colonial Vol. 1 marking the first time, to my knowledge, that the band has written songs in English. The raw anti-capitalist lyrics of past releases are still present, but in a language that will reach a wider audience. I applaud the band for making this bold step, after previously having only written songs in their native Spanish, and I feel that with the vitalness of their message, and the anthemic delivery of their message, the band have more than succeeded in this transition. Catch the band on tour when they roll through your town and be sure to grab this record. –Paul J. Comeau (armadahardcore.com)

AUTOGRAMM: What R U Waiting 4?: LP

I was a child of the early ’80s and as such I have an unabashed love of many of the radio hits of the era. In particular, I was an instant fan of anything in the synth-soaked “new wave” pop and rock genre. Devo, Men At Work and The Cars still rate as some of my favorite bands. Autogramm encapsulates those bands exquisitely. It doesn’t sound like they are a modern band with an ’80s schtick at all. If this just came on without me knowing anything about it, I would swear it was released in 1983. The song writing, the pacing, and of course the sound, all scream skinny ties and cocaine nervousness. This album makes me so damn happy! This is what I thought punk rock sounded like before I knew what punk rock sounded like, if that makes any sense at all. If any of the jumble of words above jumps out at you, you really should check out Autogramm. Oh yeah. Hand claps! There are fucking hand claps! I love this so much! –Ty Stranglehold (Nevado, autogramm.bandcamp.com)

AWEFUL KANAWFUL: Clam’s Cassino: LP

Talented and ambitious (there’s two red alerts right there), these guys, whether intentionally or unintentionally, sound like some shockingly mutated strain of late ’60s/early ’70s radio pop, sprayed with so many structural and musical left turns that it is quite unnecessary for them to come out and say “WE COULD BE PLAYING JAZZ RIGHT NOW YOU KNOW” as the music just about shouts it into your hearing aid for you. As a result, we get the cloying aspects of pop music, coupled with the why-the-fuck-are-you-trying-my-patience-like-this aspects of art rock. They’re not entirely unsuccessful in their attempt to do whatever it is they’re trying to do—there are certainly some cool parts to this record, and I appreciate their clutches at greatness—but, overall, they remind me of what a completely undanceable version of Oingo Boingo (i.e., Danny Elfman’s ten-piece band, before he got famous doing gimpy movie music) might sound like if O.B.’s recording budget was approximately what one’d pay for a decent plate of pancakes. I’ll hate myself for saying this, but I’d like to hear them with, say, Magic Kids money in the studio budget. It might wind up sounding worse, but then we’d know for sure. Stay golden, Ponyboys! Unless you are not currently golden. I can’t really tell. BEST SONG: I like the “Help” section of “Help/Vanity/Caravan.” BEST SONG TITLE: “Motorwonder.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: The first time I heard anyone say “Awful Kanawful” was when some older kids said it to my cousin, when he was trick-or-treating in his Evel Knievel costume in the ’70s. –Rev. Nørb (Chocolate Chin)