Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake 103: Mind Spiders, Neighborhood Brats, Dimber, La Tuya, Lemuria, Boys Order

Featured Record Reviews from Razorcake 103: Mind Spiders, Neighborhood Brats, Dimber, La Tuya, Lemuria, Boys Order

Illustration by Danny Rust: @phantom_winslow


MIND SPIDERS: Furies: LP

It is always a good day when a new Mind Spiders album arrives. You always think you know what to expect, but they constantly deliver a slightly new evolution that you didn’t see coming but embrace instantly. Furies finds Mind Spiders at their most synth, which is due to, in no small part, their rhythm section. The combination of programming the bass lines and the blending of electronic drums with live hardware makes the album more cybernetic then previous outings. I am sure the label of “synth punk” has been bandied around many times in the past, but this record is the first time that it may truly apply. The songs are raw and in your face yet beautiful and bleak. Precise aggression. In five albums, Mind Spiders have gone from contacting earth, to studying its behaviors, to assimilating us, to recreating us in their own image. Furies is the vision of their new, post human home world. We are all Mind Spiders. –Ty Stranglehold (Dirtnap)

MIND SPIDERS: Furies: LP

This record feels like a movie. You can’t listen to it without creating some kind of narrative in your head. The pacing, the texture, the conflict. It’s like driving through a city really fast at night. Full of action, and set to destroy. It’s heavy, gritty, synthy, subterranean secret punk. It feels like it’s being made on illegal instruments. Evading the totalitarian forces that are clamping down on the new wave of criminal artists and musicians. Furies is the soundtrack to the sci-fi becoming the reality. Motivation through fear and anger. The illusions have dissolved, you are the lead character. What are you going to do? This is an absolutely crucial record. –Daryl (Dirtnap)

BAD DADDIES: Over 30 Singles: LP

Bad Daddies are one of those bands I’ve long heard about but never actually heard (or at least not to my recollection), so I was looking forward to rectifying that situation. Based on the name alone, I pretty much figured ‘em for a swagger-punk band heavy on Dolls and hot rods, so the wall of feedback right out of the starting gate, one that rarely goes away throughout, was a bit of a surprise. Lotta short, feral hardcore stompers rule the roost here, but things get particularly interesting when they a) sneak some wicked-catchy hooks underneath the unrelenting din with a backbeat that sounds like anvils crashing through one ceiling after another; b) push at the corners and things either take on a bit of an arty sheen or just deconstruct altogether. Tons of creativity going on within some narrow parameters they’ve set for themselves, a quality that always separates the notable from the rest of the schmoes. A fan, and a hearty recommendation, they’ve gained here. Comes with a zine featuring interviews with assorted members, liner notes, pics, and so on so’s you have something to read while wrecking your hearing. –Jimmy Alvarado (Emotional Response)

BOBBY’S OAR: Not What I’m Looking For: LP

I’ve seen Greg Hughes (the man behind Bobby’s Oar) play these songs with just him and a guitar. Those songs made my eyes well up, gave a catch in my throat, and even a few chills. What’s so fantastic about Greg is he can give a sincere delivery each and every time. People can only pull that off when it’s genuine. So when I got to hear these earnest tracks put to drums, backup vocals, banjos, bass, and trombone, it only amplified the kindness and concern in his voice. This record is a playground of positivity one might see the likes of Jeff Rosenstock and Kepi Ghoulie hanging out in. You don’t have to have an electric guitar to be considered punk. “400 Dollars” is a song about the pains of shared living and it is relatable to every punk house I’ve ever lived in. Lyrics like, “It takes a toll on me, all the dirty dishes and the caving floorboard,” and, “We gave you a level head till we were stepped on” are so spot on. Greg paints incredibly detailed murals with every word that escapes his mouth. Bobby’s Oar is more than just folk punk. They’re dynamic, catchy, and honest. Maybe the best I can put it is that Bobby’s Oar is Cometbus put to music. Whether I get my point across or not, just do me a favor and check out this record at least once to see if it grabs you like it did me. Test drive it on bandcamp and then buy one for you and a friend. –Kayla Greet (Tiny Dragon Music, tinydragonmusic@gmail.com)

BOYS ORDER: Do the Wild Cat: LP
A few years ago, Secret Mission released the debut 7” from this downright mind-blowing Japanese power pop trio. Do the Wild Cat is their long-awaited full-length, and it’s an instant classic. Boys Order is made up of members of Thee Bossmen and Teenage Lust, fronted by Chihiro Isadora from the essential Radio Shanghai and Prambath. Her vocals are precisely what make poppy Japanese punk so fucking infectious, with an inimitable charm that makes it hard to pull this LP off of the turntable. Limited to five hundred copies, with only two hundred available in the U.S. Now is the time to scoop up this soon to be canonical slab of pop perfection. –Art Ettinger (Secret Mission, secretmissionrecords.com)

BOYS ORDER: Do the Wild Cat: LP

On the recent M.O.T.O. tribute compilation from Secret Mission, Boys Order, from Japan, nailed a pitch perfect cover of “Deliver,” so I was excited to snag their debut full length—and, without hyperbole, it’s one of the catchiest records I’ve ever heard. Do the Wild Cat opens with the bubbly powerpop gem “W.A.V.E!”—and from there on out Boys Order is unstoppable. The title track somehow shifts from a propulsive verse to a mid-tempo chorus without screeching to a halt while “Blue Blue Red” includes every infectious pop device imaginable: “oohs,” keyboards, a propulsive bassline, and vocal harmonies. (Also, any record with a song called “Party! Party! Party!” is right by me.) By the time “Run after Shadows” closes the record with a gleeful climax, saxophone and all, Boys Order hasn’t stumbled once. Do the Wild Cat is pure, unadulterated powerpop perfection. –Sean Arenas (Secret Mission, secretmissionrecords.com)

COLOR TV: Paroxeteens: 7”

“Paroxeteens” is a certified banger. Power-power-pop. The extra power is because it’s really powerful. Super hooky with a relentless, reckless punk energy. It’s real shit like this that just cuts through the constant barrage of fodder that chokes up the cultural highways and byways of our community. Refreshing and exciting. Should have probably checked this band out sooner. –Daryl (Neck Chop)

DIMBER: damber: 7”

Hi, wow. I love Dimber. Imagine the Descendents produced a riot grrrl band. Riffs are short and solid. Lyrics are razor sharp and poetic, delivered like a call to action by frontwoman and dynamic dresser extraordinaire Caleb. This EP comes with a zine that ties together the album by representing each song through art and prose, beautifully interwoven with activities, and recommendations for books, music, and health services for women and the LGBTQ community. There is a maze with no solution. There is a quote with a citation. I love everything about this. Thank you for existing. –Candace Hansen (dimber.bandcamp.com)

ECHO SPRING: Self-titled: EP

During finals last semester, one of my TAs let me in on a secret: He can tell by the end of the first paragraph of a paper whether he’ll give it a passing or failing grade. I’ve been writing about music for a few years now, and I’ve gotta say that the same rule applies to reviewing; I know whether I’ll love or loathe a record within the first twenty or so seconds of the opening song. And after listening to the first few bars of Echo Spring’s self-titled EP, I could tell that it would be my favorite new release. Part punk, part hardcore, part emo (think Rites Of Spring), Echo Spring wields tortured, discordant melodies like a weapon. Singer Corey Duran’s cacophonous vox are the perfect accompaniment to Fugazi-inspired guitar and the tightest drum and bass section this side of the Mississippi. I’m excited to see where these Denton, Texas, cats go. RECOMMENDED x100,000. –Simone Carter (Sarcophagus Club, sarcophagusclub@gmail.com sarcophagusclub.bigcartel.com)

HIS ELECTRO BLUE VOICE: Mental Hoop: LP

Sinister Italian punk galvanized by the demented brilliance of My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. The lack of chord progression in the driving guitar/drum parts is redeemed by the layers upon layers of additional guitar witchery and inhuman shrieks and sounds. Each song in its own right is a different trip into worlds of paranoia, hatred, and bliss. If this record were a drug it would probably kill you: use as directed. –Juan Espinosa (Iron Lung)

HÜSKER DÜ: Savage Young Dü: 4 x LP Box Set

How to tackle something so vast? I guess we’ll stick to the facts. Numero has painstakingly unearthed and refurbished a massive amount of early demo and live material from the legendary Minneapolis band. So many songs I had never heard, and it all sounds so great. I always believed that they began as a lightning fast hardcore band and developed their melodic tendencies along the way, but now I know that in the beginning they had an amazing ‘70s poppy punk sound that reminded me of Vancouver bands such as Pointed Sticks, The Young Canadians, or even The Subhumans a bit. I really love how you can listen to their transformation through the records in this collection. It isn’t all demo and live stuff, though. The set also includes their early singles as well as the Land Speed Record and Everything Falls Apart albums. Interestingly, this is a never-heard version of Land Speed Record, as the original tapes of the live shows that album was recorded at have been lost to the sands of time. They did, however, find a recording of a show on the same tour, with extra songs even. It sounds great! It all does. The box also came with a massive hardcover book full of photos and stories and details on all of the recordings. It is a true historical document. I am so thankful for this and I hope the band and Numero make headway in freeing the rest of their catalog from the claws of SST so they can keep the magic coming! –Ty Stranglehold (Numero, numerogroup.com)

LA TUYA: Self-titled: CD

The three members of La Tuya all have strong links with the various L.A. punk scenes, and should be considered as punk veterans given their respective lengths of service in and around the world of punk. Such backgrounds mean that they have all the nous and understanding of what makes great music and they use that to good effect on this debut release. I had no idea of what to expect, but the first track, “Salvation,” was all I needed to hear to know that I was going to get along with La Tuya. Songs range from thrashy punk through to the more tuneful tracks—all of which work extremely well—but it is the highly melodic “Tribes” which gets me tingling all over. Not only is this the lengthiest track but it’s so bright and effervescent, containing hints of Descendents and The Last, that it’s jammed fast in my head now, unlikely to relinquish its spot for some time. This might not be the easiest CD to track down, as it’s a limited run, but I urge anyone with a love of L.A./So Cal punk to make the effort to do so. This is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while. –Rich Cocksedge (Self-released, facebook.com/latuyaeastlos)

LARS FINBERG: Moonlight over Bakersfield: CD

Moonlight over Bakersfield is the debut solo release from A-Frames, Oh Sees, and The Intelligence et al. contributor and West Coaster Lars Finberg. Shouldn’t be much of a surprise to those familiar with his bands that this release ended up on one of the world’s greatest record labels, In The Red. Nor does it need to mention that this album was recorded by a bona fide rock star that goes by the name Ty. Given the aforementioned criteria, it isn’t difficult to imagine what this album sounds like, or so I thought. While it obviously has a couple of tunes that remind you of modern California garage crud, Moonlight over Bakersfield is a dynamic and expectation-defying (yet cohesive) album, without jolting you off your seat. It’s filled with a wide range of angular and atonal indie rock/garage, hooks, and folk leanings. It’s an incredibly deep, excellent debut. It should also be mentioned that I busted out laughing after hearing a full-on direct Metallica lyric/quote from “Harvester of Sorrow” on a certain track. Well played. –Steve Adamyk (In The Red, intheredrecords.com)

LEMURIA: Recreational Hate: LP/CD

Listening to a new Lemuria album is one of my favorite musical experiences. I know how the band play and sound but it’s not possible to second guess what I’ll hear on the first run through of any release. The album opens with the subtle “Timber Together”—primarily a vehicle for Sheena Ozzella’s vocals and guitar with a subdued bass in support—is a beautifully low-key beginning. The more standard upbeat indie pop sound is restored with “Sliver of Change” and “Christine,” the latter a reworking of the track featured on the Turnstyle Comix #3 EP. These two tracks reflect the essence of what makes Lemuria such a great band as the vocals of Ozzella and drummer Alex Kearns deliver some gorgeous melodies, be it as a pair or on their own. Whilst Max Gregor lets his bass weave magic throughout, Kearns’ drumming is sublime. He creates more than just a beat to keep things in line, adding so much depth to the compositions. However, nothing beats Ozzella’s guitar playing which is warm and spiky with enough of a discordant edge to add a counterpoint to the melodicism. There are no downsides here and Recreational Hate does seem to be packing a more rounded, fuller sound with a more varied musical oeuvre than previous albums. The biggest surprise is the heavy country influence on “I Wanted to Be Yours,” right down to the inclusion of a pedal steel guitar, which helps create a truly beautiful song. Lemuria rules. –Rich Cocksedge (Big Scary Monsters, connor@bsmrocks.com, bsmrocks.com / Asian Man, mikeparkmusic@gmail.com, asianmanrecords.com)

LONGCLAW: Patterns: 12” EP

I listen to this record once a week and not just because I am super into the moniker of “crycore,” which is how the band describes itself. They may truly be Portland’s saddest band (and that’s saying something). It’s great post-hardcore, made especially tense and lifting by the double vocals on most songs, sometimes used in a call and response style. I want to listen to this the same way I listen to Elliott, driving through some nowhere town with all the windows down and wallowing in my own sense that being sad is maybe the natural state of being human. But then! There are also songs like “Shorter Cliffs” that are so pressing and tight that they are totally meant to be your earbud soundtrack to a rainy city. Bonus points for the excellent galaxy themes to the beautiful artwork—the music is totally this ethereal. This is what all those people who keep making emo playlists on Spotify that consist solely of Fall Out Boy, Reliant K, and Hawthorne Heights should listen to in order to get themselves right on where emo was supposed to go post-2000. –Theresa W. (Self-released)

MDC: Mein Trumpf: CD

Just in case you were too busy trying to keep up with the Kardashians to notice, a talking, tweeting, toupee- and tie-wearing, 239 lb. skin tag has sprouted up from the flab of American politics and has seized control of the white house. This giant, bloated orange skin tag crudely apes human behaviors and even shits used McDonald’s into gold-plated toilets. And this neoliberal plutocratic monstrosity now looms over everything—including Kim’s Selfie Kingdom—as the Most Dangerous Idiot to ever stomp on Terra Firma. Make no mistake: this ultimate putz with a childishly confused idea of wealth is a laffing stock that cannot be ignored. That much is not fake news. Thankfully, we have crusty punk dermatologists like MDC’s Dave Dictor who travel our “great again” country with a medicine show featuring all sorts of crude but effective skin tag removal tonics. Mein Trumpf is MDC’s first full length since Magnus Dominus Corpus some thirteen years ago and it presents a hardcore sound with a distinctly metal edge that, at first, made me wonder if I had put on the Crumbsuckers or Gardy Loo by mistake. I guess the trashy three-chord rashy-armpit hardcore of the Millions Of Dead Cops was still stuck in my head. The sound may now be a hardcore-metal hybrid, but the truculent, not-going-to-take-it-anymore attitude is still classic sneering, jeering Dictor, as angrily loquacious as ever. The highlight for me is the instantly classic repurposing of their anthemic “Born to Die” from those aforementioned rashy-armpit days of the band, the main chorus of which has now been revamped to “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA.” No question, that song was born to mutate to this crucially topical update, with fangs fully intact. Maybe I’m naïve, but I do still think pissed-off political hardcore like this can make a difference, even at this late date. Punk don’t fail me now. –Aphid Peewit (Primordial, primordialrecords.bigcartel.com)

MONSIEURS, THE: Deux: LP

This album utilizes overdriven vocals and the trash guitar hard strum to create some medium-speed-driven punk’n’roll with high energy dividends. The band’s high level of rock sensibility keeps the album from crashing into the “valley of every song sounds the same,” containing the carcasses of bands who stick to the distortion + speed = always good. They do a lot with a few chords and anarchic back-ups. “Suburban Girls” has a decisively Saturday night chorus edging into power pop sweetness. “Get Right, Get Ready” has a happy chant. I really love the anarchy of the impressionistic cover of Danny And The Juniors’ “At the Hop.” It’s definitely going on my favorite covers list. This album moves freely at a Memphis pace and distortion level. –Billups Allen (Slovenly)

NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS: Night Shift: 7”

Completely unexpected and fully welcomed, this record comes at us at a time when we need the Neighborhood Brats more than anything. It looked as if they had called it quits seemingly at their peak not long after the release of their 2014 album Recovery, but they’re back with this three-song blaster that shows us they aren’t quite done yet. The record shows an uncanny ability to combine the scrappy, free for all sound of their earliest recordings with the laser-focused song writing on Recovery. There is a something special when Jenny and George get together to make music that you just don’t hear every day. With tours booked on the heels of this record, let’s hope there is a new LP in the works. If the last few years have proven anything, it’s that the world is a better place with Neighborhood Brats in it. Don’t sleep on this record. –Ty Stranglehold (Taken By Surprise)

RAGING NATHANS: Cheap Fame: LP

It’s been almost two years since I got to review the Nathans’ first full length and try to coin the descriptive term “boom jangle.” Within the first few spins of Cheap Fame, it becomes apparent the band has spent that time honing their song craft preparing this batch of ragers. There are too many bands out there that can ape a sound because 1+1=2 is easy. Cheap Fame and the Nathans’ differential is built on their ability to work the algebraic intervals of [(hooks) leads] boom jangle = x. You’ll know every word and be able to air guitar every lead by the time the weather turns warmer if you grab a copy now. You might even pass Algebra II with a D+ (if you’re lucky like me). –Matt Seward (Rad Girlfriend, radgirlfriendrecords.com)

ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT: Return to Monkey Island: 7”

I may have given up hope that this day would actually come, but here we are. For the first time since 2002, Rocket From The Crypt have released new, original songs. Having been a rabid fan of the band for a quarter century now, I have often dreamed of the day and what it would sound like. Well, it sounds like RFTC of course! Heavy, full-sounding riff rock with a punk edge and pop sensibilities hiding just below the rough exterior. All hail the Rocket Men! The record itself is a nice picture disc, and as with most RFTC singles, is already impossible to get your hands on. Now if only they’d stop releasing U.K.-only tour records and get down to business on a new LP, then all would be right in the world. Do you hear me, Speedo? This shit world needs something to dance to! –Ty Stranglehold (Rocket From The Crypt, rftc.com)

SBSM: Leave Your Body: CS

I literally gasped when I pulled this cassette out of my review box. SBSM are hands down one of my favorite bands I’ve ever seen but know little about. I saw them at a house party in Oakland in spring of 2016, and had a difficult time finding recordings online. The label aptly describes them as tender yet destructive. Leave Your Body starts with experimental industrial sounds set to pounding, tom-heavy beats before moving into grind that sounds like you’re listening from behind a cyber wall. Makes you wonder if you’re intruding on something you shouldn’t be hearing. Vocals often sound trapped—in a tornado or another realm—a beautiful audible metaphor for much of the lyrical content about strength despite enclosures, physical or otherwise. The drums move, finding beauty and groove in irregularity. Sometimes synths create a sonic bed for screams and other times they sound like scorpions and fire, traveling low and fast, contemplative and remorseless. Sometimes they are drills and hammers, sonic gates, and portals. Feedback carries prayers like sage into the great sonic unknown. I wanna say if you don’t get it, it’s not for you, but I don’t even know if it’s for me. Incredible. –Candace Hansen (Remote Outposts)

SPIT-TAKE: Frog Rock: LP

Spit-Take does something really neat with a style that’s hard to get really right. Frog Rock undeniably invites comparison to the classics of college indie rock (read: Superchunk and Archers Of Loaf), and to the hyper-earnest energy of powerpop punk bands like Delay, but I don’t know if I’d say Spit-Take really sounds like any of those bands. Most of the songs are short, hanging in the air just long enough to give a glimpse of a hook before moving on to the next one. The band seems just as comfortable turning out moody jams like “Stars Don’t” as banging through bouncy rock tunes like “Chapel St” and “Awful Long.” The best tracks do a little of both—“Ear” is an instant heartbreaker. Seriously, the songwriting on this record rules. Somehow so many of the melodies feel unexpected but comfortingly familiar. I was already feeling nostalgic for this album the first time I listened to it. –Indiana Laub (Ice Age, theiceageiscoming.net, kris@theiceageiscoming.net / Cat Dead Details Later, catdead.storenvy.com / One Percent Press, onepercentpress.tumblr.com / Shitty Present, vaguedan@hotmail.com, theshittypresent.tumblr.com)

SQUISHERS: Too Damn Careless: LP

Rymodee’s voice is immediately recognizable here, even as my experience with This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb consists of a single basement show and a few 7”s. Still, nostalgia can be suffocating, and Squishers are a new beast and more than hold their own here. With Too Damn Careless, they’ve crafted a full length of sturdy, earnest, heartfelt songs, and gems like “Filthy Clean Future” and “Triple Threat” strut and holler with a yearning that’s both immediately familiar and timeless. There are still threads of folk punk running through this, but it mostly falls under that larger and simpler umbrella of protest music, in the way that the personal is the political, and how the quiet moments in a life inform us as much as the loud, brash ones. I wonder if a lot of people are gonna be turned off by the band name and the cover art, but if they make it past that, they’re in for something special. Like I said, Squishers is a new band, but in the same way that San Francisco stalwart Shotwell does, they really embody the scrappiness and long-running resilience of punk. Nice job. –Keith Rosson (Squishfund)

SUSPECT PARTS: Self-tilted: LP

Didn’t this lot have records out a decade ago? Sure did, same band. Power pop supergroup featuring folks from the Briefs, Clorox Girls, and Red Dons amongst others should be enough of a sell. If the resume doesn’t do it, the tracks alone will be taste test enough. Sounds like this lot have spent the months on tour mining the Undertones, Rudi, Knack, Beach Boys, and Kinks back catalogues for songwriting tips. Just enough sugar, just enough spice; this fucker could have come out in any of the past four decades. Some of the songs could have been lifted off an unheard goddamn Beach Boys album. Tight as a gnat’s bum and soft as a velvet pillow, this shit should be at the front of anyone currently putting together a mix tape for potential girlfriends/boyfriends. –Tim Brooks (Oops Baby, oopsbabyrecords.com)

TARANTULA: Weird Tales of Radiation and Hate: 7” EP

Wasn’t sure what was gonna come out of the speakers, considering members of Cülo are involved. I was fairly certain it’d be interesting, and it is that, but man, this is definitely a stunner: primal, a mid-tempo thud-punk rhythm section, guitars laying down sheets of sound that recall Criminal Code, and what sounds like a pro wrestler barking out orders over the top. The whole endeavor is infectious as hell from first-to-last note, with that rare quality that makes ye get up, flip it, and start all over again. And again. Fuck yeah, this rocks. –Jimmy Alvarado (Deranged)

TERMINAL MIND: Recordings: LP

I moved to Texas in 2015 and have been playing catch up with first wave Texas punk since then. I can’t afford the originals, so I’m grateful for the archivists reissuing any of this stuff. I was tangentially aware of some bands (Stick Men With Ray Guns, Dicks, Big Boys, Skunks) but the Austin scene didn’t get as much spotlight as New York, L.A., or England, so going beyond the big names took some digging. I’d heard about Terminal Mind and found some songs online. When I first caught wind of this long-promised collection, I was pretty excited. Terminal Mind was of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s Raul’s scene but may have been enough on the margins that the kids weren’t calling for reissues. Or at least my friends didn’t talk about them that much. Recordings is a welcome addition to the available, um, recordings of early anywhere punk. Sonic Surgery (imprint of Austin-based Super Secret records) gives a quality reissue: 180 gram vinyl, detailed liner notes, and a few band and flyer pictures. Quality mixes of not only the self-titled EP but live songs too (including one mixed from video.) “I Want to Die Young” is Terminal Mind’s Who-like anthem, reflecting the earnest impatience and nihilism of youth. “Zombieland” easily reflects problems we face in any given year. Terminal Mind’s sound is more akin to the Skunks than, say, Bobby Soxx, and the tunes range from straight forward punkers, to proto punk riffery, to a proto-post punk attempt at sonic swirl. I was fortunate enough to catch a reunion show for the album release. Sole original member/vocalist/bassist (now guitarist) Steve Marsh recruited a solid rhythm section and I wouldn’t mind seeing if Terminal Mind does anything new. –Sal Lucci (Sonic Surgery)

TRIAL BY FIRE: 1982: LP

When Strike Under disbanded, three of the four members reformed as Trial By Fire. For reason unknown, they only lasted a year and played a handful of shows. Chris Bjorklund went on to play in Bloodsport and The Effigies. Bob Furem later joined Da. The man who needs no introduction would be Pierre Kezdy, later joined Naked Raygun and Pegboy. Two songs on this record would later be “covered” by Naked Raygun. One song even was reworked and slapped on an Arsenal record. Now that the history lesson has concluded, it is time for the facts. This record shreds! How this could remain unreleased for so long is a travesty! Get this on vinyl now! The 1981 demo is included as a download with the LP and also on the CD. Crucial. –Sean Koepenick (Alona’s Dream, alona@alonasdreamrecords.com)

UNWELCOME GUESTS: Anything You Want: LP

Unwelcome Guests hail from my hometown of Buffalo and they sound a lot like The Thermals, with a healthy dose of Jawbreaker thrown in for good measure. The singer utilizes falsetto more than is typical in any subgenre, but that doesn’t come off as eccentric as it might seem. I’m a big fan of ostensibly light bands that have an unmistakable aggressive edge. Unwelcome Guests feel like they could attack at any moment, which is kind of exciting from a fairly gentle group. There’s a subtlety to the songs, but they’re also instantly engaging. Twenty years ago, they would have been wildly popular in the underground and beyond. Possibly too aggressive for the average indie rocker and too soft for the average punk, it’d be a shame if they got lost in the shuffle of today. Anything You Want is the sort of album that makes you go out and seek out the band’s entire back catalog. It clutches onto the listener, not letting go. It’s truly a class act all around. –Art Ettinger (Dirt Cult)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Scrap!: LP

Six different Japanese garage punk bands contribute three (except Black And White who only did two) songs each. Such a fantastic idea. It’s like getting six different EPs from the other side of the world. Purveyors of rawness will enjoy the band selection, but the bands definitely don’t all sound the same. Just when I thought comps were totally obsolete this lands on my desk and now I feel like every country needs their own version! While I definitely prefer some bands to others, all these bands are good. If you just pick it up for Middle Edge’s “Little Bird ‘Zero’” you wont be disappointed! –Daryl (Secret Mission, secretmissionrecords.com)

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