As Winter starts to give way to Spring I fall into what some people call Seasonal Affective Disorder, most people get it in the Winter but I enjoy the isolation. I don’t talk to therapists, I hate doctors and I won’t hug a salt lamp. Luckily, sounds seem to be falling into place and there has been some activity of late that manages to keep my head above water. I’d argue for 7 seconds with any modern day witch that it’s a better solution than waiting for star alignment and then remember that it’s all just a waste of time anyways and hate myself for even getting involved with the conversation in the first place. Literally everything is better when I shut up.
LOCAL VANCOUVER RELEASES:
Two pretty good releases from Red Circle and Wirehead. I wish that some time was spent on the quality of the Red Circle cassette because though I wasn’t feeling the first track it manages to kick of really strongly after that but sometimes the sound is absolute mud. A good amount of urgency manages to shine and though it lends itself a little close to the 90’s grunge sounds so prevalent in a lot of current punk that turns me of immediately - this actually manages to work. It’s not moping along like a half limp Nirvana. More like a loaded L7. It’s decently pissed and even raunchy. At least one song about squirting in faces. You get the idea. When it slows down it very nearly gets into cheesy rawk territory but it works. Pretty bold. Pretty good. I’ll be checking them out live asap. Wirehead are made up of members from Slow Tide and Dead Cells. The Wirehead release is their demo and it’s out on Slow Death Records. It’s out today and they’re playing a release with some real heavyweights in my opinion - Convenience, Nasti and Bootlicker. Will be a time. It’s at Black Lab. Aside from killer gigs, Wirehead manages to lay out some bratty, choppy punk rock. It reminds me of a sloppy VKTMS or a more melodic Vapid. Some weird choices for production on vocals at points that manage to add a little texture to what’s going on with some seriously snotty lyrics. I’m happy that there are bands still comfortable playing just good garage (the approach - not the genre) punk. No frills, no gimmicks. Just a couple of good hooks and 2 minutes of pharmaceutically enhanced rock n roll. It doesn’t hurt that the singer sounds like she collects eyeballs from audience members that stare too long. Another cool local band to follow. Cool!
Check them both out here:
New records from Diat, Freak, Slant, Homeless Cadaver, Clarko, Omega Tribe, Zounds, Uranium Club and more. Also new local cassettes by Wirehead and Red Circle.
Diat’s ‘Positive Disintegration’, the second act to 2015’s ‘Positive Energy’ is the perfect companion to my head space. The sun is reaching the piss caked pavement which greets me each morning as I step into work. That endless cycle of life’s mundanity, elation and disappointment. Diat encapsulates the same on each of their records. Musically it’s moved steadily into the direction of Killing Joke’s second act. More synth, the same trading of heavy guitar with single note, post-punk plucking. The record sounds like Diat but they’ve added a level of experimentation that wasn’t present in the first LP. First off, ‘Disintegration’ is less “punk” than ‘Energy’, the mournful guitar work and lighter singing of “Missed The Bus” being the most glaring example and thematically, the sense of longing, isolation and cleanliness of the first LP are manifested more openly. It makes me laugh each time I hear people talk about youth culture in regard to punk rock. Most of the bands creating music aren’t 19 and pissed, they’re 30 and terrified of dealing with the inevitable nature of actually growing up. It’s the second and infinitely more startling puberty. Instead of learning how to jack off you’re faced with the stark realities that jacking off was as good as it got and you’re not as attractive as you used to be. You’re tired. You can’t drink all night anymore. You look at the friends that still manage it and it scares you.
Excess actually becomes excessive.
Positive Disintegration. Disintegration Positive.
Order it on Iron Lung when it’s back in stock. The initial pressing sold out faster than dad.
Freak were a band from 2015 that managed a self-released, cassette demo called ‘Ritual Death’. Vague Absolutes, the somewhat newer label to Warthog Speak have released it on 7” in a depressingly small run of 100. Ritual Death managed to link Rudimentary Peni, Leather Nun and Amebix into a reverbed, blasted out hardcore band from somewhere in California and feature members from Rank Xerox, Jump Off A Building and another Vague Absolutes band, Index. On Ritual Death, Freak torch thru a seething nightmare of 5 tracks before completely laying waste to with the final track, and the reason this will be on every future wantlist. If you’re looking for something that sounds like it may have been created by a death cult that routinely sacrifices children to the morning waves of the West Coast surf, well here it is. Grab it quick. Certainly won’t last long.
In addition to the Diat release, Iron Lung have started a 7” series called Systemic Surgery. The first two 7”s have been released and feature Homeless Cadaver and Clarko. ‘Fat Skeleton’ reminds me of a bit more tuneful ‘Strike The Bottom Red’ by Mentally Ill but with a welcome inclusion of synthesizers. Nice little freak-out solo on this one as well. The B-side is a slower, more dirge-y grind that has a Flipper feel to it. Again, a bit easier digested than the San Francisco maniacs that came before them and not half as good as the A-side. Clarko appears to be a one man synth band and the overall attempt sounds close to what Devo was going for early on but the tempo lines up a bit with Kitchen and the Plastic Spoons as well. Once again, the A-side is the better track and it’s backed with a somewhat predictable flip but both tracks are growing on me. 200 copies of each Clarko and Homeless Cadaver release so if synth punk is your persuasion, I’d get on it sooner than later. Still on Iron Lung but not a part of the Systemic Surgery series is South Korea’s Slant and their first 7”, ‘Vain Attempt’. A pretty enjoyable American style hardcore that is miles better than the demo. If you like your vocals screamed at you ala Daudyflin or C.L.A.W. but somehow a little more tuneful than those, you’ll like this. Musically I’m getting a Teen Idles or SOA vibe. Yes, it’s quite good. And I know that Iron Lung gets cited for being a taste-maker/demi-god of punk and hardcore these days but the sheer amount of output is staggering and when it’s coupled with the quality and diversity that this label has turned into it’s hard to say it’s not deserved. Packaging and care involved with these releases makes for a real head-turner.
Part of La Vida’s label family, Sealed Records had a couple of well-chosen reissues come out. A Zounds singles collection in ‘Can’t Cheat Karma’ and Omega Tribe’s sole LP ‘No Love Lost’. The Zounds record especially looks fantastic and it’s nice to have these classic singles in a format that doesn’t require me getting off the couch every 3 minutes. Zounds are definitely the most talented and diverse band from the peacepunk/anarcho scene and boldly played with pop melodies and rock ‘n’ roll and blended them with punk aggression and post-punk angst. You can hear it in the powerless sentiment of stone-cold classic on Crass Records, the post-punk brilliance of ‘Demystification’or the later recordings like The Clash sounding ‘Biafra’. Zounds were a good fucking band. Listen again. Listen for the first time. I find myself listening to the B-side recordings and it’s like discovering them all over again. Omega Tribe and their sole LP ‘No Love Lost’, have managed to evade the reissue bug since 1983. ‘No Love Lost’ on Corpus Christi was another edition of British Anarcho, coming after their debut, ‘Angry Songs’ (on Crass Records) and ‘It’s A Hard Life’ (Corpus Christi). This sole footlong offering really sounds like Crass attempting to write pop songs. Subject matter still firmly in the vein of anti-war and similar protest songs along with some workers rights sounds. It was nice to hear just how powerful a track like ‘Profit’ can be. La Vida must have agreed. Here it is. Again. Hand-claps, singalongs and all.
“Cosmo Cleaners” by the absolutely fabulous Uranium Club is out to an ever growing audience fascinated by the driving rhythms, prog-rock level of guitar intricacies and oddball, sometimes yelled, sometimes spoken vocals. The time spent on this latest offering is evident in just how strong the production is. The guitars sound robotic at times, echoing the beeps and boops of the factory floor sitting just above the EDM beats of your cubicle mate and mixing with the chaos outside the office window. The musical equivalent of a movie like Human Highways is well, obviously Devo and Neil Young. But the un-made sequel is Uranium Club’s. It’s exciting and apprehensive with the same ear-worm type musicality that you find in Television. Some of the samples (literally ALL OVER this record) make me think there are two records on at the same time and is going to be ensure repeat listening. Ballard was wrong. Who says you need to crash a car to get off. Deluxe leather seats, premium gasoline. Loose cars. Tight nuts. The Club understands. You can trust them. Caught somewhere between what Dead Kennedys should have done instead of ‘Bedtime for Democracy’ and a frontier that Devo never explored properly, Uranium Club became a link to something we didn’t know that we needed. Uranium Club rot your teeth. Uranium Club are the reason your wife fell out of love with you. Uranium Club are the reason your son is autistic. Uranium Club is the future. Whether you know it, like it or not.