ADMX-71 Coherent Abstractions 2xLP (L.I.E.S.)
Initially I thought the self-chosen moniker “Adam X” and consequently ADMX-71 were a little silly, but I’ve made it past that minor hurdle and would tolerate it if this man called himself Hatchetface Da Klown for all I care: I absolutely love the music he is making. His earlier EP The Redacted Files hinted at a sort of techno-espionage vibe, not unlike an American version of Black Rain, let’s say, and this new album expands and solidifies that vibe, truly a masterwork of “less is more” EBM from the darker corners of life. At times, I’m reminded of the coldest Tin Man instrumentals, or the most erotic Clock DVA dungeon mixes, or Militia’s fantastic New European Order at it’s most club-oriented. Coherent Abstractions might seem eclectic in that regard, but the tone is completely focused on a sort of undisclosed cyber-sex transaction, some hidden scene where LAN cable is used for bondage and leather is scuffed on basement cement. No track is overloaded or too sparse, and while dancing could be an occasional side-effect, the mood is more about tension and touching than solitary dance-floor engagements. Let’s just hope my mother doesn’t read this review!

Body Tools Locusts & Lions / Brave 12″ (Valcrond Video)
Body Tools is a new duo featuring Luke Wyatt (known best as Torn Hawk) and Sheela Rahman (known best as Xosar), released on Wyatt’s Valcrond Video label, so why not, right? I knew to expect the unexpected, with perhaps some sort of driving beat and obscure sonic nostalgia, and after a few spins, I’m not sure my expectations were correct. “Locusts & Lions” is the sort of track that I forget as I’m hearing it, but not necessarily in a bad way: it’s kind of like a musical version of that memory eraser they use in Men In Black. I have to listen to it right as I type this, lest I forget that the track is a slow build of non-descript loops, cut so short that I could be listening to Roseanne Barr laughing or a Keurig pouring a macchiato. There’s no real bass, or treble, just a persistent light thump and various sounds clipped to the form of radio static or crickets in the night, at least until it unfolds with sparse piano and some signs of melody. “Brave” was clearly born closer to techno, throbbing like one of those painfully-repetitive Wolfgang Voigt tracks with a flurry of chopped samples, taking the salad of the a-side and spinning it. Both tracks have a “let’s roll with this live” feel, as though neither Wyatt nor Rahman ever fully took control, letting their gear play out Ouija-style. I probably don’t hate it, am pretty sure that I like it, and am 100% positive that I’ve listened to it.

Bummed Smoking Jewels / No Reward 7″ (Accidental Guest)
Bummed’s debut 7″ has a great depiction of being bummed on the cover: a couple of jolted adults fresh from a car accident, lacking only some cryptic Raymond Pettibon prose to complete the image. Can’t say I expected the boppy shoegaze that Bummed are offering, in that case, as theirs is music usually accompanied by a blurry photograph of an ocean tide or a pollinated flower, but I suppose it’s time we all progressed a bit. Bummed have three guitarists, and while I can’t say for sure they are all necessary to the cause, it works pretty well in that one guy gets to twinkle while the other two fuzz or chime along. “Smoking Jewels” has a Smiths-y backbone before going through a few instrumental breakdowns (and ending on an unexpectedly sad note), while “No Reward” sets the stage with booming drums and a Johnny Marr-esque lead guitar before Sophie Ploegh’s vocals show up like the breeze your sailboat has been waiting for, not unlike a Lush song I can’t quite place. Sounds good to me, what I’d describe as a locally-sourced, artisanal shoegaze sound, and they thank at least two members of Mind Eraser in the liner notes, which I hope becomes a new dream-pop trend.

Rupert Clervaux & Beatrice Dillon Studies I-XVII For Samplers And Percussion LP (Snow Dog)
So glad I didn’t have to wait long for more Beatrice Dillon material, following her fantastic Face A/B 12″ that I’m unable to stop talking about. Here she’s teamed up with a man named Rupert Clervaux, a name I can’t help but picture seated on an Eames lounge, feet on the matching ottoman, beret casually framed on his head and creased philosophy paperback in hand. Fan-fic aside, The album title pretty much spells this one out, and it’s a highly enjoyable suite of percussive ideas, reaping far more repeated listens than I may have originally guessed. That’s the talent of Beatrice Dillon for you! These seventeen tracks usually clock in at three minutes or less, and offer a sort of easy breezy Folkways feel, seemingly free of digital manipulation, post-production editing or anything that carries the sense of the samplers referenced in the title. Instead, these tracks offer melodic, upbeat and casually delightful tracks of tuned percussion of various origin (my ears can barely tell the difference between a bass and a guitar, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for the djembe specs on this one). Go ahead, put this one on while you’re cooking your next soup or stir-fry and see if the results aren’t inexplicably more flavorful.

Dynamo Dreesen, SVN & A Made Up Sound Untitled 12″ (Acido)
Been meaning to check out the lauded Berlin-based techno label Acido for a bit now, and it was this collaborative 12″ between Dynamo Dreesen, SVN and A Made Up Sound that I managed to snag. Even if it’s not in actuality how it goes down, I love the idea of three people sitting at the same laptop, one person using the mouse-pad while another yells “click over there!” or “loop that part again, but with the other filter this time!”, stuff like that. Regardless of how these three put together these tracks, they’ve got it figured out, as this is a highly satisfying trio of refined and forward-thinking tech-house. The a-side (all three tracks are untitled) is punchy from the start, taking a staccato beat I’d expect Pearson Sound to handle and manipulating it into something anyone can dance to, with just the right amount of shape-shifting and additional effects throughout, not unlike something Joey Anderson might toss our way. The b-side starts off with a down-tempo think-piece, like a transmission from a spacecraft entering Jupiter’s orbit, were Donato Dozzy on board. It’s chill without feeling remotely sleepy, which sets a perfectly contemplative mood. The last cut builds on the second track’s relaxation with a sense of paranoia, like you’ve been having a really great massage and suddenly notice a small camera in the corner that’s been recording you the whole time. Prime stuff for sure, and I’ve got my eye on Acido from here on out.

Earthen Sea Ink LP (Lovers Rock)
I can’t think of a better way for a band to break up than the way Mi Ami did it: stay friends with each other, continue to collaborate and release each other’s music, and form solo projects that maintain a high level of creativity and vision (as well as sound dope as hell). Earthen Sea is the work of Mi Ami / Black Eyes bassist Jacob Long, and he’s been plugging away at it for a while, initially using the project to push through thick ambient glaze and meditative smoke plumes, and now taking a turn for the dance-floor, or at least a very large chessboard where the pawns and queens bob their heads in time. This is really beautiful, sumptuous music, Earthen Sea’s form of techno – it’s as if he located a natural beat in the ocean’s tide and has finally decided to share it with the rest of us. Clear, crisp piano shows up frequently too, offering a gentle, contemplative sound not unlike Sven Weisemann, although without any melancholy or sadness permeating the air. No, Ink is all about the pursuit of the weightless zen that might not actually exist on Earth, pushing past human emotion to something primal and heavy. And that’s cool with me!

Era Del Vacio Era Del Vacio LP (Cintas Pepe)
Upon its arrival, I wasted no time throwing the debut Era Del Vacio album on, as a few subtle details had me titillated, namely the flimsy parchment album sleeve that seems constructed solely to house a raging punk obscurity and the fact that it was released on Cintas Pepe, home of the excellent Tercer Mundo and in close conjunction with Inservibles. You can imagine my disappointment, then, when I was met with moody, punk-inflected goth-rock of the mundane variety. Anyone else ready for this trend to pass? Era Del Vacio sound like Strange Boutique and Dead Can Dance playing through Anasazi’s gear, but without any memorable hooks, personality or creativity. Listening is like driving on a long flat highway, except instead of passing mile-markers you pass genre tropes (dangly earrings, Joy Division drum-beats, eyeliner, reverb, sadness). I completely understand that certain musicians and artists might want to play music beyond hardcore’s rigid confines, I just wish people could come up with ideas that aren’t this. If I hear one more band that is a boring mix of The Cure and Clan Of Xymox in punk outfits, I swear I will start a petition to bring back the days of hand-painted costume-noise CD-rs.

Frodus And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea LP (Lovitt)
Reissues keep the smokestacks pumping outside your local pressing plant no doubt, and you can add Frodus’s final album from 2001 to that list. Who was demanding it, I have no idea, but here it is, barely cognizant of 9/11 and illegal file-sharing and exactly how much George W. Bush we had left. I was never really a Frodus fan back in the day (brag of the month: I personally shared the bill with them in the Poconos some fifteen years ago), but I suppose this sounds pretty okay. It certainly doesn’t live up to the “math-core” tag, instead sounding like a well-oiled emo-core group that felt the reverberations of both Fugazi’s final albums and At The Drive-In’s ascent to stardom. Some of the vocals strike me as overly Jazz June-ish, which is surely a coincidence (or symptom of the serious melodic emo band), and they generally sound like a band who is quite comfortable and adept at their chosen style of music. Mostly, I could just never shake the lingering fact that they put out records on Tooth & Nail, which of course confirms their Christian beliefs one way or another. I can take Christian pop-punk on some level, but Christian emo-core just sounds so sinister and undesirable that I’d want to sit at an entirely different lunch table… give my regards to Pedro The Lion.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! 12″ (Depression House)
When I think of Italy, I think first of their delicious cuisine, second of their horrifying postal system, and third of their unhinged, noisy punk rock, seemingly expanding from the ground-zero attack of The Grabbies. Okay maybe I’m lying a little, but it gives me the perfect setup to discuss Hallelujah!, another gnarly European punk group that would easily share the same jail cell as Out With A Bang, The Anals, A.H. Kraken, The Feeling Of Love and bands of that ilk, where the red wine and blood flow with equal abandon. I appreciate that the vocalist is credited with the synth but all I hear are bashed drums, noisy guitar and vocals where the microphone must be directly in front of its speakers, awash in harsh feedback. This one-sided 12″ verges on hardcore, but just when it gets pounding and aggro they switch over to something more suited for In The Red than Sorry State, more of a wild party pit than an arena where mosh moves are debuted. I for one would have no qualms stuffing my face with fresh fusilli and then cartwheeling into the basement venue that Hallelujah! are stinking up, that much I can confirm.

Hieroglyphic Being & J.I.T.U. Ahn-Sahm-Buhl We Are Not The First 2xLP (Rvng Intl.)
While I love Hieroglyphic Being, his release rate is so hurried that I find myself unable to keep up. Still, the concept of Jamal Moss collaborating in his Hieroglyphic Being guise with a jazz-minded troupe featuring none other than Arkestra leader Marshall Allen seems like such a natural fit for all parties that I had to give it my attention. Really glad I did, as it’s been one of my favorites this year, even considering the memorization skills necessary to recite that artist name and title. Most of these tracks have Moss laying down one of his itchy grooves while the others let their spirits soar, be it Allen’s electrified flutes or the other players’ horns, guitars, drums, electronics, whatever. That alone would satisfy my needs, but they frequently push beyond the “house beat with a freak-out” template, blessed with Rafael Sanchez’s lively spoken-word and Shelley Hirsch’s wordless exhortations to consider space and its properties. The title track really takes the cake, as Moss’s beat is particularly unhinged, its melody bouncing off every surface in the room while the other players digress into territory recalling Herbie Hancock, the fiercest BYG Actuel sides and Morphosis at his most melodious. I usually don’t notice, but We Are Not The First makes it abundantly clear that we are all constantly flying through space at thousands of miles per hour.

Kowton On Repeat / Holding Patterns 12″ (Livity Sound)
Of all the names in the Livity Sound crew, Kowton has always stood out for me, by virtue of his compositions: there’s an undeniably blockiness to his music, as though his music is created on a planet with a gravitational pull far more significant than ours. That effect is certainly present in “On Repeat”, as a hypnotic bass slide pulls you into the deep while lofty, angelic chords attempt to carry you out. Toward the end, I didn’t even notice I was still being bludgeoned, as Kowton shone a bright warm light down upon me. “Holding Patterns” is a little more subdued, like being dropped onto the roof of a techno club via helicopter but unable to find your way inside… just the right amount of quizzical bleeps and sonar bloops to feel like you’re on a covert mission to dance into the wee hours. Seems like Kowton has a million tracks, just as particular and thumping as these, and I intend to continue sampling my way through his supply.

Mansion Early Life LP (Degenerate)
At this point, if you’re a punk band in San Francisco, you have to really want to exist there, fighting against so many currents both culturally and economically. You really need to live like a weed, and that sort of refusal to die comes through in Mansion’s debut album. The cover art grabbed me right away, what looks to be some sort of public hazing / Dadist art aktion / fetish performance involving shaving cream, lipstick and dental floss, and the music maintains my interest. They play a pretty thunderous version of modern no-wave, indebted to pioneers like DNA as much as the short-lived Sleetmute Nightmute from the turn of the century, going from silence to full-blast in timings both standard and unexpected. The vocals occasionally recall the bitter taste of Culturcide’s Perry Webb, and it works well with the nearly Swans-like metallic pound of the guitar and drums. Sounds like what would’ve been one of the best releases on Troubleman Unlimited in 2003 or Load in 2001, which of course is meant to be some of the praise this tough group deserves.

Muerte Muerte LP (Cintas Pepe / SPHC / Cabeza De Vaca)
It’s almost becoming standard practice among actively-participating punks to do their hardcore band and then also have a goth-rock band on the side. Muerte, on the other hand, have managed to merge those styles with much success, never sacrificing the energy of hardcore or the dark, melodic moodiness of goth. They can work up a mean d-beat when necessary, propelled by the highly capable drumming, and shift into a tuneful chorus that your average Dis-clone would never consider. I’m reminded of Part 1, Destino Final and Lost Tribe in equal measure here, as Muerte certainly leave their fog machine on blast for the duration of the album, with vocals escaping a chasm of reverb and echo. Muerte works for me best when the group doesn’t get too thrashy or too theatrical, but rides the line between a Bauhaus 12″ maxi-single and a Bauhaus patch on a studded leather jacket. Plus, it comes in that same floppy brown parchment-esque sleeve that seems to be the Cintas Pepe trademark, and I love these things.

Predator Drag / First To Know 7″ (Total Punk)
I never understood why I didn’t hear more people chattering about Predator’s debut album last year, as it was one of my personal favorites, really hitting the fast-paced, classic melodic-punk sweet spot not unlike early Total Control and Zero Boys. Nice to see that at least Total Punk shared a fondness for this Atlanta group, and these two songs sound right by me, if not quite as impactful as their album. “Drag” adapts more of a Wipers vibe, if still a tad faster than most bands, and tops it off with nasal punk-alien vocals, like a more Earthly version of Coneheads or Count Vertigo. “First To Know” slows it down but is all the better for it, chugging along with a bad attitude, like Joan Jett & The Blackhearts if they found themselves on the Red Snerts comp. If the singer needed a track where he could crawl between the crowd’s legs and cause a little commotion, he’s got it in “First To Know”. It seems pretty clear that Predator are moving toward a more “mature” form of songwriting, what with multiple fills and bridges, articulate playing and a complexity that isn’t found in most of Total Punk’s roster, but they prove that they are up to the task of thoughtfully writing punk songs without sucking in the process.

Psychic Blood Alien LP (Wharf Cat)
I assumed I’d heard Psychic Blood somewhere before, but maybe it’s just that the words “psychic” and “blood” have appeared in over a thousand band names in the past couple years, so it’s all starting to blend. Band fatigue is real! Anyway, this noisy post-hardcore group from Western Mass do the best they can with that name, colliding through various iterations of echo-y, frantic indie-rock, heavy on the drum fills and melodic guitar leads and sounding as though it was recorded at the end of a very long hallway. I’m thinking of Metz if they bought the No Alternative compilation CD instead of Nirvana’s Bleach with their Christmas money in 5th grade. Or rather, every time I see pictures of bands with long-haired dudes with facial hair under the age of 30 wearing rumpled dress shirts and baseball caps (Impose Magazine seems to have a never-ending supply of these), I assume they sound like this. Sounds good enough to me, although I have to wonder if the blurry, reverb-on-everything production isn’t ultimately a hindrance for people who prefer to hear songs over sounds. There are probably some songs within Alien, and even if not, they’re doing the sound nicely.

Rik & The Pigs Pig Sweat / Feed The Animal 7″ (Total Punk)
Foolishly, I’d long assumed the only famous punk Riks would be Rik L. Rik and Rik Mayall, but now the singularly named Rik is on the scene, backed up by his Pigs. The artwork has me hoping for some tuneful Pork Dukes-esque raunch, but Rik & The Pigs make good on a more Total Punk form of punk, smashing through some of the more hard rock-inflected Killed By Death entries while still keeping GG Allin in their hearts. “Pig Sweat” is a downer strut that has me thinking of The Shitdogs, whereas “Feed The Animal” pumps the fuzz guitar further to the front while Rik (presuming he’s the singer and not the bassist, although that’d be a great idea for a band, the titular person being merely the bassist) blarfs and splurfs about how animals need to be fed, right before a ripping rock n’ roll guitar solo shows up (which has me wondering if the rumors are true that Mike from Vexx plays in this band). More dependable modern-throwback punk from America’s Label, Total Punk.

Subliminal Sterben Lassen 7″ (Galakthorrö)
Subliminal will forever play second-fiddle to Galakthorrö all-stars Haus Arafna and November Növelet, but that’s not a bad thing – we all loved Scottie Pippen too, right? I can’t say that my ear is able to qualify the similarities and differences of this new Subliminal 7″ with regard to the other Subliminal records on my shelves, but it’s basically more of what I want from this project: wavering synths that produce sound (not musical notes) while some sort of tortured scream emanates from inside the boiler room, a place you didn’t know anyone could be. Very dreary, morbid power-electronics, with “Causing Pain Receiving Pain / Trust In Pain A Blood Stain” being not only the lyrics to the second track “Blood Stain” but also the design for my next chest tattoo. Either you’re on board with the magically macabre world of Galakthorrö at this point or you’re not, and I’m quite comfortable in the passenger car on my patent leather examining table if you’d care to join.

The Suburban Homes Conformity In The U.K. / Television Spies 7″ (Total Punk)
I can’t be the only one who reads this band’s name and assumes they sound like The Descendents, can I? Of course, that’s far from the truth, as The Suburban Homes are a British group of the classic DIY order, full of amateurish jangle, nursery-rhyme-level choruses and plenty of the same musical note in a row. “Conformity In The U.K.” sounds like the worst song Desperate Bicycles ever wrote, which of course is still pretty good. “Television Spies” has a happier gait, feeling more like Alternative TV and their pop aspirations while still firmly rooted in the DIY no-talent ethos. There’s no silliness at play here, nothing like the oddball dry humor (or should I say humour) of The Pheromoans or even The Door & The Window, just an evenly sung list of things that The Suburban Homes feel are wrong with society. It’s good, but so plain that no actual flavor comes through. It might occasionally work for punk rock, but it doesn’t work for yogurt, I’ll tell you that.

Thisclose Chapter III LP (SPHC)
Some records suck, but this album by Thisclose reaches an Ice Bucket Challenge level of suck: the extent of its lousiness causes a physical shock to one’s system. The band name and logo appears to be a direct homage / rip of Disclose (who of course were referencing Discharge with their name and logo), but that’s where the comparison to tuneless d-beat ends. Thisclose play fast, standard-issue, metallic ’80s thrash-by-way-of-hardcore, and they’re fronted with one of the least appealing vocalists I’ve heard in years. The guy sings in this high-pitched caterwaul that recalls the worst aspects of Overkill’s Bobby Blitz and Crime Desire’s Colin Tappe, the sort of ridiculous metallic whine that has no business ever being recorded, as far as I’m concerned. The music ultimately passes just fine, but when paired with these godawful vocals, the entire project is the sort of horror I usually only dream about but never actually hear. Most people would know better than to unleash such sonic misery on society, but much like coal rollers, gun hoarders and meat eaters, Thisclose are clearly too selfish to care about the well-being of others.

Charlie Tweddle Knee Deep Blues LP (Mighty Mouth Music)
I wasn’t feeling the Charlie Tweddle reissue released by Mighty Mouth and Ever/Never, but it seems as though my feelings have changed toward the man care of Knee Deep Blues. Maybe I’ve matured (that last Tweddle album came out in 2015, after all), or maybe this collection of quaint solo material is simply of finer quality. On this record, he sounds like a Townes Van Zandt who instead of dying just grew old, his sadness transforming into a vaguely-hopeful worldliness, like he could distill the essence of human existence through a proverb about chicken farming. I can picture Tweddle as some sort of Southeastern American Buddha, sitting on his front porch roasting chestnuts and waiting for someone to come up and ask him the meaning of life. His tunes are humble, confident and often quite beautiful, as well as occasionally quite humorous without delving into camp. Maybe I’m just a city slicker prone to romanticizing about splitting wood with an axe for the fire, but I just can’t help it when I’m sitting here with Knee Deep Blues.

U.S. Girls Half Free LP (4AD)
If anyone wants to talk smack on the abilities of those who came out of the mid-’00s bedroom post-punk / noise-pop movement, I offer a shining contradiction in U.S. Girls, who keeps getting better and better. I loved 2012’s GEM for all its unhinged glitz and virtuous attempts at pop, and Half Free, her first for 4AD, is the best U.S. Girls’ Megan Remy has offered yet. In a way, she’s working in similar territory as Daughn Gibson, in that she also comes across as an intense loner who builds such glorious and vivid scenes from a couple dusty loops and a whole lot of orchestration. She goes heavy on the Balearic disco-glam here, but somehow wipes it clean of any cheese or corniness, just after-hours noir geared for libidinous dance-floors filled with parents on vacation. I’ve loved her voice before and I love it even more now, reminding me of Glass Candy’s Ida No if she actually gave a damn about singing and tried her hardest to inhabit David Bowie in both body and spirit. At only nine tracks (one of which is a fascinating minute-long phone conversation), there is no fat to be chewed here, a succinct album as curious as it is memorable (what’s up with the psych-rock freakout of “Sed Knife”?). If my iPod didn’t have a “repeat” function, I’d have to go buy Half Free on CD for that very purpose.

Vial Vial 7″ (Cut Rate)
Vial’s debut 7″ EP qualifies as a tasty ripper no matter what decade it came from, but it’s nice to know it was recorded just a few months ago and that this band exists right now, available for anyone willing to seek them out. I might be mistaken but I think there are some ex-Pang and ex-Rank/Xerox personnel here, along with people who haven’t really played music before, resulting in a tasty cocktail of classic-sounding punk rock. Opener “You’re Not Safe” really sets the stage with a riff that is barely more than one note, wherein the guitar actually slightly finds itself off time with the drumming, much to the delight of my ears. Musically I’d say Vial falls somewhere between Defektors (whose debut album remains one of my favorite punk records of the ’00s), the general “Dangerhouse sound” and Nots; it’s incredibly angry without throwing a tantrum, a premeditated form of revenge in the shape of punk’s pioneers. These four songs are in and out in a flash, just like all good punk singles, and even at 300 copies pressed it remains available for you to purchase today, months after release, further evidence of the crumbling infrastructure of the punk economy.

Violent Bullshit / Chron Turbine split 7″ (Peterwalkee)
Hail Mary, Orchid, Rye Coalition, Merel… these are all Northeast hardcore bands you could hang your hat on in that dark period of 1996-2000. As as is often the case, many of those dudes are still alive now, and still playing music, just older and with significantly less media exposure (perhaps due to Punk Planet, HeartattaCk and Skyscraper closing shop). Some of them went on to play in New York’s Violent Bullshit, who share a sort of hardcore sensibility with Off!, in that the music is ostensibly okay but seems to lack any actual excitement, instead feeling more like older guys reliving their youth. Their track is slower and longer than other Violent Bullshit songs I’ve heard, almost heading away from Trash Talk and toward Murder City Devils. Chron Turbine, on the other hand, take a Shellac-ish riff and drive it into the ground on their side, eventually striking oil. It feels like Oneida at their heaviest, or the aforementioned Rye Coalition, in the way they seem to be having the time of their lives bashing through a two-note riff ad infinitum, vocals be damned. I’ll take more Chron Turbine for sure, hold the Violent Bullshit.

Wimps Suitcase LP (Kill Rock Stars)
I’ll be honest, I had no idea Kill Rock Stars was still putting out new bands, but I’m glad they aren’t exclusively reissuing their classic titles or relying on nostalgia. It makes me sad when landmark indie labels do that, but getting to the topic of Wimps, I can’t imagine anything about this band makes anyone sad. They play simple, harmless punk; not too fast, never noisy, just kinda geeky, poppy and dryly silly. I’m reminded of an upbeat version of The Zoltars as I listen, like a Zoltars that would’ve aspired to sign to Lookout! had they existed twenty years ago, particularly because of the nerd-stuck-in-a-locker vocals and quaintly chiming tunes. I get the impression that Wimps aren’t seeking world domination so much as a means to obtain free drink tickets and socialize with friends outside of their respective living rooms, and it seems that by that metric the band Wimps and their album Suitcase are a success.

Youth Brigade First Demo Summer ’81 7″ (Dischord)
You know, I wouldn’t put it past today’s hardcore kids to start a band called Youth Brigade (did you know there’s currently a new Fury in existence?), but this is the original deal right here, carefully remastered and designed with all sorts of early DC hardcore ephemera that you just know Ian Mackaye spends one day a week putting into orderly scrapbooks in his mom’s basement. I had a weird double 7″ bootleg of this demo for a while now, and it’s nice to enjoy these songs like this, nicely touched-up but lacking none of the raw intensity that made Youth Brigade so great. I was in a band that covered “I Object”, the lead track here, and I can’t blame my younger self for attempting to latch onto some of the kinetic, under-thirty-seconds energy that Youth Brigade were emanating. Youth Brigade were explosive, like Minor Threat but without the hooks, just the manic exuberance of teenagers realizing they could play as fast as they wanted and no one could stop them, and I am delighted that it’s widely available for all to enjoy.