As you may have noticed, fewer records are rolling through these pages in recent months. Chalk it up to a variety of reasons: record prices going up (how many thirty-dollar LPs can I possibly fit into my budget?), records caught in endless plant delays, labels focusing on digital and cassettes in order to release music in a timely fashion, and so on. It’s not the best time to try to release a record, seeing as if you press two- or three-hundred copies, you’re guaranteed to either sell out immediately and watch as they sell for a hundred bucks a pop two weeks later (and fans yell at you for it), or barely sell a dozen and sit on the rest forever. It’s hard and only getting harder! So, now that I’ve outlined a particularly bleak vinyl landscape, allow me to remind you, fellow music enthusiast, that there are still millions of old records that rule, sitting out there in bargain bins (and, of course, on Discogs) waiting to be snatched up for pennies on the dollar. Fill up your cart with these!

Envy Envy 7″ (New Direction, 1995)
Let’s kick this off with some distinctive… generic youth-crew hardcore?? Bear with me on this one: Envy were a straight-edge hardcore band from Buffalo in the mid ’90s, strongly indebted to the Revelation Records scene that broke out while they were in middle school. The cover photo is an almost exact rip of the shot used on Youth Of Today’s Disengage 7″, which has a song called, you guessed it, “Envy”. The label, which was probably run by someone in Envy, takes its name from the opening Gorilla Biscuits song on their album, of whom a substantial portion of Envy’s riffs are indebted; I could go on but you get the picture. Extreme youth-crew homage done less than a decade from its initial source, which arrived right when I was a teenager eager to discover positive mosh music. Extremely generic (yet enjoyable) stuff here, with the exception of one crucial aspect: the drums. This drummer must’ve had absolutely no idea what he was doing, so in an inexplicable twist, he does a push-beat (where you hit the snare on the one instead of the two) for all of these songs, giving them a bizarre energy all their own. Can you even mosh in a standard youth-crew style to this rhythm? Vocalist Larry Ransom is perfectly squeaky and impassioned about skating and friends and the edge, and paired with the world’s worst hardcore drumming, you’ve got a two-dollar hardcore single that’s as hysterical as it is typical.

Last Few Days Too Much Is Not Enough 12″ (Touch, 1986)
Okay, so that Envy record definitely won’t be for everyone, especially those of you who (insert eye-roll emoji) only like good music, but this Last Few Days record comes with the highest possible recommendation across the board – if you remotely like the music I champion on here, you need a copy of this. I know little of this European post-punk group, mostly just that they toured with Laibach, kept an extremely low profile and had cool show posters (of which I desperately need to obtain). Somehow, they got on Touch way back in 1985 – yes, the same high-minded electronic composition label that continues to this day – and released this absolute monster of an industrial post-punk tune. I’m referring to the title track, and oh my god, put it on now! It’s a gnarly rhythmic force, little more than live drums and pulsing bass peppered with the occasional confrontational vocal. Imagine Emptyset remixing Black Eyes, Coil remixing Rema Rema, or something Troubleman Unlimited would’ve released between the years of 1999 and 2005 (and would’ve been their best release of the year). “Solemn Warnings” is an eerie tape experiment of horns and sounds, and “If The Bonds Are Not To Burst” is a foreboding organ drone with shouted vocals, adding to the ominous industrial vibe. Fans of Test Dept and SPK need to scoop this immediately, before some hip retrospective compilation drops with “Too Much Is Not Enough” prominently featured and this record starts to command a collector’s price.

The Musical Janeens Sell Out LP (Plurex, 1980)
Truly stumped as to why this one remains a five-dollar cheapo. We’re talking about noisy post-punk from 1980 on the Plurex label, an imprint I hold dearly in my heart for releasing such all-time punk classics as Filth’s Don’t Hide Your Hate and Tits’ Daddy Is My Pusher, both of which command three figures (and are worth every penny). Featuring one member who would later join The Human League, The Musical Janeens played rambunctiously amateur post-punk, favoring improvisational freakery and dub aesthetics to punk’s speedy rock n’ roll formula. Imagine The Door & The Window trying to replicate Public Image Ltd’s dub style to befuddled live audiences across Europe, which is also precisely in front of whom Sell Out was recorded. It would’ve fit in nicely alongside the Fuck Off Records catalog, presumably excluded from Johan Kugelberg’s Top 100 DIY singles on the simple fact that this is an album, not a single. I absolutely love this defiant, early Rough Trade sound, and I know I’m not alone in that opinion, so it continues to mystify me why The Musical Janeens are unheralded and underpriced. How long until the lavish Vinyl On Demand reissue treatment?

Ryuichi Sakamoto featuring Thomas DolbyField Work 12″ (10, 1985)
Did you know that these two ’80s synth-pop pioneers got together to make some tracks way back when? I only found out a couple years ago but I’ve been spinning my copy of Field Work religiously ever since. While most collaborations are often less than the sum of their parts, “Field Work” is a monster banger, like an evolved strain of city-pop based in the cyber-metropolitan zone that Sonic the Hedgehog might run through. What a tune! It’s so fast yet tidy, giving me visions of Japanese bullet trains with Thomas Dolby waving goodbye from the window, his perfectly weird lyrics lodging themselves in your brain (is he supposed to be, like, an archaeologist in love or something?). How come of all the millions of artists making synth-pop today, none of them come close to this? The b-side is a solo Sakamoto outing, and on an entirely different tip: it’s a beautifully bent tone poem that pre-dates the Mille Plateaux IDM scene by at least ten years while still sounding fresh today. Pretty essential electronic listening on both sides, and due to the various domestic and international pressings back in 1985, you can own one for like three bucks plus shipping.

Ziamaluch Ziamaluch 12″ (Flipped Out, 1996)
Fans of Bill Orcutt, take note! He might be the most notable guitarist to spew unhinged blues chords today, but there was also at least Ziamaluch doing it in the ’90s too, the moniker used by one Jackson Wingate. He ran the Flipped Out label that released this, and he christened its discography appropriately with this self-titled one-sided LP in a limited run of two-hundred copies all with repurposed LP sleeves. Wingate absolutely shreds through this one, very much in line with the first run of Bill Orcutt solo records as well as the great Demo Moe album and Jeph Jerman’s Blowhole project, except this is a solo guitar record through and through. 1996 is not a year known for excellent improvised guitar noise, which makes this one stand out even stronger in my humble opinion. I kinda love how emboldened and out-of-time the upstate NY noisy underground has been from the early ’90s through to the present, clearly in love with their own work and the work of their friends rather than concerning themselves with popularity, social standing or, ugh, “making it”. Next time I need my ears cleaned out, I’m gonna lay down on a tarp and crank Ziamaluch to eleven.