Absolut / Paranoid Jawbreaking Mangel Devastation 12″ (Beach Impediment / Brain Solvent Propaganda)
Phew, just got out of the hospital and my entire face is in a cast… the last thing I can remember, I was sitting in my room and I had just started listening to this split 12″. If you are daring enough to give this record a try, you might find pleasure in the pain as well! Absolut are a Canadian group who meld Swedish and Japanese strains of d-beat with ’80s thrash metal and the results are quite powerful. Only four songs on their side, with wonderfully generic titles (“Peace System” and “Mental Problem” are beautiful in their utter lack of poetry), and they use them to rage forward through perfectly-executed solos, downhill riffing and a cohesiveness that can be elusive within this genre. Flip it over for Japan’s Paranoid, who are a worthy partner, if not quite as sonically explosive. Their songs are a bit more rudimentary (and without any tricky thrash transitions), but just as gnarly, as you can practically smell the smoke and flames coming off Paranoid’s amplifiers. So many punk records brandish maces or other medieval weaponry within their art these days, but Jawbreaking Mangel Devastation really means it.

Archie Pelago Clammy Customer EP 12″ (Mister Saturday Night)
I’m not big on puns as band names, but a cool new record shop opened locally (that’d be Profond Music for the locals) with a thoughtfully-stocked techno/house section and a fresh turntable with which to sample, so I found myself checking out Archie Pelago. Turns out I fell in love right away, and was surprised to find out that Archie Pelago isn’t just some dude’s alter-ego but a three-piece “band” consisting of trumpet, cello, sax and all three on Ableton. A curious lineup for sure, and a track like “Clammy Customer” yields tasty fruit, an ebullient house track rife with uplifting strings and optimistic melodies. It’s as if any given Soul Jazz Records ad on the back cover of Wire came to life as a Keith Haring illustration and danced down your street, neighbors pouring out of their houses to follow along. “Madame Suede Nightshade” comes with the pink hues of dusk, as if the aforementioned Soul Jazz Guy met a young Lonnie Liston Smith at a Sandals Beach Resort for a single night of romance. Archie Pelago’s back catalog is thick enough to occupy me for a while, and I’m glad it’s all because I was actually browsing in a store and not clicking a damn link for once.

Black Panties Prophet Of Hate / Violence 7″ (Total Punk)
Some instantly-recognizable Lumpy art adorns this Black Panties single, which is as fine an introduction as any – how long until he gets into the greeting card game? Anyway, I’ve previously found Black Panties to be a well-suited if ultimately unremarkable flag-bearer of modern noisy garage-punk, and this single improves his standing with me. “Prophet Of Hate” sounds like a song title Bobby Soxx would’ve eventually gotten around to writing, and Black Panties follows suit with a sluggish noise-punk jam, getting itself kicked out of every bar it wanders into. “Violence” has more of a bedroom-punk feel, like Sneaky Pinks covering GG Allin & The Scumfucs for Halloween. Two nice shades (of black) for modern subterranean punk, no doubt about it.

Brando’s Island Liquid Soul / Cryo Capers 7″ (Altered States Tapes)
Nice to see another new 7″ from Australia’s Brando’s Island, or as I keep track of them in my head, “that punk band with a xylophone”. They’re really homing in on their own style here, neglecting guitars or basses entirely (did they ever use those before?) for a drums/synth/xylophone setup, yet somehow clearly remaining entrenched in a punk aesthetic. Maybe it’s the singer’s moderate snarl, but the songs seem like they could just as easily be performed by guitars and make sense too (if not nearly as sonically interesting). “Liquid Soul” bops around a bit before ending on a DFA Records disco-beat, and “Cryo Capers” kinda slinks along, bolstered by some pretty ridiculous vibrato vocals and a general stink that reminds me of Factorymen in some abstract way. Fans of the early ’80s works of Geza X, Von Lmo and Devo should certainly welcome Brando’s Island with open arms, although really anyone with an ear for smart-stupid sci-fi punk can easily dig right in.

Buttechno СПОРТ LP (no label)
You must be tripping if you think I’m not gonna go ahead and check out someone calling themselves “Buttechno”. I mean if we were all still on AOL, I’d be running to make that my screen-name right now. Listening through, I have to say that by no one’s definition does the music of СПОРТ equate to “Buttechno” – these tracks are loose groupings of techno particles; dub-techno with its internal organs removed; anything but booty-shaking dance music. Don’t expect to involve your gluteus while enjoying this one, except for locating an appropriately sleek and modern lounge-chair to position yourself in while taking in these intriguing sketches and rough drafts of underground techno. I couldn’t help but research this one a bit further, and was interested to find out that at least some of СПОРТ was used for Gosha Rubchinsky’s F/W 2015 runway show, he being one of the most notable up-and-coming men’s designers, fusing street-wear with futuristic fabrics and the looming shadow of Communism. Now I know he’s got an ear for Buttechno, too.

Cold Beat Into The Air LP (Crime On The Moon)
It’s hard not to be a fan of Cold Beat, a band that manages to be staunchly DIY while still sorta “going for it”, hitting the road and getting the fickle music press to actually spotlight their band. (I’m referring to myself here, of course: you think it’s easy to get a Yellow Green Red review?) I enjoyed their debut EP and album, and Into The Air is their finest musical product yet. While surely unintentional, I can’t help but pick up a strong Dum Dum Girls vibe here, care of the upbeat melodies, steady-chiming guitars and angelic vocals. If Dum Dum Girls had never gotten into fashion promotion and lush ’80s reverb, I could see them sounding a bit like Cold Beat here. That said, Cold Beat aren’t merely shadowy indie-rock, as they push in various new and exciting directions, most notably in “Cracks”, a tune that melds a chase-scene synth arpeggio with Bill Orcutt / Air Conditioning-style guitar and post-punk cool, inhabiting a new genre that I hope Cold Beat further explores. It all leads to an excellent mix of songs that are boundary-pushing as well as catchy, that hard-to-find brand of guitar-driven rock music that feels both unified and diverse. And now with “Cracks”, I have the perfect soundtrack to the Mr. Robot emotional-breakdown montage I’ve been editing.

Da-Sein Tautology 7″ (Galakthorrö)
The most impressive thing about Galakthorrö’s decades-long run isn’t their aesthetic purity, or close-knit stable of artists, so much as their ability to find new people who essentially sound like their defining artists Haus Arafna and November Növelet. Take Da-Sein for example, an ostensibly new group from Madrid who not only sound like a 50/50 split of Haus Arafna and November Növelet, they even look like a younger, slightly less-German version of Mr. and Mrs. Arafna. I can’t tell if this is intentional worship or just a beneficial coincidence, but the four tracks on here have the cold industrial hum, warped VCO/VCF/VCA programming and utterly disaffected vocals that are hallmark to Galakthorrö. I’m not sure the Arafnas would ever write a song as crassly titled as “Synthetic Blowjob” (the b-side opener here), but that’s a very subtle distinction, and Da-Sein are clearly still finding their place in the world, even as their musical aesthetic is already fully-formed. Normally, imitation acts get on my nerves, intentional or not, but when it comes to the fascinating world of Galakthorrö I can’t help but want to own them all.

Expert Alterations You Can’t Always Be Liked LP (Kanine)
Baltimore’s Expert Alterations are defensive right off the bat with the title You Can’t Always Be Liked, unless it’s some sort of reverse-psychology ploy where everyone likes them just to prove them wrong? Anyway, I’ve seen their name around, usually followed by praise, and I’m happy to finally hear them care of their debut album. They’re a bit more twee than I expected, and I think that comes from the vocals, delivered in a wispy, sorta-faux-British voice that sounds like it has persevered through both bullies and heartbreak, the sort of guy who paints the perfect flower only to have a jock vindictively splash Gatorade all over it. They remind me of a more put-together version of Cause Co-Motion, or perhaps The Wedding Present’s most fragile tunes. Maybe a touch of the Thin Yoghurts single (highly recommended) as well. There aren’t any drop-dead hooks or melodies on here, but Expert Alterations have the sound down pat, played with casual precision and sincerity. Plus they look like they stepped out of a Three One G catalog circa 1999, which warms my fashion-conscious heart.

German Army / Nový SvÄ›t split 7″ (Tourette)
First time German Army listener here, although I’ve seen their name around on various labels I enjoy (Handmade Birds, Opal Tapes, Chondritic Sound, etc.). I just have a natural fear of these bands that have released two dozen cassette “albums” in the course of a couple years, like they still haven’t learned that not everyone is Wolf Eyes and should take a photo of every dump they take, so to speak. Anyway, their three tracks here are cool if mostly par for the course: thick layers of synthetic ambiance, purposely-corny effects, underwater vocals buried in the mix, incongruous nonsense for nonsense’s sake. I’m not really sure who this sort of music is for at this point, as I think we’ve mostly all gotten over the wonder of self-recorded experimental post-punk superfluousness by 2015 (it’s not quite the gold rush of 2007 – 2009, that’s for sure), but these tracks are fine by me. Nový SvÄ›t are the vets on this split, with a discography spanning back to the late ’90s, and I appreciate its air of gothic excess, like wax statues of Pleasure Forever slowly melting as Ghedalia Tazartes tap-dances in the background. Three versions of this split 7″ exist: black vinyl, maroon vinyl and picture disc, and I’m glad I’m not the person in charge of figuring out how to sell them all.

Ghost Culture Lucky (Audion Remix) 12″ (Phantasy Sound)
Those drugged out eyes on the cover hypnotized me into pulling this record out of its bin, and when I saw there was an Audion remix, I was already more than halfway to purchasing it. Having never heard the original version of Ghost Culture’s “Lucky”, I’m not sure I even want to, as Matthew Dear spins it into something gorgeous under his Audion guise. The man has a knack for rendering human vocals into some sort of alien transmission, and he utilizes that skill alongside various paths of vibrating bass, gated pulses and mesmerizing rhythms. I feel like his marionette as I spin “Lucky (Audion Remix)”, and it’s nice not having to think for a few minutes, allowing Matthew Dear to take full responsibility for my actions. “Lucky (Dub)” is on the flip, and it’s a punchy, accessible tech-house track, kinda what I assumed Com Truise sounds like (but am afraid to ever actually find out), but my needle is far too busy with the a-side for anything else these days.

Greymouth Greymouth LP (Quemada)
I’d say it’s simply a matter of something in the water, the way in which so many New Zealand underground musicians kick up the same gleefully desperate noise, but Greymouth, a duo of New Zealand origin, have lived in Japan for a while, so it must be more of a matter of genetics. Regardless of where they get it, I love that Greymouth’ve got it, that distinctly chaotic and free-willed spirit in their exploration of guitar and drums. Probably impossible to avoid a Dead C comparison, and it’s certainly built into Greymouth’s twisty, feedback-laden sound, but I’m also picturing a jittery, over-caffeinated Mad Nanna, or when Greymouth veer further into song, the fantastic and under-appreciated sole album by The 012, Let’s Get Professional. It’s as if Greymouth snatched fragments of the Xpressway discography, British post-punk DIY and New York’s no-wave scene and re-purposed them for something not entirely new but refreshing nonetheless. Maybe it’s because they’ve been going at it for a while with few records to their name (this is actually their first slice of vinyl), that they’ve been able to gather up their best moments here, from the sizzling a-side to the organized confusion of “Up To The Cape”. I plan on continuing to listen with no intention of ever figuring it out.

Growing Pains I Always Know 7″ (Volar)
It was just last month I was bemoaning the fact that every ’80s sitcom name is now also either a garage band or a dance music producer, and here arrives this Growing Pains single. The band didn’t make it easy to figure out, though – there is literally not a single mention of their name on this record, from the cover to the center stickers. Just song titles and the label name! Audacious to say the least, or perhaps they assume the chance of someone browsing a record shop and picking up a Growing Pains 7″ because of their name is slimmer than the odds of becoming a millionaire from your holiday scratch-off. Anyway, they’ve got a pretty plain contemporary indie-rock sound: the guitars aim neither to rock or jangle, but someplace in-between, and the vocalist sounds like he picked the short straw and was forced into that role. No hooks, no excitement, just a band going through the motions because it’s more fun to be in a band than it is to not be in a band. Can’t blame them for having some fun, that’s for sure, but I’d rather watch one of those weird born-again Kirk Cameron flicks than subject myself to these four songs any longer.

Hag Face Tautology LP (Psychic Handshake)
More modern weird-punk from the Psychic Handshake folks, this one coming from Calgary’s Hag Face. I’m fairly certain the title doesn’t refer to the band’s posthumous status, so much as the morbid fright-fest contained within. While listening, I can’t help but feel like each song jumps out of a dark corner and yells “boo!” at me, like I’m walking through a neighborhood basement-turned-haunted-house run by some unruly college kids trying to scrape together beer money and The Coathangers are DJing the after-party. Hag Face split the difference between Black Sabbath and Misfits riffs and howl and scream over them, not in an emotive hardcore sense so much as bloodcurdling b-movie horror. Depending on the song, the bloody axe is either aimed at or wielded by Hag Face, and no matter how things turn out in the end, there will be blood.

Kuedo Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence 12″ (Knives)
Kuedo came on the scene back in 2011 with his album Severant, and returns with this formidable EP of cinematic, forward-thinking electronic production. As I listen, I can practically visualize each track: a foggy stretch of the Amazon River seethes with invisible dangers on “Vertical Stack”, the Egyptrixx-featured “Boundary Regulation” is like Tom Hanks accidentally discovering the meaning to The Da Vinci Code while trapped inside the Matrix, and so on. I’ve seen Anime referenced in descriptions of Kuedo’s aesthetic, and I found that to really make sense, as his music is all sharp curves, jittery shifts and the impression that there can be beauty (or at least sophistication) in violence. Assertion Of A Surrounding Presence sounds like Arca, were Arca able to settle his ADD for a moment and craft a story through intricate sonic production. I’ll be damned if this sort of music doesn’t come standard with your Playstation 5 virtual-reality visor (coming Christmas 2020).

La Misma Kanizadi LP (Toxic State)
Toxic State seem to have slowed down production in 2015, sticking with albums of established label acts, and as a fan of classically-grounded, forward-thinking hardcore-punk, it’s been a pleasure following along! My enjoyment certainly extends to La Misma’s debut album Kanizadi. Their 7″ was a nice splash of choppy hardcore-punk, and they build on that here, offering a more versatile sound. Musically, I’m reminded of tri-state area pogo-punk from the ’90s (The Casualties, Huasipungo and hell, even Blanks ’77 come to mind), but far dirtier, with explorations into hard-rock and an urgency that would fit in on Not So Quiet On The Western Front (perhaps my favorite hardcore-punk compilation of all time). Kanizadi shuffles along through a mid-tempo pogo nicely, and diverges into proto-punk grooves without awkwardness – this is a band that would make just as much sense covering Crucifix as Girlschool. Wrap that up in a sticky Toxic State screen-printed jacket and thick poster insert and you’ve got all the encouragement you need to finally pierce your ear with a safety pin.

Lutto Lento Whips 12″ (Where To Now?)
Beatrice Dillon’s EP on the Where To Now? label hit such a sweet spot with me, both artistically and musically, that I figured I’d check out the label’s other recent 12″ offering, this by Polish producer Lutto Lento. Now I can’t help but feel like I’ve struck gold with this label, as Whips is as perfect as Beatrice Dillon’s Face A/B, using beat-oriented dance music as its map and quickly veering delightfully off course. Lento is a master of the tarnished loop, as if the house music he is sampling was initially performed on drums that were dredged up from a sunken ship, covered in rust and barnacles. His hi-hats are downright corrosive, and they are usually accompanied by some sort of unsteady bass-line, like his synth is trying to balance itself on one-foot after a drunken night out. I’m reminded of the most recent Morphosis album, although Lento generally favors forward momentum to improvised click-clacking, with a touch of Gerry Read at his most sociopathic. Maybe Andy Stott without the wistful emotion, and just the unrelenting basement grit? The best part is that Whips has six wonderful tracks, including an “Intro” and an “Outro” that hint at a certain pleasure in mangling and chopping up loops. DziÄ™kujÄ™, Lutto!

Longings Longings LP (Framework)
Longings are a current hardcore band out of Amherst, MA, but they sound distinctly ’90s, in a good way! From the distressed text and imagery of the cover art to the music contained within, I can’t help but think of Ebullition’s heyday – Bread And Circuits, Portraits Of Past, maybe even a little John Henry West and Funeral Diner for good measure. Longings calls to mind when emo-hardcore was actually a subversive and bold style of music and not just a modern corporate-indie variant, and it’s refreshing to hear music played like this with the benefit of history (so no funk bass, rap parts, horrible poetry or melodramatic breakdowns). There’s a tinge of modern punk’s fascination with Wipers riffs and gothy atmospheres, but not in any sort of way that seems intentional or construed, just a natural occurrence when emotive hardcore-punk takes a darker turn. I also noticed that Will Killingsworth is in this band, and goddamn, is there any other person who has been in as many good-to-great hardcore bands as him in the past twenty years? He probably has a full 4×4 Expedit dedicated solely to his own music at home, and well, he’s earned it.

Nite School Nite School 7″ (Saucepan / Turbine Piss)
I see the name “Nite School” and assume it’s some new Chromatics / Johnny Jewel side-project, but that couldn’t be further from the exhaust this Cleveland punk band are spraying. They’re a (presumably) new trio featuring Steve Peffer and Kevin Jaworski (they of Nine Shocks Terror and Pleasure Leftists pedigree) alongside Brandon Gaffney (he of Brown Sugar). Not a bad resume by any means, so their fast n’ dirty punk isn’t unexpected. There are a lot of rapid-fire closed hi-hat beats, vocals that sound as though they were recorded in an industrial air duct, and songs that recall The Adolescents and The Oblivians as well as echoes of Homostupids and Brown Sugar, even with some guitar soloing when necessary. These songs whiz right past (my favorite is the blink-and-miss-it “Night”), and while they don’t particularly outshine any of the work of Nite School’s members’ discographies (good luck to anyone trying to top Zen And The Art Of Beating Your Ass) they are a suitable addition nonetheless.

November Növelet The World In Devotion LP (Galakthorrö)
Some people buy a new throw blanket to comfort themselves as the temperature drops and the nights grow longer, but I invest that money in a more satisfying winter indulgence: a new November Növelet album! I’ve heard that the vinyl version of The World In Devotion is already sold out, and while I normally dislike labels that press below the obvious demand, I don’t necessarily mind here, as November Növelet have always been a personal and private enjoyment. This isn’t a record I listen to with friends, so much as on my own, by candlelight, with some sort of animal skull on an otherwise empty desk before me. I should probably do a direct comparison, but from memory, The World In Devotion is softer and gentler than previous November Növelet outings, its beats often quite weary and distressed (although the title track is ready for the goth night dance-floor, no doubt). It still sounds like I’m wandering through a lavish and abandoned castle after dark, trying to figure out why exactly all of the guests who previously slept in my room died of mysterious circumstances, and that’s exactly what I want out of the fascinating duo known to us as Mr. and Mrs. Arafna.

Operation Midnight Climax Operation Midnight Climax 12″ (Peak Oil)
Peak Oil is an LA-based techno/house label, not far from 100% Silk in their sense of taste, and they’re bestowing an Operation Midnight Climax EP upon us. It’s an alias of one Florin Büchel, and the music produced under this name doesn’t sound nearly as steamy and erotic as the title may imply. Rather, Büchel follows a fairly strict house regimen, with upbeat grooves, familiar acid tropes and comfortable melodic layering. I’m reminded of Damon Palermo’s earliest Magic Touch offerings or classic Carl Craig in the way the grooves slowly build intuitively but intelligently, like an IKEA dresser that you assembled perfectly in one try. Operation Midnight Climax certainly isn’t using some brand-new futuristic software, but trusted 808s and 707s, hardware that has reliably served the dance-floor for decades now. Büchel respects these traditions with reverence and respect, which suits me just fine.

Patsy Tuley-Tude High / Paradise 7″ (Total Punk)
Patsy is a new punk band featuring Candice from Mystic Inane, unless of course there are multiple Candices who live in New Orleans and play awesome punk music, in which case I may need to finally visit and see what this magical city is all about. They’ve rightfully found a home on Total Punk for these two succinct little rippers. “Tuley-Tude High” does the speedy two-chord down-picked guitar / violent polka-beat that I’ve come to expect from punks under the age of 25, but with a swagger and style that elevates (or at least separates) them from bands called Shit, Turd, Glue, Dope, Book, Gag, et al. “Paradise” feels like Vexx if Vexx never read any books or went to art museums, the sort of song that rages even though I can’t help but picture each band member drooling while playing it. In other words, this is a prime Total Punk slab, and if your copy arrives all wrinkled up in the mail because its low-grade paper sleeve is prone to such issues, just remember it’s a record that deserves to be partied on, not carefully stored away.

Personable New Lines LP (Peak Oil)
Personable contributes the other recent Peak Oil record (both of which are limited to 300 with cool hand-affixed cover art), and this one is a bit more my speed than the trad-house offerings of Operation Midnight Climax. On the a-side, Personable snakes a speedy little arpeggio through your pipes in search of the clog, and it’s an excellent adventure (much preferable to a bogus journey). It feels like a Petar Dundov track that got off the leash and ran away, or perhaps something from the Great Circles camp without the basement corrosion and in-the-red mastering. “Cris Rose” opens the b-side with various rubbery pings running away from their origin as a hi-hat keeps time, at least until it unfolds into some sort of majestic sunrise not unlike what Mr. Raoul K was conjuring in the late ’00s. Personable then brings it all home with the title track, a short suite of plucked strings and tapped percussion that locates a beat not far from Henrik Schwarz’s Instruments. Very nice all around, although I noticed that New Lines was recorded in 2013, which has me wondering what sort of tricks Personable is up to lately – perhaps Peak Oil will help me find out soon enough.

Round Eye Round Eye LP (Ripping)
Truly bizarre piece of music here from Shanghai’s Round Eye, who mash all sorts of styles together and delight at its awkwardness. I suppose the closest genre I could sneak them into is “punk”, but they forego punk rock’s aesthetic for large stretches of their self-titled debut. Instead, you might get a backwards-panned kraut-esque freakout, some carnival jazz not unlike Barnacled (or even Gogol Bordello), heavy streaks of noise-rock ala Melvins or some sort of made-up improvisation that recalls an amateur Magma. It’s as confusing to me while I explain it as it is you reading my explanation, trust me. Multiple tracks have sequels (see “Street Light A” and “Street Light B”, or “HeSheRoshima” A through C), but then there’s also a song squeezed in here titled, and I quote, “You Can Tell That She’s A Dud Lay By The Fact She Has A Photo Of Her Nephew As The Background On Her Phone.”. Sheesh. They’ll end a Can-esque smoke session with a throbbing trombone and think nothing of it, almost daring you to keep listening. Were there any funky breaks or harsh noise bursts, I’d liken Round Eye to The Boredoms, but those are two of the few sounds they aren’t working with. I can’t tell if Round Eye are authentically freaks, or if they just tried so hard to be freaky that the accidentally became true freaks, but regardless of their journey, they’ve arrived at their destination.

Sacred Product $ A Ride 12″ (Quemada)
It’s a real joy to hear any new Sacred Product music, or anything that emanates from Lynton Denovan’s brain (he of the sorely-missed Satanic Rockers; Sacred Product being his solo venture). The Sacred Product 2×7″ collected various tracks form years past, whereas $ A Ride is six prime cuts from 2013-2014. It’s instantly recognizable, this specific combination of klutzy drums, direct-input bass and angrily spoken vocals, as if Denovan is reading his lyrics on a tiny print-out without his glasses, slowly sounding out each word as he goes along. It all comes together for a sound that’s not unlike Flipper covering The Instant Automatons, forcing their rudimentary slice-of-life tunes into a sludge-punk filter, baking those riffs until they exude some sort of accidental psychedelia. Plus, songs like “Working Is A Waste” and “Sick Day” call to mind the working-class reality of Sleaford Mods and The Wretched Ones, just in an even stupider way. Killer!

Snob Snob 7″ (no label)
Pose alert: I missed the first self-titled 7″ EP from London’s Snob, and am catching up with this, the second. There’s just so much quality punk coming out of London these days, I didn’t even catch on to Primetime until witnessing their majesty live on stage last summer! Anyway, I’m not entirely sure who’s behind Snob, but I get the impression there’s at least one Good Throbber, if only because their fake punk pseudonyms are just as great (we’ve got Scabs on vocals, Pee Pee Ramone on drums, Tuna Kunt on guitar and my personal favorite, Ronaldo Frittata on the bass). Whereas Good Throb are pure punk, Snob are a hardcore band through and through, utilizing downer riffs and a moderate d-beat in classic fashion, somewhere between the early Discharge singles and Nog Watt’s brilliant EP, but with a lyrical crassness that has me coming back to Good Throb (there’s a song called “Death Erection” and “Litter Lout” is about forcing a jerk to eat garbage off the street, after all). Regardless of determining exactly who is responsible here, I’m going to stop fretting and simply marvel at Snob’s forceful hardcore-punk, heavy bass stylings of Mr. Ronaldo Frittata included.

Splat Splat 7″ (Saucepan)
Splat are a three-piece punk group from Cleveland, and I can certainly relate to their frantic and upbeat tunes, as they frequently reference normal human functions. “Takin A Bath” (sic), eating breakfast, being bored at bars, all that stuff hits home… clearly Splat are using their music not to rage against society’s ills but their roommate who is two months late on the utilities bill. Musically they remind of of the thrashier, punker end of pop-punk, like I Farm, The South, the Descendants tracks that last under 45 seconds and the NOFX Fuck The Kids 7″. Kind of an East Bay vibe too, like I could see Splat wearing Crimpshrine and Blatz patches on their hoodies. Splat certainly have the right sort of off-the-cuff presentation and attitude that makes this style work, hand-in-hand with skinned knees from skateboarding and Taco Bell’s late night menu.

USA Nails No Pleasure LP (Bigoût / Smalltown America)
Don’t let the name fool you, USA Nails are a British group from London (who will reply to your Facebook message within an hour, or so their page tells me). This is their second album, and it’s a nice slice of male-fronted contemporary post-punk. I’m hearing bits of AmRep’s grunge, Drive Like Jehu’s mathy thunder and the GSL / Three.One.G sass-rock style within No Pleasure, all with the modern touch of Metz and KEN Mode’s calculated noise. London generally takes being in a band seriously, so naturally USA Nails sound pretty polished, and their songs are often quite direct to the point. They vary the pacing and energy nicely, ultimately giving those shirtless graphic designers in the pit something to get drunk about. I’m at the age where I try to avoid airborne beer, but for those of you interested in falling into something wet, cheers mate.

Vainio & Vigroux Peau Froide, Léger Soleil 2×12″ (Cosmo Rhythmatic)
It’s really feeling like electronic music is moving in the direction that Mika Vainio and Franck Vigroux have put together for us here with Peau Froide, Léger Soleil, and I for one am not complaining. They take the brutalist, near-macho sound design of Ben Frost and Emptyset and relay that into the sideways techno of the PAN label and the formalist seriousness of Raster-Noton, playing to all of those strengths for a highly enjoyable result. It starts with the patient silence-to-chaos build of “Deux”, and by the time “Le Crâne Tambour” hits, they’ve offered themselves up to a particularly intense goth night featuring only the hardest of Clock DVA and Skinny Puppy cuts. Vainio & Vigroux manage to avoid boredom from excessive ambiance or predictability though standard techno beats, commanding the listener’s attention in ways both familiar and strange. It makes for a record that I keep coming back to, even in the face of so many other dark-ambient experimental industrial records polluting my turntable. You might worry that stoic, tight-laced German experimental-record-label owners would release Peau Froide, Léger Soleil on CD only (it has that ultra-serious European vibe), but I’m thankful there’s a gorgeous double twelve-inch version too, so that my personal needs might be satisfied.

Vanity Of The Tongue Reality Fantasies LP (Crisis Of Taste)
This one’s a real hardcore head-scratcher, the debut album from Vanity Of The Tongue, a studio project that seems intent on making sure you have a difficult time listening to their music. I mean that in the most literal way possible: they play a pretty mean, late-’00s style of hardcore, not unlike Cult Ritual and Salvation, but have rudely manipulated most tracks in post-production. There are large chunks of “A Time We’ll Remember” that are muted, and “Slow Down” opens the record as a short chunk of faceless hardcore that is, you guessed it, slowed to a snail’s pace. It’s as if Vanity Of The Tongue are far more interested in having you checking your stereo for malfunctions than moshing, which makes the Youth Of Today-borrowed song titles feel more like mockery than homage. I’m reminded most of Billy Bao here, were he to take on down-tuned hardcore-punk instead of noise-rock, the way in which these songs are manipulated and shredded for maximum listener fatigue. In that way, Reality Fantasies is both a success and a failure, which is surely the result they designed.