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Featured Record Reviews From Issue #84: Black Rainbow, Big Crux, Dystopia, Ergs!, Neighborhood Brats

Illustration by Vee, http://poisoniby.tumblr.com

BLACK RAINBOW: Self-titled: LP
You’re going to form a relationship with Black Rainbow. They designed the walls of your dream home. They’re coming over to feed the cats while you’re on vacation. They’re in your kitchen, humming as steel-cut oats warm for breakfast. Black Rainbow are the friends you trust with your house keys or that you call, even after two years of no contact, when a real problem arises. So it makes sense that Black Rainbow is the fuzzy favorite blanket at the foot of your bed. It’s extra warm, can wipe away your tears, doubles as a superhero cape, or provides your dog with a home base. If you’re familiar with Allergic To Bullshit, Miami, or Los Canadians, you’re already tight and you’ll just be accepting another friend into your circle. If not, take a chance and wrap yourself up in the warmth of Black Rainbow’s friendship. “Hold on to what’s possible.” –Matt Seward (Starcleaner, starcleaner.com)

AUSMUTEANTS: Order of Operation: LP
AUSMUTEANTS: Fed through a Tube: 7”
How does a band appear seemingly out of nowhere, being so young yet so fully formed? There are only a few I can think of in the past fifteen or so years (Reatards, Exploding Hearts, Davila 666, Horribly Wrong). Add to this list Australia’s Ausmuteants. Order of Operation is their second LP and second this year (I’m not sure where to place their Split Personalities tape, which was recently pressed on LP). On top of two LPs this year, there’s this Total Punk 7” and at least two other 7”s that I know of. Think Ramones-ish rhythms with synths. Themes are of everyday life: alienation, even from one’s own friends (“Freedom of Information” and “Depersonalisation”); having to pretend you like someone’s band just because they’re nice. Some critics dub Ausmuteants as “dumb” but they really don’t get it, and might just deserve to be stabbed with a pitchfork. Keep your eyes and ears on these kids! –Sal Lucci (Goner / Total Punk)

BATS, THE: Demo 5:26:84: 12”EP
The Bats are the kind of band that gets forgotten easily. Even today, many great bands play shows and break up without recording, but that was even truer in the pre-digital era. Michael Chabon, best known for his novels including Mysteries of Pittsburgh andWonder Boys, briefly fronted The Bats:, a cool, very ‘80s- sounding band in the vein of the Meat Puppets. Two of the members of The Bats are currently in the stellar Pittsburgh act The Sicks. The download included with the vinyl also features a recording of the one full live set Chabon performed with The Bats. Not just an article of historical interest, these songs hold up well, with the vinyl having an incredible quality, considering the fact that it was mastered from a demo tape. Mind Cure Records continues to perform a tremendous public service by restoring fascinating works from Pittsburgh’s past. Bassist Lee Skirboll’s liner notes are as interesting as the music, rounding out this must-have release. –Art Ettinger (Mind Cure)

BIG CRUX: Ponchito: LP
This has “Minutemen” writ large across it in big letters, but don’t be quick to dismiss it as rehash. ‘Tis true they owe much to that much ballyhooed band of yore—the tinny telecaster sound, the song lengths, even their name I’m guessing was cribbed from a line in “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing”—but they take that inspiration off in other interesting directions (choruses and bilingual lyrics that don’t read quite as much like blue-collar haikus, for starters) as well as mooshing in bits of other influences and sounds to brand the resulting output as theirs. While today’s prevailing trend seems to be to stick to pre-determined and pre-approved templates, it’s nice to hear a band that sounds like they’re trying to build a divergent path off a band that built a divergent path. This is aces, I can only see them getting better from here, and I bet they rip live. –Jimmy Alvarado (Big Crux, [email protected])

BRIAN MCGEE: Ruin Creek: LP
Apparently, this is the third solo LP from an ex-Plow United member. The pretentious one sheet takes note of the amount of ex punk band members going acoustic and makes sure the reviewer knows that this individual is not that. He moved to the mountains and immersed himself in American folk tradition. Too bad that did not include learning how to write a decent song. This is an entire album of overwrought vocals, uninteresting melodies, and ham-fisted lyrics. I continually find myself wondering how Drag The River can be such a phenomenal band and the rest of the “Punk dude goes acoustic” stuff is so not good. –Mike Frame (Creep)

BRODY’S MILITIA: Napalm Zeppelin Raids: EP
Right fuckin’ here is a record that you need to run out and get. Or make your fingers do that tappy tap dance across your keyboard or mobile device and order this righteous black slab and have it sent direct to your turntable. Many have tried and most have failed, but Brody’s Militia have successfully blended thrashy hardcore with a more hard rocking edge. It’s like it was their secret weapon and they’ve been waiting some time to unleash it on the unsuspecting masses. This opens up with the skull-jarring thrash of “Toothless Skull” and then, suddenly, there’s this catchy-as-hell riff that catches you unprepared—but it’s so good and executed with precision—you go with it, and the songs and the rock just keep getting better and more dominant as the record plays. Hit the second side, and the Southern-fried rock seasonings really come to the fore, and yet the lyrical content is very much on the hardcore punk side with its straight-to-the-point attacks on a vapid world. “Sheep Fucking in the Heartland” and “Dumbfuck Fanfare” kill! The guitar tone is nasty, and the delivery has the finesse of a blunt instrument to the skull. I’m really hoping there’s more to come from these guys. Continue down this path, please! –M.Avrg (SPHC)

COLLAPSE: Disarm:7” EP
Out of Detroitcomes this fast, radical hardcore that defies the easy categorization of anarcho. Collapse is solid crust, dishing up plenty of breakdowns and blast beats, but veiled in a stoner fog that avoids cliché and approaches the forest-moss darkness of Thou or Cloud Rat. There’s even a song called “My Little Droney,” betraying their love of drone. Yet there’s too much of a message to risk getting lost in unintelligible bellowing. Their vocalist Ashleigh brings to mind the formidable Mia Zapata of the Gits and Jen Thorpe of Submission Hold, emoting each word with the weight of a manifesto. “Fuck You I’m Done” brings to mind early Black Flag but with a riot grrrl’s laser focus on the political implications of household items: “I took out the trash / I brought in the mail / Sit, watch the world / From my TV.” Feminist sentiment is strong throughout. “Left” is the most Submission Hold-ish track, shifting on a pin from lumbering stoner drag-step into a rolling, tribal metal rhythm with impassioned war cries layered over the doom. There is room for growth sonically. At times, Ashleigh chants in her own world and the rest of the band is in a manic sprint to keep up with her. But if the soul of anarcho is the message, Disarm succeeds in getting that across: question everything, from the coffee cup on your desk to cops in the street. In the spirit of Crass, each member of Collapse walks the radical path that they’re spitting about. Every component of this release was handmade with care, from its spray-painted and etched jewel case, to the zine-style typewriter text lyric sheet and a personalized letter to “the good people of Razorcake” enclosed. This is a band that wants an individual, reciprocal connection to their fans, and they’re earning it. –Claire Palermo (Self-released, [email protected], collapsepunk.com)

DEATHWISH: Self-titled: Box Set
This is a three-piece vinyl box set by a Bostonband that shed its skin from record to record. A brief history of the band: Record one was recorded in 1983 and has been expanded to seven songs from the unauthorized bootleg release that made the rounds online. It’s crisp and clear now since it was remixed by ace Don Zientara in 2013. Record two first came out as a cassette release in 1987 in a limited run. The band went under the alias of The Loved Ones (sort of like Angry Samoans with Queer Pills) and changed gears a bit to more of a psychedelic ‘70s punk angle. Mostly just distributed in the Bostonarea at that point, most everyone who got a copy knew it was still Deathwish. Record three was recorded one year earlier, but wasn’t finished until 1995. Bassist Jordan Wood (Slapshot) plays on one song and bassist Pat Leonard (Moving Targets) is featured on the other. So drop the pencil, the pop quiz will be later. The music on this box set requires a dissection. Record one is a furious blast of hardcore from its time. Think Jerry’s Kids jamming with Minor Threat. “Condemned for Life” and “Backstab” will benefit from high volume on your turntable. Once your ears stop ringing, file this next to the first Gang Green record in your collection. Record two is a different animal. What if The Dictators made a record with Stiv Bators, David Johansen, and Nick Marsh (Flesh For Lulu) as guest singers? This would have come pretty damn close. “Minnesota Strip” is my favorite here, but “Back of the Bus” sports some Dag Nasty-ish guitar riffage that will keep the punters smiling. Finally, record three. Only two songs. “What We’ve Got” is a studio version of what was normally an instrumental show opener for the band. “Young and Undefined” features Leonard’s fluid bass playing to great effect. The only way to get this is direct from the label’s site and then play it loud. –Sean Koepenick (Disclaim, disclaimrecordings.com)

DYSTOPIA: Human=Garbage:2 x LP
I remember the first time I heard this album, back around 1994. I bought this on CD along with stuff like Deviated Instinct and Doom. I listened to those a few times, but the Dystopia disc stayed in my player for a long, long time. There was nothing else like them. Towards the end of the decade, there were some bands that did try to bite their style, and it was pretty apparent these interlopers were cheesy as hell and quickly forgotten. For me, Dystopia is one of the best bands from the 1990s, and one I can still listen to and be blown away. Musically, they were a perfect mix of metal and hardcore punk with all the offshoots—like death metal, crust, grind, and sludge—thrown in for flavoring. The guitar sounds evil, the percussion is tight and forceful, and the bass has this sinister lurking way about it. The part of “Stress Builds Character,” when the music kicks in never gets old. So f’n good it’s unreal! The whole album is solid as hell. There’s never a moment where it gets dull or repetitive. They keep the tempos varied, such as the instrumental “The Middle” and some songs that are largely sound collages, like “Sanctity,” “Love//Hate,” or the lumbering “Ignorance of Pride” to offset the sonic pummeling of songs like “Ruptured Silence” and “Hands That Mold.” This edition is true to the CD version, as it has the five songs from the original vinyl pressing, along with their material from their splits with Embittered and Grief. All pressed on two clear sheets of vinyl to be played at 45 rpm. I’m reluctant to call most records classic, but this truly is. I would like to think that over time people, if they haven’t already, will come to see this is as a pretty important piece in the history of underground music. Original, groundbreaking, and all that. –M.Avrg (Tankcrimes, tankcrimes.com)

ERGS, THE: Dorkrockcorkrod:LP
The vinyl version of this record originally came out in 2005 and has been unavailable for a bit, so to mark the ten year anniversary of its release, the folks at Don Giovanni have re-mastered and re-released this, the debut LP from The Ergs. It’s a move that makes sense, as The Ergs legacy is bigger than ever, despite the fact that they broke up in 2008. The Ergs were a great band—playing out like an updated version of the Descendents with softer edges yet still with the ability to pen a fucking near perfect pop punk song. This LP is a modern classic, jam packed with some truly great songs about girls, love, and… did I mention girls? If you like the less traditionally “punk” Descendents songs about girls, then you’ll love this. But you’ve most likely already had this record for years anyways. –Mark Twistworthy (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)

ESPECTROSTATIC: Escape from Witchtropolis: LP
I remember one time while reviewing Alex Cuervo’s band Hex Dispensers that I felt that each song was like a story on an episode of show like The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. If that is the case, then Cuervo’s solo, electronic project Espectrostatic is the soundtrack to the individual scenes in any given episode of that same show. This is the second LP for Espectrostatic and I couldn’t be happier. I love to sink into the creepiness of songs like “Removing the Bandages” or “The Cold Spot” or get tensed up by the futuristic chase sounds of “The Feral Kids” or “This Is a War Universe.” As a horror and sci-fi fan, I really love how I can take the song titles, and while listening to the songs, I can fully imagine the scenario. It is a completely different listening experience and I can’t get enough. I’ve also got to mention the amazing cover art by Drazen Kozjan. It fits the record perfectly. –Ty Stranglehold (Trouble In Mind, troubleinmindrecs.com)

FISTULA: Vermin Prolificus: LP
There’s a repeating mantra in this record, pulled from what sounds like a sound clip from an old movie, which goes, “The drugs are more important than you.” This record is really dumb, but in its own way really great. It’s made for stoners who like evil stuff and demons, so get on that if you’re high as fuck right now. The record will constantly remind you about drugs, by the way, so be prepared to have some weird feelings as it addresses you, the audience, directly. It’s like grindcore, but I don’t know enough about the genre to compare to another band accurately. There’s definitely some doom metal in there. I wish I could type out a picture of the cover art, but I’m not that good at ASCII art. GRADE: Ä-. –Bryan Static (To Live A Lie, tolivealie.com)

GENERACION SUICIDA: Todo Termina: 12”
Killer Los Angeles punk rock. Dark, melodic guitar lines, driving, mid-tempo rhythms, and raw but melodic vocals, delivered entirely in Spanish. This reminds me a lot of Masshysteri from Sweden. Both contain a melancholic yet energetic musical feel and though I don’t understand either language, the melodies and obvious passion carry the vocals enough to make up for not knowing the content of the lyrics. More than enough to earn repeated listens. –Chad Williams (Going Underground, goingundergroundrecords.net)

HARD SKIN: We Are the Wankers: 7”
It’s kind of hard to pinpoint what makes Hard Skin so great. Is it the fact that they are an amazing oi band, or that they’re “takin’ the piss” so to speak? It doesn’t matter. All I know is when I put a Hard Skin record on, I’ve got a smile on my face and I can feel my liver clench up because it knows it’s going to been beaten with alcohol again. Another round for the wankers! –Ty Stranglehold (1-2-3-4 Go!)

HORROR SECTION / EATEN BACK TO LIFE: Split in Two: LP
This record ruined lyric sheets for me. Up until now, my ritual upon cracking open a new record was to first inspect the lyric sheet, scanning it for secrets and wonders. Then I would put the record on and listen to it as I clutched the lyric sheet, following along with every word. This record doesn’t have a lyric sheet. It has trading cards.One trading card for every song, with an image on the front and lyrics on the back. Oh, and the images on the front? Monsters. Because every song is about monsters. Michael Myers. Freddy Krueger. Zombies. How the hell can I possibly enjoy lyric sheets after this, after holding the Leatherface card in my hand while Horror Section blasts their way through “Survive?” I held that card in my sweaty hand, reading the lyrics and realizing that the song has a brilliant dual meaning. On the surface, it can be read as a song about a girl struggling with a possessive boyfriend. Except the image on the trading card reveals that it’s not a boyfriend she’s worried about, it’s Leatherface, and, yes, he wants to “tear me and my friends apart,” except not in the metaphorical sense, but in the with-a-chainsaw sense. The logical part of my brain wants to say that it takes more than trading cards and monster movie references to make a good record, but does it really? In this case, the question doesn’t even matter, because both Horror Section and Eaten Back To Life bring a unique spin on pop punk and horror worship. There’s no way you’re getting out of this listening experience without having a lot of fun. –MP Johnson (Eccentric Pop)

HOT TIP: Demo: Cassette
I saw Hot Tip at a sports bar (or it seemed that way) in Buffalo and I thought I was seeing the newest incarnation of Nation Of Ulysses or at least a band that would willingly crush whatever punk status quo still exists. I’m still not really over how good they were. Their demo doesn’t disappoint—the guitar lines are the best of deconstructed ‘90s sub-underground hardcore; the general vibe is smart, murky, wild, pissed. Easily one of my favorite new bands. They’ll probably take over the world someday, if we’re lucky. –Matt Werts (Drug Party, drugparty.storenvy.com)

KIMBERLY STEAKS, THE: To Live and Die in West Central Scotland: LP
Harkens back to the ‘90s when every band and their grandparents were wearing oversized cargo shorts and writing forced-rhyme lamentations about ex-girlfriends to the same three chords. And yet—surprise, surprise—in spite of the potential pitfalls, To Live and Die… manages to come across as fresh and relevant. While the band would’ve been right at home doing singles on Mutant Pop or Rhetoric (the Scared Of Chaka cover is pretty indicative), there’s something about this LP that avoids sounding outdated and just comes across as fun as shit. Pop punk often times gets a bad rap, and has long been synonymous with words like predictability, vapidity, and saccharine cuteness—but the Kimberly Steaks manage to avoid all that stuff. Sure, maybe it sounds like some bands we’ve heard before, but if that’s the case, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a band do it this well, this exuberantly. The only downside’s a lack of lyric sheet. It’d be nice to know specifically what these guys are crowing about. Still, recommended. –Keith Rosson (All In)

KLITZ, THE: Sounds of Memphis ‘78: 7”
First archival release of The Klitz Sounds of ‘78, recorded in one three-hoursession during the summer of ‘78. The Klitz existed from ‘78 to ‘80 but never released anything as a band… until now. Considered as one of Memphis’s first punk bands, this is a lo-fi charmer with raw, bare bones guitar, bass, and drums. “Two Chords” is a perfect example with a two-chord progression and lyrics such as “two chords /going out of my mind!” Because all you fucking need is two chords, dammit. Gail Clifton’s vox on “Hard Up” are some of the most delicious vocals I’ve ever heard—fresh and unapologetic. Everything from the rhythm section, to the raw, amateurish vocals, and simplistic guitar feels like it might just fall apart at any time. Always teetering back and forth—lags, drags, picks up—this ultimately adds to this hot, perfect mess. Five hundred pressed. Get it. –Camylle Reynolds (Spacecase, spacecaserecords.com)

LOSS, THE: Last Rites: 7”
This five piece from Seattle has that “it” factor that people talk about, yet can’t ever seem to wrangle it for themselves. It’s something that is so easily recognizable when it’s right. From the moment I first heard them, I was submerged in feelings of bliss mixed with shades of sadness. But it’s that deep kind of sadness that you only notice in people who have also experienced severe loss. They make me feel the true definition of melancholia blended with hope and elation. Extreme feelings and rad tunes, to boot. As a genre, they’re very melodic hardcore—rapid, high intensity drumming with despondent guitar harmonies, gruff vocals, and pop punk “whoa-ohs.” My favorite song is the first track on this EP, “Domestic Relief,” with choruses of: “We are the children of broken homes / But we hide ourselves.” Gives me fucking chills every fucking time. These guys are serious, experienced, and finely tuned. They’re a tight, well oiled machine. And, sadly, they’re no longer with us, but at least they left this behind before they split up. Definitely a top ten band of all time for me. Pick this one up. –Kayla Greet (La Escalera)

LYCKA TILL: Rakt over Munnen: LP
Moments like these are among the best musical moments. Moments like these are, maybe, why music and language were invented in the first place. “You are not crazy. You are not alone. There is a lot of fucked up stuff in this world. You aren’t the only one who sees it. And, maybe, if the small voice that you are decides to raise a righteous fuss, others will join in with you.” These are the comforting thoughts that I had while listening to Sweden’s folk-punk act Lycka Till’s album, Rakt over Munnen. My great grandfather was born in Sweden, but I didn’t know what the fuck these people were singing about until I found the photocopied zine inside the record with beautiful, rebellious lyrics in English and a group of punks carrying a banner that translated, “Norrland Against Racism.” Here in the United States, people are still in shock, still organizing, still facing the consequences of speaking out against killer cops in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York. It was the perfect night to discover this record and hear that, in anger and frustration at the senseless violence laid upon the people by the powers that be, we are not crazy. We are not alone. –John Mule (Dragabang)

MOTHER OF SORROWS: II: CD
When the weather in Boston is nice, sometimes there is an older, slightly disheveled street musician in front of the public library playing a keyboard. It often sounds futuristic and also has a steady, kickin’ beat. Almost all of it is pre-programmed and he just hits a few keys here and there. I kind of dig it, and if I weren’t always in such a hurry I’d stop and listen. There were times on this CD that I felt like I was listening to that guy play, except this is a two-person act (featuring Kronos and Jupiter Skab) with vocals and their sound is more goth than that dude in front of the library. I like hearing that guy jam, while in contrast some of the songs on II were so excruciating that I was convinced this almost had to be a joke. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the lyrics have something to do with someone named Zorgon: “Zorgon calls your soul,” “The loneliness of Zorgon,” and “Zorgon promised me the future.” This is a joke, right? –Kurt Morris (56th Street)

MOTHER’S CHILDREN: Lemon: LP
Although the first song sounds like some little glam fucks trying to work out long-standing issues regarding white guilt over “Talk Dirty to Me” Poison appreciation, everything else sounds like a glorious, full-bodied upturning of the Guitar Romantic applecart ((minus the tininess and the glue-sniffing)), a soaring, flannel-shirted revisiting of the Yum-Yums canon ((minus all the girls)), a savvy older brother handing down banned medical tracts to Ramma Lamma ((minus the cartooniness)), power pop and glam and punk and rock and roll and sometimes you just gotta tip your toque to the excellence of execution, ya know? Earth might have been a better planet if this was the second Generation X album instead of Valley of the Dolls, mightn’t it? I kind of can’t think of anything I don’t like about this record, except that all the lemons on the back cover are making me hungry for fish. As far as I’m concerned, this band is so good that they should make Ottawa the new capital of Canada!BEST SONG: “Helen Mustn’t Know,” maybe. BEST SONG TITLE: “Helen Mustn’t Know,” certainly. FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This album appears to have been pressed up in a number of different countries, and the front cover art is grey and yellow for some countries and aqua and yellow for others. ­–Rev. Nørb (Taken By Surprise, takenbysurprise.net)

NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS: Recovery: LP
It’s a pretty amazing thing to see a band that you really like continue to grow and continue to sound rad while doing it. The day I received the first Neighborhood Brats EP in my review materials my life changed for the better. Angry, visceral, and barely in control, it dominated my stereo for a long time. Over the next few singles, the changes weren’t all that noticeable but with Recovery the Brats are showing some change. Don’t get me wrong, the seething temperament is still there. The feeling that everything could explode at any minute? Check. It’s in the delivery. The vitriol is laser pointed now. Everything is tightened up and focused. Is this the moment where a great band becomes one of the greatest bands? I believe it is.Easily a top record for 2014 for me. –Ty Stranglehold (Deranged)

NEW JUNKCITY: Self-titled: LP
Have you ever wanted a soundtrack to a cocksure, fuck-off day? The type of day where everything seems to fall into place. You wake up and glance at the mirror and think, “Damn, I look halfway decent.” You receive too much change from the liquor store attendant while shoplifted trail mix is in your hoodie pocket. Your nagging coworker is out sick with mono so you have free rein over their office supplies. If so, here are seven confident punk songs from four Georgians who breathe life into tired power chords. The singer has refined strained punk shouts into soulful, gritty sincerity. When he pushes his voice to the limits, you’re compelled to do the same. All the while, the twangy, intricate guitars tango with hard-hitting percussive beats. New JunkCitystrikes a balance between rawness (“I don’t love you like I used to”) and resiliency (“Trying to make it out of this one-horse town”). It’s been a while since I’ve felt this much heart in a record, let alone on a debut LP. Let’s hope these dudes can keep it up, because I’m anxiously anticipating their next release. Highly recommended. –Sean Arenas (No Breaks, [email protected])

RAKTA: Self-titled: 7”
Rakta from Brazilrecently played here in Los Angeles at the Dog Haus (L.A.punks Generacion Suicida’s spot to host touring bands) and for whatever fucking reason I assumed two very stupid things. One: that Rakta were a thrash band. Two: I didn’t need to go to this show even though GS and the Bay Area’s Flesh World were both also playing. This two-song 7” will forever be a painful yet endearing reminder of bad, bad life choices. I’ve tried to sit through Siouxsie And The Banshees records. I’ve never made it past more than two songs. I get that they were innovators in the post-punk/goth realm but always felt like there was a key DIY punk element missing. Rakta have not only found that element but have run off with it and nurtured it back to health in dark rooms full of empty wine bottles, bone-chilling keyboard notes, and echoing incantations. The packaging and artwork is nothing short of perfect: silk screened cover and dust sleeve with a printed vellum insert. What more can I say? I’m smitten. –Juan Espinosa (540, La Vida Es Un Mus, Dama Do Noite, Nada Nada, no address listed)

RATIONAL ANTHEM: Emotionally Unavailable: LP
To me, it seems impossible to escape Rational Anthem’s name if you’re tapped into any kind of DIY punk community, but I haven’t followed them as closely as this record suggests I should have been. Eight tracks of irresistibly accessible pop punk that never stops bouncing off the walls from start to finish. It’s something like Dear Landlord or Lipstick Homicide, but scuffed up with some of that gangly, rough-and-tumble Plan-It-X-style scrappiness. Listen, if you’re trying to forcefully help your little cousin bridge the gap from saccharine corporate pop punk to Real Music, this record is the best possible next step for them to take. As for me, this will probably be in regular rotation once I get over the staggeringly awful artwork, which is of a terrifying scribble guy apparently getting shot down by a lady with Spongebob eyes. Nightmares. –Indiana Laub (Bloated Kat, [email protected], bloatedkat.storenvy.com)

SHARKPACT: Run: LP
Sharkpact is Camille and Jeff, a keyboard/drums duo from Olympia, WA, who inhabits the same scene as RVIVR, Dogjaw, and Prank War. It would be grossly reductive to say that Sharkpact is pop punk with a keyboard, as the keys could not be replaced with power chords. Instead, their vocals gleefully burst forth, harmonizing with the synth in ways impossible to guitar-wielding punk bands. I’m reminded of Kiwi’s uplifting inflections, but challenging anarchist politics: “I was taught class by the smell of a laundromat.” Each song is food for thought, yet even without glancing at the lyrics, Run is still perfect boogie music. Sharkpact makes me want to pedal my ass off on my bike until I’m drenched in sweat and self-realization: Sure, it’s great to be alive, but make your life count for something. –Sean Arenas (Ditches, ditchesrecords.com / Starcleaner, starcleaner.com / Rumbletowne, rumbletowne.com)

SICK THOUGHTS: Terminal Teenage: LP
Two LPs, ten 7”s, and a 10” all released in the course of less than two years?! This is either the work of a madman hell-bent on prolificacy, or a teenager with absolutely nothing better to do than crank out a jaw-dropping amount of blown-out, lo-fi, bedroom-style garage punk. While the madman title has yet to be confirmed or denied, Sick Thoughts is in fact the work of local Baltimoreteenager Drew Owen. It’s abrasive, it’s harsh, it’s punk. Rootsy and primal, if you want something raw this will satisfy. Angry and alienated, desperate for reason, this is a journey into the mind of a frustrated, lonely teenager. All too relatable. –Daryl (Dead Beat)

SIN 34: Do You Feel Safe?: CD
Yup, you read that right, kids, the album it was once alleged would never see a legitimate reissue has been re-released. For those not familiar with the band, Sin 34 was a unit active on L.A.’s Westside in the early ‘80s (and for a time in the ‘00s/’10s with the original lineup intact) that was notable for a) being one of only a handful in the early American hardcore scene to feature a woman on vocals; b) counting Dave Markey (half of the We Got Power fanzine brain trust and a noted filmmaker) among their ranks; c) being one of the legion of bands that Circle One guitarist Mike Vallejo was in (though not for this recording), for those playing the wildly popular “Six Degrees of Mike” game that is sweeping the underground. This is the band’s sole long-form outing released when they were still active, a perennial inclusion on assorted want-lists and a bit of a classic, I reckon, of its type. If you’re looking for the artsy weirdness of Butthole Surfers, the taut funky-punk of the Minutemen, or even the mind-bogglingly complex speed-trials of Die Kreuzen, you’re barking up the wrong tree here. Sonically, their palette was solidly of the sloppy, occasionally generic thrash variety, more in line with early Wasted Youth than any of those others, with less emphasis on how much Reagan sucked and on more personal issues, peppered throughout with enough humor to keep things interesting. I fully know it’s a bit of an acquired taste for those looking for more sophisticated fare, but I’ve had a soft spot for ‘em since this was originally released, so it’s nice to see this get another go-’round. While the inclusion of the Die Laughing EP and assorted comp tracks would’ve been aces, the three outtakes that are tacked on here are definitely a welcome surprise, as are the liner notes penned by Markey, Thurston Moore, and Tobi Vail, respectively, to give the listener some context. –Jimmy Alvarado (Sinister Torch)

VARIOUS ARTISTS: The New Wave of the Grave New Beat: CD
An international comp featuring twenty songs from twelve bands ostensibly repping a “new” direction in the whole D-beat phenomenon: using Discharge’s Grave New World era as the template. As with the lion’s share of stuff inspired by Discharge, the best of the bunch is the stuff that veers radically away from the basic sonic template (one tune is a quiet piece played on a piano), and the rest sound like, well, assorted bands covering Discharge, even if the songs they’re playing are “original” compositions. Boring. Look, I understand influence. As the Big Boys once sang, “everybody has their own.” Hell, many of my favorite bands have drawn heavy influence from Discharge, as have I on occasion. Going out of one’s way to sound as like another band as possible, however, shows the same staggering lack of creativity as blatantly stealing old band names, logos, and visual ephemera and trying to pass them off as your own. For good or ill, even Discharge understood that templates are made to be bent, twisted, stretched, mutated, or decimated, not revered and adhered to with blind dogmatic ardor. That’s what church is for. –Jimmy Alvarado (Our Future, no address listed)

WHITE ASS: Self-titled: LP
Due to dopey band name and peculiar Warehouse: Songs and Stories-esque packaging, I wouldn’t’ve given this record a second glance had I encountered it in the wild, and this would have been to my life’s detriment. These Parisian cellar-dwellers crank out a reverb-demented garage squall of such tangible meatiness that you’ll swear you’re bathing in guitars and as a result your complexion has improved noticeably. I’ve also found that this record cannot possibly be turned down to a volume where it won’t disturb others nearby, if you try it, the record just turns itself back up again. I guess there’s a first time for everything: Earth surrenders to France!BEST SONG: “Fox Around.” BEST SONG TITLE: “C’est la Merde.” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: This album cover uses the Cooper Black font, which I’ve hated for about thirty-five years. ­–Rev. Nørb (FranticCity, franticcity.free.fr)

WRIGGLE: Demo: Cassette
Being yelled at by a drunk guy while some people play music behind him, pretty much. GRADE: In the context of being yelled at by a drunk guy, A-. In the context of music, B-. –Bryan Static (Sorry State, sorrystaterecords.com)

YOLKS, THE: Kings of Awesome: LP
Pretty lofty title, but the album is pretty awesome (and really catchy). One side is packed full of loose bubblegum rockers that frolic along on an intimate slacker tip. Each one of ‘em is as good as the next, and they got an honest and boyish sentiment. The other side is nothing but delightful rhythm and blues tracks, with nothin’ slacker soundin’ about ‘em. Some of ‘em sound like they coulda been half a century old or more (besides the “What’d I Say” cover, which is). They’ve even got keys! And use them well, conjuring Vince Guaraldi to mind—maybe that’s just me because this makes me wanna dance like somebody from the Peanuts syndicate. Regardless, they’re fantastic. The flipping of the record is all the transition you need between the two sides, despite their different patterns, as they are cut from the same distinct cloth (I guess they split live sets like this, too). For sure, one of the top new records I’ve heard this year. –Vincent (Randy, randyrecords.bigcartel.com)