Back in the early days of hardcore, Lee Ving used to brag that what made Fear stand out from all the other three chord punk bands at the time was that the members of Fear were “musos.” In other words, they could actually play their instruments. Now, I’ve managed to forge a reputation as a half-witted connoisseur of trashed-out, two-chord tard punk— the Grabbies being a primo example—so it might seem a bit incongruent that I would be so impressed by a band like New Labor. But impressed I am. This is a band of musos, no doubt, and they know more chords than all the other bands I like put together. Stylistic comparisons could be draw with Fear, Jesus Lizard, the DKs, Nomeansno, and the Minutemen, but this band is a unique brute of its own. The songs here aren’t overly mathy, but feature pushy riffs, all full of angles and elbows, and vocals that are a cross between a rutting sasquatch and a perverted televangelist venting his spleen to his flock. I don’t know if the magic hypno-glasses on the cover actually have me somehow mesmerized, or if I’ve just grown a few more neurons lately, but for some reason I like this a lot. Musos or not, this is one barrel-chested, cauliflower-eared, mean brawler of a record. And it’s surprisingly catchy, to boot.
–aphid (Self-released, thenewlabor.com)