Blaha Fresh Horse 7″ (Slovenly)
Mike Blaha wrote and recorded this 7″ EP himself, with cover art provided by Jim Blaha. Seems like a cool family! Maybe one day I’ll randomly meet Dustin or Christine Blaha and finagle an invite to A Very Blaha Christmas. I’m sure Mike got a guitar one year and caused quite a racket, as this three-song 7″ EP is stomping punk rock that stares the -abilly suffix in the face, at least until one side blinks. “Fresh Horse” is more or less a one-man-band take on Mayyors – the drumming and picking are distinctly Mayyors-esque, and the track that immediately follows, “All My Cells”, starts on basically the same note and tempo, but shifts toward a more raucous ho-down. I’d again defer to rock- or punk-abilly, but I don’t want to scare you off because this is quite enjoyable music. “The Day We Were Born” chills out a bit, taking Dinosaur Jr. into consideration in the sun-bleached slacker melody and mellow vocal delivery, with the simplicity of a couple overdubbed guitars and a repetitive one-handed drum-beat. I heard some people laughing as the song ended, which seemed like a cool trick until I realized it was my neighbors cavorting outside with some guests. Someone should try layering home-recorded family chatter in their fuzz-soaked garage-rock, I might be onto something!

Bless Bless 7″ (DZ Tapes)
DC’s just brimming with cool side-projects of side-projects (what fun is it to be a main-project anyway?), including Bless, featuring members of Flasher and Big Hush. Pretty weird vibe here, but one that I’m fully enjoying. Bless seem to be simultaneously celebrating and mocking the millenial-whoop phenomenon on “Yr Always On T.V.” – big beats, a couple well-paired melodies, lots of backing vocals and a lead vocalist who seems to be channeling Ian Svenonius channeling Steve Harvey. I couldn’t help but flip it for “Sick Puppy” which is just as fun and bouncy, seasoned with cool percussive tics, a little Thomas Dolby synth/neuroses and a manic energy that I don’t normally associate with indie-rock. It’s even more raucous on the comparatively-straightforward “Chameleon”, which feels like Elvis Costello spiritually inhabited by the crazy dancing guy from Future Islands. Gotta hand it to Bless for really coming up with their own formula, one that is both familiar and strange, but most importantly a lot of fun to hear. Jah would be proud.

The Brain Too Much To Dream / First Steps 7″ (High Fashion Industries)
My guard instantly goes up when hardcore-punk types have a new band that’s “psychedelic”. I’ve started to think playing psychedelic music is like the opposite of straight-edge: if you weren’t always, you’re not now. Maybe that’s unfair of me? The Brain’s Alican Koc was in Total Trash earlier this decade, and now he’s doing The Brain, and for what it’s worth, this two-song single is perfectly fine. “Too Much To Dream” is a song that doesn’t progress, it simply varies in speed and intensity, starting with a slow-burn that leads to a comparatively furious crescendo and then back down. Vocals are layered, echoed and mostly indecipherable, although I say this as someone who’s third eye is tightly shut. “First Steps” is more traditionally structured, with a bass-line that Wooden Shjips would’ve ripped, pumped-up drumming and a natural energy – no sense of tie-dyed cosplay here. The mix is full of effects but never muffled, and it feels like a band behaving the only way they know how, as opposed to taking a vacation from their punk roots. You know, now that you mention it, I would like a hit from your alien bong if the offer still stands.

Neil Campbell & Richard Youngs Six Scores LP (Shaking Box)
Here are two of Great Britain’s best and freakiest improvisers, Neil Campbell (of the Vibracathedral Orchestra among others) and Richard Youngs (so wild, his last name is permanently pluralized). I love these two guys, but I’m also slightly apprehensive to check out any given record of theirs, as they’re just as likely to churn out some devilish work of genius as a pointlessly awful lark at the listener’s expense. That’s part of the excitement, though, and Six Scores is nothing but fun. Credits go to Youngs on the violin and Campbell on the Casio, both providing “voice”, but they must’ve severely mucked those two things up with a variety of effects pedals, as this record sounds more like a bubbling electronic curry than a keyboard with string accompaniment. I’m reminded of Richard Youngs’ very cool Like A Neuron LP, in that a vague sense of techno is subverted here through innumerable processes, from babbling voices to distorted frequencies that are closer to a theremin-enhanced guitar than the credited instrumentation. Although the scores are varied in their direction (and often quite hilarious), these tracks are similar in sonic construction, with various electronic processes scurrying about, under and over each other like ants in a vast underground colony. Well done!

Christmas Pets Glow / Hipbone 7″ (no label)
Even though it seems like there are more labels than ever before, all clamoring to release more music than each other, there are still some fine bands out there either too new or too anti-social to get involved with anyone except the customer service reps at United or Gotta Groove. Christmas Pets seem to be one of them, and this two-song single is pleasant, don’t-call-it-indie rock from somewhere in Ohio. “Glow” is an idiosyncratic strummer that works quite nicely, recalling some ancient demo track discarded by The Embarrassment or The Feelies long ago. It’s also easy enough to enjoy that, had Christmas Pets existed twenty years ago and turned the ear of Kurt Loder, they could’ve squeezed between R.E.M., Len and Harvey Danger on an MTV alterna-block and all would be fine. “Hipbone” picks up the pace with an upbeat drum machine and zany synth squiggles, as if Imperial Teen were booked for a Yo Gabba Gabba! appearance. Non-threatening, non-normal, and fun for everyone. Now I can’t help but wonder, how is Kurt Loder doing these days?

Daywand Real Time Ruin LP (Vanishing Daze)
Daywand’s 2012 debut LP was a left-field fave back then, so I was excited to hear Real Time Ruin, another obscure, outsider slice of electronic production in a pressing of merely one hundred copies that probably still won’t sell out for a while. It’s been a few years, and Daywand has clearly caught a severe case of Sample Fever since then, as this record is a melting pot of samples both familiar and foreign, all smushed together in hopes that it makes some sort of sense. The instrumental to Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” is slowed and bombarded with an assortment of incongruous samples and sounds, for example. It’s like a mix of the whimsical hip-hop fun provided by Handsome Boy Modeling School and the corroded basement electronics of FRKSE, or something close to it. Real Time Ruin is a beat-centric record for sure, but the beats aren’t particularly notable in and of themselves, it’s all the wildly firing synapses that take place simultaneously that gives the album its strange flavor. It’s like The Avalanches if they weren’t avalanches but merely a big chunk of melty snow falling off a suburban roof onto a 2002 Honda Accord, denting its hood. You know, real-time ruin.

Albert DeMuth Supports Corporate Rights 7″ (no label)
Albert DeMuth supports what?! On this new self-released 7″ single, DeMuth takes on the persona of a WWE heel, and the suit fits this peculiar indie outsider well. “Corporate rights” comes up frequently in the lyrics to the a-side track, “Call The Police”, which utilizes a Dr. Seuss-ish rhyming scheme over a brutally down-picked riff that must’ve crawled over from Swans’ Cop album. Definitely the most aggressive tune I’ve heard from DeMuth, and perfect for some corporate office break-room mosh sessions. “Reservoir Ave (Edit)” is on the flip, and it’s a cool splash of aloe by comparison – picture a loop found on the basement floor of Ashra or Manuel Göttsching, slowly awoken until reaching its frantic conclusion. Two different tastes here and they pair nicely. This 7″ comes packaged in an attractive silk-screened sleeve, although it pales in comparison to the lavish presentation of DeMuth’s two LPs. He could’ve only really topped those by packaging Supports Corporate Rights in a hand-carved rosewood chest, but that doesn’t make me any less disappointed that he didn’t.

Dirty & His Fists Dirty & His Fists 7″ (Feel It)
At first glance, I was hoping the main guy from Dirty Dirt & The Dirts finally put together a new group, but it seems to be an entirely different squad: five swipe-rights outta Los Angeles or one of its many suburbs. On one hand, I feel like the vast history of punk music is likely to suffocate any new band attempting to conquer the musical style, but then how are so many modern bands so good at it, so quickly? This four-song EP is supporting evidence, as Dirty & His Fists play classic spiky-boots melodic punk at an incredibly high level. I’m immediately thinking of Adolescents, Code Of Honor, Agent Orange and modern talents like Video and The Love Triangle when listening, as well as images of Christian Hosoi flying high above the coping, grainy photos of punks outside The Masque and the teenage years of Keith Morris’s memoir. When compared to the wacky thrash and grindcore that emanated from Los Angeles in the ’00s, it’s kind of stunning how serious and sophisticated the music of Dirty & His Fists is, like they were grown from a lab in Kevin Moody’s backyard or something. I say they need to get an LP out immediately, on the chance that the magic they’ve captured here is merely temporary.

DJ Central & Erika Casier Drive 12″ (Regelbau)
Lately I’ve been dipping into the Regelbau discography, most notably with the hefty DJ Sports album from a few months back and this 12″ from DJ Central & Erika Casier. This Danish label has been gaining recognition (hell, it finally made it to Yellow Green Red!) and rightfully so, as “Drive” is one of the most instantly-infectious and soothing cuts of downtempo break-beat house I’ve heard this year. I suppose nothing about “Drive (First Mix)” could be considered unique or startling: stuttering breaks, hovering synths, a soft vocal melody bouncing on top. The thing is though, when all of these elements converge at just the right spot, with the perfect vocalist for the job (Casier’s voice is a gorgeous vehicle for these coy, unguarded lyrics), this form of music is pure heavenly manna, and “Drive” is one such instance. I’m reminded of the first time I heard Luomo’s “Tessio” in the instantaneous bond formed by the softly-lit synths and vocal melody. It’s stirring! On this 12″, you also get “Drive (Ambient Mix)” which pulls out the drums, almost frozen in time if it wasn’t for Casier’s speedy vocal. The flip features the aforementioned DJ Sports with a “Club Mix”, which blots of some of the original’s emotional embrace with hip-house beats and a punchier groove that is built for, dare I guess, the club. Pretty essential slab of 2017 house right here!

Dog Trash Temple LP (Drop Medium / 100% Breakfast)
I’ve known a few groups named Dog in my day, and they’ve all been pretty good, this new one being no exception. They’re really carrying the Load Records torch here with their debut full-length, a menacing mess of noise-rock and no-wave that immediately falls off the stage and rolls around in the filth beneath, even on one of those winter evenings where everyone tracked snow and salt and dirt into the venue. Dog don’t care! Trash Temple is full of disco beats with barnacle-crusted hi-hats and guitars with extremely chipped paint finishes, and you can practically smell the burnt wires deep in someone’s amp. Kinda like Tinsel Teeth with less tinsel, more teeth. For much of the record, the vocalist appears to be snapping and growling, avoiding any formal language, but then by the third track her repetitive barking took the form of recognizable English, or at least brief snippets of such. Nice! The whole affair is really quite sloppy, with songs prone to dissolution (“Path Over Sleeping Mountain Giant” works this nicely, like a miniature Air Conditioning cut), but that’s how I want it – leave the technical, proggy noise-rock to someone else, Dog know what’s up.

86 Gemini 86 Gemini 7″ (High Fashion Industries)
More new hardcore outta Chicago here from 86 Gemini, who play their last show November 4th (if their Bandcamp page is to be believed). So you’ve got four days to celebrate 86 Gemini as an active group, make it count! They’re pretty cool, if fairly garden-variety modern hardcore: gruff vocals, slashing guitars, mean-mugging breakdowns and synthesized interludes (which I guess is the one aspect that strays from the herd). The cymbals sound particularly crappy, but a good kinda crappy, like they found the crash jammed in the air duct of their practice space and decided to use it. Vocals have just the right amount of echo (scream with your inside an aluminum garbage can at home for a similar effect), and there’s really nothing to dislike here, although it’s the drumming that’s my favorite part (and the quilt-sized newsprint insert that barely fits inside the sleeve when folded is a nice touch). The music is not quite remarkable enough for my ears to fully perk up, however – if they were on a modern day Process Of Elimination, they’d be the Violent Apathy (a step up from Youth Patrol, of course). That said, it’s still sad to see them go. Hopefully they all wind up playing punk somewhere else soon, or at least give that drum kit to someone else who can.

Eroders Eroders 7″ (It’s Trash!)
Beachfront property owners better beware, here comes Eroders! They’re a Detroit rock trio, offering four songs of pleasantly predictable punk rock. They come in on the bluesy, roots-rock end of things, somewhere near The Flesh Eaters, The Fleshtones and Poison’s Flesh & Blood album. Just kidding about that last one, I’m simply trying to amuse myself over here, as I’m sure Eroders are down for some foolish fun too. They have a time-tested, well-worn sound, essentially worn to the point where I never need to hear a new band play it ever again, but there’s a snug tautness to Eroders delivery that has me thinking the drummer at the very least thinks as highly of the Urinals classic “Ack Ack Ack” as I do. I prefer their simplistic and repetitive moods to their cowboy-ish hooting and hollering, but as this EP features four songs, fans of both methods will leave at least semi-satisfied.

F ingers Awkwardly Blissing Out LP (Blackest Ever Black)
It took Awkwardly Blissing Out for me to finally stop recoiling at the band name “F ingers”. It’s just so unlikeably pretentious, but then again what are you coming to the Blackest Ever Black label for, wholesome middlebrow fun? F ingers make pretentious music as well, of course, but I like it a lot, especially on this record. These songs are generally constructed with dub bass, 8-bit sonar blips, effects-laden electronics and vocals (wordless and cut-up or occasionally in the form of discernible lyrics), and what can I say, it’s an equation that pays dividends. I’m crazy about Carla dal Forno’s new EP, and as a member of F ingers, I appreciate that she neglects pop structure or hook-based melody here, instead drifting off into a different region of her brain where neurons connect over entirely different stimuli. At least two thirds of the group are Australian, but Awkwardly Blissing Out feels British to me, following other high-minded post-industrial pursuits – Lemon Kittens, Diana Rogerson and Nocturnal Emissions (or perhaps Caroline K. in particular) come to mind while listening, as does Charles Hayward’s post-This Heat productions. It’s distant and impenetrable and cool as hell.

High Boys World Dumbination EP 12″ (Höga Nord)
Couldn’t resist scooping up this 12″ EP based on the fact that the group is called High Boys, one of whom is Joachim Nordwall (he of The Skull Defekts and the iDEAL label), and the bad pun title. I’m easy to please. I had suspicions that Nordwall’s involvement in an ostensibly traditional techno group might have some interesting twists or turns, but perhaps the interesting twist is that World Dumbination is not particularly interesting at all. That’s not to say it’s not good – these four tracks are rigid and basic templates of downer techno. Elements of trance are notable, but quickly eclipsed by the sharp, icy textures of analog gear befitting a Rrose record. Rrose, however, would pummel things into oblivion, like a hammer that doesn’t stop after the nail is already fully embedded, but High Boys never push things to the point of breaking. Actually, the production here fits the idea of two literally high boys, content to leave things on repeat while ever-so-slowly turning two knobs in opposite directions. I’m not sure I’ll be checking out another High Boys 12″ unless it comes with a trustworthy recommendation, but the claustrophobic acid of “This Is The Captain Speaking” is worth blaring at an enemy at least once.

Honey New Moody Judy LP (Wharf Cat)
As more and more Brooklyn bars, venues and record stores close to make way for Duane Reades that only accept Taskrabbit personal shoppers, underground rock bands somehow persist, like Honey for example. This is their second album, and my first time hearing them. It’s pretty good, treading similar paths to Destruction Unit, Dead Moon, Comets On Fire, Purling Hiss, Hound, hell I’ll even generously say The Stooges, but it’s a style of music where “pretty good” doesn’t necessarily get you much. There’s just so many astoundingly great rock records out there, and no one person can possibly hear them all (except maybe that one guy in Brazil who owns 7.4 billion records?)… New Moody Judy doesn’t really make a case as to why you need to hear it. They’re not rude, or braggadocious, or undeniably cool, or outrageous, or funny, or incisively smart… they’re just a trio of dudes rocking out on some moderately-hot riffs in search of a good time. The mileage you might get out of it depends on how hard up you are for this sorta thing – for me, it varies on mood, and if I simply need to hear a squealing guitar over an up-tempo beat, Honey will do just fine. It’s moments of discerning taste where I might need something a little stronger.

ISS Endless Pussyfooting LP (Erste Theke Tonträger)
The most meta punk record ever? ISS is a duo consisting of Edwin Schneider (Brain F≠) and Rich Ivey (Whatever Brains), and they create new punk songs out of old ones, quite literally in fact. Allegedly every drum loop is sampled from punk records (a few are certainly familiar, but I can’t ascribe provenance with complete confidence), upon which they play bass and various other samples, sounds, voices, maybe even a guitar or two. It’s definitely a conceptual project, and I don’t normally equate conceptualism with solid post-punk, but ISS are really onto something here. Perhaps it succeeds because the drums are generally basic enough that they never overpower the songs themselves, and Ivey’s familiar vocals tie things together nicely with a number of catchy hooks and outlandish samples. Their irreverent attitude reminds me of great semi-joke punk like Men’s Recovery Project and Sexy Prison, but ISS don’t lose sight of the songwriting in the process – if I didn’t know any better and simply heard Endless Pussyfooting, I’d have thought it was a cool new post-punk thing with a vague familiarity. Plus, it’s like an expert-edition Punk Trivia game (“wow, that’s a slowed-down X-Ray Spex sax solo into Sakevi from GISM’s trademark nyeah!“) molded inside a fun and cynical post-punk album, quite ingenious indeed!

JASSS Weightless 2xLP (iDEAL Recordings)
At this point I’m checking in with iDEAL monthly to see what they’ve got, and it’s an errand that’s paying off. It’s how I found out about JASSS, a Spanish “sound designer”, and now that I know about her, I’m going to locate her earlier 12″s on Mannequin as well. Weightless is a great album, one that nods at industrial techno, Belgian new-beat, modern post-noise experimentalism and various other sounds, be they seductive, strange or stinky. Spanish industrial legends Esplendor Geometrico are a reasonable touchstone for JASSS, both by geographical proximity and sonic similarity, although JASSS is clearly digesting far more than industrial synth music. Arabian percussion will highlight a track, just as the sound of swishing water and overheard conversations will pepper a queasy, beatless stretch of time. It’s all grist for her mill, but it comes through as a cohesive album full of trapdoors and booby-traps – it’s a singular construction, but one’s personal safety is never guaranteed. Try to jam on the warbly bass and percussion that kicks five minutes into “Danza” and see if an unexpected dust-storm doesn’t send you flying. Who among us doesn’t want to jam hard into unexpected disorientation?

Lebenden Toten Mind Parasites LP (Overthrow / Lebenden Toten)
There’s been a chorus of voices I trust heralding Lebenden Toten as one of punk’s modern pinnacles over the years, and while I’ve never previously shared that sentiment, Mind Parasites is where it finally clicks for me. I enjoyed their other records (show me a better 8″ released in 2007 than Death Culture Deprivation!), but they always seemed like part of the noise-punk pack, whereas Mind Parasites presents a strong case for Lebenden Toten’s uniqueness and greatness while still proudly tethered to punk’s rich lineage. Most songs here operate on a strict economy: raging drum patterns heavy on the toms, clear and full bass-line, Vitamix guitar noise and angry vocal chirping. It’s a fantastic recording, one that feels robust in spite of the fact that it’s really only a bass guitar providing the heft, full of piercing noise that never feel lo-fi or distorted and memorably primitive songwriting. And I didn’t even mention the Klaus Schulze-esque synth on the title track! It’s a short album (which is the perfect length for any punk record that isn’t a two-song single), the art is rich with horrifying detail, and if I wasn’t sold before, I’m completely drinking the Lebenden Toten Kool-Aid now. In a way, Mind Parasites is the closest contemporary punk record to Septic Death’s Need So Much Attention, in that the music is raging and distinct (and utterly baffling at times), with a sense of both masochistic dementia and sincere anger bleeding through each tune and the carefully constructed art (and poster insert). No wonder people are buying up rare Lebenden Toten tapes and Japan-only 7″s just to hear alternate mixes of songs they already know. Doesn’t get much more Septic Death-ier than that.

Calvin LeCompte Zagat Rated LP (Winston Taylor)
From what I can gather, Calvin LeCompte is an artist moonlighting as a musician. Or maybe he’s a musician moonlighting as an artist moonlighting as a musician? Who can really tell – all I know is that his record comes from Manhattan, the same bustling metropolitan where Zagat Rated‘s release show was held, in an art gallery as opposed to a traditional show space. It’s entertainingly baffling, but I wish his music added to the mystique, or at least took some painfully uncomfortable left-turn into unlistenability. He was slowly seducing me with his image, record art and packaging but the spell wore off once I gave it a listen. Zagat Rated is six songs of slow and simplistic guitar with vocal accompaniment. There is barely enough energy for survival, the vocals are mixed so that his lyrics are unintelligible, and hooks are avoided in deference to a meek despondency, as if LeCompte recorded these six songs immediately after getting dumped and falling down a flight of basement stairs. It sounds like something I’d hear nestled on a Blackbean & Placenta Tape Club compilation, the sort of barely-there singer/songwriter music I’d anxiously sit through while waiting to hear some scorched indie-crud from Gang Wizard or Minmae. Maybe Manhattan loves this stuff now, though? I mean, have you seen the way New York socialites are dressing these days?

Cindy Lee Malenkost LP (Maple Death / W.25th)
Like a surprisingly high number of cool things, Cindy Lee comes from Canada. It’s the work of one Patrick Flegel, who fronted the group Women (not the grandest of band names), and I can see why labels both American and Italian are clamoring to release their work – it’s quite good! Opening tune “No Worth No Cost” is an unexpected engine fire, complete with large plume of black exhaust. It’s as if someone looped bits of Harry Pussy’s first LP and tried to pretend like folk songs could be sung on top without ill consequence. A mixtape-worthy tune if there ever was one – I actually might go make a mixtape just for the sake of opening with it. The rest of the record isn’t always as acerbic, as much of Malenkost plays out like heartbroken doo-wop, or the slowest Velvets tunes, or Introducing… by US Girls. It’s presumably a solo project, but the instrumentation seems to be live, although I am not educated on the specifics of how it all went down. I do love to imagine that Cindy Lee recruited multiple guitarists for the stark interrogation of “No Worth No Cost”, at the very least. All in all, a great mix of lo-fi art-pop, caterwauling guitar abuse and blurry emotion.

Minor Science Whities 012 12″ (Whities)
I’m fully locked-in on the Whities label at this point, even through records I am not completely on-board with (like that recent Lanark Artefax), but this new Minor Science pleases to the fullest. I want to hear club-aware electronic music that is one or two steps ahead of everyone else from Whities, and Minor Science could very well be the label’s poster-boy for such. It’s the work of Angus Finlayson, a Resident Advisor contributor, and his passion for modern dance music goes beyond an ability to sense it, but to create it as well – “Volumes” is one of the most instantly-recognizable tracks I’ve heard this year. It floats on pristine synths and new-age pads given a modern upgrade, as if Joy Orbison was remixing K. Leimer, and a vocal snippet predicts the volume change, announcing either “soft” or “loud” immediately before the track follows suit. It’s silly, but the track’s clean sophistication ensures no one is taking it as a joke. You can be cool and have fun; how nice of Finlayson to give it to us both ways! “Another Moon” is on the flip, and the title fits, as it sounds like a couple of Star Wars droids (the current trilogy, undoubtedly) sharing polite conversation on a cosmopolitan roof-deck where holographic spiritual entities of The Misshapes are projected onto a 3D-printed DJ booth. I’d step out onto the dance-floor and bust some moves, but my oxygen infusion drip hasn’t finished yet.

Mount Kimbie Love What Survives 2xLP (Warp)
Electronic duo Mount Kimbie have been around since dubstep essentially fell apart (2009 or so), and they’ve always been ahead of the curve in its wake. On Love What Survives, their first album since 2013, they step aside from forward-minded bass and IDM constructions, taking the moment to essentially fabricate their own band that’s not really a band. What could be more 2017? It’s as if Mount Kimbie took this album as the opportunity to create a stunning Spotify playlist of hip new electronic / post-punk groups, but instead of gathering existing songs, they brought on board some of their favorite vocalists and generated brand new alt-pop tunes for them to sing on. James Blake sings on a couple songs that sound very much like James Blake (the nimble and graceful piano underpinning “How We Got By” is his signature style), Archy Marshall sings on a subterranean post-punk stomp that’s probably exactly what Iceage’s next album will sound like (I love it), and Micachu lends her voice to a tropical Arthur Russell-esque groove. And I have to say, it’s all quite fantastic! If these songs weren’t as immediately catchy and cool and slightly foreign-sounding, the concept might fall apart, but Love What Survives is consistently entertaining… enthralling, even. Once you get past the fact that hundreds of Thom Yorke fans are probably as thrilled by Love What Survives as you are, the enjoyment is really quite endless.

Nasti Big Achievements LP (Iron Lung)
Not sure which came first, the band name or the sound, but “Nasti” certainly describes the music produced by this hardcore quintet. The art fits the bill too, lots of demented Nick Blinko-esque scribblings care of band member Riley Kerr, including a poster that includes hundreds (thousands?) of spiders. But let’s get to the music: Nasti are a modern-sounding hardcore band, full of gnarly mid-tempo riffing, a surplus of effected guitar noise, quick stompers and stretched-out dirges. I’d triangulate them somewhere between United Mutation, Hoax and Cult Ritual, although like most modern bands I’m sure they’re only citing Void, Rudimentary Peni and various obscure Japanese flexis as inspiration (I’m still waiting on a Manbiki Chocolate 8″ flexi tribute group to emerge). It’s not too far from that recent Bad Breeding album on Iron Lung either, although Nasti are a bit scrappier, less heavy. Had this group shown up ten years earlier, they would’ve been a revelation for sure, but hearing them now, they strike me as an above-average entry into your modern underground hardcore playlist, which of course is a fine place to be.

Obnox Murder Radio LP (Ever/Never)
Obnox… Murder Radio… turn that shit up!*** This is Obnox’s 306th album of the year, on track to complete his “one new album every day in 2017” goal. At least it feels like it, right? The man, Bim Thomas, cranks them out effortlessly, enlisting various contributors and friends along the way, and Murder Radio stands up nicely next to the rest. This one is noisy and rock-centric, which works for me, but there’s still plenty of inexplicable weirdness, psychedelic torment and occasional forays into hip-hop to keep things from blending together. At times, I’m reminded of the earliest and most ear-squelching Purling Hiss material, or Timmy’s Organism’s rawest singles, in that many of these cuts (like “Deep” for instance) seem to melt into a mass of plastic and environmentally-harmful gasses, as if the Murder Radio master tapes were delivered on the same plate that just microwaved Thomas’s dinner. It all works quite well, and as he’s backed up by none other than Pere Ubu’s drummer this time around, I can only hope there’s more respect from the old guard of garage-rock headed his way. Here’s hoping we can give this one enough of a proper listen before Obnox drops something new, which of course is a fine problem to have.

Overdose Support Try Dying LP (Kaos Kontrol)
Overdose Support is a misleading name for this Helsinki-stationed noise-rock group – it seems like they’re far more likely to condone and encourage one’s depraved behavior than come to their aid after things go south. They clearly inhabit a world without party consequences, and I hope they enjoy the time they spend there, as we all know it’s a temporary existence. Although maybe in Finland you can be a party monster well into your 40s and it’s still a reasonable look? Overall, Try Dying is pretty cool, melding a few divergent sonic strains to the classic noise-rock aesthetic. Much of the material here is pretty fast for the genre – dirges are few and far between, as Overdose Support favor jumpy beats and punk speeds. Much of the riffage reminds me of At The Drive-In, actually, with upbeat and mathy (but not too mathy) rhythms, but performed here with the sonic disturbances one might expect to find on a Dope-Guns-N’-Fucking compilation. The singer gives it his all, often warbling like Jello Biafra on Monster Energy (a frightening thought indeed). Not a crucial record unless you’re low on Finnish noise-rock debauchery, but if that’s the case, do not delay any further.

Radiation Risks Headless Horseman 7″ flexi (Feral Kid)
I better start writing about this 7″ flexi soon while it’s still playable – I’m not sure where they got it “pressed”, but it seems to be on some sort of glossy paper rather than plastic, the sort of thing that might disintegrate in my hand on a particularly humid day. It’s a fitting medium for Buffalo’s Radiation Risk, another mutant-friendly hardcore group with tastelessly abstracted artwork. They’ve got a Coneheads-y sort of caffeinated down-picking / clean guitar with airtight drums thing going on, augmented by sax (played melodically, not as a noise prop or Brainbombs motif), and it works for me! Even on these barely-existent flexi grooves, these songs jump out strong, punk that likes to party but stays on the right side of silliness, scumming up these speedy tunes with a gruff vocalist (and some loopy circus organ on the second cut, “Nancy”). From a strictly sonic perspective, they’re kinda like the midpoint between Coneheads and Downtown Boys; it’s a fairly wide chasm, but I’m sure they’ve probably played together in some small town in Oklahoma or Iowa at one time or another. If their paths should ever meet again, I recommend they plan ahead and see if Radiation Risks wanna come play, too.

Rash Skinner Box LP (High Fashion Industries)
Got an itch for modern hardcore-punk outta Chicago? If so, it might be Rash! I should probably end the review there, but High Fashion Industries was gracious enough to send a copy in so I’ll extrapolate a little further. They’ve got the current hardcore style down, which is to say artwork that seems inspired by late ’00s Youth Attack mixed with Swans circa Filth (who would’ve guessed twenty years ago that at least one person would be wearing that Swans teeth shirt at any given hardcore show?). Musically, it’s not quite as obviously contemporary – no excessive use of noise, no pogo-punk drumming, no feigned incompetency in hopes of being perceived as authentic mutants. (There is, however, the requisite “listen to how insane I am” dirge care of “The Hole Under A Soapbox”.) Rather, Rash fall on the heavier end of the underground punk spectrum, where it feels like Die Kreuzen and His Hero Is Gone had an equally profound impact. I’m reminded a bit of short-lived NYC group Pollution, perhaps Citizen’s Arrest too, although Rash seem to change parts with greater frequency than either of those two, with merely a smidge of stompy AmRep vibes. Pretty cool stuff – I doubt it’ll blow your mind, dear reader, but there’s a good chance Skinner Box will rehabilitate it after a particularly lousy day of work, school, or whatever.

Seeping Go To Hell, You Bastards! 12″ (Resistance/Restraint)
Mark Groves is the man behind the Red Wine & Sugar project (reviewed here last month), but that’s not all he does with his free time. He also collaborates with David Coen in Seeping, who pair Groves’s manipulated vocals with thick industrial electronics, and they do so quite sharply might I add. It verges on industrial techno, but Seeping seem disinterested in provoking their audience to dance; the closest the audience might get is a staunch fist-pump, head facing downward, as thoughts such as “life is pain!” and “the universe is meaningless!” flash through their brains. At times, the bass is so deep and low that it barely registers at all (time to upgrade my Sony boombox to a Sonance Kayak), like an Emptyset record played two apartments over, but it seems that subtlety and creeping menace are integral parts to Seeping’s aesthetic, versus macho feats of strength. It might be a little too background-y for those looking to be properly bludgeoned, but there’s plenty of other bludgeon-centric records out there already – Seeping are here for you after the bruises are already set, an ominously comfortable leather chair ready to stick to your sweaty backside.

Ricardo Villalobos Empirical House 2xLP ([a:rpia:r])
So long as Ricardo Villalobos keeps putting out new albums, I’ll keep checking them out – we’re essentially life partners at this point. This one has a cool title (is it a new genre?) and it’s quite typical for anyone familiar with Vasco, Sei Es Drum, Alcachofa or Dependent And Happy. That’s to say, it’s effervescent tech-house that is at once both stagnant and constantly changing, like watching the shadows cast on a building slowly morph as clouds float by. The percussion seems to come from his familiar toolkit of blips, snaps, pops and drums on these four lengthy cuts, and while there is essentially nothing groundbreaking happening here, I keep reaching for it each time I remember that this album exists. Opener “Widodo” breezes in some light jazz over a “Billie Jean” bass-line run through a random tone generator, all while various hypnagogic conversations pass through. “Bakasecc” is like a freshly uncorked bottle of carbonated Luciano, “Subpad” is classic carsick Villalobos, and the title tracks wraps things with the slippery slap of tree-frogs mating in a rubber tree, enhanced by the hushed groan of a man who ate a little too much. I’m almost curious to know what Villalobos personally gets out of making tracks like these, as he’s been making similar music for so long now, but then I remember that I’m crazy about listening to these new cuts and that there’s no reason to overthink the joy he has bestowed upon us.

Writhing Squares Too Summer Singles Series 2017 7″ (Richie)
Barely making the summer deadline, Richie Records delivers a second year of their 7″ singles series. I’ve been known to enjoy singles in each of the four seasons, so it doesn’t matter when they show up as far as I’m concerned. I’m simply happy to enjoy this two-sided, one-song 7″ from Writhing Squares Too, aka Writhing Squares supplemented by Ben Leaphart (Purling Hiss), Max Milgram (Watery Love) and Mary Lattimore (Mary Lattimore). They’re going full-on next-galaxy krautrock here, driving the van off the edge of the planet and bending spacetime in the process. Leaphart is a master of playing a beat longer than other drummers, and his bloodshot determination is the glue that holds the rest of these rambunctious players together. No idea what Lattimore is playing here – could be a harp, but everything sounds so amplified and fiery, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was mashing an effects-laden keyboard. Ultimately, who cares who’s doing what, as Writhing Squares Too is a testament to the power of the egoless collective, five seekers of the truth blasting it out for a couple dozen people inside a venue named Kungfu Necktie.

***To be sung to the tune of Rage Against The Machine’s “Guerilla Radio”