Record Reviews

ANARCHISTWOOD: The Nasty Album: LP

What the fuck is this? Weirdo hippy anarchist art punk from the U.K., like a psychotic mix of Crass, Gang Of Four, and Frank Zappa—weird squeaks and bleeps, manic time signatures, and a garbled, strange message. The pictures online of the main guy plus supporting band has them all dressed up in costumes with him wriggling and writhing into the crowd. This is the sound and vision of my absolute worst nightmare. You know when the CIA use torture, they blast high pitch sounds to confuse the detainees? Well, if they used this, I’d sing like a fucking canary. Un-fucking believably terrible. –Tim Brooks (Ex Gratia, exgratiarecording.bandcamp.com)

ANTHER: Dark Blooms: CS

Portland, Ore. four piece that chugs along with a ‘90s flourish. No lo-fi production on this tape. The songs sound crisp and clean. If Elastica and The Breeders ever caught your ear, this may do the same. The tape comes with a digital download that features one extra song not on the physical release. “Bare and Bone” veers into Pylon territory while the last song… well I’m not going to blow your cover, Anther. Buy the tape and you will find out what ‘80s song they tackle. –Sean Koepenick (Self-released, antherpdx@gmail.com)

ANTI-SYSTEM: Useless Generation: CD

Is every single band from the ‘70s and ‘80s reforming? Jaysus. Anti-System were one of my faves from back in the day, with their uncompromising anarcho thrash and fiercely anti-government/pro-animal rights lyrics (two members went to prison for animal liberation). Three of five original members isn’t bad odds and the result isn’t a million miles away from their last records—somewhere between Icons Of Filth and the Varukers. Three new songs and a couple of reworked oldies make for a pretty great return, all being said. –Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage, bosstuneage.bigcartel.com)

BABE WAVES: Horizon Lines: CD

This new EP from Bellingham, Wash.’s Babe Waves is everything you hope still exists in small, supportive DIY scenes that are tucked in tiny corners of the country. Playing around with genre (or not giving a shit about it in the first place), Horizon Lines blends the best parts of dissonant post-hardcore, assertive queercore, and anthem-y basement punk. It’s just very good. In the hands of three musicians who seem to be experimenting with an admirable combination of risk and care, songs like “Where Is the Line” and “Generation Gaslight” grapple with the political commitments of punk in such an earnest way that it would be silly to get defensive over it. This is a promising EP from a band that is keeping alive not just the sound but the spirit. –Theresa W. (Self-released)

BAD BREEDING: Divide: LP

Bad Breeding hail from the U.K. and I suppose that’s a good a place as any to trace their influences. Anarcho punk is the template but this record is far from being straight forward. The bright spots quickly lose their shine in a wall of discordant guitar noise, lurching drum beats, and cathartic vocals. If Nick Blinko started a band with folks from Icons Of Filth, Whitehouse, and Conflict but none of the members knew each other, then this might have been the result. There’s a well-written manifesto included if you’re just as sick and tired of the lies and bullshit we’re being fed both here in the States and across the pond and need some fodder. –Juan Espinosa (Iron Lung)

BAD SAM: Bring Me the Head of…: LP/CD

Out of the myriad punk vocalists I’ve heard, Dean Beddis remains one of the most distinctive and easily recognizable. From his days fronting Cowboy Killers through to Bad Sam, it is impossible to confuse him with anyone else. Some of that quality comes from me having known him for over thirty years—thus being accustomed to his vocal tone from those early days—but even without that, it’s hard to see how it would be to forget his voice. Bad Sam’s third album finds the band with a noticeably more imposing and combative sound than on previous releases and this is emphasized on the four tracks off the Newport Hotel album which have been re-recorded and now kick even more ass. In the words of the man himself, they have “more bollox speed and bits and bobs,” and I will testify to that. This reminds me of the D.O.A. and Jello Biafra collaboration but with a more succinct approach to lyrical content. –Rich Cocksedge (Self-released, kriminalgood@gmail.com)

BAD SLEEP: Self-tilted: EP

How could you possibly go wrong with a release from both Rumbletowne and Get Better Records? I’m a big fan of nearly the entire output of both labels and Bad Sleep is certainly no exception. This three piece out of Olympia, Wash. steadfastly carry the torch of that RVIVR brand of pop punk—the kind that pushes the agenda of inclusion, neatly packaged in melodic and raucous tunes. I hesitate to call them sloppy as it carries negative connotations, but I really mean it in more of the loose playing style of the musicians who are absolutely competent at their instruments. Comparisons in the wheelhouse of Benny The Jet Rodriguez, Lipstick Homicide, and This Is My Fist! come to mind. Songs are largely about relationships, as though plucked from an angsty composition notebook full of regrets but with enough distance and maturity to have come out on the other side of hurt. A sampling of their lyrics that really struck me are, “I’ve calculated again and again / You don’t add up ‘cus I’m subtracting” (“Subtracting”), and “I lost your number / All I know are dial tones / Now I don’t think about you when I’m alone” (“Don’t Care”). It’s beautiful, smart, dancey punk and I love everything about it. –Kayla Greet (Rumbletowne / Get Better, getbetterrecordsnh.limitedrun.com)

BALLOON FLIGHTS: Staten Island: LP

Anthem-heavy pop punk along the same trajectories as RVIVR, Latterman, et al. There’s definitely a strong Hüsker Dü/Replacements vibe in these songs. The choruses drop with such loud statements of purpose, each built up in a cathartic crescendo. The closest sonic comparison that springs to mind is mid-career Superchunk. It has the same indie sensibilities, with a similar punk swagger. Pretty good record. I particularly recommend the track “Josh Fury.” –Bryan Static (No Tomorrow / Torreznetes / Kids Don’t Follow / Rufus Recordings)

BASTARDS OF FATE: Suck the Light Out / Way Else: 2 x LP

This is the most amount of music that I have the least amount of words for. Not only did I get this full length record of new material, but it came with a second full length of demos spanning their whole career. Now, having never heard this band before, I can’t very well comment on the demo versions of songs that have found their home on other records. However, I can talk about the synth-heavy fever dream that is Suck the Light Out. There’s a lot of controlled chaos on this record—in a way that I really don’t know how to describe. Side A starts out with church bells that fade into tambourine and keyboards that sound equal parts sci-fi, art rock, and fantasy. Frontperson Doug Cheatwood has this larger-than-life voice that I just can’t put my finger on, but my gut wants to compare it to Dan Vanian (The Damned) and Danny Elfman (Oingo Boingo). Every song on this record is like a grab bag of audio samples. There’s really no telling what twists and turns it’s going to take, but count on it being a wild ride. Initially, I was so confused by it that I didn’t like it, but after spin three it’s really growing on me. –Kayla Greet (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)

BASTARDS OF FATE: Suck the Light Out / Way Else: 2 x LP

To call this “all over the map” is to understate things a bit. Its core, as far as I can tell, is prime ‘70s art rock. From there they delve into a mélange of wildly contradictory subgenre and sub-strata, often at the same time: poppy yet dissonant, catchy yet impenetrably dense, enticing yet caustic. One second you think you’re listening to Roxy Music, and the next the singer sounds like he’s channeling his inner Muppet. And yet, it’s all deftly executed by a band that knows its way around what seems to be everything. One big, gloriously sloppy and schizophrenic mess this is. Huge thumbs up from this corner. –Jimmy Alvarado (HHBTM)