Quick note: As is the nature of our changing world, I decided to join Substack for the purpose of these monthly record reviews (and whatever else occasionally shows up in these pages). Nothing will be changing here at good ol’ yellowgreenred.com, but people seem to dig reading Substacks, and if it gets my humble words in front of more eyes, why not, right? The same content will be available here and yellowgreenred.substack.com. Plus, if you’d simply prefer to receive an email digest rather than having to remember to check out this page, now you have the option, and commenting is a thing over there too, if you ever wanted to flame me publicly. If you have any thoughts, questions or concerns, please shoot me an email. Word of mouth: we depend on it!

Abscess Political Vomit LP (Hard Art)
Next time you want to impress some strangers at a party, why not inform them unprompted that Abscess was Iowa’s first hardcore band? Prior to encountering Political Vomit, I couldn’t have told you who was first (or second, or third…), but thanks to Hard Art they are now formally documented on twelve-inch vinyl for generations to come. If you have a hardcore-tuned ear, I’m sure you could estimate a fairly accurate guess as to what they sounded like: ramshackle, mid-paced to speedy, egregiously amateurish and bursting with stochastic teenage energy. They started off as a band of teenagers covering Sex Pistols and Ramones songs, and they certainly sound like it here, somewhere in the musical league of Necros, Ill Repute and Circle Jerks (although notably less distinctive than any of those three). My favorite part is that even though this session was properly recorded in a studio, there are still multiple notable flubs in their performance, from missed drum hits to wrong notes (some of which aren’t even close). It’s beautiful! I can practically picture the scene as it unfolded: 1983 in Ames, Iowa, uptight studio engineer shaking his head as Abscess bashed through these ten songs with careless abandon. It’s a glorious thing, hardcore-punk sprouting up all across our terrible country that wanted no part of it, and I’m glad the story of Abscess is no longer exclusively relegated to a moldy cardboard box in some Iowan attic.

Dead Horses Sunny Days LP (Maple Death)
Sunny Days is the first vinyl full-length from Italian blues-punkers Dead Horses, though if they’re excited at the prospect you wouldn’t know it from the music. These songs arrive in various shades of agitation and disinterest, from groaning apathy to vein-popping fury, all performed loosely and without strict adherence to formal technique. Too High To Die-era Meat Puppets feels like a reasonable reference point, but infused with the mean-spirited garage of the Goodbye Boozy label and The Men’s technique of throwing a bunch of varied styles against the wall to see what sticks. Various members moan and howl in a manner that reminds me of Circle Pit and Royal Trux, and while there’s a bit of that willful inebriation happening in Sunny Days, I feel like they might see themselves more in the tradition of Dead Moon than any sort of art-minded punk. More likely, Dead Horses haven’t thought about anything too strategically, preferring to simply strum a beat-up guitar, pound a tom and a snare and see what shakes out.

De Leon De Leon LP (Mana)
De Leon’s 2018 debut was a big record for me, kind of crystallizing the moment where experimental techno entrepreneurs dug deep into patient minimalist gamelan-inspired (or gamelan-thieving) grooves. De Leon was exactly that, an inscrutable suite of pleasantly refined percussion-based tracks, and now the artist (whoever exactly they(?) are) is back with a follow-up full-length, also self-titled and also on Mana. Whereas the 2018 release stuck to the rhythmic grid in an appealingly collegiate way, this new one ventures out all over the landscape, clinging to a sense of time-keeping on some but not all of the tracks. This one is more about the tones, the rich and durable pitched-metal sounds of what are probably bells struck in accordance with some system either too elaborate or too improvised for my brain to predict. Chimes are both distant and in the foreground, some coming direct and others given a healthy dub rinsing, resulting in a sweetly disorienting listen. By the time we hit “B2”, the groove is in full gear, hypnosis complete. After my first few runs, I was a little disappointed that De Leon sacrificed a total dedication to the cyclical groove in the name of open exploration, but I’m quickly coming around to their new approach, sounding as if Vladislav Delay was tasked with lightly reworking Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient series.

Disintegration Time Moves For Me 12″ (Feel It)
Pretty sick debut here from Cleveland’s Disintegration, featuring Haley Himiko of Pleasure Leftists, Noah Anthony of Profligate and Christopher Brown of Cloud Nothings. Pleasure Leftists always struck me as underrated (and Profligate, extremely underrated), and while the world will probably continue to mostly exist as it has before Disintegration’s debut EP dropped, it’s the world’s loss, not mine! I loved Profligate’s late turn towards a noir-ish cold-wave pop sound, and Himiko was a standout vocalist for punk-adjacent goth music of the 2010s, so it’s much to my delight that their powers combine excellently here, really working off each other to achieve something special. Time Moves For Me is a pretty damn evolved debut for any group, sounding more like a well-oiled synthetic/organic hybrid than a first attempt. There’s an electronic element to all of these songs, but a human one too, like I can almost picture the mud-soaked members of Nine Inch Nails on that Woodstock stage playing these upbeat and sophisticated synth-pop songs even if I know that it’s actually four plainclothes Ohioans doing the work. And that’s not to say that it sounds like Nine Inch Nails at all – Disintegration is on far more of a Depeche Mode tip – but these songs are lively and robust in a way that Reznor would surely approve, leagues beyond typical synth presets and, thanks in no small part to Himiko’s powerful voice, catchy as hell too. She out-Bonos Bono on triumphant closer “Make A Wish”, my only disappointment being that there isn’t immediately more songs to enjoy. Recommended!

Divorcer Espionage 7″ (Domestic Departure)
Domestic Departure keeps the post-punk party rolling with this vinyl debut from Vancouver’s Divorcer, who feature a member of the great Flex TMG (I’m still wearing out the grooves on that one). There’s no disco in Divorcer’s equation though, which looks towards the spunky first wave of post-punk for inspiration, calling to mind Y Pants and The Petticoats through the music’s skeletal simplicity and vibrant personality. But unlike late ’70s DIY, Espionage is the result of a clean digital recording, giving it more of a modern indie sound, not entirely different from Priests’ last record and Flasher’s first one. And like all the groups mentioned, this feels like a true gang effort – multiple members sing, both in unison and call-and-response, and the instruments make plenty of space for each other, like the laid-back and guitar-less groove of “Crying”, for example (which, don’t kill me, has kind of a Vampire Weekend vibe?). A lot of DIY post-punk acts can coast by on charm alone, but it’s clear that these songs were crafted by musically-minded folks, not merely well-intentioned novices. With only this four-song debut EP, Divorcer are a smart, charming, weird, playful and serious post-punk band, all at the same time.

Dubamine Cool & Relax 12″ (Dub-Stuy)
Extremely excited for open-window season here, and with that comes the need for fresh tunes to fill the ventilated spaces within them. Glad to have stumbled upon this new EP from Dubamine, then, an American producer who snagged the mighty Nazamba for “Cool & Relax”. Nazamba died way too young last July, but his rich and weathered voice pushes Dubamine’s digi-reggae into a drifting zone of lysergic bliss. When he repeats “cool… relax… easy”, life’s daily troubles are unable to occupy my consciousness for even a second, and at a meager four minutes, you’re gonna wanna play it a few times in a row. “Nature’s Dub” is a worthy flip, a deeply rinsed reggae-goes-dubstep affair that’s as slow as it is cavernous. Whatever it is, it’s just about the slowest BPM one can reasonably be expected to head-bob along with, which is a personal sweet spot for me. Might be slightly off-putting to some that it’s a white guy from Santa Cruz (Dubamine) responsible for such heady Rasta music, but Nazamba chose to collaborate with this talented producer, and the last thing I’m gonna do is pass my uninvolved judgment on Nazamba’s choices, particularly when it’s a track as soulful and calming as “Cool & Relax”.

Electric Chair Act Of Aggression LP (Iron Lung)
Electric Chair are one of my favorite current hardcore bands, not least because of the world they’ve built around themselves. Rather than following the motions, checking the hardcore boxes and coming up with a pre-approved adjective-noun band-name (Crucial Damage, Mutant Unit, Negative Mind, how long ’til you all exist?), Electric Chair offer their view of the world in a manner that merges the absurd, the dead-serious and the absolutely raging. Plus, they seem to be having the time of their lives doing it, a point that so often seems to get lost in the shuffle of social-media likes, high-visibility destination fest billings and everything else that sucks. The album opens with an unfriendly bass-line redolent of Die Kreuzen and rolls from there, steamrolling henceforth through the final fade-out crashes of “Palm Of My Hand”. One can trace a lot of this back to the DNA of Poison Idea, Koro and Mecht Mensch, but I also hear the tradition of over-the-top, energy-bursting Pacific Northwest hardcore-punk like The Fartz, Dayglo Abortions and even some Tales Of Terror in Electric Chair’s sound, if not a note-for-note match but a shared spirit of wild abandon. Electric Chair’s form of punk doesn’t quietly integrate with normal society, it freaks people out at the grocery store, and I love them for it.

5AM Pre Zz LP (Thinner Groove)
Credit where it’s due: I discovered 5AM’s Pre Zz from a brief-yet-ecstatic Joint Custody write-up, and while it was enough to get me to take a peep, I was ill-prepared for how much I’d end up digging it! 5AM is a Japanese trio consisting of techno producer Powder, half of the house duo Cos/Mes and a clothing designer, and if that sounds like a potentially stylish and chill combination, allow me to assure you that it is extremely stylish and chill. As 5AM, they made fun little songs that are downtempo without being boring, and even kind of sprightly in their own way. Imagine a dubby and distinctly Japanese take on Playstation 2 sound-font / vaporwave / trip-hop, one less reliant on gauzy ambient drones and more likely to pop and snap into microscopic action. I hear a little bit of Phew’s self-titled album with Conny Plank’s production and plenty of the Wah Wah Wino crew’s left-field electro mutations here, but mostly I’m hearing 5AM’s unique perspective, apparently making music for the oddest hours of the day, somewhere between not enough sleep and way too much sleep. The vocals are great too, groggy but poppy, and the songs fade and shift between sunny pop and closed-curtain smoke sessions, often in the same track. “Today” sounds like the best possible result of Gorillaz working with Stone’s Throw in 1998; “HOT !” sounds like a mysterious track you’d hear on a mix between Stereolab and DJ Spooky that you spend the rest of your adult life trying to track down. In the case of Pre Zz, it’s probably going to involve some painful international shipping costs, but it’s worth every penny!

Glittering Insects Glittering Insects LP (Mind Meld)
Seems like lots of punks have recently been wondering what it’d be like if the 1984-1988 years of SST Records were reconfigured into something palatable today, and while I can’t say for sure that that’s what happened with Glittering Insects, I can’t rule it out either. They’re a new group from some old names – GG King alongside members of Wymyns Prysyn and Predator – and while the atmosphere here certainly carries that anything-goes feel of GG King, Glittering Insects are honing in on something else entirely. It’s noise-rock without the aggression, indie-rock without the wimpiness, art-rock without the wackiness, post-punk without being formulaic. Cool stuff! These songs move in all sorts of directions, but I’m reminded of Spike In Vain, Sonic Youth, Saccharine Trust, Pink Reason, 3 Teens Kill 4, maybe a little My Dad Is Dead and No Trend at their most tuneful? It’s certainly more than a collection of influences though, and all the better for it. Glittering Insects never forsake a good hook for a noisy blowout; King and company have always had a knack for writing memorably melodic choruses (how good is Predator, or the GG King song “Joyless Masturbation”?) and that talent is refined here, given room to be playful and creepy and revel in its many unsettling moods.

Ky Power Is The Pharmacy LP (Constellation)
Ky Brooks plays in a noise-punk group called Lungbutter, which apparently did not fully satiate their need to create wild and peculiar music. Thus, now they have this solo album, created (in a very Canadian fashion) with no fewer than eight other musicians. Not unlike Kee Avil’s Constellation album last year, Power Is The Pharmacy is conceptual and loosely committed to song-form, closer to something that would debut in a gallery than on the stage in the back of a bar. Brooks sings, speaks and chops it up like Laurie Anderson (or maybe even the video art of Martha Rosler) as their co-conspirators conjure the drifting synth-scapes and restless ambient pieces that act as sonic backdrops. I like it best when Brooks leans into the musicality of things, voices and tones dancing in the sunlight together, but I get the impression they’re having the most fun on the stuff that’s harder to digest, like the annoying-on-purpose repetition of “Work That Superficially Looks Like Leisure”. Lots of intense (or at least aspiring to be intense) ideas here, and since it’s all Canadian, you know the government threw them some bucks to dig as deep into their own navel as they wanted. Which, in Ky’s case, feels like there’s still plenty deeper to go.

L4b L4b LP (Relaxin)
I’ve been on a serious Lolina kick for the past few years, gobbling up all of her weird, contextless albums and savoring them; it follows then that I was pleased to discover L4b’s debut. It’s one of her new projects, a duo with someone named Brandon Juhans who apparently resides in North Carolina(?). No matter what Juhans is all about, Lolina’s personal stamp is all over L4b, two long passages of chaotic and rickety turntablism, or at least that’s how my ears are interpreting it. These two lengthy collages rapidly deploy scratching, pitch-shifting and live beat sampling, at times sounding like Oval remixing JJ Fad or John Wiese given free range to edit an Invisibl Skratch Piklz session, but there’s also a sense of considered pacing here, with loops that actually settle in and provide some form of coherent rhythm or phrasing. Lolina’s voice occasionally pokes out too, on the chance we needed the reminder that these crooked beats were the work of human execution and not entirely software-derived. I want to say it’s not super far from the work of Aaron Dilloway or Twig Harper as well, that sorta hands-on American junk-noise sound, although L4b’s reliance on hip-hop’s sound-bank and dub properties provides this record’s unique distinction.

Lynx Lynx 2xLP (Computer Students)
The extremely bespoke math-rock reissue label Computer Students now sets its sights on Boston’s Lynx, whom I accidentally confused with Olympia’s Lync for a couple minutes at first. I missed this group on the first go-around, which I think is fair considering they only seemed to release two small CDs in 1998 and 1999, but Computer Students is constantly on the lookout for unheralded math-rock and this fits their MO perfectly. The music of Lynx is kind of what I hear in my head if I start chanting the phrase “math rock” to myself: locked-in drums and bass-guitar with stop-on-a-dime cymbal-grabs; academic time signatures; dextrous and vaguely-jazzy guitar work; a dry and direct studio recording; absolutely no vocals. These songs are dynamic and interesting, if kind of generic when viewed through 2023’s lens. I’m sure Don Caballero were an influence, and while there’s plenty of similarities between the two groups, Lynx are less antagonistic, more trying to perfect the form than subvert anyone’s expectations of it. As always, the lavish Computer Students presentation – in this case, two attractive printed LPs in a “heat-sealed aluminum” outer bag with poster insert – treats Lynx’s recordings (both the original album and an unreleased session) with a classy, formal reverence that encourages the listener to give it a serious and focused listen. I know I did!

Frank Marchi Lonely Fire LP (Funeria)
Relentless creative activity from West Bay stalwart Frank Marchi (of Agents Of Satan, Plutocracy, Empty People and half a dozen other impressive projects), following last year’s solo excursion with another, Lonely Fire. He recorded this over the winter of 2022 into 2023, and the wax itself feels more like a dubplate than a mass-produced vinyl record (which would also explain the fast turnaround time). While undeniably a bassist of hardcore pedigree, myriad other sounds and styles filtered into his personal taste (and that of his crew’s), so it’s not a big surprise that much of Lonely Fire is downright funky, utilizing crate-dug loops as a bedrock for his active bass-playing. Certain tracks remind me of MF Doom’s Special Herbs instrumental series, as raw and immediate as their grooves are. There’s also some space-rock happening here, somewhere between Parliment’s mothership and Hawkwind’s orgone accumulator but operating on a very DIY, home-recorded level. Charming and chill, Marchi clearly just wants to vibe out playing his bass all day, and in a just society, he’d be provided with the comfortable lifestyle to do so. As far as our particular reality is concerned, you can at least send him money and receive his records in return.

Mystic 100’s On A Micro Diet 2xLP (Listening House)
When you’re as polarizing an underground rock band as Mystic 100’s (née Milk Music), one thing’s for sure: a lot of people are gonna talk about you! Being talked about is essentially the most pursued form of currency available to musical artists these days (since commutable money is more or less out of the question), and these guys have had the underground buzzing since their exceptional fuzzed-out Milk Music debut, Beyond Living, first for coming out of nowhere as the premier Sex/Vid-approved Dinosaur Jr.-worship band, and then for continually upending expectations in their transition to off-the-grid acid-gobbling hippie freaks. I’m sure there is some aspect of intentional trolling going on here with On A Micro Diet, but I believe Mystic 100’s are being their true selves (and whose true selves don’t include a little bit of trolling anyway?). This double album is stuffed with aimless rock noodling, somewhere in the ballpark of the final Blue Cheer album, that masterfully narcoleptic Frigate album, the last two minutes of a half-hour live Moss Icon improvisation, a Ween CD-only bonus track and maybe the sentiment of the lone Fuckin’ Flyin’ A-Heads single? Stoned to the bone nonsense to the core, no doubt. They’re a fun group to talk about, seeing as they seem unburdened by the expectations of normality that so many other “weirdos” all still abide by, but On A Micro Diet is an entertaining listen on its own, so long as you don’t value decorum and good taste over outlandishness and personality.

Bill Nace & Chik White Off Motion LP (Open Mouth)
A lotta records by Bill Nace and/or Open Mouth Records pass through these digital pages, and while I probably can’t convince all of you to buy all of them, I’m hoping to convince most of you to pick this one up! It’s the most melodically satisfying release from Mr. Nace in a while, due in no small part to the tuneful buzz of Chik White’s jaw harp. White’s jaw harp is easily the most prominent sonic aspect, and he really makes that thing buzz or howl (under the influence of jaw?). Warped jaw harp emissions are frequently looped throughout, providing the perfect sonic canvas for Nace to scribble over, with ticklish pops of feedback, sheets of greyscale noise, electric raspberries and at least half a dozen sounds I couldn’t place within a few guesses. It’s an improvised noise record I suppose, but it really hops and bops with glee, such is the nature of the funny Looney Tunes sound-effect quality inherent in Chik White’s chosen instrument and the way in which these two sonic explorers decided to shape things around it. Kinda sounds like one of those hand-pasted LAFMS records from the late ’70s that I dream of someday paying a few hundred bucks to own, but you can get this right now, somewhere I’m sure, for a reasonable retail price!

Max Nordile Copper In The Arts LP (Gilgongo)
In a review of one of Max Nordile’s many other recent releases, Byron Coley described him as “operating in a lot of odd fields”, which cracked me up in its accuracy. I’ve seen some of his zines and art before, and much like his music (when not reigned in somewhat by bandmates), Nordile’s work seems to delight in the unrefined. You could draw a picture with a crayon, but Nordile seems more likely to wildly mash the crayon into the paper under the force of his body until a pile of colored wax rips a hole right through it. That technique (or lack thereof?) seems to apply to Copper In The Arts, a new solo lathe that features two side-long pieces. “Copper In The Arts” sounds like a microphone placed inside an industrial rock sorter, or hail in the form of scrap metal raining down on an old shack in the woods. Turns out it’s actually rain on a drum head over a tape recorder, so I was close! “Rats Are The Souls Of Dead Landlords” leaves a few amps running while Nordile improvises on anything within grabbing distance, making a racket similar to what I’d expect would come from an elephant left unsupervised in the same space. The rain piece is great, certainly in the spirit of Philip Corner, and the other is nice as well, two additional forms of unwanted sonic detritus infused with Nordile’s personal magic.

Oxbow & Peter Brötzmann An Eternal Reminder Of Not Today / Live At Moers 2xLP (Trost / Sleeping Giant Glossolalia)
Quite the summit here between two long-standing titans of aggro noisy musics, Oxbow and Peter Brötzmann on stage together for one night in Moers, Germany. If you’re familiar with either artist, you’d probably be curious to check this out, and if you dig both I can’t imagine you’d want to miss it. As for me, I haven’t spent much time with Oxbow beyond their seminal Fuck Fest album, and I love all the Brötzmann I’ve heard (though there’s a vast catalog of recordings I haven’t yet). Both artists signify a kind of non-toxic masculinity, grappling with their chosen forms of art with careful consideration and a willingness to extend beyond the realm of safety, so while their respective styles of explosive, bluesy art-rock and torrential improvised sax differ, they meld together impressively well here. Oxbow’s repertoire here leans on slow-burning and spacious grooves, flickering like cigarettes in the dark and equally as smokey. Rhythms circulate, build and play on each other, leaving plenty of room for vocalist Eugene Robinson’s hostile spoken-word and Brötzmann’s punctuated bleats. The biggest surprise here for me is Brötzmann’s approach, far more melodic and sultry than anything I’ve heard come from his saxophone before. Atonal skronk wouldn’t have worked nearly as well, and it shows that Brötzmann, ever the busy collaborator, understood the assignment perfectly, dousing Oxbow’s combustible tunes in his strong amber liquor in anticipation of Robinson’s lit match.

People’s Temple I’m With The People’s Temple 7″ (Roachleg)
More of this, please! It’s cool that hardcore-punk bands can flawlessly ape d-beat, crust, Negative Approach, all that stuff, but man I’ve been hankering for a band to sound like they were ripped directly from the seminal Not So Quiet On The Western Front compilation and that’s exactly what’s happening with Brooklyn’s People’s Temple. They sound like Rebel Truth covering Intensified Chaos with American Dream’s vocalist, pure California ripped-bandana-over-the-knees melodic hardcore-punk that never sacrifices speed for catchiness or vice versa. I kinda can’t believe this is the work of three guys in Brooklyn and not like, high schoolers from San Jose who ripped Jello’s shirt off his back at a show in 1982 that was shut down by the cops. The vocals are perfectly tunefully hoarse, and the songs skip all over, as antsy and irritated as the best hardcore-punk always is. I don’t know if they sit around daydreaming while blasting MIA and Naked Lady Wrestlers like I do, but I’m thrilled they seemed to have come to similar sonic conclusions. Hot stuff!

Poison Ruïn Härvest LP (Relapse)
If you were to dangle me off a bridge and force me to name my favorite hometown punk band in this very moment, I’d find it a pretty extreme measure just to confirm that I’m going with Poison Ruïn! There are plenty of great Philly hardcore-punk bands (I need more Delco MF’s and Quarantine), and I’m sure Zorn are probably exceptional (though my gut reaction has been to avoid them entirely due to the whole Spirit Halloween presentation), but Poison Ruïn have created a cold reality unto themselves, one that sets a pretty clear aesthetic in place while allowing plenty of space to move within it. The visual vibe is Medieval Gothic, moving past the spiked gauntlets of black metal towards chain mail and scythes, closer to Robin Hood than Vlad the Impaler. It’s fun, first and foremost, but also an interesting lens through which to view our contemporary dystopia, as Poison Ruïn’s songs reflect the here and now. As for the music, it’s proudly crust-punk with skinhead ambitions and never veers too far into straight-up hardcore, instead calling to mind ’90s punk classics like Defiance and Aus Rotten, the dungeon-toiling qualities of labelmates Raspberry Bulbs, the downer-melodic vibes of early Philly punkers Ruin and the rhythmic marching orders of British street-punk (there’s gotta be at least one Blitz fan in the band). I swear, there was one song in here that had me thinking of Billy Idol fronting Amebix, but now I’m listening again and can’t quite find it. Such is the world of Poison Ruïn: appealingly crusty and mysterious.

Revelation Man Medieval Massage 7″ (FuckPunk)
Not sure how I fell off with the FuckPunk label, considering they released some of the weirdest and gnarliest records to be loosely associated with Bristol’s post-dubstep scene, but I’m glad I remembered to check back in time to catch the debut single from Revelation Man. Like other FuckPunk records, the packaging is purposely non-existent/janky and there’s a good chance the artist is fake (or at least not entirely real), but unlike the corrosive grooves and blown-out dubs of other FuckPunk releases, Revelation Man is a deadpan Italo project through and through. You kinda have to watch the video for “Medieval Massage” to really get it, but I strongly recommend you do as it’s a track worth getting! Revelation Man dances, sings and lightly hams it up in full Renaissance garb, his emotionally deadpan vocals calling to mind Italo disco favorites like Joe Yellow and Decadence. Revelation Man forebodingly explains that we will learn “the meaning of massage”, and I have to admit, his song makes me more than a little curious! Label-head DJ Oa$is contributes a lightly-dubbed version on the flip, about as remixed as your average ZYX Records b-side, very true to the spirit of the genre. The only thing missing is Revelation Man sensually eating a turkey leg with his bare hands, but there’s no reason us listeners can’t take that necessary step ourselves.

Shitstorm Demonic Alien 7″ (Do What?)
Shitstorm is the kind of band name that one would expect to sound like an actual shitstorm… I’m reminded of a different Shitstorm and their split seven-inch with Sloth that fits the bill nicely: turbulent and imprecise grindcore. This Shitstorm, however, takes a different route, even if they recorded this EP at a place appropriately called “The Sinkhole”. This St. Louis group plays a ragged and bouncy garage-punk style, like some sort of animated kid sibling of Dead Moon, just dying to get out on the road for three months with little more than an old toothbrush and a couple extra T-shirts. While garage at heart, some of these songs verge into pre-mainstream grunge (“Frustrate” is sixty seconds of Sub Pop 100 groove), and the closing track “Get It Right” sounds like Gary Wrong Group covering Sonic Youth or some such basement-level approximation. Basically any form of dirtbag indie can apply here, jeans ripped in weird spots and band shirts of the band they played with the night before. You may not need to hear Demonic Alien this very instant, but you should be comforted that it exists.

Sloth Fist Bombs Away LP (Mindpower)
I’ve always had a little soft-spot for old-guy punk, and considering that basically no bands have stayed broken up, there’s a lot more old-guy punk out there these days, isn’t there? Sloth Fist are a relatively new group, yet Bombs Away is already their sophomore album. They’re old-guy punk for sure – don’t take my word for it, check out “Too Old To Rock” – and they play a gritty form of traditional ’90s-esque pop-punk. You know the type, where the singer kinda screams like he’s in a metal-core band but the other members follow the wide path worn by The Replacements, The Ramones and Rancid, to name a few R-based touchstones of the style. Sloth Fist are from Dallas, but this stuff sounds like it could’ve been local to me here in Southeastern PA circa 1996, ripe for a VFW hall show with a punk band, a ska band and a beatdown hardcore band simply because they were the only bands around, not out of any intentional push for diversity. Not sure if y’all remember Limecell (and seeing as they wrote the anthem “You’re Not Punk, You’re Dirty” in 1994, I pray they have even slightly righteous politics in 2023), but Sloth Fish give me kind of a Limecell vibe, like there’s one guy in the band who works as a licensed contractor, one who always wears hockey jerseys and one who inexplicably has all the early Dischord, Touch & Go and Misfits singles in pristine condition. I regret not checking all three of those boxes myself, but as inspired by Sloth Fist, maybe I still have time.

Tee Vee Repairmann What’s On TV? LP (Total Punk / Computer Human)
Seems like there’s always some up-and-coming punk who writes and releases a million songs in a year, and lately that role has been filled by Sydney’s Ishka Edmeades. If you don’t know him as Tee Vee Repairmann, perhaps you’ve heard his guitar playing in Goner Records’ recording artist Gee Tee, or as part of Research Reactor Corporation or The Satanic Togas… I can’t imagine a day has gone by in the past couple years where Edmeades hasn’t held a guitar in his hands and done something punk with it. What’s On TV? is his newest solo collection, and it’s a fine collection of feel-good garage-punk bops, filled with beach-party riffs, amiable snot and tasteful keyboard accompaniment. The attitude is far more playful than mean, like a mid-tempo Jay Reatard without the pathos or face-punching. At times, it can seem like Edmeades is trying to summon a nostalgic vibe (all the TV talk is reminiscent of first-wave punk rather than the actual world we currently inhabit), as if he’s “being a punk guy” instead of just naturally being a punk guy, but it mostly just matters if the songs sound nice or not, and his are perfectly fine for the job. There’s not a lot of Total Punk you could bring home to meet your mom, but Tee Vee Repairmann is the perfect mix of non-threatening and charming… just don’t mention The Satanic Togas.

The Toms The Toms 2xLP (Feel It)
Nope, that’s not a laminated roadside diner menu, it’s the new reissue of The Toms’ debut LP! Feel It already provided us with a collection of 1979 recordings from New Jersey’s Thomas Marolda, and now they’re giving us a formal reissue of The Toms’ debut with a bonus second LP of almost entirely other songs, all of which are apparently separate from the first reissue. That’s some extreme songwriting power right there, especially when you consider the quality of Marolda’s output. These songs fit right in with power-pop knockouts like The Shoes, Boyfriends and The Plimsouls, with plenty of inspirational credit surely due to The Beatles and Kinks as well. Lots of singing to an unspecified “girl” over pitch-perfect melodies, upbeat swinging rhythms and happy guitars. I love this kind of sound, especially when crafted as masterfully and sweetly as The Toms; I wish this sound was always playing at least quietly in my background. I guess back in the tumultuous late ’70s, young adults had no choice but to sit around crafting the best possible songs they could on their guitars instead of aimlessly scrolling on their phones? Sure, it’s cool that Marolda has these timeless pop tunes (and a Grammy nomination?) under his belt, but you should see the incredible collection of poorly-rendered memes I’ve got stored on my phone!

Vidro Glöd LP (Beach Impediment)
Globetrotting hardcore is a fairly modern phenomenon (Chaos In Tejas being ground zero?), to the point where we have the band Vidro, whose members apparently reside in Brazil, the United States and Sweden. I’m guessing they don’t have the casual intimacy of practicing in the basement every week, but rather meet up in efficient bursts, of which Glöd is a result. It was released by Germany’s Kink Records last year, now with an American pressing care of the perpetually clued-in Beach Impediment label. I don’t know what member is from where, but this certainly sounds like an international hardcore record, with Zero Boys’ guitar tone, an agile Swedish d-beat songwriting style, the astringent delivery of Raw Power and, to top it off, an ex-member of the freakin’ Headcleaners(!). I swear I can hear a Brazilian hardcore influence too, but they don’t shoot for Olho Seco levels of aggression – Vidro are mostly kinda mid-paced by hardcore-punk standards, sounding like they should’ve gotten a track on the P.E.A.C.E. comp and had a picture of a mushroom cloud on their page of the newsprint insert. Absolutely nothing groundbreaking, but proficient and raging enough that Vidro’s long-distance flights weren’t spent in vain.

Witness K Witness K LP (Ever/Never)
Ever/Never is responsible for some of my favorite “where’d this come from?” releases of the past few years, and I’d file the self-titled debut from Sydney’s Witness K under that header. This is dimly-lit, far-from-punk post-punk that conjures rich moods of intrigue and deceit and compassion (or manipulation under the guise of compassion?), as much song as sonic surroundings. Bass-lines stir like a spoon in black coffee, vocals murmur on the outskirts of the recording (were they captured accidentally?) and a variety of strings and keys filter through the blinds, all plodding along together. It’s not simply the Australian connection that has me thinking about CS + Kreme while listening to Witness K – both groups conjure strange, elusive atmospheres through semi-traditional instrumentation and slow electronic rhythms (see “How Do We Count Your Poses”), though Witness K lands closer to the Cold Storage / early ’80s Rough Trade bullpen (think Virginia Astley) than CS + Kreme’s vaguely techno inclinations. Witness K’s instrumentation skews kind of “indie”, though the delivery and presentation are far too stark and unusual to find a home in even the tiniest print on one of those weekend indie festivals. Feels like something Blackest Ever Black would be releasing if the label still existed in 2023, but we have Ever/Never out here doing the thankless work instead. So, uh, thanks!

XV On The Creekbeds On The Thrones LP (Ginkgo)
Michigan’s XV are one of the most singular post-punk bands going today, and it’s because of something that can’t be gained via virtuosity, hard work, money or social status. It’s better than all that: this trio actually seems to be really close friends with each other! It’s the sort of psychic connection that can only arrive organically and over time, and XV thrive within this rich interpersonal comfort, making music that is wholly their own. It’s all over On The Creekbeds On The Thrones, their second full-length (third if you count Basement Tapes), this playful dialogue between all three members and the way they manage to turn it into songs. I don’t know if they switch instruments between songs, but the drumming varies wildly, multiple members sing (or speak, as it were), and the whole thing plays out like various conversations, from the mundane to the serious to the ridiculous, bass-lines generally guiding the ship. A couple tracks remind me of that great Them, Themselves Or They single from years ago (it’s the vocal echo / stoner bass-line combo), and certain moments call to mind the basement skronk of Puppet Wipes or the stoner-punk of Vivienne Styg, but those are incidental findings, not direct correlations. Occasionally tagged as “free punk” (meant in a “free jazz” way), XV don’t wildly thumb their instruments without purpose but rather approach song as a place to share, explore, and most importantly, have a really good time.

Yfory Yfory 7″ (Static Age Musik)
Can’t think of any punk as globally active as Bryony Beynon – I first encountered her in London with the god-level Good Throb, then she was playing in BB & The Blips in Australia, and now she’s fronting Yfory in Berlin (and singing in Welsh, for good measure). And here I am, feeling like I accomplished an epic journey whenever I get dinner in a different neighborhood! Unlike the absolutely scalding menace of Good Throb and the snotty pogo of The Blips, Yfory is sophisticated and cool, closer to Animals & Men and The Raincoats than any sort of mosh-minded music. Gotta say, it really works! The guitar lines are interesting, kind of aloof but in a charming way, and Beynon’s vocal range (from spoken to chirped) are a fitting match, equally detached but dead-stare focused. Definitely a classic stripped-down post-punk sound, but imbued with enough of Yfory’s own character to make it stick. I wonder what’ll happen next, if they’ll become an ongoing concern and develop their sound further, or if this is already the last we’ll hear of Yfory, Beynon uprooting to Brazil or Iceland to start a skinhead or crust band. Either way, I’ll be happily following along!