Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake Issue 96: Erica Freas, The Ergs!, Generacion Suicida, Low Culture, Sex Stains, Super Unison

Illustration by Shane Milner, http://metamop.tumblr.com

ERICA FREAS: Patient Ones: LP
In the effort of full disclosure: I would follow Erica into the most perilous of situations if she asked me to. I trust her. Keeping that in mind, listening to and appreciating her music feels like a miniscule act of dedication compared to what I’m ready to put on the line. With a resilient and comforting voice that’s attached to an equally unwavering and determined conscience, these are epic examples of how the pain and fear in this world can be approached and presented in a way that makes it all a little better. This isn’t just RVIVR unplugged; it’s bare, it’s bedrock, it’s what you find in dreaming. It’s a life lived by example and the sounds that transpire from such actions. Inspiring. –Daryl (Rumbletowne / Don Giovanni)

BLIND SHAKE, THE: Celebrate Your Worth: CD/LP
It’s been a few years since I reviewed The Blind Shake and even though the line-up has remained steady I feel the band’s sound has progressed tremendously. I read a past review I wrote of them and found they sounded akin to an act that should’ve been on Amphetamine Reptile Records back in the 1990s. Now they have much more in common with some of the dirty, driving punk labelmates on Goner Records. “Corpse on a Roof” especially shows this with its aggressive, hypnotic guitar riff and energetic tempo. The last four songs on the album are especially strong. They’ve got a brawny pace and drew me in a great deal. I found myself tapping my foot and bobbing my head a lot with Celebrate Your Worth. The first part of the album reminded me more of Toys That Kill. I’m digging it. –Kurt Morris (Goner)

BUNDLES / DAN WEBB AND THE SPIDERS: Split: LP
DWATS should be huge, man. They’re prolific, catchy, smart. Their side of the split is a solid rock framework that reminds me a bit of the stuff Nato Coles is doing—a handful of buoyant, confident garage songs on display here. But the real jaw-dropper of this split is Bundles, who come out of left field and just level the room. They play fierce and spirited punk with incredible lyrics, heart-rent vocals, and revved-up choruses that just floored me. The over-the-top emotions of Off With Their Heads, the serrated edges of Shinobu’s “Trepanning,” and New Junk City’s hybrid of punk/Americana are merged together and then spread out over four incredible songs. Winner of this review batch for the illustrious “Band I’m Freaking Out Over” award. This one’s heartily recommended, and another high five to Shawn Higgins for some great album art. –Keith Rosson (Gunner USA)

CHOKE CHAINS: Cairo Scholars: 7”
All the world’s a garage, and all the men and women merely players in a million garage bands… or so it often feels, as the loosely defined genre continues to dominate the musical landscape. Different groups may integrate surf sounds, dabble in shoegaze, or go full ‘70s throwback, but the current glut of garage rock often leaves me scrambling to find synonyms for “lo-fi,” “fuzz,” and, well, “garage”—the internet recommends “car shed.” Luckily, Grand Rapids four-piece, Choke Chains, sound less like a band intentionally adopting a lo-fi, fuzzed-out, garage aesthetic and more like a band who just feel most at home playing between your mom’s 1984 Chrysler LeBaron and a giant stack of paint cans. The A side of this translucent orange 7” single, “Cairo Scholars,” is dark and weird and raucous and catchy, at once evoking punk, goth, psych, noise, and, yeah, garage. The bass is menacing, the drums are tight, the guitar hangs back only to descend into churning chaos during the track’s denouement, and the vocals chomp and tear while sustaining a too-cool-for-this-shit attitude. Side B houses a toothy, grimy cover of The Deviants’ “Billy the Monster” that preserves the original’s creepy atmosphere, while carefully excising its more circus-y inclinations. Choke Chains’ reverence for their forebears—namely the Stooges—is clear, but communicated through their swagger, not cheap mimicry. –Kelley O’Death (Hound Gawd!, info@houndgawd.com, houndgawd.com)

COWBOYS: Self-titled: LP
Ah, it warms my heart to know a band from Bloomington, Indiana is hot (says the Internet). I lived in Bloomington for many years and I’ll always have good memories of the great Midwestern bands I saw and played shows with. My Midwest years taught me that people cared about playing and supporting music (stuff it, East and West Coasts). By the time I left Bloomington in 2015, The Cowboys were making waves locally, but I thought they’d disappear like so many other good bands that suddenly vanish back into the nowhere from whence they came. I only saw them twice, because they would do stupid things like play house shows on a Tuesday night, and I would do stupid things like have to get up early Wednesday morning to go to work. Fortunately, The Cowboys have picked it up, touring and putting out this here album on the hot label Lumpy Records (one look at the cover and you can tell it’s a Lumpy release). I’ve read some reviews of The Cowboys, and more than one called them garage punk. I have to disagree, even though “Thumbs” is a total rocker. From the first I heard them, I thought Cowboys had more of an early ‘80s California feel. (They have a Dead Kennedys-esque guitar tone I haven’t heard from any other band of youngsters, and check out the Jello-like vibrato on “I Spy” or “Come All Ye Faithful.”) The cover is a nice, heavy stock with a screened cover. All the songs are good, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. “She Wants to Be French” teases “My Sharona” but gets wiggy near the end. “Clown Car” plays with reverb and feedback to excellent squiggly results. Midwestern punk gives me hope for music today. –Sal Lucci (Lumpy, spottedrace.bigcartel.com)

DEAD MEADOW: Howl: CS
This is probably a cheap shot journalistically, but I want to take advantage of the opportunity of Burger reissuing Dead Meadow’s second album Howl to mention a band playing extraordinary, magma-laced stoner rock since ‘98 that never seems to get anywhere. John Peel asked them to record for his show based on their first album. Matador signed them (which might have been part of the problem). They had tour support. And they’re still going. Regular touring. New album. I know what you’re thinking: you think this band sucks and I’m just doing that old man thing where I wax poetic about a group that’s been around forever. But I’m really not. I’m actually part of the problem. I forget about them from time to time. I had the pleasure of reviewing their live show for The Tucson Weekly a few years ago and the first thought I had was: “That band is still playing?!” I don’t have to tell you nobody was there. I’ve seen them in D.C., the band’s hometown, and no one has been there except those people who always go to shows. Since ‘98 they have mostly only attracted the attention of those people who always go to shows. And John Peel. This band has been solid since their first record, producing several albums of mountain range sound waves made up of highs of stoner fury and lows of thoughtful fuzz psych. Howl is an album, not just a collection of songs. And you can now get it for your tape player for six fucking dollars! I’m sure the sales from their cassette reissues will buy them a nice meal. If you’re into heavy psych or stoner rock, just take the leap on this one. –Billups Allen (Burger)

DIE GROUP: Self-titled: EP
I caught Die Group at 2 AM at a Gonerfest13 after party with about two hundred other people, packed like sweaty drunk sardines in a dive bar. Needless to say, it was pretty fucking glorious. These L.A. punks offer up four slammers, and it’s a hot mess mix between Giorgio Murderer and Devo ala “Mongoloid,” served up with just enough scum and grit to give their minimalistic garage punk sound some real teeth. Legit. –Camylle Reynolds (Sex Tape)

DIRTY KILLS: Dead End Shithole: 7”
The New Brunswick three-piece, Dirty Kills, are the definition of no-frills, evoking the relative haplessness and raw charm of a high school punk band formed as a catharsis for small town ennui. While some of the catchier chord progressions on Dead End Shithole tease a sense of optimism or hope, those musical sunbeams are quickly negated by lyrics about being broke, drunk, and directionless in a literal and figurative rut. All four tracks visit and revisit themes of wanting to escape while languishing in resignation. The apparently stream-of-consciousness lyrics are prosaic, often forgoing rhyme schemes completely as though the crushing weight of Dirty Kills’ desperate reality has left them too jaded and exhausted for poetry. However, words that may seem clumsy on the page become perfectly elegiac when paired with the band’s loose, honest, barely-keeping-this-van-on-the-road playing style. Dead End Shithole is above all authentic and will surely resonate with punks who have spent time—or who are currently serving time—in shitty nowhere towns. But for those who have gotten out and left it all behind, this stroll down memory alleyway may be a bit too real for comfort. –Kelley O’Death (Tour Van, tourvanrecs@hotmail.com, tourvanrecords.storenvy.com)

DOUBLE CROSS: Self-titled: CS
A non-stop hardcore onslaught from a Bay Area band so new they haven’t even played their first show yet. Double Cross channel the best in early ‘80s American hardcore while giving it that old, familiar SF/Oakland boot to the face. The lyrics paint a dismal picture of our world’s rapid decline and the mental toll it can take. As hardcore becomes more and more ironic (yo, your expensive running shoes are so clean they didn’t even leave a scuff on my face after you roundhouse kicked me standing next to the pit) it’s reassuring to know that there are still bands screaming about the same relatable, fucked-up shit that consumes my brain on my bus rides to work and back from the “nice” neighborhoods. –Juan Espinosa (Tankcrimes, tankcrimes.com)

ERGS!, THE: Goddamn Death Dedication: 7”
And just like that everything seems normal and okay in this world. If just for a little bit. The Brothers Erg truly are the pinnacle of music nerdom meets technical proficiency, and they’re not hiding anything on Goddamn Death Dedication. You may think you’ve outgrown ultra-poppy punk songs about sentimental weenie stuff, but you definitely have not when it comes to this band. Your Ergs collection is not complete if you haven’t picked up this record. Far from a half-baked reunion record, this is as real as ever. New Jersey is alright if you like saxophones. –Daryl (Whoa Oh)

FOUR LIGHTS: Death to False Posi: CD
This is a band named after a line from a seminal Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Chain of Command.” In this episode Captain Picard is tortured by the Cardassians who offer to stop only if he admits to seeing five lights instead of the four that are actually there. It’s an exercise in control over a captor and is an homage to the same test they do on Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four. My point is that this is a band with strength and integrity. On paper, they’re just another pop punk band to join in the ranks of melodic songs about girls. Move one layer past that and you’ll find a group with smart, heartfelt lyrics, warm tones, and sweet harmonies. I mean this in the nicest way, but this is punk’s version of easy listening. The title track hits on topics that are fairly uncommon in the pop punk world. Instead of glossing over bummery emotions or sugar coating the rough stuff of life, they put a spotlight on it. Among those honest lyrics there are couplets that contain a tinge of apathy and realness such as: “I don’t wanna change the world / I’m just looking for a way to get the girl.” On the flipside, you can look at that as a commentary on bands that push a manifesto for social change when, in all honesty, they just want to write love songs. On a side note, I was listening to a lot of Samiam recently and noticed a striking similarity in the vocal stylings of Jason Beebout and Four Lights’ vocalist Dan Gardner. Death to False Posi is a nice diversion from your typical bands of guys with beards, while toeing the line close enough to fit in to that very same demographic. –Kayla Greet (Bomb Pop)

GENERACION SUICIDA: Sombras: LP
I’m seemingly at a loss for words. What is there left to say about South Central punk-as-fuck heroes Generacion Suicida except that I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised that they get tighter with each recording. I’m not surprised that they blow band after band off the stage when they’re the opening act. I’m not surprised that they’ve completed several successful tours in Europe, Japan, Mexico, and Central/South America. I’m definitely not surprised that Sombras is every bit as powerful and catchy as their previous full length and singles. If you’re a fan then you probably already own this. If you’re new to the dance then prepare to meet your new favorite band. –Juan Espinosa (Going Underground)

GERBILS, THE: Dead Detroit: LP
One of my prized treasures from 1981 is a (probably non-functional now) cassette on which Barry Henssler of the Necros dubbed me demos of the cool Detroit/Toledo area bands who had yet to appear on vinyl—Negative Approach, the Meatmen, Violent Apathy, Bored Youth. I don’t remember ever hearing about the Gerbils, which is a shame because I probably would have liked them more than Violent Apathy (or Youth Patrol), though less than Negative Approach, the Meatmen, or Bored Youth. Since these recordings (“from the original master tapes!”—still kinda sounds like a cassette Barry would have dubbed me) were from mid-1982, I can only surmise that this Detroit four-piece missed the boat on getting on the Process of Elimination EP, and were lost thru the cracks after that (a review of their GM Working Man cassette in the third MRR notwithstanding). Anyway, this band generally keeps things at the rapid tempo which defined the era (the drummer sounds a bit like the dude from The Freeze), and adds an occasional Screamers-like synth on a few songs, to interesting effect on songs with decidedly un-synthy song titles like “I Don’t Need No Friends” “Kill Everyone,” “Now I Want to Die,” and “What Don’t I Hate?” I also wanna say the singer sounds a bit like Darby Crash, but maybe that’s just because “Gerbils” comes right before “Germs” in the dictionary. In any event, if you put this collection up against all the other punk records released in calendar year 1982, you could conceivably wrangle a B-minus out of it, which ain’t bad, all things considered. BEST SONG: “I Hate the Law.” BEST SONG TITLE: “What Don’t I Hate?” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: Design by Jason Willis! ­–Rev. Nørb (Lysergic Sound Distributors, lsdsounds.com)

INFERNO: Anti Hagenbach Tape–The Beginning: LP
I’ve publicly stated my adoration of Inferno many times over the years and anyone familiar with their crazed brand of hardcore understands. Like Void, Deep Wound, and other bands from the early ‘80s, theirs is a sound that precariously pirouettes on the razor’s edge that separates “tight” delivery from absolute chaos—there are no shortage of moments where it sounds like they’re on the verge of completely collapsing, yet they never do. This look back at their inaugural demo tape—its first time on vinyl, I believe—shows this quality was there in their sound at the very beginning and they only learned over time to pull off the hat trick at much faster velocities. Very fuggin’ cool to see this available for a new gen of punks to soak up and marvel. Thumbs way, way up here. ­–Jimmy Alvarado (Power It Up)

IZZY TRUE: Nope: LP
Similar to label mates All Dogs and Outer Spaces, Izzy True, from Ithaca, N.Y., performs ‘90s indie pop (think Stephen Malkmus, PJ Harvey, and Breeders) with sparse drums, a bass that thumps like a heartbeat, and a barebones production. The star, though, is Izzy Reidy’s achingly assured vocals that resound through gritted teeth, like on “Jamie”: “Had you only been some villain / Don’t think I’d have been less willing.” It’s in these moments—where self-discovery, anxiety, and raw sexuality drip from shimmering guitars and plaintive melodies—where Izzy True stands apart. On Nope, Reidy grapples with magic, divination, and witchcraft, and oddly enough, this album has found me at my most receptive because my best friend, a badass bruja, read my tarot for the first time only a few weeks ago. I’m tempted to call it fate. (In fact, the album art depicts a tarot spread of the World, the Hermit, and the Fool.) Regardless, Reidy’s voice and lyrics speak to me. “Mr. Romance,” “Total Body Erasure,” and “Nope” will be on repeat for a while. –Sean Arenas (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)

LOW CULTURE: “Hard to Stay” b/w “Lonely Summer”: 7”
Side A’s an almost power pop number that brings to mind the Tranzmitors, which is not a comparison I would’ve leaned towards in a bajillion years when it came to this band. Flip’s an almost ‘50s doo-wop deal, run through a strainer full of fuzzed amps and then blanched over low heat with more than a pinch of melody. I can see why these wouldn’t have fit that well on a full-length; they’re a little different. Nicely done. Really enjoy the faithful packaging homage to the singles of yore. (Kisses fingertips.) Mwah. –Keith Rosson (La-Ti-Da)

M.D.C. / RESTARTS: Mobocracy: LP
To say that M.D.C. is a band that means a lot to me is a gross understatement. Like many kids who got into punk in the dark years just after the first hardcore wave came and went, M.D.C. was one of the first fast bands I listened to. I was instantly hooked. I kept up with them over the years, and even some of their less-known releases are favorite records of mine. Today, as a public defender, M.D.C. serves as the soundtrack for my occupation. It’s been an exciting time as an M.D.C. fan lately, with the release of frontman Dave Dictor’s memoir, Dictor’s being interviewed by Rolling Stone after Green Day referenced M.D.C. in an anti-Trump chant on national TV, and Beer City’s dedication to preserving M.D.C.’s recorded output. This reissue of M.D.C.’s 2009 split with the U.K. streetpunk band Restarts is Beer City’s twelfth vinyl M.D.C. reissue, packaged beautifully on color vinyl. Dictor’s signature vocal stylings and political lyrics shine on this release, and the Restarts side is full of the catchy tropes Restarts are known for. This reissue came out on Black Friday 2016. Were you beating up your fellow citizens at some shitty chain store, or were you looking for this record at your cool locally owned business? Mobocracy is a must. The world needs M.D.C. more than it ever did. Thankfully, Dave Dictor and company are still there for us. –Art Ettinger (Beer City)

MAKEWAR: Developing a Theory of Integrity: CD
I don’t keep up with Red Scare Records much these days, but everything I hear from them still manages to be the catchiest goddamn thing I’ve ever heard. Shit. MakeWar is a pop punk band that uses a little of that scratchy raise-a-beer flannel-punk to balance out the earnest early-2000s emo pop sound that’s really at the heart of this. I’m thinking Brand New’s pop-punkiest era mixed in with something a little gruffer, like Strung Out or The Menzingers. Clean and accessible as can be, but it’s a lot more interesting than the slick and shiny Warped Tour fare that description might suggest. This album took about a song and a half to convince me that I’m gonna start hearing a lot more about MakeWar very soon. –Indiana Laub (Red Scare, toby@redscare.net, redscare.net / Gunner, mail@gunnerrecords.com, gunnerrecords.com)

NOFX: First Ditch Effort: CD
Fans tend to shrug off longevity these days. Now that punk’s truly aged, the list of bands to hit the thirty-year mark has grown exponentially. NOFX have hit that milestone, but let’s not forget we’re working with a practically original lineup here. That’s no easy feat. Really. The members of the three-decade club that have that many original members are few and far between. These guys deserve some major praise. I suppose if you use the argument that they’ve received plenty, that would be a fair point. But you’d be overlooking how the sheer musicianship behind these new songs (and all of them, for that matter). Naysayers play the “punk” card well—you know, they’re a shitty band playing trivially simplistic songs. They’re not, and they never have been. Saying NOFX can’t play their instruments would be a laughable offence. First Ditch Effort is a NOFX record through and through. Maybe not as many ripping solos and time changes as Ribbed or The Longest Line, but not significantly far off either. It’s a healthy dose of classic NOFX, a band that never takes themselves too seriously. The new record has a couple slabs from recent singles (“Sid & Nancy,” “Six Years on Dope”) and a nice homage to Tony Sly. Longtime fans won’t be disappointed. –Steve Adamyk (Fat, Fatwreck.com)

NOPES: Never Heard of It: LP
This is already one of my favorite records of the year, so you can imagine how pleased I was to see this in my stack of records to review this issue. This is a record that isn’t easy to pigeonhole, as I hear all kinds of things while listening to it. Imagine Land Speed Record era-Hüsker Dü mixed with the overall sensibility (but not necessarily the sound) of The A-Frames with Greg Ginn sitting in as a guest guitarist, and you’ll be left with something in the area of what this is like. The songs have definite sugary hooks, but they’re covered in a layer of frantic, somewhat angular and spastic guitar work with a driving rhythm section. It’s good, really good even, and comes highly recommended. –Mark Twistworthy (Magnetic Eye, merhq.net)

RAMONA: Sad Brunch: CD
This band is gorgeous. Yes, I sometimes describe sounds with visual descriptors, and, no, I’m not one of those folks with synesthesia but it sure seems like a cool affliction. Ramona balances quickness and gruff vocals with softness and tender vocals. And then you know what they do? Hit you with feelings. I know, it’s kinda fucked up to come out of nowhere like that, right? Get ready for a silly interaction between your heart and your brain. One is going to tell you that it’s just pretty music and it warrants a smile. The other is going to remind you of every break up you’ve ever had and how much it hurts to miss people. You’re going to be hit by the happy cry. It’s gonna be like wearing sunglasses indoors or something goofy. Ramona is the musical equation of being so full of joy that you feel sad. If you want musical comparisons, they sound like Lemuria, Cayetana, and Jawbreaker. You get the drill. But more importantly, they could play every chord a half step out of tune and I would still be a puddle of emotional mess. And it’s over lyrics like: “Somehow when things got bleak I was never feeling hopeless / What have I got to complain about? I was never abandoned.” This six-song EP is incredibly filling, but definitely makes you crave more. It’s as addicting as loving someone is. Somewhere in an alternate universe Kevin Arnold is blasting “These Days” alone in his room thinking about how sad he is that Winnie Cooper had to move away. Sad Brunch fills the gap of loneliness, but with memories of past lovers. Not quite regret, but not quite moving on. It’s a crucial piece to keep in your emotional toolbox. –Kayla Greet (Bomb Pop)

RED DONS: The Dead Hand of Tradition: LP
Red Dons are one of those exasperatingly good bands who continue to dole out one amazing much-harder-than-it-looks release after another, leaving the rest of us mere band-mortals scratching our heads in flummoxed resignation at the sheer consistency of quality they exude. The work here easily falls in with the driving, dark punk that hints at early West Coast influences but also transcends influences with a few more choice ingredients added to the pie. Theirs is a sound that would handily fit on most bills—poppy enough for the kid-boppers, driving enough for the Dirtnap/Hostage/Modern Action crowd, dark and tense enough for the average hardcore show, and so on—but deeper analysis shows them piling on multiple harmonies, noodly bits, and some nice churn to give the rhythms added color. This latest is in keeping within their traditional sound yet adding a bit more maturation to the lyrical content. Aces this is, which will be to the surprise of no one, I’ll warrant. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)

SAMMUS: Pieces in Space: CD
Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, known as Sammus, is a rapid-fire rapper based in Ithaca, N.Y. Her latest release, Pieces in Space, skewers internet anonymity, adulthood, nerd culture, anxiety, and the pitfalls of higher education. Her words are vital and prescient, her delivery urgent and fluid, and her beats precise but never robotic. On “Perfect, Dark,” an outcry for black female role models, Sammus spits, “Black girls want to have a hero, too / All kids trying to get that mirror view.” The beat drops and her voice closes the song—an electric performance that distinguishes Sammus from other rappers because she isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and courageous at the same time. But on “Childhood,” the Weezer-inspired (trust me, compare it to “Holiday”) chorus melody and lyrics demonstrate Sammus’s dichotomy: songs that don’t pull punches but are nonetheless hook-laden and catchy. This is one my favorite releases of 2016. Get into it. –Sean Arenas (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)

SEX STAINS: Self-titled: LP
Jesus, I gotta get out more often. The fact that these cats and I share the same geographic locale and, despite seeing they’re playing all over the place, I’ve not seen them once is goddamned embarrassing. Devastating post-post-punk here—aggressive without being “hardcore,” slinky in all the right places (check out “Oh No (Say What),” which has to be destined to live through the ages as some sort of anthem), experimental without being pretentious, stompin’ when the urge arises, and flat-out infectious (I fuggin’ dare you to listen to “Who Song Love Song” and not have it embed itself in your noggin) in all the best ways. Yeah, I’ve heard the hype and didn’t really expect much as a result, but goddamn, this is some good tuneage. –Jimmy Alvarado (Don Giovanni)

SHALLOW CUTS: Empty Beach Town: LP
Shallow Cuts Storm Watch 7” was their Vitruvian Man. Perfect symmetry, a blueprint for anything to come afterward, art as paradigm. Maybe I have two copies in case one wears out. Empty Beach Town is their sculpture of David. Beauty to fall into, encapsulating, experiential. It’s still pop. It’s still punk. You’ll want to hang out with it, buy it a beer. But it’s also love, work, kids, mortgage… living. I definitely have two copies. Members of Dan Padilla, Gateway District, and Madison Bloodbath. –Matt Seward (No Idea, noidearecords.com)

SUPER UNISON: Auto: CD/LP/CS
What an amazing album. Twelve songs and thirty-four minutes of music meant to shred, inspire, and rage. Featuring former Punch vocalist, Meghan O’Neil Pennie, this Oakland three-piece sounds like a 1990s riot grrrl band met Drive Like Jehu. My girlfriend said O’Neil Pennie sounded like a really angry Kathleen Hanna, which seems accurate. There are equal parts sass and pissed anger in her voice, showing a greater range than she ever did in Punch. The songs are catchy and succinct, with most of the tracks coming in under three minutes. All the parts of the band—guitar, drums, bass, and especially O’Neil Pennie’s vocals—are firing perfectly on Auto. This is definitely in my top five for the year. If you have ever liked riot grrrl, Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, or Punch, get this. –Kurt Morris (Deathwish, deathwishinc.com)

TEMPEST: Self-titled: LP
When I was about sixteen I developed this fascination with grind and metal records that didn’t indicate the correct speed on the label that, upon listening, could really go either way (or in some cases had one speed listed that you swore was wrong). Nowadays things are different because we’re able to check pretty much any record on the internet to ensure we’re listening to it the way the band recorded it, but there’s something fun about that doubt in finding something so extreme that you aren’t even sure you can comprehend what is going on, so you keep hitting the knob on your turntable back and forth to make sense of it. Anyway, I listened to half of this record at 45 RPM before deciding maybe it was supposed to be played at 33. It’s good at both speeds, but at 45 it’s an erratic, blackened screamo mess that falls somewhere between Orchid and Spazz. At 33 it’s a heavy dirge that is still adequately fast but sounds much more cold and insular. Both versions have their own merits, but listening at 33 takes much more patience and commands more of your attention, which I imagine is what the band had in mind. For fans of: heavy, plodding, methodical hardcore-tinged metal like early Thou. –Ian Wise (IFB, ifbrecords.com)

TWELVE HOUR TURN: Live at WNYU ‘98: CS
What a gem this is—a live set recorded by Steve Roche for WNYU that never aired after being preempted by a basketball game. This performance by a No Idea Southern screamo classic catches a band (and genre) at its peak. Recorded in 1998, this set of seven songs situates the trajectory of the band, giving a taste of where the material for 1999’s more urgent The Victory of Flight and 2002’s near-flawless Perfect Progress, Perfect Destruction came from. It came crawling out of central Florida swamps, bringing together the furthest edges of the ‘90s Gainesville scene, combining the melodic but biting punk of early classics like Spoke and Radon with the post-hardcore complexity of I Hate Myself. It’s a rare treat to be surprised with something so intimate that speaks to such a particular historical moment in punk history but that manages to still be so vital and insistent. Feeling this cassette in my hand is a great reminder that Twelve Hour Turn is probably one of the most criminally underrated bands many people have (n)ever heard. –Theresa W. (Bakery Outlet, richrtdiem@yahoo.com, bakeryoutletrecords.com / Rose Quarter, rosequarterrecords.bandcamp.com)

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